Saturday, March 29, 2014

49 Today

I can't believe I'm 49 but a fact is a fact.

It was a really beautiful sunny day and we went up to Norfolk to see a relative's paintings (lino prints, actually). But curses! 

The amateur community arts center only opens from 10 to 1pm on Saturday. So we left and found a cafe in pretty Woolpit and drank tea and ate cake instead.

My pressies included some wonderful Clarks Desert Boots, a belt, a tee-shirt, Hunger Games 2, Endless Summer and Gravity on DVD and money.

We've just got back from pizza and salad and it was a lovely day.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Latin is Shit

Here's a brilliant blog post from Donald Clark. He's someone far more educated than me who argues that teaching kids Latin is a complete waste of time.

I concur.

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

The Saddest Country and Western Song

The saddest country and western song ever is sung over the titles of John Carpenter's sci-fi film Dark Star.

I've been humming and partially singing it for about 30 years now, and have finally discovered a full set of lyrics on the Internet (which is a wonderful thing, especially if your memory is a crap as mine). It's a song of love and loss and remembering. As you can see, it's even sadder than I thought:

A million suns shine down
But I see only one
When I think I'm over you
I find I've just begun
The years move faster than the days
There's no warmth in the light
How I miss those desert skies
Your cool touch in the night

Benson, Arizona
Blew warm wind through your hair
My body flies the galaxy, my heart longs to be there
Benson, Arizona
The same stars in the sky
But they seemed so much kinder 
When we watched them, you and I

Benson, Arizona
Blew warm wind through your hair
My body flies the galaxy, my heart longs to be there
Benson, Arizona
The same stars in the sky
But they seemed so much kinder 
When we watched them, you and I

Now the years pull us apart
I'm young and now you're old
But you're still in my heart
And the memory won't grow cold
I dream of times and spaces
I left far behind
Where we spent our last few days
Benson's on my mind

Benson, Arizona
Blew warm wind through your hair
My body flies the galaxy, my heart longs to be there
Benson, Arizona
The same stars in the sky
But they seemed so much kinder 
When we watched them, you and I

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Friday, February 28, 2014

The Toughest Month is... Over!

February, cruel wet cold dark horrible February ends at midnight tonight.

Horay!

Now admittedly, since I met "M," (a.k.a THE ONE) a few years ago, February has improved loads (from a very low base). The reason being that M's birthday falls on the 26th. 

So there's the joy of giving and the pleasure of a nice meal in the evening. And my wonderful boss gave me the day off too, which was a lucky thing since M has been struggling with a nasty cough for several days and found the company and dog-walking help very welcome.

But.... despite all the above. That's just a single day out of 28. The toughest days of the year. Gone. Wonderful.

And finally, if you can afford it, the Yamaha MCR-042 is a wonderful mini hi-fi system and makes a great gift ;-)

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Thursday, January 30, 2014

Well that's January Done

Around now is the toughest time of the year for me, and for anyone living in the South of England, it's not too hard to wonder why.

We've just experienced the wettest January ever* with over 200mm of rainfall when less than 100mm is the monthly average. For weeks now, since a very wet December, my life seems to consist of getting up in the dark, showering and getting changed and then driving to work in the rain and darkness. It's grim and bit depressing, although a trip to London on Friday went well - I have some good colleagues down there and had a lovely walk back from the office to Liverpool Street Station through the back-streets around the Barbican Centre. 

The Australian Open tennis tournament offers a weird mixture of entertainment and a kind of tantalisation (it's so hot, so sunny down there!). The surprise winner was Stan Wawrinka, whilst Li Na won the ladies trophy at the third attempt.

The month closed with three dreadful days at work attending the worst training course I have ever attended. It was a shame as the instructors tried extremely hard, but as my tennis shows, enthusiasm and energy must be accompanied by competence if you want success. Never mind. The course is over, January is almost over, and Spring is that bit nearer.

Thanks for reading, and I'll post again in February.

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Monday, December 30, 2013

New House


M and I bought a house recently, and moved in at the start of the month.

This is a new experience for me, as I've always rented before and think the whole British housing market is an over-priced over hyped bazaar of lunacy. As the housing charity Shelter pointed out recently, if since 1971 the price of a supermarket frozen chicken had been subject to the same inflation as housing, the bird would now cost £51.18

Alas the alternative, renting, was making my landlord far too rich, so with some scrimping and saving and a very generous assist from the Bank of Mum and Dad, the deed was done back in September, although it took ages for the current occupiers to find a place of their own.

It's not a bad house by any means, and if we'd paid £60,000 for it I'd be perfectly content. Of course it cost more than double that.  But here's the real eye opener - just how much money and economic activity is generated from this single house sale. 

Here's what I mean - over the past four months we've employed the following professionals (mostly for the first time):

  • Estate agents
  • Solicitors
  • A mortgage adviser
  • A house surveyor
  • An insurance broker
  • A picture framer
  • A television arial engineer

And here's just a few of the things we've bought for the house in the same period:

  • A bed and mattress
  • A cast iron cooking pot
  • A food mixer
  • Several knives
  • Eight sets of crockery
  • A table cloth
  • A large bowl
  • A large chopping board
  • A mirror

And so on and so on. This is a phenomenal amount of economic activity, and I one of those eureka moments when I sat down and thought about all this a few days ago. Of course no British government whether Tory or Labour or coalition dares to cool down or reduce the ever rising British house market. No wonder governments that preside over house price falls or even price stability get kicked out by ungrateful electorate. No wonder the current economic recovery, so long overdue and awaited, started with the government kick starting the housing market.

And what a fool I was not to realise this sooner, and jump on the housing ladder myself instead of waiting two or more decades for prices to fall when, as i now realise, so many vested interests from the Prime Minister down would never allow them to fall.

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Friday, October 18, 2013

Mel Mel is Sacked... Again!

Poor Mad Mel Philips,

Not only was she ruthlessly dumped from The Spectator a little while back, having lost that esteemed magazine £100,000 in compensation (if the rumours are to be believed) for Mel's savage lies about various individuals.

Things have got worse, as she's now lost her mainstay, the Monday opinion column in The Daily Mail. Nobody seems quite sure why she's lost this prestigious right wing ranting perch. Some say it's because she is no longer allowed to write about her beloved Israel (anyone who thinks the right in Britain have pro-Israeli sympathies is very mistaken). Some say it's because of an unusually unhinged and insulting (even by Mad Mel standards) hectoring monologue on the BBC's Question Time a  couple of months ago.

Either way, it's delightful to see her career in a spin - hopefully it'll never recover.

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