Is it me?

Is it me or are we living in a mad, mad, mad world currently?

I watch from across the water the daily soap opera that is the Trump administration.  Funny when Rex Tillerton was announced my heart sank, he personified the big corporate USA CEO.  I’ve worked for those people who’s every second sentence has to include “shareholder value”, “growth”, “acquisition” etc.  Then a year on I feel so sorry for the guy when he’s actually had a go at real diplomacy and recently been travelling in Africa trying to bridge the gap from the first world to the developing only to be sacked via a Tweet as he lands back in the land of the free.  Another in the long list of short lived officials in the current administration.  If I’d have written all this stuff as a script 4 years ago and pitched it to a studio they’d have laughed it off as totally unbelievable.

The UK blindly stumbles towards the economic suicide that is Brexit.  We’re now told that the “divorce bill” will not be paid off for 45 years. Almost exactly the same amount of time we’ve actually been in the EU and there’s not a murmur about what dumb idea this is.  Locally a recent study by Imperial College indicates that a route I could go and drive this morning in about 50 mins (Maidstone to Dover 45miles) will take about 5 hours with over 30 miles of tailbacks if only an additional 2 mins of checks are introduced once we are not in the customs union.  The bit that gets me is that our government continue to talk in soundbites and don’t look like addressing the real issues we need sorted in the next 12 months and largely the public don’t seem to care.

Still that is really all a mere side show to the Salisbury story.   Now whilst all hugely serious and worrying my daughter and I can’t help thinking the footage on the news looks too much like the Monsters Inc sock decontamination.

But seriously here’s my thinking…   Three people hurt by a nerve agent in a crowded city in the middle of a Sunday.  We’re told that the nerve agent is a Novichok – there’s something I was blissfully ignorant of a week ago. Supposedly the most deadly nerve agents produced and only produced by USSR in the 70s – 90s exposed in a post glasnost world in 1992.   The UK government therefore point the finger at the Russian Federation and say it is clear that they had a hand in this killing.  Now call me  a cynic but… if you decide to bump off some old spy, long since retire to tend to his roses in Southern England when you had him banged up in prison for some years after he’d been exposed; I’m a bit lost why you chose to use a substance that is the proverbial “smoking gun”.   Isn’t anyone looking at all this and saying – “All a bit too convenient this isn’t it?”

I suppose we the public will never fully know but I have to say this last week is certainly living up to the old adage that truth is stranger than fiction.

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To the moon and back…

The last man to walk on the moon was in December 1972.  That man, Eugene Cernan, died just over a year ago.  Funny we all know Neil Armstrong’s name and Buzz Aldrin is remembered by a lot too but Eugene?  Yep I had to look him up.  There have only been, to date, 12 men who walked on the moon.  Only 5 are still alive today and they are all in their 80s.  So it won’t be too long in the future potentially where we’ll no longer have anyone alive who walked on the moon.  We’ve never been back.  Why?  Well the simple answer is that it was all proto-sabre rattling by the USA to take the high ground in the cold war after Yuri Gagarin was the first man into space for the USSR.  Once it was clear the Russian’s weren’t going to continue with their manned missions it was “job done”.   I was reading something by someone who worked at Nasa and he said when the USSR collapsed in the 1990s many US congressmen were actually phoning Nasa up and essentially saying “So you’re done now.”   It was by them only ever seen as a political race against the USSR.

In actual fact the missions were only there for a matter of a couple of days each from the 6 missions that landed (Apollo 13 of course had to go around the moon and come back after the landing was aborted).  So clearly they were never science led – only one real scientist actually landed – Harrison Schmit who landed with Eugene in Apollo 17 – he was a geologist.  But he had only 3 days to explore a small patch of the moon.

We do now have an international space station which since 2000 has had 227 (as of July 2017 – from wikipedia) visitors.   Here’s a sobering thought the week after international women’s day – only 38 of those have been women.

Why am I whimbling on about this?   I just feel that we’ve lost something in not continuing the lunar programme.  To now go back would cost billions nobody could justify but think on… if for the last 45 years lunar missions had continued we may have well had the moonbase so beloved of my 60s school boy science fiction comics and TV shows.  We may well have been already building capability to get to Mars with a manned mission.

Here however is another startling question?  How many people have been to the very bottom of the ocean?  Three.  Yes you read that right just 3 – a quarter the number who’ve walked on the moon.  First mission was in 1960 by Jacques Piccard (d. 2008) and Don Walsh and in 2012 by film director James Cameron.  In total both missions spent less that 3 hours at the bottom – 1960 only 20 mins and 2012 about 2 hours 34 mins. We know less about that deep spot 7 miles down than we do about the surface of the moon.

What happened to that 1960s spirit of “To boldly go where no man has gone before?”  Just because we’ve done it once surely we should go back again – and again – and again?  That’s how man came to populate the entire globe from our origins in Eastern Africa.  That seemingly is one of the things that singled us out to be the first species on our planet (and so far in our knowledge anywhere in the universe) to build a sophisticated, technologically and culturally advanced society with a deep awareness and understanding of our environment both on this planet and beyond it.

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Where’s February gone?

It appears to have been nearly a month since I last wrote on here…  Seriously?  Where does the time go?

Health update – well with the working at home, no traveling about etc. things had been getting a lot better then… this weekend was rubbish.  Felt unsteady and not right for all of it and had two vicious vertigo attacks one on Saturday evening and one on Sunday morning.  I can’t really see a trigger frankly but that’s often where I think I’ve got a trigger – I thought it was the train travel and then boom they hit again where that clearly can’t be the trigger.

Other news.  The sale of my mother-in-law’s house continues.  We’ve been down and had a few more clear-out days with the family in tow or on our own.  One of those wasn’t brilliant, it was the anniversary of my brother-in-law’s death and we found a load of his old memorabilia still in the house.  Mrs F was very upset understandably – it might be 36 years ago he died but it hurts her just as much.  Anyway I took over on some of that including removing his old vinyl record collection (CDs weren’t even a thing back then) and via an old blogging pal on Facebook found a new home for them which was good.   We’ve engaged the services of another pal who can do house clearances etc and he’s on the case to start that in a week or so.

Not much else – oh we had a new carpet fitted which was frankly a nightmare.  Our house was converted (i.e. a wall was knocked down and some dividing doors removed in another place) to a large open plan layout in the 70s.  We have 8 doors in the house that open into rooms … every single one of them opens on to the one carpet.   So when you want it replaced it means your options on where to move stuff to are limited.  So garage was filled up, music room stacked and the spare bedroom likewise.   We’re back to being straight now but it was chaos for a few days.  We did have a bit of a clear out though as part of it including finding this…   my school photo of the 6th form when I was there in 1981!  I did stick it on Facebook but I never stayed in contact with many from school so didn’t get much response to trying to locate folks.

Howard 6th 001 Stitch

Also I finally did get a good day in the music room and recorded a couple of new tunes which are up at Soundcloud if anyone wants to go listen.


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Clearing out

It’s been a while since I gave an update on things in the Furtheron house other than my cycle of vertigo attacks.

Firstly – my daughter is now fully recovered from her operation.  Having removed the cyst with a large abscess on it she was left with a hole in her back.  Yes literally – they have to leave deep wounds like that open to heal bottom up.  She thought a couple of weeks.  First day they unpacked it and repacked it was a shock when they said – “No you need to come every day.  And probably for several weeks… if not months”.

In the end Mrs F, as ever, stepped into the breach.  She is a trained first aider (she never tires of telling us that) but she went to a couple of appointments watched the nurses and therefore they agreed for her to do it some weekends as they only dealt with real serious issues then.  They were impressed with her skills and so my daughter relied on her and the wound clinic nurses with going to the clinic less and less.  They had to change packing to ones with honey in and then iodine to make it heal evenly as they wanted but a couple of weeks ago – 12 weeks after the op – she was discharged all ok.  She’s back to going to the gym and swimming now.  She’s very pleased – well less so with the scar and the dip in her back but small price to pay.

Mother-in-law seems to continue to be happy at the home.  It goes up and down but regularly my wife comes home from visiting saying she was playing cards, doing a jigsaw with others etc.  We put her house on the market after New Year and seem to have sold it pretty much instantly.  Hopefully that will all go through, as ever much can go wrong in a chain like this but we’re flexible our end on dates etc. so we shouldn’t be a problem.  I’ve got much of the money stuff sorted out too.  Still lose ends on that which is typical but we’re getting there.

In doing that we’ve been clearing out.  Found tons of old photos which we chucked in a large box and took to my mother-in-law.  She said “You can make a bonfire with that lot”.  She personifies ungratefulness at times.  Also that included her wedding photos.  How can someone married over 40 year and widowed over 15 now be so dismissive?  Trying to figure out what to do with the slides we’ve grabbed too.  Might get a viewer and then decide on getting some scanned in via someone who has a slide scanner I think.

Still we also found my brother-in-laws vinyl collection which was great.  Some overlap with mine in the Led Zep, Pink Floyd etc. area but then a whole host of late 70s punk.  Now I liked a bit of Punk so nabbed the copy of Clash London’s Calling but much of it not for me.  So I’ll be seeking out via Facebook etc. anyone who is into that to see if they want to buy the collection or a substantial part of it.  It has simply sat in the cases since he passed away in January 1982 so some are virtually unplayed probably.

Some other great finds included an old Stanley no 6 plane.  I’d been looking for a second hand one on ebay on recently!  It only needed one bit replaced for under a tenner and all good to go – result!  An Scrabble game that’s provided a couple of Saturday night entertainment and a vintage monopoly set my son has taken possession of along with some old binoculars.

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Just another day.

Today is Sunday 21st January 2018. Another day, another Sunday.

If you glance at this screenshot off my phone of my 12step app you’ll see that it just happens to be my 5000th day sober. One day at a time as they say.

I never thought about reaching goals like this when I arrived at the rehab door in the summer of 2004. I know if someone had suggested 5000 minutes sober that would have seemed a stretch especially if I wasn’t an inpatient at a treatment centre.

Now I just plod on day to day acknowledging I’m an alcoholic, someone for whom drinking just simply causes me problems I’d rather not have. Most notably that one drink will kick off an incessant craving for more as aptly encased in the saying.

One drink is too many. One hundred not enough.

If you’re on this journey, wherever you are, I take strength from your steps alongside me. Thanks for being here and reading this.

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Nearly there…

The count down is nearly finished be sure to be here tomorrow….

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Counting down

I’m going to do that thing that tv companies, bands, phone producers etc do when they start a count down to some big announcement to build up the excitement and tension..  so….

Four days to go!

I’ll fill you in more later …  queue dramatic music and moody pose by presenter. 

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