All Hope and no Glory

 Rushing out of the door with a slice of crisp bread in one hand is hardly a great start to a day’s adventure to the North coast of Devon, long gone are the days of luxurious transportation by rail, now it’s what’s known as cattle class on the train of the damned.
Today of all days had to be Black Friday, an Americanism that has recently infected our country and so many others to boot, it’s not just a day now, it’s a week or, even worse a month, so I noticed on the TV, this invasion has now gone viral into the supermarket chains, if companies can make such huge profits with such dramatic discounts, then why can’t this be just made even across the whole board, spread across 365 days.
So, yes, Black Friday comes in handy if you do happen to need a 50″ all singing, all washing, all dancing gizmo or something stupidly similar, and you are lucky enough to either a) have the cash ready, b) a credit card with credit and c) intentions of signing up to a “House” credit card at an astronomic APR, then that’s fine, great, saving up to a possible discount of or and up to 80%, and able to enjoy, but, honestly, 10% off a cup of coffee if you mention the politically incorrect mantra “Black Friday” really is scraping the desperation barrel and getting caught up in the drama.
The train this morning to Exeter was crammed full of happy shoppers armed with SAS tactics and game plans, whereas, I was heading to Barnstaple to see my consultant, thrice yearly I traipse this route, not a hairs breadth between over ground waypoints and scheduled stops.
Of course, days of all days near to Christmas I’d have loved to peruse the market, get into the festive seasons spirit and be able to “oh and ahh” at a few nice items, instead, I return absolutely knackered with an NHS carrier full of medication through the melee of idiots wearing invisible Black Friday smiles and only one of my arms half full of blood, the other half separated into fourteen vials ready for analysis.

The only thing relating to today’s named event is going to be a bruise where a needle the size of my Grandmothers darner has left its mark.

As for today being totally and politically incorrect, here is my statement, incorrect or otherwise …… Fuck Off Black Friday, at least I haven’t been had by the rapists of our economy, the only winners today are the retailers, so without further ado, I declare Black Friday a Con, and if *you* have been stupid enough to have been conned, then you got just exactly what you deserve ……

Bluebirds of Happiness


Early starts today for both the Rockleigh and Rockhaven households, Vet appointments dictate 09:40 on site, trying to separate the eldest and the youngest of four unruly hooligans proved tricky, however, once rounded up and bribed with gravy bones and Markies, both Willow and Spike bound down the steps on all four paw drive, full throttle toward our red transporter, which, safely parked the other side of the garden gates, across the busy road, managing to hold back the traffic, we hurried the wriggly critters into the hatchback, and headed on-wards our journey.

Willow aged 8 was due her follow up vaccination and Spike who is thirteen, due just a slight pedicure, I say quite loosely, that infact, he’s rather a girl when it comes to trimming his delicate toe nails attached to his semi deformed Queen Anne legs, yes, he IS a screamer, after arriving outside the surgery they both got wind of the impending double trouble, and mayhem enthused.

No point in me describing the noise Spike made whilst attention was given, so, fast forward, we pay our dues and pile back into the car and head straight down to the beach, tide is out, no wind and gentle flat sands and waves await our pleasures.

Recently we lost Paddington, he had grown up with Spike, they were inseparable, and we had to watch Spike for over six months whilst he grieved, sadly Paddington had terrible issues out in public, so, walks were made at times when it was dark and when he wasn’t on one, which was very rare.

Spike and Willow hardly associate, except that she knows her pecking order position, right at the bottom as youngest, although third in line, we also have Hannah and Jack who position 2 and 4 respectively, anyway, we unload at the beach and remained leashed up, plastic pooh bags in pockets we set our course to the headland, nice firm sand made good traction, I let Willow loose as Chris did Spike, they scratt and sniff about a while, suddenly Spike races toward Willow and with his nose, head butted her, just like he used to with Paddington, it was a beautiful sight to behold, “Mr Griffin” and Miss Willow Pig” are now in harmony, chasing Paddington’s mischievous spirit along the sands.

Is this the beginning of a beautiful relationship or just two Bluebirds of Happiness?

Chris and i smile at each other, a great reason to be alive and happy, and able to watch moments like this







Someone like you


I’m getting rather sentimental in my old age, last evening I watched a TV program where a friend was at the side of his best mates bed after being admitted into hospital,  he stood awaiting news of just how seriously ill this man had become, the news was not to be good, it was obvious there was a bond between these two guys, and he just said these few words, after reading them, you may cry to0.

“If you can’t stand by someone, then what’s the point, and if we don’t have that, then what do we have?”

I also thought that this track just about summed it up.

Number 33

Whilst heading home from shopping the other day I passed my old town centre apartment, I noticed there was a For Sale sign in the window and being the inquisitive type I wondered just how much my £37500 investment was worth and wondered what it looked like inside.

I remember the first time I stepped in through the front door, within seconds I knew this place could be a happy home, I could see my friends and family here too, I was actually renting a property two doors down the road, my landlord at the time was amazing, but, times had to change, if I didn’t make this adjustment to my new single life, i never would, I had got a responsible professional position now, I was busy, my flat was short term, I needed a permanent base, the two girls who owned Number 33, as it became known, had decided to take a year out.

I believe it’s a statement made by students quite often in university where they get involved in either picking potatoes in jersey or treading grapes for cheap wine in Tuscany or rebuilding their spirits by getting laid every night in Ibiza, oh no, not these two, they were off seeking love from the same sex in a tent somewhere near to Fraser island in Australia via the Far East, this was to be a big gamble for two rather large lesbians who were the wrong side of thirty, however, they needed to rent the property out to finance there sex ventures.

I was offered a guaranteed 12 months lease at a very reasonable rate, far less than what i was paying at 27B, and with an option to purchase at the end of that period. It was the evening of the girls leaving party, now, considering, I had agreed to share the apartment with them for a week before their departure, four sexually active people of the wrong attracting sex worked well, it had been fun, sadly, it was short lived, the revelers to the party kept on arriving, there was tens and tens and loads more besides.

There were Butch dykes to bitch babes, quite a few of the male guests bore suspect to wearing the “Dorothy” badge and quite a few of the town chavs too, they were all either high or pissed, the kitchen had become an emporium of alcohol and drugs, a steady stream of inebriated personas traversed back and forth to the lounge, Jamiroquai, was blaring out quite loudly and puffs of toxic smoke permeated about the three floors, the bathroom was permanently occupied, the perfect place for the inexplainable conception, and then of course, the inevitable happened, one pretty young thing caught a wrong trip and the paramedics arrived in force, she was carted off and the party was closed down immediately.

Rather upset at how this had become an anticlimax, myself and “a n other” grabbed a possible suspect and the three of us spent the remainder of the night locked in the rear bedroom having our own private party, the following morning, we found a hand written note through the letter box from a neighbour who over looked the property, stating “please keep your curtains closed in times of intimacy”, the girls read this and giggled, they too had not secured their drapes either, as for the voyeur, seemed he got himself a bargain and a case of the “BOGOF’s”!

Late afternoon was time for the ladies to depart, we waved goodbye as they left, taking their cat with them, it was to be dropped off enroute to a friends, the scabby feline had left its fleas behind, a whole army had embedded themselves in the carpets, i hate fleas, and after i had got over the shivers running up and down my spine, i decided, if this was going to be my home, then, the changes start now, by the time the lusty lesbians had arrived at Gatwick Airport, all the carpets had been lifted and had taken a flight out the lounge window, i had an idea, the first floor now consisting of a lounge, mezzanine hallway, a bedroom, and another staircase to the top floor, was destined for a makeover.

Now, I’m pretty nifty with a saw and by the next morning, the majority of the stud partition walls were outside on the front yard, this area had now become a galleried living space, styled almost like a New York loft, the great room had been created, there was no turning back now, I had unilaterally committed to buy, picking the phone up, I contacted one of the girls mothers, made a cheeky offer, then approached the bank of Mum and Dad for a deposit for a mortgage and in less than 6 weeks, Number 33 was mine.

“Party anyone”?

The last i heard from Belle and Belinda, was that they had both been arrested in Bankok for wearing a strap-on named “Black Brenda” in public.

Number 33 was home for seven wonderful years, it was a very very happy place, renowned intimate Christmas eve soirees, friends would arrive and just make themselves at home, many crazy Saturday nights we would talk rubbish into the early hours and Sunday breakfasts happened after 3pm, I remember hearing my daughter telling me to “do something about that fucking christmas tree” as we ate our dinner, it had fallen over three times that evening, and whilst having Boxing day lunch with my Dad and dearest Chris, we watched the disaster unfold that was The Tsunami, my mother had passed away earlier that year, and we all cried together as the snow fell heavily outside, we always had candles lit, our two puppies grew up there together, after walks to the harbour they would wipe their muddy oily paws on the white sofas and run up and down the stairs like demented creatures and drive us both to distraction, as we traversed to London for work, it became our holiday home, we would return frequently, Number 33 was a safe and warm place, it was our home, our sanctuary, but, times changed, as do circumstances, health forced a move to Rockleigh where i now sit and write this.

And now, after I look at the sales brochure for the property, I feel extremely sad, there had been alterations after we moved out, certainly there is no character there, it is bland and looks dirty, and i cannot believe there is a price tag of almost £140K.

Memories are what we hold most deep within our DNA, *kodak* moments, instant REM’s replace photographs, stored forever in our own personal albums, and to have had, and to have shared with those I love and those I remember are worth more than any amount of brick and mortar.

Boys Toys

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I’ve always been a boy who has loved his toys, nothing quite like the good old days when you could play safely in the street and be able to ride either your bike or walk down to the shops with a list written by your Mum and as a treat to have a selection of penny sweets for the pleasure of the errand. As an only child i was fortunate enough to have both scooter and tricycle, instead of being a sultry individual, I was extremely extrovert, always over dramatising noises of Indians, Daleks and anything that made noise.

I spent most of my childhood with my two cousins, my mothers elder sister, Doreen, her children, I was the youngest, and between births a two year gap was held between each of us, Sandra, she was two years older than me, a thin sickly grizzly child with no backbone, constantly moaning, never appreciating the positives, and always finding unnecessary problems to every solution, she had a penchant for dressing Rex the dog up and making it sit in a pram, then there was David, (pictured on my scooter) four years older, gangly & leggy, in his earlier years he tripped and fell on a school desk and fractured his skull culminating in two very boss eyes, he was far too old for his years, a tie and smart shoes were the norm to wear whilst playing, sadly his life took every possible tragedy that could be thrown at him, however, this was as close as ever as having my own siblings as ever could be, being able to share was a bonus, I was never selfish, it’s not in my makeup, nor has it ever been, I was always prepared to play nicely, even now, at my age, I’m still happy to share my *toys* with those I know, love and trust.

Toys, toys? I hear you say, yes, even at my age, of course.      Gone long ago the days of the Trianco wheeled appliance, Super-fast car tracks and arm bands when swimming, I’m now talking about horses in stables, that to the uninitiated means BHP under bonnets, and the very latest sea venturing machines moored in personal marina spaces and suitable outfit for every occasion.

Living here on the seas edge, we see and hear of numerous disasters reference to misuse of boats and other watercraft, members of the “Birmingham Navy” head down the M5 to visit with anything from a jet-ski to something similar to an aircraft carrier, these vessels loosely attached to the back of a Rover, and none of them having a clue of the rules of the Mariners handbook.                                                                                                  For mine and others sakes, I do almost everything by the rule book where safety is concerned. Dad insisted i read the Highway Code before i even sat on my bike, although, the promise of the shame of having stabilisers fitted put the fear of Christ into me, however, I was happiest, much to his despair of having a basket fitted or handlebar tassels to my earlier forms of transport. Even on my first bicycle, which was red and green and bore the famous name Raleigh “Rebel” on it, I proved a point that I could ride single handedly whilst eating an apple, and true to form, I was spotted by a neighbour, Mrs Hussen, she was the one of the first people in Brixham to have a Colour Television, I used to sit and watch Wimbledon with her, I drank her tea and ate her cakes, all the time plotting and seeking revenge on her for dobbing me in, she died, —- eventually —– many years later.                                                                         My penance was a whole week without playing my records, my poor old second hand Alba turntable was probably happy to have that day off, and my parents sick of hearing “Hey there Georgie Girl”.

As the years went by I was transfixed by cars, I would know their make, name, model and wether it was a manual or automatic by the ever constant changing tones of engine and exhaust noises, I was sneaking drives of my dads beloved Triumph Herald at twelve years old when they went out to Bingo on Sunday evenings, a proper little Miss Sterling Moss, I was found out by the gearbox failing due to me changing gears without the engine running, or using the clutch, so, we, as a happy family, did not get to see the illuminations at Blackpool that year.

Eventually after many lessons and a few hours legal tuition from a motoring school at the great expense of one pound per hour, I presented my test application, the test was not easy, of course the indignity of failing twice caused embaressment problems, I was too eager to be perfect, but as the testers were rather over adventurous with their hands, concentration was lost, however on my *passing* test, a right handed finger tremble by the instructor proved to be his failure, I drove up a private driveway entrance and making a scene he gave me chance for litigation, which proved me a full license and freedom to get out onto the isolated dark Devon roads. By now my fathers four door Austin 1300 with hydro spastic suspension was like driving in a Rolls Royce on a broken spring base, nausea was not optional, Sally satnav had not been developed by that time, so fashion happened to be arriving late, even after following a designated route map.

Always thinking of others.


Nearing the end of my Mothers life she took to writing poetry, including, she wrote about all her family members and her accomplishments achieved in life, sadly, Mum parted cash to a scoundrel who promised her he would get her name and words printed in a book.

Today is her Birthday, i know she would be devastated about the state of our world at this moment in time, but, i know she would be so proud of us all.

I have gone through all her works, and decided to print this one in particular to her memory.

“When i die weep not for me,
weep for the things i wanted to live and see
I wanted to see my Sophie grow strong,                                              and show her the difference between right and wrong,                    Perhaps when i reach my designated place,                                        I can watch her through shimmering lace.

I have a partner who was lover and friend,                                        To him i leave all my love no end,                                                         he helped me through so very much,                                                     I warmed and felt better with every touch,                                  when this is read he may have gone before,                                      If that is so, for me he will open that golden door.

Family and friends there is no more to say,                                Don’t make this a very sad day,                                                               I will be pleased to go on my way,                                                 Maybe to meet my Mum and Dad,                                                    And that will be happy ——– not sad!                                     Goodbye to you all who have perhaps loved me,                           from worry and sickness i have been set free”.

Pat Stamp       1996

Somewhere between the 10th of Hell and the 11th of November.

 The four guardsmen each stare straight face ahead into brick walls, their aching backs and legs remain still for hours on end. 

Silence, allowed for “No Talking”, not there was anything worth talking about, physically, and mentally they were drained.

Master at Arms shouts “All change” first in moved into new security post, last in moved to third and external guard into first. 

No breaks for personal reasons, dignity was not an option, the only thought the men ever had was “when would this bloody war ever end “?
There was no relief from the bitter cold wind and the rain, their uniforms sodden to the core, these men were dying standing on their feet, often a gun would sound, a poignant signal to a group of four individuals who would collect the dead soldier, exhaustion, and disease was rife throughout the temporary barracks, on this particular dank November evening, *many* men pass away, they lay them with the other dead bodies, their empty souls crumpled in heaps at the road sides, whilst their exhausted spirits attempted to reach the afterworld, only to remain in status.
Their own pre written letters explaining their demise was collected, for delivery to surviving family members, the dispatchers gave the unit notice, that today, at the eleventh hour of this eleventh day of this eleventh month ceasefire would be declared.

War was to be over, but, would it really ever stop? even today it still continues somewhere.
May God Bless the brave, those who gave their lives and hope that the lost souls, eventually find their peace eternal.