Hey mums, ditch the mobile and talk to baby instead!

DITCH THAT MOBILE PHONE!

I can’t be the only one who’s noticed what can best be described as a modern ‘phenomenon’, for want of a better word*

*If you do want a better word, I have loads. But they’re stored in a lock-up on an industrial estate outside Neath and I can’t remember what I’ve done with the key.

What’s the phenomenon I’m talking about?

The proliferation (now there’s a much better word. It must have escaped through the bullet hole in the lock-up door. Don’t ask!) of young mums around the streets and shopping centres, wheeling their state-of-the-art strollers/buggies/travel systems.

Push chairs have so many different names these days.

I have my own special name whenever one runs over my foot.

As you might expect, these new mums continually look downwards adoringly, engrossed to the point of complete absorption in the magical, marvellous, new acquisition in front of them.

No. Not their offspring!

Their mobile phones!

No wonder the NHS is strapped for cash.

They must hand out a free phone to every new mother when she leaves hospital.

I’ve lost count of the times I’ve had to walk into the road or duck into a shop doorway to avoid an advancing buggy being haphazardly steered by a young woman resting her arms on the buggy’s handle, as she texts or reads those sent to her, oblivious to other pedestrians.

However, more importantly – and this infuriates me – is that they also seem oblivious to their precious child and more interested in the texts they’re sending to and receiving from friends.

It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to picture these friends in another street or shopping centre, also pushing a buggy and ignoring their toddlers.

Some people say they remember being in their pram, looking up to see their mother’s face.

There’s a generation growing up now who’ll only recall looking up from their ‘advanced travel system’ to see the back of a smart phone.

Time to find a better route to tackling congestion and potholes?

Traffic jams and potholes in our towns and cities at the moment are causing so much stress and frustration that even playing Buddhist meditation music in the car while driving won’t help reduce our blood pressure.

Everywhere we go, we currently face these obstacles on a daily basis – and it doesn’t seem to be improving any day soon.

So what is the answer?

Even if we use public transport, the same challenges are faced.

It’s got to the point that I’m now thinking that ‘by pass roads’ are the answer.

But where does that leave our towns and villages if we are driving around the outside of them?

Local trade would surely suffer.

Congestion and poorly maintained highways are now among the biggest complaints that our local authorities are faced with, yet the solution to the problems are a long way off.

Maybe we need to look at other countries public transport systems and why they work so well?

As for me and the town of Ammanford, the congestion issue is almost grinding the roads into the town to a halt at times and is a huge risk to road safety.

I wonder how the Dalai Lama would deal with this?

Tatty Bye, Doddy!

“Tatty Bye, Doddy! Tatty Bye!”

In a strange quirk of fate, within a matter of days the world said “Goodbye” to two people, both famous in entirely different fields.

Sir Ken Dodd and Professor Stephen Hawking.

Stephen Hawking was an expert on the concept of time, while anyone who’s seen Ken Dodd ‘live’ will know he had absolutely no concept of time!

Ken’s career took him from Liverpool workingmen’s clubs to the London Palladium, where he enjoyed several long runs, starting with his legendary 1965 season when he performed two shows a night, six nights a week – and squeezed in a matinee on Saturdays!

Although famous for his ‘Tickling Stick’; surreal comedy; and the invention of words like ‘Tattyfilarious’ and ‘Plumptiousness’, he took his comedy very seriously.

Around the walls of his study at home in Knotty Ash, were 50,000 books on humour, many written by great philosophers.

He had an unquenchable thirst for knowledge, on a continual quest to crack the secret of what makes us react to hearing a random series of words delivered in a certain order (i.e. a joke) with laughter.

Personally, I think he’d already learned that secret years ago, but he never stopped trying to hone his already impressive comic skills and would keep a record of what jokes worked best in different parts of the country.

Even when he became established as one of our greatest comedians, he never took his success for granted, comparing his occupation with that of a gladiator.

“You buckle on your sword, take on an audience and must win them over in the first 30 seconds. After the “Hello!” gags, come the topicals, followed by the surreal stuff. Eventually, you can say whatever comes into your head”.

He believed that anger, despair and depression are the enemy of jokers and that his job was to dispel those thoughts.

It was a job he did magnificently for 60 years.

And let us not forget Jim Bowen who also died last week.

Jim livened-up Sunday teatime for millions of us.

When he stood outside the pearly gates, did Saint Peter hand him a harp and say, “This is yours, Jim”, then point to a speedboat and say, “But look at what you could have won!”

Love thy neighbour

As a young lad, I was brought up in the days where everybody in the street on which you lived knew everyone else.

I am sure many of you reading this column can remember this time very well, often referred to as “The good old days” by the older generations.

However, times have changed and, unfortunately, there are so many of us today that don’t know who lives on the street, or in some cases, even who lives next door!

Gone are the days when you would pop next door to catch up on the gossip or your neighbour would pop in to share their copy of the South Wales Evening Post when they’d finished it.

My grandmother would always make the effort to check on her neighbours and get to know anyone new who moved into the street.

If she were still around today, they’d nickname her “Google.”

Keeping in touch with those around you was second nature.

This was networking at its best. Human beings are meant to live in tribes and look after each other.

Wouldn’t it be lovely to see this sense of community make a welcome return?

What do you think?

Do we really need these Easter extras?

If we’re angry about something, we can argue about it until we’re blue in the face.

Smurf’s must be permanently cheesed-off.

I get blue-faced angry with retailers who refer to their ‘customers’ while secretly regarding them as ‘cash cows’ to be mercilessly squeezed of every penny.

It’s usually early September when my faced adopts a blue tinge – on the first day I wander into a supermarket and find Halloween-related tat, November 5th fireworks and Christmas cards & wrapping on sale all in the same aisle.

This money-grabbing greediness is the closest retailers can get to stopping customers at the door and demanding they hand over the contents of their wallets & purses before telling them to come back next week with more dosh.

You might think that sounds ridiculous – but last week I read about a new (at least it is to me) product supermarkets have created to part us from our hard-earned.

Easter Trees!

How have we managed to celebrate Easter for hundreds of years without placing a stick of wood with rabbit-shaped baubles hanging from its spindly branches on top of the sideboard?

Waitrose, Tesco and Sainsbury’s are charging around £15 for a two-foot tree – maths geniuses will have calculated that’s £7.50 a foot – while a company called Party Pieces, owned by the Duchess of Cambridge’s parents, is selling Easter Trees for £19.99.

Get behind me in the queue!

But there’s more!

You can now buy carrot-shaped Easter Crackers!

Unlike the Christmas variety, they don’t contain novelties because, according to one retailer who will remain nameless – but not shameless – “It allows purchasers to insert their own little gifts!”

How generous.

A spokesperson for one retailer selling these unnecessary Easter items said “They appeal to people keen on creating new traditions!”.

Hey! I’ve got a new tradition!

It’s called “Let’s not fall for retailers spin and save our money!”

Less fashion, more warmth for me, please

I don’t know about you but over the past couple of weeks I’ve had some trouble warming up.

At this rate I will be digging out the thermal underwear garments which have been hidden away up until now following last winter’s holiday.

On Saturday evening, I couldn’t help but notice that the majority of the punters frequenting Wind Street in Swansea were wearing next to nothing.

Yes – bare legs and flimsy tops and certainly no fur coats.

And the women were just as bad!

Don’t get me wrong, extremely fashion conscious, but zero practicality.

It’s now dawned on me that I’m at an age where comfort and practicality takes precedent over fashion.

Boring to some, I know, but I’d rather be warm and happy than cold and miserable.

Please don’t say that I’m alone on this?

For the record, it must have been cold last weekend.

As I passed my local councillor, I observed he had his hands in his own pockets. Just sayin’ . . .

The Stones are still rolling

When it was announced The Rolling Stones are playing the Principality stadium this summer, no doubt many young music fans greeted the news with an uninterested shrug and an exaggerated yawn – if they could work up enough enthusiasm.

But it’ll be a sell-out and Cardiff’s hotels, bars and restaurants will benefit.

Can you imagine the length of the queues outside the Caroline Street chippies when 74,500 hungry people leave at the end of the concert?

“I think we’ll need another bag of King Edwards from the cellar, luv!”

Taking into account the average age of the Stones and their fans, the concert will probably end around eight-thirty.

Just kidding!

Although Keith Richard’s features are now so craggy and lived-in he actually looks like his passport ‘photo, the fact that the Stones are still going strong and in demand after half a century is astonishing.

When the Stones began in 1962, there were no CDs, mobile phones, iphones, X-Boxes, home computers or downloads.

On Sundays, cinemas didn’t open until four-thirty and, although admission only cost seventeen new pence, as there were no videos or DVDs, you had to wait at least seven years if you wanted to see a particular film again!

In 1962 the UK had just two TV channels – BBC and ITV – which broadcast in black and white and closed down around 11.30pm.

People were expected to go to bed early and be ready for work next day.

No wonder teenagers like ‘Mick’n’Keef’ rebelled, grew their hair and formed R & B groups.

Fifty years later, the Stones are still rolling and when they come to Wales in June, ‘This could be the last time’ fans will get to see if Mick really does ‘Move like Jagger’.

Unfortunately, I won’t be at the concert as I’m having a new shed delivered that day and I’ll need to paint it black.

Oh, get off my cloud!

Use it or lose it…that’s the motto for today

As we get older it’s so important to keep exercising in order to stay fit, flexible and healthy.

I’m sure I am not alone in hearing the snap, crackle and pop when I jump out of bed in the morning.

Unfortunately it’s not my breakfast cereal, it’s my knee joints warming up!

We are told to keep mobile by so many medical professionals on a daily basis, but how many of us manage to fit in some daily exercise?

Use it or lose it is the motto.

Now we can’t argue with that!

Unfortunately, the challenges of today’s daily living, plus the long, dark winter days and poor weather conditions does not help with the motivation needed to wrap up and get out there for some fresh air.

We can clearly see that phones are getting much smarter and thinner.

People, not so much.

Before you ask – I weigh 14st naked.

That’s if the scales in Boots The Chemist is anything to go by.

My case comes up next Monday!

Royal visit gave me plenty to think about

Looking at life and situations from various angles can be a benefit and a curse.

Let me give you an example:

Over the past year or so I have visited friends and relatives at Morriston Hospital and, without doubt, the NHS staff, doctors, surgeons and support workers do a grand job.

However, we are all more than aware that the NHS continues to face cashflow and funding challenges.

Each time I have visited, I overhear many conversations relating to the lack of suitable parking facilities and, most recently, the state of the main entrance windows.

Maybe cashflow prevents the employment of regular window cleaner?

Interesting.

Last week, Morriston Hospital was blessed with the appearance of HRH Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales.

There was much excitement surrounding the visit and photo opportunities for all.

Clearly, to many, Charles’ visit was enthusiastically welcomed.

But my thinking was this:

How difficult was it for him and his huge entourage to find a parking space?

Did they have to drive around for 40 minutes, which is what I had to do a few weeks back?

And . . . wait for it . . . how did the hospital miraculously manage to find the funds needed to clean the hospital windows in readiness for the Royal visit?

They don’t do that when I visit!

My pals over in Dafen, Llanelli, tell me a similar spring clean operation happened over at the Wales Air Ambulance HQ, where flower beds, flagpoles and other assorted decorative items were spruced up in advance of the Prince’s visit.

I wonder if the Prince is really bothered about all the effort that goes into the preparation for his visits. My guess is he might be happier if the charity and health money was better spent on the ‘frontline’ services.

An earth-shattering food crisis

Having just returned from my holidays, I’m feeling relaxed, refreshed and (at least for a short while) I don’t have a care in the world.

Unlike one of my neighbours, who’s been completely bald for years and doesn’t have a hair in the world.

I understand that nothing much happened while I was away – except an earthquake!

It started with a low rumble in Tumble.

They felt its power down the Gower.

A window pane went ‘crack’ in a greenhouse near Clydach.

And a tree began to bend in a garden in Bridgend.

I did consider entering some of my poetry in the Eisteddfod, completing my application in the form of a poem so it would stand out from all the others.

But, ironically, I couldn’t think of a word that rhymes with Eisteddfod.

Joking aside, depending where you were at the time, the earthquake was pretty scary.

Two Carmarthen fellahs, having difficulty keeping vertical after a lunchtime drinking session, were violently knocked back on their feet.

Something else earth-shattering happened while I was on holiday.

KFC ran out of chickens.

Yes, the fast-food chain Kentucky Fried Chicken, which specialises in fried chicken meals, was unable to sell fried chicken meals because they didn’t have any chickens to fry.

Apparently, they had problems with a new delivery firm and, until it was resolved, no chickens could cross the road.

Several newspapers reported that some KFC fans were so distraught they were unable to get their regular fix of eating fried chicken out of a bucket that they called the police!

Wondering exactly what these people thought the police could possibly do about it kept me awake all night.

In fact, I was still awake at seven’o’clock, so drove to my local McDonalds to try one of their new giant burgers for breakfast.

Guess what?

They’d sold out of them the week I was on holiday!