Tempus Fugit

It’s a cold evening here in Västra Götaland. It is also my last evening in Sweden before I fly back to England tomorrow. Last Thursday I took a short, easy flight on SAS from Heathrow to Kastrup where I met up with the Viking and took an Öresund Tåg to Kalmar. The train ride was nicer than the flight. SAS are not the best airline, but this crew were largely from parts of Europe not Scandinavia and they did not speak Swedish. That very much annoyed me. I like speaking Swedish. They’re competent and efficient, but other than a cup of coffee or two there is little difference between them and Norwegian — save that Heathrow is a far better airport than Shatwick! Continue reading “Tempus Fugit”

Christmas in England

Soon yet another year will come to its end. It was a remarkably transformational year. After several years of wandering, I’ve well and truly settled down in Dorset. My schedule is as full as it can possibly be and there is an overwhelming sense of stability and predictability. It has been many years since I could say that!

This year, I will have another very English Christmas. I won’t have a lot of time to relax. I’m scheduled to work Christmas Eve and Boxing Day. On Christmas Day, well, that will be busy, too. I will help cook, serve and prepare a Christmas dinner at one of the Anglican churches in Dorchester. It is a very pleasant, civilised affair. For those of us who are alone, there are many in a town where the average age is one foot in the grave, it’s a chance to do more than watch the walls close in on us.

The End of an Era

Merkel is finished. Ihre Zeit ist Vorbei. It was fairly obvious after last year’s election that she was a spent force. It took months for a zombie government to be cobbled together, a zombie government in which Merkel threw many shiny bobbles in the general direction of the Social Democrats only for neither of the two parties to be able to agree on much or for any direction, clear or otherwise, to emerge. Continue reading “The End of an Era”

Where am I?

I landed on an island 12 October. I spent a few days there and visited someone I’ve known for years. After a few days, I travelled by an exceptionally fast — and famous — train to the mainland. I continued on an island journey first to the industrial heartland and a city with a great merchant tradition before taking a journey to the ancient capital where I had a proper tea. I travelled by express train across plains and through hills to a coastal town famous for its preserved buildings and rich traditional culture. I am now sitting near the centre of the country surrounded by high peaks.

Not a Happy Announcement

Some of you may still remember Terrible Turk from MyT days yore. He was acerbic, at times abrasive but, in the end, a true gentleman. He was a product of the early post-war years, a man who craved moral and social certainties and certitudes. He had a good career, 30 years in the Middle East for the US Geologic Survey with sojourns into South and South-East Asia. After his retirement, he settled in small-town Virginia where he became a fixture of the local social scene.

He was on my case for years, most recently because of my preference for stepping away from academia and moving, at least partially, into private industry. He was convinced that academia needed at least a few people who weren’t certifiable Bolsheviks amongst its ranks.

You may have noticed that I have discussed him in the preterite. This is no accident. I was informed less than half an hour ago that he has passed away. After a spirited battle with cancer, one that required having his bone marrow removed and replaced, Atropos did her grim deed.