Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

More photos of them phone boxes   Leave a comment

As I was in Kingston again today, I thought I’d try and get some better images of that sculpture made out of old red BT Phone boxes.

Kingston street art

Kingston street art

And this is the view from the other side. Harder to take because of the position of the sun. Make a great place to hide a geocache though.

Kingston street art

Kingston street art

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Fitting a post around a picture   2 comments

I never know whether one should try to make a post to fit a picture, but as this picture will be both amusing and nostalgic to some of my audience I thought I’d give it a go.

I was reading recently that BT has a very prolific wireless network around London, and much of it is based around their street furniture. So their street cabinets and their phoneboxes have all benefited from the addition of wireless network equipment, it must be quite heavy, look what it did to these phone boxes !!!

Street Art in Kingston

Street Art in Kingston

Apologies that the light is not in the best place for the image, but I was in a little bit of a rush.

Posted April 2, 2013 by bluonthemove in Family, Food, Travel, Wimbledon

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Lent   1 comment

I am no great believer in religion these days, probably never was to be honest. However having spent the four least pleasant years of my life in a roman catholic prison camp somewhere in the Berkshire mountains a certain amount has rubbed off on me (OK it was a school, but as someone wiser than me once said, a religious boarding school only prepares you for one thing, a life in prison).

 

Gratuitous religion

Photo courtesy of freeditalphotos.net

 

So, young catholic neighbour asks me what I have given up for Lent. After a moments thought I gave my reply; green leafy vegetables.

At this point child’s mother unhelpfully reminds me I don’t even eat green leafy vegetables. Not true I retort, I bung frozen spinach in currys as its hardly worth the effort to do saag for one in a separate pan.

I’ve never really understood all the self loathing associated with religion, it always seems to be about not doing things. God presumably invented the carrot as well as the stick. Whats wrong with abstaining from something one doesn’t like?

I guess where I’m going with this is looking at how people judge others. One thing that bugs me is when people imply that you cannot care about animal welfare if you like to pick up a pack of lamb chops from Tesco for dinner. They seem to forget without people eating meat there wouldn’t be any sheep or cows outside zoos; which should of course themselves be banned as they lock up animals.

My vegetarian brother was a prime offender in this area. He subjected a dog to long time servitude. On a typical working day he was away from home for 12 hours and the dog was imprisoned in a single small room for that time without food but hopefully it did have water. Not always if he forgot.

The cat didn’t fare much better, it was chucked outside regardless of the weather and wasn’t able to get back inside the house until he returned. Living amongst fields though, there were plenty of mice about for the cat’s lunch, and there were outbuildings to provide shelter.

He also used to say you shouldn’t eat meat if you can’t bring yourself to kill the animal in the first place. My response to this line of argument was usually to grab the remote control and turn the TV off. When he shouted at me to turn it back on, I would remind him he couldn’t build a TV or make the programmes shown on it. He bought it from a shop, just like I did with meat.

Animal welfare is about animals having a comfortable life, plenty of food and water, space to run around, not locking them up in confined spaces. Its not about them living a long life though and when the time comes for my dinner they need to be killed in the most humane pain free way that is possible.

I have no delusions though, that the food industry adheres to what my guidelines would be. I used to believe the price of meat should be more expensive, but in recent weeks we have seen that global markets are very difficult to control without global policing which I think is a long way from being effectively organised.

My financial commitment to animal welfare is directed towards orphaned baby elephants, allowing them to grow up with other orphaned elephants in a secure area where poachers are shot on sight, and to shelters for rescue cats. My choices, no one person can do everything.

Posted February 24, 2013 by bluonthemove in Family, Publishing, Wimbledon

Happy New Year   1 comment

Since I reached adulthood, celebrating New Year has always been more important to me than Christmas. Probably in the unrealistic hope that the new year would be better than the old one.

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

So, with that in mind, a Happy 2013 to everyone.

Posted December 31, 2012 by bluonthemove in Family, Gibraltar, Wimbledon

The buffet nearly not eaten   2 comments

This post was brought to mind by a link to a 5 year old post written by someone who’s blog I have followed for just over a year.

I guess my mother had been ill since my brother and I both graduated from University the same summer, he having done a 4 year degree at St. Andrew’s University and me a 3 year one from London. The GP, a family friend, had been palming her off with tonics of one sort or another, not really believing there was anything much wrong with her.

After a few years back and forth, and in part because she was the wife of a hospital consultant, the local consultant physician decided he should see her. He was none the wiser after the consultation so arranged for her to be seen by some chap at The Charing Cross hospital (now relocated to Fulham).

I think if my father hadn’t been a doctor, they might too have sent her packing, but instead they decided to admit her for an extensive series of tests. Imagine, if you will, my horror finding that my much loathed mother was being admitted to hospital within 15 minutes drive of the flat I had bought some 6 months earlier. Could I move I thought, to avoid being expected to go and see her. I’d really thought I was safe in London.

She then spent the lion’s share of the next four years in the Charing Cross. My father and I got into a routine, he would drive the 60 miles from where they lived on a Wednesday afternoon and I’d meet him at the hopsital about an hour before the end of visiting then we’d go for a beer then he’d drive back to Sussex. I could just about cope with my mother for an hour. Most weekends he’d come up by train on a Friday, I’d drive him back to Sussex, spend the weekend there then drive him back up to the Charing Cross on the Sunday and he’d go back by train.

My biggest problem was the Sunday. My father wanted to get to the hospital for about 3pm in the afternoon and it was difficult to get away before the end of visiting, so some weekends I had to spend 4 hours in my mother’s company as the pubs didn’t open until 7pm on a Sunday evening and my father liked a bit of a debrief after the visit.

Perhaps I should explain my mother was not a particularly nice person. Her only friends were the wives of other doctors and indeed most of those were the wives of my fathers junior colleagues. None of these friends ever visited my mother in hospital, even though a number of them travelled to London from time to time.

Eventually they came up with a diagnosis, my mother’s body was revolting (I could have told them that!!). It seems her white blood cells were attacking her body tissue and during the course of her illness she had amputations of her fingers and toes as the white blood cells killed off the blood supply. The only medication for this was the same stuff they give to people who have had transplants, which diminished the immune system and made her more susceptible to infections.

Inevitably my father got a phone call at 6am one morning. He then phoned me, asked me to call both my brothers and tell them, and then to meet him at the hospital about 11am so we coulld attend to the formalities of talking to the doctors and registering the death. They said she’d had a good night but had woken about 5am and was in distress. Neither father nor I believed a word of it of course, they say stuff like that to make relatives feel better. My mother was 60.

So, I phoned my brother, the one mentioned above who went to St. Andrews University. His wife answered and before I could say a word, she lambasted me for phoning so early and waking her up, it would now be about 7am. When she had finished the tirade, I asked her if she could tell my brother his mother had died, when it was convenient. I then put the phone down, I had better things to do than deal with a cantankerous sister in law. When it rang about 2 minutes later I ignored it, but I did answer it about 30 mins later, after I’d spoken to my eldest brother.

So, that evening, my father, two brothers and myself were at the family home in Sussex. A curious mixture of emotions, we drank champagne before dinner and some vintage Mouton Cadet with it. I suspect we partook of roast lamb, especially as at this time my eldest brother still ate meat which he was very accomplished at cooking. My father perhaps because a four year ordeal was over, the rest of us glad his ordeal was over. I think in the 4 years my brothers visited mother probably twice each at most, as I would have done were she not on my doorstep.

So, fast forward to the funeral service, the crematorium and of course, the buffet.

We had arranged for a service to be held at the local village church. Funerals are about those left behind as much as anything, and my father was very popular locally and we know a whole host of people would turn up. In fact the church was packed, latecomers had to stand at the back.

There was then to be a cremation at the local crematorium officiated by the same vicar who had done the funeral. There were 50 or so close friends invited to attend this and to come back to the house afterwards. My brother was in his element and most of the day before was in preparation of cooked meats, fish and salads, cheese and deserts, and importantly various mayonnaises to garnish the food.

So, we get back to the house after the crematorium, as we approached we could see the french windows were open, panic set in, we’d clearly been burgled, what mess might we find.

Well, None.

We were visited by the most gentlemany of burglars. A window in the study had been left ajar for the cat, but it wasn’t double glazed so could easily have been forced. Blocking the door from the study to the living room was a table laid out with glasses and several bottles of sherry. The burglars took the time to move the table without breaking any of the glasses to gain access to the living room where the buffet was laid out.

My father had a pair of silver sauce boats, which my brother had filled with various styles of mayonnaise. These were next to plates of cold meats covered with cling film. The burglars carefully emptied the sauce boats on to the cling film protected plates without making any mess at all.

Now the problem was, the burglars had taken every knife and fork in the house. So we had 40 odd people, each with a glass of wine or sherry, salivating over this top class buffet with nothing to eat it with. So various friends were despatched home to get their cutlery as the police arrived to investigate.

At this point the whole thing descended into farce. We had all these people around, not able to eat, whilst being questioned by the coppers. Coppers were busy taking nose prints off the french windows to help estimate the height of the burglars. As everyone the coppers were talking to, all pillars of the local community, had drinks and no food, we offered the officers drinks too, which somewhat surprisingly they accepted.

Eventually, knives and forks turned up and some semblance of normality returned, albeit to a situation far removed from any kind of normality.

On a final note, before my mother went into hospital my father had got a building company in to do some work, which was run by a friend of his from the golf club. As my mother trusted no one, she’d hidden all the family silver behind piles of old carpet deep in some cupboards. Some months later we found all this stuff, and so off to the bank vaults it went and subsequently sold after my father passed on years later.

Posted December 30, 2012 by bluonthemove in Family