3 weeks

Shortly I will be husband to my beautiful tee.

When I did the prickle in time blog it all seemed so far away, a wonderful vision built on thoughts of how the wedding will flow.

Those thoughts are now becoming a reality with the wedding being three weeks away.

Numbers booked and changed and booked and changed again. Life does that with the ebb and flow of commitment challenges.

All boxes now ticked and honeymoon finally booked. All inclusive relaxation and celebration in Cyprus.

My biggest challenge will be to reduce tees foot fall to a crawl fall. While the dog walking part of her business has been successful, her feet and shoulders certainly need a break from her gorgeous clients.

3 weeks now.

I’m so excited but if truthful, nervous too. Not that I’m nervous about marrying tee as that is the best decision of my life.

Aside from choosing android over apple.

Sorry apple, but like tee, android is just more open to new experiences and she doesn’t want to control.

Weddings are about two people joining together, separating individuals to join together as one.

Also, weddings are about the word ‘booked’.

The venue booked, registry booked, car booked, booked, booked, booked.

In the war for the perfect wedding, this word clashes with the evil word ‘cost’.

Mention the word wedding and cost gets greedy, it expands in its need to deplete the coffers as any married couple know.

Still, we are there having balanced the booked and cost struggle to shape what we hope to be a beautiful wedding.

I just hope tee turns up!

3 weeks, 3 weeks.

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Before online streaming, before Blockbuster, was ​The Video Shack

It was my golden ray of movie sunshine.  Endless rows of stacked video popcorn ready to delight all sensations.  This was my 80’s heaven.

The long walk to the video shack, the difficult choice of a seemingly impossible selection of movies was all worthwhile when we got home.

As a kid I always thought the name video shack was an odd mix of new and old.

This was a new world of dazzling video, Hollywood comes to our home, whereas shack was a rickety building from the dusty wild west!

I recall at the counter of the video shack a little loss of the magic when handing over a colourful movie poster embossed case, to receive back a bleak blue colourless case with an insert of paper threatening a penance should the movie be returned late.

Yet I knew inside the box was a magical journey to another place.

This addiction to home entertainment video came when our father brought home our first video player.

This was technology happening.  My eyes were lit, my feet fastened.  Watching a blockbuster at home.

Whhhaaatt?

Opening that thick plastic cover back at shelone road, slotting that beautiful brick of videoness into the top loader was a delight of wonderful trepidation.

It closed with 80’s efficiency, and then the magic happened on the big blocky tv with low definition and dolbyless sound.

To these eyes and ears at that age, things couldn’t get any better.

I was introduced to Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris,  E.T. and Indy.   Some films I didn’t understand, but liked for some reason.   I laughed at funny films like blazing saddles, only to watch in later years to understand the true adult meaning of the humour.

So many memories, once my brother and I hired 9 videos and watched in one sitting!

Theatre lost crowds when the cinema gained popularity, which lost to video then to TV.

Thankfully there’s a resurgence in both theatre and cinema but with online streaming the likes of the video shack are becoming the dusty wild west shack, an empty rickety past.

Whatever choice and outlets available, we live for a medium to stir our senses, long may the video shack and it’s many lost brother’s rest in peace for the magic they  brought us, and to the remainder of those who exist we salute you!

An enlightening conversation

Funny the things strangers say to each other to avoid an awkward silence. I kind of like it as sometimes with people we know our choice of subject or certain words need to be carefully chosen.

Yet with a stranger we have the freedom to say anything. Now and then that freedom does lead to unusual conversations.

I was leaving a pet shop in neath and in a rush found access to my car was blocked by an open door of the car next to mine. Someones rear was greeting me which i politely ignored.

The rears owner was attempting a pilates type stretch across the passenger seat to open the door for a nice older lady holding a fluorescent tube. We smiled politely at each other.

The rear was having some difficulty with the door, I considered offering help but the only thing I could talk to was the rear and thats not something I felt comfortable to do.

So the lady, her fluorescent tube and I remained quiet, we smiled again.

She, and for the sake of sense i’ll call the fluorescent holding lady flora and the faceless rear, rhian.

Flora appeared quite proud of her fluorescent tube, she was holding it like a jedi holds their lightsabre.

We smiled again.

With time getting on I considered what conversation to start. Classic one would be the weather, for us Brits theres no better back pocket silence saver as the topic of the weather.

I did wonder on something funny to say about rhians failing pilates.

Flora beat me to it.

Do you know where I can recycle this tube, says flora, we tried the pet store but they wouldnt take it

Ok i thought we have crazy on a saturday morning. Without a morning coffee to sharpen my mind I was feeling off guard. I should have jumped in with the weather.

Talking of which it started to rain, but thats a different blog.

Rhian was not giving up with her car pilates. Oh sorry, flora was still staring at me. It seemed a genuine question.

You could try the recycling centre, they wouldn’t recycle that at the pet store.

Yes thats what they said.

Best to recycle properly if they smash they explode.

I know dangerous.

Theres a recycling centre in briton ferry, do you know where that is. Do you want me to show rhian.

Whos rhian?

Sorry the lady in the car, the driver?

No its ok I’m from up the valleys.

Finally rhian completed her pilates move. The door was open and the seat was ready to be sat on by flora and her flipping fluorescent tube.

Flora continued

My friend is meeting me here he’s local so he can take me.

While rhian finally sat in the front seat, door closed I had access to my car and to my freedom.

One thing puzzled me after I said good byes and was driving away. Why was rhian taking ages to clear the front seat if floras friend was picking her up.

I hope the fluorescent tube finds a good home, and flora gets back to the valleys ok, she seemed very nice

Tentatively tangible

I’m certainly uncertain of this blog being a success, I thought of an idea but that went on hold, due to vagueness and sort of lacking a commitment to a plan.

At work I get infuriated with the tentative response to meetings, surely a yes or no is straightforward.  What’s so difficult, accept or decline!

It’s a simple thing.

Then, it struck.  It’s all relative, inviting someone to a meeting, to dinner, to conversation, to reading a blog is all down to time and their inclination to want.

I’m Tentative…a hold backer, a thought thinker.

I guess there’s a multitude of reasons for remaining tentative, but I guess it boils down to

What’s in it for me

For me, I’m the guy who hesitates at the deal, decides against the trip to the sale, over thinks the thought.  Yet like all thinkers at some point, we need to put the thinking into action otherwise thoughts are..thoughts..

I’m a dreamer, I have been since a child, but as I grow I realise dreaming can be disruptive to achieving something tangible.

So for this blog, I’ve achieved the challenge of creating something tangible with the word tentative, yet my dreams to do something more is intangible unlikely.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mmm, chips from lilywhites

Those were thoughts that got my saliva going and my tummy grumbling with a desire for chips from lillywhites.

As a kid those were the best most amazing bag of chips.  Crunchy golden chip wonderness.

The bag of beautifulness was, well, epic.

Chips from lillywhites made an evening, the best take away treat surely anyone within walking distance of lillywhites chip shop.

Which happened to be located, thankfully where I grew up in sunny Briton Ferry, Wales.

It’s an odd, dangerous experience to revisit such an amazing memory from our youth, whether it’s food, a film, a place.

Those halcyon memories, should they be preserved or risked with ruin to find our adult taste buds, our adult minds or adult eyes have simply moved on, from halcyon to horror or humour at the thought of..

Why did I love that!!!

I passed the lillywhites today and it was sad to see it closed, it’s been closed for a few years, which I knew but sad all the same.

It was a house at the end of a terrace which they made into a chip shop. Proper cute and none of the modern fancy setups.  Just pure love of the deep fried chip!

Thankfully for my risk of ruin, before they closed I did revisit when I first came home and those chips changed a 36 year old man to a child of 8, crunching on the best chips in the world.

So whilst the halcyon memory of my youth remained intact, it was my adult memory that felt the bitter sweet memory of knowing the chips were still amazing but the place is now closed, more so as I walked past today to see the quietness of the house where once queues of people were ready to pleasure their stomachs with flavorful taste of your offerings.

Whatever happened to the owners, thank you for making a boy and man happy, as I’m sure you did to the thousands of people who crossed your doorstep.

Botanically speaking..

​Thorns are hard, rigid extensions of leaves, roots, stems, etc and their soul aim is to serve physically protect animals from eating the plant material.

I’ve met plenty of thorny people through my life, what gives, why do people need to be akin to a game of twister!

A slightly awkward positioning of body through movement to stay clear of those sharp thorns!

In nature’s world, the thorn is a positive, it protects the plant from harm.  

Maybe there’s a lesson to us, in how some people protect their inner self from harm.

Thankfully not everyone I’ve met has had a thorny protective barrier, but for those we will meet, then the natural reaction to those thorns is the wrong course. 

For me I switch of to the thorny people, can’t bear to deal with them and would prefer the warm and welcoming people.

Yet..

Taking a leaf from nature, spending time to part those thorns, to see the being of what those thorns are protecting should be the right course.

Maybe that’s a must consideration of how we deal with thorny people.

While not everything revealed is worth protecting, isn’t it a still worth a try.

Just a thought. 

The cat who would not give up

A couple of months back my beautiful bride to be asked if we could rehome an older cat.

Tina had visited Ty Nant cat sanctuary to hand over provisions for the animals.

Tee is a huge animal lover and part of the reason why she is so special to me.

Tee was asked if she wanted to look at the cats currently looking for a home.  She was taken into the kitten room.  It was a beautifully sad scene of all these kittens needing to be rehomed. Miaows aplenty.

She resisted knowing that our own Bonnie at 16 wasn’t ready for an energetic kitten messing her retirement pleasures of eating and sleeping!

Aha thought the owner, let me show you the older cats who need a good home.

Tee described walking into the room and her heart sank.  No one really wants to take on an older cat, people naturally go for the kittens.

There was one cat hitting 20, could barely move but would try and come over for a cuddle.  Who said cats are cold.

One cat though jumped down and ran over leaping onto tees lap.

This was the cat that tee asked me for us to have.  Her name was Gypsy and named for good reasons.

Gypsy knew tee was the one she wanted to go home with, instant connection.

I like to think she sensed the goodness in tee and thought yep, you’ll do for me.

Gypsy loves food and a fuss, whenever she is stroked she let’s out a crackly miaow.

She was named Gypsy as she was found roaming.  She was found with no fur, her skin was sunburnt.  She’s got just one tooth that means her tongue pokes out.

We don’t know how she survived but Ty Nant took her in, cared for her.  Her fur grew back, her appetite returned, the attention and love they gave her is immense.

We’ve continued that love for her, she’s not afraid of people or other animals so we don’t believe she became a stray because of animal cruelty, so it’s a mystery.  Maybe her owners moved away but left her behind accidentally, who knows.

Yet I know one thing, we’re giving her as much love as a cat could want.

Even Bonnie who is doesn’t really like other cats has been accepting of Gypsy.

Maybe Bonnie senses the rough time that gypsy has had.  We estimate she’s 12, god knows how long she was a stray for.

To overcome what she had experienced, cold dark nights, no food, no home or shelter, alone.  It’s no wonder she’s not fussed by other animals, it’s as if she’s thinking that, I’ve been through hell so nothing can scare me now.

Whilst her tongue pokes out for only having one tooth, it feels like she is poking fun at the world.  I’m still here!

I love giving her a fuss, but stroking her even though her fur is back it doesn’t hide the bumps and blisters of where her skin was bare to the elements.

Here’s a picture, we only wish she could use the toilet, as she often leaves messages, warm brown ones around the house!

This is a cat who’s overcome unimaginable horrors and for that we’ll love and care for her.

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After loss comes recluse, or does it?

I met the mother of my future bride in 2008, a lovely warm and generous person.

The only person she wasn’t generous to, was herself.  Tony was her husband, I liked him he was likeable, he loved Denise in his own way, he wasn’t one to shout his love from the rooftop.

Unfortunately he fell to dementia.

Before I knew him I was told of the sharpness of his mind, he memorised detail, enjoyed a good debate.

Certainly he had that when I met him, he still had that for a couple of years after but slowly quickly he went downhill.  I can’t imagine the terribleness that Tony suffered but also the dreadfullness that Denise had to cope with, and she coped with it long after others gave up.

She refused until the last, to give what she knew in his lucid moments he wanted, to be with her in their home.

In the end she was at physical breaking point and he went to a care home.  She was there every day.

The horribleness of dementia finally took him.

She retreated into herself, retiring any romantic notions of ever feeling for another again.  Denise had her children yes, but in her mind that was all.

After a few years a friend introduced her to Richard, a kind hearted true gentleman.

She was ready to run, believing well, in a way she had already retired any romantic notion so this was folly.

Could her heart be saved, could a light long blown cold be relit.

We all wanted it, her family, her friends and if there is one person deserving of happiness it is Denise.

I experienced a special day last Saturday, in fact the whole weekend was a moment in time that will stretch long into the future of my memories.

So thankfully, after a few ups and downs that he asked the question and she accepted.

My beautiful Tina, whos mother got married will be a special moment for both myself and all those close enough who know what Denise has suffered through the last number of years.
After a beautiful, intimate wedding they’re  sailing north to Norway, to see the lights.

I’m elevated to feel there can be a happy ending to what has been a terrible number of years for a woman who’s done no harm to the world.

I wish them all the happiness.

First day back

What feels like a lifetime ago, it was on this day that I and most of my classmates, and those who came before and after us dreaded..the first day back at school, after a long lazy summer.

In a time when age was important, by confirming our age in quarters.

“No I’m not 12, I’m 12 and 1/4

Six weeks of rope swings and roaming, of hide and seek, and kids tv, it was all good.  And it was long.

It used to be a long hot lazy summer, a time when seasonal weather was guaranteed, then global warming stuck, and now gives us unpredictably barmy monsoon summers..but that’s for another blog.

New term, new uniform, new pencil case, new topics and new experiences.

We were ready, in our newness of everything (especially pencil case) to be educated.

Even if being partly distracted by the incoming neath fair that arrived two weeks after term started, we were ready to be educated.

 

Time to applause

I’ve worked in some places where it feels the culture is to be critical, whether it’s a colleague, a process, the boss, stationary control even.

What on earth are they saying about me when my back is turned!

I’ve had colleagues stare at me in downright condemnation for being complimentary of a colleague who’s being verbally stoned.

I don’t mind if it’s based in fact, but I’d prefer if those colleagues who see more faults than San Andreas actually first looked at themselves, maybe the issue lies within, but if not then to look to improve the fault that’s tickling their critical hot spots.

I’m a peacekeeper not a hard challenger at positive change, both have success and failure.  Yet it’s important to keep pushing to make the world a happy and productive place.

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I’m not perfect mind, there’s people who simply don’t want to change and certainly they are the ones I’m critical of.

I read somewhere that it takes more muscles to frown than to smile,  so I guess it’s the same with behaviours.  Should we treat others with a negative or positive behaviour, to strive forwards with applause or backwards with criticism.

As long as either is justly deserved.