Wednesday, 14 March 2018


It's GCSE Options selection time for many teenagers throughout the country, including Bach Jnr.

This is proving somewhat of a challenge as it's a big decision - after all, which one of us really knew aged 13 or 14 what we wanted to do when we grew up? 

Thinking back, at the age of 14, I wanted to be a lead singer in a band when I was older and then marry Morten Harket!

I talked about this at length with my friends, and it turns out that most of us are no longer doing the jobs for which we studied or trained originally either.

For example, a barrister is now an early-years teacher, a teacher is now an ordained Minister, and I'm - well, I'm not sure what my job title is these days, let's just say I'm not doing the job I thought I would be.  Things, life and circumstances change, and we just have to adapt to them.

I think the key is not to drop too many subjects which might prove useful in later life. 

With only an 'O' level in Biology science-wise to my name, I was never going to be able to go on and train to be a brain surgeon or similar.

Not that this was ever realistically an option - my Operation game proved that I didn't have the necessary steady hands required, given the chap's red nose lit up alarmingly on numerous occasions - but you get my point.

Initially, I had done well at Chemistry at secondary school, but then we got a different teacher who took to spending large chunks of the lesson in the prep room investigating the effects of nicotine on his respiratory system, and my Chemistry knowledge decreased dramatically as a result.

In fact, rather embarrassingly, it took me most of the first term to figure out that the moles he kept talking about weren't in fact little underground-dwelling furry creatures but Molecules of Elements.  Perhaps it's just as well for everybody that I didn't become a medic!

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

The 'Beast From The East'

The 'Beast From The East', or proper winter as it was called back in the day, has been and gone.

I wonder who first coined that phrase, and every time it appeared on television and in the papers did they turn to people and say "I came up with that name, that was my idea!" in a rather annoying manner? 

Even though I got my big coat out, following the advice of Northern friends on social media, I'm relieved to see the back of that weather.  It was the six foot high snow drifts that I found particularly unpleasant and a little bit scary; snow that's taller than me isn't something I relish.

We did have the discussion in our house that folk in Canada and continental Europe must chuckle to themselves when they see Britain grinding to a halt with snow amounts that they would consider a mild winter.

The best thing to come out of it - apart from the various reports of community spirit and people doing good deeds for neighbours and strangers alike, of course - were instructions from a council on how to walk on the ice.

No, this wasn't courtesy of Northants County Council, who must have been relieved that the 'Beast From The East' knocked them from the top story on both national and regional news for a couple of days.  The weather gave us a break from the endless Brexit negotiations too.

The council advice for negotiating icy pavements was to mimic the walk of a penguin.  Seems quite sensible - after all, if there's a creature that knows a lot about snow and ice it's our little feathered friends from the Antarctic.

I thought I'd give it a try.  There I was, walking outside my house, adopting the penguin walk of loose knees, toes slightly out-turned and arms out at my side for balance.

But after a severe bout of laughing, which did absolutely nothing to assist, I reverted to my usual ice walking stance - similar to John Wayne after four hours in the saddle.  Elegant it isn't, but it seems to work for me!

Thursday, 1 March 2018

Who can use Corby's Urgent Care Centre?

I've been reading the #NotYou social media posts with interest.

If you haven't seen them, campaigners trying to save Corby's Urgent Care Centre have been highlighting groups of people that will no longer be able to use this excellent facility if the new proposals for it go ahead.

From my understanding of reading their information and the 'Re-setting Corby's NHS' brochure, the proposals say that the walk-in Urgent Care Centre will become an appointment-only Same Day Access Hub just for people registered with Doctors in Corby.

If you've got a minor injury or illness you can no longer walk in, wait and be seen. 

Instead you have to ring your own Doctors, be assessed by a navigator, get an appointment either at your own surgery, if they have one, or be redirected to the Same Day hub, if they don't - but only if you have a Corby GP.

If you haven't got a Corby GP, even though the Urgent Care Centre is your nearest medical facility when your surgery is closed, you won't be able to go there. 

As it stands, this will particularly affect Gretton Surgery, in Corby Borough, as it is served by a Doctor from Uppingham.  Even though its residents live in Northamptonshire, under these new proposals they won't be able to use it.

It will also affect a huge number of people living locally, who rely on the Urgent Care Centre on evenings and weekends when their Doctors are closed.

Also what about the children who go to school in Corby but live elsewhere; the thousands of workers who travel into the town every day; people visiting friends and family from outside the area; and the many people taking part in sporting events in the town?  Where do they go if they have a minor injury or illness while in Corby?

We are repeatedly told about the pressures upon KGH's A&E, and to only go there in an absolute emergency.

Where do we go if we can't access Corby's Urgent Care Centre?

Have your say about the proposals by e-mailing or writing to Freepost NHS Corby Responses.  The deadline for responses is 8th April, 2018.

Monday, 19 February 2018

Winter Olympics 2018

It's happened again - I've gone from being an Olympics avoider to a keen viewer within the space of a week.

This time of course it's the Winter Olympics.  It did amuse me when the presenters, competitors etc were talking about how cold it was in Pyeongchang - I did feel like mentioning to them 'The clue's in the name, it's not called the Springtime in Paris Olympics!', but refrained, because I'd probably have moaned about how very cold it was there too.

'Super Saturday' lived up to its hype, thankfully.  I watched the Women's Skeleton with my heart in my mouth.  For the uninitiated - me until last week - the skeleton is the one where they lay on a tea tray and career down an icy slope, head first, like you do, using just your body to steer and your feet to brake.

Utter, utter madness, but so proud of Lizzy Yarnold and Laura Deas who were much braver than the rest of us and won Gold and Bronze for Team GB.

It did make me wonder though, how do you decide this is the discipline in which you want to specialise?  I don't recall this ever being on the options list for my school's PE lessons.  Even if it had been, I would have point-blank refused.  The very patient Mrs Merchant had enough of a task to get me to climb the apparatus and perform forward rolls - even at that tender age I was painfully aware of my athletic limitations!

Back to South Korea though, and I'm with Mr T (not a phrase I ever thought I'd utter) - I also pity the fool that doesn't like curling! #curlingiscoolfool

What's not to like?  It's gentle, a bit like bowling on ice, and it's something which we think we could all have a go at.  Now that's my kind of Winter Olympic activity - just fetch me a pair of stout brogues and a Vileda supermop and I'm there!  

Thursday, 15 February 2018

The swimsuit challenge

I blame myself really.  I should have made it much, much clearer.  When I asked the shop assistants in various Leicester clothing emporiums (or should that be emporia?) for swimsuits, I should have stated that I'm not a contestant on 'Survival of the Fittest' or 'Ibiza Weekender'.

Honestly - I've seen more material on a hamster's jock strap!  Three tiny triangles of lycra-infused polyester and metal hoops does not constitute any swimming costume that will, or even could at maximum stretch, clad this nearly middle-aged bod.

Perhaps I should have been flattered that underneath my coat, scarf and jumper combo, worn to see off the harshest February winter weather, they considered the possibility that there was hidden a physique suitable for this minimalistic ensemble.

But, then again, as that was all they had in stock, perhaps no compliment was intended at all.

I thought to myself maybe it's the wrong time of year, although naively I assumed that some people these days holiday in exotic climes all year round, therefore swimsuits of some description would be freely available.

It may have been my choice of shop - I didn't want to spend a fortune on something I wear briefly a couple of times a year at most, so budgetary considerations came into play and I selected the High Street's, or in this instance Highcross's, finest womenswear stores.

Whichever of the above scenarios was the explanation, I still think I can't be the only person that would prefer a more encompassing, fuller bodied brief and top that flatters rather than exposes too much flesh can I?

Thankfully, my local supermarket back home came up trumps.  Whilst doing the weekly shop I spied just the job - a pretty swimsuit that covered all the right places and even had a little skirt to camouflage the only thing I will ever have in common with Kim Kardashian.

Not for the first time did I give thanks for George Davies and the clothing lines he created. 

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Don't die of embarrassment

Have you ever met somebody, said 'Hello, how are you?' in a friendly way, only to be greeted by a blank stare, absolutely no recognition, just a look of slight puzzlement?

This happened to me quite recently.  I'd gone out for a meal with a group of friends, went to the bar to get a drink and on my way back to our table met a lady I thought I knew and greeted her in the above manner.

Now, I pride myself on my memory for faces - I just can't always remember from where I know said person, hence this incident.

As I sat drinking my G&T waiting for the food to arrive, I mused quietly on how I knew this woman.

I then remembered quite clearly - she was the nurse from my Doctor's surgery who'd done my smear test.  In a way, I suppose it's reassuring and a relief for all concerned that she didn't remember me.

The reason I'm sharing this story with you now is that I recently read that the number of younger women going for their smear tests has fallen dramatically, one of the reasons they gave is because they are too embarrassed.

But as this story from the Helen book of personal experiences illustrates, the nurse performing your test won't remember you.  It's just part of her job, she's literally seen everything before, and there's no need to be embarrassed.

Having had a friend die of a gynaecological cancer in her thirties, I cannot emphasise how important it is to go to the Doctor's and get your check-ups done.

Please go and have your smear test, or if this isn't relevant to you, encourage your wives, partners, daughters, friends etc to have theirs done.

During the 80s, the slogan used for the AIDS campaign was don't die of ignorance.  I think we need to adapt this and say to women please don't die of embarrassment. 

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Mamma Mia, can I go again? My my, it was bloomin' brilliant!

Regular readers - I'm hoping there are some! - will perhaps remember me saying that I was way behind with my cinematic viewing and had only just managed to watch Mamma Mia.

That was a couple of years ago now, and since then I've watched it at least once more as it seems to be a regular fixture on the ITV2 schedule, not that I'm complaining.

I adore Abba's music, I love Pierce Brosnan, so a film which combines the two is up there with my all time faves - yes, before you ask, I can even get over Pierce's singing, although only just.  I'm also looking forward to the sequel, due out this summer.

So when I heard that the stage show was coming to the Royal & Derngate in Northampton I was a little bit excited, to say the least.

And then when a friend of mine organised a coach trip to gather us all up and safely transport us half way across the county and deposit us at the Derngate's door, I signed up straight away.  Many thanks again to Julie for sorting out the tickets and the bus.

I was so glad I did go - it was a fantastic night.  The production was amazing, the quality of the singing and dancing was superb, and it was a fabulous show all round.

But the best part for me?  When the entire theatre got up and sang and danced along with the cast at the end of the production in a spontaneous show of feel-good lack of self-consciousness.

The atmosphere was brilliant, and everybody was having a good time and belting out Dancing Queen and Waterloo at the tops of their voices.

I may or may not have been singing in tune, I haven't a clue and I don't really care.  I adhere to the rule of dance like nobody's watching and sing like nobody's listening - although perhaps I need to reconsider the last one when attending weddings and funerals!