Recognising excellence by Susan Grimsdell

There was an interesting story in the paper recently about one of the world’s greatest violinists and conductors, Joshua Bell.  He has played in the great concert halls of the world including Carnegie Hall and the Lincoln Centre, from the time he was a teenager.  You will pay a lot of money to attend one of his performances. Subway blues Several years ago, Joshua took his 300-year-old Stradivarius violin for which he had paid $3.5 million, and found a good spot near a subway station in Washington DC.  For the next 45… Read More

Passing Thoughts by Trevor Plumbly

And the trumpets sounded on the other side The art of shuffling off has lost a bit of glitz in recent times and I reckon we’re all poorer for it. Years ago, there was a bit of glory involved; there wasn’t much of a future in it even then, but it seemed more interesting. Domestically, it was mainly plunging daggers; overseas, knights rode into battle, yelling inspirational stuff like, ‘Once more unto the breach dear friends, once more!’ as an open invitation to get done in, which apparently lots accepted. Leaders had… Read More

Group Therapy by Trevor Plumbly

We’re a mixed bunch in the ‘Focus Group’. All retirees, with backgrounds including The Diplomatic Corps, Journalism, Audiology, Ophthalmology, Engineering and down to Antique Dealing. Our common link is sight loss, but whilst we refer to ourselves as ‘blindies’, most of us still nurse some sort of blurred, but fading vision. It amazes me that I’m part of the group! Years ago the idea that I’d trot along twice-monthly to an organised meeting would have been laughable, but Focus isn’t really a group, nor do we hold ‘proper’ meetings; ours are more… Read More

A short history of sex by Trevor Plumbly

Following my insightful piece on the subtleties of the law, I’ve been asked to turn my thoughts to other matters that affect our lives. Things like sex. Birds, bees and bollocks I admit not many people actually indulge in sex on a daily basis, but there’s still a lot of it about in one form or another. Popular thinking suggests we should learn about bonking early; for me, it wasn’t considered important. In a school that served more as an incubator for misfits than a place of learning, sex education wasn’t considered… Read More

Yorkshire mini-break by Angela Caldin

I’m up in Yorkshire enjoying a few days immersion in all that is wonderful about this county including its down-to-earth people, its direct talk, its breath-taking landscapes and its wry humour. Northern rivalry I should point out that I’m from Lancashire, a diamond of a county, but locked in a centuries old rivalry with its neighbour over the Pennines. Who remembers learning about the Wars of the Roses in the fifteenth century with the white rose for the House of York and the red rose for the house of Lancaster? As if… Read More