Monday, 31 March 2008


Reading my local paper I am amazed to see that once again the government has cocked up.
Although it was in the budget speech of 2006 (over two years ago) that they announced the new bus pass for over 60's here we are with 1 day to go to the new system and guess what?
The passes are not ready!!
How long does it take a civil servant to organise anything. (exclude a cup of tea, they get that spot on)
And this is costing us even more money
Due to the late arrival the passes are being sent out first class post! Give us a break!
If these people worked for a private firm they would be long gone. But how many people have been given the boot by the government? Not a soul that's how many.
Why not. Our tax money is wasted with impunity. And no one is bothered. Where will all this lead us?

At least I see the newspaper article is accompanied by a picture of a top civil servant doing what they do best.

Drinking tea. Well she is not doing any harm at the moment!

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Thoughts Of An Old Codger

As I have mentioned recently I have been building my family tree (slowly!) and this has set me thinking about my own "olden days" not just those of my forebears. Although not quite in my dotage yet I do go back a long time and can remember events from the late 1940's. This may only be about 60 years but we live in an altogether different world now.
I well remember sitting in the kitchen by a blazing open fire making toast on a long toasting fork. It needed to be long because the fire was so hot it would burn my arm if I got any closer. We make toast in a toaster now and it is not the same but what can you do without the open fire.
We also listened to the radio a lot. There was not much choice in those days with almost all the stations coming from London. One of my top shows was Dick Barton Special Agent. Great! You could ofcourse listen to Radio Luxembourg which you could hear well one minute and not at all the next!
There was no such thing as TV (or if there was we could not afford one) but my mum and dad took me to the local picture house at least once a week. The show changed every Monday and Thursday so we sometimes went twice in the week. In those days every district of the city we lived in had it's own cinema and ours, about a mile away, went under the great name of The Sunbeam. I loved going on a Saturday because the manager would stand on the steps to greet the customers in a dinner jacket! I had never seen anyone in a DJ before and this made it seem a special event even though the films had been shown at the big expensive cinemas in the city centre ages before. Another thing that seemed really strange to me was that as we left after the show on a Saturday there was always a man on the steps selling a Sunday paper! How on earth could a Sunday paper be sold on a Saturday night I wondered. The paper concerned was the long defunct Empire News which was also a funny shape, not very long but quite wide. We had no car ofcourse and I would make the long trip home on my dads shoulders. Knowing now how painful that can be I will always be grateful!
When we went to town we went on the tram. How great were those trams? 100% great that's how much. They were double deckers which would sway down the tracks at speed sometimes losing the overhead pole to the power lines if they went round a corner to fast. It would smash down on the roof and everyone upstairs would jump off their seats thinking their time had come! Great fun! These trams were taken off the streets as old fashioned and a dead loss. This was about 30 years before they were brought back as the way forward for public transport! My head hurts! But these sleek modern jobs that tell you what stop you are at do not have the magic of the old boneshakers.
On Coronation Day we went to my auntie's house in Wakefield (24 miles away) as they were posh & had a telly. We caught the tram to town and the Wakefield bus from there. I can well remember seeing the headline on my dads paper that day but it did not speak of the Coronation. It read " EVEREST CONQUERED ". What a great day.
Needless to say it was not long after this that my folks bit the bullet and bought a telly. It was a small black & white screen built into a polished cabinet. It also had doors on, which were always closed when not in use. This may have been for when people came round so they were not aware we had a TV. It tended to be frowned upon in the early days for some reason. (My mum would always tell people "Of course we do not watch it much") However the ariel on the roof was a bit of a giveaway!
I do not want to bore you to death so I will leave it there but it does make you realise how things have changed in a relatively short period of time. What will it be like in another 60 years? Well I will never find out!!
Thanks for reading the thoughts of an old codger!

Tuesday, 11 March 2008


I am in the process of building my family tree.
This is a long and time consuming process but one which is richly rewarding. There is something very special about digging into your past and finding out about people you did not know existed.
And one of the really interesting things is seeing how these people lived. You often read in a newspaper about people being poor but we no longer understand what poor means!
If you go back 100 years or so you find that if people did not work they did not eat. It was as simple as that. There was no visit to the social to get money for nothing ( although M Ps probably could)
I have send for one marriage certificate from my Gran who was married in 1910. But the strange thing is that it reveals she got married on Boxing Day! Cor Blimey I wonder why they would do that I wondered. Then the thought struck me that they did it because Boxing Day was a holiday anyway and they could not work on that day. That would save having another day off work they could not afford.
This is all a far cry from today. When you ask people today where they are going on their honeymoon they may throw exotic names such as the Maldives at you. I think there is more than a fair chance that my Gran and Grandad were straight back to work on December 27th. I see from the certificate that Grandad is listed as a labourer so that would not have been a barrel of laughs. If they saved their money up really hard they may have got to the coast for a couple of days in the summer. But being as they had the cost of my mother 15 months later they would not be able to do that then.
I love looking at old pictures of these days & sometimes think how laid back it must have been at the side of todays stressful life. But I must be wrong. Behind the scenes of the ideal country life there must have been real poverty.
I am certain there has always been stress and worry. There is one thing for certain----the stress is not going to go away!!

All this has set me thinking about when I was growing up & how life has changed over those 60 years. I will tell you about that very soon. Have a nice week.

NEXT WEEK--- My memories of growing up.