Sunday, 8 December 2013

Another Sunday.

My normal Sunday begins with a jog into the village to buy the newspaper. As today was dull but fine, there was no reason to change my habits. Since then, I’ve done precious little but sit around and read the paper. Not a bad way to spend a Sunday. And tomorrow I don’t need to be up at the crack of dawn to take grandchildren to school. No, Grandma’s taxi has been put away for a while, or at least reduced to one day a week. Our daughter has completed her teaching practice and life can get back to normal. And besides, they’ll all soon be on holiday for Christmas. 

I have recently discovered that parents can now be fined in the UK if they take their children on holiday in term time without the school’s permission. And the school has every right to deny them that permission. About time too, in my opinion. I believe it has long been illegal in France to take children out of school just to go on holiday. It’s perhaps easier to enforce such a ruling in countries like France, and Spain for that matter, where there is an established tradition of the majority of people taking their holidays in August. The ensuing traffic jams caused by the mass departure and the mass return home make little difference. Off they go anyway.

And then, in France, Spain, Italy, Germany and so on they have a pretty good chance of finding some sunshine somewhere in the country. Which isn’t guaranteed in the UK and consequently far more people go abroad seeking the sun. And, of course, it’s easy to understand why some parents want to take advantage of cheaper flights out of season and during term time. But how do they think teachers manage? They have to take their holidays when the school is closed, regardless of the price of flights. Such is life. 

Here’s another fact of life: the number of people aged 85+ in the UK has gone up by 25% in the last decade. The population is aging everywhere. Of these elderly people, one in ten men and one in five women live in what they call a “communal establishment”. I presume that means an old people’s home. It’s almost certainly politically incorrect to call such places by the latter name nowadays. As I’ve been taking children to and from school over the last few weeks I have driven past one of these “communal establishments” every day. The gates are decorated with almost Disney-like figures. Is this an attempt to make the place look cheerful and welcoming? I wonder. It doesn’t work for me. As Christmas has got nearer these figures have been embellished with tinsel. Horrific. I have made my daughter promise that if ever I need to be packed away into such a place, it won’t be one that treats its elderly inmates like elderly infants. Perish the thought!! 

 On a more cheerful note, I have been reading about Bob Dylan’s famous, or infamous depending on your point of view, Sunburst Fender Stratocaster guitar, the one that led to cries of “Traitor!!!” or similar when he switched from acoustic to electric. It’s been sold at auction for almost a million dollars. The story goes that the guitar was left on a private plane piloted by a certain Vic Quinto, who worked for Dylan’s manager. When he tried to find out what he should do to return said instrument, Mr Quinto received no reply and the guitar remained in his possession. Fifty years on his daughter took it along to a TV show called “History Detectives”. They got experts to take a look at it and these experts authenticated it: definitely Dylan’s guitar! And now it has been sold to an as yet unnamed buyer. 

t’s amazing what you can learn from the papers!

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