Saturday, 31 December 2016

2016 and all that...

This is it, the last day of 2016 and I can almost hear the cumulative sigh of relief as this awful year passes. What a year eh? We lost so many idols, we came ‘out’ of Europe, a man named after a fart will soon hold the most powerful position on the planet and I still don’t have a flying car.

This has to be the worst year ever. Worse than the years of plague in the middle-ages, worse than the pointless devastation of life in World War One, and far worse than all those innocents killed - almost in my lifetime - in the concentration camps of the Nazis. Bloody hell, we lost David Bowie, George Michael, Prince, Princess Leia and so many others, small acts of terrorism killed hundreds (particularly in Paris), Nigel and Boris hoodwinked a nation, and our Prime Minister adorned her very long legs in leather…

Yes, probably the worst year ever - can you see the toungue in my cheek?

I'm not making light of this year's disappoinments and tradgedies, I know that I've found it a very hard year. But like most years I find myself on the cusp of the new thanking my god that the old one is over and like most years I tell myself that the New Year will be different, better, a year of change, happiness, and peace. Like most years I really know that this may or may not be true and it is just as likely that 2017 will be ten times as bad as 2016. After all it wouldn’t take much. Maybe a fart will drop one and some other fart drop another. Perhaps a new virus will stand up to our antibiotics and wipe out half of the population of the world. Could that meteor hit and… well you get the idea.

So what am I saying? I guess I am saying that life is chance, our world is chance, even chance is chance and that there is nothing we can do about it. If we get on the bus that explodes we won’t know until it happens, if we contract that flu virus that has been expected for so many years the Night Nurse (and let's not forget 'nothing' is stronger) may not cure us, and if Elton departs along a yellow brick road - never to return - that’s just life playing out its hand like a wonky candle in the wind.

In 2017 we will lose idols we love, there will be senseless murderous acts, illness will kill our friends and family (maybe even us), prices will rise or fall, politicians will politic rather than do what is needed, and our worst fears may be realised or not. So, rather than just wish you a Happy New Year in the face of chance, I wish you the strength to continue no matter what with a smile on your face, with determination and with as much happiness as you can grab.

So thanks. I value you my friends.

Thursday, 29 December 2016

Swimming or drowning...

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I’ve been trying to write today but nothing will come which is strange as when I am asleep my mind is so full of thoughts and themes. It’s become harder and harder to write anything in the last twelve months. It’s as if I no longer know what I think and even Trump just seems to be an inevitable joke that is being played on us all. There was a time when my words would have raged with him, but why should I bother. A few million flies can’t be wrong can they?

It’s cumulative isn’t it? These small shocks and defeats that seem to come from nowhere but were there in the shadows of age and experience all along. It’s been a confusing and bitter year with not much accomplished and what few answers I have found have been deep at the bottom of a bottle – many bottles actually. Too much change, too much loss, too much realisation of the inevitability and powerlessness that I feel at times.

I can’t remember the last time I picked up a pen or a brush other than to sweep the floor and I find myself wondering if it really matters. I’m not going to matter in a few years anyway and who will care for my words and scribbles? Oh, I still have the odd flash of insight but it’s so much easier to concentrate on the next drink, the next meal, the next episode on TV and thinking is so very hard: far, far too challenging, so best not to do it.

I pretend that it will all be different next year and that I will hit upon a great idea, build bridges, lose weight, smile more, try to be better, write and paint and think – but will I? Can I? I seem to be ‘enjoying’ myself far too much to be bothered. I’ll have to see and hope, but hope is found in pretty small measure at the moment. 

Maybe it’s the time of year.

There was a time where I saw contentment as apathy and I think I may have been right. In my laziness I have become apathetic to the world, content to just accept whatever will be. What can I do? I’m tired of being the king of lost causes, weary of fighting for nothing. It’s time maybe to take off my Canute crown and let the waves roll over me, get wet and swim or drown.

I have no idea where I would swim to though.

Saturday, 24 December 2016

Christmas Eve...

Another Christmas Eve and what a difference from the last. So many ch-ch-ch-changes. Last year there was always the slight hope of a Bowie tour and a new single Prince to listen to. I would have sworn that my mother in law Joan would be around the tree Christmas morning apologising for the presents she’d bought – and of course there was never any need for her apologies. I was looking ‘forward’ to being a European for some time in the future and a nuclear showdown was not even on the agenda. Ali might not have been punching but it was comforting to know that he was still around. Snape was still mixing his potions, Wogan was still Woganing, Gill still being outrageous, Mrs Merton was still being far too forthright, Manuel was still confused, Cohen was still being deep, Vaughn was still thinking he was Napoleon, Hilda was still singing, Burns was still spinning around, R2D2 was still beeping, Victoria was still tinkling her ivories, Daniels was still liking it (although not a lot), it was still goodnight from the last surviving Ronnie and… Should I go on?

I really did think that, with Christmas Eve so quickly approaching, it could get any worse and then an old friend and colleague left us as well leaving me with yet another hole that will never be really filled. What a bitter blow at the end of a bitter year. But life goes on and being bitter gets me nowhere.

So it’s Christmas Eve and I’m wondering what’s coming next.

Marley’s ghost maybe?

(Afterword - But as it turned out the Status Quo was not maintained)

(Afterward two - and George Michael on Christmas day.)

Wednesday, 21 December 2016


Today is the winter solstice, shortest day, longest night and from here on in it all gets better.

I pray it does.


I find myself praying in the deep black night.
I don’t know who to,
I don’t know for what,
I find myself praying
What else can I do?
It seems to be all I’ve got.
I find myself praying
And I don’t know why.
But some help (whoever you are)
Would mean an awful lot.
I find myself praying
In the dark alone.
Praying again?
I here myself groan.
I’m praying for not knowing,
For the last of the evening light,
For the storm blowing,
For holding tight to the kite.
For birdsong,
For cats,
For madness,
For coloured paper hats.
For Betty Boop,
For falling snow,
For bowls of homemade soup,
For the snug in a fireside glow,
For looping the loop-de-loop.
For becoming eccentric,
For falling rain,
For circles concentric,
For swirling down the drain.
For a curry with rice,
For a pad of plain paper
For not thinking twice,
For an unexpected caper.
For the smell of the sea,
For a ghost story in the dark,
For a dash of rum in tea,
For having a bit of a lark.
For bad jokes,
For speaking in clichés,
For freeing a pig in a poke,
For final attempts in last ditches.
For being a bit of a bloke.
For trying not to worry,
For what will be, will be,
For never having to hurry,
For finding a long lost key.
For acting daft,
For trying my best,
For holding tight to the raft.
For whatever you suggest
For the best.
For clean bed linen,
For wine,
For robin song at night,
For correct spelling,
For a sign,
For getting it wrong or right.
For the opening of a door.
For a kiss and a paw.
For all of this and more
I find myself praying for.

Tuesday, 20 December 2016


Some of us go through our lives stumbling across campfires in the woods or on empty beaches and each time we do are attracted to the light. It’s where people meet, bring out guitars and sing, fall in love and form bonds that can never be broken. 

I see them as I drive down country lanes, hearing the laughter as I pass swiftly on pretending that I’m not a moth and that it’s not for me. I guess you might say I’m a party pooper.

I’ve never really felt comfortable sitting around the campfire. There’s something about the light and warmth, the singing and general good humour that doesn’t suit me. I’m the one on the edges, flickering in the shadows. You might know that I’m there but you probably wouldn’t miss me if I wasn’t. It’s not that I don’t want the warmth or to get lost in the brilliant flames; it’s just that I’ve never felt that it was really my place.

On the few occasions I have ventured up to the glowing embers I have found that they soon lose their heat and on those few occasions, getting far too close, I’ve been burnt. Sometimes badly, and getting your fingers burnt is a hard lesson that’s even harder to forget.

I did have a time in my life where my moth almost became a butterfly and the campfire really did seem like ‘the’ place to be. I couldn’t handle it though; so much wood to collect, all those flames to fan, too many people with buckets of water wanting to douse my flames. Better to stand in the shadows and watch. It’s lonely in the shadows though.

Friday, 18 November 2016

Old Man’s Eyes

It was as if the day,
Cold, wet, streaked with blue and gold,
Had decided that today was time
To tell me I was old.
It came as no surprise to me.
I look through old man’s you see.
And old man’s eyes
Cannot disguise
Life’s gradual greying by degree.
Even the scudding of the clouds,
The blowing of autumnal shrouds,
The hunching down of shoppers in the street,
The reluctant stepping of their feet,
All seemed to say
Today’s the day
To face your mediocrity.
Six decades on
From that first gasp,
With kicking feet and clutching grasp,
The end seemed such a long way off,
Each challenge met with sharp riposte,
No thought was given to the cost,
And I not once thought to end up lost.
Ha! Just goes to show; keep fingers crossed!
Through old man’s eyes I see it now,
The inevitability of outcome.
Change? I couldn’t anyhow,
Besides, what can be done?
Ten, twenty, thirty, more?
Two thirds of my full sum for sure,
You cannot pass back through that door
When all is said and done.
And all is said and done.

Thursday, 17 November 2016


I don’t really like authority and I don’t react well to being told what to do. I expect it comes from a childhood where I was constantly ordered about, told what to do, and punished when I didn’t do as I was commanded. It had an effect on me to say the least and one of those effects was to turn me into the sort of person I hated so much. For years I told people what to do. At times I even believed I was right. Now, after so long trying to get my own way I realise just how pointless that is. 

Making people do as you want achieves nothing. If they aren’t with you then they aren’t with you and no amount of persuasion, threats, or bulling will change that. Bribes might work in the short term, but it still doesn’t work ultimately.

Of course this makes things difficult and generally the way I deal with difficult things is to fight against them. Well, after a lifetime of fighting my corner and failing to get very far I’m pretty tired of it. Even more tiring than losing is the knowledge that I can’t really change anything no matter how hard I try. People and the organisations they belong to know how to deal with people like me. They have processes, procedures, strategies. They know how to tie things up in jargon, red tape, and evidence. They are prepared to ignore the truth, embellish, and even lie to come out of it on top. They know how to tell me what to do – and of course they can always call the police. 

It’s demoralising.

At this point I suppose I should say that even so I will never give up. But that isn’t true. Increasingly I give up, increasingly I don’t even start. Knowing that you are wasting your time and breath is a great moderator in much the same way that a hammer beating a nail into its place moderates the nail’s behaviour and purpose.

Yes, I give up but I won’t be beaten. Keep hammering, I’m a pretty tough nail.

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Auden and I...

Auden and I

Sitting in my cosy corner,
Conversing with Auden
And sharing a malt or two.
Black birds flying towards the night.
Yes, Auden, you know who.
The rich red of the evening,
The fleeing of the light,
Making friendship for us pair,
For all his world as if I were really there.
From the amber we spoke tight.
Birds and clocks and time and grief,
And how life gives
Then robs the thief.
Auden and I,
Watching the sky
In my corner
Close to the sea.
We spoke of streets and fogs and loves,
And how once (a long time ago)
We were held safe as a hand in a white kid glove.
And how the night encroaches.
And how the light reproaches.
And how the whisky helps
Auden and I.
And so with the whisky and rhyme,
The crows and ticks of time,
The slippers and light,
The coming of night,
And the smell of kippers for tea.
Auden and me.
Auden and I.
Clink crystal to the sky.
And how my feet are cloven hooves
Dressed inside my six league boots,
Travel broadens every mind,
Life a pageant made of mime,
Not every pavement is smeared with grime,
The clocks are keepers of our time,
And spirit is stronger than barley wine.
The conversation winds and rewinds.
W.H. Auden and I
Making truth of lie,
As the evening gold goes by.
Emptying the bottle together,
And contemplating never.
This man of letters and paper,
Bound in fog and mist,
Wit as sharp as a piercing rapier,
Speaks to me as I gently get pissed.
My good friend Auden and I.

Sunday, 13 November 2016

Nobody important...

Farm boys and factory workers,
Nobody important.
Hundreds of thousands,
Pumped up with patriot.
Itchy woolen uniforms,
Ill fitting boots,
Marching with rifles,
To the sound of drum and flute.
Wave goodbye,
Wave goodbye,
Wave goodbye,
The six feet of the trenches,
No place for the brave.
Postmen and shopkeepers,
Nobody important.
Men of laughter and love,
With wives, sons and daughters.
Chocolate from home,
A letter or two,
Waiting for the whistle,
A call to die or do.
Shout goodbye,
Shoot goodbye,
Shout goodbye,
Running through no-man's land,
What was it all about?
Laundresses and milkmaids,
Waiting at home.
Over by Christmas?
Well yes, for some.
Over for ever,
Hopes, plans and dreams.
And all for king and country,
It all seems so obscene.
Remember them,
Remember them,
Remember them,
But remember that remembrance
Won't bring them back ever.

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

The rub...

It’s funny the way things pop into dreams. Last night it was Letraset, that wonderful rub down lettering that only a few years ago was so important in my life. I used to spend hours deciding with typeface to use on a piece of design and would pour over the Letraset catalogue looking for just the right font. That catalogue was like a bible and each year the anticipation of the latest Letraset catalogue and the new faces that it would contain was almost like waiting for Christmas.

In my dream I was rubbing down Letraset 10pt Univers Light. At that size and with that weight Letraset was a little hard to handle and getting it straight was a challenge. If it was an old sheet the letters had a tendency to crumble as you rubbed them down with your burnisher and the sheet I was using was not only old but dusty too – a disastrous combination. No matter how hard I tried I couldn’t get it right and of course, as with all of my dreams, I was up against the clock and something extremely vital was relying on my success. I can’t remember if I got it right in the end, but I awoke with my mind full of fond memories of Letraset.

Some of those fonts were fantastic and it was easy to manipulate the rub down lettering, overlaying it on top of each other to make instant design. It wasn’t just lettering either, you could get rub down trees, cars, figures, pointing fingers, stars, borders – Letraset was a graphic designers dream even though I never did get the hang of the spacing guides underneath each individual letter.

I can’t remember the last time I saw a sheet of Letraset let alone used one, and looking back it all seems very strange in this world of computers and practically unlimited fonts. There was a real skill to using it well though and I’m sure I could still do it if I needed to in the real world and not in a dream.

Letraset, another great innovation consigned to the scrap heap… And that’s the rub.

Monday, 31 October 2016

Under the bed...

There was something under the bed. I don’t think it was there when I was in a cot, but when I moved into my ‘big boy’s bed’ there was always something under it. Of course I was told not to be silly, but I knew that I wasn’t being silly at all. 
There was something under my bed and it was waiting to get me. I was as sure of this as I was that Father Christmas would tumble down the chimney on the 24th of December each year and sneak into my room. There was something under the bed. My bed.

At first the thing under the bed was Andy Pandy. I knew he was there even though I couldn’t hear his bells jingling. There he was in his blue and white striped costume with that blank expression and those glassy vacant eyes. Was he a clown? I didn’t think so, and the way he trapped Ted and Looby Lou into his basket each night made me wonder what he was doing to them in the dark. I used to cry myself to sleep hoping that he wouldn’t do the same things to me.

After a while Andy Pandy became the Wicked Queen in Walt Disney’s Snow White. She used to lie motionless, deadly silent and clutching a poison apple as she waited for me to fall asleep so that she could force it into my mouth and down my throat. Sometimes I used to wake up choking knowing that she was standing above me, her black horns making the shadows slither across my bed. Of course it was just a dream, but she’d be back the next night waiting under my bed for me to fall to sleep again. ‘This time, this time,’ she would whisper in my mind.

When I started going to Sunday school gentle Jesus meek and mild came to lie under my bed surrounded by rotting fishes and mouldy bread. He was bleeding from holes in his hands and feet, his head was scored by thorns and blood flowed from a deep wound in his side. I used to pray to him from the safety of the covers, hands clasped, praying that he didn’t answer me in the dark. He didn’t seem very meek and mild to me as he dripped blood onto my bedroom floor and performed miracles in the tomb beneath me. He stayed until my parents agreed that I needn’t go to Sunday school any more, mainly because since I’d been going I’d begun to wet the bed. Of course, it was the holy Jesus who pissed in my sheets - another miracle - and not me.

Over the years I knew lots of beds. Beds of girlfriends, beds of wives, beds of mistresses, hotel room beds; even a hospital bed for a while and every time there was something underneath them waiting for me. Maybe I was being the ‘silly’ of my childhood, but the progression of vampires, ghosts, monsters and zombies were always there and waiting for me to lower my guard so that they could come out and get me.

All the big stars were under my bed at one time or another: Boris Karloff, Lon Chaney, Christopher Lee with a stake through his heart, the creature from the Black Lagoon. Later it was Regan with her spinning head and green vomit, Pennywise with his slash of a smile, a black eyed Japanese child that looked like a blot; and there were others. Once I taped a couple of sticks together to make a cross as I absolutely knew that Nosferatu was patiently waiting among the dust bunnies on my bedroom floor. Even the decaying bath woman from the Overlook Hotel was a regular guest and would rot away under the bed in my room.

Over the years I must have had just about every evil and badness possible under my bed stalking and staking me out. Not once did they venture from under the springs whilst I was awake and not once did I have the courage to lean out and look at what was there. I just knew that something - some horrible thing - was beneath me and waiting. Even on the hottest nights I made it my habit to keep my feet and hands inside the covers just in case they reached out and pulled me down into whatever dark hell they came from. On top of my bed I was safe. Underneath was another story and not one with a happy ending.

All my life they’ve been there, night after night. I can’t remember a time without them. They’ve stayed with me long, long after Father Christmas went away. Sometimes – the really bad times - they’ve been actual people and not monsters from fiction at all. They were the real monsters, the bullies and teachers and bosses, even an ex-wife for a while. My father turned up every now and then, Adolph Hitler, Charles Manson, Myra Hindley, and once there was a suicide bomber strapped to the bed frame under my mattress. I convinced myself that I could hear his vest ticking, but of course none of them ever made a sound, not even a breath, but they were always palpable in the blackness of my room no matter where it was.

Then tonight it changed. Tonight, for the first time I heard it breathing. I can hear it gently wheezing away now. I don’t know what it is and of course I don’t want to look. Sleep is impossible as I listen to that quiet breath. What’s under there this time? Is it a werewolf or a porcelain faced doll, a bloated and bleached drowned child? Maybe it’s the corrupt remains of a zombie, or even a demon from Hell. ‘Don’t look, don’t look’, I tell myself. But the breathing goes on and on, not getting any louder but becoming more maddening with each breath in and each breath out.

‘Don’t look, don’t look, don’t look.’ I tell myself over and over. But of course I do, carefully leaning out, I do. I don’t know how or why I do this after all these years of hiding away from it. But carefully leaning out, I do. Maybe the breathing makes it more real, a living thing; or maybe it’s just that after all these years I’ve had enough and I need to know. Anyway, I shuffle myself to the edge of the bed, desperately clinging to the covers to stop me from falling, and I look beneath my bed for the first time that I can ever remember. It is dark in there, but I think that I can see something in the darkness.

And yes, there it is, this thing I have been so scared of all my life. It isn’t a vampire or Jesus or a ghost or a bloody mouthed clown, it’s not a livid corpse or a possessed child; it’s not anything like that at all. It isn’t even Andy Pandy. I look into the eyes of the thing hiding in the dark beneath the bed and I see what’s been haunting me for so long.

It’s me. It’s me under my bed. I am the monster that I’ve been scared of for all this time.

I begin to move, stiffly crawling out of the blackness and onto the bedside rug. I stand and carefully climb under the covers to lie quietly beside myself. It’s cold, but there’s nothing to be scared of; not any longer and I can’t hear that breathing any more. We are quiet.

Time to sleep.

Thursday, 20 October 2016

On immortality...

Not only do I spend a lot of time trying to work out who I am, I also spend a great deal of time trying to work out what I am. Of course I look at myself in the mirror and see my face and recognise myself. I have a body which I move around in and heart, lungs, and other organs that keep me alive. But is that who I really am?

If I let myself detach from my body then I know that whoever I am is really in my head. It isn’t my body, or my organs that makes me. They are collectively just the machine that allows me to move around and stay alive.

Although I understand that I wouldn’t exist without them and that it would be hard to paint, write down my thoughts, or play the drums (not that I do) without them. I also know that I’d never have got started on the road to me without their support because I was once not much at all. But is that really so important now that I have become me?

My senses are useful of course. They allow me to develop myself and I often wonder who I would be without sight, hearing, taste, touch, and smell. But I don’t believe I wouldn’t become me without them. I’d just be a different me and now, after all these years as myself, what more are my senses going to tell me? I know what wine and steak tastes like, how it is to feel hot and cold, I can recognise the smell of bread and blood, I feel the difference between rough and smooth and pain and pleasure, I can distinguish between traffic noise and music, even  hold blue and red and yellow and green inside my mind. What more of the physical me do I need? Perhaps its job is actually done and I have enough sensual data accumulated and really don’t need any more.

After thinking about it a lot I become increasingly sure that currently I am a small grey lump of mainly water residing inside my head. A rather sloppy me that my body has allowed to develop. I know this because I can feel myself inside there behind my eyes. I know this because my existence would not stop if I was moved out of this body and into another body, or even downloaded into a machine somehow. I would still be here. It would be different, but I (the real I) would still exist.

I’d look different, feel different, and if I was inside a machine I’d have to find new ways to get around and communicate, but I would still be me. It’s the electrical activity – my thoughts and memory banks, my knowledge and experience - that makes me who I am and not my legs or hands. It isn’t even my brain. My brain is simply another receptacle positioned inside my body where I reside currently.

I have come to the possible conclusion that I am basically, and inevitably, is simply electrical energy. And if that is the case I wonder if that is what that rumoured ‘soul’ is. And if that is the case then will that ‘soul’ energy remain after my body has crumbled and left me unsupported? And if that is the case will I need my brain forever in order to exist or can I exist outside of it?

It poses the question: am I actually immortal? I’m in no rush to find out, but maybe everlasting life isn’t such a ridiculous idea after all.

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

A question of fish and birds...

Sometimes I wonder where my silly thoughts come from. It doesn't take much to set my mind galloping off into the distance. Today it was a feather which set my thoughts in motion to make this odd little poem thing. It was a compulsion. I had no choice in the matter. Perhaps it was the honking of the geese. Anyway, Make of it what you will, I have.

A question of fish and birds

I found a feather on the path,
Dark blue, run through with shimmering petrol.
A feather from a passing bird,
A creature that flies,
Not a fish.
It made me question:
Where is this bird now?
If I searched the skies could I find it?
Why did it leave me this feather?
Birds pose more questions than answers,
But the fish came first.
So where did the feather come from?

Monday, 17 October 2016


As an old friend of mine reminded me recently, 'we have all lost people', and yes I expect most of us have. The way people leave us shouldn't make any difference I guess, but somehow dying in your sleep at 100 doesn't seem as bad as having life snatched away in a senseless and needless accident.

I spent this morning at the coroner's court in Manchester. Not a good day for it as the court is in the Town Hall, and today is the day that our Olympic champions are welcomed home. The aim of the hearing was to determine if Joan, my mother in law, was killed as a result of being knocked over by a woman on a mobility scooter - as she claimed when the incident happened - or as a result of her falling and then lying about the collision as the hospital (Altrincham General) have claimed for months now.

Gaynor and I have had quite a time of it recently. Firstly there was the incident itself and the police investigation, followed by the news that as there is no legislation at all concerning mobility scooters and that there was nothing they could do. Then, just a few days after Joan's operation to fix the hip that was broken when she was knocked down, there was the massive stroke that followed, a long ten week semi-comatic demise, a month delay with the funeral whilst awaiting reports, the funeral itself, meetings with the hospital to discuss the 'investigation' they reluctantly undertook, and today - some eight and a half months since it happened - the inquest.

There was certainly a mobility scooter at the scene, although with no CCTV or witnesses who saw Joan being struck, it was Joan's word against theirs and of course Joan is no longer here to defend herself. Joan however had repeated her story to various members of hospital staff and to me by phone from the floor where she lay just minutes after she was knocked down. The police also indicated in their report that they believed the incident to have happened and this, along with the statements of several hospital and ambulance staff concerning what Joan told them at the scene of the incident should have been enough.

But it wasn't for the management of Altrincham General who claimed that the incident never happened and Joan just fell over and then imagined or lied about being hit by the mobility scooter.

Joan was only at the hospital for a routine hearing aid check. We'd seen her the day before and she was her usual self - a bit grumpy but able to do more than most eighty-six year olds could. That is the thing you see, the thing that won't leave me: there was nothing about to bring Joan down in the immediate future and then...

There have been times over the last few months when I have been so despondent I just wanted to give up. There have been other times when I have been so angry - not least of all by my inability to make a difference - that I have lost it completely and there have been more than a few times when I simply found myself crying

Even the fact that the hospital have eventually agreed to have CCTV on that area, have doors automatically open so that there would be no need for anyone to hold it open as Joan was doing when she was hit, to have patients on mobility scooters transferred to wheelchairs on admittance to the hospital, have their staff retrained in order to be able to deal with accidents (yes, in a hospital) and to make it clear that patients should not be allowed to bring dogs into the building because this woman had a dog on her scooter. Even after all of that it could not make up for the clear statement from the hospital that it never happened and the mobility scooter was incidental to the 'fall'. Either my mother in law was lying or deluded it would appear.

As you can probably tell I could go on for page after page with this. Well, I've been living it for months. But I won't. What I will say is the coroner looked at all the evidence, questioned all of those involved or at least had statements from them to hand, looked at photographs of the area the incident happened in and decided that on balance Joan WAS knocked down by the woman on a mobility scooter. The force of the collision pushed Joan forward causing her to fall to the ground and break her hip. This obviously led to her needing a hip operation despite the risk of coming off the blood thinning drugs she was taking, and it was this sequence of events that caused her to have the stroke that led to her death.

I never doubted Joan for a moment and despite someone getting away with almost murder without so much as a caution and the hospital trying extremely hard to cover it up, the coroner has recognised that my mother in law was telling the truth all along.

And that may have to do.

Thursday, 6 October 2016

I'm a poet...

Today is National Poetry Day, so today I've promised myself not to write any poetry at all; not a single stanza, not a line, not a single rhyme. How hard can it be? After all, I'm not a fully paid up member of the National Union of Poets am I?

Of course to really qualify as a poet you need to live in a remote cottage in the Lake District, suffer with consumption, have an addiction to opiates, and be in an ill-defined relationship with your own sister. Do all of this and you just might find yourself wandering lonely as a cloud, or at the very least being investigated by the police. But not me. I am a poetry free zone, at least for today.

Deep inside all of us I think we have an inner poet scribbling away in some dusty corner of our psyche. How many times have you had one of those ‘I’m a poet and I didn’t even know it’ moments? We’ve all come out with something like: ‘Don’t get the hump, but I’ve broken your bicycle pump’, or ‘I think I’ll pass. Go stick your egg custard up your arse’. Inadvertent poetry is just one of the risks we take every time we speak and who knows when (and with what) our inner poet will strike next?

Sometimes I think that my inner poet is messing with my mind. I often find myself constructing sentences which overly rhyme when I'd like to write something that doesn't rhyme at all. It's like living in a pantomime of rhyme; a curse in verse to be so coerced. It's perverse, subverse, I wish it could be reversed. I rehearse, but it only gets worse, and I get terse when the rhymes won't disperse. So instead, in them I immerse. Perhaps I need a nurse, maybe a hearse, before I drown in this rhyming universe.

Sadly I’m a pretty good rhymer, I’ve always had a bit of a talent for it and at school once won the junior poetry prize for a poem about macaroons. Of course said macaroons were all eaten by baboons under the light of the moon which looked like a balloon in June in Rangoon and was eaten with a spoon during a typhoon which was very opportune. But I still think it that I deserved the fountain pen which I received as a first prize.

By the way: I lost that pen, can’t remember when. I put it down, on a day out in town, and when I went to pick it up, couldn’t find it again.

Poetry, poetry everywhere and not a rhyme for it. No matter how hard I try I can’t find a single word to rhyme with the word 'poetry'. Oh, there are words that come close, but no actual rhymes. The closest I can think of is ‘coquetry’ which is a very fine word if you are a seventeenth century metaphysical poet, but not exactly ‘down with the hood’ to us latter-day wordsmiths. Yes, Poetry (leaving aside coquetry) seems globally, knowingly, potently, notably without rhyming potency and is totally, woefully, maybe unknowingly, without a decent rhyme… supposedly.

Anyway, although I'm not going to write any, why don't you write a couple of lines of poetry today? We all have at least a little poetry inside us, even if it does mean unleashing your inner poet to do his worse.

Happy National Poetry Day.

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

The autumn people...

As a boy I loved the change from summer to autumn. The lengthening of the nights and the winds that seemed to spring up from nowhere smelling of fried onions, rotting apples, the sea, damp earth. I'd walk home from school in the half light kicking at the dry brown leaves and trying to catch whatever music was in the air. Sometimes it was the cawing of a parliament of crows, other times the jingle of wind chimes. Once I heard the sound of a calliope machine, or it may have been a hurdy gurdy, in the distance. Either way it sent me into a cold shiver, the shadows suddenly seeming deeper and darker and I ran home as fast as I could. Autumn is the time of the autumn people you see, and you don't want to get tangled up with the autumn people.

The Autumn People

The autumn people are coming to town, wrapped in the folds of their autumn gowns, leaves made maiden and dust made men, the autumn people are here again. They blow with the wind and settle in shadow, feed on dreams no sleep left fallow, a scarecrow here, a ballerina there, dark autumn people everywhere. And some form as children and others as old, and each has a heart which beats with cold, a kiss for the girls and a trick for the boys, the autumn people enjoy their toys. Tom Scarecrow and old Mr Pumpkin Head, a doll with a pin and a mouth of dark red, a squaw, the clown, a fortune caster, an angel with flesh of grey alabaster. They smile in dark alleys, play under the moon, they skip, flit, and fling to another tune, watch them at your peril as they entrance, with the spell that binds to the autumn dance. Then up and away as a leaf in a storm, sucked into their revel from dusk till dawn, a cock to crow will stop their play, as the autumn people fade away. And after they’ve gone and they’ve stolen your fun, you’ll still be here but you’ll be no one, a used dry husk, an empty bottle, a grey broken moth that will never settle. So when those autumn people come to town, don’t be fooled by the grinning clown, stay away from their dark, don’t be drawn to their light, just leave those shades in perpetual night.

Tuesday, 4 October 2016


I think it’s how people remember you when you are no longer there that is the measure of a person and their life. The talk around the teacups after the funeral can be very revealing, even moreso the things that are left unsaid.

I listened on the radio to the tributes to Terry Wogan last week. It seems that he was universally loved by just about everyone who had anything to do with him. It’s hard to believe that he was as nice as people say he was, but although it is hard to believe I for one believe it.

You just had to listen to the man’s radio show to know that here was a truly good humoured, kind, and pleasant natured person. Oh, you could hear the devil in him sometimes but it wasn’t a malevolent devil, it was more a mischievous imp. His voice oozed sincerity, his eyes were always twinkling and you knew that he was usually smiling even though you couldn’t see him on the radio. I can even forgive him The Floral Dance these days, seeing it for what it is, just a bit of fun and not a serious attempt at pop stardom. It makes me smile anyway.

Sir Terry Wogan should be made a saint. No I’m serious. He seems to have bought more joy and peace to so many people just by talking happy nonsense in the mornings. He even made me laugh out loud and if that isn’t a miracle then I don’t know what is - and then of course there was his charity work. I’m sure that Terry had his moments. He must have got angry occasionally, had a few dark thoughts, maybe even got a bit down sometimes, but if he did he didn’t let it show and I certainly haven’t read or heard about it. The closest I remember Sir Terry 'having a go' was when he presented Eurovision - he was a genius with the cutting comment. 

Odd isn’t it? I never met Terry Wogan, nor did I watch his TV shows and I came to Radio 2 in his second incarnation as the breakfast show presenter, but even so I feel this genuine warmth for him and absolutely know that with his passing that we all lost a special friend. Yes, I know it’s corny, but it’s also true. He did feel like a friend as I drove to Scarborough for yet another pointless meeting. He kept me company and entertained me with his drivel, and what special drivel it was. I never really thought of myself as a TOG, but I guess I was all along.

Monday, 3 October 2016

Funny money...

I have seen my first plastic fiver and I’m really not sure what I think about it. Maybe it’s all those years of carefully handling grubby, worn through fivers or maybe it’s because they remind me of the plastic notes I had in my play till when I was a small boy.

Whatever it is though something doesn’t feel quite right to me.
It could be the see through 'Her Majesty' or the holographic five pounds switching between the ‘five’ and ‘pounds’ like a schizophrenic price tag. I used to get toys that did that in crackers at Christmas, a square of plastic that when you moved it a little turned Tom Cat into Jerry Mouse. Of course it could be the gold Big Ben (yes, I know that's the name of the bell and not the clock tower), parliament is one of those things that rarely glitters and certainly isn’t gold. I’m not even very keen on the picture of Churchill nor the motto ‘I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat’, shame as I was really wanting some dosh rather than a little work and some bodily fluids.

The blue-green colour is nice - I may paint our bedroom to match it – but it feels a little to smooth for my liking and it won’t crumple of fold and there’s no way that you can easily make the Queen’s arse by carefully folding around her chin and her neck, a sad loss to small boys everywhere. No more funny money.

Of course it could have been worse. They might have come up with a plastic five pound coin - only a matter of time I guess - and I’m sure all our other notes will soon follow. Who knows we really may end up with plastic coins? Well at least they would be lighter in your pocket and purse. I’d miss the clink as I avariciously count out my huge piles of pound coins though.

Progress eh? When will it ever end?

Friday, 23 September 2016

Autumn ramble…

So here comes another autumn. You have to love it don’t you? The crisp leaves underfoot and the bonfires, the chill in the air and the fogs, that long slow roll into winter, and of course another Christmas to get all excited about and then almost immediately forget.

It was the equinox yesterday and with it the start of astronomical autumn. Not real autumn of course, but I’ve been feeling that wonderful chill in the early morning air for a few days now and as you can see the leaves in my yard are turning, so let’s agree that it’s here.

As Justin Hayward once sang ‘I really love this time of year’, even though the chances of anything coming from Mars are down from a million to one to a bookie’s odds of around 20/1. Of course I don’t think it’ll be Tripods, but they’ll be something, a bacteria or two or maybe a mould or a lichen, and who’s to say that they will be no less deadly than Tripods armed with deadly death rays? Science daily reveals so much to us and shatters our dreams and cosy suppositions along the way. Good thing or bad thing? Who knows?

But it’s autumn, so let’s leave alien invasion alone and think about mellow fruitfulness. For me one of the best things about this time of year is that it becomes ‘legal’ once more to eat all the good stuff. By this I mean soups, casseroles, stews, dumplings, roast dinners with gravy, and those wonderful hot sticky puddings. All the things that the summer denies me as it’s not allowed to eat stewed root vegetables in the sunshine apparently.

Pumpkins and scarecrows, Harvest Festival songs, burning wicker men, beer and more beer, brightly crackling open fires, and of course bonfire night. Remember, remember the fifth of November and this year I am going to let off those fireworks I’ve been holding in the cupboard for two years waiting for a dry night and a little enthusiasm. It’s a ritual I need to perform, so let's conjure up all those other autumns. The long walks to school with the mist at my feet, the geese honking high overhead, the dew on the cobwebs of hedgerow spiders, the red sunsets over the church with the bells ringing out for Wednesday practice, and the deeply darkening nights, shorter and shorter until daylight seems to be rationed like licorice flavoured sweets in a jar.

Every day above ground is a good day, even the dark ones. I’ll remember that as I fall easily into autumn then on into the winter gathering conkers and nuts as I go, trying to not be tricked by the trick or treaters and gathering my memories to keep me warm until the spring. Autumn is the end of something with the promise of a new beginning once the trials and tribulations of the winter months have passed.

Autumn – it’s a good and easy thing. Enjoy.

Saturday, 10 September 2016

New evidence…

I don’t know what you think, after all sometimes I don’t even know what I think. That’s the thing isn’t it? Presented with all the evidence it should be easy to make your mind up, but what if new evidence presents itself which makes you reconsider? New evidence can be so disruptive. Sometimes I’m so sure of where I stand only to find myself knocked to the floor when new evidence walks into the room. Thank god I’m not in prison for a murder that I didn’t commit. Years of proclaiming innocence with nobody believing me until new evidence presents itself. Think of all those wasted years.

Of course most of us aren’t in prison but we often go along proclaiming that we are perfectly content and then, quite suddenly sometimes, new evidence presents itself and that bubble is suddenly popped. Often it’s a relationship thing (I’ve had that one more than once), or it could be a job that we thought we enjoyed that crumbles to dust under ‘new management’. Maybe it’s a hero that turns out to be not so heroic after all (can you tell what it is yet?) or just a belief that is proven to be false - and all of a sudden the world is round and not flat or vice versa.

It’s all about evidence, the clearing of that smoke that has got in your eyes, the hushed up conspiracy that is suddenly whistle blown, the certainty that is not only made uncertain but turns out to be a lie and becomes dust. Nothing is for certain – well maybe death and taxes, certainly taxes.

I thought I wanted to live in a certain world where I knew what to expect next. A nice ordered place that I could control and make ‘in my own image’ or at least modify it so that I could find it vaguely tolerable. As I get older I realise that is not the way things work. I am going to be presented with new evidence all of the time and that evidence is going to change what I think and do and believe. I’m not living in a certain world, it is showing me new aspects of itself all the time and rather than me trying to bend the world to suit what I want I’m going to have to go with it, because that is the new reality.

A new reality every day. Lift that curtain and see the new view.

Friday, 9 September 2016

I must go down to the sea again...

There seems to have been a lot of people lost to the sea from the beach this summer. The sea can  be fun and it can be hateful and dangerous. I have waded between the rocks in this water catching shrimps in my net and feeling the warm water moving on my legs with hardly a wave in sight.

The sea is so clear and blue on a sunny day, inviting, a watery playground to enjoy. But just look at it on this wild August afternoon. To go into those waves with the rocks beneath would not lead to shrimps for tea, but more likely a meeting with Davy Jones and his proverbial locker.

It doesn’t come across in the picture but those breakers are seven feet high, and when they hit the cliffs in the distance the spray shoots thirty feet into the air. Across on the other side - under the castle - the stone jetty disappears in a froth of white spume with each wave. Three teenagers run halfway along the stone flagged outcrop and then stop, daunted by the force of the wind and spray. Another ten feet and it's almost a certainty that the sea will pull them in, claiming their foolish lives for King Neptune or Poseidon or whoever it is that rules the vast underwater kingdom beneath the waves.

Ironically, across the road, just tens of yards from the pier, the lifeboat station is open waiting for a call-out, probably caused by some fool who doesn’t respect the power of the churning waters and pushes his luck too far. Of course the sea is no respecter of luck, it cocks its green wet nose at even the most experienced seaman sometimes; so how these ‘down for the week’ holidaymakers expect to gamble and win is stunning in its stupidity. ‘Place your bets, place your bets’, I don’t think you stand much chance of beating the odds.

The wind gusts, the waves rush over the promenade breakwater and the cars - probably parked by the inner wall before the waves came so high - are scratched and pitted by the round pebbles that the water brings with it. A crack goes up and a windscreen breaks as water pours over the dashboard of some unsuspecting tourist who’s probably having a cup of tea in one of the cafés across the way. The waves continue not quite satisfied yet, and more water pours into the car. If I knew for sure where the owner was I might try to find him, but of course it’s too late. He’ll be driving home in the wet later.

And there we have it; a summer’s day at the seaside. What fun.

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Courage and fear...

Bad news, another old friend gone, a school chum buddy who I got drunk with in Switzerland and pulled back through the window when one night we drank too many lagers on a school painting trip. I don’t know why Pete was on that trip, he couldn’t paint to save his life, but there we both were sharing a room in a traditional Swiss hotel somewhere outside of Lucerne.

We were only 13 or so, but Pete was one of those boy-men even at that age that you wouldn’t want to get the wrong side of. That's him sixth from the left, whilst I am third from the right. There we are chalk and cheese, he all macho smoulder and me with my stupid frizzed hair. If he’d fallen from the ledge he was standing on that night he was looking at certain death. It was a long drop to the rocks below, I pulled him back in and sat on him till he calmed down whilst he poured beer all over the beds. ironic that it was another drop that got him in the end.

It seemed to me at the time that Pete wasn’t scared of anything. He was on all the sports teams and always held his corner without a flinch. To be honest I was as much scared of him as I admired his bravery, even if his bravery was often driven by a need for danger and to be top dog. He was all courage and I was all fear. So sad that this magnificent, muscle bound, ball of testosterone should fall down the stairs and just never wake up again. He wasn’t even sixty.

Which brings it around to me to me as always.

So here I go, out on that last chapter of my life; the one where all the work, pain and disappointment comes to fruition and I get what I have always deserved and wanted. Most of the things are in place to make it happen, all I need to do now is to be brave and not embarrassed. All I need is the will and some of that courage that Pete seemed to have in abundance.

The courage to make that next leap is a thing that throughout my life has been a commodity I have needed to muster. I am not naturally brave, I’m naturally a coward quite content to live inside a comfort zone, but at the same time hating every bland and single moment of it. I loved playing rugby, but was always so scared of dropping the ball that I stopped. Idiot me, I was actually pretty good, but I chose blandness instead. Now, my main need is that I don’t want to be bland in my future – and I feel I am bland to the point of white and hazy nothingness sometimes.

Of course I’m not going to nest with the wolves, or climb mountains, live in the woods in a shack made from tin cans and rope, or stand drunk on a ledge at a Swiss hotel seventy feet from the ground. I’m not going to hit the headlines for my sport or art or inventiveness; but I don’t want to go without someone chancing across me in the future and saying: ‘Interesting. Weird but interesting’.

So here is my big plan (ha, ha). I just want a nice house close to the sea with a garden and somewhere I can do all that painting I’ve said that I will do but really haven’t got around to making happen. I’m not a bad painter as painters go, certainly better than Pete was, and I’m not a bad gardener. I want to leave behind everything I have made happen to date and start again and if I’m really lucky I’ll have twenty years to achieve something like fulfillment and then it’s death of course, the ultimate adventure.

I wonder what I will be like at eighty? I wonder if I'll even get to eighty? I doubt it, but strangely I'm not scared about that.

It’s time to move on, get out all those preliminary sketches and ideas, splash some paint about and drink loads of wine and whisky and soda. Time to move on, become cultured, self-interested and wear hats. Time to surprise with acts of kindness and acts of vitriol when required, time to begin the slow coast to whatever remains. All I need is some courage.

Chuck us that ball Pete.

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

School uniform...

Ah, don’t they look smart as the go off to school in their new school uniforms so proud to be part of the group. The pictures on Facebook say it all; how nice that our children, so used to T-shirts, baggy shorts and day-glow pumps have suddenly been made into little models of conformity. All lined up like ducks with the only way to distinguish them being their size, the colours of their eyes or hair or skin.

Uniforms are such a great leveler and isn’t it great that we don’t need to know the children’s names to know which tribe they’ve been signed up to?

Sorry, doting mums I might as well tell you I really don’t like uniforms for children. It so often leads to uniforms for adults in later life. I don’t care if it is school, Scouts, Guides, the Army Cadets or the Hitler Youth, none of the arguments for uniforms really stands up. Not even the bullshit ‘leveler’ one.

Kids all over the country have been sent home this week for not following the school rules on uniform. In Reading a girl was sent home for having the wrong collar on her white blouse and the wrong shade of dark blue trousers. At Hartsdown Academy fifty pupils were refused entry for offences including wearing black shoes made from suede and the wrong colour laces. All over the country this ridiculous power play is repeated as idiot headmasters demand that children conform, sometimes breaking their wills and destroying their confidence in the process.

I have previous on this. Back in the seventies I pushed the boundaries of school uniform to the acceptable limit. I wore the tie, I had a black blazer, my trousers were grey and my shoes were black. But that was where my conformity ended. My blazer was sailcloth with contrasting stitch, my trousers mid grey and flared, my white shirts had ‘penny’ collars and my shoes were platformed. It met the criteria as outlined in the school rule book which, believe this as it is true, we had to carry in our pockets at all times, but my what a terrible outrage it caused.

After threats of suspension, numerous ‘chats’ from senior boys who were apparently ‘disgusted’ that I should let the school down in this way, and a couple of beatings in the changing rooms, it all seemed to go away as stretching the boundaries of school dress became the norm with many other pupils in the school. I guess I was just trying to be an individual, which backfired as the way I dressed became the norm, but in retrospect it was more than that – far more.

Being made to tow the line and become a clone simply isn’t right. Everyone has the right to express themselves in the way they act, think and, yes, even dress within certain boundaries. Uniforms were originally about the tribe you belonged to, about going into battle as a thing not a person. In war the uniform meant you didn’t know who it was that just got blown up. In prisons and concentration camps they are used to remove your identity and dehumanise. In the forces to underline your status and rank, rather than your personality, abilities, or identity.

On the plus side – if this is a plus side – it allows you to hide. In extreme cases it can allow you to distance yourself from your actions so that what you do isn’t really you at all - it is the uniform and all it stands for. There are other times where uniforms are good, allowing you to easily see the emergency services when you need to, or watch the play on a football field. But even these uses have a negative side with crowd and group think being so much more accessible to people who all dress the same.

Yes, uniforms usually come complete with a code of behaviour. They can make you in to someone else.

I really can’t understand why we need uniforms in schools at all. Standards yes, but identical and inflexible dress codes particularly when the schools claim they want to grow unique individuals? Are the educational and political overlords trying to build a society where we fit in because of what we wear, a uniformity that is easy to control with no room for difference - the very thing they applaud and claim they want? And while we are about it, how dare Jeremy Corbyn not wear a dark suit and a tie?

There is something very wrong with a school where the material your black footwear is made from is such an issue. What a rubbish school that fails to nurture difference and is able to build acceptable and agreeable guidelines for everybody to work within. Personally I would kick the headmaster of Hartsdown Academy out of Education forever as he isn’t the type of educator I would want my children to have to endure.

On that point I once had to attend a disciplinary meeting at my daughter Holly’s snotty Grammar School where she was made to feel like a criminal because her check blouse wasn’t the acceptable check and her boots had laces.  She broke down in the meeting and I told the shit head of sixth form to stuff her stupid school up her stupid fat arse. Holly went on to a local college with no dress code and got three A’s and I got told off by my wife for being so rude to a teacher.

Maybe, instead of cooing over how smart our kids look as they go off to school dressed in the same clothes as their classmates we should think about how we allow then to become individuals and not just clones to serve an educational system that wants to manage them through tests, the colour and style of their shoes, and bullying megalomaniac teachers.

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Colder cold feet...

I watched the first episode of the new Cold Feet last night. Somehow I managed to avoid the first series almost entirely, despite having some of it filmed in my road plus a whole two seconds when one of the male stars – I forget which one – stopped outside my house and my front door appeared on TV.

Of course this was in the nineties and maybe this tale of everyday, upwardly mobile, middle class folk rang a little too true with my own aspirations at that time, or maybe I was just being me.

Back then if everyone was loving and talking about something I would hate and deride it simply because I could. Oh, I so loved being differently the same and of course I was a tiny bit older than the stars of the show and already jaded knowing how their hopes would all shatter and turn to dust in their not too distant fictitious futures.

Only Robert Bathurst was born in the same year as I and those short ten years or so can make such a difference to the world you inhabit. Yes, I lived through the Kennedy assassinations, the Cuban missile crisis, and rickets.

Of course by the time the nineties rolled around I had failed relationships, my optimistic youth had de-optimised itself, I had a divorce behind me, new relationships to deal with and no doubt living in Manchester in a middle management, middle class, position where image was everything (what car do you drive?) made Cold Feet far too close to home. Right outside it to be exact. I guess you might call it highly uncomfortable watching for me back then.

So why, almost twenty years on, am I watching the new Cold Feet?

It’s a question I struggle to answer. But I guess one answer is for the uncomfortable comfort it gives me really. I knew back then that these wunderkind were all heading for a fall despite their aspirations drawing them to a perfect life. We are all going to fall in one way or another at some point. It’s never perfect for long and I guess that’s one of life’s big lessons; it doesn’t stand still. You can plan it, you can even begin to make it happen, but real life has this way of shitting on your head whilst you are trying to live your dreams and that tends to fuck things up completely. Ultimately a fall is coming and there’s no avoiding it.


Sometimes I think about running away and starting over. It wouldn’t take much to make me happier and, as long as I stayed away from the fairer sex, I could live a happy, peaceful and hopefully short and much fulfilled life. My chasing days are over, and if there’s anything left to chase then I’m buggered if I know what it is. What car do I drive? Who gives a flying fuck?

I watched the new Cold Feet and enjoyed watching that group of friends who have lived through the waves and storms, but don’t seem to realise that the hurricane is probably yet to come. Some of their careers have gone, some relationships have soured or become becalmed or emptied, and each character has transformed into an individual living in a world of his or her own making. It seems to me that they seem to be trying to maintain a semblance of belonging, but really they are each lonely and worried about where they are, who they are, and what is coming next.

Perhaps I was better off not watching the first time around and I suppose I really should stop watching this new series now before it poses too many questions. Even after all this time it remains uncomfortable watching and the lives of those characters echo too strongly in my own mind. Of course, I wish them all happy endings, but I can’t see it and I miss not having my future in front of me too.

I can see the fear in their eyes, the boredom, the desperation, the realisation that not very much of before really mattered and even less will matter in the future. I can feel the habit that’s become a responsibility to bother with the needs and opinions of others when really there are needs and opinions of their own to address.

Or is that just me?

What great acting it is though. By the way that’s my daughter in the picture with the stars of the show. She did work experience on the original series set; God knows how, but perhaps that is what made her such a middle class, gin-slinging, upwardly mobile, career person. She really could be a character in Cold Feet ;-)