A young lady called Katie Cutler has been in the news this week. She has raised a vast amount of money for Alan Barnes who was attacked a few days ago outside his home in Low Fell. I know Alan very slightly because I used to work in Low Fell and I’ve chatted to him on a couple of occasions, though he probably doesn’t remember me . Alan is a frail gentleman and he wouldn’t have been able to put up even a modicum of defence. It’s a great thing that Katie has done, and isn’t it wonderful that she’s from Greenside? Northumbria Police are appealing for information. Alan Barnes attack
Saturday is generally Mum’s day out and she picks where we go. She announced on Friday evening that her preferred destination for this weekend was Boundary Mills, but then she wondered aloud whether we might encounter trouble there because she’d heard tell of picket lines and strikes.
“I’m not crossing a picket line just to get into a shop.” I couldn’t think of any recent industrial action at Boundary Mills, but Barbour rang bells.
“Do you mean Barbour?”
“Yes Barbour, I knew it was something beginning with a B. When Anne Whitfield came to see me she had on a lovely coat and she said she’d got it in Barbour and I need one the same.” ‘Need,’ you will notice. Not ‘want,’ but ‘need.’
So we went to Barbour in South Sheilds to try and find Mum the coat that she needed to add to the 142 she has already. It’s a bit of a trek to get to South Sheilds but at least it makes a change from always going to Hexham. Not there’s anything wrong with Hexham mind you, it’s a lovely place, it’s just that we go there rather a lot and there is only so much of Marks and Spencer’s I can take. There were a good many Scandinavian tourists in the Barbour Factory Shop, and also some Burnley fans spending money before going to see their team’s Premier League fixture at the Stadium of Light. Mum’s walking is normally hesitant at best, and she likes to punctuate her progress with lots of sound effects, such as, “Ooooh, ahhhh, that hurts, I’ll have to sit down, ouch,” and so on. Put her in a shop selling clothes however and she glides smoothly over the linoleum like Jane Torvill and in blissful silence. We never did find a coat the same as Anne’s, but nevertheless Mum managed to relieve herself of a couple of hundred quid spent on blouses, scarves and hats. We were in there for an hour and a half, and it’s not as if it’s a big shop. Mum tried several things on. Even after knowing me for 54 years she still hasn’t latched on to the fact that when she asks, “How does this look?” I will give whatever reply I think will get me out of the shop the fastest. Barbour
In the meantime Heather was at home having a clear out. She’s wanting to get our bedroom decorated and decided last week that she would begin stripping off the wallpaper. I admire her work ethic and enthusiasm, but I know perfectly well that if she manages to get the paper stripped away successfully the walls will remain bare and depressing for another 8 months. When she stripped the living room a couple of years ago our decorator Ted commented that it was actually more work for him to remove the residue paper than if she had just left it all to him. I’ve managed to persuade her to leave the bedroom alone for the time being, citing the wisdom of getting a “proper man” in to do it all, once we’ve saved up a few more £2 coins in our camper van money-box. We’ve both made a fairly ruthless attack on getting rid of the stuff we don’t need though, and we now have several boxes full of DVD’s, CD’s and books. These are all earmarked for the car boot sale which we will do as soon as the mornings get a bit lighter. We normally go to the one at Blaydon (Swalwell Rugby Club) but we’ve been discussing trying the sale at Hexham, on the avaricious grounds that we might be able to charge more. Neither of us is very enthusiastic, we view car boot sales as a means to an end, but we do generally make a hundred quid or so and rid the house of clutter. The rule is that anything we don’t sell doesn’t come back into the house. If we can’t give it away then it goes to the tip.
Some things will NEVER go to the tip. In the past I’ve used this blog to criticise Heather for filling the house with useless old tat, but I can be just as bad. Whilst pursuing Ebay yesterday I found myself bidding for an Adam West fridge magnet. In case you don’t know who Adam West is, he was the original Batman on the sixties television series, and in my opinion the ONLY Batman worth talking about. I’d been looking to see how much it was to buy the TV box set, can you believe it will set you back £100? I’ve had to make do with a £1.50 fridge magnet instead. I don’t half wish I’d kept (and never played with) all my old Batman and Thunderbird toys. Have you seen how much they sell for now? Enough to buy a Spanish villa. It’s funny how one person’s collection is another person’s tat. For example I collect “William” books by Richmal Crompton. I can’t afford the first editions, but I’ve built up a canny collection of early hardbacks in the £20 to £30 range which I still read from time to time. In this age of film, television and social media, it is still the case that nothing absorbs my attention as much as a book. If William had been a real person he would have made a brilliant Prime Minister, but he would also be 96 this year, rather than the eternal 11-year-old schoolboy I so love. Maybe I’m glad he’s not real.