Guest Post: Humour From Gavin Marriott

Today, Gavin has sent me something humorous.

God, she is marvellous.

God created Seniors. Most seniors never get enough exercise. In His wisdom, God decreed that seniors become forgetful so they would have to search for their glasses, keys, and other things, thus doing more walking. And God looked down and saw that it was good.

Then God saw there was another need. In His wisdom He made seniors lose coordination so they would drop things, requiring them to bend, reach, and stretch. And God looked down and saw that it was good.

Then God considered the function of bladders and decided seniors would have additional calls of nature, requiring more trips to the bathroom, thus providing more exercise. God looked down and saw that it was good.

So if you find, as you age, you are getting up and down more, remember it’s God’s will. It is all in your best interest even though you mutter under your breath.

Nine Important Facts to Remember as We Grow Older:
#9 Death is the number 1 killer in the world.
#8 Life is sexually transmitted.
#7 Good health is merely the slowest possible rate at which one can die.
#6 Men have two motivations: hunger and sex, and they can’t tell them apart. If you see a gleam in his eyes, make him a sandwich.
#5 Give a person a fish and you feed them for a day. Teach a person to use the Internet and they won’t bother you for weeks, months, maybe years.
#4 Health nuts are going to feel stupid someday, lying in the hospital, dying of nothing.
#3 All of us could take a lesson from the weather. It pays no attention to criticism.
#2 In the 60’s, people took LSD to make the world weird. Now the world is weird, and people take Prozac to make it normal.
#1 Life is like a jar of jalapeno peppers. What you do today may be a burning issue tomorrow.

Welcome To The Future: A Guest Post From Gavin Marriott

When we click ‘accept cookies’, or open up our lives online for any reason, we can already see some of the implications. Your smartphone is listening to you, and that Alexa in the corner is also recording any product or service you might mention. The webcam on your laptop is watching you, (put some tape over it, really) and the amount of data stored about your life is far greater than you might imagine.

Gavin has sent me this guest post, which highlights where we might all be heading in the not-too distant future.

Gavin of Canterbury
Welcome To The Future

CALLER: Is this Pizza Hut?
GOOGLE: No sir, it’s Google Pizza.
CALLER: I must have dialled a wrong number, sorry.
GOOGLE: No sir, Google bought Pizza Hut last month.
CALLER: OK. I would like to order a pizza.
GOOGLE: Do you want your usual, sir?
CALLER: My usual? You know me?
GOOGLE: According to our caller ID data sheet, the last 12 times you called you ordered an extra-large pizza with three cheeses, sausage, pepperoni, mushrooms and meatballs on a thick crust.
CALLER: Super! That’s what I’ll have
GOOGLE: May I suggest that this time you order a pizza with ricotta, arugula, sun-dried tomatoes and olives on a whole wheat gluten-free thin crust?
CALLER: What? I don’t want a vegetarian pizza!
GOOGLE: Your cholesterol is not good, sir.
CALLER: How the hell do you know that?
GOOGLE: Well, we cross-referenced your home phone number with your medical records. We have the result of your blood tests for the last 7 years.
CALLER: Okay, but I do not want your rotten vegetarian pizza! I already take medication for my cholesterol.
GOOGLE: Excuse me sir, but you have not taken your medication regularly. According to our database, you purchased only a box of 30 cholesterol tablets once at Chemist warehouse, 4 months ago.
CALLER: I bought more from another Pharmacy.
GOOGLE: That doesn’t show on your credit card statement.
CALLER: I paid in cash.
GOOGLE: But you did not withdraw enough cash according to your bank statement.
CALLER: I have other sources of cash.
GOOGLE: That doesn’t show on your latest tax returns, unless you bought them using an undeclared income source, which is against the law!
GOOGLE: I’m sorry sir, we use such information only with the sole intention of helping you.
CALLER: Enough already! I’m sick to death of Google, Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp and all the others. I’m going to an island without the internet, TV, where there is no phone service and no one to watch me or spy on me.
GOOGLE: I understand sir, but you need to renew your passport first. It expired 6 weeks ago…

Guest Post: Medical Advice From Gavin

Gavin has good advice about the prevention of choking on food, using his many years of experience in the Ambulance Service in London, and New Zealand.

Hi folks, 2 things I feared most when I was in the ambulance service. One was asthma & the other similar was choking. I was the first in NZ to teach the Heimlich manoeuvre & got into trouble for it. I’m pleased to see in the video in the news story courtesy of Wellington Free, they have brought it back.

(This is not the video clip mentioned, just an illustration of the technique-Pete.)

Some advice
Never sneak up on someone while they are eating or give them a fright, such as saying HI by slapping them on the back. Eat small bites of steak and not chewy bits – no need to be polite, spit them out. And don’t forget Oranges. The meat on that is a regular choker as the acid can make you gulp. For children, eating oranges like we did at half time is safest, not peeled or Mandarins are better.

Only advanced paramedics have the equipment & can do cricothyroid punctures, certainly not in rural areas. An off duty doctor would struggle without the right gear but a midwife did it successfully in the Hawkes Bay a few years ago.

Guest Post: Cyclone Devastation In New Zealand

My thanks to Gavin Marriott for this guest post.

Cyclone Gabrielle

For most in England the news about New Zealand is that their English Cricket team (led by a Kiwi coach & captain by the way) is touring here at the mo. So we gave them a welcome of wet pitches. The same welcome given to Princess Anne who is here at the moment too.

New Zealand has just had its first tropical cyclone (only in the upper North Island). We knew it was coming and it brought gusts of 160 kilometres an hour (100 mph). Many parts of northern New Zealand were already waterlogged by a record rainfall a fortnight previous. Cyclone Gabrielle added much more along with 11 metre (36 foot) waves. Scientists say it fed off unusually warm seas driven by climate change and La Nina weather patterns.

There are many towns cut off with no power or communication. Deaths include a volunteer fireman and bodies have been seen floating down rivers.

The RNZAF here seen winched hundreds of people off the roofs of their houses. At the same time the RNZ Navy had to rescue a yachtsman in the storm some distance from land. New Zealand may be the same land mass as Great Britain but most of it is mountains, up to 12,000ft, therefore limited places to build towns. The English settlers of 180 years ago built in places they shouldn’t – alongside rivers, next to lakes, on drained swamps, onhillsides, cliff tops and flood plains. An interesting fact here is when our settlements were designed back in England, they were built to face the sun. We are in the southern hemisphere – so they were the wrong way around!

After the Christchurch earthquakes a dozen years go (which I survived) we suffered at having a large city built on swamp land. Folks, they are rebuilding on the same land and on new drained swamps. Our new hospital on a riverbank has permanent pumps operating. This cyclone has followed a tough time during Covid recovery where we borrowed Billions– in addition to the Billons borrowed for the Christchurch earthquake rebuild. That resulted in high insurance premiums nationally and so many in New Zealand couldn’t afford to insure. Crop producers have endured previous flooding and so Britain will not get much of our exports at a time they have left Europe.

In comparison to Britain, for a population of 5 million, we have highways the same length that some will need a total rebuild and re routing around hills, same as railways, with many new bridges.

Its going to be a massive financial blow and I don’t know how we will recover, given this is most likely going to be repeated, and thanks to global warming – soon.

After the recent Pike River mine tragedy (29), the Mosque massacre (51) and the White island eruption (22) – is anyone interested in the cricket?

Guest Post: Gavin Marriott

My thanks to Gavin for this interesting article about one of New Zealand’s ‘finest’.

A Fairlie good story about Sir Bill Hamilton.

I’d like to tell you about a farm boy brought up from the same locality I was, albeit 50 years earlier. Much information is in the newspaper article below (if you are able to open it).

The area down here is called South Canterbury but will have its Māori name of Aoraki used. It is in the centre of the South island and nearby our highest mountain Mt Cook and alongside multiple lakes all a turquoise colour (to do with the glacier rock flour). The night sky is a world heritage site and one of the best places to see the stars. It’s a tourist mecca. My family church is one of the most photographed in the world.

Apart from the lakes the place is a barren desert of tussock grass, rabbits and sheep. But the lakes supply hydro power down some rivers. So it must be in the water down here that such a remote place in the world in a mostly unheard of nation where world leading inventions are made. Ed Hillary trained on the mountains here (with my uncle) and Richard Pearse flew here before the Wright Bros. The ski plane was invented here too. The main town here is Fairlie, named after a town in Scotland. The district is called Mackenzie after an infamous Scottish sheep stealer that is more legend around here. The local pipe band is often heard. The rugby team is called the Rams as you could guess and the town is the butt internationally of a certain sheep joke (deserved).

Most have propellers but a few now have a jet unit that pushes water out the back at such force the boat can go faster, reverse immediately, spin around and sail in very shallow waters (like a few inches). To put it in perspective, many on the River Thames, the fast English channel ferries are jets as is the new Shannon class RNLI lifeboats.
These jet units are called ‘Hamilton jets’ named after Sir Bill Hamilton and still manufactured by his family just around the corner of my main home in Christchurch city.

But Bill did much more. During the depression he invented farm machinery and hydro electric schemes to save the farmers money and during the war munitions inventions for Britain. But as is usual, the locals in Fairlie were not overly aware of him so I thought a statue a good idea and the article if you can read it will show that project.

Guest Post: Gavin Marriott

My thanks to Gavin for his guest post about the changing attitudes in society.

Major turning points in society.

We all see the wonderful pictures Pete sends us, and you laugh or cringe at the noticeable societal changes. Less smoking is a classic. On the other hand swear words are now normal and effin acceptable! One must also notice that climate changes as becoming a dramatic turning point. But there is another change that has turned the way we now live – completely. I can only give you the 2 major examples from New Zealand but I well know there are identical cases that occurred in your countries.

In 1987, Teresa Cormack was an adorable 6 year old walking on her own to school in the city of Napier. She was enticed into a strangers car, raped and her body found on a beach. The whole town went out looking for her and every man a suspect. Soon men all over the country were suspects. It broke up marriages and parents now had to drop off and pick their children up from school – the mother, not the father. The roads became clogged twice a day with many children run over and some school turned sports fields into car parks. The culprit was found years later by fluke thanks to modern DNA records. But on the way several men had their lives ruined, had to escape to another country, were never allowed to see their children and change their names.

In 1993, Peter Ellis was a creche supervisor at a day care in Christchurch. Out of the blue a parent told others her child said Peter performed indecent acts and bizarre rituals. Peter was perhaps gay. The education authorities got a psych to interview all the children – who got rewards for saying nasty things about Peter. He spent a decade in jail and recently died of cancer. Just last week he was proved to be innocent – as the “victims”, now adults, stated it was made up and the psych a man hater.

So we now have several generations brought up on the philosophy of “stranger danger”. We have females in their 30s who cannot socialise and many not formed hetero relationships. Many refuse to deal or work with a male and as a JP I have several who will only come to me if they can stand up and I sit down and not look at them. They will be accompanied by a witness and you are not allowed to talk to them. Men will no longer work in teaching and foolish if they do. As a solo dad I can tell you how hard it was being out with my boys and changing nappies in a park and if seen by a female, would get a police call out. Thank God I didn’t have girls. My mate in a similar situation gave his girl up for adoption as it was too hard.

So thanks to these 2 cases, the world had a major change with a gigantic cost.
But the final piece is

From Gavin Marriott JP, NZ.

Guest Post: Gavin Marriott On London Songs And Music

London music

When I went to school in NZ, we had no TV, and so we played games like Monopoly. We were a musical family and on Saturday nights we had a talent quest or one of us organised a show. From the other side of the world I had certainly heard of the “British invasion” – the term for the pop groups of the day. I got into a band myself and learning their songs was expected.

So when I went to London in 1980 it all proved real. Getting dispatched to jobs from Ambulance Control was like they were using a Monopoly board.

Then our Chelsea station did a social trip to Dagenham to a pub where a band called The Tremeloes were playing. “How dare some local lads call themselves the same name as one of my favourite bands” I said to our organiser. I was persuaded to be sociable and so I went.
Well this band poked into the pub corner started off with a Tremeloes hit and sounded and looked like them. Gobsmacked I yelled at my workmates “This is The Tremeloes”. They all laughed saying “how come you have heard of them?” The band heard this and said “You sound like a Kiwi. We are number 1 over there. Would you like a request?” So I rattled off all their hits and my workmates were speechless.

There are so many things I loved about London. I have London pictures etc in my house. When Pete puts his nostalgic posts on here, my tears raise the Thames each time.

But there’s another part of London that’s unique and that’s its music.

A good question to ask is how many songs there are? Thousands. I will rattle off some and you can look them up yourselves or comment on your own favourites – and there will be many of all genres.

A Foggy Day in London Town by Gershwin, A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square by Vera Lynn, Any Old Iron by Harry Champion, Baker Street by Gerry Rafferty, Burlington Bertie from Bow by Herbie Flowers, Carry On London by Billy Cotton, Changing the Guards at Buckingham Palace, Dark Streets of London by The Pogues, Dedicated Follower of Fashion by The Kinks, Donald Where’s Your troosers by Andy Stewart (“I went down to London Town I had some fun in the underground”), England Swings by Roger Miller, Finchley Central by New Vaudeville Band, In A Golden Coach by Billy Cotton, Itchycoo Park (Little Ilford Park) by Small Faces, It’s a Long Way to Tipperary, Kew Gardens by Ralph McTell, Knees Up Mother Brown, Knocked ’em in the Old Kent Rd by Albert Chevalier, The Lambeth Walk, Last Night in Soho by Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich, Last Train to London by ELO, London Bridge is Falling Down, London‘s Burning, London Pride by Noël Coward, Maybe It’s Because I’m a Londoner by Hubert Gregg, Old Father Thames, Paddington Bear by Bernard Cribbins, Petticoat Lane by Stanley Holloway, Puttin’ on The Ritz by Irving Berlin, Rainy Night in Soho by The Pogues, Streets of London by Ralph McTell, Waterloo Sunset by The Kinks, Werewolves of London, West End Girls by Pet Shop Boys, When the Lights Go Up in London by Hubert Gregg, The Wombles, (lots of songs about Piccadilly & Soho)

Then there are military band items like London Calling by Eric Coates, Birdcage Walk, Down the Mall, Knightsbridge and the Yeoman of the Guard by Gilbert & Sullivan.

NZ Firsts: A Guest Post From Gavin Marriott

Not many of us know that much about New Zealand. In this short post, Gavin gives us some interesting facts about his country, and includes video clips too.

NZ firsts

Firstly! We always abbreviate New Zealand as NZ.

Zealand is a place in Holland so named courtesy of Dutch discoverer Abel Tasman in 1642. But he never set foot. That was Yorkshireman James Cook in 1769.

We get known as Kiwis after our national bird. Now to most in Europe & America, NZ gets lumped under the banner of our neighbour Australia. In London I got asked if there was a bridge between the two islands. There is a thousand mile ditch between the two, and politically Australia & NZ are like England & France or USA & Canada. We actually don’t get on well together. Yes Aussie beat us at sports (we drink out of saucers apparently as they have all the cups). Mutton and wool are still major exports and so we can’t get away from the international sheep jokes. But most now know us as Peter Jackson and the Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit. But little NZ of 5 million people (land mass just bigger than Britain) has some amazing world firsts.

☻ With international time zones, we are the first to see the sun each day. Yes tourists flock to a town called Gisborne and take a photo of the sun rising out of the sea and send it to their friends in Europe who are now turning their lights on the night before or to LA having lunch the day before.

☻ 1893 NZ were the first to give women the vote.

☻ 1899 the first to work an 8 hour day (we still celebrate that as a public holiday).

☻ 1917 Ernest Rutherford split the atom. There is a memorial where his house was in Nelson and near me you can visit his studio at the old university.

☻ 1939 NZ declared war with Germany first, before Britain (because of the time zone).

☻ 1953 Edmund Hillary was the first to climb the highest peak. I have met Hillary. He trained for his climbing with my uncle. A photo of them stands proudly in my lounge.

☻ 1954 Bill Hamilton invented the jet boat unit which is used now all over the world. The Hamilton Jet powers many of the British ferries and now the RNLI boats. Bill came from my 2nd home town of Fairlie and currently I am leading a project to get a statue for him.

☻ 1987 AJ Hackett invented bungy jumping and made headlines by jumping from the Eiffel Tower. Now tourists flock here to jump off our bridges – and they pay to do it.

☻ 1999 the first transgender MP.

☻ By the way the famous McLaren F1 racing car, that was Bruce McLaren from Auckland, whom I met at school.

☻ But I go back to Richard Pearse. Kiwis will tell you he was the first to fly (the Kiwi is a flightless bird so some pun). I go past where he flew quite often and also visit his grave as it is near my uncle. Richard died the year I was born.
Witness accounts (later as affidavits) state his flights were “after, during or before” certain events like weather, wars, visits, the teacher etc. Some of these put his flight as 1902 but they were uncontrolled flights. But it is recorded that his first controlled flight was March 1903. As he was doing this in a remote part of the South Island away from the world eyes and media communication, he got pushed aside.

This clip can be watched on You Tube by clicking on the link.

Guest Post: Gavin Marriott On Scottish Independence

In 2014, Scotland was allowed to conduct a referendum to become an independent country. Over 55% of eligible voters chose to vote to stay in the United Kingdom. But the issue never went away, and the current leader of the devolved Scottish Parliament, Nicola Sturgeon, has announced another referendum, which will take place in October 2023. In this short guest post, Gavin considers the issues around the defence of both an independent Scotland, and the rest of Great Britain, should the vote be different next time.

Scottish independence and defence. Gavin Marriott

Due to an event during my time in the London Ambulance Service in the early 80s, I have a close association with a small part of the UK armed forces.
In 2014, I was their guest for the ceremonies for the beginning of the WW1 centenary in London and Belgium, and I did a trip around Scotland. I have Scottish blood in me. The bagpipes do something positive to my cardiovascular system.

But all this coincided with the Scottish independence vote, and I had to be careful raising discussion with arch rivals literally sitting either side of me. And there were times you could have cut the air above me with a blunt knife.

With Brexit and other events, the independence vote is on the agenda again. I will not discuss the pros nor cons or even contemplate a view. But in this discussion, I want to focus on an aspect ignored in the consequence of independence, and that is Defence.

It is more than a case of giving the Scots Guards to Scotland. Those guardsmen are mainly English or from the commonwealth anyway. Firstly, an independent Scotland would have to apply to join the EU & NATO. To not join either would be unthinkable. But joining would take years with criteria and hoops to meet – like having a 2% of GDP spend on its military.

The Scottish Parliament has made it abundantly clear, the Trident nuclear submarine base on the Clyde would leave Scotland. These are Britain’s major defence deterrent. There is nowhere else in Britain with the deep water to house theses subs and to shift them to America would have to be considered at a cost of multi billions and Scottish job losses.
The same with RAF Lossiemouth which has Britain’s entire maritime patrol and early warning aircraft stationed there. There are also British radar installations which would need moving.

So why are the subs, aircraft and radar based in Scotland? Because Scotland is closest to the threat of Russia (North Sea, Norwegian Sea and the Atlantic) and would be the first attacked. It is sparsely populated and would be easy pickings. Scotland is 32% of the UK landmass and has a coastline of over 10,000 miles. So its in Scotland’s favour for Britain to have these facilities in Scotland. It allows any threat to be spotted far away and intercepted in time (and Russia often tests this).
Scotland not having these assets would affect its NATO membership and Scotland not being part of NATO would leave it open to a Russian takeover. That would threaten England. So there could be more tension than football rivalry.

With major UK bases in Scotland and Scotland building warships, they gain a lot financially from UK’s combined military. Also what about the Scots that make up 15% of the UK military yet only have 8% of the UK population. What would there be for them in Scotland?

Look at a country with a similar population, New Zealand. We have no fighter aircraft, only 2 warships and only 2 regular infantry battalions. But we are in close cooperation with Australia and we do have 4 of the latest maritime patrol planes. Scotland would need more than 4 (The RAF have 9). Belgium and Netherlands now have a joint military squadron and the British and French aircraft carriers are compatible. Could Scotland be independent with an English or American military alliance. It would have to keep the subs for that.

So could Scotland go it alone??

Guest Post: Gavin Marriott

Motorcycling Madness

With 5 deaths the other day – bringing the total now to 265 – the Isle of Man TT “race” again draws the shaking of heads from us normal of the species.
For those that don’t know much about this, it is one of the world’s most famous sporting events where a normal road is closed for “participants” to race over a 1,300ft high mountainous circuit of 37 miles with over 200 turns at over 130mph.

Any ambulanceman will tell you of the motorcycle crashes they’ve attended – well they won’t actually, they’ve attended so many they lose count and forget – usually fractured femurs. I have never understood the madness of putting my whole life on 2 wheels where the amount of rubber actually touching the road would surprise you (about the size of a matchbox) but the worst part is with cornering there is a gravity factor as well. On a motorbike, speed is necessary to counteract gravity.

For over a century the media and tourists flock to his wee island to see a glimpse (all you can see) of a flashing bike race past – to their often doom. Yes it is a basic human right to be free to choose what you do with your own body. The risks and the consequences are well known yet riders keep coming back. Why? To say “they’ve done it”.

By the way, there are 7 funeral firms on the island. Just saying.