Wednesday, 9 August 2017

The end of an era...

I've sometimes mused on the workings of the honours system in this country, not that it's ever going to personally bother me much, I'm sure.

But when David Beckham had his little tantrum about not getting a knighthood, it did make me wonder why on earth would anyone think they actually deserved such an honour?

In my mind, the people that really should get such an award are the ones who would be the least likely to seek it out and would be genuinely humbled if they did.

Can I ask a question here - can you actually nominate somebody to be considered for the honours' list, or how does it all work?

I can think of countless people who will probably never get the recognition they deserve, but who genuinely make a difference to the lives of others each and every day.

It's often the little things, that some people take for granted and perhaps don't even notice, that help and can make a huge difference.

People who take the time to chat to a lonely person, take shopping to the housebound, find time in their busy lives to take an interest in their local community and just pitch in and help out wherever needed.

Julie, Mike and Sam who have run my local shop and Post Office for the past twenty years are at the heart of our community.  They go over and above the role of shopkeepers - if I listed out all their good deeds I could take over this whole paper. 

They have always been there for us, and have worked tirelessly seven days a week, always cheerful and there to lend a helping hand and a sympathetic ear - genuinely good and kind people.

The time has come for them to retire, and I can honestly say that our community will be totally bereft without them. 

So thank you from the bottom of our hearts, and if I could nominate people for an honour, they would be at the top of my list.



Thursday, 3 August 2017

A handbag...

Now that bag searches are becoming a regular feature of everyday life, I really need to think about tidying mine out on a more regular basis.

I guess I'm not alone though in toting a bag that's more like a portable life support system, the contents of which could deal with most minor emergencies.

I'm pretty sure that pre-dog and child it was much lighter.  Once dogs arrived into my life, my bags, pockets etc became receptacles for poo bags and gravy bones.

Then after arrival of daughter, the bags got bigger and the contents far greater.  She's much older now, but I'm still carrying baby wipes - as a parent I have discovered that these have a myriad of uses, including removal of seagull poo at the seaside from hair and clothes, and creature guano from an invertebrate at Bugtopia who kindly deposited on husband's pale blue jeans.

Unsurprisingly, they never put that on the packaging do they?  Further evidence that they perhaps aren't the best thing for babies' sensitive skin.

When we're away on holiday my bag gets even bigger and heavier, as I seem to be the one left carrying camera, sunblock, water, snacks, plasters, etc.

In fact, the last time my bag was searched, it was packed to the gunnels with holiday stuff.

I apologized to the man who was searching each and every pocket and compartment as thoroughly and sensitively as he could, given the circumstances.

He told me not to worry as he'd seen far worse.  He then dropped his voice to a confidential tone and told me that one handbag he'd searched had an item that the lady in question should really have left at home in her bedside cabinet - and I don't think he meant Lavender pillow spritz, painkillers or Vicks VapoRub, which is what's in mine!

Thus reassured, I collected my bag and made a note to self that no matter how embarrassed you are about the tidiness and/or contents of your bag, there will always be somebody, somewhere with something far worse.





Working from home

I'm not going to lie to you, working from home has its advantages.

There's the fact I can work in my slippers.  No more cramming my feet into high-heeled shoes or boots just because they look good.  The downside of this is that my feet appear to have grown because they are no longer restricted, but that's a small price to pay. 

Then there's the fact that I can make a cup of tea or go to the loo whenever I like.  No more raising my hand in the air to be relieved - as in somebody take over my desk or permit me a leave of absence rather than anything more unpleasant or complicated than that, in case you were wondering.

I suspect the day will come though when some workers will be given commodes and expected to carry on whilst in situ, but hopefully not in my lifetime.  Although as my pension age keeps on moving further away, I fear that I may never actually retire and this may become my reality!

I can also plan my work around daughter's school day/holidays - this is probably the best feature, and truthfully should feature higher in the list but for the fact that I like the freedom of slippers and 'comfort breaks'.

The long school summer holidays does make you appreciate Teachers more though doesn't it?  They look after our little darlings for nearly eight hours a day, every weekday, during term time.  No wonder they need a six week break.

The major downside of working from home is the regular visitation of delivery drivers.  Admittedly, sometimes the only human contact I have during the day other than family members, but our conversations are very one sided and usually consist of variations on the theme of 'Parcel... neighbour... sign... thanks.'

And the most bizarre delivery of which I've taken charge?  Ten sacks of washing powder.  I kid you not - I'm guessing an e-Bay bulk-purchase bargain, which literally filled my porch until retrieved much later that day.  Still, it made the house smell 'cotton fresh'!



Old People's Home For Four Year Olds

We know that not all ideas and imports from America are good - I'm thinking guns, gangs, some fast foods and portion sizes, the over commercialisation of Christmas and Hallowe'en, beauty pageants for kids, Donald Trump and his ever-changing team of advisers, to name just a few.

But I think they may be onto a winner with the idea of having children visiting elderly people in care homes.

Channel Four's 'Old People's Home For Four Year Olds' had me smiling and weeping in almost equal measure.

I knew before watching it would probably be emotional, but it was also totally uplifting and convinced me that this is one American import that we should embrace.

Pre-schoolers spending time in care homes has worked successfully in the USA for over 20 years, and has proved beneficial for both age groups.

In the UK we saw a group of four-year olds heading to St Monica Trust care home near Bristol to spend time with the residents, being creative, playing games, going for walks in the grounds - which looked much nicer than many country house hotels I've stayed in.

They were also given some duck eggs to hatch, and the sheer delight on the faces of both young and old as the chicks emerged was a joy to behold.

Some of the elderly residents had been rated as being depressed, and one never smiled, but after a while she was grinning from ear to ear as a four-year old grabbed her hand and dragged her off to help with the latest activity.

Hamish, an elderly chap with an artificial leg, initially refused to get out of his chair and couldn't see the point of the whole project, but ended up laying on the floor playing sleeping lions with the children.

A new lease of life is what the older residents received, but what about the children?


They enjoyed talking, playing, laughing, colouring, reading and discussing the duck chicks pooping - because that's what kids do.  We have much to learn from the wisdom of four year olds.

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Top Of The Pops and The Generation Game - re-booted

I read recently that too much nostalgia is bad for you - not sure why, perhaps it's considered bad to look back fondly rather than stay laser-focused on the future or something?

But if that is the case, perhaps somebody should have a word with the TV production companies who've just announced the return of two of the best shows from my 1970s/80s childhood.

Yes, much to my excitement, I've read that the company behind James Corden's Carpool Karaoke is planning a re-boot of Top Of The Pops. 

Essential viewing, TOTP was on Thursday evenings, and then moved to Fridays if I remember correctly, and was the highlight of my TV week.

Admittedly in parts cheesy, some of the dancing left very much to be desired by both the audience and professionals - anyone else remember life before music videos when Legs & Co or Pan's People just 'interpreted' the songs?

There was the rundown of the top forty, the climbers, the non-movers and finally the much coveted No1, plus live performances in the studio of varying quality.  I keenly await the updated version, although I fear I won't know many of the artistes these days, unless they're played on Radio 2!

Next regeneration - appropriately enough The Generation Game.  Arguably Brucie's finest hour, if you can overlook the Anthea Redfern/Isla St Clair 'ornamental' roles. 

Those times were very different, and fortunately we're now more enlightened as to the parts women play on TV - even if the BBC salary department has yet to catch up entirely to the idea of equality.

Perhaps then fittingly, Mel and Sue find a new home here after GBBO and replace Mr Forsyth as presenters.

I'm looking forward to seeing it and hope they keep the prize conveyor belt at the end, which was always my favourite part.  I imagine the prizes will be slightly different tough - I can't see anyone wanting fondue sets, heated curlers and sandwich toasters these days, but I'd still have the teasmade and the cuddly toy, of course.



Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Save Corby's Urgent Care Centre

Some things should be above party politics, and saving Corby's Urgent Care Centre is one of them.

We can argue until we're blue in the face about whose fault it is that yet again we're facing its threatened closure, but that's not going to solve anything.  We need action, we need unity, and we need it NOW.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again - this is a VITAL service to the people of Corby and its villages.

Yes, I can remember life before it, and it wasn't good.  Up in this corner of Northamptonshire, if you were ill after 5pm during the week or at any time at the weekend and you needed medical attention urgently, you had to get to Kettering General somehow.

Now, that was perhaps ok if somebody in the family had a car, or if you could ask a friend or neighbour to take you, because as we all know, public transport was (and still is) a bit 'hit and miss', especially if you're in the villages or countryside.

Speaking for myself and my family and friends, the Corby Urgent Care Centre is literally a life-saver.  Without going into detail, I dread to think what could have happened to people I know had it not been there.

The staff are brilliant.  They are caring, hard-working, professional and kind.

We know from previously issued statistics that the centre is coping with double the amount of patients than was originally planned.

The population of Corby, and indeed Northamptonshire, is growing at a tremendous rate.

Facilities at Kettering General are overstretched. 

Taking these facts into account, put simply, I believe that closing Corby Urgent Care Centre would potentially put lives in this area at risk.  This is unacceptable, I'm sure you'll agree. 


Tom Pursglove, MP for Corby and East Northants, is working with Corby Borough Council and other stakeholders to try and sort this out.  He wants to hear from people about their thoughts on Corby Urgent Care Centre - please e-mail him pursglovet@parliament.uk asap.  Thank you.

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

School sports day

It's that time of year - school sports days are happening up and down the country.  It's not a day I remember with relish, either as a participant or as a watching parent either, if I'm perfectly honest.

My family, it's safe to say, is missing the athletics gene.  Walking is more our pace, but sadly competitive walking isn't included in any sports day of which I'm aware.

Having said that, my daughter did win the egg and spoon race at primary school one year, which was a first for both sides of the family.

The best I ever managed was second, also in the egg and spoon race as it happens.  Perhaps if that was an Olympic discipline we may have triumphed and been able to represent Team GB.

Fortunately the school my daughter attended didn't make a big deal of the parents' race.  However, I did once take part in a parents' race for my younger cousin, who was still at primary school while I was at Uni.

I remember lining up, taking a look at the competition and thinking to myself that despite my asthma and distinct lack of athleticism I had a good chance of winning as I was at least ten years younger than the other participants.  The only Dad racing was about five stone overweight to boot.

So imagine my surprise when he flew past me like an oversized rocket and won, while I just about scraped into a still respectable second place.  Another perfect example of why we should never judge by appearances.

I did read that some schools were banning parents' races because some Mums and Dads were just too competitive and couldn't handle losing.  I imagine their reactions and language weren't setting the best example for the watching children either.


But if you are attending sports day, be on the lookout for parents arriving wearing Lycra and carrying running spikes.  I've heard that Des O'Connor once lined up to run at his son's school only to spot a man thus attired - and he turned out to be Linford Christie!