Big Brother B.B.C.



I’m beginning to think the first two initals of BBC stand for Big Brother.

Today I wanted to catch up on an episode of “The Archers” that I’d missed. Previously you could simply click on the schedule for a  programme and listen again. Not any more. You now have to be registered and and each time you want to use the catch up facility you have to sign in with an email address and password.

How long I wonder before this extra piece of unnecessary bureaucracy is spread to all BBC radio and TV services? I bet it won’t be long before we will sign in with username and password to watch BBC News or Eastenders. We’ll probably have to identify ourselves just to check the weather forecast or the traffic reports on local radio.

What will happen to people who don’t use a computer? (There are such folk, though they are rapidly dwindling minority!)

The BBC seems to be following in the wake of Google – they say they are going to “personalise” my “account”. In other words they will look at my record of listening and viewing (incidentally as I don’t have television my viewing figures should be zero – but I bet it won’t be!) They will then decide what I am interested in and push these programmes at me. No thank you, Big Brother, I prefer to make my own choices.

I’ve has enough of clever computer algorithms deciding what I want to see – Facebook gets some very odd ideas about what sort of articles are suitable for an elderly pensioner.

When I was asked for personal data for my account, date of birth, gender etc., I admit I was very tempted to put in false info just to be awkward. What would the computer make of an obviously fictitious date of birth? January 1st 1066 for example? Probably just send me a patronising “Oops, you’ve got it wrong again!”




Blogging 101 – Task 14 – Letter


Dear Sandy

Many thanks for the invitation to your house-warming party. We’d both be delighted to attend. I note that you aren’t looking for gifts, especially stuff to do with the house. A pity. I’ve got several things that I am sure would look well in your new abode and really make it like a home.

They are useful too. There’s a very elegant coffee pot that was a present from my auntie Joan. She didn’t know that we gave up drinking coffee some time ago so it never got used.

Then I’ve a picture of London Bridge, another birthday present; from Gran this time. It’s nice enough but won’t go with the wallpaper in our lounge. Gran is over 90 and lives in Llanfair PG so she won’t call on us and expect to see the picture on display.

Just one query about your party. The invitation says, “Bring a bottle”. As you know, we are both recovering alcoholics so will Vimto be acceptable?

With best wishes
Marmeduke & Magdalen

Writing 101 Task 9 Points of View


Jane and I were walking in the park. A pleasant Sunday afternoon stroll, hand in hand as we like to walk, even if it seems childish to some people. We’d been together for over a year and I was trying to pluck up my courage to ask her to marry me. Suppose she said no!

As we passed the bandstand and the ornamental lake I saw an old lady sitting on a bench. She was busy knitting a small red sweater. She looked exactly like my gran. Gran was fond of knitting; every birthday she made me a scarf or a jumper. Now she’s living in a residential home somewhere on the south coast, I think. We kind of lost touch when she moved there after my dad died. I looked closer – it wasn’t just some old woman who looked like Gran – it was Gran! Dare I approach her? She was getting old, suppose she no longer recognised me? I couldn’t stop the hot tears that poured down my face. Why hadn’t I kept in touch?

I always knew Mark was a big softy, but I didn’t think he was the sort of bloke to cry in public. It was like this; we were out for a walk last Sunday after lunch. It’s one of our customs, even if it does make us look like an old married couple. I like it. But on Sunday we passed this old lady sitting on a park bench. She was respectably dressed, not a bag lady or a beggar or anything like that. She even had her knitting with her, a small red jumper the sort that would fit a toddler about two or three years old. Perhaps it was for a grandchild – or a great grandchild, she looked old enough. Imagine my surprise – and my embarrassment – when for no reason I could see Mark suddenly burst into tears. If the old woman had been frail and in distress I might have understood it. But…I was simply baffled. We’d had a bottle of wine with our meal but not enough to make Mark maudlin drunk. What could be the matter with him?

Old Woman
I went to the park on Sunday. It was a lovely day, the sun was shining and I felt like a walk. My sister had promised to visit. I find Lizzie a bit of a pain and wanted to avoid her. I knew she’d ring before coming, so if wasn’t there to answer the phone, there’d be no difficulty. I even mentioned to the warden of the flats – sheltered housing, it’s called – that I was going for a walk. You don’t have to account for your movements but if Lizzie turned up at least she wouldn’t be trying to persuade the warden to use her pass key to get into my flat.

Anyway I had a nice walk and a sit down beside the pond. I’d got my knitting with me. I like to have something to keep my hands occupied, now I can’t see so well to read unless I get a large print from the library. So there I was knitting a jumper for old Mrs Green’s grandson. She can’t knit now, poor thing, her arthritis is too bad. I was watching the people passing trying to guess who they were and how they were related. A mother and three small children, a father who looked as though he was a divorced dad taking his daughter for a weekly outing and a young couple holding hands. It seems to have gone out of fashion hand holding, now. Unless you are with a young child or a very old person who needs assistance crossing the road. I glanced up at the couple and I couldn’t believe my eyes; the man burst into tears. I hadn’t done anything, I promise. I wasn’t even thinking about my magic gift and I’d absolutely no reason to use it on this young man.

Writing 101 Task 4 Serially Lost


Writing 101. Task 4 – Serially Lost   

What is the thing I would most miss if/when I lost it? That’s easy – the ability to read and write. If my sight deteriorated to the extent that I couldn’t read words on a page or letters on a screen I would be devastated. Thanks to modern technology there are ways to lessen the impact; large print, moon and braille of course and various ways you can have books and other material read to you, talking books and magazines which must be a godsend to people without sight.

The ability I have lost almost completely is not sight – I am glad to say, but writing. Not the power to generate words, sentences and ideas and string them together. I am glad to say I can still manage to do that. It is actually writing by hand on a piece of paper that I can’t do any longer. My handwriting is so atrocious that even I find it difficult to read and the only pieces of writing I now do by hand are signatures on cheques and when I have to sign for a parcel delivered to our house. When faced with a portable computer screen to sign I can almost never produce a signature that is readable. I’m thankful the delivery men seem to accept any kind of scrawl and sometimes even write the name for me – poor old lady she obviously can’t cope with modern technology, better fill in the form for her.

I know people of my age and even some older folks who can produce lovely copperplate script. Some people are so fond of pen and paper that a letter doesn’t really count if it is typed or word-processed. I am just profoundly grateful that I live in the age of computers and I can write on a screen, alter and edit as I go along and then print the whole thing either on paper or to a file for future use.

Yes the failure of handwriting is a real loss. It’s one I can cope with,  but a loss all the same. If I want to make notes at a meeting I can’t manage with a reporter’s notebook like I used to use, I need my i-pad. Fine, but I also need to charge my device and have access to Wi-Fi or the Internet.

So it’s farewell to the quill pen and beautiful calligraphy in italic script but at least I am living in the twenty-first century and I have aids to writing in the form of computers and PCs, I-pads and smart phones. I have much to be thankful for.

Writing 101 – Place



The bus journey to school was a time of transition for me. I got on at the stop immediately opposite our house. (we referred to it as “our stop”) and I could feel a subtle change as the bus got nearer to Manchester, the buildings were bigger and closer together and once we got to Piccadilly it was definitely a City rather than a Town or Suburb. The large green square of Piccadilly Gardens was very different from the tiny parks near home, small enclosed space with a few seats, some flowerbeds and a few children’s’ swings.

At Piccadilly I changed buses from the smooth quiet trolley bus to what we called a “petrol” bus, a different vehicle altogether. I felt as though I were moving into a different sphere, encountering different people with new ways of thinking and even different speech patterns. My friends were divided into those I knew at home and those I met at school. There was practically no overlap. At school we were expected to use something nearer to what was called “received pronunciation” and I remember my cousin being reprimanded for enquiring about a “buzz pass” when what she should have asked for was a “bas paas”. The rules about behaviour were stricter than at home. No eating in the street, school uniform – with a particularly hideous form of headgear – to be worn at all times when travelling to and from school and such matters as giving up your seat to an older person on the bus was taken for granted – they didn’t even need to have a specific rule about it.

The journey home was somehow different. For one thing once a week, most Mondays when it was her day off my mother would meet me where I changed buses in Piccadilly and we’d go round the shops, usually no more than window shopping and then have tea in Lewis’s.

On other days I’d sometimes do my homework on the bus. The trolley bus was the best one for this; it was smooth and fairly quiet, perfect for reading a set book or learning something by heart. In fact on one occasion I get so absorbed in the book I was reading that I missed my stop and had to walk back from the next stop.

I’m not sure if this is really the sort of thing wanted ie a background/setting/place for a story 






Writing 101


Day 1 – Free Writing

Blogging – Writing 101  -20 minutes stream of consciousness writing.

Free writing keep on writing however silly and apparently trivial. Can I do it? Can I really manage to keep writing for twenty minutes without stopping as it were for breath? Won’t I get tired, run out of ideas, want to pause and re-read and then alter and correct what I have written? Only way to find out is to try it and see. Surely I should have enough material cluttering up my mind to be able to churn some of it out and get it written down?

Today – a windy and wet day when I didn’t get out further than the gate to bring the dustbins in and to next door to deliver a Christmas card. So much for getting out for a walk or bike ride every day. But does it really matter in the long run? I don’t want to get soaked to the skin just because I feel I have to go out whatever the weather. This is one of the great joys of retirement. You are master or your own time – to a certain extent. You can decide what you do and when you do it. OK there are some things that are tied to a particular time – meetings, church services, appointment with doctor/dentist/optician. But mostly I can look at the coming day, consider the weather, my own state of mind and body and then decide what I want to do, what I need to do and what can be postponed or even abandoned. It’s a great feeling but of course it doesn’t always apply and it’s only too easy to get immersed in something I am writing or reading and lose track of time and before I know it it’s time for dinner or tea and I haven’t done half the things I’d planned.

Since my hip operations I have developed what call the “30-minute rule” . I do one task for half an hour – whether cleaning the floors or writing a play and after that I stop – even if I am in the middle of a job -like now.!