Discover Challenge: Transcript – an Essay from my dad.

I have a very old school Excercise book from my dad who passed away last year at the age of 100 years and 7 months. He lived in Stratford in the East end of London.

Dad exercise book

Dad composition

Dad Compisition

It seems my dad visited a football match played between West Ham United and Burnley with his brother on Good Friday, and he wrote a compositon for school dated 9th November, 1929 when he was 14 years old.

This is what he wrote:

“How I spent Good Friday on the morning of Good Friday

I began the day by getting in the Hot Cross Buns, for our breakfast. All the morning I played a game of cricket, with my brother and some other boys. When it was two ‘o clock my brother and I went to the West Ham football ground, seeing a good game between West Ham and Burnley (resulting) in a win for the Hammers.

West Ham started off, as if to be sure of a ten none victory. A great combination between Earl and Ruffell enabled the last mentioned player to find the net with a great left drive. Immediately after the centre the Hammers gave Burnley a real lesson in football.They passed the ball accurately from man to man, but a mistake on Watson’s part, enabled the right back of Burnley to clear with a fierce drive. It was then Burnley’s turn to attack, and Hufton was kept busy for ten minutes. Before half time Watson, and Ruffell, put in two further goals.

In the next half both goalies were kept busy, Hurfton especially. Yews continually beat both backs only to find no one in the centre. Play was very even, and more than three times did Biel the centre forwards of Burnley, cut through the backs to be foiled by Hufton.Two minutes from the end Gibbins scored through a neat pass by Ruffell.That brought the score to four for West Ham. Soon after, the whistle went for full time.

We went from Upton Park to the Princess Alice, then a short walk from there brought us to the Hats Fair. Both of us enjoyed ourselves immensly on the coconut shies, darts, ringboards and alkl the other things. At half past nine we went home claiming between us two boxes of chocolates, three coconuts and a packet of cigarettes.”

I would mention that I never met my dad’s brother, who would have become my uncle Harry. He died at the age of 21 after falling into a lift shaft where he was working on a repair.

I really treasure this little exercise book. I do not have a lot of memories from dad’s childhood, just a few photos, but his is definitely one of them.

Discover Challenge: Transcript – An Essay from my dad

Discover Challenge: Here and now and everywhere

It all began while we were eating the evening meal outside on the terrace. It was a cold meal, so nothing had to be kept warm: just some ham, salad and cheese, nothing fancy. I was sitting at my usual corner place, making it easier for me to leave the table if necessary. Mr. Swiss was next to me and my son opposite.

Nothing special, just a normal evening. It was a pleasant early evening and then it happened. Something caught my eye in the garden. It was actually on the other side of the garden, but the garden is not an estate and small enough to cross in less than a minute. It is often easy to oversee things in the garden. I did find an ants hill once, actually two ant hills, but that was a quick process. Just some boiling water and the hills disappeared as well as part of the lawn. No big tragedy, it has now fully recovered after half a year. The gardener said the next time all I have to do is sprinkle baking powder, it kills them at once. He was right, the boiling water kills the grass as well.

I am diverging. So there we were having a family conversation and I had one eye on the thing that was moving in the garden. Had it been a butterfly I would probably only  been half looking, but butterflies do not fly in the evening, they sleep. I have never seen a butterfly in flight during the evening, even the bees stop buzzing.

I was half way through my meal, actually we all were, and then I had to go. I stood up and left my seat.

“Where are you going”

“There is something interesting going on between the stalks over there.”

“You need your camera.”

“Of course.”

I suppose Mr. Swiss did find it strange that I had had suspended the biggest, heaviest camera with the macro lens around my neck. I approached the flower bed and sunk slightly to my knees. It was then that Mr. Swiss was rather nervous. It can happen if I sink too low, I have problems in standing up again. 70 year old ladies do not bend down in the garden with a DSLR camera around their necks, but my curiosity was aroused.

I had been watching the action for at least 10 minutes and now I wanted to fix it in my records. For me it was a moment in time, but for the subject of my observations, it was a matter of live or die. You cannot be a spider without a web, otherwise how can you make your lunch parcels in the web. Here is the reason for my meal interruption. There was a garden spider constructing his web. I had been observing his movements from my seat in the garden. A photograph had to be taken. I knew I would regret not savouring this moment if I did not.

Afterwards I returned to the table and finished the meal with a feeling of satisfaction. This was yesterday, today he was still hanging in the web and I was sure he wanted another photo taken, but I really did not want to cause any excitement at meal time – again.

Garden spider 14.09 (2)

Discover Challenge: Here and now and everywhere

Discover Challenge: How I learned to be open minded and to live with it

This is not easy. It is all about I, me and myself and began perhaps 25 or 30 years ago, who knows? I was then 40 years old, in the best years you could say. I did not have more problems than the others and above all I was lucky enough to have no threatening  problems. I had a job, a family, and above all we were all more or less healthy.

I liked to go for walks in the country with the family. One day I had a so-called “dizzy spell”. I mean we all get them from time to time. I did not fall, but felt unsteady. I was also prone to small accidents: tripping on a rug perhaps, or an uneven surface. Once I fell down a complete stairwell, but luckily no breakages, just one of those things. It can happen to all of us, so why worry. The giddy attacks came now and again. At the same time my father had similar problems, diagnosed as Meniére – caused by a disturbance in the inner ear. He was already over 70 years old and these things can happen, probably ran in the family. We could talk about it. The doc gave me tablets as Menière was something that came, disappeared for a while and suddenly returned again with no warning: arriving in surges.

I suppose a main factor was my fall in London on Tower Bridge. I was on holiday for a week visiting my father and went for a walk with a friend in the evening to visit the new Docklands area of London. Little did I know then that out of the blue, with no apparent reason, I would fall. I had the quick reaction of placing my arm beneath my head to break the fall. The only thing that got broken was my arm. My friend took me to the hospital where I remained for two days, after having my broken arm pieced together again.  These things can happen.

Now we must fast forward to about 18 months ago. For some time I had been having problems with walking. I was now a golden oldie, and things no longer work as well as they should in age I told myself. Remarks were also made I should get out more, do more walking, otherwise I would get more rusty as I got older. This was true as I was never a person for keeping fit. I preferred to sit at home with my computer or a book. What annoyed me most of all were the people who said “is there something wrong with you? Do you have walking problems?”. I could no longer walk as well as earlier, but I was no longer fresh and ready to go – it must be old age.

And then it happened. I had a fall, was taking a photo, slipped and could no longer stand up on my own. This was nothing new, it had happened now and again, but with the help of a chair or another object, my husband, I could stand again. This time it was not possible. A taxi was called, I was admitted to the ER at the hospital, no breakages were found, and I was sent home to recover. I visited my doctor. She decided I should visit a neurologist to clarify my various “accidents” and dizziness.

I let things take their course, why not. I had an open mind about these problems. I was now approaching 70 years. After the first scan of my back, my open mindness was becoming a little shattered. A day later the specialist called me, said there were some irregularities and I should also have my head scanned. My open mindness had taken a knock, it was disappearing. When I arrived at the X-ray institute they told me that I should also have a thorax x-ray. I was slowly shutting down. My specialist had already mentioned the word “illness” when talking of my problems. An appointment was made for further examinations at the local hospital responsible for neurological examinations.

Was I ill, was it serious? I decided to make an Internet journey through various channels of my problems and my treatment and discovered two letters “MS” Multiple Sclerosis. Everything pointed in this direction. The confirmation followed after the final examinations at the hospital with various tests and a lumber puncture withdrawing liquid from the brain. My samples were sent all over Switzerland to various laboratories.

How do you react? I did not react. I suspected it myself, it seemed to me that everyone else was reacting.

Walking cane

This is the current result. The cane on the left is the one I use at home, and the flashy cane on the right is for the general public. I mean if you have to have one, then go the whole hog.

In the meanwhile I attend physio therapy once a week to maintain the feelings that I still have in my legs. Funny how you begin to reflect on your past “healthy” life and realise what happened then was probably due to MS. My dizzy spells definitely, part of the “surge” mechanism.  You do not get MS at the age of 70, it is there already, and slips into your body over the years. There is no cure, but you can stablise it by taking medicine. I was summoned last week to my specialist to talk about treatment. The decision was to be my decision, as there will be side effects, but nothing serious. Do I have a choice? Yes I do and do not. I am no longer getting surges for the plain reason that that stage is already gone. The next surge might be a big one, and the prospect of walking with two canes, a zimmer-frame or even a weelchair is becoming a possibility. It seems I am now chronic, but, where there is a will there is a way. I am faced with a choice of taking drugs, or just carrying on until the inevitable happens.

This week-end I will be receiving a large parcel, express post, with ampules of my drug. I am to put them into the fridge. On Tuesday afternoon the nurse will be visiting to show me how to go on the needle, every second day one shot and that is now the story of my future life. I am open minded, can be glad that I can do something to stop this illness that wants to steal my body from me. My problem is walking, otherwise I have been lucky up to now, but no-one really knows what the future might hold, but does anyone?

Discover Challenge: How I learned to be open minded and to live with it

Discover Challenge: Designed for me and the hot weather

I remember a time when we did not have a fridge. During the summer, milk and butter was kept in a bowl of running cold water and we had something called a “safe” in the garden for perishables, although they perished all the same in the warm weather.

The first person to own a fridge was my Aunt Lil, who lived opposite. He and her husband had taken over their complete little house in the East End of London, Bethnal Green. Aunt Lil and Uncle Arthur had no children and so they had more funds at their disposal than the rest of us working class families. It was not our fridge and I could only imagine the advantages of drinking liquids with ice cubes floating in them on the hot Summer days. I remember when Aunt Lil and Uncle Arthur went on their annual two week holiday to the sea in Englan, mum found that was great as we looked after their place when they were away and we could profit from the ice cubes freezing away in their fridge. However, Aunt Lil informed mum that they were defrosting the fridge and it would be switched off whilst they were away, so that was the end of ice cube holidays.

As time went on, and prosperity arrived to the working classes of cockney East London, we bought our own fridge. At last the days of ice cubed drinks had arrived. However, it was all in the first development stages, and the ice box was small, made of metal and you had to submerge it into water to be able to remove the mini ice blocks, nothing special.

Today we all have a fridge, even a freezer and not just a small compartment in the main fridge. The unfrozen days have gone, we all get frozen with our cold drinks in Summer. And then this was invented.


Nothing special just a plastic bag, but what a super plastic bag. The inventors had thought of everything. Even if I had designed it myself, it could not have been better. The only small problem is filling the bag with water, but practice makes perfect. You can buy this plastic bags in packs of  many and at the top there is a the entrance to fill it with water from the tap. Gradually you notice the bag filling and the water enters various cube shaped compartments. Afterwards you tie a knot at the top of the bag to stop the water draining away. There is even a choice. Some bags have round shapes, and some even small, decorative small forms: perhaps stars, little pyramids or mini squares. You can make your choice. The heavy metal boxes filled with water for a maximum of 10 ice cubes were now a thing of the past,although I believe we still have one in our cellar somewhere.

Not only this, but the square segments are lightly perforated. This means that after filling with water and freezing, you can give a tug at the bag, releasing the weak seams at the sides of the cubes and voilà you have a bag of loose ice cubes ready for the drink – see photo on the lefthand side. The days of sneaking into Aunt Lil’s home for an ice cube are gone, although Aunt Lil would turn off the fridge when she was away, probably to save on the electricity bill. We now have bags of ice cubes or other such shapes in our freezer.

The only problem today is to remember to fill up a new bag when you have finished the old one. Plain and simple, but who needs expensive inventions when you can do it all with a suitably perforated ice cube bag.

Discover Challenge: Designed for me and the hot weather

Discover Challenge: The Poetry of List Making

Hibiscus 18.08 (1)
The idea of your list is like a bud, the promise of a flower that will unfold and fulfil you with your desires.

Give it nourishment, ideas, design it with care.
Do not forget to begin with a capital letter to show its importance.
Use some descriptions
There is no point in just writing meat, but perhaps neck of pork, beef loin or chicken breast; use your imagination. Perhaps you want to embellish it with some vegetable. Add cabbage, carrots, leek and even tomatoes, this is a composition of taste.
But perhaps it is something more important than food, more important than food?

Deposit, withdrawal, pay your debt – it is all to do with the financial situation. Your list is becoming a source of necessity, survival. Write the details of how much you owe to those that sent the demand for payment. Tick off everything on your list, be sure nothing is forgotton, this is a matter of holding up your head high and being honest.
Remember the appointment with the doctor, the therapist, the hairdresser, and the gardener. Above all do not forget your computer, it is waiting.

The fulfilment of meeting the requirements of the weekly, daily, hourly challenges. Hourly? not yet, but be prepared, your list must include everything.

And do not forget Aunt Mabel’s birthday, Uncle Sam and Aunt Mildred’s wedding anniversary – did you organise to buy the cards to be sent.
Great Uncle Montgomery died last week, it was expected. Did you send your condolences, have you remembered when the funeral will be. Never forget a funeral, one day it might be yours, and if you do not arrive at your own funeral, well that would really be a catastrophe.

Put everything on your list. But a list is not a list if you do not read it, or forget it. Add to your list: make it sing, make it sound, make it vibrate.
On your mobile telephone with a marked sound, adding vibrations and put the mobile telephone in your pocket. You will have no regrets.

Lists are a part of your life, part of your anatomy, an extension of your brain power and then they will bear a flower.

Hibiscus 19.08 (3)

Beware, everything has restrictions. They will wilt and die if they are ignored and forgotten. They need nurtering, fertiliser and care. Always have your list with you, otherwise this will be the result.

Hibiscus 19.08 (1)

Discover Challenge: The Poetry of List Making

Discover Challenge – The Story behind the door – but where is the key?

Wangen an der Aare

“Is that it?”

“Yes, the one and only.”

“And we can have it?”

“Of course, no problem.”

“How do we get in?

“With a key of course, you can see the lock, very sturdy.”

“And you have the key?”

“Of course, well not quite, but almost. It’s like this. The guy said I get the key as soon as he gets it from his grandfather.”

“His grandfather. So when will that be?”

“He told me that he will have to find the grandfather first of all, but no problem. He said he cannot be far away, just behind the church in the next village.”

“You mean down the road and over the hill where that ruined church is.”

“Yes. that’s the one. The guy said to meet him there this evening for the key, no problem. All we have to do is clean the key up a bit because it is an old key. It has not been used for a few years.”

“Are you sure this is OK, sounds a bit funny to me.”

“It’s cheap, only a few quid a month  and it’s all ours. So let’s go.”


“Here we are.”

“Are you sure, looks a bit strange to me, in the middle of the graveyard.”

“No problem, look there is the guy. Do you have the key.”

“Business first if you don’t mind. You want this room for your band rehearsal. What’s the name of your group?”

“Black future – you know we are a goth group, all dressed in black, black lips and white faces, with a few smudges of red just to make it more serious. See, I have my spiky necklace around my neck with genuine steel studs. We are quite successful, but have had some trouble with practice rooms. People don’t like the idea of us parking our hearse outside the rehearsal rooms and wearing cloaks. Our pet spider, Charlie, also scares some people, they don’t like tarantulas. That’s why your room would be ideal, nice thick door, a good lock on it and sound proofed. A lot of people don’t like loud music, think it’s the drums that put them off and the spider of course. Hope it won’t be a problem.”

“No, I am sure grandad will love it all. Only problem is that grandad forgot to give me the key before he went.”

“Where is he?”

“No problem, just down the path between the graves and he will be there. It’s the stone on the right with the crow sitting on it, beneath the oak tree, the one that got struck by lightening. the trunk got split.”

“And the key?”

“You two look like two strong lads. Just take a shovel each and start digging.”

“Do what?”

“Yeah, like grandad went quickly, a heart attack, or was it a stake through the heart,  and he was gone. We forgot about the key and he has it in his best Sunday jacket pocket.”

“We need a shovel?”

“It was his best jacket, and he got buried in it. It rained yesterday so the earth will be nice and soft. I am sure grandad would be happy, god bless his soul (or anything else that might bless it) to know that his favourite room would be in the hands of such a worthy group of musicians. He loved goth music and everything that went with it.

Just a minute, where are you both off to?

Well they disappeared quickly. Shame really that they didn’t stay. If they only knew the surprise behind that door when they had the key. Grandad loved surprises and he would be so happy that his favourite room would be used again. He spent many a day there sleeping in his favourite coffin.”

Hello grandad, I thought you would be comfy in your new grave?”

“I was until there was all that noise around. It is a full moon night, so thought I would take a walk. So did you cut the deal.”

“I was just about to, but they got scared when I told them  that you still had the key.”

“I thought they were Goths.”

“They are, but still alive.”

“The modern youth, no courage. I suppose you can’t have everything.”

Discover Challenge: The Story Behind the Door but where is the key

Discover Challenge: Analog is not my thing

World of Information 25.05.2016 Exhibition 10010ENTER0101 (25)

The good old days of analog when  a radio was a radio, athough these radios are almost the predecessor of analog, but I remember them more or less. My first confrontation with switches to turn and find the station you wanted to listed to. The local BBC stations were ok, because the transmitter, or whatever, was in your country. The problem came when you wanted to listen to something with a different flavour. Radio Luxembourg was well known for its music and I know my dad also like Radio Hilversum, whereas I do not think he actually knew that it was a town somewhere in the Netherlands. He would twist and turn the switches, the index would show the co-ordinate of the station, but it would be more snap, crackle and pop than a song or a voice. It was more luck than judgement if you found what you was looking for, and you want me to say analog was great.


And now Analog is a dying fact, because we have iPads, and computers. I can download an app for the station I want to listen to, in this case a Canadian programme Jazz24. I can listen with no intereference,  so do not tell me I would be happier with analog.

On the other hand I cannot knit a pullover with a digital application. I have to buy the wool, choose a pattern and spend time on my creation. I would knit for my kids, but they are no longer kids, and did they actually ask me to knit for them. If I had taken them to a shop and they had chosen the pullover they wanted, they would have been just as happy and probably it would have been cheaper when comparing the work I had invested and the cost of the wool.

If digital photography had not been developed, I do not know if I would have such interest in photography. In the analog photography days for the average person, a camera was something you had to take photos of the holiday, or family members and their celebrations. Often they might be blurred, a splodge of light was covering the smile on aunt Joan’s face and there was no chance to discover the creative side of photography. Now I am talking about the average person and not those that wanted to turn photography into a hobby, a fascination for developing and desigining.

If photography had stayed analogue, I, as a simple person, would never have discovered the possibilities of becoming creative. My husband had a digital camera and I never really showed any interest, until he gave it to me because a newer model was on the market. After a week I was shooting photos constantly. I put them online, sorted them in files on my computer, I became a digital photographer. I took photos of objects, insects, flowers, buildings. I do not think I would ever have got near to the idea of photography had it stayed analog. It opened a new realm for my creativity. I also discovered digital blogging and could combine my photos with my writing.

I admire the great classsic writiers who sat by candlelight, or later by an electric light, and wrote pages by hand, later a typewriter, reading through them and correcting by hand, altering, changing the contents and eventually submitting their words to a publisher. Charles Dickens and Edgar Allen Poe and the rest had achieved their goal analog. I am not a great writer, my efforts are mainly blogs, but I can complete it all digitally on a computer. The computer will even correct my mistakes, if I ask it to, which I actually do not. Patience is still required to complete a book, but instead of a few years, you can do it in a year.

Perhaps there is still some analog left in my digital body, who knows. I do not have sentimental thoughts about being analog, and I am happy and contented to do it all on a computer. My brain is still my own brain and tells me what to do. It does not bother whether I am analog or digital, it just reacts.

Some time ago I was a little shocked. I had to write an amendment to a testament and this had to be done by hand. I began, made a mistake, had to throw the page in the garbage and began again. This was reapeated through 20 pages and I realised I was no longer able  to write more than two sentences. I made mistakes, my hands were not writing what I wanted them to write. I was now a digital person and no longer analog. In the meanwhile I have been diagnosed with MS, no big problem, but things I would blame onto “getting old”, or accidents I had from time to time, now have another reason, another cause. My analog life is no longer of use to me, but my digital life compensates in many ways and without my computer I would not be able to live my life to the full.

Even electronic books, my Kindle, is something I could no longer be without. Save your sentimental feelings about the touch and smell of a book and the paper, that does not help me. A book that I can upload and read without having to turn pages or hold in my hands is of no use when it tires me. There are many advantages and disadvantages on both sides, but I no longer am homesick for the analog way of life.

Discover Challenge: Analog is not my thing