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Unpublished Symphonies – Part 2.

This is the second and last of my resuscitated informative pieces intended for a Company Intranet and found alone and unloved in a folder on the USB stick that holds all my scribblings. It does, before you ask, get backed up to various places from time to time – I’ve lost things before!

I hope it is of some use to those of you still working and possibly experiencing the issues covered without necessarily understanding why they are happening.

***

The view from the Service Desk #2 – Let me in!

Yes, another song title! This time you have to be old enough to remember 1974 and The Osmonds.

It should also be apparent that this is about User Accounts and Passwords and it is very important that the “Do’s” and Don’ts” that I am about to tell you are followed.

I am assuming for this purpose that you are having trouble with a networked computer at your place of work – if the problem is with the security of a personal PC that is a whole different thing and there may not be a simple solution!

By “having trouble” I mean that you have come to your desk in the morning, switched on the computer, entered your username and password as normal and either nothing happens or error messages appear! Either way, you cannot get to your nice desktop picture and start your work.

Here are some possible causes and their solutions that you can try for yourself before calling your hard-pressed helpdesk.

  1. Have you entered your username correctly? I know it sounds like a silly question but different companies have different formats for usernames and it is easy (especially if you have recently changed jobs) to unthinkingly type in a previous name.As an example I have been around quite a few different companies doing IT contract work and have had “AlfieLittle”, “AlfieL”, LittleA, LittleA2 (there had been another Little Alfie in the company a few years earlier) and sometimes a separate variation of some of those with “Admin” after the name. I often had to stop and think which one of those applied!
  1. Have you put in the correct password? Each of the user accounts I mentioned in the previous paragraph had a different password associated with it and I’m sure you can see that the scope for getting it wrong is huge! The trouble is that fingers, NOT brains, normally type passwords and you may need to concentrate for a while after you get a new one to enable your typing fingers to learn a new “reflex”. Even if you eventually realise and get the right password the damage may have been done in that most companies computer login accounts “lock out” after three incorrect attempts. Where they vary is in what happens next. Some require you to wait a set length of time (from 5 to 30 minutes is normal) while others are completely unforgiving and have to be unlocked manually by either I.T. or some trusted person in your locality who has been given instruction on how to do this. You won’t be the first to do this so there will be someone around who can tell you if such a “local champion” exists.
  1. If you are sure that you have the correct password for the associated username, are you typing what you think you are? Most of the time your username may be typed in UPPER or lower case letters without it making a scrap of difference but the password is another thing entirely. They are always case sensitive and if you have typed your name with the “caps lock” key switched on but have not turned it off again you may unknowingly be getting the password wrong. As you normally cannot see what you are typing in the password box the best way to check this is to type the password in the username box to see if what is appearing is what you are expecting. I once dealt with a situation where my caller had accidentally (?) changed his settings to the French keyboard and pressing the key with a particular letter printed on it was actually producing a totally different letter.
  1. Is it possible that your password has expired? Different companies have different password policies and one of the most variable is how long they last. I have experienced password durations of anywhere between 30 and 180 days but theoretically they could be either shorter or longer than that. However, more than 6 months becomes a security risk and less than 1 month means the IT Department needs to make lots of password resets when it should be doing something more useful! Usually (although this is often denied by people calling the Helpdesk) a little pop-up window appears on screen anything up to 2 weeks before the password is due to expire and if clicked on will immediately prompt you on how to change it. Many people leave this until the message says “…will expire in 1 day” which is, in fact too late! That message actually means that you are already in that last day and if you last changed your password at, say 10.00 on a particular day it will expire at 9.59 and 59 seconds at the end of the required number of days. It should still be possible to reset it yourself but regrettably many people don’t read what is actually showing on the screen and yell for Support on the assumption that it is the computer that is not behaving correctly.
  1. Are you a “temp” or a new employee? The username and password are how you access your computer account – the account itself can have various things set before you ever try to log in to it and one of those is an expiry date independent of any password rule. What sometimes happens with Contractors, Temporary staff or even full-timers with an initial probationary period is that the account is set up with a perfectly reasonable “end date”. Unfortunately then the Human Resources Department or some level of the person’s Line Management forgets to tell I.T. when that date ceases to apply for any reason and the account turns itself off as it was set to. If there is a possibility that this is what has happened it may be worth getting the person who should have done so earlier to contact IT before you do – I.T. almost certainly won’t be allowed to reactivate your account just on your say-so but if the proper authority precedes your call there should be no problem and your old name and password should still apply.

Once you have ruled out all of the above possibilities, taken the suggested steps and still cannot log in there is one more thing to do before you throw this in the lap of the I.T Department – check your network cable!

I worked in a place once where laptop wielding members of staff from other offices would frequently visit and, rather than muck about trying to obtain authority to be given the local Wi-Fi password, they would unplug the network cable from the PC on the desk they had temporarily taken over and make use of that. After checking emails or some such routine task they would then unplug the cable and whizz off to their meeting, leaving the loose cable to drop, unnoticed, down the back of the desk.

Next day, enter you, the regular user of the PC and off you go, logging in as usual. Nothing happens because unlike that of a laptop the login process on a desktop PC needs a connection to the Domain Controller server on the network to validate the details and, unknown to you, it doesn’t now have it! Plug the cable back in, restart the PC then seek out the offender and beat them about the head with an old keyboard!

[Alfie’s real name]

Service Desk Analyst

***

Alfie

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Posted by on August 10, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

Unpublished Symphonies – Part 1

A few years ago when I was working as an I.T. Helpdesk Analyst on a fairly long-term contract, the Company decided that the staff should have access to an Intranet Page in order to share interesting stories, ask questions of other departments and that sort of thing. Departments such as Information Technology and Human Resources were also asked to provide interesting articles.

This blog was in full swing at the time meaning that my “writing muscles” were fully flexed and raring to go, so I decided to make some useful contributions to submit to my Manager, who had been given the job of coordinating and editing anything submitted by our team. I must admit that I wasn’t expecting the response I received!

“Are you mad?” he exclaimed. “If we go explaining to our computer users how to do this stuff themselves, half of us will be out of a job!”

Plainly he wasn’t at all interested in said users bettering themselves in any way – in which respect he was not at all like me. My personal philosophy with regard to computer usage has always been to ensure that people know as much about their operation as they are capable of knowing. It is for that reason that I spend my Tuesdays at Peterborough Library voluntarily teaching the “incomputerate”.

The two such articles that I penned for that abortive series of helpful articles remained filed and unloved on my USB memory stick until I decided to resurrect them here. The second part will follow shortly.

I hope it is of some help to you in either home or work computer use.

***

The view from the Service Desk – #1 – On and off and on again!

The title of this article is (as anyone over a certain age will know) from the 1988 song “Burning Bridges” by Status Quo and should give you a bit of a clue as to what it will be about.  It is my custom when writing my own blog posts to utilise appropriate song lyrics in this way when possible.

Thanks to the cult TV comedy “The IT Crowd”, the question “Have you tried turning it off and on again?” has entered popular culture in what, from the point of view of Computer Helpdesk Staff across the country, could be seen as an unhelpful fashion.

Why so?

Well, for one thing, WE know that in some instances YOU are waiting for US to say it and are anticipating having a bit of a giggle at having made us ask!   And, when you think about it, there are not many other ways you can word it!

On many, many occasions during my more than 15 years in IT Support I have asked “The Question” only for the following exchange to take place:

Caller (in a fed up voice): “Oh, they told me you’d ask me to do that!”

Me: “So, have you done so?”

Caller: “Uhh, No.”

Me (thinking to myself): “Well if you KNEW you were going to be asked………!”

Me (aloud): “OK, would you mind doing it for me now, please?”

Those conversations have taken place with employees of many companies but I thought that you might like to know exactly why your IT Service Desk asks you either to log out and back in again or, on occasion, requires you to shut the PC down completely and restart it.

The short answer to that is, quite simply, that in about 95% of the situations where we make the request…. IT WORKS!  This means that if you take the lesson in the conversation above to heart and try restarting the computer before calling the Helpdesk – you may not have to.

I think of PCs as something like cars; most of the time you just push the button (or turn the key) and away you go with no problems!

At other times you start up your car (or Computer) and nothing happens at all! When that happens you call the AA\RAC\Green Flag\local garage (or Helpdesk) and an engineer is sent out.

And then, in between those two extremes, there is the occasion when you have something bad in your petrol and while the vehicle starts, it splutters and does not run smoothly or well until you start it up again and give it a good burst of throttle to clear it. It is the PC equivalent of this “Grit in the carburettor” problem that prompts most of the calls that are fixed by a restart.  Some tiny process or other (and there are hundreds such small processes kicking off each time you start the PC up) gets skipped during the PC start-up but runs perfectly at the second attempt – that is to say after TURNING IT OFF AND ON AGAIN!

So now you know why we ask and I hope it no longer seems like a silly question.

[Alfie’s real name]

Service Desk Analyst

***

Alfie

 
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Posted by on August 7, 2017 in Informative

 

And then one day you find “x” years have got behind you!

Every time I try to write something that ISN’T looking back in time, someone or something comes along and reminds me of a significant anniversary that definitely requires some comment from me.

Previous such pieces have included my 30th Wedding Anniversary (in 2010); the 40th anniversary of Apollo 13 (also 2010); the 40 year mark since the first moon landing (in 2009) and the 497th (?) anniversary of the Battle of Agincourt (in 2012).

As a child who grew up in the 1960s – known as a decade of momentous changes and events – I am fully expecting that a LOT of 50 year old happenings are going to require my personal “I was there” recollections in the coming months and years. Indeed there are already 2 more “historicals” in progress.

I have, in fact, already failed to comment on (to name but a few) the half century celebrations of:

  • Yuri Gagarin’s “first man in space” trip in the Soviet spacecraft Vostock 1 (1961).
  • John Glenn’s “first American orbital spaceflight” in the Project Mercury capsule “Friendship 7” (1962 – on my 9th birthday, actually).
  • My favourite TV Sci-fi series “Doctor Who” (1963 – although as it concerns time travel it could be older).
  • The England football team actually winning a World Cup competition (1966 – so we are now up to “51 years of hurt”!)

And now another significant one has just gone by – this time from the area that has had the most influence on me during those years – music!

But if you’ve read the “CD of My Life” series here, you already know that. If you haven’t, you should be able to pull the whole series up in one go by clicking on the appropriate “Category” in the side menu.

Yes, we have indeed passed the 50th birthday of THE iconic album of the 1960s (some would insist on saying ONE of the iconic albums of that decade but let’s not be pedantic)!

I speak, of course, of the short-lived (only 8 years) phenomenon that was The Beatles and their ground-breaking 1967 album “Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”!

From its distinctive cover, via the innovative cut-outs on the inset card to the array of musical styles from “pop” to “eastern hippy” to “downright quirky” – there had been nothing remotely like it before and I remember the unfolding sense of wonder I experienced when one of the Pirate Radio stations played it in its entirety.

Mind you, that sense of wonder at new sounds came to me quite a lot in those days – I recall it happening the very first time I heard “Good Vibrations” by The Beach Boys.

And mentioning them reminds me of the transatlantic creative feedback that was, at least partially, responsible for “Sgt. Pepper…” – Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys was apparently so impressed with the earlier Beatles effort “Rubber Soul” that it inspired him to produce “Pet Sounds” which, in turn so impressed Lennon, McCartney and Co. that they wrote “Sgt. Pepper… ” to try to surpass it!

Who knows, if Brian hadn’t then lost the plot a bit they might still be at it, trying eternally to outdo each other!

At around the same time (actually July 1967) and premiered on the first global TV communications satellite link-up, The Beatles also ushered in what became known as “the summer of love” with another mind-blower – “All You Need is Love”. So that’s another anniversary covered!

Incidentally, before we leave Beatlemania behind us, can I just point out that if you happen to think that “Sgt. Pepper…” was NOT the best thing that band ever did – you will get no argument from me! In my humble opinion many tracks on the previous “Revolver” album were much better but for a total musical experience they actually hit the jackpot on 26th September 1969 (commemorating the end of my first week at work) with the release of “Abbey Road”. I return to that one far more often than any other of their works.

I’m not at all sure that I’m totally happy with this “time passing” stuff!  It was first really bought home to me by a trip that Faith and I made last summer to The Shuttleworth Collection (a museum for still functional old aeroplanes) near Bedford. I had first visited it on a school trip and was, frankly, appalled to realise that a Sopwith Pup biplane of 1916 vintage was now TWICE as old as when I first saw it in 1966.

This means that 1966 is now further away from me than some bits of the First World War were in 1966 – and WWI was incredibly ancient history then while 1966 is just YESTERDAY now!

The problem, of course, is that external time moves on while my internal time stopped advancing when I was about 26 – and I suppose there’s nothing I can do about either of them!

Alfie

 
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Posted by on August 1, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

Brain Fever!

The other day my good lady and I visited an old friend at a seafront flat (U.S. = apartment) in Hunstanton which is a resort on the Norfolk coast and one of the few places on the East Coast of the UK that faces West! *

The place we were visiting was on the third floor (U.S. = fourth floor) and there is no lift (elevator) so it was a brisk hike up a lengthy flight of stairs to get there.  At the top of the stairs there was the usual heavy door giving access to the two flats on that level but I remarked that, unlike the flats, this appeared to be new.

Our friend confirmed that a fault had been found with the old one and this new one had been urgently fitted for the safety of the residents.

“Aha!” I exclaimed almost immediately, “a new Firedoor. I shall name it Dostoyevsky”!

Our friend gave me the look that I am so familiar with – the one that says without words, “What the hell are you talking about?” but she then she thought for a moment, the knowledge acquired a while back during her university education asserted itself and she slowly nodded.

“Ah yes. Fyodor Dostoyevsky. I get it now!”

What she did not do, what with this being a pun and all, was laugh! I have pointed out here on several occasions that the best you can expect for a pun is a groan or a sadly tolerant smile often accompanied by the words “Oh dear!”

I have to say, as I have often done on these pages, that I cannot help it! The ability and the NEED to play linguistic havoc with my mother tongue were instilled in me during my early teens thanks to the radio programme “I’m Sorry I’ll Read That Again”! The presence in my school year group of an amazing number of like-minded boys keen to perpetrate similar “verbal slapstick with the tongue that Shakespeare spake” ** didn’t help.

In the last ten years, and particularly the last two, I have resumed contact with quite a few of that group and, in terms of senses of humour anyway, they have haven’t changed a bit (to the probable annoyance of quite a few wives, partners etc.)!

“Like-minded” is the term that I really want to investigate here though.

This particular group of boys, by which I mean the ones that were, at one time or another, in the same class as me, had at least one thing in common before we were thrown together in September 1964 aged 11.

I had better interrupt myself here and explain for the benefit of younger readers just how the UK education system worked in those days.

During the final year at Primary School (Year 6 in today’s way of counting) all children took something called “The 11 Plus test”. This was a series of written examinations testing “General English”, “Comprehension”, “Arithmetic”, and “General Intelligence/Knowledge”. Those that passed it (and I’ll be coming to what “passed” actually meant later) were assigned to Grammar School of which there was only one in Ipswich. The rest went to one of the half dozen or so local Secondary Modern Schools and were there “streamed” into classes based, presumably, on how closely or otherwise they had “failed” the examination. There were annual end of year exams in all subjects and some promotions and relegations based on overall performance up to the end of the 3rd year (Year 9) at which point the “A” stream continued on to do GCE “O” Levels and new classes were spun off for those doing subjects in the slightly different CSE qualification.

So, back to where I was a couple of paragraphs ago, and the newly-formed Class 1A at Copleston Secondary Modern School for Boys – which is where I found myself along with around 30 or so others from that part of town deemed to have “just failed” to get into Northgate Grammar School.

Before you ask, yes they did use the terms “pass” and “fail” about such things – something that would have parents up in arms these days!

While there were the above mentioned Football League style promotions and relegations and a few changes due to house moves in and out of the area it is broadly correct to say that everyone who made it to the GCE classes (4A and 5A) had been in that “A” stream from the start. That includes your author (although I’m mighty glad the Football analogy didn’t stretch to the concept of “Play Offs”)!

This group of young people then all had that failure of the 11 Plus exams in common and it is time to consider what that actually meant given that at no time were the entrants told either their own score or, more importantly, what the “Pass Mark” actually was!

All available evidence seems to suggest that there was a very good reason for this state of affairs – even within a single Education Authority such as Ipswich the pass mark was FLEXIBLE!

I’m sure there was a low level fail mark to identify those for whom Grammar school would have been utterly inappropriate but at the other end of the scale other factors came into effect. Remember that there was only one Grammar School available as opposed to 6 or 7 Secondary Moderns within the Borough of Ipswich and it becomes obvious that if you ever got a year with a lot of extremely bright children (coughs modestly!) they weren’t all going to get into the supposedly higher branch of education as might have been the case in another year.

Supposedly?

Well I don’t know about the other Secondary Moderns scattered around the town but under our Headmaster, Ken Armstrong, Copleston Boys had acquired a reputation of running Northgate Grammar pretty closely in GCE results (which not all Sec. Mods. were allowed to take) – a sort of sub-Grammar School if you like!

I strongly suspect that because of this quite a few of us living in and attending Primary Schools in the Copleston catchment area were told we had failed in order to take the pressure off Northgate so that pupils on the other side of town with the same scores were able to go there rather than a more average Sec. Mod.

Don’t get me wrong – I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Copleston and my father always told me that being consistently in the top tier there was preferable to being down in the middle ranks of a Grammar School and I tended to agree with him – the idea that I might have had what it took to fight my way into the top rank there too did not ever occur either to him or to me.

The down side was that no-one really pushed us “failures” very hard and some of us (I include myself here) drifted along sharing jokes, brilliant puns and doing just enough work to keep the teachers happy whilst being blissfully unaware of our potential.

And I have to say that I didn’t even become aware that I HAD any potential to do any better than the career with a professional speciality that I was then in until, in 1985, a friend of mine (also an 11 Plus failure) passed the tests enabling him to join Mensa, the society for people with an IQ in the top 2% of the country. Naturally I thought, “If that idiot can do it….” took the test myself and got the same score as him! I have been a member ever since.

When I started this blog I was slightly surprised to find that my classmate Michael Vincent (who was, of course, the reason I started it in an effort to compete with his own efforts in that area) is also a past Mensan.

Now I wasn’t (I’m fairly sure) the brightest member of that particular intake of 11 Plus failures at Copleston and probably neither was Mike but statistically the 2% bracket of IQs for that age group in Ipswich ought to all have been at the Grammar school but plainly were not.

So what I want to know (and I don’t know if sharing this post on our Year Group’s Facebook page will help me here) is this:

How many others of that brilliant bunch that I used to (and to a large extent still do) associate with are also unrealised, warped and twisted geniuses like Mike and I?

Given our similar wits, senses of humour and stated feelings of under-achievement, quite a few I would think!

And if any of them wants to look at me and say “If that idiot can do it…!” let me know and I’ll tell you how to go about taking those tests – they are a bit like the 11 Plus for grown-ups! It would be nice to have a few classmates around me when I attend the Mensa AGM in September 2017 – in Ipswich!

 

Alfie

 

*Look it up if you don’t believe me!

**A quote from the 1930 novel “The Saint Closes the Case” (aka “The Last Hero”) by the excellent Leslie Charteris who will (along with his most famous creation) feature in this blog SOON! ***

***I know! I’ve been promising that for at least 6 years now – but I need to work out what angle to approach it from! I have started it though.

 
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Posted by on July 14, 2017 in Ipswich, Schooldays

 

A Duck nibbled your WHAT?!

Many years ago – so long ago, in fact, that I think I still had a full-time job – I wrote about a holiday and detailed the huge list of other countries and towns where I had singularly failed to catch ANYTHING AT ALL when indulging in holiday fishing. If you wish to read it you can find it here: https://littlealfie.wordpress.com/2009/07/07

Well…….

This week Faith and I have accompanied our six month old Grandson, his other grandparents and his mummy and daddy to the CenterParcs “resort” at Elveden Forest in Suffolk.

It has been a steaming hot few days so far and as I write the beginnings of this piece outside our villa at 9.30pm on the longest day of the year it is still comfortably warm and still daylight.

If I look up from my notebook and away from the villa I can see nothing but ferns, tall trees and a clear blue sky. Various birds, squirrels and Muntjac deer also make fleeting appearances and off in the distance I can hear a Peacock screeching.

It’s all rather idyllic and what I feel retirement is supposed to be about!

This isn’t our first visit here by any means – Faith and I first came here with our daughters in March 1995, the visit coinciding with our 15th Wedding Anniversary – and was memorable to me for it actually snowing hard while I floated with just my face above water in a gently steaming outdoor pool!

We have returned several times since then, including for my parents’ 50th Wedding Anniversary in 2000 and daughter Hannah’s 18th Birthday in 2001.

After that the main shopping/eating concourse suffered a serious fire and Faith and I returned on our own not long after it reopened after an extensive rebuild. On that occasion we stayed in the hotel by the lake rather than a villa and spent most of our time trying to remember “isn’t that where ‘such and such’ restaurant used to be?” because it was completely unfamiliar in its new form.

I had thought that because I have been here with the current layout in existence there would be no problems finding my way around but that has not been the case. The villas with three bedrooms and an equal number of bathrooms (essential, believe me!) are situated in a bit of the park that did not even exist when last we visited so we are approaching and leaving the facilities at the centre in an unfamiliar way. Indeed, after 3 of our 4 days here I still have to stop and think at every turn despite doing the route from 4 to 6 times a day!

Thus far I have spent a couple of hours swimming (including the “Wild Water Rapids” where I briefly got stuck on a tight bend!) and played Tennis, Table Tennis and Badminton. Of these I have proved best at Table Tennis – I am tall, with long arms and a great deal of the surface area of the table is therefore available to me without the need for all that tedious, sweaty leaping around that the other games entail!

However, as you have probably guessed from the early paragraphs of this story, the most sedentary sport I have taken part in was……… Fishing!

On the grounds that 2 grandmothers plus his mummy and daddy could provide more than enough care and attention for little Xavier, his granddad Pete and I booked fishing permits for the big lake – specifically the fenced off corner free from wind-surfers, water-skiers and massive multi-family sized pedallos.

We arrived on Monday afternoon, picked up our permits early on Tuesday and spent that afternoon on adjacent platforms trying to tempt some of the numerous monster Carp that we could see cruising about just below the surface. They, however, showed no interest whatsoever in our bait offerings and we had to make do with 4 small Roach apiece before returning to the villa before 4pm so that I could go off and get horribly sweaty playing Badminton awfully badly! They should rename the sport “Awfulminton” in honour of my prowess or lack thereof!

On Wednesday we were able to start a bit earlier and fish for longer – again with adjacent (but different) platforms and I was annoyed to see those bloody Carp taking the piss by not only refusing even to look at our bait but also taking a route between the decking we were sitting on and our floats! Some of them were well within the reach of my telescopic-handled landing net and I was seriously tempted to scoop a couple of them out with that, photograph them and put them back!

There is a certain code of honour covering such things though – so I didn’t! Aren’t you proud of me?

I have since discovered that the “wildlife team” here feed those Carp at a regular time and in a place not in the fishing zone so Anglers really have no chance – that IS cheating!

On this second occasion, however, I did hit a patch of much larger Roach and stopped counting when I passed 8 so my total was well into double figures. I was very happy with that!

That was also “finishing on a high” as other booked sports and baby-sitter duties put Thursday out of the picture and the gear had to be re-packed into the car early on Friday.

So, if you bothered to read to the end of my previous piece you will know that it ended with the words “No fish were harmed during the making of this holiday!” Well, because of my careful unhooking and use of barbless hooks, I can still say that. I do, however, feel the need to add to the end of that sentence “…..but at least (and at last) some were actually caught!”

And the odd title of this piece?

Before they learned that I wasn’t going to feed them and went away I was bothered by a number of ducks – one of which thought it would be fun to take a peck at my waggler (it’s a type of float).

The following exchange occurred when I related the story to Faith:

“A duck nibbled your WHAT?!”

“My waggler”.

“Well I’m sure your mother warned you that might happen if you wave it about in public!”

Honestly! What a dirty mind that woman has!

Alfie

 
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Posted by on June 23, 2017 in Holidays

 

The view from the tarmac!

Today Faith and I visited my old mum in Ipswich (the adjective “old” is just a factual description of her and is not meant to imply that I have another, newer, mother stashed away somewhere) and spotted a couple of things on the 100 mile trip there from Peterborough. I thought that I should share these with you along with my usual smart-arse comments!

In driving along the A14 one meets (often too closely for comfort) every possible variety of Heavy Goods Vehicle hauling all sizes of trailers or containers conveying the goods of just about every major retail company!

I noted with some concern that supermarket chain ASDA still has the “Saving you money every day!” slogan on the back of its trucks – you may recall that I gave you my reasons for objecting to this here: https://littlealfie.wordpress.com/2014/09/

Obviously their legal department is not amongst my readership!

It was, however, another slogan on the back of a lorry that caught my eye to the extent that I had to whip out my ever-present notebook and write it down. I was doing this while Faith was moving out into the “Executive Lane” to go past it so I didn’t actually get to see what company it belonged to.

What’s that?  “What do I mean by the Executive Lane?”

I don’t understand – you didn’t seriously think that the overtaking lane of dual carriageway roads or motorways was for use by the likes of you or me, did you? Oh no! You just ask any driver of a company owned BMW, Audi, Lexus or other top of the range make and you’ll find that this lane is indeed for the use of Company Executives and top Managers.

This explains their reluctance to let you out into that lane and the aggressive way they will hammer up behind you if you aren’t going as fast as they think you should!

Given my oft-stated antipathy to people in authority who aren’t as bright as I am, it also explains why I don’t take any notice of this aggression and why, when I do have no reason to hold them up any further my move back to my “proper place” is done as slowly and in as insolent a fashion as I can possibly manage! I just hope that the poor benighted workers that these people are on their way to repress appreciate my efforts in keeping them out of the office for a few more seconds!

ANYWAY….. back at the truck on the A14 – the words that I wrote down (which had no punctuation that I could see and which were capitalised as shown here) were:

Eat Healthy British Chicken

From this I drew the conclusion that the vehicle belonged to some sort of Poultry farmer or supplier but that had nothing to do with the remark that I made to my long-suffering wife when I looked up from my notebook.

Displaying my usual talent for looking at things in entirely the wrong way I indignantly commented:

“Why do they need to specify ‘Healthy’? Surely no-one is out there foisting UNHEALTHY British Chicken on us! If they are, I want to know about it now!”

The second note that I made was somewhere around Bury St. Edmunds when we came upon an unannounced speed limit with no apparent purpose. We were suddenly reduced from the normal 70mph limit to one of 50mph and there was no sign of any work going on – not even the sometimes seen team of minor criminals doing Community Service litter picks! A little way in there was a small and easily missed explanatory notice at the side of the road – a sign simple in its message but asking more questions than it answered:

“SPEED LIMIT IN PLACE FOR SAFETY REASONS”!

Do you see what I mean? The list begins:

Whose safety?

What reasons?

Why 50mph – why not 40?

What is the normal purpose of speed limits then? There I was thinking that they were ALL there for “safety reasons” – if I’m wrong it must mean they’re only actually present because of some official’s personal whim and the revolutionary in me is starting to fire up!

I’ll let you debate that one amongst yourselves – for now I’ll just say that it is just as daft as the signs that were present along that same road a little nearer Ipswich a few years ago.

They had installed a whole series of those matrix message boards (I believe it was so that they could inform HGV drivers if bad weather at the East Coast ports necessitated parking up under an “Operation Stack” arrangement) but every single one of them had a yellow board at its base proclaiming “This notice board is not working”!

I always said that they could have saved an awful lot of yellow printed plastic if they’d have just lit up the boards and put the “…..not working” message on them!

Alfie

 
8 Comments

Posted by on June 8, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

Nostalgia! It’s not what it used to be!

I need to update you a bit on some things that happened back in February when, you may recall, I experienced a surprising “spike” in my viewing figures for this site – particularly with regard to items concerning my schooldays.

Shortly after I noticed this I was invited by one of my former classmates to join a closed Facebook group specifically set up for my particular year group at Copleston Secondary Modern School for Boys.

Incidentally I mention the school’s full, official name from that era just to annoy Mike Vincent in Thailand who thinks that its post-1972, co-educational name of “Copleston High” sounds much cooler! I think Copleston High sounds like something out of a bad U.S teen movie!

Anyway, I accepted the invitation and when I went back over the postings from the few weeks that had elapsed since the group had started I found that someone (not from my class) had mentioned that if you Googled “Copleston” and “Prospicimus” (the school motto) you were linked to articles by “Little Alfie – whoever he is”! Someone who had been in my class then recognised me from the school photo that I use on this site, told the group and I got invited.

All of which explains the sudden rise in my visitor figures – which have, sadly, now slumped back down to their old levels!

I did, however, just manage to join the group in time to learn of an organised reunion at a social club in Ipswich, only a few hundred yards away from the old school. Fortunately Faith and I were visiting our daughter in Witham (a mere 30 miles or so from Ipswich) on the date of this momentous event so I was spared the need for a 100 mile each way drive.

It was a great evening – there were about 15 of us present – three of us who went all the way through the school in the same class and another two who were with us until the GCE/ CSE examination “split” at the end of the third year (Year 9 in modern parlance). The rest I recognised the names of but hadn’t ever “worked with” during those five years (except, possibly, for inter-house events).

We were all as rude to each other as if no time at all had passed and there was an awful lot of laughter about remembered fellow students, teachers and significant events. Suffice it to say that we are going to do it again and soon!

The chat and the subjects raised at that gathering fuelled the discussions on the Facebook page (which continues to grow as people are traced and invited) for several months and has reminded me of many names and events that even my prodigious memory for “historical” matters had forgotten.

And just when I thought I had reached the limit of the school-based anecdotes that I could use to initiate discussions, the same person who had introduced me to that group also added me to a slightly more general Facebook Group. This has a much wider scope and basically extends what I have been doing to the whole of Ipswich and what I remember of my time there from 1953 to 1979.

The schools memories are still of use here but I can (and frequently do) also comment on other things that I haven’t thought of for quite a while as well as throwing in, where relevant, bits from my late father’s memoir that he wrote covering his experiences as a teenager during the war and his army service.

Again that is all quite fun and I feel I make a significant contribution to what may one day be seen as a historical database of 20th and 21st century life in the town. I also (but only when I absolutely HAVE to) get occasional “plugs” in for this site so I may see some more spikes on the viewing figures graph.

I do notice, however, that while those of us in the Copleston Boys Facebook group all received, however reluctantly, a decent education and obviously take some pride in how the stuff we record appears on screen, a great many of the (currently) 13,000 Ipswich residents who belong to the more general group do not have such a sense of pride!

Either that or they were behind the bike sheds having a crafty fag on the day their Remedial English class did “Always starting sentences with Big Letters”! Certainly a great many of them wouldn’t know an apostrophe if it bit them on the bum and are unfamiliar with concepts such as “their”, “there” and “they’re”! I feel embarassed on their behalf on many occasions and quite annoyed that they didn’t bother to look at what they had typed before pressing “send” on others.

I presume that many of these were taught written English anything up to 60 years ago but their lives until now have been such that they just haven’t had to use it! For that reason I have patiently restrained myself from becoming an online Grammar Nazi and have so far managed to proceed on the basis that the content is what really matters here.

All of this is exercising my long-term memory quite well and I’m still learning a great deal from both groups but one thing still bothers me.

I mentioned above the motto of my school as being “Prospicimus” which is Latin for “Look forward” (or possibly “we look forward” – I’m not sure about that because Copleston didn’t actually do Latin).

Why then am I, along with a large number of my schoolmates, putting so much effort into looking BACK at it?!

 

Alfie

 
2 Comments

Posted by on May 20, 2017 in Ipswich, Schooldays