I’m a dreadful patient

I’m sure I’m not the only one to start the new year off feeling unwell and so my thoughts are with everyone in that group right now. It’s very rare that I go down with bugs, colds and flu and so when I do I’m an absolutely dreadful patient to be avoided at all costs. I think that’s partly because by nature I’m very proactive and hate the idea of being limited against my will.

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Readers will know I’m up to the neck editing some of my memoirs and had taken both my websites offline in order to focus for a couple of weeks to get that job done. Frustratingly I’ve put this site back on line just to explain that I’m at a standstill because of health reasons although I hope it’s not for too long – I can’t even stand my own company.

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This morning, although I feel lousy, I’ll go into work for the morning because there’s things I need to do but then I’ll take the afternoon off and go to bed. I’m at the point I might even have to do what I never do and take some medicine too. But meanwhile to all Ye folks out there that are (anywhere as near) bugged out as I am you have my deepest sympathy. To everyone else, have a fabulous day X 

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Sometimes reflection isn’t the most positive experience.


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I’m not really a massive television watcher but over the past few days I’ve found myself sort of watching it out of the corner of one eye, partly because I’m having a pause from writing and drawing – or rather I’m psyching up to starting up again, which usually means I like to get practical and do things that don’t require me to be creative. Chopping logs and sticks is a favourite – and at the moment I’m (sort of) sorting the kitchen out with a new sink and work tops.

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What can’t escape my notice on the television is the number of adverts asking for donations to various causes and though I am a very generous man (and do donate handsomely and often to worthy causes) I find it quite shocking that literally dozens of charities commission and screen adverts (several times a day) that must cost hundreds of thousands of pounds (that could have gone to the causes?) to show on prime time television. 

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Perhaps it’s because I don’t watch a lot of television that I’ve noticed (what seems to me like) a saturation of adverts by these organisations, I don’t know, but during the course of two days I was starting (sadly) to feel totally cynical and desensitised. To give a small idea of the volume of ads screened the following were just a few of the dozens shown during those two days:

* sponsoragirl.org £3 month

* WaterAid.org £2 month

* Cancer Research UK Please donate

* Guide dogs £1 week

* Sponsoradog.org £1 week

* Donkeys

* UNICEF £3 for a hat or blanket

* Oxfam £3 month

I’ll always give handsomely to worthy causes; people who know me personally know that very well. The NSPCC have been my regular direct debit for at least 20 years. But I don’t want the majority of my donation going on advertising or administration. To be honest I don’t want any of it going there. As well as my direct debit I’ll continue putting hard cash discreetly into the hand of someone who needs it so that I know they are getting all of it. 

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Into a precarious 2017 it is then…

Yesterday was my first day back at work and after scraping the ice off my car I set off in minus 4.5 degrees on my 60 miles round trip. At some point during the day my remaining two colleagues (there used to be eight of us) shared that we will soon be called into head office (either next week or the week after) and that the prognosis for the organisations survival wasn’t good. Fortunately I do have another job where I work on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday but the future of that organisation is also unknown at this point until we find out whether our bid for continued funding has been successful and we won’t know that until March. 

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Against that winters backdrop of uncertain times I’m breezing (tentatively) into the new year cautiously optimistic, after all I’ve never been out of full-time permanent employment since I began work in September 1971; I’ve just begun my 46th year. But today is not 1971, it’s 2016 and long gone are the days when a job was for life or the length of someone’s service triggered a certain loyalty from their employer. Almost on a daily basis I’m checking out job opportunities though more and more get the feeling I need to start thinking outside the box. One of the jobs I do is to support young people (16-25) into employment by helping them develop employability skills; it seems almost surreal (obscene even) that I may be in competition with them myself before long for whatever meeky-morky morsel of a job is available though I sincerely hope I’m not. Either way, into a precarious 2017 it is then…

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Happy New Year everyone!


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Over the past few months I’ve been quite busy writing my Gibraltar memoirs which is why I haven’t been around too often here on my primary website. However I’ve now finished the main text of those memoirs and have taken it offline to begin editing it into chronological order and try to make some sort of sense of it all that will hopefully end up between two covers in due course. When that process is completed I’ll add the whole memoir here as a separate chapter (dated 1976-78) as well as reopening the stand alone website memoirsofgibraltar.com . I’ll also let folks know about hard copies for those interested.

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Meanwhile, I may be absent a bit longer (editing and stuff) unless I have anything interesting to post so till then I hope 2017 is a fantastic year for you all and that you are at least blessed with peace, love and happiness. Alan xx

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Family day out at Cardigan Wildlife Park

By ‘Family day out’ (these days) I mean me, Carol and Mowgli taking an autumnal stroll though somewhere lovely with no cars, no phones, no noise and no-one either of us knows – and Cardigan Wildlife Park fitted the bill perfectly. We even got to enjoy a breakfast of egg mayo sandwiches on freshly made bread with a cup of tea; heaven doesn’t cost that much you see, probably about a tenner.


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(River Teifi)

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(Children’s walk-in badger den).

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(Photographing the badger).

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(Mowgli eating a few rare herbs)

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(Cafe)

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(Wildlife mural on one of the buildings)

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(Carol relaxed by the River Teifi)

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(With my constant companion Mowgli X)

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Reminiscing in Newark on Trent

This weekend I’ve travelled up to Newark to spent time with very dear friends who are going through a very sad time; in the past few months three major things have hit them which is so unfair because they are two of the loveliest people I know. 

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(Riverside)

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This morning I popped out to do some shopping for them in town and walked past our old house Riverside where we lived for ten years 1997-2007 before selling it to move to India. Although it looked a bit dishevelled I remembered (as I stood outside reflecting) some fantastic times there.

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(Newark Castle. King John died in the room with the two small windows)

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The house was once part of the Corn Exchange next door (which is now a night club) and so is a listed building; Newark Castle (where King John died) is literally outside the house and so its all a very historic area of this Midlands market town. Within the Castle grounds is what used to be the Gilstrap Museum and now the Registry Office where my Grandson Jay married his fiancé Natalie back in July.

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(The Old Kings Arms, Newark)

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As I walked through town I couldn’t resist taking a photo of the Old Kings Arms, a pub where I used to play with my band every month and on Boxing Day nights for about seven years. They were often raucous nights packed with people listening to our blazing sets of Rock and Roll and Irish Rebel Songs. Heady days, great memories.

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