Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Rains Came

The rain it raineth on the just
And also on the unjust fella:But chiefly on the just, because
The unjust steal the just's umbrella.
Charles Baron Bowen 1835-1894
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Friday, April 27, 2012

The Scourge of the Age

I went with that delightful chap Louis Theroux to Phoenix Arizona last night, where the second of his programmes on Extreme Love was filmed (the first was families with autistic children).  This week the subject was dementia.

The Beatitudes Centre is a ‘retirement community’ for men and women with dementia.  It has endless corridors but the residents can’t get out; there is even a special code to use the lift.  The staff seem warm and caring and are excellent at deflecting the patients when they get restless or stressed

For instance, a patient who is a retired dentist is always happy to look at someone’s teeth and gave Louis an encouraging report on his.  When the dentist’s wife came to visit she had become accustomed to his flirtations with the other women – including the woman in charge.  Later in the programme she said she was getting ready to move away and get on with the rest of her life.  Oddly the next time she visited he was extremely attentive to her – as if he had a glimmer of what was going to happen.

One tiny lady was walking up and down the corridor – simply babbling nonsense whilst her son tried in vain to get some response from her.  And then suddenly she stopped in her tracks, reached up to him cupped his face in her hands and gave him such a loving look.  As he said to Louis her life was just fragments but a fragment like that made the visiting worth while.  His sisters no longer visited as it was too upsetting for them.

Louis also visited dementia sufferers being cared for at home by their family.  Nancy – in her late eighties and still a vibrant personality, was cared for by her husband John 89.  Nancy had been a New York model and although she could no longer complete a sentence, there would be bursts of animation and one caught a glimpse of the person she had been and understood why John was happy to care for her.

Quite bravely Louis agreed to look after Nancy for a whole morning whilst John popped out for some respite.  They went for a very short walk – Nancy got tired;  they had cookies with a drink, they listened to some music and eventually, exhausted – they fell asleep on the sofa.  There was great relief all round when John returned and in a quiet moment Nancy – in her fashion asked him not to go out and said that he was so good to her.

Another sufferer was a woman of 49 who can’t remember how to use a mobile.  She was a charming, laughing woman who just seemed to be drowning in a relentless sea of disorientation.  Tragically they had a young daughter and the sight of her patiently laying the table for a meal was so sad.  The husband was doing his best to be a carer but when things got too much his daughter said;

‘Remember Dad – softly and sweetly.

When they visited the doctor for a check up he asked the patient to draw a clock with the numbers on.  Afterwards Louis asked why the doctor had seemed to curtail the session and the doctor said he had seen all he needed and he didn’t want her to get more stressed.  The husband Glen said he thought about his and his daughter’s future.  He couldn’t afford residential care and was considering – later on – divorcing his wife so that she would be the responsibility of the state.  Seeing what decent people the family were I wondered how they could survive something like that.

There is something quite child-like about Louis Theroux and the people he meets trust him and like him.  His face reveals his compassion and he naturally reaches out to these patients and hugs them as if they were family.

 Dementia Awareness week is coming up soon.  Around 670.000 are thought to be affected by the condition and one in three expected to develop it in the future.

Louis and Nancy

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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

It’s an App, App, Appy Day!

MTL What’s an App?

I took a deep breath – only a week or so ago the same question had puzzled me and I had decided – incorrectly – that they were appliances.

The definition which makes sense to me is:

An app is an application - a computer programme designed to help people perform an activity.

  The easiest way for me to understand it is if it is something I use.  I don’t use a smart phone, BlackBerry or iPad but I do use Microsoft Word frequently and am assuming that that is a Web App.  Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong.

It was in 2010 that App became ‘word of the year’ so I’m only a couple of years out of date!

I read in the Daily Telegraph the other day the dishy historian Dan Snow admit that he had fallen head over heels for Apps.  This is surprising when you consider his bookish background - he himself and his father Peter Snow are both authors.  He has just spent the last 6 months working with a team to develop an app about the Second World War.

So many of my frustrations when writing or making TV and radio programmes relate to the straitjacket imposed by the medium.

For a user to search, jump around, filter and explore an app is like putting them in the driving seat

As MTL spends much of his leisure time reading history books and books about WW1 and 2 I had a vision of him ‘sitting in the driving seat’ and being transported by the whole experience.  What a marvellous birthday gift that would be.

 I read the whole article to him and asked what he thought.

“Television is alright (he watches Yesterday) radio is better but I shall continue to read books."

So no Damascene conversion in this neck of the woods.

Dan Snow below.

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Sunday, April 22, 2012

Sunday Garden 2

 Turbulent sky
 the quiet pl;aces

 Rosemary for remembrance
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Sunday garden

Posted by PicasaMum's acer and the severely cropped Ilex beginning to sprout - thank goodness!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Wish I’d said that.

If you want others to be happy, practice compassion.  If you want to be happy, practice compassion.

Dalai Lama

The greatest happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved, loved for ourselves, or rather, loved in spite of ourselves.

Victor Hugo.

I saw the anger in the marble and carved until I set it free.

Michael Angelo.

My best friend is the one who brings out the best in me.

Henry Ford

Experience is the name everyone gives to his mistakes.

Oscar Wilde.

Not knowing when the dawn will come, I open every door.

Emily Dickinson

The only sure thing about luck is that it will change.

Wilson Mizner.

BTW why does nobody ever say:

It’s not me – it’s you!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A bit of a snag

 See below.
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A bit of a snag

I’ve just been test driving the new Kindle.  I downloaded Julie Walter’s autobiography That’s another story – I have been a fan for years and was confident it would be a good read and it was – but where was the lovely cover photo of Julie?  You don’t get that in a Kindle

The first third of the book is about her childhood and her unique family and one can understand where Julie is coming from and why she is so special

I found it difficult to put the book down - especially as it is so much easier to hold the Kindle when one is prostrate in bed, rather than a heavy tome.  I was about a third of the way through - you can see the percentage already read at the base of the page - when MTL became concerned at the sight of my heaving shoulders and tears trickling on to the pillow.  I was reading about her early nursing years and she was dealing with elderly patients dying.  I’m a little ashamed to say they were tears of uncontrollable laughter.
I remember being in the same state when I saw the Victoria Wood sketch with Julie playing an elderly waitress.  Seems the older I get the funnier I find it.

She has had a long and varied career on stage and screen, won countless prestigious awards both here and in the USA and seem to have come through it all unscathed and unspoilt.

I have to be honest and admit that when she is writing about the time she lived in Soho and her early days on stage I did cringe a little.  I remember working in Soho in the fifties and in those days found much of it distasteful and tried to rise above it and carry on working.  Even now I find a little sleaze goes a long way but Julie exposes it and almost revels in it.  I was glad when she got on to the fascinating story of becoming a formidable actress with the ability to have her audience moved to tears or helpless laughter.

One really gets the feeling that no ghost writer was involved, as if one was having a drink with Julie and she was telling her story- and she is not afraid of long sentences which furthers the illusion.

Back to the Kindle –I missed seeing photos of her loved ones, her childhood, her triumphs, her loves.  I have no doubt many of these are in the book proper (and the next time I’m in WH Smiths – I’m going to check.)

I often want to go back to reread a particularly moving excerpt but – as Beleek(see sidebar) pointed out this is not so easy with Kindle and at one time I thought I was going to get a Kindle thumb from turning the pages – but I soon got used to it.

In conclusion Julie’s book is well worth reading and the Kindle is a useful tool – and I’m glad to have one- but it can never replace books proper - so rest easy UB.

The fact that- as far as I know - there are no photographs in Kindle - is food for thought with regard to publishing an autobiography.  And also – as Macy and Keith (sidebar) point out any other e-book won’t carry a Kindle story.  Or do you know differently?

Friday, April 13, 2012

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The rest of the visit.

One of my guilty pleasures is to tease the young and Alice’s boy friend was too tempting to miss.  I showed them the new decorations and up in the attic revealed our scabrous bath with an acid bath murder story thrown in.  Alice, of course, knew better.  I also told him we had a murderer’s signature in the visitor’s book.  Before too long my conscience smote me and I confessed that the first story was hokum but the second was true – although at the time the murderer stayed only he knew what he had done.  His step- mother was a friend and they both spent the night prior to scattering his father’s ashes on a nearby high point.
Although we had been promised rain the weather wasn’t bad so we set off for photogenic Luccombe and then Webber’s Post.  Not surprisingly Tom was sceptical when I pointed out the spot MTL and I had seen a Beast of Exmoor one winter Sunday afternoon.  Absolutely true – it slunk across the road in front of us and disappeared into the hedge.  It was puma like in shape with a long tail and of gingery hue.  On my life!
At Webber’s Post we parked the car and # 1 son led us on a pleasant stroll.  I enjoyed being out once more on the familiar rolling hills and Tom – who had never been west before seemed to enjoy it.  I was reminded that Alice is exactly the age I was when MTL and I had the wonderful time youth hostelling in the Lake District before it all went horribly wrong.  There is even a similar photo with Tom looking daffy in a hat borrowed from # 1 son.  Way back when, MTL and I found a similar hat on Honister Pass and there is a photo of MTL looking equally daffy wearing it.  I wish I could find it.
You’ll see on one of the photos a strange edifice with what looked like sun reflector panels which puzzled us – but I expect one of you will recognise what it is.  It is such a remote place to have sun reflector panels.

 To my delight it was decided to go to The Burning Stump – just one of its names of the Inn at Luxborough.  A rare treat because of the difficult drive and the parking.  The food is different and excellent as a rule.  It was very quiet – just one other table, so we sat in the bar.  I had prawns with home made mayonnaise and ciabatti.  I couldn’t help reminding my son of when he was a teenager and he and I toured Brittany where every night we had prawns and mayo and the special wine of the area –Muscadet.  He was a learner driver and I remember there were one or two heated debates in the car.

 All were happy with the food bur only Alice and I had puds: a mixture of sorbets for her and a heavenly rhubarb meringuey one for me.  I noted to my son we had been well looked after  - I was given finger bowls for my prawny fingers but he thought mine hostess  could have delayed the vacuuming until we had left.  There’s no pleasing some folk.
The rest of the visit passed in a pleasant blur and we were sad to see them leave the next morning.  Embracing Alice I couldn’t help wondering when I would see her again as she is off to do a year in the States as part of her American studies.  Incredibly I forgot to embrace # 1 son but ten minutes after his departure he was back for a forgotten jacket – and a double special hug.

 I’m lucky – the photos seemed to have published albeit in topsy turvy fashion.  I hope the dialogue makes it clear.

The rest of the Visit

 Webbers Post

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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Never say Die

All day I have been trying to do a post on our trip to Luccombe.  Eventually I managed to get some photos published – and checked they were there.  The next time I looked they had vanished so I deleted the empty squares.  Eventually tried again and the same thing happened with the result that Naomi (side bar) when trying to visit got the message that the page didn’t exist. I gave up in despair.

 Meanwhile – heart in mouth I signed up for Google chrome hoping it might improve things.  It didn’t.  I emailed Blogger – making up an address and just at bedtime tried just one photo.  It worked so I tried another four and then another four.  As far I know they are still there.  Does anybody know what is going on?

No wonder people are fleeing to F.B. blogging is becoming a trifle onerous.

Night night!

Out and about in Luccombe

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Out and about in Luccombe

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Monday, April 09, 2012


I’m still being patient with regard to my book but have been given some useful links for publishing on eBooks.  Has anybody had personal experience of this?

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Prize Spoilsport.

Yesterday was the 33rd year that MTL and I watched the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race together.  It’s special for us - MTL rowed at Oxford and Henley and his brother (as scholarship boys) was an Oxford blue.  It started off at a cracking pace – Oxford needed a good start as Cambridge would have the advantage at a bend in the river.

About halfway through the race Oxford were holding their own with a bend to their advantage coming up when – incredibly - the crews shipped their oars and a man’s head was seem bobbing in the water.

The umpires decided that both boats should retreat to an area near the island and they would be restarted.  By now – with all the Hoo Ha - there was a distinct popple on the river adding to the chaos and increasing the load on the very tired oarsmen.
Meanwhile the intruder was picked up by a police launch and taken into custody.

After about half an hour there was a restart and with both crews giving their all there was a collision and Oxford lost an oar.  The lady Cox raised her hand in appeal but the race continued with Oxford virtually a man short.  Oxford could have retired which would have meant no result, but they courageously carried on to the end and it was no contest – Cambridge won.

The umpire refused an appeal and it was all over except that no-one at first noticed that Dr Alexander Woods had collapsed after rowing his heart out in the bow.  He was taken to Charing Cross Hospital and is now recovering.
One of the coaches said how hard these young men had trained over the last few months and what should be the culmination of their careers had been ruined – for both crews - by one individual.

This individual is a blogger who believes elitism leads to tyranny.  I’m not going to give him the publicity he craves but as an example of his mindset here is one of his many tips for causing havoc:

If you are a pest controller and you are called to the office or home of an elitist or elitist sympathizer can you fail at destroying the pest and possibly introduce new pests.

He managed to ruin the day for countless numbers of people and  imagines he is in the same category as Emily Davison who gave her life so that half the population – women, could have the vote.

 I don’t think so.

Friday, April 06, 2012

Happy Easter whatever your beliefs.

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The Easter Parade
What shall I wear for the Easter Parade?
A dress that’s the color of marmalade
With a border embroidered
in light blue cornflowers
Like the edge of a meadow
after spring showers
And a matching hat round
as a top you can spin
And elastic to hold it on under my chin
And brand-new shoes
whiter than newly-poured cream
With heart-shaped,
golden buckles that gleam;
And I’ll carry a small purse
of butterfly blue
With a penny for me and a penny for you
To buy us both glasses of cold lemonade
When we walk, hand in hand,
in the Easter Parade.
-William Jay Smith

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Women nurture whilst men...

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MTL asked #2 son to trim my vanilla scented clematis - uinknown to me.
Fortunately for his health and safety there are a few green shoots.
It had wandered along the telephone line and I wouldn't want it to interfere with my computer would I?????