Sunday, 27 May 2018

Self Service

I keep hearing Brexiteers accusing the Lords of being self-serving in relation to their scrutiny of Brexit. It's usually in respect of any that have EU pensions but, a) very few do, and b) they will get their pensions whether we remain in the EU or leave. It's a very specious argument that can be equally levelled at the electorate itself.

We all know that if we had more tax money available then many things would improve - the NHS, libraries, police, etc - anything to do with public service. Yet, when it comes to general elections and the electorate is offered the choice of a tax increase or a tax cut, the tax cut wins hands-down. Isn't that self-serving?

The will of the people, to use a popular phrase, is rarely in the interests of the country as a whole. Every few years our constitution provides the electorate with an opportunity to display its ignorance, which it does by voting for a self-serving policy. Given electoral horizons don't extend beyond five years, any damage can be reversed at the next election, should the people will it so, but they rarely learn.

Brexit, on the other hand, will affect a whole generation for decades to come - the irony being that it's nether in the interests of the electorate nor the country, just speculators and rich press barons. Even Patrick Minford, who is one of only a handful of economist who predict an upside and has been criticised for using an out-of-date model, does so on the back of massive job losses, which he admitted when pressed.

The Geheime Brexitpolizei now want to get rid of the House of Lords, yet many, prominent, Conservative Brexiteers actually voted against reform of the Lords a few years ago - JRM included. Now they've changed their minds, but only because their Lordships disagree with them on this issue. Isn't that in itself self-serving?

Filling the Lords with political appointees merely to get a majority, one way or the other, is not conducive to proper political scrutiny. Say what you like about the old aristocracy, but their horizons extended far beyond a five year parliamentary term and they did have the interests of the country at heart. I really don't know what the answer is to Lords reform, but we do need scrutiny of new laws and the HoL to be filled with people having experience. We also need it to be above mere politics and filled with people who operate in the best interests of the country, rather than a particular political party.

Talking of voting, it seems de rigeur now to accuse the winning side of voting irregularities. It's become an automatic, knee-jerk reaction in many countries. In many cases it's actually very valid, but in some it's merely a political ploy that is becoming wearing.

Saturday, 26 May 2018

Contemporary Art

Following on from our visit to the Tate St Ives last week, here are some photos of a few of the art works on display. The vast majority of it left me stone cold. The odd Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore sculpture I could appreciate, along with the Piet Mondrian, but once you've seen one Mondrian you've seen them all and one boulder is pretty much the same as any other.

My beef with contemporary art is primarily with Abstract and some Expressioinism and is that it's impossible to differentiate between a good artist and a bad artist - which to me says it isn't art at all. At least not in my definition - and I don't necessarily have a definition; I just know, as the saying goes, what I like. Art, like music, is very subjective. What leaves me cold may send someone else into paroxysms on delight. Mostly though, I thinks it's pseudo-intellectualism. When a monkey with a paintbrush can fool so-called connoisseurs, then it ain't art - it's decoration at best and tripe at worst.

Take this one, for example. Patrick Heron - utter tripe. Recognised as one of the leading painters of his generation and influenced by Cezanne, Matisse, Braque and Bonnard - influenced by copious quantities of Watney's Red Barrel, more like. I'm convinced that St Ives in the early 20th century was the epicentre of the UK drugs trade.

Does me not appreciating a Patrick Heron make me a Philistine? I don't believe so - I think it makes me immune to marketing, hype and fakery. If this is good art, then everyone is an artist, which debases skill.

Here's another 'masterpiece' from Heron:

I wouldn't even have it on my floor as a rug, for God's sake; it certainly doesn't move me. It took me ages to get this photo, as some bloke was stood in front of it admiring it for at least 5 minutes. Perhaps he was just waiting to 'get it'.

Even the great Mark Rothko (above) isn't immune from my excoriating critique. I've heard people say they feel an almost religious experience when viewing a Rothko close up. Why? I'd need to be high on LSD to feel anything for this. Are such people religiously moved by carpets too, or are they merely echoing the art establishment mantras? I suspect the latter.

Another Heron above. Still don't 'get it'. Not a semblance of draughtsmanship or form - just a couple of daubs on a green background. Doubtless he agonised over the exact shade of green, but no more so than I did over the shade of magnolia on my walls.

I do get the artist who has demonstrated that they can at least draw then going on to experiment with different styles and techniques, or the artist whose work is important from an art hisotry perspective, but when all they've done since day one is scrawls and splashes, it debases the artist who has the ability to actually draw and spent some time learning to do so.

Some who churn this stuff out are, I'm sure, just on the bandwagon for the money and can see a chance of a quick buck by hoodwinking people. Much of contemporary art is like Prog Rock - so consumed with its own pseudo-intellectualism that it has gone too far up its own arse and had been subverted by speculators in the galleries; the Emperor's New Clothes, so to speak.

I do like this installation from the Tate St Ives though, which was tucked away in a corner. The juxtaposition of the stools and the chair show an uncanny affinity for form and space. Sadly, it was unattributed and there was no accompanying explanation in bollocky art-speak.

Never expected to find this contemporary homage to Marc Duchamp though:

It was signed Armitage Shanks who, I have to admit, I've never heard of.

I resonated more with some of the stuff on display in the high street galleries (below):

This ceramic piece is almost hypnotic when you view it and makes you giddy. Interesting, certainly, decorative too, but art - I don't know. The lines are blurred here, as the artist has a skill in ceramics.

This chap can be viewed from any angle and look good. Not sure I'd pay 4 grand for it though - I wonder how much the artist gets from that price - less than half, I'd wager. It's one of only 4 the sculptor made.

As I said before, art is in the eye of the beholder and this beholder just has an abhorrence of Abstract art, just as I have an abhorrence of most Punk and all Country music.

Friday, 25 May 2018

Limpopo GDPR for Trump

Got back a tad late from St Ives yesterday. We called in at Charlestown near St Austell for a look-see, and very nice it is too. However, halfway back the Jag went into Limp Home Mode (or Limpopo Mode, as Hay calls it) and I couldn't get it back to normal. 

Charlestown is definitely on the list for somewhere to stay on our next holiday or long weekend. It doubled as an 18th century port in the Poldark TV series, but still looks relatively undiscovered. Not a Joules, Weird Fish, Fat Face or Crew Clothing shop in sight - in fact, with the exception of a couple of craft shops, hardly any shops at all. Absolute heaven.

I've been inundated by GDPR emails; there is one benefit, however; I can elect to unsubscribe from services I never even knew I was signed up to in the first place. Hundreds of the beggars. Pain in the arse. I must email all the people in my phone address book today to ascertain whether they agree to me keeping their information - you have been warned.

Seems I was right about Kim Jong Un playing Trump for a narcissistic chump. Saw it a mile off. 

Thursday, 24 May 2018

Unhealthy Food in Large Houses

Overheard in the holiday let:

Hay's Dad's girlfriend: "This salt tastes very salty."

Saw some tosh in a news story yesterday about taxes on unhealthy food unfairly penalising the poor. Healthy food is actually cheaper than unhealthy food - unhealthy foods use healthy foods in their preparation and then the manufacturers monkey around with them, making them unhealthy and more expensive. 

The problem is we have an entire generation that is unable to cook - and that applies to men as well as women. And who can blame them when female participation in the workforce is at an all-time high - who wants to come home after a day at work and cook a meal from scratch? However, it's not as difficult or time-consuming as some may believe.

Well, our week in St Ives has come to an end - back home today. It has been warmer at home than here, but we've nonetheless had wall-to-wall sunshine and there were no crowds.

This last photo is of Porthledden House on Cape Cornwall that was, until 2015, owned by No.1 Son's school friend's parents who had made a mint by founding

They bought it in 2005 after it had been derelict for 20 years and spent 10 years renovating it to a beautiful standard before selling it for £3.5m, which seems very little for what it is. They must have spent at least that renovating it

We were invited in a few years ago when dropping No.1 Son off for a stay with his friend and I have pictures of the interior somewhere - it's absolutely jaw-dropping.

Just dug out one of the photos from 2008. I first though that was my black Merc 500SL parked outside, but it can't be, as I didn't have it in 2008. Below are some shots of the inside. Given our friends no longer live there, I think it's OK to show them.

The Daily Mail did an article on the house when it went up for sale, with better interior shots, which you can read here.

The area around the house is bloody bleak though, even in summer.

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Meeting a Grieving Sash

Isn't it strange how new houses are being built to look like Victorian houses, complete with sash windows.

Genuine, Victorian houses, on the other hand, had their sash windows ripped out decades ago and replaced with plastic, double glazed units bearing no resemblance whatsoever to the originals.

An regulars may know, Hay and I are avid watchers of continental dramas. In a recent episode of Salamander the protagonist had to arrange a meeting over the phone with his daughter, knowing their call might be listened to. They agreed to meet at a location where they had watched a firework display with the daughter's mother on her birthday. Hay and I played the game and said we'd arrange (in our minds) to meet up where we first met. Unfortunately we would have missed each other, as we couldn't agree where or even when we first met...

Wall to wall coverage of the Manchester bombing service yesterday. Can't help but think that this current penchant for massive displays of public grief plays right into the hands of terrorists - it's exactly what they want to see. Leave those who lost loved ones to grieve in private (as they should) and the terrorists score no points. The British, stiff upper lip is trembling and I don't necessarily see it as a good thing. Perhaps it's yet another generational thing that those over 60 simply can't understand, or perhaps it's the media just doing what the media does - poking its nose into areas it shouldn't. Remembrance day is a totally different thing - the wars and losses they commemorate are over. The fight against terrorism isn't, and probably never will be.

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Bamboo Toilets

We want to make the patio at the back of our house a bit more private. When out walking the other day we spotted a rather nice bamboo hedge in a pub, which would be ideal for our purposes.

I mentioned to Hay that bamboo is fast growing and can be somewhat invasive and enquired how we could keep it under control. She suggested we get a panda or a Chinese cook.

Yesterday we went on a short train journey from St Ives to Hale and, just before we arrived in St Erth (where we had to change trains), I decided to deballast in the train toilet. It was one of those corner toilets with automatic, sliding doors. On entering it I pressed the button for the door to close and, as soon as they had slid shut, a voice announced that the doors were no longer working - I was trapped. I considered pulling a switch inside the toilet, but wasn't sure whether it would also stop the train, which seemed a bit over the top for a simple door failure. After a bit of faffing around and having alerted Hay to my predicament, I finally pulled the switch and heaved the doors open, only to discover we'd already reached St Erth and the train was now headed back to St Ives. Had to go all the way back and come out again. Rather embarrassing.

Monday, 21 May 2018


I've discovered that the E-Type Jag Prince Harry was seen driving away in is a Concept Zero electric version, which for a purist like me is anathema.

To me it's the equivalent of a fake Leonardo, although not quite, as it relies on an original, existing body. It's just the engine that's replaced with the electric powertrain.  I suppose one has to move with the times and legislation, but a 168 mile range? Come on!

I wonder what Mr Clarkson says about it...

Sunday, 20 May 2018

Sovereignty of Wedding Tea & Pastry

What with doing a 9 mile walk along the SW Coastal Path from St Ives to Zennor, we thought we'd nicely missed The Wedding, but when we got back to the holiday let we found out that Hay's dad and his girlfriend had suffered a catastrophic TV failure and had missed it - Hay's dad had somehow, accidentally managed to disconnect the aerial. That meant we had to sit through the entire, interminable thing on iPlayer after I got the TV working again - there was no compromise as far as his girlfriend was concerned.

The bride wore a nice dress and the groom wore a uniform, although the uniform looked like it was from the Undertakers' Regiment - didn't he have anything red in his wardrobe? The American, pantomime bishop was good, but someone should have hoicked him off after the first 5 minutes. Beckham's tattooed neck added a nice touch of Thug Life to the proceedings (was he chewing gum?). I thought it would have been a nice touch if Prince Philip could have been asked to walk her down the aisle - it would have been his final hurrah.

The papers are going to have a field day today with images of grumpy celebrities and yawns. It was a nice wedding though. Eventually went to bed at 8.30, as I was knackered and in no mood for more wedding analysis.

Woke up this morning to find Harry had bought Megan an E-Type Jag as a wedding present but, sensibly, he drove it. Bit over the top, if you ask me - hope it's not coming from my taxes. The Sunday Times shows a picture on the cover of the couple, with Harry sporting the rictus grin of one who has been forced to smile all day (I call it the Wallace and Gromit grin). We've watched Harry grow up in the glare of the media spotlight - it must be like living in a permanent Truman Show for him, but he's in on the act. Her too now.

This preoccupation with sovereignty is becoming a bit silly. Spotted these in a cupboard in the holiday let:

Never seen any tea plantations in either county. Everyone knows the tea is actually grown in the foothills of the Pennines in Lancashire and imported into Yorkshire and Cornwall where it's then rebranded...

Is it just me, or has Trump got Mr Pastry as his National Security Advisor?

Saturday, 19 May 2018

Rural Diamond Geezer

I just love being over 60...

Especially Wednesdays when it's Diamond Discount day for the over 60s...

well, it's the big wedding today, but I'm afraid we won't be watching. I think a long walk is called for. It beats me how Megan Markle's parents are affording all this pageantry - it must be costing them an arm and a leg. Marrying into a  large family on benefits doesn't help either.

An interesting result from a YouGov daily poll with a clear divide:

Friday, 18 May 2018

Guitar Art

While we were up in Southport a couple of weeks ago we found this guitar in a shop called Dad's Guitars.

Now Hayley's sister is an artist, so Hay's going to commission her to transform a £30 charity shop guitar and possibly start a new business with her.

I was talking to a neighbour the other day and he told me he took the Citizenship Test for a laugh and got 20%, and he's 100% English. I wonder if they'll have a question such as 'what is Brexit'? Half the nation will disagree with the other half as to the definition.

One swallow does not a summer make, as the saying goes. The failure of private industry to run the East Coast Rail Line is not en excuse to start wholesale nationalisation of everything in sight, as the left wing is wont to do. Virgin and Stagecoach merely made a bad investment decision. That shouldn't be used as an excuse by ideologues. Some things are better in public ownership for a variety of reasons; some are plainly not.