Monday, 31 May 2021

Local festivities - some of them cancelled, some resurrected, some just continuing.

Last Friday should have been the Whit Friday Band Contest, the annual brass band contest that is the closest thing we have to a “fiesta” around here. On rare occasions it’s a beautifully sunny day but as a rule it’s dull and damp and often cold. As a rule that doesn’t stop the bands marching through our village to play their music before getting in their coach to go on to the next village and repeat the performance. It doesn’t stop people turning out to watch them. This year was a moderately decent day for it but for the second year on the run Covid has put a stop to it. The Delph band played in the village in the morning anyway. Maybe next year it will return fully.


Band Contest day always used to be followed by the Beer Walk. Coordinated, I think, by the Round Table, teams signed up for this, got themselves dressed up along some theme they had chosen and walked, or in some cases ran, round the Saddleworth villages, stopping at designated hostelries for a half pint of beer along the way - a sort of officially sanctioned pub crawl, but the rush from village to village mostly burned off the alcohol. Teams collected money for their selected charity along the way. Another bit of local carnival. 


It stopped happening about ten years ago. I’m not sure why. Perhaps it actually was turning into too much of a pub crawl, too drunken. Who knows? But it seems that some people have been dressing up anyway and doing an unofficial Beer Walk, just for the fun of it. A young friend of ours takes part. (When I say young, it’s all relative. She’s the same age as our daughter. Both of them have pretty much grown-up daughters of their own. Time was, I thought 40 was ancient, and now it seems very young. That’s how it goes!) When my daughter and I came back from a walk late Saturday afternoon we came across a “monk”, a “nun” and a “cardinal” having a drink outside the pub next door to our house. What a surprise!

They had a lovely day for it as well. Blue sky and sunshine on Saturday,

 

 

  yesterday,

 

  

and today. Perfect for tidying up the garden and for getting washing dry!


  

Some people went to the beach yesterday. We stayed home and had the family round for dinner. I made blueberry cheesecake for dessert. 

 

The recipe instructed me to bake it for 45 minutes. I did so. It was still semi-liquid. I gave it a further ten minutes, and another and another, before it seemed sufficiently set to come put of the oven and cool down. It was much appreciated. 

 

I ran along the Donkey Line this morning, stopping only to admire the squirrels.


It’s time for the Delph Donkey Trail as well. Eager participants set up dummies with donkey masks in their windows or gardens. You can buy a map and go rpund the village spotting them. I think it’s organised by the Wake Up Delph committee, selling the trail maps as another way of raising some money for village projects. Her’s one donkey I spotted this morning.


I read this morning that a Donkey Sanctuary in Devon has arranged for their do keys to be used to “tread in” wildflower seeds in farmland that is being rewilded. Apparently the trampling helps germination. And it seems it’s good for the do keys too. One of the Sanctuary workers said, “It is important to us that our donkeys benefit from different types of activities and experiences. Our donkeys will be able to enjoy a walk with our grooms and benefit from one to one time while they walk over the plots.” 


I’m all in favour of looking after donkeys’ well-being but maybe the Sanctuary workers get a bit sentimental about it. 


Donkeys are not the only useful animals in this respect. I read that “Other animals including wild horses and cattle are widely used as “conservation managers”, with their trampling and grazing helping wild plants to flourish and flower. Tamworth pigs have also proved extremely useful in “ploughing” wild turf with their snouts and making space for annual wildflowers to germinate at the rewilded farm of Knepp in West Sussex.” 


There you go! That would explain why a farmer up the road from us moves his pigs from one patch of land to another in his field; the pigs are doing a useful bit of digging with their snouts. 


That’s enough local culture and nature commentary for today. There’s sunshine to enjoy.


Life goes on. Stay safe and well, everyone!

Sunday, 30 May 2021

One year on from a family crisis. Weddings. Dead cats? Sunshine.

A year ago our smallest grandson was very ill with  the post-Covid disease this article talks about.

I think it maybe took him more than the six months the article says it takes for children to recover. He seems fine now, running round as toddlers will, but every time he has a rash or runs a temperature we wonder if it’s something related to last year. He was lucky though: check-ups show there seems to be no heart damage. 


And now they are wondering about the final stage of releasing us from the lockdown. As cases rise here and there - more here in Greater Manchester than in other places - we wait to see if the 21 of June will set us free. It’s another case of watch this space.


Meanwhile Mr Johnson has sneaked off and married Carrie What’s-her-name, now Mrs Johnson. There has been some speculation about bow they managed a Catholic church wedding as Mr Johnson is twice divorced. But his previous marriages were Anglican church services and so in the eyes of the Catholic church he wasn’t really married at all. There you go! Of course, there is also speculation that this is another dead cat, diverting our attention away from Mr Cummings’ revelations/accusation. If that’s the case, it’s rather a shame for poor Carrie. Even Tory ladies deserve to have a special day! But am I really bothered? Well, no! 


Here’s Michael Rosen on the Cummings spill-it-all on Thursday:-


“Dear Dominic

Your ghastly display yesterday in which you tried to turn the whole thing into a charivari of machiavellianism will fail. I will ensure that what happened will be seen as nothing more than occasional but understandable slip-ups. Die, worm, die!

Vivat Boris Rex

Boris”


It’s a fine Bank Holiday weekend. The sun is shining in a clear blue, cloudless sky. Phil has cut the grass. The family is coming round for dinner later. Time to get the garden chairs out. All’s (reasonably) well with the world!


Life goes on. Stay safe and well, everyone!

Saturday, 29 May 2021

Progress reports on the heatwave. Mistakes people make ... in the public eye. Racism thoughts.

It’s not quite what you would call a heatwave but it’s pleasantly mild out and about today. I think that when they forecast heatwaves for the UK what they really mean is a heatwave in the south east of the country. It’s a little bit of geographical, not to say meteorological, misunderstanding.


On the subject of misunderstanding, I read that an Argentinean TV news channel got their Shakespeares mixed up. 81 year old Bill Shakespeare, the second man in the world to get the Pfizer vaccine has died, several months after being vaccinated. The Argentinean news reporter told viewers about the death of William Shakespeare:


“We’ve got news that has stunned all of us given the greatness of this man. We’re talking about William Shakespeare and his death. We’ll let you know how and why it happened.”


Over footage of Bill Shakespeare chatting as he received the vaccine, the newsreader added: “As we all know, he’s one of the most important writers in the English language – for me the master. Here he is. He was the first man to get the coronavirus vaccine. He’s died in England at the age of 81.”


Of course, her mistake went viral, leading to a host of comments:-


“There were only a few years between them,” wrote on Twitter user. 


“Let us not weep for William Shakespeare,” said another. “He lived his life and enjoyed people’s affection for centuries.”


And yet another went on: “Such a fuss over William Shakespeare’s death, but they didn’t mention that he was in such a bad way that he hadn’t produced a hit in centuries. Over-rated.”


Oh dear! I bet someone feels foolish. 


Closer to home, well, on this side of the world anyway, someone had an idea for combatting racism with stamps. In what was meant, I think, to be an ironic comment on how society rates skin colour, Spain’s Correos produced a set of “equality stamps”, a pale one, €1.60 one, a slightly darker €1.50 one, a brown €0.80 one, and a black €0.70 one. Here’s the rationale behind it: 


“At Correos, we believe a person’s value shouldn’t have any colour, which is why we’re launching Equality Stamps, a collection of stamps in which the darker the colour of the stamp, the less its value. That’s a reflection of a painful and unfair reality that shouldn’t exist.”


But it’s all been taken the wrong way, despite being developed in collaboration with an organisation called SOS Racismo, and it’s come in for a lot of criticism from other anti-racism organisations. Sometimes you can’t do right for trying. And in an age when fewer and fewer people write letters, how effective would the stamp gesture have been anyway? 


On the subject of racism, Marcus Rashford has received lots of racial abuse online after his team lost the Europa League final game against Villa Real. It’s a strange time we live in. I can understand, almost, shouts of disappointment when you are watching the match and you see a player miss a goal but taking the trouble to tweet abuse online is a different thing altogether. And even if you are present at the match, nothing excuses shouting racist abuse at a player. 


Do we expect too much of professional sportspeople? Do we really expect  professional footballers to score every goal they try for? When you watch tennis it’s not unusual to see a professional tennis player fluff his/her serve. If footballers can’t miss goals then surely tennis players can’t make mistakes either. Do they receive the same kind of abuse? I wonder. 


Someone commenting on the Marcus Rashford abuse wondered how many of the online abusers had children receiving free meals thanks to the young footballer. A good question!


However, Marcus Rashford can perhaps take comfort from the fact that he has had a zoom chat with former US President Barack Obama, swopping experiences of growing up as black kids brought up without a father on the scene. Not bad for a 23 year old. 


As regards the heatwave, I have just hung a second batch of washing on the line. The first lot is well on the way to being dry. Not bad for a May Bank Holiday weekend.


Life goes on. Stay safe and well, everyone!

Friday, 28 May 2021

Heatwaves. Talking to trees - well, communing with nature.

Friends of mine who come from countries where they regularly experience proper heatwaves have been scoffing at our weathermen’s suggestions that we might have a mini-heatwave during the next week. I took it as a rather tongue in cheek comment by the weathermen on the fact that temperatures might go up to 20 or 21 degrees, a temperature perfectly acceptable to me, but clearly not to those who have grown up with summer temperatures in the 30+ range. One of those friends, staying with us one summer in Vigo, Galicia, found 24 degrees too chilly for her and asked for extra blankets for the bed and borrowed a hoody from me in the daytime, having arrived prepared for a “proper” Spanish summer.  


But the forecast 20+ is fine by me; you can walk, run even, comfortably without needing to be bundled up in a million layers. I’m not sure what temperature we reached around here yesterday but it was pleasant enough for me to stroll out in the early evening with a light jacket - no hat and gloves! A fine end to the day! There was still some sunshine and the heron was standing by one of the millponds - I couldn’t decide whether he was fishing or sunbathing. 


I took a picture of the evening sky reflected in one of the millponds. 



By contrast, this morning it was a grey-clouded sky reflected in the same spot. 


 

But I’m not complaining. It no longer feels as though May has got stuck in February mode. 


It’s good for the soul to be able to walk out in the open - fields, woods, bridle paths. The   Japanese practise something they call shinrin-yoku, which translates as forest bathing I had it in my head that it was a Scandinavian thing - after all, they have hygge - but when I went looking for the term in the original language I rediscovered that it was Japanese. I really knew it already and should have remembered, especially as it can involve walking barefoot through the woods and I think that might be a recipe for frost-bitten toes in some Scandinavian forests. You don’t really have to go barefoot, unless you absolutely want to do so. Basically it’s immersing yourself in nature, a very zen thing, advising practitioners to:


Listen to the sounds of the forest.  


Count how many different sounds you can hear. 


Can you hear the stillness of the sounds. 


Another bit of advice is:


Stand still in nature.


Find things one can see but not hear.


Find things one can hear but not see. 


Somebody by the name of Peter Wohlleben has written a book, “The Heartbeat of Trees: Embracing Our Ancient Bond with Forests and Nature”, all about communicating with trees and plants. Apparently if you stroke your tomato plants with your finger they grow thicker and sturdier stems. And birch trees sleep, or at least rest, drooping their leaves in the night time and perking up in the daytime. He maintains that trees communicate with each other through their root systems and that they have a heartbeat, but one so slow that even if we hug trees we cannot feel that heartbeat. He too advocates communing with nature:


“Although trees may feel nothing of our attempts to communicate, we, for our part, definitely experience a physical reaction. I encourage you to experience this for yourself. Make a plan to go outside and immerse yourself in nature. If there is a forest near you, make that your destination. If you live in a city, find a park or even just a tree-lined street where you can take a walk. Stand and feel the air on your skin. What can you smell? The gentle, earthy aromas of old leaves gently decomposing on the ground or the tangy, brisk scents of new growth? What can you hear? The scratching of squirrels scuttling up trunks or the rustle of leaves as birds turn them over to find insects underneath? Shut your eyes and feel that this is a place where you belong.”


The writer Tolkien understood about trees and their slowness. His ents were very slow to be roused to anger but very effective once roused. Someone told me recently that Tolkien was rather disappointed that Shakespeare did not truly make Birnam Wood come to Dunsinane in Macbeth but only had soldiers use branches to camouflage their approach. That sounds like a bit of a myth to me but you never know. However, I rather like the idea of Birnam Wood being made up ents. 


Checking spellings of names, I discovered that there is still an ancient oak tree, the Birnam Oak, on the outskirts of the Perthshire village of Birnam. That oak tree and its neighbour the Birnam Sycamore are thought to be the sole surviving trees of the great forest that once straddled the banks and hillsides of the River Tay. 


A few ents waking up and being roused might be useful in fighting environmental problems such as plastics going into fertiliser and thus into plants, including plants we humans consume. See this article for details.


I fear the ents are all firmly asleep nowadays though.


Life goes on. Stay safe and well, everyone!

Thursday, 27 May 2021

Some reflections on family birthdays, coincidences and similarities.

Today is my baby sister’s birthday. It was also our mother’s birthday. My little sister reminds us proudly that they were both born on this date, on a Thursday, at 4.30 in the morning, in a thunderstorm. 

 

I don’t remember the thunderstorm but I do remember going into my parents’ bedroom to meet my new sister and demanding that she should be called Pat, after my baby doll. Since people were already clamouring that she should be called Phyllis after our mother, a name our mother never liked, I got my way. But she was never Pat, almost always Patricia and sometimes Tricia, until she went to live in Spain where everyone calls her Pat, or Pa’ as the Andalusians frequently drop final consonants. 


I suspect she became Pat when she moved away from home to study, reinventing herself as so many of us did when we began to live independently, no longer identified as so-and-so’s daughter, sister, or whatever. As it has become so much more expensive to go away to university, more and more young people these days end up studying at the university nearest to home and do not move out at all. It’s a rite of passage that has disappeared for a lot of young people since the introduction of university fees. Another reason to be glad to be a baby-boomer!


My Spanish niece posted a photo of her mother, the birthday girl. 

 

In lockdown my sister has grown her hair. For longer than I care to remember she has always had a very severe short haircut, often done at the barber’s rather than at a ladies’ salon. 

 

And suddenly, with hair framing her face for the first time in years, she looks like the person whose birthday she shares, our mother. 


Family resemblances are strange!


Our daughter, who just born looked like my mother without her false teeth, as a young teenager felt she so little looked like either of her parents or her brother that she convinced herself she was adopted. I came across her rifling the desk, hunting for the adoption certificate. She took some persuading that there was no such certificate. That may have been when we first told her the story of her home birth with the complications that led to an emergency run to hospital. She still doesn’t really look much like either of us. Maybe in a few years time she will wake up one morning, look in the mirror and discover that she has turned into her mother after all. It’s more or less what I did and I know that a number of my friends had the same experience.


Incidentally, finding my small sister in my mother’s bed on the morning of the 27th of May 67 years ago convinced me that that was what happened; that was how it worked:- women went to bed at night and woke up next morning with a baby in the bed. As simple, easy and painless as that. After all, the same thing had happened a couple of years previously with the arrival of my brother. I knew that babies grew in their mummies’ tummies but that was the extent of my knowledge of the facts of life for the next few years. If only life were so uncomplicated!


Anyway, there it is. My baby sister is another year older. I expect she is having a warmer 27th of May in AndalucĂ­a than we are in Saddleworth. 


That said, today began very nicely, with blue sky and sunshine, showing off the local bluebells very nicely. By lunchtime the clouds had moved back in but so far the rain has managed to stay away.


Life goes on. Stay safe and well, everyone!



Wednesday, 26 May 2021

Some thoughts on stereotyping.

This morning I chickened out of cycling in the rain and walked to and from the market instead. It wasn’t raining desperately hard but I just didn’t fancy riding in the wet. Because I wasn’t stuffing things in my panniers, I bought bedding plants, which don’t travel well in panniers. Now I just need a bit of fine weather to repot them or choose which bit of the flower beds to put them in.


Later in the day the window cleaner came. There’s something ironic about a window cleaner coming in the rain but there it goes. I took the opportunity to pay the window cleaner. We owed him for his last visit as well because the last time he came for some reason I didn’t see him and Phil did not pay him. As I paid him for two visits I made a (very poor, possible sexist) joke about this being the kind of thing that happens when you leave your husband in charge! This led me to reflect on stereotyping, especially after my yesterday’s post on racist attitudes.


It’s very easy for us to fall into all kinds of prejudice - young people dressed oddly, old people being slow, scruffy tramps, disabled people - they all suffer from people’s reaction to how they look. A fair few years ago now, when my now 16 year old grandson was still a toddler in a buggy this happened. My daughter was returning from Manchester in the train with a toddler in the buggy, a four year old trotting alongside and a ten year old “helping” to carry odds and ends of purchases. On the train was a suspicious-looking young man: grungy clothes, dread locks, tattoos and piercings - the sort of young man you avoid looking at in case he reacts in a rude or violent way. They sat as far away from him as possible.


My daughter and the children, the grungy young man and a mass of more respectably dressed people all got off the train at Mossley station. To exit the station you have to go up a flight of stairs and across a bridge, not an easy thing to do with a heavy toddler in a buggy, a load of purchases and a four year old who needs supervising on stairs. All the respectably dressed people rushed past, indeed pushed past, intent on leaving the station as soon as possible. The grungy young man stopped and offered to carry the buggy, complete with toddler, up the stairs. You can’t judge a book by looking at its cover! 


Then this lunchtime on the radio I heard about OAGs. OAGs are Old Age Gamers. It was  “novelty” news because most computer gamers are teenagers, or young men. Even young women gamers, such as my 23 year old granddaughter, are regarded as oddities by some people. And it is generally accepted that beyond a certain age, people don’t play computer games. Indeed many of them don’t understand computers at all. My own slight aversion to IT has nothing to do with growing older: I have always resisted learning IT skills that are not immediately useful to me. I was remarkably suspicious of the word processor when it came into our lives - why should I not continue with my trusty type writer? That specific attitude soon changed however!


Anyway, it seems that a large number of older people have got into playing computer games during lockdown - from Super Mario to Red Dead Redemption to Pokemon Go. That last one has the advantage of getting the player out and about, one elderly gamer said. Some have done so in order to be able play such games with their grandchildren. Many have done so just to keep their minds active. I was reminded of my father in his sixties discovering the fun of ping-pong tennis games on the Atari ST long ago. We need to be careful about putting people into boxes for whatever reason. 


Some parts of social media are trying to police what goes on their sites, trying to eliminate prejudice and abuse. On the radio (again) I heard a discussion about male lingerie adverts being rejected by Facebook and other online media. A company who produce men’s lingerie reported the difficulty they were having advertising their ware. It seems it’s okay if it’s David Beckham in his undies on a poster but not male models in general. Apparently it’s okay for people to see images of women in their undies but not similar images of men. Are men’s bodies really so provocative! 


The BBC sorted it out for them, which seems a bit over the top, and Facebook and Instagram and so on apologised and reinstated the adverts. 


Another case of things being misjudged because of appearance. 


Life goes on. Stay safe and well, everyone. 

Tuesday, 25 May 2021

One year on.

It’s a year since George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis. There are, of course, numerous newspaper article reminding us about this. Here’s an extract from one of them, showing how it almost wasn’t news:-


“On 26 May 2020, a Minneapolis police spokesman, John Elder, issued a press release headlined: “Man Dies After Medical Incident During Police Interaction”. It stated that this man had “physically resisted officers” who were eventually able “to get the suspect into handcuffs” before they “noted he appeared to be suffering medical distress”. They called for an ambulance. The suspect went to the hospital. He died. The end.


No mention of “I can’t breathe”. No mention of Floyd calling for his “mama” as he pleaded for his life. No mention of an officer kneeling on Floyd’s neck for over nine excruciating minutes. Had the 17-year-old bystander Daniella Frazier not recorded a video of the incident on her phone, had that video not spread across the internet like wildfire and had masses of angry protesters not spilled on to the streets across the world, it is very possible that Chauvin would still be patrolling the streets of Minneapolis right now.”


The article goes on to say that, in the writer’s opinion, the death of George Floyd was in fact the spark that lit the kindling that had been piling up for more than a short while. Many other similar incidents had been occurring. This one hit social media and went went viral, went world-wide and suddenly we were engulfed in Black Lives Matter. 


Maybe what was unusual was the fact that it went world wide. Perhaps we had mostly accepted that such things happened in the USA but now people began looking at their own countries’ situation and finding it at fault. Maybe the pandemic had already sparked a feeling of “we’re all in this together”. We’d already had #Me Too. Now here was another problem not exclusive to just one nation.


One of the saddest articles I’ve read about the George Floyd case is this one where the young man who sold George Floyd cigarettes, accepted his counterfeit note and then reported it to his employers describes his feelings about his actions:-


“I allowed myself to feel guilty for a very long time before the trial happened,” he said softly, with an eloquence that belies his teenage years. “I just kept replaying that decision in my head. What if I would have just told him he couldn’t buy the cigarettes?”


It’s hard to imagine being so young and knowing that your action had such a ripple effect around the world. 


And suddenly every sports event was preceded by players taking the knee, out of respect for George Floyd and all the others who dad died as a result of racial prejudice. And many of us thought it was something new but it’s a tradition of sorts that goes  back a long way. This article tells the story of Colin Kaepernick who sat, refusing to stand, through the singing of the US national anthem at the start of an American football game in protest against racial violence and found himself quietly banned from NFL teams. Not officially but he just was nit signed up for any teams. This was back in 2016 but that kind of protest goes further back still. 


“Lou Moore, a history professor at Grand Valley State University, said that Kaepernick has helped revive and galvanize a tradition of athlete activism that peaked in the 1960s when Muhammad Ali refused to fight in the Vietnam War and American track athletes John Carlos and Tommie Smith gave black power salutes on the podium at the 1968 Summer Olympics.

That tradition largely went dormant in the 1980s and 1990s – in part because Ali, Carlos and Smith lost work and endorsement opportunities for their actions, and in part because many athletes followed the smiling, stick-to-sports examples of superstar pitchmen OJ Simpson and Michael Jordan, who embodied an anodyne ethos reflected in Jordan’s (possibly apocryphal) proclamation that “Republicans buy sneakers, too”.”


Within no time after the death of George Floyd, talk of institutional racism was everywhere. And her’s a little something on that topic:- 


“Institutional racism was a phrase coined in the 1960s by civil rights organiser Stokely Carmichael (also known as Kwame Ture) to illustrate how racism was more about institutional power than individual prejudice. Carmichael stated that “if a white man wants to lynch me, that’s his problem. If he’s got the power to lynch me, that’s my problem.” Racism was not about what you wanted to do, but about what you could do and who you could do it to. What will the institutions of society – the police, the courts, the prison system – allow particular classes of people to endure? Racism was a question of which lives mattered to the state.”


The repercussions into people’s everyday lives have been numerous too. There have always been instances of people being afraid of black people doing things that white people do all the time, such as bird-watching, as in another article I read:-


On Monday a black birdwatcher confronted a woman whose dog was not on a lead, something the park notices demanded. She threatened to call the police on the grounds that an African American man hiding in the bushes was threatening her. He told her to go ahead. The police came. Nobody was arrested. It was just an argument between park users. But the black “twitcher” had videos the whole thing on his phone. His sister posted the video to Twitter and it was viewed more than 20 million times. There was, almost inevitably, a fierce backlash on social media. Franklin Leonard, a film executive and founder of The Black List, which ranks the most popular screenplays of the year that Hollywood fails to turn into films, saw racial bias at work. 


“How many times has Amy Cooper said behind closed doors that a black co-worker ‘wasn’t a team player, ‘isn’t one of us, ‘made her uncomfortable’,” he asked. “How many times has she just not been able to put her finger on it, but just doesn’t think they’re the right candidate for the job?”


As a consequence of this, the event came to the attention of the woman’s employers who put her on administrative leave. By Tuesday she had been fired. The investment firm Franklin Templeton tweeted: 


“Following our internal review of the incident in Central Park yesterday, we have made the decision to terminate the employee involved, effective immediately. We do not tolerate racism of any kind at Franklin Templeton.”


Now, I don’t know if the lady in question is seriously racist or if she was just frightened in the park. If she was frightened, of course, that in itself suggests prejudice. And, of course, her calling the police was an over-reaction but surely it has  nothing to do with her employers, especially if she has not done anything racist at work. There seems to be over-reaction in all sorts of places.


Meanwhile, there are going to be vigils all over the place to mark the one-year anniversary of the death of George Floyd. The Guardian wants to hear from people who are attending such vigils, asking why they are attending, what the anniversary means to them. A bit more journalism.


Life goes on. Stay safe and well, everyone!

Monday, 24 May 2021

Rants about weather. Significant birthdays. Music.

It was fine and sunny when I went out running this morning. My garden looked quite nice in the sunshine, not yet up to its full wild glory but coming on nicely. Not long after I got back I took a look at Facebook and found my Italian friend having a bit of a rant about English weather: basically “It’s nice and warm and sunny in my garden now but rainstorms are forecast for 11 o’ clock. How can we stand it? I’ll post more at 11.00”. All this in italian of course.


I’ve just checked, and yes, she has posted a further video of the rain in her garden. That was at about midday, I suppose. The rain had not yet arrived here, which is surprising as we are rather closer to the Pennines and usually have worse weather than South Manchester. So it goes!


I must say I am always impressed by her ability to do lengthy “live” posts, which are usually amusing. Some people are just good at IT and social media!


And her rant just shows the advantages of getting up and about early in the morning - often the best part of the day. 


Today is Bob Dylan’s birthday, his 80th birthday. There have been interesting radio programmes about his career in music. Here’s a link to various famous people saying which are their favourite Dylan songs. Interesting tales. It’s a shame his voice got lost somewhere along the way. It’s also rather a shame I never got to see him live before his voice disappeared. 


Yesterday we had the family round for a meal, which was very pleasant. At some point in the afternoon our 18 year old granddaughter asked, “What is Grandad listening to? That doesn’t sound like his stuff.” Grandad was in the study working away at a translation and incidentally listening to this Youtube clip of Prince, Tom Petty, Dhani Harrison and others playing “While my  guitar gently weeps”. 


So we made her listen to it properly. She was only moderately impressed. I’m still not sure what she expected her grandfather to be listening to. Her older sister would almost certainly have recognised the recording and not been at all surprised to find her grandfather listening to it. Somehow we have instilled a love of “our” music in the older granddaughter - she knows the words to any amount of Simon and Garfunkel songs  and has Joni Mitchell in her list of favourite singers - which we haven’t managed to do in her younger sister. Odd!


On the BBC radio news they continue to go on and on about the Martin Bashir interview with Princess Diana. It’s beginning to look a little as though the BBC does protest too much. Are they desperately trying to prove their loyalty to the royal family in this strange way.


Life goes on. Stay safe and well, everyone!

Sunday, 23 May 2021

That’s Eurovision over and done with. Cancel culture. Lifting restrictions.

It seems that Italy won the Eurovision Song Contest and It seems that Italy won the Eurovision Song Contest and by a big margin! My Italian friends are very happy about this. All they need now is permission to travel so they can visit their family in Italy again. 


My German friend is feeling aggrieved because she won’t be able to visit her ageing mother without going into quarantine when she gets there. In addition, flights she books to Hamburg keep,being cancelled. Life is complicated., 


Looking at Eurovision again, the UK apparently scored a massive 0, no points at all! Surely somebody might have taken pity on us. There are suggestions that this might be something political. The rest of Europe has ganged up against us. Now, why would anyone think that.


I cannot comment on our entry, never having heard it.


We listened to Alexei Sayle’s choice of music on Desert Island Discs this morning. It was almost a matter of principle to do so as there have been suggestions that he should be “cancelled”, partly I gather for saying that Jeremy Corbyn is not an anti-semite. But we enjoy listening to Alexei Sayle anyway, so it was no hardship. However, like Michael Rosen, Alexei Sayle seems to be the “wrong kind of Jew” for some people!


I don’t like this increasing cancel-culture. Since when has it been so hard to accept that we can’t agree with everything everybody thinks?  If you don’t want to hear someone’s views, you don’t need to go to the speeches they might be giving. And if you want to argue against them, there are ways to do so. I think this is what they call free speech! 


Speaking of which, here’s a little more Michael Rosen:


“Dear Dominic

Did you see I've OK'd the Covid inquiry? You'd better work out how you're going to tackle the rumour that was in the press that claimed  you said, 'if some pensioners die, too bad' or some such. I'm working on my 'bodies piling up' gag. 

Alibi ad lib

Boris”


I see that Priti Patel is busily denying that the government was ever in favour of a herd-immunity policy regarding Covid. No doubt somebody, other than Cummings, can find some evidence about this.


Meanwhile we continue our own quiet lifting of restrictions. Our daughter and family are coming round later today for a family meal - the first time since Christmas we have sat round a table together. Yesterday, my 18 year old granddaughter decided that as she has tested negative for the virus and as I have had two doses of the vaccine, it was relatively safe for her to hug me. She asked her small sister if she was also going to hug grandma. The four year old looked us all up and down, shrugged and said  no. The explanation: “I don’t like old hugs!” There you go!


I spoke to our son briefly this morning. He wants to know if and when we have plans to travel south and visit them. Maybe it’s time to venture onto trains again. We need to make plans. 


Life goes on. Stay safe and well, everyone! by a big margin! My Italian friends are very happy about this. All they need now is permission to travel so they can visit their family in Italy again. 


My German friend is feeling aggrieved because she won’t be able to visit her ageing mother without going into quarantine when she gets there. In addition, flights she books to Hamburg keep,being cancelled. Life is complicated., 


Looking at Eurovision again, the UK apparently scored a massive 0, no points at all! Surely somebody might have taken pity on us. There are suggestions that this might be something political. The rest of Europe has ganged up against us. Now, why would anyone think that.


I cannot comment on our entry, never having heard it.


We listened to Alexei Sayle’s choice of music on Desert Island Discs this morning. It was almost a matter of principle to do so as there have been suggestions that he should be “cancelled”, partly I gather for saying that Jeremy Corbyn is not an anti-semite. But we enjoy listening to Alexei Sayle anyway, so it was no hardship. However, like Michael Rosen, Alexei Sayle seems to be the “wrong kind of Jew” for some people!


I don’t like this increasing cancel-culture. Since when has it been so hard to accept that we can’t agree with everything everybody thinks?  If you don’t want to hear someone’s views, you don’t need to go to the speeches they might be giving. And if you want to argue against them, there are ways to do so. I think this is what they call free speech! 


Speaking of which, here’s a little more Michael Rosen:


“Dear Dominic

Did you see I've OK'd the Covid inquiry? You'd better work out how you're going to tackle the rumour that was in the press that claimed  you said, 'if some pensioners die, too bad' or some such. I'm working on my 'bodies piling up' gag. 

Alibi ad lib

Boris”


I see that Priti Patel is busily denying that the government was ever in favour of a herd-immunity policy regarding Covid. No doubt somebody, other than Cummings, can find some evidence about this.


Meanwhile we continue our own quiet lifting of restrictions. Our daughter and family are coming round later today for a family meal - the first time since Christmas we have sat round a table together. Yesterday, my 18 year old granddaughter decided that as she has tested negative for the virus and as I have had two doses of the vaccine, it was relatively safe for her to hug me. She asked her small sister if she was also going to hug grandma. The four year old looked us all up and down, shrugged and said  no. The explanation: “I don’t like old hugs!” There you go!


I spoke to our son briefly this morning. He wants to know if and when we have plans to travel south and visit them. Maybe it’s time to venture onto trains again. We need to make plans. 


Life goes on. Stay safe and well, everyone!