Tuesday, 20 August 2019

Benefits of Brexit

It has been pointed out that there needs to be a Government publication to counter the leaked Yellowhammer report about the dangers.  They’ve had a good 45 minutes to come up with it, but they’re clearly not up to this simple task, so I’ll do it for them.  I don’t have any spads to help, so forgive me if I’ve missed some out.
  1. 1.     We will all become free.
  2. 2.     We will trade on equal terms with the US, Mexico, China, Brazil and India (as long as they trade on equal terms with us).
  3. 3.     However, we won’t have to trade with any frogs, krauts, eytiyes, dagos or spics. Or micks.
  4. 4.     We can have our own faceless bureaucrats.
  5. 5.     Our Parliament will be able to take back control of whatever it is they didn’t already have control of.  (Nobody knows.)
  6. 6.     The Red Chins in their millions
  7. Will overspill their borders
  8. And chaos then will reign in our Rael (©Pete Townshend)
  9. 7.     Unless we fight a war against them.
  10. 8.     Which we will obviously win, because we won’t be vassals.
  11. 9.     We will compete with all the other offshore islands and principalities in the world’s greatest industry (moving money from place to place without spending any of it).
  12. 10.  Except Singapore, of which we will become a colony.
  13. Technology will solve all our problems.

I've left intact blogger's weird interpretation of a Word numbered list. It seemed apt.

Monday, 5 August 2019

Caravan Diaries, latest

There wasn’t a lot of activity this time, due to Z’s broken leg.  (All right, foot. Oh, all right, toe.  But you can’t prance around on the clifftops with a socking great surgical boot on.)

So instead we concentrated on eating, drinking and sitting.  The eating is the only interesting part, so I’ll tell you about the three pub lunches.

The first was at the Dragon in Narberth.  It’s one of at least six pubs that are still alive and well in this small Welsh town.  (There used to be about 165, I’ve been told, though that was by a Welshman.)  it doesn’t look much from the outside – indeed, I’d never been in there until a couple of years ago – but it has a lovely scruffy garden and does perfectly decent food and beer.  We had calamari and chips.

On Friday, we drove across to Angle.  It’s a remarkably popular nondescript village at the end of nowhere on a muddy cove on the south side of the Milford Haven sound.  There was an extraordinary amount of traffic on the increasingly tortuous road from Pembroke – quite a lot of it going the other way to us. (Of course, you don’t see the traffic that’s going the same way as you, unless you’re stuck behind a tractor, which happened a few times.)  “Have they already had their lunch?” Z wondered.  It was twelve o’clock.
Our target was the Old Point Inn.  This is a little 16th century pub that can only be reached at low tide via a very car-unfriendly track.  You have to find the right right turn in Angle, which is clearly not that easy – I’m a good navigator, but I’ve got it wrong every single time I’ve tried it, so far.  It’s worth the journey, though.  Excellent (though expensive) food, and a fabulous setting, with great views of the oil refinery across the sound.  I think I’ve put pictures on here before.

Lunch #3 was, of course, dahn the pub.  That’s the Wisemans Bridge Inn, which is the most popular pub in Pembrokeshire.  It’s an easy walk down to it, a less easy walk back up.  Z struggled a bit in both directions, I think, but she’s pretty resilient, and wasn’t going to let a mere broken leg/foot/toe keep her from a decent pint.

So that’s the lunches.  Shall I do the dinners?  [Ed: No.  Me: O alrite.]

In other news, the mirror door on the bathroom cupboard had managed to fall off and break in half.  I had to smash up the remnants with a big hammer to bin them.  That was fun.

Monday, 29 April 2019


We’d both been there before, and had our own memories, so I thought it would be interesting to go back together, compare and contrast, maybe explore the areas that didn’t overlap.  That’s what happened.

My plan was to revisit beaches.  Z’s strongest memory was of Plemont, mine was probably St Brelade.  So we went to both.  I have to vote for Plemont – it reminds me of Traith Lyffn, a low tide beach in Pembrokeshire with flat hard sand, rocks, and a challenging climb down and up manmade steps.  It’s unspoiled, and not even the worst efforts of Jersey corporate avarice can touch it.  St Brelade, although I have childhood memories of picnics and obscure family reunions, is now a strip of sand fringed with places to eat and drink (both of which we did, very nicely and not always as expensively as I’d anticipated).

I also had to visit St Brelade because my paternal grandparents are buried in the churchyard there.  I’d found their grave when I last visited with my sister in 2008, but I felt an atavistic need to do it again.  We wandered around for an increasingly thirsty time – there must be more than two hundred graves in there, spread over twice as many years and ten times as many square yards – until I finally said enough, started to walk down the path between the graves  towards the lych gate, glanced to my right, and there they were.  Frank and Emmeline, 1939 and 1960.

We managed to take in the four main tourism destinations, which I’d managed to evade during about fifty years’ worth of previous visits – so here they are: Jersey Museum in St Helier (entertainingly spooky); the Botanic Gardens (beautiful, lovingly curated, great flapjacks in the cafĂ©); the Durrell Jersey Zoo (confusingly organised, loads of invisible animals, but we found the orang utans!); and the War Tunnels (sorry, no comment, I can’t take on that much emotive content about the War).  I meant to provide links, but frankly, it’s too complicated.  Just goggle them if you want to know more.

Oh, finally, the Ommaroo Hotel.  I’d booked us in there on a whim: having stayed there several times, I thought its whimsical, lightly tatty charm would appeal to Z.  They’d refurbished, but enough of that charm remains.  You still have to watch out for the trip traps in the corridors, where one level ascends or descends to a slightly different one on the same floor.  And there’s an outdoor swimming pool: if you ever stay there, see if you can find it.  I did, on our last day.

Monday, 4 February 2019

It Was Sixty Years Ago Today

Well, yesterday actually.

I’d wanted to mark the anniversary in some way – not because anniversaries matter particularly in themselves, but more because it was an excuse to recall some Young Emotions (that was Ricky Nelson, btw) and share some superb music.

But it had to wait until today; I would gladly have shared Buddy with everyone, but it doesn’t work that way unless you’re prepared to selfishly hijack a family get-together, which I wasn’t.  

So here are the five tracks I chose for us to share this evening (you’ll have to find your own spotilinks):

  1. True Love Ways
  2. Rave On
  3. Learning The Game
  4. Everyday
  5. and of course That’ll Be The Day (That intro was the first thing I ever learnt to play, after skiffle chords).

Friday, 11 January 2019

Christmas Card Audit 2018

Executive Summary:
·         Many species of animals and birds have become extinct.  I have allowed camels to debut in this category, even though they are being ridden by magi.
·         There are a few more snowflakes than last year.
·         The continued reduction in the volume of glued-on glitter is, as ever, to be welcomed.  I expect making it illegal to be a high priority of the next Labour government.
·         I have felt it necessary to introduce a ‘Politics’ category.  One of them (self-created by its sender) says ‘Happy Brexmas’; the other is a highly sentimentalised picture of the Houses of Parliament.

The full figures (2017’s, where applicable, in brackets):

Snow/Snowmen/Snowflakes:                6 (4)
Santas/Reindeer:                                   3 (3)
Animals/Birds:                                     10 (12)
of which          
Robins:                                     3 (2)
Free-range reindeer:                  1 (3)
Horses:                                    1 (1)
Camels:                                    1 (0)
Sheep:                                      0 (2)
Wrens:                                     0 (1)
Owls:                                       0 (1)
Penguins:                                 0 (1)
Dogs:                                       0 (1)
Nuthatches:                              0 (1)
Deer:                                        1 (0)
Turtle doves:                            1 (0)
Landscapes:                                         2 (3)
Nativities/Wise Men/Angels:                5 (6)
Christmas trees/Baubles:                       4 (4)
Abstract:                                              1 (4)
Mail-letterboxes:                                  1 (1)
Booze:                                                 0 (1)
Flowers:                                               0 (1)
Forests/woods:                                     1 (3)
Cute children:                                       1 (1)
Houses:                                                3 (1)
Holly/ivy/mistletoe:                              4 (0)
Skaters:                                                1 (0)
Townscapes:                                        4 (0)
12 days of Xmas:                                  1 (0)
Everything secular *:                               1 (0)

Special categories:

Homemade/designed:                           3 (4)
Cards with glued-on glitter:                   5 (8)
Wonderfully weird:                              0 (3)
Posh yet restrained:                              5 (1)

Card Of The Year is this picture of some people walking along a footpath in the snow beside some woods:

If you turn it upside down –

It’s a goods train going over a viaduct.

* This 'Everything secular' card depicts, amongst other things, a Santa, a plum pudding, mistletoe, baubles, a snowman, a Christmas tree, bells, holly, a star, snowflakes, and, weirdly, a mug of cocoa - but no booze!!!

Tuesday, 1 January 2019

Fundaments of Music – Rhythm

Heart, Lungs and Feet.

Feet probably came first, because we tend to walk in 4/4 time (although see below for the waltz).  Breathing is two to the bar – in, out – and the heartbeat is tempo rather than rhythm (it’s no accident that the catchiest riffs are at around 120 bpm, twice the average pulse rate).

So the breathing would tend to synchronise with the footsteps, and sooner or later sounds – grunts, probably, to begin with – would naturally get uttered.  In pre-agricultural societies, there was a lot of group walking, so the grunts would get synchronised within the group.  Once they stopped for a rest, someone would still have those grunts and that walking rhythm persisting in their head, and eventually they’d start to slap their thighs, or clap their hands, someone else would laugh and join in… and you have the start of music.  The roots of rhythm, as Paul Simon beautifully captured it.

Oh, and that 3/4 – I don’t know about you, but that’s how I tend to get up a steep slope.  One leg does the heavy lifting, then it’s the other one’s turn.

Saturday, 22 December 2018

The Fundaments of Music

I was sent towards this by a friend’s quiz asking us to name some young rich musicians, which took us via a fairly long route to musical styles, which led Z to nominate ‘techno’ as one style she couldn’t deal with, which pointed me towards Underworld and then, back from there, to Terry Riley and ‘In C’, five of its intriguing 35 minutes’ worth we listened to….  And now, here I am, wondering what makes some sound into music.

I used to think there were three fundaments, but I’ve just expanded that to five.  Here they are:

1.      Rhythm
2.      Melody
3.      Harmony

and the two new ones:

4.      Structure
5.      Texture

It’s not impossible that I might expound on each of these in the future.  After all, what are blogs for if not to burble away to oneself?

Clue: ‘In C’ exploits 1 and 5 at the expense of the others.