Friday, 22 August 2014

WRVS, you are about to lose a very hard working volunteer

The local WRVS  (or the RVS as it is now known since men were admitted),  amongst other things run a very much appreciated cafe at the Ulverston Health Centre, at which this volunteer has been helping for three months now. I know her well because I see her regularly and often go over to the cafe for a drink and a chat. Many people in Ulverston, often pensioners living on their own do the  same to enjoy a drink and a tea cake at low prices, made all the more enjoyable by the friendly helpers.The volunteers there are a lovely group of people and she gets on well together there.

This volunteer has in  fact she  put herself out to help out  and does extra shifts when they are short staffed there, in spite of having a heavy work load at home. She enjoys the work.

The problem is that Head office in London is run by bureaucratic bullies who insist on their mindless procedures are followed.  A woman there, by the name of Fiona insists that the two referees for membership ring her to give approval of my friends application for membership. This they tried to do, Head office insist they keep trying.

At this point my friend is rightly digging her heals in . "No if you want me as a volunteer - and she knows the Ulverston branch is short - you will have to ring them". They are doing you the favour of supporting my application for membership. It's great to see someone sticking up for her colleagues. They are fed up with being bossed about by the bullies above them who come along with 'inspections' when knowing very little of local circumstances.

Now we have someone who is ready to make a stand. "You give me membership . I have complied with your rules of providing with two references. Now take it or leave it. "

"Do you , Fiona at head office with your mindless rules really want to lose a much needed volunteer who has the strong support of those that work with her?

Note: if you go enquiring at the similar WRVS run cafe at Furness General Hospital in Barrow you will hear of similar heavy handed complaints about the way the bosses outside the area attempt to supervise them from away.

Do we, the public, really want to donate to this charity?

 if this money goes to pay for incompetent people who boss others about. I suggest we make sure our donations go to support our local groups and not to an organisation that allows power crazy people to dominate. Furthermore our local managers must be encouraged to stand up to this bullying behaviour.

Surely now is the time for local people in this kind of organisation to assert themselves.

Sunday, 17 August 2014

The Joys of Getting Old and "passed it"

When you're eigthty, had a stroke and face the possibility of another one any timeyou're attitude to life changes. You begin to think "What the hell, who cares! Let's have some fun. If I'm not here to pick up the tab for my misdemeanors: Why worry?"

 Take heed of the message below; so delightfully put by Jenny Joseph. It could apply to me sometime very soon. 

Note: Have you seen me scooting across the Supermarket floor on my trolley recently: look no feet  touching the floor? This gives new meaning to the expression "Off his trolley"


When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn't go, and doesn't suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we've no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I'm tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick flowers in other people's gardens
And learn to spit.

You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.

But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.

But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple. 

If you love moving to music

You can even dance to this: Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves by Verdi.

Incredibly moving music from the past.

Another confession from my midnight dancing friend.

No it's not Dire Straits this time!

I must say I think the facial expressions on this video are superb.

This will get your feet tapping

Or are you past it? Or does other stuff turns you on? But is it any better?

Here's another tune that my midnight dancing friend used to love moving to.

Isn't it amazing how many people used to get carried away with Dire Straits? Literally thousands.

She told me how recently she was at a dance when this number was announced and she was really looking forward to getting up for a jig around as she used to at night. However she was mortified to find that an acquaintance came along just as the tune was starting and start to chat mindlessly about this and that- nothing important to her - sadly her whole life had trained her to be  very polite to everyone, so that she  was the true lady. Instead of saying what she was thinking (in my words "stop yattering on and sit down so that I can have this lovey dance") : she remained  patiently sitting down for the chatter to finish. By then the band had moved on to the next number.

Sometimes we can be so preoccupied with ourselves that we don't pick up on the inner turmoil going on in the polite person opposite us: a fault that I must admit is mine over and over again. No wonder that some used to people cross over the street when they saw me coming. A fault I'm working on , but have a long way to go.

I got it first

Another friend tells me that she and her husband used to vie with each other to read the Evening Mail when it arrived. She would watch out for the paper boy as he came up the street and nobble it before her husband got a chance.

There was an unwritten rule between them that whoever got it first got to keep it  until read.

We're all children at heart playing and love to play games with our partners don't we. or me it's the sign of a happy marriage ; one that lasts; one with a humour at the heart of it.

Dancing in the middle of the night

A friend of mine married someone .  She loved and admired him greatly, but one thing he hadn't a clue about was dancing, apparently he had no sense of rhythm. So what she would do is get up in the night and have a little dance in the living room where she wouldn't disturb him.

This is one of the songs she danced to:

(it's a lovely video too!)

Twistin round the pool Dire Straights

Friday, 15 August 2014

Some mothers do have them

I witnessed the ultimate in texting earlier today!

 I've watched what is a common sight now:
a group of youngsters together in say a cafe not talking to each other but instead on their mobile to someone else.

 But texting someone whilst riding a bike is for me is extreme. What next :riding a bike, texting someone else and with the other hand waving to a friend, nearby. "Look no hands" I used to regard this as a challenge when young ; but have the times changed?

Wednesday, 13 August 2014


That wonderful elusive state that you cannot enter by will power.

When you've lain in bed, motionless for an hour in bed and you're still not asleep, what do you do?

"Get up, do something different and then go back and have another  go later " is my answer.

I've had a great day, and I'm not cross. On the contrary I'm feeling very content , but still sleep eludes me.

The only thing I can think of, that is worrying me is the thought that I won't sleep for more than two hours before waking up again. This has been happening almost every  night for the last few months since I had my stroke.

Now the thought occurs to me that it's not a good idea to write about!

But I had thought that writing would help. I did this last night and it worked. It clearly doesn't seem likely at the moment. Writing about not being able to sleep is obviously not a good idea.So I'm off to do something else I shall enjoy.

Dancing around maybe.

How mad is that? Surely that will wake me up. Oh well we'll give it a try.

Maybe dancing sleepily will help!

Let's try. See yah.

The sequel. Of course I didn't dance but listened to  some lovely calming music and went back to bed, eventually fell asleep and woke up  feeling calmly determined.
 As Jeremy would say

"Let's just soldier on'!

Monday, 11 August 2014

Coping with the windy rain

On  London's wobbly bridge 

Pedestrians dash through torrential rain along the Millennium Bridge, London, as the remnants of Hurricane Bertha swept across parts of the country. Photograph: Jonathan Brady/PA

These people are clearly being stretched. Even so one, at least, appears to be smiling. They might feel differently if they were dressed differently. Sadly they are unlikely to be near their dry clothes and the comfort of warm shelter.

I must say I love this kind of weather. I find it so invigorating specially in this warm weather. All that can happen is that I get wet. If I'm moving, with it being warm anyway, this for me is no discomfort, after all when I get home there are dry clothes are available.

So what did I do last night at ten o'clock: I went for a quick walk to the Market Cross and backin thestrong wind and rain.

I loved the experience. Believe it or not, I have a friend who feels exactly the same.

Our attitudes to getting soaked have changedover the last century.

Within living memory (if you're over ninety!) some people remember men who walked from farm to farm in the Lake District who thought nothing of getting soaked to the skin as they did it. They were taking with them  a strong male cart horse to 'serve' working mares. The foals  so produced were essential to  a  working farms is a tractor now.When they arrived at each farm if soaked to the skin, They would simply stand/sit in front of the fire - the centre of all working farms and dry out in the clothes they wore: something people wouldn't dream of doing now.

In fact looking back at my childhood :it's so different to life now. People now would see it as hardship , but of course we knew no different:

Getting out of a warm bed into a freezing cold bedroom in  the winter. Scampering down at the age of twelve to get dressed in front of the french design anthracite stove in the living room that was kept in all night. In the cold weather this was the only warm place in the house. Washing in freezing cold water.

French anthracite all night stove similar to the one  Ilooked forward to seeing each morning when it was freezing in my bedroom !

This was normal and although we didn't like it, as there was no choice we learnt to live with it. Could it be perhaps, that's why present day's older people are 'tougher' than people who have got used to central heating and running hot water.

Could it be, this why I enjoy a  quick 'blow' in the evening in the pouring  rain outside returning to a dry warm house to sleep in dry clothes none the worse for wear.

Have we lost our way?

When we stop and ask ourselves what matters most in our lives; isn't it the people we mix with?

Our partner, our children, our parents, the friends we meet and do things with?

The friendly conversation with someone we know well. We see this all over central Ulverston  particularly on Market Days when people still come into town just to catch up on the gossip seeing friends they haven't seen for a little while.

Time with happy enthusiastic young children that are curious about everything they see.

Invites into people's house to share their thoughts and aspirations sand discuss the activities  they share.

Isn't this why people  love Facebook and why it is so addictive? We all want to have good friends.

So don't we want to encourage and preserve places where people enjoy each others company, the interaction with people we know?

Small family run shops where the people serving us know us and our families. If these kind of shops are slightly more expensive, is this really that important? After all we enjoy the experience of shopping there. In fact these shops can often  be less expensive than the commercially driven , out of touch chain stores that only cater for the lowest common denominator . Chain stores and supermarkets without detailed local knowledge of where to access locally produced  supplies which avoid the expense of distant road travel. Stores run remotely for the benefit of impersonal, uncaring share holders where profit is the sole motivation; and closure is dictated by the bank balance. Contrast  the variety and price of Brocklebanks green grocers with similar Supermarket produce. Contrast again the friendly and helpful Co-op  with the impersonal Tesco up the road where the goods carry dodgy descriptions: eggs produce in the open countryside ( actually in sheds with no daylight where the hens are crammed in on top of each other. Do you remember  Bird Eye Custard produced with similar catchy phrases:"on the sunny banks of the  river Rae" ( actually in central Birmingham where the river Rea is a culvert underground)?

Ulverston has the wonderful benefit of being small enough so that we all know a lot of the people we meet. We can quickly develop friendships because someone we meet one day at say the Bay Horse at the end of the canal is  then in town doing their shopping at the weekend. People I find, who are very willing to talk and get to know new people. People, I find are increasingly starved of face to face interactions where honest, open exchanges take place, where facial expressions and body language are so revealing. Something you don't get when technology , like the computer driven Facebook and even the phone remove this rich form of contact. The former are surely useful as a back up to face to face contact, not as their replacement.

We in Union Lane, where I live, have the great benefit of regular personal contact. We are frequently doing each other personal favours, when the need arrives. In my case rails and bathroom supports where constructed and available within a day of me needing them  after my stroke: no waiting endlessly for public 'services to provide them.   At this very moment one neighbour is baking me a blackberry and apple pie  with lovely shortbread type pastry, in exchange for extra supplies of the fruit that I  picked and gave them. Up the road I can drop in at almost any time and see another family with young children that know me well. I give sweet peas to other neighbours and get raspberries and rhubarb back from two different families. With another family their plum tree is loaded with plums some of which I'll be getting in exchange for produce from my allotment. In another case a teenage son is helped with his Maths exams by an experienced  retired teacher.

Here older people can take the stress out of the busy lives of younger working families my looking after the children  for a while, an activity that is welcome because it's brief. Similarly we walk friend's dogs  and have their company without the responsibility of feeding them and looking after them every other day of the year.

All these interactions take only  a little time to keep alive but the benefits of close contact with real flesh and blood people is  so reassuring when most of our contacts are with people don't really know us.

I know of many streets and roads in Ulverston,  where the neighbours all know each other and are helpful: where similar things are happening all the time.

Isn't it worth making an effort to build  and preserve communities of friendly people ? The benefits are amazing.

Yes people really matter. 

Small is really beautiful