Groovy, baby.

Some friends, the Old Boy and I, went to a Herman’s Hermits’ concert last night. I said to them, “We’re sharing a table with some strangers. They’ll probably be wrinkly-dinklies and Herman’s Hermits’ tragics. You know the sort. They’ll know every single song and go ‘Woo!’ at the end of each one. We’re just going to have to be gracious and not let that bother us.” The hall was set up with large tables, plenty of room between each one and a bar at the back of the room. It looked like a wedding reception. There was even an usher at the door with a floor plan to help us find our table. When we sat down I asked the people next to me, “Are you friends of the bride or groom?” They smiled, but a little warily. They probably thought, “Poor old dear. Dementia’s on its way.” The band was fantastic. They might have grey hair and are older than dirt, but those dudes could still rock it out. But, you know you’re out with the oldies when the band asks the audience, “Hands up if you thought we were dead.” I had a strange sense of being back in high school and in a future retirement village, at the same time. There was a senior citizens’ version of a mosh pit where a few braver, and obviously fitter than the rest of us, couples danced the rock-and-roll jive all night. ALL NIGHT! What steroids are they on? And guess what: I was right about there being an old Herman’s Hermits tragic at our table. It was me! I knew all their songs, and the other 60s classics they did. I sang along to them all, attempted a bit of harmony when it was particularly loud, and yelled “Woo hoo!” and “Alright!” at the end of each song. And you know what? I don’t care. I had F.U.N. The others were patient and gracious with me. What has this got to do with writing, living and the price of eggs? Probably not a lot, except that the evening showed me, once again, how powerfully connected music and memories are.  For a few hours I was transported back to beehive hairdos; pointy-toed stiletto high heels; school-girl crushes; doing my homework while glued to the radio; being young, fit and healthy and even, possibly, a little bit cute. Ah…glory days. It also showed me that with the right attitude and a good band, it doesn’t matter how decrepit you are, you can still have fun. Groovy, baby. And, one more “WOO!” for the road.    ...

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Everyday heroes

Looking back over the week that was, one could easily fall into despair. In Boston, happy families waiting to cheer a family member over the winning line, are blown up. We’re still not sure why. An earthquake rumbles in Pakistan and so far 35 are dead and 150 wounded; many more are left homeless. A fertiliser factory in Texas explodes and devastates half a town. Another drone in Afghanistan kills some more children. An old politician dies in the UK and the usually sedate, respectful Britons dance and cheer as if she was another Hitler. It’s the tenth anniversary for the prisoners in Guantanamo; still waiting to be charged with a crime. An attention seeking mother deliberately poisons her little daughter with chemotherapy drugs. Dolphins are dying in the Southern waters and no one knows the cause. It’s enough to make people start digging a bunker in their back yard, where they can live out their days in ignorant bliss about the rest of the mad, selfish, miserable world. But, before you bring in the earth-moving equipment and start stocking up canned food, wait a moment. Think about this: when the bomb blew up in Boston many, many people ran towards the blast to help the victims. In Texas ordinary citizens, many of them poor and disenfranchised, started pulling the wounded out of burning rubble with their bare hands. In Pakistan, people covered in dust and scratches dug out neighbours and strangers, regardless of their religious affiliation.  And, in spite of being vilified, criticised and ridiculed, many people around the world continue to agitate for the better treatment of political prisoners, asylum seekers and the environment. In the midst of panic, chaos, trauma and grief, we find everyday heroes doing their bit to make the world a better place. In spite of the ugliness that tries to engulf our little blue planet, beauty, joy and hope still rise above it. Birds still sing and so do we. Let’s all choose to see beauty and to believe for a better day. If possible, if the opportunity arises, let’s be everyday heroes. Let’s choose to run towards the need, not away from it. Stop for a few seconds; take a deep breath; be thankful you’re alive and be glad. (Here endeth the lesson.)...

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Good one, Will!

I gather Shakespeare will be celebrating his birthday soon. Congratulations, old boy! (Really old boy…Really dead old boy.) I confess I’m not his biggest fan. We studied his plays every year in high school English. I knew, in the very first lesson, that I was in for a long, hard road. The man wrote in English but we still needed an interpreter. Our teacher would analyse  practically every… single…line. The characters talked in a weird way; a sort of hybrid between poetry and normal speech. The only times I didn’t mind Shakespeare’s work was when we saw film versions of his plays. (Taming of the Shrew , Macbeth and Romeo and Juliet were the standouts.)  I always did extremely well in English (the only subject I got As in every year) but I did so by keeping my aversion to the bard a dark secret. Now I’m older I’ve come to realise that studying Shakespeare so intensely for five years has had a lasting effect on me. His stories, his phrases, his view of the world, have sunk down into my subconscious like lemon syrup seeping into a tea cake. I recently saw a small collection of some of the phrases Shakespeare invented. Here are a few: good riddance; seen better days; what’s done is done; vanish into thin air; with baited breath; a wild goose chase; to lie low; love is blind; off with his head; in a pickle, and knock, knock, who’s there. And, there are plenty more! What did people say before Shakespeare invented ‘off with his head’? ‘Remove that man’s cranium’? ‘May his head and shoulders be permanently separated’? ‘Say goodbye to your feet’? It really says something about a person’s talent, when they have contributed so many new expressions to the language. What is more, it’s been nearly 500 years and most of them are still in use! Sadly, I do think, with texting and people’s appalling lack of understanding of grammar and spelling, many of those phrases are soon to become extinct. But, hey, what a great innings! Every writer I know would give their eye-teeth (did Will think up that one, too?) to have such a lasting effect on the language, and for their works to remain popular and influential for centuries. So, I guess I’m a fan after all. (But, I’d still rather see the movie than read the play.) Happy birthday, Will. PS: In response to last week’s post about my regular spammers I received 67 spam comments. Hahahaaaaaa  ...

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Spam on toast.

I find myself bemused by my regular spammers They’re a persistent lot, but not that smart. Now that I’ve been blogging for a couple of years (doesn’t time whizz past when you’re busy living?) I’ve realised there are certain types and each seems to stick to their own. 1. The helpful: I think what you’re doing is great and I want to help you generate more traffic to your blog. This can be done by purchasing my SEO, app, techno-doodad. My response? Rack off, hairy legs. 2. The encourager: Keep up the good work man/dude/guy/guys! (Look at my photo; please!  Perhaps I need more make-up, or a new hairdo, or collagen in my lips.) This is followed by a link to their own website, which is a sales page. 3. The socially connected: My sister/brother/uncle/work-mate put me on to this site. Or: my sister/brother/uncle/work-mate was so pleased I’d shown them this site, they took me out to dinner/breakfast, to thank me. Cheers; enjoy your meal, but no, I’m not buying. 4. The learner: I’m thinking of starting my own blog; what template/provider do you use? (That info is at the bottom of the page.) I’ve never posted a comment before. (Yeah you have, I remember your name, buddy. How could I forget: “Japanese sex girls” or, “diet solutions” or, “enlarge your penis”?). I’ve been looking everywhere for this information! (Seriously? You’ve always wanted to know why I hate phones?) 5. The critic: I’d like your blog more if your information was correct, or you didn’t have so many spelling errors (grrrrr) or you weren’t so obscure. (I find it strange that buying Bulgarian sports gear, or cameras from Luxembourg is a guaranteed way to improve my English.) 6. The honest: I can respect these people. At least they’re open about it. In their comments they either just post a link to their site or they say something like: “Louis Vuitton bags on sale.” I still delete them. 7. The obscure: One of my regulars simply puts: ??????????? I have no idea what that’s supposed to do. Am I intrigued? Only by the mental state of the poster, not by anything they might be trying to advertise. Another one always puts a jumble of letters and numbers: jtajYls7stTle. (The dear old computer just tried to tell me I’d mispelled “tactlessness”. Isn’t that cute?) Many of these people have been sending me weekly messages for the whole time I’ve been blogging. And, every week I hit “delete permanently”. Yet, next Saturday, there they are again. Should I be flattered that their numbers are growing? Does this mean I’m special? I reckon it’s just a computer program that’s been set up to generate these messages. Real people haven’t been involved in the process for many, many years. If they are real people, then may the Lord have mercy on them. The poor things! Fancy having to write that mindless drivel over and over and over… And it never achieves anything. It never makes it past my spam-filter and me. If you’re a genuine reader/follower of this blog, I thank you most sincerely. Can I encourage you to be brave and leave a comment now and then? It’s so refreshing to read the real thing....

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