Tag Archives: West Wales

Breaker Breaker Calling Father Christmas, over!

Daily Prompt

Out of your reach.

As I have mentioned in some of my other posts. I grew up on a small holding (hobby farm in Australia).

While my parents doted on us and we grew up knowing we were loved, there were some very hard times. My father worked full-time for the fire brigade and every spare penny went on feeding the animals or paying off the mortgage on the property.

We never lacked anything and Birthdays and Christmases were always filled with laughter and joy (Well through my now misty memory they were).

But I do remember one year, I yearned for a particular item. You know that feeling you have when your stomach aches, every minute your thoughts are consumed by this one feeling. You try to find out as much information about the item you can. This was before the internet, heck this was before Computers. Magazines pages were torn at the edges where you constantly thumbed to the page with the info on it.

For me that year I knew that my parents could not afford it but there was just a faint glimmer of hope in my young mind. Maybe those secretive talks were not about how to pay the electric bill but on how to get me this item. The quickly snatched away pieces of paper were not last demand notices, but in my mind order sheets. Needless to say that on Christmas morning a quick glance under the tree and my hopes were dashed, they plummeted from the sky with instant realisation.

Needles to say I still smiled when I was given my presents and have and will always say thank you and make the right noises. But that year a small hole was in my Christmas cheer.

Now many years later I struggle to remember the colour of the item I wanted. But really what would an eleven year old really do with a ‘Home base CB Radio’? Living in a valley that could only receive radio Luxemburg and only then when the sky was clear of clouds (West Wales remember that phenomenon happens once a few years).

 

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Old Man Willow you should not be awaking.

 

 

Daily prompt

The third gasp of breath almost ruined me.

22 years ago, me and four friends were kayaking a small river in West Wales. It was a local river that fishermen protected fiercely; we were technically not allowed to be on the river. But due to a very complicated law system we were not actually breaking any laws. (But that’s by the by). (As long as we did not touch the banks we were fine)

We were all experienced and had the right kit. The river was in flood and this made for some nice big white water, along a river that generally just tinkled down. There were a few spots where the river narrowed and dropped 20-30 feet in a very small space. We had successfully navigated these and had enjoyed playing in the rapids produced.

It was near the end of the trip we had been on the water for around four hours, and were tired. There was just a small drop in the level and a little bit of white water was there for us to play in. We started show boating doing dafter and dafter tricks. Needless to say we capsized many times, but as we could all roll up quite easily none of ever swam. I went in to play in this small rapid and was twirling my paddle around above my head while sitting there where the water turns over and over back on itself .
A slight movement of my hips and I went under as the edge of the boat caught the water rushing down. The paddle fell from my hand and I caught an under current. While still in my boat I was washed to the outside edge of the river, and unbeknown to anyone caught by a submerged branch. Knowing the others were there I banged on the bottom of my now upturned boat and slide my hands back and forth, signalling that I needed assistance. On friend came up and rammed my boat with his I grabbed the front and went to pull my self upright. I was caught by my buoyancy aid in the tree. A pulled harder and just got my mouth out and grabbed a gasp of air, second time up and managed to yell one word ‘Tree’.

My other two friends came up alongside me and pulled my up. I managed to grab at another breath before the spring in the tree pulled me back under. This time both my arms were free a levered my self onto the first friends boat, but the branch was pining me in my boat. I could not get out and the boat could not be righted. Grabbing the front of my boat one friend managed to lift it up and over the branch, I was then able to right it my paddle was retrieved and all was well.

I was under water for no longer than four minutes in total, The sound of the rapid is muted slightly as the water rushes past your ears, the banging of the plastic boats reverberated through my legs that are tight along the inside of you kayak. The one sound that I will always remember was the squeaking of the branches as the rubbed together holding me tighter. For a few fleeting moments even though I was surrounded by people concentrating completely on me I felt so alone. I was the only one under the water seeing blurred images above me of friends helping. For just a few short seconds complete detachment from others overwhelmed me.

Unlike other sporting injuries I carry no scars, or marks of any kind from this incident. I spent a good few years continuing kayaking, I went under many times, and have been trapped underwater, a few times since. But I have never felt the same fear as I did that time. It wasn’t my first time being trapped; it wasn’t even the longest time under water. I believe it was the squeaking of the tree branches that un–nerved me most. To this day I have full respect but no fear of the water. But that sound even now 22 years later even though I have never heard it since I can still hear it as clear as I could then.

Jamie

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wanna, wanna, wanna,………..want one!

40 Billion miles. That is the estimated distance travelled by those shipping containers all over the world. What do they carry? Well absolutely everything, bits of plastic to make bigger bits, clothes, cars, hospital equipment. Have a look around you now and almost everything you can see has been moved in one of those containers. Within arms reach everything has been transported in the back end of a lorry.  There is nearly a quarter of a million lorries in the UK. If parked end to end, they will stretch almost two and a half thousand miles, or From ‘Lands end to John O’Groats and back again twice.

 

That number is being added to daily. Why? Well we are all to blame. We are now and have been for some time a consumer society. We want ‘stuff’ our economy is no longer based on what we produce here in the UK. The whole of our economy is based on what we spend in shops.

 

Selling is big business. I don’t mean the actual transaction, the figures of money spent in tills in the UK is mind boggling. What I mean buy ‘selling’ we also know as ‘advertising’. According to the ‘advertising association’ £100 billion is spent on advertising in the UK every year. For every £1 spent £6 is gained. It is now the middle of October and all the high street shops have started their Christmas lines. By the middle of November every shop will be packed full of Christmas goodies.

 

How much of these things do we really need or want. My wife and I enjoy a good coffee in one of the local branches of a nation wide coffee shop chain. After we finish we sometimes take a walk through the town back to our home and we will wander in and out of shops. Now we love charity, and second-hand shops. We have not decided to but into the up-cycle, reuse life style to amend for our capitalist ways. It’s just that we don’t have the money to spend on stuff full price. How ever we do also wander through the more upmarket nationwide branches. (Here in West Wales that’s Debenhams and the like). Everything about these shops silently scream buy me. But they don’t. They don’t just say buy me; selling an item is one sale, what many shops try to do is to get you to buy into a life style.

 

This is why celebrity endorsement is such a big business. If David Beckham, for example were to advertise a pair of trainers, the manufacturer could guarantee that they will sell thousands of pairs within a few weeks, because every seven year old boy interested in football would now be nagging their parents incessantly for a pair. Why because having those trainers would make you a little bit more like David Beckham and then you would be nearer playing for what ever team he plays for.

 

But brands want loyalty, next time you are in a shop predominantly selling clothing have a look at the walls, there are posters of happy people enjoying their lives in this clothing. These models are always perfect in stature, the clothing fits its always clean and more importantly they have friends exactly the same. If you buy that ‘hand chosen ethnically knitted top’ and of course you can justify the £89.99 price tag because you just know, that by wearing it you will have the same life as those people in the poster.  Besides the shop you are buying it from only has eight jumpers on display in three sizes so there are not going to be that many people or more importantly your friends wearing the same top. So you have not only brought into the lie of life style change but also the lie of exclusivity.

 

And for a while you have that warm feeling mixed with excitement, it is a thrill to buy. But that thrill wears thin and next time it doesn’t last as long, so you buy more often. Of course we tell ourselves that we deserve this stuff , we work hard besides we didn’t have much as kids, well not as much as our friend did, they always had new stuff all the time.

 

And we are now back to the children, and Christmas is fast approaching (well according to the shops it is). I always enjoy listening to the conversations about how much people spend at Christmas. You have the one that says £500 per person is just going to have to be enough this year. Then there is always the one that says their year has been tough so they are going to push out the boat a little and pay it of next year. Of course there is the smug one that says they have finished their shopping already it’s all wrapped they only need to buy a few items for close friends. Then you have me. They all look at me expectantly awaiting my response, I normally shrug my shoulders say my children will get one or two things we never get too much anyway. But they start pushing for figures. They want actual numbers and why? Its so they can feel smug knowing that their kids are going to have a better Christmas than ours because they have spent ten tines the amount we have. Because Christmas is abut spending money, and the more you spend the better you have done it.

 

I once asked a cashier at my local Tesco store how much money they have taken, This was late morning two days before Christmas. I had a bottle of milk and chocolate bar. They said they tried to keep a mental note on the amount going through their till But gave up after £30,000. This is one till of twenty in one store out of hundreds. And that is just one shop chain.

 

So is this a post about Christmas, or Consumerism, or money, its not even about capitalism. But it is just a thought about the way advertising now dominates our lives. If every shop front was the same, and every item came in plain brown wrapping would we really prefer one shop over the other? Would we have the headache we always seem to acquire after a few hours of walking around the shops? But then I suppose we would not have an excuse to nip in and have a nice coffee before heading home, and well not having coffee shops would mean I wouldn’t have the chance to sit down and ponder over a nice cup of coffee!

 

Till next time.