Monday, 24 November 2008

The Day Before

Sixteen years ago today, on the 24th of November 1992, Doreen and I were at the City Hospital in Nottingham, attending her then daily appointments at the maternity unit. Our first child was a tad late - about ten days late at that point - and the doctors were telling us that if nothing happened that night they would induce Doreen the next morning. We went home, I went into work and had my annual appraisal, then arranged to take the next day off.

About 2 am the next morning, Doreen started to have the sort of pains that make you think it's time. So we went back to the unit, only for the pains to stop. Nevertheless, we stayed there and waited.

I finally got home about 11 pm that night, after our first born son was born by Cassaerian section at 8 pm that night. It's funny the details that stay with you - I went to the Chinese takeaway down the road to get some supper, made a few phone calls, and sat down to watch The Prisoner.

Next thing I knew, it was four am.

Sixteen years later, and tomorrow Alastair celebrates his birthday. Where on earth did all the years go - will someone please tell me? By an irony worthy of the Big Man upstairs, we can't even have a proper birthday party on the day, as he has been awarded the Maths prize for his year and the awards ceremony is that night. Continuing in a family tradition - I won a couple, and Doreen's sister did as well - but it makes me even more proud of him for doing that.

There's another anniversary this week - ten years ago, I missed Alastair's birthday as I was at a meeting in London, but I got back at eight that night, we had some tea, and then the next day we packed to move from Nottingham to London. Doreen was carrying Stuart at the time, and we had a few tears and rows on the day, but eventually we set off and moved to our current house.

I must be getting older to remember these things as good if incredibly stressful times.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Desert Island Discs

I serve on a committee for a professional organisation, and sooner or later I need to provide my desert island discs to them for a magazime article. If I was to do it now, I would pick.....

Morning Town Ride - The Seekers

The first song I ever learned to sing, and i used it as a lullaby for both my boys.

Turn of a Friendly Card - The Alan Parsons Project

As a teenager - I listened to Radio 2 much more than Radio 1 (except for John Peel), and the Project always stuck with me, especially this song which came out at a hard time for me

Vienna - Ultravox

Possibly the best song never to get to number one, but for me it signifies the start of the eighties, and my awakening to so many things.

Fighter - Graham Kendrick

The title track fo rthe first Christian album I ever bought. I prefer the Graham Kendrick version, as it is a song that tipyfies my faith, but here is the better known version by Sheila Walsh.

As Tears Go By - Marianne Faithfull

Speaking of fighters - Faithfull's original version is an all time classic, but when she released Broken English, and this amazing new version was on it, I immediatly realised how much she was singing of her own life.

Innocent Man - Billy Joel

Another song from the early eighties, that spoke much of who I? was and what I wanted to be.

Eternal Flame - The Bangles

Our song - nuff said

One Day More - Les Miserables

The finale to the first act, speaks of hopes, fears, dreams, plans - a true masterpiece

Fro my luxury, I will take a wind-up transistor radio, and for my other book the complete Sherlock Holmes.

Thank you and good night.

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Never forget

I'm an army brat, so Remembrance Day or Veteran;s Day, be it on a Sunday or otherwise, is important to me on many levels. This video was shown at my church today, and I offer it to remind all who view this blog why we have the freedom to do what we do.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

On the cusp of history

We are, for obvious reasons, living in a time of great importance in the history of our world. I am old enough to remember the first time man walked on the moon, and the time Skylab came crashing back down again. I remember watching the Berlin Wall come down, and the horrors of Ethnic Cleansing in Bosnia. I remember Band Aid and Live Aid, and watching the Nelson Mandela birthday concert when news came through of his release. I'm barely old enough to remember hearing about Martin Luther King being assassinated, but today we saw at least part of his dream come to fruition.

As a detached observer, America in the last few days has looked very much like it did in Great Britain in 1979 and 1997 - people were just fed up, and ready for a change. It's at times like these that we see how democracy can truly work, when the people demand change through the ballot box as opposed to using guns and violence. Now they have that change - but the real question now becomes, what will that change be and how effective will it be?

In 1979, the UK got Margaret Thatcher, but the changes then brought misery to thousands as she sought what she felt was for the good of the country, regardless of the cost to individuals. We're seeing it again now in the UK, then years after New Labour came to power, and I do believe we'll see it the next time we have a general election in a year or two's time.

SO what next for America? I'm not sure, but Dubya is now facing the last 76 days in office, with the sure knowledge that nothing he does now (barring something stupendously brave or stupendously stupid, or maybe even both) will be noticed as much as how President-Elect Obama sets up his team.

Good luck and may your god go with you, as Dave Allen used to say.