No, not your blog of course. I concede that your posts are succinct, insightful, humorous and well worth reading. That is why I would appreciate it if you could spare a moment to cast your eye over my efforts and let me know how I can encourage people to read it. On the other hand it may be the most boring blog, someone's has to be.

Newark market place

Newark market place
Newark market place dull Saturday morning

Newark Church

Newark Church
Two residents at the weir

Snowy Dry Doddington

Snowy Dry Doddington
Snow on the road to not very Dry Doddington

Raleigh Runabout RM6 Refurbished

Raleigh Runabout RM6 Refurbished
Look for the "before" in the blog post

Saturday, 10 February 2007

Work began in 1963

Some time during late 1962 or early 1963 I was seen by the careers officer at school. I hadn't given any serious thought to post school employment apart from being certain that I did not to become an engineering apprentice in Lincoln. This was the fate of most lads from the area who were of average ability. The working classes all thought, get a trade, job for life. Little did we know.

My main interests at the time were motorbikes, fishing, model making, pop music and pretty unsuccessfully, trying to get off with young women. The careers officer asked me what I wanted to be.
"An AA man", I said (this would have enabled me to ride a motorbike and sidecar and get paid for it).
"Don't be ridiculous" he said "you're at grammar school. Have you thought of joining the forces?"
"No, I'm a pacifist" I replied confident in my status as I had been on two Aldermaston marches. I knew the words of the songs:

"Can't you hear the H Bomb thunder
Echo like the crack of doom
As it rends the sky asunder
Fall out makes the earth a tomb
Men and women stand together
Do not heed the men of war
Make your mind up now or never
Ban the Bomb for evermore"
This was obviously not a line of discussion he came up against frequently and he abandoned trying to get me to "join the Army and see the world" as I think the saying went at the time. After half an hours careers counselling I left his room with the names of five engineering firms in Lincoln in my hand. The first one, Allen Gwynnes Pumps was the first to offer me an interview and gave me a job. So much for my resolve.

I started in September 1963. The firm was making huge cooling pumps for Wylfa nuclear power station (pictured above) and I was roped in to help film the mock up of the project. Not as bad as I thought this engineering. Alas this was a temporary highspot. Within a couple of weeks all the new apprentices were in the training shop where we would remain for one year. The majority of the work was the completion of fitting and turning tests which I found deadly dull. It was not for me and I left at the end of the first year. We were indentured apprentices then and the firm could insist you stayed. In my case they didn't so I assume we were in agreement about my suitability.

The experience was not without it's benefits. Most notably you had to make a rapid transition from schoolboy to developing adult. If you were unlucky you might undergo initiations like having your testicles smeared with grease or engineers blue. Less unpleasant would be to be sent to the tool store for "a long rest". The storeman would tell you to wait. After some time you would ask again, only to be told you had now had the rest and could return to your bench. Bollocking from foreman likely. Every industry has these tricks to make you realise how little you know. In later life when working as a ward assistant in a hospital I was told by a group of worried looking female nurses grouped round a patient that there was an emergency and I should run and get the Fallopian tubes. I realised I had been duped as I arrived panting at the door of the room which I had been told contained them.

Anyway I left in 1964 and the firm went bust and closed soon afterwards. See they should never have let me go.

Too Much Time on My Mind Shannon

A first. I have just had someone from Denver Colorado respond to my blog with a question. Tried to answer the query but the email was returned. In the unlikely event of Shannon returning to my blog, here is the email I tried to send on the subject of pub quizzes:

"Hello Shannon,

I've not been so excited in ages, one person on earth has read my blog.

I haven't been to Denver (or indeed America) but I assume, perhaps wrongly that you don't have pubs (public houses) there. So therefore no pub quizzes? Quizzes have joined darts, dominoes, arguing about nothing, talking bollocks and saying things you will regret tomorrow as a popular activity to accompany drinking in English pubs. Not sure about Scotland and Ireland.

Are they difficult? It depends if you know the answers, and I often don't. But my fellow team members do so we win free beer from time to time. The Castle and Falcon in Newark where we have a go at the quiz is a decent pub with a predominantly working class clientele and our quizmaster sets what you might call "tabloid questions". The questions tend to require knowledge of "facts" about TV soaps, films, celebrities, sport, kings, queens, historical dates, capital cities, acronyms, biggest, smallest etc, things I'm either not interested in, or can't be bothered to remember. I suppose the questions are aimed at "what" rather then "why" or "how". Example from week before last "what is a mysoginist?" - not many of the men knew but a few would qualify. By the way about equal numbers of women and men participate.

Good fun on a Sunday night but feelings can run high both within teams and between them. All the teams think that the others are getting more help from the quizmaster. Any way is there a quiz culture in the States?

A final word on pubs. Sadly the traditional smallish local English pub is on the decline. This is for many reasons but importantly it is much cheaper to drink at home now here. Not the same I am afraid.

Anyway thanks the comment, and if you get the time let me know about quizzes and bars in Denver.

All the best,


Sunday, 4 February 2007

Which is best Exercise Bike or Honda ANF 125?

For the majority of my adult life I have engaged in some sort of physical activity. I am useless at sport so it has usually been something worthy like running or swimming to keep fit.

Christ isn't swimming boring, the only saving grace is you are always clean (or maybe with a thin coating of other participants urine). My regular exercise is now two trips to the gym each week.

Do I enjoy it? Well like the curate's egg it is good in parts. It is easy to think of reasons to put off going. However if I don't go then I am riddled with anxiety about imminent heart failure which I have convinced myself I am one gym session away from. So the pattern of my life is:

  • Go to the gym and leave feeling self righteous, robust and also elated that I do not have to go for a few days
  • Any aches and pains I get in the next day or so are seen by me as due to the vigorous life enhancing exercise
  • The euphoria wears off and aches and pains are now surely evidence of an impending heart attack
  • Lethargy and depression set in due to expected life threatening condition
  • Check symptoms on Web, situation even worse than expected
  • Go to gym one last time but leave feeling self righteous etc
  • Repeat process

Is it really worth exercising to keep fit when fish, fowl, sheep and beef may all tainted. What did you have for Sunday lunch today? Poached mercury, or roast bird flu, scrapie or CJD?

It's not possible that I am a neurotic hypochondriac, is it?

Anyway to cheer myself up this week I bought the Honda Innove ANF 125 pictured above from a very nice guy in Barnet. I have probably saved it from a lifetime of pizza hauling and now like an old seaside donkey it can retire to an easier life in the country. In my garage I now have examples from the last forty years of two wheel commuters. Why? Don't ask me. I do know that riding them is better fun than going to the gym.