Memory almost full : @JakeTheWriter

This week’s podcast from Jakethewriter, retired travel writer, journalist, author and commentator, shares some of his memories before he forgets.

Memory almost full

I’ve lost my car keys, I’ve searched everywhere.  It doesn’t matter I won’t need them until I remember where I’ve left my car.  That’s a joke rather like my chum telling me that he is modifying his stair lift to speed it up.  That way he can get upstairs so fast that he will be there before he forgets what he went up for.

Memory; It bothers all of us of a certain age, that’s when we remember to think about it.  I was starting to believe that I had cracked it, my iPhone was proving quite a lifesaver, and I can use it to leave myself notes and can either write or leave a voice reminder with and alarm to jog my failing brain.  I also have an App. Called “Find my Car” I can even take a photo if it will help me.  Great, but not a great deal of help, if I have left it in my car, and that’s another nasty habit that I have also developed.

I have tried other ways to improve my failing mind by developing new habits in addition to my nasty ones.  I have placed a large bowl near my favourite chair; this is proving useful for the “I’ve lost it” syndrome.  I routinely use it for my wallet, reading glasses, house and car keys, cell phone and cash change.  I keep the bowl in exactly the same place and am now in the habit of going there first.  Before that is accusing my good tempered wife of moving my lost item, the one that I know I placed in my bowl.  It should work; after all they can train mice and dogs so surely I can train myself.

I have now got so bad that family and friends are convinced that I suffer from OCD; in fact I’m beginning to worry about it myself.  I work out at the gym every day and have got into the habit of going at the same time each day; parking in the same spot if I am able to, even trying to use the same locker.  All of my kit is in its proper place in my gym bag.  All of this would be acceptable of someone of my great age, if it worked.

However in just the past two weeks I have left the token which I use in place of a £1 coin for my locker, on five separate occasions.  I’m far too embarrassed to ask if anyone has handed them in.  I have left my goggles and ear plugs after a swimming session.  Last week I got changed in the dressing room and did not realise that I was going upstairs to the gym in bare feet until I stubbed my toe and had to return to the locker room for my trainers.  On three occasions I have got upstairs without my drinks bottle and gone back downstairs for it.  I’m sure that climbing up and downstairs is great extra exercise. . . . . . . . .

This morning I was on a Cross Trainer before I realised that I had left my iPod in my locker. . . . . . .  I am just wondering how long it will be before I get into the Spa after my Gym Session sans swimming trunks and more to the point if I can convince anyone that it is just my memory that is at fault before I finish up on the sex offenders list.

Surely the Cops would believe me that my memory was the second thing that went once I became aged.  If that last statement missed its mark, then your memory is worse than mine.

My chums are a sarcastic bunch and so after an early morning gym workout, over breakfast, one asked how I picked a subject to Blog about and I just told him that I just wrote what I was in my mind at that particular time.  A bit like a butterfly flitting between flowers.  Another of the ironic group immediately came back with “More like a blowfly going from dung-heap to cow pat”

As an old guy I often cover up my forgetfulness by saying that my memory is almost full.  However I do have a lot of memories stored in my filing cabinet of a brain.  One such is filed under ‘Sailor’s Dit’ from some 60 years ago.

To set the scene, two very green Royal Navy ‘Snotties’ (Midshipmen) learning to be officers and gentlemen were setting off to go sightseeing on a run ashore in Gibraltar.  In those days all Naval Servicemen had wear their Number One Uniforms ashore.  In fact civilian clothes were not allowed on board.

Gibraltar is a fairly small place and our huge Aircraft Carrier with a complement of 1500 officers and crew, overwhelmed it.  My shipmate Warwick and I walked through Dockyard gates and went into a small stone built urinal close to the gates and were standing at the long very smelly trough.  Before we could perform, in staggered a very drunk, three badge killick, that is a leading seaman with at least 12 years service.  On seeing us he stamped to attention and saluted, neither of us was in a position to return his salute so I muttered, ‘Carry on’.  He staggered forward and joined us at the trough.

As he began to urinate, he was swaying about and muttering in a broad Glaswegian accent.  He suddenly indicated a piece of electrical conduit piping that was sticking out of the wall just above his head.  It was probably where a lamp had been attached.  In his rough Gorbals intonation he challenged us to a pissing contest and began to urinate up the wall flicking it towards the pipe – BANG – the conduit was live.  The Scotsman was hurled backwards across the room to end up unconscious against the far wall.

I saw that Warwick had peed down his trouser leg and all over his shiny shoes.  I left him with the sailor who we found was still breathing, and ran to the Dockyard gate where there was a Police post.  When we got back I found that Hooky had come round and in spite of his charred bellbottoms appeared to be feeling no pain.  An ambulance took the injured man to hospital.  Warwick and I were taken back to our ship by a Royal Naval Patrol, where we had to explain to the Officer of the Day as to why we were associating with a member of the Lower Deck, especially a drunken one.

The following day my friend and I successfully had a run ashore and went up the top of the Rock to see the Barbary Apes.  Unimpressed by the smelly things we returned back down into the town.  We decided that a cool glass of shandy would be acceptable and went into the first pub that we found.  It was teeming with our ship’s crew, Warwick suddenly said “I think we should leave” indicating a certain very inebriated Scottish Leading Hand who was carefully manoeuvring a very full pint of beer and negotiating through the crowd.

Warwick and I had quickly downed our drinks and we were nearly at the door when we saw our man bump hard into a Royal Marine, covering him with his beer, and to make matters worse said in a loud voice “Iaam sorry soldier”.  Now no-one calls a Royal Marine ‘soldier’ and expects to retain his teeth, I saw the look on the Marine’s face and saw him taking off his belt and wrapping it around his fist while three of his fellow marines were surrounding the unlucky sailor.

We left in a hurry as we saw the front window of the pub explode into the street.  We were nearly back at the Dockyard gates when we heard the bells of the R.N. patrol wagon and we strolled through the gates and smartly saluted the Naval Guard who presented arms as we marched away.

There’s a Little Green Urinal Just North of Waterloo and another a little further up, there’s a member of the army . . . . . . Attention on the upper deck, face aft and salute.

That’s all for this week thanks for listening, I’ll be back again same place next week, if I remember that is.

Into the melting pot! : @JakeTheWriter

Today the Podcast from Jakethewriter, retired travel writer, freelance journalist, author and commentator voices a few thoughts on migrants but keeps it nice by not mentioning Muslims.

Into the melting pot!

Take a piece of white man; wrap him up in black skin. Add a touch of blue blood and a little bitty bit of Red Indian boy . . . . . . . so the song goes. Only last year a BBC DJ on Three Counties Radio had to apologise for playing Blue Mink’s 1969 hit because the lyrics went on even further . . . . Curly Latin kinkies, mixed with yellow Chinkees…’

Oh dear Political Correctness at the BBC, don’t start me off again. I must tell you of a story from back in those non-PC days. I lived in Bedford and had a great relationship with my neighbour Max, a Jamaican immigrant who was a carpenter. He lived with his wife Dorothy and five children in a house opposite to mine. One Sunday afternoon, I had been working and arrived home in my car. Max was busy in his garden trimming his lawn edge with a large cane knife. Before I swung into my driveway I pulled up alongside him and said “Hiya Max, are you OK?”, he replied in a heavy West Indian accent “No Dorotee has me working like a Nigger”. There I’ve used the N word. All I can say is that he knew what he meant, I knew what he meant and there was not an ounce of racism in either of us.

I digress . . . . . . . Did you know there are now more people in this country who were born in Poland than in Pakistan? That’s a finding from a recent census, and it’s a surprise, because although we’re all familiar with the stereotype of the Polish builder, this isn’t a community that interests us very much. Yet it should, because it represents a fascinating and very 21st-century style of migration.

A lot of them know very little English, this isn’t laziness: lots of young Poles don’t need language skills because they’re networkers, forever finding jobs from or for their fellow countrymen. Have you ever noticed how, overnight, the staff of a coffee bar will turn Polish? Also, mobile phones and Skype keep them in touch with family and friends back home – whom they see pretty often anyway. It’s not unknown for Poles to freelance more or less simultaneously in London and Warsaw.

Although they may not be able to converse fluently in our language, young Poles fit comfortably into English working-class society, the men especially. Football, pubs, and cars – what’s not to like? Not for nothing did “Swiat wedlug Clarksona” reach number one in the Polish bestseller lists – yup, The World According to Jeremy Clarkson.

As a former travel writer I have had the pleasure of visiting Poland on a couple of occasions, I loved it especially the area around Krakow and the Tetra mountains. I always make a good effort to learn some of the language of the country I am visiting but Polish? Give me a break! I came home still unable to say any more than “Dzien dobry” (good morning) “Czesc” (hello!) and “Okrzyki” (cheers!). However, I got by, had a lovely time and met such a lot of very charming people.

Add to that the large number of Polish airman and displaced persons that I met over here during the war and who fitted in very well, I am now very biased when I meet Polish immigrants and I try to make them feel as welcome as I was in their country. This is helped by the fact that they look very Anglo Saxon and aren’t easily spotted. Mind you they aren’t exactly WASPS (White Anglo Saxon Protestants) because ninety percent of the one’s I’ve met are Roman Catholics and the other ten percent are Jewish descendants of those whom escaped the Holocaust.

Having said that there is quite a deal of muttering to be heard when I go to our local Boot sales about hardly hearing English spoken and “bloody poles taking our jobs” etc. I have spoken to a number of these ‘bloody poles’ and discovered that a lot of them are from Estonia, Latvia, Romania and Lithuania. It’s also true that nearly all of them are working unlike a lot of their detractors. Could it be that they want to work? This hasn’t endeared Poles to self-anointed champions of minority rights. Amusingly, one Lefty critic was cross because they fail to bellyache about the minimum wage.

The BBC appears to be on a bit of a mission to portray Poles as racists: Jonathan Ornstein, executive director of the Jewish Community Centre of Krakow, told the Economist last year that a Panorama documentary on racism in Polish football “manipulated the serious subject of anti-Semitism for its own sensationalist agenda; in doing so, the BBC has insulted all Polish people…”

I can’t imagine the ‘Beeb’ fussing about non-white racism. The truth is that white immigrants who effectively commute from their homeland don’t match the Left-liberal template. There have been attempts to turn Poles into grievance-mongers who can be marched into a Radio 4 studio for a three-minute moan, but with little success, and so the Polly Toynbee’s of this world tend to forget about them. Except, of course, when their boiler conks out in January, in which case there’s this simply marvellous chap called Tomasz who’ll come out at a moment’s notice…

I found it amusing when one of my close friends, who is of Indian descent muttered about a bunch of Eastern Europeans, saying “These bloody poles have no manners they just push you out of the way!” This from a guy who gets quite apoplectic if someone calls him a Paki; “I’m not a bloody Paki I’m from Africa”. My lovely friend was born in Kenya and has lived here for over 50 years. He supports the English Cricket team, sent his three daughters to Public School and is more English than I am. Perhaps I should say probably less of mongrel than most of us who were born here. Mind you he is certainly more of a racist than I am.

What we need is a great big melting pot; big enough, big enough, and big enough to take the world and all it’s got; keep it stirring for a hundred years or more! Mind you if immigration and their birth rate keep on rising we will soon run out of room. Stop the world I want to get off! Now I know of a lovely little town up in the Tatra Mountains near Krakow . . . . . . . . . . . .

I’ve just reread my blog and must stress that if this makes me sound as though I’m all for open borders please don’t go away with that mistaken idea. I think that we should have a tougher border controls than anywhere else in the world. No-one should be allowed in unless they have a job waiting for them. No immigrant should be eligible for any benefits until he has paid into our system for at least five years. As I promised that I would not bring Islam into the argument I will not rant about Sharia Law but this is a Christian Country and anyone who doesn’t want to conform to our laws should return to a country that welcomes that way of life.

Enough, already, thanks for listening, I’ll see you next week.

Possibly our first “Jolly boy’s” outing! : @JakeTheWriter

This week’s Podcast from Jakethewriter, retired travel journalist, author, freelance writer and commentator dips into his memory bank and relates his experience with Murphy’s Law. If anything can go wrong, it probably will!

Possibly our first “Jolly boy’s” outing!

1983 was the year of the “loadsamoney” generation. Margaret Thatcher in the glow of the Falklands war triumph gave the Conservative party a landslide victory and wiped the floor with Michael Foot, turning the political map of the country blue.

Microsoft launched the world’s best word processing programme called Microsoft Word. Cruise missiles appeared at Greenham Common along with large numbers of protesters. Droughts in Ethiopia caused the death of 4 million people which gave Bob Geldorf a great money making idea.

I owned a garage and belonged to a group of local businessmen in Bedford who amongst other things sponsored the Bedford boys boxing club with some great events. The group seemed fairly evenly divided with motor dealers and Estate Agents with the odd shopkeeper, accountant and a few solicitors. (If the devil should cast his net!……..) The sub-division of car dealers, motor traders and garage owners developed further into a dining, drinking and general entertainment group and we organised a night out when we took over a local night club for the evening with a caterer, bar and entertainment laid on. It was that night out when the comedian came on and looked around the room and said “Bedford Motor Crooks” and our group was christened.

Bedford Boys Boxing Club was already quite famous not least because British and British Commonwealth Heavyweight Champion Joe Bugner began his career here as an amateur before turning professional in 1967. The club had a long history of providing an evening of top quality amateur boxing, hosting clubs from all over the country. Anyway Bedford Motor Crooks had a table for ten, to wine and dine and watch some great amateur boxing matches. After the bouts came to an end and cigars were lit, the tradition was that a large number of items donated by local businesses were auctioned off.

The more wine that flowed the more generous the bidding became, with all of the profits going to the club. I can remember when one local entrepreneur took off his Rolex watch in a drunken gesture to donate to the cause and the even more inebriated bidding fetched about a thousand pounds more than the new value of the watch. That sets the scene! At our table one of the motor traders told us that he had just bought a top of the range Winnebago motorhome or as the Americans call it a Recreational Vehicle, it could accommodate all ten of us and how did we feel about an outing.

After a lot of discussion we unanimously decided that it was a great idea and we would all pile in two weeks time, sharing expenses and go to watch the Le Mans 24 hour race. The talk went something like this, “It’s only 450 miles that’s nearer than Glasgow.” Quite a few of went to car actions in Glasgow on a regular basis. “It’s only just the other side of Paris, a piece of cake.” “Sort of ten hours driving plus time on the ferry.” “Let’s take it easy and allow three days to get there, one day for the race and two or three days back, perfect!”

A few days before we were due to depart; I got my first view of our holiday home. What an eye opener. It was the biggest motorhome I had ever seen. Think 40 feet long, near double-decker bus size with a ladder up to the roof, a huge air conditioning unit on the roof next to an enormous generator. In the centre on one side of this juggernaut was an annexe that powered out once the vehicle was parked up and retreated flush with the side to go on the road. There were as promised, separate bedrooms, some with bunks sufficient to sleep ten people comfortably. Shower room and toilet, a built in television and VHS player, remember this was 1983. All of the furnishings including a cocktail cabinet were unbelievably luxuriously finished and would have put some luxury liner’s cabins to shame. In 2016 a similar vehicle would cost in excess of a cool million pounds.

Come departure day all of us were excited about our luxury holiday and we met up at our agreed meeting point.

First unplanned glitch – Strike one.

Think ten people arriving at an airport with their check in luggage plus carry-on bags – enough to fill a carousel. Right not a problem, someone has to climb up the ladder and stack all the luggage on the roof rack next to the aircon unit and the generator; it’s the middle of an English summer so of course it’s raining. This turned into what the Special Forces call a Chinese Parliament with the difference that a SAS patrol is usually four men and we had ten all offering their opinions. One of the gang disappeared to his business premises for a large tarpaulin to cover our luggage and I went to buy some straps to tie everything down. Two hours later the cases were snugly secured and we set off. Naturally by this time it had stopped raining.

Strike two

This was a few years before the M25 opened and before we got as far as the ferry, one of the guys worked out that were only doing four mile to the gallon. Thank goodness that petrol, yes it was a petrol engine not diesel, cost around £1.70 a gallon.

Strike three

Because of our size we had to load with the Lorries and couldn’t get on the next ferry so we were delayed for another one and a half hours but at least we were in pole position for the next ferry. Time for a meal, getting back in good time to board; we had left the air conditioning running on our luxury abode and first in line for the Lorries to load. The engine refused to turn over, the air conditioning had flattened the positively enormous bank of batteries; ten motor crooks were unable to bump start the beast, no-one in the queue behind had a tow-rope but with the help of a couple of lorry drivers we were able to push the monster out of the line. Did you know that Motor Crooks swear worse than sailors?

Another ten man Chinese Parliament decided that we should camp for the night where we were; not much option really and using the on board generator overnight to charge the batteries.

Strike four

After an hour charging with everything switched of except a couple of small wall lights and the battery indicator showing good signs of life; the generator stopped. Examination proved that it had run out of fuel. Another Chinese Parliament decided that we didn’t have a tube to siphon fuel from the Brute and in any case the generator ran on two stroke mixture. A volunteer was despatched to the nearest garage to buy a can of two stroke fuel; better but two cans in case we need the generator in France. Our volunteer finally returned having had to get a taxi to travel miles to find an open garage with the necessary fuel and we in due course got the generator running and the batteries charging.

We managed about 4 hours sleep before we woke to check over the vehicle and make sure that everything was working perfectly and took up our position to load on to the ferry. Thank goodness I didn’t have to drive the Juggernaut up the ramp and into position on the loading deck!

Strike Five

No ten man discussion this time but somebody decided that while we were at sea we should run the generator to really top up the batteries. Breakfast! And then when we were halfway across the Channel the ship’s tannoy demanded we return to our vehicle. Oh my word surely nothing else could go wrong! When we got to our vehicle we found an irate crew member jumping up and down – pointing to our generator shouting Das ist verboten; I’m not sure if he was French or English but he sounded like a Nazi. He was abusive enough to upset several of the barrack room lawyers among our number, One of whom insisted on being taken to see the captain to complain of his rude and abusive behaviour.

Because we were such a bloody minded lot we left the generator running and had fully charged the batteries by the time we had docked. We drove off and parked up to await our representative. He returned having had his apology. It turned out that the Captain, ever such a nice chap, was a fellow Freemason.

Strike six, seven and eight

Nothing else could go wrong other than a puncture just before we got to Paris. The Monster had ten wheels in total! It only took ten Motor Crooks around two and a half hours to work out where the spare wheel was hidden, then to work out where the jack was. How were we to know that it didn’t look like a jack, just a three foot long piece of metal with a ratchet along its length on one side. Then when we finally changed the wheel and found that the tyre was soft, not flat just a bit soggy and we had to drive slowly to a service area – Aires de service, where we blew up the tyre and checked the others.

Then in view of our history took our two fuel cans to get them filled up with two stroke mixture for the generator while we topped up the ginormous fuel tanks. Use your imagination. . . . . . . ten English motor dealer with various educations attempting to explain that we wanted two stroke fuel for the generator by pointing to the roof of the Winnebago. No, we didn’t need the air conditioning topping up, thank you! Eventually we just filled the two cans with 2 stars and unbelievably one of the guys went into the shop to get a coffee and . . . . Bingo! Found a can on two stroke oil.

We left the Paris Boulevard Peripherique, turned on to the A11 when the engine began to overheat. After finding somewhere safe to park, ten garage owners/motor traders/car salesmen/dealers and a motor auctioneer, checked the cause of the overheating. You will have heard of the adage about the number of people needed to change a light bulb, well I can tell you that it takes ten motor crooks to find a small leak in the top radiator hose.

We could wrap some tape tightly around it as a temporary measure, if we had some tape” – We didn’t. Eventually someone found some baling twine and a plastic carrier bag and we strapped it up and refilled the radiator from our on board water tank and we trundled off as far as the next service area where we stopped in a cloud of steam. We resumed our struggle with schoolboy French to the staff who again responded with their by now routine blank faces.

I then gained Superman status by solving the problem by asking two coppers who I saw were sitting in their car drinking coffee. – They didn’t leave their car but 30 minutes later a mechanic arrived in a breakdown truck, took away our defective top hose and within the hour returned with a replacement. He fitted it, refilled our drinking water tank, and checked our tyres and we were on our way. The bill from the mechanic was 500 francs – less than £50.

My pals were slapping me on the back and congratulating on the way I charmed the ‘old bill’ and then began hooting when I explained that I had sorted the problem out in the time honoured way, I bunged them a ‘pony’ that’s £25 or in fact 250 francs and it worked like a charm. Two hours later we pulled into the Le Mans racetrack campsite just as it was getting dark. The fairground was in full swing with a huge Ferris wheel and lights and loud music. Our millionaire recreation vehicle with its centre extension pulled out really looked the business and was the centre of attention.

Strike Nine

Once settled, the party started. Our cocktail bar had been well stocked before we left but we had also made a few stops on our way down. Well we were in France and as well as a six case of Courvoisier cognac, we had added a case of Moet et Chandon Champagne and tree cases of Premier Cru wine. The word went round the raceway and more than a dozen new friends including some fellow campers, a couple of race mechanics and obviously at the mention of free booze a couple of journalists appeared.

I hadn’t mentioned that our ten motor crooks, as well as being boxing aficionados, were all member of the local rowing club and all of us were ex rugby players and we knew how to party. I sat quietly with a bottle of Premier Cru and a personal bottle of Courvoisier. I’m not sure if it was me that began singing a few rugby songs, it could have been. Some of our new German friends joined in with German lyrics to the same tune. Then some of the French lads joined in their own language. The night went on . . . . . and on . . . . . and on I don’t recall when the actual race started but we all missed it. I think I feel asleep on the floor of the motorhome but I woke up lying on the grass in hot sunshine and could hear the race engines but dozed off again. I woke up in the dark with the fairground in full swing with lots of lights and lots of noise.

I decided to go back to the Winnebago for coffee and would then go to watch the race. Inside the motorhome there were quite few people slumped around. I made myself a coffee and sat on a sofa alongside one of the journalists from last night who had also missed the start. Although a long while ago I can still remember him starting giggling and saying “I know the tune and most of the words, I’ll just put them together in time for the deadline” he fell asleep again. I’m not sure when or how but I woke up in my own bunk, in my sleeping bag – Result! I think all or most of the guys were in their beds and someone was using the shower so I went outside and across to use the campsite showers which were excellent as you may expect of France. It was there that I learned we had not only missed the start but also the finish and the closing ceremony.

I got back to the motorhome and found all were present, when I passed on the news that although we hadn’t planned to watch the free practice or the qualifying, we had come all this way and missed every part of the 24 hours race itself. One of the guys said “Bugger I know why they call it and endurance race and we all collapsed giggling like a bunch of schoolgirls. We decided that we weren’t in a fit start to leave until the following morning so our journey home would take two days. That evening we would go over and have an evening at the fair. When we got there it was closed and in the process of being dismantled. We fell about laughing again. We found a good restaurant and had an excellent meal, sans alcohol.

Strike Ten

We had a perfect drive home and for some reason our fuel consumption improved to over 7 MPG. We drove unhindered straight on to the ferry and had a lovely drive home. One of the Crooks owned our local car auctions and a couple of weeks later he had the Winnebago valeted and detailed and advertised it nationally with some sort of story behind it, not the true one I’d add. The Millionaire RV made a handsome profit for both the owner and the Car Auction. Between them they covered the whole kitty for our holiday including my bung to the ‘old bill’.

Who says my memory is getting bad? Some things are unforgettable! Do you know I’ve been to motor races all over the world but I’ve never seen the Le Mans 24 hour Endurance Race?

Thanks for listening; I’ll see you next week!

They call tattooing art! : @jakethewriter

Today’s Podcast from Jakethewriter, travel journalist, author, blogger and commentator looks at tattooing with a somewhat jaundiced eye.

They call tattooing art!

My regular readers will recall that I often dive into my memory bank and even dine out on the tale of my being naked in the gym changing room when a young man, equally naked, accosted me. After reeling back and before adopting a krav maga defence position, because I don’t swing that way, I noticed that he was covered in Gothic style tattoos. He pointed to my single tattoo that I sport on my right arm and said “Nice ink matey”.

Once I realised that he had no designs on my body – do you get that? Designs – tattoos. I became friendly and although he really was only asking me to admire his own tattoo portfolio and commenced to tell him that I had mine done many years ago in South Africa by a native Zulu who had been wearing an ostrich plume headdress and full tribal dress also that he had carried out the procedure using a sharp piece of bamboo which he rapped with a wooden mallet. My new friend said “Cor! Were you in the Boer War?” I turned and strode towards the showers, cheeky sod, calling me matey when he hardly knew me. End of memory – Well not quite I can remember that it bloody well hurt and it was like being stabbed in slow motion, hundreds of times.

Having admitted to having a tattoo, which is of a Springbok posed in front of the old Union of South Africa flag with a scroll that used to say simply South Africa but is now a dark blue smear as time has taken its toll. I still subscribe to the rather snooty position that unless the tattoo wearer is ex military especially Navy or Army where tattoos have been the custom since Nelson was a lad, tattooing is still very “Club Chav. It’s still the preserve of Pole Dancers and people with England flags fluttering from their car aerials. I was seventeen when I acquired my tattoo, I was a sailor and I had partaken of a few glasses of tikki hock.

Nowadays the law in the UK states that you can’t get a tattoo unless you are drunk that’s why 18 is the minimum age! I must also admit another snooty prejudice from when I was an employer. I interviewed a lad who was computer literate and eminently qualified for the job, he bemoaned the fact that he had been applying for jobs for months and couldn’t understand why he kept being turned down. The fact that he couldn’t see the reason why was enough for me to also turn him down. He had a spider’s web tattooed on his face and neck. I didn’t enlighten him and wonder if he ever got a job that didn’t involve emptying rubbish bins or mobile toilets.

Tattoo art is invariably awful. David Beckham looks more like an Iron Maiden album cover and as for Cheryl Cole/Fernandez-Versini/Tweedy apart from the cost of what she calls her rose tattoo, the pain must have been incredible. All I can think when I see a picture of it is “Does my arse look big in this tattoo?” Whatever you call it, it certainly isn’t art in the same manner of the great artists like Leonardo da Vinci, Van Gogh, and Monet. We know that they would apply their skill and dexterity to just about any surface; walls, ceiling, canvas, paper and often did, but not the human body. Mind you I wouldn’t put it past Tracy Emin but that still wouldn’t be art.

Look at the stereo-typical tattooist, eighteen stone of Hell’s Angel with most of B & Qs stockroom stuck through his ears and nose. Proper artists spend ages considering their approach to a work, photographing it, looking at views through squared fingers and discussing it. The Hell’s Angel will give a five minute consultation before producing a very painful, expensive doodle. I suppose the advantage of having such graffiti on one’s back is the fact that you can’t see it and it is only seen by very good friends. I have heard of a friend’s wife who had such an intense love for her Ferrari that she had a prancing horse tattooed just above her G-string. Now whenever she bends over people ask her why someone has drawn a donkey on her back. As usual its rubbish and she is stuck with it for life, as am I with the Springbok on my arm but at least I can relate the tale of the Zulu warrior with his sharpened bamboo stick.

I zigga zumba zumba zumba, I zigga zumba zumba zai 
I zigga zumba zumba zumba, I zigga zumba zumba zai

Hold him down you Zulu warrior 
Hold him down you Zulu chief
Hold him down you Zulu warrior
Hold him down you Zulu chief, chief, chief, chief

That’s the South African Boy Scout’s version which made my spell checker go wild. I also made a promise that I wouldn’t ever sing again and as I only know the tune for the Rugby song version which is far to rude for here, that’s all you are getting.

Cheerio and thanks for listening I’ll see you again next week


You know that you will enjoy it when you get there : @JakeTheWriter


This week’s Podcast from Jakethewriter retired travel writer and journalist, author and blogger talks about his lifelong aversion to parties or is it that he’s been a grumpy sod for the best part of his life?

You know that you will enjoy it when you get there

I had a big boy’s birthday last week, I’d reached such a great age that I didn’t wish to be reminded of it. All I wanted to do was ignore it and hope that it would pass unnoticed. What would life be like if parties had never been invented? Tents would still be used, but now solely for a place for Boy Scouts and campers to sleep.

We are not programmed to enjoy parties that much. Think; when you were little you liked your teddy and you liked your mother and father, but other children were the enemy. You were forced to go and sit quietly until one of your enemy’s mothers comes up and makes you join in. Then when you we older going through the “Rite of Passage” and another enemy’s mum finds you face down in her flower bed sometime around dawn. And then when you are married you get into huge trouble for dancing with the wrong girl, in the wrong way, for far too long! So there you have it, I’m not programmed to be a party goer but more to the point I’m not happy being old in the first place and I certainly have no wish to broadcast it. However as I am now so old I am now wise enough to know when I should do as I am told, especially when it is my dear wife ‘Pollyanna’ who is doing the telling.

Then number one son and his lovely wife announce that they would like to honour my great age by hosting a party for me. In fact it will give the game away as it is to be a “We can’t believe he’s eighty party”. Is it butter or margarine? Now my wife tells me “You will enjoy it”! Well she didn’t say that exactly she said “Come on you know you’ll enjoy it”! But I knew what she meant. She didn’t exactly lick her handkerchief before rubbing a non-existent smudge from my face before we left for the party but it was certainly reminiscent of long ago parties. Thinking on the way to my son’s house, I smile and think “Now that I’m old perhaps I’ll get to dance with the wrong sort of girl in the wrong way for too long” without getting a rollicking for it.

When we arrive at the party there are dozens of old friends and much loved relations there and I feel a bit overwhelmed. One who is part of my extended family and has been my son’s best friend since they were a mischievous seven years old. He’s now fifty five years old with middle age spread and a teacher at a local public school. I always call him my second son. There were some of the ‘Jolly Boys’ from my gym who rather puzzlingly appeared to be on their best behaviour.

There was my beautiful granddaughter with her husband and if that wasn’t enough to make me aware of my age there too was her younger brother, my 24 year old grandson. He was tippling ten year old straight malt whisky and expounding on its depth of flavour and later began tasting wine like a professional Sommelier. (My daughter told me later when they got him home he was chilling out on the carpet and in her bad books) I managed to convince her that this was a necessary “Rite of Passage” a ritual that everyone goes through to move on to the next stage of their life. Been there done that!

There were my late sister’s kids together with their lovely kids and the great thing about that is that those lovely kids have all turned into lovely adults. Yey! A party without children, someone must have realised that other children are the enemy. The party isn’t looking too bad now and I might get to dance with the wrong girl in the wrong way for too long! I’ve been making notes of likely lasses. Perhaps like my grandson I’ve gone through my own “Rite of Passage” and have gone through a transition and my change of status has moved on from my dislike of parties to actually enjoying them. I’ve not exactly become a party animal perhaps that will come later.

My celebrations haven’t yet finished because next Friday my favourite Niece has invited me to dine at my favourite Fish Restaurant in my favourite English village and whose menu costs a lot more than a whole book of stamps, all to celebrate my great age.

I keep telling anyone who will listen that old age begins fifteen years from now. Now where can I find the wrong lady to dance with in the wrong way for too long?

That’s it for today, thanks for listening; I’ll see you next week. God Bless!

It’s a bit late for PTSD : @JakeTheWriter

This week’s Podcast is a personal memory from Jakethewriter, Blogger, Travel Writer, Journalist and Author who thinks he is getting soft in his old age.

It’s a bit late for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

This is a fairly short blog because I have had a certain amount of difficulty writing it. It’s a bit more personal that my usual offerings. Some people go through life never having seen a dead body let alone touched one. Some people have never been in a situation so stressful that they will remember it the whole of their lives let alone give them sleepless nights, I envy them!

I don’t know what it is about me but when I look back at my life it seems rather like a broth of chaos. Before I was sixteen I stood on an armed merchantman in Korea as the ship unloaded equipment for our UN troops while the US fleet were offshore pounding seven bells out of the enemy in the hills above us. I stood mouth open watching shells that seemed the size of a double-decker bus streaking over our heads before erupting in huge explosions into the jungle. I won’t say I was scared, I was bloody terrified.

That same voyage I visited Hiroshima in Japan just a few years after it was decimated by “Little Boy” the atomic bomb dropped by an American Superfortress bomber. That introduced me to man’s inhumanity to man!

Later on, I stood on the bridge of a frigate, next to a shipmate, the ship rolled and a loaded Very flare Pistol slid across the chart table and accidentally fired. The phosphorous/magnesium flare shot him in the stomach. We helplessly watched him die in agony. The nightmare continued when we had to relive it through several Boards of Enquiry.

Another time I had to pull a close friend’s body out of his crashed glider. He had been training for a stunt glider competition and failed to complete the performance. My life carried on unlike his. At one time I had to pick up a severed human head and all I could think of was how heavy it was. On two separate occasions I have picked up a severed leg to remove it from the road. I just made ghoulish jokes to hide my horror.

Fifty years ago in 1966 I went with my team to give what help we could to what is now known as the ‘Aberfan disaster’, we got there two days after the tragedy and relieved some of the exhausted rescuers in their hunt for survivors at the Pantglas Primary School which had been totally engulfed by a coal slag heap that had towered over the town until it slipped down into the town. 85 children died in that school, in total 144 people were killed in the town that horrendous day, 116 of them were children. There were no ghoulish jokes, just anger and blame being thrown around. I had a few sleepless nights after that catastrophe but my life carried on.

I seem to have developed a hard casing over the years that have helped me put these sorts of memories out of my mind. I hardly ever talk about them and normally seal them up in my “not wanted on voyage” bag, perhaps to be stored in our loft of somewhere equally out of sight and out of mind. Last week another tragedy occurred, this time it was an earthquake in the mountains of central Italy, where the death toll was 240 and rising. Modern communications being what they are such scenes are becoming commonplace. Some manmade like Aleppo in Syria and others natural disasters like this one and we are possibly becoming inured to them.

I was watching on TV at the rescue efforts continuing in Amatrice hoping to find survivors; suddenly I watched the footage as a 10 year old girl was pulled alive from the rubble and I stopped breathing for a moment and in my mind saw the children’s bodies in Aberfan. A little boy and girl aged about six years’ old, holding hands even in death trying to comfort each other. The deputy head teacher was found dead, he was clutching five children in his arms as if he had been protecting them. I just burst into tears and began blubbing out my memories of Aberfan, just saying “the little boy and girl were holding hands”. My wife rushed across the room to hug and comfort me as I sobbed.

There are tears running down my cheeks as I’m typing this a week after my breakdown. Perhaps I should have kept this all to myself but I thought telling you might help to rid me of the Devil. Can someone suffer Post Traumatic Stress Disorder fifty years after the event? Don’t be daft! It’s just weakness in old age. Age shows no mercy.

Thanks for listening, see you next week.

Blame Brexit : @JakeTheWriter

This week’s Podcast from Jakethewriter, author, travel writer, journalist and ‘Project Fear’ hater, explains why he didn’t upgrade his car this week.

Blame Brexit

I have had a long love affair with a car, now there’s a confession! I’ve owned a top of the range V8 Lexus since it was just a two year old. I call it a Louis XIV model because it has gold badges and bits all over. I have also given it a name I am embarrassed to say because hitherto all cars have been nothing to me but tin boxes, and I’ve owned a few. I’ve called my Lexus the novel name of Lexi. That’s it, confession over and I am red faced.

Lexi is approaching 16 years old; it’s the car that I’d always promised myself when I retired and I’m certain that it will see me out in luxurious motoring for as long as I last. Did I mention that she also has a personalised number plate which allows her to hide age even though she is timeless? The rich widow who I purchased her late husband’s, hardly used car from, didn’t mention the plate so neither did I. The number plate is probably a lot more valuable than the car is; and no I don’t feel guilty.

On Saturday my local dealership sent me a gold inlaid, embossed invitation to the launch of their latest model. I don’t need to change my car in fact as at my age, not only could I not justify the cost, my wife tells me that I couldn’t afford one anyway. In spite of that I couldn’t resist having a look at the specification, just out of interest you understand.

I am also a self confessed gadget freak and tend to spoil myself with the latest boy’s toys such as iPhone, iPod, digital camera, thermal Wi-Fi printer, dash cam, etcetera, my toy box is overflowing. You get the picture. The ‘Confessions of a Shopaholic’ could have been written for me. Anyway, back to the new model, the specification was chockfull of bait to tempt one such as me. The lists of high tech gismos such as multi-contour seats in the finest Connoly hide, with chambers which compensate for acceleration and cornering. Split screen Satellite Navigation system that made my present one as outdated as a road map and Parking Cameras to the front and rear. Individual rear passenger DVD players with wireless headphones, even in-car Wi-Fi, Advanced Voice Control for your phone, Auto Windscreen Wipers which switch themselves on at the first spot of rain. Auto-dip Headlamps when it detects oncoming vehicles. The car even alerts the driver if it detects drowsiness . . . . . . . and so on . . . . . and so on.

My juices were running, the adrenalin kicked in and I went on to the dealership’s website. As I logged on someone immediately typed “Hello, my name is Martin how I can help you today?” Damn I’d been caught, sucker! I typed, “Hi this is only a general enquiry for the price of the LS480, and I’m not really in the market.” Martin quickly replied “You will never get a better time to buy. Because of Brexit and the fall in the exchange rate, I am able to offer a one off price of just £71,999!” . . . . Silence from my end . . . . . . . and then I typed “Did I miss something, is that special rate a buy one get one free offer?” . . . . . . . . . . . Martin had hung up . . . . . .

Brexit indeed he obviously wasn’t aware of my Vote Leave/Grassroots Out campaign credentials.

Anyway what would I do with two cars? I think that I will stick with Lexi; after all she is the other love in my life. She is beautiful and in another 10 years she will be a Classic. We are both maturing perfectly together!

That’s it for another week, thanks for listening. As Arnie in the Terminator said “I’ll be back!”

It’s Downhill All The Way : @JakeTheWriter

Today’s Podcast from Jakethewriter, Oldie, Blogger, Travel Writer, Author and Commentator on thoughts of getting old

It’s Downhill All The Way

Today’s blog came about after a friend on FaceBook wrote complaining of the usual aches and pains of old age, especially as her 65th birthday was that day. One of her friends commented that at her age it was going to be downhill all the way from now on.

When I read his comment I knew what he meant, but the more I read that sentence I came up with a totally different interpretation and left her a comment that she should be more positive and think of the future as “Downhill all the Way” as though she was riding a bicycle and from now on is going to be freewheeling downhill all the way. Wheee! Lift your feet off the pedals, and go!

The landmark age when you become eligible to collect your pension certainly doesn’t have to mean that you suddenly become decrepit or senile. The Government doesn’t even call it an old age pension or even a retirement pension. It’s the State Pension now, more political correctness!

We are now being told that 60 is the new 40 and that 60 is now middle-aged. What it is telling us that improved medical science has meant that we are living longer and we are aware that sensible eating is vital. Certainly with life expectancy being so advanced those things have changed. 100 years ago a person of 60 would have been considered very old and 200 years ago 60 would probably have meant that you were dead.

In the past years we hear how each decade makes the population younger – 40 is the new 20, 50 the new 30 and 60 the new 40 – At this rate aging sounds exciting. Truthfully aging can be difficult on all levels, emotionally, physically and spiritually. It’s how we work these categories that will make the difference between feeling 40 and feeling 60.

Truthfully old age is a state of mind and there is no doubt that people who have a younger outlook are healthier in old age. People who consider themselves frail are more likely to abandon activities which can keep them healthy in old age, such as taking regular exercise and others with a positive attitude can remain socially active and healthy and enjoy a greater quality of life despite having equal or greater levels of physical weakness.

A recent study found among people whose ages ranged from 66 to 98 whom had varying levels of physical health – some who lived independently and other who were under some sort or care. Participants were asked about their experience of aging and frailty, to determine how their attitude could affect their health and quality of life.

Most participants even those in poor physical shape, maintained that they were still in good condition, with one commenting “If people think they are old and frail they will act like they are old and frail”. There were two people who took part in the study who did consider themselves frail and their outlook had led them to withdraw from socialising and exercise even though they were physically stronger than others in the study.

So that’s the answer isn’t it? Age is a state of mind! Well from experience I can assure that although that is a great help, its medical advances are probably the greatest help in keeping old buggers ticking over. It is paradoxical that the idea of living a long life appeals to the majority but the idea of getting old doesn’t appeal to anyone.

My own outlook on life is that old age starts 15 years from now! I am old enough to have served on an armed merchantman in the Korean War and to have damaged my hearing in an underwater explosion when clearing the wrecks of ships sunk by Colonel Nasser (spit) in the Suez Conflict. I’ve shot people and been shot at and came out unscathed (physically that is), mentally my brain has given me a death wish by taking part in dangerous sports and pursuits from white water canoeing, ocean racing, rock climbing and surfing and I still participate in anything that I think I physically can!

Medical science over the years has given me carbon fibre pins in my medial and cruciate ligaments in my left leg, prosthetic stainless steel joints in both knees and two replacement thumb joints. I took my new knees up Pen Y Fan in the Brecon Beacons to do the ‘Fan Dance’ without using a walking stick or even hiking poles. Early this year I walked the Watkin Path up Snowden until I got out of breath somewhere beyond the Gladstone Rock. Two months ago I went to Perranporth to go surfing. I discovered that I can no longer stand up on a board because of my dodgy knees but I enjoyed a bit of belly boarding. I was knackered after half an hour and found the water too cold for these old bones.

In about three weeks time my son is throwing me a party which is called “I can’t believe he’s eighty” which is very kind of him. He was born in 1961 so I suppose that makes him only the new 35. Do you know I’ve never heard anyone say that 80 is the new anything – just 80 so I suppose I shall keep celebrating that it’s Downhill All the Way! Wheee – here I come no brakes – Wheee!

Thanks for listening; I’ll see you again next week! If I’m spared…

For the last time ‘Rio isn’t the right venue’ : @JakeTheWriter

This week’s Podcast from jakethewriter. Sailor, travel journalist, author and commentator comes as the Summer Olympics 2016 in Rio de Janeiro opens and touches a doom laden nerve with Jake.

And for the very last time – “Rio isn’t the right venue”

I promise that this will be the very last blog that I write telling you that “I told you so” about the stupidity of holding the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. It’s been almost seven years since Rio de Janeiro was chosen to host the 2016 Summer Olympics and I’ve been telling anyone who would listen, that it was a big mistake.

All I could think of when I saw Barak Obama was flying to Denmark to pursue his home town of Chicago’s bid for the 2016 Games. All I could say was great, anywhere but the UK. Then I saw that the winner of the Olympic lottery was Rio de Janeiro and very unlike me, I was lost for words. I was struck dumb, where have the Olympic Committee been for the past 30 years? To be honest my first thoughts were to suspect the honesty and integrity of the whole panel. No-one with any nuance at all could not know that Rio de Janeiro is known the world over as the City of Violence, the City of Corruption.

The opening ceremony is this week. So far we have had one competitor apparently mugged by an armed Police Officer in uniform who took him to a cash point to empty his bank account. We have had Bernie Ecclestone’s Mother-in-Law kidnapped and held to ransom for £30 Million. Fortunately the kidnappers have been arrested and she was released after 13 days, unharmed and without the ransom being paid.

Policemen, whose salaries were delayed by a bankrupt state government, have been greeting arrivals at the International Airport with a sign, written in English, “Welcome to Hell”. Well they have been warned. The promised and much vaunted Metro Line extension and the Bus Corridor which were promised to be the games legacy for the residents are nearly 2 years behind schedule. Bus links are also late. Days ahead of the opening ceremony, traffic has caused chaos with 20 kilometres of tailbacks in traffic jams. A friend tells me that her normal 1 hour commute took her 4 hours.

The new Metro extension which finally opened last Monday is only available to Olympic ticket or pass holders. Commuters with not be allowed to use the extension until the end of the year. By the way the Metro extension stops more than 10 kilometres short of the Games Venues, so for the remainder of the journey visitors will have to use buses or taxis to add to the traffic jams.

Rio’s high crime rate is already up on its already high world ratings. There are many reports of drivers caught in traffic jams being physically dragged from their cars and robbed. On top of Rio’s local difficulties they are compounded by a national crisis. Brazil is suffering from a really severe recession, it’s President Dilma Rouseff, is being impeached on charges of manipulating government accounts; an interim government is in charge. Rio is one of the centres of this national dysfunction. Petrobras, the state-controlled oil firm is at the centre of a multibillion dollar scandal is based in Rio. The city’s policemen are no exception to Rio’s violent norm; they killed 40 people in May this year alone. Last year 133 people died violently just in Santa Cruz, a deceptively tranquil district at Rio’s western tip. Meanwhile in the Favelas, the shanty towns that cling to the hillsides and which house over 20% of the population, the shoot outs between gangsters and trigger happy police have become even more frequent and the death toll continues to rise

The federal government has sent 27,000 soldiers and national guards to fight crime and prevent terrorism. There are a number of Jihadist threats and some home grown ones have had their plots foiled. In spite of Rio’s reputation as a party city famous for its fiestas and carnivals and the forthcoming Olympic opening ceremony taking to the streets, the mood in Rio is very downbeat and even a successful games is not going to be enough to lift that depression. It has spectacular scenery but that is not going to be enough to compete with outbreaks of mosquito borne diseases, sewage infested bodies of waters with levels of viruses so high that athletes competing in them are in life threatening danger.

Apart from health concerns for the athletes, and horrendous crime threats, there is also civil unrest among Brazilians themselves over misappropriated funds for the games and a worry that this may be remembered as among the worst in Summer Games history. I will reserve my judgement until a later date but I still have to say “I told you so”

There I’ve said it and I promise that I will not say it again. If you are interested in my warnings over the past seven years my blog at will take you there and has links to all of my previous Rio rants. In spite of that I hope the games are more successful than I predict. Especially for the British teams, for the sailors I wish you fair winds and following seas with no life threatening detritus. God Speed, thanks for listening I’ll see you next week.

You talkin’ to me? : @JakeTheWriter

This week’s Podcast from freelance travel writer, author, blogger and commentator, Jakethewriter, came to being when he discovered that he didn’t just find that he was talking to himself but actually having conversations. He thought he should justify himself before the men in white coats appear.

You talkin’ to me?

There’s no-one else here, so who do you think I’m talking to?  I’ve begun talking to myself and I’ve no idea when it started.  “What have I come upstairs for?”  Out loud and often without knowing that I’m doing it.  Did it come with my grey hair, the wrinkles, or expanding waistline?  Kids do it without embarrassment all of the time, they even have imaginary friends, but at my age?  No, what I do is furtively look around me wondering if anyone heard me.

It doesn’t help that another of my signs of old age is that I have become very deaf and I’m not sure how loud I am speaking.  Perhaps if I lived alone it would make more sense, but I don’t, I live with my very understanding wife.  She is quite used to being asked if she has moved my watch/keys/reading glasses etc. But now it’s me that I am speaking to.

The more I write my web logs to keep this old brain ticking over and I research a subject or recall something from my past for a story, I find myself chatting to myself and suddenly realise that I’m chatting loud and I’m guiltily looking around to make sure that I’m alone.

Oh my Lord, where do I go from here?  Will I find myself dressed in Salvation Army couture pushing a stolen Waitrose trolley along the street as I hold loud, dribbling conversations with myself?  Should I get myself a dog that can act as a ‘beard’ to hide behind?  Nah! I’m a cat person and my cat always knew that I was weird.  He was also totally irreplaceable.  Sometimes now that he is no longer with us I find myself chatting to him.  I just hope that no-one hears my conversations.

Talking to yourself is supposed to be a bad sign. What about hearing voices. Also bad, talking to yourself suggests a mild neurosis or perhaps improper socialization. Hearing voices in your head talk back to you? Now we’re talking psychosis. Me? I talk to people that aren’t there. They talk back. Of course they talk back. What do you think I am, the sort of fool who’d waste time talking to people who don’t answer? Please!

Sometimes they’re conversations I really need to have with real people, sometimes they’re scenes from stories I’m going to write, or that I’m writing right now. So I don’t tell my mind to run. I just let it play. So far, it hasn’t complained. I talk to myself a lot. And I don’t mean only in the privacy of my own home. I talk to myself while I’m walking down the street, when I’m at my office computer or even when I’m shopping.

Thinking out loud helps me materialize what I’m thinking about. So I’ve done a little research to help me make sense of things, it may even help to convince my friends that even though it might make me look insane, I’m not really.  Talking to one’s self, it turns out, is a sign of genius. The smartest people on earth talk to themselves. Look at the inner monologues of the greatest thinkers. Look at poetry! Look at history!

Albert Einstein talked to himself. He wasn’t an avid social butterfly when he was growing up, and he preferred to keep to himself, he used to repeat his sentences to himself softly. So, you see? I’m not alone, and I’m not completely bonkers. I’m just really smart. Ha!

This morning, fortunately sitting alone in the sauna at the gym, I once again caught myself talking to myself out loud as I was planning my day – I stopped the conversation as soon as I realised that I was doing it again.  Then I said to myself, out loud, “Bugger it! I’m old and I’m entitled to be a bit eccentric – I’m off to see the Wizard. . . . . . . . . .

Thanks for listening, you see, you are some of the people that I chat to out loud. I’ll see you next week as usual. Cheerio!