Thursday, 5 September 2019

Public family squabbles. Organisational stationery problems. And railway stations.

The mayhem continues. Now Boris Johnson’s brother has turned round and resigned his position in the government and stepped down from being an MP altogether. It’s pretty bad when your brother publicly separates himself from you. Families are, of course, quite notorious for divisions and differences of opinion but one quite so public as this is probably unusual. This is what happens when you all work in the same field, I suppose.

And we don’t seem any nearer to a solution.

In the meantime, we have been advised by a friend who is a GP that it might be a good idea to get our yearly flu jab sooner rather than later. The flu vaccination serum (is that the right word?) might well be in short supply post-Brexit. Just another little problem to contend with!

For several weeks we have been trying to bet hold of cheap mid-year diaries. Well, Phil has been enlisting my assistance to find one, or even two,  for him. Personally I have no objection to paying a little more for a particular brand of small diary to carry around with me in my handbag. But Phil favours a desk diary, week to view per double page, which he can keep on the desk (where else?) next to the computer. Then he wants a smaller one in which he can keep a list of chess fixtures that he has to organise or oversee the organisation of.

Usually we have found such diaries for just a few euros in the Chinese bazaars in Vigo where they sell just about everything from rubber bands to rubber mattress protectors, candles to casserole dishes, pens and pencils to pots and pans. This year we found none at all, despite visiting several such emporia at our end of town.

Out and about with daughter here in the UK, I have found a range pretty pink and fluffy diaries at pretty pink and fluffy prices. Clearly I have not been to the right shops. Time to go into town and visit the cut-price stationery stores!

Over in Paris they seem to be having a little contretemps about the revamping, or perhaps that should be the “relooking” to use a franglais word, of the Gare du Nord, one of the city’s big railway stations. It must be going on for half a century since I was there, so no doubt there have been changes that I am quite unaware of. Now there are plans to create a vast shopping space, a glass structure with tens of thousands of square metres of shops, walkways, split-levels and 105 escalators.

Apparently the Gare du Nord, one end of the Eurostar run, has long been compared unfavourably with St Pancras, the other end of the run. Andy Street, the former head of John Lewis who is mayor of the West Midlands, even had to apologise to France in 2014 after calling the Gare du Nord “the squalor pit of Europe” compared with what he called the “modern, forward-looking” St Pancras.

The thing is that we have grown used to big stations being rather like shopping malls. Manchester’s Piccadilly Station is very mild compared with Euston Station in London but would-be passengers can obtain different kinds of refreshment, browse a number of shops, and buy reading matter from W H Smith, travel necessities from Boots the Chemist or last minutes gifts from Accessorise. And coming back from a journey you can pop into Sainsbury’s to buy milk and bread and so on, or in my case at the start of my journey a bottle of prosecco to share with my daughter-in-law.

But the French seem not to like the idea. Well, we don’t know what the aftual Frenchman in the street thinks but leading French architects have said it would be “unacceptable”, “indecent” and a “serious offence to transport users”. They also said that the vast volumes of the “beautiful” train hall would be “denatured” by adding high walkways. They warned of committing a “serious urban error” in the form of a giant shopping centre that risked killing smaller local trade in the Paris region.

But maybe we should support their objections because the renovation will include working spaces – which some have suggested would allow companies to relocate from the UK after Brexit but stay close to the Eurostar!!

Oops! There’s that Brexit problem again!

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