admin

Bloody Typical LOL

School’s been back since September and the kids have been a nightmare to get up in the morning. I’ve been waking up at 5:30am, or rather the alarm has been going off and I usually spend half hour listening to the radio, finally getting out of bed when I hear the news at the top of the hour. As for the kids, I’m lucky to peel them from their sheets before about 7:15, with Sarah being extra sticky and hanging on sometimes until 7:45.

Anyway I had the realisation yesterday that I was wasting that half hour in the morning. Why not just get up at 5:30, get ready and then I can listen to the news at 6 downstairs, all ready and raring to go. That is what I did this morning. So imagine my surprise, when I get downstairs at ten to 6 to find Lucy and Adam up watching a movie. Not only that, but Sarah then comes down about 15 minutes later. There was me, all prepared to get their lunches ready and then have nearly an hour to relax on my own. Yeah right.

Oh well, as I speak it’s just before 7am and their lunches are done, they are dressed and all had breakfast, so it’s an hour of lounging around watching TV. Something they haven’t done in ages. If I’m lucky I can get some more writing in.

Reminded That I’m Getting Older

I know with every day that passes, I get that little bit older. It’s not something I worry about, nor actively spend any real amount of time thinking about. However when someone famous dies, it kids of gives you that reminder that we are all mortal.

Just heard today that Lou Reed died. I have to admit, I’ve never been a huge Lou Reed or for that matter Velvet Underground fan, but you’d have had to have had your head buried in a ground, not to know Walk on the Wild Side. He was a person that lived life to the full and it invariably contributed to his demise. He had a liver transplant last year, the old one, having seen an inordinate amount of action.

And so another piece of my childhood has shuffled off this mortal coil. He has undeniably left a rich musical legacy, that I am sure I will continue to dip into. Knowing me, I’ll suddenly become a fan, after all these years.

Where Does the Time Go?

Wow it’s been nearly 2 years since my last post. It’s not that I actively decided not to post anything. I think that with blogging it becomes a habit, that if you let fall by the wayside, it becomes really hard to get back into. I recently got a nice, shiny, new HP Chromebook, with the aim to get myself writing again.

What’s a Chromebook?
Well it’s a laptop computer, that basically just runs Google’s Chrome browser.

Why would anyone want that?
One of my main problems before, is that I wanted to write. However by the time I’d turned on my Netbook, logged in and got to actually writing, it could take as long as 10 minutes, while Windows sorted it’s crap out. With the Chromebook I am up and running in a matter seconds. And no I am not exaggerating. For many people who only check Facebook, Twitter, Email and their other stuff on-line, a Chromebook is ideal.

So with my new tool in my utility belt, we shall see what happens. Be seeing you.

What Is It?

It’s a round, aluminium ball that lives somewhere in our house. We haven’t had it long, but it’s definite made a mark in our household and it is also saving us money. So what is it? Well before I reveal, let me give you the story that leads up to it’s introduction.

A few weeks ago, I was doing the kids washing. I had a full load in the washer and the dryer was empty. So I transported the clothes from the washer to the dryer and reached for a Bounce (other brands are available) sheet to add to the washing, but there were none. I would have called Sherri to pick some up while she was out, but she’d forgotten her phone. So instead of leaving the washing in the dryer for later, I thought I’d look into something I’d heard about and that was the use of an aluminium ball, instead of a dryer sheet. Now there is a lot of debate whether this works or not. I’d done a quick search on Google and arrived on a Lifehacker entry. I have to admit, on this article there is a lot of skepticism, including some doubt by a physicist. I’d heard before that it works, so thought I’d go ahead and give it a try.

I went downstairs to the kitchen to attack the tin foil roll. I scrunched up enough foil, to make a ball that was a little smaller than a tennis ball. I threw it into the dryer and hit the go button. Sure enough when the dryer had finished, I opened the door and indeed all of the clothes were static free. The other surprise was the ball itself. In bouncing around the dryer, the ball was now a little bit bigger than a golf ball, as it was now much more densely packed.

So to all the naysayers, this little ball does work, whether physics says it will or not. Now the only down side I have, or more accurately the missus has, is that it’s a little loud, when you have a light load, otherwise you just head the odd knock. The one thing I’ve really noticed is the clothes feel different. You don’t feel that almost imperceptible film covering your clothes. So we still buy dryer sheets, but not nearly as many.

That Number Rings a Bell

I’ve been told I have a peculiar kind of memory and that’s being kind. My brain seems to hold on to the strangest bits of knowledge and locks them up securely, releasing them in brief floods of connectivity.

I was sitting in the line-up for Starbucks and my Nan’s telephone number just blurted out in my mind, 837-2247, or eight three seven double two four seven, as my mind has chosen to store it away. Now my Nan hasn’t been with us for over 20 years, and that phone number has been hers for even longer. This was back in the day when London had a single prefix 01 added to the number if you were outside London.

This got me to thinking of the other prefixes that London has been inflicted with. 01, was a staple ever since I could remember, then two new prefixes were introduced, to seemingly give London more phone numbers to offer, 071 for Central London and 081 for outer London. This now meant that if you lived in Central London and wanted to call a number in Outer London, you had to add the prefix and vice versa. This you would think would be enough, but no, BT in their infinite wisdom a few years later decided this wasn’t good enough and changed the prefixes yet again to 0171 and 0181. I think with this change you had to add the prefix, even if you were in the same area code, which was a major pain, when you were used to dialing a seven digit number.

You’d think that change would be enough, but no, London had yet another change in the early 2000s. The regular 7 digit number now adopted an extra digit, 7 for Central London and 8 for Outer London. This was in addition to 020 which now became the new area code for all of London. So My Nan’s phone number went from:

01-837 2247
071-837-2247
0171-837-2247
020-7837-2247

Kind of makes me wonder who is using the number now. All of that from a long lost memory.

My Septred Isle is Stained

I’ve been in Canada for over 10 years. While it’s very important to assimilate and embrace the country in which you live, there is always a part of me that will stay devoutly English. However with the recent spate of mindless rioting that England is suffering, it’s takes the shine off something for which I have always been so proud.

I understand people’s frustration and anger, I really do, but find it hard to believe this is the real reason that people are causing wanton destruction. Sure that’s how things start, but what they have now is nothing more than people using other peoples pain, for their own selfish gains. I remember the Tottenham and Brixton riots of the 80s, but this is a whole different affair.

I don’t have answers, but it appears more needs to be done, than apparently is being done now. I read on Twitter that police presence is being bolstered by up to 5 times and rubber bullets will be made available. Some of my friends on Twitter suggested water cannons, used in conjunction with dye to easily identify protagonists. Certainly I think having a curfew is an important next step if the violence continues to escalate.

It’s truly said, especially so close to the Olympics in July of 2012. How this bodes for the consideration of future events, we will have to wait and see.

Hopefully the perpetrators will be taken to task and receive the full force of the law. It’s time for England’s legal system to stop treating criminals with kid gloves and start doing what needs to be done. So many countries have become overtly “Politically Correct”, that the country is being overrun with all and sundry, knowing that virtually anything they do will result in a virtual smack on the wrist. Enough is enough.

We shall see how tonight pans out. Hopefully calm will prevail and the shine will once again be restored to the country I love so much.

Goodbye Aunt Elsie

Elsie on the London EyeWhen there’s something on my mind, it usually has one of two outcomes. Either it drives my thoughts and creativity, or it has me slamming into a roadblock. The lack of posts recently will go someway to confirm, that at present, I am under the influence of the latter.

At the end of March saw the unexpected, sudden passing of my Uncle (on my Dad’s Side) Roy. Although I felt fairly close to my Uncle Roy, due to the sheer distance between us, him and his family being in Australia and me being in the UK at the time, there wasn’t opportunity for physical interacting, apart from the couple of years he returned to the UK for a couple of years with his family in the UK, back in the 70s.

Just over 2 months later, my Aunt (also on my Dad’s side) Elsie passed away. She’d been ill for some time, so while he passing was not unexpected, finding out she’d passed away, was still like having a part of me ripped out.

Growing up, my Nan and Grandads house was always the hub of our family, especially early on Sunday evening’s where we’d more often than not have our Sunday tea. I can still remember my Grandad freaking me out, by eating winkles (small sea based snail like creatures) and sticking their eyes on his lips and then once he had enough, would lurch over and say “Gissa kiss”, which as you can imagine, sent the kids running, with cries of “Ewwww!”.

When my Grandad passed away, I found myself at my Nan’s even more than before. She was an incredible women. Very strong, with never a word of complaint. She would bend over backwards to help if she could. She’d often impart advice, when she sensed there was something troubling me, or recount tales of her childhood, or other recollections of days gone by. I so wish I’d have foresight to record her stories in some fashion.

My Nan had suffered for years with cataracts in her eyes, resulting in affected eyesight. After she had laser surgery to remove them, either the surgery went bad, or there wasn’t much that could be done, as her eyesight rapidly disintergrated soon after. Before and more so after the surgery, she often spoke of seeing spooks in the house. I don’t think she thought of them as ghosts, just a comforting way to deal with the tricks her eyes played on her. As her eyesight got worse, her mental health also began to be adversely effected. We as a family tried to rally round, either visiting frequently or having someone occupy the end bedroom, which had an amazingly soft mattress, which left your imprint, when you got out of bed.

As I remember it, my Nan, even with failing eyesight was as independent as ever. But as the years wore on, her eyesight got worse. With failing eyesight, her mental state as diminished, which as a diabetic, requiring regular insulin, was very dangerous. I’m not sure how many years after she managed to stay in her flat (I can still remember her phone number, at least I think I can 837-2247), but it soon became apparent that she could no longer live on her own and a place for her was found in, I think in sheltered accommodation. I say think as I never ventured to visit. It’s something that’s haunted me ever since. I loved my Nan dearly, but just couldn’t face to see her. I suppose you could say that’s a bit of a cowards way out, maybe it was.

I think I was 21 when my Nan passed away. I seemed to take it pretty well, but pretty much fell to bits at her funeral.

With my Nan no longer with us, my Aunt Elsie’s home became the central hub of the family. I’m not sure if my Uncle Jimmy (Elsie’s husband) was still with us. They were pretty much my favourite Aunt and Uncle, I suppose much of that again, was because we were so close. I can remember visiting them at Christmas, after we’d unwrapped our presents at home. We’d all get dressed up and visit Elsie and Jimmy, and exchange presents. I can remember one year getting a Raggedy Andy stuffed toy. Not too sure looking back on it, that it was appropriate for an 8 year old boy, but what the hell, I remember carrying around everywhere. A later give cam as a surprise, a wet shaving kit. The surprise was I was only about 10 or 11. I still managed to get the maximum use out of it, though I had to find a safer replacement for the razor.

Another memory has never left me and that was of us, including my brother visiting on another Christmas. I remember my Uncle Jimmy making my brother and I a drink, and I don’t mean lemonade. I seem to remember him going through the drinks cabinet and throwing in, anything he could find. We didn’t seem to care how disgusting it was, as I remember drinking it and getting very drunk. I think I was only about 8 or 9, and my brother 3 years older. Do that no days and they’d report you to social services.

As I got older, it became more and more difficult to visit. I say difficult, in all honesty, at that age, you become more interested in your friends than family. I still managed to pop in on occasion, the last time being when I went back to England in 2002. I went back to England again in 2008, but it was pretty much a whistle stop visit and I never got to see Elsie again, though I did phone on occasion. It’s funny, the older Elsie got, the more she reminded me of my Nan. Her mannerisms and even to some degree the way she looked. Ever since my Nan passed away, I don’t think a week goes by when I don’t think of her, especially while watching the kids play and wishing she could have been a part, even the briefest part of their lives.

Elsie had her first stroke I think in 2009. She seemed to be on the road to recovery, but more health problems amongst other things had her moving in for a while with her daughter Cathy. I’m not sure if she managed to get back to her flat, or whether her failing health forced the decision to find her sheltered accommodation, but she moved into a place not far from the Elephant and Castle. While at the sheltered accommodation she suffered more strokes and became a shell of the person she used to be, not being able to recognise people that came to visit, including family.

In the early hours of the 12th of June 2011, she finally found peace after many, many months of suffering. I know she has been released from the suffering, but It’s still not hard to wish you could roll back the years and maybe visit more.

This year so far has been extremely hard. I think the realisation that we are all getting hard is kind of being shoved in our faces. Of the 8 children my Nan and Grandad had, only 3 remain, some taken far too young. It’s also a bit numbing that I myself am growing older. With 5 children, I never pondered on my own mortality. This is something I do more an more.

Goodbye my Dearest Aunt Elise. Gone, but forever missed.

(Some of the dates and ages, may be a little off, but a lots of years have passed since I’ve thought about much of this).

Goodbye Uncle Roy

Things have been relatively quiet around here, after my pretty hectic schedule of posts during March. The main reason for this, was the passing of my Uncle Roy on the 31st of March. I’ve been writing this post for a while, but for some reason I just couldn’t get it worked out and posted. This meant that I couldn’t post anything else, as I felt I had to get this post completed and put to bed. Finally tonight, I sat down and this post is the result.

My Uncle Roy, from my Dad’s side, emigrated back in the late 50s early 60s. He was posted in and around Australia and liked it so much he decided to stay. My Aunt Mickey, Roy’s sister, also emigrated to Australia, but that’s another story. Maybe that’s where I get it from, having been in Canada myself now, for over 10 years.

Now the dates and things are a little hazy, as I was only a small kid, but as I remember it my Uncle Roy, his wife Sandy and children, Fraser and Tiffany came to England sometime in the late seventies. I think they only intended on staying for a year or two, but stayed a little longer. During this time, I got to know them all, as we frequently went to visit them. They lived not far from the Elephant and Castle, a place that always sounds more like a pub than a place. My brother Alan and Fraser, as I remember it became as thick as thieves. They also worked for my Dad on a few occasions, on one occasion, shovelling horse manure. I heard my brother grumbling about that for an eternity after.

I always remembered Roy as a very large figure, with not much hair, as with many of the Meeks men, but through sheer luck, not me. Not yet anyway. He always wore a hat, very similar to his brother Davey, which maybe, as some people think, had something to do with it. In all those years that he was in England, I don’t ever think I heard him raise his voice. I’m sure Fraser and Tiffany would tell a different story, but to me he always had an undeniable confidence and exhuberence.

When establishing yourself in another country, you have to embrace it wholeheartedly. I don’t think you could have embraced it any more than Roy. I never thought of him as English, or indeed an ex-pat, to me he was always an Australian. Even in their stay in the UK, he was always Australian to me, rather than English.

I can remember him taking us, my Mum, Dad and me up into the Hinterland, to some kind of wild reserve, when we were in Australia, for his Daughter Tiffany’s wedding, in 1994 I think it was. I can still see him as holding this huge lizard thing by the tale, like some Crocodile Dundee character. I’ll have to see if I can dig out the picture for that. I’ve got it in my collection of photos in the basement somewhere.

Over the years it’s hard to stay in touch, especially with me emigrating to Canada, but it in the last year or so, Roy and Sandy discovered Skype, which meant that we spoke more often. They also sent me a letter with photos, which we received just a few weeks before Roy passed away. He looked so happy, as he had his kids and grand-kids around him. As always in hind site, I wish I would have replied sooner, but conventional letter writing is not my forté. In fact I hate hand writing with a passion, getting my wife Sherri to fill in conventional forms.

As is now all too common in this digital age, I found out on the Thursday morning that Roy had had an aneurysm. My cousin Tiffany posted on Facebook that she was jumping on a plane to be with him. I called her on her cell, just as she touched down on the Gold Coast and said to pass on our love. Unfortunately, little did we know that he’d already passed away.

It’s funny how emotions can take over. Without wishing to sound a bit uncaring, I don’t think you could say I was that close to my Uncle Roy, but I did love him dearly. I was kind of unprepared for how devastated I was. When Tiffany posted that he’d passed away, I know that there’s never anything you can say to help ease the pain, but I wanted to reach out, just to say I was there. Unfortunately it’s hard to help, when you are a blubbering mess. I was a similar mess when I finally got hold of my Dad, who was in Spain. I think the think it forces you to realise, is that you are getting older and I think that’s kind of scary. In my head I’m still a fairly young 21 or so. However now, I’m a Dad of 5 kids and it forces you to ponder on your own mortality.

I realise this is kind of a sprawling post, but it’s one that’s been brewing for so long and kind of cathartic to do.

I don’t know what it’s like to lose a sibling, or parent, but my thoughts are with my Aunt Sandy, cousin’s Fraser and Tiffany, and their extended family. Over a month has passed and I know that the old cliché that time heals doesn’t help now, but just know that our thoughts and love are with you.

Mine’s a Pint

A big part of my growing up in London, happened in pubs. I started to drink, probably around 14 or 15. At that time, it was cheap, low strength lager from the off-license, or cider that my Mum or Dad would let me have at home. I’d had a pint or two in various pubs, but didn’t frequent them too often, other than when I was with my Dad and I’d get a shandy and a pack of crisps.

It was only today, when I was doing a search on Google, which lead to an image search, which led to a picture of the street sign of my Mum and Dad’s Street, and a picture of the Lord Nelson pub, though it’s now residential, having not been a pup since 2002. I began to think of the all the pubs I’ve frequented and the ones I used to call my Local, so thought it would be an interesting exercise. Probably way too much for a single blog entry, so I will split it over several.

Nicknames

I can’t remember my train of thought recently, but an old nickname of someone at school came to mind and it prompted me to think about some of my friends at school and the nicknames names they were called. Here’s a brief list in no particular order:

Barretts (Boiled Beef and Carrots)
Kirby Drill
Big Spud
Little Spud
Meatballs
Stinkbomb
Biscuits
Weeble
Duracell
Nut Nut

That’s about as many as I can remember. One of the things I’ve noticed about that list, is that none of the nicknames are obviously related to surname, I could have included lots of those, but they’re all mostly very obvious. They’re all based on some quirk or idiosyncrasy. The two Spud are still good friends of mine, and to this day, as far as I know, they have no idea how they got their nickname. The other thing I’ve noticed, is that none of them are girls. Now remember I went to an all boys school from 11 to 16, but still, most of those names are from people I went to primary school with.