Wednesday, November 23, 2016


.....and a piece that came to mind as I harked back to the days of childhood.  When I was seven, I developed a pretty serious kidney disease which kept me in Southampton Children's Hospital for a few months and resulted in me missing a whole year of schooling - something I`ve been trying to make up for ever since.

Of course, those were the days before television and after returning home from hospital I used to lay in bed and listen to Children's Hour on the old BBC Home Service.  The programme came on at 5.00pm each evening and did what it said on the tin, providing entertainment and education for young listeners like me.   It had regular features and also `drama series` usually with six episodes and it was the introductory music to these series that fascinated me at the time and still live in the memory from 70 years ago. 

I remember one series was called `Ballet Shoes` and the music which introduced it was Wolf-Ferrari`s Jewels of the Madonna.  Another was a series of talks on current affairs by Stephen King-Hall, which whilst not wildly entertaining nevertheless introduced me to the overture to Reznicek`s comic opera Donna Diana. It`s a happy, jaunty piece with a haunting melody. The opera is rarely performed these days but the overture is still a popular stand-alone piece at symphonic concerts and it`s easy to understand why.   Here it is.......

Monday, November 21, 2016


I`m reliably informed that the recent BBC series, Poldark, has come to an end, which seems to have caused a degree of consternation among his feminine devotees.  This reminded me of the filming locations in Cornwall which have now become increasingly popular destinations for Poldark buffs as well as providing local entrepreneurs with the opportunity to arrange Poldark Guided Tours.

One of those locations was the out-of-the-way fishing hamlet of Porthgwarra, at the foot of Gwennap Head, and we visited there a few years ago when I took these photos.  The first shows Porthgwarra in the rush hour, whilst the second shows Mrs. Snopper looking for all the world like Miss Woodruff in The French Lieutenant`s Woman wandering the Cobb at Lyme Regis in the forlorn hope that her hero might one day appear.    At least Mrs. S. has another Poldark series to look forward to.......

(Please click on photos for larger images)

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

To yet another crematorium, this time to Barham near Canterbury for yet another funeral which seems to be an all too frequent occurrence these days.   This one was for an old friend of mine, who had passed away after a difficult year.  We had known each other since our time at school together and throughout the years of our youth, playing cricket in the same village team and sharing many `youthful interests.` 

Some minor medical problem meant that he missed National Service, but I was conscripted into the university of military intelligence and so we lost contact, went our separate ways and didn`t meet up again until about 50 years later - some ten years ago now.   After all that time, we merely looked at each other and carried on as if the intervening years had not happened.  Such is true friendship.

He was a cricket buff - like me a devotee of the beautiful game.  We both relived the memories of our partnerships at the crease and he enjoyed the last 20 years of being President of Sturry Cricket Club, close to Canterbury.   And so it seemed entirely right that today, before a full house with a packed gallery and standing room only,  his wish, to leave us by being dressed for the occasion wearing his cricket whites, was fulfilled. 


Monday, November 14, 2016

APPEARANCES CAN BE DECEPTIVE... I discovered yesterday morning, whilst out having walkies with our retriever.  I ventured into the backwaters of a nearby `country park` and took a few photos of the Autumn colours.  This one was along a peaceful riverbank and it shows a tranquil, almost seductive scene of quiet contentment.   And so it is....until you realise that just beyond that captivating hedge lies the major effluent treatment plant which deals with the `waste` from a big chunk of this part of Kent.   The scene is indeed lovely, but the scent perhaps needs a little work.......

(Please click on photo for larger image)

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

I didn`t sleep too well last night.  Things were on my mind and I kept wondering what the morning would bring but eventually I got some sleep and woke up, turned on the TV, tuned in to the only channel that mattered - and heard the news.

At first I wasn`t at all sure what to make of it but the reality of what had happened overnight finally hit home to me.   And I have to tell you that I greeted the news with something approaching disbelief.  But it was true after all and for the rest of the day I confess to having wandered around with a kind of smug grin on my face.

Yes, of course, the big surprise was that England, batting first in the first test match of the series in India had progressed to 198 for 3 and went on to end the day on 311 for 4, thanks largely to yet another fine century from Joe Root and also to Moeen Ali, who ended the day on 99 not out.  And with the likes of Stokes, who is still there, Woakes, Bairstow still to come and a tail that ends with Stuart Broad, there might be occasion for yet more smugness when I wake up tomorrow.

Now, rumour has it that there has been another surprise in the world today but please forgive me for sticking to my priorities.  After all, to be concerned with anything else on a day like today is surely the way to madness.

Monday, November 07, 2016

A sudden rush of decorating and associated tasks has kept me away from these pages for a while but now that week is over, I have had time to reflect on a few things which seem to be deeply troubling.

The week`s news has been dominated by the shenanigans concerning the `race for the White House` in the good ol` US of A.   And it troubles me considerably to see that that `race` is between a shrieking harridan of doubtful pedigree and a self-important mega-rich businessman with apparently no knowledge or experience whatsoever of politics, foreign policy or anything else to do with being the `leader of the western world.`  It truly is a choice between two of the least attractive presidential candidates there have ever been and, whoever wins, we are right to be uncertain as to what the future may hold.

And speaking of uncertainty, back here in our disunited Kingdom, there`s all the fuss about Brexit.  Now the issues and the arguments that surround it are too numerous, complex and arcane for me to even attempt to discuss them here.  But I wonder why I am deeply suspicious when I keep hearing politicians repeatedly declaring that they `of course respect the referendum result.`  I just have a feeling in my bones that we`ve seen this all before - the Irish referendum on the Mastricht Treaty springs to mind - and I just hope I live long enough to see the decree absolute finally arrive.

And so in a desperate attempt to lighten the gloom, I turn once more to football.  And what do I find this weekend?  The Saints, having seen off Inter Milan - yes, Inter Milan - last Thursday evening, stumble away to Hull City - yes, Hull City - yesterday afternoon; a result that really should not be allowed to stand.   After all, Southampton had so much more possession, more shots at goal, more corners than Hull City who had lost each of their last five games.   The result is clearly a mistake and so the game should be replayed, this time with the right result.   It`s obviously a case to be judged by the Independent Court of Arbitration in Sport, to be fair. 

And all the while, the mayhem in Syria, Iraq and other parts of our fractious planet remains unresolved.   As I started by saying, things seem to be deeply troubling.