The final retirement

Sue at Nan’s Farm and Gerry at The Main Aisle run a weekly prompt on their shared site Weekly Prompts.

This week they have chosen RETIREMENT as the prompt.

I have just retired for the last time and it was an easy decision to make, although, in some ways, it was the hardest decision to take.

I would have difficulty in telling you how many times I have retired.  It depends how you define retirement.

In simple terms I have retired three times.

Firstly, I retired at age 45, having served 28 years 151 days in the British Army.  I know that because I have a little red book to tell me so! 

I would have preferred to carry on serving but, quite naturally, in a time of cutting the numbers of serving personnel, preference had to be given to younger, more active, men and women.

I retired from paid employment at the age of 64, a year earlier than normal at that time.  I was more than ready to retire because my role was stressful and overworked, although I enjoyed it tremendously.

With my newly found leisure I volunteered to become a trustee of a local charity that had been providing housing for ladies and gentlemen of modest means since 1708.  I have been honoured to serve, alongside my fellow trustees, for the last nine years, the last five and a half years as an active Chairman of the Board of trustees.

My latest, and final, retirement was necessary due to ill health.  I had probably (definitely according to my wife) not resigned early enough but I felt that I would be letting down my fellow trustees and the near 100 residents that we served.

Today, I received a magnificent bouquet of flowers from the charity.  I will cherish these blooms but, more than those, I will cherish all the lovely tributes I have received from my fellow trustees.

This retirement is my last.  I shall enjoy it!

A first for me – The first of March 2021.

Is the patient breathing?

How very strange it is to dial 999 for the very first time ever, to be greeted with “Emergency, which service do you require?” and to be asked that question, followed by “Is the patient conscious?” when the patient is actually the one making the call and that patient is ME!


I then went through an obviously very well scripted and professional series of questions to ascertain, in the fastest possible time, just what the problem was,  what was required in the way of immediate assistance, and in the longer term.

I had to give my history of Hypertension since 2002, Angina since 2005, Angiograms in 2005 and 2012 and, meanwhile, I was reassured that an ambulance was on its way.


When I last spoke to my doctor she asked “How often do you have to use your GTN spray?” (an under the tongue spray, that I have carried since 2005, to alleviate angina pain by opening up the arteries)   I replied “Oh, I haven’t used it for years.  I carry it around all the time and replace it when the lid starts to fall off!”.

Silly me!  Not that I’m superstitious, but you do have to wonder.

I already had a telephone appointment booked with the doctor in a couple of weeks’ time, a follow up from my tummy troubles that haven’t really cleared since before Christmas.  For a few days I “presented with a general feeling of unwell.” and just felt distinctly yuk.  I also had to use my spray several times!  On Saturday I felt really off and even, secretly, considered whether I needed to go to hospital.  Being a (stubborn old) man I didn’t!   On Sunday I suggested to my wife that I may have to phone the doctor on Monday to get an emergency appointment sooner.

Monday morning I spoke to the doctor and was told to phone 999 immediately, which I did!



Ambulance arrived, blue lights flashing, and I had 2 ECG’s, blood pressure taken several times, history and medication recorded.  All very efficient and reassuring. The ECG’s showed abnormalities, namely First degree heart block, (which I knew I had – and it sounds far worse than it actually is) and ectopic atrial rhythm.  I was allowed to walk out to the ambulance – a very reassuring sign – and was then whisked off to QMC (Queens Medical Centre) Nottingham, to A & E. I was assessed in reception, then moved to the Urgent Treatment Unit where I was given Paracetamol, pink tummy medicine, and liquid morphine.  

A very slick operation followed where I had 3 ECG’s, had my temperature and blood pressure taken about 10 times, had 2 lots of blood taken, a chest X-Ray, a scan of my tummy and bladder, saw 2 surgeons and 3 doctors, countless nurses and assistants, had a bite to eat and a cup of tea, and was eventually allowed to go home with new medication,  2 outpatient appointments booked,  and a collection of labels, gauze, sticky tape, and 10 sticky pads for ECG’s still attached to me. Souvenirs of an unexpected day out that didn’t cost me a penny.

Thank goodness for the NHS.

A Voice to be Heard

I have a voice!

Of course I have.  We all have a voice!

But that’s not strictly true.  Some people are mute, they never ever speak audibly.

Ah yes, there is a point there, but did you note the subtle nicety that, although someone cannot speak, they can still be ‘heard’.

That can only be a good thing.  Everyone should be able to have their voice heard, but we all know that all voices are not equal.

But what can we do about that?

We can carry on speaking, making our voices heard, even when we think our voice is inaudible.  

We have to speak the truth.  We have to speak the love.  We have to speak the beauty.  We have to speak the peace.  We have to speak the forgiveness.  We have to speak the reconciliation.

I have never before watched a Presidential Inauguration all the way through, as it happened.  Yesterday I did, and I am glad that I did.  There was much common sense, much compassion, and great reason for hope.

Did you hear Amanda Gorman’s poem?  Amanda, America’s Youth Poet Laureate, gave a stunning oration and, at the age of only 22, spoke better than the majority of politicians do nowadays.  Her words embody the hopes and dreams of all right-thinking people. She is smart, bright, articulate.  A lady to watch, learn from, and encourage to do wondrous things in the future.

Her final words spoke volumes, and should speak to all the world, not just to America.  Her voice, and ours are voices to be heard.

When day comes, we step out of the shade aflame and unafraid. The new dawn blooms as we free it.

For there is always light.

If only we’re brave enough to see it.

If only we’re brave enough to be it.

Song Lyric Sunday – 15 November 2020 – The End

Jim Adam’s Song Lyric Sunday gives us the chance to share familiar, and sometimes not so familiar, songs. Jim has given us Begin/ End/ Finish/ Start this week to be included in the title or lyrics.

If you fancy sharing one of your favourite songs you can find out how to participate, and also listen to all the great entries, here.

This week I’m pushing my luck a bit. I really do not expect many readers to listen to the whole of this song. To help out I am including an extract of a film that the song featured in.

I love this song. I love the film that it features in, but I know that it is not to everyone’s taste and some will find it rather strange.

It is a song by Jim Morrison of The Doors, written, initially, as a farewell to a girlfriend. It ended as a much longer song, at 12 minutes, and was released on 6th January 1967, just before my 19th birthday.

The lyrics contain the words “My only friend, the End” and when interviewed by Lizze James, he commented : “Sometimes the pain is too much to examine, or even tolerate … That doesn’t make it evil, though – or necessarily dangerous. But people fear death even more than pain. It’s strange that they fear death. Life hurts a lot more than death. At the point of death, the pain is over. Yeah – I guess it is a friend.”

Jim Morrison’s death came two years to the day after the death of Rolling Stones guitarist Brian Jones and approximately nine months after the deaths of Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin — all of whom died at the age of 27 as did so many musicians, artists, and actors.

The song is The End and it featured in the Francis Coppola epic film Apocalypse Now.

Apocalypse Now Intro (1979)

This full length version of the song accompanies a video tribute made by QueenOfTheHighway who says “This is a tribute to the amazing James Douglas Morrison, who died far too young. His life was incredibly tragic, and he was so misunderstood and under appreciated. He was so much more than just a talented musician. He was a true genius and a poet with a beautiful soul. I love him because he knew what it was like to battle unbearable demons, and yet still retained his childlike wonder and love for life. I do not own any footage used-all belong to The Doors.”

The End

Jim Morrison

This is the end, beautiful friend
This is the end, my only friend
The end of our elaborate plans
The end of ev’rything that stands
The end

No safety or surprise
The end
I’ll never look into your eyes again

Can you picture what will be
So limitless and free
Desperately in need of
some strangers hand
In a desperate land

Lost in a Roman wilderness of pain
And all the children are insane
All the children are insane
Waiting for the summer rain
There’s danger on the edge of town
Ride the king’s highway
Weird scenes inside the goldmine
Ride the highway West baby

Ride the snake
Ride the snake
To the lake
To the lake

The ancient lake baby
The snake is long
Seven miles
Ride the snake

He’s old
And his skin is cold
The west is the best
The west is the best
Get here and we’ll do the rest

The blue bus is calling us
The blue bus is calling us
Driver, where you taking us?

The killer awoke before dawn
He put his boots on
He took a face from the ancient gallery
And he walked on down the hall

He went into the room where his sister lived
And then he paid a visit to his brother
And then he walked on down the hall
And he came to a door
And he looked inside
Father?
Yes son
I want to kill you
Mother, I want to…

Come on, baby, take a chance with us
Come on, baby, take a chance with us
Come on, baby, take a chance with us
And meet me at the back of the blue bus

This is the end, beautiful friend
This is the end, my only friend
The end

It hurts to set you free
But you’ll never follow me-aca

Source: LyricFind

Songwriters: Alexandria Rae Koehler / Kathryn Sarah Goodman / Monica Cassia Grzymkowski

The End lyrics © Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd.

The Last Remembrance

Chris decided long ago that he could no longer endure the Ceremony of Remembrance parades and services.  It was too much for him.  He knew that he would break down and weep copious tears, sobbing at all of the memories that he could not set aside.  He could never forget!

Instead, each year, he went on his normal morning walk and found a quiet spot, apart from all human presence, and there he would remember his friends, and his enemies.  Not all had died young, not all had died in battle.  Some had not died, at least not straight away.

He remembered two young men.  They had all just returned to camp after manoeuvres and were told they could not go home until all the vehicles had been cleaned and put away.  One young man was newly married with a two week old baby.  He persuaded his friend to take him home in his car.  It wouldn’t take long, and they could be back before anybody noticed they were missing.  The car was sporty, high powered, and had a roll bar fitted.  The young driver entered a bend far too fast, lost control, and rolled the car.  It hit a tree.  The roll bar saved the life of the driver but decapitated the young father.

He remembered two young Corporals, erecting an aerial mast on top of a vehicle in Germany, right underneath a very high voltage cable.  One walked away with very serious burns, the other had horrendous burns and lost a leg and large portions of muscle mass.  Chris had the job of taking inventory of the burned vehicle and its contents and then visiting the worst injured once he left hospital to tell him that he no longer had a job but there was good news, his promotion to Sergeant had come through!

He remembered a young man who shot himself in the chest but survived, only to shoot himself in the head once he was back at work.

He remembered running for his life, literally, when it seemed that everyone wanted him dead, when all around him were falling, screaming, dying.  He would not forget!

He stood as usual, at 11am, at attention, alone.  He remembered.  How could he do anything else?

After two minutes of silence, of remembering, of trying to forget, he saluted, fell, and joined his comrades!

Song Lyric Sunday – 18 October 2020 – Won’t Get Fooled Again

Jim Adams’ Song Lyric Sunday gives us the chance to share familiar, and sometimes not so familiar, songs. Jim has given us No/Yes this week to be included in the title or lyrics.

If you fancy sharing one of your favourite songs you can find out how to participate, and also listen to all the great entries, here.

This week I chose a song by The Who, formed in London  in 1964, the year that I joined the army. Their classic line-up consisted of lead singer Roger Daltrey, guitarist and singer Pete Townsend, bass guitarist John Entwistle  and drummer Keith Moon. They are considered one of the most influential rock bands of the 20th century, selling over 100 million records worldwide.

The Who’s iconic anthem, ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’, from the 1971 ‘Who’s Next’ album is performed here on B-Stage at Shepperton Studios on 25 May 1978. It is not the best performance there is but gives a good indication of some of the excesses that have obviously been indulged in by more than a couple of the band. Sadly this was to be the very last public performance ever by Keith Moon.

The lyrics are on the video.

In mid-1978 Keith Moon moved into Flat 12, 9 Curzon Place, Mayfair, London.  Cass Elliot of the Mamas and Papas had died there four years earlier, at the age of 32.  Harry Nilsson, who owned the flat, was concerned about letting it to Keith Moon, believing it was cursed. Townshend disagreed, assuring him that “lightning wouldn’t strike the same place twice”.

After moving in, Moon began a prescribed course of Heminevrin (Clomethiazole) to alleviate his alcohol withdrawal symptoms. He wanted to get sober, but due to his fear of psychiatric hospitals he wanted to do it at home. That particular drug is discouraged for unsupervised detoxification because of its addictive potential, its tendency to induce tolerance, and its risk of death when mixed with alcohol. The pills were prescribed by a physician who was unaware of Moon’s lifestyle.  Moon was given a bottle of 100 pills and told to take one pill when he felt a craving for alcohol but not more than three pills per day. 

By September 1978 Moon was having difficulty playing the drums, according to roadie Dave “Cy” Langston.  After seeing Moon in the studio trying to overdub drums for The Kids Are Alright, he said, “After two or three hours, he got more and more sluggish, he could barely hold a drum stick.” 

On 6 September, Moon and Annette Walter-Lax, his Swedish model girlfriend, were guests of Paul and Linda McCartney.  After dining with the McCartneys they returned to their flat.  He watched a film and asked Walter-Lax to cook him steak and eggs. When she objected, Moon replied, “If you don’t like it, you can fuck off!” These were his last words.  Moon then took 32 clomethiazole tablets. When Walter-Lax checked on him the following afternoon, she discovered he was dead. (Aged 32!)

All at sea – Flying through the air, with, and without, the aid of a helicopter.

Originally published on 27/10/2017, this is part of a series that I promised may take a while to complete. I was right!

This is part of a recollection of “Some things I’ve done that you probably haven’t.

Number 2, Transferred between Royal Naval ships at sea by Jackstay, and 3, Transferred between Royal Naval ships at sea by helicopter can be recounted together because normally, when you go on a journey, you want to end up back where you started!

When I was posted to Gibraltar we (The Army) often entertained Royal Naval personnel when they had shore leave. We invited them to functions in the various messes (Officers Mess/Warrant Officers and Sergeants Mess/Other ranks Mess, and we invited them to dine with us, often arranging a special dinner.

 In return, they reciprocated, and we were often invited on board ship.

 I came to know several of the Petty Officers of HMS Charybdis quite well, during 1976. I was invited to spend time at sea with the ship, in an exchange with a member of the ship’s crew, where we swapped jobs for a few days.

hms charybdis Life on board a Royal Naval vessel is unlike anything you may imagine. Space is at a premium and everything has to be stowed away to maximise space, and to ensure there are no hazards created by loose gear.

 Before departing from any port, the ship must be fully provisioned with fuel, stores, ammunition, food, and a myriad of items you wouldn’t even begin to think of. This is to ensure that, should the vessel be called upon to sail into conflict, or to aid others, it can proceed immediately, without having to stock up first. There is a good deal of manual labour involved in this, and the whole ships company (of 260 in this case) is put to work, less a few essential personnel. It is hard work, and I experienced it!

 Imagine having to stock a freezer so you can retrieve food, to feed 260 hungry people for 2 months, when you can only reach things right at the front. Just where do you put all those potato sacks, carrots, toilet rolls, extra large cans, butter, fat, oil, flour, spices. The list is huge, as is the quantity. You cannot run out.

 I shall not go into disposal of waste, recycling, or what can, under international law, be discharged into the sea. I mention it only because sometimes it flies off the ship!

 Whilst at sea it is sometimes necessary to load, or offload personnel, or materiel.

 This may be for changes in personnel, removal of severely ill, or deceased, replenishment of food, fuel, supplies, and the removal of waste for disposal, or recycling.

 The Royal Navy is supported at sea by Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) vessels.

The RFA is staffed by civilians, and they have a variety of ships that can supply fuel and stores, effect repairs at sea, and even supply hospital facilities. They have a helicopter on board, and also cranes mounted on either side.

 Most modern warships have a helicopter on board, or a helipad that can receive a visiting helicopter so stores can be transferred from one vessel to another by underslung load. However, there is a restriction on how much weight can be carried that way, and it is an expensive method of resupply.

 The alternative method of transfer is by Jackstay, a method of using ropes and pulleys to carry personnel and materiel between vessels.
jackstay trfs

The light jackstay, employing human power, is used for transferring personnel, provisions, and light stores with a maximum load of about 250kg. The hauling end of the jackstay is manned by up to 25 hands. The other end is secured by a grommet strop to slip in the receiving ship. A traveller block is hauled back and forth along the jackstay wire by an in–haul rope in the receiving ship and an out–haul rope in the delivering ship manned by up to six crew in each ship. Working distance limits are normally between 24–61 meters with a normal working distance of about 34 meters.

 The heavy Jackstay, uses steel ropes for transfer of heavier loads, or to support feed pipes during transfer of fuel or water. Normally a powered winch is used.

 The ropes are passed from one ship to the other by first firing a thin twine by rifle and pulling this across, with increasing thickness of twine, then cord, then rope.

 Ships are unstable platforms when stopped in most seas and it is extremely dangerous to bring two ships directly alongside one another. All transfers are therefore done with the ships steaming side by side, in to the wind, at a distance determined by the state of the seas. It is a hazardous operation and constant adjustment is needed to ensure identical speed, and to ensure the distance between vessels does nor vary. The procedure needs to be practiced often to ensure the crew knows exactly what to do when the need arises. It is the ultimate in team work!

 This is how I came to “volunteer” for my first, and only, experience of transfer at sea by Jackstay, and return by helicopter. I was one of a dozen.

 Having watched others being hauled across from Charybdis to another visiting Frigate, it was soon my turn. Apart from a little dampness from sea spray I arrived safely on the other ship and was hurried along to the stern to jump into the helicopter for the return trip. This was only my second flight in a helicopter. The whole procedure took less than 30 minutes, but was very exhilarating!

 Flights by small helicopter are normally from, and to, a stable surface, and the take off pattern is normally a vertical lift into the air, transferring into forward flight whilst gaining height. Larger helicopters use a running takeoff and landing whenever possible.

 Taking off from, and landing on, a ship at sea, entails a helipad moving at quite a speed, often with buffeting wind, and large chunks of solid metal very close by. It is a very specialised skill!

 On take off, the aircraft has to rise off the pad and move to the left, or right, immediately moving away from the vessel.

 Landing is the more difficult skill. The helicopter must approach the vessel from the rear and then fly, at the speed of the ship, slightly to the left or right of the helipad. It then has to move slowly across so that it is hovering above the pad, but is, in fact, still flying forwards at the speed of the vessel. It must then drop down on to the moving deck, immediately ceasing forward flight.

 Naval pilots, I salute you!

 To the crews of both vessels, Thank you for not getting me wet!charybdis.jpg

 

HMS Charybdis was affectionately  called “The Cherry B.” Hence the cherry tree on the ship’s plaque.

 

 

 

Light Jackstay information courtesy of: MacFarlane, John M. (2013) Jackstay Transfer (Replenishment) at Sea. Nauticapedia.ca 2013. http://nauticapedia.ca/Articles/Jackstay_Transfer.php

Travelling down the Rhine on a duck

Originally published on 25/10/2017, this is part of a series that I promised may take a while to complete. I was right!

In the Summer of 1962, at the age of 14, I travelled to Germany, with the Combined Cadet Force from my school, for a Summer Camp.

It was quite an adventure to get there. We travelled by military steam train, with the carriages being loaded onto the ferry for the channel crossing. It must have been very nearly the last such journey.

We eventually arrived at 2 Division Signal Regiment, in Bünde, West Germany, a Regiment I was later to be posted to as a regular soldier.

2 div.png

The Crossed Keys of 2 Division

 

 

There were still National Servicemen who had been conscripted into the forces for 2 years. These were the last of a dying breed as the last National Servicemen left the armed forces in May 1963.

I well remember that the soldiers took great delight in plying us with beer, probably at our own expense. That Summer, far from home, was the first time that I became extremely drunk, and extremely unwell.

We obviously overdid the cigarettes too. When I returned home I suffered, for a few days, with what was diagnosed as nicotine poisoning!

During our 10 days there we went out on exercise with the Regiment and did all sorts of, what was to us young boys, very exciting things. We helped camouflage vehicles, laid large capacity cables, helped put up radio masts, slept in abandoned barns and spent a day with the German Army.

It was during this “exchange day” that I encountered the DUKW (duck) that was to transport us down the river. (For the technically minded, more information here)

Ten very excited teenagers squeezed into the restricted space at the back and were driven down a ramp, into the water, where we progressed at a very sedate pace for 20 minutes or so, driving back up another ramp to dry land.

dukw

To be honest it was a bit disappointing, certainly not as exciting as the next half hour when we were transported at some considerable speed back up river, sirens wailing, in a fast patrol craft.

We then experienced a German Army lunch, for many, the first ever taste of “foreign” food. Tepid cabbage soup, cold würst, sauerkraut, black bread, and a strange pudding of yogurt. A new experience that was not repeated until it became more commonplace in the UK.

Postscript

In fact the river in question may not have been the Rhine. Memory being what it is, it could have been the Mösel, or even the Wëser. I have travelled on all of these, but, at the time, it seemed to be a very wide, and busy, river.

Part of the series Some things I’ve done that you probably haven’t!

Some things I’ve done that you probably haven’t.

This is a reblog of a series I started in October 2017. I thought I should resurrect it in order to attempt to get it completed. Perhaps it could take the place of my Lundi limerick series.

Peter's pondering

I had this random thought that I have done a few things in my life that the average person will never experience.  I thought I would write a post entitled:

“Ten things I’ve done that you probably haven’t.” It developed a little like this:

TenElevenTwelveThirteenFourteenFifteenSixteenSeventeenEighteen Nineteen Twenty things I’ve done that you probably haven’t

I arranged them in reverse alphabetical order, just for the sake of it! Then I thought of an added one, or four. So, here we have:

Some things I’ve done that you probably haven’t

  1. Travelled down the Rhine on a Duck
  2. Transferred between Royal Naval ships at sea by Jackstay
  3. Transferred between Royal Naval ships at sea by helicopter
  4. Spent time in a prison cell
  5. Sat in a Harrier Jump Jet
  6. Rowed in a coxed 4 at sea
  7. Regularly travelled to work by helicopter
  8. Qualified as a helicopter…

View original post 174 more words

A little bit of Dad

In my final Lundi limerick yesterday I used the hamlet of Acton and linked it to the fact that it played a large part in my Dad’s life.

In the process of digging out a bit of real life background, rather than the normal wikipedia, or google sources, I rummaged through the suitcase that I brought away from Dad’s house after he died at the grand age of 96.

Mum had died nearly 11 years before and everyone expected Dad to follow fairly swiftly after. He was, after all, a hard working farm labourer, who had relied on Mum for meals, clean clothes, and a welcoming home. We had all, of course, forgotten his hard upbringing, his determination, and his adaptability.

Within a couple of weeks he had bought himself a microwave. “I’ve always wanted one of these but your Mother would never have one”, he said.

He went on to cook his own meals, wash, dry, and iron his clothes, vacuum the house, and thoroughly enjoy the whole new leaf that he’d turned over. My little sister (three years older than me), who lived a few miles away, kept an eye on him, had him over for Sunday lunch and, over the coming years, gradually helped him more, according to his needs.

Anyway, this isn’t meant to be a definitive history of Dad, purely an extension of the information about his link to Acton.

The suitcase I mentioned earlier has quite a few Bibles, and other books, in it, each one has a story to tell. Dad was a Methodist Local Preacher from the age of 20 until failing hearing, and health, caused him to retire, although he remained ‘on the books’ until his death, and received several certificates of Long Service, even up to 75 years service! It just could not be done nowadays!

Dad was a marvellous preacher. Inspiring, knowledgeable, plain speaking, always linking to everyday life, articulate but never verbose. In everyday life you would never dream that he was a gifted and effective preacher. He was a quiet, mild mannered man whose goodness shone out for all to see, always willing to help, support, and encourage all that he encountered.

First out of the case is a School photograph from 1922 when Dad was 12
How smart they all are, and I love the bicycle parked around the corner! Dad would have done a couple of hours work before going to school and would have many jobs to complete when he got home.
Sunday School prize that Dad received from Acton
Note the Superintendent was John Matthews, an uncle
and a 19th birthday present from an Auntie
A present from the Local Preachers Association on his recognition service as a preacher (Oct 14th 1929)
21st birthday gift to Mum
An article that appeared in the Local Preachers Newsletter after Dad died