So, another bullet post. Where to begin? Well, the obvious place I think. The increasingly bizarre and frightening state of British politics.Continue reading
It feels as though the net is drawing tighter and it’s only a matter of time until I am caught in it. Almost every day I hear of someone new who I know catching COVID. All have been vaccinated, all have escaped the virus until now. I am in a group of diminishing size. So I’m back in masks, still opening windows and sitting beside them where possible when I am on the bus, restricting my social life, washing my hands, trying to keep my distance and mainly seeing people outside, which is not hard at this time of year.
Next week, should trains and planes allow, I shall be off to NI for a fortnight, and I really don’t COVID to put a stop to that or to strike me down while I am there. Octavia was telling me of her friend Loris who has flown in from Australia, but far from enjoying a holiday she is laid up in bed feeling dreadful. Allegra went to the US to attend a family wedding. A good friend who accompanied her for the relaxing break they intended to enjoy afterwards, has also tested positive and is very unwell. Jimmy returned from a festival in Croatia , and, well you have probably guessed the rest. My neighbours across the landing succumbed last week. Celia tested positive at the weekend. Mary, who I work with tested positive yesterday.Continue reading
Yes, it seems the current COVID wave has peaked, but if wave jumping is your thing never fear, another one should be along in the autumn. Woohoo. Or should that be boohoo? Apparently one in twenty people in Northern Ireland is estimated to be infected at the moment. I’m looking at NI’s figures as, if trains and planes allow, I shall fly into Belfast in ten days. It has started to feel imminent as I have had a message from one of my cousins, not the one I am staying with, about meeting up and seeing Uncle Bill. There was no mention of a party, but I’m hoping one is on the cards, just a small one, but he enjoyed his actual 100th birthday party a lot, and was keen to repeat the experience come the summer. Not that the temperatures in NI are suggesting a relaxed occasion in the garden under blue skies. It’s going to be quite a shock to the system, especially after the heat we have had in London.
Michele’s text made me realise I need to start getting myself organised. At the moment I am far more focused on work than on what I need to do before I go away. I was trying to complete a podcast recording today, but managed to delete part of it, the part I was happy with of course, so it’s back to the beginning with that task tomorrow. Still, I am happy with the script which I have edited. I did get to the bank to pay in a cheques and some cash, and to the Oxfam bookshop to drop off the latest pile of books I have managed to cull. I also thought I’d check out some Chaco sandals, but it seems there’s only one shop in London stocking them, and it’s not in the neighbourhood I was in. Maybe there’s a stockist in Belfast. Fingers crossed.Continue reading
I seem to have spent most of the last hour crying. Now we are on the weather forecast I am sniffing and blowing my nose; there’s a heavy feeling in my heart. In my head I keep hearing the Beatles song Back in the USSR, and the lines the Ukraine girls really knock me out, they leave the West behind. I’m not sure I should be anywhere near as brave as the Ukraine girls I have just watched on Channel 4 News. Actually, I am sure, I shouldn’t be.
I was cooking, so my tears dripped into the red bean stew with millet pilaf and greens, a meal I haven’t made in a while. I finished cooking and ate, still watching the news.
Clive James, now departed from this mortal coil, used to write a TV column for the Observer. In one he made a remark about Kate Adie, saying that if Kate Adie appeared on our screens reporting from somewhere we knew it was serious. Kate Adie doesn’t report from danger zones now, but Matt Frei and Lindsey Hilsum are carrying on her tradition, both reporting from inside Ukraine, while Paraic O’Brien reports from the border with Hungary, and the rest of the impressive news team fill in the gaps from elsewhere.Continue reading
We’ve been living in strange times for quite a while now, but right now some things in the UK are really off the wall. We have a public school educated, billionaire chancellor who is in real terms cutting the poorest and most vulnerable families incomes so that hypothermia, starvation or a combination of the two may be their fate, and he doesn’t seem to think that more than just expressing passing sorrow for the hardship of their lives he needs to do anything. Lack of imagination, callousness, just another example of how many of us are simply expendable.He is also a front runner to take over when finally, if ever, Boris Johnson, is ousted from 10 Downing Street. The current leading alternative is Liz Truss. I can’t even bring myself to describe Liz Truss. He own party nicknamed her the human hand grenade.
Maybe it was looking at these two front runners which inspired someone, and I’m afraid I was too gobsmacked by the message to take in who it was, a politician, someone at number 10, I don’t know, to say that the Met had better think very carefully before fining the Prime Minister for breaking Covid rules on the grounds it might destabilise the country. WTF? In what parallel universe is it morally ok for a Prime Minister to break the rules over and over again he has himself set, and walk away unscathed while someone sitting on a park bench to eat a sandwich when those same rules applied to be fined?Continue reading
Parties eh, they are not always such a great idea, are they? A friend introduces you to a girl, no sweat, you might think, though she seems to think you do sweat, that you sweat a lot. We won’t go into the details of what happened, you can read about it in the newspapers I’m sure, but things apparently got intimate. And then it turned out the girl might not have been quite such a free agent as you might have thought, though of course, silly me, I’d forgotten, you don’t remember meeting her at all, let alone having sex with her.
Years pass. Whispers about the teenaged girl you don’t recall having sex with become shouts. Turns out she was trafficked by your friends, one of whom has committed suicide in jail, the other is now a convicted sex trafficker. How could you have known? You never read, thought Lolita was quite a jolly name, maybe you could have given it to one of your girls if you’d thought of it at the time. Now the girl wants to take you to court. You! Unbelievable. She doesn’t give up despite the brush offs you and your lawyers give out. She doesn’t seem to realise you are her better, one of the upper privileged classes, and if you did have sex with her, which you absolutely don’t remember, she should count herself privileged that someone of your standing, someone with your lineage – William the Conqueror no less, yes we know he was also known as William the Bastard for the obvious and other reasons, but all the same – should even touch her hand, let alone get naked and unsweaty with her. Those damned American courts don’t seem to understand who they are dealing with. Christmas was at least isolated so you didn’t have to be with a bunch of family members who had all been discussing you and were now intent on disowning you. You’ll understand, won’t you? It’s to protect the family. Mummy. But what are you without your titles? Without your vast wardrobe of uniforms and dressing up clothes? Without your entitlement and automatic access to the best of everything? A shallow, stupid man. A man full of self-pity and indeed pitiful in many ways, yet hard to pity.Continue reading
It’s that slightly strange period between Christmas and New Year. This time last week people were buying last minute cards and wrapping paper. Today I saw those items on sale at half the price. I was hoping for fresh mushrooms but was not lucky.
A couple of weeks ago Octavia was telling me she has been trying to eat thirty different types of fruit and vegetables a week. She thought I probably already did. I was and remain more doubtful. I do eat a lot of fruit and veg, but I gravitate towards the same ones, so I have started noting my intake this week. I’m starting my list from Christmas Day. I haven’t totted things up before this minute, and I haven’t been trying to eat anything I don’t normally eat, so this list will be as much an eye opener for me as it is for you.:Continue reading
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.Continue reading
I can hear rain against the windows, but the shutters are closed, candles lit, MasterB asleep on the chair, his nose tucked into his tail. We are cosy and warm. I am listening to A Mediaeval Carol Service from St Bartholomew the Great. It took place a few days ago, but is available to listen to and watch online courtesy of YouTube. I recommend it. Earlier I went for a walk before seeing Michèle for a glass of wine in her flat. She’s been home for over a week now, her ankle getting stronger daily, and she’s obviously loving being back in her own territory.
While I walked I was thinking about Christmas, this year and last, both shadowed by COVID but feeling very different. In 2020 we were making the best of things, not allowed to travel, so nearly all the neighbours were around. We were in it together. It was cold but dry and bright. We could meet outside, observe social distancing, exchange cards and gifts over a glass of something bubbly. But COVID has become a virus of attrition and it feels this year we are wearier, less inclined to find ways to be imaginative in our celebrations, more inward looking.Continue reading