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jeanniejeanniejeannie.co.uk  Children's Books & Writing Stories Once upon a time...

APRIL 2017

300 WORDS

 

 

SUNDAY 30th APRIL 2017

 

I am going to divulge a secret I have embarrassingly kept strictly to myself for years. And because of this I am taking the unusual step of illustrating my daily post. (See picture.)

If I go into a toilet anywhere and the toilet roll is on a holder hanging from the wall it drives me mad if the end of the toilet roll is not on top (on the outside). If it is not the toilet roll does not roll or flow properly.

My problem began years and years ago when I saw a documentary about the Forte Hotel chain (Alex Polizzi, of Hotel Inspector ‘s,  family hotel chain) when they were at their most successful. In these high quality hotels all toilet rolls were hung this way and the open end folded into an arrow shape.

At work going to the loo was painful and drove me mad as the cleaners always left the toilet roll the wrong way round. But I embarrassingly suffered in silence, I put the matter right, wiped my bottom, washed my hands and said absolutely nothing to no one.

It drives me crazy if the toilet roll flap is not on the outer upper side. But I have suffered in silence until now. But last week I saw a greeting card in Clinton Cards illustrating the problem (as in the picture). I could not believe it. I thought it was one of those many strange quirks that I have that is peculiar only to me.

The greeting card means one of two things. I am normal, with normal syndromes (which I have a lifetime of experiences which says I am clearly not) or the greeting card industry is very short of original or indeed any ideas for greeting cards.

 

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY

“... people, who always look for what they don’t have, don’t see what they have and dream of what they don’t really need.” ― Ani Chibukhchyan, Emotional Moments

HAPPINESS IS…

Happiness is…a toilet roll hanging in the correct way.

Happiness used to be…a Trust House Forte Hotel and THF card.

 

400 WORDS

 

 

SATURDAY 29th APRIL 2017

 

In the elephant world, grandmothers are incredibly important  says Zoologist Phyllis Lee.

 

Phyllis’s work began in 1972 when she studied elephant families with an average number of seven members. Now, thanks to elephant conservation, the average number has grown to sixteen. One family she is working with has over 50 members: Phyllis knows who gave birth and when in this family, who helped them give birth, and who is looking after the elephant babies. She says, "if you have grandmother present in an elephant family, you have a better chance of survival."

 

Elephants use vocal communication to say hello and to identify other individuals from different families. According to Phyllis they can distinguish friends from enemies: “Once, one of my colleagues played a recording of strangers – females recorded from southern Africa, complete strangers. We played them a 'contact rumble' and they charged the car. I’ve never been so scared.”

 

 “Elephants are very slow and determined and spend most of their time eating. Interactions are few and far between. Most of your days are spent watching elephants eat. I watch elephants near Mount Kilmanjaro and you can follow the elephants almost everywhere they go. Elephants are very calm. When they get used to you they come and greet your car and bring their babies.”

 

Make sure you don’t pee in front of them.

 

“If you do, the males will come up and smell you. It’s so embarrassing. That’s how they tell the females are on heat, by smelling the pee. That’s why you have to be careful because they’ll follow you around.

 

 “Female elephants can live to their mid-seventies but most live to 40 or 50. We’ve been able to capture lives from cradle to grave in our long-term studies, which is what we want to do. If they survive a very long time, they’ll have 10 babies in a lifetime, which is actually fewer than the number of babies which humans can produce.' The Guinness Book of Records states that "it is not impossible for a woman to have 27 pregnancies during her fertile years.

 

“It takes – we think – two generations for elephants to recover from poaching. That’s 15-20 years. What we’ve discovered is that if they die naturally, the family structures stay intact but if they are poached, the trauma is so great for the family, they completely lose their capacity to recover for a generation at least.”

 

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY

 

“Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.” -  Dr. Seuss (1904-1991)

 

HAPPINESS IS…

 

Happiness is…spreadsheets

 

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"I've been lying to my cat. I kept saying: 'I know, I know.' But I don't. - Anon

 

 

 

200 WORDS

 

 

FRIDAY 28th APRIL 2017

 

Sales of ebooks dropped 3% to £538m in 2016, according to the Publishers Association (PA) trade body.

 

But total book sales including physical books rose 6% to £3.5bn, according to the data, led by non-fiction gains.

 

Readers flocked to fitness and self-help books, sending non-fiction sales up 9%, while fiction revenue fell 7%.

 

Exports rose 6% to £2.6bn, after three previous years of decline, benefiting from a reduction in the value of sterling, but also rising in line with domestic growth.

 

In 2015, adult colouring books and the 150th anniversary of Alice in Wonderland helped increase physical book sales, while ebook sales fell 1.6%.

 

This time, books on the Danish concept of hygge, which translates into English as "cosiness", assisted factual sales, as well as fitness books by personal trainer Joe Wicks.

 

While ebook sales took a hit, digital distribution helped other media.

 

Journals made a 10% gain last year to £1.2bn, led by a jump in electronic subscriptions, making the market for books and journals worth £4.8bn.

 

"Last year, one of the most eye-catching figures from our statistics was that physical book sales were increasing while digital book sales dropped," said chief executive Stephen Lotinga.

 

(Source: BBC News)

 

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY

 

Discover your life purpose. Set the mission statement for your life, one that will drive you to live your life to the fullest.

 

HAPPINESS IS…

 

Happiness is…sunshine through the leaves.

 

 

 

400 WORDS

 

 

THURSDAY 27th APRIL 2017

 

An Illinois couple married for 69 years have died within an hour of each other.

 

Isaac Vatkin, 91, was holding the hand of his wife Teresa, 89, as she succumbed to Alzheimer's disease on Saturday. Isaac died 40 minutes later. Family members said they took comfort in knowing they were together at the end.

 

"You didn't want to see them go," said grandson William Vatkin, "but you couldn't ask for anything more."

 

"Their love for each other was so strong, they simply could not live without each other," said daughter Clara Gesklin at the couple's joint funeral.

 

"They were always in love, literally to the end. To the last second," said Rabbi Barry Schechter, who led the service at the Shalom Memorial Funeral Home in the Chicago suburb of Arlington Heights.

 

Staff at the local Highland Park Hospital found Mr and Mrs Vatkin unresponsive and breathing shallowly on Saturday and chose to place their beds side by side. Family members positioned their hands so they touched.

 

The couple raised three children in Skokie, Illinois, and had a close relationship with their grandchildren.

 

Mr Vatkin had been a kosher meat distributor and Mrs Vatkin a homemaker and manicurist.

 

Although not pleasant for relatives I am inspired by these stories of couples with long relationships who die naturally within hours of each other.

 

But it turns out there is some actual science behind the phenomenon. (This probably does not relate to the above story.)There is a thing called broken heart syndrome, believed to occur when someone loses a close partner or spouse. Death of a spouse is recognised as one of the most stressful things that can happen to a person. But as well as the mental anguish and grief (which are themselves very debilitating and not to be dismissed), many forget that stress also has a physical component. Stress can cause numerous physical ailments, and if the stress is sudden and serious enough, such as if a spouse dies, then these ailments can be very serious, affecting the heart.

 

But even without the direct heart damage, the physical and emotional consequences of severe grief can take a serious toll on the body. It also means both partners are older. The aged body is a lot more frail and rundown than a youthful one, so the shock of losing a very long term partner may be more than it can handle.

 

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY

 

Today is the oldest you’ve ever been, yet the youngest you’ll ever be, so enjoy this day while it lasts.

 

HAPPINESS IS…

 

Happiness is…wearing a tutu or seeing your partner wear one no matter what their gender.

 

QUOTE OF THE DAY

 

 “Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, is a 'mugwump'”, says Boris Johnson (General election 2017 Quote 26.4.2017)

 

 

 

 

 

READ GRANDAD'S BLOG APRIL 2017

 

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200 WORDS

 

 

WEDNESDAY 26th APRIL 2017

 

I need to improve my image, massively!

 

As part of Grandad and Mamma duties we went to Brighton to see Billy Ocean in concert. This keeps us up to date with modern trends. Also it recharges our batteries and inspires us.

 

At breakfast the morning after the concert I idly chatted to a lady as we awaited the bacon being topped up at the self service breakfast bar. I told her we’d seen Billy Ocean the previous night. Impressed, she said, “Ooo I bet he was good.”

 

“He certainly was” I replied, “He’s only a year younger than me yet he has loads more energy than me.”

 

“I bet” she said “and a lot more money, too!”

 

I was so offended! How come she was such an expert on my financial status? She had not met me before so for all she knew I could have been a multi billionaire. Big mistake, huge mistake.

 

What made her come to that conclusion?

 

I like to have words to the nearest 100. To make numbers up here are three of his songs: “Red Light Spells Danger” “Love Really Hurts Without You” and “When The Going Gets Tough The Tough Get Going”. Spot-on.

 

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY

 

Stop putting life on hold. Are you putting any parts of your life on hold? What is one area of your life you have been putting off, avoiding or denying? Uncover that and start working on it.

 

HAPPINESS IS…

 

Happiness is…a Billy Ocean concert (or album or even track/song)

 

 

200WORDS

 

TUESDAY 25th APRIL 2017

 

I enjoy taking photographs so much I have now been restricted. A bit like a court order given for stalking, but harsher with more dire consequences as Mamma implements it.

 

It came about because in 2014 I did a “take-a-photograph-a-day-for-365-days” project for a year. I ended up taking in excess of 12k photographs.

 

How many digital photos will be taken throughout the world in 2017?  It’s predicted there will be 7.5 billion people in the world in 2017, and about 5 billion of them will have a mobile phone. Roughly 80% of those phones have a built-in camera: around 4 billion people. Let’s say they take 10 photos per day – that’s 3,650 photos per year, per person, adding up to more than 14 trillion photos (14,600,000,000,000).

 

Much more conservatively, if only one billion people have cameras or phones, and take less than 3 photos per day/1,000 pictures per year, that’s still 1 trillion photos captured every year.

 

InfoTrends’ most recent worldwide image capture forecast takes this conservative route, estimating consumers took 1.1 trillion photos worldwide in 2016. This number will grow to 1.2 trillion photos in 2017 with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) from 2016 to 2017 of 9%.

 

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY

 

Create your own opportunities. You can wait for opportunities. Or you can go out there and create your own opportunities. The latter is definite and much more empowering.

 

HAPPINESS IS…

 

Happiness is…taking a photograph

 

200WORDS

 

MONDAY 24th APRIL 2017

 

NASA astronaut Jack Fischer is adapting to living in weightlessness for the first time, while his crewmate cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin is beginning his fifth mission in space. The pair joined Expedition 51 at the International Space Station (ISS)  Thursday morning 20th April 2017, just six-hours, 10-minutes after blasting off from Kazakhstan in the Soyuz MS-04 spaceship. They will stay in space until September before returning to Earth with record breaker NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson.

 

She broke the record for cumulative time spent in space by a U.S. astronaut at 1:27 a.m. on April 24, with 534 days, 2 hours, 49 minutes and counting. The recent extension of her stay at the ISS, gives her five months to rack up a new one.

 

After launching on November 17 with 377 days in space already under her belt, she’s surpassed astronaut Jeff Williams’ previous United States record of 534 days, 2 hours and 48 minutes of cumulative time in space.

 

There was an empty third seat on Thursday’s  Soyuz capsule. Russia is scaling back its staff on the ISS until a long-delayed space laboratory is sent to the outpost in 2018. What a waste, I would have gone if they’d ask me.

 

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY

 

Be proactive. Stop waiting for others around you to do something and take action yourself instead.

 

HAPPINESS IS…

 

Happiness is…your online order being delivered

 

200 WORDS

 

SUNDAY 23rd APRIL 2017

(St GEORGE'S DAY)

 

Coming from an area which depended economically on coal for so many years and having not met my grandfather because he gave his life to harvesting coal, coal has played an important role in my heritage. So I was interested to learn that Britain went a full day on Friday 21st April 2017 without using coal to generate electricity. This was for the first time since the world's first centralised public coal-fired generator opened in 1882, at Holborn Viaduct in London, during the Industrial Revolution, according to the National Grid. The energy provider said this was a "watershed" moment.

 

Britain's previous longest continuous energy period without coal was 19 hours last May.

 

The government plans to phase out Britain's last plants by 2025 to cut carbon emissions.

 

 

Cordi O'Hara of the National Grid said: "The UK benefits from highly diverse and flexible sources of electricity. "

 

But Ms O'Hara says that while the country makes the transition to a low carbon system, coal remains an important source of energy.

 

According to Gridwatch.co.uk, around half of British energy on Friday came from natural gas, with about a quarter coming from nuclear plants. Wind, biomass, and imported energy were also used.

 

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY

 

Quit complaining. Don’t be like the howling dog, always howling and never doing anything. Stop complaining about your problems and work on them instead.

 

 

HAPPINESS IS…

 

Happiness is…using a pen until the very last little drop of ink is used

 

400 WORDS

 

SATURDAY 22nd APRIL 2017

 

Record Store Day 2017 is today 22nd April 2017. It is the one day of the year when over 200 independent record shops all across the UK come together to celebrate their unique culture. Special vinyl releases are made exclusively for the day and many shops and cities host artist performances and events. Thousands more shops celebrate the day around the globe in what’s become one of the biggest annual events on the music calendar.

 

I have spent a small proportion of my life in record shops browsing vinyl. I still have my prized vinyl collection and I would be so much more richer cash wise if I had not visited the record stores. But my life would have been poorer for it.

 

Vinyl releases have been a core part of Record Store Day since its launch and Record Store Day has in turn spearheaded the UK vinyl revival. In 2008 there were just over 75,000 vinyl albums sold in the UK. Propelled by Record Store Day, sales reached 3.4 million in units in 2016, representing 14% of physical albums market.

 

Elton John celebrates 10th Record Store Day with the release of vinyl album  “17-11-70+” . Elton will serve as the first ever worldwide Record Store Day Legend and release an expanded, double-vinyl version of his first live album.

 

 ‘Happy 10th birthday to Record Store Day. I love record stores, I can go to the record store in Vegas and spend 3 hours in there. Just the smell of it, the looking at it, the wonder of it, the memories. I love vinyl so much; the tactile nature, the ritual of it, looking at the sleeve...especially with the old albums and the liner notes - who played on them, the process of putting it on, the needle going on and the sound coming out. And it DOES sound better, I know it does! It’s just the wonder of having vinyl’. Elton John

 

The album was originally released on May 10, 1971 and entered the Billboard album charts on May 29, peaking at No 11. Elton was the first artist since the Beatles to have four albums charting simultaneously in Billboard’s top 100 albums. Incidentally the live photos on the front and back covers of the album were shot at Elton’s first ever shows in America, at the legendary Troubadour in Los Angeles, a performance that has gone down in history.

 

Track listing:

 

A1       Take Me To The Pilot

A2       Honky Tonk Women

A3       Sixty Years On

A4       CanIPutYouOn

 

B1       Bad Side Of The Moon

B2       Burn Down The Mission (Incl. My Baby Left Me / Get Back)

 

C1       Indian Sunset                               Previously unreleased bonus track

C2       Amoreena                                     Newly remixed bonus track

C3       Your Song                                      Previously unreleased bonus track

D1       Country Comfort                           Previously unreleased bonus track

D2       I Need You To Turn To                   Previously unreleased bonus track

D3       Border Song                                  Previously unreleased bonus track

D4       My Father's Gun                           Previously unreleased bonus track

 

Local Store: Vinyl Lounge, 4 Regent St. MANSFIELD

 

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY

 

Live more consciously each day. Stop sleepwalking through life. Your life is something to be experienced, not coasted through.

 

 

HAPPINESS IS…

 

Happiness is…browsing vinyl in a record store and coming across that priceless rare gem you have searched for for years

 

 

100 WORDS

 

FRIDAY 21st April 2017

 

I watched the TV documentary Billy Connolly And Me: A Celebration. The type of programme they usually show when you die but he is still very much alive.

 

Celebrities, paid tribute to his tremendous humour.

Fans also featured, one revealing she delivered her second child to his comedy recordings. A doctor had also advised someone to listen to Billy Connelly for one hour every day for six weeks instead of taking anti depressants when suffering from depression.

 

Humour is amazingly powerful and is everywhere if you look for it but so many people do not allow it into their lives.

 

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY

Life is like a coin. You can spend it any way you wish, but you only spend it once. ~Lillian Dickson

HAPPINESS IS…

Happiness is…freshly washed towels

 

 

200WORDS

 

THURSDAY 20th APRIL 2017

 

I enjoy the creativity of photography and I feel the cameras on telephones are so good anyone can now take a prize winning photos. Unfortunately it is so easy I have to restrict myself as taking photographs can be very addictive, taking just one more to get that perfect photograph.

 

The Sony World Photography Awards’ 2017 Photographer of the Year proves this. The 2017 awards attracted more than 227,000 entries, with images submitted from 183 countries in 10 categories.

 

The photographs tell so many stories too.

 

Tasneem Alsultan Saudi, Tales of Love series won the Contemporary Issues category.

 

The Conceptual award went to Swiss photographer Sabine Cattaneo with a series documenting questions around assisted death.

 

Sandra Hoyn won the Daily Life award for her series The Longings of Others, which looks at the lives of women who work at the Kandapara brothel in the district of Tangail in Bangladesh. In one image from the series, Meghla, 23, is pictured with a customer. She started working for a garment factory when she was 12 years old, where she met a man who promised her a better job with more money - he sold her to a brothel.

 

https://www.worldphoto.org/sony-world-photography-awards

 

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY

 

Quit complaining. Don’t be like the howling dog, always howling and never doing anything. Stop complaining about your problems and work on them instead.

 

HAPPINESS IS…

 

Happiness is…grandchildren disrupting your life, home and peace

 

 

300 WORDS

 

WEDNESDAY 19th APRIL 2017

 

Every New Year’s Eve and every Sunday night I always think of what has happened since the last New Year’s Eve or Sunday Night and about what will befall us between then and the next New Year’s Eve or Sunday night. What unexpected life changing events will have occurred?

 

Look at this week, we’ve only had Monday and Tuesday: I’ve actually seen an original prefab used as a workshop, two of my grandchildren know which schools they have been allocated and Theresa May has randomly called an 8th June election.

 

Private Eye, the satirical magazine must be loving her. Last year with Brexit, the General Election and Trump they achieved the largest circulation since publishing began in 1961. This year was going well with Trump but now this gift from Theresa May.

 

I am not into politics, finding it full of big hot air egos who love to hear the sound of their own voices whilst making ludicrously bad, ill thought out decisions. But I just cannot see Jeremy Corbyn up there with Trump, Putin and Kim Jong-un. That’s not a political statement but a personality one.

 

At one time I would have been confident that Corbyn would not win an election, but not after being a bystander in last years national and international affairs.

 

The main worry is the way the media last year made a huge blunders predicting results getting it wrong every time. The front page of today’s Times says: “May Heads For Election Landslide”. Is that the kiss of death?

All the newspapers give their front page totally to the subject. Even the Daily Star, although it does manage to squeeze a Danny Dyer (Eastenders) story and a football headline along side.

 

So the week and year will not disappoint. Life is never boring, thank goodness.

 

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY

We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children. - Native American Proverb

 

HAPPINESS IS…

Happiness is… a view of the rooftops

 

 

 

 

 

 

400 Words

 

TUESDAY 18TH APRIL 2017

 

On Easter Monday as part of “Grandad Duties” I attended the York Model Railway Show at York Racecourse. A fantastic show with many amazing layouts. But the two highlights of my day were not about model trains as such.

 

I went with friends and along the way we picked up a friend of these friends. I was amazed that in his garden he had an ex railway signal gantry, probably 20 foot high. And he used a prefab as his workshop.

 

Prefabs (short for prefabricated buildings) were small bungalows built after the war as temporary and emergency accommodation for people due to the shortage of housing. They were manufactured in sections in factories and the sections transported to the building site and erected (ready to move in to) in a couple days. They were meant only to be used for five years maximum. They ended up in use for up to 50 years.

 

The reason I was so excited at seeing one is that Mamma was born in one. She was born in the era of home births and her home was a prefab. She grew up in one with her mother and brothers. Her mother finally moved out in the mid 80s when the prefab was removed and a bungalow built in its place.

 

The prefab therefore has very nostalgic memories. The one I saw yesterday was the outer shell, with original walls and windows giving a vast space. Garage doors had been added to the side and a hen house attached at the end as an office.

 

To me this was “Amazing Space Live” being a big fan of the programme. Fantastic. My dream now is to own one as a study.

 

The other highlight of the day was at the “Show” a huge model of Dublin’s O’Connell Street, tram system. It was made up of electric trams rather than trains. The detail was amazing.

 

The best model railway layout was The Gresley Beat. The large layout is based on the approaches to King’s Cross, London. The era modelled is 1923-1939, which was the period that Sir Nigel Gresley was CME of the LNER.

 

There are five different circuits, which means there are always train movements. There are an amazing number of engines, trucks and coaches on the layout.

 

The show was an excellent mixture of trade and layouts over three floors.

 

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY

 

It is one life, whether we spend it in laughing or in weeping. - Japanese Proverb

 

HAPPINESS IS…

 

Happiness is…Amazing Spaces, finding a prefab 50 years later

 

 

400 WORDS

 

MONDAY 17th APRIL 2017

 

I was not aware that there are so many irritating toys in the world. I put a video on YouTube of what I considered to be the World’s Most Irritating Toy and the search came up with 2,060,000 results for “most irritating toy”.

Here are 10 more irritating toys I picked up from the search. I’ve obviously lived a very sheltered life.

1              Roffle Mates Roly the Dog - You haven't experienced irritation until you've walked past a Roly the Dog in the middle of the night. It laughs manically, mocking your pain. (Fishpond, $39)

2              Learning bug - With the name Crazy Legs Learning Bug, this toy is basically warning you away from the get-go. (Amazon, $12)

3              Voice distorter - The bad news — your kids think the word "fart" is even funnier when filtered through the Multi Voice Changer. (Amazon, $12)

4              Ball popper - You love the constant sound of a whirring motor, right? Best of all is the Playskool Explore "N" Grow Busy Ball Popper spews balls all over your living room once your kid discovers how to tip it over. (Amazon, $30)

5              Annoy-a-tron This tech toy was actually made to be annoying. The only upside is that Annoy-a-tron has a setting only teenagers can hear. It's payback time. (ThinkGeek, $10)

6              Voice recorder - The only thing more annoying than your kid repeating himself or herself is your kid doing it electronically, over and over, with a Yada Yada Yada. (Amazon, $5)

7              Electronic drum kit - Good news. You can fulfill your kid's drum-set wishes with a handy electronic drum set. (First Act, $30)

8              The Cogsley Learning Robot can be taught by your child. As with training a puppy, it takes a lot of repetition. (Best Buy, $30)

9              Furby - Years after its introduction, the Furby remains one of the most annoying tech gadgets on the planet. And kids still love it. (Amazon, $55)

10           Singing guitar - The Dora the Explorer Tunes Guitar had us at "Hear fun phrases from all of your favourite characters." (Amazon, $22)

I must say as a grandparent it puts you in a between a rock and hard place or between child and parent place which is not comfortable. Do you spoil your beloved grandchild’s play for the sake of your own child’s sanity. Sorry, but grandchildren win. To my children, you had your turn.

 

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY

 

Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared. - Buddha

 

HAPPINESS IS

 

Happiness is…blowing bubbles into the air with a bubble gun

 

600 WORDS

 

SUNDAY 16TH APRIL 2017 (EASTER SUNDAY)

 

Popular music has always been part of my life. Hard as I have tried I cannot sing or play an instrument. I am desperate to be part of the music scene so I end up listening to it, writing about it, compiling chart statistics and compiling play lists.

 

For seven decades I have listened to music. I have kept up with latest trends always finding something to like. It has been a roller coaster ride with many peaks where I was ecstatic about the music scene and the troughs where it was the pits.

 

One pattern I have noticed is after a real bad low period a fantastic period for music follows.

 

I feel the current music scene is at a really low point. I thought it was me, due to my age. But then my son-in-law pointed out it was not me as music must be in a bad way if one artist has 16 of the Top 20 tracks. It indicates there is no competition. This is Ed Sheeran of course who has finally been knocked off the No.1 slot this week.

 

Where has all the original musical creativity gone?

 

It feels like the dilution of TV. Most programmes on TV were quality when there were only 3 channels. Now there are hundreds of channels it’s more difficult to find quality TV. Music is so freely available the same thing seems to have happened. More means less.

 

In Friday’s Guardian, Peter Robinson (no relation) wrote an excellent item asking: Has pop finally run out of tunes? Here are edited highlights:

 

“This week, Ed Sheeran avoided a lengthy legal trial by settling a $20m (£16m) copyright infringement claim out of court, for an unspecified sum. Two writers behind Amazing, a song by X Factor Matt Cardle, had spotted something familiar in Sheeran’s song Photograph and, represented by the legal team who annihilated Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams in the controversial Blurred Lines case, filed a lawsuit.

 

“This settlement comes two weeks after the writers of TLC’s No Scrubs were suddenly added to the credits of Sheeran’s Shape of You (the precise circumstances are unknown, but it is fair to speculate that Sheeran didn’t just do it for a laugh) and it follows a claim last year –ongoing – that Sheeran’s Thinking Out Loud copied Marvin Gaye’s Let’s Get It On.

 

“Why would you plagiarise when it’s easier to write an original song?

 

“For artists and songwriters that’s the million-dollar question – probably less, if you settle out of court.

 

“In a long-running case of office tension, someone at work (who's even older than me) keeps the radio at the end of the office tuned to a dance station, with its tinny sounds drifting down to us.

 

When you start noticing hated music, you really, really appreciate how stations just play the same miserly selection of songs over and over and over again, day in, day out. You also start seeing patterns in the music - the same identikit autotune-style voice, the same range, the same tempos. Conformity and blandness to the max...”

 

Back to me – At the end of the day does it matter that the new music is actually new and good and that I like it? Can’t I just like what I have always liked, period. No! I want to be part of now. And somewhere a gifted musical genius is learning the craft and will save the music scene. The way Bill Haley did, and Elvis, The Beatles, Stones, Dylan, Rod Stewart, The Jam, Paul Weller, Nirvana, Blur, Oasis, Adele and so many more. Patiently I wait.

 

 

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY

 

It is not economical to go to bed early to save the candles if the result is twins. - Chinese Proverb

 

HAPPINESS IS…

Happiness is… finding money in a purse you’ve not used for months or jeans in jeans pocket or a coat pocket you have not wore for some time

400 WORDS

 

SATURDAY 15th APRIL 2017

 

Brian Matthew, Radio 2’s oldest DJ/presenter at 88 years old (17 September 1928 – 8 April 2017), sadly died on 8th April 2017. He had worked for the BBC for 63 years from 1954 until 2017.

 

I have listened to his shows since the late 50s, so his voice has been part of my life’s soundtrack. The shows he has presented are:

 

1957                       Saturday Skiffle Club

1958-1967            Saturday Club

1960-1967            Easybeat

1961-1966            Thank Your Lucky Stars ITV

Early 1960s          Radio Luxemburg

1972                       The Beatles Story

1973-1975            My Top 12

1978-1990            Round Midnight

1990-2017            Sounds of the sixties

 

Here is his quotes mainly about Radio Luxemburg:

 

“I was getting all sorts of offers, including from Radio Luxemburg, but wasn't allowed to do any of them as a BBC member of staff, understandably. I remember there was a lot of real heart-searching - should I go freelance? Trembling, I gave it a go. The BBC wanted me to continue presenting Saturday Club - and Easybeat on Sunday - and as a freelancer they immediately started paying me four times as much as I'd received for presenting them as part of my work as a BBC announcer!"

 

“I did eight shows a week on Radio Luxemburg, playing records on the famous pink Pye label - home to Petula Clark, Lonnie Donegan, and later The Searchers and The Kinks. I went with Pye because I knew Alan Freeman - not the disc jockey, but the assistant director of the company, a lovely guy. I was doing programmes that consisted entirely of Pye records. They had their own man in as producer who gave me a list and said 'this is what you're playing today'! I did two half hour programmes and the rest were 15 minute programmes - can you imagine? - which were in fact thirteen minute programmes to allow for the commercial space as well. Even so, they were quite successful. Gone with the wind now, of course, but people did listen to Luxemburg.

 

 “The MU-restricted BBC and the sponsored shows on Luxemburg were all the British public had, until Radio Caroline started the pirate radio boom in 1964. The mention of the pirate stations causes me to frown. They came along and did it illegally. People never accept that. They always say 'what a wonderful job the pirates did'. We were green with envy! They just said 'to hell with the rules and regulations, we're going to play records all the time'. They were three miles off shore, so they were beyond the reach of the law. I never got approached by them, oddly enough. I don't think I'd have gone, anyway. I was a bit of a rebel. I appreciated the Beeb's problems. We suffered because at its peak Saturday Club show had got an audience of 28 million... I mean it's unthinkable. Nobody ever dreams of that sort of figure for radio these days.”

 

Brian Matthew will certainly go down in history as one of the voices of the 60s.

 

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY

 

Life is a series of family photos in which you keep moving to the rear until finally you're a portrait in the background. - Robert Brault

 

HAPPINESS IS…

Happiness is…being the fist one up (and getting up at 5.00am to see dawn break at 5.30am ish)

 

 

400 WORDS

 

FRIDAY (GOOD FRIDAY)

14th APRIL 2017

 

I enjoy the garden, nature and the countryside. My favourite garden bird is the Robin, probably because its body shape is very similar to my own, thin legs and bulbous tummy. For as long as I can remember and that could be a long time, as my memory is not good I cannot remember how long, I have tried to encourage  robins to nest in my garden.

 

I have tried purpose built nest boxes in all the right places. I have trawled the Garden Centres for the best robin foods, mealworms and the like. I have concocted every conceivable menu of foods. I’ve even tried digging the garden exposing all manner of the juiciest and tastiest worms. I have made the garden so robin friendly that I’ve ended up feeling unwelcome in my own garden. But still they do not come and take up residence. They appear to mistrust me as a landlord.

 

My son-in-law’s mother has no problem attracting them and boasts a nest of them in her garden.

 

But over the last week a parent robin has been feeding her offspring in my garden. Wonderful! Not a nest, I admit, but I suppose it is a start. I do not claim to be a naturalist photographer – not a naturist photographer (one without clothes) or a natural photographer (one where photography comes without effort) but a naturalist photographer, a photographer of wildlife, but I will have a go.

 

Yesterday as the young robin sat on a lamp at the top of our garden. I took a photograph from our window but even with the telephoto lens at maximum he still looked like a red micro dot on a vivid green A4 sheet of paper. So I crept out over the lawn to get a closer shot. But, as ever, when I pressed the shutter to take the photo he flew off. Result: my socks were all soggy from the wet grass and no photo.

 

I’ve not seen him or his parent since. Perhaps they took offence, they certainly sat upon it. Perhaps they detest having their photograph taken (especially if they’ve not been asked)  like some folk I know. I thought there may be a word for this phobia but psychologists say there is nothing listed.

 

In conclusion, I am sporting soggy socks, no photograph, no robin’s nest and no robin family. I don’t think I’m a born naturalist.

 

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY

“Take heed: you do not find what you do not seek.” -  English Proverb

 

HAPPINESS IS…

Happiness is…a family of robins living in my garden.

 

 

 

300 WORDS

 

THURSDAY 13th APRIL 2017

 

Wow! Amazing it is the start of the Easter holidays.

 

This year Easter is a little late and it has been a great Spring so blossoms are blooming beautiful. Even the oil seed rape is early and turned the fields a bright yellow.

 

As I look out of my study window at 7.30am, the sun is shining, the sky is blue. A fantastic Maundy Thursday morning. I can see 27 bunnies in the field from my window. Whoops! I should have gone to Specsavers. On second viewing 13 of those are the Common Wood Pigeon.

 

Come on, give me a break, a pigeon can look like a rabbit at this distance when wearing glasses. Me that is not the rabbit/pigeon.

 

At Christmas, if you were paying attention, I posted loads of Christmas cracker jokes. At Easter we do not have Easter Crackers (Well you could have a Jacobs Cream Cracker and put a poached egg on it or decorate it with chickens). But here are a load of Easter jokes I stole from www.kidspot.com.au.

 

Q. What do you get if you pour hot water down a rabbit hole?

 A. Hot cross bunnies!

 

Q. What do you call a rabbit with fleas?

 A. Bugs Bunny!

 

Q. Why shouldn’t you tell an Easter egg a joke?

 A. It might crack up!

 

Q. How did the soggy Easter Bunny dry himself?

 A. With a hare-dryer!

 

Q. Why did the Easter Bunny cross the road?

 A. Because the chicken had his Easter eggs!

 

Q. How did the Easter Bunny rate the Easter parade?

 A. He said it was eggs-cellent!

 

Q. How does the Easter Bunny travel?

 A. By hare-plane!

 

Q. How does the Easter Bunny stay fit?

 A. Eggs-ercise and hare-robics!

 

Q. Why did the Easter egg hide?

 A. He was a little chicken!

 

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY

 

I intend to live forever, or die trying. Groucho Marx

 

 

HAPPINESS IS…

 

Happiness is…breaking up for the four day Easter Holiday

 

 

 

 

200 WORDS

 

WEDNESDAY 12th APRIL 2017

 

In the world of children’s books there is always something new and exciting. Constantly new gems are being created. And I find it so exciting to come across them. In picture books there is not only the creativity of words chosen and put together in a certain order that excites and entertains, but also the beautiful pictures. The combination makes many books individual pieces of art, as beautiful as any priceless painting.

But then again there are lots of children’s books out there that are trash. After struggling to find someone to publish my own work I know it is highly competitive and tough in the Children’s Book market.

So how do so many terrible children’s books that are boring, have no story and break all the strict rules get on the bookseller’s shelves.

And who told celebrities they can write children’s stories? The marketing people I suppose. It’s a numbers game. Forget quality make money.

Ok, David Walliams is the exception, successfully creating fantastic books. But his basic craft is writing, creating amazing characters and their stories.

At the end of the day trawling through the stodge of rubbish gives the ultimate euphoria of finding the pure artistic gem.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY

If you realized how powerful your thoughts are, you would never think a negative thought. Peace Pilgrim

 

HAPPINESS IS…

Happiness is…finding a beautiful, original new children’s picture book or indeed any new gem of a brilliant book

 

 

 

 

 

500 words

 

TUESDAY 11th APRIL 2017

 

The International Space Station (ISS) is fascinating and is the largest spacecraft ever built.

 

 Here's a look at it by the numbers according to NASA:

 

100 billion: Estimated cost of the ISS in U.S. dollars. This gives the space station the title of being the world's most expensive single object.

 

816,000: How much the ISS currently weighs in pounds. Once completed, the ISS will have a mass that on Earth would weigh almost 925,000 lb, the equivalent of more than 330 cars.

 

220: The average distance in miles above Earth's surface the ISS orbits. On a clear day, the ISS is easily visible to the naked eye.

 

147: The number of spacewalks taken so far to build, maintain or repair ISS.

 

135: How many times you would have to cross North America to travel a distance equal that travelled by the ISS in one day (about the distance to the moon and back).

 

110: The number of kilowatts of power that the ISS will be supplied with by an acre of solar panels.

 

99: The percentage of the ISS structure that has been completed.

 

90: The number of minutes it takes the ISS to circle the Earth travelling at 4.8 miles per second.

 

52: The number of computers aboard the ISS to control its systems.

 

14: The number of pounds of crew-expelled air that the ISS systems recycle each day. The water produced by this recycling is used for technical or drinking purposes.

 

13: The number of rooms on the station, including a small, seven-window lookout dome that provides stunning views of Earth from orbit.

 

6: The number of months that an astronaut typically lives and works on the ISS during a mission.

 

5: The number of unmanned spacecraft currently used to haul supplies to the space station or contracted to do so in the future. Current robotic spacecraft include Russia's Progress vehicle, the European Space Agency's Automated Transfer Vehicle and Japan's H-2 Transfer Vehicle.

 

NASA also has contracts with the company SpaceX to provide cargo flights using its unmanned Dragon spacecraft, and with Orbital Sciences in Virginia to do the same on its planned Cygnus spacecraft.

 

4: The tons of food required to support a crew of three for about six months. The ISS crews' favorites include shrimp cocktail, tortillas, barbecue beef brisket, breakfast sausage links, chicken fajitas, vegetable quiche, macaroni and cheese, candy-coated chocolates and cherry blueberry cobbler. Lemonade is the most popular drink.

 

3: The size of the ISS' first crew in 2000, and the number of astronauts or cosmonauts ferried to the station on a single Russian Soyuz spacecraft.

 

2: The size of the smallest crew ever aboard the ISS since long-duration missions began.

 

1.5: The number of 747s that would provide the equivalent volume of space that is pressurized within the ISS, allowing the crew to work without spacesuits.  Of the 33,023 cubic feet of pressurized volume, about 15,000  is habitable volume where astronauts can live, more room than a conventional three-bedroom house.

 

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY

 

Once you replace negative thoughts with positive ones, you'll start having positive results. - Willie Nelson

 

HAPPINESS IS…

 

Happiness is… viewing earth from the International Space Station

 

 

300 WORDS

MONDAY 10th APRIL 2017

 

Donkeys are amazing and modest animals. And I love them. Why have I randomly mentioned this? Yesterday we were invited by my brother-in-law and sister-in-law to a Palm Sunday event at Southwell Catholic Church.

 

They had a short Palm Sunday service at the Catholic Church and then we walked in procession on a beautiful blue sky, sunny Sunday morning behind a real live donkey to Southwell Minister for a joint Anglican service. Some in the procession were given palms to carry, helping to re-enacted the first Palm Sunday.

 

The event was amazing and different making it thoroughly enjoyable.

 

The donkey had been brought from Burton Joyce. I got to speak to him/her and the owner. The donkey had been doing this gig for seven years now. The animal was beautiful, in excellent condition and superbly kept. He/she obviously loved their annual outing in the old horse box.

 

Donkeys go very placidly in the world. They are very ordinary. They are not the most feared, fiercest or largest, fastest or slowest animal. They don’t hit the heights winning the Grand National. They do not make the sweetest sounds.

 

They work hard and tirelessly without objection carrying out the tasks expected of them. They are the symbol of children having fun on English beaches. (Although I have to say the donkeys often look bored of walking the beach all day.)

 

A little one carried Mary to the maternity suite at a local stable in Bethlehem and another carried a triumphant Jesus into Jerusalem.

 

Unfortunately at times donkeys can be too placid and end up being abused. But again they just accept it, probably reassured that there are some good Donkey Sanctuaries around who will rescue them and give them a comfortable life, ensuring they will live happily ever after.

 

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY

 

If it's true that we are here to help others, then what exactly are the others here for? Anon

 

HAPPINESS IS…

 

Happiness is… having a laugh

 

 

400 WORDS

SUNDAY 9th APRIL 2017

 

 

At my age I make the most of birthdays, as they are running out now, big time. Mine birthday was yesterday and I had one of a few celebration days.

 

I had a brilliant day on Friday celebrating with all four grandchildren, George, Ewan, Brother Rory and Sister Freya. 9.00am until 8.30pm. Wow, what stamina I still have at my age. I’m so proud of myself.

 

I am going to Thomasland (Drayton Manor) next week to celebrate with grandchildren (edging in on Ewan’s birthday treat). And also hope to do Yorkshire Wildlife Park with grandchildren, a brilliant place.

 

But for the actual day, Mamma and me had a very self indulgent day. We went to London on my favourite train operator, Virgin Trains, on my favourite line, East Coast – Newark to King’s Cross, to see a show.

 

The day was gloriously sunny, getting up to 22 degrees in London.

 

We ate at Covent Garden. The lady on the next table was celebrating her birthday too, but probably she was twice as old as me. The restaurant sang Happy Birthday to her and gave her a crème brulee with a candle stuck in it. They gave me a better present. They kept us waiting half an hour, not a long time as a percentage of my life when you are as old as me. So gave us our drinks free and reduced the bill by 50%. The best birthday present ever, far better than a candle stuck in a crème brulee for a money driven, diabetic Scrooge. (The meal was good too.)

 

The show at the Savoy Theatre was amazing. “Dreamgirls”. The singing was out of this world. The directors deny the show is loosely based on the Supremes story, but it clearly is.

 

It has won many awards. This new production is directed and choreographed by the hugely successful, Casey Nicholaw (The Book of Mormon and  Aladdin). Amber Riley (Glee) plays Effie White, the lead singer. Her voice is so amazingly powerful. She’s fantastic, a tremendous singer and actress.

 

I fought a cough with sugar based cough sweets. Why do theatres always dry your throat if you have a bit of a cough.

We returned home the best way possible, 1st Class Virgin Trains - Kings X to Newark.

 

The very best of birthday treats.

 

All I can say is it was so good, roll on the next birthday.

 

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY

 

Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud – Maya Angelou

 

HAPPINESS IS…

 

Happiness is…a 1st class Virgin Trains East Coast trip to London on your birthday

 

 

 

 

300 WORDS

SATURDAY 8th APRIL 2017

 

 

A rare copy of the comic book featuring Superman's first appearance that went undiscovered for over 70 years in the insulation of a Minnesota house has sold for $175,000 - making the construction worker who found it a happy man.

 

The high bidder for the copy of Action Comics No. 1 in the online auction was a 'hard core, golden age comic book collector.' The buyer's name was not released but 51 offers were submitted before bidding closed.

 

This copy was found by David Gonzalez, 34, among old newspapers in the ceiling insulation of a house he was restoring in the small western Minnesota town of Hoffman.

 

David Gonzalez found this incredibly rare 1938 No. 1 issue of the Superman comic in the ceiling of a house, but the back cover of the precious find he accidentally tore when he grabbed it and tossed it aside during an argument a few days later with his wife's aunt. She wanted a cut of the money which was part of the reason its condition was graded only 1.5 on a 10-point scale used by comic collectors. He said he also grew irritated because every time she would turn a page, crumbs of paper would fall out. But he said in an interview last month that he really didn't care much about the money.

 

Only about 100 issues of the comic, which sold originally for 10 cents, are known to exist and it is considered by many enthusiasts to be the Holy Grail of comic books.

 

A pristine Action Comics No. 1 that was graded a 9 on 25th August 2014 - that introduced Earth to Superman - became the world’s most expensive comic book when it raked in $3.2 million on eBay.

 

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY

 

 Follow your dreams, they know the way

 

HAPPINESS IS…

 

Happiness is…finding a No. 1 issue of the Superman comic in pristine condition in the ceiling of your house

 

 

 

 

200 WORDS

FRIDAY 7th APRIL 2017

 

 

 

A father has lost his legal challenge against a fine for taking his daughter out of primary school on an unauthorised holiday during term time.

 

The Supreme Court ruled against Jon Platt, who had won earlier legal battles against a £120 fine in a case brought by the Isle of Wight council.

 

Mr Platt said the decision, over a trip to Florida, meant the "state was taking the rights away from parents".

 

The decision is perfectly correct. Such laws are not made lightly and it is vital to avoid disruption that they stay in place. I sympathise with Mr Platt but feel he is misguided.  It is the greedy, money grabbing holiday companies who need taking to task and challenging for their profiteering by increasing holiday charges, without justification, during school holidays.

We have always had to book holidays in school holidays and paid substantially more. Why? The basic costs for a hotel, B&B, self catering property or airlines remains the same in or out of term time. So why are these providers allowed to blatantly put up the price?

Surely the priority for the “rights of any parent” is to ensure their child is given a continuous quality education.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY

 

Make this moment count

 

HAPPINESS IS…

 

Happiness is…a mother's cooking

 

 

 

400 WORDS

THURSDAY 6th APRIL 2017

 

One of the most iconic albums is The Beatles, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band released 1st June 1967 (soon to celebrate 50 years). The cover was an equally iconic piece of artwork.

 

No album cover had ever cost this much. "We originally wanted to have an envelope stuck inside with gifts in, but it became too hard to produce," McCartney remembered. "The record company were having to bite the bullet, anyway, as it was costing a little bit more than their usual two pence cardboard cover." Most album covers cost around £50 to make; this Beatles/Blake/Haworth opus ran to more than £3,000. A lot of that had to do with paying people to use their likeness, which was rarely a factor for a rock LP cover.

 

Elvis was originally supposed to appear on the cover but he was somewhat conspicuous by his absence on a cover featuring Bob Dylan and a reference to the Rolling Stones. Elvis Aaron Presley was the Beatles' collective hero. According to McCartney, "Elvis was too important and too far above the rest even to mention." Hence, Elvis out, and Bobby Breen, a famous Canadian-born child singer of the 1930s in. Breen found his inclusion surprising. We do not know what Elvis thought about his omission.

 

The album had sold 32 million copies worldwide (as of 2011), making it one of the best-selling albums of all-time.

 

On 26th May 2017 several reissue packages are due out. A new single CD stereo mix album will be available as a single CD and as part of every other package. An expanded deluxe edition will be released digitally, and as a two-CD set or two-LP vinyl package. A super deluxe six-disc box set will also be available.

 

All three deluxe editions of Sgt. Pepper will have previously unreleased complete takes of all 13 album tracks. The deluxe CD and digital versions will also include new stereo mixes: a previously unreleased instrumental take of "Penny Lane" and two unreleased takes of "Strawberry Fields Forever."

 

The original tracks were:

1.Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band

2.With A Little Help From My Friends

3.Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds

4.Getting Better

5.Fixing A Hole

6.She's Leaving Home

7.Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!

8.Within You Without You

9.When I'm Sixty Four

10.Lovely Rita

11.Good Morning Good Morning

12.Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)

13.A Day In The Life

 

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY

 

Too many people grow up. Thats the trouble with the world... They don't remember what its like to be twelve years old. - Walt Disney

 

HAPPINES IS…

 

Happiness is…listening to The Beatles - Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album

 

 

 

 

WEDNESDAY 5th APRIL 2017

 

We have a brilliant postman. Very cheerful, upbeat and happy always speaks whenever and wherever he sees you with happy words to cheer you up. Just like a postman should be.

 

And he doesn’t bugger things up like Postman Pat does every single programme as I have discussed previously. But I do enjoy Postman Pat. As I enjoy Postman Plod in Viz.

 

When I was knee high to a grasshopper all postmen used to be cheerful. They kept the same round for years. Royal Mail was part of the General Post Office (GPO) in those days. The telephone service (now BT) and Royal Mail and the Post Office was all one company – The GPO.

 

The mail was taken the local post offices who would  employ postmen to deliver it. No massive sorting office.

 

Our postman would whistle jolly tunes where ever he went. He didn’t have a bright red van but a bright red bike. I can remember him celebrating having been a postman and doing the same round for 25 years.

 

Another aspect of those golden days of the GPO was the Night Mail Train. W H Auden wrote a superb poem which you can find else where in the blog entitled “Night Mail”. Night Mail is a 1936 documentary film about a London, Midland and Scottish Railway (LMS) mail train from London to Scotland, produced by the GPO Film Unit. The film ends with a "verse commentary" by W. H. Auden, written for existing footage. Benjamin Britten scored the film. The film encompasses the romance of the mail trains.

 

I wouldn’t mind being a postman. I enjoy getting up early. I’d love the walking and there must be immense satisfaction at having delivered all your letters at the end of the morning. And then the afternoon is yours.

 

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY

 

Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind

 

HAPPINESS IS…

 

Happiness is…to love and be loved

 

200 WORDS

TUESDAY 4th APRIL 2017

 

Easter Eggs are losing their ‘Easter’. Have a look at the Easter Eggs on sale. How many of them actually mention Easter? Many of the best known brands have quietly dropped any reference to the Christian festival, and now sell Easter products labelled simply as ‘chocolate egg’ or even ‘egg’. The National Trust are also accused of dropping ‘Easter’ from their ‘Easter Egg Hunts’ calling them ‘Egg Hunts’

 

One explanation is that some may find the word ‘Easter’ offensive.

 

I understand where they are coming from: it’s a marketing issue. The companies want to maximise sale of their product or event. I know how tough it is getting customers  to my FOC Blog let alone having to persuade them to pay good money. The companies want to appeal to everyone of all cultures and faiths.

 

Celebrating Easter is part of our heritage and culture. In a tolerant world people should be respectful and open minded enough to accept it. They should live with it and be enriched by other’s cultures and not find them offensive.

 

No matter how you dress it up or down it is Easter you are celebrating either do so openly or don’t do anything at all.

 

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY

 

Don’t underestimate the value of Doing Nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can’t hear, and not bothering.  - Winnie the Pooh

 

HAPPINESS IS…

 

Happiness is…writing the thousand words that replaces the picture - (A picture is worth a thousand words)

 

 

 

200 WORDS

Monday 3rd APRIL 2017

 

 

Sandi Toksvig wrote that she was recently in San Francisco speaking at a conference when she saw a man walking down the street wearing only a feather boa and carrying a handbag. Other than that he was entirely naked. She said she was shocked.

‘Did you see that?’ she said to her friend, open mouthed.

Her friend shook her head in disbelief. ‘I know! That handbag didn’t match that boa…’

‘It made me laugh so much’, she wrote. They watched the naked fellow swan off down the road. She says he seemed entirely happy. She comments further “Good for him. Be who you need to be. Grab life by the throat. That is the best advice of all.”

No I am not going to confess to being that man. My wife would never allow me to disgrace myself on the streets like that. She would make sure the handbag and boa matched.

I have spent a lifetime being what other people want me to be through school and work. It’s a mugs game and got me nowhere except totally frustrated. I am now being who I need to be. Grabbing life by the throat and it’s fantastic!

 

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY

Maybe all one can do is hope to end up with the right regrets. ~Arthur Miller

 

HAPPINESS IS…

Happiness is… walking down the street wearing only a feather boa and carrying a handbag

 

 

 

 

 

500 WORDS

SUNDAY 2nd APRIL 2017

 

 

The time was when a cup of tea was a costly luxury and so it ended up being smuggled into the UK.

 

A boat beaches in a lonely cove at night, the crew hurriedly unloading its cargo of tea to waiting men and pack horses while armed lookouts stand guard against a surprise swoop by the revenue men.

 

It may be a stereotypical image, but in the 18th Century, a cuppa was in such high demand that many Britons were willing to risk jail for the privilege. In fact, this kind of smuggling was a vital part of Britain's economy for some 200 years.

 

It was a trade triggered by increasingly high tariffs or duties, taxes a merchant would have to pay to legally import tea. The duties on importing tea reached a staggering 119% in the 1750s - meaning if you could avoid paying the tax, the cost of your brew dropped by more than half.

 

A rosy-cheeked couple, modelled on King George III and Queen Charlotte, advocate the consumption of unsugared tea. Tea became hugely popular in Britain in the 1700s

 

Not surprisingly many customers turned to the smugglers, who were willing to risk imprisonment or have their ships destroyed and goods seized if they were caught.

 

Tea was one of the most important items illegally brought into Britain in the 18th Century - everybody wanted to drink it, but most could not afford it at the official price.

 

In an age before income tax, tea duties accounted for 10% of government revenues, which was enough to pay for the Royal Navy, but as tariffs on it reached 119% it gave smugglers their chance.

 

"If you had high tariffs and goods people wanted, it gave smugglers a business opportunity," says Exeter University historian Helen Doe.

 

More than 3,000 tonnes of tea was smuggled into Britain a year by the late 1700s, with just 2,000 tonnes imported legally.

In some areas whole communities were dependent on smuggling, from landowners who might finance the operation down to the fishermen who might be crewing the boats.

 

By 1784, the government realised high tariffs were creating more problems than they were worth and cut tea duties to just 12.5%, making tea affordable for most people. The change meant smugglers switched to bringing in spirits and wine instead.

 

The Napoleonic wars saw an upsurge in smuggling, but after 1815 with the Royal Navy in undisputed command of the sea, its days were numbered.

 

Ultimately, many smugglers failed. In the long run, the business did not generate enough cash to compensate for the risks of losing stock or ships to the customs.

 

In the end, it was economics that finally put an end to the smuggling era. Britain's adoption of a free trade policy in the 1840s reduced import duties significantly, making smuggling no longer viable.

 

And thanks to that shift in policy, you can now sit back, relax and enjoy a nice cup of tea without any fears of going to prison.

 

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY

Man does not control his own fate. The women in his life do that for him. Groucho Marx

 

HAPPINESS IS…

HAPPINESS IS…about this time of day having a nice relaxing cup of tea

 

 

200 WORDS

SATURDAY 1st APRIL 2017

 

 

The origins of April Fools’ Day are murky.

One theory is  April Fools' Day, goes back  to the time of Noah and the ark. The London Public Advertiser of March 13, 1769, prints the following paragraph:  'The mistake of Noah sending the dove out of the ark before the water had abated, on the first day of April, and to perpetuate the memory of this deliverance it was thought proper, whoever forgot so remarkable a circumstance, to punish them by sending them upon some sleeveless errand similar to that ineffectual message upon which the bird was sent by the patriarch'.

In Chaucer's Canterbury Tales (1392), the "Nun's Priest's Tale" is set “Syn March bigan thritty dayes and two.” Readers apparently misunderstood this line to mean "32 March", i.e. April 1. Also in Chaucer's tale, the vain cock Chauntecleer is tricked by a fox.

 A likely explanation is that it began in the Middle Ages as a way to mock French people who were slow to switch to the Gregorian Calendar which changed New Year’s from April 1 to January 1. These folks were labeled “fools” and some were sent on “fools’ errands.” They finally changed their New Year in 1564.

For examples of APRIL FOOL’S HOAXES go to:

 

THOUGHT OF THE DAY

 

To live is so startling it leaves little time for anything else. - Emily Dickinson

 

HAPPINESS IS…

 

Happiness is… Saturday

 

 

 

When I was a lad at school around 13 years old, our Maths teacher used to call me Wol. At the end of the year as we were moving up a class I plucked up courage to ask why he called me Wol. He told meit was thename of the deslexic owl in Winnie the Pooh. With my Harry Potter glasses he said I looked like the Wise Old Owl in the Winnie the Pooh stories.

 

Being the vain person I am I took it as a compliment

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