Category Archives: Musings

The Flip Side…

This post was written in answer to the prompt at ‘100 Word Challenge’ here,
where there 
is also a list of links to other responses. Here we go…

Side one:

[sung] “I’m walking backwards for Christmas…”
[spoken] “…Wait a minute… That’s the other side, isn’t it? Yeah…

Next comes a performance by ‘The Beetle.’

Side two:

First, unsurprisingly, is the complete performance of ‘I’m Walking Backwards for Christmas.’  Then the singer speaking:

“Well? How did you like that, then?”

A reply follows in the inimitable high-pitched lisping tones of the beetle:

“I didn’t like it much at all – I thought that my thide wath better.”

Ah, compact discs. The marvels of digital audio. But to everything there is the ‘flip side’ and here, it is… that there is no flip side.

By the way, does anyone remember this record? I only heard it once!

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Nought to One Hundred in Nine Months

No, that isn’t a window sticker for my car. It’s the number of posts on this blog, before this one. In that time, I hope I’ve learned a little, reflected a little, progressed a little. Here and on Twitter, I’m grateful for the interest and good humour shown to me by so many people.

I grant you, many of those posts are a single photo with no words, and yet more are based on one or more photos with just a few words. Others are responses to prompts of various kinds. So thanks to all of you who’ve taken an interest and accepted this as part of my voice, my way of speaking.

The way you all face day-to-day trials of all kinds with grit and laughter still amazes me. What I ventured here in my first post still holds true. Thanks for coming along. The journey is unending; the views along the way are incredible.

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Ode to Mums Who Cook Christmas Dinner

Once a year, in town or city
And around the countryside
Everyone prepares for feasting
On the day of Christmastide.
Special food, and drink as well
All the supermarkets sell.

When the day at last arriveth
For the tables to be spread
Many ‘mums’ are working madly
For their families to be fed.
‘Merry Christmas’ each will yawn –
(Ovens start in early morn.)

When the festive fare  is eaten
And the plates are cleared away
We salute those who’ve been busy
On this Christmas ‘holiday.’
“Well done, Mum!” And she’ll reply:
“That’s all right – I’ll wash, you dry…”

This post was prompted by the ‘100 word challenge’ here.
The appropriate tune (from a carol) should be obvious!
A hint: see the first line. 

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The powers that be?

I remember, one day at primary school, when our teacher, who had recently returned from an ‘exchange’ period (she had worked in an American school) relating to us, in class, some stories of what her experience had been like.

In the main, she had got on very well; but the greatest challenge, she’d found, was to stimulate her class to produce creative writing. When she finally made headway, another teacher looked at the class output and asked how she had achieved this. She explained: “First, I read them a poem…”

The shocked reply was “But poetry isn’t till after Christmas!”

This post was prompted by the ‘100 word challenge’ here.
It is drawn from my own memories of school.

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Lest we forget…

I’ll put it here, lest we forget:

If we say “The government should do more for…” and name a part of society or a worthy cause, then either we must also say that we agree to more taxation, or we must be prepared to say what part of society should get less, and why. You can’t use the same money twice.

If a military campaign is initiated, and a battle is fought, and afterwards a report states that ‘casualties were light’ it is likely that for some parents, siblings, widows, and children, casualties were extremely heavy. You can’t live the same life twice.

This post was prompted by the ‘100 word challenge’ here.
It is based on a few musings in the light of recent events. 

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The Flower Sculpture

This post was prompted by the ‘100 Word Challenge’ here.  Please visit the post on Julia’s site and scroll down to view the photo.

Perhaps the astute wife of a country town tailor started the idea.  Imagine this:

“Bob, we should make the most of this pageant, you know.  Promote the old firm a bit.”
“Not my scene, sweetheart.  And we seem to get by…”
“Yes, love, we do.  But there’ll be another house to keep soon.  Our Nev has a thing going with Mary, in case you haven’t noticed.”
“You’ve got ideas going round in that brain of yours…”

And so, at the pageant, a cart bearing with the firm’s name carried a floral sculpture round the town: ‘Robert Flowers and Son, Tailors.’

This post is based on my own musings only.  Any similarity with any known incident, or any work of fiction, is unintentional.

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“In every job that must be done…

…There is an element of fun.”

So said Mary Poppins in, er, well, would you believe it – Mary Poppins.  And by and large, I agree with her.  It’s just that, sometimes, the fun takes a bit more finding than at other times.  Take, for instance, the job I had to do last week-end: on Saturday evening, while a short distance from home, I had briefly parked my car, and, returning to it, I noticed a puddle, and the characteristic aroma of ethylene glycol.  Fortunately, I made it home with the engine temperature only a little higher than usual.  Investigation next day confirmed what I suspected – a failed hose.  And no ordinary hose at that.  Have a look here:

Yes, that’s right – the one in the middle, low down.  It’s got five ends.  And, no, that’s not a mathematical impossibility, because it has moulded joints in it.

Anyway, the first little game is called ‘See if you can disconnect the lowest point without getting coolant up your sleeve.’  I won, because I managed not to.  Well, not much.

Next comes ‘See if you can disconnect the other four ends without taking everything else to pieces.’  A bit harder, but I won again.  (In the end.)  Phil 2, Mondeo 0.

Monday saw the fitting of a replacement, an engine flush, and a refill with new coolant – and here was the real delight; observing a vivid fluorescent pink-orange colour of new premium anti-freeze; that, and a certain sense of accomplishment.  Especially as there were no leaks.  A hat-trick.  The fun was there, just a little more elusive than usual…

And just remember, whether you drive a car or look after a child – or both, for that matter: if the temperature goes up, you’ve almost certainly got a problem.

Prompted by:

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Looking Back at Looking Forward

If you know me already, or if you scan through this site, you’ll appreciate my fascination with rain.  As I’ve said before, this goes back a long way – as far back as early childhood, in fact.  Well, just recently I did what I used to back then, just to see if it felt the same: I took something to eat and drink, and sat on a garden chair just under cover from the falling rain, and quietly ate, drank, and thought.  And the question is, did it feel the same?

Well, first of all, the same old curious fascination was definitely there.  As ever, I loved to muse on the way everyday things like roofs and plant-pots, as well as the plants and trees, looked excitingly different just because they were wet.  Once again, I loved to look at droplets and reflections.

But then there was, and always is, something else, much harder to describe: doing this, as I did once again, has the effect of giving isolation and comfort at the same time.  The falling rain emphasises that you are alone, but never lonely.  You are surrounded in solitary beauty.

Let me make a contrast: to walk through a shopping centre on a busy morning, surrounded by hundreds of people who care nothing for you, and shop displays compete to entice you to part with your money in exchange for the latest this and that, that is loneliness.

So, was anything different, and, if so, what?  Well now, here is the point of my title: as a child, I would sit there like that, mostly filling my head with thoughts of what I wanted to do, either that day, or at the week-end, or in the next school holidays,or whenever.  Doing the same thing now (the food, drink, chair, and location will all be different but the concept is the same) I find that I am mostly looking back, remembering and wondering about all kinds of things… Perhaps my two little pictures show us something: you can focus on the surroundings, or on the reflections, but not on both at the same time.

The fascination, though, and that strange, almost paradoxical comfort, is still there – or did I say that before?

This post was prompted by the writing workshop at:

Now look here:

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Writing Workshop: It’s Raining Again

As my regular readers know (all right, all right, you can laugh, but I’m sure that group of people must be just about nudging double figures by now) two things that hold considerable fascination for me are photography and rain.  Of these, the second one actually came first.  As a kid I used to love, after school on a wet day, to sit out on the small back porch at home, often with a book and a snack (to keep me going till tea-time) watching the rain.  Ever since then I’ve found watching rain curiously therapeutic – not that I’m unsympathetic towards all of you who are often struggling to get washing dry, mind – and I never mind walking in the rain as long as it isn’t really heavy.  That smell of wet grass, the pattern of raindrops on the surface of puddles or open water, or the sound they make as they hit parched ground, all create an ambience I love.  Even in urban surroundings, I’m intrigued by the reflections in the tarmac surfaces and the bubbling sounds from the gutters.  It’s just as well I have a camera with a good level of weather resistance. (Thank you, Pentax designers.)

But there’s just one snag.  (This is where the prompt comes in.)

Rain can make you very wet.  And cold.  So the piece of clothing that endears itself to me most is my well-worn padded storm coat.  I like it even more than the ‘replacement’ I bought, thinking it wouldn’t last much longer – it now seems determined to outwit this (rare) proactive move on my part.  (And by the way, if I decide something’s worn out, nobody is likely to argue.)

So, here it is.  I’m just thinking… I bought it when? It’s how old?  Let’s just say that I’ve had it quite a while…  and it has lots of pockets for holding, well, things.

I’d better go.  Did anyone notice which pocket I put my keys in?

This post was prompted by the theme ‘An item of clothing…’ at the Writing Workshop

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13 June 2011: Dear Me

I and Me
In My Head
My House


Dear Me,

Thank you for your thoughts asking for permission to be yourself, even when this involves being seen to be ‘different’.  I am happy, me, for you to go ahead with this.  Specifically, I’ll just go over a few of the points you raised:

  1. While the camera buffs around you are arguing the pros and cons of Canon versus Nikon, it’s quite O.K. for you to keep your Pentax and enjoy using it.
  2. It doesn’t matter how many other people use Windows or Mac, if you want to run Linux Mint, that’s fine.  In fact, I’m typing this reply to you using that right now.
    This free software lark appeals strongly to that Caledonian streak, old boy.
  3. On a wider issue now, you’re bothered because lots of people are going on about how men and women are equal, yet you want to go on thinking of them as different.  This is a tough one, but being an observant sort of chap, I’ve looked around a bit and, yes, you’re right.  There are, indeed, certain inescapable differences.  As long as we don’t regard either group simply as inferior beings with respect to the other, it’s fine to acknowledge that they are in fact, different.  I grant you, this will sometimes affect inclinations and aptitudes, but let’s not stereotype either gender because of this.
  4. Following on from the last point, politeness is not patronising chauvinism.  If you want to hold the door open for a lady or a gent, that’s fine.
  5. You don’t have to pretend to like what passes for ‘music’ just because you’re told that a particular ‘song’ is statistically popular.  And no, me, it’s not insane to want melody in a song.
  6. It’s quite in order for you to dress other than from the latest fashion catalogues.  If you like something in a catalogue, fine.  Otherwise, look elsewhere.  I know you’re not too vain (or too rich) to browse the charity shops if that way you find what you like to wear.  Other people don’t have to wear your clothes, or pay for them.
  7. Lastly, me, there’s the question you raise about what your friends are always thinking.  Well, if they think the worse of you because of your views regarding the items listed above, they’re not worth having as ‘friends’.  You don’t have to buy your friends by moulding your opinions to suit theirs, even though I’m sure you’ll agree on lots of things.  Mutual respect is a foundation for mutual love, and a motive for mutual kindness.

Please get in touch at any time you like just by thinking.  I’ll be glad to advise if I can.  I’d also like to remind you  that all the above points should also be applied the other way round, that is ,in your views of others, who deserve the freedom you ask for yourself.  So go ahead – wish you every success.

With lots of love,


This post was prompted by the theme ‘permission’ at the Writing Workshop.

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