When I moved to Wiltshire I rather embraced the local life which basically consisted of frequent drives out to various pubs dotted in villages round the county. In those day’s real men drank pints of murky looking liquid normally name beginning with “Owd..” to signify a higher than average alcohol content. Fortunately this new-fangled “Breathalyser Test” hadn’t caught on with the local bobbies although I do suspect some of the younger ones regarded it as a bit of a challenge to see how “green” they could turn one after a late night in the Black Swan.
The only time I ever got chased was when we visited a ex college chum in Sussex one weekend which of course meant sampling the local ale through a long lunchtime.
We emerged into harsh sunshine when I decided to show off my shiny new Triumph car through the winding Sussex lanes. After a bit I noticed a motorcycle policeman following me and talking into his radio, a mild panic set in and I gripped the wheel staring straight ahead and tried to keep within the lines whilst slowing to 29mph
Before long I had a line of cars snaking along behind me stretching as far back as the eye could see.
My silent prayers that he would lose interest went unanswered and he suddenly accelerated past me waving me into the side.
He climbed off his machine and walked nonchalantly back to me gesturing for me to wind the window down.
“Mr Rees?” he asked “Er yes” I replied amazed at this feat of advanced mindreading. “Oh aye, and where are you all from then?” “Er, Wiltshire?” I replied now thoroughly puzzled.
As he began reaching for his notebook the penny finally dropped.
“Ah yes, but you’ll probably have the car registered at my parents in Wales?” at which point the notebook was returned to his top pocket.
“Unusual to see a bunch of young lad’s driving a nice car like this” He said by way of explanation,
He’d obviously assumed we’d nicked the car and was seemingly oblivious to the knock you over fumes now emanating from the inside courtesy of the local brewery.
I glanced at the assembled bunch of beardy half wit’s, “Young lad’s” wasn’t the first thing to spring to mind. Even newly qualified I knew a business opportunity when I saw one and I silently cursed not having business card to hand. By now Constable Magoo seemed more concerned with the long back up of cars in the lane and without further ado waved me on my way.
Little else was happening apart from the looming World cup in Argentina.
England had failed to qualify leaving Scotland as our only representatives.
Native optimism ran high (A postage stamp was commissioned) And I kept getting this feeling I had some unfinished business to attend to. I’m ashamed to admit my contact with Katie had become less and less frequent, I guess I’d assumed she’d quickly forget about me and find a local lad.
Several months later I realised from our infrequent telephone calls that this hadn’t been the case and I began to feel a wee bit guilty. In the end I couldn’t see how 500 miles of separation could easily be overcome and I steeled myself to do the gentlemanly thing and rang her up to give her her freedom.
The phone call didn’t go well, I got the impression she had something she wanted to tell me but I ploughed on regardless afraid I might bottle it.
She took it better than my ego expected but I still felt a bit guilty and rang her again a few day’s later to see how she was?
She didn’t sound devastated and we chatted for a bit then she said “Oh, I have some news as well, was going to tell you when you rang but didn’t get the chance. You remember that competition to guess how far the wee car would go? well I was 4ft 3” out and guess what? I won, two tickets to the World cup and all expenses paid I was going to take you with the second ticket but now I guess I’ll have to take my aunty instead”
Afficiando’s regard it as one of the best world cups ever the hosts being an Argentinian team including Mario Kempes, Ossie Ardiles & Ricky Villa unheard of until then the latter two became household names when they joined Tottenham after the World cup was over.
A certain 16 yr old by the name of Maradonna was regarded as too fragile to play.
This began with some pulsating qualifying matches the high point being when Argentina needed to beat Chile by six goals to ease past Brazil, a feat they duly achieved prompting all sorts of allegations of bribery and skulduggery.
There was even talk at one point of the two countries going to war.
Take their football seriously do the South Americans.
The final was particularly memorable with the hosts lifting the trophy having beaten a Dutch team including Cruyff and Neeskens 3-1 in the final.
Contrasting that with Scotland's performance which was as dire as pretty much everyone else in the world had expected
A cartoon in the Daily record following the defeat to Chile showed a street of dustbins with a telly in each.
A 3 - 1 win against an already qualified Dutch team spared the blushes for a time but it didn’t save them from a savaging in the press when they got home.
As I found later Katy + aunty went to all the matches including the final, spent evenings in the bar with the Scottish football team, Rod Stewart Billy Connolly and an assortment of household names.
Then wined and dined in the finest steak restaurants courtesy of the Daily Record and generally had quite a spiffing time.
I sat at home in Wiltshire and watched it on my black & white TV.
Jeremy Corbyn’s challenger
As I type I notice Dai Smith’s lad has stepped up to challenge for the Labour leadership.
I spent a large part of my teenager years in his grandad’s house as his two uncles were my best friends in school.
Bertie (as we all knew him) was a humble fishmonger who produced two of the finest brains ever to come out of Barry. He was a terrific character and I pretty much thought of him as my second dad.
Aged 15 and eager to impress the girlies I thought it would be a bright idea to buy a Yak. (That’s a kind of furry coat made from Yak skin beloved of ageing hippy’s to this very day.)
The better quality ones were treated but my pocket money didn’t quite stretch that far. The powerful fans in the shop and overwhelming smell of incense should have given me pause but the lure of a bargain won. I completed my purchase and headed home on the bus proudly wearing my new coat.
Fair enough it smelt a bit of “Yak” or as I soon realised it smelt rather strongly of Yak
I then noticed the seats around me were unoccupied and yet people were standing tightly packed further down the bus
When I turned up at Bertie’s house he always made me hang it on a hook at the bottom of the garden.
Amazingly I never did have a lot of luck with the ladies which is probably why I spent most of my formative years fishing instead.
In those day’s I was yet to find my vocation, Bertie was always losing his reading glasses and prone to muddle along without them.
One day screams echoe’d from the bathroom causing curtains to twitch up to two streets away.
Bertie had been prescribed cream for his recently diagnosed and rather troublesome piles in a familiar looking tube
Evidently he’d picked up the tube of toothpaste by mistake.
My best Owen anecdote dates from when he was a lad, it needs a deep Welsh accent for the full affect.
Ask me when your next in but expect a groan from the girls as they’ve heard it 100 times before
Stella’s been at it again with her saw as we’ve now got one in the window, well either that or the wooden structures have taken to breeding, might need to send a search party if we get any more.
We’ve just had the latest pictures of Isaac our sponsored guide dog, virtually unrecognisable from the cute puppy he’s a big lad now and hopefully adding to someone's quality of life.
After the doom and gloom of Brexit wasn’t it brilliant watching our country do so well in the Olympics? By the time you read this the holidays will be over and we’ll be looking towards the Autumn and what we can add to the practice to make it even better.
ARMD (Age related macula degeneration)
Continuing my occasional look at common eye conditions. This issue we’ll look at one of the commonest causes of deteriorating vision in old age
Previously known as senile macula degeneration (meaning older to distinguish it from juvenile which is normally applied to younger before they went all PC)
ARMD can be likened to a “wearing out” of the central visual receptors which is the common form of “dry” MD and the less common “wet” form where leakage in the underlying layers cause swelling and distortion.
Wet comes on more quickly and requires urgent referral to a specialist as treatment can often slow the progress. The dry form comes on much more slowly and isn’t really treatable.
Some “cure’s” have been tried with limited success, if in doubt it’s best to see a specialist.
The most reliable (and simplest) test for detecting ARMD is called an Amsler chart
If you suspect you might have a problem I normally suggest printing out several sheets (Google “Amsler chart”) Draw what you see, date and mark which eye. If a pattern emerges seek further advice.
I’ve included a few more notes lifted from Wikipedia below: