Damn Hot!

hotIt is that very rare confluence of the opening week at Wimbledon and a heatwave in the UK. Yesterday it reached 3o degrees Celsius in London, and today we will be pushing 35.

And so, those more-easy-on-the eye news reporters have left their lurid sofas in the studio to speak to us, in light floral Jersey dresses or stripy shorts, from venues such as Centre Court or the banks of the Thames.

Headlines about the weather, railway lines buckling in the heat, penguins having to be sprayed with water in zoos across the nation, and the latest British tennis player to crash out in the first round have usurped those of the worst terrorist atrocity against the British people since 7/7 and the fact that we will soon be swamped with economic migrants from Greece.

We will be regaled with “useful” information such as places that the UK is currently hotter than, and how we must at all costs never step directly into sunlight or we will immediately burn and develop some mortal disease unless the pollen doesn’t get us first.

The internet will be overwhelmed with searches such as “Carol Kirkwood cup size?” and “Louise Minchen bikini” and, consequently this post will trend for maybe a nano-second….

Local news will concentrate on how to keep safe around those weapons of mass destruction – the BBQ – with common-sense tips such as not mixing alcohol, your husband and fire.

We will be warned of sleepless nights unless we leave all our windows and doors open. We will be warned of psycho-murderers and baby-snatching urban foxes clambering through our open windows in the night.

The Underground will be slowed in a vain attempt to generate a breeze and prevent passengers’ brains from cooking in the heat. And, you won’t find a sausage or a burger on the empty chilled cabinets of Waitrose for love nor money.

And then tomorrow it will rain, Andy Murray will injure his back, and rosacea sufferers and ginger-haired people will be able to mingle amongst us once more.

So, enjoy it while you can.

July 1, 2015 at 8:32 am Leave a comment

Flying the flag….


This was a week of three flags. Three flags that people have been prepared to fight for. Three flags that people have died for. Two flags that people have killed for. Two flags of despair, bigotry and repression One flag of hope, love and equality.

This week President Obama gave the eulogy at the funeral of a friend and pastor – one of nine black Americans killed in a church in Charleston, South Carolina, at the hands of a racist sporting the Confederate battle flag. Take it down. Tear them all down.

Twenty seven died in a suicide bomb attack in a Shia mosque in Kuwait – followers of Islam killed at prayer in their place of worship and refuge during the holy month of Ramadan.

On the same day, one man was beheaded by a terrorist attempting to blow up a gas factory near Lyon in France.

On the same day again, thirty eight tourists and hotel staff, fifteen of them British, were massacred by gunmen while on vacation and enjoying the beach and the sun in the resort town of Sousse, Tunisia. All innocent.

All killed in the name of religion. Killed under the black flag of the so-called Islamic State, ISIS. A flag of hate. Take it down. Tear them all down.

But, on the same day the White House was turned into a rainbow flag, as America passed a law to allow homosexual marriage in all fifty states. Bigots have called the law anti-Christian, anti-God. But the rainbow flag represents love and equality and the victory of democracy over small-mindedness, bigotry and hate. Fly it high. Fly it proud. Fill the world with rainbows.


June 27, 2015 at 5:56 pm Leave a comment

Do the math (s) America…..


There are more guns in America than there are people, and that does not include those that belong to the military…..

67% of American homicides are carried out using a firearm. There are some 20,000 American suicides using guns every year.

The death-toll from recent “massacres”:

Charleston – 9

Virginia Tech – 32
Binghamton – 13
Fort Hood – 13
Oikos University – 7
Tucson – 17
Aurora – 13
Columbine – 13

Do the math America – it ain’t working!

June 19, 2015 at 3:29 pm Leave a comment

Sleep well our friend.

Middle Man:

It has been a year of memories and fleeting glances in the shadows…..

Originally posted on Middle Man:


We have just laid Maslow, the furball baby, to rest in a nice shady spot under the big oak tree in the garden. So, he has a view of the house and we have a view of him. He has the squirrels to keep him company. And, he will be near us when we sit with friends and neighbours, as he ever was.

We had to put “the baba” to sleep after he stopped eating. He had a problem with his liver and had been poorly for several months. He was getting a little irritated by the regular visits to the vets and really didn’t enjoy taking his medicine. But, right up to the end he remained the happy furry bundle of joy that he had always been since he first appeared at our door nearly twelve years ago.

Putting him to sleep was one of the hardest and easiest…

View original 497 more words

June 9, 2015 at 7:03 am Leave a comment

Shame on you FIFA….


May 30, 2015 at 12:52 pm 1 comment

Dunkirk Spirit

Originally posted on Middle Man:

British fisher rescuing allied troops escaping...

Winston Churchill, House of Commons, 4th June 1940:

 “We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender, and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this Island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God’s good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old.”


View original 337 more words

May 21, 2015 at 9:59 am Leave a comment

The joy of frequent travel……

image Those of you who frequent this site (my thanks!) will know that I am regular “commuter” between Crewe and the Smoke. On a weekly basis I find myself traveling on a Virgin Pendolino, in First Class, and regularly bemoaning the failings of the seat reservation system, the inconsistency of the number of sausages on my toastie, and the bloody awful wi-fi.

But, after today, I would perhaps better describe myself as a frequent traveler. For today I have experienced what real “commuting” is like.

For reasons too unfathomable to mention here, my journey today is going like this: Crewe to Birmingham New Street, to Walsall, to Birmingham New Street, to Euston. Only this last leg is on a sleek and glossy Virgin Pendolino. The others were on London Midland commuter trains.

Now, my experience was not bad. All trains left and arrived on time and I had a seat. So, I have in no way suffered the daily hardships of those poor souls who are “reliant” on Southern Rail to get them to work every day.

But, my experience was sufficient to convince me that I am glad that I am not a regular commuter.

The trains were clean and not too busy. Unlike a Virgin Voyager, the overhead luggage bins were big enough to actually accommodate luggage. And the aisle was very wide, presumably to accommodate standing room at busier times.

But, the people were depressing. That said, they were well prepared. And certainly better prepared than yours truly who just assumed that an at-seat drinks and food service was the norm. So, while I sat there listening to my stomach rumbling and wishing that I’d taken time to grab a bottle of water before leaving home, the train carriage I found myself in resembled a mobile picnic site.

Everyone but me was enjoying a carry out from Costa or a thermos of tea. The flask option would point at an old-hander who had experienced regular bouts of unreliability and was prepared for the long haul. imageAnd many a Morrisons carrier bag (Waitrose customers don’t commute….) spilled forth its culinary delights of a breakfast cereal bar, a packet of Digestives (the man with the thermos) and the odd homemade cheese sandwich wrapped in tinfoil. And, my tummy rumbled on and on.

The atmosphere of a mobile camp/refugee site was further added to by the fact that everyone on the train was damp. It had been raining hard outside and as a consequence the carriage was strewn with dripping umbrellas of various sizes and colour schemes, while many an individual was sporting a sodden cagoule or raincoat – why oh why is North Face not the brand of choice for your average commuter?

As it was quite warm in the train, most people were gently steaming and the inside of the windows began to blur with condensation. And, there was a general smell of damp dog mixed with damp cheese sandwiches permeating the atmosphere. Which is not a good smell.

And the people were depressed. Many were trying to sleep. Some were actually reading. I mean real books and newspapers. I quickly surmised that this was due to the lack of wi-fi, which meant that we were traveling in a time machine circa 1974, before technology; even before the invention of the Sony Walkman or the iPod.

No one had anything to do. No laptops or tablets and no phone signal. There was literally nothing to do but read or sleep. Thank God that people were not resorting to conversation and social interaction, at least. Small mercies. Many of those who slept were making noises which, frankly, should only ever be heard within the walls of their own spare room. And, there was far too much drooling and dribbling for my liking.

And the journey was slow. We stopped everywhere. And everywhere we stopped was nowhere. Or, nowhere that you would want to stop in, at least. There were places that even this Midland-born had never heard of and have already forgotten. And, because the train was slow, things that were normally a blur on my way down to London, were suddenly visible to me and in great detail. What some people do in their back gardens is disgusting. It was an endless onslaught of graffiti and graveyards of abandoned trains from a bygone era, and factory workers grabbing a cheeky ciggie sheltered under a piece of corrugated iron. I am glad to be back on board a Virgin Pendolino.

Mr Branson, I take it all back. And, commuting is definitely not my bag.

May 18, 2015 at 8:58 pm 1 comment

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