Archive

Author Archive

A royal dilemma?

July 28, 2017 3 comments

The anniversary of Diana’s demise has prompted public outpourings of emotion across the meeja and (for me surprisingly) from her family. Once again the Windsors find themselves dragged into a world where emotions are worn proudly on the sleeve while they continue to demand privacy and special treatment whenever it suits them. The Princes themselves were certainly the victims of the misconceived funeral display – but should they continue to parade their grief? Was their family less revered while Margaret’s tribulations were more discreetly exposed?

Baggage

July 26, 2017 8 comments

I’m midway through my clan visits in the Green and Pleasant; now moved oop narth from Mid Sussex to West Essex (I can’t have you imagining me in Sarfend, can I?). So I’m very aware of the airlines struggle to squeeze maximum cash out of their no-doubt-tight-fisted passengers.

The pressure on cabin shelf space is inadequate for all the ‘free’ hand bags – the airlines admit it – but despite that, some charge significant sums to stow bags in the hold. On my trip here last week the passengers were invited to volunteer to have their hand luggage stowed below – free, of course. When insufficient numbers cooperated, a number of bags were seized whether their owners approved or not! Of course this treatment is meted out on those who decline to pay for ‘priority’ status only.

The latest nonsense is that Ryanair have now ordered new aircraft for 2019 with 8 or 9 more seats but only room for 2 or 3 more bags.

The race for low fares has ended in tears for both the carriers and the carried, it seems – with no hope of the worst culprits getting together to find better ways to price their services. Ho hum.

 

 

Topical caption, anyone?

July 18, 2017 4 comments

Vive the difference

July 17, 2017 7 comments

 

The recent cringe-worthy visit of the First Man to France demonstrated the qualities of Gallic behaviour. Larger than life, self-satisfied and fundamentally hypocritical. Excusez-moi? Did you say those adjectives describe their No. One Visitor? Oh, yes, I hadn’t noticed. By all accounts the French populace were less than impressed.

Meanwhile, back in the real world (London) his demands for a ‘better reception’ when he deigns to grace us with his ineffable presence, were met with a straightforward, ‘Well, you know the British press’. So he should not hold his presidential breathe.

Says it all really.

 

Tell me about it

July 15, 2017 17 comments

On my last visit to the Green and Pleasant Land in May, I had lunch with three cousins whom I see frequently – all oldies like me. One of them volunteers, in between some winding-down work projects, at a local food bank and had just finished a shift when we met.

I asked him what he saw and felt about the charitable work and received the following reply: ‘Well, five youngish claimants turned up in a taxi together and many of the ‘destitute’ people are obviously chain-smokers and stand outside using their smart-phones. That’s how I feel.’

So my hackles are still descending – very slowly.

Royal caption?

July 15, 2017 8 comments

Le mot juste

July 14, 2017 6 comments

Like Sheona, I need help with vocabulary.

Tennis fans yesterday witnessed our hybrid Brit hero(ine), Johanna Konta, beaten comprehensively by the elegant Murican Venus Williams. I wanted to say she gave Jo a ‘master-class’, but our other hero, Andy, would have disapproved on feminist grounds. So what is the right word?

The ties have it

July 13, 2017 8 comments

As a long-time tie-sporter, I invite you to spot every ‘tell’ revealed by the two bossmen’s neckwear.

The choice: Don’s says he’s the one. A faux-regimental or wannabe academic flourish? Vlad positively conservative.

The knot: A full Windsor each – the only way for any chief.

The length: Both afraid of a half-mast solution.

The tuck: Don letting it all hang out, Vlad avoiding any stray egg and soup.

The tie talk: Reticent smile vs. Brash bravado. Says it all.

Interesting Times

July 7, 2017 10 comments

The cost of education

July 5, 2017 35 comments

Higher education in Britain has changed radically since I were a lad. Just so you know, in 1961 I went ‘up’ for four years, with the promise of free tuition and two contributions towards my annual living costs; they were a £100 ‘state scholarship’, awarded for A-level results and a £70 college scholarship, awarded after exams at the college. Total: £170 p.a., equivalent to £3,500 today. In case you’re wondering, my parents ‘kept’ me in the vacations – which amounted to more than half the year; and I did vac. jobs too. (I did not of course have a laptop/smart phone/ipad to pay for!)

Obviously today’s university students face a different future financially. On average they borrow £50,000 by the time they graduate and no doubt many, if not most, supplement their loans by working. So it is understandable that Corbyn can promise a brave new world of gubmint support for students and gain their approval. But the utopia I enjoyed will not return.

Categories: History, Politics