Sunday, 31 January 2021

Cold weather. Finding things in common. The power of music. Intolerance. Language oddities.

Today is very cold but yesterday’s wind has dropped. And at least it’s not raining, as one of my nodding acquaintances said to me this morning. Like many of us at the moment, he seemed to be missing general chat with people you know out and about. He clearly wanted to stop and chat for a little while. It must have been one of those occasions when you really need to pass on your enthusiasm about something. Last night, he told me, they had had a really good evening with loads of music programmes, downloaded or streamed or whatever, of groups and performers he really admired. I know the feeling. Sometimes an experience is so good you just need to talk about it. And then it turned put that some of the folk music he had been listening to also falls into our musical taste. Suddenly you discover that you have stuff in common with a casual acquaintance! 

Thank heavens for the magic of modern technology, allowing him to listen to more or less live music in this time of no concerts. But bring on the time when we’ll be able to go to concerts once more. I’ve heard of concerts taking place, probably in California, where all the musicians were in a separate bubble, actual bubbles on stage, and the audience was in a set of bubbles, each with speakers, and a system of intercom so that they could order refreshments and organise trips to the loo. Presumably there were family bubbles so that a group could stay together at the concert.  Is this the future of concert going? Will be ever again have the experience of singing along, almost arm in arm, with complete strangers?

On the radio I listened to a programme where an NHS doctor/medical journalist talked about the music that has helped her through the pandemic, along with pieces that have particular memories for her. It was a sort of Desert Island Discs, I suppose, but without the island, the Bible, the works of Shakespeare, your own selected book and a luxury. There was music she associated with her father, especially during his last days dying from cancer. Particularly moving was the Beethoven that one her patients, a colleague I think, listened to with joy, knowing he was about to die of the virus but getting some last pleasure and maybe peace from the music. 

If only everyone who has to die of this pandemic could find some peace like that. 

The pandemic has brought out the best in some people. There are masses of reports of increased community spirit, people getting to know neighbours they previously ignored and that sort of thing. It hasn’t stopped social media nastiness, however. Despite all,the praise that he has received for campaigning for free school meals for disadvantaged children, Marcus Rashford is apparently one of the latest footballers to be subjected to racial abuse on social media. We love in very strange, and often intolerant, times.

Here is a link to another odd consequence of the pandemicIt seems that Greek language has been invaded by English terms. This has probabLy been going on for a while but the pandemic has led to a host of new terminology being interspersed in English into Greek news reports. This is almost ironic when you consider that pandemic is a word of Greek origin! But you would have thought that they would have a Greek term they could use for “lockdown” and “delivery”, for example. Purists have already been lamenting the increasing prevalence of “Greenglish”, basically Greek written with English letters, which it seems young people prefer for texting, tweeting and so on. The French, of course, have been fighting this kind of thing, largely unsuccessfully, for years! Strange times indeed!

As for me, I am just amused at the ubiquity of “ciao”. The Spanish use it, the French use it, we use it, I even heard it on a Scandinavian detective series the other night!

Life goes on. Stay safe and well, everyone!

Saturday, 30 January 2021

Adventures in the mud. Repairs. Careless (or care-free) dog-owners.

Yesterday we did in the end go for a walk to see the ducks in the millpond. In the event, they were mostly geese but the same principle applied : throw bread as far as possible and watch them scuttle for it. As we set off to follow the path past the second millpond, the four-year-old asked if we could “meet up”. What she meant was that at the point where path forks, her mother should go right with the baby buggy along the lower path passing the millpond, and she and I should go left on the upper path eventually looking down on the millpond. We would then meet up where the paths converge. 

An adventure! A good idea! Which rapidly turned into a mud idea! The top path was very soggy, very muddy and clearly much walked, probably from the times when the lower path has flooded. So we had to sing the mud song:

Mud, mud, glorious mud,

Nothing quite like it for cooling the blood.

So follow me follow,

Down to the hollow, 

And there we shall wallow

In glo-o-o-orious mud!

She knows all the words and sings it with much expression. It took our  minds off the squelchiness underfoot.


From the top we could see how the lower path had been very recently resurfaced. In fact, a chap with a roller was still busy. The recently storm-produced hollows have been filled in. 

I noticed this morning that the broken fence has been mended too. All good!

However, they have not done anything about the huge puddle at the point where the paths re-converge. I suppose you can’t have everything.

Today is much colder and windier. My little Christmas tree, which isn’t really a Christmas tree but some other kind of pot-grown shrub masquerading as a Christmas tree, had been blown over - again!! - even in its quite sheltered spot in the garden. I had to go and rescue it and try to wedge large stones around its pot. And now a sleety rain is trying to fall. So it goes. 

On our various sorties for exercise we have noticed increasing amounts of dogdirt on the pavements. A serious walking hazard! People seem to have grown careless about picking up the poo! Now I read that this is not just a local problem but a nationwide one. More people have acquired dogs during lockdown - for company, as a way of making themselves go out for a daily walk, as a project to see how good they are at dog-training? - and those who already owned dogs are perhaps taking them out more frequently for walks rather than just letting them run about and poo in the garden. But many of these dog owners, new or veteran, seem unaware of the existence of poo bags, or they leave said poo bags at the roadside or hanging from trees. A strange thing to do!

There is even a website, the website, run by someone called Andy Coleman (slogan, odd as it is: “We watch. You pay.”) who monitors reports of dogmess. He says,  “There’s so much dog poo this year. It’s gone up and up and up.”

Coleman, who has a Google alert set up for “dog poo”, said the number of reports had been consistently high recently. “There were five articles today alone,” he said. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen that many before.”

I suppose it’s a hobby of sorts. Something to do in lockdown!

We are still waiting for our invitation to be vaccinated. A friend of mine says she cried with joy when she had her first dose. I don’t think I would go quite that far but I understand her feelings of relief! 

Life goes on. Stay safe and well, everyone!

Friday, 29 January 2021

Running but not hiking. Silver linings and light at the end of the tunnel. Reading matter.

Today’s weather forecast is for “light cloud and a moderate breeze” with the possibility of rain hovering between 15% and 30%. The projected “high” is 8 degrees which, while not as cold as we have had recently, does not seem very high to me. I’ve run round a still rather soggy village this morning. I suspect that all the paths are going to remain muddy for a good while yet. 

One consequence of the odd lifestyle that lockdown has imposed on us is that many of the footpaths are being used a good deal more than usual and consequently are more churned up than usual. There are big bootprints all over the place. As a longstanding frequent footpath user, I feel rather annoyed about this. I recognise that this is unreasonable on my part and have to stop myself from feeling resentful at others using “my” footpaths.

My brother-in-law proposed another chippy hike today but we have things to do, translation deadlines to meet and my daughter has stuff she needs to pick up from here and there. So we decided to put off the long hike until probably next week. She and I might walk the little people round to feed the ducks later. 

I was talking to my son and his wife yesterday evening. A good friend of theirs, bridesmaid at their wedding, married to my son’s best man, has been going through cancer treatment for most of the last year. Talk about a double whammy: cancer diagnosis and then a pandemic! But oddly enough, my son says, the pandemic cloud has had a silver lining. His best man has had to work from home which has meant that he has been around, physically there even though working, while the family has been “trapped” in the house: two small children whose mother has often been unwell from the chemotherapy. Always an involved father, he has been extra-present just when he was needed most. An unexpected bonus from a bad situation. Yesterday came the good news that the treatment seems to have been working and that the expected metastasising of the cancer has not taken place. There is a glimmer of light at the end of their particular tunnel.

Many people have apparently been finding it hard to concentrate on serious books during the lockdown times we have been subjected to. Not so me. Okay, much of my reading has been detective stories but I have also been reading books about the French revolution. Having read my way through Hilary Mantel’s Tudor novels, charting the rise and fall of Thomas Cromwell, I decided I wanted to reread her much earlier book, “A Place of Greater Safety”, the one about the French revolution. I was sure we had a copy somewhere. Could I find it? No! Hardly surprising given the number of books in this house! 

For a while I gave up and settled for Marge Piercy’s “City of Darkness, City of Light”, also set in revolutionary France. She divides her book into sections, telling the tale from different characters’ perspective, each bit titled with the first name of the character concerned. It’s mildly confusing at first, having to remind yourself that Max and Georges and Manon are Robespierre and Danton and Mme Roland, and so on, not to mention a whole host of female characters. But she spins a good story. And it was good to remind myself of the players in the revolution game.

Eventually, having read a few more detective stories in between times, I got the Hilary Mantel book on my kindle. It was bit like picking up on the story of old friends, revisiting Maximilien Robespierre, Georges-Jacques Danton, Camille Desmoulins, et al, seen from another angle and with different details of their lives. 

Marge Piercy seems to pay more attention to the women than Hilary Mantel does, although the latter does gives us an insight into Gabrielle, Mme Danton, and Lucile Duplessis, wife of Camille Desmoulins. Maybe it’s just that Marge Piercy concentrates on some of the more working class women. But both books are worth reading and rereading. Both turn characters seen historically as some kind of monsters, Danton and Robespierre unleashing the Terror on France, into human characters with flaws and weaknesses as well as certain brilliancies. 

As I reached the final pages of Hilary Mantel’s “A Place of Greater Safety” and Georges-Jacques Danton and Camille Desmoulins and others were being put on trial, not allowed to put up any defence against the system they had helped to put in place, not permitted to make their persuasive voices heard, I listened on the news to what was happening in the 21st century to Alexei Navalny in Russia, with a similar difficulty in defending himself. Plus ça change ....

Life goes on. Stay safe and well, everyone!

Thursday, 28 January 2021

The sound of rain. Dapper weathermen. Vaccine wars? Protests and pleas for help. Travel (company) problems.

The sound of rain on the skylight windows is back. It’s almost soothing, rather like sleeping in a tent not far from the beach and hearing continual sound of the sea. Like the sound of the sea the sound of the rain is fine so long as it doesn’t get too stormy. Really heavy storm rain lashing on the skylight windows keeps you awake; normal rain is a bit light white noise and, after all, people use that to lull restless babies to sleep.

While the weather was so cold either there was little or no rainfall or the precipitation came as snow, which does not make a sound as it falls. However, as one of my nodding acquaintances remarked in the village this morning, the moment the temperature goes up a little, the rain comes back! You couldn’t really say that it’s warmer though; rather it’s just less cold!

And the river’s full again! Owain, the dapper BBC 1 North West weatherman, commented last night that the ground is still sodden and so there could be risk of flooding. 

Sometimes we don’t really listen to the weather forecast when Owain, the dapper BBC 1 North West weatherman, appears on the screen. We are too busy commenting on his dapper appearance. Will his suit be green, dark blue, black watch tartan, purple, or maybe powder blue? What will his tie and coordinated pocket handkerchief be like? And how about his gestures - just a little camp! He gets away with his camp look by being such a slender chap, not to say skinny, almost cartoon-character-like with not a hair out of place. Even when he forecasts bad weather he is a bit of brightness in a world of gloom as he finishes of with his Welsh-accented “Stay safe!”

And the world of gloom continues with international arguments about the supply of vaccine. And certain elements of the press are fanning the flames with jingoistic comments like, “EU can’t have our vaccine!”. We really need a proper international effort to get the vaccine to everyone. I saw a report that said that some of the poorest countries of the world may not get the vaccine until 2024. 2024?! It’s crazy.

Meanwhile, anti-lockdown protests continue here and there. Holland has been having problems. And despite restrictions on movement from district to district in most parts of Spain, I saw this headline today: Os hostaleiros camiñarán ata Santiago para pedir o rescate do sector á Xunta de Galicia. Hospitality workers in Galicia, small cafe owners and the like, plan to march on their regional capital Santiago de Compostela to ask for help. The article ends: O sector da hostalería está ao límite. Moitos levan case un ano sen abrir as portas dos seus establecementos e continúan sen ver a luz ao final do túnel. = The hospitality sector is at the limit. Many have not been unable to open their doors of their establishments for almost a year and still cannot see light at the end of the tunnel. (By the way, it’s good to find I can still read Galego, the regional language!)

Meanwhile there’s this about EasyJet:-

“EasyJet suffered another grim quarter at the end of 2020 with revenue down by almost 90% but the budget airline said it was holding on for a surge in traveller numbers later this year if restrictions ease.

The airline’s revenues for the last three months of 2020 fell by 88% year-on-year to £165m, it revealed on Thursday. That matched an 87% decline in passenger numbers to just 2.9 million.

Global air travel has been decimated in the past year by both pandemic restrictions and a lack of customer demand, but the rapid creation and approval of vaccines has given airline executives reason to hope that 2021 could be the year when sales rebound. 

Polling by easyJet of 5,000 European consumers this month showed that 65% have, or plan to make, a travel booking in 2021.”

I know everything is relative, but it’s hard to feel sorry for someone who made a £165m. However, I would like them to be around to,provide cheap,flights when this is all over. We still have a voucher for cancelled flights to and from Sicily last spring. A friend of mine has just received a refund for his flights. Maybe we should ask for the same, just on case. Another friend keeps rebooking her flights to Hamburg to see her ancient mother only to have yet another one cancelled. 

But I don’t think any of us are going anywhere in the immediate future. Apart, that is, from Boris Johnson heading for Scotland. I wonder if he hopes to rally the Scots to his side.

Life goes on. Stay safe and well, everyone!

Wednesday, 27 January 2021

A more cheerful post. At the rather diminished market. Buying food stuffs. Breakfast decadence.

Today, for the first time in weeks I cycled to the market without getting wet, without fear of sliding on icy patches and without fear of being blown off my bike by high winds. A pleasant ride on the whole, although there were still some deep puddly places on the approach to the Donkey Line.

The highland cattle were back in the field next to the start of the Donkey Line. They’ve been absent for a good while so it’s nice to see them back “home”, as it were. They are rather impressive beasts.

The market was still a bit sparse, but the cheese and biscuits lady was back. A good thing too, as I rely on her for supplies of very good muesli, not sweetened like so many more commercial brands are, and oatcakes to have with cheese. Last week was too stormy for her apparently. It was almost too stormy for me, as I recall. 

This morning I forgot to buy the oat flip biscuits she sells. I like to have a supply of these in hand as my gluten intolerant brother-in-law can eat them and I feel,it’s only polite to offer him something to accompany the cup of coffee he drinks sitting on the garden wall after we have been for a walk. I do have gluten free cake I made with flour from the cheese and biscuit lady (another reason for being pleased to see her return) but it’s in the freezer and I need to remember to defrost it when he comes around.

But the market is much reduced these days - the fruit and veg man, the fish man and the cheese and biscuit lady. There’s not much room on the square for many more stalls but still it seems very sparse.

I managed to get what I wanted though and as the delicatessen has started opening at 9.30 instead of 10.00 I was able to get my shopping done a little earlier than on recent occasions. There were remarkably few queues anywhere, another speed factor.

There are, however, moments on the return journey when it’s almost faster to push the bike than to pedal with the weight of stuff in the panniers. So it goes. It’s a different sort of exercise for me and keeps me out of mischief.

 ordered some items recently from Holland and Barrett, the health food people. It was mostly nuts and dried fruit but as I placed the order I spotted that they had almond butter. I used to pick up almond butter from the local Tesco, selecting always the one with nothing but almonds, no sugar and especially no palm oil. But I haven’t been to Tesco in months and the co-op doesn’t seem to stock it any longer. So for almost a year I have had no supplies. I sometimes suspect that the likes of me buying nut butter are causing changes in the kinds of crops being grown in some parts of the world but I’m trying not to feel guilty about it. I’m not a great fan of peanut butter - which is odd as I like peanuts, natural, salted, roasted, honey-roasted, in every possible presentation. I find the texture of peanut butter rather cloying but I really enjoy almond butter. 

So I ordered a large jar along with assorted nuts and raisins. And for the last few days I have had almond butter on my breakfast toast, and on slices of apple - a delight rediscovered. Another delight is hazelnut yoghurt on my roast hazelnut muesli. A little bit of morning indulgence, or perhaps morning decadence. 

That’s enough talk of food. Time is going by. I am expecting my daughter and assorted offspring to call round to drop some things off this afternoon and then maybe go for a walk to the duckpond. So I must press on and complete some tasks before then.

Life goes on. Stay safe and well, everyone!

Tuesday, 26 January 2021

A bit of pessimism. Video-chats. Planning for Chinese New Year.

There’s a certain feeling of the world unravelling around us. The PM gives us reassurances that we, the over 70s, will be vaccinated against the virus by mid-February. But then nobody seems able to agree on how long a pause there should be between the first and second injection. And will there be enough vaccine to go round? And is it fair for us to be vaccinated while our daughter who is out there facing half a class of school children four days a week isn’t.

And already some are busy profiteering from the whole situation. Phil received a scam email the other day offering him the vaccine. Some people have already fallen for tricks like that and accepted vaccinations of who knows what sort of stuff.

And our borders might be being closed. But maybe not. We could deny entry to people coming from certain countries but then we won’t check for people who come from those countries via another, supposedly safer, country. There’s a certain amount of not-wanting-to-annoy-too-many-people around. Besides, is it maybe too late to remember that we are an island and could have done more to isolate (the words are connected) ourselves at a much earlier stage?

Between that and the increasing number of stories of the cost of importing stuff into the country and business losing their European customers because of the cost of exporting, we really seem to be in a bit of a mess. 

And please don’t get me started on schools. All the people shouting about how the government needs to have a route map for getting children back to school, as if the pandemic was something predictable and the government was somehow just trying to annoy us. No, I am not standing up for Mr Johnson and co, but I really don’t think they know what’s going on and just refuse to tell us. I think they are as befuddled as the rest of us. 

Talking about a “route map”, is that somehow different from a “road map”? One can grow weary of government by metaphor!

Okay, that’s the pessimism over and done with. 

We spoke to the southern branch of the family on video-chat last night. Their six year old seems to be coping well with home schooling, proudly showing us her workbook with the stuff she has been doing. She’s happily getting on with it but she is missing her friends. The parents are a little frazzled but are getting by.

Meanwhile I have other problems to deal with. Closer to home problems that I might actually be able to solve. Facebook threw up for me a memory from last year: a photo of crocheted rats! I made them for my daughter’s two half-Chinese offspring. She had decided it would be a good idea to start a tradition of giving them a toy animal to match the Chinese year about to start. So I have been scanning the internet for patterns for crocheted oxen - year of the ox coming up - and rooting in my bag of spare yarn for appropriate coloured wool. So far so good. Watch this space for results. 

I have seen at least one house already decorated for Chinese New Year, by the way.

Today I have run round the village without fear of slip-sliding away. It’s still cold but mostly above zero, although here is still ice on the millponds. Some of the trees are showing signs of new growth. Maybe we have turned the corner. After all ...

Life goes on. Stay safe and well, everyone!

Monday, 25 January 2021

Out and about. Modern problems - educational and musical.

Today is a fine, crisp, cold day. I took one look at the pavements first thing and decided that running might be a little dangerous. So I wrapped up warm and donned my sturdy boots to walk round the village and pop into the co-op for supplies. 

The millponds were frozen, but the sun was shining on the hills in the distance. It takes a bit longer for it to get high enough in the sky to shine on Delph. 

The dog walkers were out in force, one with a little dog in a coat which not only covered its body but went down its little legs as well. “It keeps her warm”, said her owner. 


What did dogs do before the doggie-clothing business got going? 


Don’t dogs have furry coats of their own to keep them warm any more?

As people are homeschooling a lot of advice appears on-line, explaining the difference between vowels and consonants and diphthongs and the like. It used to be that only spelling and punctuation mattered but now a range of terminology has appeared, or more likely been invented in some cases, which parents feel the need to know if they are to help their offspring. After all, the children are supposed to know it. Even people who make a living out of writing admit to being confused by the dafter elements of it. 

Here’s a link to Michael Rosen explaining “frontal adverbials”.

And here’s another link where he decides to contradict himself and talk about his confusion.

It’s a confusing world. And all the linguistic labels floating around make it even more so. Do the same problems abound in the world of maths? Well, yes, I read that they do; new methods of teaching multiplication and long division make it harder for parents to help their offspring. Personally, I remember muddling along and only demanding help when we got round to solving quadratic equations!  

Modern problems! 

Here’s another one. In various parts of Europe small villages are being abandoned as young people move away to find work, and perhaps a bit of excitement, in larger places, and the birthrate drops and drops. From time to time article appear advertising whole villages for sale, houses being sold for crazily low prices, provided the purchaser is prepared to contribute to the life of the village. I suppose that in most such places now the people who live there are not allowed to escape anywhere because of Covid restrictions but post-Covid the problem will still remain. And stories of animals more or less taking over villages abound. In fact, they seem to do so without the village needing to be abandoned. So here’s a link to a report of brown bears reappearing in Galicia.

Interesting times! The bears still have freedom of movement.

Not so musicians. I’ve been going on a bit about their plight. Here’s something somebody in a Facebook group,Campaign to Rejoin the EU:-

“Yesterday I went for a distanced walk with a friend / neighbour who I know voted Leave. He runs a small music business which mainly involves selling CDs into Europe and arranging Euro tours for bands. Because we have much in common otherwise, we agreed back then not to talk about Brexit and have managed to succeed in that. Yesterday, unprompted, he told me that I had been right and that his mind had been completely changed by the reality. He is sad, embarrassed and frustrated that he had been completely deceived by government claims that nothing would change and that everything would be smooth and seamless. Of course, now his bands will face incredible red tape and costs while touring (the dreaded "carnets") and his European customers are furious at having extra charges slapped on their CDs. Anyway, I say respect to my friend for honestly admitting, in a dignified way, that he made a bad mistake by believing the lies. As a result, in this particular case, I don't feel any Schadenfreude.”

This morning I read a brief article in which a French music promoter said that for every French artist who tours the UK 20 UK artists tour France. Of course, that should be “used to tour”! But really, if ever there was a case of shooting yourself in the foot, this musicians/artists business must qualify. 

And finally, there was an article by Hadley Freeman about Jon Bon Jovi. Apart from her being thrilled that he sang for her over the phone, she had various tales to tell, including this one:

“Bon Jovi and Trump have an extremely weird history. Back in 2014, the singer, along with some Canadian investors, tried to buy the NFL team the Buffalo bills, outbidding Trump. But there was suddenly strong anti-Bon Jovi feeling in Buffalo, NY, with “Bon Jovi-free” zones and negative graffiti, stemming from the rumour that he and his partners would move the team out of the city. Bon Jovi fiercely denied that, but the Bills ultimately went to a third bidder and that was the end of that – until three years ago, when it emerged, inevitably, that the anti-Bon Jovi campaign had been started by Michael Caputo, a political strategist, who had been hired by Trump.

“I was really shocked at the depths [Trump] went to. He wasn’t even qualified to buy the team, because you have to submit your tax returns, and he never filed the paperwork. Instead, he did this dark shadow assassination thing, hoping to buy the team at a bargain basement price. But I just couldn’t understand how this misinformation was being put out there. It was seriously scarring,” Bon Jovi says, eyes wide.

After Trump failed to get the team, he stomped off and ran for president. Maybe you should have just given him the team, I say.

“Yeah, for the sake of the world, he definitely should have got the team. Oh well,” he chuckles.”

So it’s partly Jon Bon Jovi’s fault that Donald Trump ended up as POTUS. Who knew? All might have been different. So it goes. 

Life goes on. Stay safe and well, everyone!

Sunday, 24 January 2021

Cold weather. Water. Lack of interest in celebrity marriages. Nuclear projects. Synaesthesia.

It’s a very cold morning in Delph. My weather app tells me it’s going to hover around freezing all day and then dip below. But at least it’s not raining or snowing. There were a few places where water had settled on the surface and frozen, making some potentially dangerous slippery spots. Puddles were frozen but the muddy paths were mostly just hardened by the cold and fortunately the huge puddle that often blocks the footpath  by the millpond had drained away. Much of the path seems to have been eroded as if some of the recent heavy rain has flowed along the path. Another messy bit of path to worry about.

Meanwhile the house across the road continues to pump water out of the cellar. It sounds as though they had about a foot of water in there. And presumably as water is still draining off the hillside that level is being topped up even as they pump. I think I would be having some waterproofing work done once it dries out if I were them. They are trying to pump it directly into a drain to avoid accidentally causing an icepatch on the roadway. 

In the media a certain amount of fuss has been made about the fact that when the Trumps got off the plane in Florida Melania walked off camera, leaving the exPOTUS to deal with the press on his own. This has caused some speculation about their marriage. Are we worried about the state of the Trump marriage? Well, personally not one bit interested. 

Scanning the papers online this morning I came across something about the Bradwell B nuclear project. This is down in Essex, at Bradwell-on-Sea. There’s a grade I-listed building there on the marshes, a church built on the remains of a Roman fort round somewhere around the year 660, St Peter on the Wall. There’s an obscure Christian community down there called Othona, named after the Roman fort. I was not aware we had such communities here but it sounds fairly harmless - unlike the one we came across recently in a Scandi-noir series we watched on Netflix. I am, however, always a little suspicious of exclusive communities of any kind. One of their members, Tim Fox, is busily protesting about Gradwell B.

Here’s a little section of the article:

  • Although Othona is welcoming to visitors, that generosity is not extended to EDF Energy and China General Nuclear Group (CGN), the Franco-Chinese consortium behind the Bradwell B project. “I know this has to be on somebody’s doorstep, but it seems to me that nuclear power isn’t the way to go,” Fox said. “Renewable energy is getting cheaper and there are two wind farms here. This is the driest part of England – you could put a solar farm here.” -

Now, I was under the impression that Brexit was supposed to be all about “taking back control”. (Actually, no, I was under the impression it was mostly about whipping up fear of immigrants taking “our” jobs! But that’s a different matter.) So, how is it that EDF (Electricité de France - the clue is in the name - it’s French!) and CGN (China General Nuclear - another clue in the name!) are behind the Bradwell B project. Me, I’ not against international projects but I think the Brexit people suffer from double-think! Oh, and I am in favour of renewable energy rather than nuclear, by the way. 

Here’s something quite different. I read about a pair of sisters with synaesthesia, a condition where the brain associates sensations of colour or taste to words or numbers or sounds. The French poet Arthur Rimbaud was said to have synaesthesia. In the case of these two sisters it manifests itself by associating tastes to people’s names. Asked by their aunt if Sarah was a good name for a baby they told her that Sarah tastes of greasy chips. 

“As kids, my sister and I enjoyed our party trick. We’d sit at Gran’s kitchen table asking each other: “What’s Sally to you?” Or Michael. Or some other kid at school. My auntie never had a Sarah. She had two boys, Scott, who tastes like a McVitie’s Rich Tea biscuit snapped in two, and Jack, like chomping on a battered leather footstool.”

Like many people the sisters thought this was perfectly normal and that everyone had that skill. I was reminded of a couple of work colleagues. We were in a meeting and we must have reached a dull point for one of them asked me “What colour is Tuesday for you?”. I had to explain that Tuesday doesn’t actually have a colour for me. The other colleague expressed her surprise at this. She didn’t only see colours for the days but also saw them in a physical pattern, a sort of layout in her mind. Neither of them had any idea that they were at all unusual and had never heard of synaesthesia. Now, how likely was it that I would end up sitting between two synaesthetics?

Life goes on. Stay safe and well, everyone!

Saturday, 23 January 2021

Contrary weather. Adventures. Climate change comments.

Today I have run through fog, mini-hailstones and snow. It wasn’t proper snow though, not like the snow of yesteryear. 


This was thin and watery stuff and wasn’t really sticking, even though it made for pretty photos of woodland paths. 



Oddly, this year friends from more southerly bits of Manchester are being hit by more snow than we are. Not that I am complaining! Far from it!


Yesterday we went on a bit of a family adventure, “accidentally” meeting my brother in-law and then my daughter and small offspring on the road to Diggle chippy. 


Organising adventures is a bit problematical at the moment with so many rules and regulations about who can meet and what you can do outdoors. 




Here, by the way, is a link to a short article about children’s writers Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffer taking a bit of a sideways  covid look at some of their own illustrations and stories.


We were not the only people to have chosen to sit at the picnic tables by the duckpond with put fish and chips. There was a group leaving as we arrived and another came along while we were there. It may be because it was the first fine, well moderately fine, day for quite some time. The duckpond was looking very picturesque but the area round the picnic tables was a veritable quagmire! Hardly surprising with so much water falling from the sky!

The house across the road from ours has been pumping out their cellar. They say it’s not the first time it has happened and they have their own pump. Even though they say there is nothing but junk in the cellar it can’t be good for the building itself if the cellar floods occasionally. Fortunately we have never had problems of that kind. And now I am rapidly crossing my fingers, touching wood and trying to think of anything else I am supposed to do to turn away misfortune.

On the television and radio news they have talked at length about how the old drainage systems are not coping with the run-off water from the hills during the heavy rain we have been experiencing. This is more of a problem apparently than rivers bursting their banks. No mention is made, however, of the houses built on floodplains and the gardens that have been covered with flagstones and tarmac to provide parking places for cars, all covering what used to be areas that could absorb some of the run-off water. All the prettily paved patios are contributing to the problem!

Thinking of environmental problems and climate change, here’s a little something I found I don’t remember where, commenting on reactions to the new POTUS and his policies:-

“So now the craziness is being taken up by others. Trump supporter Ted Cruz made an early start, writing: “By rejoining the Paris Climate Change Agreement, Biden has proved he cares more about the citizens of Paris than those of Pittsburgh.” This is quite sweet, suggesting he thinks the Paris Climate Change Agreement is about climate change in Paris.”

There you go!

Life goes on. Stay safe and well, everyone!

Friday, 22 January 2021

Quoting people. Musicians’ problems. Hopes and plans.

I’ve not quoted Michael Rosen for a few days. So here are a couple of his gems;- 

“Dear Dominic 

I really need some advice, dear boy. Gavin Williamson is the other side of useless and of course he's for the choppo but I can't sack him or I'll look beyond useless for not sacking him earlier.  Cleft stick. Scylla and Charybdis. Bog.  

In lavatorio tori 


(Poor Gavin - I actually find myself agreeing with his latest statement that it is just not possible to say when schools should go back. This does not stop him from being a waste of space though!)

“Dear Dominic

What is this flapdoodle about awarding Covid contracts to our friends? It's what friends are for: we help each other. It's mutual consideration. If ever I was short of the readies, I would expect Dido et al to give me a hand. Why not?

Remuneratio ad infinitum


(This last one worries me. I don’t want our NHS sold off!)

I mentioned Elton John yesterday. Here is again, tweeting, or something, about the problems musicians have:+

“I am urging the UK gov’t to fulfil its promise to negotiate paperwork-free travel in Europe for British artists, their road crew and equipment. Without visa-free travel many tours will be unviable, especially for emerging artists.”

Of course, it’s not just artists; it’s the whole circus that goes around with even a solo performer, let alone a whole band. All the roadies and technicians who are out of work at the moment. 

And here’s an extract from a Facebook page regarding the position of musicians at the moment. 

“I emailed my MP Chris Grayling about the music industry touring item and received this response:

Dear Vaughan

Thank you for contacting me about visa-free work permits for artists and musicians.

I wholeheartedly welcome your support for the performing arts. The UK is home to a huge number of world-class performers across a range of different disciplines and I am committed to ensuring their continued international success under the agreement between the UK and EU. I am also delighted that the Government recognises the value of the industry and supports ambitious arrangements for performers and artists to be able to work and tour across Europe.

The Government did not turn down a bespoke arrangement from the EU to allow musicians to work and perform in Member States. I understand that the UK proposed to capture the work done by musicians, artists and entertainers, and their accompanying staff, through a list of permitted activities for short-term business visitors. These proposals reflected the asks of the music industry itself, developed in consultation with bodies like the Musicians Union. This would have allowed musicians and support staff to travel and perform in the UK and the EU more easily, without needing work-permits. Unfortunately, the EU repeatedly refused these proposals and made less ambitious ones which would not have enabled touring or covered support staff.

I am, however, pleased that the Government has confirmed that the door remains open for the EU to change its mind, and it will continue its work to make it as straightforward as possible for UK artists to travel and work in the EU.

Best wishes

Chris Grayling”

Glastonbury has just been cancelled again, not surprisingly really. I’ve never been but it still seems a shame for something that has become a kind of musical landmark to disappear. Maybe next year ...

My Spanish sister is still hoping for the Eagles concert in London that she had tickets for last summer. I don’t hold out much hope for that for her.

I do, however, hope that our planned guided trip to Sicily might still take place, probably towards the end of the year. 

But you never know. Along with the reopening of schools being an uncertainty, the experts are now saying that pubs and restaurants should remain closed until probably May.  Oh boy!

On the plus side, though, our daughter has managed to get herself a rapid flow covid test - result negative - at what used to be the community centre in Uppermill. As a teacher she is entitled to that bit of reassurance every week. Her weekend starts at the end of Thursday and so on her way home from work she will pop in and be tested, just to reassure herself that she can meet her family for weekend activities with some sense of safety after mingling with a reduced class of 8 year olds all week. Possibly a step in the right direction. Now she needs to be told she can have the vaccination asap as well. 

Life goes on. Stay safe and well, everyone!