Napoleonic & ECW wargaming, with a load of old Hooptedoodle on this & that


Tuesday, 22 October 2019

Hooptedoodle #348 - ...you know, maybe it is funny, after all...

This morning the plan was to visit my old mum, in the care home in the village. Sometimes this can be kind of heavy going, but the visits mean a lot to her (though she forgets about them almost immediately), and I do feel better afterwards.


This is not a great time, for a lot of reasons - I drove off to the home in my van, trying to find something on the radio which was not about the latest political excitement here in the UK - not easy. Apparently Adrian Mole and his football hooligan sidekick have pulled a brilliant fast one by sending some foreign chaps a letter written in disappearing ink (or something). Wow - what a corker. I can feel patriotic pride flooding though my old veins. What a bunch of self-serving tossers.

When everything turns to rat droppings, Schadenfreude is probably all we have left. Ultimately, I'm past caring what happens - bring it on, but I do have a list of key individuals who I hope get their just desserts after the public enquiry. In such a context, trying to engage my mother in conversation is something of a light relief.

She can only stand my visits for about 30 to 40 minutes (people who know me may understand this), then she starts to get anxious, so when the time appeared to be right I said cheerio and see-you-soon, and left, to get some groceries at Tesco's on the way home. There's a strict regime at the home, whereby visitors have to sign in and out. This all makes good sense, and I was told that, if there's a serious fire, the signatures in the visitors' book will make it easier to reconcile the body count. That's probably more security information than I had thought I needed, but it also bothers me a little - what happens if the book is consumed in the flames? Never mind - if I'm dead, I won't care.

I  signed out (11:45, if it matters), and as I opened the front door to leave there were two fellows standing outside - plumbers, come to service the heating. I held the door open for them, exchanged "good morning"s, and the older of the two said:

"Does someone on the staff know you're going out?"

"It's OK," I told him, "I've signed the book".

So that was all right, then, but I was a bit shaken. As I went to retrieve my van, I was actually laughing out loud. Hysteria? - quite probably, but there is a certain black humour in the thought that one day I may be trapped in the home forever because the plumbers aren't convinced I'm a visitor. Not even Adrian Mole is above such judgements, eventually, I guess. Thank you, God.

Maybe I should take a break from watching my Twilight Zone box set.

Here's a trailer from one of my favourite movies, which is getting more poignant every day.


30 comments:

  1. For signing out, in case of fire one or more members of staff will be designated to collect the book on their way out. Everyone signed in will be checked at the assembly point, if anything doesn't answer and it's real fire the firemen will have to go into the burning building to try and find the missing person. If you don't sign in and get caught in the fire - who's to know? If there is a group meeting in the home or somewhere else then there is no requirement to sign in as long as the person holding the meeting has a register which can then be used instead - though most places would go with insisting on their own register.

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    1. Righto - thanks, Rob, that is a comfort.

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  2. You're a good chap, visiting your mum. For a clergyman it is a hard admission, but I don't like visiting seniors' homes very much, and have to remind myself that the inmates were not always thus, and were as lively, interesting and wise as me (well, more so, most likely).
    I just finished reading Ian McEwan's Brexit satire, Cockroach. Very fast read, I think you'd like it.
    Cheers,
    Michael

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    1. Thanks Michael - I'll check out Cockroach - the whole Brexit thing is getting a bit infected now.

      Visiting the home is OK - has to be done, and I have a sort of routine, so it's OK. What bothers me more than a bit is that if my mother does, in fact, live for ever then there'll be some time when there's no point in my going home between visits.

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  3. I like the look of the film. Never heard of it though?

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    1. Hi Ray - excellent film - wistful, but some good laughs, and some splendid deflation of people who need deflating.

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  4. Slightly off topic but my last job role was in an art company. Our fire exit plan was to file out of the offices and through the warehouse facility packed with a zillion highly inflammable pictures...exactly the place where a fire was likely to start and would have probably raged the fiercest. And they wondered why I refused to be a fire marshal! My personal fire exit plan was to throw the companies FD out of the office window into the street below - thereby guaranteeing me a soft landing when I jumped out after him.

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    1. What-ho, JBM!

      That was a good plan. Reminds me that there was a time (in another century) when there was some concern that the IRA might target the financial centre of Edinburgh with car-bombs. In fact this wasn't very likely, but at the time no-one knew, and it was worrying. My worthy employers decided that we should just use the existing fire evacuation procedures - when the alarm was given, staff should troop down into the street, and congregate on the pavement opposite - just about where a car-bomb might be parked, in fact. There was a new plan introduced quite soon after that...

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  5. My new hobby is NOT watching the news, having been an avid news junkie, that is a bit of a turn up for the books. This evening though, that has translated into getting my Maxim HMG team highlighted after their ink wash - a good trade I think.

    Were the plumbers convinced or just being British :-)

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    1. A very good trade, I would say.

      Plumbers - not sure. This is not helped by my unconsciously disguising myself as my dad, even down to the tweed cap.

      The home is not what it was - when my mum first went there, three years ago, a couple of the residents used to go out on their own, and one old guy used to get the train into Edinburgh to meet his daughter. Not any more - the proportion of residents with dementia seems to have increased, and I suspect the blame culture has grown to the point that the staff are a lot less happy about taking any risks.

      Getting the plumbers to do the site security is a good wheeze though - we could save some money here. Next (obvious) step is to get the girls who do the care nursing to fix the heating. That just leaves the nursing - maybe we can skip that?

      I'll let you have some figures later.

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  6. It’s interesting how some people look at your/my grey hair and age and think...”bless he is clearly old and incapable “
    It never enters their mind that I might be smarter than them and that I might actually want to push them down the stairs... ha!...well...

    I like fire alarms... they give me a chance to steal lap tops...

    Only kidding.... honest!

    I have just ordered a copy of Robot and Frank... my kind of film... thank you.

    All the best. Aly

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    1. Thanks Aly - that cheered me up a lot. Enjoy the movie.

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  7. I genuinely LOLled at that as probably no one said. Didn't realise it was such an 'old film - 2012.

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    1. There is an element of desperation in it, but my search for amusing nuggets in the daily grind probably keep me going. I have wondered if there is a case for taking the Government to court for making me miserable. The thing that puts me off is the length of the queue for the barristers. A bit like Starbucks, in fact.

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  8. A good home and a senior who has some awareness of things and is reasonably content isn't too bad, the opposite can be deeply disturbance (or at least that's my limited experience). I found it interesting (ok slightly amusing) that Mom always recognized me although I only saw her 2 or 3 times a year for the last 40 years but had trouble recognizing my sister who had been looking after for the decade before she went into the home and visited often.

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    1. It is strange to observe the things which my mother remembers, and try to understand the way in which she mixes them all up. I don't suppose it's just random. One aspect of her memory problems is that time has become flat, so that any or all of the things she thinks of can be simultaneous if the story fits. She recently told me that she and my dad were very worried about me when I was serving in the trenches - I can see that would be worrying. My sister (who was mentally handicapped) lived with my mother for 60-odd years - my mother always thinks of her and refers to her as a little girl.

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  9. Nice one Tony, that was a good laugh to start my day, just as well you have that sense of humour of yours. Trust you to ponder what happens if the Sign in Book is consumed in the flames before it can be take to the assembly point, but actually that's a good point!

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    1. You'll read about me in the accounts of the Great Fire of North Berwick, any week now. Part of the home used to be a convent - in fact parts of it go back to Long Long Ago. It's a cheerful, friendly place, given the circumstances, but you would think ghosts would be compulsory.

      I see Adrian Mole is having another strop this morning, by the way, so I'll keep the radio off for a while. My mum asks me what's going on in the outside world, and I just say "nothing much".

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  10. Google-Free Martin emailed to say that he considers that he was lucky to have spent his childhood reading Frank Richards books - it gives him a useful insight into the class values and the attitudes of our current leaders. He has a point - I was also a devoted follower of Billy Bunter and his chums, and also Tom Merry (less well known now) and his chums. I wouldn't be surprised if these books were now suppressed, for their outdated attitudes to class, race, nationality, privilege etc etc. I can see that younger members of the electorate who have missed out on these old works may have a disadvantage in understanding what is going on in Parliament these days.

    Martin highlighted the notorious Cardew the Cad, the Bounder of the Remove - he feels this character is a role model for some of the leading lights of the ERG, as are the moral values of Young Bunter himself, though substitute off-shore tax-free funds for cherry cake. I wouldn't have a view on such matters, obviously, but it would be rude to disagree.

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  11. hmm.. is that a bit harsh on poor Adrian Mole? ( the 'real' one, that is ). My good friend 'LiverpoolDave' is, perhaps counter-intuitively, a big fan of The Remove, perhaps he will chip in here too.
    If you keep up the banter with the plumbers, maybe they can allocate you a room - could be a nice cosy bolt-hole?

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    1. It seems a while ago now, but we went through that bizarre period recently when 10 Downing Street claimed that a lot of work was going into detailed discussion of the terms of a deal, though no-one could actually see any evidence of this - particularly the people that were supposed to be involved in the discussions.

      I was waiting for the greatest of all "the dog ate my homework" revelations to square all this, but it seems that some kind of homework did get done - not on the bus, on the way to school, but actually during morning prayers at the start of the school day. Now that something has been done, it is vitally important that it is approved and given high marks within a very ambitious timetable. It all makes sense to me.

      To sustain the Greyfriars analogy, I am watching out for one of Bunter's trademark logic blips:

      "I never saw your cake, you rotter - anyway, it was a rotten cake - hardly any cherries in it!"

      And, of course, "Yarooh!"

      Please don't let's go to the care home thing - my mother seems to think I live there anyway. This is getting sinister.

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  12. Not all that counter-intuitive perhaps - even Orwell in that famous essay acknowledged that Bunter was a tremendous character. But yes, a long way indeed from Alsop Comprehensive School. I have to agree that whereas once our leaders might have been characterised by good-natured duffers like Coker of the Fifth, now we are indeed being governed by the outsiders of the Remove, Skinner, Snoop and Stott, and meanwhile Fisher T. Fish, the cute, spry guy from Noo Yark, heads up the big US corporation that is going to come in and buy up the NHS. Not so sure about the Fat Owl himself, despite his greed and his foolishness I always felt there were occasionally some signs of decency showing through, which is certainly not the case for any of our friends in the ERG. And now I have to go, I have to present 100 lines of Virgil to that beast Loder before Call Over.

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    1. I am reminded that a neighbour of ours in Liverpool, when I was a teenager, was one Stan Thomas, who taught at Alsop. Stan was an Oxford man - good cricketer - he used to play for Mossley Hill CC. AS I write this, of course, I am aware that Stan would have been dead for years before you went there...

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  13. To be fair Alsop was (is?) a very fine school with a strong tradition of sending people to Oxbridge. I was amused to read some years ago the autobiography of a famous alumnus, Alexei Sayle, who was there in the 1960s and a couple of years below my eldest brother. Sayle commented on how the school - then still a grammar school - tried to ape the public school ethos, and spoke scathingly of sixth formers making tea and crumpets in the Sixth Form Common Room in the old Rectory, like boys at Greyfriars. I feel sure my brother, who slightly knew him and found him mostly odd but fairly exotic, was one of those who thus earned his derision.

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    1. My only direct experience of Alsop was playing football and cricket against them occasionally - Walton was a long way from Allerton in those days. Never knew anyone from the school, apart from Stan Thomas the Teacher.

      I recall that the best teas for the cricket matches were at Liverpool College (well, you'd expect that), with Bluecoat a decent second.

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  14. Brilliantly witty thoughts on the passage of time Tony!
    I'm sure that your writing keeps you sane in this world in which, everyday*, I reckon it is time to get off.
    *Sometimes twice on Sundays, but it's only Wednesday... I'll soon be joining Norm, I think.

    Robot and Frank looks right up my alley, thanks. Did you ever see 'Beginners' staring Christopher Plummer and Ewan McGregor? Highly recommend it if you have not. Plummer is superb. A fabulous film about ageing with energy (and so much more...)

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    1. Hi James - thanks for this - I shall check out Beginners forthwith!

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    2. We watched 'Robot and Frank' last night Tony, a top film. Thanks for the tip.
      This post that I saw today on one of the other blogs that I follow was additionally relevant:
      https://horseandmusketgaming.blogspot.com/2019/10/the-perfect-wargamers-resource-resource.html
      This looks well done to me. They have kept the books too!

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    3. Good man, James. Keep the books and steal the bath-bombs - you know it makes sense. Anything that fights back against (or ridicules) this constant, pestilential mantra about no-one ever having been as clever as we are today (provided "we" are under 50, of course) has to get a vote from me.

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