Sky News….


In London, until this afternoon, it was a glorious autumn day with warm, mellow sunshine and light breezes.

The remnants of storm Ophelia are making their presence felt here too. The sun went a rather peculiar orangey colour, rather than yellow, the clouds scudded across, the winds blew a lot stronger and then the sky seemed to fall in around 4 pm this afternoon.

This of course sent people into their usual witticisms, saying the apocalypse is coming and that Donald J. Trump has launched an attack on whatever country has offended him. It went very, very dark, and no one knew why.

But the good old Met Office here in the U.K. has variously attributed the strange sky colour to Saharan dust and forest fire debris being blown in from Spain and Portugal. The winds are from a southerly track and of sufficient strength to frighten people into thinking the end of days was imminent. There’s always a reason behind most things, and we can all go back to normal now.

Allen Brooks xx

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30th Anniversary of the Great UK storm…

It was thirty years ago to the day when British TV weather forecaster, Michael Fish, delivered a gaffe that will always be remembered by the watching public. Fish told us that a hurricane wasn’t  on the way that night and following morning….what followed was the biggest wind storm to hit England for 350 years…no big mistake then!

I remember the night very clearly. I was due to go into school the following morning, and the winds howled and the rain poured down. So much so in fact, that’s part of London suffered a major power outage. After the storm had passed, it was eerily quiet and ghost like in the area.

A school mate had popped round to see whether I was going to school. There was no possibility of school that day, mainly for health and safety reasons. There were some huge trees uprooted in the local area and it was a scene of eerie calm, despite the havoc that just been wreaked.

Nationwide, several people were either injured or lost their lives. The national Met Office came in for some fearful stick in not alerting people to the devastation to come. Computer technology has improved somewhat in 30 years, but as we have seen this autumn, Mother Nature has been merciless in destroying communities and places in the Caribbean and North America. No amount of computer predictions can beat Mother Nature.

And, by a quirk of fate, a storm in the Eastern Atlantic is making it’s way to the western UK and Ireland tomorrow and into Tuesday. It’s called Ophelia and we await events. Some damage is likely, so please take care of yourselves in these areas. The weather is always a topic of conversation, but something we can’t control. Tomorrow will bring back some memories of 1987 and a gaffe prone weather forecaster. I don’t think the same mistake will be made tomorrow.

Allen Brooks xx

Sunday Best…

Hello. On what was a glorious day for mid October, me and one of my umpiring colleagues made the long journey to Cambridge for some information and guidance on how to run some new cricket umpiring courses, starting in the New Year.

It’s a time for great change within the tutoring and learning methodology in cricket umpiring. There’s to be less emphasis on examinations, and more on the practical side of things, such as dealing with players, making mistakes and preparation before an umpire does a game, for example.

Also, there’s some new law changes as well, especially related to player behaviour, which comes as a necessary evil into what used to be euphemistically termed “a gentleman’s game” many years ago. We live in a society now that is more aggressive and querulous, and it is up to the umpires to uphold the traditions of the game, I hope.

It was a long drive there and back, and the four early morning starts in a row sees me in bed by 10.30 in the evening, and also guaranteeing me some good quality sleep, something which hasn’t always been the case of late. Still, it’s better than sleeping in till nearly lunchtime, and sometimes gone lunchtime! But when the medication was such, heavy and poor quality sleep was the result.

I feel ok, not bad, could be better, could be worse. I’ll settle for that.

Allen Brooks xx

Being a good sport…

As you have may have gathered by now, I like sport, especially cricket and football, and today I’ve watched both.

First of all, it was off to indoor cricket, which was extremely enjoyable and very good natured. I only went to watch as I say, the time will arrive when I return to umpiring. There were some players there that I get on extremely well with and there were lots of healthy banter flying back and forth. I felt comfortable and relaxed. My umpiring colleagues did a good job and it was a trouble free session.

Then it was off to another part of London to watch the greatest knockout sports competition on the planet, the Football Association Challenge Cup, or FA Cup for short. The FA Cup pits the wits of the estate agents, solicitors, brickies, postmen etc who play football for the love of the game, against the full time professionals of the English league clubs. 

As you can see, the surroundings are not always salubrious:- 

but the atmosphere and vibe was brilliant, and it was a fantastic game in the best traditions of sport. No quarter asked or given and six goals to boot as well. Not only that, going to a random game proved what a small world we live in here on planet Earth.

I chatted to one of my umpiring colleagues, who is doing very well for himself, and though I didn’t get to chat to him, there was one of the local cricket captains at the game too. As I say, a crackling atmosphere and the crowd can be full of wit, or something else rhyming with wit. I’ll leave you to work it out!

So an excellent sporting day. After the tough volunteering experience last night, it was just what I needed today to bring me back to the lighter side of life. Great stuff!

Allen Brooks xx

Triskeidekaphobia…

Phobia:- A fear of something, which can cause great distress to the sufferer, manifesting itself in physical and mental symptoms…

Tris:- Meaning three of something 

Deka:- pertaining to the number ten….

My take on the number 13, of course it has been Friday the 13th today. Hope it’s not been unlucky for you, wherever you are.

Allen Brooks xx

Watching and Learning….

Tonight I have spent a very productive few hours in the company of the mental health charity I am currently training with, and hopefully to volunteer for.

It was an opportunity to shadow a current volunteer on the charity’s helpline. There are several charities in the U.K. that run helplines for people with mental illnesses, and it was certainly an eye opening experience, to say the very least.

The volunteer took six calls, and the variation in the nature of the calls indicates what a distressing existence it can be to have a mental illness, or even to contemplate something life ending. For obvious reasons, I will not elaborate on the callers or the nature of their calls. 

Helplines are a lifeline, quite literally. It’s like throwing somebody an aid to save them from drowning. I am used to dealing with real issues at the weekly Peer Support group, but tonight was here and now, mental distress in the raw.

I honestly don’t know how the volunteers on the helpline keep their distance, their boundaries or their patience. The guy I was shadowing was magnificent. Professional, polite and patient. He was a real credit to the organisation and we got on well. He also valued my comments about the individual calls too, which was nice. 

I must say, the helpline volunteering is not for me. If I didn’t have my own issues, then dealing with distress wouldn’t be a problem, but with all that has happened the last seven years, dealing with extreme stuff probably is a bit beyond my capabilities. The Peer Support group is different, because anyone in crisis in the group is referred straightaway to clinical services, and wouldn’t be allowed in the group. There is an informal vetting procedure, something that doesn’t happen with helplines.

I am up for moderating an online forum and doing some admin work with the new charity. Just going to keep my head down and make my contribution, in my own way.

An enlightening evening, and I have great admiration for anyone working on helplines. Mental illness is something to be taken very seriously, and these helplines perform a crucial outlet for those in need. Long may they continue.

Allen Brooks xx

I am 45…not 50!

Don’t get much in the way of interesting mail these days. It’s either a bill or a load of rubbish advertising about the local pizza parlour or double glazing. Exciting it’s not.

But a national life insurance firm keeps sending me stuff about an over 50 plan. Well, I would like to inform them that I’m not 50, and not for another five years. I mean, it’s a sure sign I’m getting older that this mail regularly comes through the letterbox, next it will be stair lifts and elasticated trousers. But I digress.

Once I reach 50, then I may well think about life insurance, as it will be appropriate. Not at the moment, thank you very much…now where are those elasticated trousers??

Allen Brooks xx