Wednesday, August 31, 2016


From our Golf Correspondent

A mixed return to the fairways, bunkers, woods, rough and greens of Poult Wood yesterday from ageing golfer Snopper who once again produced a round of inevitable ups and downs.  To be fair, on this occasion, there were possibly more ups than downs, partly due to a return to what Snopper beguilingly considers `form` and partly due to his increasing aptitude for a set if irons recently acquired from his benevolent neighbour.

Now his next door neighbour is one of those annoying people who, it seems without trying, become proficient at anything he attempts.  Some while ago, he treated himself to a new set of golf clubs and, following a period of `negotiation,` he kindly gave his `old` set to Snopper who, of course, was most grateful as he constantly labels himself as an elderly person struggling to survive on a fixed income in difficult economic times.

And yesterday these irons proved their worth, as Snopper played really quite well, lost a mere four golf balls and on one occasion enquired of a course warden whether he had managed to catch his drive on the par 3 second, on camera.  Sadly, no documentary evidence exists to verify that instant of adequacy, but the signs are good that our hero might be returning to the kind of golf he played before the onset of his current septuagenarian status.   Either that, or it`s another flash in the proverbial pan.  My money`s on the latter.

Sunday, August 28, 2016


One of the best places to be on a dreamy, late summer evening is here, where the tidal causeway between Bigbury and Burgh Island seems to draw people naturally to make the crossing before the tide sweeps in and Burgh Island becomes a proper island once again.   I took this photo looking back as we staggered up the hill towards Ayrmer Cove.   Makes me want to be back there before too long.......

(Please click on photo for larger image)

Wednesday, August 24, 2016


I see that Teresa May is calling for an extended honours list so as to properly reward our Olympics heroes and heroines following the astonishing triumph of Team GB in Rio.   Quite right too, although I hope the honours might be extended to those coaches and support staff behind the scenes who contributed so much to the success of our athletes.

But if I was an Olympic medallist, I might be just a tad nervous of entering an honours system that has only recently again been called into question following Dave Cameron `honouring` assorted hairdressers, cronies and donors and which, in the past, has `honoured` such luminaries as Jimmy Savile, Rolf Harris, Mick Jagger and Tom Jones.

Now we can always learn from other countries and I have often thought that the system in Russia (yes, I know) whereby success in sport is acknowledged not by some corrupt system like we have in the UK but by one which is reserved exclusively to recognise excellence in sporting achievement.  Sports people in Russia are awarded as Honoured Masters of Sport, which has various categories and includes coaches as well as athletes in all forms of sport.

Our own Honoured Masters could still have and be addressed as `Sir` or `Dame` and a trip to Buck House could also be retained.   It would herald a new order in our system of rewarding excellence and leave the traditional  arrangement to carry on bunging gongs to lollipop ladies, faithful retainers and political placemen. 

Anyway, as we`re discussing new order, let`s hear from the real New Order who, as far as I know, are still without any form of deserved official recognition.  Here`s my favourite track of theirs..........

Monday, August 22, 2016

Following on from my last post about the Facebook thing, it seems they wanted me to send an `official ID` because the photo I had used in my Facebook account turned out to be one of a certain Mr. George Clooney.  Apparently it`s not just me and there have been thousands of accounts suspended or removed in cases where people had not used their real names and so, as a security measure, Facebook have been asking for `official IDs.`

Now my initial reaction was to resist, as I wasn`t sure about the validity of their request, but a lot of digging around seemed to suggest that it might be OK after all.   In addition to which I have been conscious that my absence from `social media` might cause at least a degree of disquiet among my Facebook friends and those pages to which I have been contributing.

Now the reason my photo turned out to be Mr. Clooney was that I really didn`t have a reasonable likeness of myself and Mr. Clooney`s image was the most accurate lookalike I could find at the time.  So, I submitted a photo of my driving licence to Facebook, which showed my name, date of birth and `photo`but with other personal details blanked out, which they have accepted and reactivated my account.   So I`m back being `social` again.

The curious thing, though, is that my reactivated account still shows Mr. Clooney`s image and so it really would not surprise me at all if Mr. Clooney has had the same issue with Facebook and has been using a photo of me on his Facebook page.  One good turn surely deserves another.......

NURSE !!!!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016


I`m a self-confessed devotee of Classic FM.  It`s relaxing stuff - just what I need on a car journey and the other afternoon I heard a piece of music that sent my mind whirling off on a series of weird connections.

About 70 years ago, my parents struggling with post-war austerity, they nevertheless found the money for me to have a little pocket money (six old pennies, I think) and also a weekly `comic.`  The one I had was the Rover, full of adventure stories of derring-do, which opened my imagination and improved my reading.  

And it had adverts for all kinds of boyish things, one of which was for postage stamps - Stanley Gibbons and all that.  You could send away for a packet of stamps - `on approval` - and I began to get interested.  I would save up and send off a postal order for 1/6 and a few days later a packet would arrive, containing a selection of stamps from all parts of the world.  The ones that always intrigued me were those from Tannu Tuva.  They were spectacular, all different colours and shapes -square, oblong, triangular - and they depicted life in what seemed to be a far away mysterious land.  So I got interested in Tannu Tuva.

I thought it was just me, but fast forward to the early 1990s and I came across a book, "Tuva or Bust"  which recounted the nobel physics laureate Richard Feynman`s quest to visit Tuva, as it was by then called. (It`s now officially Tyva, as part of the Russian Federation.) After years of struggling with Soviet bureaucracy he finally received an invitation to visit Tuva, but sadly died before he could make the journey.  But like me, he was fascinated not only by the stamps but also by the remoteness - the capital, Kyzyl is close to the geographic centre of Asia, so a really long walk to the beach) - the extraordinary language, the throat singing and its general air of mystery.  

And if anything represents the essence of that part of the world, then it must be the piece of music I heard on Classic FM the other afternoon.   Here`s Alexander Borodin`s evocative, haunting `In the Steppes of Central Asia`.......

Monday, August 15, 2016


And so the Premier League is back in action and despite the more agreeable distractions of Test Match Cricket and the Olympics, I confess to a passing interest in how things went for Southampton FC over the weekend.

To say that things were `mixed` is to underplay the reality of life in an environment where the only things that seem to matter are money, money and more money.  It`s really quite depressing especially for fans like me who have followed the fortunes of one club for well over half a century.  No wonder we hark back to the days of flat caps, rattles and Sloan`s liniment.

Any road up, the Saints first game of the season ended in a 1-1 draw at St. Mary`s to visiting Watford.  Wasn`t great, could have been worse, but it could have been, oh, so much better.  Problem is we keep selling our best players to clubs who have more money and who pay outrageous wages, leaving clubs like the Saints finding it hard to compete - no such thing as an even playing field in the self-styled `best league in the world (tm).`

But what infuriates me is that when I look at other results this weekend, I see that Arsenal lost 4-3 to Liverpool, that all three Arsenal goals were scored by players from Saints` academy (Oxlade-Chamberlain, Walcott, Chambers) and two of Liverpool`s goals were scored by ex-Saints Lallana and Mane, as well as Clyne and Lovren also featuring in the Liverpool line-up.   And that was just one instant of `our`former players featuring elsewhere - it`s quite a long list.

Now, even if I was inclined to, which I cannot bring myself to even think about,  it`s much too late for me to change my allegiance to the Saints, who I first saw in 1946 when I was seven.  But it increasingly occurs to me that if you keep doing the same thing which leads to disappointment, bewilderment and despair over and over again, then truly doth madness lie that way.


Friday, August 12, 2016


To Bobbing, near Sittingbourne yesterday, where the Garden of England Crematorium sits serenely among its manicured lawns and air of peaceful isolation.   The occasion was the funeral of yet another former army comrade from my regiment, the 10th Royal Hussars. 

Now, the `shiny tenth` as we were known, is no more, having been amalgamated not once but twice until nowadays it is engulfed within the Royal Hussars (Prince of Wales Own.)   But the memories and traditions of the regiment still remain as a close knit family unit and they were represented yesterday by four of us from all parts of Kent - our regimental ties getting yet another outing as well as the reminiscences from over half a century ago.

Trouble is, this is getting to be an all too frequent occurrence and, as our numbers gradually but steadily diminish, the friends and comrades we knew seem to be fading away..... as old soldiers do. 

Monday, August 08, 2016

Our Golf Correspondent reports...

They say that things come in threes and in all the years I have been covering Snopper`s golfing exploits, I never imagined that he would find a place alongside a proper golfer and the former supreme leader of North Korea.  

First, the proper golfer and the news yesterday that Jim Furyk, he of the idiosyncratic swing,  had the round of a lifetime in the Travellers Championship by carding a score of just 58, the lowest ever recorded in a PGA Championship tournament.

But, of course, his score is paled into insignificance by the one achieved by the late Kim Jong Il, the former Dear Leader of the Democratic People`s Republic of North Korea in the early 1990s - there is some uncertainty about the actual date.  No matter, for at the Grand Opening of the Pyongyang Golf Complex, which contained North Korea`s only 18-hole course, the Dear Leader picked up a golf club for the first time in his life and fired a 38 under par round of just 34!  This was witnessed by 17 security guards who confirmed that the round included no less than 11 holes in one.   

Now, Snopper doesn`t really go in for memorable scoring - his inclusion in this report is due to more mundane, but nevertheless remarkable matters.  These days, as he wanders aimlessly into his 78th year, he can really only manage nine holes, which he did today at Tonbridge`s Poult Wood course.  His round was one of extremes - a couple of creditable pars but a scattering of quadruple bogeys, largely due to his talent for losing golf balls despite frantic searching in assorted undergrowth.

Today he lost nine - one for each hole and no less than three on the last (things do come in threes)  - and must be something of a record to go alongside those of Mr. Furyk and the dearly departed Dear Leader.  So it`s new balls please for Snopper before he goes back , undaunted, for yet another argument with the Royal and Ancient game.

Saturday, August 06, 2016


......but then again I just might.  Just one of the many intriguing lines from Mike Nesmith`s `Rio.`  Now I`m not too sure about the Olympics;  mired in controversy; serious social `issues` in Rio de Janeiro;  protests against the inordinate costs of staging the Games;  tales of pollution for the sailing competitors to navigate through;  the Russian furore; and, as ever in recent times, the uncertainty as to whether we`ll be watching athletic competitions or one between chemists.

The BBC, of course, have far more people there than the whole of the GB contingent - saturation coverage across all `platforms and devices` - so no wonder Mrs. Snopper is once again sorely miffed that Casualty has been binned for a few weeks.

There may be the odd moment of inspiration - I genuinely hope there is - but I have serious doubts whether, like the Premier League, the `product` can be sustained in the face of growing cynicism (especially from curmudgeons like me.)   Anyway,to bring a little light relief, here`s Mike Nesmith`s version of what Rio might be about.  

Or is it Reno? .......

Thursday, August 04, 2016

.......when you remember hearing a favourite piece of music?   OK, my musical tastes are very wide and I can vividly remember where I was when I first heard, say, Vaughan Williams Folk Song Suite or Holst`s Planets or even Mozart`s Laudate Dominum.   

And on the other side of my musical spectrum I still recall having parked at Southampton`s Town Quay, paid the parking fee, sat in the car eating my `packed lunch` - a couple of pork pies and a few biscuits - and tuning into Radio Solent for the pre-match build up of Southampton`s home game at St. Mary`s.   And then an interview with Saints skipper Jason Dodd followed by the first time I ever heard The Sundays - the beguiling Harriet Wheeler singing `Here`s where the Story ends.`

Not sure I`ve ever heard it played on the radio ever since but it has locked itself away in my memory as one of my favourite songs, favourite groups and most definitely favourite singers.  Maybe a relatively obscure group and certainly Harriet may not have received the fame and recognition she deserves, although I suspect that relative obscurity suits her just fine.   

Anyway, here`s the song I heard on that faraway afternoon awaiting my pilgrimage to St. Mary`s Stadium;  the odd thing is that I have never forgotten the song but I have no idea who the Saints played that afternoon or what the result may have been.  Music can do that to you sometimes........

Wednesday, August 03, 2016


I always seem to be wistfully drawn back to certain places, one of which is, in my mind at least, one of the most beautiful and peaceful places I have ever known.  It`s a quiet, unspoilt lane - a dead end that leads down to a wonderful beach and the whole point of it is that there`s nothing there, except a few cottages and, curiously for such an isolated place, two rather good hotels. 

The only `public facility` is a telephone box that is really a remnant from the days when they were all red and they all worked.  Anyway, I took this photo which shows a different perspective of my favourite lane but which really sums it up.  Oh, by the way, if that phone ever rings, I`m not there.......

Please click on photo for larger image)

Some years ago the `Planners` thought it would be a good idea to designate certain country roads here in Kent as `Quiet Lanes.`  Trouble was, wherever you are in this part of the south east, there is always the competing noise between high speed trains and Motorways - so much for quiet then.   My photo shows what a proper job they make of quiet lanes in south Cornwall.

Monday, August 01, 2016


They come round a little more slowly these days but I well remember that, in a former life, Monday mornings were looked upon with a degree of dread.  The freedom of the weekend had gone and it was back to a world of stress, pressure and frantic endeavour.   Still, there were times of escape and I remember taking this photo at St. Ives in Cornwall early on a Monday morning before the town had got going under the weight of visitors and seagulls.  I thought at the time that all Monday mornings should start like this.......