OMG There goes my smart mouth running away again : @JakeTheWriter

So many of my family and so called friends seem to delight in telling me that I have a smart mouth.  I defend myself by telling them that I am famous for my instant repartee and it is only jealousy and that they don’t understand my fast perception and enquiring mind.  However I do remember when I was a baby Midshipman, a Commissioned Gunner took great delight telling me in front of my class, that I suffered the fault of putting my mouth in gear before my brain was engaged.  Oh well, I’m far too old to change now.

On my way home from the Gym the other day, I called in at a supermarket to buy a newspaper.  As I entered I watched an elderly, frail old guy, probably nearly as old as me, he was holding a large bunch of roses as he shuffled slowly to the fast checkout and I stood back to allow him to be served before me.  I said to him jokingly “My goodness!  You must have done something really bad to have to buy such an expensive bunch!”

Silence – I thought he was going to ignore me but then he mumbled “They’re to go on my wife’s grave”.  Somewhat unlike me, I was lost for words, I stuttered an apology of sorts but the cashier had served him and he turned and shuffled away.

To put the icing on the cake, the cashier said, “Bless him, he buys a bunch of flowers for her a couple of times a week”.  I quickly paid for my newspaper and nearly ran out of the shop, I couldn’t think of a single piece of instant repartee.  There wasn’t a single adjective in my ammunition box.  I came out with few expletives that must be deleted once I was alone in my car.

I related this sorry tale to one of my friends later and all he said was “One of these days Jake . . . . . . . . . . . .”and just shook his head.  Well perhaps I do have a smart mouth!  Mr Old Widower, I am so very full of remorse!  My trouble is that I just know that it will not cure my smart mouth, but at least I will admit to having one.

Now I’m really sure you will be pleased to hear that I did get my comeuppance! It was at my gym again where it seems everything happens as far as my blogs go. The other day, as is my wont I arrived as usual at silly o’clock at the gym (sorry Health Club and Fitness Centre) to be told that my annual membership fee was due.

Once I had completed my daily dose of masochism in the gym and then recovered in the spa, I dressed and went out to the cafe bar to meet the young lady who looks after membership accounts.

I sat at a table and she provided me with a pot of tea and biscuits while she left to locate my folder.  I picked up a copy of Esquire Men’s Magazine and saw that the front cover was emblazoned “What to wear at a Gay Wedding!” I poured myself a cup of tea and settled back to read.

Before I could become enlightened, the perky little girl/lady (I’m very ancient so they are all sweeties to me) came back with my file.  Before she could sit down with my forms, I said “Oh that was quick!  I was just about to find out what I should wear to a Gay Wedding” and waved the copy of ‘Esquire’

Without blinking an eye and without even a trace of a smile, she came back with “Never mind, I’m sure you will be able to find something already in your closet”!  Well . . . . . Never has my flabber been so gasted – Gosh I bet she considers herself witty and amusing, I don’t like that in a woman, do you?

Once I had recovered from my speechlessness I rather wished that I had been about to read the article on “How to become a Paddle-boarder” if only to see what witty remark she could have made from that.  Closet indeed!!!

I thought that I was going to die and again and again! : @JakeTheWriter

I can’t be sure how I should categorise my Blog which is today’s Podcast
It’s either a Sailor’s Yarn or a Travelogue, whichever it all starts a long time ago!

I am getting a bit old in the tooth and in my long life I have acquired the knack of courting dangerous pursuits often finding myself in positions where I find myself saying either “What the Hell am I doing here?” or “Here we go again!”.  From Arctic Warfare training with the Special Boat Squadron, to skirmishes in Aden, Cyprus and Suez, I then took up ocean racing and rock climbing just to keep the adrenaline flowing.

Trying to claw a yacht under sail off Les Casquets in a Force 8 or seeking a handhold when you are clawing your way up a rock face of the aptly named Cenotaph Corner, towards Cemetery Gates in the Llanberis Pass certainly does that.

I was looking through the latest travel leaflets with a view to this year’s holiday plans.  I went to sea at the age of 15 and travelled the world and ever since I have visited most parts of the world, a lot of it when the countries had real names not their PC ones.  Korea was just Korea not North and South, Siam wasn’t Thailand, Burma wasn’t Myanmar, Formosa wasn’t Taiwan . . . . . . followed by my years as a Travel Journalist, Johnny Cash singing I’ve been everywhere man springs to mind. I digress but you get the picture I was probably looking for pastures new.

(“Hello Sailor you want something different?” “Why what have you got this time, Leprosy?” – Oh that nasty naval humour rears its ugly head again)

Back to the travel brochure, I opened it to look at Madeira and immediately delved into the old memory bank.
I was 17 years old and serving as an Extra, Extra, Junior Fourth Officer aboard Union Castle Line’s Royal Mail Steamer Capetown Castle we had called in at Freetown in Sierra Leone – now the home of the dreaded Ebola disease. I too picked up a dreaded disease; it wasn’t Ebola but an equally deadly one, a particularly virulent form of Malaria.  I don’t remember much of the rest of that trip around the Cape but not only did I think I was going to die, that was also the opinion of the ship’s surgeon.

Obviously I didn’t pop my clogs as I am still here but it was decided that I needed convalescence (either that or the surgeon didn’t want the publicity of a corpse in his sick bay).  It was decided that I should be put ashore in the beautiful island of Madeira to recover at company expense.  I found myself luxuriating in what then was the most lavish hotel on the island, the Savoy, where I spent six memorable weeks being pampered; bliss!  My memories bring back lovely cobbled streets, the biome wall lizards and the heady smell of fennel growing everywhere.  Fennel in Portuguese is funcha which gives Funchal its name.

All good thing come to an end and the company agent decided that rather than wait for my ship to call for me, I should fly back to Blighty for further recovery.

In those far flung days Madeira did not boast the lovely Santa Catarina Airport; in fact it had no airport at all.  What it did have was Aquila Airways who operated a fleet (three I think) of second-hand Short Solent Flying boats that flew two of three times a week from Madeira to Southampton.  I stress that these monstrosities were second-hand former WWII military machines.  You know how experts can scientifically prove that a bumble bee cannot fly, well you get the picture.

Short Solent 1

This barely recuperated sickly teenager was ferried out with around 18 other souls into Funchal Bay, The sea was flat calm, Tennyson’s painted ship on a painted ocean, calm!  The so called flying giant sat wallowing looking more like a hippopotamus than an aeroplane and I was helped aboard by a beautiful liveried and heavily made up, air hostess.  There were dining tables with crisp, white tablecloths, and the seats facing in from either side.  I also remember there were lovely frilly curtains at the portholes.

Short Solent interior

Remember this was the early 50s and I had never flown before.  All the passengers were comfortably seated and the very precisely spoken air hostess went through the doors to manual drill with great emphasis on lifejackets. The captain spoke over the Tannoy and after introducing himself told us that because the weather was so still and there were no waves the liner as he called it may have trouble unsticking itself from the surface tension.
He would make his first run and attempt take off but we were not to worry if it didn’t work, it was standard procedure and our first attempt would make sufficient waves to enable a successful launch on the second run.  The engines made an unbelievable deafening roar and he gave it full throttle for what seem like a couple of miles.  As he predicted we couldn’t get airborne and the throttle shut down and this flying pig slumped from about seventy or eighty knots and lurched forward and down to near standstill, then turned into our wake, engines roaring flat out and pop . . . we came unstuck and shot into the air. . . .

Once again I thought I was going to die.  Not only that, when I looked at the faces of the other passengers and the cabin crew, they thought so too!  I won’t worry you with the hellish landing in Southampton Water, suffice to say I later chose the Royal Navy rather than following my father into the RAF.
Do you know I think I shall give Madeira a miss this year and just cherish my memories. What does it say on my computer? “Memory almost Full.”

Thanks for listening!

I’m not a racist, this is a joke and the jokes on us! : @JakeTheWriter

Todays Podcast is from retired travel writer, journalist and commentator jakethewriter. There is no doubt that one of the major topics for the EU Referendum is the fact that immigration is out of control. I start my piece on this serious subject with a story that smacks of the truth

I’m not a racist, this is a joke and the jokes on us!

A Somalian arrives in London as a new immigrant to the UK.  He stops the first person he sees walking down the street and says……..  ‘Thank you Mr. British for letting me in this country, giving me housing, money for food, free medical care, free education and no taxes!’  The passer-by says, ‘You are mistaken, I am Mexican!’

The man goes on and encounters another passer-by  ‘Thank you for having such a beautiful country here in the UK!’  The person says, ‘I not British, I Polish!’  The new arrival walks on further and the next person he sees he stops, shakes his hand and says, ‘Thank you for the wonderful Britain!’  That person puts up his hand and says, ‘I am from Russia, I am not from Britain!’

He finally sees a nice lady and asks, ‘Are you a British?’  She says, ‘No, I am from Africa!’ Puzzled, he asks her, ‘Where are all the British?’  The African lady checks her watch and says………  ’Probably at work’.

Migration from the EU will rise to 428,000 per annum by 2030, the equivalent of adding a city the size of Bristol to the UK population each year.  5.23 million persons will be added to the UK population as a direct result, the equivalent of the population of Scotland. The NHS will require an additional £9.35 billion by 2030 to maintain current funding levels on top of the existing savings required by the Five Year Forward View.  Attendances at A&E will increase by 12.8 million per year by 2030, the equivalent of a 57.0% increase in demand for accident and emergency services.  The UK will need an additional 14,746 doctors and 43,193 nurses to maintain current levels of medical staff per capita. This is the equivalent of 13.3% of the current NHS number of doctors in England and 13.6% of the current number of NHS nurses in England.

There is a fairly clear way ahead: to minimise disruption, while achieving control of numbers. The key element that needs to be controlled is migration for work (which accounts for the bulk of net EU migration). This could be sharply reduced if EU immigrants were subject to the same requirement for work permits as now currently apply to non-EU workers: the aim would be to reduce the overall scale of immigration without losing the economic benefit of highly skilled immigration. By doing this, net migration – 330,000 last year – could be cut by about 100,000 per year. Tourism would not suffer: obviously, there would be no need to require tourist visas for EU citizens any more than we do for Americans now. Nor would there be any need for restrictions on students, or genuine marriage. Even freedom to live elsewhere could be protected: EU citizens could still come to live in the UK provided they had the means to support themselves. All you have to do is to Vote Leave on June 23rd

That was more serious than I usually like to be but our position is such that unless we do something about the situation on June 23 Referendum day by voting to free ourselves from the shackles of the EU it will be too late. We will only get one chance, so make your vote count. Thanks for listening, I’ll be back next week. Cheerio!