Sunday 28 April 2024

No such longing

I'm not nostalgic. Meaning I don't long to be back in some earlier time that I see as much better than the present.

The fact is that the past is always a mixture of good and bad, and it's easy to glamorise the positive aspects while overlooking the bad.

Such as the 1960s. Yes, it was a time of amazing creativity and cultural delights, but it wasn't much fun for victimised gays, or women who were expected to be in favour of free love - which in practice meant sexual availability.

But you could say I'm nostalgic not for a particular time period but for everyday things that seem preferable to their present equivalent.

Like making purchases. They used to be a simple matter of handing over cash or a cheque. But nowadays you need all sorts of technology like QR codes and apps, not to mention passwords and pin numbers.

Like train travel. I used to buy a ticket at a booking office and it would take me from A to B. But today prices vary depending on what time of day you travel, which train company you use and whether you book at the station or online.

I could imagine being nostalgic for some earlier time if my present life was utterly miserable and disastrous, but thankfully it isn't anything of the sort. Even when my life seemed a bit bleak and empty in my late twenties I never wished I could go back to an earlier period. I just assumed things would get better.

But it would be quite fun to pay a flying visit to the days of Beatlemania and bell bottoms and Black Forest Gateaux.

Wednesday 24 April 2024

Goodbye dating

It seems an absolute age now between the settled seventies me today and the twenties me when I was still starting out in life and pondering what the future held.

In particular it seems like an eternity from the years when I was still dating and wondering if I would find a long-term partner or if I would become a lonely old codger.

Am I glad I'm not dating any more. I read about people's disappointing dating experiences - dates who aren't what they expected, dates with embarrassing mannerisms, dates who turn out to be married etc etc - and I'm thankful I don't have to go through all that again.

I don't have to ask myself all those awkward pre-dating questions. What will she think of me? Will she find me boring? Will she think I'm weird? Will she like the way I'm dressed? Will she be put off by my height or my voice or my taste in books/films/music?

The whole dating scenario is now so long ago that I can barely remember it, but I must have been a bundle of nerves every time I went out with someone new and hoped they might be "the one".

What a relief it is to have a long-term partner who is as devoted to me as I am to her, and I'm no longer looking for "a likely prospect". We can just enjoy each other's company and let the years go by.

I can hear about people's dating horror stories without having to add a dozen horror stories of my own.

Saturday 20 April 2024

Smoking dilemma

As a life-long non-smoker, I'm intrigued by the British government's latest attempts to reduce cigarette-smoking and reduce tobacco-related hospital admissions.

They're hoping to pass a new law that would ban the sale of cigarettes to anyone under 15, with the age limit rising each year.

A similar law proposed in New Zealand was heavily opposed and it has now been scrapped by the incoming New Zealand government.

I must say I'm of two minds whether the proposed English law is a good idea. Yes, I'm all in favour of anything that makes people healthier but would people observe the new law or would they try to find ways around it?

You could get an older friend to buy the cigarettes for you, or you could lie about your age, or there would no doubt be a black market in fags you could resort to.

And how would shopkeepers know if you were over 15 or not? If they asked for ID, they could be insulted or threatened.

On the other hand, the sale of alcohol is subject to a similar ban, which says you can't sell alcohol to anyone under 18. It seems to work quite well and nobody is lobbying for the age limit to be scrapped. And young people are consuming much less alcohol anyway, largely because they're more aware of the long-term health risks.

I think on balance I support the new law, if nothing else because it would emphasise the dangers of smoking.

Tuesday 16 April 2024

No prayers please

I have no problem with people who're religious, if that helps them through life's difficulties. But I think religious belief is essentially a private matter and shouldn't be imposed on people who have no interest in religion.

A Muslim pupil has lost a legal case against a London school that has a ban on prayers after an earlier controversy over religious observance.

The pupil argued that the prayer ban was an act of discrimination against ethnic minorities and made her feel "alienated from society".

But the prayer ban only applies within the school. There's nothing to stop her praying or following her religious beliefs anywhere else.

When I was at boarding school I was expected to attend two religious services every Sunday, although they meant nothing to me but a waste of 1½ hours.

We occasionally get religious leaflets through our letterbox, and we occasionally get approaches from religious charities, but in general believers (who are numerous in Northern Ireland) keep a low profile and don't try to get us interested.

In fact I have no idea whether any of our immediate neighbours are religious or not, with one exception. The subject just never comes up.

As the school head teacher Katharine Birbalsingh says "A school should be free to do what is right for the pupils it serves. Schools should not be forced by one child and her mother to change its approach simply because they have decided they don't like something."

Friday 12 April 2024

Going private

Given that the waiting time for NHS surgery can now be several years, Jenny and I have decided that if either of us needed urgent surgery, we would have to do the unthinkable and opt to use a private hospital.

But one thing that bothers us about private surgery is that if anything goes horribly wrong, the hospital won't be able to deal with it (as most of them don't have intensive care units) and we'd have to be transferred to an NHS hospital. Which was easy enough a few years ago before the ambulance crisis, but now you may have to wait several hours for an ambulance, by which time you could be dead or much more seriously ill.

As we're both in fairly good physical health and have no problematic medical conditions, we assume that the chances of an unexpected medical emergency are pretty small, but even supposedly routine operations can lead to unforeseen mistakes and catastrophes.

Literally tens of thousands of people are dying because they're not getting prompt medical attention from the NHS. Ambulances are overwhelmed, A&E departments are overwhelmed, hospital wards are overwhelmed. We don't want to end up as another delayed-treatment statistic.

If either of us need urgent surgery, goodness knows what decision we'll make. All I know is that more and more people are going private because of the huge NHS waiting lists. They're willing to take risks in order to end chronic pain and get a normal life back.

Monday 8 April 2024

Pets and vets

 A lot of people are complaining about veterinary clinics, saying that they charge too much, don't always give a high-quality service, and are too keen to offer unnecessary scans and tests and procedures.

We don't have any pets, so we have no comment to make, but clearly a lot of pet-owners are far from happy.

A large number of previously independent veterinary clinics have been taken over by big corporations and hedge funds, whose only object it seems is to make as much money as possible out of pet-owners' distress and anxiety.

Ruth Armstrong's Labrador Blackmore had a seizure and she suspected it was time to put him to sleep. The vet advised further investigation - an MRI scan, blood tests and a metabolic check. The bill would be over £7000. Blackmore had more seizures and she and her husband opted simply to put him to sleep.

Ruth believes many owners would rather see pets relieved of their suffering than have vets throw everything at them to extend their lives a bit longer.

There's a veterinary clinic very near to us, the Earlswood Veterinary Clinic. It's owned by one of the big companies, IVC Evidensia, which owns 1074 veterinary practices in the UK. Predictably there's no price list on their website, which suggests they charge whatever they can.

I know some of my blogmates have pets, and I would be interested to hear what you think of your veterinary clinic. Are you happy or unhappy?

Thursday 4 April 2024

Warts and all

I'm quite happy with my appearance and I don't care what other people think about it. I don't care if they think I'm ugly or wrinkled or doddery or ancient-looking. They're not going to tell me how they see me anyway so why should it bother me?

As I see it I just look like a typical 77 year old bloke and I've no wish to look anything different. I certainly don't wish I looked 50 years younger, or looked like George Clooney, or looked like a body-builder.

Neither have I ever considered any kind of cosmetic surgery. Once you go down that road you can easily get hooked on it and end up trying one procedure after another - until you look totally artificial. And in any case I have a horror of operations.

But some elderly people hate the way they look and wish they looked young again, or wish they were wrinkle-free. They just can't accept the way they look as perfectly natural and normal and not worth obsessing about.

The way I look is less important to me than whether I'm physically and mentally healthy and able to enjoy life to the full - which I am.

I was never especially eye-catching even when I was young. I had very ordinary looks. I was never going to be pursued by bedazzled women or for that matter bedazzled men. That was something I missed out on, but I don't think I would have enjoyed that level of attention anyway.

I am what I am, warts and wrinkles and all.