A little piece of me has been quietly altered!

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Photo Courtesy of New York Daily News

It has been a very dark week in Manchester. Every families worst nightmare has been acted out in the Media in an almost sanitised way.

Apart from the heroic efforts of people offering help and comfort in peoples darkest moments it has been relentlessly heart breaking.

The most difficult thing was for me was looking on social media and finding people begging for information about loved ones who were missing and knowing that the inevitable bad news would arrive at any moment.

I feel for the families who have lost loved ones because it was so unexpected. No one ever expects to drop someone off at a concert and not expect them to return home safe. Equally no parent ever expects to be blown up waiting for their children.

It’s not only the horror of what happened that keeps going around in my head, it’s the fact it could quite easily have happened to our family.

Some of the people caught up in this tragedy I know, I have worked with them and that is what makes it so hard. As much as I applaud the sentiment of carry on regardless and the outpouring of “we will not let these terrorists beat us” a little piece of me has been quietly altered.

I am not quite as understanding, I am not quite as forgiving in spite of all the outpouring I have seen and peoples demonstration of solidarity.

Don’t get me wrong I am all for treating people how I would like to be treated and that will not change.

What will change is that I have experienced first hand what has been happening for years in the middle east, the senseless slaughter of innocent civilians on a daily basis with no end in sight and that maybe is a good thing.

People have been horrified by this evil act in our city, but please share a thought for the 500,000 casualties in Iraq alone who have suffered a similar fate since the start of the 2003 conflict.

So as you go to bed tonight please say a little prayer for those families who all over the world are going to bed broken hearted because some have lost the most precious thing they have, their partner, their children or their entire family.

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“Three Girls”! A Landmark in TV history

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Lisa Riley broke my heart in an epic performance which will live with me forever

In its finest moments TV can change the world and in is worst when it panders to the lowest production values it’s a waste of a valuable platform.

This week the BBC has managed to do something that rarely has happened in the last 63 years of my life on this planet. It made me cry.

I watched the BBC drama “Three Girls” over three consecutive nights which made me very angry (an understatement by any measure). Now I know you will say it is a work of fiction which is based on true events but this was something different.

It terrified me. It had me thinking that if a child of mine was treated in such a manner I would have to extract revenge not only on the perpetrators but the council and police officers who were fully aware of the situation, but had a reasonable excuse not to take the difficult path.

To add insult to injury in the subsequent aftermath they then shot the messenger, fed her to the dogs just to save the skin of a cowardly Chief Executive who knew what was happening and did nothing to stop it.

The subtext of this story is a tale of woefully inadequate politicians and a communications team who spent its whole time protecting the indefensible and they should be ashamed.

Hats off to the guys who made this landmark programme. We may criticise the BBC for being biased in its political coverage but this programme would never have seen the light of day on a commercial channel and for that I will be eternally grateful.

I have a dream

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It may come as a shock to most who follow my ramblings but I have a dream. Not an insurmountable dream but one that is quite achievable to most normal people.

Now I know what you are thinking, he wants to win an obscene amount of money on the lottery or even become intimate with Michelle Pfeiffer. I can assure you all that I am very happy with my life and in particular with Lady Ann and in general my life is fantastic.

Now this does not mean that I don’t have dreams of achieving great things, I do.

I want to make a difference, to be remembered for doing something that will make a difference to those less fortunate than myself. I don’t want adoration or recognition but I want to make a difference to peoples lives.

Can you imagine the satisfaction of being Stephen Spielberg, John Williams or Barak Obama. These guys have one thing in common, they have the ability to communicate on a grand scale and in an instant they can move you, they can make you compassionate, they can make you cry or take you to a place of euphoria in the blink of an eye. (Who remembers the scene when ET is rejuvenated). There was not dry eye in the house.

Cinema has the ability to do this, it is unique, it has the ability to take you to places that often you would prefer not to visit, and to make it worse it is projected onto a huge screen that makes it almost real.

So how does real life compare to the tinsel that is Hollywood?

I pains me to say this but as a species we have become emotionally bankrupt, we look at life as though it is a movie and we overlook the cruelty that exists in our world. We assimilate heart breaking news in a heartbeat whilst reading an article in a newspaper or watching an item on the news without even batting an eye.

Can I take this opportunity to remind everyone that life is real, it is not a soap opera, a news item or a TV drama or a film that you are watching as a voyeur.

Life should be full of compassion for people who are far worse off than you. It should be full of random acts of kindness and above all an understanding that not everyone on this planet has the opportunities that have been afforded to you.

So my message to you all is show some compassion to people who are either heartbroken, ill, lonely or misguided and can I please ask that instead of judging people we show a little compassion and understanding and try to make a difference.

The reality of our collective situation is that no matter who you think you are,  or what wealth you have accumulated you are only two months salary away from becoming homeless and vulnerable.

So after this very sobering thought please sleep well tonight because there are people at this moment who are not afforded that luxury.

Betrayal

 

Betrayal

Betrayal is a word that sounds just like the emotion it evokes.

It arrives in our lives at the most inopportune moments and is often delivered by people who you would least expect it from and that is the bit that hurts. Now there are two ways to deal with this treacherous act, either confront the perpetrator or alternatively (my preferred method of dealing with it) play the long game, after all revenge is a dish best served cold.

So what do I know about betrayal?

By my reckoning I have been betrayed three times in my life, the first time by a so called best friend who stole my girlfriend. Forty or so years on and reflecting on the episode I can forgive him because she was very nice and I didn’t have the emotional experience to appreciate her. So to a certain extent that is how it goes.

The second time was in my career.

When you are a member of a team and you go the extra mile to make sure that everyone gets the recognition for any success only to find out when its to late that one of the team has taken all the glory for your hard work.

The third and final time is now.

I feel betrayed by the government who I put my trust in to look after me in my twilight years. Instead I find we are governed by a group of self serving individuals who don’t give a second thought about selling us down the river and abandoning the infrastructure that enabled them to be in such a position.

On a personal level I have very little to complain about. I have been fairly lucky health wise and our exceptional NHS have provided for me in my most vulnerable moments.

I have been the recipient of a very good education, like many of our MP’s in government who unfortunately a few years ago decided that this opportunity was wasted on the rest of us so decided to charge for courses or starve it of investment so it becomes almost insignificant to the recipients.

But the biggest betrayal of all is that I mistakenly thought that our elected representatives did it out of a sense of duty and to look after the less fortunate in our society.

You might think that I am being naive but I put that down to the fact that I was brought up to respect everyone not just the successful.

So there we have it in a nutshell, the working and middle classes have been betrayed by their own, the opportunists, and the easily corrupted.

This is the time to make a change. Lets give these people the result they deserve rather than the result they expect. It happened with Brexit and in America with Trump.

During this election campaign please hold the thought that these people do not tell the whole truth or even anything like the truth

You never know third time lucky we could do away with the spivs and opportunists and put the fairness back into politics.

All I ask is that you vote, I care not a jot for who (unless its for this uncaring government, then I might wince a little) but for someone who you can trust and can put integrity above the mighty buck.

Unfortunately I am not seeing many of these individuals around!

The Secret to a Happy Life

Beautiful young woman sleeping and smiling while lying in bed comfortably and blissfully on the background of alarm clock is going to ring. Sunbeam dawn  on her face.

Picture a scene. You are in your thirties, it is a Sunday morning and you are in bed with the strands of sunlight drifting through the curtains. Your eyes open and you see your partner in life bathed in the early morning light , asleep and naked.

Now I have got you attention!

This is the mother of my children, my best friend and above all this is the person that I am comfortable with. Every contour looks familiar and welcoming.

This is the person that I belong with and this is what I find erotic. It is not the nakedness but he warm feeling I get from lying in a bed with someone I have experienced my most intimate moments in life with in my arms and loving every single moment of the experience.

As get older I have discovered that I don’t remember the grand gestures in life or the life affirming moments, all I want is to cuddle up with someone who knows me and give me comfort in my darkest moments.

I believe what is important in life is to be given unconditional love and cuddles from your nearest and dearest (and beer but that does not sit well with Ann).

Have a great Easter Guys.

Epic Video Production of the Week 4th April 2017

I can’t believe its two years since my last track of the week, but as they say time flies when you are having fun.

My original proposition was that each week I would choose a song from a movie which may be popular or not. The only criteria is that its a great song and it fits the scene in the film perfectly. Let me know if you agree and please feel free to suggest some of your favourites.

This weeks track however is the video for Everglow by Coldplay. Now what makes this special is that it is an alternative to the one put out when the track was first released.

The track is all about loss, about missing your soulmate for whatever reason.
Now Im not a great Ice Skating fan but this performance is mesmerising. Look out for the moments when you think how did she do that.
Tanja Kolbe and Stefano Caruso : for choreographing and performing
Directed by Mr Joe Connor
DOP : Patrick Mellor
Editor : Ellie Johnson at Speade
Grade : George K at MPC
VFX : Cherry Cherry VFX
Colin Offland : Producer
Matthew Clyde : Producer
Alexa Haywood : Agent and for being a legend
Ellora Chowdhury : Grade producer
All at Chief Productions
All at Cherry Cherry VFX !! for their incredible VFX work
Production Comapany : Chief Productions
If you like the simplicity of it just look up the making of video, it was not that simple!

Friday Night Confession

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As my regular readers are aware that Friday Night in Diggle is spent at the Happy Beaver talking to several people who have one thing in common, we all like a drink and like to escape from our high-powered jobs for a while and find respite from the pressure we are all under in every waking moment.

Often this pressure is not from our careers but from balancing the demands of our jobs and family commitments and trying to give our children the opportunities we wished for.

Now this is a very difficult path to tread. How many times do our kids use emotional blackmail to get their own way, I would suggest rather more that we would like to admit to.

On one the one hand we don’t want our children to feel privileged, but on the other hand we want them to take advantage of our experience. This route is fraught with danger, and at what point do you appear to be a pushy parent.

I have heard cases of parents having a meltdown after a very long day of supporting their children using language that would make a rugby player blush (you know who you are so I will save your blushes).

This does not make them a bad parent, it makes them human. Children will push you to test the boundaries, that is their job. On the other hand, you need to support your children but when it clashes with something you want to do you feel guilty of letting them down and it sort of spoils the experience even if you are strong enough to put your own needs above theirs and that is very sad.

Sometimes saying no is the best option.

As a parent, I am very lucky. I have children that at any given moment I can call on and they would drop anything to help if they could. Admittedly they are in their thirties and forties but it is payback time.

But some of my younger friends are in a situation that they feel that they are expected to run around after children, parents and various charitable causes because that is how they have been brought up, with a sense of duty and I think that is very admirable. But that is not why they do it, It is because they take great satisfaction out of what they do.

It is the stuff that our nation is made of, it is who we are and what we are made of and it reassures me that when I am gone there are people just like me who will try to make a difference, and that is comforting.

So, to everyone who feels a little bit guilty of neglecting children, parents, or friends please remember that at my last recollection there are only twenty-four hours in one day and no matter how you try to make it different that is how it is.

So, to sweary mums everywhere who are at the end of their tethers, who care for children, balancing careers and elderly parents I love you one and all, it’s because you care, it’s because you have huge hearts.

You may not think your children will thank you for it, but eventually when they have kids of their own they will realise what a sacrifice you made for them and that is reward enough for any parent.

March is Mortality Month in our House

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Everyone I know has a month in the year that they dread. In my world it is always April but the dread starts mid March and as I write this it is mid month you can imagine how I am feeling.

I like to think of myself as a glass half full kind of guy but I cannot help but feel that the sword of Damocles is wafting over my head. I know it is as Mr Spock says illogical but at the back of my mind I have started to feel like something is coming which I may or may not like.

As usual I have been taken out tonight by my nine year old grandson  (that is a very bad excuse for going and drinking with some very nice people) and it is a very nice experience. But after a couple of pints of Guinness it is at this point in the week that I start thinking of the bigger picture and my own mortality.

Can I say that I am lucky and I have managed to achieved most of my life goals and the ones that are left are not worth mentioning especially since Kylie Minogue has a new boyfriend.

I am however starting to think that I may have left it a little late to fulfil some of my childhood dreams.

So here is my Bucket list:

To have a Gin Sling in Raffles in Singapore

Watch the Sun rise at Aires Rock

To have Breakfast on Route 66

and above all watch my kids be settled and happy.

So which on the list do you think is my priority?

Obviously I am a responsible adult and it is that my kids be settled and happy (although I do rather fancy breakfast on route 66.

So my advice to all you millennials reading this is you have to follow your dreams, don’t leave it to late or you may not be in a fit state to enjoy it.

Above all be kind to people who hold such flights of fancy, because they are the people who will achieve their dreams on your behalf.

So when you are in the old folks home and I am sat at your side dribbling and incoherent I hope that we will have least achieved some of our dreams with the people who matter the most to us!

If not don’t you think you may regret your missed opportunities, I know I will.

What the hell is an EpiPen!

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Image courtesy of International Business Times

Now I know that some weeks of your life are epic but trust me this week was by any measure unforgetable. I don’t mean in a social media context but in a real life heart stopping way.

As many of you are aware that my new regime of four day weekends means that my life has taken on a more relaxed pace and I am becoming used to more time to do what I want rather than what I need. But on Wednesday morning when my alarm went off and I didn’t hear it, life took on some urgency, I needed to be in work and in class in 30 minutes.

This means that the niceties of life cease to exist. Gone is the shower, breakfast and the obligatory cup of strong coffee, all that is left is the dart for the door and get to work asap.

Now this is the strange bit, how come you leave ten minutes later but arrive at your destination ten minutes earlier. How does that work?

So I am in the office contemplating wether or not I can catch up on my caffeine hit which I have missed  when my colleague who I work with decides to have a breakfast bar and a coffee because she to had overslept. This is were it gets a little wild, so I suggest that if you are of a nervous disposition stop reading now and go and do something far more interesting.

Picture the scene, I am in a semi comatose state waiting for an influx of caffeine when with some urgency my colleague discovers she has eaten a breakfast bar laced with all sorts of nuts and heathy stuff that apparently is very good for you but she is allergic to.

I can say with some authority that the effect of this oversight was dramatic to say the least. Within 20 seconds she was gasping for breath issuing instructions that I could barely  understand and dropped to the floor in a semi conscious state.

Now as a typical bloke I didn’t want her to know I was clueless and as my wife has said when she has had medical episodes I needed to appear to be calm and stay in control. Now thats easier said than done, I was in way beyond my comfort zone and expertise.

She was giving me instructions that were nearly audible and way outside my understanding. She instructed me to find an EpiPen in her bag. I had no idea what an EpiPen was let alone what to do with it. With a some help from her I managed to find this life saving device buried deep inside her bag in her makeup pouch.

So with that hurdle overcome I now need to know what to do with it. Gasping she said I had to inject it into her thigh, for a split second I thought how the hell do I take her tights off and how do I inject her without hurting her (I know this is pointless when you are hanging onto life by a breath but a man of my age is way out of his depth)!

Can I just reassure you all, I did not remove any of her clothing and whilst I was dithering as to how I was going to inject her without hurting her she made the decision for me. All that was required was brute force and ignorance, whilst I was dithering and trying to come to terms with what I had to do she decided that actions speak louder than words and struck the device with such force I thought she had broken her leg.

After a few seconds things began to improve and she started to breath again and normality returned to my world (apart from my heart trying to burst out from my chest).

In that moment I discovered two things, that life as we know it can change in a heartbeat and that to be prepared is always preferable to discovery learning.

So to all my friends out there, I can assure you that I am hopeless in a crisis, I appear to be in control but inside I am screaming. If any of you have allergies that could be life threatening please let me know and show me what to do before it happens so I am prepared and in some sort of control.

One thing I can tell you though is that I didn’t need a caffeine hit after that, I was wired for twenty-four hours and it almost led me to have heart failure.

So for those who are interested my colleague is now recovering and hopefully we will laugh about this when next time we meet. That is far better than the alternative outcome that could have taken place, which goes to show even grumpy old men can be useful sometimes.

What a Difference a Day Makes!

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The Great Orme Llandudno

Lets have a weekend away Lady Ann said, but the pressures of being of a certain age are that when you want to do something you enjoy is often dictated by Hospital and Doctors appointments. Now I am not complaining and I am sure glad of the NHS even with its chronic underfunding and the chaos that ensues every winter.

So bearing that in mind we decided on a midweek break Tuesday to Thursday, inbetween the Doctors and   Diabetes clinic appointments.

Now when I was a teenager like most people I thought I would live forever and that I would always have a pep in my step, how wrong was I then. It’s not that I feel any different inside, (Lady Ann often comments that I need to grow up) but my body is beginning to creak a little. It’s not the knees groaning under the strain of exercise but more like my lungs running out of puff just when you need it most.

So after a quick sit down and a brew after loading the car up we headed off to Wales, our nearest other country neighbour, only a couple of hours down the road. First stop was Llangollen, a beautiful little town tucked on either side of the River Dee for a lunch with some friends.

As beautiful as it is Llangollen has one serious flaw in that if you are on Vodafone your phone suddenly becomes just a piece of plastic and glass cluttering up your pocket. Trying to find each other was a nightmare without a signal. To make up for this though a lady in one of the many shops Lady Ann stopped in kindly lent me her mobile to give them a call.

After a great lunch and much chatter we were off to our hotel in Llandudno. Now I know what you are thinking Llandudno is hardly a romantic place but it has two things that appeal to us, one its flat and easy to get around with plenty of retail opportunities for Ann but more importantly it is surrounded by great roads for me to pretend I am a rally driver.

dsc00226Driving up to the summit of the Great Orme is a great way to spend a morning. We had a great day eating, shopping and driving so what’s not to like.

Now Thursday was a different proposition altogether, it was the day Storm Doris came to call. It was really wild, not just a little windy but driving on the coast road the sea was epic and very scary so we headed homewards early just because we thought if this had hit Eccles Hall we would need to be there to sort out if anything blew off.

storm-doris

In theory this was the right thing to do, in practice it was a mistake. People driving far to fast without lights on in a storm is always an accident waiting to happen and having spent an hour sat in a rolling roadblock looking at the back of a police car I discovered it would probably have been better waiting for the storm to pass. But you live and learn.

It was lovely when we got home, it was as though nothing had happened, it was calm and nothing had blown off the house, which living in Diggle is always a bonus. So our adventures are now over for a while and I am sat here with a brew looking at patches of blue sky and even though it’s freezing its still better than sitting through a storm like Doris.