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Freeview Television

I just need to have a moan really but I hope you’ll find some of this interesting.

Two years ago I reached 75. The government then allowed me, as an old codger, to watch BBC TV programmes on a free licence.

Not bad really, as I’d bought a licence every year since I was 22 years of age.

That got me interested as I, with many others, pay to allow the BBC to make programmes, and they do an excellent job. I moan about daytime TV, as the same old programmes show up. I dsilike most antique series, they have made inadequate presenters very comfortable and the concept worries me. If we can find pleasure seeing antiques, most no more than 100 years old, why can’t we publicise today’s crafts folk? An antique dealer does very little for their money, but creators should be be applauded.

Years ago I helped a friend organise antique auctions, mostly at Hampstead Town Hall. I recall one dealer selling an item for several hundred pounds, and then crowing that he’d only paid the owner £5, even though he’d known the true value of the item. I saw that happen many times, and ended up with a dislike of such people and their methods.

Anyway, our gloriously incompetent government decided that the ‘free BBC TV Licence for the over-75’ should be handed back to the BBC. That august bunch decided to scrap my ‘free licence’ that I’d only enjoyed for a year.

I like to think of myself as a man of principle. So I shouted loudly that I’d rather go to prison. Later I found that ‘they’ had changed  the law from a criminal offence (meaning prison was possible) to a civil tort (meaning that the bailiffs could call and seize goods.

That was a worry. In my 74th year I’d treated myself to a new tele. That one item was like a beacon to a bailiff.

Nevertheless I decided to fight on. Encouraged by news that many thousands of us old folk were playing the same game. Outrage could lose an election – it was possible.

Now what. I’m sort of law-abiding, so avoided watching the BBC. That saw me flicking through Freeview,. said to offer 200 channels. At the start I realised they all carried adverts. These were all showing at the same time. Very frustrating.

I looked closer. There was a string of channels selling jewellery, very enthusiatically., or women’s clothing. Not riveting for an old guy, like me.

Occasionally I came across a couple of blokes doing up cars. The mechanic seemed clever and the buyer/salesman was amiable. They weren’t interested in family saloons, their cars had prestige, meaning they all went much faster than the legal speed limit.

Then came Judge Judy. This was the ultimate in ‘reality TV’. She was fun, and I could, at times, even sit through the adverts to see the result of a case. After a while I’d start flicking during the adverts, even failing to go back to Judy if I found something slightly more interesting.

I yearned to be able to go back to the BBC. Then I realised that many of the more interesting programmes had been made, and screened, by the BBC. Other companies paid the BBC for this content. That really upset me. They sold stuff that they had been abe to make with my money but I had never seen a penny over the last 50-plus years. A shareholder would expect much more. Gary Lineker, an ex-footballer, who hosted a football results show was rumoured to be paid £3 million a year by the BBC. That was my money!

I love the BBC, generally. They produce good programmes, with no adverts. They match my cultural background. I regret their loss, and have vowed never to vote for those politicians who took my pleasures away from me.

I’ve joined Netflix on a month’s tial. It costs me £6.99. There’s a host of old BBC shows I could watch. It’s not my culture. It is too American. I am English, then British, I was European, and even a Commonweath Citizen, I have never been an American.

Nobody charges me to listen to the radio. I wonder of Radio Luxembourg is now clearer?



When I was a child my parents kept chickens. These birds wandered around the orchard until there came a time when they had to go. As a child I was never told anything about all this.

There were cows on the field next to our home. I fed the cattle apples and got friendly with one old gal. She’d come to the gate and allow me to climb up and sit on her back. At times she’d walk off and continue grazing.

One day a truck arrived and loaded all the cattle. Innocently I asked, ‘is she going to another field?’ The driver gave me a hard look, ‘she’s going to another field alright,’ he said as he drove off to the slaughterhouse.

I also rode a pair of Suffolk Punch horses in the next field. They pulled the brewery dray for Daniel’s brewery on the other side of the valley. Climbing onto the back of this huge beast  I’d be on one when it decided to go for a walk. It’s a long drop from the top of a Suffolk! Lovely animals they’d stop and allow me to hold on to a mane as I slid to the ground.

Suffolk Punch

My father could never kill anything, so he cheated. Old George lived down the hill, and would come, whenever requested,. to do the business.

He’d arrive at dusk, once the birds had settled to roost for the night. Quietly opening the chicken hut door one hand would slide in to be pulled back with a chicken in his hand. It was dead by the time he got it out of the door. Never a cluck.

This deadstock would be taken up to a shed, cleared for the event, where my father and me would be sat on stools to deal with the dead birds. Quickly, while still warm, we’d pluck the birds, usually in silence, pausing only to comment upon the size of the birds.

Once plucked I’d take the carcases into the kitchen where my mother waited, all prepared, to clean and eviscerate. If needed she’s light the gas and quickly burn off anything we’d missed.

This was a ritual we really enjoyed during Christmas week. At the end of the evning Mum would make a pot of tea and cut slices of apple cake. We had an orchard of 30 trees, so there was always fruit.

I was looking forward to presents and lots of food! I’d only feel a small pang of disappointment as I unwrapped a shirt, pairs of pants or other clothing. Everything was still short after the war. To get anything new was a delight.  There was always something that held my attention even though my mother (Santa’s helper) never really understood the mind of a little boy.

food personal

Order Online

I have a few problems with this online business.

Having spent £100 sending my son a present,. I sent it to his mother’s address, but got it wrong. Contacting the retailer they said they couldn’t change the delivery adress. but would refund the money. They sent me £10. I know why. It was all my fault. I ordered £90 then realised I’d missed an item, so added that to the order. They should have sent me £100.

Whilst that was going on – by that I mean; I sent them emails and got no reply. I ordered the stuff again, this time to the new address, and costing £120.

I relayed these events to ex-wife and son.

Nothing happened

I contacted the delivery company. Oh dear!

Eventually they said ‘we delivered’.

How could I argue with that? I’m 80 miles away. Ex-wife and son both tell me they haven’t seen this stuff.. Who would you believe?

I contacted the retailer again – nothing comes from them.

That’s an ongoing saga. I’ll let you know what happens.

It’s snowing here, and I’m old, so I order food online from a local supermarket.

It fails to arrive.

The next day I contact the Head Office and I’m dealt with very sweetly by a young lady who utters those dreadful words, ‘OK, I’ll check, and phone you back’. She explained that the delivery van had been involved in an accident. I’m still waiting for her call.

I’m still hungry, and wondering if I should phone the local store.

I phoned their HQ. They will deliver on Sunday 14th. Great. What will I eat now?

I could go on with a string of such tales. In themselves they are just a minor inconvenience. Incidentally I’ve just taken delivery of a new hat. It’s too small. Here we go again!

Some time ago I wrote a blog. In my town there’s a large port that handles containers (Felixstowe). There were plans to build a warehouse that could deal with part-loads.

What a great idea. The Royal Mail had just been privatised (that’s another sordid story). I suggested that all ‘white van’ deliveries to our town should go to this new warehouse. Adding that then the experts in part-loading culd sort out the parcels (just liike Royal Mail does, or did) and every day – at a set time – an electric truck would come to my address and deliver anything that was for me.

That seemed logical. It would stop us all being terrorised in my local streets by vans rushing to make deliveries, parking in the middle of the road, never the same driver, always too busy to talk.

It would be cheaper for the delivery companies, just having one point of delivery.

It would provide jobs for local people.

It would help our local environment. All the ‘white vans’ were diesels, many were only just small enough to get down our street.

My great idea has never got anywhere.

I’m still waiting for the supermarket to call me back. I’ve still got to chase the shop about my son’s present but I’ve decided to wear my new hat (a Breton cap) on the back of my head.

Maybe the snow is thawing?



Lockdown and Snow: USA

Sometimes life just gets you down. I’ve had all that just recently.

The world has been infected by covid-19 virus. A sunspot attacked the earth, with uncertain results. My computer was hacked, I think. In any case I lost all the passwords to all my links and all of my bookmarks disappeared. I found new virus-checking software but there’s yet another problem – it doesn’t check my computer. Don’t ask me why. Then it started snowing!

Moan over, let’s talk about something more important

For many years I’ve been concerned about the undue influence of the United States of America. Don’t get mad yet, let me explain. That will take some understanding.

Those that are now called Native Americans arrived there about 15,000 years ago. We understand that Christopher Columbus in 1482 colonised the continent on behalf of Europe. By the 1780s the 13 British colonies had about 2.5million people. France got in the way but the British held sway and imposed taxes. This was unpopular. By 1776 a conference at philadelphia declared independence. Various developments led to the second war in 1812, against Britain. From that time we can say that the USA was created.

Note, that: at no stage, were the original inhabitants of these lands ever seriously considered. From this distance I’d suggest they were badly treated, and they have not had a good deal since.

A contnuous collection of immigrants arrived from all over the world. They recognised it to be a land of plenty, as did European countries. Eventually deals are agreed, with some reluctance. As always politics proved to be a dirty business.

It was accepted that the new republic had arrived. New businesses were created, many of these built or sponsored by Europeans. Notably two new industries expanded: cotton and sugar. They needed a work force. Initially it was poor Irish and other Europeans but then people were ripped away from their families in Africa. Slave traders had always existed in Africa, now they found a new market with rich Europeans sponsoring the trade, with ships and other facilities, to take these hapless Africans to work on these new estates.

Slavery helped build the USA and made some Europeans very rich. In Great Britain there remain many fine houses and estates that were possible because of slavery.

The new republic found itself in a unique position. Its newly arrived population were keen and eager. In that they were helped by the new government. Remember nothing was paid for this land. It had been appropriated by these invaders.

It’s akin to starting an enterprise anywhere else in the world without having to pay for the land or infrastructure, or many of the resources needed.

Today the USA has power and influence.

Its people have been told consistently that they are great, they are powerful. It is a large country but it is not the biggest we have. Notably the European Union is much larger and may, one day, be able to compete, if that is what is required.

The USA is just over 200 years old. A toddler, like a two-year old it’s prone to temper tantrums if it doesn’t get its own way. It now has a very expensive army that has over 900 bases worldwide. It’s the threat of it potential that allows it to hold its own. It has proved itself to be largely incompetent when using invasion as a tactic. It has used its economic might to gain control. It still wants to believe it has an Empire.

How long that will last is now questionable. All regimes crumble away eventually. The USA will be no exception.

It has developed a love for capitalism, which it defends partly by its disike of socialism. Although I suspect that few Americans really appreciate what that word means.

It may be time for a change. We tried communisn, we have capitalism: which produces too much inequality. Perhaps we’ll find some sense in community politics?

Still cold and snowing.