Monday, 28 February 2022

Living dangerously!

In a world where people find themselves in harm’s way through no fault of their own, through an accident of birth causing them to live in a particularly dangerous place, often a place that wasn’t dangerous when they were actually born there, I find it hard to understand why people deliberately put themselves on harm’s way, just for the fun of it. Well, just for the challenge of it, I suppose. But then, it’s not surprising that I don’t understand such people. After all, I was never a fan of roller coasters, even in my youth. Extremely tall and steep slides always seemed very daunting and possibly the height of my daring was going very high on a swing, but only risking jumping off when it had slowed down quite a bit. As for swinging standing up, well, that took a feat of willpower. 

You can’t swing standing up on modern swings though. The straight wooden swing seats have been replaced on all children’s playgrounds with thick rubber seats that grip the backside. Thoroughly uncomfortable they are too! I’ve tried them. And they are clearly designed to prevent swinging standing up. We live in a mixed-up age in that respect. On the one hand we have mountain bikes and skate boards and roller blades (all with safety equipment to accompany them - helmets, knee pad, elbow pads) and specialised parks filled with those curved ramps so that you (well, not me but young daredevils) can develop the skill of performing tricks which involve flipping over or changing direction in mid-air. On the other, children’s playgrounds are built to be as risk-free as possible. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing; very small children should not fall onto hard surfaces if it can be avoided. 

The above rant was provoked by a sort of review of the Banff Mountain Film Festival, which is touring the UK and Ireland apparently. It seems to be a festival of documentary films of people mountain-biking, solo climbing, precariously skiing in places where there is often very thin ice under the snow and other such extreme outdoor activities. I look at photos of a mountain biker carrying his bike up Dubh Slabs -great rocky outcroppings of granite in the mountains of the Isle of Skye - and then riding down said Slabs at great speed, and I ask myself, why? I have a feeling that if I were to watch some of the films my heart would be in my mouth all the way through. Watching downhill skiing and the ski jump is quite enough excitement for me, thank you very much!

The pursuit of danger does not seem to be limited by gender, which is good from a gender equality point of view, I suppose. At the Olympic Games, it was a young girl who hit the news with her exploits earning her a gold medal for skateboarding. One of Banff films is of a young woman climber, taking scary-looking leaps to reach a fingertip handhold! Another shows a young woman, Nepali climber Pasang Lhamu Sherpa Akita climbing the  6,440-metre Cholatse in the Everest region with her husband and … wait for it … her small son strapped to her back (the son, not the husband)!

When we venture out for walks around here, and indeed in other countries, we come across mountain-bikers in the most surprising places: on paths with rocks sticking up in such a way that you need to watch your feet, let along your wheels, on very narrow, steep paths, going down very abrupt inclines at a furious rate of knots ( a knot, by the way, is 1.852 kilometres). We also come across paths churned up by mountain bike tyres. I like my hybrid bike which I can use on rough tracks but I am quite staid in my choice of routes!

I suppose life would be very dull and boring if we all liked to get our thrills in exactly the same way. So it goes.

Life goes on. Stay safe and well, everyone. 

Sunday, 27 February 2022

Some thoughts about Ukraine. Life here by contrast. Odd conversations.

Two things from the group “Campaign to Rejoin the EU”:

From someone called Chris Edwards:

“Johnson does know a bit about the damage caused by sanctions having sanctioned his own country with Brexit. Whether Russian oligarchs will be unduly inconvenienced by the sanctions is not clear to me because the same oligarchs have access and are users of the global laundromat in London, the numerous crown and other offshore tax havens and an industry that supports and enables the very rich in dodging taxes and hiding money.”

And from someone called Dominik Ostrowski:

“I think, very shortly. there's going to be a Ukrainian Government-in-exile.

It's necessary so the Ukraine can continue to command its armed forces - and work with Western Governments.

I think it will probably be in Poland.

A pity the UK government is too inept, stupid and slow to site it here - because whomever hosts becomes influential on a world stage.

And gain the long-term gratitude of the Ukrainian people, leading to very significant economic benefits. Almost none of which will come to the UK.”

I hope it doesn’t come to a government in exile. Is it too much to hope for that the UN might call a ceasefire so that peace talks of some mind can be held before too many people and killed and too many buildings damaged?

Here today the world is remarkably peaceful with blue sky and sunshine. I even thought briefly about hanging washing out in the garden but then decided that I would only end up hanging it all indoors to finish off, which would meaning hanging it twice. I reckon “pegging out” can wait a few more weeks!

Our eldest granddaughter is 24 and, like so many of her generation, seems to comment non-stop on her life, even if only in a family group chat, via her mobile phone. At the moment she is out and about with her father, who quite often takes her off to garden centres and the like at weekends. The latest bit of communication went like this:

Granddaughter: Just seen a really weird duck. Long red legs, black and white body, long red beak. 

Granddaughter again: RSPB birdidentifier app says oystercatcher.

Me: I didn’t think there were any oysters for them to catch around here. 

Granddaughter: Apparently they’re moving inland due to a shortage of oysters and cockles at the coast; they now eat worms in grasslands. 

Me: Having tried oysters, I must say that worms sound like a good alternative. Oysters are disgusting and filthsome.

Granddaughter: ‘Worms are not that bad’, my dad. 

Daughter: Has he tried them?

Granddaughter: Yes, apparently. Fried or something.

Me: Someone has been watching to many survival challenge TV programmes.

Daughter: 🤮 

We usually have more serious chat conversations than that. We are not totally frivolous. In fact we often set the world to rights. And goodness knows, it needs setting to rights at present.

Life goes on. Stay safe and well, everyone! 

Saturday, 26 February 2022

Thinking about refugees.

How do you decide what to pack when you flee from your country? You’re almost certainly going to have to carry it yourself, so you can’t take everything. I watched footage on last night’s TV news of people leaving Ukraine, pulling little suitcases, the sort you can take onboard a plane as hand-luggage. How do you balance the practical - what will be the useful stuff to pack? - and the sentimental -what do I absolutely not want to leave behind because of all the memories attached? After all, there’s no guarantee you’ll come back to find your old home just as it was when you left. 

Poland is accepting refugees and is setting up settlement camps - even that sounds grim - how welcoming is a settlement camp? - and Germany is offering to help. 

Meanwhile in the UK, Nadia Whittome MP has tweeted this:


“The UK government has stopped accepting visa applications from all Ukrainians who do not have a close British family member living in Ukraine.

This will prevent Ukrainian refugees from coming to the UK, including those with family here. 

This is completely inhumane.”

It makes all the grand speeches about our sympathy, our thoughts and prayers going out to the people of Ukraine seem rather hollow. It’s probably in line with immigration policy though, at least  for those who can’t afford gold visas! Maybe the decision will be reversed. It’s not going to do much for the government’s reputation and popularity, after all.

There’s a well established Ukrainian community in Greater Manchester. Our friend Lawrence McGinty posted this background information:

“Ukrainians are recorded as first settling in Manchester in the late 19th and early 20th century.  Often referred to as the 'old immigrants', they lived mainly in the Red Bank area, off Cheetham Hill Road. After the Second World War, more Ukrainians, displaced persons and ex-POWs settled in Manchester.  By the late 1940s, it is thought that there were around 10,000 Ukrainians in and around Manchester.

The majority were Ukrainian Catholic. They first worshipped at Catholic churches, such as St. Chad's on Cheetham Hill Road.  In 1954, Father Djoba became parish priest at St Mary's Ukrainian (Uniate) Catholic Church, also known as Dormition of Our Lady.

The first Ukrainian social club opened at Brideoak Street, Cheetham Hill, around 1930.  Two other clubs were opened in Whalley Range in the late 1940s-early -50s, but these were closed in the 1990s. The current Ukrainian club/cultural centre on Smedley Lane, Cheetham Hill was opened in 1963 (I remember once climbing in through a toilet window, because I'd been turned away at the door for being too young - 14 trying to pass for 18). The club now includes a concert hall, restaurant, classrooms and a dance practice room. 

The Manchester Branch of the Association of Ukrainians in GB was established in 1949.  Soon there were Ukrainian choir and folk dance groups as well as organisations for Ukrainian women, youth and ex-servicemen. A Ukrainian Saturday School was founded in 1954, which has taught thousands of 2nd and 3rd generation Manchester Ukrainian children, and which still operates today as a supplementary school offering nursery, child and adult educational services.  The Smedley Lane club is also a venue for a pensioner’s lunch club, keep fit classes and is hired for christenings, birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, wakes, etc.

The Manchester Ukrainian song (Homin) and dance (Orlyk) ensembles are the longest established traditional Ukrainian folk groups in the UK. They promote Ukrainian song and dance not only in the North West, but nationally and internationally. They take part in festivals in Europe and America. Both groups have appeared at the International Eisteddfod at Llangollen and won first prizes in their categories. Amongst their many honours they've performed before the Royal Family, Pope John Paul II, Presidents, Ambassadors and many other dignitaries. The groups also returned to Ukraine in the early 1990s, where they had the honour of celebrating Ukraine's independence from the former Soviet Union.”

Those people will have relatives in Ukraine. They will want to welcome them here. 

Also meanwhile, the president of Lithuania, Gitanas Nausėda, is the latest European leader to ask Russian people to stop the war saying: “Even though much evil has been committed, it’s not too late to stop all of this.”

He said: “I appeal to you mothers of soldiers who are sent to die in Ukraine. I appeal to you soldiers who are fighting a war for who knows why.

“What is the meaning of this war? Only because someone is sitting at a table, drew a piece of land on the map, that he wants to take away?

“A piece of land that never belonged to him. Does not belong to him. And will never belong to him.

“It’s terrifying to see what is going on. It’s terrifying to see women and children die. Churches are being destroyed. What are you fighting for? You are destroying what is sacred to all the Slavs. The cradle of Orthodoxy. Kiev Rus.

“Stop. Think about what you’re doing. About what your leaders are doing. It’s not too late, even though much evil has been committed, it’s not too late to stop all of this.”

How many problems have been caused by people drawing lines on maps?

Let’s hope a solution can be found before too much damage has been done.

Life goes on. Stay safe and well, everyone!

Friday, 25 February 2022

Thinking about being European and the interconnectedness of everything!

Surely the present moment is a time to be part of Europe? asks someone on a group called Campaign to rejoin the EU. I understand completely. 

Someone else posted this: 

“Me and my family live in Turin. At the weekend we're going to invade France. If it's nice, we might storm the beach. As EU citisens we can. We don't need guns. We can even stay, if we like it, and get a job there. A few French no doubt will invade Turin at the same time. The UK won't open up and share their territory because they want independence, the Russians force Ukraine to open up, without building trust, because they want dependence. Us Europeans understand the beauty of interdependence, where war is no longer necessary, because we form a happy community on one territory!”

With all the stuff that’s going on in Ukraine, and with pro-Brexit people still banging on about the wonders of “taking back control”, I decided to remind myself, and anyone else interested, about the origins of the EU, very nearly 65 years ago, before we called it the EU.

“On March 25, 1957, France, West Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg sign a treaty in Rome establishing the European Economic Community (EEC), also known as the Common Market. The EEC, which came into operation in January 1958, was a major step in Europe’s movement toward economic and political union.

By 1950, it was apparent that centuries of Western European world supremacy was at an end. The national markets of Europe, isolated from each other by archaic trade laws, were no match for the giant market enjoyed by the United States. And looming over Europe from the east was the Soviet Union, whose communist leaders commanded vast territory and economic resources under a single system. Many European leaders also feared the resumption of conflict between traditional European antagonists such as France and Germany, which would only diminish the European economies further.”

That’s my underlining of the bit about fearing the resumption of conflict. I used to teach this stuff to A-Level Modern Languages students in sixth form. When the referendum came along and some people started talking about Europe telling us what to do, as if we were not actually part of Europe and part of the decision making process, I remembered the years without conflict and wanted to shout it out loud. Maybe I was naively idealistic!

Okay, Ukraine is not part of the EU and neither is Russia but we’re all interconnected. For one thing, Ukraine produces and exports an awful lot of wheat. The price of bread will surely rise. Revolutions have begun because of shortages of bread! All the countries of the world are more interconnected now than ever before. 

And already images are emerging of people fleeing Ukraine and of part of Ukrainian cities damaged by shelling. Are we going to see more people reduced to refugees and more beautiful places reduced to rubble?

And I am sorry we are no longer properly European to make a stand against all the madness. We need to get back to talking. 

“One day we will learn the lesson of peace, that war never solved any conflict in the long run; that in the victory the victor too is defeated;that in conquering others we diminish ourselves.” Rabbi Jonathan Sacks.  

Life goes on. Stay safe and well, everyone!

Thursday, 24 February 2022

Troubled times.

The weather forecast suggested snow for most of today. It was fine when I got up and so I organised myself and went for my usual run round the village - cold but dry, well mostly dry, but still rather wet underfoot. The swans were back at the millpond. There is no pattern to their coming and going as far as I can see but they are a graceful addition to the millpond. Also back was the cormorant, busily diving. Just when you think he must have got stuck down in the pondweed he pops us a few yards further over. 

At one point the sun came out. We’re approaching the end of February and the sun has some strength now. I swear the temperature must go up by several degrees when the sun comes out. I stood there for a few minutes, basking like a cat in the sunshine. I got home just in time. Five minutes later the hailstones started. Since then we have had a cycle of hail, snow, sun and cloud. And it remains cold. Time to extend hibernation, I think. 

On my way back I stopped to greet a neighbour’s dog, which was a mistake as I then had to listen to the neighbour ranting about Russian and  Ukraine and what a liar Putin is. I did point out that we too have a liar for a leader but the only Johnson lies he seems aware of are partygate lies. So it goes. We’ll have to wait and see how things go over there in Ukraine. It does not look good for anyone. Worrying times for us but frightening for the people involved in the conflict. 

According to news reports, ordinary people in Ukraine are being offered arms to defend themselves and their country. Scary stuff.

Over in the USA of course you don’t need the threat of invasion for people to be armed. And now in Tennessee they want to introduce legislation which would designate some gun owners as police, allowing civilians to carry firearms in locations usually reserved for law enforcement. Civilians could take an eight-hour handgun safety course and pay a §100 fee and so earn an enhanced handgun-carry permit. A separate law has already been passed allowing 18 year olds to apply for concealed-carry licences. Crazy people!

Shannon Watts, founder of the gun safety group Moms Demand Action, told the Guardian: “Encouraging people to arm themselves and play police puts everyone at risk while making the jobs of actual law enforcement much more difficult.”

She added: “Tennessee has the 14th highest rate of gun violence in the country, and lawmakers should be focused on passing policies that will actually make communities safer, not reckless bills like these.”

And here I am, worrying about insignificant stuff such as the weather!

On a more frivolous note, my number two granddaughter, the 18 year old, recounted a conversation she had with her small sister. The five year old had asked her what medieval times were. She explained that this was a time hundred and hundreds of years ago, to which she received the comment: “Oh, so when Grandma was a teeny, tiny baby!“ 

Hey, ho! Perhaps I will live for ever!

Life goes on. Stay safe and well, everyone!

Wednesday, 23 February 2022

Flooding. Roman partygate venue? Looking after the world.

Well, today has been rain-free so far, but my granddaughter assures me that a certain Storm Gladys is on her way. They promise us another wild and windy weekend! Gladys might, of course, fizzle out before she gets here. We shall see. Some people are flooded for the third time, which must be playing havoc with their insurance policies. But a problem has arisen: cricket pitches have been underwater. Some still are. Cricket clubs spend large amounts of money, it seems, maintaining their grounds, especially the ‘square’, which I assume is where the bowlers and batters do their business and wickets stand or fall.

Over in Didsbury they deliberately flooded a golf course, diverting water from the River Mersey to prevent it spilling over onto houses. How amazing is modern science that a system like that can be set up! Now they need the river to subside quite a lot more so that they can pump the water back into it.

The foul weather does not appear to have prevented archaeologists from working on Roman remains near London Bridge, judging by this report in yesterday’s paper.

I rather liked the opening paragraph of the report:  

“The largest expanse of Roman mosaic found in London for more than half a century has been unearthed at a site believed to have been a venue for high-ranking officials to lounge in while being served food and drink.”

Is this the Roman equivalent of the 10 Downing Street garden? I wonder. 

Will any of our artefacts last a long? No doubt serendipity has played a large part in preserving all the Roman stuff. If it had not been buried underground it would doubtless have been broken up and re-used long ago. I suppose we are now more conscious of the need to preserve stuff for posterity, deliberately putting examples of the everyday, including recordings of sounds and voices, into museums. We’ve been careless with all sorts of things, only now realising that early recordings of TV shows and the like should have been put away with care. As with so many things concerning the survival of society and of the very planet itself, let’s hope we’ve not left it too late. 

The radio news informs me that Ukraine has just declared a state of emergency. The madness continues. 

Life goes on. Stay safe and well, everyone!

Tuesday, 22 February 2022

Surface water. Snowdrops. Foodbanks. Ongoing problems,

The rain continued falling all night as far as I know. It was certainly battering the house when I woke this morning. 


I waited until it had stopped before venturing out. By midday we did have intermittent sunshine though. 

Rivulets, ponds and mini-waterfalls have appeared in unusual places but we seem to have escaped flooding, unlike other parts of the country.


My snowdrops are doing nicely though. The weather suits them fine. Mine are just ordinary snowdrops but apparently a chap who “breeds” snowdrops has just sold a new, rare bulb for £1,850. Its posh name is Galanthus plicatus but more commonly it is called Golden Tears. Rather like dogs at Crufts, they seem to have a show name and a family name. This is not the first time Mr Snowdrop (his professional name, I suppose) has sold a new bulb for for quite a lot of money. The last one, called Golden Fleece – which took 18 years to develop – sold for £1,390. As it takes so long to develop them, I assume he makes money in other ways too. Otherwise his hourly rate is very poor. Who knew that there were so many different kinds of snowdrop? I’m just happy that mine pop up year after year. The year we moved in to this house, they even survived having a builders’ skip parked on top of them!

Some of my Italian friends are getting into a bit of a lather about the queen testing positive for Covid. They’ll be even more stressed today as the 95 year old has decided not to have any zoom meetings! My friends say are not ready for Carlo and as for Camilla, they are a bit incensed. They’re much more royalist than I am. I want to say to them, “Chi se ne frega?” - Who gives a toss?

More important things are going on. People are having to go to food banks to have enough to feed their families - people with jobs! And according to this article some of the organisations running food banks are having problems because supermarkets have complicated systems for giving away their “own brand” foodstuffs. I think it comes from agreements (or not) with the companies who make the foodstuff, and I can understand that they want to keep up their good name. Food is being thrown away. But surely a list of acceptable recipients of spare food is not impossible to concoct. 

And now things are stirring further in the Ukraine. Oil and gas prices are going up further as a result. This will not help the families running short of money.

Life goes on. Stay safe and well, everyone!

Monday, 21 February 2022

Three storms done. More to come?

My eldest granddaughter has been complaining to us all about the fact that the weather kept her awake all night. In fact, she probably exaggerates, as most of us do when we feel we’ve not had enough sleep. She was probably woken a couple of times because of noisy high winds, not to mention rain and hail on the skylight windows. I have suggested that maybe she should sleep in the bedroom on the first floor - smaller but quieter in stormy weather. This idea has been pooh poohed! As expected!

The weather is in fact quieter this morning - the various coloured warnings about Storm Franklin were due to expire at 7.00 this morning - but still rather windy. On the most exposed bit of my regular running route, where the road goes past the cricket club, I was hit by a fierce sidewind, adding an extra bit of exercise into the run, fighting not to be blown into the road. But at least I didn’t get rained on and the sun was even trying hard to get through the clouds at some points. 

The River Tame is very full as it goes through the village but there seems to be no flooding … yet. 

Social media has been having fun at the expense of Neil Oliver and George Galloway because of their comments on the weather. (I had no idea who Neil Oliver is and had to look him up - a Scottish television presenter and author.) It seems that both of them have been approaching storms in the same frame of mind as some people have had towards Covid restriction: basically something the strong should be able to ignore! 

Neil Oliver tweeted: “I see the weather is the latest thing we’re being advised to give in to without so much as a sigh.”

And one person who supported him was politician and broadcaster George Galloway: “We’re out and about Eunice. Because we live in Britain. Because we have children to take to school, business to attend to, work to do. And because our parents faced the Blitz.”

The fact is that many schools closed early for the half term holiday so that parents did not have to send or accompany their children there in extreme conditions and that during the Blitz people didn’t generally go around ignoring air raid warnings just because they had free will. This was disregarded by both of Neil Oliver and George Galloway.

Here is a selection of reactions on the twitterfeed to their bravado:


“I, Neil Oliver. here and now CHALLENGE Hurricane Eunice to a fist fight on the 2nd floor of the Dundasvale Car Park, Glasgow G4. FREEDOM WILL BE DEFENDED."


“Get out there Neil, don’t let them tell you that you can’t Run Like the Wind, total woke mob - pull on your anorak and go whistle down the wind my friend - how dare they tell you to take cover woke wind brigade”


“Feel free to have a wander round the top of Ben Nevis in flip-flops & a Speedo just to show the weather who's boss, big man.”


“Idea for a TV show: Neil Oliver in a coracle in the middle of the Atlantic, fighting a storm with medieval swords and crossbows.”

Meanwhile all the various storms - meteorological, military and royal family - seem to have successfully drawn attention away from other problems Mr Johnson has been having. Is he hoping Partygate is over now? 

But according to the Huffington Post things might be going pear-shaped for him once again, just as he plans to set us all free from restrictions, as Michael Rosen puts it:

“Dear Mogg, Spread the word: I am the bearer of great gifts: the right of every true born Englishman- freedom. Thanks to my pioneer work as the great vaccinator, today I release the population from its shackles just as Perseus released Medusa from hers.

Testiculi mendacius 


According to HuffPost new storm is brewing, very close to home:

“Chancellor Sunak and health secretary Javid are at loggerheads over plans to scale down the availability of free Covid tests.

Javid is thought to be demanding more money from the Treasury, but Sunak is resisting.

The bust-up is hugely embarrassing for the PM, who is due to make a statement to MPs in the Commons this afternoon, followed by a press conference in the evening.”

Oh dear, we’ll have to see how that goes. 

Here’s a little more kPM according to Michael Rosen’: 

“Dear Sajid

Can you confirm that you are holding Chris Whitty and Patrick Valance in the cellars under Trafalgar Square? Thing is, I may have to answer something about this in PMQs and I need to know the truth in order to avoid it. 

Veritas in anus


“Dear Mogg, If my old pal Putin pulls back from the brink, I need you to concoct a tale of how it’s all thanks to me. I was thinking of something along the lines of the Colossus of Roads halts the Bear in its tracks. 

Epic perjurio 


But it’s not all bad news. At least the curling ladies saved our bacon at the Winter Olympics by pulling pit all the stops, sweeping that ice and winning us GB our one and only gold medal. The curling men had managed silver but girl power proved superior … even if only at a seriously weird and strange sport.

Life goes on. Stay safe and well, everyone. 

Sunday, 20 February 2022

Things going in threes. Attempts to control language.

One of my granddaughters, clearly trying to cheer us all up (!) tells me that Storm Franklin in on its way. That’s three storms on the run! Just a little excessive! 

In parallel, journalist Andrew Rawnsley tells us, “Britain has had royal, political and policing scandals before, but never all three at once.”

There you go. My mother always used to say that things go in threes! 

And for those who are interested, the news is just out that the queen has tested positive for Covid. It was the first item on the one o’ clock news on the radio. In line with latest guidelines she is going to continue with light duties. What are things coming to when a 95 (96?) year old has to continue working? Maybe they’re going from the sympathy vote to draw our attention away from scandals.

Latest guidelines are being reviewed even as I write. Our leader will address the nation tomorrow. Meanwhile I have made a mental note to pick up more lateral flow tests before they start charging us for them.

As regards the weather, I listened to the rain hammering down this morning, re-set my alarm for rather later, turned over and went back to sleep! The day has not improved since then. I don’t think I’ll be going anywhere. 

On the food programme just now they have been talking about coffee. Apparently caffeine can protect us against cancer. Who knew? They were hunting for a particular type of coffee plant that had more or less disappeared. Having located it, they made just enough coffee for a group of tasters to slurp. It was deemed good and tasty. Now they want to cultivate some more and introduce it to a wider public. We shall see. 

One of the researchers put himself on a caffeine free diet - cold turkey - as part of his project to see how coffee affects us. He declares all coffee drinkers addicted and recommends a period of abstinence so that you can enjoy your coffee-hit when you start to drink it again. I once had a colleague who used to do the same with alcohol!

Back in 2017 it seems there was a petition to the UK Parliament which asked to “remove all French words from the cover of new British passports”.

This is what it said: The [UK’s] vote to leave the EU means people voted to Take Back Control. Control of their borders, their culture and their language.

“Whether ‘Dieu et mon droit’ and ‘Honi qui mal y pense’ have existed as mottos in England for ages is irrelevant.

“French is an EU language and has no place on a UK passport.”

However, the wording of the petition page consisted almost entirely of words of French or Norman origin… it’s hard to speak nothing but ancient Anglo-Saxon. It really came to nothing as far as I know.

Now Marine Le Pen is making similar demands about French. Presumably as part of her bid to become president of France, she has said that France should “save” its national language by banning “foreign languages in advertising and communication”. That will be hard but she’ll have a go if the French vote for her. Of course, it’s not just language that bothers her but the country being “invaded” by other cultures. “In certain districts it is not only another France which is settling in, with its own laws, its own customs, its own mores, it is also another language,” she noted.

She has come in for some fun-poking as a result of this, with suggestions that she needs to change her name from Le Pen to Le Stylo. Indeed!

Life goes on. Stay safe and well, everyone! 

Saturday, 19 February 2022

Saturday ramblings.

Once again this morning I woke up to relative calm, after having heard quite a bit of rain and hail during the night. The sky was relatively clear but I remembered yesterday’s experience and when I set off to run Input on a better waterproof than yesterday’s flimsy affair. This was just as well, for the promised snow proceeded to fall when I was half way round the village. It was thin sleety stuff and the ground was really too wet for it to stick. Nonetheless, it WAS snow, as promised by the weathermen. 

Yesterday evening my eldest granddaughter sent me a message: “Trees have fallen in Delph. No evening walks, Grandma!” Well, I wasn’t planning any evening walks but this morning there were no fallen trees on my route! They must have been in a different bit of Delph.

Despite the forecast inclement weather, my daughter proposed an expedition, but only to IKEA, so hardly demanding too much cold weather gear. So late in the morning I hopped on a bus so that I could meet her at IKEA. My bus was on time but further along the route, in the section that has buses every 15 minutes, rather every 30 minutes as on our bit of the route, people got on grumbling that at least 2 buses had failed to turn up. They had been waiting for almost three quarters of an hour, not pleasant in sleety, cold conditions. One lady gave me most of her life story, beginning with the rheumatoid arthritis she suffers from now and going back to her football-playing youth. I wonder if her football-playing youth had anything to do with her current condition. Most likely it was never having chance to get warm after her matches in those days when girls didn’t get to play much in town teams! 

The weather cleared up by the time I reached the bus station close to IKEA but it remained rather cold.  

I met my daughter and various offspring in the entrance to IKEA and we made our way round, with the smallest offspring setting up house in every display area - slow progress but good for their imagination! I was looking for lampshades, which I found on display only to discover they were out of stock. The same happened to a few items my daughter was looking for. Most annoying! I wonder if there are supply problems!

Here’s an item from 2019 which someone has posted on social media:

“A British woman has complained that her Spanish holiday was ruined by, er, too many Spanish people.

81-year-old Freda Jacksonsaid she was left in tears because of ‘rude’ Spanish guests and said entertainment and food catered only for the Spaniards.

“The hotel was full of Spanish holidaymakers and they really got on our nerves because they were just so rude.

“The entertainment in the hotel was all focused and catered for the Spanish – why can’t the Spanish go somewhere else for their holidays?”

It wasn’t all Freda had to say. She has mobility issues and was originally put on the 14th floor before being moved to the second floor, but still had 42 steps to get to the pool.”

I suppose at 81 she might be forgiven for being a little intolerant but I wonder if she ever thinks of foreign visitors who come to the UK and find that we only speak English for the most part. 

I was reminded of the members of the Crosby Cross-Denominational Pilgrimage Society I met in Santiago de Compostela airport about 15 years ago. One of them complained to me about their hotel and told me that in the suggestions box in the foyer she had put her little idea: “Speak English!”

So it goes. 

Life goes on. Stay safe and well, everyone! 

Friday, 18 February 2022

Surviving Eunice!

On the whole I think we got off lightly from Storm Dudley’s visit, just a bit wet. So, hello Storm Eunice! You storms are coming along a little too frequently and certainly too close together! 

It seemed calm and quiet when I got up and prepared to run round the village. The sky was mostly blue with a fe clouds here and there but I put on my waterproof just in case! All was well until I reached the point where everything opens up near the cricket and bowling club, suddenly there was a side wind, pretty strong but not unmanageable! As I went down Hull Mill Lane, towards the old mill pond a bit of rain started. I decided to forego the path through the wooded valley bottom. It has rained so much lately that the puddles along the path have just joined up. So instead I ran through the housing estate as the rain decided to turn into hail, a host of sharp little ice balls that kept going until I got back home. 

By then I was nicely soaked but, hey!, a good warm shower was waiting for me. No problem!

Later in the morning, even though the rain and wind had gone up a gear, we ventured out to collect Phil’s new glasses from the optician’s in the town centre. I decided to take the opportunity to add to our old biddy bus passes the right to travel free on the trams. My records said I last did this in February of last year and I didn’t want to find myself having to pay full price on the trams because of a good forgettery. However, in the office at the bus station, laughingly called the Travel Shop, they told me that our passes were fine for the tram until the start of August. This is a covid benefit - they extended our tram passes! That’s what the Travel Shop told me. And there I was, thinking that not warning us when the £10 payment was due was a plot to trick us into having to pay for at least one tram ride! 

From the bus station I battled through the rain to the indoor market to buy light bulbs and then went and met Phil so that we could head for home. We opted to go back to the bus station to catch our bus. Two weeks back we spent about twenty minutes standing in the cold at the Mumps interchange waiting for a bus to come. It was just windy and cold that day but today it’s wet as well as windy. At least we would have shelter at the bus station. Or so we thought! All the doors have been removed, creating an open barn effect! A fellow sufferer explained to anyone interested that the doors have been removed because vandals kept breaking them. Maybe so!

It was cold but officially we only had a few minutes to wait. Those  minutes went by and no bus arrived. Another five, then ten went by and by now it was obvious our bus had been omitted! The next was twenty minutes away and we were getting colder by the minute. Fortunately our daughter had told us she was out and about having something done to her car and she was able to make a detour to pick us up. Hurrah!

And so we all came back to our house for coffee and toasted tea cakes. Then she went off to collect her five year old from school all of us vowing not to go out again today. 

And Storm Eunice is not even battering us as fiercely as she is attacking places in the south and west of the country. 

Life goes on. Stay safe and well, everyone!