Monday, July 24

Seems the parsimonious Dutch are trending this week

Paying someone else to do the shit jobs – cleaning, cooking, mowing the lawn, household maintenance or even shopping – can buy you happiness, claim researchers. Except if you hail from the Netherlands. Of some 818 Dutch millionaires included in the survey nearly half said they spent no money outsourcing disliked tasks.

In another world, far, far away

Am listening to Eddie Mair on tonight’s PM talking to a show biz commentator about Love Island. He was holding it together so well, all the way from perplexed through to incredulity. Of course in the end Mair cracked and descended into sarcasm. As Tim Stanley says, the programme is smutty class voyeurism of the lowest order. It may be empty, pointless and stupid, but there’s no point getting your knickers in a twist. Two types of people watch this show: the rich laughing at the poor and the poor with terrible sense of aspiration. Why would you watch it? he says. How much of your precious, beautiful life are you wasting? Get off the sofa! Read a book! Find someone to have a relationship with!      …I bet Tim’s twitter thingamajig is on overdrive.

Barefoot in the yard

It makes a difference when the sun shines. I’m convinced we’d be a different country – a different people, if it deigned to appear more often. Let’s hear it for global warming. I’m struck by how different tea tastes in the open air – reminds me of those Sutton Park summers, the tented tea urns. Our second nest of swallows has fledged, adding to the flight circling above. Masses of butterflies and dragonflies too. And while we’ve seen the best of the fox gloves, purple heather has begun to appear amongst the furze.

The wisdom of age

In this morning’s Times Matthew Syed ponders the wisdom of old folks. “Chatting to people who have lived long lives is a priceless gift” he says.” It is not just the wisdom they share, but the historical context they so often bring to an understanding of the present.” While most of us appreciate the sentiment I’m not sure it justifies John Humphries’ £650k or is a reason to wheel out Joan Bakewell at the drop of a hat. Truth is that most of us pine for those now long dead so we can ask all those questions we were blind to in our youth.

Sunday, July 23

I think we can all sympathise with George

‘Pinsker’s expertise protected The Beatles’ assets with a range of creative but perfectly legal ideas to keep down their tax bill. But he found he had to warn the boys against profligacy. Early on, the press called them millionaires. Pinsker had to clarify to them that their millions were earnings, not assets, and they needed to set aside a lot of those earnings for tax. They were never happy with that – that’s why George wrote Taxman. They’d been poor boys, who’d worked hard and made money, and now someone was trying to take it away.’

If you drive a car, I'll tax the street, 
If you try to sit, I'll tax your seat. 
If you get too cold I'll tax the heat, 
If you take a walk, I'll tax your feet. 
Don't ask me what I want it for 
If you don't want to pay some more 
'Cause I'm the taxman, yeah, I'm the taxman 
Now my advice for those who die 
Declare the pennies on your eyes 
'Cause I'm the taxman, yeah, I'm the taxman 
And you're working for no one but me.

Saturday, July 22

A blast from the past

There are six rams in the far paddock. One is a formidable beast with a head resembling that of a giant pit bull. He looks capable of eating a sheep dog instead of being intimidated by one. Whenever we lock eyes I sense the challenge: ‘Any time, sonny, if you think you’re hard enough.’ Reminds me of Shiner, our late Staffie.

Dining in the sticks

I’ve struggled to generate enthusiasm for Sea Bass. Yesterday’s fish, however, – fresh from Brixham Market – went a long way to correcting my opinion. Although we’re fortunate in the South West with the quality of produce, reading Giles Coren’s restaurant reviews from his recent trip to Bath (today’s Times) merely reinforces Gudgeon’s reluctance to eat out as regularly as was once the custom. As he says, you trek to wherever, eat a bad meal in a bad building surrounded by bad people, and then come home and try to forget about it. Even the good stuff rarely rates higher than 7/10. I’ve tried a couple last month that were 3/10 at best, and neither was staffed by warty Bulgarians.

Cheap vacation

Jeremy Corbyn... “I’m having some time away then I am campaigning in marginal seats right across the country. I’m looking forward to being in Scotland for the Edinburgh Festival as part of that.”   We’ve all pulled this scam: taking a holiday under the pretext of business, having a whale of a time, and charging it to company expenses.

Assortative mating

Iranian mathematician, Stanford professor and Fields Medal winner Maryam Mirzakhani (who recently died from breast cancer) specialised in the geometry and dynamics of complex curved surfaces, working on moduli spaces, Teichmüller theory, hyperbolic geometry, Ergodic theory and symplectic geometry. She leaves a husband, Czech mathematician Jan Vondrák, and a six-year-old daughter Anahita. Of course nothing in life is a given, but I suspect Anahita is one bright little girl.

Beans on toast

A breakfast par excellence. My only concern – given you’re dashing off to work – is that bit about simmering the beans very slowly for about 40 minutes (it may take longer if they’re the dried variety). But then it is Saturday.

Breakfast like a king, scientists implore (reduces hunger cravings, especially for sweets and fats thus counteracting weight gain). Yet while featuring a photograph of every lad’s dream way of starting your day, the ‘top five brilliant breakfasts’ listed at the end of the article includes porridge topped with berries, nuts and seeds. I’d have thought more medieval peasant than king?