The Elephant in the Room

Well, not really a room, more a district and a city. Let me explain.

When I visited Coventry last week I was surprised and intrigued to find representations of elephants.

A Line of Balancing Elephants

I live close to the Elephant and Castle in London. I’m used to references to elephants hereabouts. We have a magnificent one with a howdah on his back that adorns the delapidated shopping centre; there’s Elephant Cars based in Elephant Road; the Electric Elephant CafĂ© here in Walworth, offices in Hannibal House; Elefest, once our annual beano celebrating all things Elephant connected. But I was unaware of any pachyderm associations with Coventry, usually a city more renowned for its connections with Lady Godiva’s naked horse riding event. However, elephants there definitely were.

 

An Elephant in the Wall

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DT to meet ER, Oh Help!

I am feeling quite protective towards the Queen. I mean, she’s 90, a very healthy 90 I admit, but all the same. The news tonight showed Theresa May and Donald Trump at a press conference during which TM said she was happy to be able to extend an invitation from Her Maj to DT to make a state visit to the UK this summer.

I’m not much of a royalist, though I admit to a sneaking admiration for ERII. And this seems to me a trial too far for any monarch of any age. Can she pull a sickie? Get one of those people who make a living by looking like her to stand in for a stay that sounds painful beyond imagining? How far up her back did TM have her arm when she proffered this invitation, or has she become so inured down the nearly 70 years of her reign to be polite to bores and power junkies that she reckons this will wash over her?

I’m just going to insert a totally unrelated picture of MasterB here to help us all breathe properly and keep our collective blood pressure steady.Snoozing Continue reading

Heathrow to Home

There is something about doing a journey in reverse that makes it feel as if you rewinding a holiday. Would I reach home to find November was just starting? In the event, no, but the reality of here, made there, which had been here the previous day, curiously unreal.

The plane had Christmas decorations, and Heathrow was full of festive decs too, if somewhat low on the festive cheer. After a bit of a battle to get into a lift to the bus station, I pulled on my gloves and zipped up my jacket against the cold of a London that had embraced winter in my absence.

The journey home was uneventful; bus, train, taxi. I lumbered up the stairs to my flat where no one was surprised to see me. The cat/flat sitters had been exchanging texts with me since I landed so were obviously expecting me, but MasterB seemed remarkably unphased by my reentry into his life. He was engrossed in a biscuit game with B, who could have an alternative career training cats.He gave me a nod, rubbed against me and resumed his game. It was a while before I got the nose rub, but it came. I know people who say their cats ignore them when they come home. That has never been my experience. Continue reading

Return of the Cat Woman

When I saw Octavia on Sunday I mentioned how strange I found it that I have become a go-to person about cats in the neighbourhood. I’m sure I don’t know more than the average cat owner, though my addiction to the various pet programmes on the television has taught me a lot, and living with Cat was an education in itself. When the penny finally dropped that Cat was a permanent fixture rather than a temporary self-invited guest, I borrowed books about cats from the local library, books that are no longer in the collection, read about nutrition, and general cat care. That’s about it.

Octavia reckoned it was because I have been involved in a few cat rescues locally. Funnily enough I had been thinking about Trevor earlier in the day. Then there was Odysseus, Izzy and, of course, Cookie.

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Strange Times

I saw Michael Gove yesterday. He saw me too, but I doubt if he’s blogging about it. He wouldn’t know me from a hole in the road. It was at Westminster tube station, late in the afternoon and it looked like he was heading into the Palace of Westminster. Maybe he’s got some prep to do before next week’s party conference and decided to do it when fewer people were about. I don’t know what his popularity ratings are, but I’d be surprised if people are rushing to sit with him in the canteen.

He didn’t look great; rather pudgy, as though he’s been comfort eating. Ah well. It’s not every day you do your bit to lead your country to a disastrous referendum vote and then find yourself voted out of power. I am indebted to Ken Clarke, words I never thought to type or say, for his pithy summing up of the situation in which we find ourselves. It is bizarre that I and people like me who voted remain are now hoping and praying that we can make leaving the EU work, while those who voted leave snipe from the sidelines and demand that the things they thought they voted be enacted in every tiny detail. Ken is a heavyweight survivor of the Thatcher era. Not my favourite politician, though perhaps I should be careful what I say as his London pad isn’t so very far from my own abode. However, according to Sky News, this is what he said.
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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

Just Wonderful: Love London

For this post I am going to try to eschew politics as I feel I am going to tip over the edge soon. I believe it was Harold Wilson who said a week was a long time in politics, but here in the UK five minutes can be enough at the moment to find the world you thought you knew has been turned on its head. So let’s have a break from Brexit, though like some ghastly ghoul in a B movie we know it’s going to keep coming back. Like hiccoughs. Only worse. Much worse.

Fortunately, there are parts of life that continue affirming, and often unexpected. I was about to go to bed on Friday when I received an offer of tickets to a performance of Beethoven’s 6th. A couple of texts back and forth established it was local, no charge, and in a multi-storey car park. Who could refuse? Certainly not I, but it turned out lots of my friends who had a bewildering array of entertainments booked for Saturday could, while I had just planned to be at home with MasterB. Note to self: get out more. Steph was free and not only embraced the offer of a spare ticket but offered champagne chez elle before the event. I had to pass on that as I was working and would need all my time available to get to the gig for the appointed hour.

God, I love London. I know the venues around the multi storey car park: Bussey place, the Peckham Plex, but somehow Bold Tendencies had not registered on my radar. Thank-goodness for B&J, sometime and future cat sitters who had bought the tix. We met at Frank’s Bar, a rooftop space with jaw-dropping views and a large clientele. As Steph said when she arrived shortly after I did, “Where the fuck do all these people come from?” Steph says fuck a lot.

A bar with a view

A bar with a view

B&J’s glasses were empty. They had been there a while. Steph and went to the bar. The queue was six deep and a mile sideways. I have no bar presence whatsoever so my expectations were low. I come from a long line of publicans, and some might think that would mean an advantage when it comes to getting the attention of bar staff, but I think it must be indelibly written on my aura that my role is collecting empties and wiping tables. Much to my surprise we were served within a few minutes, minutes during which Steph talked about the mud at this year’s Glastonbury. Mega mud. Continue reading

Brexit Blues, Other Music and Even a Smile or Two

Three days on, and as I haven’t woken up to find I dreamt the whole thing, I think I have to accept that a slender majority of the UK population has voted to leave the EU, and it is going to happen. The fact that numbers of people who voted leave are now saying they only did so as a protest vote because they thought there was no chance of it happening is hardly comforting. Nor is the fact that there are growing reports of people being being told to ‘leave’ or ‘go home’ exactly reassuring. I wished I could remember Lenny Henry’s repatration gag about about how much it cost to get home to Dudley. Anyone got a link to it?

I want a badge that says I am one of the 48%, or perhaps the hashtag started by Jo Rowling #theindecentminority in response to the Farago saying it was a victory for decent people. As a London Remain voter I find myself now dismissed as a wealthy Prosecco swigging loft dweller who enjoys diversity as an exotic background to my rarified life and has no understanding of how ‘ordinary’ people live. I do swig Prosecco occasionally, but the rest is very wide of the mark.

Power Monkeys raised bitter smiles from me late on Friday evening while MasterB reacquainted himself with the garden and checked out the smells left by new cats in the neighbourhood. In time maybe I can rewatch the whole series and it’ll make me laugh again. Right now, I think I’d cry. Though I just rewatched this from a couple of weeks ago and laughed again, so maybe I should just head to Channel 4 on demand right now.

So long as Andy Hamilton and co keep writing there is some good in my country. And tomorrow I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue returns to Radio 4 for a new series.

Back to the Brexit emotions. One of the moments on the news that got to me the most was when President Hollande announced, in a good speech I felt, that la Grande Bretagne was no longer part of the EU. He should have said le Royaume Uni, or has it been decided that Northern Ireland can stay? It was a speech that I should have liked the politicians in this country to make.

Nicola Sturgeon has suggested the Scottish Parliament could throw a spanner in the works by refusing to agree to departure, and more than three million people have signed a petition started before 23rd June demanding a rematch if certain criteria were not met. The person who started this petition voted Leave and is now furious that it has been hijacked by Remainers. I think that is quite funny. Until Angela Merkel spoke up saying the UK should have some time to sort itself out, it seemed that the rest of Europe was going to demand the keys back tomorrow. These two songs started going round my head:

for the rest of the EU
and this for the Remainers

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