Monthly Archives: December 2012

2012 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 5,600 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 9 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.


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Christmas Doings.

Christmas Eve dawned early with a six o’clock awakening of my wife. One bleary eye opened when I announced her cup of tea. ” What time is it ?” she asked. “Getting on for eight” I replied fearing the Wrath of Khan before the tea was drunk. Knowing that for some reason she generally sleeps without a watch helps. The reason for my duplicity was twofold. Firstly, I wanted to get to the shops before they became too crowded and secondly, I wanted to go without the girls having been given playtime or we’d be lucky to get out before ten.

Anyway, by 6.30 we’d made real progress in that the tea was drunk and not thrown at me and Ju was looking much more bright eyed than I’d hoped since she’d been in some pain on the Sunday. By 6.45 we were in the car and on our way. The road was quite busy with people rushing to work or rushing home from the party the night before. It was quite foggy and atmospheric with the lights of approaching cars coming towards us. In the supermarket there were quite a few early shoppers but not enough to worry me. Yes, it’s me that has a thing about crowds….more on that later.

I left Ju to pick up some cigarettes for me and go for a coffee while I shopped. Normally I wouldn’t do so alone in case someone spoke to me but today everyone was conscious of their own needs and getting what they needed before someone emptied the shelves. Not wanting much other than fresh bread, milk , ham and some coleslaw I was ready to head for the tills when I spotted some trifles. I bought one then decided to look at the Christmas puddings and fresh cream. By the time I’d got the extra things and gone to the tills it was eight o’clock. Smiling at the cashier to avoid speaking I paid up, packed the shopping and wheeled the trolley to the MacDonalds where Ju was sitting with coffee. As she saw me approach she tipped her hand asking if I wanted one and I nodded. Reaching the table I asked her to order a bacon roll for me too, I passed her some money then dipped into her bag for my ‘before food’ tablet and sat down to take it. “Brown or red sauce ” she called from the counter. “Brown please” I replied wondering why I bothered since it’s so thinly spread it’s questionable whether it’s really there sometimes..

Ju brought me a latte over and a fresh one for herself since I must have been feeling so generous. The bacon roll arrived, was eaten and for dessert I took my two ‘after food’ torpedoes. Ju asked me the time. “It’s almost 8.15 sweetie” I risked with a smile. “Hmm, we’ve made good time this morning then” I heard and wondered which of the Pantheon of Gods I owed that favour to. We were soon on our way again heading for the trading estate which has a handy pet shop where we could get some treats for the girls. One of my favourite shops is there so I was allowed to look round in case anything new and interesting was in. There wasn’t so we hit the coffee bar where the staff treated us to a latte each before we head for home.

At ten o’clock we were home and had the shopping inside. Unfortunately you reach the kitchen of our home through the lounge and as we entered we were greeted by four wide awake and very hopeful faces from one cage and the sound of frantic activity from the other. I knew what was coming so as Ju removed her coat I put the shopping away. She’d no sooner opened the rats cage than Priya ran down her arm and plunged inside the neckline of her cardigan. Bernie wasn’t far behind preferring to sit on her shoulder and nestle into her neck. Penny and Amy climbed inside one of the tubes in the cage and patiently waited to be lifted out.  Ju put two large picture frames against the degu cage to stop the rats climbing up it and upsetting the degus . They’re not enemies but they certainly don’t get on. If Bernie climbs on to their cage to see them in her friendly way they set up an almighty chittering sound. Anyway, Ju played with the girls on the settee for half an hour as usual and then put them back in their cage where they happily settled down to sleep. Removing the picture frames she then got the degus out one by one and put them into balls. First Poppy then Honey with Mummy degu Saffy last to go. With three balls hurtling round the rooms aiming for your ankles it’s easier if you’re not on your feet. I swear if they catch you a Dick Dastardly snicker comes from them. I beat a hasty retreat to catch up on emails I hadn’t finished earlier. The eventual call of “Sweeties” has the balls tolling back to the lounge so they’re given a sweet before going back in their cage.

The rest of the day was a light lunch, television. emails and an assortment of phone calls before Ju went to bed at 6.30. I was luckier than usual and she went to sleey just the right side of midnight so I was able to turn my computer off and rest myself.

Christmas day I was up at 4am. I answered messages and sent messages of greeting out to friends around the world. At 6am I took Ju’s stocking ( a carrier bag really) and placed it one her bed before going to make a drink. Turning the lounge light on I gave all the animals a sweet and went through to the kitchen. While the kettle boiled I turned the tank light on and fed the fish. I took my meds then made the tea and took them through to Ju to gently wake her. Unusually it didn’t take much. She moved over for me to get in and passed my stocking ( a large sack) to me to open. We always do this together and in the past when Yvonne lived at home or stayed with us she joined us in bed to open her stocking too. There are always fantastic treats and always something funny. One year Ju go me some washing up gloves with a fur trim. This year I’d got her a rubber horse head mask and used bags of her favourite sweets to fill it out. It looked like a scene from the Godfather.

Tradition says we would normally go and have breakfast next before being allowed to open main presents but since Ju can’t face breakfast these days it’s just me. Up went the barriers and out came the girls. When they heard me put cereal (Shreddies) in  a bowl they all rushed to my end of the settee to wait. I sit down gingerly to try and avoid sitting on anyone before the fun starts. Four heads in unison try to get to my bowl first and I have to rush to get a shreddie on the spoon before one of them snatches it off. I usually manage a mouthful in between each of their courses which is usually three each though Bernie only eats one and squirrels the others away behind a cushion for later. Priya usually finds them within minutes.

After both sets have played and been returned to their cages it’s our time. We opened our gifts from Santa , or each other if you like. This took quite a while and was accompanied by lots of Oohs and Aahs. After that it’s time to open gifts from friends and family we won’t see on Christmas day.After each one we phoned or texted our delight. Finally finished Ju collects the wrapping to go for recycling while I make another cuppa and it’s time to get dressed. I show Ju a tee-shirt I printed up with a picture of us both on with wording that says Happiness is Love shaped. I have on new warm socks, new underwear, tee-shirt, new black jeans, black cardigan and black winklepicker cowboy boots with a cuban heel. Suddenly I’m as tall as I used to be. Ju spends some time picking through her finery before settling on a nice outfit and we’re ready to go. Yvonne’s first Christmas as a wife and her first cooking Christmas dinner for us all.

We have a great time at their home swapping and opening presents before settling down to dinner.She’s cooked a small beef joint for me and done my favourite onion sauce with it. For Ju she’s cooked a small lamb joint with her favourite mint sauce and for Ugo and herself she’s done  a 3 bird roast. We wouldn’t normally undertake such a large task but she wanted us all to have our favourites. I struggled to eat a small Christmas pudding afterwards.

A nice couple of days started to go downhill then. Ju was very quiet and excused herself to go to the loo. She was there quite a while and when she eventually rejoined us looked very pale. I asked her quietly what was wrong and found she was in great pain and her bowels were not holding again. We had to go home. Sadly we made our goodbyes saying we wanted to give them plenty of time to travel to Ugo’s family in the Midlands. Fortunately they accepted this. We made our way home where Ju took some fast acting morphine and got into bed. It was about 2 pm by then. There were a couple of trips to the loo early on and I couldn’t persuade her to have a cuppa at all. She lay there watching TV and resting while I worked on emails just occasionally sticking my head in. When I did so at 8 pm she was well away. I turned the TV off, and her light, went back to my room and just listened out for her waking.

I woke Ju at after eleven hours of solid sleep without waking once.She seemed to be a lot better and got up to see to the varmints. By half eight they were done and dusted and Ju said “Come on then. let’s hit the sales.” After checking I wasn’t hallucinating and she wasn’t running a temperature I ran to the car in case she changed her mind. She hates shopping…..I love it. It was well worth her while though since she got some nice outfits.We we’re home by half eleven though and things still seemed OK. The  rest of the day went well. Today it wasn’t such an early start but the girls were still done by 9 am and Ju was taking me to a different sale. We’d done quite well and got some nice clothes each before we stopped for coffee. As she finished I noticed something wrong and knew it was time to go.We made it home and Ju’s stomach betrayed her again. She’s back in bed. She’s very unhappy at what’s happening though I ask her to remember what the alternative is.Tomorrow I’ll get some imodium and see if it can stop the problem for now though as soon as she takes it there is usually a period of painful constipation. Sometimes the morphine helps and sometimes not with the pain. Her biggest worry is letting herself down in public but I try to say it can’t be helped and she can’t isolate herself on the off chance.That’s no life for anyone.



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At my age you don’t really expect to have to re-evaluate yourself to see if you’re not the person you think you are after so many years. Today I’m having to do just that. I was of the opinion that I may write with passion sometimes but always with compassion.  That was turned on it’s head this morning when an American who may or may not be a Pastor ( calls himself Pastor Z)  accused me of being vitriolic.

Like many other people across the world I’m full of sorrow at the loss of life this weekend when a ‘madman’ shot and killed so many children in America. I saw a post by Pastor Z who suggested this was all down to prayers being taken out of schools. I begged to differ in that it may not be the main reason, but that the growth in the availability of weapons might have aided it and since the NRA are against any bill to regulate arms nothing would change. He suggested in another post that I am vitriolic and that the NRA are mainly born again Christians. ( Which actually suggests to me that they weren’t very Christian originally) and that is why I attacked them. In actual fact I have no problem with whatever their religion is, just that they promote weapons in an already crowded market place.

I agree with him that children are growing up now without learning morality. He feels I am anti Christ in rejecting the idea that not having prayers in School may be the only answer.As a matter of fact I believe that Jesus existed and certainly wish people would live according to some of his teachings. In my mind the main problem children have been facing and face today is a breakdown in the family because both parents are having to work. I think children learned more and better when there was at least one parent in their home at mealtimes and at the end of the school day. Children left to their own devices are being taught different lessons through the use of video games which are often violent and movies the same.

To revisit my vitriol as regards guns though, I maintain they are too readily available. The boy/man who shot his mother and then all these heroic teachers and the children stole his mother’s guns. But why did she have so many and who needs automatic weapons at home? How many times have we heard of a child accidentaly shooting a friend, a brother or sister because they used a real gun to play with? My suggestions that obviously upset the Pastor so much are…

1. No gun is released to a permit holder until the police have checked there is a gun safe in the property.

2. Restrict guns to One per household or One per adult in the household.

3. NO automatic weapons in private hands.

4. Gun club weapons to be kept at the gun club.

5. Hunter’s weapons to be kept safely until the season starts..except for farmers etc.

I’m sure other people could improve on this . Personally I know that even though I’d like to see no guns in private hands it won’t happen. The same needs that applied when the constitution was written no longer exist and I’m sure the Founding Fathers would agree it’s a different world altogether now.

Mental illness is also a problem . Many of those who commit these atrocities have a mental illness. There doesn’t seem to be enough help available for them but in some instances they’re not known which raises a question of ethics for me. Should the priests who know of a killer or someone with the urge to kill be allowed to break the confessional? Should the psychiatrist who knows a patient to be capable of killing be reporting it to the authorities? I think yes. For me, other people’s safety comes first. I wonder how many lives would be saved if the authorities had known about a potential killer and could have removed the guns from the house first.

Lastly I’m going to confess that The good Pastor and I have had a run in before. He believes homosexuals are abominations. That people like Hitler can be forgiven their sins but that homosexuals cannot. I’m not even going to dignify this with a response here but I’m sure you can all imagine what I said. I ask you to believe me though when I say it was not vitriolic. I’m a much more reasonable , even tempered person. Mind you, I could get vitriolic I suppose with a person who didn’t apply reason, was intransigent and certainly was Un-Christian…………….





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Nothing is best.

Today was our monthly visit to see Dr. McHottie. Julia and myself went along with his fan club of my daughter Yvonne and my two nieces Karen and Joanne (though Jo proclaims her innocence at having really drooled when she saw him. I know for a fact we were an age  getting her jaw off the floor when she heard the accent that first day.)

I took along a box of sweets for the staff ( yes I know, very healthy, but it is Christmas) and a copy of Ju’ s book he’d asked to see. Ju was weighed and she’s gained a kilo since August which though progress wasn’t the news I was hoping to hear. She was wearing two of everything ( no, not bra’s) because of the biting cold in today’s sub-zero temperatures. I reckon that lot must have weighed in at a kilo on their own.

Anyhoo, he checked the bloods that were taken yesterday and said they were OK, no sign of anaemia. He asked about the digestion problems she suffers but the last change of medication seems to have increased the appetite slightly and helped with digestion and lastly he asked about pain. Ju explained that the worst pain is now covered by some extra morphine prescribed by the MacMillan Nurse. He was happy at that and suggested since we know the tumour is still growing but that there’s no immediate discomfort we don’t make a new appointment for next month but leave it until Ju decides she needs to see him. Ju took this quite bravely but asked whether it would be possible for our nieces to see him next month regardless of her. He looked puzzled until I added, “It’s only you the fan club come to see anyway.” I told him there are all manner of nicknames bandied about on my blog for him because of the girls. The was a matching glow in the room despite the chill outside, his cheeks and Karen’s a perfect match. He laughed out loud.

We left on a high note knowing he’s pleased to see Ju doing so well despite not being able to offer treatment or hope. I dare say after the afternoon’s revelations he’s booked a seat back to his home Country for Christmas and will be relieved he got away unscathed. As we exited the Hospital the girls were laughing together, “Perhaps if we……………she’ll need to see him soon” I heard. If I were Julia I’d start to worry.


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Open Apology to the UK.

I have always thought it a mistake to talk about Politics or Religion when having a haircut. Those are usually subjects to be kept to oneself. Tonight I not only find myself needing to talk about one of them but also needing to issue an apology to the British public for the cruel deception played upon them by the people I gave my allegiance to many years ago.

Just at the moment I feel as though I should be attending the political equivalent of a TT meeting (AA for my US friends). I voted Conservative and I need help. When the last election was over I was elated that my side had won after so many disastrous overspending years by the Labour party. It soon became obvious that they hadn’t won a majority which meant either another election or as a matter of expediency taking on a political partner with enough seats to make up the majority needed. I almost cheered when the dithering ( or is that blackmailing?) Liberal Democrats came on board. I soon had to force a gag to my mouth when I found that a PROMISE made to hold a referendum on the European Union Membership had been dropped. That was hugely disappointing to me as I hoped we would see a reversal of so many of the ridiculous laws pushed on us by Brussels Bureaucrats would soon be gone. The human rights act which decided that convicted prisoners should be allowed to vote would be history.

That Cherie Blair played such a big part in getting the human right act ratified over here and then made a further fortune using it to defend undesirables or on cases where a girl flouted school rules about wearing a head covering yet the school need it to identify puplis, makes me sick. That her husband wanted to be President of the EU because he wasn’t able to dismantle my country enough to become President here was bad enough. The European Members of Parliament are on a gravy train and I firmly believe we are still there because MP’s hope to take jobs there if they lose elections here.

What has sickened me most though is the crushing of my belief that the Conservatives are the party that try to lower taxes and put money back in workers pockets while the Labour party take it like thieves in the night for their profligate spending. Today George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer confirmed that from April 2013 he would be hitting the most sick, disadvantaged and vulnerable in our society, the Disabled. It’s long been the case that the disabled have been assessed for extra help either with care or mobility or both. That Disability Living Allowance is to end. On top of that the disabled will be assessed by a firm called ASOS for future disability benefits. This firm are disgusting. It’s their job to make sure benefits are cut and they obviously either use the most incompetent doctors they can find or they tell them what they expect an outcome to be. I speak from experience here since I’ve been assessed by doctors who’ve asked me to walk 8 feet and then decided I can walk 8 yards or who have seen me cower before a stranger and stutter badly when asked a question but decided I can communicate. They have added answers to a form that were not asked at the interview so often that people know they will be turned down automatically at the first try unless on their death bed and usually the first appeal is also rejected in the hope a claimant will give up. It took me three appeals to get what my doctors has claimed I was ill enough to need. That’s like saying all my doctors were fools but not theirs who spent perhaps half an hour with you. I am not in the least racist and my comment might equally apply to someone from Scotland or Ireland with strong accents but two doctors who came to me I was practically unable to understand since their accents were so bad, I doubted they’d been in this country for long.

So, I apologise unreservedly to citizens of the UK for my votes. It won’t happen again. If you see an appeal from causes to sign a petition to ask the Government to overturn this cruel act, please sign it. I promise I’ll appreciate it along with many others.


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Goodwill to all men.



This is a time of year when we in the West start to profess our Goodwill to all Men and join in the festivities that Christmas brings. Though there are many who don’t share the Christian faith it tends to be a time of tolerance, not often seen during the preceding year. Those of the Jewish faith have Hanukkah in December, some Buddhists celebrate Bodhi day on 8th of December ( when Gautama achieved enlightenment). On 21st December the Pagan’s celebrate Yule while in India there are many and varied festivals     that bloom in December with the Hornbill Festival in Nagaland, Lokranjan in Madhya Pradesh, Rann Utsav in Gujrat, Winter Festival at Mt.Abu (Rajasthan), Lumbini Festival in Andhra and the Chumpha Festival in Manipur.

One people who won’t find any celebrations easy this year are the Tibetans who while acknowledged by most of the World to be a Nation in it’s own right have nevertheless been under the domination of the Chinese since the invasion of 1949. Since that time the Tibetan people have struggled to keep their culture intact and regain their freedom. Many people would not understand the nomadic ways of the Tibetans but that way of life is their right and it is morally wrong of the Chinese to try and resettle nomads into purpose built houses.

China’s actions in Tibet over the past 50 years have created a climate of fear that still continues today—torture and imprisonment for peaceful protest, and economic plans that discriminate against Tibetans, threatening their unique identity. The PLA maintains a strong presence in Tibet and China’s military control increased with the 2006 opening of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway.

Human rights conditions in Tibet remain dismal. Under the Chinese occupation, the Tibetan people are denied most rights guaranteed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights including the rights to self-determination, freedom of speech, assembly, movement, expression and travel. Signs of support for His Holiness the Dalai Lama are banned by the Chinese government.

We may not be able to do anything to physically help the Tibetan people regain the right of self determination that our nations are guaranteed, but what I’d ask of you at this time of goodwill is a message of hope and support to the people of that beleaguered Country. A message has been prepared or you can add your own words of support if you wish. For those that are able there is even the opportunity to donate money. The link to send a message is…………. 

May I take this opportunity to thank you all for the friendship and support I’ve been shown this year and wish you a Happy Christmas.



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