Morning Routine

MasterB

A good thirty minutes before I have  achieved my eight hours and I am in a light sleep. I hear the the rigorous scratching of the sisal covered post in the sitting room. MasterB is up and doing his morning exercises. A brief silence where I hope he has hopped onto the window sill to review the street, then from the region of the bedroom door an imperious miaow. The call for breakfast.

Despite my most obstinate non-responses to these morning interruptions to my slumbers, MasterB has tumbled to the fact that brutish, brattish  and bullying behaviour often reaps results. Either he compares notes more effectively with the neighbouring felines than I think, or he has been following political posturing on both sides of the pond when I sit down to watch Channel 4 news. Continue reading

Give Me Strength

The general election, which will take place 8th June, fills me with gloom. Truth, as we have been made so miserably aware in the past twelve months, is usually an early casualty in a political party’s electioneering. What many forget is that language is used to manipulate our responses, just as it is in slick advertising campaigns because we are worth it. Though that should probably be because we are receptive to positive sounding messages that are endlessly repeated.

I have been quiet about the election here in the blogosphere, but Twitter has seen me splutter a few times. None of the three leaders of the main parties give me hope. I certainly wouldn’t want any of them to be looking after my granny. If leaders are only interested in the powerful, the vulnerable tend to get a bad deal. Theresa May’s mantra of strong and stable leadership/government, a phrase never examined or explained on any programme I have watched, has already entered the public consciousness. Voxpops reveal average Joes and Josephine saying they think May is strong. Nobody asks them to define that strength, or to ask them which other current leaders would come under the same heading. My gut feeling is that Putin sees himself as a strong leader, and certainly Mussolini, Hitler, Mao and Stalin all fall into the category. Strong in political terms means powerful. Powerful does not necessarily mean wise, just or fair. Not that it’s just the politicians who like this muscular language. Another voxpop found pro May voters in Essex saying they thought May would ‘fight’ to get us a good deal in Brexit. If this is a fight, who started it? Not the other members of the EU, that’s for sure.

Aggressive posturing, sabre rattling is all the rage, with a number of politicians from various countries apparently keen to join in and talk tough. Trump has been doing it for months, though did anyone else see the completely vacuous drivel spouted by Ivanka when questioned about her new role? All accompanied by hair flicking and smiles. Meanwhile her father, having said he would not be interfering in foreign affairs has apparently had a look in the toy box of weaponry at his disposal and exploded a bomb so big people thought it was end of the world. North Korea’s Dear Leader has stated he is ready to defend the country, though I somehow can’t quite see him crawling through scrub in camouflage gear.
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April Days

Last year's hanging basket has kindly come to life again with no effort from me other than irregular watering. Despite it being April, which you'll remember in the rhyme is the month associated with showers, and we're not talking personal hygiene here, this April rain in any form has been notably absent. Which makes me nervous for May, associated with flowers and my birthday. I am wondering if some new intern at heaven's weather station has seen the flow part of flowers and mistaken it for a month of gross inundation. The forecast is for frost next week, maybe even snow. I may have a stay at home birthday, and the mice will get a temporary reprieve on das Boot.

So make the most of these pix of the season while you can.

Pest Laid Plans

Twilight falling and I am on a fast train back to London. We pass fields of flowering rapeseed, the acidic yellow of the blooms a sharp contrast with the deep greens and mid browns of the neighbouring fields. There are well-tended allotments with scarecrows, strips of coloured plastic, and old CDs twirling in the wind; rows of terraced houses, semi-detached houses, large villas with surround sound gardens. There are sheep in the fields, some with lambs, some without. The flat landscape is occasionally interrupted by a slight rise, topped with a small copse of trees. The sky is blue with soft looking clouds the colour of the cherry blossom so prevalent just now. There’s a farmhouse, with collie dog lying at the door, then a man circling a field on a tractor. A benign version of England spreads out as far as my eyes can see.

 

I have been at das Boot with Older Nephew. He met me outside the station at Cambridge, and dropped me back there in time for this train. We spent the day afloat de winterising, cleaning, checking the bilges and running the engine. There had been visitors over the winter: mice, evidenced by numerous droppings. They had nibbled my J cloths, shredded newspaper left ready to line the litter tray, chewed through plastic bin liners and attacked the foil around the neck of a bottle of cava. Before we could eat I had to boil water and wash plates, knives, forks and saucepans. There was poo in the cutlery drawer, in an empty vase, in the sink, in one cupboard under the sink, but not the other.

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One of the Fifteen Per Cent

This mural on the south west end of Waterloo Bridge makes me sad.

Euro

Nine months on, Brexit is still something that makes me feel bereaved. Maybe it always will. It felt like a knife turning in a wound when the letter triggering article 50 was delivered to the EU. The same week that letter was written, Nicola Sturgeon announced she would be calling for second referendum on Scottish independence. That call has now been endorsed by the Scottish parliament. Sturgeon’s critics shrugged and rolled world weary eyes. Of course she wants another referendum they said, the Scottish Nationalists are party with just one goal. which is by and large true, and it certainly would have been a big surprise had the Yes vote won by a narrow margin and the Scots Nats wanted a second referendum just to make sure the country hadn’t changed its mind.

Teresa May’s rebuke about disunity, and  Scotland’s foolish notion of leaving the UK, her greatest trading partner, caused some hollow merriment, as that is exactly what she and her sidekick David Davis are determined to to do taking the UK out of the EU. Continue reading

Walking the Dogs

The nights were pretty cold when I was away and I was glad of a hot water bottle. Two dogs snuggling beside me in the evening, plus the heat from the stove kept me warm in the sitting room.

Two dogs

Westie Boy was probably feeling the cold as his coat has been clipped very short in preparation for Cousin’s upcoming trip to Australia to see daughter Number One in Sydney, while her husband, who’s staying at home, will be promoted to Dog Carer in Charge. The one who looks like a walking hearth rug is Westie Pup, who belongs to Daughter Number Two and with whom I was delighted to be reunited over the weekend. Rather more delighted than Westie Boy was to have her there I’m sorry to say.

The mornings were chilly and bright, frost evident on the fields and verges.

Frosted

Blue skies, green fields

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In Praise of Poetry Weekends

I’m home again but off to Octavia’s shortly for supper and to celebrate her mum’s 94th birthday, so this will of necessity be a quick, photoless post. Just to be clear, her mum is there, so we shan’t be toastimg the start of her 95th year in her absence.

I had a fabulous time in Northern Ireland; three poetry events in three days at the Heaney Homeplace. The highpoint for me was undoubtedly Simon Armitage on Saturday afternoon, but I enjoyed the rest and have a book of Nick Laird’s poetry to add to my shelves.

Simon Armitage is the real deal; funny, profound, poignant, his poems provide a commentary on the world about him. He opened with Thank-you for Waiting, which for an audience no doubt familiar with both Easyjet and, in particular, Ryanair, sent ripples of knowing laughter round the Helicon, as the auditorium is called.

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When I went into my local Poundland today in search of boxes of paper hankies, I picked up my wire basket and prepared to voyage. Armitage checked that his audience knew what Poundland is, and commented that when he read the eponymously titled poem in Oxford he wasn’t sure people knew what he was talking about. The poem came about when one of his students told him he had seen a copy of Ezra Pound’s poems for sale in Sheffield’s Poundland for a pound. Armitage having, as he put it, a bit of an obsession about Book XI of Homer’s Odyssey, the two ideas collided to create something very wonderful. Read it here.

Nick Laird on Sunday was a new name to me. As a local lad, he attracted quite a crowd. He’s from Cookstown where I spent some of the summers of my youth. Or rather I spent those weeks in the country not far from Cookstown. Cousin’s son-in-law went to the same school, as indeed did some of our family who belong to my generation. He’s currently based in New York, but if he’s doing readings anywhere near me on this side of the pond, I shall certainly try to get there. He has also written novels and there’s a television series he’s authored coming this year on, I believe, the BBC. I really liked the look of the anthology he has edited, but I only had a small in flight bag, and so I chose a slimmer volume. Continue reading

Unconditional Love

I spent yesterday with Nephew, his partner and their baby. We walked and talked and ate, cooed over the baby, talked about dogs we’d like to have, cooed over the baby again, talked about love. The usual. Quite a lot of people talk about their pets giving them unconditional love as though that is a rare and wonderful thing. It’s definitely wonderful, but I should hope that the humans getting a pet are also giving unconditional love, and that parents would not have children with the love conditional on their exam results/looks/sporting achievement or whatever.

Among some papers I was sorting last week I found this photograph. Continue reading