Tuesday, June 30, 2015


A BIT RICH..

And so the Greek tragedy goes on.   And yesterday, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said that he felt `betrayed` by the `egoism` and `games` played by Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and his colleagues over the negotiations with Greece`s creditors.   

Now, like it or not, Tsipras and his chums were democratically elected by the Greek voters on an anti-austerity ticket and they have been pursuing the policies on which they were elected.   It`s arguable that the Greek electors` choice of a party with populist ideals but little in the way of financial experience or aptitude might not have been the brightest choice ever made, but nonetheless it was a result that reflected the will of the majority of Greek voters and so, especially in the cradle of democracy itself, that choice should be respected.

So it`s a bit rich for the unelected EU Brussels bureaucrat not only to start telling the Greeks what they should be doing but also being disrespectful to their democratically elected leaders.   I know it will cause a good deal of turmoil and mayhem but in a way I hope the Greek referendum on Sunday gives backing to the country`s elected leaders and in so doing send a clear message to the likes of Juncker and the EU `elite` that whilst Greece may face a mess far greater than any of its creditors, at least it will be a mess of their own choosing.   


Monday, June 29, 2015


A FAILED ESCAPE BID..


It was indeed a very bad news weekend - Tunisia; Kuwait; France - and so in a desperate attempt to get away from the wall-to-wall coverage of those appalling events and ones which are simply annoying, like Glastonbury, I discovered that ITV3 were showing re-runs of their 2012 series about National Parks.   Last night`s final programme in the series was supposed to be all about the New Forest which I could claim as my spiritual home, having spent my boyhood at Hythe on Southampton Water, "where the forest meets the sea."

Now the New Forest has much to commend it - the woodlands, the heathlands, the lawns, the forest villages, the wildlife, the history, the culture, the coastline - and I thought that at least some of these might be captured in an hour long `documentary` about the area.   Not a bit of it.   Instead we what was dished up was a collage of Caroline Quentin gushing loudly and largely incoherently in a series of staged encounters, including joining a lady up a tree. joining another one rounding up and then selling a pony, joining some chef on a forage for stuff to eat, having a good time at the Romsey Show, which isn`t in the New Forest National Park and watching a man hang gliding with his dog over Barton on Sea, which isn`t in the New Forest either.

And all done with the kind of `look at me,` stentorian, self promoting `style` which she employed to ruin a similar series about Cornwall some while ago.   Now to some people, doubtless Caroline Quentin is something of a national treasure.  The truth, however, is that she has now become a national embarrassment to herself as well as to the National Parks.   So my escape bid failed miserably and so I rescued my evening by watching Nicholas Roeg`s masterpiece, `Walkabout,` on BBC 4 and hearing once more John Barry`s glorious music and the mellifluous tones of the young Jenny Agutter.   None of which has come close, however, to easing the images and suffering brought on by a weekend which will be unforgettable for all the wrong reasons.

Thursday, June 25, 2015


DIFFICULT NEGOTIATIONS..

Tense and difficult negotiations seem to be the norm these days - nothing is simple or straightforward - but the process of negotiation is, of course, well established.   A problem occurs between a number of parties;  proposals are put forward to resolve the problem to the satisfaction of each of the parties involved.   The proposals are carefully considered but, in the end, rejected.  Counter proposals are then put on the table in an effort to meet the demands of the other parties.   These too are rejected, powers of diplomacy are fully tested and just when it seems that no agreement can be reached, one of the parties blinks first.   Result.

And so the drawn out negotiations between Southampton and Liverpool over the transfer of Saints` England right back Nathaniel Clyne have seemingly been through that process and a result looks to have been achieved.  It`s understood that Liverpool`s blink will see them pay Southampton the £12.5 million they were demanding for Clyne, who has a year to run on his current contract at St. Mary`s.  In business terms this represents a good return on Saints` original investment of £2.5 million when Clyne signed from Crystal Palace, especially as Saints have already signed a ready made replacement in Portuguese international defender Cedric Soares from Sporting Lisbon.

The details will be finalised once Clyne gets back from America but the clubs have agreed the fee and so Clyne will join former Saints Rickie Lambert, Adam Lallana and Dejan Lovren at Anfield, which Liverpool seem determined to make as the destination of choice for Saints players.  I think this will bring Liverpool`s signings so far this summer to something like eight new players - they clearly believe in buying teams rather than building them and seem to have a bottomless pit of cash to squander.   

In other news, difficult negotiations continue over the Greek debt mountain, which has now reached laughable proportions and the only solution seems to be for Liverpool to buy Greece.  Dave Cameron`s negotiations about reforming the European Union have taken a bit of a knock with Her Maj. chirping up at a banquet last night that it would be a shame if the UK were to leave the bloated, power crazed, remote, bureaucratic, corrupt, self-serving EU project. I paraphrase, of course, but it`s hard to understand why she would infer such a thing as you might expect the Sovereign of all people to be especially bothered by the prospect of losing yet more, if not all, of her country`s sovereignty.

I`m not surprised that negotiations seem to get more and more difficult these days.  

Monday, June 22, 2015


GOING FOR A GONG..


Well, it didn`t take long for the true colours of the Westminster Bubble to emerge from the ashes of Labour`s election defeat.   Now there apparently exists a curious convention known as the `dissolution honours,` which allows a defeated leader to reward loyal cronies.   I imagine that these shenanigans are normally conducted rather quietly, away from the public gaze and thus avoiding the kind of criticism  that might be attracted.

This time, however, there`s a snag, which has given rise to a big falling out between former Leader Ed Milliband and Acting Leader Harriet Harman, who protested when discovering that Milliband intended to dish out a peerage to his election co-ordinator, one Spencer Livermore.   She retaliated by demanding a similar `honour` for her press chief, someone named Ayesha Hazarika.   The situation is complicated by the fact that, as things stand, Harriet - as Acting Leader of the party - outranks the crestfallen Milliband and so she is determined to stand up to him.

Labour MPs aren`t happy with this public spat and are said to be `outraged` by the prospect of peerages being give to ` a wonk and a spin doctor,` whilst overlooking two senior Labour parliamentarians, Paul Murphy and Dave Watts, who `have devoted their lives to serving their party and country with distinction and deserve the awards far more` than the two being squabbled over.

And when you look at the comparative qualifications of the four prospective peers in question, I can only agree with the back-bench MPs who are `outraged.`   It seems Mr. Livermore, who naturally lives with his partner, the Labour MEP Sebastian Dance,  is reported to have been promised a peerage when he was recruited by Ed Milliband two years ago and therefore his claim to a seat in the House of Lords seems to hinge on a misguided promise and losing the election which he was paid to co-ordinate.   Ms. Hazarika is a former actress, stand-up comedian and hit the headlines when being sworn at by Hugh Grant in a bar at the 2012 Labour Conference.  Previous to her work for Ms. Harman, she spent time in the Home Office, Downing Street and as chief press officer to Labour Cabinet Minister Patricia Hewitt. It is believed that this almighty fuss has forced Ms. Harmon to abandon her bid to ennoble her press chief. 

The whole thing smack of farce, of course, because it`s one thing to have a discredited honours system anyway, another to have  murky `dissolution honours` and quite another to even suggest that people who live off patronage and favouritism should be suitable candidates to join the ermine-clad ranks of the £300 a day Santa lookalikes that make up the second chamber of the mother of parliaments.   Or maybe they might just fit the bill after all?

Saturday, June 20, 2015



Dreckley / Dreckly - at some point in the future; soon, but not immediately; like "maƱana", but less urgent (derives from English "directly" but differs in meaning) 

One of the many charms of Cornwall is its quirkiness.   Of course, the county is rightly and staunchly proud of its cultural, if not political, independence from those `up country.`  A couple of examples from our most recent visit....

The first is that, however much the Cornish economy relies on tourism, now and again you come across little things that make you wonder just how welcome you really are.  During a recent visit, we parked in the almost secret car park above Pendower beach and so I had a look at where the rest of the few cars that were parked there came from.  Lo and behold, they were all `local` but one had a sticker on the rear bumper showing the Cornish cross with `NON EMMETT` emblazoned across the middle.   Now the Cornish word for visitors and those who have made the Duchy their retirement or second home is....Emmetts.  And this car sticker was a clear signal that  the owner was Cornish through and through.  I felt I should buy one that just said `EMMETT.`

More intriguingly, on the drive back to Rosevine from St. Anthony`s Head, I noticed a signpost in the village of Gerrans that puzzled me.   Nowadays it`s impossible to see the join between Gerrans and Portscatho but the signpost pointed the way to Portscatho just down the hill.  What took my eye was that Portscatho was spelt `PORTSCATHA.`  

Further research has shown that the same signpost points the way to St. Austell, Tregony , Percuil and St. Anthony.  All very helpful.  Only St. Austell was spelt `ST. AUSTEL,` Tregony was spelt `TREGONEY,` Percuil was spelt `PORTHCUIL` and St. Anthony was spelt `ST. ANTONY.`   All of which makes that particular signpost possibly the most intriguing in all of Cornwall.  I`m reluctant to draw its idiosyncrasies to the attention of the authorities because I`m sure, given the passage of time, it will all be put right dreckly.

Proper job !!

Thursday, June 18, 2015


A TOUCH OF CLASS..

There`s something about New Zealand that I have long admired.  A visit there has been on my bucket list for some years now, perhaps for the most bizarre reason in the history of bucket lists. Many years ago one of my sons spent some time working there and confirmed that the charm of the country lies not only in its scenery, climate and social `attitude,` but also because New Zealand is alleged to be like England was 50 or 60 years ago.   And that appeals to me;  so I can see no reason not to travel half way around the world to experience an environment and recapture an age that I remember well but which has long since disappeared in the helter-skelter of modern day Britain.

Moreover, I have always admired New Zealand sport;  the All Blacks have long been the example for others to aspire to in the world of Rugby and down the years their cricket teams have been nothing short of admirable in their attitude and aptitude for the summer game.   None more so than the current New Zealand tourists who have enthralled cricket lovers like me this season with their compelling performances in the Tests and the current 50-over one-dayers.

And they are led by an inspiring captain in Brendon McCullum (pictured) who has not only been a joy to watch with his batting but also his enthusiasm, tactical acumen and sheer enjoyment in his role as captain leading a team which follows his example.   Now post match interviews can be disheartening affairs but not so with McCullum.  After losing heavily to England yesterday at Trent Bridge, he admitted where his team need to improve and was fulsome in his praise for the way England had played.   And just when the interviewer - former England captain Nasser Hussain who should have known better - wanted to bring proceedings to an end, McCullum insisted on taking time to thank and pay tribute to retiring umpire Steve Davis, whose last game in the middle this was.

In short, New Zealand and McCullum are a class act.  In direct contrast, yesterday also saw the publication of the football fixtures for next season, which placed McCullum`s honesty, integrity and largesse in a fitting context.   Somehow, I can`t imagine John Terry applauding an opponent, as New Zealand did yesterday when Eoin Morgan was finally dismissed after his splendid hundred, and even less can I see the likes of Terry taking time in a post match interview to sing the praises of a referee.

I`m enjoying these days of roses but not looking forward to the whine, which will be upon us all too soon.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015


RETURN OF THE ANTI HERO...
Our Golf Correspondent reports..


It is some years now since Snopper graced the fairways, bunkers, woods and assorted rough of Poult Wood Golf Complex at nearby Tonbridge.   His absence has been due to factors such as dodgy knees, erratic hips, burgeoning bunions and a marked disenchantment with the Royal and Ancient game which seemed over the years to show itself in what can only be described as a battle of wills between his limited abilities and the Rules of the game.

So it was with some surprise that we found him yesterday on Poult Wood`s nine-hole course, cutting an uninspiring figure as he dragged his trolley up and down the hilly course.   Now you would have imagined that his `comeback` - if such a term can be used in this context - might have encouraged him to invest in some new equipment.  We discovered that this was, in fact, the second visit he has made recently and he explained that he had experienced problems in his earlier round by leaving his trolley at home and staggering around with his bag over his shoulder which became rather tiresome given his age and physical limitations.

"Trouble is," he explained, "I`ve had this trolley for years but as it`s been in the shed for so long, the wheels start coming off when I drag it around.   So I`ve restricted my equipment to just a few clubs and only 12 balls so as to make it lighter for the trolley to cope with."   Decisions he came to regret, however, as a number of his supply of balls were ceremoniously consigned to the aforementioned bunkers, woods and assorted rough never to be seen again; but he put this down to his limited range of clubs - a 4-wood, a 7-iron (which actually belongs to his neighbour, Mr. Slightly,) a pitching wedge and putter - perhaps not the best assortment to tackle this daunting challenge.

There was one bright spot, however, when he allegedly parred the par-3 seventh but neither this nor the rest of his round can be verified as he forgot to pick up a scorecard from the clubhouse.   He seemed quite satisfied with his afternoon efforts, however, and comforted himself with Glenn Gould`s well-worn homily which says all you need to know about Snopper and the Royal and Ancient game:-



Monday, June 15, 2015

THE HAPPY HIGHWAYS..

Well, I may not quite be up and running - more up and staggering - but I have missed these pages over the last few weeks and so I thought I would give it one more go and see whether, like me, my antediluvian computer is still up to the task.  So here goes.

We`ve been away again;  yet another visit to Cornwall and this time a return to the tranquillity of the captivating Roseland Peninsula on the south coast.   We`ve been there countless times now and yet there`s something about the area that brings a wistfulness, a longing to return time and again.   And so we have done just that.

I enjoy the peace of Gerrans Bay, the Llaregub-esque quirkiness of Portscatho, the grandeur of St. Anthony`s Head, the seduction of Molunan beach and the pines of Carricknath Point looking out at the wide expanse of Carrick Roads - just the sort of place where we can enjoy a fortnight there in just one week.   And yet there is a feeling that, for all kinds of reason, our visit last week may not come again - we may simply have exhausted what the Roseland has to offer;  we may have other places to experience;  and at nearly 76 I might just be getting a little weary of the drive, especially as last Friday it took us over nine hours to get home to deepest Kent.

The photo above, which I took last week - click on it for a larger image - shows the lane leading from Rosevine down to Porthcurnick beach, where the lane comes to an abrupt end with a panoramic view of Portscatho beyond.   We walked down that lane each day and each time I began to feel more and more like Houseman`s Shropshire Lad:-

Into my heart on air that kills
From yon far country blows.
What are those blue remembered hills
What spires, what farms are those?

That is the land of lost content
I see it shining plain.
The happy highways where I went
And cannot come again.