Bigotry and Beauty

You’d have thought that the political landscape couldn’t get more worrying or more bizarre, but in the last week it’s felt that this is the moment when our mouths are frozen open in a silent scream of noooooooo before the true scope of the horror is unleashed in tornado of biblical proportions.

Matthew Parris, the political commentator and former MP, just spoke on Channel 4 news about Brexit, saying if people voted that pigs might fly, and the politicians can’t get the pigs to fly, the politicians are in an impossible place.

In London we have cameras on every corner. It doesn’t take much imagination to understand what that info would mean to a malign administration intent on a Farage inspired future. people watch The Hand Maid’s Tale and are gripped, but still see it as fiction, yet when I read the novel in 1989 what scared me was how plausible the events described are.Even before the Internet, when I was watching and speaking out about the gradual erosion of our human rights under Margaret Thatcher, I was aware that if a more extreme bunch came into power my membership of Amnesty International, my signature on various petitions, could mean the end of me. All the more easy now if events come to their logical conclusion. We seem curiously unable to wake people up to the dangers of Trump, of Brexit, of people in India losing their citizenship.

Via Twitter, Speccy drew my attention to this piece in the Irish Times

But we can’t exist on a diet of gloom and pessimism, so here are some pictures from my little sojourn at das Boot last week. Some are of MasterB, who has not had the happiest day. He was under anaesthetic, having his teeth x-rayed, one removed, one had the tip cut off. A line of fur has been shaved from his neck, it’s not a great look. But here he is at das Boot. Most of the pictures took were when I was trying to tempt MasterB out for an evening stroll. I wasn’t entirely successful. Continue reading

Advertisements

the end of the day

I’m working on Monday so it’s back to the Smoke tomorrow. The forecast is for
a hot day, so I’ll try to leave in the morning. The evening might be cooler, but there’ll be lots of traffic with people returning at the end of the weekend.

I’d like to be able to stay on. Stay on until I become restless. Right now, being on the boat with some human contact and some internet access, but not too much of either, suits me down to the ground. I’m hanging out with MasterB. Doing a bit of gentle boat cleaning after the rigours of scrubbing the covers, eating lots of salad, drinking lots of water and a bit of wine. The pace is so slow you might not even realise I was moving. I am very happy to not do very much, to recharge my batteries by vegetating.

For the first time in ages I brought my Lumix camera with me. I haven’t taken many pictures, but just using it again reminds me what a different experience it is to my trusty little Olympus,.

I’d like to stay and let the sights and sounds of summer in the country sink into me, so that the big skies, the scent of lavender, the bees, the pennants moving in the breeze, the squawk of the moorhen, the swan dipping its neck into the sun reflected water, are all filling my senses, so that Brexit, Trump and all the other noise and nonsense dims into insignificance for a while.  Continue reading

many birds, no pictures

It started with a swan nibbling at the lily pads while I made my breakfast, progressed through the usual array of ducks and geese. I heard more wood pigeons than I saw. The window of the fore cabin was open a smidgin, a gardening cane safe in the gulley to stop a curious cat pushing it wider. The curious cat was going to have a bloody good go though, and I turned from pouring boiled water onto the coffee grounds in their neat, unbleached filter paper to see his head and shoulders were already halfway through. After retrieving him (he wasn’t pleased) I trimmed another gardening cane to a longer length. At this rate I shall have to buy more. I have ordered some other gadgets to restrict how wide the windows open, but they are coming from China and may take some weeks.

Had I not still been in my pyjamas it would have been a good opportunity to let MasterB have some shore leave, but that fact and the as yet uneaten breakfast hardened my heart. There’s cctv here, I don’t really want anyone watching video clips of me in my nightwear.

MasterB retreated under a pillow where he remained until we left the marina in the early afternoon with Older Nephew at the helm, me on ropes, drinks and nibbles, when he joined us in the fore cabin, safely sheltered in his usual cushion citadel. Continue reading

From Where I’m Sitting

Blue sky. Tree tops. I have to sit up to see more. Wood pigeons are calling. Leaves rustle on the trees. A bird I can’t identify peep peeps somewhere not far away. When we arrived there was a swan serene and calm. My starting the engine to check/charge the battery and ensure hot water for tonight didn’t seem to worry it. But after a while it moved off and into the river.

Blue sky and treetops

I was tempted not to come, despite having blocked these days out in my diary and written BOAT across them. I’m tired. My boat days should have started yesterday, but I still hadn’t found time to book the train and coach journeys in New Zealand to get me between various locations. The coach site was annoying. It decided early on I was looking to book two seats and no matter how many times I tried to correct it, that was what came up in my basket. I was going to cancel and try again but I got a message saying I might not be able to get seats at all. I emailed the company, and had some lunch. Of course no one replied; what was I thinking? It was the middle of the night there. So after humming and hawing for a while, I took the plunge.
In the evening I got a reply to my email. It was suggesting that the error was mine and offered a number I could call. I replied pointing out I had emailed about the problem before confirming my booking, was on the other side of the world, and had spent around half an hour trying to get the site to ‘modify’ what was in my basket.
It’s a long story and in the end I got a refund, but the company insisted all the time the error was mine. I found this tedious and patronising.
Despite this and the disappointment of England being knocked out of the World Cup (I couldn’t bear to watch), I slept well. This morning I was slow and sluggish, and if I had more free dates in my diary  to come East should probably have stayed at home.
Celia, who has been in Wales for weeks, is back in London, and kindly gave me a second coffee while we caught up a little. My neighbour Jolita will water the plants, my bags were in the car. I lifted MasterB from the drawer under the bed where he was sleeping and away we came.
The traffic wasn’t bad; a few hold ups, but I was congratulating myself on having covered most of the miles before the end of the school day and the hoards of parents who collect their children by car,  when we came to a sudden stop. Roadworks, I thought, temporary traffic lights. But I was wrong. Car after car in front of me turned and came back where we had come. I reached the front of the queue and followed suit. I hadn’t seen much, but it was enough. A red car across the road, doors open, glass on the ground. The detour was long but effective and we met fire engines racing towards us, making me wonder if someone needed to be cut free.
Always a cautious driver, I became doubly so. Continue reading

The End of the Weekend

After a glorious day the wind is picking up. MasterB and I have had a little amble around a marina that is suddenly deserted. All but two of the cars have gone. The birds are singing still, though the cuckoos have gone silent. The cows have moved with their babies to the far end of their field. It’s still light, but sunset can’t be far off.
We’ve enjoyed a two and a half day break from the Smoke, arriving on Saturday evening and heading home tomorrow. Older Nephew came over yesterday and we set off promptly, surprised to find so little traffic on the river on such a warm sunny day. As we passed through Ely we realised that lots of boaters were just moored up and soaking up the rays. Beer and wine seemed to feature quite prominently, so we decided to join in and open the rather lovely bottle of red that Octavia had brought with her a month ago but which we had not drunk.
We saw the usual crop of birds, swans, geese, a heron, great crested grebes, and something I think was a female reed bunting.
It was all very relaxed, quite lazy, and thoroughly enjoyable. We ate, we drank, we listened to podcasts of old comedy shows, we talked. MasterB joined us eventually in the fore cabin. We’ve got the hang of making him a cushion citadel now so he feels secure, and I sat beside him, one hand in his fur most of the time. Continue reading

A Shout in the Night

It’s been a lovely weekend of blue skies and warm sunshine in London. Just a soft breeze and the temperature somewhere in the mid 20s C. Pretty perfect. The neighbours stayed quiet last night, no loud voices or braying laughter drifting through open windows until all hours, something that happens all too often for my liking in warm weather. So MasterB and headed off to bed bedtimes. I read for a while, finished a crossword and fell asleep.

Around two in the morning I woke as someone shouted “Put your hands up”. I thought at first I’d Been dreaming then realised there were quite a few voices. MasterB was growling, and when I opened the shutters to look out of the window, for once he didn’t leap up onto the sill to look too. Whatever it was, he didn’t want to get any closer.

It turned out to be lots of police officers and one man not in uniform. He was the one with his hands in the air while his pockets were searched and he was patted down. I heard an officer tell him he was under arrest and to put out his hands as he was to be cuffed. Continue reading

Things that go bump on the knee

Exhausted

Wednesday night and the Boy and I are on the sofa. He’s sleeping as though he’s spent the day cleaning the flat from top to bottom (he hasn’t, there are paw prints on the windowsill and other things I’m not mentioning). I’m watching 24Hours in A&E and enjoying the human interest stories while admiring the wonderful professionalism and compassion of our NHS staff. People’s resilience is astounding.

I’ve got my left leg elevated after an accident that fortunately has not required a trip to A&E. One moment I was hurrying along the pavement wanting to get to the bank before I started work, the next I was sprawled on my face in the dust. A slightly raised paving slab and my failure to notice it were to blame. ‘Are you alright?’ said a concerned voice. ‘I don’t know yet,’ I answered, resisting the urge to get to my feet immediately and recover my dignity while I tentatively checked with my various parts to see if they were all still attached. They seemed to be, so I got to my knees, then to my feet. And oh the relief, my trousers were intact. I was expecting a jagged tear across the left knee which seemed to have taken the force of the fall. No grazes on my hands either. My sunglasses still on my nose. Hurrah! Continue reading

Captain’s Log: Tuesday’s Child

I am so happy. I thought this a moment ago, and it felt so good I decided to make it the first sentence of tonight’s post. It’s not the wine talking, though I have just poured a glass of Frascati as an aperitif.

I don’t think the way I have chosen to spend my birthday matches many people’s idea of a celebratory day, but it has worked for me. I woke early, got a good morning cuddle from MasterB and then I drifted off to sleep again. The sun was up, the skies were blue, the wind was cold. I headed for the shower and towelled myself briskly to Ward of hypothermia. Then to the car and a trip down the road to Janet Eggs who I had texted last night. No eggs. I considered, then sent her a text saying I was outside. She appeared, still in her pyjamas and invited me into her kitchen. She was sent home from work yesterday after being sick, and has to stay at home today. It was lovely. We stood and talked, looking out at her garden. I showed her the WhatsApp messages Older Nephew and Octavia had exchanged regarding wine for Sunday and she approved, one of these days she’ll come to das Boot. Whether she’ll bring Squidge, her standard poodle, depends on whether MasterB is aboard or not. And the likelihood is, he will be. I returned to das Boot with a box of the freshest laid and had my second egg of 2018. Delicious.yes, I would give them up if no happy pet hens were in my life, indeed I have, hence this being only the second egg of 2018.

Day three, and MasterB’s at home. I don’t think he’d necessarily need a cushion citadel were we to go out on the river tonight. He’s not keen on the engine noise, so reading about hybrid electric/diesel boats made my heart beat faster. Maybe I have won the lottery. Maybe Older Nephew will have an Aston Martin for his 40th birthday. Maybe the moon is made of green cheese.

Then I headed for MIldenhall, but obviously I had to go to the farm at Reach where I bought two tomato plants and a kale plant, some fresh salad and some organic rhubarb. Next stop, Freckenham. It is the asparagus season. I bought two bunches, one for me, one for Octavia. Finally Mildenhall where I took the wrong turning for the cemetery and was on my way to Thetford. Fortunately there was a place to turn, so I turned. The chrysanthemum I had planted on the stone marking where Dad’s ashes were buried has gone. Aunt’s grave had a good smattering of healthy plants and a stretch of bald earth. I went back to the town and bought petunias and French marigolds which I duly planted and watered. Older Nephew is going to water them in a week or so, so for once, I am not praying for fine weather. Continue reading