Rockin’ Our Lives Away

A group of 1950s-style rock’n’roll and Roots Music fans meet up in central London once a month for a drink and a meal out, and for the occasional outing and gig. Some of us have been on trips to the USA together, visiting venues and places of interest associated with the music we love, most of which comes from the Southern States aka ‘Dixie’.

We had a meet-up and meal last Friday. Most of us are around the same age, mid-60s, some a bit older, some younger. A remark was made that we probably had another 10 years of active life ahead of us if we were lucky.

As we get older, and see others get older (my mother is 95), we naturally get to thinking about what happens when we slow down, perhaps get more forgetful and/or decrepit, and if we are on our own, who will take care of us.

While rock’n’roll tends to keep us young, we know we cannot bop around like teenagers for ever, but we’ll have a damn good try. Many of us are now single, having either never had partners or they have died. So unless we strike lucky and find a younger person to look after us, if we do get incapable of looking after ourselves properly we’ll probably be relying on carers or care homes of some sort.

Wouldn’t it be a great idea if some of us on our own could live in close proximity to each other, a Rockers’ Retirement Home or something, with our kind of music and DVDs playing in the communal lounge, and carers to look after us?

Impractical I know, but at least we should keep in touch and continue our monthly meet-ups, etc.  Picture the scene: 2045 or thereabouts, a group of centenarians are celebrating another of their number reaching 100 with an email from the President of the United States of Europe and a big party in a pub. Walking sticks and Zimmer frames clatter to the floor as the golden oldies jump to their feet to the sound of good old rock’n’roll. Wheelchairs spin round the dance floor dangerously as the oldest teenagers in the country have a ball.

At the end of the evening, they make their way outside, strap on their anti-gravity belts and zoom off home. (The wheelchairs and Zimmer frames incorporating their own anti-gravity propulsion systems of course.)

Ten years? No, another 30 or 40 years of rockin’ ‘n’ boppin’ if we are lucky!

Gold and Silver Players – pix

 

CLICK ON PICTURES TO ENLARGE THEM!

‘CINDERELLA’

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Ugly Sisters (Eddie and Tony)

Dandini and Wicked Stepmother (Anne and Dot – Tony’s mum)

Footman, Prince Charming, Dandini, Wicked Stepmother (Sharma, Maureen, Anne, Dot)

Cinderella and Fairy Godmother (Elvina and Modupe)

Baron Hardup and Buttons (Hilda and Carmen)

Prince Charming (Maureen)

‘COYOTE STEALS THE FIRE’

Tree Spirit and Fire Spirit (Carmen and Tony)

Conservative Cooperatives?

David Cameron and others in the Conservative Party have recently been promoting the idea of cooperatives. Does this mean, while New Labour have been converted lock, stock and barrel to unbridled privatization and capitalism, the New Tories are being converted to Marxism?

Unlikely in the extreme, but perfectly possible they are desperately trying to gather some votes from the more leftwing section of the electorate.

However we should not dismiss these ideas just because it may be a vote-catching exercise, or because they come from the Tory Party. We should, however, be wary as some ‘cooperatives’ seem to be just a way of the State, local or other public authorities abdicating their responsibilities.

Examples of this are when pressure is put on council tenants or parents of State schools to form housing or education ‘cooperatives’. It is the responsibility of councils to provide social housing and maintain it, and it is the responsibility of the public education authorities to provide good schooling for all children. In most cases tenants and parents of children simply do not have the expertise to maintain social housing or provide good education. If a group of people do have the necessary expertise and wish to start a housing or education cooperative, then certainly they should do so, but nobody should feel pressurized.

Generally speaking, however, cooperatives of various kinds are in my view a very good concept. Profits remain with the workers and/or the consumers, and this makes them dynamic organizations with a direct incentive to be productive and maintain a high quality of goods or services.

Worker and consumer cooperatives have been successful all over the world, not least in former Yugoslavia. They retain the competitive element of the capitalist market place without the cut-throat drive towards bankruptcies and take-overs, and of course profits remain with the workers in the cooperative or are passed back to the consumers, rather than end up in faceless shareholders pockets who are simply gambling on the stock exchange.

We also, of course, have to be careful to insure that the cooperatives are genuine, and not just a traditional capitalist enterprise with a minor profit-sharing scheme. All the profits have to be redistributed to the workforce, the consumers or plowed back into the enterprise for it to be a genuine cooperative.

The John Lewis Partnership (including Waitrose supermarkets) is a cooperative, as are many building societies, usually referred to as ‘mutuals’. Also in the UK we have the Cooperative chain of stores, of which Somerfield is now a part. The Coop also provides banking, insurance, travel and funeral services. The retail wing went into decline in certain areas, and almost disappeared in London for decades, but has been reorganized and is now enjoying a revival with new stores opening all over the capital.

Cooperatives not only insure that their workers and consumers get a fair deal by eliminating the syphoning off of profits to gamblers on the stock exchange who contribute nothing useful to the enterprise, but they often have high ethical policies which consider the environment and the conditions under which their goods or services are produced. This means that goods on sale in Cooperatives are not necessarily as cheap or cheaper than those on sale in some other retail outlets who may use foreign sweatshops to produce goods for sale. I would rather pay a bit more knowing workers are not being exploited, and that any profits will come back to me as a consumer than boost the profits of a company floated on the stock exchange and using highly exploited labor abroad.

Genuine cooperative enterprises, whether promoted by Labour, Conservative or any other party or group, are to be encouraged. With other forms of publicly owned enterprise, such as nationalized industries and smaller scale forms of common ownership (the old London Transport being one example),  a dynamic Socialist Market Place can develop with friendly competition driving production and quality upwards without exploiting either workers or consumers. The competitive element of capitalism without the exploitation, bankruptcies and takeovers which make that system so unstable and leads to constant financial crises, cut-backs and  unemployment, then often resorting to arms production and promoting new wars to boost the economy at taxpayers’ expense and grab more resources abroad for exploitation.

Cooperatives, hand-in-hand with other publicly owned enterprises, represent the efficient, ethical and progressive way forward to a fairer Socialist society in the 21st Century. If they are genuine cooperatives, then they should be encouraged, no matter who promotes them.

But please don’t ask me to join a cooperative to mend all the things that might go wrong with my council block, to educate children in my area, or to diagnose illnesses and perform operations. Housing, education and medical services are usually best provided by the publicly owned organizations who have the necessary expertise to provide these services.

Old Age/New Age Philosophy

Towards the end of next month I will hit 65, which in Britain at present for men is when we are eligible to collect our State pension. They are, of course, trying to raise it so that we all slog our guts out and drop dead at work before having a chance to retire or collect our pension. This in itself is a very short-sighted policy, and a completely false economy when millions of younger people with families are unemployed and living on State benefits. Why employ people over 65 or over 70 who will probably by then be on higher salaries than much younger people, and who must surely get less efficient as the infirmities of old age creep in? I retired at 62, but already I was very deaf and couldn’t hear visitors on Reception very well. Nor was I familiar with modern technology, so when a visitor complained of leaving his Blackberry in Reception I started looking for a basket of the fruit!

But I digress from what I intended to be the main point of this blog: that our perspectives and priorities in life tend to change as we grow older.

In my youth I was very active in the peace movement and in leftwing politics. I went on loads of demonstrations, got myself arrested several times, and thru the Labour and Communist parties thought I could help to change the world for the better.

The realization that this was probably impossible came very gradually. Disillusionment with one’s lifetime ideals are not easy to accept, but I finally had to admit that Communism was a rather utopian dream and that the 20th Century experiments with the first stage of Socialism, while they achieved a great deal, were seriously marred by corruption. The system became distorted when a new privileged ruling class manipulated it for their own benefit, and turned what was meant to be the Dictatorship of the Proletariat into a Dictatorship of the Bureaucracy which was very difficult to reform.

I still think they should have tried harder after the events of 1989/91 instead of abandoning Socialism altogether; a multi-party form of Socialism with rival candidates/Socialist parties competing in elections would have been a logical solution. Expecting the masses to govern themselves directly thru a one-party system or one-party led coalition was hopelessly optimistic and gave opportunists, careerists, criminal elements and corrupt politicians a field day – a ready-made dictatorship to grab control of so that Socialism would provide the basic necessities for the masses, but with great privileges and perks reserved for the new ruling class in control.

So disillusioned with traditional Marxism-Leninism as the way to a new utopia, I searched for new ideas. I still retained my belief in the peace movement and the usefulness of campaigning and demonstrations. It seemed thru the nuclear disarmament movement we had achieved much: a Test Ban Treaty, the scrapping of Cruise missiles, probably the extreme reluctance of politicians/the military to use nuclear weapons in any wars since the end of the Second World War. We stirred up public opinion and made people aware of the disastrous consequences of testing nuclear weapons in the atmosphere or even underground, and the even more disastrous consequences were they ever used. Chernobyl and Three Mile Island just emphasized the dangers from radiation alone.

The moment of disilusion, however, came with the 2003 London march against a second war on Iraq just before it was, in fact, launched to topple the regime of Saddam Hussein and grab his oil supplies. (Other dictators were, of course, left in place either because they had no oil, or were already letting the West exploit their supplies, as with the Saudi Arabian feudal dictatorship.)

It is estimated that this was the biggest protest march ever held in the UK, with about two milion people on the demonstration. Even the lower estimates topped a million. Yet Tony Blair’s government completely ignored this mass turnout of people on the streets, and acted as the faithful U.S. poodle/puppet he was by not only endorsing the Bush administration’s second war on Iraq, but sending British troops. At least Harold Wilson, whilst verbally supporting America’s immoral and foolhardy war in Vietnam, never committed British troops there. But, Blair probably thought, look what happened to Wilson – apparently forced to resign.

So disillusioned with the effectiveness of political parties or demonstrations as a means of change, I am in my 60s now at a loss to know how we create a better world. The British Labour Party is no longer even committed by its Constitution to Socialism, and the old Communist Party has split into many splinter groups, none of which seem to have analyzed what went wrong with the 20th Century experiments and learnt the appropriate lessons.

There is therefore really no political party I feel I can vote for, or at least none that stands a chance of forming/joining a government under our extremely unfair electoral system. Voting for the Green Party candidate seems a very weak and pointless exercise when they stand no chance whatsoever of forming a government or even joining a coalition. At least not until we have electoral reform in this country.

As is natural when we get older, our thoughts tend to turn to mortality and contemplating the end of our lives and that of our elders and contemporaries. This was brought home to me at a relatively early age when my life-partner died – he was 48 and I was 46. But I’d had experienced deaths of people close to me at a much earlier age. Apart from my grandparents and various friends and relations who were much older than me, a girl I was fond of died aged about 13 of Asian flu and my best friend, Michael, was killed in a road accident and died in hospital on my 15th birthday, he was only 14 still. So our mortality has always been very real to me.

However in my 60s, and since my partner died, I have been increasingly conscious of and interested in the question of survival and the afterlife. Now many will regard this as trading my Socialist and anti-militarist beliefs for ‘pie in the sky when we die’. I have come to believe, however, that the evidence for survival is overwhelming, and the implications are enormous.

I now see life here on Earth as a learning process, so I don’t regret anything I’ve done, and even great political disasters can be beneficial if we learn from them and don’t repeat the mistakes. One thing I’ve learnt is that we have to be very careful as terrible crimes and atrocities can be committed by people who started out trying to right past injustices and present unfairness.

I’m sure Hitler and Mussolini started out in this way. Hitler saw the injustices imposed upon Germany after the First World War in the Treaty of Versailles, and by all accounts Mussolini was originally a pacifist, but then decided Italy needed a new ‘Roman Empire’.

Stalin started out as a revolutionary seeking to create a better world under Communism, but like Hitler and Mussolini became drunk on absolute power and also paranoid about losing it to rivals, hence the terrible purges which killed many genuine Socialists and Communists and left a parasitic ruling clique in power. He may have made the Soviet Union into a great power to rival the USA, but ultimately like the Hitler-Mussolini-Hirohito alliance it eventually collapsed disastrously.

So the lesson I have learnt is that spirituality and progress in this world go hand-in-hand. Evolution not revolution is the key to everything. Try to change things too suddenly, or enforce change before people are spiritually ready for it, and it will end in failure or even disaster, sometimes make things even worse than they were before.

Looking over the history of the world since civilization began, we can see a gradual improvement. Atrocities, wars, violence, crimes, etc. still happen of course but no longer do so-called Christians and their churches torture heretics and burn them alive at the stake. Gays in Western countries at least are no longer criminalized for their sexual orientation/practices. Women now have the vote and more opportunities if not complete equality with men.

Some other areas of the world still have to catch up; Sharia law in parts of the Islamic world and fundamentalist Islamic terrorism is barbaric, but no more so than so-called Christian barbarity in times past. We are all at different levels of spiritual development, but at least here in the West and many places elsewhere people are gradually becoming more enlightened.

However while we still engage in wars to make arms and oil companies profitable, and governments still threaten millions with nuclear weapons, we cannot be complacent. The last World War showed how close civilization is still to complete anarchy and barbarism. The idea that just 71 years ago the so-called civilized world could start killing not just young conscript soldiers from various countries, but bombing completely innocent children and other civilians, even dropping atomic bombs on two Japanese cities, is just unbelievable. Yet it happened, and could so easily happen again if we are not careful, and a nuclear war would be disastrous for both our spiritual development and life on this already environmentally damaged planet.

What is encouraging to me, however, is the vast growth of knowledge of things spiritual, greatly helped by the Internet. The Internet is a wonderful thing as it is uncensored in most countries, and so can spread ideas unfiltered by government and other moderators. Of course it can spread bad ideas promoting crime and terrorism, and what effect is access to unlimited pornography and violent scenes having on children and some others?

On the other hand, orthodox religious beliefs which have caused such mayhem and conflict in the world are slowly giving way to New Age knowledge about the true nature of spirituality and the afterlife. Many also realize that even in our own Universe we are not alone; the evidence for UFOs being overwhelming.

In short, the purely materialist view of the world, and the idea that we have nothing but a short life on planet Earth to consider, is becoming very much ‘old hat’ and outdated. Not just because of the overwhelming evidence for the afterlife dimensions thru Spirit communications, Out-of-the-Body and Near-Death Experiences, etc., all helped greatly by the Internet. But also the parallel revelations of Quantum Physics which finally dispel a traditional materialist/rationalist view of the Universe.

In a universe or multi-verse where sub-atomic particles can change into waves when not being observed, can be in two or more places thousands of miles apart at the same time, etc. our view or ‘reality’ is seriously challenged. Already science has taught us that nothing we see around us, or indeed we ourselves, is really solid, but is composed mainly of empty space. Therefore the materialist world we sense around us is a total illusion.

Moreover, as Quantum theory and Survivalist/Spiritualist/New Age evidence tell us, there is every reason to suppose that many other dimensions/realities exist, and indeed all science now supports this concept. There is plenty of room, between sub-atomic particles, for other orders of matter to exist, invisible to us by normal means.

Many scientists, inventors, mediums and others have tried to ‘tune in’ to at least some of these other dimensions/realities/vibrations with astounding success. These are documented and accessible via the Internet if you know where to look or what to Google.

So, yes, as I get older I am very much aware of the mortality of myself and others, but also that death is not the end but just a transition from one stage of existence to another, that I along with everthing else in the multi-verse is slowly evolving, and that this is an endless process because, subject of last blog, timeless infinity is the ultimate reality.

Infinity

This was the subject of a pretentious and rather silly Horizon program on BBC 2 the other night. When not showing children, and adult mathematicians, counting upwards, it was discussing whether there was a biggest number.

This utter nonsense was presented as science or mathematics. What a load of drivel! The term ‘biggest number’ is absolutely meaningless unless it is qualified: biggest number of what: Tomatoes? Gold ingots? Atoms in the Universe? Stupid mathematicians and kids being persuaded to count on TV?

As a few pointed out, obviously there can be no absolute ‘biggest number’ as you can always add one, two or any other number to it to make a bigger number. So of course numbers can stretch into infinity either above or below zero.

The program then went on to postulate on the nature of infinity, and that if it existed there must be many exact carbon copies of Earth and us on it with the same thoughts, etc. Now this is also one of the crazier ideas of some quantum theorists, but there is no evidence for it, it is just mindless conjecture in the realms of science fiction.

The Horizon program came to this hypothesis from a different angle. Although it accepted there could be an infinite number of universes, it seemed to be saying even in our own universe there must be many Earths and we must have carbon copies of ourselves on them since everything must eventually be repeated. By the same logic they hauled out the hoary old theory than an infinite number of monkeys typing infinetly on an infinite number of typewriters would come up, not just with the complete works of Shakespeare, but with every book ever published.

This is complete nonsense because it ignores the infinity of possibilities and combinations. Why contemplate infinity for the Universe or Universes and then stipulate that there must be a finite number of ways in which they can be formulated? As to the monkey theory, there must be an infinite number of combinations of keys they could press in an infinite order, but it is far more likely they will hit certain keys much more often because of factors such as their position on the keyboard, etc.  Rows or repetitions of one character or letter are far more likely than even a complete sentence, though the latter would certainly be possible given enough time, if only a short one like ‘Jesus wept.’ (With or without the capital letter and fullstop/period. With these might take a few more monkey years.)

That such drivel can be put on TV as a serious science program I find very condescending. If mathematicians want to play these sort of mind games with each other, then they are welcome to do so.

To me it is perfectly obvious that everything is ultimately infinite, because wherever anything could end or disappear there must be something beyond. Similarly whenever anything began, there must have been something before.

But it is more complex than that even, because Time itself is just an illusion of our own Universe, a way of measuring a tiny part of infinity. In reality past, present and future all coexist. There is no beginning and there is no end. And there is an infinite variety within this ultimate reality.

Ah ha, I hear somebody argue. If we have free will and the future already exists, then there must be an infinite number of futures and an infinite number of people, events, etc. determining these futures. Well yes and no. There are an infinite number of possible futures, and indeed of possible pasts and presents. As events unroll, decisions are made, these change. It is the old story of Time travel – go back in Time and kill your grandparents and you will not exist, at least not in your present form with the same parents and grandparents. Therefore there is an infinite number of possible realities past, present and future, but there’s no reason to suppose they all coexist. They will, however, change as events unfold, as decisions are made or not made.

This is why predictions of future events are often rather inaccurate. The likely or possible future can be changed by our own free will. In exercising this we determine the actual future. Ah, but did this exist before we made our decision? This is where we get tied into knots because we are unable to step outside of our Time-constricted Universe. In reality there is no Time, so there is no past, present and future at all. Just infinity.

But we can get a glimpse of how it works by imagining a car going along a winding country lane with trees or hedges each side. The driver can only see a few yards ahead and a few behind in his or her mirror. However someone in a helicopter above can see that a big truck is coming the other way around several bends, and that there is the possibility of a collision. They cannot say for sure, it depends on the actions and reactions of the drivers of the two vehicles. But they have a wider perspective and are able to ‘see’ the possible future of the two drivers which they themselves can have no knowledge of.

Reality itself is infinite. There can be as many as you can create with your imagination, but all will be different. No two Universes will be the same, no two planets, and no two individuals. But the concept of infinity cannot be fully understood within the confines of the illusion of Time. Once outside of Time, everything is possible and terms such as past/present/future are seen as meaningless anyway.

Fiendish Plot Afoot

Good old fashioned packaging

Yes, there is undoubtedly a fiendish plot to deprive us ‘oldies’ of many of the basic necessities of life. The plot takes the form of completely unopenable wrappers, jars, etc.. Many of these are described as ‘childproof’ but of course we know that really they are ‘oldieproof’. Undoubtedly the Illuminati, a race of Alien Reptilians, the Freemasons or possibly the Compulsory Euthanasia at 40 Society are behind it all. 

Such things as those plastic bottles of cooking oil which my mother, at 95, finds absolutely impossible to open and which even I, at nearly 65, have difficulty with. I struggle with the little plastic seal, which often breaks as I try to pull it off. My mother simply punches a hole in the plastic bottle and squeezes the oil out thru that, a quite messy procedure I might add, so I wouldn’t advise it.

My partner and I, when he was alive, bought a marvelous little gadget which gripped and opened vaccuum-sealed lids on jars, but then the fiends craftily made these lids with curved edges so the gadget rarely works. It slips off as you try to grip the lid with it, causing injury if you’re not careful. Having ruined numerous doorframes trying to grip and open sauce-bottle lids, etc., with large jars my mother and I are usually reduced to punching a hole in the lid to release the vaccuum, whereupon they are easier to open but the contents then goes bad more quickly. No doubt part of the plot; if we don’t starve to death we’ll die of food-poisoning.

You go into a cafe or pub for a meal, and instead of sensible bottles of condiments, or those delightful colorful little plastic squeezy containers they had in the good old 1950s (you know, a red plastic tomato full of ketchup, a yellow plastic container full of mustard, etc.) we are now faced with completely unopenable little sachets of vinegar, sauce, mustard, salad dressing, etc. . We struggle and struggle, and if we do manage to tear them open the contents spills all over the table or down our clothes, everywhere except on our food. Usually we again risk injury by piercing them with a pointed knife or fork, and again it is a very messy process, with much of the tiny contents remaining stubbornly inside the remains of the sachet, over the table, and all over our fingers.

I get a mental picture of some Asian sweatshop with hundreds of people carefully spooning tiny portions of tomato ketchup, of no possible use to any healthy eater, into little sachets and then sealing them up. Or a few grains of salt or sugar, much too tiny to be of any use at all but no doubt considered ‘healthy’ for young people who think such things are bad for them. Rubbish, we all grew up eating lashings of bread and dripping smothered in salt, drinking loads of sugary drinks, cooking all our food in lard, eating puddings made from suet and many of us smoked as well, yet my maternal grandparents lived into their 80s, and my mother is now 95 and still smokes 20 or 30 cigarets a day, and insists on a fry-up at least once a day, and we put salt in all our vegetables and then on our meals (though she’s had to resort to sweetener in her tea because of age-related diabetes, but even this was ignored for many years with no ill-effects, eating chocolates every week for years after she was first diagnosed).

‘I’ll get ONE of these open in a minute! Damn, the Viagra’s worn off!’

Back to the unopenable wrappers though, of course they think old people no longer have sex lives, or shouldn’t have, so condoms also come in unopenable packs, as does the lubricant that is often useful to go with them. Not that we want to procreate at our age (if we are heterosexual) but we do nevertheless want to practise safer sex for ourselves and for our partners. Do the people who make these unopenable wrappers realize the frustrations we suffer? It is mental torture at our age. We have Viagra to help us, but then at the crucial moment we can’t open the bloody wrapper, we bite it (careful not to puncture the contents of course  – chance would be a fine thing! Our false teeth are so blunt we can’t even tear the wrapper without a huge struggle, by then the moment has often passed. Another wasted condom!) The lube packets are even worse, as if you do get them open it is then impossible to open any other wrappers at all till you’ve washed and dried your hands thoroughly. Moral: Always open the condom before the packet of lubricant.

‘Hang on! I’ll have the lube open in another 20 minutes!’

But admittedly our opportunities for a good sex life reduce with age, so we look for other past-times, such as music. Long gone are the LPs in thin see-thru paper wrappers which only required a finger or thumb nail to open them, now we have these wretched CDs in shrink-wrap see-thru paper, often with a security seal as well. You really do risk life and limb to prise these open with a pair of scissors or some other sharp implement, and by then the ‘jewel case’ as it is described by the manufacturers looks more like the scratched and probably cracked piece of old plastic which it really is, and God forbid if your finger touches the surface of the CD or DVD disk, then the bloody thing won’t play at all. Give me good old vinyl any day, fingermarks and thumbprints never did my records any harm, and I even learnt how to force the stylus past scratches repeatedly so when I next played the record I heard no more than a minor click. I’m forever cleaning CD/DVD disks, and some just won’t play at all.

Of course sit on a train or a bus, and everyone under 40 has their ears plugged listening to these Ipod things. Fat lot of good they are to oldies like us who have been collecting vinyl and audio cassettes for 40 or 50 years. Even if we had the technology, time, knowhow and inclination (which I don’t), by the time we up or downloaded 45 years of vinyl and cassette recordings into a computer and then onto an Ipod our Earthly remains will be 6 foot under or else in a little urn on someone’s mantelpiece, that’s if we haven’t been scattered to the four winds of course.

Thankfully I have every reason to believe my Spirit will by then be in a much better place where tomato sauce comes in sensible easy-to-open bottles, all the music I want to hear is available without prising open shrink-wrap CDs, and I’ll be watching and laughing at you all struggling with your unopenable wrappers and containers here on Earth. Whoever invented shrink-wrap, by the way, should have been shrink-wrapped him or herself and see how they like it.

Sensible 1920s Listerine bottle

I haven’t even mentioned medicine and bleach bottles, except to refer to the ‘childproof’ container. Childproof my arse! (As Ricky Tomlinson would say.) They are of course also ‘oldieproof’. For Heaven’s sake I don’t have any children in my home, never have had, never will. So why should I have to fiirst scratch to find the ‘easy to open’ piece of paper to tear open the wrapping round the cap, then pull and push, press in and squeeze, twist and turn the cap itself just to open a bloody bottle of mouthwash of all things? In case some kid breaks into my flat and decides a bottle of Listerine is just the thing to get high on before going out with the gang to stab someone or mug a few pensioners?

Modern unopenable Listerine bottles

And when you do injure yourself trying to open a can, a jar or a wrapper and rush to find an Elastoplast (BandAid in America, which sounds like some open air pop-concert Bob Geldorf would organize) what do you find? Yes, the bloody plaster is in an unopenable wrapper itself, and by the time you do open it there’s blood everywhere.

But the most annoying thing of all is toothpaste. Having taken it out of its cardboard box and unscrewed the cap, what do I find? A tiny bit of tin foil to seal the hole so the toothpaste won’t come out, and I’m damned if I can find the tiny bit sticking out to pull it off.

Give me the good old days when the only wrapping thought necessary was a bit of old newspaper, and everything came wrapped in it. Nothing like good old fish and chips out of a newspaper, and a bit of printing ink never did us or our grandparents any harm. Added to the flavor of the salt and vinegar, and printing ink builds up resistance to the other pollutants in the environment, makes you strong and healthy. Babies should be fed not with namby-pamby milk in bottles but printing ink, mixed with plenty of melted-down dripping, lard and salt. Then they’d grow up able to stomach and resist anything like our parents and grandparents!

Good old fashioned fish and chips in newspaper