A view from the Top

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Welcome to my monthly column “A view from the top”. Hopefully you will find my rambling readable (maybe even enjoyable). You may agree or you may disagree with my views, I care not. These are my views long held and forged over a life time of work, travel and experience. Now that’s over let’s have a look at what is really winding me up.

The beauty of childhood.
Left the house the other day with the aim of paying a quick visit to my local for a Saturday afternoon pint. As I left the house I noticed that the road across from my house had been closed off by a couple of plastic barriers ...barriers that had been left by the local council after some official road closure. In this case the barriers had been purloined by several young children who had closed off the road at each end and were busy playing street football ...young boys and girls running about ...laughing and just enjoying life doing what growing children should do - namely learn by social interaction and play.
Watching the children reminded me of the old pre-school play groups slogan which said "Playing is learning for living".

Another memory that came to me was my early years as a street kid living in the middle of London. School, when I went, did not hold many enchantments for me and as such I spent my early years wandering the corridors of the Natural History Museum in South Kensington, taking in the wonders of the natural world. Who could not be fascinated by the "Blue Whale Hall" or the magic of the Brontesaurus with all those bones and that magnificent long tail ...then it was up the stairs and into the world of creepy crawlies ...I don't like spiders and snakes are the words of a song that I can 100 percent agree with ...however there is no doubting the weird beauty of such creatures.

When the world of natural history had been explored I used my preferred mode of transport, the London Underground, to make my way around the Capital City ...usually having The Tower of London as my point of call. Before you ask ...yes I was playing truant and yes I did not have any money to pay for my underground travel.

In the early 1960s, museums were free and London Underground had yet to think of the Metal Crocodile Barrier ...so the City of intrigue, that is London, was in effect open for perusal to a quick witted, skint, travel savvy truant playing street kid like me. All I had to avoid were the Police and an angry but overworked mother.

All went well until both the police and my angry mother caught up with my little game ...aided I must add by the Catholic Church in the guise of Father (Cannon) Hadfield who decided that I would become his "lapsed Catholic child of interest". A plan was drawn up to enroll me into "Westminster Cathedral School" with its firm discipline, and the rest as they say is history. My childhood became one of concentration and study rather than one of light and liberty. Schooling definitely altered my life ...out went casualness in came thought and learning aided by my early life skill of being able to read from a very early age ...no tuition, no parental effort, just a by product of hiding in local libraries to keep warm while playing truant from school.

Watching the kids playing football in the street took me back through the years and confirmed that playing is definitely learning for living ...fresh air ...social interaction and the flirtation with risk are pre-requesits for common sense adulthood. Long may youngsters enjoy their early years because for sure, life in todays world seems to be getting tougher by the day.

Just sitting and watching television.
Like many of you, in my retirement I like to watch television especially daytime television ...what however is driving me mad, is the proliferation of adverts that seek to ease my hard earned cash from my bank account. Along with these are the many charities who are championing the cases of clean water, food shortages, animal welfare, health care around the World, to name just a few. These pleas for help are genuine and should go someway to remind us all of the difficult life that some people live. What did catch my eye and caused me concern however, was an advert that sought to encourage women to seek Breast Augmentation.

My concern is that - shouldn't this type of surgery be a matter for serious medical and psychological discussion between interested parties rather than a commercial shot at impressionable and maybe vulnerable people who may seek this type of medical intervention as a commercial lifestyle pathway. Listen, if you can afford it and you want bigger breasts then go for it ...my concern is that this type of advert is aimed at young women and is for cosmetic, rather than medical professional reasons.

Last shot at the television adverts is aimed at the company who offer "laser eye treatment". Whilst I accept that this treatment can be worthwhile, surely the company could have used a better slogan than "we can show you how to lose your glasses" to attract our attention. Let me tell you, I have a history of losing my glasses without help from anyone!