The start of the Holidays

It has been a very strange day. Myself and Lady Ann decided mid afternoon to scoot over the hill to Yorkshire and sample the delights of the culinary cuisine on offer.

Now my dish of choice isn’t on offer everywhere so you can imaging my delight when I discovered Fish finger butties on the menu. This washed down with a very large Latte is just what the doctor ordered.

This evening was a very different proposition, it was Diggle school leavers celebration at Diggle Band Club. Now many of you will think is a totally abhorrent event to a grumpy old  bloke, but it isn’t.

I love the fact that families celebrate any minor triumph in their offspring’s development. These are the events that mould the lives of our children. By any measure tonight was a fantastic event. The kids had a great time and the parents enjoyed every moment. 

Living in a village takes a great deal of effort. Young families who are under pressure to carry out the traditions of the past put themselves under enormous pressure just so they don’t let their kids down.

I have a different outlook, If you give your kids a great role model to follow they will never let you down and they will remind you in years to come if you do! (mine do frequently).

Tonight has been a blast, parents in tie dye tee shirts having a great time with their children who will remember for a lifetime.

That has to be the best time ever!

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Stand by for a Rant

The other evening I had to attend a meeting at the civic hall in Oldham at 7.00. Now not wanting to be on the last minute I arrived at 6.45 and thought the car park is £1.30 for 5 hours so I purchased ticket for £2.00 because I didn’t have the right amount and the machine didn’t give change.

I didn’t think anything of it and went into my meeting. 

You can imagine my surprise when I came back to the car 2 hours later I was greeted with a penalty charge notice for an expired ticket at a cost of £25.00.

So I wrote to them to appeal stating my case that in my mind I had purchased a ticket for parking for up to 5 hours and even overpaid for the seven minutes before the evening parking started privilege. They pointed out that the evening parking doesn’t start till 7.00pm and the machine had given me a ticket for two hours so they obviously declined and give me 14 days to pay.

According to the Oldham Councils Parking department If I had stood and waited till seven o clock I would have got a valid ticket and it wouldn’t have been a problem. 

Now I don’t mind being caught if I had not put on a ticket or not parked within the white lines (which has happened in the past) but surely common sense should be applied to these circumstances.

I paid £2.00, £1.30 for five hours parking and 70p for the Seven minutes I had parked before hand. By my calculations if it costs £1.30 for one hour to park then that is 2.1p per minute, so for seven minutes that is a payment of 14.7p which means I overpaid by 55p.

Now the Council are struggling to reinvigorate the night time economy in Oldham and I find it hard to see that happening anytime soon if these draconian actions are taking place on a regular basis. 

They need to make it clear on the parking signs that this can happen and show some common sense.

What makes matters worse my appointment was at the Civic Centre , Oldham Council really know how to make visitor’s welcome! 

Can’t Beat a Bit of Social Media to Lift the Spirits

I can’t believe it’s been three months since I sat here and wrote a blog entry but we have had a very eventful time.

Since Christmas two things have hoovered up my time, Lady Ann’s deteriorating health which is now improving and deciding to stand in the local elections as a Councillor.

Now either one of these soaks up enough time on there own but combined I haven’t had time to even have a mid afternoon nap (shock horror) and this has made me a little Grumpy.

The good news is that Lady Ann is getting better and requires fewer visits to the Hospital so just a couple of things to sort out them we get our lives back. I can’t believe how much time it takes just to attend an appointment.

My attempt at becoming a local councillor again was unsuccessful but I did a lot of walking, 62 miles in four weeks to be exact. I have lost about 12 lbs in weight which make me feel a lot healthier even though I am probably not.

On the bad news front whilst Lady Ann has been housebound she has resurrected her Facebook account and she is now seeing that it is not the devils work she previously thought it was. 

She has connected with a group of friends who she was at school with and that has lifted her spirits somewhat. The downside for me and the family she has started commenting on what we are posting, so we will have to start behaving haha.

I posted my Star Wars day photo and got this withering response from her! 

Will it stop me, I very much doubt it, after all being social is what life is all about.

The Changing Face of Village Life

Diggle in 1900

February is here and the lighter nights have started making an appearance and that is always welcome. By mid month it always reminds me that winter is on the way out and warmer days are coming.

Here on top of the world it is when the moors start to change colour and the village starts to come to life again. Now village life is not for every one but I like it. Villages are places were people care about each other and were people stop in the street for a chat and you can find out about what has happened since the last time you managed to stop for a chat.

In this day and age it is becoming increasingly harder to make sure that village life as we know it will survive for future generations.

Diggle is like many other pennine communities it has a church, a couple of Pubs and a very good post office. The only issue is that all of these institutions are under threat. 

Our local church St Chads is threatened with closure because of the repairs that need carrying out.

Pubs all over the country are closing at a phenomenal rate, we are lucky in that the two we have have recently changed hands but who knows how long they will last in the current financial climate. 

Finally our local Post Office which until now survived is the only way that people can use any form of banking services is a godsend.

Saddleworth as an area is a very desirable place to live and with that property prices are at a premium. This means that our community is becoming more of a dormitory rather that a mixed vibrant community. 

With people having to work longer hours or commute further it means that all the people who used to volunteer to run the many organisations and events that make a village are now few on the ground and it is these people who keep our villages vibrant and full of life.

So I do question how long the activities that I hold dear will carry on. So if you live in a small community it is vital that you get involved. No matter how little time you can offer, collectively a group of people can achieve far more than individuals.

Just think of all the traditions that could be lost because we are collectively too busy. From Whit Walks, Brass Band Competitions, The Rush Cart Weekend, The Diggle Blues Festival and all the other things that happen in the area.

These events take a lot of people and a great deal of effort to organise. So if you love living in a village then please invest a little time and expertise to keep our very pleasant lifestyle alive and well.

If you do you will feel great knowing that you have contributed and I can guarantee you will make some lifelong friends in the process.

Support me in my Ginuary Campaign

A New day and a New Year. It’s strange how the hype of New Years Eve and the rhetoric about new beginnings never cease to amaze me. A new year is just a continuation of the old one but with a new number. 

Its a little bit like birthdays, I have a landmark birthday coming up and people are asking how do you feel about that, my answer is just like I do now but a day older. 

As a modern society we place too much store in events that have no real significance whatsoever in everyday existence.

So this year when lots of people are saying no to alcohol for a dry January, I will be making a different statement. What about GInuary, it sort of works for me, so for everyone who buys me a Gin and tonic this month I will donate the same amount to help the homeless, now that’s a campaign!

All I can say I have made no resolutions, no promises I can’t keep but I will be trying to be a nicer person to people who really don’t deserve it.

So Happy New Year and I hope its a good one and it will be if you look out for those less fortunate  because Karma always favours the kind hearted. 

What a Great Christmas Day

I am sat here at the end of a very long Christmas Day and I have loved every single moment of it.

Our day started fairly early about 8.00 am, now I can hear all the couples who have young children  saying “luxury, ours children got up at six thirty”.

Ours have now fled the nest and it is our grand children who phone us to ask when we are going to arrive bearing gifts like Santa Claus.

So by nine we are on our first present drop-off the day, children vibrating from excitement and parents looking suitably knackered from getting up so early.

By eleven we are on the second drop of the morning and again we are met by youthful exuberance which I have to say is very infectious.

The third visit was to see an Aunty who unfortunately isn’t well enough to join us in our family dinner and then on to visit Anns brother who also can’t join us.

Now by mid afternoon I am beginning to feel like a driver from some delivery service and can I say  I do get grumpy when I miss my afternoon nap!

By three we have to be at Sarah’s, our daughters for Christmas dinner.

Now Christmas dinner at my daughters is a thing of logistical beauty. She and Phil her long suffering partner every year manage to make it a very special day. This year we had twelve sitting down to Christmas Dinner and everyone gets into the swing of things.

Not only is the food great (apart from the smoked potatoes) but so is the company. With an age gap some 70 years everyone never stops talking. Now that maybe not unusual but having a great time is an even greater achievement.

Now if like me you lead a sheltered life then what happened next may or may not surprise you. Our children and partners decided that we should play a card game called Cards Against Humanity which sound very innocuous, but I can assure you it isn’t .

This is a very simple concept until you start reading the cards and the answers. Now Lady Ann was designated as the master of ceremonies who had to read out the statement on the black cards and then read out the cards that people offered up as answers.

Never in my wildest dreams would I have ever thought that she would have read out such profanities (even though in an innocent fashion) that shocked our children to the core! (Can I just say the Grand Children were in the room next door playing on the Xbox which could not have been as entertaining).

The only issue is that I know that tomorrow I will have to explain what these term mean but more importantly I will have to explain how I know what they mean.  Now that is very difficult when you are sober but when you have a hangover now that is a whole different proposition.

So I hope that you have all had a great day and let’s hope the rest of your festivities follow a similar vein, So all that remains to say is I hope you have laughed as much as I have with people who you love and as you progress through life you will that you will find that is the one thing that makes all the difference .

Oldham Never Ceases to Surprise Me!

I can’t believe the town we’re I live was at the centre the industrial revolution. It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise because Oldham is a town full of surprises.

Historically it was at the centre of the global cotton industry, and as part of that was also at the centre of social reform.

During this period workers campaigned for better working conditions and improved social welfare and these issues mobilised women in the town to campaign for the vote.

If like me you were probably introduced to the Suffragette movement at school. But if you only read the couple of paragraphs in the text books like I did then you only got the headlines, the story is far more interesting and inspirational.

It was a campaign that involved women from all over the country from mill workers in the north through to the landed gentry in the south. All with a common cause, to have a say in how the country was run. They wanted the vote and fought very hard to achieve it.

Today something happened that would have been unheard of a century ago. A statue of the local suffragette and campaigner Annie Kenney was unveiled in the front of the Old Town Hall. 

It wasn’t that long ago that the council was looking to put a statue of Winston Churchill on the plinth to celebrate his achievements and as much as he was a great statesman in later life, his brush with Oldham was less than inspiring.

So why do I think Annie Kenney is a better choice? 

Her influence along with Emmeline Pankhurst showed working class people who thought they had no voice that if they joined together they could make a difference.

These women changed our country for the better, they gave women and the down trodden a voice to make a change for the better.

I wish we had people of that spirit around today, I wonder what we could achieve if we did.

What a Week! Doing What I Enjoy Doing for a Living

 

Oldham College Students busy working on Oldham College Awards Evening

Its Sunday morning and I am sat here recovering from a very busy week realising I may not be as young as I used to be. So let me explain.

Months ago I was approached by the College I used to work for to help arrange their annual awards evening. Now I know this doesn’t seem like a big job but the way the Oldham College do it its like the Oscars with bells and whistles.

So in April I started creating the first draughts of the running order and booking equipment for the evening which you need to do in order to make sure you can turn your idea into a reality.

The week started with one or two changes to the running order a few changes to some video inserts and generally making sure that everything is in position for the all important deadline which by this point immovable on Thursday evening at 6.30.

So this is were it starts to get challenging. A couple of weeks ago Lady Ann found out that she had to go into hospital for some surgery on Tuesday. I thought this is manageable I can work during the day and visit in the evening and she would be home for Friday. So I dutifully dropped her at the hospital in Manchester at 7.30 in the morning which was the time they gave us (Not me dumping her in a chair and running) which gave me the days to polish the rest of the videos for Thursdays show.

Tuesday  evening I go to visit Lady Ann who I must say was as high as a kite but looked very relaxed but was talking gibberish. So I then went home to an empty house which after 40 odd years is a very strange experience I can tell you.

Wednesday arrived and then the work begins. All the AV equipment arrives and has to be installed. Now the College has the foresight to ensure that the students take part in the running of the awards ceremony as part of their work experience. So this is the first time I meet my crew, they all arrive fresh faced and inexperienced ready to take part in the running of the event.

This is the part of my job I love, developing young people and helping them achieve something that they would consider an impossible task a few days ago. They always rise to a challenge and they always deliver. Some of the contractors and the entertainment did this event when they were at college and still remember it like it was yesterday.

So everything is going swimmingly well, my plan is going to plan that is until I get a phone call at 5.30 from Ann saying she can come home but can’t be left on her own for 24 hours. 

Now not for one second did I think I wouldn’t pick her up and bring her home but then I had the issue of who can look after her whilst I was out working all day Thursday. This is were having a family is great, I phone my daughter up and that was all sorted.

After picking Ann up I had some last minute amends to make to some graphics which meant my bedtime was 2.00 am to make sure that rehearsals can go ahead as scheduled. It was a great evening, catching up with colleagues I hadn’t seen for a while and watching the faces of the proud parents as there kids picked up there heard earned awards.

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Oldham College Awards Evening 2018

At 9.00pm it is all over the awards taken home and the £150 worth of pizza for the crew was just a few empty boxes neatly stacked on a table.

So why was the event a success. 

I was surrounded by great people from the college who make things happen.

I was supported by great technical staff from companies I trust implicitly to deliver what they promise.

And finally I arrive before everyone and go home after everyone to make sure that everything is done and ready for the next collective deadline. That is the secret of success in the AV business.

So to all the award winners, congratulations. To all the nominees commiserations but you have obviously worked hard to even be nominated.

So why am I tired, well according to my phone in two days I walked 12 miles and climbed 57 flights of stairs. Juggled numerous requests for script changes run two rehearsals and staged the event and on the Friday de rigged the venue all in time for lunch with Lady Ann.

Since Friday lunch time I have now taken on the role of head nurse at Eccles Towers, Sarah my daughter has given Ann a bell that she can ring when she needs something. Now that can be very annoying when you are trying to have an afternoon nap especially when I am sat in the chair next to her who has set up base on the settee, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. 

Ann has now stopped talking gibberish and is issuing orders left right and centre which must mean she is on the mend. 

So next week I am hoping for a bit of a rest, but I cant see it happening anytime soon.

I have time travelled back to the eighties!

Queen-Freddies-Vocals
Photo Courtesy of Bohemian Rhapsody the Movie

Its been a busy old week for retired grumpy old bloke, myself and lady Ann decided to have a gander at the new release that is Bohemian Rhapsody. (even though the critics have had a field day). 

Because of what I see is what I judge , I honestly think it’s a great movie . It tells a story, I care not a jot that it may be factually correct but that I connected to it emotionally. 

Movies are by their nature are a work of fiction. A version of the facts that maybe true or not. I think to judge a historical movie you have to experienced what it was like then and not now. 

It is what life was like in the Seventies and Eighties which is quite different to what our understanding is now. Is is a fairly authentic representation of what it was like back in a far more innocent time.

So how can a thirty odd year old judge what they are seeng if they did not experience what life was then.

So let’s look at the track record of these critics. “ Blade runner “ one of the most iconic movies of all time”, thats a no then!  “Apocalypse Now” do I need to go on because my list is endless!

Now I am not saying that this movie was without its faults, but it did what it said on the poster, it told a story of a man who was flawed, and who was troubled but told it with dignity. I agree it was a little forgiving but gave a credible back story that made Lady Ann cry, so it obviously touched a nerve somewhere. 

People who make films are a unique bread, they do it because they love telling stories. It it does not sit easy with Directors or Producers to be judged by people who spend their lives behind a keyboard and criticise what they have achieved.

Making a film is not easy, even without the battles over funding and all the crap that comes with executive producers. Filmmakers are a unique bread, It is very simple they do it because they passionate about what they do and would probably work even if they didn’t get paid. 

Film critics on the other hand are a far more venomous proposition. They are judged on column inches  rather that creative input and could I suggest it is far simpler to critique rather that create something,

So in my world I do not listen to the critics, I may learn from them if I think it is relevant but on the whole the only people I listen to are the audience, because they vote with their feet.

So on a scale of one to ten Bohemian Rhapsody scores a massive nine mainly because it transported me back to the eighties which I look back at with some affection.

I Am Still Trying to Retire!

img_4387I can’t believe it’s two months since I last wrote anything on this blog so I apologise for my rather tardy behaviour. Since my last understated literary masterpiece things have been rather frantic.

Many of you will be aware that I have actively been trying to retire now for the past couple of years but my strategy of picking and choosing projects to work on that won’t interfere with me enjoying myself appears to be getting in the way of me being lazy and idling my days away.

Now my idea of retirement was to do lots of things that I wanted to do rather that the things I had to do to pay the mortgage and the other essentials that living in these days requires. 

There is a flaw in that strategy. What happens if what you enjoy doing is what you did as a career! Now there is nothing I love more that delivering a challenging project and without blowing my own trumpet it is something I am quite good at.

That’s when it all gets a little confusing, especially to Lady Ann who since my first attempt at retirement has had a list of chores for me to do a mile long and after two years it’s still half a mile long.

So why would a retired person wish to go back to work, and work as hard as they did when they were working? In my case it’s all to do with maintaining your lifestyle without the risk of running out of money in your retirement and I also blame the latest in car handsfree technology.

It seems that most jobs that come in are from people who I have worked with before and they always start with a phone call. Now if I’m in the car I am a good boy and I ignore it and return the call when I have a break on the journey, that is a sort of filtering system that means I can get in some “me” time. 

The issue is that if Lady Ann is in the car she answers the calls and volunteers me for all sorts of  projects that which although are very interesting and keep my mind going they are also very time consuming.

So I am currently sat here approaching midnight working on scripts, running orders and production schedules that will ensure that I can still play at being a producer and get paid for the privilege and that is great.

Now if you ask any producer what drives them, most of them will tell you it is not just the money, it’s the challenge of creating something that people will see and hopefully like. So for the next four weeks I will be stomping around the house with my mobile pressed to my ear trying  to negotiate with some fantastically talented people across Manchester so we can collectively produce something incredible.

Once that is complete I can get back to ignoring the dreaded list of chores and maybe Lady Ann and myself can get away for a quiet weekend somewhere before the juggernaut that is Christmas visits Eccles Towers and all the pandemonium that will ensue until the new year!