Thursday, 30 June 2022

Some thoughts about the NHS, corruption, defence spending and Net Zero.

Two years ago, in the midst of the pandemic lockdown our small grandson (u months old at the time) was taken very ill with a mystery ailment, something they thought might be a post covid thing and then decided was something akin to Kawasaki disease. He ended up in Manchester children’s hospital where they tried a range of treatments and eventually decided he was well enough to go home. Traumatic for the whole family.

This week our daughter took him for a check-up and heart scan at the children’s hospital. The doctor who had given him his first heart scan when he was a tiny helpless little bundle came specially to see how the little chap was doing. He has done this every time they have taken the little one for a check-up. Possibly a bit of professional interest, but also a lot of human interest. That’s what medical attention should be like. That’s what the National Health Service should be like. It was a bit like going back in time to a kinder period in our history, when general practitioners did home visits. Our hospitals should be fully staffed so that all doctors can take that kind of interest in their patients. 

Instead it seems that privatisation by stealth is underway. And even private practice is having difficulties. A friend of mine needs a hip replacement. She could have to wait eight months under the NHS but even if she decides to pay for private treatment she will to wait about four months.  Nothing to do with Brexit, of course!

The little chap, by the way, proudly told the specialist, “I have a big strong heart”. And certainly, to see him rampage round the local park this morning you would never think there had ever been anything wrong with him. He doesn’t need to go for another check-up for two years now. 

Money and possible corruption go together to make good copy. The royal family has been in the news again with stories of Prince Charles accepting large gifts of cash from dubious sources. Now his people are explaining that it was all sort of above board and that it all went into his charity organisations. I’m pretty sure HRH did not pocket any of it - at least I hope not! But surely it would have been possible to make an announcement at the time instead of hoping it would all go unnoticed. As it did for several years. A sort of open book policy would be a good idea. But now they say it won’t happen again! I should think not. Her Majesty must be spitting feathers again! 

There’s going to have to be a formal inquiry too into the charity set up by Captain Sir Tom Moore’s family. There he was, a grand old gent walking up and down his drive and having sponsorship money pouring in to help out the NHS.  What a fine upstanding man, even if he needed his walking frame to keep him upright! But now it seems that Captain Tom’s daughter, Hannah Ingram-Moore, and her husband, Colin, may have profited by trademarking the “Captain Tom” brand. And the Charity Commission revealed that it had stepped in last year to prevent Hannah Ingram-Moore, a trustee of the charity, from being appointed as its chief executive on a six-figure salary. Oh dear! He must be spinning in his grave. 

I still find greed quite incomprehensible. Why does anyone need a six-figure salary? There are surely only so many things a person can buy!

Today I heard in the news that our government wants to step up defence spending. We need more soldiers and sailors and airmen. A defence spokesman explained how good it will be for the country: the new recruits will receive training, many of them will turn into entrepreneurs later in life and the arms industry is good for all of us! Hmm!

In the meantime, we still need to work on achieving Net Zero, but American courts say Biden does not have the power to tell governors of states to reduce their toxic emissions! Mixed up thinking! 

That’s enough for today.

Life goes on. Stay safe and well, everyone! 

Wednesday, 29 June 2022

The state of things here and in the wider world!

It rained copiously in the night! It woke me up at one point. Yesterday Phil and I walked along a very dry Donkey Line. Today I cycled along it through re-established mud-puddles. It must have rained even more than I thought as the very few drizzly showers we have had recently made little impression on the surface water. 

I was in Uppermill this morning not long after nine. It was very quiet. It’s perhaps extra quiet as the 350 bus service is not running through Uppermill village centre at present because of roadworks on the Delph-Dobcross road. The 350 does a detour that misses out Uppermill altogether. The only public transport covering the Delph-Uppermill section is the 356 which goes from Ashton bus station to Delph bus station via a couple of out of the way estates in Ashton, then through Greenfield, Uppermill, Diggle, Dobcross and Delph, going an even longer way than usual to get to Delph in order to avoid the roadworks. After Delph it goes through Denshaw, Moorside and the Sholver housing estate before finally heading into Oldham centre. The whole route must take over two hours!! 

In Uppermill the young woman who sells the Big Issue told me she had seen almost nobody. “I don’t even have a pound in my pocket!” she told me. After I had been in the coop and had some change I gave her a pound to put in her pocket. At least it wasn’t raining on her although the sky looked very full. Amazingly the rain has managed to stay away all morning. There’s even blue sky - quite a lot of it!

They were setting up traffic lights for roadworks in the centre of Uppermill. The lady who runs the deli suggested that the various organisations who need to close and dig up the road should coordinate with each other to minimise the need to dig it up. It seems very wasteful that a hole is drilled and dug in more or less the same place several times a year and then needs covering with fresh tarmac. I suppose it keeps the tarmac people in business. 

 As I was leaving Uppermill they were beginning to drill the tarmac prior to digging a hole. The peace was shattered!

In the wider world, President Biden plans to send more troops to Europe. NATO appears to be about to expand. It is being said that a lasting peace can only be established if Russia is pushed out of Ukraine and tried for warcrimes. Zelenskyy says he wants the war ended before this year is over. Somehow I don’t see a rapid solution.

We’re not doing well on the global warming front either. Our goal of reaching net zero soon, by 2050 I think, seems to be disappearing. We should have started being energy-efficient long ago. Not to mention insulating our homes.,

All in all, we’re not doing very well. 

And then there’s the rumbling abortion debate. 

There’s the story Andrea Prudente on holiday in Malta, on what she and her husband called  a “babymoon” to celebrate a much wanted pregnancy. In Malta she began to miscarry and the Maltese health people refused to help because the baby’s heart was still beating. Abortion is forbidden in Malta under any circumstances. American Andrea Prudente had the right kind of insurance to enable her to be airlifted to another country for medical treatment. Others in her situation in Malta have to wait until the baby’s heart stops beating, risking haemorrhaging, before any medical intervention can take place. 

Before we get too complacent about how free-thinking we are here in the UK there are things we need to remember. In Scotland it seems they need to put safety zones around clinics that perform abortions so that anti-abortion activists don’t harass patients.  And MP Stella Creasy wants to add the right to freedom of choice on abortion to be included in the British Bill of Rights: “Most women in the UK do not realise abortion is not a right but there is only a law giving exemption from prosecution in certain circumstances,” she said. “What the US teaches us is that we cannot be complacent about entrenching those rights in law.”

America, of course, is in a state of turmoil as individual states decide which way to go. Pro-choice people protesting against the decision to overturn Roe v Wade are being attacked by anti-abortion people. Police are reacting with violence. And even more frightening things are happening, like this: 

“A pickup truck ploughed through protesters in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, hospitalizing one woman. The Cedar Rapids police department declined to comment on the incident. The state recently passed a law making it legal for drivers to,hit protestors to with vehicles in certain circumstances. Other states in the US have passed similar laws.”

Another odd report I came across was about period-tracking apps. I didn’t know such apps existed but I’m not surprised. After all my Fitbit keeps asking me to track how much water I drink and what food I consume. Apparently almost a third of American women use such apps. They have helped make women’s lives easier in many ways, from family planning and detecting early signs of health issues to choosing the perfect time for a holiday. I can understand that. And now it appears that many women have recently deleted these apps from their phones, amid fears the data collected by the apps could be used against them in future criminal cases in states where abortion has become illegal.

Oh boy! Dystopia, here we come. 

Life goes on. Stay safe and well, everyone!

Tuesday, 28 June 2022

Ironic internet problems.

After a very inauspicious start Monday’s weather improved considerably. First of all the drizzle dried up. Then by the time I had finished my Italian zoom conversation class the sun had actually come out. We went out for a walk up the hill in the late afternoon.

We took our waterproofs just in case and as we set off Phil picked up the secateurs. Last year, or maybe the year before, noticing that lots of brambles hanging over stone wall were just the right height to scratch our small granddaughter, he got into the habit of taking the secateurs in his pocket and removing any offending spiky growth along our way. Then there were the nettles, which grow in profusion around here. Certain trees also got the treatment. The small girl isn’t with us on walks quite so,often now as she has started school but the habit continues.

Recently we have set off walking several times only to realise a couple of hundred yards down the road that we have forgotten the secateurs. I have seen evidence when I have been out running though that someone else must have the same idea. Undergrowth that impedes progress along the footpaths has often been neatly cut back, not just snapped off. 

Anyway, on Monday, in the late afternoon, we set off up the hill snipping and snapping - Phil snipping brambles and nettles and rowan tree branches and hawthorn bushes and me snapping pictures of impressive skies and fine upstanding foxgloves. There has been a very good crop of foxgloves this year!

Back at the house, as I pulled the blue recycling bin (paper and cardboard) up to the gate ready for Tuesday morning, Phil decided to have a go at the rose bush by the front door. As a rule that bit of the garden is my preserve. Phil does the grass-cutting and strims the edges and I keep the little front garden patch more or less under control.  But on this occasion he decided that as he had the secateurs to hand, as it were,  he would take a look at the rose bush, which hides the broadband cable.

Now, every time I have taken secateurs or shears into the front garden patch he has officiously reminded me to be careful of the broadband cable. Of course! But it’s very close to the wall, doesn’t tangle with the rose bush and I’m always super careful. The shears never go near that bit of the flowerbeds. They are reserved for keeping the central bush under control so that it take over the whole patch. 

Now that the aquilegia flowers have largely gone to seed the patch has admittedly been looking a bit scruffy. The roses, however, have been excellent this year. Maybe the fairly radical pruning I gave them last autumn spurred them on to do better. I’ve been dead-heading them but, yes, they were getting a little straggly. I’ve been waiting for the right kind of weather, and a lull in my other activities, to get out there and scatter the aquilegia and poppy seed pods around ready for next year and generally tidy things up

So Phil was there, messing around the rose bush with secateurs. As I pulled the blue bin across the side garden I heard an “oh!”. I assumed he had chopped off a still nicely flowering bit of the rose bush by mistake. But no! The “oh!” was followed by, “I just cut the broadband cable”. I hoped he was joking. I went to look. Yes, indeed, he had cut the cable and quite close to the wall at that! 

I went indoors to get food ready. Phil punished the rose bush by cutting it right back! Before going to the kitchen I stopped to post some photos to Facebook. My phone helpfully informed me that the house internet connection appeared not to be working. Did I want to use my phone’s own connection? Yes please! 

In the meantime there was no broadband, no computer, no Netflix. It’s a good job the latest translation job had been completed and sent off. Phil spent rather a long time phoning BT and being passed from one department to another. They told him at last that they would send some kind of device to reconnect us and eventually an engineer to fix the cable. 

So we were up earlier than usual this morning to await delivery of the device. Still not there by late morning! But not long after I typed those last words there came a knock at door: an engineer! Such speedy service impressed me greatly!

Life goes on stay safe and well, everyone! 

Monday, 27 June 2022

Goodbye good weather. Thought about the G7 meeting. Some discussion about Brexit’s influence.

Well, that seems to be that! Summer appears to be over … or at least it’s been put on hold. 

We may not have had scorching temperatures but you can get used to it being pleasantly warm, even if a bit cloudy at times. You can appreciate being able to go for a stroll in the evening in a cardigan or light jacket. It’s nice to have the option to hang the washing on the line in the garden. It’s even more pleasant to sit in the garden with a cup of tea or coffee, or maybe a little glass of wine. And the last week or so has given us that. The smaller grandchildren have rampaged around the garden or played in one of those pop-up play tents - the ones that are the very devil to fold up and pit away at the end of the evening. Even Glastonbury has taken place mostly in sunshine and fair weather. No mud baths this year. 

But today I ran in the drizzle. And it was noticeably cooler than it has been. My weather app promises me “sunny intervals and a gentle breeze”. That’s the Delph weather app. The broader Oldham weather app on my phone offers me drizzle until mid-afternoon. But we’re at the Yorkshire end of Oldham; in fact some people still insist on remaining Yorkshire and sport a white rose on their gatepost. However, I have yet to see the “sunny intervals”. It’s mostly been drizzle, if not actual rain.

So there we are. From temperatures in the low to mid twenties we are now back to mid teens. But there are still bits of beauty around, 



even if the rose leaves are wet

and the orange blossom is seen against a grey sky. 


And there’s a young heron who visits one of the millponds and seems unfazed by people walking past and snapping his photo. 


Glastonbury went ahead, as I already said, without the mud wallows. It also went ahead without one of our favourites, Richard Thompson. He posted this message the other day:

“After managing to stay healthy and covid-free for the last two years, it finally hit me a couple of days ago. It is with deep regret that I have to cancel my performance at Glastonbury 2022. It is the high point of so many people’s calendars, and after so many cancellations recently, we were just getting back on track…hopefully, I’ll be there again soon. Have a wonderful festival!”

So it goes! Get well soon!

The G7 leaders have been meeting in Bavaria, promising more aid to Ukraine and mocking Putin. There were suggestions that the G7 leaders should have their pictures taken on horseback and maybe remove their shirts and show off their ‘pecs”. The prospect of seeing Boris Johnson without his shirt is not a pleasing one, to say the least. It is to be hoped that they were only joking. On the whole I would much rather see them discussing how to find a diplomatic way of ending the conflict rather than extending it. We have to wait and see how that goes.

Here is something from The London Economic:

“Labour tweeted out a message that read: “Under this Tory government,Britain’s growth has ground to a halt. And they are too distracted by their own failings to deal with it. Labour has a plan to tackle the cost of living crisis and build a stronger, more secure economy.”

Under the text was an image of the G7 countries that shows that the Uk will have the lowest growth next year.

But the elephant in the room was not addressed, so superstar scientist Brian Cox might have said what you are thinking?

He wrote: “The reason the UK will have the lowest growth in the G7 next year is Brexit. We’re not going to reverse the decline until we begin to remove the barriers – economic, social, scientific – that we chose to erect with the rest of our continent. That’s not rocket science. Just say it.””

Professor Cox went viral and stirred up a bit of discussion. 

A certain Rob Smith tweeted that “The electorate are bored with brexit.

To which Professor Cox replied: “Doesn't matter. That's like saying the passengers on the Titanic were bored of the iceberg.”

This prompted someone who posts as Serendipitous Shosh to comment: “I respect and adore Professor Cox even more now than I did before. 

Go on, @UKLabour. Go and follow the advice of one of the smartest people around. Alternatively, I dare you to defy his very simple yet 100% valid logic!!!!!!!!”

But most politicians and newsmen are still keeping quiet about Brexit. 

I suppose things could be worse … but then again things could be better.

Life goes on. Stay safe and well, everyone! 

Sunday, 26 June 2022

A bit of wind. Parliamentary ambitions. Brexit “benefits”. Concerts I’m not seeing.

The trees at the bottom of the garden are being blown around in a most spectacular fashion. My weather app promises ‘sunny intervals and a fresh breeze’. Well, the breeze is certainly fresh! It’s not a bad day though. Maybe we’ll go and investigate the forest path again, now that the bluebells are long gone. We shouldn’t get blown away there. 

“Trees at the bottom of the garden” - that sounds rather grand, doesn’t it? In fact the garden is quite small and would be even smaller if we and the next door neighbours decided to erect a fence between our respective bits of garden. 

On the radio news I heard talk of Boris Johnson’s aim to remain prime minister into the mid 2030s. Perhaps that explains why there were plans to build a tree house in the grounds of Chequers. Here’s a section of a report about it:

“Boris Johnson planned to build a £150,000 treehouse for his son at Chequers but was stopped when police raised security concerns, it has been reported.

The prime minister and his wife, Carrie Johnson, wanted to install the structure during autumn 2020, according to a report in The Times. But they were forced to scrap the plans for the treehouse – which would have been built using expensive bulletproof glass – due to concerns it would be visible from the roadside, it has been claimed.

It is understood there were discussions about the project being funded by David Brownlow, a Tory donor, and that designs had been prepared.

The proposals were cancelled after Johnson’s close protection officers raised security concerns. However, Downing Street sources claimed the prime minister was also warned about the optics of spending £150,000 on a treehouse.

It was far from certain whether permission would have been granted by the Chequers Trust, the body that runs the Buckinghamshire manor house, due to the number of protected trees surrounding Chequers.”

When I first saw this suggestion my reaction was that he and Mrs Johnson need to be reminded that this is not their “forever” home but clearly he has ambitions for that to be so. A Tory party spokesman said that Mr Johnson wants to continue doing good things for the country. This had me spluttering into my cup of tea as I tried to think of the good things: the rich have grown richer and the poor have grown poorer! It’s rather like looking for the benefits of Brexit, such as this one:

“On 23 June 2016, Geoffrey Betts, the managing director of a small office supplies business in Marlow, Buckinghamshire, had high hopes for his firm, and the British economy, when he voted for Brexit.

“I thought we would be like … ‘here we go, here we go. We are going to become the most competitive country in Europe and we are going to be encouraging business.’ Now I think: ‘What have we done?’”

His firm, Stewart Superior, has survived, but not without major restructuring and huge efforts to get around obstacles that Brexit has put in the way of the export side of the business.

In late 2020 Betts decided there was no option but to set up a depot inside the EU single market – in the Netherlands – at considerable expense, to avoid costly delays in transit, mountains of Brexit-related paperwork at the border, and VAT issues when sending goods to customers on the continent.”

For more details on that story, here’s a link

We watched a bit of Glastonbury last night, accidentally tuning in to the televising of Paul McCartney on the famous pyramid stage, but we didn’t keep going long enough to see the surprise appearance of Bruce Springsteen which we might have enjoyed seeing. The vastness of the crowds is astounding. I’m not sure I would enjoy being so packed in. I have though enjoyed open air concerts in Hyde Park in recent years. Tonight I won’t be seeing the Eagles or Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, two performances I would have liked to see. So it goes. 

Life goes on. Stay safe and well, everyone! 

Saturday, 25 June 2022

A bit of indignant spluttering about the overturning of Roe v Wade.

Just over fifty years ago I stood up in a teachers’ union meeting and made a speech arguing for a woman’s right choose to have an abortion. The meeting was one of the best attended we had had for a while. The agenda had, of course, gone out to schools in advance. The local primary school teachers had turned out in force, in numbers rarely seen at the time, to boo and hiss when I stood up to speak. I don’t think I could stereotype primary school teachers in the same way nowadays but this was the early 1970s. 

On last night’s TV news I saw footage of young women, still young enough to react to things by squealing with delight, jumping up and down and hugging each other, doing exactly that - squealing with delight, jumping up and down and hugging each other. They were well dressed, quite affluent-looking young women, clearly not homeless or worried about where their next meal was coming from. I assume they have all been able to complete their education, although I wonder what kind of education they have had. They were celebrating the overturning of Roe v Wade by the Supreme Court of the USA.

Some states of the USA had legislation waiting for that decision so that they could put it into force immediately and ban abortion from that point on. Others will follow suit, no doubt!

Apparently the constitution of the United States does not say anywhere that a woman has the right to choose to have an abortion. Therefore Roe v Wade was unconstitutional. The constitution does say that everyone has the right to bear arms. So it is perfectly fine to have an automatic weapon and shoot a bunch of school children. Unborn children seemingly deserve more protection than the already born!

Next under threat could be contraception and gay marriage - I bet they’re not protected by the constitution. What else? The right to travel to another state for a medical procedure? A woman’s right to have open a bank account, have a credit card, have a job without the permission of her husband or father? The age of consent?

It all sounds a little farfetched but most of us have seen the Handmaid’s Tale - some of us have read the book, long ago and again since the TV series came out - and a lot of their troubles began with women finding their bank accounts closed on them and their jobs disappearing! 

If those celebrating young women ever find themselves ‘in trouble’ (there’s a euphemism for us) no doubt a solution will be found. If they stand by their principles and have the resulting baby there will almost certainly be a supportive family to help them along, to ensure that there is childcare if they want to continue with their studies or their careers. They are not likely to find themselves going to food-banks and charity organisations to feed and clothe their babies. They will probably be able to afford the health care needed as well. 

Of course, I may be doing them an injustice. They may all be young women of modest means and deeply held religious beliefs.

It does seem to me though that throughout history so-called Christian organisations intended to “help” the poor have been austere at best and cruel at the worst. Think of workhouses, where elderly couples who had been married for donkeys’ years were separated in extreme old age, as described by Laurie Lee in Cider with Rosie. Think of the homes for unmarried mothers where the expectant mothers had to work, had their babies taken from them and in some cases remained locked up for the rest their lives. Think of the single mothers shunned by respectable society. All those things should be left in the past. 

I’m not going to write about the cost and difficulty of finding good child care. 

I’m not going write about families overwhelmed by the problems of feeding their children. 

I’m not going to write about abuse of unwanted children. 

And I’m not going to rant about a return to back-street abortions. 

All I’ll say on that last is that you can’t actually ban abortion, only safe abortion. 

That’s it.

Life goes on. Stay safe and well, everyone! 

Friday, 24 June 2022

Election results. Remembering the Brexit referendum. Marie Antoinette syndrome. Work experience.

Well, the Conservatives have lost the two by-elections held yesterday. Mr Johnson seems unperturbed by the losses and says he will “keep going”, even though former Tory leader Michael Howard says he should resign and despite the resignation of Oliver Dowden, Tory party co-chair. We’ll see how things turn out. All in good time, I suppose! 

However, judging by the poor turnout at Wakefield (I had emails from the Labour Party in the weeks leasing up to the by-election asking if I was willing to go canvassing there, presumably because their local people were unwilling to do so!!) I don’t think the result presages a Labour win if we had a full scale election now. 

It was amusing though to watch a Liberal Democrat and a Tory being interviewed at Tiverton on TV last night as the boxes of votes came in to be counted. As the Tory spoke of all the good things his party has done for the country the Liberal Democrat lady’s face was a picture as she restrained herself from interrupting! Neither managed to answer the question about what their respective parties need to do to improve but merely spouted standard policy lines!

Meanwhile, it’s six years since the Brexit referendum. Six years ago I posted a photo of the beach at Sanxenxo in Galicia, with the caption ‘I am still in Europe!’. If only things were that simple. Priti Patel has been publicly celebrating six years since what she described as a great moment for democracy! One such post showed her doing that Johnson thing, taking part in an activity she would never do in real life, in her case pretending to drive big red bus, emblazoned with ‘taking back control” - are we not a little out of control? I have no intention of adding that photo to my blog. It seems that she and Johnson like to be seen doing stunts like that. Wasn’t there also a photo-shot of Rishi Sunak serving burgers? Maybe they all suffer from a sort of Marie Antoinette syndrome, playing at being ordinary workers! 

There’s a bit of me that says that everyone, especially politicians, should spend a period of time earning their living doing one of those jobs that they’d never consider as a lifelong career. As a teenager I worked in a shoe-shop, experiencing the frustration of getting out five pairs of shoes for people to try on, only to have them walk out without purchasing anything, leaving the shoes for the shop assistants to tidy away. They were two sisters in their fifties working in the shop. It was all they had ever done! I was in the fortunate position of knowing that it was highly unlikely I would have to continue with that job for the rest of my life. Everyone should have that experience. 

Life goes on. Stay safe and well, everyone! 

Thursday, 23 June 2022

The Eve of St John. A bit of romantic stuff. Rpelrting strikes and the like.

 Tonight is St John’s Eve. In most part of Spain people will be lighting bonfires, and late leaping over bonfires - supposedly bringing good fortune - unless, of course, you have the misfortune to set your trousers on fire! People will also be eating sardines, unless they are too expensive this year.

When I first read Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s dream, I didn’t actually associate it with The Eve of St John but there it is. A long standing romantic tradition, 

The other thing you are supposed to do today is collect up certain herbs -any good Galician could tell you which - stand them in water overnight and get up at dawn tomorrow to wash your face in the water the herbs have stood in. It’s supposed to be good for your complexion. Personally I’ve always rejected the offer of using such water. I’ll stick to my normal routine. 

I’m pretty sure the bonfire jumping routine also involves finding out the initial of the person you will eventually marry. If you fiddle the number of times you leap over the bonfire, does the magic still work?

While we’re being a bit romantic, here’s something about the singer/songwriter Suzanne Vega: 

“2 songs... one guy...

Suzanne wrote "Gypsy" with her (then) 18 year old love in mind, which she met for the period of a summercamp stay in her native US... Years later, she wrote "In Liverpool", again with him in mind, as this was his home town... and put it on the classic 99.9° F album... He showed up in England at a concert in the 90's, with a bouquet of flowers, and through the magic that is internet, they now remain actively in contact... A beautiful story, she shares everytime she sings it. She also shared a pic of his grandson on her FB page. 

True love, eternal friendship, beautiful music and magnificent lyrics... Incredibly touching for the romantics at heart... 

We all need a true love story like this in our lives... 

This is Suzanne Vega”

In Argentina they have a romantic association with the footballer Diego Maradona. From being a beautiful boy, however, he became a physical wreck far too soon and died at the age of only sixty in 2020. Now it seems eight people involved in his medical care are being investigated for neglect and possible homicide. We need explanations when our heroes die.

In less romantic mood, rail strikes continue today. According to TV news everyone has been having difficulty getting their kids to school because of this strike. Really? In most parts of the country surely kids have gone to school,on the bus, or in the family car as usual. In London and the south east loads of students go to school by train and on the underground. Trams, however, have been running in Greater Manchester as normal as far as I know! News seems to be is London-centric and all the reporting is anti union. 

And finally someone called William Baldwin posted this  in a group on facebook:

“I heard an interesting theory that Johnson is trying to unravel the Northern Ireland Protocol he drafted because NI is the only area of the UK (apart from London) where the economy is growing because it is spared from the full impact of Brexit and it's now exposing the idiocy of leaving the EU.”

That sounds plausible. 

Life goes on. Stay safe and well, everyone!

Wednesday, 22 June 2022

Out adventuring in the sunshine.

Summer sostice! I think it was officially yesterday but today still feels like a good long day. I do appreciate these days that begin early and make the evening stretch out for ages! 

Today Phil and I went our separate ways - but only for the day, I hasten to add. He had arranged to go and see an old friend and play chess in the old friend’s garden. I had arranged to meet a different old friend and take her for a walk around Uppermill.

I was up and about before Phil was ready to go. Because of roadworks on the Delph - Dobcross road there are no buses to Uppermill. So I set off along the Donkey Line


through it’s tunnels




and onto the canal towpath at the Brownhill Visitor Centre.


I had decided to reduce my market visit to a minimum as I did not want to carry a load of stuff around with me. 


So I turned off the towpath abd  popped into the deli for olives and sundried tomatoes and picked up oaty biscuits from Jenny the cheese and biscuit lady. And that was that. 


Then I went along to the museum carpark to wait for Heidy. She had boasted that she would be there before me and would bring a book in case she had to wait. In the event her journey took her longer than planned. I snapped cherries on the tree by the carpark as I waited. Is harvest time approaching already?

I had watched optimists drive into the carpark and drive out again disappointed. So I was prepared to hop into Heidy’s car and direct her to some other parking place but when she arrived a place was miraculously available. 

First stop, find a loo - my mother always said you should have a preemptive pee before setting off on a hike. Public loos are in short supply these days but the Civic Centre has very clean loos. I can recommend them. 

This was on our route, as we were going up past the swimming baths and onto another bridle path that clearly used to be a railway line in the pre-Beeching era. 


From there we dropped back down, past some fine houses, to the Brownhill Visitor Centre - where the cafe was disappointingly closed - and had a sit down on the bench by the lock gate before following the canal back to Uppermill and beyond.

We finished off with coffee and cake in Uppermill centre. All good. 

Tomorrow looks like being another hot and sunny day. Maybe I’ll just let the little chap run around the garden instead of tackling the park. We shall see. 

Life goes on. Stay safe and well, everyone!

Tuesday, 21 June 2022

Aliens? Strikes? One way of tackling the economic crisis - a new version of levelling up?

In New Zealand they’ve been getting excited about a strange swirly phenomenon in the night sky.

Around 7.25pm on Sunday (dark there of course as it's winter in the southern hemisphere), Alasdair Burns, a stargazing guide on Stewart Island/Rakiura, received a text from a friend: go outside and look at the sky. “As soon as we actually went outside, it was very obvious what it was he was referring to,” Burns said.

“It looked like an enormous spiral galaxy, just hanging there in the sky, and slowly just drifting across,” He said. “Quite an eerie feeling.” He snapped a few images of the lights on long exposure, capturing the spiral from his phone. “We quickly banged on the doors of all our neighbours to get them out as well. And so there were about five of us, all out on our shared veranda looking up and just kind of, well, freaking out just a little bit.”

I love the fact that they went and told all the neighbours to come out and look too. 

Aliens? Apparently not.mScientists say it’s something to do with rockets launching satellites into space. 

“When the propellant is ejected out the back, you have what’s essentially water and carbon dioxide – that briefly forms a cloud in space that’s illuminated by the sun,” Prof Richard Easther, a physicist at Auckland University said. “The geometry of the satellite’s orbit and also the way that we’re sitting relative to the sun – that combination of things was just right to produce these completely wacky looking clouds that were visible from the South Island.”

There you go. There’s an explanation for almost everything. But we are all more than a little excited at the idea of strange phenomena in the sky. I remember long years ago a friend and I spent quite a bit of time trying to work out what might be causing the strange light we could see in the sky from the staffroom window. We would have been better employed getting on with our marking and report writing but there it is! 

Last night would have been a good time to see interesting things in the sky as it was so clear but there were only the usual stars - not even the moon which seems to be rising very late at the moment.

Back on earth we have the rail strikes, which fortunately are not affecting me at all. Rather concerning is the suggestion that agency staff should be used to drive the trains and man the signal boxes. Don’t these occupations need skill and at least a modicum of training. I’m rather surprised our Mr Johnson hasn’t had a go at driving a train himself. After all, he seems to relish those photo opportunities of himself as a man of action driving a tram or a digger! Just as I had that thought going through my head I came across one of Michael Rosen’s spoof Borisisms:

“Dear Mogg

We won't be put off by what these Communist train drivers say about our splendid agency men. Trains run in straight lines. All you have to do is press a button to make them go and another one to make them stop. I'm going to drive one. Hah! 

Nostradamus ignoramus


Great minds … and all that sort of thing!

As we continue to stagger through the economic crisis I read today that Rolls-Royce is going to give more than 14,000 staff a £2,000 payment to help them cope with the soaring cost of living, the first time the engineering firm has made such a move. This is not a pay rise although a pay rise is on the cards as well. No, this is just a one-off payment to help their workers deal with the current problem. They’re mot alone in this apparently: it turns out that Lloyds Bank will give more than 64,000 staff a similar one-off payment, this time £1,000 to help with rising living costs. The payment, due to be made in August, comes after a campaign by the Unite union. Who says unions don’t serve a useful purpose!?

Good for Rolls Royce and Lloyds Bank, say I. We need more big companies to follow suit.

Life goes on. Stay safe and well, everyone!