I thought today was Boxing Day as it’s a Bank Holiday and the day after Christmas Day is called Boxing Day and is usually a Bank Holiday but this year it was a Sunday, so the Bank Holiday is today, but Boxing Day was still yesterday. Confused? Join the club.
I was working yesterday. It was outside and first thing in the morning the rain was pelting down. I was wondering how my clients would react if I turned up in waterproof over trousers but fortunately, as promised by the weather forecast, the rain eased off.
Some people are lucky and they love their work. On days like yesterday I am one of those people. I just enjoyed the whole day. Then at home I read the paper. Finally it appears people are waking up to the reality of Boris Johnson, liar in chief and total disaster for this country. Maybe I should be happier that the truth is dawning on so many who have chosen to follow his lies, but the fact that they have so eagerly believed his nonsense makes me wonder what sort of country I am living in. And heaven help us, there are still some who think he’s doing a good job and that Jacob Rees-Mogg is a gentleman. The future does not look good. Also if BJ goes, who is in line for the job? Liz Truss perhaps, Dominic Raab, Rishi Sunak, or maybe Michael Gove who has recently been very silent, suspiciously silent in my opinion. None are examples of politicians who put country ahead of personal ambition.
I strongly believe no one should be able to be a representative, elected to the Commons, or nominated as in the Lords, who does not pay their full share of taxes to the treasury, has offshore investments, hedge funds, owns or has shares in companies who practise tax avoidance, has money left in trust funds to make sure their funds remain intact, or at least very lightly taxed, for future generations of their family while the playing field for others becomes less and less level. If you are in position to make decisions on how taxes are spent you need to pay them. Actually, even if you aren’t in that position you need to pay them. We need our roads, our hospitals, our schools.
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Looking for fungi is a bit like beachcombing; you have to take it slowly, stop, look round you, look again. Celia has started attending Monday fungi identification sessions at the South London Botanical Institute. It means the weekends are now prime specimen collection time. I went along for the walk on a very mild afternoon. The hunting ground was Ruskin Park.
At first it seemed the park was a fungi free zone, and I suspect Celia was regretting agreeing to go there rather than one of our other local large green spaces. Then we found this:
After that most of our finds were tiny, but Celia’s paper bag started to fill up. Some fungi is amazingly tough and will not be removed from its site by fingers alone. Celia forgot to bring a knife, though on reflection that was possibly just as well. Being arrested on a sunny afternoon in South London for possession of an offensive weapon would not have been high on either of our agendas.
I’m going to just give the other photos numbers and hope that Celia, who should be now be long home from her class, will enlighten us.
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Night fell a couple of hours ago. The shops are closing. Celia and Charlie have left for Brighton. Octavia is in Yorkshire. In the block of flats where I live, only a handful of residents are at home, and in the section where my flat is, only my lovely neighbours opposite and I are here for Christmas. We’ve decorated our shared landing and exchanged gifts.
Inside, I have candles and fairy lights, tinsel that has so far survived MasterB’s interest, clean sheets, and parcels piled up on the table. Nanci Griffith’s voice fills the air from an old cassette tape.
I am feeling Christmassy, but not Christmassy enough to play CDS of carols. Anyway, I have managed to miswire the CD player of the stereo and sorting it out is beyond me right now. Continue reading →
In films, when things are going badly wrong, you see the characters consumed by events; they are intense, focussed, driven.
In reality, in between throwing your hands up in horror, you spend much of your time doing the usual things as though the world might not come to a premature end. You get up, eat breakfast, chat with friends, watch Gogglebox and Graham Norton.
The world right now is in a bigger mess than I have ever known. Maybe the Cold War days were just as apocryphal, only I was too young to understand the threat hanging over us. Krushchev banging his shoe on a table was something I learned about in history lessons. The holocaust has continued to have repercussions, but its power to appall and shock seemed to be nudging us into greater awareness that, as Jo Cox said, we have more in common that we have that divides us. Out of that terrible evil it seemed we might finally understand the importance of interfaith dialogue, human rights legislation and anti-racist education.
Then along came Brexit, and the realisation that there were an astounding number of people about who wanted to blame someone, something, anyone, anything for the things that weren’t working. Not unfortunately the actual people who were to blame, politicians who have dealt a toxic cocktail of short termism, and fake successes, financial deals which are supposed to help the country but where the cash ends up in the bank accounts of a privileged few. Meanwhile papers like the Mail and the Sun ramp up the fear factor about ‘benefits cheats’, ‘health tourists’, illegal immigrants’. Continue reading →
“So what’s the other ten per cent?” asked Cousin’s Husband, “Do you eat sausages?”
I don’t think it was a serious question, and certainly he was quickly shushed by others in the room, but given the attitudes of some vegans, my other ten per cent might just as well be a love of rare steak.
It’s not though, it’s vegetarian. The odd bit of dairy, usually in the form of a hidden ingredient, still creeps into my meals. Then there are the eggs from hens kept as pets. I don’t have them very often, but they are there. A lot of my food is made from the same ingredients it always was, but used in different ways. I never used to eat butter beans in salads, or tofu in sandwiches. I didn’t have tahini spread on toast in the morning topped with fresh fruit, or with tomatoes, capers and olives. But the tahini, the tomatoes, the olives, the fresh fruit, the tofu, the butter beans were all staples.
The capers? I used to love capers, then suddenly, inexplicably, went off them. I haven’t eaten them in years. Then a neighbour brought some to our Equaliteas event, and since then I have eaten loads of them.
As I have said before, I don’t know that I shall ever be fully vegan. It is more of a lifestyle than vegetarianism. To reach nirvana all animal products including wool, leather and honey need to be excised. I still have quite a bit of honey inherited from Aunt. As I don’t eat it often, that statement will probably be true for some time to come. Equally most of my footwear is leather and unlikely to wear out overnight. Despite the best efforts of the moths (London has suffered a moth invasion this year) I still have some woollen jumpers. Now I am wondering about silk. I guess that might be on the forbidden list too. Maybe I am only eighty or eighty-five per cent vegan. Continue reading →
I think I've redeemed myself with WestieBoy. After taking him for a walk shortly after arriving on Tuesday I went awol in Belfast for the next two days, but today the snow meant our other plans were put on hold so it was a two walk day.
The worst of the weather was elsewhere, but we have a nice dusting that feels seasonal and right.
I was wrapped up in warm clothes from London and the one of the hats Cousin has knitted.The first walk was the best. We only met two vehicles. We saw sheep in the fields and birds in the trees and hedgerows but no other living creatures.
The sky turned from white to blue and then grey again. More snow fell, and the wind made it dance in the air around us. Slieve Gallion was all but invisible, and this tree stood alone in a blue white fieldpp.
WestieBoy found plenty to sniff at but tugged and even whined when I wanted to stop and take pictures.
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As timing goes, it was pretty good. I'd been back on dasBoot rather less than thirty seconds after a longish (in terms of time rather than distance) walk with my camera when the heavens parted and there was a brief but determined shower of rain. Now it's shaping up to be another lovely evening.
Today I had decided to write. Some of you will now that a few years ago I started a collection of short stories about the Greek gods. These grew until I had around 18,000 words and I realised I was writing a novel. Lots of things happened at the same time: Mother's death and its aftermath, giving up my salaried part-time job and going completely freelance, Aunt beginning to fail. I think these things contributed to the cessation of my Greek gods stories, but the main reason was feeling I needed to structure what I had written, to think about what the point if the stories was. I stopped enjoying them and stopped writing them.
However, they have stayed with me. From time to time I have wondered how Hera is getting on, if her walking boots are still conker bright; if Hades and Persephone have managed the makeover of the Underworld; if Zeus has seen even a glimpse of the light regarding his behaviour; and how Poseidon and Amphitrite's business is going. I have wondered what Max and Dr Jones are up to, if Evangelia has moved to another job, if the Goddesses'Guild is thriving. Continue reading →
I wasn’t at the Olympics when they booed George Osborne last year, but I saw and heard it on the televsion. I hope all those people and more are booing him today even louder after he has announced tax breaks for firms extracting shale gas.
Ungorgeous George reckons the UK must be leaders in this market. He might as well consign half the country to a watery grave and kill off all unborn children. Yes, it is that serious.
Of course if it were just the UK that will be affected by this exploitation of the earth’s resources, we could pack our bags now, bid a nostalgic farewell to lands that were a byword for green and pleasant, and remove to a more environmentally sensitive world.
But behaviours in one country affect all of us. A bit like the flap of the butterfly’s wings in New Mexico that ends in a hurricane in China. Continue reading →