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cooperative Featured posts personal

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?

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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?

 

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personal

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 is 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 od. 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.

 

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Allotment food Hand picked collection personal

Food

 

I’m all set for the coming festivities.

Living alone, and allegedly vulnerable,I’ll not be seeing many people during the holiday.

I bought a small free-range box for £36 from https://www.fieldandflower.co.uk/ 

My box contained:

2x Free-Range Chicken Breasts, Skinless
1x Pack of Grass-Fed Beef Mince, Coarse Cut
5x Premium Pork, Sage & Black Pepper Sausages
2x Scottish Salmon Fillets
6x Free-Range Back Bacon, Unsmoked Rashers
12x Grass-Fed Beef Meatballs
4x Free-Range Chicken Thighs, Boneless
1x Pack of Free-Range Prime Pork Strips

I calculate that these will add protein to about 15 meals for me, and that’s not bad value at about £2 a meal. Add to all this the produce from the allotment, and it’s looking good.

I started with the hake: two portions. one large, one small (that could cause problems). The fish was well packed – all the food is supplied fresh in a sealed box, lavishly enclosed in thick aluminium with bags of ice.

Cooked slowly in a pan with butter, and a touch of oil to prevent burning, it took no more than seven minutes to cook – start skin side down, until crisped and brown then flip over for the last minute or two.

Served with hispi cabbage (the pointed one) spinach and small potatoes (all cooked in the same steamer stack) the whole meal took moments to cook. Lovely.

Sebastian is the fishmonger who supplied this hake. Thank you.

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After Virus Allotment personal Suffolk

Decaying Society

These are uncertain times.

Today Sunday 13 December 2020 is being described as the final date to obtain a deal as we leave the European Union on 1st January 2021.

There is a problem. We are governed by a Turkish/American Boris Johnson. This man is an opportunist, the product of a privileged education, whose social life and work record is little short of disastrous.

There are still many folk who like to admire our leaders. Increasingly that is not the case. Many members of the government are poorly regarded. Home Secretary Priti Patel should resign, and Dominic Raab has a very poor undertsanding of the his role as Foreign Secretary.

Enough. We are collapsing.

That’s a chance for small local companies to emerge. I’m a fan of www.fieldandflower.co.uk. Based in Somerset (miles away) they rear traditional British free-range products. Don’t be put off by quality. I bought a small pack, cost £36. I’ve calculated I can make at least 15 meals, with these products giving protein and the vegetables from my allotment. I see that as a way forward.

I’m now making my own beer, in 40 pint lots. These cost about 40 pence a pint – better than the pubs which can charge up to £5.

This is my way forward, relying on good produce and my own skills at cooking and preserving. Once I get the place cleaned up (ha!) I’ll be able to invite folks for a meal and entertainment.

The last decades have meant we have come to rely upon imports, supermarkets and speed. Now we should take our time. Put some music on, gather round in the kitchen and make meals.

Make sure the kids lick the bowls clean!

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personal

It Will Continue

 

I had a depressive moment this week. It was brought on by the death of a police sergeant in his station in south London. Shot by a prisoner, who was handcuffed. How this happened is not yet fully explained but, suffice it to say, he is dead.

That prompted an email from the mother of my two children, my ex-wife. Someone I regard as the love of my life. She recalled how she’d often been scared as I left for work.

A really good friend, who is also a psychotherapist, suggested we meet for coffee. That we did, meeting at a local hotel.

She knows me well. Better than I know myself. I explained my current state, how it had been brought about by the death of a police sergeant and the reflective email from my ex-wife.

She listened carefully. Then told me, abruptly, to move on. She said I’d been moaning about this lost love for years. It was a long time ago. It was not coming back. It was gone. Get over it!

I persisted. This was the love of my life. I still needed explanations.

Then write it down. Get it out of your system. Move on.

Back home I mused for a while. Sometimes tea and sympathy seem to be all you need. I’d had warm coffee and a sharp rebuke.

Later that evening I went online and bought a fountain pen, good writing paper and a bottle of dark green ink – my ecological roots still remained.

I will write my side of the story. It may never be read by anyone else. It may help.

So far this morning I feel more positive. Loads to do, lots of projects spring to mind.

Life goes on.

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personal Podcasts

Meditation is good

Meditation seems to be essential in this hectic, virus-strewn, world. During my Buddhist practices I found it was the essential element that I retained. Sue Thomas wrote to me at that time with her approach to meditation – which I repeat here.

 

first recorded in 2014

 

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personal

Revelation 13

The Beast, with grateful thanks to Jehovah's Witnesses
Beast with seven heads

I was asked to look at 13 Revelaton, from the Bible. I took this seriously, although I am not a committed Christian.

Its not for me to make profound judgements upon statements made 2,000 years ago, but it is possible to make interpretations that may fit into our world.

In the Book of Daniel he writes about a statue; with a head of gold, chest of silver, trunk of bronze, legs of iron, feet of iron and clay. These are linked to ruling elites, ending with iron representing the world domination by Rome. Suffice to say that there are linkages that reflect the known ruling epochs during those years.

It’s always seemed strange to me that homo sapiens has been around for some time, let’s say at least 200,000 years, developing language about 50,000 years ago, yet ‘history’ knows little beyond the last 3-4,000 years. A fraction of time. Anyway, to move on.

There’s lots of talk about the Anti-Christ: the Devil. I suspect this is a marketing device to persuade possible aspirants to join the club. If you don’t say you are with us, then you are doomed!

One idea is that within our species we will find the Anti-Christ. We are not all equal. There are a lot of very unpleasant people out there. That idea can be extended, within Revelation 13 to say that it is capitalism that is at the centre of this foul stench.

Revelation 13 talks of the Beast coming from the sea. This is not some ocean but means the sea of people in the world. The Beast has seven heads, with horns of power, and so is multi-faceted. As it twists and turns it can represent anything found to be unpleasant. All this is to be found within the ten kingdoms of the world – the toes of the feet of the statue made by Daniel for Nebuchadnezzar. These are made of clay, and may well shatter over time (shades of UK leaving the EU).

At its simplest Rev 13 is decrying capitalism. We shall all have marks on our forehead or right hand to show that we can trade – try to buy anything now without bank credentials, or at least a valid credit card, even though it may not be genuine.

I’ve done as requested and looked at Revelations 13. My conclusion is that its a condemnation of capitalism (in the broadest sense, which includes communism). Speculators suggest there will be a second coming, I applaud that idea. I don’t see a man dressed in a thobe. Hopefully it is an emerging belief in the power of community, in which we can all share in the abundance the world can produce (with a little help). Capitalism breeds inequality, and that does not help most people.

Long live the revolution.

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Lockwood personal Podcasts

Days of Joy

Kate
Kate

We sat, nervously, waiting for the big event to happen.

The midwife was a wonderful example of her profession; large-bosoms, with a smile for us both, she oozed confidence. She lived at the other end of the crescent. She was at Oxford, our modest terraced house was at Cambridge Gardens.

It was a blissful day. Now, with the passage of years, it has become idyllic. My wife, Sue, looked radiant if apprehensive. She’d chosen to have the midwife come to our house. It was the right decision. She was relaxed and the midwife was our neighbour.

I was at home. This often felt like a rare event. Newly promoted I wanted to make an impression but really I would grab any opportunity to work overtime. As Sue never worked during those early days of motherhood it was clearly my job to be the bread-winner. I doubled my pay with overtime, often at the most inconvenient times.

Not today. I was at home.

The midwife stood up. ‘I think it’s time we went up upstairs,’ she said, ‘can you make us a cup of tea.’

Nervously I went to the kitchen, and made tea. How long did that take? It seemed like moments.

Racing upstairs with the tea tray I was greeted by the wonderful sight of my new daughter snuggled against my wife’s chest. Magical.

I don’t remember any baby cries. Kate (really Katherine Louise) seemed very content to be in our world, her new world.

Sue had made a crib, covering the wicker-work with soft cloth. New bed linen, all hand-made, waited for the new occupant.

What can you say when looking at your newly-born child? It’s a miracle of nature. Sue was exhausted but radiant.

Eventually it was decided to let Kate go to sleep. What a moment to remember as I picked up this precious bundle and lowered her into the crib. Her small hand grasped mine. Absolute perfection.

Categories
personal

Where now?

Let’s be positive.

Some would suggest, and as yet we have no proof, that Harry has, at last returned the Royal Family to the British. The Hanoverian link has been broken.

Whether that is true depends upon a DNA test, and despite all the rumours no proof that Harry is the legitimate offspring of the heir to the throne has ever been given. Plenty of bluster. No proof.

Someone could surely pick up a glass, or some object containing a DNA sample and have that examined. In a very British way eyes have been closed, and its all been tucked away, and not spoken about.

We live in changing times. Our sovereign is coming to the end of her superb reign. We like having a monarch. Imagine President Blair or some other tainted politician being the supreme authority, even if powerless.

Prince Charles is to be admired. He’s worked tirelessly for decades. He was forced, in many ways, to reject the love of his life. This he did, and that didn’t work out too well. At least we got an heir and a spare.

That potential King has now produced his own heirs. His brother, Harry, has slipped down the pecking order. He faces a life of representing our monarch for the rest of his life. He will be the best man,never the groom.

Couple to that his choice of partner. Meghan is a forthright young woman. She lacks the quiet sophistication of her sister-in-law, who will go on to become a consort we will all admire. The Duchess of Sussex has a past that will reverberate. She’s done little that any other exuberant young woman would not have done, but our press and media have decided she is persona non grata, and besides Harry is a nice bloke, but lacks the gravitas needed of a senior royal. That just means he will not put up with any nonsense. He will speak his mind.

This is all very modern. The United Kingdom is now in danger of fragmenting. Our glamour is tarnished. A frightening error has meant we will be thrown out of a cosy club where we have been happy enough for a long time. Our Queen Victoria produced children who sat on the thrones, usually as consort, of all the major sovereignties of Europe. That gave us power, so did our domination of about a third of the world. The European Union has been a suitable substitute, and it has kept the peace in Europe for nearly 80 years.

That may change. Europe is starting to shift. Dangerously it is moving to the right. At the same time a new social revolution is now starting. Work will no longer be the glue that held down the majority of the population. Automation, in all its forms, will takeover from the peasantry. We are already noticing that we have too many people in this world. That needs to be solved.

The USA believes it is the dominant force in the world. That is increasingly being questioned. China is acquiring control through acquisition not conquest. India is raising its head. Russia has increasing influence in the Middle East, and could well dominate Turkey to create a new power band across the heartland of the world. The USA has plundered and been increasingly arrogant. How much longer the world will tolerate this teenage upstart will be interesting to watch.

The United Kingdom faces a difficult time. Our new Prime Minister was born in the USA of Turkish parentage. He has no real allegiance to our country, except through attendance at a posh school. He appears at this stage to be relishing power. Whether that will prove satisfactory only time will tell.