A Not Uneventful Day

The trouble with not posting on a blog for while is that I have too much to say, too much to record, and sometimes, make that often, it's easier to draw a line under the passed days and start from wherever I am now.

I have always failed at keeping a paper diary for the same reason. Somehow a blog feels more forgiving. If this survives beyond me, and future family historians try to understand what great-to-the-power-of n Aunt Isobel's life was like, they may well suspect that the silent days were ones where I had nothing more to say than that I got up, had breakfast, fed the cat and frittered away the hours. If so, they will be wrong. In my head, walking along, on the bus, queuing in shops, I compose posts that are never written; posts where I muse on life's beauties and inequities, posts where I opine that the NHS could probably save a small fortune in anti depression medication if only IDS and Michael Gove were barred from speaking in public, or preferably at all, posts where I rail against cruelty to all animals, human and otherwise, posts when I realise that true happiness lies in the perfect poached egg.

Also posts about the Daily Mail, a paper I would go a long way not to read, but whose outrages are often reported elsewhere. A paper from which one might catch something nasty ending in ism. Does it have a purpose in the grand scheme of thing? Perhaps just to remind us of what hell might be like. I suppose Paul Dacre must have his uses, but so far I have not devined what they are. Apparently his staff have suggested his shoes never wear out as he goes from carpeted office to chauffeured car to home with barely any contact with the pavement, or reality. I'd like to think he pays enormous taxes that go towards funding the NHS, but I have a hunch he will have his money stashed in some offshore enterprise that means the exchequer sees little of what he is paid.

The Tory party has not learned from the Strong and Stable backlash, and is still in love with repeating alliterative phrases. The current fave seems to be stability and certainty, though for variety they are happy to use the words singly, then join them like cymbals for effect. I don't know how this goes down with other listeners, but I find I cannot remember a single word of what they have said other than the alliterative pairings, and those I translate as blah blah blah, a cover up for not really knowing what they are talking about. If they can't be bothered to make proper arguments why on earth should the electorate be bothered to listen to them, far less take them seriously?

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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

First Anniversary

This Saturday will be the 14th January. I understand that on the other side of the pond the floss-haired one will be inaugurated as President of the United States, something that strikes me as a being a joke too far, as well as being a jolly disrespectful thing to do on the first anniversary of Aunt’s death.

Or so I thought, but Lyn has just emailed me to say it’s the 20th, not 14th, so goodness knows where I got that idea from.

 

Auntie Mary october 2015

Auntie Mary October 2015

I meet quite a few Americans through my work. I have yet to meet one who says (confesses?) s/he voted for Trump, which may be significant in itself as I am meeting those who travel away from their home country, and I know a large number of US citizens never acquire or use passports.

A woman today, I’ll call her Jane, told me she is returning on Saturday, and marching on Sunday as a Nasty Woman who is not going to be quiet. She won’t be alone; just her party comprises two busloads of similarly nasty women. She cheered my heart. Continue reading

Lessons From History: Tourism and Trump

I woke early this morning and remembered Trump had won the Presidential election. Further sleep was impossible. The television has been turned on in the room on other side of the wall behind my head, so I guess I am not the only one feeling a horrified fascination with the result.

We got an intimation of how it was going yesterday lunchtime at Federation Square where Vcki and I had headed via a boat that looked remarkably like das Boot, only quite a bit bigger.

 

There was a screen at the square, and the subtitles were reporting gains for Trump. We watched, appalled, for a few minutes, hoped it was wrong, and headed off on Trail 7, Victorian Melbourne. We moved swiftly from the big riverside buildings to homes that have been through cycles of varying status.

It maybe an evolutionary safety device to help us hold onto our sanity in the face of the unthinkable that allows us to inhabit several planes of thought at once.

I love the lace decorations on the older houses in Melbourne, and yesterday’s walk was full of them.

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Melbourne by Day

I finally got my tourist trousers on and made it into Central Melbourne on the train and got out at Flinders Street station.

First stop, the tourist info centre at Federation Square, where I loaded up with leaflets including a few self-guided walks.

I'm booked on a guided walk on Friday which I am hoping will fill me in on history and culture in an informative and entertaining way, help me to understand what I am looking at, how to 'read' Melbourne.

So toady has been more of a wander with frequent stops to take photographs and to sit and watch the world go by. I chose to follow Melbourne Walks #3 On the Waterfront to give my wandering some structure. I had looked at the waterfront from the train and thought I should like to see more, so it was a good choice. All settlements are built by water, so looking at the Yarra was the obvious place to start. Fortunately both Marlon Brando clines and living statues were notably absent.

Art, evidence of prosperity, and homelessness all featured; people lying on the grass in the spring sunshine, other visitors like myself, locals, tents and blankets, people keeping fit.

I broke my walk to visit the Immigration Museum. Racial screening made for sober reading, and the presence of several school parties meant some galleries were more or less inaccessible. I'm not complaining – it's a good excuse to go back, and I hope the short film about why people leave their homes and their countries will sow seeds in the minds of the children who watched it, so they reject the current anti-refugee narrative flourishing in the West.

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Of Trains, Boats, Brexit, Bombing and Neanderthal Attitudes

My short ride to the mainline station turned into a slow crawl across the capital. In theory, taking a train should have meant a fourteen minute journey that circumvented the clogged roads at rush hour. The driver kept as informed with a practised and resigned calm; red lights delaying our arrival at Blackfriars; a train ahead with technical problems preventing us from reaching Farringdon. I had expected to have time to kill at King’s Cross, maybe buy a coffee, admire the roof for the nth time. Instead I raced over the road from St Pancras International, found my train on the departure board, wove through the crowds and made it with just two minutes to spare.

Older Nephew is meeting me I hope at Cambridge station. We’re off to winterise das Boot, which means going to the pump out at Ely and probably lunching in a pub there, returning to the marina, emptying the water tank and adding anti-freeze to the engine. I’m hoping it’s more relaxing than the first part of the journey.

We shall doubtless talk Brexit and Trump. Now, most of you will be aware that there was a referendum in June over whether to stay in or leave the EU. I, like 48% of those who voted, wanted to remain. The question was a simple stay or leave. But somehow the government led by the redoubtable Theresa May, has decided that parliament should have no say in the niceties of how we leave the EU, what our leavetaking should be. No, she says, there will not be a discussion along the way, The Country Has Spoken and we must respect that decision. OK, fair enough, it was a slender majority, but it was a majority and much as I should prefer to remain an EU citizen to the end of my days, I reluctantly accept that is not to be. But people did not vote on immigration. Or if they did, they were answering a different question to the one asked. They did not vote on remaining in or out if the single market; on freedom of movement or pan-European health care. Some people will have voted so the 350 million pounds claimed by the leave campaign could go to our beleaguered and beloved NHS. Funny how that money does not seem to play any part in the post Brexit world. Instead leading Conservatives are talking about stopping foreigners taking ‘our’ jobs. The proposal by Amber Rudd that businesses should report on how many foreign passport holders work for them was roundly denounced and dropped amid assurances that we had misunderstood. The fact that this was background to my reading of The Hare With Amber Eyes made it all the more sinister for me. If you don’t know the book I urge you to read it. Aunt Nessa, who died nearly two years ago, sent it to me and it has sat on my shelves until now, a little bit of unsuspected golden treasure. It’s a memoir by Edmund de Waal, a ceramicist based in London. He is descended from a banking family. A Jewish banking family. The hare in the title is a netsuke, one of a collection made by his ancestor Charles Ephrussi in the nineteenth century. Continue reading

Back to BoJo and Trump

I am not the biggest fan of the Evening Standard. It’s a free rag that belongs to the same stable as The Daily Mail, that exemplar of spleen.

However, I picked up a copy tonight at the bus stop outside Waterloo station, returning from a day in the country. It was work rather than pleasure, but very enjoyable to be in Wiltshire.

The ES is not a demanding read, or at least only in the sense that one usually struggles to find anything worth reading. It is the perfect fit for the litter tray, and I use it on das Boot all the time. Tonight though, as I flicked through the pages I found this picture.

So yes, I’m back to BoJo and Trump, two politicians with so much in common, not least the attraction they have for otherwise sensible people. An American lady I met last week told me how much she liked BoJo. She also told me she disliked the new tall structures of glass and steel that are springing up across London. That’ll be Boris, I said. Her eyes widened. He has overruled local authorities fourteen times and given planning permission for very tall buildings, some in quite sensitive areas I explained. She leant forward and listened. This was obviously not the tousle-haired, lovable Boris of her imagination. Developers and that magazine no home should be without, Skyscraper News, love him. Read it if you don’t believe me. The man has done immense damage to London, and bar the cycle super highway, little good. Even the so-called Boris Bikes were a Ken initiative. Ah, Ken, another politician whose ego has destroyed him. He was a great Leader of the GLC, and for that I shall always have a residual affection for him, but he was a much less great mayor. Continue reading

Spring Unsprung

It’s pelting down. There has been lightning and almost simultaneous thunder. MasterB is hiding under a chair. We are experiencing all the seasons at the moment.

Spring is unsprung.

Yesterday it snowed.

It wasn’t for long and it didn’t settle, but still it made me remember 1979 when Margaret Thatcher was elected. I came home from Italy via France to vote against her. The first time I was able to vote in a national election. My vote was symbolic. She got in. But I have always felt the snow was an omen. It’s going to take a long time for this country to recover from Thatcherism, and the road is not linear.
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Of the Supervet, Trump, BoJo and the Brexiteers

It’s the usual story: I should like to be in bed, but just as I started to make tracks, MasterB, who has been feather hunting most of the evening while I tried to watch The Supervet, Noel Fitzpatrick, without crying (fail), decided it was time for him to go outside. Then we stood on the pavement for an eternity until he could be persuaded into the safety of the garden. There I left him and came indoors.

After The Supervet, Channel 4 had a programme I could not bring myself to watch about what it might be like if Donald Trump were to win the US presidential elections. Truly I can believe that western civilisation is on the rocks and terminal decline when a man such as Trump can be a serious (sic) contender for this job. Ditto that for BoJo as UK Prime Minister. Politics trivialised.

I did see an excerpt where Trump, or ‘the floss-haired one’, as he was described in the Guardian TV guide, declared that he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and not lose votes. Can you still run for President of the US when standing trial for murder? Or would his argument – and I use the term as loosely as he does – be that he doesn’t know the bullet killed the person, maybe they were dead before he fired. He has defended his aide who has been charged with bruising a journalist who wanted to ask Trump a question – imagine going into journalism and finding yourself having to do that; no wonder they call it Grub Street – by saying he doesn’t know if the bruises were there before, and that surely if the journalist’s arm had been gripped so hard as to cause a bruise he’d have expected her to cry out.

When I broke my wrist I didn’t cry out. Did that mean it was a fracture I had overlooked, and been carelessly walking and riding around with, but only admitted to once I had done my brief Superwoman flight and crash landed on the road? Continue reading