May 2018 has been a squalid month in statecraft. No, not because Trump tweeted something even more asinine than usual. In fact, this has nothing to do with Trump, North Korea, Malcolm Turnbull (At least directly) or even Alex Salmond. Continue reading “A Squalid Month in Statecraft”
Your mates, the House of Windsor, have shown the world that the game is up. The centuries of polite condescension practised at arm’s length from popular culture came to an abrupt end amid uncomfortable glances and nervous grimaces. The gates were flung wide. No Trojan horse was required. Come on in, no contest. Canterbury had no reply to Chicago. Gospel trumped the choir boys. Oscars outnumbered Garters. Not an MP or General or billionaire in sight. Just our daily tweeters: George, Idris, David and Victoria. If Diana was the people’s princess, Harry is the champion of the chavs. Bring on the clowns? They are already here.
Missed. Missed. Missed.
It was a catalogue of misses. No wonder Scotland are tripe at football when youngsters are messing about with a football throwing it at a basketball net. Missed. And from an easy distance, no one would shoot from downtown. Missed again. Just don’t get American sports at all. Too many “Hail Mary’s” in them for my liking.
The problem, as I could see it, was that the boys were not statuesque or Sipuesque. They were too short to be stormhoopers. They needed to be the size of the mountainous, non-basketball playing, ex-FBI chief, James Comey. I wanted to shout “Chief, just jump up, and put it in the basket.”
American politics aren’t my bag of tricks either. Nonetheless, the repercussions from the firing of the FBI boss by Donald Trump is still reverberating around DC so I bought the Comey book (half price at WH…a bargain) and found it an easy read. The big guy has been promoting it stateside. I watched his performance on the BBC’s America This Week last week. Refreshingly, he answered a lot of questions the way I answer them. “I don’t know” cropped up frequently.
There is one funny incident in the early part of his biography where he describes spilling gallons of milk while working in a grocery. Apart from this Fools and Horses moment the book is rather drab. The details of the Clinton E-mail investigation and Trump Russia connections are sketchy and unfulfilling. His one on one joust with the President of the USA is an ongoing game. Which one will, ultimately, put it in the basket?
I returned from a trip of 18 days in Japan last Friday. I don’t think I will return.
In that time, I lost around 4 kg of, admittedly, unwanted weight. It wasn’t entirely due to the extra miles / kilometres that I walked – but was definitely down to the fact that my system and, more importantly, my taste buds simply rebelled at raw tuna, prawns, crab and other stuff that, normally, I thoroughly enjoy…
Continue reading “In Praise of Cooked Food, Knives and Forks”
I am a cynic. I’ve seen too much ugliness and been around too many people who have experienced infinitely worse than I ever will to be anything but. I am also well past the illusion that “my side” is somehow more virtuous. Continue reading “Hypocrisy and Filthy Lucre”
I’ve often heard that those under about 35 will be the first generation to be poorer than their parents. This, my, generation will be “generation rent” — those who cannot afford to buy a house, will struggle to live to the same standards as their parents. This, it is said, is proof of a broader societal failure. Continue reading “Wrong Priorities”
Five years ago in the Scandinavian backwoods, I planted the stock of a vine in a pergola and enjoyed watching it grow strongly, up and over the framework each summer; duly flowering and offering up a few bunches of green grapes every year.
Just before the Beast from the East passed through, I pruned it back and transplanted it into a biggish pot for its move to Blighty, hoping it could survive its man-handling. And here it is! Three weeks into its life here, it is just starting to come into leaf (almost a month later than ‘normal’), encouraged by a spell of weather better suited to its Mediterranean origins.
As you can see, I have planted a few strawberry plants for company, and it has a commanding view of my neighbour’s manicured English garden. And a little Greek pot provides nostalgic comfort for greyer days.
Later this year, I’ll post another picture – which I hope will show how it has thrived in sunny Sussex.
A blank page. White. Snow? Snow in May? Hay, hay, hay..
I trudge through the emptiness, the whiteness, the ice. Ice! Ha ha! The only water or concentrated fruit juice is in the title.
Trudge. Snow. Ice. Not a Frost-Giant’s daughter in sight. Just my luck. Or is it? I’m not a Cimmerian. Good chance I’d be Frost-Giant steak.
Then I see it. A block. Not a writer’s block or a mitre block, just a block. Like me..
In this Godforsaken world, there’s just the two of us.
Getting organised back here in Blighty has been hampered by the wholly admirable tendency of authorities to doubt my claims to be me. They have had plenty of practice dealing with incomers of all shades and I applaud their even-handedness. Of course it would have been easier if I had kept a record of all my British identifiers – like my NHS number and the first name of my doctor almost 20 years ago – but I didn’t.
Back in the land of the Vikings, the bureaucratic logic is easier to follow. Every resident is given a ‘health card’ displaying a number. (No difference there then, unless the GB resident doesn’t register with a doctor.) This number is then used for all official registrations and services: tax, utilities, banks, insurance, local gubmint. There are supporting security systems too to avoid identity theft.
I never felt my official ID threatened my independence or limited my freedom as a citizen but it avoided the circuitous routes one has to follow here to be recognised. Generally speaking it’s in my own interest to sign up for things without complications.
But the two societies are different! Over there it is uncommon to see a post box without the occupant’s name. How very un-British that is!
Well, this wasn’t supposed to happen. The Tories have been in power since 2010. The hapless/hopeless/charmless/unloved/useless Toxic Tess’s government has a 29pc approval rating. Saint Jeremy of Islington walks on the Thames every day on his way to Parliament. The enthusiasm of young voters will make historical gains inevitable. Wandsworth, Westminster and Barnett will go Labour causing a Tory collapse in all parts of London, blah, blah, bloody blah. So far, neither party has done especially well but the Tories have held their own. That Labour are so desperate to spin an underwhelming performance as a great success makes one wonder if Saint Jeremy is even more useless and Toxic Tess.