Saturday, 23 October 2021

Words


English, written and spoken, is a magnificent language. A priceless treasure chest of jewels gleaned over thousands of years from many lands, peoples and tongues.

I love words and welcome the constant revisions and addition to this word store.

I have written uncounted millions of words in a basic, and, I hope, acceptable style, trying to eschew slang and the latest fads.

English is a living, vibrant language, welcoming and embracing new ideas, like the nation’s propensity to accept people of different origins, ethics and religions.

Most of the newcomers are welcome  but there are some I am pleased that prove to be fly-by-nights, here-tonight-gone-tomorrow,

And my hate list is growing steadily.

I can think of many in the present galaxy that deserve to plummet ignominiously.

In speech I shudder at like, awesome - a favourite of of young people - and the now inevitable addition to interviews, surreal.

Another abomination, push back (what’s wrong with delay?)

I have a leaning towards to pause which is more subtle than to delay.

As for government ministers’ incessant embellishing of their plans and achievements, amazing and incredible, the sooner they fall to earth the better.

But, am I being too pedantic, or to use a colourful, apt phrase, nit picking?

Friday, 22 October 2021

Do mention the war

The Blitz, 1940

Over the past week I have been reliving the 1939/45 war as depicted in a magnificent new television series.  A revelation as much of it is news to me.

I was a teenager at school when the war started and even when I became a reporter in 1942 I knew little more than anyone about the progress of the war and the raging battles on air, sea and land.

The radio and newspaper reports gave little away for what today would be cited security reasons. 

They certainly did not convey the enormity of the conflict as it engulfed the world.

From the anxious late 1930s when Britain hoped war would never come, boosted by the peace seeking prime minister Neville Chamberlain, to the final battles in the ravaged city of Berlin there were countless battles, some epic in scale.

For me the most startling revelation is the bold reaction to adversity and possible catastrophic defeat by nations’ leaders Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin, all three so different.

I was at school in London during the Battle of  Britain and the blitz when Britain stood alone, invasion by Germany seemingly imminent.

It was averted and we were saved by ‘The Few' in the RAF, but that victory was only made possible by Churchill ordering Beaverbrook, his minister of aircraft production, to produce hundreds of fighter planes in a few weeks.

Immediately after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor that almost wiped out the US navy, Roosevelt did the same, on a vast scale. 

Within months the US was producing an aircraft carrier a month, tanks, guns and countless billions of rounds of ammunition that eventually sealed the fate of both the Japanese and German armies.

Stalin staged a miraculous turn around at Stalingrad where, on the brink of defeat, he conjured up a secret army of a million soldiers and hundreds of aircraft to end Hitler’s ruinous gamble.

Turning to today, inspirational leadership is missing. Leaders throughout the world are shadows of the heroes  of the past.

In Britain there is the pandemic with the dithering prime minister Johnson, the USA, divided by Trump, led by a cautious, elderly Biden, while Putin manipulates and schemes.

It is all so shallow, so weak - and so dangerous.

Even worse, there is no sign of bold, imaginative leaders coming to rescue our troubled world.

Wednesday, 20 October 2021

Hoping for the best

So the government is ‘going to keep a close watch’ on infection rates according to an official spokesperson, warning of a ‘challenging’ winter.

How reassuring, with infections rising to the highest for months, perhaps soon to reach the worst ever in England.

The response, or rather lack of it, is typical of the wait and see, hope for the best attitude of our complacent, over-optimistic prime minister.

Last summer he stubbornly went ahead lifting for what was to be freedom day that never dawned and will hang on again, delaying a Plan B.

It is the same with all the problems mounting up.

It astonishes me that according to a new poll, fifty percent of the people still think he has done, and, presumably is still doing, a good job on the pandemic.

I am not one of them.

Saturday, 16 October 2021

What is happening to Great Britain?

What is happening to Great Britain? 

The murder of MP Sir David Amess marks the relentless escalation of danger facing everyone, famous or ordinary.

And it reveals a deepening division between politicians, not just in their ideals and policies, but in their ever increasingly strident and dangerous views of their ‘opponents’.

I blame the insidious social media platforms that, far from encouraging reasoned debate on public matters, spew out anger and even hatred. 

There is justified alarm at the harm being inflicted on the public, and, in particular, the more susceptible young people. 

The increasing number of suicides is the tragic consequence of the ‘say what you like, how you like’ attitude which Facebook and the other platforms are failing to control.

I never thought we would see world leaders resorting to soundbite utterings on Twitter. 

What effect would that have had in wartime?

Following the latest tragedy, we have the usual promises that something must be done, but it will make little difference if social media is allowed to sail on, unperturbed and uncaring.

Friday, 15 October 2021

Moving on


The deed is done. I now have a new home in Penarth, 10 Bridgeman Court, Bridgeman Road, one hundred yards from Windsor Court.

A true homecoming.

As with my move to Sunrise over two years ago, I am sure I have made the right decision.

No one can be certain about the future, more difficult than ever these days, but I am satisfied, whatever happens.

Moving into a new home can be a daunting but exciting business. This will be my sixth in seventy years.

The first, with Rosemary and four year old Beverley and me was the best. 

We used to drive there every week to see it being built, 

Our move on Derby day in 1956 was exciting and the nine years we spent there were among the happiest of our life.

The next two moves were not so trouble free. The day we went to London, to Ashley Drive, Whitton was a miserable, snowing and bitterly cold.

Not easy, especially for Rosemary. Beverley and two-year old Robert. The return to Wales six years later was also fraught with difficulty.

The sale of our Ashley Drive house had stalled at the last minute, the buyer pulling out on contract signing day.

Even worse, I was due to leave in a matter of days, away for three months in Japan and the USA.

But we got through that, thanks to Rosemary’s determination and seventeen-year-old  Beverley driving her mother and Robert to Cardiff.

We were all thrilled to be back in Wales, at Winnipeg Drive, that was to be our home for almost thirty years.

The next move, our last to a new home, was to a seafront maisonette in Windsor  Court, Penarth, where we enjoyed almost twenty years before Rosemary died.

Than came my choice of Sunrise Cardiff  care  home where Rosemary and I had intended to be together.

It was one of my best decisions, despite the unique circumstances and (as it turned out within months) danger from coronavirus 

I could not have been more contented and well cared for, but  it is time to me to move out and on. 

I miss Penarth and the sea, and am looking forward to a new beginning, a new life, at 95.

I know I can manage, even now, to look after myself, with some help at home, and cannot wait to open the door at my own home.

This last homecoming is not an adventure but it gives me great satisfaction.

Whatever the future holds, I am confident it is the right move.

Tuesday, 12 October 2021

Making up for lost time

One of the worst aspects of the pandemic for old people has been missing our families. Especially our grandchildren and, for me, my great grandchildren.

As children do, they have grown amazingly fast. One of the joys in life is to watch and be part of that. But the pandemic put a stop to it and even now visits are possible, they are too few and far between

My experience is typical, and I have been unusually fortunate in being able to keep in touch with my growing family.

Owen sailing

Take my youngest grandson, Owen, 13. As well as physically he has developed in many ways. His life is so different now and he is obviously enjoying it;  his new school and his broadening of interests, including music, drama, writing and now adventurous sports including the latest, sailing. He is far bolder than I ever was.

I have kept in touch regularly with all of them, but there has been a gap, a void. I have missed that growing up process.

I have only seen Owen two or three times in the past 18 months - almost two lost years of getting to know him and sharing his enjoyment of life.

The same applies to my great grandchildren, Mylo, Rosa and Claudia.

That lost time cannot be made up but, whatever time I have, I intend to keep in closer touch with them and in some way make up for the lost two years.

Sunday, 10 October 2021

October 10

 October10

With most people back at work or about to return, civil servants, it seems, are still not being ordered or persuaded to go back to their desks.

And this has annoyed MP  Duncan Smith who cites the war time experience - not his, as he was not born then - when people worked as normally as possible, defying the blitz.

He has a point. Dad used to travel across London to drive his crane on a dangerous Thameside wharf.

I struggled to get to school. My five mile journey from Wandsworth to the emergency secondary school near Clapham Common during the height of the London air bombardment in 1941 sometimes took up to three hours, dodging the bombs to shelter on the way.

One day, alone in our upstairs flat, I watched as a lone German bomber, obviously damaged, fly slowly, directly over me.

There was a totally different public approach and attitude to today’s emergency, a togetherness that is absent today although the danger is less immediate.

Where’s has the famous British spirit gone?