Thinking Aloud on Easter Sunday

Movements, and sounds.

Regular readers will know that I am not religious. I actually forgot that last Friday was Good Friday, and I was surprised that the supermarket is closed today. For those of you that celebrate this season in that way, I wish you a Happy Easter, and a peaceful weekend.

But this morning I woke up hearing a noise. It took a while for me to realise that I had made that noise, something resembling a strangled cry, as I turned over in bed. My body was telling me that I had been in one position too long, and that it also didn’t like the amount of effort required to change direction.

I can’t really remember the first time I started to make noises associated with the simple process of moving around. But I do remember my Mum having to make some sort of ‘grunt’ to assist her to get out of an armchair. And when she sat back down in one, she would let out a sound something like a long “Oooff”, as she rested back against the cushion. At the time, I used to find this amusing. Little did I know that those sounds would soon be coming from my own mouth.

It seems that I can no longer rise from the sofa, or sit back on one, without associating the movement with an audible groan or strange cry. I have actually tried to stop it happening, but with no success. And it is not restricted to sitting and standing. Scratching a particularly itchy insect bite last year, I was shocked to hear myself letting out some kind of high-pitched wail as I did so. At first, I didn’t even realise it was me making the noise.

Settling down in bed unleashes a repertoire of sighs that could well be set to music. Stretching out under the duvet has to be attempted carefully, in case of attracting a bout of muscle cramp in one leg. If that happens, it will be accompanied by cries of pain that are something like those heard on a Maternity Labour Ward. If I escape that, then cat-like purs of contentment issue from my lips, followed by expulsions of breath that can rustle the pages of a magazine, inflating my cheeks until I resemble the jazz trumpeter, Dizzy Gillespie.

Getting into my low corner bath is easy enough, but climbing back out after bathing is another matter entirely. I have to adopt the tried and tested ‘extrication’ method. Hands grasp the sides, legs and feet drawn up to get purchase on the bottom of the bath, then up in a single movement, accompanied by my personal bath grunt, sounding something like ‘Aaargh’. Without that grunt, I am convinced I would never emerge from the bath water.

Outside the home, I cannot avoid my new ‘language’. Climbing into the driving seat of my car doesn’t appear to require much effort, but it is always accompanied by a distinct ‘Oooff’, which makes me remember my Mum, every time I set off to drive somewhere. After a drive of less than thirty minutes, getting out of that same seat usually necessitates a few ‘Ows’, before I am on solid ground.

When you reach the age that you begin to hear unfamiliar and unnecessary sounds coming from you, try to remember this post.

Read it again, and realise that it is all just part of getting old.

Ambulance stories (20)

There was mention of tattoos in a recent post, and that reminded me of this Ambulance Story, from 2012. A couple of you will remember it, but most readers have never seen it.


The expansive tattoo

People may be forgiven for believing that having tattoos is a fairly recent thing. It seems that all young people have at least one these days, and most pop stars, and famous actors, are covered in them, to different degrees. This is not the case of course; they have been around for thousands of years.

One afternoon, we were called to a local old peoples’ home, to transport an elderly lady into hospital. She was suffering with arthritis, and needed to go for x-rays, and possible admission, due to her general lack of mobility. On arrival, we were shown to her room, where we met a very friendly and chatty old lady, with an outgoing personality, and a ready wit. We were handed a doctor’s letter, and helped her from her bed, onto our ambulance trolley, making her as comfortable as possible, in the circumstances. Once in…

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I don’t get it

When I was young, I often damaged my clothes. Climbing over walls and fences, trying to get across gaps that were too wide, or playing rough games and sports. If I returned home with scuffed shoes, I would be told that I should be more careful. If I tore my trousers or shorts, my Mum would wash them, then repair or patch the tear. I would also be told that clothes were expensive, and had to be taken better care of. Wearing those heavily-sewn or patched items soon became embarrassing, and I slowly began to learn my lesson.

When I got into my teens, I took pride in my appearance. My shoes were polished, clothes clean and pressed, and I wouldn’t have been seen dead in something stained, or torn. I took this to be part of the growing-up process, and welcomed the change in my attitude.

Just recently, I have seen many examples of women (and some men) wearing clothes that are deliberately damaged before they even buy them. Ripped jeans, torn leggings, and some items that look like they have more rips and holes than material. This is not the niche fashion of the Punk era, nor something reserved for some inner-city ‘smart set’. It is ubiquitous, even in places as small and rural as our local town of Dereham, and the nearby village of Beetley. Out and about earlier today, it seemed to me that every female between the ages of 14 and 40 was wearing some version of a garment like the one shown in the above photo.

Someone was clever enough to persuade a huge chunk of the population to part with good money for something that others might well have thrown into a bin. I salute that person, for their business acumen, and sharp thinking.

But why they buy them is a mystery to me.

A big walk, in better weather.

It would be easy to believe it was midsummer today in Beetley. A bright start was followed by blue skies and warm temperatures. I decided to take Ollie out early, and make the most of the welcome change in the weather.

Being able to wear soft shoes and shorts was a blessed relief from months of boots and heavy coats. And knowing the mud was not going to impede our progress made the prospect of a longer walk something to anticipate. Ollie was excited to see his lead, and my stick, even though it was only midday, so earlier than his accustomed time. He rushed around excitedly, showing so much enthusiasm, you could well believe he had never been outside the house.

Starting out on Beetley Meadows, I was pleased to discover that there was no chill wind to take the edge off the warmth. The buzzing of bees and swarms of smaller insects was proof that it was hot enough to hatch out many of the flying insects that so often plague the riverside. After a few quick rounds of Ollie’s usual sniffing haunts, we headed over to Hoe Rough, encountering dog-walking friends with their Collie, Tippy. Soon after, Ollie was able to play with The Tiny Whippet that likes him so much, before being ambushed by Little Spike, the small Retriever. Little Spike appeared at speed from nowhere, keen to cajole Ollie into a game of chase. But my dog considers himself far too superior to play with the youngster, and stands his ground as the excitable Retriever runs around him barking.

Once the other dogs had departed, I decided to push across to Hoe Common, the weather adding a spring to my step. But before that, Ollie had other ideas, and headed into the small river to cool off, and have a drink. When he was refreshed, we crossed the main road to Holt, and took the path up to the wooded area of Hoe Common. Past there, we walked two quick circuits of the fields bordering the disused railway, before heading along the small lane toward Worthing, a small village close to North Elmham.

As traffic increased closer to the large village of North Elmham, I decided it was not that safe to continue, and turned to retrace our route home. By the time we got back onto Hoe Rough, Ollie was hot and bothered again, so went back into the river for a deeper dip. We didn’t get home until close to 3 pm, having covered around ten circular miles in almost three hours, at a brisk pace without stopping.

Ollie is dozing happily now, dreaming of Little Spike, Tippy, and The Tiny Whippet.

Book Review: The Story of the SS

This non-fiction book is something of a niche interest, to say the least. Most of us will know something about the German SS, whether the battlefield atrocities they committed, how they served in concentration camps, or the combat exploits of the Waffen SS. This long book (384 pages) examines the formation, background and organisation of the Nazi SS in great detail.

Starting shortly after the end of WW1, the rise of Hitler’s National Socialist Party is covered, as well as the creation of the SA, which led to the offshoot organisation, the SS. All the leading political figures of the day are examined, as well as many minor officials and their roles in the building of the controlling Nazi state that followed. The book goes on to discuss the roles that SS figures played before and during WW2, adding some photos and background details about the war in general, and specific events like the invasion of The Soviet Union, in 1941.

The use of SS units to execute prisoners, kill civilians, and fight partisans is contrasted by the political machinations of their members on the home front, and in the countries occupied by Germany. We also learn about the collaborators, the foreign volunteers, and the often brave and distinguished combat units that fought to the very end, in 1945. Then the author goes on to look at those who escaped justice, and those who faced trial for their involvement in the SS, and its actions.

Much of the book contains lists of units, with the German names translated for the benefit of non-German readers. Numerous individual characters are highlighted, from the top leaders of the organisation, down to some who were little more that murderers in uniform. Chilling totals of the deaths they were responsible for, and the crimes committed in both concentration camps, and after battles in the field.

This is not a book for everyone of course. But given the current world political situation, it serves to remind us just what ‘ordinary’ men can be capable of.
As an historical record, it has great value.

Here is an Amazon link.

Ollie and The Painter

For the last three days, poor Ollie has been discombobulated. When the painter arrived early on Monday morning, as far as my dog was concerned, he was just a guest, and a potential playmate. He wagged his tail enthusiastically, and brought his most treasured toy, a tattered and smelly stuffed lion. But there was no time for play, as much work needed to be done.

Living in a one-level bungalow, there is no escape from having to go in and out of the two small hallways. We did our best, by leaving one of them free, which meant I was exiled from the small office room. But the other hallway is essential for access to both bathroom and kitchen, so disturbance of the tradesman was inevitable.

But worst of all, Ollie’s habit of following me around had to be curtailed. He could not understand why he wasn’t allowed to accompany me into the kitchen or bedroom, and why he was not allowed to lay down against the freshly-painted skirting boards. Much of the day was spent telling him to ‘Lie down’, ‘Stay’, or ‘Move’. He just didn’t understand what he was doing wrong, and took it as if he was being scolded for something. The sorrowful expression on his wrinkled face was painful to behold.

By yesterday afternoon, as all seven doors were in the process of being painted, the area available to the distressed dog had been reduced to not much more than twice his own size. Refusing to rest, he just stood staring at me, wondering why I wouldn’t throw his toys, or play tug-of-war with them. Even extra strokes and fuss couldn’t shake his gloomy mood. Once the painter had finished, and left for the day, Ollie naturally presumed that he would be granted his usual freedom to roam. But no. We had seven wet doors and some skirting boards to contend with, and he could not be allowed to brush past them, or lean against them.

I took him out to the kitchen for his dinner, shepherding him carefully past the wet paint. When he had eaten, he expected his evening play as usual. But once again, I had to disappoint him, as I could not risk him swiping one of his large stuffed toys across the fresh paint. His gloomy visage returned, and he slumped down on his rug with an audible sigh. I felt so guilty, and wished he could understand it was only temporary. But he couldn’t of course, and spent the evening stressed, and unable to relax, constantly seeking reassurance.

Today, we have no work going on. Ollie has crashed out, fast asleep on his rug. He is catching up on all the rest he has lost over the last three days, and dreaming his canine dreams.

I dare not mention the carpet layers, who are arriving next week. I will let him rest for now.

Blogging on a Tablet

This is a blog post about nothing more than blogging, and having to do that on a small device after years of using a PC.
With decorating going on, using the small office room is not an option today.

So I have retreated into the living room, and for the first time, I am attempting to do my blog and emails using a Tablet, specifically the Amazon Kindle Fire.

Going from a bright 24-inch monitor to a so-so 10-inch screen is a big jump for me. And having to use the irritatingly sensitive keypad device instead of hammering a keyboard is very frustrating. I make endless mistakes, even more so as the device keeps using its own suggested words, instead of those I wanted to type.

Over the years, I have realised that many of my fellow bloggers are happy to use ‘pads’ to write their blogs on. Some even use mobile phones, which sounds incredible to me. The tiny print on Tablets and phones is at the limits of my failing eyesight, so I take off my metaphorical hat to those of you who manage this every day.

Until the painter is finished, this will be my only blog post today.

Then I will return to the PC, and count my blessings.