Category Archives: Informative

Following on!

Nothing to do with anticipated inadequacies in the England Cricket Team, you’ll be pleased to know!

My recent little rant about “traffic management” inside my local Tesco Extra supermarket was, as are all of my articles on this site (unless I forget to do a periodic refresh of my settings), advertised on Facebook.

That is to say, advertised on the Facebook page of ME, the real person who wears “Little Alfie” like some sort of creepy glove puppet. It also gets notified by email to anyone who has subscribed to receive an update in that way. This includes one of my sons-in-law who has managed to set things up so that, while he HAS undoubtedly subscribed, any emails from my WordPress account go straight into his “Junk Mail” folder! Bloody cheek!

So, as far as I am aware, there is no way that the management of Tesco could have read my comments and acted on them in just over a week UNLESS one of my readers “leaked” the piece to them!

And what, you may be wondering, leads me to suspect that something of that sort has actually happened?

Well, last Friday we did another weekly shop (again without Mother-in-law who stayed at home waiting to “have her feet done” – she knows how to have a good time!) at the same store.

This was, I should stress, at exactly the same time of day and on the same day of the week as we have been attending and having our increasingly awful experiences up to and including the one I wrote about – but this time it was completely different!

There were still plenty of “personal shoppers” and their over-sized carts in evidence but not only did they not once exceed two per aisle, they also seemed to melt away as soon as Faith and I came into any particular area.

“It is as if” I said to Faith only half jokingly, “they know about me and fear my wrath!”

And, as it happened time and again during the duration of our visit, she was unable either to argue with me about that or come up with an alternative explanation.

I’m not going to make any bets on whether it will be like that when we next visit but as far as last week was concerned there seem to be two possible explanations.

The first is that Tesco have taken to employing telepathic staff on the shop floor, while the second (and I think most likely) is that one of my readers may work for Tesco in some capacity and saw fit to leak both the article and  my description to his (or her) Peterborough colleagues.

If you did that you have my gratitude – unless or until it all goes back to “normal service” in the near future.


At this point I was, in a radical departure from my usual way of working, going to give you a bonus short extra article – a sort of “Buy One Get One Free” deal, known acronymically as “BOGOF”! Except of course that as you tight bunch don’t actually PAY me anything for these words of wisdom it should be called a “GOFGOF” and I think I may have just invented a new acronym!

However, the “freebie” has developed a life of its own to the extent that there is now no way that it can now be described as “a short extra article” and it has been extracted into a freestanding article which you will read shortly.


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Posted by on June 12, 2018 in Informative, Rants and moans


Get a job, you long-haired layabout!

….said nobody to me EVER!

Simply because, if you must know, I didn’t grow my hair to any great length until I already had a job and my mother finally stopped paying for my haircuts – meaning that I could get it cut when I wanted!

So, the “get a job” and the “long-haired” parts of the title never applied to me.

And the “layabout” part? Well, I was a teenaged boy in the early 1970s and I was in what used to be called the Civil Service – I’ll let you draw your own conclusions.

Regular readers of the autobiographical elements in this blog will know that I managed (with a few short gaps in later years) to remain working in some capacity or other right up until I was able to jack it all in 2 years ago and, finally, get to be a long-haired layabout!

Only now, of course, the hair has largely gone! What’s left is grey and I think it would look rather silly worn at shoulder length or more now.

Which left me with just being a layabout and, rather surprisingly, I am finding that state not to be as satisfying as I thought it would be!

Apart from household chores – decorating and such – my time is spent doing two mornings per week volunteering at the library and one, or possibly two, afternoons in the nearby Ferry Meadows Country Park shooting arrows at big straw targets 50 or 60 yards away. And, of course, seeing as much as possible of my grandchildren.

The Archery takes care of my physical exercise and, currently, my mental stimulation comes from writing stuff like this, making extremely witty responses to my old school friends on Facebook, and, very rarely, having to think through some knotty computer question presented by one of my “pupils” at the library on a Tuesday morning. I have to say that by that I don’t mean the old chestnut of “which one’s the ‘ANY’ key?” when confronted with “press any key to continue” but things a little more complicated!

So, no danger of serious brain burnout or stress – which is nice – but…

“Use it or lose it” spring to mind and I wouldn’t want my mighty intellect to be lost to mankind before it has to be!

Before I could start seriously looking for “something else”, however, two things have come up in connection with my existing interests and activities and these should provide me with a bit more of a mental workout.

The first, and probably the least challenging, of the two happened when both the Secretary and the Chairman of my Archery Club simultaneously resigned because of family and work-related problems respectively. Thus leaving the Committee two key people short.

While I have only been a member for just over a year, I offered my services to the club for the simple reason that I believe that you cannot always just take. I have noticed that many club members are happy to turn up, shoot and depart again without helping set up or put away the equipment – they want everything done for them by “someone” and I don’t want to be like that!

Mind you, I still have absolutely NO experience or real knowledge of what it takes to run an archery club and the Secretary’s job seems to be the one that is the most complicated, necessitating as it does knowing a whole raft of legal and Archery GB rules and regulations! I had a discussion with the Club Treasurer and we agreed that jumping in at that level is probably not going to be a good idea.

The Chairman position, while sounding prestigious, is actually easier and it is possible that I will wind up with that. I think that controlling Committee meetings and presenting prizes at our (very few) tournaments should not be beyond me.

A meeting of our currently unconstitutional committee has been arranged for the end of May and we will see what happens.

The second opportunity arose in some degree from the events of last year when my home town of Ipswich hosted the Annual Gathering and Annual General Meeting of British Mensa. In the article that I wrote about that last September, I reported my attendance as an “observer” at a Mensa Regional Officers’ meeting, which happened to take place on the same day that I was in Ipswich for a school reunion.

What I did not mention (that article exceeded 2000 words even without side issues!) was that a week or so before the meeting I had emailed, as a matter of courtesy, the lady listed on the Mensa website as the Local Secretary for Peterborough. I advised of my proposed attendance, asked if she would be going and, if not, offered to “deputise” for her and raise any Peterborough related issues on her behalf.

With a few days still to go, I got a reply to the effect that she had not, in fact, been the Local Secretary for Peterborough for some time now but had forwarded my email to her replacement (from whom I heard nothing) who Mensa Central Office was unaware of.

I dutifully passed this information and the new contact details to the Regional Officer who was to make the necessary contact and revision to the records.

I then forgot all about it until about 4 weeks ago when it occurred to me that I was still (it has actually been like this for most of the 24 years I’ve lived here) receiving no notifications of any meetings or events in the Peterborough area and this might be the time to arrange something myself.

Now, it has always been the case that any Mensa member can organise any event they please in their area but it is advisable to clear this with the local officer and the Meetings Co-ordinator for the Region to prevent “fixture clashes” (very unlikely in Peterborough) so I thought I would check whether the website details had been amended yet.

They had been amended – but not how I had expected!

The Local Secretary entry for Peterborough (postcodes PE1 to PE11) now read “Position Vacant”. So, in a moment of madness I dashed off a message to Mensa Central Office in Wolverhampton asking how to go about applying for the vacancy!

I was expecting at least an application form, possibly an interview; anything, in fact except an IQ Test!

What actually happened was that my tentative exploratory query got forwarded to the aforementioned Regional Officer with a note attached saying “One for you, Tony”.  That gentleman then emailed me asking for details of what I planned to organise and inviting me to the upcoming Regional Officers’ Meeting (travel expenses paid) in Clacton-on Sea.

So, it appears that the answer to my question about the application process is, simply, “express an interest and you’re in!”

I am writing the draft of these last few paragraphs on the long train journey back from sunny Clacton where I have been confirmed in the role of “Events Organiser” (the term “Local Secretary” having fallen out of favour at Head Office) and have come away from the meeting with a few more ideas!

I have also just learned that an emergency committee meeting of the Archery Club will take place next Tuesday and I’m invited to that – with some likelihood of having a job of sorts there too!

You don’t think I’m overstretching myself do you?




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Posted by on May 18, 2018 in Informative, Mensa


The times they are a-changin’!

There have been a couple of occasions recently when I have had reasons to ponder the technological progress that has happened over my lifetime and this caused me to wonder what previous generations would have made of it all.

The answer to this is partially known to me – my grandparents all had to grow up in the reality of the motor car, powered flight and atomic bombs.

One of my grandfathers only made it two years past the end of World War II (thus missing ME by 6 years) and one of my grandmothers just caught the barest beginnings of the Space Age having gone to join the Cosmos in 1958 when I was 5 years old.

My other “proper” grandparents made no memorable comment on modern life but I did have a step-grandfather/great uncle (it’s complicated!) in whose presence I spent Christmas 1968 when the momentous Apollo 8 circumnavigation of the Moon was taking pride of place on TV. He did not believe one single word of it although he was unable to offer any coherent evidence to his contention that the Americans were making it all up to annoy the Russians!

Mind you he had what I consider the reasonable excuse of being a rather befuddled and confused 77 year old in the final year of his life – an excuse that most of the much younger, idiotic conspiracy theorists claiming the same thing now cannot use!

My paternal grandfather died shortly before the introduction of the Personal Computer to the mass market but his son fully embraced (with my help) that technology and as a man in his middle 70’s taught himself all the necessary fundamentals of Windows 95, Windows XP and Microsoft Word.

In short, and unlike his step-father-in-law of the Apollo 8 story above there was nothing about the modern world that he could not adjust to the idea of! And I like to think that I am the same.

My father did have a mobile phone, although I don’t think “smart phones” with constant internet access (“constant” when you can get a bloody signal anyway – Virgin Mobile please take note!) were as universal when he died in 2006 as they are now.

In case you are wondering, the “occasions” that I referred to in the first paragraph were firstly, a car journey a couple of months ago when BBC Radio 2 played a newly released re-working of Rod Stewart’s old hit “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy?”

When it got to the line where the girl he’s picked up says “Give me a dime so I can phone my mother” I reacted.

“Not really much of an update is it?” I said. “If it was she would simply have texted her mum on her smart phone”!

From there my thoughts turned to the idea of this article and continued past that to this question:

How many other classic songs are out there that no longer really work at all because technology has made them obsolete?

You suggestions are eagerly awaited but can I say straight away that lyrics such as “I heard it on the Twitter feed” or “My Baby she sent me an email” just aren’t doing it for me!

The second “occasion” was at a very recent reunion for my school year group. I was talking (for the first time in 49 years) with one of my old classmates who had been located on-line by assiduous detective work and persuaded to join us. We were discussing why so many of our number were not apparently traceable using our current technology. Looking at our class specifically (because there were 20 of us that makes for nice round percentages!) the figures are as follows:

  1. In contact by social media or email:                                                7 (35%)
  2. Not directly contactable but could possibly be reached indirectly:  4 (20%)
  3. Utterly unknown:                                                                             8 (40%)
  4. Has been contacted but does not want to know:                            1 (5%)

A number of those in group 3 are known to have gone to various Universities and from there, presumably, to jobs in other parts of the country or even the world but the surprising thing to me is that, despite all being intelligent people from relatively middle class backgrounds who might reasonably be expected to take on the challenges of this technology, they leave no footprint on the Internet.

The solitary member of group 4 was in touch with a couple of us a few years ago but declared emphatically that he wants nothing to do with either the Internet or any person or thing relating to school! Thanks Dicky – we all rather liked YOU!

That scattering around the planet after completing your education is probably quite common now but it was quite a new thing for Secondary School students in the 1960s and we didn’t have email addresses to keep us in touch with each other. Now that we’re gradually coming back together as the 50th anniversary of our dispersal approaches it is much harder to find the “missing men” – unlike my younger daughter, for example, who is in electronic contact with friends from Junior School, Secondary School and TWO Universities whenever she needs to be.

It is, of course, possible that some of our missing number fall into the category of people that I regularly help with the computer side of modern life. If they had the kind of career which either did not involve working with computers at all or where the interaction was with specific programs for specific purposes it may be that this sort of equipment has never had any impact on their lives outside of work.

Then again, they may have the equipment but use it ONLY for contact with close family and friends! I am well aware that there are people who, rightly or wrongly, are terrified of having their identity stolen by the act of setting themselves up on Facebook or the like.

A final possibility occurs to me – they are hiding because they know the rest of the group is looking for them! I don’t know if that says bad things about “them” or “us” but we are going to keep looking!



Posted by on May 1, 2018 in Informative, Schooldays


Praise where it’s due!

Just over  a year ago I told you here  and here about my run-in with the security system for Peterborough Library computers which is run by SERCO and which objected to my attempting to order screws from a website that dares, openly, to sell sharp pointy objects and the means of delivering them. The first of those links details my first “Archery mishap” – this post is the story of my second one!

There is also, incidentally, another post on here (back in September 2016 but I’ll let you go and find that for yourself) concerning my initial introduction to the ancient sport of Archery and at the point where it ended I was still waiting to do the initial course, completion of which would entitle me to join Archery GB and the club of my choice. That club turned out not to be the one where I did the “Taster Session” but another Peterborough based club (Nene Bowmen) which uses the same indoor venue during the winter months and has exclusive use of a field on Ferry Meadows Country Park from April to September.

So, Monday 26th March 2018 was our last indoor practice night (there was a final club competition session on Wednesday 28th but as you will see I didn’t get to go to that!) and I was shooting something called a Portsmouth round for my own amusement. For the uninitiated that’s 60 arrows (in batches of three) shot at a 60cm diameter target from a distance of 20 yards.

I was about two-thirds of the way through (and, I have to say, doing rather better than my previous competitive efforts at this particular round) when my little problem occurred.

I had drawn back the string and instead of the usual quiet <thung> as I released it there was a loud bang, the string went limp and the arrow clattered to the floor!

I stepped back and my club-mates expressed some concern that I might have been injured by either string “whiplash” or fibreglass/ bamboo fragments from a broken bow – I gather that, given the pressures and stresses involved, such things are not unheard of when equipment fails – but I was not aware of any stings, cuts or bruises, I was just slightly jarred by the unexpectedness of it.

Thinking that the string had broken (it happens) I expressed a bit of annoyance because that’s the one part of my set-up that I don’t yet have a spare for, and then examined the bow with one of my colleagues.

The string had indeed broken but not in the middle as I had expected – the frayed ends were in the loop that fits over the lower limb of the bow but there appeared to be a section missing!

In fact, on closer inspection, the actual limb had split (twice) in vertical lines up from the narrow point where the string loops over the end of the limb and that loop had, under the pressures involved, slid down the cracks which sawed through it leaving the end of the loop locked in place.

As there was nothing I could have done either to cause this problem or to tell that it was going to happen, my colleagues all thought that I should contact the shop I bought the bow from and tell them about it.

Which I duly did, writing a rough draft email on my Tuesday bus trip into Peterborough (a draft that was, essentially, the last few factual paragraphs of this piece boiled down to the basics) asking for help. I was unable to type this up during my time at the library – I always seem to get new “pupils” when I have something else I need to do – but tackled it as soon as I arrived home.

The email was fired off to the customer service people at Merlin Archery in Loughborough at around 5.30 pm so I had no real hope of hearing anything back from them that day. However, within a few minutes I received an acknowledgement and a helpdesk reference followed at just before 7.30 pm by a fuller response attaching a 1st class pre-paid label for me to print out and use to return the broken parts!

This meant that I was able, on my Wednesday visit to the Library, to stop off at the Post Office and get a package containing the split limb and the broken string on its’ way to Leicestershire.

Unfortunately I failed to understand the requirements of a warranty claim of this type where the broken unit is one of a pair! After allowing for my parcel’s day of travel on the Thursday and the fact that the Friday was the first day of the Easter holidays (when Merlin Archery were closed) it was Saturday afternoon before I received an apologetic call from the young man in Customer Services requesting that the other, undamaged, limb be returned before matters could proceed.

What with Easter Monday being another Bank Holiday (don’t you non-retired people EVER do any work?) it was Tuesday before I was able to post off a second parcel.  Another day for it to get from Peterborough to Loughborough and I received an email saying that a new string and a pair of equivalently priced (albeit a different make – once bitten; twice shy) limbs are on their way!

And finally, on the morning of Saturday 7th April, the postman knocked and handed me the parcel containing the above mentioned items so I can shoot again!

Now those of my readership who know me as an occasionally Grumpy Old Man will be expecting some sort of rant at this point on the subject of my having to miss the first two efforts at “summer season” outdoor shooting on Wednesday and Thursday of last week!

Perhaps they would be right to expect that BUT…..

Last Wednesday in Peterborough we had heavy rain and high winds all day – so I didn’t even THINK about trekking over to the shooting field! On Thursday the weather was much more suitable so Faith and I took a stroll down to the park to see if anyone else had turned up. I should mention that it is a 10 minute walk from my house to the designated shooting area so if anyone had been present it would have been a little annoying to have no gear to nip back for!

Not only was there not the slightest sign of a target boss or an Archer but as we walked down it was apparent that every route of access to our storage container was under water!

No shooting possible there then!

So, having no personal gripes to take into account I can look objectively at my experience from the moment that limb split and sliced my bowstring.

I have, over the years, and with some justification based on personal experience, become somewhat cynical over matters relating to Customer Service and always expect that there will be constant obstacles placed in my path whenever I come up against any process that costs someone else money.

This time, however, there has been no obstruction, no delays while unnecessary questions get asked and have to be answered, and excellent communication from beginning to end. And none of it has cost me a penny!

Consequently, as one who doesn’t hesitate to have a go (witness my earlier posts taking a pop at the terrible service provided by Stagecoach buses in Peterborough and the poor attitude of staff at Peterborough Job Centre) when things are “bad”, I hope that the management and staff at Merlin Archery in Loughborough will understand how uncommonly exceptional I found their Customer Service to be and how greatly appreciated it was!

Expectations were well exceeded at every point!

Thanks everyone!

Alfie (a.k.a. David Searle)


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Posted by on April 8, 2018 in Informative


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The Great Novel – Update

Someone I had not seen for a while asked me recently whether I was still writing my novel. I wasn‘t sure whether they were being sarcastic and said so (very politely and indirectly of course just in case they were not).

The person concerned kept a totally innocent expression and informed me that they periodically check the fiction shelves at their local library for any works bearing my surname. Which is very nice of them – although I’d much rather they were perusing their local bookshop with a view to BUYING something with my name on it as I think that I would make more money from that than from the Public Lending Rights payments arising from library loans.

The whole thing is academic anyway as, not only have I not finished “The Great Novel” that I told you about here: but I have still not got more than a few lines into Chapter 2 having commemorated the completion of Chapter 1 in that piece.

What I DO now have, however, is a broad idea about how that story ends plus where the next two books in the proposed trilogy are to go. So, once I finish Book 1 the whole thing should roll on apace but all three of these potential literary masterpieces have been put on hold for the moment since a couple of significant events about 2 months ago.

Let’s face it, they have been waiting nearly 16 years now to come into existence – another couple aren’t going to hurt them.

Event 1

In the first of these events I discovered a book in Peterborough Central Library about writing novels. On investigation this turned out to be specifically about how to write a 50,000 word novel (that’s the size of “Brave New World” or “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”) in ONE MONTH!

There is an annual “thing” that started in the U.S.A. around the turn of the century and which has now caught on world-wide called National Novel Writing Month. As most participating Americans are usually in too much of a hurry to trot this title out in full during conversation it has become known (with a certain inevitability) as NaNoWriMo! It takes place in November each year and the aim is to knock out a very rough and ready novel by setting, and sticking to daily wordage targets. That works out at just under 1700 words per day.

After achieving the 50K word target within the time set you can then expand and polish this raw novel as much as needed at your leisure.

This struck me as something I would rather like to try but I have a couple of reservations that need to be sorted out first.

  1. That daily word total exceeds all but three of the posts on this blog and I’m not sure whether I can maintain that level of output over thirty days.
  2. Furthermore, doing it in November would mean that I have to discount the three days taken up by my annual Sea Fishing match. This would ramp up the daily target to nearly 1900 words over the remaining 27 days! (then see point 1 above because that revised figure is more than all of my posts but one!)

Mind you, I was slightly influenced in those thoughts by the fact that at the time I found the book and started reading it I had absolutely no idea what to write about and using previously started tales was not recommended.

Apparently though having an idea of the plot of the proposed book is considered helpful but strangely, not essential! I understand that the pressure of that self-imposed daily or weekly (I prefer daily – it’s much harder to claw back any sort of weekly shortfall) wordage target forces the ideas to come! Still, I think, I’d prefer to do it with an original thought already present.

And then…..

Event 2

I had an original thought!

That is to say I formed an idea from random words reaching me from elsewhere. “Elsewhere” in this case being an over-loud conversation further back down the bus when I was returning home from one of my volunteering sessions at the library.

I won’t tell you what the actual words were in case someone out there recognises them and thinks this gives them some sort of claim to my Intellectual Property! I very much doubt that those words, as spoken, would have led anyone but the possessor of my weird brain to this particular idea so I am not about to share the credit.

The words hit my ears, I mentally asked myself “What if that could happen?”, answered myself and indulged in a flashing series of mental shortcuts based on the concept of “what if?” then quickly made some notes.

The rules of NaNoWriMo allow you to do unlimited thinking about your plot and you are also permitted to bring a synopsis with brief notes about characters and locations to Day 1 of the designated writing month.

So, I think I’d like to give it a go with this latest thought – although, to avoid potential conflict with the fishing match, I will probably plump for doing it in October (which gives me a sneaky extra day too).

I still worry a bit about being driven by deadlines though, and am reminded of the late, great Douglas Adams’ comment:

“I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by!”

We’ll see how it goes in 7 months’ time – meanwhile I have rather a lot of mental plotting to be getting on with!


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Posted by on March 13, 2018 in Informative


It is better to travel hopefully than to arrive!

This is quite a short piece by recent standards – because I think you need a bit of a break from long-winded rants at government agencies and the like!

On the assumption that I manage successfully to schedule this piece correctly on WordPress it should appear on both this site and my Facebook page on EXACTLY the 50th Anniversary of the event recounted. I’m not going to hold my breath over that though!

Let me take you back to Christmas 1967 when I was 14 years old! Apart from the fact that we spent it at home instead of at my Aunt and Uncle’s house (next door but one to my maternal grandmother’s house – thus doubling the available accommodation) as was normally the case, I remember exactly three things about it.

  1. One of my Christmas presents was a plastic model kit, somewhat superior to the usual Airfix ones that I tended to get, of an American Hot-rod car known as The Green Hornet. It had chromed plastic trim and transfers (U.S. = decals) of flames to be applied to the bodywork. It was a much larger scale than most of my aeroplane models and therefore involved much finer detail. I think this may have been it:

The other thing it had was…….. absolutely nothing to do with this story!

  1. I had a really bad dose of the ‘flu all over that holiday and concern that I might infect my three cousins may well have been why we weren’t across town as usual. My research tells me that most Influenza outbreaks in the U.K. up to that winter were weakening mutations of the great 1957 “Asian Flu” pandemic which, over its lifespan saw off somewhere between 1 and 2 million people worldwide. I caught its last feeble effort before it was replaced by a reinvigorated brand new strain the following year – the “Hong Kong Flu” pandemic of 1968. Nevertheless it was still powerful enough to cause me to spend all of Christmas Day and Boxing Day (and maybe other days either side) in bed and feeling thoroughly miserable. Remember too that I would have been effectively quarantined in my little bedroom with only my books and my little Benkson radio (as long as the PP3 9 volt battery lasted) – there were no such things as portable Televisions or computers to maintain any visual contact with the outside world!
  1. One of the reasons that I mentioned Television in the previous paragraph and another reason other than sickness to account for me being miserable was that I was going to miss THE major TV event of that Christmas, to be shown on BBC1 at 8.35 p.m. on Boxing Day. It was listed as “The Beatles present their own film, Magical Mystery Tour” and I really, really wanted to see it. I’m not actually sure if my parents would have consented but there was very little to compete with it given that my Dad had a very definite antipathy to just about anything (other than “The Saint”) produced by ITV! Whether the rest of the family saw it or not I don’t know, I only know that I didn’t!

And for nigh on 50 years that fact has rankled with me! It never seemed to get repeated and I was never able to find it on Video or CD. I was, of course, very familiar with the sound track – a mixture of extremely unusual and rather mundane songs and in my mind I made it out to be something absolutely brilliant that I was very much the poorer for never having seen!

And then…..

A few months ago I was sorting through some files on an old laptop hard disk and found a whole folder of videos and music albums that I had copied from a PC I had been upgrading to Windows 7 about 5 years previously. When I found a sub-folder entitled “Magical Mystery Tour” I thought it would be just the album but it turned out to be a video file of this major omission in my life!

Incidentally, can I just say that I have, of course, now deleted all the files I copied in this way – to keep them would be illegal!

Before I did so, however, I felt compelled to watch MMT and fill in this great missing piece in the jigsaw of my life.

What a load of old tosh it was!

The soundtrack music remains brilliant (as does everything MUSICAL that The Beatles ever did) but the film was the most self-indulgent, drug-addled, badly assembled pile of crap that I have ever watched! I could see exactly why it has never been repeated on mainstream Television!

I am left now with a wish that I had never found that computer file and that I was still in blissful ignorance and waiting hopefully for the something wonderful that I had missed to emerge from the shadows!

Or perhaps if 14 year old me had seen it back in 1967 I would have thought it wonderful and the memory would have been such that I would never have needed to see it again through adult eyes!

Ah well, we can never know!



Posted by on December 26, 2017 in Informative, Music Related


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The Little Alfie review of the year 2017

I know the year isn’t over yet but I’m going to take a chance on my not becoming a celebrity death statistic and spoiling it with only a week to go!

There are two good reasons for taking this chance:

Firstly, the number of “celebs” dropping off this mortal coil has seemed to be considerably lower than the “great purge” of 2016 – so the chances are much reduced.

Secondly, and more significantly, I am in no way a celebrity anyway!

Of course if you, my loyal readership, would do a bit more in the way of spreading the word of my witty musings to the wider world it might just happen! Not this year though.

Here then are the “highlights” of my year – some of which have already been considered worthy of their own articles – I will put links to them where appropriate and won’t go into quite as much detail where you may have already read all about it:

2017 began, as do so many years, with January, which went by in a bit of a blur. Much of it was spend trying to persuade my dear wife, Faith, to relinquish our new grandson (who was born two weeks before Christmas 2016) so that Grandad could have a cuddle and attempt rudimentary telepathic bonding with him!

Also in January I took my long-awaited (I signed up for it in the previous October!) Archery Beginners Course. This entailed spending a couple of hours on three consecutive Mondays in a Sports Hall in the as-attractive-as-it-sounds Peterborough suburb of Dogsthorpe. At the end of it I was considered sufficiently competent to be invited to join the club conducting the course and be covered by ArcheryGB’s insurance while shooting. I am now a fully paid up member of Nene Bowmen Archery Club.

In February, bearing in mind that we are retired and not constrained to stay in the UK for the whole of winter, Faith and I departed from the still comparatively small and friendly East Midlands Airport to spend the week including my 64th birthday basking in the sun in Gran Canaria. It was lovely and the nice hotel management left a bottle of iced Cava in our room while we were in the pool on my actual birthday!

As much as I enjoyed it I have to say that having now tried the four largest Canary Islands I still prefer Lanzarote (see articles in March 2013) so we’ll probably go back there again next time winter starts to depress us.

Earlier that month I had attended the first (of many, hopefully) School reunion for my year group which had started out only a month previously as a new, closed Facebook group. With the 50th anniversary of our leaving the hallowed halls of Copleston Secondary Modern School for Boys coming up in July 2019 we have much to talk about and many more “Old Boys” to locate and contact.

For our wedding anniversary in March Faith and I attempted to return to the Essex hotel where we held our Wedding reception back in 1980. It did not seem familiar to us until we eventually realised that a new hotel has been built on part of the grounds of the old Furze Hill building at Margaretting and the old hotel that we had used was across the lawns and is now used exclusively as a venue (with accommodation) for large-scale weddings. Still, as there was no-one about we were able to saunter across the invisible division between the two parts and peer through windows into the very dining room that we and our guests had used 37 years earlier!

Towards the end of April my younger daughter went into labour and on the final day of that month produced our new Granddaughter. This was quite an event in my family as my elder daughter, Hannah and my sister’s three daughters had all produced boys! So, my mother (now in her 90th year) has had to wait for seven great-grandsons before getting a great-granddaughter!

A lot of time over the next six weeks was spent driving down to Essex to see the new arrival while also maintaining close contact with her slightly older cousin back in Peterborough. He, however, got to familiarise himself with us and his other grandparents over almost a week at CenterParcs at the end of June. I told you about that trip here:

The summer proceeded with occasional days out combined with babysitting but my next personal “highlight” was my hugely entertaining Colonoscopy and the preparations for it in August. This was documented here: but at the time it was published I had not received any results. I can formally advise you all right here that my large intestine is officially perfect – so that’s all right then!

As my blog posts seem to have dwindled a bit in number lately you may have noticed that the paragraphs with links to other postings are suddenly appearing rather closer together. And here’s another one: which covers me doing my bit for my old home town when it got to host the British Mensa AGM in mid-September.

In October we were off to CenterParcs again! This time at Woburn (only a 40 minute drive from Peterborough) with Carla and Dave, his parents and our little grand-daughter who, thanks to this trip, now recognises us immediately and breaks into an angelic smile when she sees us!

November was, as normal, highlighted by my annual sea fishing trip with my former Barclays colleagues (my 34th consecutive year). This took place in Somerset at a beach near the village of Bossington with our accommodation (and all the associated drinking) in Minehead. I had a terrible time losing tackle in the rocks (as did most of the participants) but fortunately my three teammates all managed to catch something – which was enough to give us our first victory since 2010.

For well over a year Faith and I have been proud possessors of tickets to the two-part theatre production “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” and finally got to see this just over a week before Christmas. I am in the process of writing about this trip in a typically amusing fashion so won’t say more about it here. You will probably have to wait until the New Year for that.

As I am managing to finish this off on Christmas Eve I don’t know how Christmas Day or the remaining week of the year will go but on the basis of the rest of the year I’m sure it will be great!

So, once again, I will take my leave of you while getting my customary kick from saying:

“Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all my readers!”


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Posted by on December 24, 2017 in Informative