Feeling My Age

Getting older has its drawbacks – but it's a lot better than the alternative.

St Pancras station, London
Photo taken with instagram

Daft joke for London rail users…
Q: how many different types of crustacean are there?
A: Four – Charing Crustacean, King’s Crustacean, New Crustacean and St. Pancrustacean…

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Pride And A Fall - April 18th 2011

I decided to blog for a year about feeling my age after falling over – heavily and unexpectedly – in the street last April. The plan was to post one entry for each day over the next 12 months and today I finally made it.


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Tracks outside Victoria Station

Back in 1981 a series of TV adverts featuring Jimmy Savile proclaimed “This is The Age Of The Train” – and with ever rising oil prices  the age of the train has never gone away.  That said, thanks to John Major the taxpayer now hands over far more in subsidies to private train company shareholders each year than it would have cost to run British Rail as a public amenity on the French or German model.

The Age Of The Train: click to view video

But those adverts show that 30 years ago BR fares weren’t as low as you might imagine. An Awayday ticket from Birmingham to Liverpool is shown at £7.80 – whereas today theadvance fare would be £18. And that 1981 price in today’s money, according to thisismoney.co.uk, would be £26.36.

Read more…

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Safe Play Area

April 16, 2012 Feeling My Age

Safe Play Area
Photo taken with Instagram
Having been mystified by the modern school playground, my son and I recently spotted this Safe Play Area of a more traditional British kind.

Sign: CAUTION Falling Debris
Photo taken with Instagram

Adding to the general child-friendly atmosphere, the entire area was cordoned off with security railings and warning signs.

LARA Community Centre & Day Nursery: click to zoom
Click to zoom
Along with this crumbling welcome to the premises by the Louvaine Area Residents Association.  The building itself is the derelict Church of St Peter & St Paul at 92 St John’s Hill, London – just up the road from Clapham Junction.

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Starring Clinton Moore as the Masked Man and Jay Silverheels as his faithful injun companion Tonto… “A fiery horse with the speed of light in a cloud of dust – and a hurried ‘Hi ho Silver’… the Loner Ranger rides again”. You don’t realise how much of this guff off TV sinks into your consciousness when you’re ten or eleven.

The Ranger’s catchphrase inspired the 1967 hit “Hi Ho Silver Lining”, written by American songwriters Scott English and Larry Weiss and first released in March 1967 by The Attack, followed a few days later by Jeff Beck. However the Jeff Beck version charted first, and the song is indelibly associated with him.

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Mystery Playground Structure #1

Strolling down Garratt Lane the other day, Child A spotted these curious structures outside Garratt Park primary school. My son was born forty years after me, yet we still have similar basic expectations of what you might find in a children’s playground: swings, slides, roundabouts, climbing frames – that sort of thing….

Mystery Playground Structure #2

But WTF were these bizarre structures? [More]

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Stoked On Science

April 13, 2012 Feeling My Age

BioSafety Hood

Reblogged from Stoked On Science on Tumblr:

Leaving the lab late at night, I always find the light blue glow that the UV lamp sheds on the inside of the biosafety hood especially beautiful. Although, if I were some tiny bacteria that happened to land inside that hood, I doubt I’d feel very nostalgic about my mutating genome.

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Just heard a chilling Radio 4 programme about ageing by Peter Day:
Download the whole programme as a podcast here

“Life expectancy is currently increasing by two, two and a half years every decade.  What that actually means is that in the course of today your  life expectancy is going to increase by 5-6  hours.  So the reality is that when the alarm clock goes off each morning we’re waking up to a 29 hour day – of which we’re going to use 24 hours now – and put a further 5 hours onto our stockpile for the future.”

“Since people aged 85 and over are the fastest-growing part of the population, we studied about a thousand of them to see whether they had any of 18 different diseases of ageing. We found there was not a single person who had nothing wrong with them – and most people had four, five or six things wrong with them. In the future medical services will need to take account of the fact that older people have lots of things going wrong together at the same time – and that the way you treat one of these conditions may have to take account of others that are present.” (Professor Tom Kirkwood, Newcastle University)


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Toasting test

Gradations of toast done-ness. My preference is for about 45 secs; Child K ranges between 45 secs and 1,45 min; Wife goes for a hardcore 3,15 mins every time. Plenty of scope for family dissent, depending on who’s making breakfast.

Found this on standingintheheartofdarkness via a reblog on the delightful letsjustwastetime whose author Vivien lives in Melbourne and is aged… well only click through and find out if you really, really don’t mind feeling your age:

Let's Just Waste Time blog

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Alley Oop!

April 10, 2012 Feeling My Age


Photo taken with Instagram

Wife just told me the silliest joke I’ve heard in ages…
Q: What do you call someone who cuts hair between two rows of houses?
A: Ali Baba.

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The Iron Duke

April 9, 2012 Feeling My Age

Duke Of Wellington playing cards

Phot taken with Instagram

In view of his huge national popularity following the battle of Waterloo, the Duke Of Wellington was pressed to accept the post of Prime Minister. After his first cabinet meeting, somebody asked him how it had gone.  “It was the most extraordinary thing” said Wellesley. in genuine puzzlement. “I gave them their orders. then all of them wanted to talk about it.”

When a friend told me this anecdote today it reminded of the Spitting Image sketch where The Iron Lady takes her cabinet out to a restaurant:

Waitress: Would you like to order, sir?
Thatcher: Yes. I will have the steak.
Waitress: How would you like it?
Thatcher: Oh, raw, please.
Waitress: And what about the Vegetables?
Thatcher: Oh, they’ll have the same as me!

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Laramie ws an American Western television series by NBC that was shown on BBC TV from 1959 to 1963. It originally starred John Smith as Slim Sherman, Robert Fuller as Jess Harper, Hoagy Carmichael as Jonesy and Robert Crawford, Jr. as Andy Sherman. YouTube shows the credits here in colour, though of course we only ever saw them in blurry black and white…

Although Hoagy Carmichael was dropped after the first series, I never forgot having first seen him on telly as the raddled-looking Jonesy. It was astonishing to later learn that he’d been a glamorous composer earlier in the century, responsible for hits like “Stardust”, “Two Sleepy People” and in particular the superb “Georgia On My Mind”.

Hoagy Carmichael

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London, Brighton & South Coast Railway
Photo: taken with Instagram

Snapped at Victoria Station earlier today: a map of the London, Brighton & South Coast Railway in its pre-nationalisation glory days. Also (below) the grand war memorial entrance to Waterloo station – taken earlier this year.

Waterloo station entrance

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And talking of wartime… This is London Can Take It – an American take on the Blitz Spirit – set to beats and music by the aptly named Public Service Broadcasting. The film of this name was filed by American correspondent Quentin Reynolds and shown to audiences in the USA in order to shore up support for Britain and its allies.

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Old German Woman
Spring 1982: I was living in Hamburg on my dwindling savings, as the house guest of a German couple – and their cat – in a large gloomy apartment just north of the city centre. My whole life at the time was in German: TV, radio, newpapers, magazines, books, records and every human interaction – from breakfast conversation with my hosts – to chatting up strangers in the local sauna by night.

Being immersed in a language and culture I only half understood acted as a kind of filter that gave hard reality something of a fuzzy edge.  Somehow the news that “Die beiden Flugzeugträger HMS Hermes und HMS Invincible der Britischer Flottenverband haben sich nach die Falklandinseln auf den Weg gemacht” was scarier yet somehow removed because I wasn’t quite sure what it meant. But nobody was in any doubt that war was in the air.

Germany was still an occupied country with the Iron Curtain driven right through its heart. The news that Premierministerin Thatcher had seen fit to despatch “drei große atomgetriebene U-Boote” to the South Atlantic struck my German friends with horror. The Soviet army stationed only 60 miles away was paranoid and twitchy enough, without any posturing from the British and their nuclear submarines.

Thirty years ago today as the task force was setting out, I was sipping a coffee on the terrace of the Europaischer Hof – opposite Hamburg’s central station – and fell into conversation with an elderly lady at the next table.

“And where are you from, young man?” she asked in querulous German – and when I replied “Aus England” she shook her head. “Please God let there not be another war” she croaked. “I’ve already lived through two wars. War is terrible… terrible. Please God let there not be another war…”

Grosse Bergstrasse, Hamburg

That’s the thing about the past – it’s fixed: looking back on history events seems somehow inevitable. But just because we got lucky and a particular outcome didn’t in fact happen doesn’t mean the danger was any less great at the time.

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