Back to BoJo and Trump

I am not the biggest fan of the Evening Standard. It’s a free rag that belongs to the same stable as The Daily Mail, that exemplar of spleen.

However, I picked up a copy tonight at the bus stop outside Waterloo station, returning from a day in the country. It was work rather than pleasure, but very enjoyable to be in Wiltshire.

The ES is not a demanding read, or at least only in the sense that one usually struggles to find anything worth reading. It is the perfect fit for the litter tray, and I use it on das Boot all the time. Tonight though, as I flicked through the pages I found this picture.

So yes, I’m back to BoJo and Trump, two politicians with so much in common, not least the attraction they have for otherwise sensible people. An American lady I met last week told me how much she liked BoJo. She also told me she disliked the new tall structures of glass and steel that are springing up across London. That’ll be Boris, I said. Her eyes widened. He has overruled local authorities fourteen times and given planning permission for very tall buildings, some in quite sensitive areas I explained. She leant forward and listened. This was obviously not the tousle-haired, lovable Boris of her imagination. Developers and that magazine no home should be without, Skyscraper News, love him. Read it if you don’t believe me. The man has done immense damage to London, and bar the cycle super highway, little good. Even the so-called Boris Bikes were a Ken initiative. Ah, Ken, another politician whose ego has destroyed him. He was a great Leader of the GLC, and for that I shall always have a residual affection for him, but he was a much less great mayor. Continue reading

Of Early Mornings, Tranquility and Happy Cats

I’m nodding a bit, sitting on the sofa, my mug of mint tea cooling just out of reach. MasterB is tucked beside me, and I don’t want to disturb him. Fortunately mint tea tastes alright cold. It’s quite nice to sit here quietly and type, to look over to the table at the new tulips vibrant in the vase, to feel MasterB’s fur against my arm and see his paws relaxed and proprietorial against the keyboard. Happy cat; happy human.

We had an early start, me and the boy, up at six thirty on a Sunday morning. It was my fault, I misread my watch and thought it was seven thirty. The world was quiet. No sirens racing up and down the nearby Walworth Road; no shouting; just birds singing. And blue skies when the forecast had been for clouds and rain.

He went out and I made coffee before joining him in the garden for a while. Later I had to go to work, but there was time to change bed linen, catch up on some reading, sort some books I have promised to a neighbour. It was lovely. I can see the advantage of a dawn start in summer. The trouble is some neighbours like to talk into the night in the gardens, their voices and laughter increasing in volume as the bottles empty. It makes sleep difficult.

Below the bird feeders

Below the bird feeders

At some point I shall probably trade centrality for tranquility. Denmark Hill would be nice, but I think it’s beyond my purse.
Continue reading

David Baddiel!! “My”!! “Family”!!!!!

The TV is on but the sound is turned off. An overweight man in a baggy T shirt and a helmet that makes me think of the Romans is standing in front of a small crowd. The crowd is mainly women. The man in the helmet looks scared, but he may be trying to look mean. Another overweight man is wearing a navy T shirt with the word steward printed on the back. Goodness only knows what it is about, but I am not interested enough to turn the sound up.

I am waiting for another programme that is due to start shortly.

Oh the joy of an evening where I can veg in front of the television for a while. My absence from this page has not been due to indifference. No,I have been obscenely, wonderfully busy, which is great news for my bank account, but absolutely lousy for engaging with friends and others both actual or virtual. Tomorrow the levels of my coffers will remain unchanged as I am having A Day Off. I’d like to think I’d have a lie-in, but there’s a new kitchen being installed downstairs and the builders arrive at 8, so I’ll be up at the usual time.

I had half a day off on Sunday. Some weeks ago, I bought tickets for myself, Celia and Charlie to go to see David Baddiel in his new show My Family: Not the Sitcom. Charlie had completely forgotten and taken himself off to Hove to see a cricket match; a match it turns out that was taking place in Worcester, so not an entirely successful day. Continue reading

Welcome to Londonistan

No surprise to learn I am here because MasterB is enjoying Outside Time.

The last two mornings he has woken me up at five and asked (loudly) to go out. This is exactly what Cat used to do. It worked well with Cat and it has worked well with MasterB this weekend as I have been out most of each day, and I am glad to know he has enjoyed himself in the early morning light. It also works as I fall asleep as soon as I get back into bed.

Aunt’s obit appeared in a national newspaper this weekend. I was a bit surprised to learn it has been online for month. A friend emailed me tonight to say she had read it. She described it as ‘lovely’, which pleased me, as a) Aunt was lovely and b) I wrote it. Nearly four months since Aunt died. I hope others who didn’t know her and who don’t know me will read it and marvel at her resilience. The editor at the paper was full of admiration for her. She emailed me several times to ask for more information about Aunt. I like the thought that Aunt’s life may be an inspiration others.

Continue reading

Looking to the Future

I am quite touched by the concern for my wellbeing expressed in the comments to last night’s post. Thinking about it today, I realise I have not had an extended break from town for a long time. I had planned to go to Crete in November, but that was cancelled and I ended up with my new and lovely kitchen. So I am wondering if my feeling on return to the Smoke was simply a realisation that I need to be away for a while.

After all, I love what London offers. I love the theatre the museums, the diversity. When I am in the country for extended periods I am often appalled by people’s expressed opinions on all manner of things. I live in a liberal (small l) world here in London; in the country I regularly encounter people who not only read the Daily Mail but believe what it says. I shouldn’t last a month.

Pontoon

Pontoon

Continue reading

Quandary

I love London. I do believe, hand on heart, that it is the greatest city in the world. I have lived here alomost all my adult life. My friends and my work are here; friends with whom I have grown up and grown older; work that really isn’t transferable anywhere else. Work I love, but which doesn’t bring a huge income; no pension plan or any other financial benefits, so retirement is just a word, not a date I look forward to reaching.

I would say after all these years that I am a Londoner.

But.

I was born in the country, grew up in the country, and at this time of year in particular the country exerts a huge pull. For the first time in I don’t know how many years, when I came home on Monday, London did not feel like home. I felt my days here were numbered.

Sheep

Sheep

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Intrepid Friends, Captain’s Log 1st May 2016

It’s not all pink gins, striped tops and waiting for the sun to pass the yard arm you know. No, not at all. Without a yard arm in sight to tell us whether it was okay to drink or not, Celia and I polished off the bottle of white wine that has been keeping me company in the evening since. Friday. We were also having a very late lunch.

This morning I dressed in my horrid three quarter length trews, a pair of waterproof trousers which badly need replacing as the elastic has gone, and I feel like one of those boys who wears their trousers below their buttocks, Mother’s old waterproof, black rubber gloves and my beach shoes. The reason for such glamorous attire? I wanted to start on the task of cleaning the exterior of das Boot.

It’s curiously satisfying work, though perhaps not the traditional way to spend one’s birthday, but I was as happy as Larry as the accumulated filth of the winter months started to wash away. I spent ages on the front cover and wet, it looked pretty good. Dry, I can see all the bits I missed.

I stopped, reckoning it must be approaching twelve, then inside discovered the seals around the bathroom windows need replacing, and there was evidence of my work on the walls. It didn’t take long to clear up, then I tripped off to the shower.

I had just stepped back on board and was wondering whether to eat a piece of bread and cheese or tidy up a bit when my phone pinged. A message from Celia to say she had boarded the train, and was due to arrive in a little over an hour at Ely. Continue reading

30th April 2016, Captain’s Log

My watch strap has broken. OK, not exactly the end of the world, but very annoying, and a reminder of how much I rely on being able to glance at my wrist and know what time it is. A bit more annoying as I only bought the watch strap a week ago. I'm thinking about my bed and wondering if !MasterB will settle. He's not exactly had a lot of exercise today, though earlier this evening we played for a while and then I turned all the lights out so he could sit on my knee and look out at the ducks swimming beside us and the geese flying overhead. Celia may come tomorrow, and if she does, she has offered to look in my flat for his harness and bring it with her.

 

It's cool now after a warm, sunny day. Well, warm after the winds that were gusting first thing had calmed down. Cosy on das Boot, I had woken feeling too warm. That was the second time I woke. The first time was when Himself was vocally reminding me he had not had enough to eat. I did, for a nanosecond consider getting up then. It was as dawn was breaking, and I understand that otters are swimming the river then. If it had been a simple matter of strolling down to the river bank, being immediately rewarded by the sight of frolicking otters and then returning to bed, I'd have done it. But I think it's more of a wait in the cold light of a new day and hope.

 

I heard a cuckoo this afternoon. It seems to me I always hear my first cuckoo of the year when I am at the marina. I had to leave das Boot to get a newspaper. The nearest newsagents is at Burwell. I have been there lots of times. Somewhere I read that it is the largest village in East Anglia. Until today I had thought I knew its extent. But I decided on a different route back, turning left instead of right, then a series of right turns to bring me back to a familiar road, and Burwell stretched away and far beyond where I thought its boundaries lay. I passed a building advertising freshly laid eggs and homemade chutneys. I noted it for times when the hen lady has run out of eggs.

 

My morning drive took me through Reach where I dropped off several bags of used cat litter and found the recycling bank. At the Organic Farm I bought tomato plants and a second hand copy of a Len Deighton novel I read in the 80s, a bunch of yellow tulips that had been reduced to 50p because they were already open. They opened further in the warmth of the car, and are now boldly splendid in the blue and white striped vase Mother bought from the Oxfam shop. It was intended as a present, but she started using it, as indeed she did all the other things she bought that day. At the time I was puzzled. In retrospect, I realise it was one of the signs of her entry to dementia.

 

I was wearing Aunt's body warmer, and realised I was in the local uniform of the horsey community. There's a fair at Reach every May Day Bank Holiday, and the death defying rides, tooth rotting sweet stalls and all the rest of the paraphernalia is being set up.

 

Back at the marina, Ian was working on his boat. He and his wife Jackie have become people I look forward to seeing when I come east. They are warm, unpretentious, generous. True to form, Ian checked out the engine of das Boot. I have been worried as when we ran it a few weeks back no water came through, meaning it wasn't sucking up water from the river to cool the engine. He fixed it in a trice. The pump needed to be primed. Phew.

 

I spent the rest of the day being alternately active and lazy. I finished listening to a not very good story while digging horrible muck out of the window frames. I sat in the sunny fore cabin and read the paper. I considered the filthy exterior of the port side of the boat and wished I had got the water pump and hose out after lunch. Hence the plans for tomorrow morning if it's warm enough.

 

Unusually for me I have taken hardly any photographs, though I have my good camera and all my lenses. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe next time. I don't know how many more seasons I shall have das Boot, but if I can manage it, I shall be here quite a lot this summer.