Christmas is coming!!!

ITS CHRISTMAS!!!

SANTAAAAA HERE, I KNOW HIM, 

I’M A COTTON HEADED NINNY-MUGGINS………….

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Because I am a 48 year old man who spends the year looking towards Christmas!! There, I have said it, the run up to Christmas is the best time there is. It is said Christmas is the most wonerful time of the year, I say the excitement surrounding the run up, from about October until the Big Day, is really the most wonderful time of the year, the anticipation and never ending surprises are magical, or am i wrong?

So, playing devils advocate, is it all the best time, or is it just a hyped-up spending extravaganza, that leaves many people in more debt, and more worried? Is it a time of year that highlights any, however small, cracks in a person and then takes advantage of the situation? Is it Christmas that is wonderful or the build up, and the wonderful bit ends Christmas Day?

Christmas starts earlier and earlier, indeed this year (2017), True Movies became True Christmas on only the 2nd October!! So between now and New Year we can watch 24 hours of Christmas films, continually, 24/7 never stopping!! Is this too much?

If we look at things is it not the expectation that causes both this great feeling on the one hand, and dire misery on the other? Think about it………..

Christmas opens up everyone to disappointment, even in a very basic form, children produce a list, that is more and more extravagent, and parents try to fulfil this. When they can’t disappointment is guaranteed. People like me hate the let down, and will do anything possible to deliver the list as wanted, regardless of the money we just do, because we cannot deal with the disappointment shown by others. Is not the only person really suffering here the delivey person, the “me” trying and trying to not let anyone down? It is no wonder suicide rates climb so much over Christmas!! Is the time from Christmas Day onwards not dire??

Now, I have a few tips here to avoid this situation –

  • DO NOT take children to visit Santa, either in a shop, or mall or even at the North Pole, with anything less than a week to go until the Big Day, why you ask?? When the Big Guy says “What would you like for Christmas??” you can guarentee that Little Suzie, or Johnnie, will then announce something you have never considered. Something that was inundating the shops, until now!! With 7 days to go you have a chance, trips to Santa on Christmas Eve – NO!!!
  • Avoid trying to out do “the Joneses”, if they have a light extravaganza on the house, just enjoy it, and remember it is their electric bill!! Climbing up to try and beat it will definitely end badly, probably in A&E, and at least with a huge electric bill. If it matters so much get the professionals in to do things!!
  • Keep a tight hold of your purse,or bag, at Christmas Light switch on, any fairground attraction is double the price of normal and the petty thief is also very active.
  • Keep a tight hold of children at Christmas Light swith ons, or else you will turn around and find they are on rides, holding bags of sweets for you to buy, or raffle tickets that cost a fortune!!
  • If you are asked for a particular thing, say a certain make of jeans, do not try to hand over an alternative, exactly the same but without the label that counts. Dissapointment is guaranteed!!
  • Never make a list yourself. If someone has thought of you, and decided that a 20p Bic Biro is what you need, that is great, it is as good as a £300 Monteblanc pen, they have thought about what you need and given it over. If you have paperwork everywhere it could be paper-clips, is this not a better gift than something you could buy yourself? The contributor has thought of you, end of!! If you have a list, and it is not fulfilled, who is let down?
  • Enjoy Christmas on pure face value, if you have no expectations they cannot be shattered like an ornament on the tree!!
  • And talking of trees,real or artificial, huge or tiny, look at it with joy, it is decorated as you, or the children wanted, end of, it does not matter what others think!!
  • NEVER, NEVER make New Year resolutions, they are setting you up to fail, for sure!!

I could go on and on here, however, here is the bottom line, the real deal………….

Christmas is coming, like it or not!! The children are going to start, list of Argos pages will appear. Christmas films start on the telly, and music on the radio. So try to enjoy things, it may well be hard, but remember, it is only ONE big day and a few Bank Holidays, there are still 358 days without Christmas to contend with. When Christmas films are on, or Christmas music, of which Fairytale of New York is the best, sit back, reflect on the year and forget things, they have happened and cannot be changed, so enjoy the now.

And finally, I urge you to remember, regardless of religion or belief, that Christmas is here to celebrate the birth of Christ, allegedly the son of the Lord Himself, whether he was or not, a child was born about 2000 years ago and named Jesus, we know that is fact, everything else may just be like Chinese Whispers, however, we get a few days off the roundabout because of this, and a few days of extravagance as a result. Whoever this child was, they have given us Christmas.

I think the expression is “Eat, Drink and be Merry!!!”

 

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Seasons

As the seasons change and the season of Summer moves into Autumn is it still correct to view the times of change as set in stone?

 

A few weeks ago, on one of the morning television Chat Shows, an “old time” farmer was explaining that the seasons had come to fruition 21 (twenty one) days early. He was very specific, not about 21 days, or around 3 weeks, NO 21 days!! As a farmer he was able to justify things by expaining how buds on trees, crops growing and the weather totally showed a 21 day shift. He also stated that winter would be hard this year, but, that is yet to be seen……………

Is he correct? have the traditional months of change been moved, are things now 21 days early?

He could be correct, today is the 15th September, it is cold and has been wet. The Indian Summer has not happened, or was it 3 weeks ago at the end of August? If things have shifted back by 3 weeks we are now seeing the weather normally seen in October, is this quite accurate? The weather forcast suggested it may snow in Scotland the other night, admittedly Northern Scotland, but really, snow in September??!!

The farmer who made this statement was a proper old time farmer, he even spoke with an “oo ar” type of lilt, he has spent his life watching nature and how it performs. His livelihood depends on knowing what nature is going to deliver next, would he not know, more than the computer buff meteorologist, the real story?

As summer clings on with an ever decreasing finger hold, the first tendrils of autumn and winter are being felt. The heat has left the suns rays and the late nights of daylight are coming to an end as the nights quickly draw in. Before 8pm last night the curtains were closed and the lights were on, it was too dark to not react. When did this change begin, was it 21 days ago?? We know that the nights will get longer during September, however, does this rapidly increasing time of darkness not seem more pronounced and earlier?

The shops are carrying on as normal, the first signs of Christmas are appearing, Christmas flyers and catalogues are becoming more pronounced. A trip to a local supermarket, or even convenience store, will show shelves emptying and the tops of freezers being readied for extra treats. A trip of a week or so ago led to the first box of Mince Pies being bought, and even a local, village, chemist is now selling a few extras for Christmas. All of this means the excitement has arrived, but, are shopkeepers now taking advantage of the 21 day change and being able to start their Christmas run up earlier? I adore the run up to Christmas, as October and November advance I get like a child in a Sweet Shop on “Sweet Shop Friday”, but is mid-september not just a trifle early? I appreciate that I can always get happy over Christmas, however, there remains a part of me that is already Christmas Fatigued as the shops push that season earlier and earlier. Selfridges and Harrods opened their respective Christmas Worlds at the end of July and beginning of August, in London, but, is this not just a gimick to pull in the shoppers, the tourists who expect this. Are other shops doing the same? that is really taking advantage of the shift, already we seem to be enjoying Christmas in July as Australia has this, but, they have it because of the weather, we have it…..because we can!!!

So, let us go back to the 21 days. What does this really mean? 21 days it doesn’t sound a lot, 3 weeks, that is all. But what is three weeks, they are nearly a month, so children going back to school in very early September are seeing weather early, suddenly early September warm sun is not around and we are seeing weather from the end of the month. Putting this is in very understandable words, Christmas Day on the 25th December is seeing the weather normally associated with mid January, is this not now into prime cold and snowy conditions? Christmas Day was, often wet, but not to bad, will it now be cold and snowy?

I will end with questions are the seasons changing, is it by such a precise time of 21 days, is this change a result of man’s abuse of the planet and the changing temperatures because of this??? A worrying thought if this is the case.

If I Were a Rich Man

What would you do If You Were a Rich (Wo)Man? What “If I Were a Rich Man” is all that you desire?

Topol bases his thoughts around having money, being a wealthy Man, and the trappings this attracts. However is Rich an amount of money, is wealth a tangible thing to be measured by the zero’s after an amount in a bank account??

Here is the real question…………. is wealth, or Rich, measured by a physical amount of money?

In many circles,and often to ourselves, having lots of physical money, “A small fortune” according to Topol, is the answer to all issues, but is it?

if you won the lottery at the weekend, say £10 Million in the bank, would this be overall wealth or just a number in the bank?

Without a doubt worrying continually about the need for money, how the bills will be met, and if you can Heat or Eat, is a huge drain oin a person. The never ending robbing of Peter to pay Paul is a hugely worrying and time consuming problem. If that disappeared would just having the money be enough to make us wealthy?

Let us go back to the lottery win. £10 Million just there to be spent, saved or given; but, I say winning £10 Million is fabulous, however, will also lead to eventual depression and issues.

What would you do? Let’s see……..

Firstly you would buy the “House on the Hill” say for £1.5 Million.

A decent holiday and time away – £500K.

Nice Cars – £1 Million.

Flitter Money – £1 Million.

So, we have very easily spent £4 Million, but, there is still £6 Million sat in the bank. Properly invested it should make about 6%, compound, or simply £370K a year, without ever touching the millions. That is £7100 a week, could you spend that? £28K a month!! So here is why there is a problem.

There is £6 Million in the bank, you have bought the house, cars and holidays. There is flitter money to spend on anything. What ambition or aspirations are left? How long will it be before boredom sets in. All the talk of “It won’t change me” is total rubbish. How can that amount not change you. So all the old issues of before are gone, wiped out, now there are new ones. Everyone you know will expect you just to pay everything. People you have never heard of will propose all sorts of ways to “spend” the money, on them!! And how will you feel? it would be natural to think you need to pay everything, natural to want to give people money. very quickly the continual pressure of other peoples wants will drive you to become very introverted and eventually never leave your new palace in case others start with their never ending wants.

And this new pressure will cause depression, you will wish you had never won £10 Million and still struggled everyday. Why? Because then people did not want your wealth, they jus wanted to be a friend. The honesty of those days is gone.

So, is being Rich purely based on Money, do not misunderstand me, if someone wants to donate me a few million pounds, I will manage on their behalf, but will I be rich?

Is wealth not a mind set. If you have health and family, a few friends also, is that not wealth?

You have these things, so you are wealthy. Does the homelss person, living under the arches not measure their wealth on other things. Do they not feel wealthy when someone gives them a coffee or sandwich, physical money is not a measure for them. The expectation of their life is different. Doing something important to them will make them feel Rich, or, Wealthy.

When I wake up in the morning, and a new day is here, if my health is allowing me to feel alright. Do I not have wealth? Is the wealth not further enhanced by turning and seeing my Wife, and hearing the children. Is not having these people not making me Rich??

What about at work, if a project is going well, colleagues making you happy, and managers being pleased, is this not wealth as well? If the personal situation and work are added together is this not being Rich, or wealthy, beyond your wildest dreams?

And here is the bottom line, “If I Were a Rich Man”, maybe we all are Rich in our own worlds and ways. Everyone from the Tramp under the Arches to the Industrialist with millions in the bank. We are all just one step from being that tramp or leader of business. The tramp could find the infamous lottery ticket tomorrow, the business leader could see it all go to pot and fail. However, with our health and family we are surely the “Rich Man” that Topol wants to be.

Are we not there??

Sweet Shop Friday!!

I want to remind people of their childhood…………..

How many of us were taken to the Sweet Shop on a Friday, after school, clutching our pennies in hand as we went into the sweetshop to spend this money upon sweets for the weekend?

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Penny sweets galore!!

I clearly remember my infant school days, in the village I grew up in there were two proper sweetshops, however, the small one, on the High Street, was the one we mostly used.

It was owned and run by a little, round, old lady. the wall behind the counter was full of jars of sweets, sherbert and liquorice. All of these tempting jars were there for us to buy sweets in 40z packets, or even 2oz if we wanted. If we had a ridiculously rich week, and had saved our pennies for a few prior weeks, we might be able to buy 8oz, and then we would be gorgerd, suffering from a sugar rush all weekend.

However, the biggest joy was queing up to spend our money on individual items from a small glass cabinet that “Mrs. McDonald”, the owner, sat beside to help us choose, and let us be honest here, we are talking about spending 20 pence. To us this was a fortune, we could fill the small paper bag with sweets, delights ranged on shelves according to their price, 1 penny up to the expensive shelf with items of 5 pence or more!! Was this the origin of the modern day “Pick n Mix”?

Sweet Shop Friday
Food glorious food
Sweets, Sweets, Sweets!!
Sweet Shop Friday!!

Jumping forward, and frighteningly, 40 years, my own children, well the two still at school, and even though they are 13 and 16 respctively, Sweetshop Friday is an accepted and known event. Friday they are not picked up from school, but no, they walk, actually walk, to the village that we now live in, Sweet Shop.

Their is a difference. I was given maybe 20 pence, my children have £2.00, and then they buy bottles of drink, big packets of crips, and as a small tribute to the past, they might also buy something by Haribo.

How times change……..

Am I just being romantic, am I reminiscing to much? Do I see the Sweet Shop trips with rose coloured glasses?

I say “No”, how can a trip to the Sweet Shop, on a Friday as a treat, or if you like a reward, for the week at school that is finishing not be eagerly anticipated and a happening to focus upon?

So I have an idea, let’s restart Sweetshop Friday. I say implement it, and not just for our children, why can it not be for us as well? Decide on a Sweet Shop to use and become a regular and trusted user. Every Friday go along and spend a couple of pounds on delicious treats to hord over the weekend, eat slowly and see if we can keep the sweets until Monday.

It is a challenge for all, reinvent Sweetshop Friday. Make the week go quicker as we approach the day. Feel the excitement grow, and remember the anticipation we had as we walked to the shop. Have that small and precious excitment again. Let our own children experience the joy we had.

Story time…….

We all have a story, it is made up of the events that have happened to shape us. It is growing all the time and reflects “Us” to the rest of the world.

What if we don’t like the story, or there are events that are part of it that we wish never happened??

How do we know the events that change our path are corect, what if they need changing so the path we follow is the one we want to?

We all put things into our stories that may not have happened, or did not quite happen as we said. Call it embelishement or just making things up, the thing is that we believe them too, they become happenings that really happened. And we tell others how good they were and what we did. We are sure they happened, our brain is sure they happened, so they must of……

As we often believe what never happened, it is also possible to change our Story to make sure the path we are following is the one we want to follow. At this early stage we can just dream the path we want, just dream of the events that need to happen. They could be new events or to make on old one “better”. We are not saying take an event and just make it seem as though you are the hero, however, we are saying a small modification can make a scary event not as scary, and as you find yourself in the same position again, your brain tells you the new story and it is no longer scary!!

Let us elaborate on this so it makes sense.

Let’s assume that going down a lane, a dog jumped over a gate and chased you, maybe even bit you as well. Everytime you go down that lane a wave of fear passes over you. What if the dog jumps out again, what if chases you? It is not even known if the dog still lives here!! 

To walk down that lane and not feel a never ending anxiety, the memory will need adapting.

So close your eyes and visualise the event, but change it, in your minds eye a dog never jumped the gate, and, never chases you anywhere. Still not happening? Imagine the dog as a cartoon character, maybe a funny dog, or, maybe it is a balloon dog, a funny colour with 5 legs!! It is our imagination we are visualising, so see what you want. How can anyone be afraid of a balloon dog??!!  Now keep visualising this event, with the cartoon or balloon dog, a lot, over the coming couple of weeks. When you are sat quietly, or in bed before you go to sleep, see the “New Event” the one where a balloon dog floats over the gate and just blows away as balloons do, or a cartoon dog leaps over the fence and then rolls around going “Yip-Yip”, either way it stops being scary and is just funny. After telling your brain that the new version is correct, the brain will adopt the visual over a very short time. Walk down the lane, past the house, no anxiety, your brain is saying “oh look, the balloon dog floated out here!!” and this is where the story is modified to match the needs.

It is a fact that belief shapes our story, if we believe the world is flat, and enough others also tell us this, then the world is flat!! Forget the photo’s we have seen, the earth must be flat. 

So believe what we want, “I want a Jaguar Car”, so believe that you will gt this, create the memory and visualise it, the new car will not be outside waiting tomorrow, however, believe it will happen, and for sure a new Jaguar will be within your grasp soon. Past events can be modified to remove fear, and thus a new memory can be made to shape the future. Like a film script it can always be rewritten; and that is your life, see it as a film, see yourself as the films star and then create the path you want to go down. Make the story, star in the story, believe what is being followed, and watch the path of your life also take the route and happenings of the story.

Now there is more to what can be achieved and how to do this, but, this small entry is a start, and, will help shape the initial. Think of a scary memory, realise that whenever the event happens you get scared, and then, change the story to stop this…………

With huge thanks to Libby from

Success

How do we measure sucess?

Is it the “House on the Hill” and the Aston Martin parked in the drive, or is it travelling all around the world, as the company you work for sends you, a lot, or is success something totally different to the sterotypical image of it?

If we look in the mirror, what do we actually see? Do we think a known person, a Richard Branson, looks in their mirror and sees the image of themselves the same?

In general we are all aspiring to the big house, the exotic holidays and flash car, but, does the mirror show someone who is really happy and enjoying life, or, does it show a tired individual who is forever trying to keep up, or ahead, of “the Jones’s”, is life actually enjoyable or is it a constant battle to gain the expectations laid down by society and family?

So, do we mean success or, actually, do we mean happiness. A person who is happy and content must, by very definition, be a success in their world. And here is the reality, everyone has a “their world”, it can be seen as a variety of rings, like those Saturn has, or the Matryoshka, or Nesting Dolls of Russia. They may not all be happy, however, the end result has to add up to a situation that is real.

If we look at these levels, or Rings, or Dolls, we need to start with the smallest, or at the beginning, a very good place to start, this little world is the one made up of immediate family – the life partner, children and parents. It may include brothers and sisters too. Is this little world happy?

The next level is one made up of uncles and aunts, cousins and very close friends. The first ring can survive on its own, but it really can benefit from this second doll to nest inside. So we have a second world, encapsulating the first. Are the two both happy, or has one overshadowed the other??

The third level is more general friends, people you know from school, or just last week in the coffee shop, either way these are friends, not, work colleagues, but, friends. This ring can now go over the other two. Now there are three levels and still work is not included. Are they happy, do they mesh with each other or is it imperative to keep them separate. How are these three now being happy?

One must be careful about making a work colleague more and a proper social friend. Work, and the colleagues there, make the 4th ring, however, this is a delicate ring. You may get on really well with all the colleagues here, but, and think about this, do you want to integrate them into your world of normal friends, world three? Can you really socialize with these people and walk away from the daily work routine? Is the whole work thing the “elephant in the room”? however hard you try do work events or issues, keep cropping up? How can this 4th doll be integrated, it is still there and surrounds the other three worlds, still happy??!!

And the doll keeps growing, we could add a fifth ring just of business associates, everyone from the window cleaner to the CEO has these. If you are the window cleaner, customers are business associates, you may all get on well with them, but, they are clients, end of story!! The CEO may well have hudreds of connections, through the six degrees of separation there are probably millions, literally, however, these people are business associates. Now this level swallows the other worlds, and it all gets bigger……..

Now, we could go on adding levels, little worlds, time and time again. In some instances the doll might finish up huge. With all these rings in place are you still happy, or, and as is said, successful?

Let us go right back to the first ring, the doll containing immediate family, is this, if nothing else, happy and successful? This tiny doll, or ring, is the core of the whole conudrum. At the end of the day, when you go home and close the door, the immediate family are still there, still offering a shoulder to cry upon, or an ear to here the wins. Out of all the levels, this is actually the one that cares the most. The other rings will have a level of care as well, however, everyone in these rings have their own Matroyshka Doll, and their own individual levels, and, every single one of these has the first doll, the collection of their family. Like the song, they all have their own Little Boxes.

Therefore, in this world, the one we all live in, the real world, where we all strive for Success, yes, it is that word again, the actual desire to be seen as one of the successful ones, can Happiness actually represent Success in a more powerful way? is a measure of success the house, the holidays and car or is it the person?

A person who is a beachcomber, who just makes enough financial gain to cover the needs, but, they go swimming, surfing, fishing or just lying in the sun, whenever they want. They are not trying to climb any ladders of social standing, but, are relaxed and very happy with their standing. Are these people, maybe even the tramp asleep under the railway arch, not the truly Successful ones?? Are these people not the true lucky ones, those who are not weighed down by the trials of society, and, just take each day as it comes. Not necessarily aimlessly, but without the established traits, that we are guilty of showing, as we strive for a narrow view of success.

Being aimless means a person has no real need to get up, however, these people have aims and goals. They are just on a whole different plain. Society say struggle for a promotion, or bigger house. The aim of these, truly happy, people is one much smaller. If they caught a 3lb fish yesterday, they want a 4lb one today. If the tide washed in a football today, what will it wash in tomorrow?

One thing will always remain constant – The sun will still rise, and who can know what the tide will wash in…………..

Have we just found true success??

 

With many, many thanks to Renaissance Life Therapies. They have, and continue to teach me so much.

The Sun is Out……….

The sun is Out, the Sky is Blue, but it’s Raining in my heart!!

NO IT ISN’T………….

The sun is out and the sky is blue, it is also over 30 Degrees he near London and today is Midsummer Day, the start of the Summer Solstice. The longest day of the year is here. Today is the summer solstice when the UK gets to enjoy 16 hours and 38 minutes of daylight. The sun rose at 4:43am today and sets at 9:31pm.

Thousands of people went to Stonehenge to watch the sun rise, a fitting start to a true Druid festival. So Summer Solstice is important to druids, but to the general man in the street there is more to this.Generally it is known as Midsummer Day, it is 6 months into the year, and, frighteningly, the start of the run down to Christmas. December 21st the Druids see as the Winter Solstice. The rest of us may spare a thought to this, but, in general, with just 4 days left until Christmas, we are probably rushing around sorting the last things for the Big Day, I suppose we may have a mince pie and a glass of mulled wine out of respect for the day, however, as life is we are normally rushing around oblivious.

So why is the Summer Solstice more recognised? Why is June an easier date to sit up and think?

I think it might be a very simple answer –

  • January – we are still recovering from Christmas. Get the coffee out!! And as a gift use this voucher JAMES-0BU9A to get a £5 discount!!!!
  • February – Other than Valentines day, and Shrove Tuesday, which is the day when everything nice in the house goes and Lent starts. Also saying you are giving up “Bubble Baths” for lent just does not cut it!!
  • March – A small glimmer of spring may appear, the odd snowdrop, however 1 flower is not spring and it is still drab and cold.
  • April – At least Easter comes along, Lent finishes and the chocolate appears. Hotel Chocolat time!!
  • May – At least it is getting warmer……….
  • JUNE – 6 months gone, it is summer, and hopefully, warm, and then, on the 21st is a celebration of Midsummer as it is called. We all know that it should be lovely in July and August, and often September too, but this day is recognised as being the middle!!

And this is why it is special, it is the middle of the year, the start of the Christmas run up, suddenly the long summer holidays from school are a few weeks away, and then September and the Last Night of the Proms. is this not also the end of summer??

And then it starts with Halloween, Guy Fawkes Night and the true Christmas start after these events. For 2017 the true Midsummer is the 24th of June, a Saturday, what could be better, Midsummer and Christmas in June, it is party time!!!

And so, the Sun is out, and the Sky is Blue. Spend a few minutes thinking of the next 6 months, they will be busy, and for the first time since last Christmas, a proper festival is just peeping over the horizon. Now come back to today, pour a cold drink, whatever takes your fancy, couple it with something nice to nibble on, and then rejoice the Solstice and raise that glass to the future, it is looking good, good, good.

 

Desert Island Discs – choose the tracks…….

A long time ago I posted a similar link on a separate Blog. The idea is simple, a ‘castaway’ is asked to choose eight tracks (usually, but not always, music), a book and a luxury item that they would take if they were to be cast away on a desert island. This seems simple, and then you start looking at your music, and sometimes audio books, can anyone be limited to just 8?? Let’s try………….

1) Say a Little Prayer, Not the Aretha Franklin version that everyone knows, but the Bomb the Bass version – Back in 1988 when I first started dating my now wife, this song became “our song”, I cannot remember exactly why, but it did and has continued as such for nearly thirty years. Aretha belts this song out, as only she can. Bomb the Bass have a slightly less “belt” and more of a ballad. The song symbolises how things are, and every morning when I get up, and at night, in bed before I go to sleep, I give thanks for the day and the wonderful partner I have, as well as the fantastic three children we have as a result of our partnership. This track must come as it is where we started.

2) Fairy Tale of New York, The Pogues with Kirsty MacColl (RIP) – However you look at things, whatever you feel about the season, this is the definitive Christmas Song. Forget White Christmas, Merry Christmas Everyone and even Merry Christmas War is Over, this one song is the absolute definition of Christmas. Starting with a “it’s going to be good” rant and then followed by a tribute to togetherness and New York. Like the proper Coca-Cola advert with the lorries, once they have been seen and this heard, Christmas is upon us. During the year I sometimes just play this because it is good, but, it is really for Christmas, as the opening line says “It was Christmas Eve babe……” for a special warmth inside, whenever, this comes with.

3) Jealous, Labrinth – What a way to both apologise for happenings and also admit your jealousy. We all have lost people, and we are all a bit jealous of what they might now be experiencing, and we all feel guilty and need to apologise for this,  and any past episodes. If we could see the person again, for however short, we would. I would!! The track verbalises all of my emotions. I am sorry that we are not together, I am jealous of everything that I could not share in the past, and, importantly, it is not your fault. This humility is good at times, that is why the track comes along.

4) Sylvia’s Mother, Dr Hook – My wife introduced me to Dr. Hook, and this song could be heard on our car stereos at all times. It maybe a sad song, in its own way, but, how often when we were young teenagers, did an irate Father or worried Mother take a call to stop their daughter (or son) coming to the phone? I appreciate this record is an extreme happening, and no parent sent their daughter away because of me, but it is a great track and just symbolises the fear we all have for our children, the just in case factor, there is always an escape route. so to remind us of this, the track comes.

5) Sound of Silence, the Disturbed – The group look so frightening, and a lot of their stuff is very heavy rock, but, they presented a version of this song, that because of the deep gravely voice of the singer and the switch into a strong ballad, takes this song to a new level. The lyrics of the song remind me of sometimes you can talk and ask until you are blue in the face, however, silence just comes back, “people talking without speaking, people hearing without listening” we have all been there and no doubt will go again. I admit to being a terrible communicator at a personal level, I keep things to myself to prevent any fear of incrimination. I don’t share as sometimes it just feels safer not to. This song comes to the island to remember that silence is not a good thing.

6)I’d Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That), Meatloaf – I have every album he has ever done, I have been to many concerts. Bat Out of Hell, especially live, remains a magnificent track, the song that introduced me to Meatloaf. Of all his hundreds of tracks this song, the full version, just defines a song of pure honesty and soul. “I won’t do that” a pledge to do anything needed and yet never doing the wrong, refusing to do it. Never doing better, and declaring that you won’t break that promise. I am just a humble person, but I want to think that I would do anything for love and I would always keep my pledges as given. This track remains a powerful and timeless classic. It comes……………

7) You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling, The Elvis Presley version – Only Elvis can do true justice to a song filled with power and a pleading to not loose that feeling. Back when I was firs with my Wife, we saw Top Gun, their version of this song is rough, however, it just shows how a song can personify so much. We love this film, and this song just starts a romance in the best way possible. Oh to have the front to have tried something like this!!! A track to evoke lots of memories and it is a great song.

8) How hard is it to choose a last song, we have no Trans Siberian Orchestra, no Avici and no Passenger. As I look at songs a myriad of memories come rushing forth. Forever Young or Bruce’s No Surrender, Prince of Peace and The Look, what about Bowie and Dire Straits, this is very hard………….

Far Above the Clouds, Mike Oldfield Tubular Bells 3 – What an icon Tubular Bells has been, and is. In part 3 “The man in the rain picks up is bag of secrets and journeys up the mountain…..” and at that point the he is never seen again, but the sound of Tubular Bells can be heard. Is this a symbolic end to Tubular Bells or is it hinting of more to come? Either way this is a perfect end to story, so far, it is also an end for me as regards tracks, with this song you can listen to it forever, it is pure music. Pure in its simplest form.

Now we have 8 tracks, just a book and a luxury item. That choice is a lot easier.

Book – His Dark Materials trilogy – The greatest love story ever written. The trilogy winds around and forms a meeting, it is almost like sliding doors, left or right. As the love blossoms and the depth becomes deep, a twist ends, for now, a true love. Like The House at Pooh Corner the end is actually inevitable, and yet yearned for, never ending and always there. The end is almost unreadable, and yet it has to be done. A book that will never grow old.

Luxury item – Proper chocolate or proper coffee? Which one is more vital? The always there chocolate, from Hotel Chocolat, or classic strong, black coffee from Pact or LaVazza. I am rarely seen without coffee in hand, but sometimes only a piece of chocolate can suffice!! As these are my discs, and my island, I am saying that 2 luxury items are allowed, and for me the choice is so easy – Coffee and Chocolate!!

And now it is done, 8 tracks, a lot of time looking and soul searching, but finished. Every track I have has a memory attached, I think, right now, these 8 are the ones I want to hear again and again.

3rd June 2017

I find it hard to enter another post about more atrocities. Whilst atrocities happen around the world, every day, the one on the 3rd of June was here, in London, and has come just over a week after the last one in Manchester. Once again I am stating my gratitude to all the emergency services involved, and armed forces, and especially the normal, “man on the street” who has stepped up, again, and offered help and support without limitation.

Let us, and in no professional way, and only my opinions, look at this though………

At around 10pm last night a small group, probably just three, of murderers wreaked terror on the busy streets of London. Do these people warrant the title of terrorist, or are they just plain and simple murderers?

A terrorist, by definition, has an objective, the definition says  “a person who uses unlawful violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims.”

Where did politics come into last night. If it was a targeted attack, on a certain race or religion, that would make it sort of political. The murders last night did not discriminate, driving into as many random people as they could, and then knifing more random people cannot be focused. Is this not three lunatics committing a crime of hideous proportions? 

Murder, the dictionary says this is  “the unlawful premeditated killing of one human being by another.” Surely that is a much more accurate description of last night?

There can be little difference between these killers and any other murder –  the person who kidnaps and murders people, the taking of a child to torture them and kill, the people who drink, or take drugs, and then through intoxication, murder other road users or pedestrians?

In fact, the three from last night, may believe in their heads that they are going to paradise and being given numerous virgins as a thank you, but actually they are not removed from common murderers. How does ramming a car into pedestrians differ from many drunk drivers? The only difference is that these lunatics then got out of their vehicle and finished the job with knives.

Are these common murderers not being given a certain status by labelling them as terrorists, is the West not actually glorifying their crimes by suggesting there was a political motive behind the actions? Are they now not being hailed as “Martyrs to a cause” amongst their peers?

Let me make something very clear here.

I have no discriminating feelings against ANYONE. I do not care what race, creed or colour a person is. I have sat in Jerusalem, on a table with Arabs, Israelis, English and French. We laughed and joked. We shared our cigarettes and drank coffee. At no point was there any malice or prejudice, we sat and chatted, talked rubbish and laughed at stupidity. All religions were there, and yet not a single person cared. It will be said that this latest attack is all down to being Muslim, however, I say No. 

The attack last night was down to Extremists, who actually could have been any race, right now it is seen as Muslims, an Islamic attack on England. Not long ago it could well have been Catholic against Protestant as the IRA bombed and murdered, its way through the 1970’s and 80’s. Once again atrocities being called terrorism. The difference here is there was at least a small political agenda.

There is bad in all walks of life. The murderers of last night were extremists, who felt in their minds they had a cause, a point to prove. I feel that 98% of people, maybe even more, do not have any strange ideas, no desire to carry out atrocities. Does Mr. Patel, or Mr. Smith, Mr. Horowitz or Mr, O’Leary,  who runs the shop down the road feel any different to anyone else today? Are we not all merely sickened? Because we are all just normal people………..

I was told years ago to find good out of any situation, if you like the silver lining.

So here is a thought, a hope that comes out of last night, a “sliding doors” moment.

Can we hope that when Mary Brookes needed help last night, John Brown gave this support, maybe it was Tariq Khan, or Adisa Okunwo, and from this moment in time they agree to meet again. In normal circumstances they would never have met, let alone again. From this chance meeting, where help was offered, without hesitation or agenda, how would it be if a romance blossomed and from here a wedding, children and a whole life?

Through that one second meeting a whole new path is carved out, and, through that, and other similar experiences, the Murderers, Terrorists or any other title given, will never properly succeed in any cause they feel their actions are helping. All that the atrocity has achieved is more hate towards extremism, and, let us hope, some new and flourishing personal partnerships!!

Memory

What are memories, what is the earliest one that you can remember??

I tried thinking last night about how far my memory lets me go. People have varying degrees of memory and say they can go back to almost when born. 

Having spent last night thinking, I know when I was about 3 my “best friend” then was the girl next door – I can even remember her name, Nicola Asher – we had a toy telephone set, red with a white cable, that was hung over the fence so we could talk, like adults, on our phones. When you picked it up it rang the other until that was answered. We rang each other ALL the time. I also remember we would go to the end of our Close and there was a gate there and I remember looking out, and seeing everything below as if we were in a floating Close. Amazing how you remember things!!

It is then a bit of a blur, until, I can definitely remember a swimming birthday party, when I was about 4. It was a friend from preschool. She was the first coloured person I knew. I remember after the swimming bit as we got dressed her boasting about how her black skin and curly hair was not affected by the water and did not get wet, I was so impressed!! 

They are definite memories, as I got older I remember more and more from growing up, but, they are the first proper memories I have. I say proper as I have perceived memories, things from earlier I could not remember, however, I have been told so much about things it is as if it is a memory. I would say I remember having a toy penguin, sort of plastic and about 8 inches tall, from Avon I think. We lived in Peacehaven, near Brighton, I was still in a pram so could not have been much more than a year old. I tossed Penguin out of my pram, into the sea below, after he fell a hundred feet or so off the cliff. I was distraught. I cannot actually remember this event, it is not possible!!! And yet here are the details, why?

It is a perceived memory, my Mother has told me this story, a number of times, and I see it as a memory. It is perceived. I am sure it is a real memory, but, I know it has come from being told, frequently, my Mother likes to remind me how lovely I was as a baby(!!), and so I see it as a real memory. As an adult I am sure I am not “lovely”, so she reminds me, often!!

Now I am a, very proud, father of three boys, now in their teens, who have created memories every day of their lives, real memories, some photographed, but whatever and however, memory after memory.

My youngest, now 13, allows me to take him fishing, he is a wizard, and without him to help me it could not happen. In a very short time he has learnt more tricks and methods than I could ever have dreamed off. He knows that the huge carp aspired to are not regular occurrences. Sometimes simple, old fashioned, float fishing provides more contentment. It provides memories that can never be forgotten. Memories of his mastery and the continual catching of fish, regardless of size, that forms one after another of special moments.

  

It never ceases to amaze me as to how the boys create so many special times, even just sitting watching television they can come up with a comment that is both hilarious and creates unbreakable memories.

What if a memory is bad, it is of an event that was one to forget?

What if a memory merely serves as a sad time, a sad, tragic or horrifying happening?

Anyone who says they have none of these are either lying, very privileged, or see things in a very unique way.

Surely everyone, at some period in time, whether it was from their early years or just last year, must have a memory of, and with deep regret, something they want to forget?

Did a beloved family member, or friend, leave them, either actually moving away or, passing. Either way is that one event, just that short snapshot, not still a bad memory. If someone has passed, being told must create a bad memory, a sad one. Being less dramatic, what if they fell over and cut their knee, or worse broke a bone. What if something has happened that caused a disappointment. That episode must be one that forms a bad memory.

Can a bad memory be suppressed, put in a little box and left?

I would say “No”, we can believe we have pushed it away, but, it is still there. At some point the event will resurface. A separate event entirely, months, years, in the future will open that box and bring the thought back to mind. The box is shut, however, at some point, something will happen to open it. That is why it is a memory. As bad as it was, it happened, it is there in your head. Initially it bangs and bangs on the box it is locked in, after a while it will be quiet, and then something will happen, and it could be anything, a certain taste, smell or seeing something, often totally non-related, will let that locked box swing open. 

Can we heal again from this? 

Only each individual can answer that. Face it, run and hide or just try to ignore it, the box is open and that is the only true fact.

Personally, I always tried to sweep things under the carpet. I now know this, for me, is wrong, and the carpet is now very bulky!! I must try to face the memory and take things from there. I have tremendous support from my Wife and Children, and also from some special friends who go out of their way to try to help. Someone to listen, someone to offer a different point of view. Sometimes the memory that is dire, is turned into a memory that is less awful and can be viewed as hurting less. That is all I can do………………

How do you deal with things??