Monday, 29 March 2010

With Friends Like These....

.......GB must be doing his nut. One of his government ministers has a go at Joanna Lumley who feels the need to defend herself in a press conference. Minister, and Prime Minister hastily try to retract what they allegedly said. Honestly. What a bunch of numbskulls. Ms Lumley, as a result of her campaigning efforts won a just deal for those who put their life on the line for this country. She is almost certainly trusted by the public more than all government ministers put together. To try to do down such a person must rate as shooting yourself in both feet.

I do hope that Kevin Jones gets the "hairdryer" treatment from No. 10, because if ever anyone deserves it, he does. What a pillock.

Something of a difference

Today I've had an opportunity to contrast the attitudes that prevail in the public and private sectors. The council operate an attractive looking scheme at the local tip which is akin to a loyalty card scheme. For each load of green waste you take to the tip, you get a card stamped and with 5 stamps you can claim a free bag of compost. When I enquired, I was told "We haven't got any cards, and we haven't had any for months". So it was home to phone the council who said earnestly, "Ah, they shouldn't be saying that, I'll get some one from the waste management dept. to look into it". They took my phone number and I shall be amazed if I hear any more.

In contrast, a double glazing company called on the dot of the time agreed on Friday, clearly keen to get a quote in for a job and make a sale.

The public sector need a good shake up.

Friday, 26 March 2010

Another Good Night

Last evening we attended a a performance of Variety Lives, compered by Arthur Smith. I've always wanted to see him live, and having done so, it only reinforces my opinion that he is one of the funniest men around. His introductions only came slightly unstuck when he attempted a Knock, Knock joke. In response to the Knock, Knock opening line, there came a very loud "Hello" from a lady in the audience. This brought Arthur to something of a half and he declared that this was the first time that he had ever encountered such a response and admitted that it put him distinctly off his stride. He then declared that it was a splendid response and he would use it himself from now on in an attempt to unsettle his fellow comedians.

A conversation followed with the lady who had derailed the joke and it turned out she was Italian. Arthur recited the only bit of Italian he knew and asked the lady to translate it. "Oh No, it's far too rude" was her reply. Big laughs all round.

Also on the bit were Ruby and Noah, (and her voice is amazing), Luke Wright an extraordinary performance poet, and Hattie Hayridge, who is best known for her performances as Holly in Red Dwarf.

I certainly came away with a big smile.

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Get on with it Gordon.

Well, Alistair Darling has spoken. And I'm none the wiser. The budget does nothing for me - in all senses of that phrase. At present, I can see no reason to vote for any of the political parties. This is a dilemma, because I fervently believe that I should vote. Our democracy was a hard won right, and I have a duty to exercise my franchise. I just wish I could work out who to vote for.

Come on, you miserable bugger Gordon, call an election and then, maybe, someone will spell out a compelling argument that will attract my vote.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

The Havant Duck Race

The weather this morning is a great improvement over yesterday, which must have come as a great relief to the organisers of a Duck Race that took place in the park opposite my daughter's house at 11:00.

Promptly, at the appointed hour, some 500 or so ducks were released into the small stream and made their way down to the finish. It was a distance of a quarter of a mile or so. What impressed me was the atmosphere that surrounded the event. It was a real family outing with children of all ages, dogs, and family members enjoying the occasion.

Our eye had been caught by the arrival of a trailer bearing tent, cooking equipment, tables, chairs and all the other paraphernalia necessary. They started to set up at around 8 a.m. and by 10, it was all in place. Members of the scout troupe turned up early in their wellington boots, to help set up and then to release and recover the plastic ducks at the end of the race. At the conclusion of the race, tea,coffee and burgers were available, and many seemed to be using this a a substitute for breakfast.

Amidst all the stories of antisocial behaviour by young people, it was nice to witness a reminder that there is much that is good about this country.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

A Night at the Opera

Last evening we enjoyed an evening of opera at the Hippodrome in Birmingham. We were kindly given tickets to go and enjoy the Welsh National Opera (WNO) production of Abduction from the Seraglio with music by Mozart.

The music was most enjoyable, but the production lacked a spark to ignite in me an emotion like awe, admiration or wonder. I admired the professionalism, and the quality of the set, but somehow it lacked something. The WNO certainly packed the accompanying programme with references to their other productions and activities, so they are clearly a lively company.

The production was set on the Orient Express in 1920 or '21 and the set constrained the piece. There was no room to move up or down, or forwards or backwards. All movement was left or right. The singers took an Act to get warmed up. The first Act was a bit flat (not in the musical sense, though my musical ability is such that I probably could not tell if the were!), but the second and third Acts were much livelier.

I came away having enjoyed the entertainment, but thinking that opera is a very inefficient way of telling a story. Perhaps I've watched the DVDs of the Bourne trilogy too often.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Trains that work and people that don't.

Another visit to London has been and gone. I went yesterday and returned this morning. If the rest of the country wants to see how a railway should be run, I suggest that they have a good look at Chiltern Railways. Marlylebone Station is clean and has everything you need (though 30 pence for a pee is a bit steep!), the trains are clean and run on time, the information boards on the platforms and in the trains work and the people are pleasant. More more could you want? Oh, and the fares are ridiculously low if you book in advance.

The people who travel on said trains don't, however, seem any more blessed with brains than the drivers at the tip last week. Why more don't print their tickets at home and save a fortune is beyond me. And why don't people who are told by the ticket barrier to "Seek Assistance" do just that? Rather, they continue to offer their ticket to a machine that has rejected it, often more than once. People pay £2.10 for coffee on the train, but they can buy the same coffee at Marylebone for £1.60 before they board the train..... I don't understand it.

Friday, 5 March 2010

Tip Rage ?

Today got off to a great start. A swim, followed by a trip into town where Boots had my drugs ready, the ticket machine at the stations coughed up my train tickets for a trip to London on Monday, and the queues in the two banks I had to visit were manageable.

It all started to go wrong when I took a trailer load of green rubbish to the tip. The people using the tip this morning all seemed to have had a brainectomy. Cars were strewn around and the standard of driving was appalling. How did these people pass a test? As a result it took me two minutes to empty the trailer, but around 15 minutes to extricate the Land Rover and trailer from the melee. It is a good job that the chief culprit (a man in a Ford C Max, with his wife as co-pilot) were having a row some distance off my trajectory as I came out, because by this time, I was beginning to think that a scratch or two on the old Defender might be a price worth paying to get them into a ditch. I suppose you'd have to call it "Tip Rage".

It was my half yearly back service at the Chiropractors and while I was waiting, I was joined by a teacher who used to teach the twins. He could hardly walk, poor man, having started to exercise and done his back in on the treadmill at the gym he has just joined. That will teach him to listen to his new wife. I do hope he is better soon, because I do have some idea of the discomfort he was in.

Monday, 1 March 2010

Fire or Tip?

At long last! The weather has been rather kinder today. It was still quite cold, but the sun shone and things dried out enough for me to get out in the garden of our new house. It is plain to see that the garden has been completely neglected for the best part of 2 years and everything has grown unhindered by any pruning or training. Hence, trees and shrubs are all growing into one another. I've had a god hack at the two big trees and removed all of the ground growth and many of the lower branches. I now have a huge stack of brushwood which needs to be disposed of. Either I need the goods trailer or an incinerator. My heart says fire is the way to go, but my head is not so sure.