Arriving in France the day after the Front National candidate won the local council election at Brignoles in the Var – the departement next to us – I was prepared for the usual hand-wringing and “how could they do this” wailing. Instead all was calm in the press, perhaps helped by the arrest of three suspected jihadis in the same neck of the woods that day. The French are fed up with Hollande and fed up with the number of Roma in the country, setting up squalid , illegal camps and living off crime. The FN expresses these concerns and is anti-EU, which the French believe is the reason all these illegals are infesting the place. So the FN is gathering more support.
This week’s cause celebre is Leonardo, a fifteen year old Roma girl of uncertain origin who was scooped off a school bus and deported back to Kosovo with parents and five siblings. Pupils at some schools have been protesting vigorously about this, and Hollande in his usual pathetic effort to please everyone has said that the girl can return but without her family. Leonardo has said that she cannot leave her family, but by all accounts she had to say that or else her father would have beaten her again. Father has been lying in his teeth for some years now. He and mother, who may or may not be Italian, are not married; there are no papers such as birth certificates or passports available and father’s story is unravelling by the minute. The local police in France are glad to see the back of a petty criminal; mother never learned any French or attempted to integrate; the family is now settled in a flat in Mitrovica, but two- thirds of French people asked do not want the girl back in France. Seems a pity, since without her family she might have a chance of a decent life.
I was amazed to read in the Huffington Post that the Occupy Wall Street movement has plans to introduce a credit card.
This seems, as many have pointed out, alien to the movement’s original philosophy. The scheme is to collect 900,000 dollars and to issue prepaid debit cards to those who would not normally qualify for credit. Of course if people can amass say $50 to put on their debit card , then they might as well just pay cash for their purchases, one would think. Charges on the proposed new card would be lower than on standard credit cards, but I still can’t see the point of the system.
Another site gives more details
The fee suggested is 99 cents per month. So you put your $100 or whatever on your card and then pay another dollar a month for the privilege. Might as well stick to the sock under the mattress – it’s free.
Last week we spent a few days visiting Shetland, sharing an early flight from Aberdeen with the daily papers being delivered to the islands. Contrary to most peoples’ expectations, we had mild, sunny weather, albeit with a few showers.
Following on from the Chariot’s own stand-ups, here are some jokes I enjoyed.
There have recently been quite a few films and documentaries on the work of Bomber Command during WW2 which I have watched with interest. So when granddaughter, aged three and a half, said that she wanted to see aeroplanes, I was pleased when a family outing to Duxford was organised. Granddaughter has visited the RAF Museum at Hendon a few times, but at Duxford some of the planes actually fly.
Yesterday we were privileged to visit the new Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, opened by the Queen last month.
It is a very impressive building indeed, designed to look like a chromosome from the air. (I of course would not recognise one from any angle!) Our names and car registration had to be provided in advance and we were issued with visitors’ ID at reception and warned not to stray from our host. Scientific espionage is presumably prevalent. The money for the building was provided by the Medical Research Council from its income from patents. Many of these discoveries were made in the LMB on its old site. “A Nobel Fellow on every floor” is the title of a book about the nine Nobel prize winners from this one laboratory, though most are now dead or retired. The spaciousness of the whole place, not just the atrium, was beautiful. There are even spaces for people to meet and sit and think and talk about science – or have parties, as empty wine bottles testified. There are rows of cupboards full of equipment to be used as required.
Outside wild flower seeds were scattered, now providing beautiful natural meadows to cover the bare earth and builders rubble. The most impressive thing to me was that not a penny of tax payers’ money was used to build this. Britain should be proud of what its scientists can achieve and I hope the Open Day on Saturday will be well attended.
… with apologies for the sea ingress, it wasn’t my fault, honest.
Two weeks ago we spent a few days on Santorini, famed for its massive caldera. It was the eruption of circa 1500 BC that destroyed not just parts of Santorini but also the Minoan civilisation on neighbouring Crete.
I knew I’d find it some where. Originally published in February 2010
Leaving the apartment complex this afternoon we found a seagull on the pavement with a badly damaged wing. While we were wondering what had happened to it, the answer flew past us to perch on a fence nearby. A bird of prey and a very attractive one too. Some research on Wiki suggests it might have been a merlin. They winter in North Africa and it may have been starting on its journey back north to its breeding grounds, stopping off in Gibraltar for a quick snack. The seagull was bigger than its attacker, but had obviously been hit in mid-flight. There was nothing to be done but to move on and let nature take its course. I was not looking forward to walking past the scene on our return, but there was no trace of anything. Could that merlin have moved its prey elsewhere to feed?
Today’s edition of Nice Matin has a short report on the Hotel Martinez in Cannes. For the second year the hotel has called on a falconer and his team of ten Harris Hawks to patrol the garden in order to discourage the local seagulls, who have no qualms about helping themselves to food from guests’ plates.
But what happens if one of the hawks is tempted beyond endurance by a tasty morsel on one of the plates and the gamekeeper turns poacher?
There is a short article in DT by Jane Shilling about the Britons’ love of living in cul-de-sacs and it brought back memories of my childhood in a “no through road” in Aberdeen. It was unfortunately not signposted as such, so we did occasionally get lost motorists, who then had to do a three or more point turn in a very steep and steeply cambered street. Entertaining to watch, as were all the learner drivers brought to practise in this particular purgatory. I don’t think the milkman’s horse was too keen on it either, though he was regularly rewarded. Taxis used to refuse to come down it in snowy weather.
But the best point of our cul de sac was that it ended in an entrance to a park, “our” park.
At that time there was no conservatory or greenhouse in the park and not many visitors, but there was a small eminence that had been designed to look like a grotto and planted with rhodedendrons and other sizeable shrubs and which was ideal for childrens’ games. We were in ignorance of the fountain’s history, but it was great for paddling in the summer. This was our playground and we didn’t bother the neighbours. Very few children from other nearby streets ever came to it, so it was definitely “ours” and our parents knew we were safe there.
Now I live in another cul-de-sac and the driving instructors still bring their pupils to practice three point turns, but there is no camber to speak of and the entertainment is not the same.