Times of reminiscence are almost extinct! Here’s what was happening in July 2002 and 2003…

Regular readers will know that I was made redundant in May 2003. A few months later, rumours emerged from various sources within my previous employment that they were struggling without me! I didn’t know whether to be flattered by such comments or to treat them with a high degree of cynicism, as no-one ever took the trouble to say how valuable my contribution to the business was whilst I was employed. What I did know, however, was that there emerged a large void in people’s knowledge of business procedures, and I suspected that it was this knowledge that they missed rather than me as an individual.

To try and address this issue, two of my former colleagues desperately tried to have my previous role re-instated. Whilst I had no idea as to whether or not they would succeed, there was the small matter that a role cannot be filled for a minimum of six months after individuals carrying out a similar function have been made redundant. In this particular instance, the company might have had a legitimate reason for creating a new position being that they were the new owners of the business and therefore not technically responsible for my untimely demise!

Still, I chose not to rest on my laurels on the assumption that senior management might one day contact me, pleading for me to return. That is not to say that I would not have considered any offer, but any return would have had to be on my terms. Meanwhile, my search for new and challenging work continued apace. However, sketchy details were leaked to me that movements were afoot to fill a void within the business and that, in fact, three former colleagues had been championing for my re-instatement. Sadly there was one major stumbling block… a sole surviving member of senior management who was one of the instigators behind my redundancy. So, I suspected that hell would freeze over before me being invited to return to the fold!

In times of difficulty and relevant hardship, depression often manifests itself and my circumstances were not helped when some so-called friends deserted me in my hour of need. However, as the ongoing years have shown, a handful of genuine and caring friends is far more valuable than a collection of individuals who only befriend you for what they think they can get out of you. Perhaps one or two of them may be reading this…I do hope so!

It was reported in early June 2003 that a record number of UK beaches had been awarded Blue Flags for cleanliness and leading the way was Wales with 33 beaches getting flags for clean water, management and visitor facilities. The Blue Flag has become the definitive international measure of beaches since it began back in 1987, when only 14 beaches won the award. It measures the accessibility for disabled visitors, the number of bins provided, lifeguards and litter left on the beach. Water must be clean enough to have achieved the highest standard defined by European Law.

With most of the country then basking in glorious sunshine, I made a visit to the beach at Weston-super-Mare, in the knowledge that the south-west of England had 22 beaches attaining the Blue Flag standards. Weston is renowned for its long flat and sandy beach, and also the fact that the sea water is a long way out. This beach, however, had not attained Blue Flag standards, and at the time, such attainment was a long way off. Litter, drinking cans, broken bottles, dog excrement and other debris literally covered the beach, making it a potential danger and health hazard for visitors, especially young children.

There did appear to be an absence of litter bins but I was amazed to see people actually discard their litter on to the beach and for dog owners to allow their pets to foul the area. Of course, there were some who were far more responsible in their actions, but the overall impression was of a dirty beach reflecting the standards of modern-day Britain. The beach was controlled by North East Somerset Council and seven years ago they charged £4.50 (€5.20) for the privilege of parking a vehicle either on the Promenade or on the beach itself. The question was just how much of this revenue was spent on maintaining the beach as it was a disgrace to both the town and the environment. Perhaps penalties for discarding litter in public places should be increased dramatically with on-the-spot fines for those caught in the act. Also the cost of employing a Litter Warden might well have been recouped many times over given the number of offenders who visit the beach!

Life is full of problems, and back in July 2002, these were some of the imponderables filling the storylines of EastEnders! Will Lynne stay with Gary or leave him for her former boyfriend, Jason? Will Ian and Laura ever resolve their difficulties? Will Anthony actually marry that dim-witted Zoë Slater? It’s only a matter of time before Lisa falls back into the arms of Phil, undoubtedly leaving Mark traumatised and unwanted. Will Pauline Fowler ever smile? Such matters, however, paled into insignificance when compared with the computer problems I encountered at that time.

I had set out to purchase an upgrade of memory and a new CD writer, but rather than mess around with things myself, decided to utilise the services of a specialist. This meant transporting the CPU, but as no extra costs would be incurred, thought it would be worthwhile. However, when it came to booting up the CPU, nothing would function, despite the fact that my PC had been working quite satisfactorily the night before. After isolating all the various components, the PC still failed to boot up, and it was decided that the mother board was to blame, having been affected either by a power surge or disturbed whilst in transit.

In short, a replacement motherboard was needed, together with a new processor, as the old board was no longer made and the processor would not fit the new one. It was then necessary to re-format the hard drive, resulting in me losing some four years of work, internet contacts, photograph albums and correspondence. The irony of all this was that the main purpose of the upgrade was to have a facility for backing up all my files! Looking on the bright side, I ended up with a PC which was much leaner and anticipated it lasting me for a few years. Needless to say it didn’t last too long but my PC days are now well behind me since switching to an Apple Mac!

Also in 2002, I had the unexpected opportunity of being able to visit Wimbledon, although much of the day was plagued by rain. However, this did not spoil the enjoyment or the experience of a unique atmosphere, especially within the confines of the show courts. I was fortunate in having access to the Players’ enclosure which meant that I was undercover most of the time when it was raining! For tennis aficionados, that year saw Lleyton Hewitt of Australia take the Men’s Singles Title.