A Crown and Red Roses


Mrs M made reference over a meal with family how I used to be merely a carrots and peas person before I met her. That is totally true. It got me thinking how much simpler food was back in the sixties when vegetable options such as mange tout and broccoli were not even heard of. Dinner consisted of what you were given and was non-negotiable. A take-away was a mathematical problem. The only ready meals came from the chippy. A Big Mac was something you wore in the rain. Rice had a skin on it and was served as a pudding. Tea had one flavour, tea flavour, cheese came in a solid lump. Crisps were plain. Soft drinks were called pop. Sauce was either brown or red. Water came out of the tap. If someone suggested bottling and selling it they would have been locked up.


I found a delightful programme tucked away in the schedules. ‘Walking with Shanaz Gulzar’. I’ve never heard of her before. Quite apart from the ramble being through the beautiful Calder Valley in Yorkshire it was a half hour of peace and tranquility. Understated presentation, good use of graphics to explain details about the countryside she was passing through, almost homespun in production with Shanaz casually filming herself using a selfie stick. It made a welcome change from the heat and noise of party political TV debates and tetchy interviews with politicians which seem to be growing in number.


Mrs M and I got round to watching the first of the new series of ‘The Crown’ after I took an hour to complete a supposedly ‘simple’ process of transferring Netflix to our new Sky Q box… ‘You are only seconds away from thousands of hours of new material.’ the marketing pitch announced. Bother and balderdash…
Eventually, the sublime Olivia Colman came on to the screens and we wallowed back in time for another lavish lesson from history. Winston Churchill’s funeral reminded us of one of those national news events that still sticks in minds all these years later, alongside Kennedy’s assassination and the moon landing. Mrs M remembers her mum trying to focus on cleaning the brasses during the funeral service, tears in her eyes.


It’s Lancashire Day and we headed up the M6 to a northern corner of the county for our monthly walk with the University of the Third Age. Stocks Reservoir is a feature with an interesting history as the valley was flooded by the Fylde Water Board back in the 1930s and people were seemingly replaced by giant frogs!

Mrs M’s father, Fred, used to wind me up about me being a Lancashire lad, not Yorkshire, because the water that kept me alive came from Stocks on the Lancashire side of the border!


They say that laughter is the best medicine and through my life a select bunch have guaranteed to keep me chuckling. Morecambe and Wise, Les Dawson, Jimmy Tarbuck, Peter Kay, Stephen Fry…One of the funniest passed away this week. Clive James was right up there in the first division. His wit was as dry as the outback of the country he grew up in. We started smiling when he came to England in the sixties and Gave us classic television and incisive, humorous writing. There have been many memorable one-liners, often laced with poignancy, and I leave you with this one,

On dying,

‘If you don’t know the exact moment when the lights will go out, you might as well read until they do.’


It’s Black Friday and Mrs M and I set off to buy a television. I was expecting to trample over prone bodies, chasing the same prize as twenty other bargain-hungry shoppers. The reality was different and we were able to have a civilised conversation with a young staff member in PC World whose first day it was. He was admirably calm considering the retail significance of his first shift. Back at home, I spent another good hour on linking the new telly to the Sky Q box. ‘Plug it in and you’ll set it up in no time’, said the supervisor in the store… More bother and balderdash.

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