Monday, 8 February 2016

Super Bowl 50, Me, Dylan Thomas and John Elway

I have always loved the opening paragraph of Dylan Thomas's "A Child's Christmas in Wales". It goes a bit like this: 'One Christmas was so much like another.....that I can never remember whether it snowed for six days and six nights when I was twelve or whether it snowed for twelve days and twelve nights when I was six.' I certainly can't compete with his poetic prose, but my feelings about Super Bowl nights are rather similar. No snow this year, unless it's in Denver, but all the memories run down the years until I find it difficult to separate one from the other. Though a long-time follower of NFL, the stats still elude me, but some things I remember well - the early battles over 'school in the morning', JRTs wearing Dallas Cowboys regalia and barking at the telly, watching in a lads' house in North London, pizza on our knees. And the year when I played hookie myself by persuading a colleague to cover for me at work the following day until I surfaced around midday.
I confess I was rooting for the Broncos last night. Opinion seemed to favour Cam Newton, already declared MVP 2015, over Peyton Manning to lead his team to victory, but I went with vintage. And the Carolina Panthers - aren't they one of those new expansion teams? A few old-timers from the Hall of Fame limped into view at the SF arena. Great to see the likes of Troy Aikman and Emmitt Smith again, and then the appearance of John Elway led me to think how technology had moved on during my watching years and to indulge in another little spot of nostalgia.  No longer needing to rely on the cat's whisker to bring me the score, last night I sat in comfort watching a fair-sized colour TV with my ipad to hand to follow tweets and live text. But this is what I 'penned' on a word-processor back in '98:
'SUPERBOWL XXXII  Never has a Super Bowl been more aptly named. It had everything a  football fan could have wished for including suspense to the very end. Who could not have rejoiced with John Elway? It was his Super Bowl and a fitting culmination to a sparkling and dedicated career. He is reported to have wept with disappointment after his last Super Bowl defeat. This time the tears were tears of joy. There must have been many moist eyes, too, amongst fans who had shared the frustration and now shared the delight.'
I think Cam Newton wept last night. Plenty of time for him to achieve his moment of glory. No tears for John Elway this time and Peyton's family looked pretty stoical too. Possibly the end of an era for the Mannings and maybe time for them to look to the next generation for their NFL thrills.

Friday, 5 February 2016

No Apologies This Time

I have been away for so long that apologies and explanations would be pointless. Hopefully I will fill in a few gaps in my next post but in the meantime, welcome back.
My website is up and running again. I am learning on the job so please excuse the rather obvious mistakes. Graphics seem to be causing me a few problems.
I had decided to try a completely new format but decided that after all I am quite attached to the slightly 'vintage' look. No comments please about vintage being the new antique, and please keep following.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

2009: How it was for us

Well, here we are at the beginning of another year. Time to look back on the past one and recall what happened to us and ours. I find this an enjoyable process but hopefully my ramblings will also be of interest to one or two others.

No longer hampered by Geoff’s knee problems we were able to be more active again, enjoying our walks and holidays.
In May we spent a week in South-east Scotland near Wigtown. The idea was that Geoff would set up his portable radio station and I would be happy because of the proximity of a book town. We enjoyed lovely spring weather, discovered a beautiful area and tolerated one another’s hobbies quite well.
June saw us actually taking flight (please note!) to France, where we spent a week with Jan and Jeremy, Geoff’s cousins. Jeremy lives very close to the coast of Finistere so we had a first-class guide to the area as well as good company and wonderful food. And it was hot!
We finished off the summer with a few days in Yorkshire, staying near Scarborough and visiting favourite old haunts such as Filey, Whitby, Robin Hood’s Bay and Goathland.
Our mini before-Christmas-coach- trip to Oxford and Bath was a first for us, and very pleasant too.
On the home front, we have at last completed ‘The Kitchen’, a project which has involved lots of talking over a long time, and eventually a good bit of hard work.
Geoff continues to ‘work the world’ from his radio shack in the roof and emerges to take part in Raynet activities around the Peak District.
Musically I have had a good time this year attending concerts, singing with the Derby Hospitals Choir, playing the piano for a few church services and putting the Nelson Handbell Ringers through their paces.
The highlight of the year at church was the celebration, in September, of 70 years on the Broadway site. We had a nostalgic weekend which involved lots of eating and lots of talking.

And now to Mum. In April she underwent her second cataract operation which was successful in medical terms but did not functionally improve her vision. In spite of poor eye-sight she continues to cook and knit for England, entertain her friends in style and keep Wyevale Garden Centre financially viable.
She and I have had two trips to Old Hunstanton staying again at Caley Hall and doing the girlie things together.

Martin has had the sort of year where the edges of work and pleasure are quite blurred, or so it appears to the casual observer. Yes, he was in work on Superbowl night, but perhaps he should have been paying the BBC for the pleasure.
Other highlights of the year were seeing the Red Sox play at Fenway Park during a short trip to Boston with friends, coaching a crew that won at Metropolitan Regatta and reached a Henley Women's semi-final, following part of the Tour de France, including the Mont Ventoux stage, with Bryony, travelling with Rich to Carl’s wedding in the Ukraine and attending the World Rowing Championships in Poland. (I won’t mention that he travelled in the company of Sir Steve Redgrave as it would look too much like name-dropping.) Quite a haul for one year!

Andrew and Sarah got married in Copenhagen on 19th June. They celebrated their wedding with a party on a lovely, sunny day in August. We were delighted to share with them in the joy of a new baby daughter, Ava Rose, born on 13th October.Tilly was 4 a couple of weeks later. She is becoming quite grown-up now, especially with the responsibility of being a big sister. She spent a weekend with us for the first time in September and a good (if exhausting) time was had by all. She has been enthusiastically helping Andrew to beat the battle of cultivating an almost vertical garden.

Gareth and Beverley have had a difficult year in that both have had spells in hospital, Gareth following an accident on a motorbike racing track. Hopefully they are both on course to full recovery now. Very sadly, at around the same time their close friend Kenny died, also in a biking accident. We are proud of the way they have coped and supported one another through a very emotional time.
The high point of their year (excuse the pun) was doing a sky dive. Just watching the DVD made us feel nervous.They have carried on with work on their house which promises to be like Buckingham Palace when they have completed all their plans.
Levi has a deluxe outdoor kennel and is still our favourite grand-dog!

Clive and Margaret continued to offer stirling care to Marg’s Mum (also Margaret) until her death in July. She had achieved a grand old age and was able to stay at home with them until the end.
They eventually finished the work that ensued following the flooding of their house in ’08, and were straight in time for the upheaval caused by the annual garden party in support of Cheadle Animal Welfare. Rusty, a little rescue Yorkie, decided to adopt them just before their annual pilgrimage to Skye, making the trip something of a logistical night-mare.
Clive has continued to beat the bounds of Parwich and other outposts of Derby and Derbyshire, running 1,036 miles by the close of the year.

We were pleased to meet Rosemary’s friend and partner in travel, David, for the first time in May. We have not seen much of them this year as they have been covering the globe at a rate of knots, but the postcards, e-mails and texts have kept us informed of their whereabouts.

And so….We are grateful for the year that has passed, for our family and for continued contact with dear friends, and, though Geoff gives a shudder, I am thrilled by a snowy start to the New Year 2010.

Friday, 1 January 2010

Literary Review of '09, not forgetting the potato peel

It’s the last day of 2009, and I see that I, along with politicians and bankers, have not been included in the New Year’s Honours List. Congratulations are due, however, to Jenson Button, Status Quo, Patrick Stewart and the chap from Zippo’s Circus.
We’re heading off to Nantwich to see in the New Year with Karen and Ian. I shall be taking a large bag of books for Karen, some of which will be doing the return journey, and some of which will be my recommended reading to her for 2010. Among the latter will be “Deaf Sentence” by David Lodge which she gave me for Christmas last year. The system is that you are really honest about not having more than a quick look (you can’t expect too much of a book-lover) before donating said volume, hoping that it will find its way back to you before too long, to be indulged in properly. I thoroughly enjoyed “Deaf Sentence” which was either very well researched, or written with first-hand experience of hearing loss and a large dose of sense of humour. My offering to Karen this year is “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society” by Mary Ann Schaffer. I found the title impossible to resist. How long until it finds its way back to me, I wonder?
You may have noticed my intention, this time last year, of reviewing all my new books. This year I won’t mention the new titles because I am sure to fall short of my intention. I’ll just note that in addition to the aforementioned volume, I also indulged in and thoroughly enjoyed the large Alan Coren tome. I marvel at the breadth and diversity of his knowledge and his humour was second to none. The John Banville novel could well be described as “beautifully crafted” but, for me, was a more difficult read.
I’ll just mention a few other random enjoyable reads from 2009:
“The Two Pound Tram” by William Newton
“Coastliners” by Joanna Harris
“Past Imperfect” by Julian Fellowes
“Nobbut a Lad” by Alan Titchmarsh
“Mother of Pearl” by Maureen Lee
and at last I have read Ian McEwan’s “Enduring Love”. Now I need to see the film!

Monday, 21 September 2009

Apology and Explanation

I have a reader who is unimpressed by my progress on New Year’s Resolutions. I can’t say that I am very proud of myself either. I would like to report, though, that I have made some progress with the ‘paper’ which was threatening to take me over. And of course I have read! The problem lies in the fact that I have not reviewed as promised. I can only cite laziness. I have a habit of lying in bed in the early morning and going through the day in my head. That includes writing my blog, letters to the paper, conversations which I intend to have, ‘phoning friends with whom I have had no contact for far too long and occasionally decorating and extending the house. My problem is that by the time I get up I have that cosy feeling that I have done it all, so I just take a walk or do a bit of gardening. I feel somewhat humbled by the fact that my ‘old’ school and university friend Margaret Norris (aka Marg Tivey), has actually appeared in print with a slim volume of short stories. I have been meaning to ‘phone her about it……

This is the time of year when Christmas starts to creep up on you again. Displays in the shops and catalogues through the door are one thing but singing carols in September is quite another. Unfortunately that is one of the minus sides of belonging to a choir and needing to get in enough practice time. It is the same with Handbell Ringing as the focus of our activity is around ‘that time of year’. I used to put my foot down and refuse to play anything Christmasssy until after half-term. Amidst teasing on the subject, I admit to having given in on the basis that since I retired the seasons have become a bit blurry anyway. After all, there are lots of good thing about this time of year. We have picked blackberries and the apples are almost ready. There is that lovely autumny feeling in the air. There’s still time to snatch another little holiday. The classical concert and NFL seasons starts again. And there are still more than three months until Christmas.

Thursday, 8 January 2009

2009: so far, so good

Well, we’re a week into 2009, computer problems seem to be behind me at last, and I am really going to keep my blogging up this year. My other resolve is to keep on top of papers and magazines, getting rid of things at regular intervals, read or unread. Mmm….if I manage that one it will definitely be a first.

The cold snap continues, mention being made of similar cold winters such as 1947, which I don’t actually remember as I made my appearance into the world as the thaw set in. 1963 I do remember. I was doing mock ‘O’ levels at the time, in freezing conditions. I like to quote our headmistress, who told us, “Girls! You may have a hot water bottle or a Thermos, not both!” We were encouraged to be moderate in all things - a touch of Lady Bracknell there.

And the years that are quoted in relation to the economic crisis are 1973/4, 1980/1 and 1990. Looking back I realise that they made no impact on me whatsoever. One might put it down to ignorance, or to the optimism of (relative) youth, but the first date coincided with a decision to give up work and become a mother, the second with a feverish effort to move house and the last with extending the bungalow. Maybe the fact that there was nothing significant in the bank to worry about back then, made a difference.

So….back to the present. We did try not to sit around all Christmas, but the social programme sometimes makes it difficult to do other than a few ‘walks round the block’ or down to the village. The icy weather of ’09 has meant that it has been firm underfoot and we have enjoyed walks a little further afield. We had a lovely walk around Elvaston Castle and also managed the Long Walk at Kedleston. ‘Long’ is the National Trust’s description. It’s probably about 4 miles and with a mince pie and cuppa at the end, that made just the right sort of walk for us.

The first cinema trip of the year was on Monday night, to the new Quad Arts Centre in Derby Market Place, a very comfortable venue but a not so comfortable film. We saw “Summer” featuring Robert Carlyle, a film set in North Derbyshire around Bolsover. Lots of ‘language’ and plenty of food for thought.

I’m pleased to report that Santa Claus came up trumps with a good selection of books for me. I am inclined to gloat when I see enough reading material to keep me happy until the days start to lengthen. Details are as follows:
“Chocolate and Cuckoo Clocks” The Essential ALAN COREN
“Deaf Sentence” by DAVID LODGE
“The World According to Bertie” and
“The Careful Use of Compliments” by ALEXANDER McCALL SMITH
A good start to the year I would say. Reviews in due course.

Wednesday, 31 December 2008

2008 in a Nutshell

Amid national tales of woe, sub-prime lending, the credit crunch, plummeting house prices and the FTSE’s worst year on record, we plod on here at 23, living out life’s little day.
The national, and even more so the global, picture is generally too big to contemplate, so for most of us it is the day-to-day issues of our personal lives and our families which most pre-occupy us.

So here goes! What do we have to report at the end of 2008?

Inevitably when there are health issues they dominate the scene. Last Christmas Geoff was just recovering from his knee re-placement, a healing process which took us into the New Year. Unfortunately ‘the knee’ soon reared its ugly head again and Geoff was eventually hospitalised with an infection in July. It was a worrying time, but I’m pleased to report that the knee celebrated its first birthday in September (shortly before Geoff drew his state pension for the first time), and decided that it was time to grow up and behave itself.

Our plan to visit cousin Jeremy in France was disrupted as a result of the above-mentioned problem, but during the year we have enjoyed a few days in Durham, a week in Filey with Mum, and short breaks in Suffolk and Norfolk. And of course, I managed a couple of most-enjoyable trips to visit Martin in London, and we twice stayed over with Karen and Ian in Nantwich. Not bad, all things considered.

Let me mention music before I do the family rounds. A major highlight of my year has been the arrival of a new piano. It has taken me a long time to get to the point of parting with my old friend, but we had a little ceremony which involved “Blest be the tie that binds” and I thought of it more as a celebration of life than a funeral. I think I fell a little bit in love with my 1940s Brinsmead when I saw it standing there in Foulds window, so I was at last spurred into action. It arrived on the day when I was singing in the carol concert at the Assembly Rooms with the Derby Hospitals Choir. Ringing the handbells has yet again been an important part of Christmas. We had a slot on Radio Derby when their reporter came to our coffee morning in Ockbrook. Quite a claim to fame!

This was a special year for Mum as she celebrated her 90th birthday in August. The partying was double-layered and extended over 24 hours, although I must hasten to add that this was not non-stop carousing! We had a family party at 23 on Sunday 3rd and then a gathering of friends and neighbours at 14 the following day, her real birthday. I have a feeling that Mum loved having her nearest and dearest around her, but secretly wondered what all the fuss was about.

As well as Geoff, Margaret was the other member of the family to start living ‘off the state’, as she celebrated her 60th in July with a party at Parwich. Unfortunately she and Clive were victims of the flooding in September which caused considerable damage inside their house whilst they were away in Scotland. The end of the year sees them dried out, but with bare walls and still waiting to replace their carpets. Outside in the yard, however, things go on as usual with the rescue hens continuing to show their delight at release from captivity. And somehow or other Clive has managed to notch up 1,000 running miles in the course of the year. Not bad for 66!

And what of my other sister-in-law, Rosemary? Well, this seems to have been a year to remember. I find it difficult to keep track of where she is when, but her travels caused her to meet David, and they seem to have clicked. So let’s hope that she will at last be happy in a new-found relationship and with the cruises planned for 2009!

It has been a year to remember for Martin as his crews achieved very pleasing results at Henley Royal and at the National Championships. It was good for him to have some real recognition of his colossal commitment to coaching at AK. On the BBC front, he moved over to covering the Olympics so has not been short of work this year and looks set for a busy time right up to 2012. Changing from his previous shift pattern meant that he had a proper Christmas holiday for the first time this year. I hasten to note that it also means more time to spend on the river at weekends.

Gareth and Beverley moved house in March, having had worrying problems with vandalism around Scampton. They have bought a semi closer to Lincoln and have been busy ever since ‘improving’ in a big way. I think it now seems more like home for them than it did at first and Levi has settled well in his doggy way.

Andrew and Sarah’s improvements have been out in the garden, where they have made their almost precipitous garden more accessible and safer, and much more productive. They took Tilly for her first sea-side holiday this year and all had a happy time. It has been a thrill to visit them and observe Tilly growing up and developing her conversational skills. She was 3 in November.

And so to Broadway. We continue to worship there every week and try to ‘do our bit’. I continue to keep the web site up-to-date, and have been playing the piano for a few evening services this year. I also had a very happy few days with Holiday at Home in August. Geoff has struggled on with the team of people trying to come up with new ideas for raising money for Broadway Plus, our building scheme. We sometimes wonder whether the new building will ever happen. In the meantime, though we have lost three dear, older friends at Broadway during the year, we have been pleased to see a number of new families in our congregation, particularly over the Christmas period. It is good for us to know that we will be spending this evening, New Year’s Eve, with the same long-standing church friends with whom we welcomed in 2008.