Sunday, April 22, 2018

The Gambles in Life


Do you ever call it a day and say you’ve had enough, you’ve travelled and gone far enough? Taken as much as you stand?

Well, when it come to tv programmes I’m definitely a yes-man to all the above questions!

When it comes to Quiz programmes, they are an immediate channel changer for me.

Not all of them however.

One of my favourites is the BBC’s programme with Stephen Fry and now Sandy Toksvig called “QI” and again the BBC with “Would I lie to you” hosted by Rob Brydon and with David Mitchel and Lee Mack captaining the opposing teams.

Both shows are examples of top-notch British comedy at its peak with fantastic guest artists, comprised of comedians, musicians, actors and even a priest or two.

However, down at the bottom and immediate channel-changers are “Deal or No Deal” with Noel Edmunds as the host, and “Tipping Point” presented by Ben Shephard. I have to admit that “Pointless” hosted by Alexander Armstrong and Richard Osman  has me in a quandary that falls into no-mans-land, sometimes I can watch and other times I switch channels.

It is, I believe, an aversion that stems from my youth, when I worked for some time as a small-change boy on Blackpool’s Golden Mile amusement arcade.

 It is an aversion to gambling,  caused by the number of fights, crying children in prams and battered mothers lying in the gutter, that I saw whilst I did the job.

It was a simple job, I would wander around the arcade carrying a leather shoulder bag with several compartments filled with small change. In the late fifties when I had the job, it was filled with pennies, threepences, sixpences, shillings, and half-a-crowns, the latter being worth two shillings and sixpence. I had special secret zipped compartment where I placed the paper notes that I had exchanged for small change.

Once I had more than ten pound in paper notes I had to return it to the office, as mugging of small-change-boys was a common occurrence.


Most of the visitors to Blackpool were at that time from the working class manual labouring towns of the industrial North of England, Scotland and Wales. Miners, cotton and wool factory workers, steel foundry workers, furnace feeders, bricklayers and construction labourers. It was their annual summer holiday and they came with hard earned wages stuffed in their back pockets and secretly hoped they would win a fortune at the slot machines on the Golden Mile.

Obviously, that was not what happened.

Gambling like another pet-hate, insurance companies; they both feed off hope, desperation and fear; these are basic human emotions. The faces I see today on the TV quiz shows remind me of those faces I saw as I exchanged a last Pound note to a losing holiday-maker.

Family violence has always been an enormous problem in communities throughout the world. In fact, a recent survey found that in Australia one in three Australian women have experienced physical violence from a current or former partner, and one in four have experienced emotional abuse by a current or former partner.

The survey also showed that there is a clear link between problem gambling and intimate partner violence, children, parents and grandparents are also the victims of violence perpetrated by those with significant gambling problems.

A memory that stays with me goes way back to nineteen fifty-five which resulted in the calling of the local constabulary, the ambulance service and the local social services, which at the time were almost non-existent.

It was a Saturday lunch time when a Glaswegain labourer Ken, his young wife, Monica and six-month-old baby in his pram arrived at the arcade. The baby had a small teddy-bear with him and he squeezed it with delight while he sucked on a full bottle of milk.

“I’ll change my last Tenner,” said Ken, “Sixpences, threepences, and pennies” he said to me, while he looked at his wife as though asking for approval. Monica shrugged in a non-committed way.

“And that’s it?” she added.

“Aye, gotta be, I ain’t got more!” he said in a subdued semi-belligerent tone,

“But y’ still got the ‘oliday-flat money?”

“Aye, I left it there!” he added, “as y’ told mi to!”

“Good.”

I could already sense that the two of them had had a serious conversation on the money situation before they came down to the Golden Mile.

It was about two thirty in the afternoon when the rumpus started, the sound of screaming brought myself and Stan, the arcade manger, to the front of the arcade. A small area of pavement that allowed the passing pedestrians to walk by our arcade and allow them to move on to find another venue that conned them into thinking that they might find their fortune.

When we arrived, the pram was on its side with the baby crying, trying to reach his teddy bear and finished bottle lying in the gutter. Ken had his hands around Monica’s throat and was shaking her violently. Stan made his way to Ken screaming at me, “Call the fucking cops lad!”

I turned to go to the back office, seeing Stan receive a flying right arm jab to the face, sending him crashing to the ground.

I called the cops explaining what happened and told them to come quickly before darting back to the concussed Stan.

“We’ve gotta get ‘em apart!” said Stan as I helped him up.

Stan leapt on Ken’s back and I attempted my best rugby tackle on his thighs. Our joint assault on Ken gave Monica a chance to free herself and went straight to the upturned baby.

By the Grace of God and to our luck the Black-Mariah filled with six policemen pulled up and sprang into action pulling myself and Stan off a slightly subdued Ken.


By now a watching crowd had surrounded us, and while four of the coppers tried to hold them back, the other two dealt with Ken, who by now had found his second-wind and was struggling with them as they tried to get him handcuffed. A third copper finally came over and got the cuffs on him.

Meanwhile Monica was sobbing uncontrollably while clutching her baby. After a short collection of statements by the senior officer, Constable Hardgeaves, Stan escorted Monica back to his office and ordered me to get on with my job.

The fracas had brought in many more customers and the arcade was almost at bursting point. I had to squeeze myself through the throng and be constantly aware of that other villainy that had befallen me before; pick-pockets delving into my shoulder bag.

At about four o’clock in the afternoon we received another visit from the police, this time they were detectives and a single uniformed constable. Luckily Monica was still with Stan in his office. She had chosen to stay there as returning to their accommodation would have reminded her of her time in there with Ken.

She retold her story she had told Stan. She had said that everyday Ken had physically attacked her and forced her to hand over their holiday savings so that he could play the slot-machines. About an hour later the detective asked me to make a full statement. I had to recall every detail as to what I saw the couple doing, the time and their position in the arcade, what machine Ken was playing, and what time he was at each machine. All the time I was praying that they would not search me and find my hidden “Toddie” in my trousers’ back pocket.

I knew that a Yate’s Wine Lodge sipping minor would not be a good witness for the prosecution.

It felt worse than a school test and by six o’clock I was exhausted, they said I could go home after I’d signed the statement that had been written down by the constable. They also warned me that I must tell my mother about the whole incident and that I would be asked to attend the trial in court, probably in about two weeks’ time.

Just as I was about to board a tram to take me home another official vehicle arrived carrying a driver and two meticulously dressed middle-aged ladies.

The last sight I saw was of Monica screaming on the pavement as one of the ladies carried the baby to their car whist the other wheeled the pram and placed it in the boot of the car.


To this day, seventy odd years later, that vision of Monica resurfaces as I watch the faces of losing contestants on TV quiz-shows.

Yep, an aversion to TV quiz shows and a loathing even a hatred of gambling!

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Bicycicular Jaunts in the Fylde.


Another tale that I can tell goes back to my early childhood and centres around my use of my bicycle, rather two bicycles.

A fixed-wheel jobbie for short trips to the beach and around the small town of my residence, Cleveleys, to do the shopping for my Nan & Pop, and my drop-handle-barred and ten geared-racer for longer trips to the Pennines, Pilling-Sands, Glasson Dock and the Lake District.

The latter area was visited when I scaled the highest mountain in England, Scarfell Pike. However, the trip was not done on bicycles but by car.

A Ford Zodiac, more of that later.

It was in the early sixties and I was about seventeen at the time. Scarfell Pike is located in the Lake District National Park, in Cumbria and has an elevation of 978 metres (3,209 ft) above sea level.

This is how it looked from the bottom, with Wastwater Lake in the foreground.






Please excuse the photographs taken on this venture. They were recorded on my then newly acquired as a birthday present camera, a Brownie 127 I think it was called.

Today Scarfell Pike and its neighbour Scarfell are climbed regularly by hikers and tourists. I am told that part of the trek is now paved and even wheelchairs can negotiate some of the climb.

Back in the sixties it was an adventure with a capital “A”, the climbing and conquering of Scarfell Pike was then a quest, a mission. A major exploit for four young, athletic and enterprising young lads, particularly as its peak was covered in approximately three-foot of snow!

This is us at the summit.


And a spectacular view of its neighbour Scarfell just 3162ft, 47ft lower!



We opted for the easiest ascent from Wastdale-Head village green, as there was a secure area where we could park the car and the drive to the nearest establishment that served alcohol was only five miles away.

I should perhaps make it clear that when I say “Easy” I mean it’s easy relative to the other routes; it’s an unrelenting climb and the crossing of Lingmell Gill can be dangerous, particularly after rain, but with the freezing temperature and snow on the ground, for us it was a doddle.

You will only have to look up the number of call-outs the Wasdale mountain rescue service had in the sixties to realise that navigation errors can lead to serious mishaps. However, to us the rugged beauty, breath-taking grandeur made our ascent a memorable experience that I still remember sixty-five odd years later.

We, Frank Holford, Nigel Fisher, and myself were in our school’s cadet force so we had experience with camping and had been involved in many orienteering expeditions when we went on the cadet-force’s summer training camps, unfortunately Mick Dyson, the fourth member of our team, did not have this experience or training. His major asset was; he owned the car that transported us from the Fylde to Wastwater Green.

It was the very spacious 1962 Ford Zodiac.

The Zodiac was the luxury variant of The Zephyr and were made by British Ford from 1950 till the early seventies, they were the largest passenger car on the market and they guzzled petrol. Mick was very fortunate in that his dad owned a Ford dealership in Blackpool, so a car and fuel were no problem.

I befriended him in my second to last year at school. As my school did not teach Geology as an O-level subject, my headmaster arranged that I attend lessons at the nearby Blackpool Grammar School, a fifteen-minute cycle ride from my school, Arnold Boys on Lytham Road near the Pleasure Beach.

I cycled there three times a week and struck up a friendship with Mick who was also studying Geology and loved the locally produced bitter called Boddingtons.

After the final geology lesson of the week on a Friday, Mick would drive down to Yates Wine Lodge on the North Shore of Blackpool and order two pints of “Boddies” so that my pint would be waiting on bar when I arrived fifteen minutes later, on my bicycle.

Throughout those final two years our friendship blossomed. Mick loved showing off his Zodiac and was always keen to take new passengers, he was also not shy of sipping several Boddies, so he was soon introduced to Frank and Nigel, fellow imbibers of the smooth bitter.


I’m sorry, I digress. I started inferring that I would write about my memories of my youth involving a bicycle, but I have taken you up the highest mountain in England.

Then, bicycles were usually the only means of transportation I had in my late teens, so without either hitching, which I did annually down to London to be involved in NYT productions, or scrounging a lift off Mick, I pedalled my way to many obscure places within a twenty-five radius of my home.

Friday nights were nearly always a pub-crawl or pub-pedal. My mate, Grid, his nickname for Chris Gradwell. Grad-Grid, you get it? Well, almost. He had the misfortune to get his head stuck in some iron railings while under the influence of some Boddies-bitter, so the name Grid stuck.

Grid and I always chose public houses that were well outside our small town, this involved a pedal on our bicycles. We chose establishments that involved crossing the Wyre river and took us to the villages of the Fylde like Poulton, Preesall, and Pilling, this was about an hour’s cycle, and we passed through Thornton, Stannah, Little Thornton, Hambleton, and Staimine and started our consumption of either Boddies-bitter or a bottled stout like Guinness called Jubilee.

The pub in Preesall is now called the Black Bull, its name then escapes me, perhaps The Preesall Arms, but nowadays all the pubs as we knew them are gone. They all had men’s-only bars, called public bars, they also had a small area for women only called “snugs” and lounge bars were the sexes could intermingle. The public bars were always equipped with a dart board, each pub having a resident dart’s team. A few of them had pool tables and there were always several packs of playing cards available for use in a game of snap, cribbage or even bridge.

Today all these pubs, the communal meeting place, have been converted to up-market eating establishments catering for the middle class and vehicularly mobile generation.

I remember on one occasion we avidly listened to the great Brain London, a local Blackpudlian-boxer, getting pummelled by the invincible then Casius Clay. It was scheduled for fifteen rounds, but London was knocked out in the third round.

That night we bid a hasty retreat to the Shard Inn which was close to the Wyre bridge for our third pint. There was a toll fee to cross the bridge over the Wyre of two pence or threepence. Once over the Wyre we stopped at the Lodge in Thornton, a quick pint and then onto my favourite pub the Bay Horse at Thornton’s rail station.

This place had a snug, a public bar and a lounge. Stools and benches in the public bar, benches and a table in the small snug and Chippendale furniture in the lounge.


The ideal pub!

Fish and chips were then the ideal ending to the evening jaunt and these were acquired back in the Cleveleys town centre.

Here the bicycles came into play as they were used to mount the pavement and ride directly up to the counter, where the order was placed. Cod, chips and “Crosserlies”! “Crosserlies” were all the discarded bits of chips and broken batter that accumulated in the fryer, and Biff gave them away free.

Biff was the owner of the Chippie called in those days, Abbots, because Biff’s surname was used; he never once complained of us riding our bicycles into his chippie.

And always welcomed our arrival with a cordial “‘allo there! Usual eh lads?”

Today apart from us being arrested as juvenile delinquents, we would no longer find the chippie.

It was demolished in the eighties and now a Thai restaurant is across the main Victoria Road.

Progress I suppose.

But that won’t get in the way of many other bicycle adventures to Fleetwood, Royal Lytham St Annes golf course, Garstang, and Glasson dock, some of which can be found by reading earlier blogs. Enjoy, thanks.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Mountain Sanctuary Park and Memories


Memory is an awe-inspiring commodity.
Is it on sale? Can it be bought, sold, or bartered?


We all possess it; our brains retain it.
Today's renowned scientists say it is an intrinsic attribute that all of mankind and many animals have the function to retain and learn from past experiences. This is memory at work.


All you animal lovers that have a pet will know how your dog comes to your whistle, your cat hears its pellets being poured into its bowl and it never forgets where it's litter is.
A memory that constantly stays with me is often catapulted to the forefront of my grey matter is of an old South African friend of the mid-seventies. Marcel van Heerden, a fellow thespian who I worked with back then. The old photograph I have is of him seated on a throne- sculptured rock high on the northern slopes of the Magaliesberg mountain range to the west of Pretoria.
 It was taken when he led me into that mystic and beautiful mountain range in 1975.


His walking-stick lies across him like a ceremonial baton, my dog on his lap and his mongrel pooch stands at the side.
We had just scaled the southern slope, clambering up a rocky-strewn ravine and the summit was our first rest since we had begun the ascent at eight o'clock in the morning.


It had been an exhausting climb and we both needed a rest before we began our descent through the cavernous rock pools of Tonquani Gorge.
The first pool we reached, about an hour later was a God-sent gift. Our aching and sweaty bodies were quickly stripped and in we plunged. The ice-cold water revitalized our tired muscles and swimming back to lie drying on a sun-soaked rocky platform was one of my best memories of life in the South African bush! 


Marcel told me there three more pools we had to visit before we pitched camp for the night under an overhanging rocky roof where could light a fire and graze.
That was the first time I'd heard the South African colloquial expression for eating and it was then that we developed our understanding of our cultural and social differences.


An important occurrence!
As it was to become the basis for the scene that we co-scripted in the late Barney Simon's innovative production of "Cincinnati", that was about to start rehearsal for performance at the new Market Theatre.


Marcel was a country born Afrikaaner and the city of Johannesburg was a new place to him; I too was a stranger to the city and the whole country, yet on this two-day hike we discovered we had a lot in common.
His grandfather like mine had been a keen vegetable grower, he knew a lot about the geology of the range we were on and I’d studied geology in my last year at school. We both loved food and often ate things and experimented with meats and vegetables we’d never tasted or seen before.


We dived down the gorge from one magnificent rock pool to another our only pause was at the second pool when Marcel’s dog suddenly started barking madly.
The pooch certainly was aware of another presence in the vicinity. Marcel told me to stop moving immediately and surveyed the area paying particular interest in the area right next to the pool. He detected a movement about five metres away from us.

A snake, a Boomslang!


It was about four feet in length, a bright green colour and it moved with the speed of a formula one race car.
“It’s deadly, one bite and you’re a gonner!” said Marcel.


 I instinctively took a step backwards,


“Don’t move!” yelled Marcel. I was petrified.


 Marcel remained frozen and in what can be only thirty seconds the snake disappeared into the surrounding rocks. His pooch stopped barking and Marcel said, “We’re safe now.”


He dived into the rock pool. It took me about a minute to pluck up the courage to follow him. We both surfaced and clambered onto the pool side.
“That was very weird,” he said, “They are usually found in trees! That’s where the name comes from Boom, tree in in English.”
“So, what’s it doing here?”
“Having a drink.”


“Reckon we do the same,” I said as I pulled out two cans of the local larger, Castle, from my back-pack, I opened them and passed one to Marcel, “Cheers, n’ baai dankie” I said trying out my Afrikaans.
Marcel laughed, “’N Rooinek!”
Another novel word, A Red-Neck, an English man, a red neck from the sun!

We moved on down the Tonquani gorge and explored two more magnificent rock pools with waterfalls that provided a route down which you could slide into the lower pool. All the time we were encased in the unassailable cliffs on each side. We selected a flattish rock surface, with an overhang as Marcel had said. We unpacked and pitched camp for the night.


We unloaded our Cadac-gas-burners, one for cooking and one for a night-light and soon we were settled down to eating one of Marcel’s South African creations, mealie pap and a minced stew concoction which I was told was called “Bobotie”, a Cape-Malay dish that was certainly very moreish!
Pap is made by mixing water with dried ground mealies. The secret is to get the right consistency, too much water and its ruined, too little and its inedible. Marcel's creation was perfect; he deftly scooped with his thumb and forefingers just the right amount of Pap on which he adroitly scooped his Bobotie,


He then attempted to teach me the correct way to eat the dish using his two forefingers and thumb. I tackled the procedure but after three failed attempts I returned to the use of fork and spoon. He giggled continuously as the pap and mince fell onto the ground and was immediately gobbled up by our eager pets, even though we had fed them earlier with dog-pellets.
As the evening wore on we chatted and discussed our early lives in our respective hemispheres. Here again our conversation found it’s way into our improvisation of our meeting in the main Johannesburg railway station. Our conversation finally saw the light of day 3 months later in Barney Simon’s production of “Cincinnati” at the Market theatre.


The entire play was created by the eight cast members and Barney over a 2-month improvisional exercise. It went on to be a tremendous success for the “Company” and the newly created Market Theatre playing to full houses for the initial ten weeks run with returns over the years, the last being in the early two-thousands.
With hindsight you could say that part of it came from two young culturally diverse minds grappling with the arduous surrounds of the Tonquani-Gorge in the Magaliesberg Mountain range.


The following morning after a great sleep under the stars, an early plunge and wash in the cascading mountain stream, we packed up all our belongings including rubbish and began climbing out of the gorge back the range’s summit and then our descent on the southern slope back to Marcel’s motorbike, where our weary bodies and two pets, packed in shoulder bags, began our trip back to civilization in Johannesburg.
Since that expedition into Tonquani-Gorge way back in the early seventies, I discovered an entry through the equally marvelous hidden campsite called Mountain Sanctuary Park.


This majestic get-a-way mountain park is accessed by vehicle on the northern slopes of the range and from there you can enter Tonquani gorge if you get the right permit, available at the park.
This exquisite campsite park offers accommodation as well as areas to pitch tents and is now run by Owen and his sister and has wooden and stone cabins to rent as well as campsites offering electricity, a large bathing area with solar heated water, and a magnificent swimming pool overlooking Buffelspoort dam to the North.

It was previously owned by their parents, and had far less to offer, however taking our tents and camping gear along, the place became a hide-a-way for myself, son and daughter through the eighties, nineties, and on into the twenty first century.
Worth a visit!!

For the Memories!

http://www.mountain-sanctuary.co.za/

Please, please comment on the tale either on blog page or Sir Cess Poole's Diaries on Facebook. Thanx!!!

Monday, January 29, 2018

Ony In the New South Africa!!!


This series of events started in last November when I was instructed by my son to prepare myself for the forthcoming marriage of my daughter to the Red Bull Formula One racing car designer, Mr Adrian Newey. The ceremony was to take place in the final days of the month at a cosy restaurant near the town of Franchoek in the Western Cape province of South Africa.

My daughter, Mandy, pre-booked my flight from Johannesburg to Cape Town; they, the bridal couple were arriving in South Africa at Oliver Tambo airport the same day, and I was to accompany them on the same flight from Joburg to Cape Town.

My son was given the job of making sure I was ship-shape and presentable to fulfil my role in the giving away of my daughter. I had to make sure my one-and-only suit, acquired at a reasonable price from the producer of a play I once performed in, was cleaned and pressed, my shoes polished and have a clean white shirt and a dickie-bow. All this I did, but my major problem was not having any luggage, like an overnight case, in which I could transport my required costume to be transported on the flight to Cape Town.

Regarding my suit; it was double breasted and came with waistcoat and I had acquired for a nominal sum from the producer of a play I had been in fifteen years ago, called “Blue Orange”, written by English dramatist, Joe Penhall. It is a very sardonically comic piece which touches on race, mental illness, and 21st century British life, it premiered at the Cottesloe Theatre in April 2000, and starred   Bill Nighy and Chitetel Ejiofor.

I performed it, playing the same role as Bill Nighy, in Johannesburg early in two thousand and three, receiving reasonable reviews, however it was not a box office success and we only ran for six weeks. So, apart from it being one of the most difficult roles I’ve ever played the only other remembrance of the production comes when I wear my acquired “Blue-Orange” suit.

Getting back to the preparation for my daughter’s wedding; my son solved my problem regarding luggage. He told me to nip to my nearest “GAME” store and purchase an over night case with wheels that would be taken as had luggage on my air-trip. This I did. At the age of sixty-nine I became the owner of my first wheeled travel bag and it did not need a padlock as it had its own combination locking device.

This was where the problem started!

Instructions to operate the device could not be found anywhere on the exterior of the case. Tentatively I slid the catch and it opened; exploring the several inner compartments I eventually found the operating instruction for the combination lock.

I fastidiously followed them and set my birth date as the 4 required numbers 0307, the third day of the seventh month. I was a hundred percent sure that I would not forget them. I tested the opening, closing and locking of the case at least ten times and it worked on every occasion. I set it aside.

The day before I travelled I unlocked and opened the case to beginning packing it with what I would require, casual clothes, socks and underpants for six days, toiletries, dressing gown, slippers, freshly polished shoes, a newly washed white shirt, dickie bow, and dry-cleaned suit.

After three or four checks I locked the case.

On arrival at the lodgings that my son had organised for myself and his accompanying new French girlfriend, we discovered that the combination lock would not work with the 0307 birth-date-code!

Luckily, I trained my son well; and in no time at all he brought out his Swiss army knife from his suitcase and we had my overnight case opened and all my smart clothes duly hung in the wardrobe and sock and pants in a cupboard.

I will not go into the wedding festivities and the celebration of my daughter’s fortieth birthday which happened the day after the wedding now but both events went splendidly. Old school friends of my daughter were there, and relations of my ex-wife attended. I had great difficulty in remembering their names as two and a half decades had passed since I had any contact with any of them.

I returned to Johannesburg and on instructions from my son I immediately returned my overnight bag to the Game store as I luckily had retained my purchase slip.

It was in the first week of December, so I knew that I wouldn’t see my case till the end of the following January as South Africa closes for approximately four weeks over Christmas.

On the 25th on January received a SMS from “GAME” informing me that my repaired case was ready for collection. I went to the store.

16 Jan (12 days ago)
https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/images/cleardot.gif
https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/images/cleardot.gif
https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/images/cleardot.gif
to me
https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/images/cleardot.gif

GAME AND GAME LIQUOR Would like to inform Sir Cess Poole
that your Repair item is back in store awaiting your collection

Automated Message : Do not Reply

Ursula, the lady in charge of customer services, wheeled out the case.

I did the proverbial actors-double-take as it was not mine and, my eyes widened in disbelief. A case three times the size of my case was presented to me! Jet black, mine had been brown.

The majestic suitcase stood on the tiled floor.
Should I? Shouldn’t I? The dilemma of honesty confronted my ageing hard-drive!

I do not possess a large suitcase and the prospect of saying nothing was my first thought. However, as I had to travel to Cape Town in the first week of February for a couple of days filming on an American production I would need an overnight case.

“Show me your slip,” asked the customer service lady.

I duly proffered it.

“Eeh numbers are the same.” she said.

“Well they may be,” I replied, “But it’s not mine. Look, I’ll show you a picture.” I added as I rummaged for my cell-phone.

By now there were three customer service officials hovering, two around the case and the other behind the counter. After a brief conversation in their African tongue, most of which I couldn’t understand, the lady with whom I was originally dealing with announced, “We have a problem.”

I agreed and announced that I had to have a suitcase as I was travelling to Cape town on the 2nd of February, so I suggested that I take the large case and would return to the store as soon as they informed me they had my case.

Another indaba in their African tongue followed and I was told that this was OK, as long as I signed a document that outlined what had happened. This I quickly did, signed the statement I had made, was given a copy and, e-mailed the photograph of my case from my phone to them, then I departed.
Two days later I received a phone call from customer services telling me they had my case and I must come and collect it as soon as possible because the owner of the large case was going berserk threating legal action against them.

I am now in possession of my case. The only problem remaining is I have lost the instructions on how to operate the combination lock!!!!

Sunday, January 21, 2018

New-Fangled-Technology and hard earned cash


So, I start to write in the cloud for the first time.

A weird feeling, before on my computers I could always see a list of my files I'd created and known that they were there on my hard drive. Now I am highly suspicious and harbour the thought that they are not in the ethereal cloud.

I long for the day when the pencil and sheet of paper will return, and pigeons were used for the sending of messages.



 All new-fangled technology frightens me. Maybe it's because I don't understand it or perhaps because in my seventies I'm too old to learn?

I throw this last thought into the dustbin or pray the cloud will delete it of its own accord, as I am still able to rewire an electrical distribution board with my eyes almost closed.

So, I press on putting my thoughts into the cloud and am elated to find the file is still there when I return to it the following morning.

What I find hard to grasp or understand is every time my finger hovers over the screen, particularly on my cell phone, some unwelcome application seems to download itself and gobble up the bytes.

Is this an implanted command by Microsoft or the creators of the millions of Applications available to the unsuspecting public? I believe both Microsoft and the Application-creators are to blame as they will try anything to fleece the public of its hard-earned cash!

I am inviting a computer-savvy youngster for an hour tomorrow to find and install an Application that will prevent any advertisements being shown anywhere on my phone and computer.

If he is successful I will immediately inform you.

Yippee!! Tamas, my friend’s son, was extremely helpful and successful in removing a couple of uninvited applications and he created a desktop shortcut to “My computer” and the “control panel”. A most useful task as I can now easily see what devices are attached to my laptop and transfer files back and forth. Thank you Tamas.


But unfortunately, I’m still a trifle confused.

I now have a Microsoft account, a Skype account, a Mays pharmacy account, an Egoli Gas account, a Telkom account, all with different rule and regulations, and maybe foolishly; I’ve given each of them a different password. To deal with this I’ve created a “passwords” file. Surely it would be more convenient if I had the same password for every account. “No, no!”, scream the computer literate saying, “It will be easy to hack into your accounts”. Sound advice, I think.

But very time consuming for my dear self!

I’ve now been thrown into a complete quandary!

I’ve downloaded a movie making AP called “Easy Movie Maker”.  It says that it is for beginners and is simple to use. I’m now five hours down the proverbial line and I still can’t make head or tail of it! I’ve managed to make 3 “Projects” and I’ve saved them, they appear in a box called “Projects!” But I can find no way to name them!

What is more galling, is the YouTube tutorials for the application are useless!!

Now after ten hours I returned to the FREE application. And discovered it’s not free!! I eventually managed to save a file and give it a name, at least I thought I had. After I clicked on “Submit” button, I was immediately asked for thirty-five Rand, so I closed the application down, only to discover it had not been saved. Money grabbing Arseholes!!!

“Easy Movie Maker” uninstalled and a new free-application downloaded called “Filmora”. I’ve open it once and again run into difficulties so onto the Net again to find a tutorial.

The Bastards!!! “Filmora” just like the “Easy” bunch have now asked that I pay them $36 to gain the full programme and I have only 3 days to give them a credit card number, if I am to make use of their SPECIAL Offer!!!

Sorry “Filmora”, I haven’t got $36!!!!

It is galling to find all these “Free” offers on the Net only to discover a week later that they are not free!!

Surely, they are obliged to let their possible customers know that the deal is only a trial-useage and there will be a demand for payment in a week’s time?

“Filmora’s” deception has caused me to postpone my attempt to find a video-producing AP and I have returned to the one function I am able to understand, which is the writing of these blogs.  But I must admit that confusion is in the air. I have now discovered that my “word” application offers me the choice of writing my blog as either a document or a “Blog”, and yet I can’t fathom out the difference!

Common sense tells me that if I write it as a “Blog” the formatting will work better when I copy and paste it into my blog-post. However, for ten years I have written my blog as a word document and then copied and pasted it. Apart from a few trials and tribulations, as to the size of my font and the placing of a few photographs I seem to have succeeded.

I any of you reading this have any suggestions on this matter, I would greatly appreciate if you could comment at the end of reading on the blog page.

AND it is not just computers and the internet that are dabbling in new-fangled technologies!!

Our local power utility company seems to have entered the fray. Now instead of running their 3- phase supply on 3 separate high-wire street wires they are bungling then together into one. Alright, this prevents falling tree branches snapping the individual phase wire but now that all 3 insulated phases are “bungled” together it has become doubly difficult to trace a short! The reason they offer for the innovation is, “It’s cheaper!”

The medical fraternity is also climbing on the band wagon with new ways to cure our ailments and in some cases, finding new ways to diagnose them.

Recently, while watching Sky News, I learn that using over one thousand diagnosed cancer patients, research was showing that a diagnosis could be found using DNA, the complex building block of our being. DNA is a thread-like chain of nucleotides the genetic instructions used in the growth, development, functioning and reproduction of all known living organisms. Although it will still be some time before the test is used they jubilantly announced that it would cost over three hundred and fifty Pounds Sterling!

Yep, money certainly makes the world go around.

But it won’t make mine, as I have always been a man of limited means, I will rely on the wisdom of my doctor and my memories of my grandfather who went from an agile active sixty-five-year-old weighing over forty stone to a skeleton covered in skin in six weeks way back in the early nineteen-sixties.

A final industry I’d like you to consider is the automobile business. How would you feel in an Autonomous vehicle? It is estimated that by 2020 we'll have cars capable of being fully autonomous in certain circumstances, on highways and roads with a minimal of variables and no bad weather.

Also think about a vehicle that has a keyless entry and you start your car by using your finger-print or a scan of your eyeball.

Finally give a thought to a vehicle that constantly monitors your body keeping a track of all your vital functions. The legendary motor company Ford, is already working on the idea of your seatbelt or steering wheel sensors that track your vital statistics.

Yeah, it’s time we went back to the Russian pen used in space, the pencil and my grandpa’s pidgeons to carry our messages instead of one of these!!