Happiness is not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort.
Posted: August 31st, 2010 | Author: admin | Filed under: Care, Grandparents | Comments Off
Need some suggestions as to what to buy for Grandparents Day? We have lots of ideas at www.thefutureperfectcompany.com How about:
Lovely handcream by Green People is always going to be a winner. For the keen gardener, consider the Gel-e Trowel by OXO Good Grips or for those who like to entertain, a Winged Corkscrew .
For avid readers, our KTWO Book Journal is a must.
Many Happy Returns 1940s is a box of 24 carefully researched reminiscence cards designed to get old and young talking together about how life used to be – a perfect way to entertain both grandparents and the grandchildren on an afternoon visit.
Or how about one of our signature double handled mugs which are highly original and look good in any kitchen.
Pet lovers may like the KTWO Pet File for storing all that important information which is easily otherwise lost.
Downsizers and second home owners alike will appreciate the KTWO Household Organiser.
£40 and under
Two for grandma. How about a pretty Vintage Floral Shopping Trolley which makes shopping a treat rather than a chore or a stylish Healthy Back Bag which manages to look good whilst protecting back and shoulders and, with its organised pockets, makes the perfect bag for the frequent traveller.
And if you really want to treat grandma and grandpa (or want to give them a big thank you), buy them an Alex lamp. Eco friendly as well as good looking, the Alex lamp (which arrives fully assembled including bulb) is the ultimate floor light especially designed for eyes with 50 or more years reading experience!
Posted: August 31st, 2010 | Author: admin | Filed under: About retirement - Howard Croft | 1 Comment »
I had an Auntie Hilda once, gathered in many years ago, from whose words and actions it was easy to deduce the social values and aspirations of the neighbourhood in which I grew up – “respectable” working class. Her core values were clean net curtains, dipped every spring, and television soaps. She also had a big thing going for caravans – not trailers, but fixed-site jobs preferably located at Scarborough (at a pinch, Withernsea would do). She once spoke highly of a young man who was courting a young woman in the family, and after listing all his personal qualities topped it off by saying, “And he’s got his own caravan”. A high-flyer indeed.
Her devotion to Scarborough above all Yorkshire seaside resorts was single-minded. The East Yorkshire bus company used to offer during the summer months, perhaps still does, Mystery Trips where the destination was unknown to all except the driver; could be the moors, Pickering, York, even - or Scarborough. Every Sunday off she would go, and if the destination turned out to be anywhere other than Scarborough she would be bitterly disappointed and unreasonably critical of the bus company, implying that they had taken her money under false pretences. When I asked once her why she didn’t take a scheduled bus to Scarborough, a sure thing, she looked at me as if I were unhinged and said, “Why, then it wouldn’t be a mystery, now would it?” She was straight out of a Peter Tinniswood novel, related to Uncle Mort.
Now, I don’t have nets and I have never seen the appeal of caravans of any sort, particularly the trailers that clog the roads in the summer and whose owners are insufferably smug in their belief that they are Knights of the Road. Imagine my surprise when Fiona said the other day that she would like us to buy a Winnebago, which is after all only a caravan with an engine that’s allowed to do seventy in Devon. Auntie Hilda could never have imagined such a vehicle, but had they been invented then she would have liked to have one. I felt myself slipping back – just when you think you’re out, they pull you back in. I had terrible visions of rolling onto a Morrison’s car park in Dawlish, spreading out over two bays like to fat guy who always has the seat next to me on ‘planes, and clipping coupons from the Mirror before grabbing a trolley.
I’m not sure where this is will go. I think I’ve parlayed it down to renting one for a week and “seeing how it feels”, but I fear the worst and am praying for rain.
Posted: August 31st, 2010 | Author: admin | Filed under: Grandparents | No Comments »
In the United States National Grandparents Day is a national holiday. In the UK, Grandparents Day is a much more modest affair introduced by charity Age Concern in 1990 but only now gaining currency. And no wonder.
Today’s grandparents are increasingly involved in their families’ daily lives. The changing demographics have produced a new “club sandwich” generation as the increasing numbers of people living into their 80s and 90s means that there are many grandparents caring for older relatives.
More and more grandparents are also looking after their grandchildren on a regular basis as financial constraints mean that both parents have to work.
And increasingly it is to the more financially secure grandparents to whom families are turning for financial help or housing.
The nuclear family model, championed by the post war generation, is disappearing as the extended family, more robust through periods of crisis and deprivation, once more takes hold.
So, let’s hear it for the grandparents on 3 October.
Posted: August 22nd, 2010 | Author: admin | Filed under: About retirement - Howard Croft | No Comments »
Since I retired my life has consisted in part of morose contemplation of the past, especially in the summer months, which I detest. In search of documentary fuel I dug out a file dating back to my time in Africa in the seventies. As you know, I fled Rhodesia in 1976 with military conscription papers fanning my backside - you should have seen my skinny legs go – and I didn’t stop until I reached Nigeria. At that time a move from Rhodesia to Nigeria was incomprehensible to anyone in Rhodesia, and the following letter from Ben Gingell, my boss in Salisbury, sent to me in Nigeria catches the blithe spirit of those whose world was about to collapse. A note of explanation: when I arrived at Heathrow from Salisbury (Harare to be) I was thoroughly probed by officials, suspicious of those flying in from a “rebel colony”.
Ah, my smiling boy! It was extremely civil of you to write a full and comprehensive letter to me, just after you had shambled brokenly off from Salisbury airport building to climb into a ‘plane to Blighty and the London bars.
Yes indeed, the group you saw on the veranda laughing and cheering was indeed Sam and I and other of your friends. The concept of your being stripped to the buff to be examined for diamonds and dope is vivid in our minds.
Maral, your successor, has arrived and has become a great success as publisher. She gathers speed daily and busily bosses up Bill Warke and the Educational Development Unit and Ministry teams with considerable assurance. We hope very much that she will stay longer than her prescribed year. The last time I saw her she was looking sunburned and fit from water-skiing on Lake McIlwaine. We have been able to introduce her to a wide variety of friends so that she has never been lonely since she arrived. Once she masters the art of driving her car she will join the Salisbury social jet set and I have no doubt that we shall have some difficulty in getting the fourteen hours work a day out of her that we expect from our top people.
You must drop me a line in due course and tell me about the pressures of the Nigerian metropolitan life and your successes in the pool halls of Lagos.Sam is most concerned for your welfare feeling, like me, that the crazy West African scene may cause you to flourish over luxuriantly so that you get beyond bounds. No doubt you will be visiting Phillip Kazembe in the near future and that should certainly steady you.
We have now moved into our new offices and warehouse and live in circumstances of agreeable intellectual endeavour. We have established a Board Room bar which would no doubt please you though the Rhodesian Publishers’ sherry with which we celebrated our first meeting was so repulsive that we departed screaming. However, we are asking all future visitors to bring pleasant sherry with them so that we can feel duly accommodated with alcohol and gracious living as we pore over our various problems which are, no doubt, still so familiar to you.
Cheers as ever,
Phillip Kazembe was Professor of Education at Salisbury University, and one of the most successful authors published by the company, Longman Rhodesia. Considering he had a serious drink problem he was inexplicably appointed to a chair at the University of Kano in the north of Nigeria, a predominantly Islamic region. His tenure was short-lived as he used his inaugural lecture, to which he arrived late, drunk, unfavorably compare Nigeria with racist Rhodesia. I was present on this remarkable occasion. He was promptly expelled from Nigeria and returned to Rhodesia where he became a friend of Maral. So good a friend that she invited him to her wedding, a posh do in Salisbury. The ceremony was interrupted when armed police stormed into the church and arrested Kazembe for murder.
These things happen, but not often enough in my opinion
Posted: August 22nd, 2010 | Author: admin | Filed under: Health | 2 Comments »
What would happen if you could turn back the clock and relive the life you led in your 20s or 30s? Tests carried out by Harvard psychologist Ellen Langer in the 1970s, about to be replicated by the BBC in a new television show featuring the likes of Sylvia Syms and Lionel Blair, claim to demonstrate that if old people were allowed to relive their pasts, it could reverse ageing.
In Langer’s study, 16 men in their late 70s and 80s lived for a week as though it were 1959. They listened to reports of the launch of the first US satellite and Castro’s advance into Havana and watched Sergeant Bilko on a black and white TV. In just one week, they showed dramatic improvements in their independence, hearing, memory, dexterity and strength of grip, appetite and general well-being.
People asked to choose in which photo each man appeared younger consistently selected the after shots.
Langer challenges the idea that the limits we assume and impose on ourselves are real. With only subtle shifts in our thinking, in our language, and in our expectations, she believes that we can begin to change the ingrained behaviours that sap health, optimism, and vitality.
Strong stuff but maybe something we should bear in mind before throwing out the G-Plan or the Ercol.
Posted: August 18th, 2010 | Author: admin | Filed under: Miscellaneous | 2 Comments »
One of the biggest gripes I have heard about getting older is finding shoes that not only fit well but are fashionable and stylish.
Here are a few suggestions which have come my way over the past few months:
1. Marks & Spencer Footglove range
These are a firm favourite with many of my friends and family. Comfortable shoes in smart designs at reasonable prices. An everyday shoe. http://www.marksandspencer.com
2. Hotter shoes
Hotter shoes are made by a family company in Lancashire and are all about delivering comfort and style. They are only available online but offer free exchanges if you get the wrong size http://www.hottershoes.com/
Recommended to me by a friend awaiting a foot operation, FitFlops are part of the new wave of footwear promising exercise whilst you walk. FitFlop sandals wearers have apparently also reported relief from plantar fasciitis, heel spurs, chronic back pain, sciatica, osteoarthritis, RLS (restless leg syndrome), scoliosis and degenerative disc disease. I’ve not tried them myself and the sandals maybe too summery for the Autumn but they may be worth checking out if you have problem feet. http://www.fitflop.com/page/home/
4. Wolky shoes
This is a Dutch company (which delivers to the UK) and its shoes are not cheap – but they are by far the most fashionable range of designs I have seen for so-called “comfort” shoes (shouldn’t they all be?!). And their boots look great too. https://secure.wolkyshop.com/
Do you have any other suggestions?
Another suggestion I have received is Josef Seibel shoes which I am told are “stylish – no good for wearing with a floaty summer skirt, but look great with a denum or cord skirt. Soooo comfortable too” http://www.josefseibel.co.uk/
Any more suggestions?
Posted: August 15th, 2010 | Author: admin | Filed under: About retirement - Howard Croft, Miscellaneous | No Comments »
Years ago I was appointed to a job at the Royal Society of Medicine by Dick Hewitt, its Executive Director, shortly before his own retirement and we became friends until his death in his eighties. He was one of the most interesting people I have known, and we often dined together at his club, the Special Forces Club behind Harrods, which he preferred to my own, the Groucho Club in Soho, an establishment too louche, too raffish for his sensibilities. During the later, less mobile years of his life we met at his home in Iffley where I would sometimes find him seated inside the open French windows of his study shooting grey squirrels in his garden with a .22 rifle. I learned from him that while it is not illegal to trap squirrels it is, having done so, against the law to release them again. You are obliged to kill them – trapping is not as sedentary a business as blasting away with rifle, which in any case he obviously enjoyed .
I was reminded of this yesterday when I read that a man had been fined £1500 for trapping a squirrel and drowning it in a water butt. He was prosecuted for cruelty under a law designed to protect domestic animals on the principle that a trapped squirrel is under the care and protection of man and therefore domestic. He was unaware of this, but that is no defence and it doesn’t take the mind of a Nobel laureate to figure out that animals do suffer in the process of drowning, never mind that it has for generations been the method of choice when dealing with an over-abundance of kittens.
The RSPCA I think it was offered the view that the correct way to proceed with trapped vermin is to step along to the vet and have them “put to sleep” at an estimated £70 a pop, advice likely to be heeded only by the hypersensitive and rich. Then, up pipes another animal welfare group declaring that the process of transporting a squirrel to the vet’s clinic would, under the law, also constitute causing suffering because it is stressful. Poisoning is out too, because poison is hard to come by and there is a risk of collateral casualties.
So, it seems that Dick had the right idea, but what are the chances of getting a firearms licence, especially if you are not a veteran of the Special Forces, or if you are a rotton shot come to that? Am I reminding you of Kafka here?
In the immediate post war years (WW2, that is), a period characterised by the rationing of sweets, jam made from turnips and recent familiarity with suffering unimaginable now to a squirrel or his champions, a more robust approach was taken to the verminous American import that was making life miserable, indeed impossible, for our own Squirrel Nutkin, the red. Open season was declared on the grey and anyone presenting himself at a police station with the tail of one would be rewarded with two shillings. The scheme was eventually abandoned, not on any animal welfare grounds but because the more enterprising of us started up squirrel farms for the express purpose of harvesting their tails and claming an easy two bob.
So, if you’ve got a bit of pest control in mind, first consult your lawyer. If you’re a squirrel, you can relax with a box of Quality Street and some cheap fiction.
Posted: August 15th, 2010 | Author: admin | Filed under: Miscellaneous | No Comments »
The news was announced this week that hundreds of community playground schemes in England are being axed or scaled back because of government cuts. Education Secretary Michael Gove has frozen grants to 132 councils for building and running up to 1,300 schemes. Only schemes where construction has already started are to be allowed to proceed.
The £235m Playbuilder scheme was started more than two years ago. Launched under Labour to develop 3,500 playgrounds designed by and for the communities they were to serve, each local council was given cash to build 22 play areas.
Not unsurprisingly, the reaction to this latest round of cuts has been mixed. On the one hand the building of playgrounds might seem like a luxury in these straightened times compared to the preservation of front line services such as the NHS. On the other, those communities who have spent considerable time and effort putting together these schemes are understandably disappointed to see all their hard work go to waste.
And there is also a bigger issue about the value of play to our children. The playgrounds being designed and built under the initiative are a far cry from the cold metal swingsets with concrete bases which were the fashion in the 1970s when I was growing up. These are far more adventurous affairs, designed to tempt our computer -fixated offspring into the fresh air to take healthy exercise, use their imaginations and take risks in a safe environment.
And as anyone in charge of small children knows, playgrounds are great (free) places to entertain and distract children for hours at a time and also for adults and children alike to make friends.
So, not much to object to there unless you think that the schemes planned were too many, too elaborate or too expensive. And that is the crux of the matter. Whilst most people would probably agree that children need places to play, opinions differ as to how much playgrounds should cost and who should pay for them.
The economic crisis is throwing up all kinds of questions about the role of government in our lives, about the return on our taxes and spending priorities. The arguments over playgrounds are just round 1.
Posted: August 8th, 2010 | Author: admin | Filed under: About retirement - Howard Croft | No Comments »
I went to the funeral of a relative yesterday, Jack Fitzpatrick, the husband of my cousin Joan. I took my sister Denise with me; she is three hours older than me, and judging by the tedious frequency with which she refers to them must be the most important three hours of her life. So far.
Funerals are always sad affairs and seldom enjoyable but I must say I enjoyed this one, and in an odd sort of way it was a very happy occasion. There was plenty of grief flying about, obviously, especially when the three chosen pieces of music were played, My Way, Danny Boy, and a country and western song the title of which I didn’t catch (the tin ear again), which was clearly a very powerful emotional trigger. Easily the most moving part of the service was the oration delivered by one of Jack’s daughters Teresa, an heroic tour de force that blended sorrow with fond and humerous recollection that was exactly right.
After the service there was a bit of a do at a smart hotel, and the distress, or its open expression anyway, was left behind and it was as much as anything like a wedding reception, but without the fighting. I suppose a hundred years ago most, if not all, of the relatives would have lived within easy reach of each other and have known each other well; Joan and I, together with our siblings and grandparents, lived in the same street; unlike our parents’ generation, when we grew up there was an inevitable scattering and geographical separation, which while not breaking contact, denied the opportunity for close familiarity to develop. It was interesting to observe – and to be part of – an occasion when people close in blood but remote in every other way reconnected.
I picked up a lot about Jack that I had not known – that he was in the Royal Air Force, for example, where he was personally and single-handedly responsible for the crash-landing of an aircraft, and that he had at one time been a bouncer at a cinema, the very cinema in fact at which I was an enthusiastic ABC Minor, so he may well have chucked me out before he married my cousin. We were obviously a rough lot, needing a bouncer. What I had also not appreciated until I saw the photographs of Jack as a dashing airman, was that he had the benefit of what my mother would have referred to as “matinee idol” good looks. Joan obviously had a good eye. What I did know about him, and what always attracted me to him, was that he had a pawky sense of humour, rather like his father-in-law’s, which was very much to my taste.
Anyway, after a couple of hours or so and a good lunch, the playing cards came out and the whole occasion looked like turning into a whist drive so I took my sister, who tends to get over-excited during a game of whist, away home. It had been a very moving and enjoyable day, rather to my surprise.
Anyway, anyway. that was Jack – may light perpetual shine upon him.
Posted: August 8th, 2010 | Author: admin | Filed under: Miscellaneous | No Comments »
I have just returned from a lovely holiday in Portugal. Ignoring popular notions about carbon footprints, we went by plane. And what a perfunctory, rather miserable experience flying has become.
I remember taking my first flight years ago when it was still exciting and there was a real sense of occasion. People dressed up, food and drink was provided within the ticket price and you were not presumed to be about to do something dastardly with your bottle of water.
Now the combination of cost cutting and ever tighter securiy means you go flightside like a refugee stripped of everything but your wallet, walk miles and miles down harshly lit corridors with bad carpets and join endless queues at seemingly random points hoping they are the right ones. When you get to the plane, leg room is tighter than ever and if you are very unlucky the passenger in front of you will recline onto your knees for the duration of the journey.
The cabin staff do their best to preserve the illusion of glamour with their neat uniforms and full make up but over the years their allure has too been diminished and on this year’s flight their very enthusiastic promotion of the duty free made me wonder whether they too are now paid only by commission.
Maybe next year we will look at overland options. If you factor in the time you spend waiting around at airports, it might even be quicker. Or maybe flying is like childbirth. However awful, however protracted, once it’s over you fortget all about it and before you know it, you are doing it all over again.