Is watching TV a waste of time?


After visiting the Shepton Mallet show about which I have written above I decided for the first time in years to buy a soft pillow. I have become more and more aware of my body especially after the accident and I’m realising that I often sleep with my neck at an angle when ideally it should be straight in line with the spine. The pillows are not orthopedic models but at least better than what I’ve got at the moment which is basically plastic foam so I have decided to give them a try.

And now onto the topic of this diary:

I’ll turn this on its head and say that anything is a waste of time if you don’t have the right attitude to it. You can have a marriage which on the face of it looks good but actually is a waste of time because you not being honest with the other person. You can put in money to a scheme which is a waste of time because it wasn’t thought out properly. You can spend time and energy on a journey to see someone and nothing results so you wasted your time there as well.

I hear some people saying they never watch TV and seldom read a newspaper  and I can certainly see the logic of that bearing in mind the amount of visual programming that we can receive unwittingly especially when watching so-called news.

I think the whole point is about priority and attitude not time. I have about 500 channels to choose from on Sky and Freeview plus goodness knows how many  videos on Youtube and Vimeo and Net flicks that I really want to watch. With regard to TV, we chose our programs carefully. However, the indisputable fact is that there is lots of material of real value on TV both factual and entertainment which can be good for the spirit

First up was a program called Countryfile which was a special edition about a large agricultural show in Blenheim Palace.  We saw how old agricultural methods were being preserved for example showing of an old-fashioned harvester just about post-war time.  We saw how a lady became fascinated by painting cows after deciding to paint a cow  on her bedroom wall. Her father took it along to a gallery owner to be framed whereupon the owner asked her to paint 20 more cows and use them all to comprise an exhibition. There she was on BBC1. You never know where an idea might lead.

We saw youngsters being introduced to farming methods. We saw how difficult it is to marshal geese to do what you tell them. I found the programme very stimulating and encouraging, a reminder or how many nice community minded people there are around these days.

Second half, an hour-long investigation on the authenticity of John Constable’s the Hay Wain. it was quite a nailbiting as the team put together piece after piece of the jigsaw, followed trails, sought scientific opinion. We were finally rewarded with seeing the chap who paid £35,000 for the picture 10 years ago now finds it to be worth more than £2 million. His final words were that he wanted to be on public display so I suppose it would like to sell it to a gallery.

Next In-line and shortly thereafter, we watched the first of a new series of Dragons Den which I think is in its 12th series now. In case you are unfamiliar, applicants have to make a pitch to very savvy and successful people called Dragons in order to invest money with them. The exciting thing is that it is all live but of course pre-recorded; there is no escaping the perspicacity of said Dragons. I find this a very good learning experience albeit vicarious as to how to approach people or not to approach them. one person asked for £600,000 while cheerfully admitting that he had no plan and no idea how to bring his business forward. Another person annoyed the Dragons by addressing them in the familiar. I think it was Debbie Meadon who was called Debbs or Debbie or some such. It is always best to err on the formal side unless invited to call someone by their first name.

Other people were unrealistic by offering too small a percentage of the company in return for their money when some of the ideas were embryonic and had not stood the test of time. Some people fail because they have not done their maths homework and do not understand basic accounting procedures. One-person screwed himself up because he did not come clean that he had had a tax bill demand for 200,000. The best candidates are those who speak with humility and realism and have done their homework. In the past, applicants have failed because although they think their idea is very good they have not done research on the competitiveness of the market.

talking to one of the staff in the prison

The final programme on the list of viewing this evening was Ross Kemp who specialises in going to extreme situations in the world and this time he went to  Pollsmoor prison which is situated in Cape Town. Strangely, I know it well because it was about 2 miles from where I used to stay with my friend in Constantia. I have been to South Africa 20 times. You could say I know it fairly well. All the prisoners in this prison were murderers, rapists or drug dealers. To put it politely, the guards have to let the men have their way in order to keep the peace. The ratio of guards to prisoners is 100. Saturday night and Sunday morning times consist of drug and porn related events followed by men having sex with other men.

The prison is controlled by three gangs, the 26, 27 and 28 gang . Promotion within the hierarchy is obtained via certain deeds  that you have to perform including murder. It’s regards doing, to the standard required and they are killed. Many of the prisoners come from Cape Flats where 2 million Cape Coloureds, the bottom of the pile, take refuge. They are regarded as below Black people and definitely below Europeans so a life of drugs and murder is second nature to them. What else is there?

interviewing one of the gang members

The chief of one of the gangs was describing how he would routinely rape  newcomers who would be killed if they resisted his advances. I don’t think I need to say much more but the whole program was not a pretty sight. What I learnt was how conscienceless people can become when the circumstances are bad enough. We can look down on these people as animals but if we didn’t have enough food to eat and if our best friends had been killed and we knew we were due to stay in prison for 7 to 8 years I wonder how we would behave. Ross Kemp did a great job in my view.

So after about four hours viewing and I become a rich or a poorer person? I have certainly learned a lot and my attitude has changed, not much but it has changed for example in the way I prepare to meet someone when I have any favour to ask of them. I do not assume anything and them even more determined to be polite.

I was genuinely entertained by the efforts to secure the provenance of the artwork and I very much enjoyed seeing the agricultural show which in many ways for similar to the show that I just attended today Sunday, 20 August 2017 as I sit here in my office listening to showers of rain outside.

If I watched television and nothing else I think that would be a waste of time but if I can combine television with personal creativity, outdoor activities, working on the allotment, meeting people, I think I will be absolutely fine. I don’t think we can blame television for everything indeed I don’t think we can blame television at all because there is always the off switch.

Mid Somerset Show part 2 – lots of pictures

The Alpacas to which I previously referred

Dont forget to use Ctrl+ to increase the size of all the images.

preparing a horse for show
a pony and trap pair dashing along
these geese are definitely followers
£2000 for this wooden horse. Yes darling but where would we put it
this is still a table. I’m not quite sure what we would put on it, why and how
there are many craftsmen in this part of the world plying their trade
fiendish machines part one
fiendish machines part two
this looks like a seed sowing machine
acres of judging of fruit and veg bread and preserves
perfect onions
vegetables made to look like transport vehicles
first prize for saladings
that’s not bad either
perfect leeks
endless cheeses in the competition
goodness knows how many kilograms these weigh
first prize in the Wine and Roses competition
the second prize isn’t too bad either
Capt Manwaring talking about WW1
Peter Hayward and his wife specialising showing West Country milk bottles between 1880 and 1980 in Devon, Cornwall, Somerset and Dorset
lots of competitions for the children
a painting competition
developing children’s imaginative powers
telling a story
dogs waiting to be judged
a style suitable for some – a scaffolder maybe

Anyway, I trust you got the idea. It is always worth going to these events. you can have a chat with anyone you want, compare views or prejudices, and above all enjoy an occasion that doesn’t cost anything at least in this situation. If you are coming on your own, it really doesn’t matter. An individual is an individual and that’s all people care about.

Part three of my diary for today here




Mid Somerset show and the story of the Kiwi Alpacas


Friday 19 August 1664
various dialogues on work and family matters not to mention the war with Holland, about which he continually obsesses.

Today, off to the Mid-Somerset Show held at Shepton Mallett. This is an interesting historical town with its own prison now defunct, a pleasant park and a useful shopping centre which contains most of the popular trading names.

This is a once a year the event where everyone in the town and from the surrounding country gets together and in this largely pictorial essay I will give a feel of what it is like. As if we did not know it already, news is mainly spread by word of mouth. At the show there is the sort of atmosphere where you can just talk to anyone, without worrying that they will take it the wrong way because everyone feels safe and at home in this very interesting environment.

I spoke with a schoolteacher about how she trained children to write. I asked whether a writing style of a young child could be improved and she said only to a certain extent. She gets people to start writing a word with a serif in other words a loop to encourage them to make continuity and with not so much emphasis on the individual characters.

I also met a very knowledgeable man who was an amateur cook who described how he made savoury pies by mixing sausage meat with apricots and mustard. He says it is delicious and I have made a mental note to try it.

We also chatted with an exhibitor of alpacas. He transported them from New Zealand along with his family and they are now settled in the United Kingdom. He used to live in Christchurch where recently they had the earthquake. Unfortunately to date the geology has not settled sufficiently to start major construction work and in addition to that NZ have had many more earthquake episodes. That is what made them decide to up sticks and come halfway round the world. They are happy in this decision and have acclimatized well.

I suppose the culture shock would not be so great between the two countries apart from the fact that there are many more people in the UK than New Zealand which is sparsely populated at 41 per square mile. Bearing in mind that the majority of the land is habitable and economy good. The United Kingdom has 660 people per square mile, Mongolia has 4.4 people per square mile but it’s really about the overall economy, and how much the land itself can support people. Hong Kong supports 16,444 people per square mile. Singapore is even more at 18,513 psm. The United States of America supports  85 people per square mile but then it says nothing of the distribution of people which is overwhelmingly in C California and the eastern seaboard.

Anyway enough of this gay banter. I expect some of my readers are wondering whether it is worthwhile settling in Somerset. I shall be covering this in many diaries but the short answer is that if you are open to people, they will be open to you. Lots goes on but it takes a much longer time to discover it. Outside the main towns, there are quite a few more people living on subsistence level incomes but in spite of all that people are cheery, positive and friendly.

We arrived at the show at about 10 AM and by the time we left at about two o’clock the place was heaving with people. Due to heavy rains in the previous couple of days, there were deep ruts in the muddy ground making it difficult to push prams. The vast majority of people who attend are either farmers or farming families or those who have a connection with the land at some level. This I would say is an informal social club for the farming community; you can tell who farmers are because they are in general tall, lean, fit, (they have to be) and have a certain look in their eyes.

Anyway on with the pictures: the owners of antique cars love exhibiting them and will take every opportunity as we have seen recently in the Camerton show.

1933 Austin seven – don’t you dare touch!
I love the way they have used various shades of green
pristine engine compartment
first of two examples of a Rolls-Royce
one of the most distinctive marques in the world, the flying lady
a lady judge for the pigs
no ambiguity here, this pig is in the land of Nod
it is interesting to note the differences in wool which even the amateur can appreciate
you can see the differences in this picture sleep without having to feel the wool
Rams getting on fairly well with each other
an attempt to educate the public about wool
lovely white wool
a marked difference here

Lots more photos to come – see next diary