Anorak Man - Roland Beaney
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Television - December 2009
Figures were released recently by the TV Licensing Authority to mark the 40th anniversary of the start of colour television and they revealed that there are still 28,000 households in the UK using old black and white TVs. Colour programs started officially on November 15th 1969 with a Petula Clark concert broadcast from the Royal Albert Hall in London, although there had been test transmissions for a while. Soon, Dixon of Dock Green, the Harry Secombe Show and Match of the Day were broadcast in Colour. By the end of 1969, 200,000 colour TV sets were in use across the UK. and in 1976 colour sets began to outnumber black and white. There have been many milestones of television over the years, the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth in 1952 caused a boom in the sale of TVs and the people that had bought a television invited their neighbours in to their houses to watch it with them. The start of commercial TV in 1955 saw the introduction of advertising, the first Satellite broadcast across the Atlantic in 1962, the start of BBC2 in 1964 when there was a power cut in the studio ruining most of the first nights programs and the introduction of video cassette recorders in 1974. It was a few years before they were mass marketed and then video rental shops opened up on almost every high street renting the latest horror movie. The majority of them have closed now. In 1982 Channel 4 was launched and soon after in 1983 breakfast TV started. Back in the early days of TV, daytime programs were very limited, Listen with Mother and a housewife's program were just about the only offering from the BBC. Some people actually watched the test card and listened to the music that came with it. Gradually the daytime hours were increased, mainly with sport at first. Yes, we could watch sport and the test card during the day but very little else. Eventually the start of breakfast TV completed the full day and at last we could watch TV in bed in the mornings. Sky was launched in 1989 with the start of multi channel viewing and Channel 5 in 1997 became the last terrestrial channel when many of us had to have our sets adjusted because the channel used the same frequency as our video recorders. Now we have the start of High Definition services and the big analogue turn off has started as we go all digital. Do you remember your first colour TV set? or you are one of the few people still watching in black and white please let me know. I would love to know if you manage to get your black and white TV repaired when it breaks down. Tell me your memories and send your pictures to-. email@example.com or follow the link on www.woodleynet.co.uk to the anorak man
Spam - November 2009
To most people Spam is a message that we receive mostly by e-mail that tries to trick us into giving out our banking details and some offer us goods of a doubtful standard that we should never buy. Many people don't realise that Spam is a food that has been in production since 1937and amazingly it is still being sold widely today. Making its debut in 1937, what is believed to be the first singing commercial advertising it came out in 1940. More than 100 million pounds of Spam was shipped out to feed allied troops in the war and many people actually ate it for their Christmas dinners. In 1959 the one billionth can of Spam was produced and in 1970 the 2 billionth can was produced when Monty Python's Flying Circus made that famous TV sketch. Since then different varieties have been introduced, with cheese, oven roasted turkey and hot and spicy, garlic and golden honey versions and even Spam burgers. In recent years less fat and less salt varieties have been introduced proving that we are caring for our health but now we have Spam Hot Dogs. Amazingly 7 billion cans of Spam have now been sold. Who would have thought that a product that was produced to feed the poor many years ago would be adapted with modern recipes, to feed the hungry today. So when you delete your next Spam message on your computer, remember that the real Spam is still available to buy in the shops and nothing to do with the messages that we get on our computers. Do you still eat Spam? Please let me know by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org or follow the link to the anorak man on www.woodleynet.co.uk
Blue Houses - November 2009
I received an e-mail recently with the results of yet another poll and this one suggested that if you live in a blue house you've got it made. Apparently people living in houses painted blue are more successful than those living in homes painted any other colour.
The average professional living in a blue-painted house earns an impressive
£38,000 a year and drives an Audi TT to work. He or she takes 27 days annual
leave a year and treats themselves to at least two holidays abroad to exotic
locations such as
The poll, conducted by Sandtex Paints of 3,000 homeowners, reveals that 23 per cent of people in blue houses have already worked their way up to Director level at work. A further 31 per cent are proud to call themselves 'manager' or a job title of similar status. Also most of these professionals have at least three members of staff working beneath them. Blue homeowners will have already achieved two significant promotions to date in their high-flying career. Victoria Jones, spokesperson for Sandtex Paints, said: ''It is incredible to think that the colour of your house could have any bearing on how successful you are in your career or at home.' 'This poll certainly demonstrates that people decorate their houses differently depending on how they are doing in their professional and personal life.''
In contrast, the poll reveals that people living in green houses are the worst off - earning just £13,100 annually. Unfortunately if you are the owner of a green house then you would be a lot less fortunate, only earning about half your blue house colleagues earn and drive a tatty old car and nowhere near the top of your game.
There is a lot more info in the poll but I haven't got the time to pass it on to you as I am off to paint my house, that's if they've got enough blue left on the shelves.
Recycling - October 2009
People also kept their domestic furniture a lot longer then and it was not unusual for families to have second hand furniture and when it got scratched they sanded it it down and repainted it. Food was used up and not wasted and the meat left over from the Sunday joint would have been served with a salad on Monday, not thrown away. Now we see the remains of takeaways thrown away in rubbish bins or even on the street and the remains of your Sunday joint will contaminate your rubbish bin. When people grew out of their clothes they were handed down to their younger brothers and sisters or given away to another family. These "hand me downs" were used again and again until they were completely worn out. Who can remember knitting a jumper and then turning it back into a ball of wool to knit another jumper because the person had grown out of it?
I think we could learn a few lessons on recycling from our parents and grandparents and perhaps we should completely change our attitude to recycling. We throw away fat too much today.
The Boat that Rocked - September 2009
If you missed the film, The Boat that Rocked when it came to the cinemas then you can now see it as Universal pictures have released it on DVD. Richard Curtis, the director takes us back to 1966 when pop music was considered to be a corrupting influence on British youth and mostly restricted to broadcasts by pirate radio ships. The motley crew that spread love, laughter and happiness to its listeners in the 1960's by playing brilliant music could well look like the crew of today! but some of the things they did in the film were never attempted by the crew then or on the real Boat that Rocked today. If you want a good laugh then watch the DVD but don't believe everything you see.
Sadly some of the DJs from those early days of pioneering Radio have recently passed away. Simon Dee died at the age of 74 on Saturday 29th August 2009 after living for many years in Winchester. Born Cyril Nicholas Henty-Dodd in England on 28th July 1935 he tried a number of jobs before meeting up with Caroline founder Ronan O'Rahilly who offered him a job as announcer on the new Radio Caroline, becoming the first voice on the station the following year. His announcement of "This is Caroline on 199, your all day music station", quickly moved to legendary status in radio circles ensuring his name lived on despite only working for the station a short while. He left Caroline the following year and after some success in television with Dee Time for the BBC, a move to the fledgling London Weekend Television proved a disaster and his contract was terminated leading to many years in the wilderness. A memorial service took place for him on Friday 9th October at St Johns Church, St Johns Street, Winchester.
Another Radio Caroline North and South presenter Mike Ahern also died recently at the age of 67. Born in Liverpool in 1942 he worked for a time at the Cavern Club before becoming a DJ for Radio Caroline on the North ship and later the south ship. He went to Australia and when he came back to the UK he worked on various stations including Essex Radio, Piccadilly and Capital Gold. I remember his cheeky personality during his spell with Radio Caroline and I will always remember his catch phrase "Michael A your friendly DJ" Another great loss from those early days of watery wireless from around the shores of the UK.
The legendary Tony Allen died in 2004 and few people will know that the TV personality John Junkin who died in 2006 was also a DJ on Radio Caroline.
We have a meeting four times a year at the Netley Victoria club, Netley Abbey, where we remember the early days of Pirate Radio. Recently, our guest was John Aston who talked to us about his memories on board many of the ships and forts and at the last meeting we had Keith Skues who is still broadcasting to BBC stations in the Eastern Counties.
If you want to join us at the next meeting please e-mail me at email@example.com
Junk - August 2009
Why do we keep so much junk that will probably never get used in our lifetime? We buy something in a car boot sale because we think we've got a bargain and then 5 years later we try to sell it in another car boot sale. Stuff comes into our house and never seems to leave and every now and then we have a clear our but at the end of the day we keep most of it just in case we might need it. Its a problem that many people never seem to be able to solve. Alongside me now is a bookcase full of books that have been there for as long as I can remember including a set of encyclopedias for young people that my father bought me when I was at school. There is a DIY and home maintenance book and a car maintenance book that will never be used, does anyone ever use these instruction manuals now? I have several radios, several spare TVs and an old Hi Fi with speakers that I haven't used in years. In fact I am not sure if it still works. I have boxes full of old cassettes, some cassette recorders and lots of old recorded videos complete with a video recorder, do you remember them? cutting edge technology a few years ago but mostly rubbish now. I doubt that I will ever use them again but I just can't get myself to throw it all away. What happened to all those old cathode ray TVs and computer screens that were all in perfect working order that became redundant when we bought those nice new flat screens? What do you do with all those old souvenirs that you picked up from holidays years ago? Various fluffy toys, including your favourite Teddy bear. Have you ever taken a fluffy toy down the council tip only to bring it home again because you couldn't leave it behind? We've got a pair of Dutch clogs on top of the wardrobe that I bought in Holland 40 years ago, no one ever admires them, in fact no one ever sees them. The whole of the top compartment of a fitted wardrobe is taken up with photographs, hundreds of albums and even some of those old slides complete with a projector. I don't think I will ever use it again, some of the photos were taken when I was a baby and they are a history of my life but no one is interested in them any more, including me. Who wants to see a picture of me when I was a baby? If I look through them it makes me feel old but I will never throw them away. I dare not search the loft, I know it contains countless TV aerials, my old wine and beer making kits and our old Christmas decorations. Think of all the space you would have if you could throw it all away but the last time I did that the space soon got filled up again with more junk. The advantage of clearing out old junk is that I find things I thought I had lost years ago but then the disadvantage is that I throw things away that I need a couple of days later. I think most of us feel very sad when its time to throw something away that has been with us for so long but sometimes it has to be done.
Losing things - July 2009
The Giggles - June 2009
Apparently the British are suffering from a serious sense of humour failure because new research reveals the nation has forgotten how to have a good giggle. According to the dictionary, "giggling is a high-pitched, bubbly way of laughing and is usually suppressed, resulting in short bursts of laughter. A giggle is often considered a very feminine laugh" Giggling is often associated with small children and new findings from Maltesers reveal our giggle ability declines rapidly with age. Children giggle on average 400 times a day, however, close to a third of UK adults havenít giggled in over a week. Its supposed to be good for out health as people who giggle regularly have stronger immune systems, lower blood pressure and are better able to deal with the stresses and strains of everyday life and close to half of Brits think people who giggle more take less days off sick. But itís not just a matter of health. People who giggle are often more creative at work and more than half think people who giggle are more productive at work. According to the research carried out to support the Maltesers campaign for a daily giggle it can give you a career boost and men also find a giggly girl attractive.
Health psychologist, David Moxon, recommends a daily dose of at least 30 giggles to promote optimum health, performance at work and successful relationships. A Maltesers Giggle spokesperson, said: "Research shows that children laugh on average over 400 times a day, however, this declines to an average of just 15 times a day for UK adults." To counteract the nationís giggle gap, Maltesers has launched a campaign for a daily giggle to help UK adults reach the recommended 30 giggles a day." Many people surveyed said giggling makes them feel happy and half feel stress-free after a good dose of the giggles.
Useful tips to get an attack of the giggles- Spend time with other gigglers Ė giggling is very contagious, stop to enjoy light-hearted moments throughout the day. If things are getting you down, try to look for humour in everyday situations, Smile more Ė this can often lead to giggles and will help those around you feel happier and lastly visit friends and family Ė the number one giggle trigger in this study. I'm off to find a fellow giggler now.
Fancy a snooze - May 2009
Handbags - May 2009
Honesty - April 2009
Mobile Internet Radio - April 2009
Wi-Fi has been a big disappointment. At one time it was expected to be the new way of accessing the Internet on the move. Its widely used within the home to connect computers and Wi-Fi Radios to a broadband connection and it has expanded into public places such as airports, shopping centres, hotels and some restaurants but plans to expand it to cover towns and cities have been limited. Now that mobile phones companies are building up their 3G networks, (which is the new mobile broadband) it looks as though this will be the new way to surf the Internet when you are away from your home or office. I've been using a mobile phone 3G dongle on my computer for a few months and even though there are many places where 3G is not available, it is still a lot easier to access the internet from the Mobile phone networks than trying to find a Wi-Fi "Hot Spot" Coverage has been quite good although it can be difficult to set up your e-mail programme and the screen is very small but it was fairly easy to find web pages. One interesting aspect of this is that you can now listen to Internet radio on your mobile phone and you can tune in to your favourite radio station, even your local station can be heard if you are away from home. I tried it in the car and reception was good in areas covered by 3G but in some areas the signal dropped and I had to restart it. Remember you should not try operating a mobile phone while you are driving, get your passenger to operate it for you or stop the car. Using the earphone supplied the stereo sound from the internet was good and you can get an adaptor to connect the phone to a Hi Fi or even your car radio, I used a mini transmitter through the car radio and the sound was surprisingly good. If anyone remembers the pocket transistor radios back in the 1960s then its a bit like having one of those in your pocket again. If you have any questions about Internet radio and how to set it up please write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Boat that Rocked - March 2009
The release of the new Richard Curtis film, The Boat that Rocked, will revive memories of Easter 1964 when Radio Caroline arrived off the UK coast, bringing us all day pop music Radio for the first time and destroying the broadcasting monopoly of the BBC.
I remember it well, I was on my school holidays and getting bored with the few stations that we had at the time. There wasn't much music on the radio and the chart show from the BBC Light programme on Sunday afternoons was our main pop music offering. Workers Playtime, Music While you Work and Listen with Mother were the highlights of the BBCs weekly programming and Radio Luxembourg was the only pop music station broadcasting to the UK but only during the evenings and overnight with a signal that faded badly. I was tuning the dial when I found a very strong signal playing pop music and then a voice said," This is a test transmission for Radio Caroline on 199 your all day music station", it was Simon Dee who later hosted his own TV programme called Dee Time. Little did I know how this would change my life. This was BBC Radio biggest challenge and the beginning of a radio revolution for the UK. Soon many other stations joined them, on boats and forts off the coast. Radio London, Radio City, Radio 390, Radio England, Britain Radio, Caroline North, Radio 270 and Radio Scotland and more. I made my parents take their holidays in Clacton so that I could visit the ships off the Essex coast and I still remember leaning over the side of Radio Caroline's ship talking to Tony Blackburn and Roger Day. This fun went on until August 14th 1967 when the Governments bill to silence all the stations was made law and one by one all the stations closed down except Radio Caroline.
Caroline continues and today broadcasts onSky Digital channel 0199 and around the world on the Internet on www.radiocaroline.co.uk from their land based studio in Kent. They still have a ship which is currently being refurbished and they celebrate their 45th birthday at Easter.
The film is a lightweight comedy based on and inspired by Radio Caroline about a group of guys who started a Radio station on a ship in the North Sea and shows the fun and games they had on board. It should make for an interesting film although the DJs on the movie are more than a little older than the DJs that were broadcasting from the original ship all those years ago. It should also be remembered that there was a lot of self regulation at the time and rather than the impression of chaos on board that the film gives the guys in the 1960s probably suffered more from boredom than drunkenness.
The Anorakman now works for the station and you can read about my exploits on the station by visiting www.woodleynet.co.uk and click on the Radio Caroline link. Did you listen to the pirate stations in the 60s? please write to me with your memories at email@example.com
Packaging - February 2009
Supermarkets now sell just about everything and the place where you once went for your weekly food shopping has now become the place to go to get your eyes tested, buy an insurance policy for your pet, have a meal, buy clothes and buy all your electronic goods. I bought a new set of speakers in a supermarket recently. With the comprehensive setting up and safety instructions I had them up and running in no time but It took ages to remove them all from the, bags, plastic, foam and cardboard. Perhaps they should have also supplied me with a set of instructions explaining how to remove them from all the stuff that they now use to "protect" our purchase. The cables were tied up in knots and with all the sellotape wrapped round them it was very difficult to unravel them from the packaging without damaging the contents. Now I have the task of disposing of all this rubbish without upsetting my local refuse collection officer.
Supermarket cashiers still start to pack my shopping in plastic bags before I've had the time to get my own bags out and then I have to transfer everything over to my own reusable bags. We've had a plastic bag stuck up a tree outside my house for a year now and it could be there for another year at least. We are made to sort all out rubbish, not a nice task but I hear very little about any attempts to reduce the amount of packaging that comes with the goods we buy. The manufacturers claim they use all this packaging because customers demand it but I've never been asked if I want my apples all the same size each with an individual label and laid in a customised polythene tray with a posh label telling me that the package contains apples. I think I know the difference between an apple and a pear and I don't need a label to tell me. Grocers used to cut cheese and slice meat to the thickness and size we wanted before wrapping in a piece of paper but now most of it comes pre-sliced, wrapped in plastic and put in a polythene bag with a printed label. Even biscuits now come in plastic sheets and polythene bags and even snack meals like fish and chips are often packed in polystyrene containers and plastic bags. What happened to the re-usable glass milk bottle? milk now comes in plastic bottles that take up a lot of space in my rubbish bin, why can't milk be sold in glass bottles again and the extra cost could be refunded if we return the bottle for re-use.
Having a moan - January 2009
My wife tells me that I moan too much but when I read the news I can't help moaning as most of it seems to be about problems and gloomy terms like "Global warming" have become one of our most used words in recent years. Now "Credit crunch" is among a number of recession-linked words and phrases which could soon be included in the Collins dictionary. Compilers have included the phrase on their list of "words to watch", which will be monitored to see if they deserve an entry. "Bad bank" and "Ecotarianism" are also words being considered for inclusion due to today's problems. Collins head of content Cormac McKeown said: "We'll be keeping an eye on these rather gloomy expressions." With a bit of luck, most of these will have slipped off the radar this time next year. Hopefully they will. I wonder what happened to all that "acid rain" and those holes in the ionosphere that were reported widely many years ago when every plant or tree that turned yellow in the summer were said to be dying of the effects of man made problems but very little is mentioned about it now.
According to reports the EU now want to ban Plasma TVs, as they are inefficient because they use twice as much power as a traditional TV. Our traditional light bulbs have also been banned and replaced by "energy saving" lamps even though the flickering has been blamed for causing migraines and there is also a problem with the disposal of them. What happened to all the TV and Radio repair shops?, when our old and trusted TV set broke down we gave it "one last chance" by calling in the repair man before taking it down to the rubbish tip. Now, the slightest flicker of the picture and off it goes to be replaced by a posh new one. Because of the credit crunch we are being advised to spend all of our savings and our hard earned cash now earns very little interest in the bank. That means that more repairable goods are being dumped and replaced by new. Once we used to complain about electricity pylons ruining our countryside now those horrific new wind farms are taking over our countryside. I could do with a holiday but now we are all made to feel guilty in case the car or plane damages the atmosphere even though our machines are environmentally cleaner that they have even been. When will we realise that short term, badly thought out remedies will only cause more problems for the future.
Perhaps we all do too much moaning, apparently laughing is good for us, according to researchers for TV channel UK Gold laughing for up to an hour can burn off up to 200 calories and is like a mini workout. I think I need to take my wife's advice and stop moaning and start laughing.
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