Let’s bend the knee.

Does President Trump have a 666 tattoo?

We are not even halfway through but the year 2020 has felt pretty apocalyptical so far.

Remember the fires? Remember the floods? Remember the storms? Remember the wars? And, who can forget the Covid-19 pandemic which continues to ravage the world. So many dead and counting.

It is as if the Four Riders are charging across the world as a portent of the Last Judgment or Armageddon. The end of times.

And in the midst of this an American police officer kneels on the throat of George Floyd – a black man suspected of using a counterfeit twenty-dollar bill – until he dies. And now the statues of the oppressors are beginning to fall. Everywhere. Tear them down.

When all of this is over let’s hope we have done the right thing. Let’s hope the wealth has been redistributed fairly. Let’s hope that key workers are rewarded with more than a rainbow-coloured round of applause. Let’s hope that families and friends can come together once again and be stronger than before. Let’s hope we care more for each other and for the planet we share. Let’s hope we are better prepared for the challenges still to come.

Let’s all bend the knee in thought at least.

And, let’s get Trump out……

June 10, 2020 at 11:51 am Leave a comment


“Oooh oooh oooh oooh lockdown!”

Well it’s Day 1 of an enforced staycation – my employer has asked everyone to take at least one week during April. In the middle of the great Covid 19 pandemic of 2020. The deadly virus which has been spread by middle-aged men in Lycra (I always knew they would be the death of me), dog walkers, Aston Villa players and idiots without a sense of personal space or social responsibility.

Thankfully, my family and friends are all safe for the moment and ever may it stay so.

At first many didn’t take it seriously. “It’s only flu”. They clearly hadn’t watched the documentary “Contagion” in which Kate Winslet tracked a similar pandemic from 5G mast to 5G mast across the world until finally succumbing to the virus in an American equivalent of a Nightingale Hospital – The Trump Number One Facebook Hospital.

But now they have wheeled the Queen out, so it must be serious. She is currently self-isolating at Windsor, unwilling to share her stash of monogrammed toilet papyrus and keeping a safe distance from Charles who is at Balmoral. No doubt Madge keeps a shotgun by her side, just in case Andrew and Sarah Ferguson breach their curfew at the Royal Lodge in the castle grounds, in search of pizza and deodorant. Phillip, meanwhile, is keeping his morale up with regular Zoom hangouts with Harry and Meghan and back-to-back episodes of Tiger King on Netflix….

Apart from the initial panic over loo roll, C and I have been coping quite well. Largely thanks to the sterling efforts of Majestic and Virgin Wines home delivery service and back-to-back episodes of Tiger King on Netflix….

We have been socially distancing – no, not from each other – for 3 weeks already. We have been fastidious in our hygiene, washing our hands regularly in our homemade vodka hand sanitizer and eating copious amounts of garlic – which helps with the self-isolating. We haven’t resorted to snorting cocaine (yet) but, to be fair, supplies in these parts are almost as low as those of self-raising flour. Allegedly.

We have cleaned the shed and my office/mancave, painted the gate, pruned the herb garden and prepared a patch for tomatoes and courgettes. My rhubarb is thriving, buoyed by the vibes of positivity and Blitz spirit that I naturally carry with me at all times. And tomorrow we take delivery of a skip, which means that the mess of stuff the previous owners left under the car barn (and which we have contributed to) should be tackled over the rest of the week. I am looking forward to the opportunity of wielding my sledgehammer…..

Recently, I have been suffering “Microsoft Team backdrop envy”, triggered by video conferences with all my colleagues in lockdown around the world. So I have ordered some flat-pack bookcases, which I will strategically position behind me. I will proudly provide insight into my eclectic personality by displaying my history books alongside my Jack Reacher novels, my Marvel comics and my Birmingham Schools Under 11s plastic cricket trophy.

I am worried about my hair. It was already quite long before the lockdown. I am all too quickly morphing from a Paul Hollywood look-alike into a full on Kenny Rogers (RIP) body double. I have taken to wearing a hat while taking our daily constitutional, and not to deter signature hunters.

Keeping all of our devices fully charged has become as necessary as the camp fire in I’m a Celebrity. We seem to have been having more frequent, if virtual, contact with friends and family than usual via numerous social media channels, while I am becoming increasingly adept at Call of Duty Mobile.

It has been a bit of a challenge dragging the parents into the twentieth century (sic) in their use of technology. With only limited success. We have had a few WhatsApp video calls where all we can see is my dad’s ear. And a couple of Messenger video hangouts where we have been looking at the top of their heads, from the nose up. But it is good to be in touch and we are very proud that they have been sticking to the rules of self-isolation. And morale seems relatively high, despite my brother-in-law’s reliance on the Daily Mail as the source of all things Coronavirus…..

It hasn’t become so stressful yet, although I am masking the amount of wine consumption by only taking the empties to the recycling wheelie bin once a week – at 8pm on a Thursday. So, the noise is masked by the clapping of neighbours on their doorsteps rightly paying tribute to the NHS and other key workers.

We are truly blessed to live where we do. We are able to go for an isolated walk from our back door and to chat with our lovely neighbours from a safe distance over various fences. The village is rallying round to ensure the most vulnerable are looked after through various WhatsApp groups and Facebook sites. Our wonderful local farm shops are looking after us with a safe shopping environment for meat, bread and eggs (shout out to thebutchershall.co.uk) and a weekly veg box delivery (shout out to http://www.vgfarmshop.com).

We hope that people do act responsibly and use the open spaces safely and with consideration. It would be so much worse if we went into an even more severe lockdown, with a ban on outdoor exercise. C and I are enjoying our walks up the hill. We noticed that they have now closed all the National Trust car parks. Which begs the question – where have all the Surrey Hills’ doggers gone to?

Seriously though folks, please be sensible. Stay safe and be healthy!

Now wash your hands.

April 6, 2020 at 2:16 pm 1 comment

Behind the curtain…..

Well, that was an “interesting” trip.

Heathrow was “quiet” this morning. It seemed that there was a masked ball party imminent to which I had not been invited. The few hardy travellers eyed each other suspiciously and held their breath when coming into proximity with each other. The look of disappointment was palpable as duty free shoppers realised that, even here, the shelves were devoid of hand sanitizer, and there were guards on the toilets searching people on the way out for toilet roll.

My plane to Frankfurt was “quiet”. Boarding the plane was “speedy” due to the fact that there were very few passengers. I have never seen so many empty seats on a plane. It was like a Brexit Party convention. I took my seat in the first row behind business class. The one behind that irritating curtain. The curtain they close lest we spy the free food and booze and riot in the response to the pitiful fare on offer at the back of the plane from M&S Onboard (no cash accepted).

The few hardy travellers once seated risked eye contact with their be-suited companions across the aisle with a look that shouted “well done you for not overreacting to a bit of flu”.

This smugness did not last very long. Not once a chink in the irritating curtain revealed the cabin crew donning face masks and a hostess flew to our row of seats and asked my one fellow hardy traveller and I to ignore the fasten your seatbelt sign and relocate towards the rear of the plane because of “an incident “ at the front.

I relocated. I took solace in a drink of chocolate which was so hot it stripped the skin from the roof of my mouth and a packet of M&S’ Mini Jaffa Cakes, which I’m sure count towards one of your five a day. I sipped my chocolaty napalm while wondering to myself whether the irritating curtain alone could block the transmission of the deadly coronavirus.

I made the mistake of coughing. The guy across the aisle from me spent the rest of the flight leaning away from me and eying me suspiciously out of the corner of his eye. I continued to cough. Just for the fun of it.

Surprisingly the crew did not seem overly concerned about the potential demise of the handful of hardy business class travellers at the front of the plane, shut off from the rest of us behind the life-preserving curtain. I was sure that the decision had already been taken that the rest of us would have to vacate the plane from the rear while business class was quarantined for fourteen days, or at least until the free food and booze ran out.

Surprisingly, panic did not spread through the plane, despite the hasty relocation of myself and a couple of other hardy travellers who had been in close proximity to the curtain, and despite my emergent cough.

I did notice, however, that the queue for the loo at the rear of the plane was unusually long, especially given the small number of passengers on board. And then I realised that the hardy if bladder-challenged travellers were socially excluding (queuing at least one meter apart and, probably holding their breath). And, that the queue was also moving more slowly than usual due to the fact that cabin crew were searching people for toilet roll on the way out.

Thankfully I did overhear one member of crew saying to the other that the “incident” at the front of the plane was a false alarm and that it had just been “the air conditioning “. Hmmmn. We shall see. I am somewhat less reassured by the fact that the cabin crew even on my side of the curtain were also wearing masks. And, they also seemed to be wearing an excessive amount of perfume, which I assume they are washing their hands in now due to the lack of sanitizer.

In fact, when we landed we were all kept in lockdown in our seats due to a “medical incident “. We waited for half an hour until a doctor arrived (suspiciously entering via the rear of the plane) wearing full hazchem gear. Meanwhile, the plane was surrounded by police and a couple of ambulances arrived. Worryingly.

The doctor sat a while with a very sheepish looking guy who had already been given a face mask, and, after filling in a few forms he was declared to be OK and the police and the ambulances left and we were all, thankfully, allowed off the plane.

Once inside the airport there was a queue for the toilet where everyone had rushed to wash their hands. And, a queue on the way out while they searched us for toilet roll.

I’m looking forward to the flight home already.

March 9, 2020 at 11:55 am 2 comments

The Blitz Spirit….

“Daddy what did you do in the Coronavirus War?”

“Well son, once the news broke that migrants don’t wash  their hands, we launched a raid on the 24 hour Aldi. Your mother blocked the main aisle with her trolley while I stocked up on Charmin Ultra Soft and spaghetti hoops. We missed out on the hand sanitiser – to be honest we had no idea what aisle it was on – so we improvised with vodka, Fairy Liquid and KY jelly. We self-isolated for a couple of weeks watching back-to-back episodes of Top Gear on Dave wearing our Marigolds, while keeping an eye on the Daily Mail’s Twitter account for updates. Apparently we were just in time because the EU began to blockade all supplies of toilet rolls. “

And so, the “Blitz Spirit” is alive and kicking in post-Brexit Britain. The oldest, poorest, and most vulnerable will suffer disproportionately. And, as in the Blitz I expect there to be significant looting of empty houses as the Middle Class vacates suburbia and takes refuge in their Welsh holiday homes. There will be a black market in Paracetamol and Night Nurse. And, the Deliveroo Driver, equipped with a Mad Max style face mask, will be king.

Whatever happened to Keep Calm and Carry On?

Now, wash your hands!

March 8, 2020 at 10:35 am Leave a comment

Taxis scare me


In my experience there are just two types of German taxi drivers.

The first is typically middle-aged to older, both male or female, with long grey hair either swept back (imagine Peter Stringfellow) or sporting a pony tail.

They drive a Mercedes. They drive very, very, very fast and brake very, very hard. They drive along to a heavy metal soundtrack  (and occasionally, bizarrely, Strauss) which they play very, very loud.

They scare me.

The second is typically of Turkish or Asian heritage. Male. They drive an old Japanese model which looks as if it has been slept in by a family of raccoons.

They act as if it is the first time they have ever stepped into the car. Or, any car. They look around nervously, trying to locate the pedals, the handbrake, the indicators. They drive very, very, very

slowly and are always lost and confused as to which lane they should be in. They still brake very, very hard. They don’t play the radio because they don’t know how it operates. But, they are always on their phone.

They scare me.

What both have in common is the fact that they lose their ability to speak in English as soon as you attempt to pay with a credit card.

Still, not a good enough reason to Brexit…..


January 17, 2020 at 10:11 am 1 comment

No Career As A Cowboy For Me!

Who knew 7 years ago how close I was to death….


Middle Man

Last weekend, my gracious hosts here during my two-week business trip in the Philippines decided that I should see more of their country than the business district of Manila, the shopping malls of the Greenbelt and the heavily fortified office (although the views from the 38th floor are impressive) and the hotel where every night I would seek oblivion, but find only the patchy sleeplessness which comes with jet lag.

And so, we enjoyed a two hour minibus journey to the south. We fought our way through the streets of the capital and the chaos of Jeepneys, random jaywalkers, street hawkers and some of the worst driving I have witnessed outside of the Italian motorways. We drove alongside shanty towns. We drove alongside affluent suburbs interspersed with corrugated huts. And, we wound our way into a lush countryside strewn with rice paddies, banana trees and the occasional goat.

Off the motorways we…

View original post 1,299 more words

January 13, 2020 at 9:52 am 2 comments


That’s it. I can no longer hold my tongue. 

At the risk of being one of the first “Liberal Intellectuals” to be put against the wall, by whichever firing squad of whichever party we allow to assume power through our passivity, I must speak.

Whether it is the alt-right stormtroopers first Boris’ Tory Party, the hard-right brownshirts of the Brexit party, or the red-shirted Marxists/Corbynistas of the Labour Party that come for me, I must speak. 

Hitler took just six months to dismantle German Parliamentary democracy in 1933. He did this by claiming to be the true and righteous representative of the German Volk (people), by lying to the Head of the German State (Hindenburg), by suspending the democratic powers of the German Parliament (Reichstag) through the Enabling Act, and by enraging the man on the street against the common enemy of the Jew and the Communists. Sound familiar? 

It could have happened here in just two months had it not been for the totally legitimate and constitutional intervention of the UK ‘s Supreme Court, which outed Boris’ lie to the Queen over his own Enabling Act – the unlawful Prorogation of Parliament. 

Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson (to give him his full name) and his Etonian backers in the ERG are singing to Steve Bannon’s alt-right song book and nearly destroyed the Mother of all Parliaments. Prorogation was an attempted political coup with the aim of muzzling the Sovereign Parliamentary Representatives of the People in order to force through a hard, no deal Brexit.

Praise be for the Separation of Powers and Judicial Oversight.

British and Unionist Politics are fractured, lurching ever further to the Left and the Right, leaving the Silent Majority without a political home and without representation. I must speak.

Three years ago there was a 52% majority in a binary and advisory referendum. An illegally funded Leave Campaign, most likely assisted by Russian hackers and social media bots, blamed all of the woes of the Great British nation upon Johnny Foreigner and (mostly brown skinned) immigrants, and promised the restoration of Empire and a humbug-striped unicorn for everyone. 

But there are no unicorns. There is no Empire. And it seems our farming industry and the NHS cannot function without access to migrant labour and skilled medical professionals from the EU and elsewhere.

Not to mention the fact that the EU has been a positive force in Europe and the UK for decades – for peace, human rights, workers’ rights and investment in our most economically depressed regions, such as South Wales and the North East. Immigrants have been significant net contributors to our economy rather than benefit seekers. 

The Tories talk about “surrender”, “betrayal”, “treason” and “collusion“ and have positioned Boris as the righteous representative of the people, against a Brexit-blocking Parliament. 

They are inciting violence and division as a pretext for invoking emergency powers to force through a no deal Brexit, which will make billions for Boris’ already rich financial backers, while reaping economic devastation on the poorest. And, not least, lead potentially to the dissolution of the United Kingdom; an independent Scotland, an Island of Ireland, a devolved Wales, and a far-right Gilead in the English shires.

And while they are doing this,  the far-left -Corbynistas and Marxists – turn our once proud, internationalist Labour Party into an unelectable (hopefully), backward-looking, mockery of a party which would drag us back to the 1970s, when nothing worked and everyone striked. A party of the lowest common denominator, where success, wealth creation and social mobility are derided.

Please do not let this happen. Reclaim the centre ground. Speak out in defence of the Silent Majority. Stand up for Parliament, Sovereignty and the Rule of Law. Stop Boris. Stop Corbyn. And, ideally, stop Brexit.


September 29, 2019 at 10:45 am Leave a comment

The light at the end of the tunnel has been turned off….


On this day…..

Boris the Bullingdon Buffoon was elected as the next Prime Minister of the (dis) United Kingdom by a very small number of very old people still dreaming of a return to the Elysian Fields of the Golden Era when foxes were afraid in their dens, men wore hats, Muslims lived in Muslimshire and Morris Dancers shook their ruggles in every corner of an Empire on which the sun never set (because it shines out of the Buffoon’s very own backside).

On this day…..

Jeremy the Mad Marxist dusted off his best Lenin cap in anticipation of an early General Election in which he and a constituent named Karen dream of a return to the Elysian Fields of the 1970s when Jews were afraid in their Synagogues, working men striked, families queued for bread, and the night skies glowed in the light of a picket-line brazier in the middle of a power cut.

On this day….

Nigel Farage is still drinking beer, smoking and counting Arron Banks’ money while Anne Widdecombe continues to berate pesky foreigners like the living embodiment of mad cow’s disease.

On this day….

Iranian Revolutionary Guards still hold a British oil tanker illegally seized in the Strait of Hormuz and the Royal Navy desperately looks for a friendly European ally with a coastline and a ship they can spare while South Korean warplanes fired warning shots to chase off Russian planes invading their airspace.

On this day….

The Beijing Government colluded with Triads to beat peaceful protesters on the streets of Hong Kong.

On this day….

Vlad the Impaler plots global domination.

On this day…..

Trump empowers vigilantes to push brown immigrants off the Wall without any judicial process while inciting racial hatred and attacks on the free press at a Make America White Again (Nuremberg) rally and denying global warming.

On this day….

The trains stopped running in the UK because of the wrong kind of heat.

On this day….

The mother-in-law arrived and is staying for a week.

What else could possibly go wrong?

July 23, 2019 at 5:04 pm Leave a comment

Springtime In Chicago…



The joys of business travel.

Yesterday morning at 04.30 am – a Sunday morning – I “awoke”, showered, dressed, and left the house to drive to Heathrow for my 07.45 flight to Chicago, en route to an industry conference and exhibition in Louisville, Kentucky, in the US of A.

I admit that I was tired – even my brief sleep had been fretful. Even after all of these years of traveling I never sleep well before an early get up. I am constantly checking that I have set the alarm, and doing a mental check that I have packed everything I need, and reminding myself not to forget my passport, credit cards, my glasses, my hairbrush….

Normally for an 07.45 flight on a Sunday I would leave home around 06.00. But, this was an American Airlines flight and I was aware I would need to check in at least 90 minutes before take off (they do not allow mobile boarding passes), pick up a fistful or so of dollars, and be prepared for additional security. So, it was a 05.00 departure instead. A proper red eye….

The journey to the airport was easy and uneventful. To be fair, there is not much traffic on the sunken lanes of the Surrey Hills at that time of a Sunday morning. I don’t think I saw another car until I got on the M5.

I parked. I checked in. I passed through security (fast track of course), got my dollars. I went back to security to retrieve the trolley bag I had left there. I was very tired. The gate was announced so I made my weary way there – no time for a coffee in the lounge – and, joy oh joy, was pulled aside for additional security checks. So, it was off with the shoes and swabbed on my hands, belt, pockets and socks while someone else rummaged through my carefully packed (yeah right), and recently retrieved suitcase. And, I must add that I was wearing new shoes and the process of taking them on and off was not without pain….

Despite the fact that I was traveling in economy (how far have I fallen) I still had priority boarding, so was soon jealously walking through the business class section (sigh) t take up my seat in the first row in economy. This row at least affords a little extra leg room, but, unfortunately, it also affords frequent glimpses of champagne being served and of horizontal people sleeping. This row also seemed to be the preferred short cut for one of the stewardesses when needing to pass from one aisle to another, stepping over my partially outstretched legs. She was not the most “athletic “ person so often managed to nudge me on the way.

No champagne or sleep for yours truly. Despite the fact that the plane was half empty and I had a row of three seats to myself, those seats were not the most comfortable. They were quite narrow and certainly would have struggled to accommodate an average American booty. The extra leg room did mean that I had a little more room in which to squirm and try, unsuccessfully, to find a position of relative comfort. Even through closed eyes nothing could keep out the glare of the big video screen just in front of me which was tracking our progress towards Chicago O’Hare International and the current time in Cape Town, Sydney, Abu Dhabi, London, Beijing, Chicago, Miami, Lima, Vancouver, and Honolulu…..

Sleep was also not forthcoming due to the amount of turbulence we experienced throughout the flight. It was very bumpy. There were several “fasten your seatbelts” announcements and much careful juggling with mugs of hot coffee. It was particularly bad as we passed over the southern tip of Greenland, a place which I noted was called Frank’s Fracture, which seemed quite apt….

So, it was a relatively boring eight and a half sleep-deprived hours, not helped in the least by the fact that the in-flight system was not working in economy class. At least from my vantage point I could catch brief glimpses of movies being shown on the screens of those horizontal people sleeping in business class.

The cabin crew sought to avoid a riot in economy by offering drinks and ice cream on a regular basis and enthusiastically wishing people a good day. Like the service, breakfast was very American – pancakes with stewed apple and scrambled eggs with chives. Served together….

Nevertheless, in just one brief half a lifetime later we touched down in Chicago in good time to make my connecting flight to Louisville.

We touched down in Chicago in the middle of a snow storm. In April. In Springtime. Visibility was not great and the snow was already 3 inches or so deep. Nonetheless, we disembarked. I got on the shuttle bus to the domestic terminal, feeling quite jealous of my fellow travelers wearing their winter coats and waterproofs. I passed through security for just the third time today (the shoes, the shoes…..) and, this time, managed to remember my trolley bag (despite being very, very tired. I managed to get to my gate in good time and was relieved to see that the flight was on time.

We boarded. All of the passengers took their seats, buckled up and the doors were closed. It was at this very point that some phones of people in business class pinged and their owners called the cabin crew over. The cabin crew went to the cockpit and, sure enough, the captain surfaced to announce to us all that the flight was being cancelled due to the poor visibility of the snow storm. 

We disembarked. We joined the very, very long rebooking queue. I called my booking agent and was informed that there were no flights to Louisville with availability until the following evening. 

I was stranded in Chicago in a snow storm and would miss the whole first day of a three day industry conference and exhibition. And I had got up at 04.30 am and was very tired. 

The joys of business travel.

April 15, 2019 at 4:58 pm Leave a comment

Christmas is cancelled….




Let’s just cancel Christmas…..

I am feeling a little bah humbug. The world has gone mad and the festive spirit seems a fair few egg nogs and sherries distant as yet.

Wars continue to rage across the Holy Lands.

Paris, the City of Light, is literally alight with the flames of burning tyres,  burning cars, burning shops, and the fluorescent glare of les gillets jeunes (yellow vests) who re-enact episodes of the Purge every weekend in an effort to inspire revolution against the government of metrosexual Macron. And, the nationalist of Marine Le Pen cheer them on from the sides, waiting for their opportunity to seize the power.

America is already closed for Christmas. Trump the Fool continues to demonstrate the diplomacy and political awareness of a petulant toddler, shutting down the government in a fit of pique at the Democrats’ refusal to fund his wall. Having watched back-to-back episodes of Games of Thrones, the President of the USA remains convinced that this is the only way to keep the Wildings at bay and so keep America from becoming a lawless, anarchic state, such as Paris on the weekend.

Meanwhile, closer to home, the selfish employees of Northern Rail and South West Trains strike in a bid to make it as difficult as possible for people to make it home to loved ones in time for Christmas. And, no doubt, some crazed vigilante Vegan with a drone has managed to close one of the busiest airports in the world for 36 hours, costing millions and ruining the honeymoons, funerals, holidays and Lapland trips of thousands.

And even worse, the Christmas Ghost of Brexit still looms large with no resolution as yet in sight. We remain trapped between the prospect of  a Victorian Tory Government lead by Boris the Buffoon or Rees-Mogg, and the certain economic devastation, social division and political isolation which would inevitably result from crashing out of Europe on a no deal. All this at the behest of 17.4 million ageing and misinformed racists (or, “I’m not a racist but…”) and Little Englanders with fairytale visions of a return to the Nineteenth Century, when England ruled the waves and built an Empire on the back of the blood and bodies of Irish and Scottish soldiers, becoming the industrial power of the world by exploiting the natural resources of everywhere we, illegally, planted a flag in the name of Queen and Country.

Or, even worse, the threat of a Corbyn Government, economic devastation, and a political push to drag us all to the lowest common denominator in a bid to impose a socialist egalitarian Utopia such as is enjoyed in Venezuela.

Everywhere you turn we seem Hell bent on shooting ourselves in the economic foot, driving even greater wedges between the North and the South; between England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland, and our closest allies; undermining the very fundamentals which have kept this Kingdom United, and maintained a relative peace on the Continent of Europe for more than 70 years.

So, this Christmas, pull your loved ones close. Be grateful for the gifts you share. Spare a thought for those worse off than you. Be forgiving of those with whom you disagree. Be outward looking rather than inward and forward looking rather than clinging to the past, except as a place where lessons should have been learned in order to avoid the calamities of the future.

It’s Christmas Time. And, all I want for Christmas is a second People’s Vote and an outbreak of Common Sense.

Have a good one everybody.


December 23, 2018 at 12:28 pm Leave a comment

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