RIP Jeff Beck


Sad to hear of the passing of Jeff Beck. An unsung hero of the rock world, a guitarists guitarist.

I have been going to concerts for over fifty years. Although, I feel blessed to have seen Jeff perform live, twice, during those fifty years. I also feel sad that I didn’t manage to make it to more of his shows.

The first time I was treated to the Beck phenomenon was when he appeared at Portsmouth Guildhall, as part of Beck, Bogert and Appice. This was 25th January, 1974. What a powerhouse group they were, although they were referred to as a “supergroup” by the music press. Jeff Beck, of course, on guitar. Carmine Appice on drums and Tim Bogert on bass. My memories are not strong enough to confirm this, but the interweb shows that Bobby Tench was part of the group although I don’t remember there being a fourth guy on stage. I wish I had been able to find a quality video to include. However, below is a track from their album.

The last time I saw Jeff live, was an entirely different kind of concert. I had won the tickets in a competition, courtesy of Planet Rock. Not one of my favourite venues, we caught him live at Southampton Guildhall, 3rd July, 2009. Venue aside, all I can say is this has to be one of the best concerts I have ever attended. His playing was superb and he just about blew my socks off. The support act, on that occasion, was an upcoming Imelda May. Much more than a warm up act but it was clear who the audience were there to see. Imelda came back onto the stage to provide some stunning vocals during Jeffs set. The entire show was fabulous, spine tingling. Have a listen to the following, just a small part of that show.

Thanks for the music and the memories Jeff. May you Rest In Peace.

Gone but never forgotten.

My Prostate And Me – Part 12


Well here we are again. After another long hiatus, I thought it was time to update you all. The lack of posts on this subject is purely down to, in part, happenstance and in part, inertia on my part. So, for that, I apologise.

So, my last post was back in 2020, following a five year hiatus. Only 28 months this time, I must be improving.

My previous post ended with me waiting for various scans, which were duly carried out, as follows:

  • 1st August 202 – CT Scan
  • 3rd August 2020 – MRI Scan
  • 11th August 2020 – Bone Scan
  • 25th August 2020 – PET CT Scan

Much as I like playing with all the NHS toys, I could do without the palaver of driving to the hospital, searching for a parking space, then waiting for my turn in the scanning department. Don’t get me wrong, I am very grateful for the attention that I am getting. Anyway, the net result of all these scans was, overall, a positive one. The scans indicating that there was no sign of the cancer around the prostate itself, and, apparently, no sign of metastasis. Prostate cancer apparently tends to migrate to the bones, or so I believed. So also getting the all clear from the bone scan was a positive thing.

Or, maybe the prostate cancer was hiding ?

Although there was no sign of the cancer around the prostate or in my bones, they did discover something in my lung !!! I became aware, very recently, that Prostate Cancer can metastasise to the lungs. So my case became the subject of one of the hospitals multi-disciplinary meetings.

Apparently there was much chin and arse scratching, bone tossing and probably some discussion about how Pompey were doing in the football league. The net is that my urologist talked to the chest doctors. They, the chest doctors, suggested that, whatever it was, was in a difficult to reach place. They further suggested that “we” should wait for 6 months and then have another scan. Then decide what steps to take.

My man, the urologist, didn’t think that was such a good idea. He felt, if this was the prostate cancer, it would be better to be proactive and treat it accordingly. Consequently he decided to start me on a course of Prostap injections.

And so it was that, on the 14th October, 2020, I started my course of Prostap. One injection every 4 weeks. This continued until November of 2021.

During this time, continuing blood tests and a scan showed the “thing” in my chest had shrunk and my PSA levels were dropping. In the words of my urologist, the “thing” had self diagnosed itself to be Prostate cancer. So we continued on with the Prostap jabs until, following a conflab with my urologist, we decided that I should take a break.

Apparently Prostap, along with most medications, comes with its own baggage. One potential side effect is the impact to ones bones, increasing the possibility of osteoporosis. With everything else that’s going on I certainly didn’t need that in my life.

I continued having blood tests to monitor my PSA and each of those was followed up with a telephone consult with my urologist. Always a very pleasant few minutes chatting followed by wishing each other well until the next call.

Latterly the calls included a concern about the fact that my PSA levels were bouncing around up to a new high of 3.2. Thats up from the zero point something I was at once the initial Prostap course was well underway.

At the end of August 2022, during a telephone consult with my urologist, it was decided that I should restart the Prostap injections. I had the first of the new course at the end of September. This time round the jabs are on a 3 month cycle and my next one is scheduled for March.

Following the last blood test, the Prostap, after only 3 months, appears to be working its magic. My current PSA level is 0.4 Great news by any measure..

From initial diagnosis, Brachytherapy in 2015 and thru to Prostap it has been an interesting experience. If, in the future, I have anything significant to report I’ll post again.

Before I go, I would like to thank all of the NHS staff who have handled my various visits to and stays in the Queen Alexandra Hospital, Portsmouth. You have, thus far, been amazing.

The journey, certainly isn’t over, but for now that is it.

A Call To Action – Radio Paradise


Almost every day I tune in to Radio Paradise and stream their music feed continuously for up to 8 hours. They are, in my opinion, by far the best station out there on the interweb. Occasionally, I will stray from the path, search out alternatives. But, I always find myself returning to RP.

Radio Paradise is a listener supported station. That is, they don’t charge a regular subscription fee. Rather they rely on donations from their listeners. Many, like me, probably make sporadic donations. A few pounds here, a few there. I haven’t felt the call to make a regular payment to RP, even though I do subscribe to the likes of Tidal and Spotify.

So what’s the difference ? I guess the primary difference is that RP provides me with a random eclectic selection of music, no adverts and no inane DJ chatter. There are tracks on rotation, but not as regular as the stuff you hear on commercial radio or even the BBC.

Spotify and Tidal are rather like an enormous record collection through which I have to sift and make choices. There are customised/personalised playlists too. But you have to choose and I find I spend as much time sifting as I do actually listening.

There is room in my world for both types of music stream. However, the point of this post is

For 22 years, RP has been a 100% word-of-mouth venture. We believe the funds raised by the station should only go toward the smooth running, improvement, and general operation of the station. It’s a moral obligation to take the generous support you all give each year into making RP the best we can make it. Putting your hard-earned dollars into the hands of ad companies or other various traditional marketing channels is simply not something we’re interested in or willing to do. 

Lucky for us, you do an amazing job helping us share the music far and wide. In essence, you are our marketing team. And what a team it is! We receive countless emails and comments about how you already do this on a regular basis. It shows and we are incredibly grateful for this fact. With that said, we want to enlist those who are so inspired to make one large concerted effort to spread the music this new year. 

If RP is a part of your daily life, please consider the following…..

First, send an email and/or post on social media encouraging people to tune in. Make it five of your closest friends and family…or 10…or send it out in your company newsletter or with an organization you volunteer for, whatever inspires you. (We’d love to hear about it in our comment section!)

Secondly, if you use our app, go in and rate the app. As much as we don’t care about such things, the powers that be at Google and Apple put a lot of weight on such things. The more ratings and the higher they are the more likely someone is to find RP in the app stores. 

RP’s goal for 2023 is to go from 3.3 million unique site visitors to 6.6 million. It’s a big goal but we’re up for the task. We love what we do and want to share it with many more people around the world come 2023. 

Alanna at radioparadise.com

If you like music uninterrupted by inane chatter from DJs and their gangs/posses/teams or whatever the term is for a collection of white noise drones. If you like music uninterrupted by advertisements for breakfast cereal, instant coffee and the latest supermarket bargains. If you like music that isn’t tied to music industry or radio station charts.

Since I started typing this blog post, RP has played the following …

  • Coming Home – k.d. lang
  • Can’t Get It Out Of My Head – ELO
  • Rocky World – Daniel Lanois
  • Wild Eagle – Andrew White
  • Sing, Theresa Says – Greg Laswell
  • Satisfaction – Cat Power
  • Held – Spoon
  • Robbin’ My Honeycomb – Tony Joe White
  • Lullaby – Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
  • Stones – Sonic Youth
  • Huron Beltane Fire Dance – Loreen McKennitt
  • My Love – Florence + the Machine

Go on, give Radio Paradise a try. Your ears, heart and mind will thank you for it.

Scottish Power Not So SmartMeter


A couple of years ago I submitted to the wave of advertising singing the praises of SmartMeters. I contacted our energy company and a smart meter was duly installed. One of the primary reasons for me agreeing to the smart meter installation was to mitigate the sheer mountain of stuff that I had to move whenever Scottish Power wanted a meter reading. Invariably their rep would turn up while we were eating. Our house is one of six , of this style, on this development. However, it is the only one that has its garage attached to the end of the house. The utility meters are situated on that end wall, which means that the meters are inside the garage. A big thank you to the builders for that decision.

So meter installed and I can now read my energy usage via an app on my phone. Around December of 2021 the smart meter ceased recording my gas usage. Scottish Power continued taking my payments but started sending me messages similar to the one below …

We’re unable to communicate with your meter at the moment. To help us provide you with an accurate bill, please read your meter and submit the reading at http://www.scottishpower.co.uk/my-account/meter-readings/authenticate?ca=81401146019 Need help to read your meter? Visit http://www.scottishpower.co.uk/read-your-meter

Earlier this year, due to another request for a meter reading, I caved in and moved my junk to gain access to the meters. Did the electric reading no bother. However the gas meter display was blank. Obviously I was not surprised since they had not been able to take the readings since the previous December. This being August. A phone call was required.

After being on hold for a very long time I eventually got to speak to a rep. She gave me instructions on how to wake up my meter and take the reading. Of course, I took this opportunity to raise the issue of my less than smart meter and its inability to take the gas readings.

I asked why they, Scottish Power, knowing my meter wasn’t passing on my energy usage data, hadn’t sent someone out to fix it ???

Then she dropped the bomb …… I wasn’t alone !!!

Apparently, many of us who jumped on the SmartMeter bandwagon were literally in the same boat. We had the Gen 1 meters and they had a software bug. Those who had delayed getting the SmartMeter typically had the Gen 2 meter and were not experiencing issues.

Don’t worry she said, because a fix is going to be rolled out. Everyone will be back up working by the end of October. Well, you guessed it. October came and then became a fast receding memory. No Fix.

Nothings changed. Well actually that isn’t entirely true. My SmartMeter no longer records the electricity usage. So now, no gas readings, no electricity readings. Unless I move my junk and take a manual reading. Bloody marvellous.

So, Scottish Power continue to inform me that my SmartMeter isn’t working, continue to request manual readings and continue to do nothing about fixing my meter.

Biggest slap in the face is that they continue to advertise the merits of having a smart meter installed.

And worst of all, due to the current energy crisis, I am trapped as their customer.

No energy companies are taking on new customers.

Taking The Edge Off


Merry Christmas to you all. And I truly mean that. I hope you have managed to have a great time, and that you have managed to stay healthy, despite Covids best efforts and those of the other seasonal diseases that tend to crop up at this time of the year.

Over past years Gerry and / or I have managed to contract one of the various bugs doing the rounds during the Christmas period. Being sick really does take the edge off things especially when it means not seeing the grandkids opening their presents.

However, an unexpected benefit of the precautions taken, during the Covid pandemic ,seemed to be a reduction in the number of these seasonal infections. Sadly, now that many of the precautions have been relaxed there are many bugs doing the rounds. And, of course, Gerry has gone down with the dreaded lurgy, yet again. I say yet again, as this must be the third bug she has contracted this year.

Usually we are scanning around for the culprit, hunting down patient zero, searching for the one that passed on their germs. However, this year there are several candidates.

On the Friday before Christmas we were visited by a friend who said her husband was suffering with something. On the Saturday, Christmas Eve and our 45th Wedding Anniversary, we were visited by our daughter Angie and her husband Jon. He was suffering with a sore throat, croaking well.

That brings us to Christmas Day itself. Our granddaughter Keeley was hosting us this year, and of course nobody wanted to call it off, but, Keeley and her eldest, were both suffering with their own lurgy variant. And we didn’t see her youngest as he was in bed all day doing battle with his own lurgy. Although we had a good time and the food was yummy, the day was a little subdued. The edge had definitely been taken off.

Obviously, the odds were not in our favour and Gerry started with a tickly, then sore, throat late on Monday, Boxing Day. And there we have it, multiple folks at which to point the finger of blame.

Our concern is, as always, that anytime Gerry contracts one of these coughy cold/flu things, it invariably travels down onto her chest and evolves into a chest infection. Earlier this year she had two such episodes resulting in three prescriptions of antibiotics.

This morning, wanting to get a jump on things, I started the marathon task of trying to get an appointment to see / speak to a doctor. To stand a chance of getting an appointment, you have to start calling Crookhorn Surgery at 08:00. I started calling on the dot, with the following results ……

75 Calls = Number of attempted calls when the line was engaged.
This is only possible when using a modern phone, hitting redial immediately the system drops the call. I can’t imagine what folks do that are still reliant on landline phones and those that aren’t au fait with modern technology.

7 Calls = Number of calls picked up by the automated system, where I had to listen, excitedly, to a message which informed me that they were busy and to call back later. At which point the call is cut leading to huge disappointment.

At 08:13, after some 82 redials, I managed to break through to join a queue where I was informed, regularly, that my wait time was one minute. After some time I actually spoke to a human. The net result, after just under 10 minutes, was that we had been triaged and informed that we would receive a call from a doctor by 13:00.

This is better than last time where we attempted to get through, and, after 40 minutes were informed that there were no more appointments that day and that we would have to call back the following morning.

The good news from this, is that we had received the call from the GP, who duly prescribed the antibiotics. At 10:21 I received a text from the pharmacy to say that the script was ready for collection. By 11:30 Gerry had taken her initial dose.

Obviously, this is an improvement over our previous experience. But it does not reflect well on the NHS. Covid regularly gets the blame for whatever ails the NHS. All I can say is that prior to 2019 we were able to get appointments fairly easily, that we actually got to see a doctor on almost every occasion. Since 2019, trying to phone for an appointment is a chore, which rarely results in a face to face appointment.

Today my wife was called by a doctor who prescribed antibiotics over the phone. He didn’t see my wife, didn’t take her temperature, didn’t listen to her chest / lungs. This is not the NHS service that we are used to. But it seems that we are going to have to accept this as the new norm.

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