Thursday, 31 December 2015

Hydroelectric Pensioners

If we're going to get more winters like this, with torrential rain and widespread flooding, perhaps the government should start investing in hydroelectric power to offset the drop in solar energy from cloud cover. Channel the excess water away from existing rivers toward massive hydroelectric power stations, well away from population centres. Every cloud has a silver lining!

Ref the chap who shot his wife dead because she had Alzheimers - got me wondering why we don't see a surge in pensioner crime. When you think about it, they're near the end of their lives and have little to lose by risking spending their remaining years in the clink. At least they'll get fed and be warm. The blokes who did the Hatton Garden raid were pensioners after all, and either way they were on to a winner.

We were watching Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland in TV last night.  The film was filled with period style (and I use the words advisedly) music, yet at the end there was the obligatory and totally incongruous pop song over the credits. Why on earth do film makers do this?

I'm convinced we're soon to see gongs, Ks and peerages issued for services to crime. There's hardly an area of human activity remaining where they're not issued. Some would say that giving Ks and peerages for large party donations is tantamount to rewarding crime anyway.

Reverting to the Hatton Gardens mob, how would you describe them? Bank robbers, burglars, or what? Technically, it wasn't a bank that was raided. Technically, burglary is related to the home. Technically, robbery is perpetrated against a person. More importantly, should the raiders be knighted?

Happy 2016 to my three readers! For those partaking in Dry January - WHY?

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Fiddling While Rome Burns

The Daily Mail is doing its usual thing of trying to whip up a popular frenzy by reporting that the 3 days a week chairman of the Environment Agency is holidaying in the Caribbean while the North is flooded out. The DM obviously misunderstands the roles and responsibilities of the CEO and the chairman. Naturally enough, the DM readership is equally ignorant.

In any case, I have no idea, and I doubt the EA does too, what anyone can do when the situation is unprecedented. Sounds very much like scapegoating to me. There are aesthetic benefits of living next to a river, but unfortunately there are always dangers too.

The Netherlands has addressed higher and higher river levels by giving space over to floodplains, rather than building higher and higher dykes, which they realise are ineffective. The appetite for that in the UK though is negligible, especially when so many houses have been built on floodplains.

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Malrborough Lemmy

Lemmy dead? Unbelievable! He should have died decades ago.

Went to Marlborough yesterday to see the church of St John the Baptist at Mildenhall, a church interior that John Betjeman called the most beautiful in England (photos to follow). Unfortunately it was locked - a sad indictment of our times. On the way there we went past Silbury Hill, an Iron Age barrow on the A4:

I tried to snap a monument on a hill on the other side of the road, but it was too far away. Not sure what it commemorates, probably the mass genocide of a tribe of fuzzy-wuzzies in some God-forsaken part of the Sudan during the mid 1800s by a colonel Blimp.

Marlborough is a beautiful town in Wiltshire with stunning architecture and wonderful charity shops where everything is designer label and consequently three times the price of items in normal charity shops. I dare say you could bag a brace of 2nd hand Purdey shotguns in a charity shop there. Hay loves it for buying 2nd hand clothes and always manages to come back with some chic item that would cost several hundred pounds if brand new.

Most people in the town centre seemed to wear a uniform comprising the clothes townies think country people wear - flimsy, expensive, designer countrywear in the manner of 'London barrister goes country'. Lots of yellows, salmon pinks, pea greens, flat caps, Hunters, Rupert the Bear waistcoats - the kind of clobber that makes you look 20 years older than you are and is totally unsuited to life in the country (if you really do live in the country, everything you wear should be the colour of grass or mud, inherited from your father, repaired countless times and yet still falling apart). I was wearing my shorts and mucky topsiders (the ones Hay has been trying to throw out for the last 6 months). I said to Hay that I felt a slob by comparison - she retorted that I'd look a slob in Bootle.

There's a shop there that sells all this faux country clothing which is filled to the brim with Waitrose shoppers who drive 4x4s and must live in the middle of London during the week. Had to snap this sign on a Christmas tree in the shop:

Like a red rag to a bull! Well, being a bloke I just had to check.

Hay hates going round shops with me, accusing me of autistically barging past people and loudly denouncing, in a parsimonious northern manner, the exorbitant prices of wares in various emporia. She says she's going to develop a perfume called Badger Away that she can spray in my face and force me to go outside (I have an allergy to most women's perfumes and gasp for breath like an old steam train when exposed to them).

Here are the pictured of the church. As it was closed, the interior shots had to be taken through the windows, which were rather mucky:

Almost makes me want to be religious - if it wasn't for all the superstitious nonsense that goes with it.

Monday, 28 December 2015

Marking Reinvented Gods

Methinks it's about time we countered all this ISIS barbarity with a back to basics campaign on religion.

The Christian religion is simply too wishy-washy and filled with 'love thy neighbour' and 'turn the other cheek', which frightens no-one, especially not a hardened jihadi who is intent on severing your head from your body. Sadly, Christianity gave up on burnings and disembowelment many centuries ago, and I don't think today's crop of Christians are too eager to return there, except perhaps the fundies - but they're mad a hatters anyway.

No - we need to go back a few thousand years and get in touch with our ancestral, Norse, pagan gods; blood-and-guts gods that demand human sacrifice and get you all worked up into a berserker frenzy of wanton killing; gods with human foibles and with whom we can relate on a day-to-day basis; gods who revel in war - the bloodier the better; gods that frighten the hell out of yourself as well as the enemy. Hay thinks I've been watching too much of the TV series Vikings.

We were watching Countryfile yesterday and one of the presenters was showing us how rams carry an inked pad on their chests that rubs off on the ewes once they're mated. Hay suggested she should put a crayon on my chest so she'd know whether I'd been putting it about a bit in the village.

Sunday, 27 December 2015


Overheard at Hay's dad's:

Hay: "Research has shown that a brisk walk every day extends your life by seven years."

Hay's Dada: "Not if you choose to do it on the M4."

Made it to today in shorts with yesterday being particularly balmy. People in the local shopping centre looked at me as if I was an escaped lunatic.

Champagne, indeed any sparkling white wine normally disagrees with me and therefore I steer well clear of it. On Christmas Day I was persuaded to partake of a glass of Bucks Fizz at breakfast and within 30 minutes I regretted it. It felt like someone had inflated a balloon just under my ribs and it lasted well into the afternoon. A glass of Andrews before Christmas dinner, several burps and quite a few botty burps neutralised the effect, but the residue of the wind, mixed with the aroma of decomposing sprouts in my gut, plagued the assembled guests for the rest of the day.

Lesson learned - no more champagne for me. Told Hay to slap me if ever she sees me drinking the disgusting stuff again.

Saturday, 26 December 2015

The Crusading Van Bergens of Old Sodbury

I detest The Sound of Music, but for some inexplicable reason Hay decided to watch the true story of the Von Trapp family on TV yesterday, and what a bunch of screw-ups they were. Maria Von Trapp was a domineering, religious fanatic with a Messiah complex who destroyed the lives of her kids. Got me thinking if I could get my kids together and reform the Singing Van Bergen Family of Old Sodbury. Perhaps not.

Hay happened to video me while I was watching the programme with focused attention. You have to turn up the sound to hear the programme.

We watched the Carols from Kings Bollege Bambridge yesterday. We were wondering what happens to the boy sopranos when their voices drop. I suppose they give them a dog and a few copies of the Big Issue and send then out on the streets.

Reading what Justin Welby and the Pope have been saying about ISIS, I wonder if another crusade is in the offing. Herod was much misunderstood - how would you react if you were told you were going to be deposed by a toddler?

Someone has come up with a theory that Putin was behind the bombing of the Russian jet so as to justify hitting Syria hard. I wouldn't put it past him - it's a bit like the theory that the Daily Mail was behind the Tunisia and Sharm attacks to bring down the price of holidays.

Christmas is such a wonderful time. Just going into the new temples is a joyous experience; the vaulted gothic ceilings of Tesco, the Romanesque Lidl aisles and the Rococo beauty of a Sainsbury's checkout. If only Buonarotti was a live today to decorate them.

Friday, 25 December 2015

Statuesque Palestinian Spoilers


Hay: "When are you going to take the recycling out? You've walked past the box 4 times already."

Chairman: "I'm sorry, my psychic gene is malfunctioning. As you put the recycling box by the door, my entirely logical assumption was that you were going to take it out when it stops pissing down with rain. Perhaps I should try the same strategy in spring and just put the mower on the garden in the hope you'll mow the lawn." 

I do wish the BBC news would stop printing spoilers about the Queen's Christmas Speech.

I hear it's illegal to celebrate Christmas in Brunei. Wonder if it's illegal to celebrate Yule? When you think of it, 90% of what we do is pagan and not Christian - the tree, the holly, the giving of presents, the stuffing of ourselves, etc.

Cecil Rhodes is causing some consternation among wrong-headed, revisionist university radicals. If his statue is to be removed, then it logically follows that virtually every statue in the UK should be removed:
  • William the Conqueror - foreign bastard who came over here taking all our aristocracy jobs,
  • Winston Churchill - a vociferous racist who sanctioned the bombing of Dresden,
  • William Wilberforce - an anti-slaver who wanted to convert all the Hindus to Christianity,
  • Lord Nelson - very anti-French and a womaniser,
  • Duke of Wellington - vociferous womaniser who treated his wife abominably,
  • Cromwell - anti-monarchist and the architect of draconian Irish suppression,
  • George I - couldn't even speak English,
  • Richard I - Islamophobe,
  • Robin Hood and Hereward the Wake - terrorists,
  • Countless bishops - profited from the slave trade and owned plantations.
The list is endless.

While you'd expect university students to be a bit on the clever side of the intelligence Poisson curve, this is shows just how much they are lacking in essential wisdom and plain common sense. I'd love to delve into these students' antecedents and see how many of their grandparents or great-grandparents were racist, homophobic or sexist. I'd wager just about every one of them would tick all three boxes.

Heard something on the news yesterday about indiscriminate Palestinian attacks on Israelis. The Israelis blamed it on incitement by Palestinian leaders; Palestinians blamed it on continually frustrated peace efforts on their part. I guess they mean such peace efforts as Hamas demanding the complete elimination of Israel and sending the occasional hail of home-made missiles into Israeli territory, the latter of which is the usual precursor to kerfuffles between Palestinians and Israelis.

Thursday, 24 December 2015

Pass the Rover Parcel - Hic

Hay's dad's forte is not parcel wrapping. He adheres to the utility theory of wrapping; if it's going to be thrown away anyway, then why bother making it all fancy?

The news has been filled the last couple of days with stories about an upsurge in cases of alcoholic poisoning, but there seems no effort on the part of our government in finding out who the hell is putting this poison in our alcohol, especially with it being Christmas and so many of us about to partake of this particular medicine. Could it be an ISIS plot?

We were watching an old episode of Endeavour last night, which had a 1960s Rover P6 police car. Now did the police have the 2000TC or the 3.5L Buick V8? I strongly suspect the latter (makes more sense in a police car), but I can't find a definitive answer.

Just in case I run out of thoughts tomorrow, a Merry Brianmas and a Happy New Year to all those with not enough to do (and hence reading this drivel - possibly while sat in their office and watching the clock).

A parting thought - if Buddhists are so enlightened, why has there never been a female Dalai Lama?

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Mods & Rockers

Apropos of yesterday's suggestion of a publicly funded UK newspaper that has nothing but unbiased news, we could call it the British News Paper, or the BNP. Oh, perhaps not!

I wonder what Chris Rea is doing at the moment?

Gave up on the idea of modding the Spitfire rocker cover with an oak plinth and mounted it above one of the downstairs doors:

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Bread, Circuses and Christmas TV

Prime time Christmas Eve TV on Channel 4 and what are we presented with? - an hour of bloody Jamie Oliver showing you how to cook your Christmas dinner. A bit damned late if you haven't got it organised by then! 

The promise was that more TV channels would give us more choice. The only problem is that choice is between dire TV and absolutely abysmal TV, especially on the channels funded by advertising. The same advertising budget is now spread among a plethora of TV stations, leading them all to chase the lowest common denominator - programmes that are cheap to make and appeal to the terminally dull and the brain dead for whom the apogee of aspiration is for their children to appear on X Factor. Most would be perfectly happy being entertained by the old BBC transmission test card. It's said the UK population is being dumbed down - it's been lobotomised!

It's not interesting, it's not informative and it certainly isn't entertaining. Bread and circuses - although even that reference would be lost on most TV watchers. If there's one, cogent argument for keeping the UK TV licence fee, it's commercial TV. In fact, there's an argument for a national newspaper licence to fund a decent newspaper that reports news, rather than celebrity gossip.

Monday, 21 December 2015

Crowdfunded Rivers of Tree

Hay decided to to the "tree" over the weekend using her upcycled eBay mannequin that's been languishing upstairs for a couple of years (thanks for the concept, Lizzie Huxtable. Lizzie is the wife of an old school friend from the late 60s).

Bits from an old, fake Christmas tree (I would have preferred some real tree fronds, but it's an austerity Christmas this year), some lights, a few peacock feathers, droplets from an old chandelier, some baubles and some of Hay's clothing.

Here's the build process from Saturday to Sunday:

Then yesterday she deconstructed it and did a rebuild, replacing the pashmina with some red velvet:

I wonder if we can get crowdfunding for next year's Christmas?

It's my turn next year, so I'll try to come up with a concept based on the old rotovator...

We went out to dinner on Saturday night. The couple at the next table had brought their four children; one was called Shannon (another was called Mallory). I wonder why people name their kids after rivers but seem to avoid perfectly nice names like Parrett, Mersey, Ribble or Ouse.

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Mother Sunlight

In the last week, measured Saturday to Saturday and as per the solar panels, we experienced the least sunlight since moving into the house in April 2013. Click to enlarge the image below and inspect the yellow area. We generated only 4.88 KWh for the week.

Given we haven't yet reached the solstice, the coming week could again break the record. Might see the resurgence of rickets in school kids from the lower socio-economic stratum. I remember when in the 60s we used to sit in front of sunlamps once a week for 20 minutes in our underwear in primary school.

Hay took some white wine vinegar out of the cupboard yesterday to make some poached eggs for breakfast (a bit of vinegar in the poaching water helps the egg bind to itself) and was horrified at what she saw. It was like some amoebic jellyfish:

I had to explain that this was the holy grail of vinegar makers, a clump of acetobacter - or a vinegar mother - and is highly sought after. Just get some really cheap red or white wine (or even cider) - the dregs from the night before perhaps, add some to the mother with a bit of water and keep 'feeding it' on a weekly basis. It's a bit like making a sourdough starter, but takes around 10 weeks. Here are some instructions.

Saturday, 19 December 2015

Secret Santa

Solar powered Secret Santa present:

Friday, 18 December 2015

Nut Screws and Bolts

Bought myself a basic metal detector on eBay. It was delivered yesterday and am now hunting for the Old Sodbury hoard. This will give me hours of fun in the rain and wind, but the only things I'm finding are rusty nails, washers and bolts.

The boys in the cabin have invited us to their Christmas Office Lunch at the pub up the road today as a way of saying thanks. I think it's we who should be thanking them for all the free humanure compost.

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Short, Honest John

Still in my shorts. It's increasingly looking like rig of the day at Christmas will be shorts too.

I listened to John Major talking about Europe and the referendum yesterday. At last a voice or reason from a politician. I always liked and respected John Major, but he was ill served by those around him. He's one of the few people you could call an honest politician.

Screaming, tantruming kids in supermarkets. Give their mums a break this Christmas - you never know, they may just be trying the 'ignore strategy' in the hope the kid gives up.

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Christmas Stilton & Red Cabbage

I prepared my Christmas Stilton yesterday. You need an empty Long Clawson Stilton pot and a full pot, which can be bought from Lidl for just under £4. I know it's expensive, but it's simply the yummiest Stilton around, despite being made from pasteurised milk - very umami. Also buy a couple of crappy Stiltons from Lidl - the Valley Spire stuff is adequate. Now empty the Long Clawson jar, leaving a bit in the bottom of it, then put some of the scooped out Long Clawson in the bottom of the empty jar. Slice up the Valley Spire Stilton and share it between the two Long Clawson pots, putting the remaining Long Clawson Stilton on top. Leave for a week (out of the fridge) and you'll end up with a couple of delicious pots of creamy Stilton.

I'll be doing my Dutch red cabbage later this week. A whole red cabbage, sliced thinly, a couple of medium onions, also sliced thinly, two or three apples, sliced thinly. Alternate layers in a slow cooker, add some red wine vinegar (a couple of good sloshes), some brown sugar (about a tablespoon of dark Muscavado), a few cloves (or ground cloves), cinnamon, nutmeg, a few bay leaves and a big dollop of butter. Slow cook for at least 12 hours on low, adding some sultanas in the last 4 hours. Add more vinegar, sugar or spices to adjust the taste, but you should end up with Christmas in a pot. If there's too much liquid, boil it down and add a bit of cornflour so it coats a spoon and makes the cabbage glossy.

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Pheasant Prayers

A big, plump pheasant has adopted our garden and has been hanging around for a couple of weeks now. He's far too big to be worried about the cats, but I suspect he's an alcoholic. It appears to me that what's attracting him to our place is all the apples lying on the floor, which are gently rotting and turning into cider.

I spotted this image on Facebook over the weekend:

It appears to be taken in the aftermath of one of the WWII amphibious landings - either Anzio or Normandy, but given the image shows American soldiers taking communion on what I presume is a Sunday, it can only be Anzio, as they occurred on a Saturday, whereas Normandy was on a Tuesday. Only an educated guess.

It's a pretty powerful image, but it also shows (to me at least) the futility of religion. No doubt the soldiers are giving thanks for a safe deliverance from the storming of the beach, but what about all those who died in the landings? Luck is the only thing that saves you in a battle such as this, and praying to God is like giving him thanks that the sun comes up each morning - no amount of praying will ever have an effect on it whatsoever.

Monday, 14 December 2015

Fitness Trackers

I just hope no-one buys me one of these newfangled fitness tracker watches for Christmas. I wear my dad's Omega Seamaster self-winding watch, which he bought in the 1950s or 1960s - every couple of days I have to take it off and give it a good shake, as in the normal course of events I don't even do enough moving around to enable it to stay wound up.

Sunday, 13 December 2015

A Grievance of Humanure

What's the collective pronoun for a group of menopausal women? At the Christmas party we went to on Friday evening, it was suggested by one wag that it should be a 'grievance'. 

Hay emptied the composting loo in the cabin yesterday - this is 3 months' worth of humanure:

It minged a bit, but nowhere near what I was expecting. It has been tipped into a composting bin in the garden to rot down completely, ready for spreading on the bushes and flowers next spring.

Saturday, 12 December 2015

Happy Holidays, Kriss

A lot of people are getting very upset about the seasonal greeting of 'Happy Holidays', maintaining that this is a Christian country and the correct expression is Merry Christmas. We'll leave alone the fact that Christmas now seems to extend from mid October to February, but personally I couldn't care less what people call it.

Times change, as do traditions. It used to be called Yule and also Saturnalia, just as Easter was once the festival of Eostre. Christians merely superimposed their newfangled festivals on pre-existing ones - it was much easier than trying to set up new holidays, especially when you were a bit hazy about the dates. That said, I'm certain most would not have complained about having some additional days off work; mind you, that wouldn't have gone down too well with the feudal landlords or the church, which was also a very large landlord.

As for this being a Christian country, recent surveys have disproven than. Less than 50% now identify themselves as Christian (still a sizeable section of the population, but in terminal decline), yet only 6% are regular churchgoers.

Then there are those who maintain our laws are based on the 10 Commandments. Which ones - Exodus or Deuteronomy? I don't know when we last stoned adulterers or jailed people for coveting, but the principles espoused by Jesus were being taught by Buddha some 500 years before Christ even appeared on the scene.

Imagine a conversation in the year 350AD:

Druid No.1: "What's this new greeting people are using for Yule - Merry Christmas?"

Druid No.2: "I know. This land has been pagan for 4,000 years and then these bloody immigrant Romans bring in a new tradition. Disgusting!"

Druis No1: "I wouldn't mind so much, but it was only a couple of hundred years ago they brought in those other gods - Jupiter, Neptune and the others. Can't they make their minds up? Have they no respect for tradition?"

Druid No. 2: "You mark my words - it'll be those damned Saxons from over the water next. I hear they're having some economic problems and want to migrate. Coming here, taking all our jobs!"

Humans have an innate desire to keep things as they are - to surround themselves with like-minded people, to treat their house as their castle, harking back to halcyon days (which were anything but halcyon). This need to keep things fixed and immovable could also be the root of the belief in an afterlife where you just exist in an unchanging environment, meet up with old buddies and perpetually yarn about the good old days forever. Oh, and moan about the influx of new souls (I don't doubt that if heaven does exist that there will be Muslims, Poles and what-have-you there) who want to change everything and destabilise the status quo. Status Quo - I mean the rock band - an apt analogy; the same old stuff.

I wonder if heaven has a special section reserved just for people who lived in Old Sodbury and were born in the mid 1950s? That truly would be heaven, but only if they were from a certain socio-economic stratum and went to public school...

Talking of Christmas, we managed to get through our Christmas card list yesterday and posted them all off. I thought about selecting a few addresses at random from Google Maps and just sending the people at those addresses a Christmas card saying: "I don't know you; you don't know me, but I thought I'd send you a Christmas greeting." Might just do it, but locally and closer to Christmas.

While doing the cards, I wrote one for Chris, our postie. Hay informed me his name was Stu, not Chris. Now I've been calling him Chris all year and he hasn't gainsaid it once. In fact, it was Hay who told me it was Chris, but apparently she was thinking of the previous postie. Anyway, problem sorted - gave him his card and told him that he might have been confused about me calling him Chris all the time, but, as he could gather from my Dutch surname, I hail from across the water where the word 'kriss' is a familiar term, like 'mate'. Not sure if the bought it...

As for the correct seasonal greeting - you call it what you want to call it and I'll call it what I want to call it. Problem solved!

Friday, 11 December 2015

Early Christmas Present for Katie

I've changed by mind about Donald Trump - he really is stupid. I heard he called Katie Hopkins a 'respected columnist'.

A year ago I purchased a WWII Spitfire Griffon engine rocker cover. It was in a pretty bad state and actually contained body filler to give the impression of it being in a reasonable condition - the filler was hidden under paint. I din't have much hope of being able to restore it.

I took it to the guy who fabricated our humungous cooker hood (and a few other stainless steel objects around the house) to see what he could do with it. It's taken him a year (in between his proper jobs) and this is the result:

It's by no means perfect and is pitted all over, but it's good enough for me as a decorative piece for the house.

Being made of aluminium there was no practical way of him smoothing out the pitting without the possibility of ruining it completely. Added to that, oil had seeped deep into the pitting, making it difficult to get paint to adhere without bubbling in places when in the oven. Anyway, he persevered with a powder coating. He was somewhat embarrassed about charging me for the work due to it taking so long and not being perfect, but we'd agreed on £50 and so that's what I paid him. Well worth the result, if you ask me.

Now to mount it on a nice piece of oak and find a suitable space for it on the wall somewhere.

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Social Networks

People complain that other people constantly have their faces buried in their mobile phones. However, isn't it just an extension of the fact that we're a social species?

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Definitions of Train Timetabling

I was listening with half an ear to the radio yesterday morning when there was a discussion on terrorism in the light of the Leytonstone knifing. The discussion centred on whether it was an act or terrorism, a hate crime or a knife crime.

Terrorism is a difficult thing to define; it's a bit like art - we all recognise it, but it generally defies accurate definition, as one man's terrorist is another's freedom fighter.

I've heard it described as 'the use of violence in achieving a political objective', which sounds a lot like Clausewitz's definition of war - a continuation of politics by other means. You could add the tag, 'within the context of a democratically elected government', but then what about violence against the population of a totalitarian regime, whether it be by that totalitarian regime itself or a subsection of the population against the rest of the population, who themselves are powerless to effect change?

I've thought of a new definition for the pursuit of power through a cynical appeal to the lowest common denominator: Trumping. I can't believe Donald Trump is a stupid man; what he is is an arch manipulator - a demagogue. Some people are easily led and you only have to read the comments sections of the on-line version of the Daily Mail to realise that.

Tyson Fury (yes, it's actually his real name); should he be deleted as a BBC Sports Personality of the Year list? It's a bit offering Hitler a prize for making the trains run on time.

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Flood Christmas

That's the Christmas presents wrapped - the three households in the family kampong all conspired to limit ourselves to a tenner a head this year to prevent present envy and simplify matters. Hay has started planning the Christmas 'tree'. Most of the Christmas food has been bought and anything with a use-by date of before the 26th is in the freezer. We all agree we hate Christmas with the exception of the social aspect. TV is at an all-time nadir, the shops will be zoos and all forms of transport will be a nightmare. 

I wonder if the floods are a Godsend to certain sections of the population and parliament - flood defence barriers can be erected all over the country, doubling up as anti-migrant barriers. 

Monday, 7 December 2015

Leytonstone Extension

I find it incredulous, but not at all surprising, that the popular right wing press translate a 3 inch knife used at the Leytonstone stabbing incident into a machete. That's not to say a 3 inch knife isn't dangerous, but it shows the hideously poor standard of reporting these days.

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Christmas Shoes, Sheds & Shorts

Hay is desperate to get me to throw out an old pair of shoes, which I am resisting to the best of my ability.

You can possibly see her point, but they're comfortable and great for knocking about in around the garden.

Called in at our High Street charity shop yesterday and was sorely tempted by this, purely for the nostalgia value.

Santa has set up his shed in the High Street too:

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I'd ditched the shorts and was back in long trousers for winter. Things changed within 24 hours though and I went back into shorts again. I'm seriously thinking I'll be wearing them on Christmas Day, along with my comfortable and battered old shoes.

Saturday, 5 December 2015

Spartacus Consequences

No - I'm Sir Lenny Henry!

Cut through all the complexity of who is fighting who in the Middle East and you end up with Muslims of all persuasions basically saying; "Stay the hell out of our affairs, or you'll regret it." What do our governments do? They get deeply involved and weigh in. 

Friday, 4 December 2015

It'll Be Over by Christmas

Have we won the war against ISIS yet? I do hope it's over soon, as it's reckoned that just one sortie by one aircraft costs a just tad over £1m.

Seems it will add up to a helluva lot of money when you realise that the terrorist network being attacked is global, is funded globally and obtains its weaponry globally (or from the local chemist shop).

Time to buy shares in defence contractors, methinks. They've been having a tough time of late with lots of lay-offs due to defence budget cuts. Just saying....

Anyone know who's leading the Lib-Dems these days?

Spotted this on Facebook today - very amusing. An old people's home of the future.

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Syrian Bombing of Zenda

Decision day on the bombing of Syria.

I do hope the MPs consider this carefully. Personally, and for reasons I've articulated before, I'm against it. For the purpose of clarity I'll reiterate them:

  1. Bombing is indiscriminate - civilians will die as a result. Anyone who nay-says that is not on the same planet.
  2. Bombing on its own will achieve nothing lasting - that requires boots on the ground and there seem to be no plans for that, or indeed anything else. 
Consequently, the bombing proposal smacks more of knee-jerk revenge and populism than part of a calculated strategy and will definitely make the UK a target for some reprisal on the part of ISIS as well as making things worse in Syria.

Additionally I keep imagining this conversation between David Cameron and a Syrian citizen (not one affiliated to ISIS).

Cameron: "We're going to help you by bombing the shit out of your country."

Syrian: "But that means I risk being killed by your bombs. Can I come to your country while you're doing this?"

Cameron: "No!"

Just finished reading the books 'The Prisoner of Zenda' and 'Rupert of Hentzau' by Anthony Hope. What ripping yarns from the old tradition. Loved every minute of them and recommend them to anyone. Got them in a Readers' Digest anthology from eBay for £6. Perfect for a BBC costume drama series.

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Fat Olympic Kitty

Kitty went to the vet on Saturday for her annual worming (it's prescription only and this necessitated a face-to-face) and was found to be a bit obese - something I've been saying for months but about which Hay has been in denial. This called for a new dietary regime - the vet advocated reducing the amount of meat-based cat food and supplementing it with guinea-pig food, which is predominantly bulk, claiming the benefits of its success with other moggies.

It was my turn to feed her yesterday and when she came to me miaowing at lunchtime I dutifully offered her a handful of guinea-pig crunchies. Her look was priceless - it was as if she was saying; "This crap doesn't fool me one bit, I'm not a guinea-pig, where's my bloody meat?" Needless to say, she never touched it.

The Chairman hears that the Old Sodbury Parish Council has followed Hamburg's lead and said 'No' to the 2024 Olympics. Can't say I blame them.