Gun Culture and the Ginger Ninja Calendar 2017

Given I have rather more work to complete than is good for me, I have had a rather gentle day. I caught up with some of yesterday’s paper. There were thoughtful pieces, an interview with Jeremy Corbyn I could not bring myself to read, a piece about very small gardens I have put aside to read later, comment about the presidential race in the US. This picture caught my eye.



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Square Eyes

After a day spent staring at a screen as I start on my tax return, an unispiring experience where I am shocked at how little I earn, this evening I have turned to the slighter larger screen in the corner of the sitting room. It’s been mainly Channel 4; the news, the Paralympics, The Last Leg, shortly the Paralympics again and I’ll be watching until Ellie Simmonds races just after 11.30. But I had a bit of a break on ITV remembering how much I loved Cold Feet all those years ago, and finding that this return series is again reeling me in.

I didn’t watch the first episode last week. Call me a coward, but I didn’t want all those wonderful memories spoiled by a crass revival. However the reviews have been overwhelmingly positive, so tonight I decided to give it a whirl. It is rather wonderful to find that your memories are not rose-tinted, that the writing is tight and the performances warm and convincing. Hermione Wotsit (not her real name, but I can’t think of it at the minute) is great as the buttoned up Karen, now estranged from her husband David, played by Robert Bathhurst as an overgrown prep schoolboy who functions well in high finance but badly everywhere else. Born into a different class he’d could have been Arthur Daley. Widowed Adam has a new much younger wife, who despite the misgivings of his old friends turns out to be a good sort. Pete is crumbling into depression, struggling to make a living and working as a cabby and a carer. His client is a crabby James Bolam, obviously enjoying himself in his role. At the rate I am acquiring TV programmes I want to watch, going to Australia is going to be a bit of a wrench. Continue reading

Bingeing on Rio

The time difference is a bit of a problem, but last night and tonight I am having a bit of a binge on the Paralympics at Rio 2016. I didn’t see enough of the Olympics, though I managed some of the cycling and the athletics and was stunned that Jess Ennis Hill’s silver was reported as a failure. Gimme a break. She was amazing. Did you see that final sprint?

Still, the Olympics are just the warm up act for the Paralympics where amazing is standard, gobsmacking is every day. I saw the new golden girl of swimming Ellie Robinson come out looking like ET in an oversized coat, owning the start line and winning gold in her first race while the crowd went wild. Tonight she’s up against the other golden Ellie, Ellie Simmonds whose performance at London 2012 inspired Ellie R to take up swimming. Ellie S is only 21, but Ellie R at 15 makes her seem almost old. Ellie Simmonds is inspirational. There is definitely a career for her when she ceases competitive swimming. She was in a television programme recently, learning to dive in the ocean. It was a surprise to learn that she had a fear of open water, a fear she overcame and achieved her childhood dream to swim with dolphins. She is such a warm person, radiates integrity and positivity. No wonder she is is so respected and admired by paralympians and others the world over.

Channel 4’s coverage is outstanding, it celebrates but also has fun. Try this.

Hannah Cockroft is racing tonight too. I shall be on the edge of my seat. I need some words other than amazing, but I am amazed. Ali Jawad could make me watch weightlifting, though possibly only if he is competing. Johnny Peacock has done it again, and when David Weir races this week I shall be holding my breath. All these athletes are articulate, funny, the sort of people you want to meet, people you look up too. Depressingly at the same time as we watch the Paralympics, seeing mind-boggling achievements, people defying what should be physical disabilities that limit their ambition and setting standards that cast all of us into their shadow, non-sporting disabled people in our communities are often attacked, bullied, demonised. The government takes away their benefits and makes lives that are already challenging that much harder. Using public transport is fraught with difficulties; often because of careless attitudes by staff who deem the journeys of the disabled as less important than those of able bodied travellers. The Paralympics helps educate society about what disability means and to see the people behind the disability. At least that’s what one hopes.

I can’t find the trailer where they mix footage with animations, where Johnny Peacock trails peacock feathers, Hannah Cockroft whips up a tornado and David Weir turns into werewolf, but I did manage to get this one.

So enjoy, and join me on a binge at Rio.

An Urge to Post

I had no intention of blogging tonight. I should be on my way to bed, it’s an early start tomorrow. But I read Outward Hounds latest and it reminded me of why I have stuck this blogging mularky for so long. There are bloggers out there whose writing is sublime. Their pages may not garner as many hits, likes or comments as others, but bloody hell, it’s amazing to be able freely to read their output.

I love the way that the internet has put me in touch with people from the other side of the world, people who I shall probably never meet, never have a conversation with other than via the keyboard, yet with whom there is a connection. Thank-you Tim Berners-Lee. Continue reading

The Hairdresser’s Inch

You know what it’s like; there you are at the hairdresser’s and she asks you want you want done. Just tidy it up, you say, keep the shape, I don’t want much cut off. I don’t want it very short. She nods, combs your hair this way and that, examines its texture, comments on the natural wave. You’re quite pleased about this as she seems to like your wave. Some hairdressers want to cut your hair into a straight style, tame it with products and blow dryers.

You expand. I am outside a lot, you explain. My hair is at the mercy of the weather, so I need a style that doesn’t get upset when the wind blows or the rain falls. She folds her lips in an understanding smile and you relax further.

The hairwash and head massage are good. Tensions you didn’t know you were carrying unknot from your shoulders. Then she starts to cut, and the hair drifting past you is rather more than you had anticipated, but your neck is bent forward and you can’t really see what she’s doing, so you concentrate on the book in your lap and let her get on with it. It’s a good book.

At last you are allowed to raise your head. Most of your hair has gone. Your face drops. She looks at you, an enquiry in her raised eyebrows. It’s much shorter than I asked for, you say. Yes, she confides, I cut my first guideline a bit short and that has dictated the length.

There is nothing you can do. She can’t stick it back on. You ask a few more questions, especially about the top, the crown, where you know that when cut short your hair defies gravity and sticks up. You tell her how so many hairdressers have assured you this won’t happen, but it has. She makes soothing noises. And she’s right, because the hair is not sticking up when you are eventually brushed down, rendered visible again without the black gown. Continue reading

Out of Reach

It's a rule of fruit picking that the best fruit is either too high or protected by nettles and brambles. Still, it's that time of year when the blackberries are ripening and high on my list for this morning was to go a-gathering in Reach.

I've written about Reach before. It's a village near das Boot with a perfect pub and a perfect organic farm. Most of my blackberry gathering over the last four summers has taken place there. Not all the berries were ripe. Some were still at the flowering stage, so should I get back within the next month or so there's a good chance I shall get a second crop.

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A Good Literary Haul for September

I am halfway through the book group novel for next week. Or it may be the week after. Anyway. It's The Queen of The Tambourine by Jane Gardam. I love Jane Gardam's writing and I have read loads by her, including, I thought, this novel which I thought I had on my bookshelves. I didn't, so I bought a second hand copy which fortunately arrived minutes before I left the. Smoke for das Boot yesterday.

I started it today, and from page one realised I had not read it before. I began by being amused by the Hyacinth Bouquetish character of Eliza. Then that palled, but before I could think I might give up the novel stepped up a gear. Unobtrusively. Jane Gardam is the most understated of writers. Don't expect big scenes; crash bang wallop chapters; shock horror revelations. It's the detail that matters in her books; the tiny shifts in behaviour, attitudes and thinking. Nothing and everything happens. She is not for the skim reader.

I'm loving it. And it was a tough gif after The Tidal Zone which introduced me to Sarah Moss. I think she has written about five novels so far. So I have been a bit slow on the uptake. I blame the library service. If you know me and my hobby horses, this will not come as a surprise.

Time was I'd go to our local library, small but with an admirable stock of books. I'd prowl the shelves and come home with a haul of novels by people of whom I had never heard. My horizons were widened. Then someone in some library service somewhere decreed that libraries should stock best selling novels by best selling authors and any book not borrowed n a six month period should be cast into outer darkness. So suddenly we found ourselves with libraries that stocked the same books as our supermarkets. Writers who I had discovered before the six month rule disappeared from the shelves. I am grateful that my reading was widened by earlier more enlightened library administrators, but it's a bugger these days. Continue reading

Wednesday Postscript

I don’t mean to rub it in but I shall be afloat again tomorrow. If it helps, I can go because I do not have any work, and work equals income, until Monday.

Not my boat

Not my boat

I didn’t mean to post twice tonight, but MasterB is outside, I have finished The Tidal Zone, and I’ve been unsuccessfully trying to clear some space in my laptop’s memory. I’m hoping the next book group book will be delivered before I leave. It’s Jane Gardam’s The Queen of the Tambourine which I thought I had, but if I do it’s buried deep in the bookshelves. The library doesn’t have it, so I ordered a second hand copy from AbeBooks. My idea is to sit on das Boot and read it.

Night is falling earlier. It’s an unwelcome reminder that bare-toed days are numbered. We are two months past the longest day so just four months off the longest night. Grabbing time at das Boot before the temperatures drop is a priority. I shan’t venture far; some short walks locally, maybe drive to Reach and the organic farm.

local landscape

local landscape

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