Why this progress is really holding us back

I’m going to share something with you that’s been bouncing around in my brain like a ping-pong ball in an empty fish-bowl for several years.

It was never more than a germ of an idea, but after several recent experiences in supermarkets, I had an “Eureka!” moment that helped to clear the fog from my mind and led me to the depressing conclusion that in the 21st Century, the biggest cause of delays, frustrations, stress, fractiousness, headaches, high blood pressure…and people tearing out chunks of their own hair is…progress!

Yes, progress is actually holding us back.

This Epiphany occurred while I was stood at a self-service till in a well-known supermarket.

I’d had enough trouble with these tills before to know they can be very temperamental and that each till is of the opinion that everyone who uses it is a potential idiot and enjoys being proved right – nine times out of 10.

I placed my carrier bag in the bagging area – the begging area being outside the building, conveniently next to the cash machine.

I scanned the first item…a two-litre carton of milk…and the machine barked an order at me so sharply, I dropped it.

I scanned the milk again and this time was told off for doing something else stupid. I still had half-a dozen items yet to scan, so I called over one of the female ‘trouble shooters’ who help people having problems with self-service tills.

She quickly showed me what I was doing wrong, but isn’t the fact that supermarkets employ staff to assist self-service customers rather self-defeating?

And so it was proven, as each and every item I tried to scan caused a problem and each and every time I had to call the lady over to help me.

While I was struggling with my handful of items, I was infuriated to see shoppers who’d been queuing at check-outs with trolleys stacked high with goods, sailing past me and heading for the car park.

As she patiently scanned my last item, the lady admitted they’d had problems with the tills for months, but replacements were on the way.

That cheered me up, until I asked her when this was happening and she said “Next year!”

So, here’s my idea. Every supermarket should scrap self-service tills and open more check-outs ‘manned’ by the ladies previously employed as ‘trouble shooters’.

Now that would be real progress!

Theatre group showed real star quality

Clearly, The Stars Musical Company have again produced a top class production – Rent, The Musical.

I’m not a big fan of musicals, however having attended their recent performance at the Gwyn Hall, Neath, I had the chance to sample the talent that the cast of this local musical company had to offer.

For such a small theatre company to take on an award winning West End production was a big risk and could have ended in tears. But this was not the case, as the audience was fully engaged from the off.

We witnessed some great acting and singing and all this from local home grown talent.

What a great joy it was to see these performers working together and bringing the magic of theatre alive in their own very unique way.

A tremendous amount of effort and hard work must have gone into rehearsals to pull off such a professional and polished performance.

In addition to this, the age of the audience ranged between 16 and 80, which to me is another truly rare achievement. Well done guys!

Let’s cut biker accident toll

As an owner and rider of a motorbike, I was shocked to read this week that statistics for those killed or injured as a result of bike accidents is the highest for seven years.

Motorcyclists accounted for 37% of those killed or seriously injured on our roads, despite making up just 1% of the road traffic.

The total number of those killed, seriously or slightly injured in 2014 was 749.

So who is at fault?

Often car drivers are blamed, but as a seasoned biker I see many riders take unnecessary risks by placing themselves in dangerous positions in which other motorists have no choice other than to take evasive action, which may just avoid a collision on this occasion.

It’s a growing concern that many young motorcyclists invest in high powered machines and the latest clothing, yet they don’t feel the need to back this up with the high level of training that is readily available, at little or no cost.

Personally, I think it is up to us all to look out for each other. Something to think about!.

List ideas just bring that bucket closer

You may not know this, but we’ve got a lot to thank Patty Hill and her sister Mildred for – and Preston Ware Orem and Mrs. R.R. Forman, too.

If they hadn’t been born, just imagine this scenario . . .

It’s your birthday, you have a houseful of friends and relations knocking back the Prosecco and scoffing party goodies like mini-pasties, sandwiches, crisps and vol-au-vents – which is French for vomit-filled tarts.

You even have those little things on sticks. What are they called? Pensioners!

Calm down. It’s an old joke. Move on . . .

Someone dims the lights, a cake complete with lit candles is produced, the cake is cut into slices . . . and then everyone goes home.

The more astute among you will have noticed something important was missing from that cosy picture.

Nobody sang “Happy Birthday To You”.

Fortunately, the four people mentioned in the first paragraph were born, because in 1893 the Hill sisters composed the melody for a song they called “Good Morning To You” and in 1935 new lyrics were penned by Orem and Forman.

Since when, their combined effort “Happy Birthday To You” has been sung at millions of birthday celebrations and it’s still in copyright.

I only mentioned “Happy Birthday” because today, July 22, is my birthday.

I’ll pause a moment while you sing the song to me.

I’m not saying how old I am, but if I had a candle on my cake for every year I’ve been alive, fire alarms would go off for a two-mile radius.

As I get older, birthdays come around quicker every year.

It’s an illusion, of course, fuelled by the fact I lead a very busy life and make the most out of every day.

Maybe time would slow down for me if I lounged around watching reality TV shows featuring Z-list celebrities every night?

Nah! I’d rather not take the chance.

At my age, birthdays are a time for reflection. What have I achieved since the last one? What amazing thing can I do before the next one – if I make it to the next one?

Which brings me to bucket lists . . .

Exciting things people want to achieve before they kick the bucket, like sky-diving…shark-hunting…running with the bulls at Pamplona…and climbing Everest.

Ironically, they don’t realise that every time they engage in one of those dangerous activities, they bring that bucket a little bit closer to their foot!

A typically Welsh welcome

Last weekend, I visited a well known little fishing village, namely Laugharne.

On entering the village I came face to face with a poster of a TV comedian by the name of Omid Djalili, which came as a bit of a surprise.

Apparently Laugharne had a rather successful comedy festival, great stuff!

This beautiful area is probably best known as the former home of Welsh poet, Dylan Thomas.

This is where he created some of his finest work and, with the peaceful, spectacular surroundings and views from his boathouse, it’s very easy to see why he became so inspired to write such timeless classics here.

The locals are extremely warm and friendly, to the point where I’m sure if I had just walked into someone’s home and made myself a cup of tea they would have welcomed it and probably thrown in a Welsh Cake!

The whole place has a warm, friendly feeling that you can only find in a small Welsh village such as this . . . magic!


Are we nearly there yet?

It’s that time of year every parent dreads, the summer car journey with the kids!

I read this week that a report from The Highways Agency said that typically children start to ask “are we nearly there yet” after two hours and 23 minutes. They row after two hours and 37 minutes.

I seem to remember it usually used to start before we’d even left the end of our street, at about 2 minutes and five seconds!

I can remember the very hot summer car journeys, the days of no seat belts, no motorway service stations and a free felt pen when you put £5 worth of petrol in the car!

Barry Island was almost as exciting (and took almost as long to get to) as going abroad.

We were easily pleased back then!

A day on the beach, no sun cream, egg sandwiches with bits of sand in and warm orange squash. Not a McDonald’s in sight.

How times have changed!

Atrocities must stop

It’s been 10 years since the appalling, horrific London bombings of July the 7th 2005. Services and ceremonies were held in St Pauls Cathedral and at the 7/7 memorial in Hyde Park, both very emotional occasions for those involved and those watching on television.

Coincidentally, this sad anniversary occurred just a week or so after the massacre of holidaymakers in Tunisia by someone who possessed the same twisted ideology as the 7/7 bombers.

I’ve long suspected that suicide bombers and gunmen who shoot innocent people indiscriminately, knowing that they too will be shot dead, aren’t the sharpest knives in the cutlery drawer.

Anyone with an iota of intelligence would realise nobody’s entitled to pass through the Pearly Gates to be greeted by 21 virgins because they bombed tube trains and ‘buses, killing law-abiding people.

Good people go to Heaven. Bad people go ‘you know where’.

Terrorists, bombers, fanatics, ‘Lone Wolf’ gunmen and their ilk would do well to remember that.

Despite enjoying the many freedoms and advantages of residing in Great Britain, there are many evil people living amongst us who have a deep-rooted hatred of Western people and their lifestyle and want to do us all harm.

Like many, I find their attitude hard to get to grips with, but we’re told they want us all eliminated because we don’t believe in the same God that they do.

As a child, I was taught at Sunday school that ‘God Is Love’ – which is why I don’t think He would approve of people committing murder as part of their religious beliefs.

For me, these hideous, brutal crimes we now witness on a regular basis are carried out by bad people who hide behind religion.

Anyone who inflicts pain, suffering or takes away life, has an evil condition and has nothing to do with following the ‘Good Book’ – whichever one they relate to. Nobody is born evil.

Although I wouldn’t consider myself to be someone who has a very strong religious belief system, I do have a passion for helping people and supporting those in need.

And unlike terrorists and potential terrorists out there who may be planning more atrocities, I’m in possession of a simple moral code that I share with the majority of good people in this troubled world.

I’m able to tell right from wrong.

If we pull together, keep doing good and refuse to be cowed by terrorism, in the end we will win.

The riddle of always picking the wrong queue

There are two possible queues in the supermarket, why is it the one you decide to go for is always the slowest to move, has the customer in it who has picked the only product in the whole store with no bar code on, or the checkout operator decides to close as soon as you stand there?

Does this only happen to me?

It’s the same at the cash point; I always end up standing behind the person who decides now is a good time to print out and check a monthly statement, check the balance on all four of their accounts and then print out receipts for each transaction!

Then there is that thought that goes through your mind…. shall I change queues?

You battle with this little voice inside your head telling you “NO! You know as soon as you move your queue will start to move, don’t do it”.

So you move queues anyway despite the little voice and yes, your original queue starts moving at the speed of light…..

Please tell me this doesn’t only happen to me?

Enjoying our very own fly past!

What a great turn out for the Carnival and Mardi Gras in my little hometown ‘fishing’ village of Ammanford last weekend!

It was great to see so many people getting together and putting so much effort into turning this day into a spectacular event. This year’s carnival celebrated the local sports clubs and the great work they do in the community.

Years ago, there would have been dozens of floats, which, personally, is something I miss seeing, but I think seeing all the adults and children dressed up and walking through the town all the way to the recreational field was still colourful and engaging.

We were treated to performances from Ammanford Town Silver Band, face painting and a fun fair.

There were 21 clubs from across the area competing in a football tournament.

The queue to the ‘Pick and Mix’ stall stretched as far back as Tycroes!

Unfortunately, Swansea Air Show didn’t extend their flyover due to a rise in fuel costs.

Sensing the disappointment, Dyfed Powys police did make up for this and circled the force’s helicopter twice around the field!

Well worth a flying visit

Well, it looks like this weekend in Swansea, the sky really was the limit!

On 11th & 12th July, the 2015 Wales National Air Show was visible along a five-mile stretch of the most beautiful Swansea coastline from Swansea Bay to Mumbles Head.

Things are looking up!

Not only was there a stunning air display from the Red Arrows, Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, a Typhoon (amongst many others!) there was also a whole host of attractions going on on the ground, too.

In 2013, there were 180,000 visitors to this show. This year, they are expecting many more – and is it any wonder, with ground attractions including trade stands, children’s entertainment, fun fair and plenty of food and drink.

As I’m a bit of an adrenaline junkie, at this rate I might just look at getting my pilot’s licence.

This could all end in tears….