Saturday, 31 December 2011

Soz the formatting on the post below is a load of... It's this new blogger thing. I can't get back to the old blogger interface. Any tips?
I've just been reading in the Telegraph about an evangelical christian american footballer who prays before being called on pitch.

Anyone who knows me well, will be aware I've an atheist brother, a church leader brother, another few who couldn't care less, and many, many years ago I did a stint in church leadership myself.

Though to be honest for me it was an interest in the practical, rather than in religious side....I'll let you work that one out :)

The correspondent in the Telegraph points out the footballers second rate team seems to on the up, and dares to imply it may be a result of prayer. Is prayer important?

I'd say yes. I suppose most people have a fixed idea, probably ingrained in childhood, that prayer is a communication with someone, or a group, that is greater than themselves. I'm ok with that. My church elder brother will tell you it's part of his faith that allows him to know he's loved. My atheist bro' will tell you it's a load of old cobblers.

Prayer, at it's basic is a bonding experience between people with a common goal. I'd say that for an individual, no matter if you have faith or not(faith, to quote Paul of Tarsus, is belief in that yet unseen) is important because it allows a reaffirmation of what you DO believe. In a nutshell, do it because you can, if only for the reason that you affirm a belief in your goals.

Faith in those things yet unseen. Why deny yourself the privilege?

Darn it. This bloke with a stroke was bought some jeans with button-up fly's jeans for Christmas. Really nice they are too. I have a weakness on the right side. Not totally bloom'n useless. Just much weaker. Have you ever tried to undo Jean buttons one handed when you REALLY got to go? Darn it. Right. I'm working hard on doing the out thing. I've done it twice over christmas with Bear, and I don't, can't shift, afterwards for days. But I'm pushing, and pushing, and only ended on my arse a couple of times. Pffft. Wish me luck.

Friday, 30 December 2011


The Bears family originate from Birchinlee.

Birchinlee, otherwise known as 'Tin Town' was a temporary village built of corrugated iron in the early 1900's for a workforce brought in from Wales to build the Ladybower Dam.

It had everything a village would need. A pub, a company shop, homes and a post office. The outline of some the homes and streets can still be seen, though most of it is under 61,000,000,000 gallons of water.

It's documented in a number of books published in 1983 and 2001 by a chap called Brian Robinson.

Conditions were harsh, and death was frequent because it was hard, dangerous work.

To us, that time line is very well documented (scrap books, photos, news reports)

It's kind of nice to know that my kids and missus have a historic link to the survivors of a period when people worked hard.

Or Died.

I was astonished to find that though you can pick up a used copy in the UK on Amazon for a tenner, that UK hardback copies are going for £50-£70, and someone in Florida, US of A is asking nearly £98 - and their all used!

I'm very proud to be associated (indirectly) with that history.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Chuff Chuff

Bit of a tribute to my Dad who died a few years ago aged 60.

Pops always made an effort at Christmas. He bought me my first train set. Now, this was back in the days when a skilled worker earned £15 a week.

The train was a puffer. I've not seen anything like it since. It was a skilfully crafted little beastie. On the surface, it wasn't complicated. It looked like a steam train, but it seemed entirely electrical.

But it had a little trick up it's sleeve, that he demonstrated with glee. He let it run around the track he'd set up overnight. It was Christmas morning, and I came down to see this amazing little train running around the tree.

It was 5 am, The lights on the tree lit up the darkened room, and as I poked my little head around the door, dad was there in his pyjamas, planting little home made buildings within the track, around the tree.

Then the magic happened. He dropped a few drops of oil into the funnel, and it made this amazing 'chuff' noise, and puffs of smoke blew smoke rings into the air.

The image of him raising his head and grinning, with his pipe tucked into his teeth,will always be with me. Mice Won Pops, as he used to say :)

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Yo the lads.

Here we go.

I'm tired, otherwise I'd embed it. Take a look until I do :)


Oh, B....

Stupid dog and it's stupid ball.

Grab the ball, throw it down the hall. Plonks it on my lap. Throw the ball, plonks it on my lap.

Some time later. Throw the.... right, you ball-o-holic, that's it, no, you're not having it. No. No. Shut it, no.

Next second, half a ton of mad woofler slams into my chest, knocking pens, papers, cups keyboard and me for six. I staggered up, hauled myself into my chair, and sat dazed amongst the chaos.

I'm sure the chuff was laughing. Looks at me with big brown eyes, lifts his paw. Drops the ball on my lap.... Bonkers....

Balls? I'll give him Balls. Bear sticks her head around the kitchen door "What's the racket? Who's made this mess? And why are you shouting 'Vets!' at poor Sigma?"

Thinking of which. "Dray?" Yes dearest "Y'know that Duck I got cheap from Asda?" Yes dear? "Well, It's defrosted" Cool. "Very funny. Not. I'm trying to clean it."

Uhuh? "I've got it in a bowl of water. Every time I push it down into the water, the damn thing pops back up again"

See what I have to put up with? No wonder I'm grey.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Four You.

Opened my eyes an looked at the bedside clock.


No chance, I thought. Not this morning. Rolled over, went back to sleep. Being a 'lucid dreamer' all my life, I was glad to get back into the deep snow and howling winds and finish tinkering with a few loose boards on the hut we've spent the last few months building.

Stamping the snow off my boots on the step, I unwrapped and threw my cloak onto hook behind the door. As usual, a pan of tea simmered on the glowing pot bellied stove, glancing briefly at my forever-faceless friend snoring gently on the bottom bunk on my left. I was glad of their company.

Imagine having 'Hagrid' from Harry Potter around, but forever seeing the back of his head. The stove is often lit and welcoming, and often, as I trudge across the rickety frozen bridge as I approach the little cabin, I can catch he/she/it methodically chopping wood, or clearing the snow from the door.

Never a word. But always, there's tea, or a hearty soup on the stove.

I pulled the ladle from the rich dark brew into a obligatory white tin cup with a boy-blue trim? Mind you, that's as bad as asking why it's always night here. One of life's little mysteries that aren't, in any circumstances, meant to be solved, eh?

I glanced at the ornate golden chained pocket watch in my waist coat pocket. It said


A well thumbed Jane Eyre from under the three-tier bunk on the right, piping hot tea in fingerless gloves, and warm floorboards under a numb bum, while the wind howled outside and icy snow crackles against diminutive windows, in a loved warm glow.

I turned the page. "Where the Northern Ocean, in vast swirls, boils around naked melancholy isles...."

Snap. Oh, bugger. The clock said


Not going to win, Dray old chap. Sigh. I sat on the edge of the bed for a min to get my head together. It's always a bit of a jolt leaving 'that' world for this.

Dressing gown on, wobbled into the bathroom, cleans tooth, grumbling because some chuff had left the bathroom light and fan on. Monkey swung downstairs. "Dray, is that you?" Yes Dear. You'd be so lucky. Humph. Hit the kitchen, filled the kettle, lit the gas, glanced at the clock on the cooker.

The clock said


Wombled into living room. An all-arms-and-legs. Tots had fallen asleep on the couch, kicked her quilt off, and left the Tv on all night. Sky news. Blimey. Not Hanah Mantana then. Wow! I glanced at the bottom left of the frozen screen. Bloom'n Sky box. The clock said.


Chucked the quilt over her, untangled her arms and legs and tucked her in, gently. No mean feat. The kettle howled on the cooker, so a PG in a cup, popped in a sweetener, and frowned at the cooker clock. It said


A deep dark brew in hand, in the obligatory dribble proof cup, with a Tots snoring quietly with her back to me. The wind is rattling the bamboo 'Welcome' chimes in the garden, and there's bright Moon through the back window. I'm glad of the company.

It's 04:51.

Friday, 9 December 2011


I try to be very tolerant of other peoples views, particularly if I know them well.

I had a friend who was kind, considerate, highly intelligent, a little shy and all in all a lovely chap. I'd known him for 10 years.

We were watching a BBC news report about a hospital fire abroad. Apparently the staff abandoned the patients and fled, and many were killed. No problem, he said. That's 89 less. Rate they breed, they'll soon replace them, he said. There's too many of them anyway, he said.

I wasn't shocked. Heard all that crap before. I've explained quietly and firmly I will not tolerate racism in any way, shape or form. I didn't want, nor will I accept an explanation or excuse. He's gone. End of.

Catchya laters


Ahhh, I feel better after that :) Had an email from a Stroked friend saying "git your ass over here" (to the stroke association forums). Yes miss. Followed 15 mins later by another email "heck, I sometimes forget that you're THAT blunt Yorkshireman!".

Apparently, that's a Good Thing. This time. So I'm insufferably pleased with myself today :)


May I recommend by the way, one of those email notifying programs that sit in your system tray (on Windows) and pop a little message up when one of your email accounts receives a mail? There are plenty of free ones about. The downside is that you have to set up account details for each account within the program - I have a number of email accounts for different purposes.

I eventually settled for one called Pop-Peeper, because it has minimal resource usage. I can reply, delete, mark as read and unread across all accounts, including web mail, in one interface. But most of all, I now know very quickly when I have mail. Darn. I've no excuse to delay any more :)


I've had a strange conversation with someone about Job Centres. They were telling me all their trials and tribulations about the horrors of 'signing on'. It sounds pretty awful. "I'll look it up for you" I offered. "Look it up? Surely you know?"

Sure I do, but only through what others have told me that I've looked up for others, and having kids that have. My knowledge is second hand.

Truth is, I've never 'signed on' in my life. Never had to. My closest brush with employment services was at sometime in the early 1980's when I was visited by two terribly nice young chaps while I was between jobs for a little while, who employment services sent round to find out why I HADN'T claimed benefits.

I bet that doesn't happen nowadays... :)

Didn't need to. I had sufficient for my needs. They left, leaving me with the knowledge that one was a Sweet fan, and the other a Bowie fan. Nice chaps.

The truth is, I'm not allowed in a Job Centre, even if I wanted to. It's a little known fact that you are not, according to JC Plus, allowed to use their services, and they are not allowed to offer you help unless you claim Job Seekers Allowance.

What's wrong with that?

Consider some scenarios. You are in a job, but aren't happy with it. You want to look for another job. Nope. JCP are closed to you. You're on your own.

You're about to made redundant. The sensible option is to start looking for work before you are. Nope.

You've been a housewife, the kids have grown up, you want to work. Nope.

You are self employed. Business has been slow. You need to work temporary part or full time to pay the bills. No.

Not unless you claim (un)employment benefits, and whether you get can it depends on your savings and other circumstances. Assuming you do, you have to follow a strict, regimented routine of when you can use the services.

But the bottom line is there are many obstacles to being recognised as 'unemployed'. One way of keeping the unemployment figures down.

Just plain daft if you ask me. I thought their Job was to help people find work?

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Five Fingers of Steel

Slowly, but surely, I'm being drawn into the disability activist scene. Which is vaguely amusing as I don't consider myself disabled, tho' the world and it's mother disagrees.

Sharing my experience of Stroke is one thing, but activism is a different kettle of fish. The politics for one is a total turn off, but unavoidable. Darn it. But some things catch your attention nonetheless.

I'm a regular helper-outer on the Stroke Association. People who ask questions and share their experience there are often some of the most vulnerable. It is brain damage, after all, to be blunt.

Now then, I have some experience of marketing, product placement and people management, and other forms of evangelism. But nothing gets my goat more than when someone pushes products means and methods on people who are vulnerable.

"Use this machine or do this that or another, and you like me will walk 4 miles" Hope the department and work and pensions don't read that.

"Exercise will gets bits working again". Bugger off. Lets get this straight. Stroke affects limbs. They cramp, curl up, often become paralysed to various degrees, because the arm, leg, breathing and digestive system other bits of the body are in a complex symbiosis.

BUT. And this is what the uninformed miss. A stroke is a control centre malfunction. It isn't the body part that's the problem. The bit that runs it is. You can shove a shed load of devices and exercises at a stroke knackered limb.

The best you can do is, over months and often over years is Train The Brain, to some extent. Which is a bit more complex and requires on hell of a lot more application than a professional weight lifter.

Meanwhile, if you can get hold of a short story by a world renowned sci-fi writer, Isaac Asimov, called "Five Fingers Of Steel", I recommend you read it.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011


A widower neighbour is on a very low income, and an 18 year old daughter with learning difficulties - except when it comes to spending money. He nips in now and again for company. Over the last couple of weeks, after he's left there's been a can of soup on the kitchen side.

Not your cheap stuff either. We've put them in the cupboard thinking he'd forgotten them. But every time one of us mentioned them, he's blushed, shrugged and looked at his feet and muttered "Yeh, well 'ah" under his breath and left without them.

Last night The Bear took him to one side after catching him popping another one - in the cupboard this time. "Right Mr. T', what's all this with the soups?" she said, being as blunt as only The Bear can be.

"That chuffin' husband of yours. We all know around here he's always flaking out. Seen him do it! I've seen you 'plate him up' and put it in the fridge. Thought he might take the hint and actually bloomin' well Eat Something!" Exit one acutely embarrassed Mr. T.

We've since discovered his wife (who died of breast cancer a few years ago) was a Type One diabetic.

His assessment of why I 'flake out' is a bit squewiff, but. Oh. My. The kindness of strangers.

Excellent article in The Guardian today. All I can say is? Indeed. Thanks to @BendyGirl for tweeting that.

Monday, 5 December 2011

Twisted Santas.

Nice relaxing morning looking up some knee length Steampunk boots. Well, it was relaxing until I saw how much they'd gone up in price. Then I went quite, quite pale.

Between you and I, I have no problems paying for the right product. But she who glares does, and Steampunk ain't her style. Particularly as a lot of online searches throw up shops that also sell, ahem, 'ladies and gentlemen's toys'.

I suspect the Bear also believes I should behave myself at my age, and stop drooling over knee length shiny black boots with floor to ceiling even-shinier buckles. She mutters strange incantations like 'haircut', 'new glasses' or even 'Bill'. Can you believe it? Bill!

Haircut indeed. That's like visiting Santa's Grotto, and finding out he's actually a dapper, clean shaven 11- stoner, wearing a grey suit, a diamond check yellow and grey jersey, and a yellow tie.

Who hands out healthy eating leaflets.

Mind you. I often wonder why I get satsumas, sultanas and walnuts in my Christmas Tights. Mmm. Walnuts.

By the way. People who wear glasses all the time?

How you do "The Glint Of Disapproval?" It's an impressive ability. I use reading glasses. I managed to work out the looking-over-the-top bit, with impressive effect, but the Glint?

A slight twist of the neck, a tilt of the head, a raised eyebrow, and there it is. The briefest flash of light, and bingo. Roberts y'mothers brother.

Do you practice in front of a mirror for hours? Is it a genetic ability? So many questions, so much to learn.

I have to say though, when you change to contact lenses, it just looks, well, nah. No, please.

It's looks like you need an Osteopath, urgent like.

Right. Boots. Dribble. I'm off.

Cathya Laters x :)

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Man thing.

I'm having a few 'Aww, sweet' moments.

14 year old daughter was, until a few mins ago, jigging around the front-room/living room/lounge (y'takes y'choices depending on y'posh ness) to some tune in her head. No earphones. I checked.

That's my girl. Better out of your head than in :)

Meanwhile, Sigma the Dog is curled up on our bed - Sorry, Bears Bed, in Bears Bedroom (Don't ask me, I dunno) with his Mini Mate, Smudge The Cat.

Smudge is about 3 years old, and a really tiny scrapper. He's got scratches on his nose, and bits missing from his ear. The vet says he'll never get any bigger.

They wanted to remove his essentials, but I said no. He's cat, and Cat do things their way. I wouldn't want him any other way. Remove his 'bits' and he'll lose his drive and his catness. Not having that. Well, I wouldn't like it.

But there he is, all 2 pounds of him, cuddled up with Siggy the 4 stone Woofler on Bears Bed (tm) Chuckle! Men, eh?

I officially became furious tonight. I was angry beyond belief. It wouldn't be fair to say who with, or what about. Lets just say it was about an unfairness. I haven't done that for years and years.

It was like Boom! Trouble is, with a voice like mine, half the street heard me blow. Oops. No regrets though. (smile!)

Follow the Bear

As much as I 'take the mick' out of my Bear (Anne is her personal) it should be noted, that she's a very hard working Angel of the highest degree. She's my lover, she's my carer, who's stuck with me through hell, high water and stroke. I wouldn't swap her for the world.

She was a bit subdued yesterday. Again. I managed to get out of her (it's called "nagging") that she noticed I'd dropped off in my wheels. My wheels double as my computer chair.

Side note. People who use wheelchairs vary in their ability to walk. A common misconception is that wheelchair users have no mobility whatsoever. It's true of many. Others, like me, it's a matter of degree. I can walk. Just not very far, and when I do, with a bod to lean on. Aka, The Bear.

She decided I should go to bed. Now, keep in mind she's 5' tall. Roughly a foot shorter than me.

She tried to lift me out of my chair. And succeeded. By some quirk, I overbalanced, hit the floor, and she landed on top of me. All I know is I woke up in bed.

But here's the rub. I have no memory of the event whatsoever. Apparently, over the last few days, it's happened twice. I dunno. No memory of it. But Bear's been fretting on the QT.

I feel ok. Just a bit out of step. I'm prone to little strokes, that I recover, in part, quite quickly.

I was up at 05:30 - 06:00 and chirpy as usual, totally unaware. Docs I guess soon.

Ummm. If you do the prayer thing - I'd appreciate it. Cheers