Friday, 31 December 2010

Ring out the old, ring in the new

Just 3 hours or so of 2010 left, just time for a little reflection on the past year. It's been a mixed year, to say the least. Healthwise, it hasn't been very good for me, but at least my problems have been more along the lines of inconvenience, bearing no comparison to what my mother-in-law has had to cope with. She has made it through to year's end, though, which wasn't looking likely at one or two points, so that has to be something to be grateful for. I managed to escape from a job which was causing me so much unhappiness, but only at the expense of having to be away from home for large chunks of my life.
It's not all been bad, though. This blog, and the corner of cyberspace it inhabits, has been integral to many of the good things in 2010. I've been able to say some things, and exorcise some demons, that I haven't found any other way of dealing with. I've got to know some people who I'm really pleased to have been able to come into contact with, many of whom have interesting stories to tell, and I hope that some of what I've written has been of some interest in turn. Of late, the blog has become a bit 'Dear Diary'-ish, and one of the things I'm going to try and do in 2011 is to perhaps be a bit more imaginative in my choice of what to post. No promises, though!
2011 in general, what do I hope for? Much of what I would like to happen isn't, in all honesty, very likely, so it's probably best not to dwell on it too much at this stage, but there are things that I would not only wish for myself and my family, but for anyone who reads this post - health, happiness, peace and prosperity. I hope all of you have a great 2011, and that as much as possible of what you would wish for yourselves comes about.
Happy New Year, or Blydhen Nowydh Da, as some say in this part of the world.

Love & best wishes to all
Sammy B

Thursday, 30 December 2010

Please, just don't!

Especially not at 8:00 in the morning on a day that I felt like I'd woken up with my head on upside down. What am I talking about, you might ask? Well, it seems that one of my new colleagues at work is involved with the Scouting movement as an adult leader, all with perfectly honourable motives, I hasten to add. He was being subjected to some basically good-natured banter this morning, which led on to a jibe or two about his Scouting activities. Someone asked if his troop have a 'Cub of the Year' award, and then followed it up with 'Who judges the swimwear parade?' (a la Miss World, presumably!). All meant in jest, but I suddenly had a vision of such a parade, and almost moaned out loud at the very idea of it. I can't cope with such imagery without prior notice! (I'm not, by the way, backtracking on what I've said in earlier posts about not being attracted to younger boys - I'm not, but I do find them nice to look at sometimes, and my reaction to this morning's badinage is in that vein.)
That apart, the main difficulty of the past couple of days back at work has been extreme tiredness. I'm staying at my brother's again, and when I got here yesterday afternoon, I decided to have a nap to freshen myself up at bit, and promptly went into a flat-out sleep for three and a half hours! It's a combination, no doubt, of the aftermath of the virus I've been struggling with for the last couple of weeks, and the ridiculously early start I had to make yesterday morning to drive up from Cornwall to London. Still, I'll be back at home tomorrow to see the New Year in, but whether I'll be awake anywhere close to midnight is, to say the least, on the doubtful side.

Love & best wishes to all
Sammy B

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

All good things must come to an end

Or so the saying goes. As far as my keeping up with the adage is concerned, it's the last day of my first substantial Christmas break since 1986. Even though the time off I've had had been marred, to a degree, by illness - I'm still some way from being 100% well, even after nearly three weeks - it's been nice to be at home with my family, and, as a side benefit, evade a lot of the bad weather the UK has been subjected to recently. You hear about people who have serious problems adapting to retirement, but I know for sure I wouldn't fit into that category. For most, if not all, of my adult life, my main difficulty has been the fact that there never seem to be enough hours in the day, and certainly never problems in finding ways to occupy my time. Some of my interests would doubtless strike some people as being a waste of time, but others' perceptions are not my problem, the main issue, as far as I'm concerned, is that I'm virtually never bored. That really would strike me as being a waste of my valuable time.
Today's programme of non-boredom has included going out for lunch with my wife and daughter, as a treat for us all to end the holiday season (my wife will be going back to work tomorrow as well). It wasn't anything especially elaborate, just a trip to a pub-restaurant in our neighbouring town, but the food there is usually pretty good, and today was no exception. The only downside was that they were rather busy, which meant that the service was a bit on the slow side, but we didn't have any other plans for this afternoon, so there was no rush as far as we were concerned. It gave me time to have a leisurely couple of beers, anyway!
I've had what is, so far, a rather inchoate idea for a new story for 'Cuckoos' swirling around in my head this morning, a sort of counterfactual, 'what if society was like this instead' scenario. I haven't even come up with an initial approach yet, as there are a number of ways, some lighter, some darker, that the story could develop. I think this could be an idea which will need some careful development and work, rather than relying on my usual style of getting my stories typed and published as quickly as possible, before I lose whatever little inspiration has prompted me to write in the first place. The '99% perspiration' method hasn't been my thing with my writing, probably because I'm basically a pretty lazy so-and-so, but this story, if I can get it off the ground, might be the one which would benefit from such a treatment.

Many thanks to Grant (the immigayrant) for becoming my latest follower. I hope you won't be disappointed!

Love & best wishes to all
Sammy B

Monday, 27 December 2010


After having had snow on the ground for more than a fortnight, by far the longest cold snap we've had in the 10 years we've been living in Cornwall, it seems that the weather has finally turned - the wet and windy stuff is coming up from the south, and most of the lying snow and ice has melted since yesterday evening. We've been out grocery shopping this morning, and it was nice to be able to drive (and indeed walk) around without worrying about suddenly going sideways after hitting a patch of ice. With the not too welcome prospect of my returning to work on Wednesday, at least it seems that the weather, and associated travelling conditions, will be one less thing to worry about.

Love & best wishes to all
Sammy B

Sunday, 26 December 2010

Superfluous advice of the day

I've been watching a nature documentary on TV, as the ladies of the house have decided to have a lie-in this morning. At one stage during the programme, a scientist picked up a bird-eating tarantula a foot across, and the voiceover said "Don't try this at home". As if!! If my home was infested with spiders that size, I'd be looking to move forthwith!

Love & best wishes to all
Sammy B

Saturday, 25 December 2010


I'm in chill-out mode after cooking and eating our Christmas dinner over the last two and a half hours, or thereabouts. It all went down pretty well, so I'm moderately pleased with myself. The meal was the centrepiece of what's been a nice family day, at home with my wife and daughter, and speaking to various family members we can't be with on the phone. My daughter was pleased with the presents she received, which was nice, considering we didn't have the money to be quite as extravagant as we would've liked in an ideal world - she's far from being deprived, but I'm sure some of her friends received more than she did, so it's very mature of her to have reasonable expectations.
I hope everyone else has had as nice a day as we have, and that the remainder of the day goes well for you all.

Love & best wishes to all
Sammy B

Friday, 24 December 2010

Season's greetings

Well, it's rapidly heading towards Christmas Day (in GMT land, at least), so I'd like to take this opportunity to wish all my readers, and all those whose blogs I read, a very happy Christmas. I hope you all have a great day, and I wish you all you would wish for yourselves.
I'd like to say a special thank you to my followers, Tony, Jay, Brian, Daniel, Billy, and especially Mark, for your friendship, interest and encouragement, and another thank you to those whose blogs have given me so much interest and entertainment over the course of this year (including those of my followers who have their own blogs, which is most of them), thanks to Rowan, Lauren, Randy, Cody, Matty, Lee, Ian and especially to DJ, I hope to be able to read more from you all in the year ahead.

Peace, love and my very best wishes to you all
Sammy B

Thursday, 23 December 2010


Luckily, it wasn't too icy here this morning, so I managed to get out bright and early (albeit a bit nervously) to do the Christmas grocery shopping. Even though I arrived at the supermarket before 7:30, there were plenty of people about, but I managed to get everything we needed for the weekend without undue stress. I was rather undecided about the Christmas Day menu, but, as it's turned out, it's going to be a pretty traditional spread, turkey and trimmings, the only real departure being a Spanish version of 'pigs in blankets' I'm going to put together, with mini chorizo sausages wrapped in Serrano ham. Should be OK, especially with a nice bottle of cava to wash it all down.
Having got through the shopping assault course, I'm now in a position where I can stay indoors until Monday, if I choose to, which, given the unabated freezing weather, seems like an appealing prospect. In fact, if I could stay indoors until about April, it would suit my current mood, but I doubt that's going to be a viable option!

Love & best wishes to all
Sammy B

Wednesday, 22 December 2010


I managed to get myself thoroughly wound up earlier today, although I've calmed down a bit now. It all came about after reading about the author of a controversial book in the US having been arrested on thoroughly trumped up (and, in so far as I understand the US constitution, which isn't too much, unconstitutional) charges. The subject matter of the book, of course, is the issue - it seems, from reports I've read, to be a boylove tract, written from the perspective of a loved boy. What upset, and, if I'm being honest, outright frightened me about the reactions to what's happened, though, is that this author isn't charged with any sexual crimes, or even subject to any allegations of anything of that kind, he's simply been targeted for having written about a controversial subject. Amongst the comments left by members of the public on a news website where I read about the story, left, presumably, by people who would identify themselves as Christian, are examples hoping that this man, who, let me reiterate, appears to be guilty of nothing beyond writing a book, will be raped in prison, or even subjected to 'street justice', i.e. be lynched. I can't imagine the US has any monopoly on hatred and bigotry, so I'm sure that there are people in this country who would want me to be raped in prison or killed or both, for having had the audacity to express my views on the same subject, and it's not a prospect that I approach with anything less than fear. I don't consider myself to be a coward, but there's only one of me, and I have no doubt that if any of these people had the opportunity to dispense their version of 'street justice' they wouldn't be dispensing it single-handed. Some might say I'm being excessively paranoid, and maybe I am, but having seen the depths to which some people's hatred can descend, I'm certainly going to think twice about what I put in my blog. Which means, of course, that the haters will win, if I'm going to self-censor. Damned if I do, and damned if I don't, or so it seems.

Love & best wishes to all
Sammy B

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

No boys allowed?

Having spent the last week and a half pretty much trapped indoors by ill-health, I've been watching substantially more TV than I normally would, mostly Discovery and History channel documentaries. In the run-up to Christmas, the advertising is pretty much what one might expect, centring on toys, gifts and food. The cast of characters, if one can call it that, within the various adverts, is interesting, though, and an extension of something which seems to have been happening for quite some time. It appears that some decision, whether overt or not I couldn't even guess, has been made that attractive boys are not allowed on screen any more. Even those adverts which have boys amongst the cast seem to be filmed in such a way that they have the absolute minimum of screen time, or ensure that they're obscured in some way or other. The advert which seems to have been the watershed for this phenomenon was one that aired regularly some months ago for, of all things, Whiskas cat food, which featured a screamingly cute 7 or 8 year old blond boy and 'his' almost equally photogenic cat. "I love my cat", and all that, I'm sure the Brits amongst my readership who watch any amount of TV will know which advert I mean. Presumably some faceless wonder has decided that the 'wrong' kind of audience would be attracted to the advert, and thus the product. Another step closer to all kids being locked up for their own protection until they're 18 and deemed to be old enough to suddenly be released into the outside world with no life experience or social skills. If anyone these days grows up well adjusted, it seems to be in spite of rather than because of society's 'values'.

Love & best wishes to all
Sammy B

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Blond angel in our street?

I've seen a boy over the last couple of days within yards of our front door - on his way to school yesterday, and out in the snow, of which we sadly have more (albeit not as much as many other places), this morning - who is pretty close to having the sort of looks I might design for my delectation if some sort of real-life 'Sims' was available. He's about 12 or 13, very nice looking, lovely blond, longish hair, the real deal, as far as I'm concerned. I mentioned him to my daughter earlier, and she seems to know who he might be - she doesn't know him personally, but if it's who she thinks it is, he's a friend of her friend's brother. Purely daydream/eye candy material, but none the worse for that.
I need something to cheer me up, in any case, because my health issues don't seem to want to go away any time soon - I'm almost three-quarters of the way through my course of antibiotics, and only feeling marginally better, not helped by the fact that, if coughing was an Olympic sport, I'd be a cert for the team. I've only been out of the house three times, for a total of about an hour and a half, in the past week, and the fact of having transitioned to my prearranged week's leave hasn't changed anything - I'm still effectively off sick. It's not just me, either - there are apparently a total of six people off at my workplace at the moment, and, here, my wife's down with a similar kind of bug, probably to a slightly greater extent than me, so I'm trying to look after her after a fashion as well. Just remind me how much fun this winter business is, someone?

Love & best wishes to all
Sammy B

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Radio days

Like most people, certainly most people of my vintage, I've spent many an hour listening to the radio over the years. What is probably slightly more unusual is how my choice of radio stations has evolved over the years.
My first radio memories are from the age of around 5 or 6, listening to what was then the BBC Light Programme, which evolved soon after into Radio 1 and Radio 2, which is what my parents listened to. Even at that tender age, I had somewhat offbeat tastes - my favourite 'programme' was the Shipping Forecast! I could quote all the sea areas, in order, before I was 7 (and probably still can, sadly!), I did play around with the tuning dial on the family radiogram whenever I got the chance, and given where we lived, right down in the south east corner of England, we could pick up lots of European stations, but as my linguistic skills didn't stretch beyond English, they unfortunately didn't benefit me much.
The first truly independent steps in my radio listening came when I was 12 or so, when I first had my own bedroom, and my own clock/radio. Most of my peers at school were avid Radio 1 fans, given that was the only official national pop music station, but reception where we lived, down in the bottom of a river valley, wasn't very good, so I scouted around for something else. After a while, I found Radio Northsea International, a pirate station which broadcast in English at night, and Dutch during the day, and began listening virtually every day. Like most offshore, and, at best, dubiously legal, stations of its kind, it didn't last too long, and I listened sadly in summer 1974 (I've just checked that, I hasten to add!) to the last night of their English service.
My next port of call in the radio spectrum, and, once again, hardly a typical choice for a teenager, was the BBC World Service, whose Western European service was easy to pick up at home - it was essentially being broadcast straight over our heads to France, Germany, and so on. I liked the variety of programmes they broadcast, basically a digest of the type of output of the then four BBC national stations. I heard various things I might never have heard otherwise, even musically - I first heard Extreme Noise Terror on the World Service, on a weekly new music programme the legendary John Peel presented - and was certainly better informed on current affairs than just about anyone else I knew.
Another station I listened to, slightly more conventionally for a teenager, certainly the likes of me who had virtually no interest in anything that made the singles charts, was Radio Caroline. Their 'mission statement' at the time was to only play album tracks, and predominantly in the prog/heavy rock genre that I clung to even after punk had started to demolish that particular, rather overblown edifice (but I liked it, and still do, without apology).
For most of my twenties, I was a regular Radio 4 listener. That choice of more or less serious 'talk radio' fitted in with what was probably the most 'intellectual' decade of my life - I discovered, and was regularly reading, the likes of Nabokov, Hesse, Dostoevsky and Icelandic sagas - and, living on my own for nine years, I didn't have to compromise my tastes. Again, it left me extremely well informed, but was hardly much of a chat-up line.
That all changed, hardly surprisingly, when I met my wife in the early 1990's. Radio 4 was 'boring', but I was desperate not to listen to Radio 1, which I hated cordially, given its almost wall-to-wall chart playlist (certainly during the day) at the time. We eventually found a compromise in the shape of Atlantic 252, who were based in the Irish Republic, and had a much more eclectic playlist - I could at least expect to hear a song I liked occasionally! I still listened to Radio 4 when I could get away with it, although my allegiance gradually shifted to BBC Five Live, with its rolling news and sport coverage, in the latter half of the decade, while my wife switched to our local commercial music station, Piccadilly Radio/Key 103, for the most part.
I carried on as I was when we first moved to Cornwall, a mixture of Radio 4 & Five Live, but my wife had to change, although she continued in similar vein, mostly listening to Pirate, the main commercial music station down here.
The final major changes of my radio listening life have happened over the last five years or so, as I've migrated, except in the car, to DAB, mostly Planet Rock, probably the first music radio station I've ever listened to where I like a substantial majority of the output - classic rock from the 1960's onward, it's a no-brainer, really. I have got a Pure Highway in the car, but, doubtless because of the iffy aerial, the reception while driving isn't all that wonderful, and I don't often bother with it. More often than not, I listen to Radio 3 in the car, something I never would've expected to have said a few years ago, as I'd never got into classical music, even as a passing phase. I still draw the line at opera, though!

Love & best wishes to all
Sammy B

Tuesday, 14 December 2010


I had terrible trouble sleeping last night - every time I tried to lay down, I had a coughing fit. I ended by effectively sleeping sitting up, which seemed to be slightly better. Predictably enough, though, it meant that I've been tired all day today, dozing off periodically. I did manage to get to my doctor's appointment on time, though (just!), and I've been prescribed antibiotics. I definitely won't be going back to work tomorrow, beyond that depends on how soon the pills begin to take effect.
There was one good thing about effectively being stuck indoors all day yesterday - I managed to finish my latest story for 'Cuckoos'. It's not perfect, by any means, but I'm happier with it than anything I've written for months. The magnum opus is still stubbornly refusing to emerge, but I'm pleased, after all the false starts lately, to have completed something I'm at least a little bit satisfied with.

Love & best wishes to all
Sammy B

Monday, 13 December 2010

This is going to sound like a cracked record....

....but I'm off sick yet again. This is the fifth time this year, including my long break in April/May - I've never had a year like it. This time a cold I've been struggling with for a few days has settled on my chest, and turned into (I think) a chest infection, so I'll probably need some antibiotics. I can't get a doctor's appointment until tomorrow, so I'll be off for at least another two days. I'm going to get a reputation as a malingerer if I'm not careful.
As a result of my health issues, I've had a pretty quiet weekend, especially yesterday - I spent most of the day laying on the sofa wrapped up in a blanket and feeling lousy. I suppose it could have been worse - hopefully I'll be able to shake off this latest bug before Christmas, if nothing else.

Love & best wishes to all
Sammy B

Saturday, 11 December 2010

A real life boy (nearly), a boy and not a boy

It was my daughter's end of term performance at her stage school this afternoon, and for the first time, they'd produced a pantomime, Singarella (no prizes awarded for guessing what it was based on!). For the first time since the equivalent Saturday last year, I was actually able to go, work having kept me away from the two previous performances. My daughter had asked the boy who she'd gone into town with a few weekends ago if he wanted to come and watch, and he'd said that he did, but wasn't sure if he'd be able to. We still hadn't heard by this morning, but when my daughter rang him just after midday, he said he would come, but needed his dad to come back from some outing to confirm the details. When the phone rang again about half an hour later, my daughter rushed to answer it, but it was immediately apparent from her disappointed tone of voice that it was bad news - he'd been told he had to go on a family visit instead, seemingly. I have to say that I was almost as disappointed as my daughter - the boy would've been sitting in the audience with us, and I was looking forward to what would've been my first substantive conversation with a boy for nearly three years, since we took one of my daughter's primary school friends on a trip for her 10th birthday. I'd be very wary of being in a private situation with a boy of his age (12) - babysitting, for example - because I couldn't guarantee, even to myself, that I could be 100% trustworthy, but in a public scenario like this afternoon would've been, I genuinely enjoy the company of boys, leaving aside any thoughts of carnality. It's a symptom of my 'boy who never grew up' streak, I guess.
One boy who was there this afternoon was the cutie I mentioned (It's all about context) a few weeks ago. He was playing one of the ugly sisters, which was a definite piece of miscasting(!), and to say he gave a committed performance was a distinct understatement - he really threw himself into it, was very good, and very funny. And did I mention he's seriously cute as well! Apart from my daughter, it wouldn't take Holmesian powers of deduction to work out who I spent most of the performance watching!
There was one other cast member I had more than half an eye on, though, playing a kind of Simon Cowell character. Dark, collar length hair, a sweet face, and another 'all-action' performance. Given my intermittent attendance at these productions, I didn't recognise him, so I asked my daughter when we got back home who he was. Just about keeping a straight face, she told me 'he' was called Abby!! Spoofed by a girl! That'll teach me. Very disappointing, she would've made a super-cute boy!
Thank you very much to Billy for becoming my most recent follower. I'll try and make your welcome interest worthwhile.

Love & best wishes to all
Sammy B

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Back to nocturnalism

I'm almost halfway through my first week of night shift since I moved to my new job, and I have to say that at least one thing has stayed consistent in comparison to where I was working before - being on nights tends to bring your non-working life to a standstill. By the time I've got to my brother's, where I'm staying again this week, got some sleep, got up and showered, then had something to eat, it's pretty much time to go back to work again. Not the sort of lifestyle to recommend itself to a wild party animal, I would've thought, although never having been a party animal, even in my far-off youth, I'm working on supposition here.
There's only been one incident of any real note so far this week, and that largely took place in my head. I thought I'd upset someone in blogland who I care a great deal about with a comment I'd left on one of his posts. It turned out that I was mistaken, as evidenced by a lovely message I received yesterday which put my mind at rest and made me feel a lot happier with life.
The chance encounter I mentioned in my last post has given me an idea for a new story for 'Cuckoos', which is taking shape slowly, given my relative lack of free time this week. It might even have a happy ending - stranger things have happened!

Love & best wishes to all
Sammy B

Sunday, 5 December 2010

A face

I've come home for a flying visit, given that I was on early shift this morning and on nights tomorrow. I travelled down from London on the train, and on getting off the train at our local main line station, I was brought up very short. Amongst the 'meeters and greeters' waiting for the substantial crowd of alighting passengers was a family with a couple of boys. I glanced in their direction, as is my wont, only to be thrown back many years in a moment - the younger of the boys, who was around 10 or 11, was the image of 'B', the boy at the centre of the incident I wrote about in 'The dark place' some months ago, as he was at that age. I only saw today's boy for a few seconds, but it was certainly an unexpected and unsettling experience.
Despite the encounter at the station, it's nice to be home, even if it is only for about 22 hours. The last two nights, on my own at the B & B, were a bit downbeat, even if I'm not one of life's most gregarious characters.

Love & best wishes to all
Sammy B

Friday, 3 December 2010

B & B (without the second B)

I started back at work today, after almost 2 weeks off, travelling up early this morning through some very frigid temperatures, although, thankfully, no snow. I mentioned my dislike of snow and ice recently, but that's nothing compared to my outright hatred of driving in such conditions. It all goes back to a big accident I had many years ago after skidding on black ice, an accident that could easily, given a little less luck, have had far more serious consequences. In the event, only the car was written off, but, ever since, I get very jittery when I'm forced to take to the roads in wintry conditions.
Given the prospect of a continuation of the weather that's seemingly thrown the country into panic and chaos - whatever else we Brits can do, we don't, on the whole, seem to deal with winter at all well - I looked around a couple of days ago to see if I could find some suitable accommodation for my first working weekend since I started my new job. I've ended up in a (relatively) cheap B & B about 40 minutes drive from work, not too far from Heathrow Airport - not, on early evidence, right under the flightpath, which is something of a relief. The main attraction of these places is often the breakfast, but I'm not going to find out on this occasion, because I'll be leaving for work at around 6:00 both tomorrow and Sunday, and even if they served breakfast at that sort of time, I wouldn't be in the market to eat it. My digestion usually needs an hour or two after I've got up before it can tolerate anything much in the way of food. At least I'll get an extra hour's sleep each morning than I would've done if I was staying at my brother's, which doubtless would've been my destination had the weather permitted.

Love & best wishes to all
Sammy B