Journal

Shared Thoughts Past, Present and Future, and a bit about Motor Neurone Disease (ALS)

Happy families?

Happy families?

Prince Harry is in the news again, and again at his own instigation.  He’s now talking about emotional pain inherited from his parents, and presumably pain they inherited from their parents, and so on.  Well, it’s a pretty unique family, coping throughout their whole...

Voice rediscovered – again!

Voice rediscovered – again!

Another big, very welcome, and somewhat embarrassing surprise! Last week, out of the blue, a link arrived by email. It was another recording of my voice, this time from eleven years ago but this time not only the voice.  A video.  I think the DP memory must be...

Pigeon posts and more …

Pigeon posts and more …

Looking for anything to hang a blog entry on, yesterday I noticed a small story in the press about an English town that is so tired of pigeon droppings that it is going to trap the birds and transport them to an aviary 250 miles away where, after a time, they’ll be...

Bland, boring and Boris …

Bland, boring and Boris …

Ah, the memories!   Those following the news in Britain will probably know that at the moment our Prime Minister is being investigated by three different official organisations.  Why?  Because allegedly up to £200,000 has been spent on redecorating and refurbishing...

A result …

A result …

Two days ago, after watching the APPG discussion, I wrote, "Whether the meeting has moved anything forward I doubt.  We'll see." There was a result.  Given that assisted dying is illegal, Matt Hancock asked for more information on suicides by terminally ill people. ...

APPG. Worth it?

APPG. Worth it?

Continuing one of the items from the last blog post, at 2pm yesterday afternoon I received an email from Dignity in Dying.  It said that they had just received permission from Matt Hancock's office to live-stream the online All Party Parliamentary Group discussion on...

Bits and pieces …

Bits and pieces …

A small catch-up and a little news. The DP Fund:  started on 2 December to support MND research via the MNDA.  From all sources - single donations, recurring direct debits (annual value), and the MND Art Challenge - total now over £19,000.  Very good.  Thank you. The...

Lawn Order ….

Lawn Order ….

Here in Britain we’ve had a week of public anecdotes.  TV, radio, newspapers, social media (which I don’t do) all telling stories of Prince Philip.  Individuals reminiscing of the time, any time up to 70 years ago, when “I met him, and I said this and he said that”. ...

Wall? Elephant? Both?

Wall? Elephant? Both?

Hello. I’m still around.  Quite pleased with making the target of 200 blog entries. Quite pleased with the April Fool jape.  Quite pleased with the discovery of that short recording of my actual voice ‘in concert’, even though it was oration rather than natural...

Prince Philip

Prince Philip

Prince Philip died yesterday.  Whatever one thinks of the British monarchy, or of the concept of constitutional monarchy in general, I hope few would disagree with my view that he has served the nation, and his wife, well.  It’s amazing that peoples around the world...

Voice Rediscovered ….

Voice Rediscovered ….

This could be heavy, or heady, stuff. It was 1538 when the young Thomas Tallis arrived at the massive Abbey of the Holy Cross at Waltham, the wealthiest Augustinian House in England.  Apparently the abbey offered him excellent musical resources where no doubt he hoped...

Smile …

Smile …

I hope everyone is enjoying the weekend, and for those who observe such things, Happy Easter. Also, a confession.  The last blog entry ... the expected honour ... written on April 1st, please note.  Couldn’t resist it.  Sorry. Hope it raised some smiles though...

A Year On ….

A Year On ….

Has anyone sensed a slight acceleration in blog entries in the last few weeks?  For the first hundred days there was one a day.  Then after the 100th on 9 July last year I said they’d be occasional: perhaps one or two a week.  That’s what happened. Recently for...

What’s in a name?

What’s in a name?

Yes, the Bard got it right: “That which we call a rose / By any other name would smell as sweet”.  Perhaps then, the name isn’t so important.  On the other hand we know the care that most parents take in deciding their child’s name.  Family favourite?  Nationally...

Script and scripture …..

Script and scripture …..

I think the first time I saw Arabic script was probably during that memorable student trip to Turkey in 1968, being also the first time I’d entered a prison.  Interested in the prison story?  If you haven’t read it, it’s in the blog entry of 29 April 2020 and here....

Another purpose …

Another purpose …

A reminder to myself: the blog is multi-purpose. Triggered by the illness and a life shorter than expected, it gave me a hobby and a focus.  Time to tell stories from my life.  Time to say things I’ve not said in the past.  Time occasionally to comment on current...

Comms and Alerts …

Comms and Alerts …

Two days ago I had the pleasure of a Zoom chat with Professor Tony Watts who set up the MNDA Fund in my name.  It was a general catch-up call and Tim joined us, partly to translate my growling.  I also did some text to-speech typing, generating the e-voice that you...

No floppy brims ….

No floppy brims ….

If you check the Comments you’ll see that Meriel asked if I was Spring, Summer or Autumn.  My reply: “Summer”.  Read the entry of 21 March and it might make sense. Some rummaging through the Peace archives had produced that little case of 30 fabric swatches, shades of...

Colours and more ….

Colours and more ….

This is topical.  This is risky.  Could get me into trouble.  It’s about skin colour.  And differences.  And how to deal with the differences.  Dangerous territory.  Have to tread carefully. It’s actually about a memorable Christmas present. We’re in the early 1980’s,...

Sleepover …

Sleepover …

What a pleasure to be in hospital just for one night, knowing that nothing unpleasant is going to happen, with very friendly staff and a specialist ward doctor prepared to give a lot of time to the patient. I wrote the previous blog at about 8pm on the 17th.  Two...

A Night without Alice …

A Night without Alice …

I’m  writing this from the hospital bed on the 17th, yesterday. Since arriving in the chauffeured Mercedes - thank you again, NHS - they’ve looked after me well.  It’s a large room with just two beds. Tim, in the role of carer, is in the other one. Medics galore:...

Odds and Ends …

Odds and Ends …

Today, for want of anything better - or rather, for want of inspiration - here are a few random bits and pieces in the immediate DP world. Sunday’s 7am self-administered Covid swab test kit was collected at 11am.  The result came through yesterday morning, 24 hours...

Zoom with a View

Zoom with a View

I wrote to some colleagues yesterday afternoon, thanking them for their help and saying, “Wish I could have a pint to celebrate!” Yes, the “Explore Culture” Zoom discussion was over. Scheduled to last an hour, we had to stop it after 75 minutes. Joining us were over...

Yawn …

Yawn …

An early start this morning.  Got up at 7am.  In the past I was always an early riser, but this darned illness knocks me out so much that it’s often nine o’clock before I totter out of bed. What’s the reason today?  The Zoom talk at 1pm?  No.  Visitors?  No, certainly...

All the latest ….

All the latest ….

Every few months since the blog started I've provided an update on how motor neurone disease - amyotrophic lateral sclerosis - is affecting me.  It never makes for comfortable reading, but it was the terminal illness and the shortened life that it is forcing on me...

Jab 2, a memory and a trophy

Jab 2, a memory and a trophy

Going back to Lord’s for the second jab brought back memories. It’s almost 20 years since I joined the committee of the Cambridge Society of London, which organises social events in the capital.  A favourite was and still is the annual 50-over Oxford v Cambridge...

In case you’re interested ….

In case you’re interested ….

I didn’t watch the Sussexes.  Had a read on the BBC website.  It was upsetting.  Why, I wondered? I decided that for me it wasn't a matter of whether to believe them or not.  It was this: even assuming that everything they said is true, what is it that they hoped the...

Cultural Storytelling – Dear David

Cultural Storytelling – Dear David

I'm not having a rest!  We've just done a rehearsal for the Zoom Talk next Sunday.  When that's over we intend to keep a recording of it available on the blog.  The Zoom recording of Sunday 14th March's 'Cultural Storytelling - Dear David' talk will appear here as...

Too many mosquitoes …

Too many mosquitoes …

Going back to Peter Ustinov (the 5 March blog), and the career analyst who recommended he become an airline steward, it's possible that some of the factors the analyst took into account (other than the distinct possibility that PU was playing games) were his easy way...

Trying to spread the word ….

Trying to spread the word ….

Let me introduce Xu Minji.  We’ve not met, but six weeks ago she contacted blogmaster Tim with an idea.  We thought about it and we contacted a few others who might be willing to help us.  It looked feasible, so we decided to go ahead.  It’s taken a lot of of hard...

Anyone for cricket ….?

Anyone for cricket ….?

It’s the ‘Home of Cricket’ and it’s home to the world’s oldest sporting museum.  Lord’s Cricket Ground, about a mile from where I live.  I’m not a great cricket fanatic but I know the ground well, and in the next few days there might well be a story here, something a...

Psychos ….

Psychos ….

Who remembers Peter Ustinov, that great actor, wit, and raconteur.  And film producer and writer.  And academic and diplomat.  And born with the splendid name Peter Alexander Freiherr von Ustinov.  Do read his Wikipedia entry.  Quite fascinating.  Thinking of him the...

The Full English …

The Full English …

Breakfast.  I’m talking breakfasts, not Monty.  Would you like to join me?  What’s your choice?  Eggs scrambled, fried, poached or boiled?  Bacon?  Baked beans?  Hash browns?  Mushrooms?  Sausages - how many?  Black pudding or not?  Fried tomatoes?  Chips?  Sauce? ...

Grateful but uneasy ….

Grateful but uneasy ….

Is Britain recovering from the pandemic?  No one’s sure but the figures at the moment seem to suggest that it is.  We’ve had almost the worst record in the world for infections and deaths.  At the moment we seem to have almost the best record in the world for...

Fact?  Rumour?  Fantasy?

Fact? Rumour? Fantasy?

Well that was easy, the ‘Oz before Oz’ challenge three days ago.  Well done, the Sherlocks. I said how stimulating I find these maps, especially when musing on the stories they tell: stories of fact, of suspected fact, of rumour, and of downright fantasy.  Here’s a...

Before Oz was Oz …

Before Oz was Oz …

I mentioned that I like old maps.  I own a few.  They're mostly of lands where I've lived and worked, mainly in North Africa and the Middle East.  What was the attraction?  I used to pore over them, looking for stories and then thinking of my predecessors, those...

Back to Earth

Back to Earth

Back to Earth - and as you can see, I do like old maps. These days, inevitably, my world tends to revolve around the illness.  Others join that world.  The Royal College of Nursing says that each year in the UK about 2,200 people are diagnosed with motor neurone...

Shooting for the stars …

Shooting for the stars …

So glad you enjoyed the escapades the other day.  A bit of fun, and memorable.  And there's a link to today's jottings.  Later. Like you probably, over the years I've donated to a number of good causes and still do.  My own regular ones include Book Aid, which sends...

Time for a change!

Time for a change!

What do you do on rainy winter days?  What do you do on rainy winter days when you’re like me, hampered by an illness and more or less confined to staying at home or going out in a wheelchair?  What do you do if there’s also a pandemic and lockdown restrictions?  In...

Voices …

Voices …

How is the voice machine?, I’ve been asked.  Well, two days ago the voice therapist visited and I handed back the machine they’d lent me, called a Lightwriter.  It was a rather bulky thing with a noisy keyboard and a small screen front and back so that the other...

Going to bed with Alice

Going to bed with Alice

Yes, last night I slept with Alice.  The doctors believed she would help me, so we met yesterday morning.  Actually I slept rather well with her arms around me.  She stayed only one night.  Tonight she might be in someone else’s bed.  This must be one of the most...

Jab No. 1

Jab No. 1

Vaccinations?  Inoculations?   In Britain we also call them ‘jabs’.  For the flu, for measles, for cholera and tuberculosis and other travel reasons.  I once had one for shingles, a few days before it actually developed.  And two days ago our brilliant NHS gave me the...

Text-to-voice, humdrum

Text-to-voice, humdrum

So the consensus is to ‘keep my own voice’. To be honest, I’m rather disappointed that all of them sound a bit clunky.  I don’t use Siri or Alexa or any other AI voice but to hear them answering someone is really impressive, with tones and cadences and intonations...

Speechless?  Nonsense!

Speechless? Nonsense!

Here’s a bit of fun. I’ve lost my physical voice, permanently, but in this quiet period of lockdown, with few visitors other than therapists, there’s not that much to say.  I get by.  Latent acting talent. You’d be impressed by the range of facial expressions, hand...

Night Invaders ….

Night Invaders ….

Something happened in the middle of the night three days ago.  We British have a phrase, “Things that go bump in the night”, referring humorously to those strange unaccountable sounds – ghosts in a haunted house, old plumbing, floorboards creaking, things tapping on...

Floors and naughtiness

Floors and naughtiness

Not many of you will have the skill and insight that I have these days.  The floor in my flat is of rather nice wood, and I’m getting to know the grains and knots and markings really quite well.  If I were placed, blindfolded, in any part of the flat and with no other...

In brief …

In brief …

A short one.  I’ve had a note from someone who recently clicked the ‘Comments’ tab at the top and realised that comments they’d left in the past had been followed by other readers' observations on the same theme, and they hadn't known about them. That was because,...

Alarm bells?

Alarm bells?

I think I’ll start using Tennyson as a yardstick. Sorry to mention his “Ring out, wild bells” yet again - see last two posts - but the scenes in Washington over the last couple of days have been so dramatic and extreme that I can’t resist reflecting on them in the...

‘In Memoriam’ …. how?

‘In Memoriam’ …. how?

For want of anything better to write about I'll just mention this: emails from friends commenting on the poem in the 1/1/21 blog, three days ago. It seemed so apt, they said. There was Alfred, Lord Tennyson in 1850, ringing out the old and ringing in the new.  Out...

Hopes …..

Hopes …..

Goodbye to a year we will never forget.  Welcome to one of hope, as with all New Years.  For this year especially, hope for effective vaccines rolled out quickly across the world.  Hope for the end of isolation, social distancing, and the appalling figures of...