Monday, 27 March 2017


"Going back in time in the sounds of the Nation, it's a Caroline Flashback".

That's how my favourite offshore radio station announced a 'blast from the past' whenever Radio Caroline was going to blow the dust off a "revived 45".

I cannot offer you any ear candy, but, it was always my intention to follow up on a few earlier posts. For Instance; I acquired a book about Twitter and Facebook for Seniors just to see if I could detect any point in either of them. I found that a Facebook account could be useful for signing in to a few other sites that I wanted to  visit but could never in my worst nightmares imagine any circumstances where I'd get the urge to 'follow' or 'like someone' or make a post of my own.

As for Twitter I still find this strictly for the birds. No surprises there then.

In a quest for  tools that might help me improve my photos, I downloaded a free editing program called Gimp. Yeah. Right. The on-line  manual was a pdf of 900 pages and the opening screen is the stuff of nightmares. So I guess I shall stick with the basic and easy tools found in PicMonkey. Easier by far to get it right first time in the camera BEFORE pressing the button!

My so-called Smartphone continues to need a battery recharge every 48 hours even when it is sitting at home and switched off. Smart? Progress? So the ancient basic dumb Nokia - where a battery charge lasts all week continues to be the go-to - phone of choice for calls and texts while I prefer a camera for photos.

Seems like I've traded 'groovy baby' for a rut. A rut becomes a trench, a trench becomes a hole and a hole becomes a grave.

At least I inadvertently used a four-letter obscene expletive for the first time here in one of last week's posts. Not even progress there then.  More of a retrograde step for which I apologise to readers of a nervous disposition.

To close on a happier note, This photo by c j chilvers welcomes the return of lighter evenings. Whilst Margate's own fishing boat was pictured by an unknown skilled photographer and posted on line. Thanks to you both for allowing me to add them here.

Friday, 24 March 2017

Have a happy weekend

 Some days it seems really hard to stay upbeat. But that's OK.

Each day you wake up with a choice. You can decide to be miserable and focus on your problems. Or you can decide to be happy and focus on possible actions that could help to reduce your problems.

Surely nobody would deliberately choose to be miserable?

Remember, this too shall pass.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Midweek Mentors

Photo copyright Douglas Kirkland /Corbis/Glitterati

I recently opened a photo album that held some shots of our last visit to Rome some four years ago.

I discovered a couple of pages that were loose, probably with an intention to add them if there was a spare space.

The photograph dates from 1965 and is one of Douglas Kirkland's extensive portraits of the stars of the day. In this Peter Sellars is posing as a paparazzi stalking Britt Ekland from a cute Fiat 500. 

The poem is by Rod McKuen and dates from the same year, featured in his first book Stanyan Street and Other Sorrows. I share it with you at the end of this post.
Douglas Kirkland

1965 was one hell of a year in my life as it marked the close of a decade of seafaring and the start of creating a family life and totally new occupation ashore. In the absence of any formal training, along with Tom Hustler and later David Hamilton and Tony Armstrong Jones, I learnt about portraiture and street photography from the example of these guys.

In a fit of nostalgia I sought out a copy of Freeze Frame. Checking the usual online sources I found that used copies ranged  from £4.82 - including postage from World of Books - to well over £60.00. Moral: If seeking second hand books check ALL the offers on several sites.

While shopping on line I replaced my long ago lent-and-not-returned copy of Rod's book. That's the guy here in poses from the 1960's and 2000.

I thought I didn't like poetry until a former lover introduced me and she and I subsequently enjoyed seeing the man himself during his  UK Friendship Tour at the height of his fame.

Anyway ... here's the poem I promised ... and I think it is nice to acknowledge the beneficial impact that these mentors had on my life. Both have extensive coverage on Wikepedia and elswhere if you want to know more about them.

Comfort by Rod McKuen 1965

If we could do it all again
Motorbike through roman cities in the rain
watch the cats chase lizards in the forum
drink bad wine from mouth to mouth
I would probably try to love you harder than I did
I would probably smile a smile much better than the ones I did
for I was just rehearsing then
imagining what might happen in the years ahead.

It is not just you I love
[Or even Roman rain]
Or all the times you rattled my windows
After twelve-o-clock

I love the smell of rooms where you have been
The foreign touch of things I never knew
Until you came along.
I even love your enemies
Because they drive you to my arms for comfort.

Monday, 20 March 2017


Tony Bennett is coming to UK during last week of June and the first week of July ... to perform a series of concerts just a month or so before his 91st birthday.

For sheer professionalism and quietly impressive showmanship I rate Tony way ahead of any other performer that I have seen live on stage. [And I've been lucky enough to see many over the years]

As I type this post I am playing my current favourite CD Perfectly Frank Here Tony pays homage to the songs, lyricists and composers that featured in Frank Sinatra's repertoire.

Great stuff for quiet relaxation, a mood accentuated by long time association with accompanist Ralph Sharon and his trio. I was delighted to meet the man at Leeds Castle for US Independence Day concert back in 2000.

This album is a marked contrast to Tony's more raucous and upbeat albums with the Count Basie Orchestra. You can listen to it on You Tube or buy the CD on Ebay [My copy was under a fiver including postage]

What always comes through is his sheer performance professionalism from, sadly, probably the last of the great crooners and exponents of 'The Great American Song Book'.

Friday, 17 March 2017

Frugal Friday

Here in Margate we are very lucky to have a branch of The Works ... a discount book and stationery store.

It is directly opposite WHSmith who seem  to be morphing into a sweet shop.

On the same day that I acquired this for six quid from the range, the other place had a few copies at £14.99

Another time I might tell you why I bought this particular title - and it may surprise you - but for now, just remember that when, like us, you are on a very limited budget where books are a special treat, then look around, delay if necessary, then pounce. And for goodness sake don't pay extra on any quoted price for delivery [On books or anything else!] Or, check out an Amazon price, look for their 'used copies' and then go direct to the vendor where you will find several who do a discount with free postage.

It really does pay to shop around. The Works have a ream [500 sheets] of 80gsm white A4 copy paper on special offer at £3.50. In Smith a similar product but a different brand starts at £9.70 whilst in  Tesco you need to pay only £2.50. Yes. Every Little Helps!

Finally, if you only  need the occasional sheet of glossy photo printing paper, check out Poundland where their packs of 12 x A4 work just fine in my Epson printer.

Or ... I suppose you may want to follow the tv  people who blather on, and on, and on about switching your energy supplier and bank to 'save' [But what then happens next year when your new supplier ends their welcome offer?]

Stay frugal than you can afford life's little luxuries.

Our beautiful beaches, blue skies and fabulous seascapes are free!

Even from our 120 year old basement flat we can see blue skies through our leaded light lounge windows.
Canon Ixus 70 on auto everything 1100 hrs March 6th 2017

I am amazed that a magazine called Amateur Photographer and which has been around for 100 years, regularly reviews cameras costing well into four figures for the body only and similar prices for lenses. Some wealthy amateurs as readers maybe. That's why I stopped buying it over a year ago.

The camera that I have been using for the last month sits in my pocket, can produce shots that enlarge to A3 with no difficulty, even when set to point-and-shoot automatic. Grab your seat! It cost me £10[Ten Pounds] including postage from eBay about two years ago. It is a Canon Ixus 70. It even has a viewfinder.


Wednesday, 15 March 2017

NHS Crisis - What Crisis?

Once upon a time we had a great hospital and guess what? It was called Margate Hospital. But that was way too simple 'cos it said what it was and where it was.

Now it is called Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Hospital ... shortened locally and understandably to "QEQM" which must baffle our summer visitors when they see it on bus destination boards.

But there's more. It used to be a simple NHS hospital. Now it is [and forgive me if I get this wrong]  part of "South East Kent University Hospital NHS Trust".

Then I heard this on the radio. 'All UK hospitals are to be rebranded on orders of NHS Identity Managers. This involves moving the NHS logo above the name of the Trust instead of beside it. The move follows 1000 interviews and 28 public focus groups following a two year review of the NHS logo with nine workshops involving 100 communications individuals'.

When I heard this I checked the date to make sure it wasn't an April Fool joke.

The saying about rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic comes to mind. A supreme case of jobs for the boys while, on the same day I heard that the Urgent Care Unit at nearby Canterbury Hospital [Sorry: NHS[etc!] Kent & Canterbury Hospital] is to close for a few days each week to improve service to patients. So that's why minister for health always looks so last, it seems, he really has got the lunatics in charge of the asylum.

If you know for sure, please tell me this isn't a joke as I reckon you couldn't make it up. Then guess the cost of new printed materials, building and hospital signage, uniform logos and ID cards and the inevitible welter of press releases. Then translate that into numbers of nurses on wards and doctors in A&E.
What's the going price of 36 stainless steel letters on brickwork ...

When there's a nice clear and cheap sign 20 metres away

This was all we ever needed before the suits got at it!