Service, or lack of it!

I read today of a protest by disabled users of Southern Rail against the inadequacy of staff to allow them to board the train without prior booking.

It reminded me of last time I travelled by rail a couple of years ago in the UK. There were no staff!  There were no porters in Swansea or Reading, both large stations.  No assistance of any kind for love nor money.  Passengers helped me to manhandle my suitcase on and off the train, but in Reading there was a footbridge to negotiate, quite impossible!  I waited, expecting to see some type of employee hove to on the horizon, nothing.  I waited until the train was gone, nothing, absolute desolation!  So I stood and shouted Help! loudly. Finally someone came, I explained my predicament, Oh, says he, I’m not a porter, well says I, I am going to stand here and shout and scream until someone helps to get me off this platform. He capitulated, and, mirabile dictu a staff only lift was found.  I gave him 10 pounds at the taxi rank, he was aghast, I can’t take that!  Why not? He did!  I did ask him why there were no porters, he looked at me like I was fresh out of the ARK and said there had been none for years, I did admit to not having been on a train for thirty years!

Read more…

Categories: General

It’s time for Basil to act

April 3, 2017 24 comments

Yes, the charmingly slow Iberians are in need of a good slap. Poor dears, they’re mixing up their ideas even more than usual. So let’s help them to behave, shall we?

They don’t believe in self-determination for their regions – or anybody else’s. Or do they? OK, they now think Scotland deserves the chance. Fine. But Gibraltar still doesn’t.



I note an article in the papers today about drones.

I personally abhor their use over other people’s personal property.  One had the temerity to crash land here in the garden!  What would have happened had it hit a dog or wrecked a plant?  I confiscated it immediately, put it in the dustbin to trap it and later took it out, hung it on the garage wall and eventually gave it to my gardener for his nephew, anywhere but here.  Had it merely hovered I would have shot it without a thought.  Nobody ever turned up to claim it.

What would you all do with the wretched things?

As a foot note to this , at our last place we had a gas pipeline jut behind the property, that is at the top of a five acre field.  A helicopter used to fly down the line every day checking for leaks.  Our neighbour, an elderly man, was convinced that it was the tax man spying on him so he routinely took his gun and shot at the helicopter.  This happened more than a few times.  I suppose he got a hit or too many near misses but some nice policemen turned up and explained that it really wasn’t the taxman and it was doing a useful service stopping the pipeline from blowing up his house and that he had better cease and desist before they had to do something about it.  He did.  No effort to remove his gun or licence of course or prosecute him in any way, shape or form!

I note people have been prosecuted for shooting them, I cannot understand why when they are an unwarranted intrusion of privacy.  More like give the bugger a medal for good shooting!!

Categories: General

Nobel prize for nostalgia

April 2, 2017 3 comments


Back in the mists of student days and nights, Bob Dylan used to sing:

”…..Take me disappearing through the smoke rings of my mind
Down the foggy ruins of time
Far past the frozen leaves
The haunted frightened trees
Out to the windy bench
Far from the twisted reach of crazy sorrow
Yes, to dance beneath the diamond sky
With one hand waving free
Silhouetted by the sea
Circled by the circus sands
With all memory of fate
Driven deep beneath the waves
Let me forget about today until tomorrow

Hey, Mr. Tambourine Man, play a song for me
I’m not sleepy and there ain’t no place I’m going to
Hey, Mr. Tambourine Man, play a song for me
In the jingle jangle morning I’ll come following you……..”

Categories: History, Poetry

A master’s voice

April 1, 2017 2 comments

Categories: Creativity, Gardening, Nature


We’re in a bad way. With the UK leaving the bastion of stability and economic growth, Read more…

Categories: General

The ritual dance

March 31, 2017 8 comments

It is now a couple of days since Ms May filed for divorce. And it is still ‘news’, so the esteemed (and other) meeja seem determined to comment on every jot and tittle, nay every molecule of the first exchanges between the combatants. But boredom will soon set in – cf. a ‘nine-day wonder’ – and remember a week is a long time in politics.

Few commentators wish to recognise (at least in public) that there is a standard procedure when any negotiation starts. I recall life in several craft-based industries which reviewed their pay-and-benefits-scales every year. The protagonist stepped up, all mouth and trousers, with a proposal he knew was unacceptable. The antagonist objected with thunderous determination never to accept it. Neither was real life. It took days or sometimes weeks or months to ‘come together’.

So when the UK and EU have marked each other’s cards and the meeja have gone into the extreme boredom mode, the real work will begin. Patience, everyone.

To know my deed, ’twere best not know myself.

March 29, 2017 41 comments

The deed’s been done. At 12:30 BST, Sir Tim Barrow personally delivered the Prime Minister’s letter invoking Article 50 to Donald Tusk. Nine months have come and gone since Britain voted to disentangle itself from the increasingly moribund EU project. There is no going back, there is no stopping Brexit. Read more…

Categories: General

A day with friends

March 29, 2017 11 comments

As I’ve mentioned before, the Danish royals are on welfare, but undeterred by such inappropriate considerations, they treated their Belgian peers to the best of everything. Sans the Prince  Consort, who has taken his bat home to France after being denied kingship (again). A good time was had by all, especially the Crown Prince who does little else but have a good time, unlike his Tasmanian wife, the fashion queen of Scandinavia.

If you’d like to witness some conspicuous consumption, the Mail has it all:

Coal Dust and Rust

March 27, 2017 7 comments

This year in politics threatens to be eventful. The British Government is set to trigger Article 50 on the 29th of March. The Netherlands had its parliamentary election in which the new political landscape of one of Europe’s most stable countries has been laid bare. Read more…

Categories: General