Thursday, 19 January 2017

Transatlantic downs and ups.

This was the headline to an article in Wednesday's paper: "Big freeze in England sees temperatures drop to -6.5C".

Ah, I thought! Are we due for another major cold spell? NO, as it turns out. The article told us that the South East has clear, bright, cold weather, with really low temperatures,while the rest of us have cloud and, consequently, rather milder temperatures. I could get a little agitated about "England" being taken to mean just the South-east! We are also part pf England here in the North West.

I should stop complaining about weather. Most of Europe appears to be in the grip of that cold spell. And then central Italy has had earthquakes as well. As if deep snow was not enough!

Here's something else to get me a little astounded and cross. New officials to all sorts of posts have been having confirmation hearings in the USA. Do we have similar interrogations of people nominated to high office in this country? I sometimes get the impression that the posts in the UK are just swapped around at the whim of whoever is Prime Minister. Anyway, one Betsy DeVos has been nominated to head the Department of Education in the new administration in the USA. During her confirmation hearing it seems that she said the guns should be allowed in America's schools as long as the locals said it was cool. (Did she really say "cool"?) She also gave her support for Trump's proposal to get rid of gun-free school zones, backing it up with the argument that in Wyoming, for example, "there is probably a gun in the schools to protect from potential grizzlies.” I've heard about people offering excuses such as "the dog ate my homework" but the grizzly bear possibility is a new slant on the animals excuses idea.

Getting back to the UK, we have heard a lot about the mess that has been Southern Rail in recent times. Now it transpires that the Southern Rail operator has joined forces with another operator to bid for and win the franchise to run the Metrolink tram network in Greater Manchester. How do they even get to make a bid? How do these things happen? If a caterer gave somebody serious indigestion, not to say food poisoning, you wouldn't even consider, let alone accept, their bid, however economical, to cater for your next big event, would you? Well, I wouldn't but then, I don't run transport networks!

As I seem to be hopping to and fro across the Atlantic for this post, here's a story more to my liking: heartwarming in a wistful kind of a way. One of my heroes, Bruce Springsteen gave a special farewell to the White House concert for President Obama and staff last week, an acoustic performance, accompanied by his wife Patti Scialfa on a couple of songs, with following playlist: 

Working on the Highway

Growin' Up

My Hometown

My Father's House

The Wish

Thunder Road

The Promised Land

Born in the U.S.A.

Devils & Dust

Tougher Than the Rest (with Patti Scialfa)

If I Should Fall Behind (with Patti Scialfa)

The Ghost of Tom Joad

Long Walk Home

Dancing in the Dark

Land of Hope and Dreams 

The Springsteen fansite Backstreets apparently reviews every Springsteen show (that must be a nice job) and this is an excerpt from their review of the White House gig:

 "I have seen Bruce Springsteen a lot of places: front row at MSG, rehearsal at Convention Hall, summer runs at Giants, the last show at the old Giants, a surprise appearance in a shopping mall, 2004 Vote for Change, second row at the Lincoln Memorial in 2008, arenas all over.... But this one was a real personal thing, this thing for staff who sacrificed so much over the last eight years. It was a humble, quiet gesture from Bruce to say thanks to President Obama, the staff, and their families. No pomp, no ceremony, no press. Just the man, the guitar, and the songs."

Oh, to have been a White House staffer!

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