31 January 2017


I’ve heard it all now and this definitely wins the prize! 
Humanoid robots, with cultural awareness and a good bedside manner, could help solve the crisis over care for the elderly, academics say.
An international team is working on a £2m project to develop versatile robots to help look after older people in care homes or sheltered accommodation.
The robots will offer support with everyday tasks, like taking tablets, as well as offering companionship.
Academics say they could alleviate pressures on care homes and hospitals.
Researchers from Middlesex University and the University of Bedfordshire will assist in building personal social robots, known as Pepper Robots, which can be pre-programmed to suit the person they are helping.

Playing games

It is hoped culturally sensitive robots will be developed within three years. The programme is being funded by the EU and the Japanese government.
Prof Irena Papadopoulos, expert in trans-cultural nursing, said: "As people live longer, health systems are put under increasing pressure.
"In the UK alone, 15,000 people are over 100 years of age and this figure will only increase.
"Assistive, intelligent robots for older people could relieve pressures in hospitals and care homes as well as improving care delivery at home and promoting independent living for the elderly.
"It is not a question of replacing human support but enhancing and complementing existing care."
She added: "We are starting with care homes and with people who are semi-independent living in sheltered housing, but we do believe that in the future the robots would become acceptable for people to have in their own homes."


Pepper Robots are manufactured by Softbank Robotics and already used in thousands of homes in Japan.
Amit Humar Pandey, the company's chief scientist, said the firm wanted to create a world where robots co-exist with humans in harmony, for a smarter, healthier, safer and happier life.
It is hoped the new robots will help improve the well-being of their charges by providing entertainment and enabling them to connect better, through smart appliances, with family and the outside world.
They will communicate through speech and with gestures, be able to move independently and pick up signs the elderly person is unwell or in pain.
Similar robots are already being used in hospitals in Japan to perform tasks such as lifting patients and serving food
In the final year of the project, the robots will be tested at Advinia Healthcare care homes in the UK.
The company's executive chairman Dr Sanjeev Kanoria said it was keen to revolutionise the care of the elderly by supporting hard-working care staff.
"Robots can support care workers by helping to reduce errors in medication and assisting them with advanced technology to help vulnerable residents, live safer independent lives in care homes and at home."

I knew the Japanese were up to something, just couldn’t decide what. Well now I know and I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. Can you imagine it? Would it answer back if I complained that he/she/it had lost my tablets or got the breakfast all wrong? Would it take offence if I wanted my preference for something rather than his/hers/or its offering? Would it do things like feed Charlie, or hang out the washing, or have a go at ironing. I mean, all these things are in a day’s work and it wouldn’t seem right having to do it all myself with a robot there.

Seriously folks, what’s your opinion on this latest idea on how to cope with the elderly. Of course, you know that it’s all our fault, now that we’re living longer and probably outliving all the carers of this world. Ye Gods, let me out of here…. if there’s someone watching over me for goodness sake GET ME OUT OF HERE.

29 January 2017


I’ve never been keen on television programmes, much preferring to listen to my music. While Joe watched televised films, I would depart to another room to play tapes or listen to music on radio. I found television to be quite restricting. I had to sit and watch, whereas I could do other things whilst listening to radio or enjoying a choice of music on disc.
However, since acquiring the company of Charlie the cat I have spent more time in the lounge, where stands the telly. OMG what a shock. What happened to the programmes? Where is the drama, the films, the stage shows? The soaps are still there, but what else is there? Cookery shows dominate, one after the other on the main channels, occasionally interspersed with shows about antiques or quiz shows. Whatever happened to entertainment?  I had to buy a TV programme timetable to check out what was what and discovered that the more interesting shows are way past my bedtime. Favourite programme now is the news and you know how depressing that can be.

I have just decided that the soaps must go. I remember the time when they were interesting, even funny, but now…. NOW they are filled with anger. Everyone seems to be arguing with and shouting at everyone else. Nasty, harmful arguments, and violent; death crashes, murders and maiming. Is it any wonder that the youth of today think it’s normal to kill?
There are far too many cookery programmes and bargain hunting/antiques for my liking and friends all say the same. Elderly folk don’t pay a licence fee (age has its advantages) …if I did I think I’d sell the telly. I have talked to others in case it is just me who feels this way but it seems everyone agrees.
Summing up about television …. just a load of rubbish. What a pity we are reliant on it for company!

22 January 2017


Since the death of my dear Joe, exactly a year ago, I have taken time sorting out papers and books, even my own. The other day I ransacked one of my drawers that had been home to all sorts of papers I wanted to keep. Keepsakes, those things that remind us of happy times, souvenirs of days long gone.

I found an old wallet that was home to old passports and long forgotten papers that needed to be looked at again if only to see what they were. That's how I found a very precious letter, one that I loved then and now. Even though it made me sad I felt the same joy I experience on the first reading. Sigh!

It isn’t something I would normally publish but it is such a powerful letter that I felt I wanted to share. To show off, if you like, a bit like bragging. And why not, it’s not every day I don the cloak of happiness and contentment and recall all those happy years with Joe.

I took a photograph of it but Joe’s writing was not the easiest to read at the best of times so I took the decision to type it out.

The letter was written when Joe was working away. He was a chartered accountant so had to travel great distances to see and work with various clients.

Here goes:

The date on the letter was 1 August l978. It was the year we married – two days before a very snowy Christmas.


“Darling Valerie,

I feel good having somebody I love and cherish to write to. Yes, life is pretty good really and knowing ‘somebody loves you’ provides hope and faith in being.

Thank you for understanding my ‘ups and downs’. I do feel for you, my beloved Valerie, you are my life both present and future. It is no game of pretence, both our lives are too important to be abused by temporary blindness, lasting love and caring is my goal, you are too precious to me for any other persuasion.

Please remember that I love you and look forward to a real future with you at my side, never feel that I will desert your love, I hope you know me better than that, because I will strive to make our future a happy one.

Putting it simply, I love you.

Yours in devotion
Joe xx"

19 January 2017

By way of a change, here's Charlie.

They do say curiosity killed the cat but so far Charlie seems okay!

Sorry about the dark pictures, shots don't come out well in my lounge. The light is simply no good in certain areas and I could hardly shift everything round just for the sake of one or two pictures. Of course, it would help if Charlie was a different colour! Perhaps I should dye his fur! 
What do you think?

16 January 2017


The following is a copy of an email sent to two WI friends. Yes, it really happened and when I thought about it afterwards it seemed funny enough to put on the blog.  

Today, Sunday, lunch time – phone call received.
I was in the middle of cooking a pork steak etc when the phone rang. Like an idiot, I answered it.

Someone called Hazel who was asking if Walmley WI was on for Thursday. I told her we had closed, which she knew.  She said I had told her we were going to Walmley Ash on Thursday. I put her right on the day. Then she said she owed my husband an apology, adding that she and a friend had come to my house and how nice he had been. Hmmm!

I told her Joe had died, but she insisted she had seen and talked to him. I assumed she meant she had called a year ago, but she repeated her statement that it was this year.

At that point I (sweating over a burning pork steak) I said she must have gone to the wrong address. Then she told me that ‘I’ had been kind enough to write the address in her diary or whatever. Whoever it was she spoke to must have given her the wrong phone number as well. I explained that it wasn’t me but she insisted again that I had written my address, which she read out. Needless to say I repeated that it wasn’t mine, just before telling her my pork steak was about to burn.

Whoever, she is (is she chatty the one who enjoyed the guy from Lichfield Garden Centre?) we can expect to see her on Wednesday.

I think I’ll go and have a lie down!

The response from the two recipients of my email was that one had spent a good hour laughing, along with her husband, and the other jogged my memory by saying the caller was a new lady who talked incessantly throughout the reading of my report to the members.

So that’s who she is!!

We are now faced with two questions: whose house did she visit and whose husband was nice to her? One thing is certain, I daren’t ask!

15 January 2017


What a shock I had the other day when I opened one of my email accounts. It is one I would like to dispose of but the only thing I can do apparently is ignore it. The reason I have gone off this account is because it lets in all the spam, scam, and rubbish it can find. I don’t get that with Google!

Having both iPhone and iPad means there is no escape from the internet. I tried to remove the one I don’t like but in the end had to re-establish it because Apple preferred it that way. Apple simply wouldn’t recognise anything else for identification of yours truly. So it proved necessary to go back occasionally to see if there’s any rubbish to dispose of.

I used the word rubbish without thinking, but little did I know the truth of it.

On the last visit I found an email from Netflix via iTunes confirming the purchase of a month’s worth of film viewing. Apparently the subscription would expire after a month and I needed to renew it. To do this I had to click the link!


My brain being what it is these days I panicked. Fortunately, I did nothing except contact Hannah (remember Hannah, former cleaner, now mother of new baby) and ask if her husband could sort it out. My panic was so great I couldn’t think straight.

The next day George and Hannah and Oooooh new baby arrived. George took a look at the email and immediately declared it was scam. He fed the email address into his own phone and came up with something other than what my email purported it to be. It had seemed so authentic (see picture, if it’s clear enough) but George declared it to be one big hoax.

I don’t think I have ever trusted anything that comes into my email box and certainly I will never trust anything again, but I can understand the many newspaper reports on people – usually elderly - who have been taken in by such things. My warning to others is DON’T EVER TRUST ANYTHING THAT APPEARS IN YOUR EMAIL BOX.
I will leave you now and set about changing all my passwords. Again!

13 January 2017


The following was sent to me by email in 2014 but now that the snow is on the ground I thought it an appropriate time to re-post it. Enjoy!

December 8:  6:00 PM.  It started to snow.  The first snow of the season and the wife and I took our cocktails and sat for hours by the window watching the huge soft flakes drift down from heaven.  It looked like a Grandma Moses Print.  So romantic we felt like newlyweds again.  I love snow!

December 9:  We woke to a beautiful blanket of crystal white snow covering every inch of the landscape.  What a fantastic sight!  Can there be a more lovely place in the Whole World?  Moving here was the best idea I've ever had.  Shovelled for the first time in years, felt like a boy again.  I did both our driveway and the sidewalks. This afternoon the snowplough came along and covered up the sidewalks and closed in the driveway, so I got to shovel again.  What a perfect life.

December 12:  The sun has melted all our lovely snow.  Such a disappointment.  My neighbour tells me not to worry, we'll definitely have a white Christmas.  No snow on Christmas would be awful!  Bob says we'll have so much snow by the end of winter, that I'll never want to see snow again. I don't think that's possible.  Bob is such a nice man, I'm glad he's our neighbour.

December 14:  Snow, lovely snow!  8" last night.  The temperature dropped to -20.  The cold makes everything sparkle so.  The wind took my breath away, but I warmed up by shovelling the driveway and sidewalks.  This is the life! The snow plough came back this afternoon and buried everything again.  I didn't realize I would have to do quite this much shovelling, but I'll certainly get back in shape this way.  I wish I wouldn't huff and puff so.

December 15:  20 inches forecast.  Sold my van and bought a 4x4 Blazer. Bought snow tires for the wife's car and two extra shovels.  Stocked the Freezer.  The wife wants a wood stove in case the electricity goes out.  I Think that's silly.  We aren't in Alaska, after all.

December 16:  Ice storm this morning.  Fell on my ass on the ice in the driveway putting down salt.  Hurt like hell. The wife laughed for an hour, which I think was very cruel.

December 17:  Still way below freezing. Roads are too icy to go anywhere. Electricity was off for five hours.  I had to pile the blankets on to stay warm. Nothing to do but stare at the wife and try not to irritate her. Guess I should've bought a wood stove, but won't admit it to her.  God I hate it when she's right.  I can't believe I'm freezing to death in my own living room.

December 20:  Electricity's back on, but had another 14" of the damn stuff last night.  More shovelling.  Took all day. Goddamn snowplow came by twice. Tried to find a neighbour kid to shovel, but they said they're too busy playing hockey.  I think they're lying.  Called the only hardware store around to see about buying a snow blower, and they're out.  Might have
another shipment in March.  I think they're lying. Bob says I have to shovel or the city will have it done and bill me.  I think he's lying.

December 22:  Bob was right about a white Christmas, because 13 more inches of the white shit fell today, and it's so cold it probably won't melt 'til August.  Took me 45 minutes to get all dressed up to go out to shovel, and then I had to piss. By the time I got undressed, pissed and dressed again, I was too tired to shovel!  Tried to hire Bob, who has a plow on his truck, for the rest of the winter; but he says he's too busy.  I think the asshole is lying.

December 23:  Only 2" of snow today, and it warmed up to "0".  The wife wanted me to decorate the front of the house this morning.  What, is she nuts!!! Why didn't she tell me to do that a month ago?  She says she did, but I think she's lying.

December 24:  6". Snow packed so hard by snowplow, I broke the shovel. Thought I was having a heart attack.  If I ever catch the son-of-a-bitch who drives that snow plough, I'll drag him through the snow by his balls and beat him to death with my broken shovel.  I know he hides around the corner and waits for me to finish shovelling and then he comes down the street at a 100 miles an hour and throws snow all over everywhere I've just been!  Tonight the wife wanted me to sing Christmas carols with her and open our presents, but I was too busy watching for the Goddamn snowplow.

December 25:  Merry F!=3D@x@!x!x1 Christmas.  20 more inches of the !=3D@x@!x!x1 slop tonight.  Snowed in.  The idea of shovelling makes my blood boil.  God, I hate the snow! Then the snowplough driver came by asking for a donation and I hit him over the head with my shovel.  The wife says I have a bad attitude.  I think she's a fricking idiot.  If I have to watch "It's a
Wonderful Life" one more time, I'm going to stuff her into the microwave.

December 26:  Still snowed in. Why the hell did I ever move here?  It was all HER idea. She's really getting on my nerves.

December 27:
Temperature dropped to -30, and the pipes froze.  Plumber came after 14 hours of waiting for him; he only charged me $1,400 to replace all my pipes.

December 28:  Warmed up to above -50.  Still snowed in.  The BITCH is driving me crazy!!!!!

December 29:  10 more inches.  Bob says I have to shovel the roof or it could cave in.  That's the silliest thing I ever heard.  How dumb does he think I am?

December 30:  Roof caved in.  I beat up the snowplough driver.  He is now suing me for a million dollars; not only for the beating I gave him, but also for trying to shove the broken snow shovel up his ass.  The wife went home to her mother.  9" predicted.

December 31:  I set fire to what's left of the house.  No more shovelling. 

January 8:  Feel so good.  I just love those little white pills they keep giving me.  Wondering ... why am I tied to this bed?

08 January 2017

DISPOSAL OF BOOKS... yes or no?


The charity I choose to support is St Giles Hospice where my Joe received such excellent care and attention. I am sure he would be happy that some of his precious books were used to raise much needed funds for St Giles.

Some of Joe’s books are/were brilliant. Not for him the romances or murder mysteries, his preference was for history, geography, trains or sport. Most of the bigger and more interesting books were delivered to the local branch of St Giles, some to be sold in the shop, others to be auctioned on line.

Here’s a list of what’s left: those that the charity wouldn’t want and those I am reluctant to destroy but know not what to do other than leave them on the shelf.

Some are huge and weighty volumes, like the Roger Penrose book entitled The Road to Reality. Along with two others I can hardly lift it. I don’t think Joe ever actually read it – he did like to possess books though, read or unread.

Here’s a few more books I can’t decide what to do with:

Handbooks on Accountancy
Practical Auditing
The Rights and Duties of Liquidators, Trustees and Receivers (first published in 1886, this copy dated 1960)
Manual of Auditing
Executorship Law and Accounts
Rome, Then and Now
History of 20th Century in 100 Maps
Everest Adventure
Elements of English Law
How to do Anything on a Computer (if he read this it didn’t help!)
And finally, a paperback entitled Stalin’s Ghost by Martin Cruz Smith

What would you do with these old books? Leave them where they are or chuck them out as waste paper? Some day they must be disposed of but I guess I have a while yet.

Hmm! Just had a thought, why don’t I ask Luke, the odd job boy, to carry the books to the charity shop? I suppose it’s worth a try – he can only say No!

04 January 2017


Recently I had occasion to buy something on-line, branching away from Amazon who I trust to get things right. I had taken a fancy to a sporty top that was designed for hikers and the like, one that was made from a special extra-warming material without any added weight. I am always nervous about shopping on line, that’s why I stick with Amazon. However, I was tempted by a good saving if I bought it within a certain time. I fell for the offer.

There were no problems with the purchase and the company was most helpful. Emails were exchanged and more messages were received about delivery. Would I be home, if not where would I like the parcel left?

Unfortunately, the time of delivery was a time when I would be out so I asked for the parcel to be left in the porch and agreed full responsibility. What happened next was new to me and I must say I was impressed. The parcel was left where I said at the exact time (apparently) but to cover themselves a photograph was taken of the parcel in the porch and enclosed in an email stating that the goods had been delivered at a specific time. The driver/deliverer was careful to tuck the parcel under the shelf of tiles before taking a picture so it wasn't easily seen from the road. How’s that for efficiency? 
Your parcel is waiting for you at home, (left in Front Porch) at 11:38 on Thu 24 Nov 2016


01 January 2017


Wishing all my friends a Happy New Year
thank you for your company.

Here's hoping 2017 proves to be a good year for all of us

Let me tell you a story that I wrote a few years ago

It was the afternoon of New Year's Day. Gemma and Peter Swift were writing in their respective five-year diaries, given by Gemma's mother for Christmas. Both diaries were lockable and leather-bound: pink for Gemma, plain black for Peter, both with a silver key.

Last night's party was a great success, scribed Peter.
I've never been to such a boring do, noted Gemma.
Peter capped his pen and propelled himself from the table. 'Fancy a beer, Gem?'
'Don't scrape your chair,' snapped Gemma. 'You'll damage the carpet.'
'Was that a yes or a no,' enquired a grinning Peter, who wondered if she was still mad because the coal tit had scattered seeds on her precious new patio.
'It was a no. Thanks.' Gemma carried on writing.
'No, thanks.'
Peter fetched a can of lager from the fridge and returned to the dining room, sat directly opposite his wife. 'Writing about the party?' he asked, drawing his diary towards him.
'Not in detail.'
Peter picked up his pen. 'Me neither,' he said, beginning to write. Martin Wedgwood. What an opportunity. Stroke of luck meeting him in a casual setting. Made my approach less obvious. And what a wife. The black mini-skirt was a sensation.
STRUMPET, recorded Gemma in bold script, then added, but at least she wasn't boring like most of the females. She adjusted her reading glasses and tugged a strand of straight, mousy hair, remembering the time she'd spent in the early hours squinting in the mirror and brushing her hair into some kind of captivating style. But it was too straight and too fine to do anything with. The men were tedious too. All workaholics from the way they talked, and so uninteresting. She eyed her husband, who was sucking the end of his pen, staring into space. Searching for inspiration, she guessed, but he wouldn't have found any at last night's party.
Peter was thoughtful, wondering if any business would be forthcoming from the men he’d mingled with. The managing director of the knitwear company, for example, and the one from the printing firm who said he was disenchanted with his existing accountants. But his mind kept reverting to Martin Wedgwood who had taken his card and promised further talks. Now if that came to something, his managing partner would be delighted. Yes, it was a first-rate party.

Imperceptibly, Gemma shook her head. If only Peter hadn't raved so much about his work. There was nothing enthralling about the accountancy profession yet he went on and on to some guy in a flash tuxedo who could only shut him up by asking for his card. Julie was interested, of course. But she was interested in all the men. You could see her brain ticking over deciding who to lure … and when.
Boring, she wrote again, unable to think of a better adjective to describe the event. She supposed Peter would be recording his tête-à-tête with Julie, whom Gemma thought was the wife of someone important but couldn't remember who. It was surprising that her husband, whoever he was, didn't keep her under lock and key. It was most disconcerting the way she tossed her red hair and displayed long legs as if she was contending for Miss World. The mini-skirt barely covered her buttocks let alone her thighs. Gemma sighed and twisted round to extend her own legs, tilting her head to inspect them, and deciding they'd be shapelier if she lost a bit of weight.

Peter noticed Gemma's move and silently admired the focus of her scrutiny, recalling the way one greasy-looking party goer had gawked at her until he told him to lay off. Work or no work, he wasn't standing for that. Impulsively he pushed his diary to one side and leaned across the table to take Gemma's hand. He could smell the almond hand-cream she used, and the Shalimar behind her ears. 'It was a rare old party, eh, Gem?'
'Wonderful,' replied Gemma, not wanting to crush his admiration for the inebriated fools who posed as New Year revellers.
Peter released her hand and pushed his chair from the table. The lager can toppled and rolled backwards and forwards as he drew Gemma to her feet, he held her close and whispered, ‘Did I remember to wish you a Happy New Year?’

Gemma nodded, for once overlooking the likelihood of a ruined carpet.

‘And did I tell you there’s every chance of promotion if I land a major client after last night’s affair?’

Gemma shook her head.

‘And did I tell you it could mean a partnership if I continue to acquire new clients?’

Gemma gasped. ‘A partnership?’

Peter whirled her round. Tremendous party, don’t you think?’

‘Marvellous, my darling. Simply marvelous.’