My Diary ...

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  • Rain and pain

    Published Date: 
    Friday, 30 March, 2018

    There is a blanket of dark grey cloud over Wareham this morning, which matches the mood of the people in the town, and the rain falls incessantly reflecting the tears of the people of the town. A group of twenty or so people stand on the pavement in North Street, they release balloons into the sky. Flowers adorn the seat near the pedestrian crossing and a policeman walks towards the scene carrying a bunch of flowers, a stark reminder that the hardened professionals of our amazing emergency services have emotions and feelings they often have to hide. The shops and businesses in North Street are closed, the staff there would have been profoundly affected by yesterday's events and they need time to come to terms with it. The town hall door is open and a man with "Police Chaplain" stands in the entrance, some form of assembly is obviously about to happen. The shelf fillers in Sainsbury's are their usual morose selves but at least today they have reason to be, they have to put the contents of the truck involved in the fateful event on the store shelves. The women on the check out try and give the impression it is business as usual but it is going to be a hard day for them too.

    People want to know what happened and why, they want to know who was to blame. The photograph taken from a distance, presumably by a reporter or press photographer, shows the dreadful scene, and maybe gives some clues but it is the police, of course, who have the unenviable task of establishing exactly what happened, whether any laws were broken and if so make sure the culprit(s) have their day in court and face judicial punishment. Did the adults with the children not have proper control over the young ones, did they let them run across the road rather than hold their hand and lead them safely across? Did the lorry driver pass though an amber (or worse a red) light? Was the person who parked their car on the wrong side of the road and on the jagged lines where no one should park start a tragic chain of events through their selfishness and disregard for the law? One thing is certain; not only was the life of a three year old boy tragically ended yesterday morning, the lives of several other people where irrevocably changed by those events; they will live with, and be punished by, those memories for the rest of their lives regardless of the outcome of our human laws.

    One sees reports of tragic incidents like this on the news all the time but one does not expect it to happen in the little town you call home, it happens elsewhere. When it it happens close to home the reality has a deeper effect on you, you can't help but feel involved even if you were not there when it happened. We did see the air ambulance fly low over our house on its way to the scene so were deeply aware something terrible must have happened but we did not know what at the time of course.

    One day soon the sun will come out again in Wareham, the incident will fade in memories, people will continue to park where they want regardless of anyone else and life will return to normal for most of us but it will surely never do that for that family whose pain must be unbearable.  


     

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  • Jigsaw: Hedgerow

    Published Date: 
    Thursday, 22 March, 2018
    Title Hedgerow
    Manufacturer House of Puzzles
    No of Pieces 1000
    Time 12 Days
    Difficulty Challenging

    Given the cold and snowy weather over the last couple of weeks we have been grateful for an indoor pass time as neither of have felt inclined to venture outside much. Despite a lot of attention this jigsaw still took us 12 days with pretty much every piece looking the same colours; it was eventually defeated by the House of Puzzles imaginative use of piece shapes. The end result was worth it, a lovely picture although hedgerows like this nowadays are very difficult to find but we can dream.


     

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  • Food for thought

    Published Date: 
    Thursday, 15 March, 2018

    We had lunch at the Martyrs Inn in Tolpudle today. It is not far from us and so we go there every now and then, I suppose we have been there a dozen or so times since we moved to Dorset. Named, of course, after the famous Tolpuddle Martyrs the names of the six men (George Loveless, James Brine, James Hammett, James Loveless, John Standfield and Thomas Standfield) adorn the wall above the the main fire place and on the back of the pub's menu is their story. Today, whilst eating my lunch, something dawned on me!

    The story of the martyrs is quite well known but in case you are not familiar with it here is a short synopsis. It was 1834 and the British aristocracy, and therefore parliament, were living in fear following the French and Russian revolutions. The situation across rural England was tense with various outbreaks of unrest as farm labourers fought for better wages and also against the growing mechanisation on farms that were threatening jobs. In Tolpuddle there were six farm labourers, all struggling to feed their families on 30p a week wages for extremely hard labour; they were little more than slaves. The six got together and decided to take on the Lord of Manor to try and improve their lot. The Manor house family were doing very, very well thank you off the backs of these men's efforts, a good return for minimum outlay. The men met and swore a secret oath to do whatever was necessary in the fight and to support each other during the fight. Forming a workers union was not illegal but swearing a secret oath was and somehow news of this meeting and the oath sworn reached the wrong ears. They were arrested, tried, found guilty and sentenced to transportation to the colonies; a fate worth than death. The case provoked riots across the country, even in London, and force had to be used to put them down; they were turbulent times. There is much more on the web and there is also a museum to the martyrs in Tolpuddle which is well worth a visit.

    Anyway, to my point. The working 'martyrs' were exploited by the local estate who had them arrested and tried. The case made the six men famous, famous enough to now have a pub named after them; it was originally the Crown but rebranded as the Martyrs Inn in 1952. The pub is owned by the local estate and rented to a tenant. As far as I know, this means that the same family who made martyrs of the men to try and get rid of them now make a profit from a business that unashamedly uses the martyrs and their suffering as a form of attraction. In other words, nearly 200 years on, the martyrs are still being exploited by the same people. There seems something wrong in that to me.

    I am not a socialist but I believe passionately in fairness and social justice and there seems little of either in the case of the Tolpuddle martyrs. Food for thought eh?


     

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  • Mixed emotions - judge for yourself

    Published Date: 
    Saturday, 10 March, 2018

    For fifty years I was eligible for jury service. Not just eligible but both willing and able to do my civic duty and do jury service. I have never been one to shirk responsibility or shy away from a challenge, I have always thrived on those situations. During my ten years in the charitable sector I was fortunate enough to be involved in the Common Purpose programme and that included a visit to Winchester Prison (as a guest, not an inmate) and an afternoon in Southampton Magistrates Court. The day exploring and discussing our judicial system was fascinating, interesting, troubling and sad. Whilst I cannot say I 'enjoyed' the day it is a day I will never regret having experienced.

    I remember a young lad brought before 'the bench' for remand proceedings. The night before he had attacked a girl in Southampton, something I find abhorrent and yet as I watched him in the dock I felt sorry for him!  In a moment of madness he had not only wrecked the girl's life, her family's life and his family's life but also his own life. He had no future other than to spend many, many years in a hell hole that is called Winchester (or any other) prison and I felt compassion for him! That's me I suppose ... he was remanded in custody, was a later found guilty in the Crown Court in Winchester and sentenced to twenty five years in prison. That was back in 2001 so he may well be still in there. What a waste for a pointless and worthless act.

    I can't help wonder what I would have thought had I been part of the jury at his trial. I am sure I would have found him guilty along with my fellow jurors and I suppose it is right that he should suffer in return for the suffering he dished out but I still can't help feeling sad. I am sure others would deem him a 'low life' and that he got everything he deserved and I should not give it second thought but it doesn't work like that for me.

    Anyway, back to my original point, whilst having been willing and able to do jury service for fifty years the call never came. Now, when I have a full time caring role looking after Ann what happens? Yes, I get a call to do jury service in Bournemouth. I have to be prepared for the case allocated to me to last for possibly two weeks or even longer. I should also be prepared to travel to a court further away or possibly to a crime scene and I should also be prepared for being away over night in the event of us not being able to agree a verdict. I was in no doubt that my duties to Ann are greater now than my duties to the process of justice in the country I live in and I had to ask for exemption. The answer was swift; yes "you are excused jury service".

    I am both relieved, as I just do not how I could have coped with it along with my caring duties, but disappointed at an experience and challenge missed but if I am just going to feel sorry for the accused may be it is as well I not involved in his/her trial, whoever they are and whatever the charges.


     

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  • Jigsaw: Meet the Family

    Published Date: 
    Friday, 9 March, 2018

     

    Title Meet the Family
    Manufacturer House of Puzzles
    No of Pieces 1000
    Time 6 Days
    Difficulty Easy

    Another week, another jigsaw and that reflects the weather over the last week. With severe cold, some snow and some ice we have not been far! However, it now seems more spring-like so may be just one more then take a break until next winter. I love the expressions on the two parent collies faces. Mother is looking very pleased and proud "These are my babies!" but dad looks more stern and is taking his responsibilities to his young family very seriously. As for the puppies, they are up to all manor of naughty things. 


     

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  • Jigsaw: Signalling Change

    Published Date: 
    Friday, 2 March, 2018
    Title Signalling Change
    Manufacturer House of Puzzles
    No of Pieces 1000
    Time 5 Days
    Difficulty Easy

    This week's cold weather meant we raced through this one. This jigsaw is a bit special for me as when I was 14 I spent two weeks of my summer holiday in a signal box at a small station in Scotland whilst were staying with my aunt. It was fascinating to see how railways worked and whilst most of my school chums wanted to be an engine driver I wanted to be a signal man! When I left school and went to see the careers adviser he asked me what I wanted to do and, niavely perhaps, I said I wanted to be a signal man and he said "Grammar school boys don't become signal men. Here, this insurance company wants junior clerks go talk to them." I hated being an insurance clerk and I realise now I should have said I wanted to be in railway systems management, I think I would have gone a long way! (Pun intended)


     

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  • Jigsaw: Ship Inn

    Published Date: 
    Sunday, 25 February, 2018
    Title Ship Inn
    Manufacturer House of Puzzles
    No of Pieces 1000
    Time 6 Days
    Difficulty Easy

    After the challenges of Foxley Wood something with lots of colour and shapes to provide some light relief! Ran through in no time at all ...


     

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  • Jigsaw: Foxley Wood

    Published Date: 
    Sunday, 18 February, 2018
    Title Foxley Wood
    Manufacturer House of Puzzles
    No of Pieces 1000
    Time 13 Days
    Difficulty Challenging

    An exercise in assembling 1,000 pieces of varying shades of brown and green! Worth the effort for a lovely picture - who could even think of harming such a beautiful animal as the fox?


     

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  • Happy birthday to me?

    Published Date: 
    Sunday, 18 February, 2018

    Well, there is no turning back (there never was anyway!); I am now seventy! It has been quite an emotional day for a variety of reasons as it becomes obvious to me that I am just not the right sort of person to help Ann through her difficulties with Alzheimer's. I am too impatient and she is frustrated and occasionally the two emotions collide. Fortunately, if I upset her with my impatience she does not remember for long but I do and it upsets me that I can be so thoughtless sometimes but it really isn't easy. What has that got to do with my birthday? I suppose it is the emotions around getting older and knowing that for the rest of my life I either have to deal with this every day or, worse still, deal with being on my own. I would rather have Ann as she is rather than not at all.

    Birthdays have never been a big thing with me. I think it goes back to when I was young, everyone else's birthday seemed to matter more than mine back then and still does today. Not having much a family probably does not help. That said, Ann did remember it was my birthday on occasions during the day and I had a surprise phone call from John and Jose this morning. Jean and Kate rang too and I had a card from a handful of people and that was that. I have to be fair here and say I do not publicise my birthday like some do!

    I also decided that I would not cook on my birthday and so we went to the Pines as usual and I did enjoy my saddle of lamb and panacotta to follow. Ann had the carvery and ate the lot, she still eats well even though she never puts on any weight.

    It is now 7.00pm as I write this and I will be glad when bed time comes and I can sleep it off and hopefully wake up in a more positive frame of mind tomorrow.


     

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  • Grumpy old man status confirmed

    Published Date: 
    Thursday, 15 February, 2018

    After watching the rain and wind for two days it was good to wake to find a brighter more settled day. Our rail cards expire on Sunday and as we do not have much need for them these days we are not renewing so it seemed like a good idea to use them one last time and take the train to Weymouth for a walk along the sea front and to get some lunch. It seemed like a recipe for a quiet, relaxing day whilst making the most of the brief respite in the weather (more rain and wind coming soon according to the forecast!).

    We arrived at the station to find our train was running 8 minutes late, irritating but no big deal. After we left Dorchester we notice that an elderly lady who had been sat near us, and had got off at Dorchester, had left her handbag behind. I picked it up and took it to the guard for safe keeping but I was made to wait while he checked to see if there was a purse inside, I suppose he thought I may have taken it before handing the bag in? On arrival at Weymouth we walked out into the main street and up to the front where we watched one car ram another!

    Being sunny Ann took her sunglasses out of her handbag and one of the lenses dropped on the ground. There was no way of fixing them, they were only cheap ones, but we had to go shopping for a new pair. After visiting Boots, Specsavers, Debenhams, New Look, etc, etc, etc we had still not found a suitable pair and so our walk along the prom had become a walk around the shops. In the end we were told that there is not much call for sunglasses in February and so many shops do not display them!

    By now it was lunch time and we were near Prezzo's. We quite like the Prezzo in Weymouth so that was our choices. Fifteen or so years ago this was one of the best Italian restaurant chains but now the selection on the menu has shrunk, plate sizes have shrunk, staffing levels have shrunk but prices have increased. We ordered a couple of pasta dishes and they were on the table almost before we ordered them! We would have preferred waiting 10 minutes whilst they fully warmed them up! Being half term there were several young children present all screaming and yelling but their parents were making more noise by trying to make themselves heard above their children's din. On then to coffee but they took somewhat longer to arrive than the pasta! Feeling somewhat disappointed and oppressed we decided it was time to go and I find that a glass of Pinot Grigio is £7.15; I could buy two bottles for that price in Sainsburys, Wareham!

    We trudged back to the station trying to avoid being run down by children on scooters, teens on skate boards, twenty-somethings on bikes and OAPs (much older than us) on buggies and caught our train home. As we relaxed after our 'adventure' Ann said "I don't think you enjoyed that very much"; she could not remember anything of what had happened although I think she may have remembered we had been to Weymouth. I just grunted and said "No, not much!". It then dawned on me that I really have become a grumpy old man ... how sad is that?


     

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