Potiphar12's Blog
An Octogenarian in the modern world


I read those inspirational words in a book. Do they apply to octogenarians? Well, there are two ways to walk to the village from here. You can walk all the way on the road and you will be safe. Vehicles are used to avoiding pedestrians and if you look a bit tired somebody will always offer you a lift. You won’t get lost or ignored.

Or you can walk over the fields. It is about the same distance, but you might meet nobody and you might put your foot in a rabbit hole, and fall over and be unable to get up, and die all alone. How much sympathy would you get? The likely reaction would be “Stupid old fool. Why could he not take the safe, sensible course?”

That’s health and safety gone mad! I have done it before and I am only a few weeks older. I know the last time was quite tough because they had not cut the grass for hay and it was hard to know where you were putting your feet, and I had forgotten to take the mobile phone. But risk-avoidance is not my style. If this blog post is never completed, you will know why.

BACK UNINJURED! And able to complete the blog. It took me longer than usual, but that was partly because I met three people to talk to along the way. The hay had all been cut so there were no hazards beyond a few cows and huge number of sheep.


About two thirds of the way to the village is convenient stile to rest on. One reason for going today was that the physiotherapist is due tomorrow and she will ask me if I have done the exercises. No. But I can boast that I have walked to the village and back instead.

Also, tomorrow, comes the second test match against Australia. it is just possible that our new bowler Archer can upset the old enemy. I shall watch when we are doing well and turn it off it gets depressing.


One of my advisers on blogging said that it could be compared to writing a diary. Well, something happened to me this very day (11th October 2019) which I would like to mention, and it connects with my last post in which I told the world a little about myself I went   to church this morning (see picture) which brands me as being in some sense religious. So to give an idea of me as a person I have to take the label Christian. There are more varieties of such than Heinz soup so your image of me may be anything from fundamentalist zealot to Lord Melbourne, who said that he was a buttress of the church because he supported it from the outside.


People who adhere to this faith have a duty to say so, particularly in this modern world where we are a minority and sometimes an object of ridicule. The preacher this morning upset me because it seemed that she held a very literal view of the old testament to which I certainly don’t subscribe.

I think that humans have been speculating about an after-life ever since they became conscious of their mortality.  The imaginary after-lifes they have created  have some big effects. They provide comfort, and they suggest qualifications for getting in or out. They also allow manipulative folk (like priests) to control the behaviour of less educated people. So a vast mass of rules and procedures have been built up in the name of different religions. You can strip all this away and ask which is best at reconciling the imperatives of Justice and Mercy. I think Christianity comes out on top

What about the behaviours that different religions urge upon their followers? In past times Christianity has been as bad as any. Look at the Spanish Inquisition and The St. Bartholomews Day Massacre in France and all those people Queen Mary burnt at the stake. Look at the procession of paedophile priests still being exposed today. Every field of human activity has a good side and a bad side. But Christianity tries to focus more on the two commandments (reduced from ten by Jesus Christ) of Love God and Love Your Neighbour.

I want to enlist on he side of the angels and I choose The Church of England because I think its ideas stand up better than the others and its code of conduct is the best available. Making no choice seems to me a cop-out.

Years ago I shocked my friends by comparing agnosticism to going to a horse race and not placing a bet. I have studied the data and the form book and put myHorserace

money on Jesus Christ. So I shall continue to attend this small rural church and put up with some utterances that I consider rubbish.

I am also a devotee of the great mediaeval poet Will Langland and have created a web site called praisingpiersplowman.com to popularise a religious work that seems to me as good as anything written since.


Learning about blogs is quite hard! I have found that I must include some pictures (videos are beyond me at present) and that it does no harm to identify myself. So let’s start with my Great Grandfather, John Elgood, who founded a brewery at Wisbech in Cambridgeshire, England, about 1860 Here is a picture.


If you are entering Wisbech from the west, this wonderful Georgian building is what you will see across the River Nene. (Water just visible in the bottom RH corner.) We are still independent and we are managed by two Great, Great Granddaughters of the founder. We brew excellent beer and if you are in the area you must try our Black Dog.

I am called Christopher and after a life of intelligent drifting (a good policy if you have no vocation) I ended up in one of the smallest apartments in a “Luxury


Retirement Village”. Here it is. The situation causes me a bit of angst because I am not a luxury person and the trappings of luxury make me squirm. Circumstances brought me to this place and I sold a house in Kent to pay the most money I have ever paid for the smallest space I have ever owned. Some of the items meant to signify prestige and luxury can be imagined from looking at this repulsive urn that stands in front of the main door.


So far as I have achieved anything during my life it is connected with the book shown here. It made me an accepted guru in my field for a few years.


In my blog-learning I have to read the blogs of other people. The first thing that strikes me is how long-winded some of them are. Those that WP recommends seem to drag on for ages. Do some of these people know so much about their subject that they can’t make a precis?







It is great fun to realise that, in venting my octogenarian spleen against the things I hate, I am following the advice of the poet who  wrote “Rage, Rage against the dying of the light”. (Advice to old men.)

How I loathe the concept of “marketing”. It is all about presenting the thing to be sold in the best possible light and leaving all the negatives unsaid. They are only discovered after you have paid the money. Marketing frequently involves playing up minor benefits that distinguish the product from others but have no real significance. Like, “Ours is the only product including the special X ingredient”when the ingredient is poorly identified and nobody says it makes up 10% of the product or is only half a milligram.

Marketing also benefits from our acceptance of rapid change. It no longer matters that your marketing spiel is misleading if you can say that it has now changed. What you said yesterday is irrelevant. Much the same happens with promises implied for the future. The government tells the media, for example, that there will be investment of £1.5 Billion over the next five years but when just one year has passed the whole thing is forgotten and never happens at all.

Take the national PPI scandal. Payment Protection Insurance was conceived as a safeguard for people who had taken on debt and were unable, for reasons like sickness or redundancy to keep up repayments. Large numbers of people bought it without knowing they had done so or bought it when they had on need to do so. The marketing people managed to turn it into a money-spinner for the banks.

I get equally incensed about junk mail. (Those red vans ought to have Royal JUNK Mail written on them) Why do advertisers have to send me expensive brochures month after month when I have bought nothing from them in ten years? They must have my name on a list, so surely it’s possible to record a reply and scrub my name if no response is ever received. But maybe my thinking is out of date, Maybe they say “This month we mail to the occupier of every single address in Postcode XY19”. Then they won’t have my name and won’t know that I have dumped their offering in the bin.

I find it disappointing to look at the letter box each day and find that everything is junk. But perhaps that increases the joy when a real letter is hidden underneath he rubbish.



Dylan Thomas offers two alternatives responses to growing old. One can “Go gentle into that Goodnight’ or one can RAGE. Perhaps ones attitude changes as the end of the road gets, nearer, but right now I am all for raging.

Rage against what? range against who? My present target is the appalling rate of change in things electronic. At 80 I struggled hard to get some familiarity with Linkedin and WordPress and such like. Then family problems demanded my whole attention and, now, as I come back to the field, they have changed so much that I must re-discover it all. Like everybody else, LLoyds Bank refuses to leave me alone. I am warned to be prepared for new security checks. And when I give in to their demands for a new password I shall probably be told that it must have three letters and four numbers and five of those obscure symbols that live somewhere inside the keyboard of my ancient computer.

When I bought my first bicycle it was just a matter of turning out my piggy-back and asking my parents to make up the shortfall.

I also RAGE (frequently) against the long-winded menu options that you get when you try to make a telephone call. As each option is read out, you wonder if the description might just possibly cover your query. Then you get to the end of the options and you have forgotten what they were. Yes, hiring a real body to answer the phone costs money, but it really inspires the caller to hear a genuine, intelligent, helpful human being. Maybe that does your business as much good as a cash saving.


Does matter that I am out of touch with the modern world? True? False? Matter to Me? Matter to anybody?

We are all out of touch to some degree. There are people around who know nothing beyond sex, alcohol, and football. It does not seem to worry them. There are also people around whose views are so fixed that they won’t even listen to opposing views. They are not worried either.

I am out of touch because I have assumed that the world is going to hell anyway and I will be dead before it has happened. Therefore, ignore anything new. But some new things are actually useful. Instead of reconciling myself to a toothless old age I find that I can have a dental implant. The man can dig a hole in my jaw and stick in a titanium post that will somehow bond with the bone and provide a base for a stick-in tooth. The news makes me sensitive to other health developments. Like the nurse who did the M.O.T. on my pacemaker saying that the remaining battery life was at least eight years and might be as much as ten. Wow! All this newness might matter to me, personally.

So when somebody enthuses about the latest technological miracle I shall actually have to listen.

Does being out of touch matter in a general sense? Is it bad for society? Yes, because we live in a democracy and an informed electorate is likely to make better decisions. The trouble with that is that the world is drowning in information without much clue about what is true and what is false. Can the individual do anything positive? Maybe – by thinking issues through and speaking or writing according to what you believe. You might just influence a few others.


Another thing I would like to say after my return to digital life is about books. I read a lot, and have just finished “Marrying the Mistress” by Joanna Trollope. A good book, but I find the way she and some other writers portray the world very disturbing.  Is the modern cavalier attitude to love, marriage and sex really as portrayed in fiction? 

I got Google to tell me about Monogamy, and found that historically it has won out over Polygamy because the latter allows rich men to plunder the stock of marriageable women and thus create greater competition and aggression among other men. So society becomes more violent.

It makes sense to me, but Monogamy only says “One man – One wife at a time”. It does not say “The same wife all the time”. It does not prohibit the situation so common in modern fiction where one spouse casually dumps the other and replaces him/her with one expected to be better.

My octogenarian value system was formed in the days before contraception and is clearly out–of-date in that it does not consider the value of  extensive pre-marital sexual experience. A marriage is probably going to last longer if the parties know that sex is going to be great for both of them. That supports my belief that a good rule about marriage is:

“See it as something serious, that demands thought and preparation”.”

I go on from that to believe another rule:

“If you have done it, be prepared for considerable effort, compromise, and determination to make it work.”

I think that making a relationship work is a growth experience, more so than dumping a spouse in  a search for personal gratification.  So I am hoping that he impression I have gained about modern fiction is wrong.

In the old peoples home (a.k.a. “Luxury Retirement Village”) where I live, the residents are all about my age and share my views. They express great concern for their children (to some extent) and their grandchildren (more so) on account of this spouse-swapping world they must endure.

The next book has to have a different subject.



On re-entering the world (see last post Alive Again) this issue stares me in the face. The Irish border seems critical. What do I know about it? Not enough. So off to Google to read an explanatory article by the BBC. Wiser, but not very much.

The backstop arrangement agreed by Theresa recognises a conflict. On the one hand is a need to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and The Republic. On the other hand there is a need to control traffic between different entities. (Assuming the UK leaves the EU). The agreement is a fudge, allowing a possible future in which the UK is tied to EU customs regulations permanently and is therefore unable to make customs agreements of it’s own. Have I got that right? Brexit folk can’t live with that possibility. 

Boris and others want to look for a different solution to the problem. The EU won’t even talk about the issue. Could there be a different, but credible solution? Nothing has yet got wide support, but one suggestion is that technology might enable control of movement without a physical check at the border. The means do not yet exist, but technology does so many impossible things already that the idea surely can’t be discarded. So why not talk about it?

The answer seems to be that the EU refuses even to talk about the issue because they might appear to be giving in, and lose face. This attitude seems juvenile to me.



Nothing on this blog since August 2017! Why? Lost my wife (dementia) and then ill myself. So here is a story that may resonate with fellow Octogenarians.

Fell down for unknown reasons and was unable to get up. Lay on the floor all night and then grasped the emergency cord provided by this “Luxury Retirement Village”. Off in ambulance to Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading where they seemed uncertain what was wrong. Phone call from RBH to my daughter warning of possible decease but can’t remember a thing about it. The solution was a pacemaker – M.O.T. thereon due shortly.

Do remember waking to see  beautiful physiotherapist beside bed and illusion of being in Islamic Heaven where she and 99 others were waiting to greet me.

Out of RBH February 2018 but electronically inactive for a year. Can’t think why. Picture shows repaired octogenarian at Tarr Steps in Devon when escorted by daughter and son-in-law.

TarrstepBut reviewing past blog posts I discover that I am still the same bigotted octogenarian as before. Hullo World! No change. But Boris is now Prime Minister and England are World Champions at one-day cricket, though I think New Zealand got a rough deal. What will Boris do next? I can’t believe that he will be gaffe-free for long. But at least he will provide entertainmen – an activity at which the BBC fails so miserably


As an octogenarian I can remember the days when a stiff upper lip was fashionable, and little boys were not allowed to cry, and you were not supposed to inflict your private miseries on the rest of the world.

The time came when this attitude was seen as psychologically damaging and something to be avoided. It pushed self-control to an extreme. The public pendulum then swung the other way, through the era of  “Let it all hang out”.

It seems to me that we have now reached the other extreme and that the universal and unrestricted outpouring of personal emotion has gone too far. I am sick of television interviews with people who have suffered some misfortune and emote extensively in front of the camera. It looks to me like an attempt to escape from reality. The harsh truth is that people have experienced terrible sufferings throughout history and will continue to do so while the world lasts. Each case is one of many millions. The proper personal response is to recognise what has happened, accept such help as is available and move. Promoting your sob-story may be satisfying but won’t be much practical help.

Why must we always be bored by statements of the obvious? is it really news that individual A is deeply distressed  because her daughter has been raped and murdered? Of course she is distressed. Of course she deserves sympathy and support. Of course society must be aware of such things and do what is possible to prevent them. But does it really require the extensive and repetitive coverage that it gets? When there is a disaster, is it the instinctive response of a reporter to find a sufferer and put him or her on screen? And the statements are wildly exaggerated, The daughter is always presented as a perfect angel when she was probably no more angelic than the daughters of all the viewers.

And while I am busy on this octogenarian tirade, let me say how angry it makes me that everything described on television has got to be ‘the greatest’ or  ‘fantastic’ or ‘world beating’ or ‘amazing’. If you hype up everything there is nothing left for things that are really serious.