John Young

I was born in 1954 and my formative years were in the 1960s. I always find it hard to explain to people what it was like then, but it was an exciting time, a time for change and advancement.

My big interest was space, and I am sure I just about remember Sputnik. I definitely remember coming home from school and my mum telling me about Yuri Gagarin, an under-sung hero in the history of the world.

I knew all about the America astronauts, all the missions and craft, and I followed it carefully. JFK made a commitment to landing a man on the Moon before the decade was  out, and returning him safely to Earth. If he had said that now, he would have been all over the press for excluding women.

Most people’s “favourite” astronaut was probably John Glenn. The most famous, possibly one of the most famous people who have ever lived, was Neil Armstrong. There are very few of the originals still alive. Glenn died recently and my favourite, John Young died the other day at a good age.

He was, I would say, a character. Famously, on one flight he smuggled a corned beef sandwich onto the craft. He was the only person in the entire history of the World to fly to the Moon twice and land once. You can read more about him here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Young_(astronaut)

If you can catch the wonderful film In The Shadow Of The Moon, Young’s contribution shows that he was still as enthusiastic as ever about space, always looking to the future.

He would be sad, I am sure, that we no longer have the capability to go to the Moon.

Bus stops

If you are a visitor to London, one of the very best ways to get around, if you are not in a hurry, is by bus. But apparently, London buses are a bit confusing, so here are a few bits of basic advice:

  • not all red London buses are red. Many carry advertising and can be different colours
  • all buses have a route code, usually an number (eg 91) sometimes with a letter (eg W7). Do not confuse the regular buses with coaches (eg to airports) or tour buses
  • many bus routes operate 24 hours a day, every day except Christmas Day. Not all routes operate 24 hours. Night buses are labelled with an N (eg N91). It is possible that a night bus does not go on the exact same route as the regular service – often they can have different or extended routes. Some night buses run only at weekends.
  • not all buses stop at all stops. Look at the bus sign – it should indicate exactly what buses stop where. Most shelters have maps listing destinations, suitable buses and a map showing where they can be caught.
  • bus maps are available for free at tube information desks. Do not pay for a map
  • bus stops are of two types

compulsory, meaning, the bus stops there regardless

request, meaning you have to indicate to the driver you want it to stop. You do this by flagging the driver with your arm (not last minute though) if you are at the stop, or by pressing the bell once if you are on the bus. Our experience is that compulsory stops are often not honoured, so we advise you to treat every stop as request. The indicator inside the bus will show if it is stopping.

  • expect traffic delays
  • cash is not accepted. Pay by Oyster (or etc) when you get on, not off
  • there are no transfers
  • expect buses to be packed at rush hour
  • many bus shelters have an indicator showing next bus times. These are usually accurate, but not always. There are many very good free travel apps that work in London and will help. We use CityMapper but there are many others.
  • do not attempt to enter or leave a bus except at a proper bus stop, and do not annoy drivers by banging on the door after the bus has left the stop

Happy New Year

Happy New Year, everyone. It’s 2018.

So, what do we have to look forward to this year?

Winter Olympics seem to be the first major even of the year. The venue is South Korea. I always think I should enjoy winter sports more than I do. I remember as a child I liked watching bobsleigh, but things like ice skating leave me cold. There are some tough events where they go for long distances and then shoot things. There’s some football event, too.

There’s a Royal wedding coming up too. Prince Henry (aka Harry) marries Meghan sometime in May. They are saying that pubs will be open longer for people to celebrate. I don’t get that. What’s it do to with us when he’s getting married, except, I suppose, that we subjects actually pay for it. Oh, and yet another royal baby is due.

2018 will see the British Government sort out all the problems relating to Brexit. President Trump will visit the UK and will be universally hailed as the greatest president who has ever lived.

There will be some famous deaths. There will be terrorist attacks. There will be at least one major disaster where hundreds of people get killed.

Hmm. How long is it to Christmas?