Thursday, 19 September 2019

Seasonal nonsense.

A friend of mine, a retired English teacher so he should know a thing or two about matters literary, tells me that 200 years ago today John Keats wrote his Ode to Autumn. Apparently he, Keats that is, not my friend, wrote to a friend a couple of days later about a splendid walk he had taken and how it had inspired him to write his famous poem. “Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness” and all that sort of thing. Time was I could recite the whole poem from memory!

I guess John Keats must have been walking about in the kind of weather we have had over the last few days. It’s nice to get some good September weather. This morning fulfilled the “season of mists” criterion; everywhere around here was shrouded in mist, just a little damp and chilly for my morning run. By late morning, however, the sky was uniformly blue, not a cloud in sight, and the sun was shining nicely. I may need to go and forage some of that “mellow fruitfulness”, otherwise known as blackberries, once again.

The fine weather has inspired us to go out walking up the quarry road, as we call Lark Hill, not far from our house. It’s quite a steep walk in the early stages, up a road where you need to watch your footing as so much of the soil between the old stone surface has been washed away by heavy rains at regular intervals. It’s got so bad that I wouldn’t even like to tempt it in a four-wheel drive vehicle these days.

When we had got to the flatter stages up at the top of the hill, heading gently towards Dobcross village, we spotted a lady walking a couple of dogs. As we got closer, she and I said in unison, “Oh, I didn’t realise it was you until we got close.”

This lady used to be the librarian in our village library, now manned by volunteers in an attempt to prevent complete closure. But I knew her because I had taught both her daughters in the early days of my teaching career. Now, that is going back rather a long way.

And we swopped family news without making any reference to the nonsense going on with certain politicians at the moment.

There’s the nonsense of Boris Johnson being challenged during a hospital photo opportunity by the angry parent of a young patient. The father was outraged by the lack of provision in the hospital and was clearly annoyed at the PM creating a press opportunity. In a supreme moment of daftness, Mr Johnson declared that there were no press present, this despite the photographers and cameramen all around. Perhaps in his mind the fact that reporters were not asking questions meant that the press were not there. I bet photojournalists feel a bit miffed by that idea.

Laura Kuenssberg, BBC political person, tweeted later that it “turns out the man who challenged the PM is also a Labour activist”. As if that somehow undermined his parental indignation! A doctor tweeted back nicely, “Thanks Laura, next time any patient gets substandard care I’ll make sure to check their political affiliation I listen to their concerns.”

On the other side of the world, President Trump complained about the presence of homeless people while speaking to reporters on Tuesday, saying they live in “our best highways, our best streets, our best entrances to buildings” where people “pay tremendous taxes”.
He said LA and San Francisco “destroy themselves by allowing what’s happening” and that some residents want to move away because of tent encampments. I wonder if it has ever occurred to him to use some of those “tremendous taxes” to help solve the problem of homelessness, a problem that is increasing all over the world.

This morning I read something in he Washington Post that said that POTUS has made 10,000 false or misleading claims during his time in office. Of course, this is probably not deliberate lying, just the result of opening his mouth before his brain was switched on.

Meanwhile, over in France, I hear that thieves have broken into Vaux-le-Vicomte chateau where they tied up the owners and escaped with €2million worth of jewels and cash.
The 80 odd year old owners were not harmed. Very good. But imagine having €2million worth of jewels and cash in your home. Surely by their age they should have realised it was a good idea to put some of it in the bank.

 On a linguistic point I was a little miffed to see Vaux-le-Vicomte chateau described as “one of France’s most opulent chateaus”. Not that I am questioning the opulence. I was just surprised by that plural, which surely should be “chateaux”. So I went and looked it up and found that ”chateaus” is a perfectly acceptable English plural.

Not for me, it isn’t!

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