I love it when a plan comes together…

I bet you knew that quote…

I bet you know who says it and can even picture the scene…

Yep! It’s good ol’ Hannibal Smith of The A Team, smoking his cigar and smiling after another victory against the ‘bad guys’!

This weekend I found a re-run of this TV series and thought to myself ‘ah I’ve a few minutes go while away I’ll watch an episode’…yep, you guessed it…I’m totally hooked again!

I love it! Lots of “crash, bang, wallops”, car chases, shoot outs and explosions but there’s no gore, no one gets killed and the good guys always win!

Yes it’s cheesy, yes it’s simplistic, yes it’s not always the best acted and oh boy it’s dated! BUT I love it’s innocence, it’s glee at poking fun at itself and most of all I love it’s pure joy at celebrating the love that we call friendship.

The basis of The A-Team is the absolute rock solid friendship formed between four very different characters but for whom honour, loyalty and trust are fundamental truths at their core. A most simple and obvious example is the way Howling Mad Murdock (I mean come on…who isn’t gonna like a show with a main character called that??!!) drives B.A. Baracus crazy – irritates the pants off him most of the time, they’re always at loggerheads; but their friendship is akin to that of a sibling relationship where actually when push comes to shove they’d lay down themselves for each other without hesitation.

The heroes have their flaws as all people do: Smith is all too often smug, Face can be a bit smarmy, B.A. is cantankerous and Murdock…ahh Murdock is looney tunes! But it’s these imperfections which make us identify with and warm to the A Team all just that little bit more, it makes them more real.

There’s no attempt to place hidden meanings in their interactions, the only misdirection is sometimes to keep us guessing about what action will come next, it’s never to make us worry about their friendship; there’s no hidden agenda in the writing, at least not one that I can see (although I’ve been known to be a bit naively oblivious to undertones in movies and shows in the past according to others, so forgive me if I missed something!) To me, its all about the underdogs winning with the help of wronged heroes who fight for the good whilst cracking jokes, having fun and in spite of everything remaining positive – in other words it’s fun!

The ultimate reason for loving this show though has got to be that opening monologue and the theme tune…genius!!

This takes me back to my childhood and the days of innocent fun…I hope maybe it will bring you small cheer too – enjoy xx

https://youtu.be/_MVonyVSQoM

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When Daddy Fell Into The Pond…

Undoubtedly one of my favourite books as a child was the Ladybird book of Bedtime Rhymes…full of fun little dittys which made me chuckle, wonder and above all else happy.

My favourite was ‘When Daddy Fell Into The Pond” by Alfred Noyes

I defy anyone to read this or have it read to them and not break out into at least a small smile…

For me it gives delight in several ways. Firstly, it depicts so accurately those wintry weekend days when as a child I would be all like ‘there’s NOTHING to do…I’m BORED!!’ (Despite having a mountain of toys and a zillion books which of course at that particular time were just not enough for a 7yr old!) It brings a certain nostalgia as I remember that feeling of ‘oh would something exciting please happen’ and then my parents doing something to break the monotony – never quite as dramatic as falling in a pond but usually more along the lines of saying let’s play a board game, let’s go for a walk & hunt for conkers, or my mum saying let’s bake a cake – yes she did let me lick the bowl out! Happy days…

This brings me to the second reason why I like this poem – It doesn’t say that ‘Daddy’ fell in the pond deliberately and as a child this thought would never have occurred to me but reading it now as an adult I do think it’s certainly something which could be inferred…as parents we do all do daft stuff to keep our children happy…slapstick humour works wonders with kids, I’ve lost count of the number of times I pretended to befall some crazy harmless misfortune for my boys entertainment… so as a child I loved it coz of that childish delight in seeing a parent fall for something silly and as an adult it brings a new twist of knowing that perhaps the joy was deliberately engineered and what a great Daddy this daddy is!

Finally this poem shows the genuine infectiousness of laughter – of how having a giggle, being a good sport (coz let’s face it the Daddy could’ve gone bananas and had a total sense of humour failure but he didn’t) and seeing the brighter side of all things can make the world around us, even just for that moment, a better place.

It brings me to another favourite poem – I’m not quite sure who wrote it as there have been multiple authors attributed in the past, but I first heard of it when I was reading up on Spike Milligan. Whoever did write it they were insightfully spot on about the power of a smile 😁

I leave you with these words and my smile…

Bonkers about Conkers…

I remember when I was very young an Autumn craze was to ‘play conkers’ – we’d string them up and use whatever tricks we could to harden them and then we’d swing our conkers at each other’s to crack and break them apart. On and on it would go until only one remained – oh how the winner would swagger and swank about!!

Now I collect them but, instead of battles, they face a gentler life in a bowl! It’s possibly not as exciting for them but they remind me of a time of innocence and give me pleasure.

What simple things give you happy memories?

Ahhh Autumn, how I love thee…

Bright colours of red, copper and gold glint off trees. The sky is a bright deep blue, the air is getting crisp and the sunlight is clear and somehow brighter, sharper than the glow that envelopes us in the summer (for UK dwellers read caveat: “if you’re lucky that is!”). The smells of Autumn: bonfires and apples, gentle spices like cinnamon and beeswax candles – reassuring aromas that soothe my soul.

It’s my favourite season, I think because it brings back such wonderful childhood memories:

…Walking to school with my sister, scuffling through the piles of leaves and searching for beech masts missed by the squirrels and mice in the fallen husks

…a cup of hot tomato soup steaming in the cold air as we watched the fireworks display on the school field

…harvest festival in the huge school hall and seeing the stage covered in veg, fruit, tins of goodness knows what and then singing favourite hymn ever ‘Autumn Days’.

This wonderful hymn was written by Estelle White, a former nun and music teacher. She believed that you could find beauty in the everyday world and so she penned a song giving thanks to some of the simplest things with the jolliest of tunes.

I sang it to my boys to help them sleep when they were very little and even now many (many) years later if I sing the words “Autumn Days…” one of them will respond back with “when the grass is jewelled” (possibly they’ll roll theirs eyes but hey the point is that they still say it!) and it always makes my heart smile.

So here is a little taste of this hymn for your delight (when listening it helps to try to hear a 200 children singing their hearts out along to this tune full of cheer and goodwill on a crisp golden autumn morning in the school hall… ahhh such very happy Autumn Days!)

https://youtu.be/w9mvrkQbzgc

Thank You Estelle White for showing the beauty in the humblest of things and for my happy memories…

The Need to Know…

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I was watching Yes Prime Minister “The Tangle Web” the other night and it’s early scene ‘The Need to Know’ started me thinking…always a bit dangerous that!!

We live in a world where we seem to need to know everything…and wherever possible we need to know NOW, if you would be so kind, thank you very much.

But this is not a new phenomenon – far from it. The need to know more, to discover the world around us and understand it, is, I feel, a natural part of being human. From the dawn of time we’ve strived to discover new things and make sense of the universe around us. Newton pondered the mysteries of mathematics and science; Columbus explored the world seeking new lands and Attenborough (Sir David totally rocks IMO) continues to unlock the secrets of the natural world for our everlasting appreciation.

I bought an old book at a recent fayre – it’s called “Enquire Within Upon Everything”. It’s the 1893 ‘revised’ 88th edition by Houlston & Sons, Paternoster Square, London and its foreword states,

“Whether you wish to model a flower in wax; to study the rules of etiquette; to serve a relish for breakfast or supper; to plan a dinner for a large party or a small one; to cure a headache; to make a will; to get married; to bury a relative; whatever you may wish to do, make or to enjoy, provided your desire has relation to the necessities of domestic life, I hope you will not fail to ‘Enquire Within’”.

It’s brilliant! A snapshot of the late 19th century in Britain complete with adverts for Chlorodyne (some sort of cough medicine I think?) and Celandine ‘The Certain Cure for Corns’ – how delightful! This font of all knowledge helps me understand the niceties of how to appropriately address ‘persons of rank and distinction’ including royalty, the clergy and judges, as well as how to preserve fruit and vegetables and all the while explaining the ‘peculiar kind of medicine’ that is an enema!  It also includes marvellous sayings such as:

  • Honest loss is preferable to shameful gain
  • The best physicians are Dr Diet, Dr Quiet and Dr Merryman
  • Observation is the best teacher
  • To hope and strive is the way to thrive

Ahhhh, pearls of wisdom…every one of them!

I do so love a good encyclopaedia. I love a good book to pore over, discovering new facts and bits of trivia – I like the process of finding out just as much as the actual finding out. I say to my boys sometimes “look it up” when they ask a question (usually because I don’t know the answer but I’m pretending to be giving best parenting guidance for ‘independent learning’ skills – ssshhhush that’s our secret ok?) but, when I say that, I’m envisaging Encyclopaedia Britannica not Google, Bing or Yahoo…and the thing is, that what would have taken me half an hour patient searching and deducing from a book/s takes them 5 minutes if that! (Homework is definitely easier nowadays.)

And there, in a nutshell, you have it – the wonders of the technological world that we now live in. We are still discovering- we are still needing to know; it’s just that we don’t need as much patience any more before we find out what we need to know…

The beauty of the internet is that we can, with a few taps of our fingertips, find out all sorts of information in seconds. For example, I just typed one simple question into Google before I started writing this blog and knew, less than 2 seconds later that Egbert is considered the first King of England – in another 10 seconds I was enlightened with the knowledge that his dates were 827 – 839 and that good ol’ Egbert was the “first monarch to establish a stable and extensive rule over all of Anglo-Saxon England” and he was the grandad of Alfred the Great – how cool is that?!

We can use the internet to connect with people from all over the world, learn about issues and happenings from different viewpoints…take Twittersphere (oh I know it can be like stepping through a virtual minefield sometimes but generally it’s fun and interesting so I’ll take the rough with the smooth) and our very own WordPress of course…we connect with people we’ve previously never heard of, listen to their stories and share their hopes and dreams too – it can broaden our minds and educate us if we let it…how utterly joyful!

The internet really is an amazing source of knowledge and it’s hard to imagine a time without it; it’s a weird enough concept if you actually lived pre-internet but if you’ve never experienced life without the wonderful www. it’s practically impossible! I would sometime regale my students with the harsh realities of my university days – they would sit mouths gaping, minds agog as I explained to them how I had used books and journals, documentaries, newspapers and, wait for it, even microfiche (ye Gods I’m ancient aren’t I?!) to complete my degree…and here’s the kicker that they never could quite get their heads round…all withOUT the internet  – yep no Google, no Siri, no Wikipedia (hmmm maybe there’s a blessing or two there??), nope just the good old fashioned library.

Of course the downside to the internet is that there is SO much information, with many conflicting stories and so what do we believe to be true? Unchecked and unattributed articles could be correct or they could be leading us down a false trail…how do we know what’s accurate? Sometimes, when I’m surfing the www waves I feel very much like PM Jim Hacker, caught in the headlights of the oncoming Sir Humphrey – trying desperately to follow the thread but ultimately ending up in a mental tangle!

But hey, that’s part of the discovering adventure…and I love it!

I shall now leave you with this clip which first got me pondering…and as we join PM Hacker in bafflement may we all be assured that we can know what we need to know, when we need to know it, but not know when we don’t need to kno…yeah I’ll just stop there and say “enjoy!”