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Saturday, June 28, 2008

Road safety?

There is a perfect illustration of road safety. It took place in 2005, when road markings and signs, as part of psychological traffic calming measures, were removed. In Holland, Germany and Sweden, accidents were decreased by a third and speed fell by an average of 5%.
It was found that instead of relying on the street system for security, drivers were forced to use their reactions! Heavens! What next! It is believed that the lack of clear markings encouraged drivers to slow down and mingle with pedestrians, forcing them to make eye contact with one another.
I've just seen an advert for Nissan's new intelligent, all mode, SUV 4X4-i; an x-trail behemoth. An earth-resource draining, gas-guzzling, forefinger-up to humanitarianism and a product which serves to undermine the owner's intelligence and driving ability to a degree unheard of. Never before have I unfortunately witnessed a vehicle so designed to offer the driver such a false sense of security and a perfect way to send him or her on a downward spiral of complacement.
Yes, this is what the world needs; A DVD watching, loud music fixated, mobile using, GPS obsessed, air-head, amateurishly and unintelligently driving a 3,000 Ib battering ram. This life-destroying tank just encourages selfish, insecure, by probably overweight and misplaced drivers, to forget caution and restraint and that can only be a bad thing. Almost an evil thing. Nissan and the rest of them ought to be ashamed. Let's hope its a fad and that one day, they and other car designers will take themselves out of the boy's playground, grow up and begin to take their job seriously.
I believe designers have got seriously out of hand. ABS with EBFD and CSC, air-bags, side bags, side impact bars etc, etc, etc. Its all too much. Take away the safety measures and let the human brain do what it does best. Self preservation.

Friday, June 27, 2008

The Change

I think I'm going through the change. No, not that one! That one, the hot flushes, the tiredness, the noticing of grey hair and the realisation that there are probably more days behind me than in front, was a walk in the park really...compared to this.
Yes, this manifestation is wholly more insidious and sly. It catches me unawares, as well as smacking me squarely in the face. For this one consists of a number of things that no one taught me to expect. Items such as, unexplainable skin conditions that wax and wan, the temptation to stay in on a Saturday night, the inability to sit through a two hour film at the cinema without wishing the whole thing would hurry up and end so I can go home and make my hot chocolate, the impossibility of taking a cup of tea after six in the evening without peeing all night, an increased sense of right and wrong, warranting an equal amount of grumpiness, a sad sense of futility as established and long-cherished habits fall away, as I realise that I don't need them anymore and an appalling sense of loss as I discover that I no longer want to learn. That last one, coupled with the knowledge that many of the things I once held so high in principle and that were so important, are surely now gone for good. And worse of all, that I do not care that they have gone.
This change sees me delving more intently into the past and revelling (even wallowing) in nostalgia than ever before. It convinces me that even the periods and habits I once had little time for and the places I had no longing to remain at, I now find fascinating and instructional. And therefore enjoyable. I seek them out. Interest in many subjects is waning. I feel as if I am leaving the intellectual world and all its problems and joy behind, hurtling forwards towards a metaphysical and spiritual place which has no name. It is not exactly discomforting but not too strange either as I have the feeling that this is a path well trod before me and also that I have many brothers and sisters that are experiencing the same. I now understand how my grandparents and later, even my parents were able to leave watching an exciting film on television to perhaps make tea. Yes, the entertainment was not deemed that important. To children, things are so important aren't they? I understand now why my father eventually didn't mind so much when his roses died inexplicably, or why mum ceased making a fuss over small issues. It was, the change.
My need to create is diminished. My need to be recognised is on its way out. My organisational ability has increased. My urge to control my destiny has almost vanished. Names are harder to recall. My imagination does not scare me as much as it once did and I pay less attention to it. It, no longer feels the need to be expressed. Which brings its own sort of sadness.
There is a lesser need for communication, a humbling of spirit. I have begun to understand why authors write less as they age. It is not because their creativity ceases. It is because the soul within grows tired. This new change then would explain why I choose to rest, sitting upright in the morning before I stand, why losing weight is extremely hard, why certain foods, once so freely eaten, enjoyed and digested, now have the same effect on me as poison. Or close enough to it as to cause discomfort. And why my medicine cabinet is stocked with so many life-saving goodies! It explains my choice of going to bed early with a good book instead of a bad person, it explains why I like to snooze in the afternoon, how I can chat with the elderly easily, and why I purchase lots of things of which I have no need. I am in a dilemma. I have the facilities of a strong person yet with all the inherent problems of a weak one.Yes, its the change. Hopefully, the final one. But somehow, I don't think that's true. For I have this almost awful feeling that in perhaps twenty years time, I shall be here (God willing) ready to explain away the experiences of the true last and final frontier of my life.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

They are still, my people.

They are still, my people. Perfectly still, if one does not account for the occasional twitch of an eyelid or the sound of a rasping dryness which twitches indiscreetly around their dry lips.
They have a unwieldily detachment. As far away from their youth as one can imagine, these elderly, wheelchair-bound statues whose eyes dry off into the distance, many seeing no detail, but reduced to shadows and the few textures which remain to them.
They are not hungry anymore. They look forward to nothing. And the odours in the still air attest to it. These people, perhaps more than most, live just for the next few moments. Their perspective, if we could ever witness it, would be inexplicable to our earthbound mortal eyes and ears.
Yet, their legs bleed continuously, their weekly perms glow when the summer sunshine strikes them with an unfathomable blueness, their forehead's crease and they cry with anguish at the impossible and the unknowable. It is heart-breaking. And each day I dread going in to work for one reason; ugly news that another has died during the night. It is an impossible job.
The wheelchairs are kept spotlessly clean and oiled. As is their last place of residence. Lined up like some macabre race in the living rooms, they are left, always turned towards the sun. As if that is what they have to look forward to. Their clothes too are boiled spotlessly clean and parched, some to the extent of losing colour. But the few visitors notice details like that. Mother is clean and silent, and therefore content. That is what they notice.
Death reduces us all, it has often been said. But when it catches up, and overcomes, as it will, our feeble and time-limited attempts to keep it at bay, address an expression of thanks to your God that you have friends and family around you; not dry and, to my eyes, still incomprehensible statues.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Doctor Who confidential

This blog is interesting (at least to myself) Well, it would be wouldn't it! Because its tending to give my wallowing brain free-range and we all know what happens when a vacuum exists; Rubbish (mostly) flows in.
So what has visited me this morning? Perhaps as a result of a back and shoulder injury which has troubled me for the last twenty-four hours, the dregs and obliteration have been flowing nicely!
Yes, what has been brought to my attention has been the repeated and everlasting rantings of famous actors and actress' expressing how awful their jobs are sometimes. In particular, how terrible it is that they have to stand around in rain and other hardship conditions whilst earning thousands of pound an hour. That's awful!
And as for the production technicians and crew! Just imagine having to hang about with the wise, the beautiful, the talented and the famous whilst perhaps shooting on an exotic location. Or even a location that they have never visited before? How sad and just downright terrible that these people have to earn considerable amounts of money a day joining with others to conceive and construct a one off, original work of art. It must be damn terrible for them. My heart bleeds.
In my early working life, ending some twenty years ago now, I had ridden a motorbike, over 2,000,000 miles in heavy City of London traffic in all weathers, delivering letters and packages from dawn to dusk and sometimes all night, for what was, in those days, little more than the minimum wage. I have endured blizzards on Dartmoor, one particular night, even sleeping in an exposed old fashioned red telephone box on a west country moor in three foot of snow and nearly dying. I have driven out of my garage at 6 am in the middle of the winter, in an absolute freezing downpour and been soaked to the skin (we called it the icy fingers in the groin) (literally) within five minutes, knowing that I had another fifteen hours to go before I could return. I once fell off my bike whilst at traffic lights because my frozen and weak legs could not hold me up. And all for a minimum wage. Cold, mind-mumbing boring and incredibly dangerous. That was a job to complain about!
It is sad that this has been brought to my attention. But blame Doctor Who confidential on BBC4 who, last night, found the actors bemoaning the fact that they had to stand around in the rain. Yes, and to repeat myself, earning vast sums of money, whilst being looked after by a team of hairdressers, makeup artists, wardrobe personnel and personal runners who have been instructed to fetch anything they need. Damn! That's a hard life!
I've been, 'on set'. On several sets actually, earning around a £100 for a long days work as an extra and I did do a lot of standing around. But I have to admit that those times were the most exciting working times of my life. I watched Jeremy Brett play Sherlock Holmes, I was privileged to be in the last but one episode of "Drop the Dead Donkey", I created computer graphics as far back as 1987 for the film, "murder on the Moon" starring Bridget Nelson (£500 a day) and been in one or two more modern productions. I've felt honoured to be involved in any creativity.
Sour grapes? Of course its bloody sour grapes. And I would not be human if I thought anything less. But its a sense of sadness which drives my words this morning. For, in truth, I cannot be around film sets anymore. I cannot watch them on TV either. I just weep. Uncontrollably. Why? For past wrongs. Lost opportunities. Failed attempts. If you are young, don't let this happen to you. And actors? For Christ's sake; cultivate a little more gratitude.
Gentle Breezes to you.