Wednesday, August 23, 2017

RUN AWAY...

Our Golf Correspondent reports...

I wondered why Snopper had been absent from the golf courses of mid-Kent recently, so I caught up with him the other day to find out what was going on.  It seems that, following his intensive course of lessons, he has decided to `hone his game` at the driving range before venturing back on to the fairways.

I watched as he went through his routine at the range and I can understand his desire to make sure his game is at least presentable before re-entering the competitive environment.   I watched his remodelled stance, his remodelled grip, his remodelled swing and his newfound attitude which is designed to come to terms with the challenges of the royal and ancient game.   Snopper quoted the advice given by Jack Nicklaus all those years ago - "The more I practice, the luckier I get."

So how was our anti-hero getting along, I wondered.  Well, I have to report that his session on the range produced some really quite respectable results - a few genuinely decent shots, some `OK` ones, perhaps a few more in the `adequate` category and some that were reminiscent of the old Snopper we have come to know so well over all these years.

But the finale to this particular visit must surely have been the very last of the 50 balls he hit from the driving range bay.  You see, he always likes to finish well and so he addressed the last ball as it peered up at him from the green baize practice mat:  his determination to leave on a high shone through clearly as he took up his new stance, checked his new grip and swung through the ball as he has been encouraged to do.

Sadly, the result was not the climax he had in mind as the ball squirted off the toe end of the club, smashed against the side panel of the driving bay, ricocheted with an almighty bang and was never seen again.   At which point, Snopper collected his clubs and ran away.   Seemed the sensible thing to do at the time and, so far at least, there are no reports of claims for damages being reported.   

For some, it seems, the more they practice the more things remain the same.......

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

A SMILE, A SONG AND THE SHOW MUST GO ON...

Like most people, I was sorry to hear of the passing of Sir Bruce Forsyth.  In fact, I`m always sorry to hear of anyone`s passing but it seems that when someone of Brucie`s standing leaves us, there is an outbreak of national mourning which at times reaches the point of being almost self defeating.  It`s almost as if there is a need to turn  sad events such as this into yet another theatrical production.

So, despite the pull out supplements, the tribute specials on TV, the knighthood, the multimillionaire legacy for his former Miss World widow, the bust already in place at the London Palladium and the mansion alongside Wentworth Golf Club, there are now calls for a public memorial service at Westminster Abbey no less, a permanent memorial in his home town of Edmonton and the BBC is considering erecting a statue outside the BBC Television Centre.  I`m no longer a TV licence payer, which is just as well as I would genuinely hope that the statue might not be funded from the licence fee but from public donations from those who think it appropriate.

Of course, Brucie was a much loved part of the lives of so many people for so many years and the last thing I want to say is to enter anything other than my thanks for his 75 years of entertainment but I think we are in danger, yet again, of turning this sad moment into an event of which I`m not sure even Sir Brucie would approve.  I might be wrong, of course.

We seem these days to be turning into a nation which almost thrives on tragic events - I suspect `social media` might not help, where too many people feel the need to be associated with this kind of event - a bit more of the `look at me` obsession - and leave `RIP` messages for people they don`t even know.

No matter, I`m sorry Brucie has left us but I will content myself in my own mind by allowing his passing to be restful and peaceful.




Friday, August 18, 2017



The last time and place I expected to see yet another example of the double standards so prevalent in modern day living was at the start of the second day`s play in the first Test Match between England and the Windies at Edgbaston.


Now of course there is, quite properly, worldwide condemnation for yesterday`s appalling events in Barcelona and so one can understand why today`s play began with a minute`s silence in memory of those who perished and were injured in Barcelona.  I`ve absolutely no problem with that, in fact it is to be applauded. 

But what puzzles me is why there was not either another minute`s silence or even a two minute one so as to also remember the victims of the dreadful loss of life earlier in the week in Sierra Leone.  Just saying, that`s all.


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Well, that might be a slight exaggeration but I have had enquiries from about half a dozen aficionados asking when I might return to clog up the internet still further.

Pleased to report that with the help of an offspring who is well into his 50s and thus fully up to date with computer stuff, my new computer is up and running.

The curious thing is that whilst I have been away from these pages, very little has grabbed my attention to the point where I felt compelled to rant about much.  The problem is that there is so much grief, uncertainty, hype and downright bad news that it`s impossible to go on about it all.   So I`ve fallen back on that old subject of football, which is indeed the gift that just keeps giving.

The Premier League has just kicked off and my heroes of the south coast have had an interesting time of it. The new manager, Mauricio Pellegrino, has brought a new, more positive, management style to the squad who have apparently `bought into it` - that is with the exception of the captain, Virgil van Dijk, who has put in a transfer request following interest (and no doubt another shed-load of cash) from Liverpool.

The season`s first game ended in a 0-0 draw at home to Swansea but despite having 29 shots on goal only two of them were on target meaning that it is now nine hours of football at St. Mary`s without the Saints managing to score.  But football can always produce moments of unintentional irony.  This time it was Dusan Tadic who, having blazed a gilt-edged scoring chance wide of the upright from all of two yards out, suggested in a post match interview that "We need to be more clinical in front of goal."   

Oh well, I suppose there might be some comfort in self-awareness.  If only it were true.


Tuesday, August 01, 2017


A WALK IN THE SHADE....

It`s high Summer here in deepest Kent and there are occasions when Barney`s walkies need to be in the shade rather than subject his paws to hot pavements.   So, this afternoon we paid another visit to Holly Hill which is a public open space hidden away on the crest of the North Downs above the Medway Valley.

In 1943 the area was left to the then Malling Rural District Council in the will of Mr. FH Cripps Day and has remained in the ownership of successive local councils since then.  It comprises some 31 acres of mainly broadleaf woodland and at 196 metres it is one of the highest points on the North Downs.   In 1946 the Ordnance Survey constructed one of its 6,500 trigonometric points which were used in the mapping of the country and it`s from the Holly Hill `trig point` that you get expansive views across north Kent and, on a clear day, towards London.   

The photo at the top is one I took today looking out from the wood towards a neighbouring field which is a riot of colour thanks to the rosebay willowherb.   Quite a contrast between the deep shade of the wood and the sunlit field beyond. 

I also took this other photo on the right from the trig point and you can just about make out the towers of Canary Wharf, some 30 miles away - and yet another contrast, this time between the mayhem of London and the utter peace and tranquility of today`s walk in the shade.........

(I am experiencing some serious computer issues which I fear may mean that I will have to invest in a new one and which might mean that I will be absent from these pages for a while.  I hope to resume `normal` service - whatever that might be - before too long.)


Friday, July 28, 2017


ANY HIGHER ?

I`ve long been fascinated by numbers.  Don`t really know why as I was pretty duff at sums when I was at school.  I guess it may be that, as you get older, you become more interested in more things.  Just a quick example.  The number 26.

What is so very special about 26 is this - it is the only number in the whole panoply of numbers from one to infinity and beyond which is sandwiched between a squared number and a cubed number (25 = 5 x 5; 27 = 3 x 3 x 3) and it was our old friend Pierre de Fermat - he of the famous last theorem - who not only discovered this fact but also a proof for it, which turned out to be infinitely more difficult than the fact itself.

I recall too that when our three sons were little and we went on long car journeys to holiday destinations, we played a numbers game to ease the boredom of the journey for them.  This consisted of finding which of the three of them could spot the pub name with the most numbers in it - Three Squirrels, Five Bells and so on - until one of them claimed to have spotted a pub named The Ten Thousand Pilgrims.  He was, of course, banned from the game and made to sit in the middle of the back seat for the rest of the journey.

In more recent years I have become interested in place names in the UK.  My favourite county for names is the county of my birth, Dorset.  Who can fail to be charmed or puzzled by places such as Ryme Intrinseca, Whitchurch Canonicorum, Melbury Osmond and Melbury Bubb, Minterne Magna or Piddletrenthide.   And it was whilst trawling through the place names of Dorset that I came across Sixpenny Handley and it got me wondering how many other place names there might be in this country which have numbers in them....and how long before you run out of numbers.

So:

Onehouse, Suffolk
Two Mills, Cheshire
Three Bridges, Sussex
Four Marks, Hampshire
Five Oak Green, Kent
Sixpenny Handley, Dorset
Sevenoaks, Kent
Eight Ash Green, Essex
Nine Elms, London
Tenterden, Kent
Ruyton - X1- Towns, Shropshire
Twelveheads, Cornwall

..............................................I wonder if anyone can go any higher.




Tuesday, July 25, 2017


A confession.   Yes, I am one of the billions now who use Facebook and in my case I do so in order to keep in touch with people and places which are dear to me.  People such as good friends, old comrades from my old regiment - the 10th Royal Hussars; Southampton Football Club and the fans forum, my old schools, people here in the village where I live; and places such as Cornwall, Gerrans and Portscatho, Fawley and Blackfield and Hythe and The Waterside.   Blackfield was where I spent most of the war years, sleeping under the stairs as the bombs rained down on Southampton every night and Fawley was where I first went to school.  

Hythe on the shore of Southampton Water is where we first lived as a family after my father came home after five years as a prisoner of war in Stalag V111B in Lamsdorf and it was at Hythe that I spent a wonderful boyhood with the sea on one side and the New Forest just up the road.  And in the last day or two, someone has posted some photos of Hythe on the Hythe and Waterside Facebook site and they brought back some very happy memories of those times.  With the consent of the photographer - and maybe in a fit of self-indulgence - here are those photos and the memories they recalled.   

The first is taken from what is now a little park that leads down to the water`s edge from The Grove - an imposing building which houses the offices of the Hythe and Dibden Parish Council.......
(Please click on photos for larger images)

When my father resumed civilian life after his trials in that unrelenting Stalag, he worked for the then BOAC, who had their flying boat maintenance operation at Hythe and we lived in a cottage next to The Grove, which was then a large private house and grounds.  I don`t know how or why but we were allowed to walk down to the end of what was the kitchen garden, which ended at the sea wall you can see in the picture.  

This next picture shows some of the new development that has taken place on the site of the former BOAC depot.........

All those years ago - late 40s/early 50s - there used to be a very large black hangar, where the flying boats were maintained and I still remember being enthralled as my mother and I used to sit on the sea wall and watch, spellbound, as firstly the bow of those great liners, Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth, would appear from behind the hangar and slowly the whole of those majestic ships would come into view. An awesome sight for me as a young boy  and one that lives with me still.

Lastly, another view of the shoreline of Hythe.......

As well as the Cunard liners, of course, there were passenger ships from all over the world coming in and out of Southampton, so Hythe was a good place to go beach combing. One of my school friends from Hythe Primary School and later Hardley, Billy Scammell and I used to spend many hours scouring the shore and we became fascinated by the empty matchboxes which had been thrown over board and washed up from the passing ships.  And so began our collection of match box tops and I still have mine to this day, 70 years on from those happy childhood days.   

Some years ago I discovered that Billy Scammell had passed away - in 2000 at the age of just 60 - when he left Hythe, as I did,  he went on to become a much admired and respected poet, author, critic and biographer.  He is remembered by a blue plaque on his old house in Alexandra Road but as we lost contact, having gone our separate ways, I have no idea whether he kept his collection. What I do know is that he retained a deep affection for Hythe, which features in some of his poems as `the village by the sea.`

So my thanks to the photographer, Julie Yeates, for taking these iconic photographs and for allowing me to reproduce them here.   Thanks for the memories, Julie, of a happy childhood in a happy place.  I hope it won`t be long before I can make another return visit.



Saturday, July 22, 2017

A POIGNANT REMINDER....

It was just three weeks ago when, having paid a visit to my brother-in-law and his wife`s idyllic Cornish retreat, we stopped off on the way back to pay a return visit to nearby Coverack, a delightful village lying deep in The Lizard.   Many, many years ago, we visited Coverack and in those days it was fairly quiet and peaceful and I remember falling asleep on the harbour wall, seduced by the out of the way tranquility and the timelessness of the village.  Anyway, here`s a photo of that harbour I took on our recent visit.  The village was still quiet, the evening air was wonderful and the sun still shone down on a scene that can only be found in those benign Cornish fishing villages........


....and as I turned the camera around I caught this glimpse of a Coverack resident sitting out in her cottage garden enjoying the evening sunshine.......


Three weeks on and it`s all so very different, as Coverack was left reeling from the effects of a flash flood that ripped through the village, wreaking havoc, destruction and considerable disruption to the lives of the community.   Here`s what that same spot from where I took those photos in Coverack looked like just a few short days ago.......



Yet another poignant reminder of the force of nature and the disruption that it can cause even to such quiet, beautiful, unspoiled places as this.   Now there have been recent occasions when communities and local authorities have been the subject of stinging criticism for the way they have responded to arguably more devastating incidents than the one at Coverack.

But it is refreshing to see just how the efficient and effective response by all of the emergency services, Cornwall Council and their contractors has been welcomed and praised by the good folk of Coverack and who themselves have responded so well to the shattering experience with which they were faced.

All the more reason to look forward to another visit to a place that pulls together rather than one which pulls apart.

(As ever, please click on the photos for bigger and better images.)

Thursday, July 20, 2017

CURIOUSER AND CURIOUSER..

Yes, I think I have finally arrived in Alice in Wonderland.  Out of a feeling of anxiety as a Saints fan or, more likely, sheer curiosity, I find myself looking at the `gossip columns` for news of football transfers before the start of the new season.  

And today I`m left stunned by the report that a certain Neymar, of Barcelona fame, is being linked with a move to Paris Saint Germain. It seems that Mr. Neymar has a buy-out clause in his Barcelona contract that requires any other club to pay a minimum  of £196million for his signature.  In addition Mr. Neymar will receive £45million just for signing on and pick up a weekly wage of £560.000 tax free for five years. And all so that Mr. Neymar can run around a field sticking a pig`s bladder into an onion bag. It`s either a parallel universe or Alice`s Wonderland writ large.

No wonder I harp back to and long for the days of dubbin, Sloan`s liniment, rattles and half an orange and a fag at half time.  I sometimes wonder whether the excesses of the upper echelons of the football world realise that those very excesses are likely to alienate the sensible whilst merely pandering to the bonkers.  And no wonder too that I take comfort in the relative sanity of Southampton, Truro City, Forest Green Rovers and Maidstone United.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

ONCE MORE INTO THE BREACH ?
From our Golf Correspondent....

And so eight weeks of intensive tuition has finally come to an end as today Snopper completed his golf lessons under the watchful eye of a teaching professional at a nearby club. (It`s worth noting that both the teaching professional and the club have opted for anonymity, which I will of course honour in this report.)

Now today marked Snopper`s 78th birthday and as a friend remarked over lunch last week, it`s difficult to get your head around the notion of having might have been worth it.   When he embarked on the course of lessons all those weeks ago, the problems encountered by his tutor were simply that Snopper`s grip was wrong, so too his stance and his swing and as time went on it also became apparent that his attitude to the royal and ancient game lacked a certain je ne sais quoi.  Let`s just say that Snopper`s golf was rubbish.

But at the end of today`s proceedings, the professional conceded that Snopper`s driver and iron play had perhaps now reached a stage of adequacy and although a little more practice was needed there was hope that he might be able to live with his limitations concerning chipping and getting out of bunkers.   To be fair, he has had loads of experience trying to get out of bunkers but by and large he took some confidence and satisfaction from the end of term report.

So instead of having more lessons, Snopper is now encouraged to get back out on the course and play.   All well and good, of course, and we will have to see how that goes but even so I think fellow golfers at his home course of Poult Wood should perhaps be forewarned of Snopper`s impending return.   His one disappointment, of course, is that despite the remarkable improvement in his playing prowess and potential, he discovered that it was too late for him to join in at Royal Birkdale tomorrow.  Small mercies indeed. 

Friday, July 14, 2017

EXPERIMENTAL PHOTOGRAPHY...

This is what you get when you point the camera directly into the sun setting over Penpol Creek;   sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn`t.  I think this one did:-


Monday, July 10, 2017

THE OBVIOUS SOLUTION...

I see that Sir Vince Cable, recently reinstalled as an MP following his all too brief time away from the Mother of Parliaments and the likely new leader of the Liberal Democrats now that Tim Farron has completed his gap year, says he is "beginning to think that Brexit might never happen."

He goes on to say that "enormous" divisions in both the Labour and Conservative parties and a "deteriorating" economy would make people think again.   "People will realise that we didn`t vote to be poorer and so I think the whole question of continued membership will once again arise," he said.   He went on to suggest that, whilst the LibDem policy of a second referendum on the terms of a Brexit deal didn`t "really cut through in the general election," it could offer voters "a way out when it becomes clear that Brexit is potentially disastrous."

All part of the growing, insidious and relentless `campaign` to brainwash people to think again and reverse the referendum decision to leave the European Union.  My fear is that, in the end, people may be frightened off paying whatever the financial and economic cost may be rather than being inspired by the opportunities and freedoms that leaving the EU will bring.  And comments like those from Vince Cable, the BBC, Sky, parts of the print media, social commentators and so called`celebrities` are all part of the plot.

Anyway, a couple of things following Cable`s comments.  First, maybe the Liberal Democrats should undergo a name change to the Liberal Undemocrats, since they clearly have no respect for the democratic process whereby the majority of voters opted to leave the EU.   But also the obvious solution to the LibDems` policy review must be that, whilst they will doubtless say they do respect the outcome of the referendum, the final outcome of the negotiations should result in the UK staying in the single market and the customs union and remaining subject to the diktats of the European Courts.  Bingo!!

Saturday, July 08, 2017

SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE ?

Yes, folks, today is indeed a very special day. Now for some people, the day might revolve around sporting issues - the British and Irish Lions drawing the series against the New Zealand All Blacks; the third day of the first test match at Lord`s between England and South Africa; the next stage of the Tour de France where Chris Froome is grimly hanging on to le maillot jaune; or even, believe it or not, a plethora of pre-season football matches. Oh, and I almost forgot Wimbledon, which is, of course, utterly forgettable.
  
Speaking of football, our street`s local hero, Gillingham`s box-to-box midfield dynamo cum pacy flanker and attacking wing-back with a good engine and an eye for a pass, recently married Scott ("Buzzin` Six-Pack") Wagstaff, featured in last night`s away fixture at nearby Faversham Town.  Waggy played 45 minutes, which was highlighted by him providing an incisive pass for the Gills` opening goal but also saw him blaze the ball over the bar when well placed. Still, it`s early days, to be fair and plenty of time to get his mojo working.

Back to today and the choices just keep coming.  For devotees of left wing socialism there is the Durham Miners Gala, where Jeremy Corbyn is sure to rant on about cuts in public services and how awful everything is and, of course, for those of a certain je ne sais quoi there is the London Pride thingy, the start of the Pride season up and down the country.

Now whilst neither of these events holds any attraction for the likes of me - aged, grumpy, set-in-my-ways, not a little bewildered at the changes that have occurred in my getting on for 80 years - it`s good to see that today there is something for everyone of whatever political, race, ethnicity,gender or spectating penchant they may have.   But, me being me, I will look out hopefully for the Stockbrokers and Bankers Gala in Canary Wharf, whilst I try desperately to convince myself that in a distant galaxy, far far away, there is a Straight Pride thingy going on right now.

Nurse!!!!

Friday, July 07, 2017


ALWAYS RIGHT, NEVER WRONG...


This is a picture I`ve nicked from the BBC Newswatch web page and just beneath the picture on the web page it says, "Viewers opinions on the coverage of events by BBC News, addressed by the editors and decision makers in charge."  Honest, that`s what it says.

I`ve watched this short, 15 minute programme now and again, which isn`t always easy as it`s shown at obscure times on obscure channels and I`m not sure it`s even listed.  No matter, the `viewers` with opinions write in or text or e-mail or something and some of them even turn up either on home made videos or ones produced by the BBC as an `aid to viewer inclusiveness.`

Now not just recently - but frequently and regularly - opinions have tended to be questionable about the BBC`s news coverage and in particular about the thorny subject of Brexit.  A cross party group of MPs have just published a report that is highly critical of the way in which the BBC are covering the issue of Brexit and they found a strong tendency for the BBC to accentuate the negatives, for example opening reports with phrases such as "despite Brexit".......the economy is doing rather well, etc; and invariably to report negative issues, the latest being the threat to Wimbledon`s strawberries because the Kent fruit growers can`t get hold of enough foreign pickers.  The BBC should, of course, be balanced and impartial.  Fat chance.

Anyway, whatever the issue for criticism of BBC news might be, up pops an `editor` or a `decision maker in charge` to respond the the viewers opinions.   And guess what, they are always right, never wrong and never, ever admit to or apologise for getting it wrong. On the matter of the MPs` report, a BBC spokesman said words to the effect that the BBC is strictly impartial and takes its balanced reporting extremely seriously.   Well, he would wouldn`t he?

A hundred years ago in a former life, like most people I was often guilty of getting things wrong and I always found the best solution was to admit to the mistake, give an honest answer as to how it came about and demonstrate the steps taken to see that it won`t happen again.  How refreshing it would be if the editors and decision makers in charge did the same.  They might discover that it`s far less stressful to be honest and that it`s not a crime to be wrong now and again.   The real crime is usually the cover-up and dealing with viewers opinions in a manner bordering on contempt.   Well, it is the BBC, isn`t it?


Thursday, July 06, 2017

Yes I know it is the so-called `closed season` in domestic football but here we are in early July and games are still going on - Rangers losing to some Luxembourg outfit in the early stages of the Europa League for example.   But it`s the off-field activities, rumours and speculation that seem to grip the starved minds of the football fanatics.

And I guess I`m no different, although being a Southampton fan, I might tend to take a more jaundiced, more bewildered view of what`s going on. A few examples have come to mind in the last week or so.

The first concerns our old friend John (The LegEnd) Terry, late of the parish of Chelsea and now apparently taking up residence in Birmingham.   Now Terry has a history of self parody which sets him apart, perhaps culminating in his extraordinary `performance` at a Champions League Final when, not having played or been on the bench for that game, he still felt it his place to tog himself up in full kit, go up the stairs, collect the cup and brandish it around for all to see.  Goodness knows what Wayne Bridge must have thought. Now Terry has arrived at Birmingham his early announcement that he sees his future as a manager of his beloved Chelsea again demonstrates the limitless nature of his arrogance.

I`ve been watching the transfer speculation and it seems that Chelsea and Manchester United (those well known twin impostors) are determined to recruit just about every player who might or even might not come on to the transfer market.  Today`s idiocy suggests that United are looking to spend £100,000,000 on one Romelu Lukaku whose claim to fame is that he seems adept, given half a chance, of burying the ball in the back of the net.   And Chelsea`s very own enfent terrible, Diego Costa, is demanding no less than £400,000 a week for the privilege of him staying at Stamford Bridge.   It`s all utterly mad and increasingly meaningless.

Turning lastly to matters closer to home, Southampton have dismissed French manager Claude Puel for finishing eighth in the Premier League and narrowly losing the League Cup Final at Wembley, but the truth is more that Puel`s style of play did not find favour with the St. Mary`s faithful, having been brought up on a diet of fast flowing, reckless, desperate relegation battles.

Instead of M.Puel, we now have one Mauricio Pellegrino, a 6`4" former centre back from Argentina, via the Spanish League.  Arguably our most successful of recent seasons was under the management of another former centre back from Argentina, via the Spanish League.  His name was Mauricio too.  I hope the Saints board were not under the illusion that they had managed to entice Mauricio Pochettino back from Tottenham, but in the bonkers world of football, you just never know.

Sunday, July 02, 2017


FORECASTING MADE SIMPLE...

Living as I do in the good ol` U of K, I suppose I share the national obsession with the weather which can of course, be very unpredictable and ranging from scorchio to brass monkeys and everything in between - if you get my drift.   To quote Tom Jones, it`s not unusual for us to have the four seasons in one day and so, along with our weather obsession, I guess we might also be obsessed with the weather forecasts.

Now some of these are worth watching for their entertainment value - Tomas Schafernaker  (?sp); Alexis Green, the well known Saints babe who presents the weather forecast on BBC South Today;  David Brain who not only does the same on BBC Spotlight South West but also is prone to including videos of well known south west locations;  but by and large, weather forecasts at least on TV tend to be pretty dull affairs, if not a bit complicated for those of us without degrees in atmospheric science or meteorology.  I suppose the most riveting are the forecasts on BBC Radio which include such items as the state of the sea (usually rough or slight); winds (usually light to variable); and visibility (precipitation within sight, etc.)

Now  Porthallow in deepest Cornwall marks the mid point of the 630 mile long south west coast path and, as an aid to travellers and locals alike, has installed a weather stone, designed to make forecasting simple, quick and accurate.   Here it is:-


I took this photo on a recent visit but some of the detail  was obscured by the stone itself. Just to fill in the gaps, the forecast for sunny is `shadow on ground;` the one for snowing is `white on top;` foggy is `can`t see stone;` and when the stone is swinging, it means it`s windy.  So congratulations to the good folk of Porthallow for this splendid initiative which, if it catches on, could save the BBC £millions. 

Wednesday, June 28, 2017


A FORTNIGHT IN AN AFTERNOON..

As usual, the magic of a week away in Cornwall has worked wonders for my essential maintenance and despite being back already in the same old, same old routine/rut of gardening, shopping, car stuff and all the other essentials of modern day living, I find myself looking wistfully back on the days of last week - was it really only last week? 

The photo above is one I took on one of our early morning walkies with Barney our faithful retriever before the summer heat reached scorchio proportions and it shows a look across the creek where the sound of silence was deafening.   I didn`t read a newspaper all week - the nearest shop was a whole world away - but I had access to the red button, so kept abreast of current affairs.

And I saw that Theresa May`s hard time was continuing.  She`s had a rough ride lately - a duff election campaign followed by a duff election result;  the tragedies of Manchester, London Bridge, Grenfell Tower;  the ongoing Brexit wrangles both at home and in Brussels;  the need to stitch a deal together with the DUP - the list goes on.  And as I wandered through the footpaths and around the creeks of that timeless bit of Cornwall, I found myself visualising Theresa`s opening remarks at yet another COBRA meeting.......

"Good moaning.  I`ve been reading that Snopper bloke`s blog and he seems to have found a place where you can spend a fortnight in an afternoon - just the pace of life I could do with right now.  So I said to Philip last night that I`ve had enough of all the ass I`ve got to put up with so I`m buggering off down to Cornwall to live happily ever after.  Over to you Boris, David, Philip..... - `bye."

Well, you could hardly blame her.

Friday, June 16, 2017


...I`m not sure you`re going to like this...

But here goes anyway.   Now, of course, like everyone else I have been appalled by the tragic and horrific events that have taken place at Grenfell Tower in London.  It`s impossible, for those of us not directly involved, to imagine the harrowing experiences of the occupants, their neighbours, families and friends and I have nothing but the most profound sympathy for all those affected.

But the images on television, the accounts on the radio and the reports in the print media have perhaps made it more evident that in this so called United Kingdom, there are at least two quite separate countries - one is called London and the other is called the rest - although I suspect that there are yet more separate countries in the big conurbations up and down the rest of the country.  I feel a bit uncomfortable at this confirmed realisation.

Next, I notice that today`s anniversary of the murder of MP Jo Cox is to be marked by an event over this coming weekend called The Great Get Together.   It must have passed me by in my Dibley-esque Kentish enclave but apparently the event will involve `thousands of street parties and baking competitions` all over the country to `celebrate the life of Jo Cox.`

Now I`m sure I`m missing the point and, once again of course, I have the deepest sympathy for Jo Cox`s family and friends over her tragic and brutal killing.   But - yes, there is always a but with me - whilst I fully understand the need and desire for her family to mark the anniversary I wonder how the friends and families of all those others who have been murdered in what now seems an almost daily occurrence feel.  I suspect they are mourning and `celebrating` the lives of their own loved ones in their own way, perhaps with the private sincerity that befits both them and the occasion.   We seem to be prone to straying into the realms of celebrity mourning?  If so, I`m not sure it`s very appealing.

And lastly, the BBC.  Now being an elderly curmudgeon I don`t have to pay the compulsory licence fee, but if I did I might just be a tad miffed at their obviously biased coverage given not only to the tower block tragedy but also to so many of the other major issues of the day.  It`s time the BBC remembered the words of Johnny Mercer in accentuating the positive, eliminating the negative, latching on to the alternative and most certainly not messing with mister in between.

So there we are - a few things off my chest before I`m afraid I have to close down these pages for a while for what is euphemistically described as `essential maintenance.`

Tuesday, June 13, 2017


A SIMPLE SOLUTION...

With all the fuss and bother surrounding Theresa May and HM Gov. perhaps the biggest worry for our Prime Minister is the prospect that the Queen`s Speech to Parliament might have to be delayed.   I can imagine that that might cause an irreversible rift in relations between Her Majesty and her Prime Minister, especially as it might involve the Queen having to miss the Royal Ascot horse racing thingy.

Well, here`s a simple solution.  Rather than all the pomp and circumstance of the Queen delivering her speech to the assembled Lords and Commons in Westminster, why can`t she deliver it from  Ascot on a video link?  Either from the royal box (I`m pretty sure there must be one) or even as she proceeds in her horse drawn buggy down the Royal Mile?

To every complex problem, there is always a simple solution - if I carry on like this I might yet cop for a gong, which I would be happy to accept in the post.  Simples.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

A GREAT ESCAPE....

Took Barney, our golden retriever, for a nice long walkies this morning around our local `award winning` country park.   As I keep saying, it`s a mad, mad, mad, mad world from which I find escapes in things like football, cricket, golf and walking the dog.  Especially walking the dog, which is a real treat - it does me good, keeps me on the move and it`s always a pleasure to be in Barney`s agreeable company.   

Anyway, during our exploration of the `award winning` country park, we came across a few interesting things.  For example, they run a `bird of the month` feature on the notice boards and this month`s `bird of the month` is the sedge warbler.  It`s an interesting bird - it  overwinters in sub-Sahara Africa but obviously prefers the award winning country park during our summers.  I had my suspicions when Barney and I walked past some sedge and we heard a bit of warbling going on.

They also run a photographic competition, which is yet another of the admirable initiatives to encourage and sustain interest in what the park has to offer.  I had seen photos - on Facebook I think - taken there of a poppy-dominated wild flower meadow and this morning we managed to find it.  I took some photos of my own and here`s one:-
(please click on photo for larger image)

So, for someone like me, steeped in the knowledge and charm of the natural world, a visit to the country park is always worthwhile and I can quite see why it is, quite properly and deservedly, `award winning.`

Friday, June 09, 2017


PARDON ?

I`m not going to go on about the General Election result - maybe bizarre would best describe the situation in which we find ourselves. But if I`m looking for bizarre, perhaps the best example lies with the seven elected Sinn Fein members of the Westminster Parliament.  Now for years, the likes of Gerry Adams, having been elected to represent the good folk of Northern Ireland, have refused to take their seats in Westminster.

Sinn Fein`s central aim is for a united Ireland.  It opposes Westminster`s jurisdiction in Northern Ireland and its oath to the Queen, so all of their elected MPs abstain from sitting in Parliament.  Now and again, whilst they work for their constituents, they visit Westminster to use its facilities and meet with government ministers but they refuse to sit in any institution they do not see as legitimate.

Now when I was working, I`m pretty sure that if I refused to attend my place of work I wouldn`t be in the job for long and, as a UK taxpayer, I might be a touch annoyed if these Sinn Fein MPs are drawing their MPs salaries and expenses.   The photo above claims that they are `New Voices for a New Era.`   It would be nice to hear from them now and again in the mother of parliaments even if I might not like what they have to say.

Thursday, June 08, 2017

A TIMELY WITHDRAWAL ?...

Amongst all the sound and fury of today`s General Election and all the other mayhem in today`s world, there is at least one news item to raise the spirits of us Saints fans.   I refer, of course, to the apology issued by Liverpool after being caught red-handed for allegedly making an illegal approach for the signing of Saints` centre back, Virgil van Dijk.

Now, Liverpool have form on a number of counts over issues such as this.  Back in 2012 they were forced into an embarrassing apology to Fulham for attempting to prise Clint Dempsey away from Craven Cottage.. More recently - in April this year - Liverpool were handed a two year ban from recruiting academy players from other clubs following the alleged `tapping up` of a 12 year old Stoke City player.  So much for the innocence of youth.

But perhaps their most telling offence has been to systematically recruit players from Southampton over the past couple of years.  Now we Saints fans might have accepted the financial need for Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Callum Chambers to end up at Arsenal and even Gareth Bale leaving for Tottenham; but Liverpool prising away Nathaniel Clyne, Dejan Lovren, Adam Lallana, Sadio Mane and even Rickie Lambert Southampton`s Goal Machine (RLSGM) has been almost too much to bear.

And now Southampton along with their fans have themselves received a grovelling apology from Scouseland over the Virgil van Dijk affair.   It begs questions as to how all those others have slipped away and hints once more at the dark arts of football agents.   Of course, it is entirely possible that van Dijk will leave the beautiful south for richer pastures new but for once Southampton FC have shown some resilience by referring their concerns to the Premier League who have predictably decided to take no action following the Liverpool apology having been accepted.   Even so, one is left to consider whether that apology and subsequent withdrawal of any further interest in van Dijk might just have been to stave off some harsher punishment given their previous history.

But at last the Saints have (for now at least) resisted the prospect of a huge transfer deal, hopefully because they don`t have to sell a prized asset any more, whereas now their options may be to sell only if they wish to.  Be that as it may, I fear we are still in for yet another of these interminable summers of chaos, confusion and bewilderment - all default conditions of being a Saints fan - amid rumours of other players departing along with the manager who took us to a Wembley final and a top ten Premier League finish.   And so once again events at St. Mary`s Stadium seem only to mirror those in the rest of the mad world in which we live.

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

FROM OUR GOLF CORRESPONDENT..

It`s been a while since I caught up with Snopper`s unending battle with the royal and ancient game and when I saw him recently, he showed me this sticker that he had displayed on his fridge.  It struck me that it might be something significant so I enquired as to its relevance in his madcap golfing world.

And so the truth came out.  You see, despite having `played` golf (I use the word advisedly) for about 40 years, it seems that Snopper had only ever had one proper golf lesson in all that time.   No wonder then, that of late he had experienced mounting frustration as his golf shots bore little resemblance to their intended targets.   In short, he had become annoyed with himself that he was not `performing` to the standard, albeit rather basic, that he had set for himself.

So he decided that the one lesson from all those decades ago perhaps needed upgrading and he has embarked on a series of lessons with a teaching professional at a local club. To say that it has been a series of revelations for him is something of an understatement. His very first revelation was to discover that he has been holding the club wrong; the second was that he has been standing wrong and the third and latest is that he has been swinging  the club wrong too.   Apart from that he`s been fine.

It remains to be seen what the rest of the lessons reveal but, at nearly 78, he is at least living proof of the message on the sticker on his fridge, although his contention that he might find himself rising in the rankings might just be a touch too ambitious.

Friday, June 02, 2017



`FIX YOU?`


Not surprising that the charity concert to be held at Old Trafford cricket ground this weekend was sold out in 20 minutes.  On a less happier note, it was disappointing to see that thousands of people are claiming free entrance by saying they were there on the night of the terrorist outrage - curious that 25,000 are making that claim when the original concert on 22nd May only housed 14,200 - yet another sign of the times we live in, I fear.

Quite apart from the occasion itself, a stunning line-up has been confirmed including Ariana Grande herself, whose concert was so tragically mired and who has conducted herself with immense dignity and generosity since it happened.  Take That will be appearing along with Robblie Williams, Katie Perry, Coldplay and a few more I`ve never heard of. 

One of Coldplay`s best songs seems entirely appropriate for this occasion - `Fix You,` which includes lines such as .......


`Tears stream
Down your face
When you lose something
You cannot replace.`

`Lights will guide you home
And ignite your bones.
And I will try to fix you.`


Back in March, I think it was, a flash mob appeared in the West Quay Shopping Centre in Southampton and gave a spontaneous and heartfelt rendering of this anthem.   Here it is.......



Coldplay might play it on Sunday at Old Trafford... it might just be a little too painful or, on the other hand, an inspired choice?

(Update:   Well, to their credit, Coldplay did deliver `Fix you,` ......although I think the flash mob version was better.  Maybe there`s less to fix in Southampton.....)