The Good Old Days

It is strange how your perceptions change as you grow older.

I am of an age where I can clearly remember the “winter of ’63” a winter where, for a primary school child life was bliss – it snowed on Boxing Day and the snow remained for almost three months.

I didn’t care a jot that we had no running water due to frozen pipes, in fact queuing at the water bowser with my parents was part of the adventure.

I also recall us becoming very popular with the neighbours as, later in the freeze, we were the first house in our road to actually have the water company come out and thaw our pipes – the reason being my mother was expecting my sister at the time.

I had to say having a sister was a disappointment – I wanted a puppy instead.

However the best part was playing out in the snow day after day. For adults it was probably three months of hell, for me it was three months of sheer delight.

Now roll the clock forward 47 years.

On the television we see children enjoying the snowfall, yet instead of feeling happy for them as they experience the delight I did all those years ago, my reaction is to snarl and revert to Victor Meldrew mode.

Whilst the snow may be fun to play in it is no fun whatsoever to drive in – even more importantly it has led to the decimation of turf racing. Indeed the snow has been so bad it has even led to the curtailment of some, so called, all weather race meetings.

Speaking of which when are we going to get rid of the wholly inappropriate “all weather” description, let’s just call it artificial surface racing.

I am one of those who blithely says I can get by without racing – you know what I can’t. I have been going stir crazy these past few weeks.

It became so bad I actually looked forward to going to an artificial surface meeting.

I have to say at this point that I have been very impressed with the racing authorities in the way they have handled the recent bad weather. From being an intransigent, inflexible beast a few years ago the authorities have been both reactive, proactive and, dare I say, innovative.

Last weeks all-bumper card at Southwell would never have even been considered previously. In the end it attracted good field, although small crowds. However the crowds may have been reduced by the bad weather – I tried to attend the meeting but had to turn back home after “progressing” a mile in the first hour.

Even when the snow cleared we were still kept on tenterhooks.

My racing of choice last Saturday, Huntingdon, had to survive a couple of inspections. Nothing to do with the snow but a thread of flooding from the nearby brook, the level of which was slowly rising.

This week should have been a return to normal and it started OK.

Yesterday was a turf meeting at Southwell, although as I drove through some dense fog patches near the course I did wonder if the weather was going to thwart me again.

Today the weather Gods have conspired to bite me on the bum yet again. All ready to go to Newbury, I checked early and the reports were it was raining.

By the time I emerged from the shower they had announced it was snowing and they were going to inspect at 9:00.

Sure enough racing was Cancelled by 9:25 – another meeting bites the dust.

Please – no more snow – it looks pretty but it really is disrupting my life.

On the subject of life being disrupted, it has been bought home to me this last week just how much we do take things for granted.

As you will have gathered from my earlier comments I am no spring chicken and have been round the block a few times.

I can vaguely remember the very early days of cash machines where you were given a card by the bank which you could insert in a machine in return for an envelope of ten £1 notes, the card was retained after use.

Nowadays we take ATM’s and debit cards for granted. I know I rarely use cash any more, until this last week.

My debit card runs out the end of this month and normally my bank is usually very good at sending out new cards, usually about eight weeks before they run out.

So when I had not received my new card by the beginning of last week I rang them up. After going through seemingly endless phone options, then security checks, I finally managed to speak to a human who confirmed my new card had been processed on the 4th December.

We I had not received it.

No problem she says, I will cancel the card and order you a new one, which will arrive within the next  ten working days.

Later that day I went to my local cash and carry, which only accepts debit cards and cash, no credit cards.

I went to pay for my goods with my debit card to be faced with the dreaded words “card declined” – I was saved further embarrassment by having sufficient cash on me to pay for the goods.

My immediate reaction was somebody had gotten hold of my new card and was milking my account. As soon as I was back home I checked my account and all was OK.

So it was a case of Mr Angry getting onto the phone to the bank again.

Well, to cut a long story short, when the replacement card was cancelled it also meant my current card was also automatically cancelled as it has the same card number – something the young lady neglected to mention in the morning.

This means, for the last week and a half, I have not had a debit card and boy oh boy do I miss it.

Shopping online is a no-no. I have to make sure I have enough cash on me whenever I go out and if I want to actually get some cash out then it is literally half an hour in the branch queuing, then having to prove who I am before I am allowed to have any of my money.

I had not realised just how much we take a little bit of plastic for granted,

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