Thursday, July 20

The hum of city life

It’s that time of year: wrapped bales stockpiled for winter feed in the corners of neighbouring fields, Gudgeon stacking cut wood – ash and beech. Sheep, cattle and horses in every direction…the sound of tractors, quad bikes and chainsaws.

Wednesday, July 19

Black holes

This morning’s communique from our local authority gives notice of a reorganisation and a corresponding tax rise. I’m led to believe there’s an appetite for cost cutting through consolidating neighbouring councils but that everyone wants more services and is anxious to pay for it. As with Margaret Thatcher’s poll tax, I’m obviously on the wrong side of history.

Tuesday, July 18

Labour MP says pork scratchings are evil

Labour MP claims Black Country flag is ‘racist’ and should be scrapped.

Why do only fools and horses work?

“A family on £14k/year has fully 75 percent of the net income of the £70k family? Even if housing benefit is disregarded, the family on minimum wage still has 50 percent of the net income of the £70k family, despite earning only a fifth as much. The reason for the anomaly is that any increase in income results in a lower tax credit payment which is then countered by increased housing benefit. This interaction means that the increasing gross earnings from £20k to £60k only increases net income by £7k – only £130 extra per week despite trebling your gross salary. Why would a company offer their staff a pay rise when the staff themselves will see little benefit? Why would an employee seek to move to a higher-paying job? Why would an employee increase their productivity? Why is home ownership declining? There is also the matter of fairness to taxpayers. The family earning £70k will pay the same total amount through taxation as the family earning £14k receive in benefits.”

Men just don’t want to do girly things, and visa versa.

Adverts which encourage gender stereotypes like women cleaning up after their family, or men failing to do housework, face being banned under strict new watchdog rules. The Advertising Standards Authority found there was evidence to support stronger rules on the basis that harmful stereotypes can restrict the choices, aspirations and opportunities of children, young people and adults. Meanwhile an Audit Scotland report confirms that male students continue to snub female-dominated courses such as nursing and health care despite tough new gender quotas designed to balance up Scottish colleges. The number of women enrolling in social work courses has risen to 97 per cent while their representation in health grew to 87 per cent in defiance of Government targets to increase male allocations. Only marginal progress has been made in attracting women to engineering and transport with men accounting for 84 per cent and 92 per cent of students respectively.

Monday, July 17

In July he prepares to fly

Among the countless fledged birds in the yard we’ve a juvenile cuckoo. Don’t know in whose nest it was raised but, compared to the rest of the flock, it’s one big...

The Faux Countryside

“She (Melissa Kite) is in the green belt, and the green belt is crowded and fraught and terrified that it is about to be eaten up by London. Further, its inhabitants are increasingly the same bad-tempered, moaning, sociopathic middle-class tossers that one finds in the capital. People who have got the hell out to avoid being the victims of an acid attack, or a jihadi stabbing, or an LGBTQI workshop. But they still want quick and ready access to London. In other words, it IS London, in all but name. And that will change too – soon there will be no green belt at all, it will just be London.” (Rod Liddle)

Full of Politicians’ Promises

Today being the annual visit from the man that empties our septic tank.

The Silly Season begins

Parliament and MSM are continuing to sell the line that Brexit’s a busted flush. Apparently we’ve changed our mind, and if they say it often enough it will become so. It was never really about immigration, they say, a chastened Brussels will provide sufficient cosmetic assurances to satisfy the plebs. Then with no little irony they decry the state of play in Turkey, Erdoğan’s crackdown on dissidents, journalists and human rights activists, as part of last year’s failed coup attempt.

Sunday, July 16

How progressive Democrats hunt pigs in Texas

“Well, we do it at night, with pistols. Everybody wearing cutoffs and tennis shoes. We’ll set the dogs loose, and when they start baying we come running. Now, the dogs will go after the pig’s nuts, so the pig will back up against a tree to protect himself. So then you just take your pistol and pop him in the eye.” I appreciate it’s a long read, but remember what we used to say: what happens in America usually happens here a decade or so later.

Saturday, July 15

Blue Mink’s Melting Pot

A concept my generation once thought more likely than not, that led to Diane Abbott riding pillion on Jeremy Corbyn’s motorcycle, appears to have fallen prey to contemporary mores. According to a YouGov survey only 9.4 per cent of white people are enthusiastic about dating someone from a different racial group, with only 5.0 per cent of under-24s having actually dated outside their own racial background. Like most I’m dubious of polls – and this one seems a bit extreme. If it is an accurate assessment then we’re in more trouble than I thought.


Empty Buckfast bottle thrown at Celtic player during Windsor Park clash.

Friday, July 14

First Night of the Proms

The Proms returns, the world’s greatest classical music festival. Almost as exciting as the opening day of the football season?

Moving to a cashless society

Up town for supplies this morning. My first stop was the hole-in-the-wall for cash. In common with many I was a little disturbed by Matthew Taylor’s report this week, reiterating the call for a cashless society. Several years ago some smart alec at my bank, in an effort to impress and to encourage further use of their services, mailed me a report on my spending over the previous twelve months. We’re talking a breakdown of every penny disbursed from that account. I appreciate everything is on file somewhere but, having spent so many years trying to fly beneath the radar, to have my life laid out so clearly was somewhat troubling – like being tracked around town on a pub crawl. Needless to say, since then…

Jobs that keep the great and the good off the streets

Teachers working in deprived areas should be offered subsidised housing as a way to tackle geographical disparities between schools, a new report has recommended. Guess I’m missing something, inasmuch as deprived areas are presumed to have low-cost housing? But then the Social Market Foundation who produced the report is headed by former deputy prime minister Nick Clegg. I listened to the lad pontificate on the subject yesterday. He listed a series of initiatives, none of which worth the paper they’re printed on. As Gaby Hinsliff notes, the Cleggs of the world are sitting pretty and should be honest enough at least to recognise it in the mirror.

One way or another, we're all doomed

Public Health England – a pain in the neck if ever there was one – says we’re becoming a nation of pox-ridden degenerate pensioners, and by implication a drain on the public purse. Because we have the temerity to live longer, the country is set to be haunted by waves of zombie-like dementia sufferers. Fortunately there’s an answer: for a mere £50, Dr Philip Nitschke will introduce us to the merits of neo-barbiturates and the SARCO Nitrogen System. As it happens, only yesterday I was reading BJ Butler’s interview with Roy Jones Jr. It concluded with an anecdote by Jones about his old barber who’d been told if he kept drinking he was gonna die. Of course he kept on drinking until he died. His final words were “I gotta die of something.”

Thursday, July 13

We’re all going to hell in a handcart

Ross Clark is singing my song, and yet it appears all the government (and opposition) want to do is piss it away like there’s no tomorrow. Not only failing to fix the roof while the sun shines, we are contemplating taking off some more tiles. Filed under Magic Money Trees.

Tennis and Racing

Up early this morning in an effort to complete my duties before Wimbledon and Newmarket kick off. With grass now cut and paddocks topped the old homestead is looking a lot neater, although a couple of guys with chainsaws wouldn’t go amiss. Someone must have been out with a gun as squirrels are thin on the ground this year. Moles have returned with a vengeance, along with two strange cats. There’s supposed to be a plague of adders but I haven’t seen them. Lots of frogs and toads … and our song thrush have fledged.

Prime Minister's Questions?

The similarities are striking. But then I suppose we are all as bad as each other.

Wednesday, July 12


Let but a thrush begin
or colour catch my eye,
maybe a spring-woke whin
under a reeling sky

and all at once I lose
mortality’s despair,
having so much to choose
out of the teeming air.

John Hewitt

Tuesday, July 11

Dripping, rather than drip dry

Dreich, as Mrs G. would say, doesn’t quite cut it. It’s lashing down. Misty, too. Even clad in waterproofs, two and a half hours across the moor is about the limit to today’s enthusiasm. Can now settle back and watch the tennis with a clear conscience.

Yellow bellies

“Little trotty wagtail, he went in the rain, …” Each year we host nesting Pied Wagtails – bright handsome little birds – with successive broods feeding in the yard. This year we also have a family of Grey Wagtails.

A Mancunian accent doesn’t make you thick

“Nor one from Hull…” says The Times Robert Crampton. All true of course. But if the doctor treating you delivers his prognosis in an accent reminiscent of Benny Hawkins from Crossroads, or the financial adviser to whom you are entrusting your pension has a Scouse accent, you would probably seek a second opinion.

Another day in paradise

Dragging my sorry body out of bed each morning is bad enough, even before reading today’s Telegraph‘New Tory crisis,’ ‘Britain’s Warships vulnerable to emerging Russian and Chinese missile threat,’ ‘Biological annihilation – Earth undergoes sixth mass extinction as humans wipe out wildlife,’ ‘Tory rebellion over moronic decision,’ ‘The Tories are not evil,’ ‘Bringing down the Government would be madness,’ ‘Mississippi plane crash, 16 killed,’ ‘Man drowns,’ ‘Summer holiday bad for child health,’ ‘Pensioners pay too much tax,’ ‘Coping with an anxiety attack,’ ‘Problems with millennials in the workplace,’ ‘My parents divorced and my father became an alcoholic,’ ‘Poor night’s sleep triggers Alzheimer’s,’ 'the Obituaries,' … I could go on but you get the drift.

Sunday, July 9


It claimed the British army visits English universities and private schools in the search for future officers, while targeting poorer neighbourhoods for enlisted personnel, particularly in northern cities and in Wales. The British Army is targeting working-class youngsters from deprived backgrounds and with limited options who would be attracted to a life of adventure and excitement... what exactly am I missing here?


Saturday morning was the usual run to Tavistock Market for inspiration. My turn to cook, so surprise, surprise, we ate barbecue. A chicken the size of a small ostrich, flavoured with garlic, rosemary and lemon. One of the Boss’s favourites: a win-win for yours truly. Today’s repast is (obviously) leftover chicken, with red rice – another favourite. My list of chores is growing… Will address them tomorrow. I promise.

Saturday, July 8

Greeks adjusting to a forever crisis

Many younger (better educated) Greeks blame the older generation for years of communal state looting. For millennials there will be no Greek dream of a pension, coffees and sun from the age of sixty, they may never even retire – just dream of leaving. The ranks of lower-middle-class pensioners, junior civil servants and small shopkeepers are disappearing, leaving a society divided between the rich and the poor. The richest Athenians have had a nice crisis, they just take care not to flash their cash like before. Ten years ago, Greece imagined it had become northern Italy, but is has since discovered it’s more like Bulgaria.

Of course many young Greeks will continue to come to Britain, joining young French, Italian and Spanish migrants … and the Prime Minister and Chancellor have yet to decide if this is a problem or the solution.

What it takes to become a hit

“On days like these when skies are blue and fields are green…” How about Quincy Jones composes the music and Don Black writes the lyrics, the recording is produced by George Martin and sung by Matt Monroe. Of course there’s also the Lamborghini Miura and Alpine highway...

Friday, July 7

It’s a thought

Even the wealthy holiday at home these days. Thankfully the temperature is minus three or four degrees on yesterday, though it hasn’t eased the continuous flow of people down from London. Car parks were full (of Porsche, Range Rover and Mercedes) a full thirty minutes earlier than usual. I loaded up the motor and got the hell out of town asap…. Now back at the homestead with a frosted glass of Samuel Smith’s (can you believe ‘Organic’) Lager, watching the tennis – Azarenka v Watson. Nabokov’s indescribable itch of rapture aside, my detachment is such I’m finding it difficult to differentiate between the two girls and a couple of racehorses.

Thursday, July 6

Frying tonight

Although the homestead is situated 1,300ft above the proverbial, today’s temperature (in the shade) boasts 31°C. Have retired to the office (six degrees cooler) to follow the action from Wimbledon.

Health and Fitness

Why sleep is more important than diet and exercise. Early start for Gudgeon this morning, out across the moor before seven. Come mid-morning it’s too hot and the only thing worth doing is to stretch out on a bench in the yard. I dropped off late afternoon yesterday on returning from Exeter and didn’t wake until half-ten, came indoors and toddled upstairs to bed. Suspect a tracking app to monitor my sleep pattern would be a waste.

Why wouldn’t you?

“More unexpected is that Labour had a 55 to 29 per cent lead among voters in their thirties.”

Two things spring to mind, the first of which is housing. Assuming you are ready to settle down and begin a family during your thirties, how exactly do you conjure up a suitable home – there are only so many. The second problem being how to pay for it. In what now seems the fantasy world of yore it wasn’t unknown for organisations to periodically reinvigorate themselves. Burgeoning pension schemes and premature death allowed for the wholesale removal of middle and senior ranks who’d grown stale, clearing the way for a more dynamic cadre with new ideas. With the demise of final salary pension schemes and more healthy lifestyles, however, silverbacks continue ad infinitum (think Margaret Beckett, Ken Clarke…Robert Mugabe). Of course what slim chance your average thirty-something has of securing the key to an executive bathroom isn’t helped by our ongoing recruitment of the world’s brightest and best. Is it so unbelievable that Labour has a lead among voters from such a stymied demographic?

Wednesday, July 5

Gudgeon the slacker

Hopes that Britain was putting the chronic problem of low productivity behind it have been dealt a blow by official figures showing that the key measure of future prosperity has fallen for the first time since 2015.

Don't ask, don't get

Tragic in every sense. Who among us wasn’t horrified by the fire and moved to proffer support for the victims. That said there must be lots of people in traditional Labour heartlands watching the aftermath unfold and wondering, who exactly are these foreign people with heavily accented English that are making such demands, and how exactly do they qualify for subsidised accommodation in fashionable Kensington and Chelsea instead of the traditional out-of-town sink estates the rest of us inhabit.

Surrealist stuff

Moonlight Muncher, © Rui Matsunaga

Doesn't bear thinking about

What do you think would change if women ruled the world?

Our memories aren’t that bad, Philip

It was the older protesters who stood out – the flinty faced, superannuated Trotskyites in their fifties or sixties still wearing jeans and denim jackets festooned with badges declaring antipathy to everything from capitalism to badger culling… a Praetorian Guard of groups such as the Socialist Workers and Communist parties.”       “No one remembers from the first time round,” says Philip Johnston. Oh yes we do, sonny, if you recall we produced sitcoms about them – still chuckle to ourselves every time Jeremy appears on stage.

Tuesday, July 4

Fledged today

One of three, all now airborne.

We have just two nests of swallows this year, the second has yet to fledge.

Monday, July 3

Another referendum?

Philip Hammond saysThe serious question to the electorate cannot be 'would you like us to tax someone who isn’t you to pay for you to consume more?', but 'would you be willing to pay more tax to consume more public services?'”

Think I can answer this: No, Non, Nee, Nein, Nie, Não, Neyn…

Someone still loves us

A new global survey across 25 countries finds that 57% of the global public think Britain’s influence on world affairs is positive. Britain comes mid-table; however our rating ranges widely from 76% in India being positive about us to only 29% in Spain. This reflects a general pattern of EU countries seeing us less positively than others - although we shouldn't overplay our image problem with our continental neighbours: still over half the population in Italy, Sweden, Hungary, Poland and France are positive about our impact on the world. Germany and Belgium are less convinced, alongside Spain. Two thirds (66%) of Britons believe we are a positive influence on world affairs, rating only Canada (87%) and Australia (84%) above ourselves. Unsurprisingly, given the Brexit vote, 48% believe the EU has a positive influence on world affairs, whilst 52% believe its influence is negative.

Unorthodox working life was once the norm

Apparently there’s at least one organisation keeping the old days alive.

He also claimed that the company’s senior management meeting was held during a boozy event every Tuesday night at the Lion Hotel in Worksop, a short drive from Sport Direct’s head office in Derbyshire. The meeting typically commenced in the bar area at around 8pm with Mr Ashley drinking alcohol at the bar while in discussions with management. Blue alleged that dinner would be served at around 10.30pm with the gathering concluding between 1am and 3am.

More pay for nurses?

Jackie Smith, the NMC’s Chief Executive and Registrar, has been plodding round television studios this morning, bemoaning the number of nurses and midwives leaving the profession. Knee-jerk reaction of most is to criticise low pay. Never backward in virtue signalling, who wouldn’t agree to more money for nurses, not least as Gudgeon’s neighbourhood is home to so many NHS employees. Listening to a nurse interviewed on Sky News, however, I was left with the impression she thought too many of the wrong sort train for the profession and then fail to measure up. The Guardian, never slow to leap onboard a public sector grievance, confirms that just 8% of the nurses who had left cited pay and benefits as the reason. Unfortunately Jackie Smith did a passible imitation of Diane Abbott on Nick Ferrari’s show and failed to shed light on the subject.

Sunday, July 2

No open windows today

Sunday morning political shows on the telly can turn the air blue – and raised voices frighten the horses. Though I’m told everyone wants to pay more taxes to fund public services, I’ve yet to meet Mr Everyone. Half the buggers in the Dog & Duck who are screaming for an increase in public sector investment don’t actually pay tax, and those that do are invariably sucking on the public teat. That said, in the interest of objectivity – to provide balance to Mrs G’s more trenchant views, I sometimes don my Comrade Corbyn cap. A dangerous gambit when there are bottles to hand.

Saturday, July 1

Beautiful Big

Beware the lean and hungry look 
Which Caesar rightly feared, 
The skinny man to stratagem 
And spitefulness is geared, 
Would Cassius at forteen stone 
Have felt the need to bitch? 
And would lado fuller-faced 
Have queered Othello’s pitch? 
It’s well observed how cheerfulness 
Is found in well-filled suits. 
As those who value sweetness know 
To seek out softer fruits. 
So let us laud the larger man 
Devoid of schemes and wiles, 
Whose munching muscles swell the cheeks 
And wreathe a face in smiles

This could of course be construed as a jibe on Jeremy Corbyn. However I include Tim Hopkin's poem in remembrance of an old business partner – the one with the cadaverous face, the long, lank, skeleton hand.

Leslie Carron’s birthday

Gigi remains the favourite. That charming old lecher, Honoré Lachaille. Can you imagine trying to produce a similar film these days: Gaston, everyone’s favourite playboy, almost certainly a Tory, seducing the 15-year-old granddaughter of a friend? “Now with 80% Less Perv.”


Am reclined on a comfortable chair in the snug. Outside the sun is beating down. The homestead’s windows are open, admitting a pleasant breeze. There’s a chilled glass of Viré-Clessé at my elbow and a pre-lunch appetiser – an expensive ‘artisan’ terrine*. Marvin Gaye croons from the wireless and I’ve a mountain of reading material. All is right with the world…Charles Moore speaks to me:

 “The phrase ‘bucket list’ entered the language early this century, and you now hear it most days. It means your self-chosen list of the things you must do before you die. There is something wrong about the psychology behind this. More of us are troubled by doing too much, not too little. Life involves innumerable lists of tasks, and this makes one ill-prepared for death. The best bucket-shop list of things to do would simply say ‘Less’.” 

*A poncey version, maybe, but it’s still Spam.

Thursday, June 29

Local beggars hit the news

In reality Totnes beggars are far less nuisance than the traffic – the poxy one-way system. Can’t say I’ve witnessed any harassment, but then I usually bung them a couple of quid. Of course there’s also the Big Issue sellers, the Sally Army and the buskers; and don’t get me started on the scores of volunteers collecting for various charities such as Greenpeace, Amnesty, et al. If you’re a soft touch, a visit to Totnes can impoverish you.


The homestead … littered with the wings of moths and butterflies.

A middle class pursuit?

Raining and wet underfoot but glorious nonetheless… Employment commitments aside, I fail to understand why there aren’t more people out here walking on the moor? Gudgeon suspects I shouldn’t complain as I like it this way, and yet, damn it, it’s free – why wouldn’t you? This place is the physical manifestation of visiting your local library. Today I passed a number of youngsters from the better sort of schools ticking off their Duke of Edinburgh challenge, several well-spoken grey-haired walkers in expensive outdoor clothing, but no one from the parts of society that would really benefit. They probably wouldn’t thank you for the opportunity.

Democracy in action

A damp and misty morning, everything is still, even the birds are silent... and that’s more than you can say for the outside world, most of which appears to be in full grievance mode. Even at the best of times we’re a glass half empty sort of people. But then there’s nothing that can’t be fixed by borrowing and spending other people’s money – even the more prudent of our leaders appears cowed by the mob. Robbed of our traditional lightning rod, Brussels, we have decided Downing Street is a more than willing replacement.

Tuesday, June 27

Monday, June 26

Outside the realm of imagination

Returned home from Plymouth this afternoon and switched on the TV to catch the news. Pure coincidence the channel was set to an old Columbia Pictures film, The Professionals. Of course I couldn’t turn the damn thing off, and half-way through had convinced myself Richard Brooks’ Western was part allegory for our current domestic drama. Persuading myself Jeremy Corbyn was Jesus Raza (former revolutionary leader-turned-bandit) proved easy enough, the problem came when juxtaposing Emily Thornberry onto Marie Gomez’s character, not least when she was rolling around on the ground with Bill Dolworth (David Davis?) in a romantic embrace.

Sunday, June 25

A world of my own

Great barbecue and some excellent hooch from Côte d'Or. Not what I usually drink with seared sheep but was obliged to review a new supplier. A nice Sunday, the homestead far removed from the world at large. While easy to disparage the current state of affairs I suppose we have to do this sort of shit every few years… it’s not as if there are tanks on the street. Today’s only real blemish was that prick Chris Patten appearing on the Peston Show (a book to sell). Worse than Suez? The lad’s piles must be acting up – those red benches have a lot to answer for. Welby’s cross-party consensus is about as likely as Harry Redknapp returning the Blues to the Premier League.

Saturday, June 24

Normal service has resumed

Mist has settled on the homestead, a southwester bringing drizzle from the Atlantic. Umbrellas are returned to the shed. I haven’t given up just yet and am marinating a shoulder of our neighbour’s lamb in readiness for the barbecue.

Watching the Camden debacle on television, I keep waiting for Harvey Keitel to pop up, telling the residents everything’s being taken care of and that they will all be rehoused within eight hours.

Ascot or Glastonbury? Seriously. You have to ask?

Friday, June 23

Something you don’t hear too often

Today’s post, a notification from my favourite people: ‘You have paid too much tax! HMRC owes you £29.04.’

Royal Ascot ... grim viewing

You only really appreciate something when it’s gone. Channel 4 Racing, for instance. ITV’s vastly inferior version spends more time discussing women’s frocks than they do the horse flesh.

Thursday, June 22

City of the damned ... Rod Liddle at his best

If you’re not tired of London, you’re tired of life.

Change of programme

Body swerve via Dartmouth this morning. Lunch at the Seahorse. Grilled white asparagus, a nice Dover sole, poached white pears and a tasty Albariño. Excellent coffee.

Wednesday, June 21

Hottest June day since 1976

The kitchen is 34° and I’m not complaining (it seems warmer outside under the sun). The music’s good, wine is chilled, and the livestock – Mrs G. included – appears happy. What more could you ask?

Sauce for the goose

“They take the word ‘rage’, which is justified, and try and intimidate you away from those feelings by saying it’s going to be violent,” she said. “It’s like saying you’re not allowed to be angry or outraged. I’m an activist and I’ve been to many protests but I still felt intimidated after reading the papers today.” Political correctness is a bitch, ain't it?

Conciliatory politics?

I had to chuckle at Digby Jones’ exasperation yesterday. “Why can’t they come together in the spirit of national interest” he implored. Given the number of years Jones has spent in the House of Lords you’d think the lad would have caught on. Never the twain. Am reading an extract from something Dominic Lawson wrote in Moscow back in ’91. He was on a beano with an old war horse named Barbara Castle. “I was here in ’38,” she says, “so idealistic then – not like now.” It was obvious, however, the cause still ran in her blood. Lawson recounts Castle purchased several tins of the best beluga caviar on the black market. She negotiated a very good price and Lawson attempted to persuade her to give him one of the many tins. But “No!” said the great lady, “I won’t give one to a right-wing bastard like you!”

While Castle was a formidable beast I remember her primarily for the tachograph business, the spy in the cab. A number of men on our street were PSV/HGV drivers and were aghast that someone would attempt to snoop on them – that they would lose their right to unlimited overtime. Men like my father tended to stumble out the house at six every morning and climb into their cab, staggering home of an evening about ten. Yes there were downsides and when tired they tended to run over people, but they always paid the rent and put food on the table.

What counts

Sleeping away the afternoons on a well upholstered bench beneath a giant umbrella is my idea of bliss. I put in an appearance from time to time – a token effort during the morning. But weather like this doesn’t come along too often and it would be criminal not to take advantage.

when all is said and done 
what counts is having someone 
you can phone at five to ask 

for the immersion heater 
to be switched to ‘bath’ 
and the pizza taken from the deepfreeze       (Dennis O'Driscoll)

Tuesday, June 20

Swings and roundabouts

Pound sinks as Mark Carney stifles rate hike talk… Gudgeon’s nest egg on deposit at the Post Office appears doomed; thank god for that nice Mr Trump and the Dow Jones.

Pots and kettles

Barry Gardiner, Shadow Secretary for State for International Trade, after being slapped down by Digby Jones on today’s Daily Politics (and I paraphrase): “Digby Jones’s opinion on business matters is not worth the candle, he hasn’t been involved in business for the past twenty years.”

Nowadays Digby runs his own Company, Digby Jones LLP, and advises in a number of paid and unpaid roles. He serves as Non-Executive Chairman of Triumph Motorcycles Ltd, On Logistics Ltd, Celixir Ltd and Thatcher’s Cider Ltd. He is Non-Executive Deputy Chairman of the Unipart Expert Practices (UEP) Division and chairs the Advisory Board of Argentex LLP. He is a Non-Executive Director of URICA Ltd and Leicester Tigers plc. He is Senior Adviser to Harvey Nash plc and Babcock International Group plc. Digby is Corporate Ambassador to Aon Risk Solutions and Jaguar Cars. He is Chairman of the Board of Governors at Stratford Upon Avon College. He sits in the House of Lords as a non-aligned Crossbench Peer.

I suspect there’s a direct correlation between my respect for Digby Jones’ opinion and my disdain for Barry ‘the oily creep’ Gardiner.

Class warriors

The Times Melanie Phillips believes class warriors – left-wing agitators, are cynically fanning the flames of discontent and readying themselves for confrontation … Keen to oblige, Ascot is assembling an army of 10,000 men in morning jackets for today’s kick-off.

Millennials were born too late to contract rickets and polio says Resolution Foundation.

Monday, June 19

Reaching for the remote

Not many laughs on the box these days. An endless diet of depressing news – Manchester, Borough Market, Grenfell Tower, Finsbury Park Mosque, the Brexit divorce, deadly wildfires in Portugal, U.S. and British troops in the Baltic States – periodically interrupted by appeals from charity organisations featuring third-world waifs and knackered donkeys. None of us are without compassion, but after a while you switch off.

Public ruins a great weekend on Dartmoor

Cattle grid gateways were blocked and vehicles were parked on narrow roads blocking access for farm vehicles and emergency vehicles ... Rangers and volunteers now trying to get locations back to how they looked before the weekend onslaught - repairing burnt ground where barbecues have scorched the earth, collecting piles of rubbish and assessing damage ... visitors leaving broken glass, food waste, rubbish and excrement behind when they left.

Classic sign you’ve become an old fart: complaining about litter.

Sunday, June 18

Cranks in edible footwear

The local metropolis is regarded as A Narnia for the New Age. While Totnes has its fair share of eccentrics, there are a lot worse places to live. Every Friday morning I venture out from the homestead and drive into town to buy myself a coffee and purchase supplies from the Kwik-E-Mart, sit on my Vire Island bench and watch the Dart flow past. Two hours of Narnia is about my limit.

Theresa May

Now she knows what it is to be Arsène Wenger. Both have a two-year contract extension.

A glorious weekend

Given the numbers, you’d think half the country has decamped to Devon. Many arrived astride a motor cycle or scooter – Mods and Rockers, just like the old days. The old days allusion becomes pretty obvious once you meet the bikers: Gudgeon is a mere stripling.

Every year I order a case of Rosé wine for summer, take one mouthful and bin it. Every year I am persuaded by my wine merchant to repeat the process.

Saturday, June 17

Motors of the past...Hillman Imp

Marketed as a Scottish rival to the legendary Austin Mini, the Hillman Imp suffered a host of internal design flaws, which included an inadequate cooling system, poor steering, gearbox and clutch problems, faulty chokes and a tendency to leak water… was notorious for breaking down. That said it did me proud back in '74, had a sturdy bonnet. I acquired an Austin Mini the following year, which was a lot less reliable.

Sir Billy

Who’d have thunk it, all those years ago when we sat listening to the big lad on vinyl. Sir William Connolly, The Big Yin.

Take me home

Quick run to Cothay Manor in Somerset this morning, to pick up some plants for Mrs G. I’m not into plants, per se, but – having recently reread Wolf Hall – was interested to have another look at this small medieval manor. Cothay was one of the locations where the BBC’s televised adaptation was filmed. Roads are a nightmare; everywhere you look, other people – lots of ’em. One of the reasons I rarely leave the homestead.

No one knows anything anymore

A word of caution from John Harris. “… the current moment is also replete with tensions and challenges, which is what political commentary is often all about – something that has rather been lost in an age when journalism seems to be losing ground to the kind of partisan shouting that admits no nuances and bounces around from one cast-iron certainty to the next.”    I sense the current debacle could end in one of two ways: the demise of  Conservative Government, followed by fifteen years of Trotskyist rule; or, conversely, – as in Russia, Egypt and Turkey – Theresa May being replaced by someone with a more authoritative bent, one that carries a big stick? Nah, just joshing; but I agree with Harris’s assertion, that no one can predict anything anymore.

Do the Tories face a Zugzwang?

The media are supposed to ask questions and inform, and the BBC appeared to be making a better fist of it in North Kensington last night, up close and personal rather than Sky’s more distant from behind the barricades approach. I can’t disagree with Charles Moore, however, in that the BBC seemed to be doing a good job of inciting the mob.

Friday, June 16

Country in a state of flux

Up town for my monthly haircut. Gudgeon’s barber is one of those old school Thatcherites who toyed with UKIP. Most of the country’s current ills he blames on the offspring of 40-55 year old parents who did a god awful job of raising what he believes to be the devil’s spawn. Such is his aversion to Theresa, however, the lad voted for Jeremy Corbyn in the general election. Listening to his take on life it’s obvious people are opting for a pick and mix of demands, none of which favour either party. I’ve no idea how this shakes out, other than to guarantee that if they fudge Brexit and attempt to remain within the European Union there will be a lot of very miffed people on the streets.

Sunset segregation

Trevor Phillips, on the reality of living in our cosmopolitan capital.   “The people who died in Grenfell Tower would have rubbed shoulders every day with the – predominantly white – people for whom they worked. But when they came home to the Tower they passed into a twilight zone out of the gaze of the Londoners who could have made a difference – the politicians, the business leaders, the opinion writers, the doctors, lawyers, bankers and other professionals. They think that they live in a cosmopolitan city; but working at the next desk or sharing the lift with someone of a different background isn’t integration.”    ...And having lived in our glorious multicultural capital for over twenty-five years, I can confirm that hell will freeze over before attitudes change.

The Spur

You think it horrible that lust and rage
Should dance attention upon my old age;
They were not such a plague when I was young;
What else have I to spur me into song?
W.B. Yeats

Thursday, June 15

What goes around…

“Many didn’t like David Cameron’s policy of pre-emptive surrender on every social issue he could find, including me, but what choice did he have? Those of us still clinging to conservatism are like Julian the Apostate, the late Roman emperor who tried to turn the tide of Christianisation long after it had become unstoppable. As he might have put it, thou hast conquered, oh leftie.”

The future belongs to the left? I’m worried my generation might leave the world as we found it, a basket case. However, despite our best efforts, you can only lead a horse to water…

Anita Pallenberg

She was the sort of thing my Mother warned me about when I left home as a young lad and ventured out into the world.

Wednesday, June 14

Stop chuckling at the back

Tim Farron admits he’s had more than enough of those heathen bastards in the Lib Dems, especially that poofter ex-rozzer. I doubt too many will miss the self-righteous little nerk, but unfortunately it leaves the way open for that dreadful old bore Vince or the mouthy wench from East Dunbartonshire.

Win a few, lose a few

A chick has fallen from its nest and is crying out for intervention. As there are two cats patrolling the grounds I don’t fancy the mite’s chances. Pity, as it is a Song Thrush, an integral part of our dawn/evening chorus and none-too-shabby when assisting with the homestead’s snail problem. Some Devon people refer to them as the Grey Bird or Thirstle, in my old stomping ground of East Anglia it’s a Mavis (see Chaucer). Unfortunately the number of Song Thrushes is declining seriously, making it a Red List species (globally threatened).


Last night’s game again exposed England’s frailties, not least in the midfield. Still, onwards and upwards – we’re heading in the right direction. France’s young team are an exciting prospect, as are England’s Under-20s. My note of caution with regards to England’s future is that five of our World Cup winning team may elect to play for Nigeria rather than England when they step up to the senior level – that Nigeria could prove a more exciting option.

There’s always something will do for you

It’s probably a truism that in this neck of the woods I am far more likely to be trampled to death by a herd of cows than at the hands of a jihadi nutjob.

Tuesday, June 13

Just like confetti

After listening to a multitude of sage voices warning about the consequences of our credit binge, both personal and public, we have decided to ignore the red ink and jettison austerity, not just to keep on spending but to spend like a sailor on shore leave. Collective madness or Let the Good Times Roll?

Brother of mine reminds me that thanks to the DUP we are to retain our winter fuel allowance and tripple lock... Bring on the pipe band. 

Following the past week’s brouhaha it’s back to my bench on the yard, quietly toasting myself in the sun. Gudgeon’s current reading material – great sports writing is a thing of beauty – a reminder that for many people life really is brutal affair.

Sunday, June 11

England win World Cup

Well done, lads. A lot more exciting than the Hampden match.

On reflection

They – the youth vote – have played us at our own game. My lot were told if we voted for Brexit the world would end … so we gave them the finger and voted for Armageddon. Endorsing Corbyn is merely their way of calling our bluff.

Saturday, June 10

Matter of priorities

A day of nostalgia in the offing, as England meet Scotland at Hampden Park. An opportunity for everyone to suspend political/inter-generational rivalry in favour of a more ancient grudge, and one that actually means something: a World Cup qualifier.

Friday, June 9

The Battle For Britain

Michael Heath in The Spectator

What a to-do!

Shades of Ted Heath, inviting voters to decide who governs the country? At least we did our duty in the South West – although I’ve taken in it the ear from Mrs G. “You promised me a 50+ majority!”

Thursday, June 8

Engerland, Engerland, Engerland!

Our first World Cup Final since 1966.

Summer on Dartmoor

Mist, blustery winds and non-stop rain. Lanes are flooded and littered with fallen debris. Water the colour of barley sugar thunders past the homestead, foxgloves – and much of everything else – beaten flat to the ground. After running errands and voting, chopping wood and climbing ladders to unblock gutters, checking the livestock and neighbouring properties, I’ve called it a day – retiring to my blazing log stove and a glass of Gironde’s finest. It’s going to be a long day, the traditional all-night results party? I believe mutton curry is on the menu.

Thank god it’s over

The campaign, that is. Never has so much shite been spoken by so few. Still, you take your entertainment where you find it. Corbyn appears the big winner in that he looks to have consolidated his position at the head of Labour; and the return of two-party politics is good for both. Let’s face it, we thrive on adversarial politics – life wouldn’t be worth living if we couldn’t blame our inadequacies on someone else. May needs a majority of fifty-plus to make the past several weeks worthwhile (my bet). Eighty would go some way to salvaging her reputation. If the Conservative majority is thirty or less she’ll be savaged by her own and her reign will be a miserable affair.

Wednesday, June 7

British Soap Awards

Speaking of South London Mansions... Night & Day was filmed on the street, the cast photographed here outside SLM. Although cult viewing for young adults, even with Kylie singing the theme tune, the series was never going to threaten Enders or Corrie.

Don’t take it too seriously

Final day of campaigning. If you haven’t yet made up your mind – like the Walsall focus group on yesterday’s BBC Newsnight – there is something seriously wrong with you. The Maidenhead Matron has proved a disappointment; but Corbyn, seriously? Lad’s got the intellect of a runner bean. People deserve better, you say. Maybe we get what we deserve. Either way will be fun.

Tuesday, June 6

Seems Jeremy's given up on me

“It was a shocking insight into how reliant Labour has become on the young. The party of the working-class is now the party of students and twentysomething urbanites whose only experience of labour is that time they invited their friends round to help them assemble an Ikea shelf.” Spectator's Brendan O'Neill

Archive material

Eleven years since we bailed out of South London Mansions and I’m still opening boxes of books. Who remembers Tom Peters? He was all the rage during the 1980s and 90s and Gudgeon appears to have been a fan. There are also books on triple-expansion mill engines and charcoal blast furnaces? Spectator annuals stretching back to Jeffrey Bernard – am reading a book review by arch name-dropper Roy Jenkins that begins “I once had a long audience with the late Emperor of Japan”. An article by Auberon Waugh titled “Time to get the stinker Murdoch out of here” suggests not everything has moved on.

Weekly whinge

Out on the moor today. Two and a half hours to walk five miles – heavy ground, wind gusting to gale force with heavy rain showers. I need new knees. Knees shit, new legs wouldn’t go amiss. Neighbours have been busy moving stock. If the number of lambs are a guide they’ve done very well this year.

Product recall

Damn! Tuned into Woman’s Hour this morning to listen to Diane Abbott. Seems she’s been taken ill, again.

Skirting issues

The Telegraph’s Tim Stanley writes in response to Westminster/ Manchester/Borough Market, wondering if we are too nice. Like most everyone else he details his frustration with the Muslim problem. While answers are above Gudgeon’s pay grade, the fatuous nature of our election debate does no one a service. Increased police resources and more state intrusion are a given. However, as we are already taxed to the hilt, additional security means less spent on health and education – and to confirm this is electoral suicide.

I remarked elsewhere that by the time we reach a certain age we will have accumulated friends, colleagues and family members of just about every hue and stripe – and as none of us are in the business of upsetting or offending friends, et al., we choose our language carefully, learn to be circumspect. Some may think tagging the problem as Islamist Extremism instead of Muslim, weasel words, but as I’ve found to my cost, calling a spade a spade has its downsides. I’d gladly take back half of what was said in the past in exchange for the restoration of several old relationships.

Monday, June 5

Number 32

Reasons why everyone loves cyclists.

Gin consumption buys more doctors and nurses

Tax revenues from sales of spirits have overtaken those from beer for the first time amid record sales of gin, according to HMRC. British drinkers downed 12% more gin last year – 40m bottles, while beer revenue has fallen flat. The Treasury still pockets more from wine than either beer or spirits.

Sunday, June 4

The Paris Accord

Events have a way of transforming yesterday’s news into tomorrow’s fish-and-chip paper. Climate change: a minority interest?

Enough is enough, says PM

A declaration of war on Islamist ideology by Theresa May – relaunch of her Iron Lady strategy or more bluster? It’s a shame BBC cancelled both The Andrew Marr Show and Sunday Politics, substituting the chance of some intelligent comment with a Kumbaya-like Pentecostal singalong.

Same old same old

Seems barely five minutes ago I sat rat-arsed with friends in a Borough Market restaurant – braised sweetbreads if memory serves. We are all familiar with the area. There’s not a lot I can say about last night’s attack that hasn’t been said a zillion or more times in the past.

Friday, June 2

The British would never elect a German?

There’s an unforeseen benefit... Mrs Stuart emerged from the negotiations a Eurosceptic, having broadly been in favour of the European project until then. Subscribers to the butterfly wing theory – which holds that tiny acts can result in fateful and potentially global consequences - will be tickled by the notion that Mr Blair’s misguided assumptions about his German MP’s attitude towards the EU may have led directly to British withdrawal two decades later. As a direct result of her time in Brussels negotiating the failed constitution, Mrs Stuart became a key leader of the Leave campaign, encouraging many Labour voters to back quitting the Union.

Where have I heard this before?

But within minutes of the president’s announcement, the leaders of Germany, France and Italy slammed the door shut on that, stating their belief that the agreement ‘cannot be renegotiated’.

Thursday, June 1

Keep your cow and sell your hay

The cuckoo like a hawk in flight
With narrow pointed wings
Heaves o’er our heads soon out of sight
And as she flies she sings…

Out of sight but not of hearing. We’ve a cuckoo in the yard and the blackbirds don’t like it. They say if you count the number of ‘cuckoos’ the bird utters, you may discover the number of years before you die.

A long way right enough, 1974 - 2001

Felicitations to Moyhill. Sixteen years! Time passes so quickly.
I wonder what happened to the third Musketeer?

Wednesday, May 31

Virtue signalling is all they have

I’ve always thought my diminutive form was suited to more than shinning up chimneys. If tonight’s debate is to be believed, those with the broadest shoulders are about to be crapped on from a great height. Theresa May was right to give Cambridge a miss; BBC’s impartial audience appeared to have been bussed in from Transport House. The big plus for the Tories was to see five left of centre politicians fighting in the same pool; cramped for space, Corbyn found it difficult to shine. I suspect he may have lost a number of potential Labour voters to Caroline Lucas. Still all to play for? Nah, the fat lady’s already lacing her corset.

The rising cost of food

I calculate the Kwik-E-Mart’s strawberries work out at between five and six shilling each in old money. They taste wonderful, but even so…

Tuesday, May 30

Decline and fall

As with most of these spectacles, while hoping for inspiration, to be impressed, the principal wish is that your man doesn’t fuck up. Corbyn wasn’t as good as I was expecting; and May did pretty well, edged it on points? The loser, by most everyone’s assessment, was Paxman. Voters made up their mind before the campaign started, including the so-called floaters; all either party can hope for now is to maximise the turnout of their supporters.

Monday, May 29

The herd returns

We have the full remuda back in the yard, a dozen ponies. Beats having to break out the mower (neighbours are cutting silage). Daisies and buttercups as far at the eye can see.

Sunday, May 28

Europe must pay its way, says Angela

I think that's what Trump's been saying: stand on your own two feet.

Election fever – Greeks (and politicians) bearing gifts

What’s the bid? Whatever the bid is, I double it! Ben Rumson has a lot to answer for.

Hollow men

On one of her health and fitness campaigns, and as the day ahead is forecast to be a series of thundery showers – a write off, Mrs G. pitched Gudgeon out of bed at sunrise and led me on a ninety-minute jog across the moor. Am too old for this sort of shit … could barely manage to pour my traditional Sunday glass of Buck’s on return. Needed a livener to face the Vince and Tasmina Show – a ghastly pair. Are we are too hard on our politicians I wonder? I suspect we’re far too deferential.

Friday, May 26

Brexit will be a doddle

So, nothing to worry about, eh?

Bump in the road

The poll in today’s Times will put the wind up Strong and Stable. Taken before the Manchester bombing, it indicates the degree of anger over her proposed dementia tax. After firing off a missive to our local candidate last weekend, I was sent a placatory ‘Dear Bernie’ by return, signed by Dr Sarah, Medicine Woman. The damage is done, however, and the brand has been tainted. No one doubts May will win the election – all she has to do is threaten us with Diane Abbott. But thoughts of a landslide already smacks of hubris.

Thursday, May 25

Party time at the homestead

Needless to say it’s party time at the homestead, with Mrs G. celebrating Manchester United’s win in Sweden. I’m not sure Jose has replaced Sir Alex in the good lady’s affections, though she has stopped throwing bottles at the television. Barbecue for supper, naturally, three-lemon chicken and a cheeky number from Savoie – a breath of mountain air.


Just think about that: upper-class smokers are less likely to die, even when they smoke the same amount of the same carcinogens as working-class smokers. Because this study was conducted in the UK, with its National Health Service, health differences could not be explained by varying access to treatment. Nor could they be explained by poverty, since even the lowest-ranked people in the study had jobs that paid a living wage. The gradient was linked with harm to the vast majority of those studied: unless you were the single person at the top, your health wasn’t as good as it could be if you were even higher. That’s because, in addition to the obvious stressors of low status such as having a precarious job and little control over your life, “there’s just endless reminders [of your status],” Sapolsky says. “Someone passes you on the street and you’re reminded of your low status by the expensiveness of their clothing. You go for a job interview and try to regulate that accent of yours that gives away your low [status] roots and you smile uncomfortably because your teeth are in lousy shape.”

Wednesday, May 24

Working outside, playing catch-up

One of those rare, peaceful – dare I say idyllic – days. Glorious sunshine and not a breath of wind. A haven for the multitude of tweeting birds, snorting ponies and biting insects. Not so much a different world as another galaxy, with none of those pesky Mekons.

A nation grieves

The death of Princess Diana taught us a lot about the need for many of our fellow citizens to fetishise grief. The rest learnt to keep their heads down, as anything we said could be interpreted as crass and insensitive. Would almost certainly be crass and insensitive.

Tuesday, May 23


There's a Napoleon Bonaparte quote that springs to mind. Better lucky than strong and stable.

Monday, May 22

Project fear

Conservatives continue to bang on about the great bogey man, Jeremy Corbyn, seemingly secure in the belief we won’t go there. Be warned, however … we were told in no uncertain terms that if we voted leave, Britain would have to quit the single market and flush our economy down the drain, first-borns would be ritually slaughtered, and everyone’s willy would drop off. Voters can be obstreperous bastards when riled.

Dementia tax

Piss ups and breweries … you couldn’t make it up. There’s a relatively comfortable elderly middle-class out there who are sympathetic towards the NHS’s problems and to rising social care costs – the Conservatives are pushing on an open door. Not content with reaching an accommodation – agreeing a cap, however, and egged on by Fatty Finkelstein, Theresa May chooses to rip the bloody door off its hinges and plunder your home. Such ineptness makes you fear for the Brexit negotiations.

Sunday, May 21

A blast from the past

Sat through The Key this afternoon, a ’58 film adaptation of Jan de Hartog’s novel… Put me in mind of the Abeille 30, built for the US Navy in the 1940s and subsequently purchased by French tug owners Les Abeilles. It met a sticky end as do many vessels, though not in a war. I’ve fond memories of the unit, as a lowly port agent representing several towage and salvage companies. The crew were archetypal David Ginola look-a-likes, attracting lots of girls whenever she berthed. An impressive wine cellar too.

Sunday lunch

Pan-fried rose veal fillet with seven types of mushroom and a tarragon-flavoured cream sauce. Decadence.

Buying British blooms?

Depending on your view – and yes it’s a first world problem – flowers are either a waste of space or one of life’s essentials. I probably spend thirty quid/week on flowers, a fair slice of my beer money, and thanks in part to Sterling’s demise a tenner more than last year. Maybe buying British blooms would help? However it’s not just range and quality you pay for when buying flowers, but the Dutch lad’s talent and expertise.

Saturday, May 20

You can’t please everyone

Well done Exeter Chiefs, the neighbours will be chuffed. And congrats to Millwall – Mrs G. will never like you, but I’m sure you don’t care.

One of these days I’ll turn vegetarian

Not right now but one day. I toyed with the idea a couple of years ago, just before eating an especially fine steak. Yesterday’s was similar. A single rib – two and a half pounds in weight, given five minutes either side on a hot grill, fifteen minutes in the oven and ten minutes resting. While trial and error has narrowed my choice of supplier to two butchers and three producers, the actual result remains a lottery, texture and taste differing dramatically from beast to beast.

Friday, May 19


Yesterday was mooching about in an Exeter boatyard, this morning to Totnes market. Back at the homestead, Friday is Lalande de Pomerol and seared rib of Dartmoor beef … Racing from York. A universe apart from our salad days. At some stage I need to get off my butt and do some work.

Thursday, May 18


It’s like watching Northern Football League instead of a Premiership game. The debate features four left-of-centre candidates squabbling over leftovers, everyone using Paul Nuttall as a punchbag. Although he isn’t present Nigel Farage looms large. There are a lot of Conservative voters out here looking to register a protest, but this lot are a sorry bunch. The red headed girl has spent most of her time talking about hats – toories. And while it reflects badly on me – a reflection of my age, every time the Welsh girl opens her mouth I’m expecting Ted Bovis to walk on stage. May and Corbyn did well to excuse themselves.

You're either born lucky

Or you're not. Mrs G. lands an 11-1 no hoper at York.

Screw the hair shirts

Quite right, bollocks to the lot of you.

First impressions

I have to admit I had been sitting on the fence until this morning. Gudgeon has voted Conservative at every general election since 1979. In the old days I would have described myself as a Tory wet, though I’m not sure how that translates to contemporary mores. I was never totally comfortable with the posh boys, Cameron and Osborne, but I had their back. May, however, is another kettle of fish. Above all else I believe in self-reliance, or as my Mother was fond of saying, “You make your bed you lie in it.” Theresa May’s potential grab on my generation’s assets smacks of Gordon Brown redistribution writ large. Gove, a fawning acolyte, is actually boasting about the party’s ‘progressive’ agenda – who does he think he is, John McDonnell? Rot in hell you fucking witch.

What’s the point of manifestos?

Nick Robinson was discussing the election campaign with three focus group members (Remainers) on this morning’s Today programme. These opinionated and articulate people either struggled to recall or frankly didn’t know, couldn’t name, the leader of the Lib Dems? Are the rank and file really so disinterested in the world around them?

Wednesday, May 17

Rewriting history

“We thank the government and UK citizens for their support over the last nine years. The bank learned the lessons of the crisis many years ago and we’re sticking to our plan to support the UK economy.” In reality, Lloyds lesson was to beware of Greeks bearing gifts – if not Greeks, then dumb one-eyed Jocks. Until McPlonker appeared on the scene with HBOS in his back pocket, Lloyds was a sound prospect. Gordon Brown came close to bringing the edifice down. I guess, given his reinterpretation, Nils Pratley wasn’t around at the time.

Kate Moss hits the high street

The Ivy is set to challenge our local Wetherspoons.

The enemy of my enemy is my friend

Labour has suspended nine councillors after they agreed a coalition deal with the Conservatives on Aberdeen City Council.

Lib Dems make second EU referendum key manifesto plank

No, guys, Tim Farron is the Lib Dem plank.

Let’s concentrate on the day job

We’ve an election to cover, and I believe this one is kind of important. So what’s with the ongoing interest in Trump and Russia? Am I the only one nonplussed by our media’s infatuation with American politics? We hear more from unsavoury characters such as Chuck Schumer and James Rubin than our own people. I’d far rather everyone focused on European politics – what’s happening in The Hague and Berlin … the implications for Brexit. Chief cheerleader for the anti-Trump agenda appears to be our own Jon Sopel. Beats me why they don’t deport the lad. General consensus in the UK media is that Trump will be out of the White House within weeks. Gudgeon suspects Donald’s ‘basket of deplorables’ could have some say in the matter.

Tuesday, May 16

Hidden away from the world

Sodden rabbits graze the yard … hares chased down the lane by a neighbour’s whippet. When I can see them that is. The mist has been with us for a couple of days. Mist and rain – lots of rain. Wood smoke, too.

Monday, May 15

Treaty change and a Eurozone finance minister?

Having decided France is unable to stand on its own two feet, Macron professes himself happy to countenance treaty change – always assuming Germany agrees to foot the bill. You’d think the Germans crazy. They doubtless accept it as their destiny.

Having defected from Labour to the Lib Dems, the Dog & Duck’s Remoaners – taken back by Farron’s poor polling – are beginning to despair. Already convinced of a Theresa May landslide and a hard Brexit, they are openly discussing selling up and moving to the European continent. Listening to the poor saps discuss the pros and cons of each country as a possible destination is worth the admission price in itself.

Big Sam does it again

Well done Palace!

Sunday, May 14

Appears it's little better in France

“We may have done nothing for the poor, but we did appoint the first disabled lesbian parking commissioner.” …Just as I’m warming to Christophe Guilluy, Caldwell labels him a French Paul Mason.

Saturday, May 13

Groaty pudding

What else would I choose for an anniversary supper. Mrs G. bought the Krug. They call it hog’s pudding hereabouts, and ok it’s pork rather than beef, but the end result is rather tasty.

To Tavistock market

Best sausage rolls in the Southwest. Stocked up on pork chops and chickens … a giant duck for Sunday lunch. The stall selling horse pony meat appears to be doing well. Back home for lunch: couscous, and beetroot borani. Speaking of horse meat … our three day old is already tearing round the paddock like a future Guineas prospect.

Bun fight

Ofsted inspector hit in the ear with sticky bun. Reassuring to see the old neighbourhood maintaining standards. At E-ACT we take inspiration from our pupils. Their insatiable appetite for knowledge, seemingly limitless energy supplies and creativity in and out of the classroom never fail to inspire.


Forty-five years ago today I was introduced to Mrs G. at a party ... the rest, as they say. Congratulations to the couple in Brisbane. The four of us have outlived the venue.

Thursday, May 11

For the many not the few

I was earwigging in the Dog & Duck last night. In common with my neighbours from South London Mansions, a number are upper middle class Labour voters. People educated at prestigious public schools and fashionable Oxbridge colleges. While income and assets position them in the top 20%, everyone insists on free healthcare and a lifestyle subsidised by general taxation. All rail at ‘the rich’ and worship in front of the Brussels’ altar. Their largess with our money knows no bounds, not least when it comes to the world’s poor and disposed. Opponents are beneath contempt. Different planets doesn’t come close. But that's not what really pisses them off.

Oh to be a teenager again

If we’re going back to the 70s a change of mood music is required. Never mind ‘thrifty till fifty, then spend to the end,’ according to Corbyn’s fantasy manifesto it’s ‘screw this austerity crap, we should piss it all away while I’ve a few years left.’ Gudgeon’s more than happy to climb on board. Let’s have a ball, the next generation can pay. Always providing of course we can find some mug to lend us the money. Face it folks, it ain’t going to happen … But then at least he’s offering us an alternative instead of the usual middle-of-the-road crap with a new paint job.

Wednesday, May 10

Spring is the best time

The lane is decorated with bluebells and wild garlic. A charm of brightly coloured goldfinches, music’s gayest child. As you climb onto the moor, restless stonechats chapping from the amongst the furze, rosy crowned linnets singing to each other.

Consider the grass growing - Patrick Kavanagh

Consider the grass growing
As it grew last year and the year before,
Cool about the ankles like summer rivers
When we walked on a May evening through the meadows
To watch the mare that was going to foal.

As on cue (we were out walking the meadows yesterday evening), this morning one of the mares foaled. Another filly. Mrs G. gets to name her.

Tuesday, May 9

Telegraph editors

“Tanker topples crane at Jebel Ali Port.” Err, I don't think so: the containers are a giveaway.

The trouble with Labour

“He saw the divide as cultural not ideological,” writes Aditya Chakrabortti in CIF. We all know this but it’s worth Chakrabortti repeating the obvious. The current darling of the French political scene (and many of my neighbours) was elected in spite of similar concerns across the Channel. Macron will struggle and France has it yet to come. Labour isn’t finished, however, and I am sure Corbyn is proving the wakeup call they need. I have no idea where the party finds their new messiah but it certainly won’t be in the shrieking wraith Yvette Cooper or a Mk II Kinnock. Paradoxically there’s also an article about Hartlepool in the same paper that ends with a plea for someone to parachute in (presumably from on high) and break the town’s insular mentality. While I doubt Andy Burnham is the answer to everyone’s prayer, devolution’s “Here’s some dosh, sort it out yourself” isn’t exactly proving a great success in the provinces, with both Wales and Scotland now developing a taste for Conservative government. Not sure how they square the circle. Interesting times, as they say.

Monday, May 8

I don’t like Mondays

Today was more Brisbane than Dartmoor, the homestead’s internal temperature exceeding 34°. I spent the morning ripping up carpet and underlay, and as the water pipes are boxed in, making free with a mallet and chisel. I’d love to meet the git responsible for fitting this place out – and don’t get me started on his electrical wiring. On the plus side, at least on this occasion, I haven’t had to open a wall or dig up the floor. The afternoon was a lot more fun, assuming your idea of fun is three-hours in the sunshine with a mower and brushcutter.

Sunday, May 7

An extremely pleasant Sunday

Or so I thought. There’s always something lurking in the background waiting to bite you. An upstairs water pipe, for instance, that has been surreptitiously leaking for several days. Floors, ceilings, carpets … you know how it plays. Irritating to say the least but not the end of the world.

Grey-bearded men in macs

Europe is old and tired and out of ideas – a once great civilisation, muddling through as best it can.

Then again maybe there’s something to what James Hawes says in his book? Cynical and duplicitous they may be, but, tragically, Germany could well be Europe’s best hope for the future.

Whether Britain remains part of of the project is another matter. Rather ominously, Mrs G. is cooking roast pork (British Saddleback) mit sauerkraut for Sunday lunch. BBC3 is running a series of programmes on Martin Luther and the reformation in an effort, I assume, to inform us about the nature of our principal adversary (or partner?).

Saturday, May 6

Another competitive weekend cookathon

I can still made a reasonable risotto. Of course it helps if you’ve decent stock and fresh seafood, not to mention a lightly-oaked Chardonnay. The Boss trumped me, naturally, in spite of the grim Israeli samphire. Her tartare sauce clinched it. Monkfish may be the only fish dish that can stand up to a Châteauneuf-du-Pape.

Feeding the multitude

I had difficulty listening to the wireless this morning, our dawn chorus drowning out whatever passes for news. Thanks in part to the profusion of seed heads the yard is a flurry of goldfinch, siskin and chaffinch. You can’t enter the barn without standing on a newly-fledged blackbird. However it’s the swallows that dominate, playing chicken with whoever has the temerity to cross the yard.

Friday, May 5

Bad news for Vince Cable and Simon Hughes?

While some way to go, early returns suggest the fruitcakes and loonies – that basket of deplorables, have returned to the fold. Theresa May refreshes the parts posh boy politicians can’t reach. A bad night for Labour, disappointing for the Lib Dems (no one likes sore losers), and catastrophic for Ukip. Will have to wait till Scotland begins counting before writing off the progressive alliance. But then turnout for local elections is always dire; the general election will attract far more voters, not least the younger demographic.

Thursday, May 4

Annual jamboree

A ninety-minute jog stroll across the moor this afternoon. It’s in perfect condition for the weekend’s Ten Tors Challenge.

Man in a boat

A day off

An ex-colleague rang this morning, lamenting the demise of our once independent 70s Fezziwig-style family firm, detailing his disillusionment with contemporary corporate life. Rose-tinted glasses, perhaps – nostalgia can be a great fillip on grey days. The 70s had their moments but ... Waiting for Mrs G. to get ready I sat through Vernon Bogdanor’s Gresham College lecture, examining the IMF Crisis of 76 (broadcast on the BBC). You forget the dire state Britain was in back then, what had been bequeathed to the boomer generation ... And I think we’ve done a none-too-shabby job. Let’s hope our current lot read their history books, that they don’t fuck up.

To the polling station to do my duty. Council elections … be still, my beating heart. Then on to a local tapas bar to claim my reward, slurp, slurp. 

Tuesday, May 2

Always looking on the dark side

Sixty percent of April’s rain fell on Sunday, and Monday didn’t seem much better. Am pleased to say it was a lot dryer this morning, Theresa May arrived on a whistle-stop tour of the region. Gudgeon is finding it hard to be enthused … perhaps when the manifestos are published and we get to hear who amongst us pays for everyone’s election promises. As long as they’re working from Diane Abbot’s figures I’m relatively comfortable.

Can’t afford to be too sanguine, however, as the man from planet Skaro reckons we’re all going to hell in a handcart: if humanity is to survive climate change, asteroid strikes, epidemics and overpopulation, we need to leave Earth and colonise another celestial body pretty smartish. I’d like to know what Angela Rippon is doing with one of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s testicles.

Monday, May 1

This is anything new?

Aberdeen is one of the most multicultural cities in Scotland. Emphasis on Poles, Torry and Ferryhill. Wasn’t it always so … the Victoria Bar, landlords of old, springs to mind?

Hard Brexit

You would, wouldn't you. This is a guy rated two notches down from Leanne Wood.

Sunday, April 30

For services rendered

My holiday weekend has been enlivened by the gift of a haunch of venison from a neighbour and a bottle of malt from another. What must I owe, I wonder, for the countless services rendered to me? …This should in no way be regarded as an indication to the tosspots currently engaged in drafting election manifestos that I would willingly pay more tax.

Saturday, April 29

The supporting bout

I’m beginning to feel sorry for Paul Nuttall. Landed with a job he never wanted, just as his party’s fortunes head south. At least the lad can console himself he’s not Jeremy Corbyn.

Friday, April 28

A time to every purpose

Gazing out across the yard at the ponies, the thirty-odd ewes and their gangsta lambs, I can’t help but contrast this pastoral idyll with life at SLM. And yet to everything there is a season … you wouldn’t swap a minute of the old days. Half our current neighbours want to sell up and venture out into the world; the other half have seen the world and are happy to slam the door.

Thursday, April 27

Changeable weather

Tuesday it snowed. Then yesterday, under a blazing sun, I mowed the lawn – only to be ambushed by a hail storm. This morning is glorious, albeit a hard frost. The nematodes are probably buggered.

DIY (Plan B). When all else fails (square peg/round hole), reach for the mallet. Brute force has its place.

I’m reading Bill Deedes’ old stuff. Some of the articles you could cut and paste to today’s papers. Not so much history repeating itself as repeatedly banging our heads against a brick wall.

Wednesday, April 26

Horses and stable doors, or Gloria Gaynor?

Would that Labour displayed a fraction of the determination currently exhibited by Hull and Swansea in their fight for Premier League survival. Polly Toynbee bleats on in this morning’s Guardian about her team’s demise, but she has only herself to blame. It wasn’t five minutes ago the sage of Tuscany was waxing lyrically over Labour’s golden generation – Miliband, Yvette Cooper, Andy Burnham, Purnell, et al – in much the same way Alex Ferguson used to bang on about Scholes and Beckham. Unfortunately the posh Metropolitans, as she calls them, had nothing to say to the very people they were there to support (not least good old Polly herself). Given Labour’s inevitable slide it would have been remiss of Jeremy Corbyn not to have commandeered the party’s brand and assets and put them to better use.

Tuesday, April 25

Spring has definitely sprung

Never mind the spring-cleaning, am too busy fielding visitors: two sets of water engineers; the plumber, too, pricing up new bathroom; a bathroom showroom manager selling his wares; builders pricing maintenance work; a glazier, to replace blown double-glazing; decorators quoting on the quinquennial paint job; heating engineer, to service boiler; chimney sweep; and, inevitably, the perennial BT broadband engineer.

Sunday, April 23

Swallows, Cuckoos … and Bats

Swallows spend each day hoovering up the yard’s insects; at night it’s the bats’ turn – and they’re back with a vengeance.

Charles Moore and the Spanish Inquisition

“I have remarked elsewhere that, at some point in a public career nowadays, one must expect to be made to apologise to Liverpool. It is not clear why this should be so, but it is. A newer hoop to jump through is that one will be asked if homosexuality is a sin.”

Saturday, April 22

Saving for retirement

On average, retired couples spend £18,000 a year on life’s essentials – food, heating, transport etc. – and £26,000 a year once the extras are included, such as holidays. For the better-off, spending on long-haul holidays, golf club membership and a new car every five years, the “luxury retirement” figure comes in at £39,000 a year.

What’s that old saying: “If I knew I was going to live this long, I’d have taken better care of myself” … to which you can add “and saved more, instead of frittering it away on wine, women and song”. But then winter must be cold for those with no memories… Argh, I’m referencing Cary Grant movies!

Fair to middling

Giles Coren writes in this morning’s Times about lunching with readers and the constraints on reviewing restaurants outside London. For old times’ sake he tackles one in Leamington Spa, rating it fair to middling. A useful asset if you’re a local but you wouldn’t put yourself out by getting on a train. Food in Britain has come a long way since the 70s, from total shite to fair and middling, and while you’ll hear a lot from politicians in election mode these coming weeks regarding ‘world class’ aspirations, whether restaurants, schools or medical care, for most people outside the capital, standard fare is about as good as it gets.

Friday, April 21

Bitch fight

Zoe Williams being kicked in the nuts by Laura Perrins on today’s Daily Politics. I like to watch spirited opponents fighting their corner, even when the arguments are lame.

Progressive alliance crap

Let’s once and for all kill off talk about a ‘progressive alliance’ to defeat the Conservatives – not least from young foreign johnnies that haven’t the faintest idea what makes Britain tick. The sole reason Cameron won a majority in the 2015 election was the suggestion that Miliband would favour an SNP alliance. It immediately dissuaded Conservative voters toying with UKIP to return to the fold. Continuing to waffle about Sturgeon’s tail wagging the English dog will likely double Theresa May’s vote rather than hinder it.

Down but not out … maybe

To many people the politics of envy (Rich at £70k) is a throwback to ’70s Labour. But whoever wins the election, says Gaby Hinsliff, we will probably pay more tax. I’m sure the girl’s right; and just as sure most of us will resent it – more so younger generations than mine. A month ago, mind-numbingly bored, I downloaded a twenty-page report from the British Journal of Political Science, “Thatcher’s Children, Blair’s Babies, Political Socialization and Trickle-down Value Change: An Age, Period and Cohort Analysis.” I did tell you I was bored? To cut a long story short, my reading of their deliberations was that, counter intuitively, the post-war social democratic settlement as we know it ended with the boomer generation. Subsequent cohorts who came of age during the Thatcher and Blair years being far more reluctant to part with their hard-earned cash, not least when it’s targeted at what they view as the undeserving – the benefits class. The report’s reasoning ties into the end of left/right politics and voter realignment argument, and thereby the end of the Labour Party’s hopes of ever forming a government in the future. I’m not so sure Jeremy and the boys are down and out just yet, however, writing’s on the wall. You can’t have open borders and a generous welfare policy.

Darling of the Spring, or cukoo in the nest?

This week I heard my first cuckoo of the season; roughly same place, same time, each year. Wordsworth bid welcome to darling of the Spring ... unfortunately the city of Paris and a cheap metaphor springs to mind.

Thursday, April 20

Early days

While I believe talk of a Conservative landslide is fanciful, premature, I’ve been taken back by the number of lifelong Labour voters who say they will be voting for Theresa May. It’s early days, however, and sages always caution a week in politics is a long time. We have seven. Truth is elections develop a life of their own and none of us can anticipate events. Until the eighth of June we will be required to listen to nonstop guff about ‘our NHS’ and the wider public sector economy, and the need for a strong leader who will stand up to Brussels.

Sunday, April 16

Cliché of clichés

Today’s al fresco brunch: foie gras and goats' cheese, Morcilla de Burgos mit fried eggs, all washed down with an ’88 Ch. Rieussec and bottle of bubbly. Cliché it may be (Sauternes/foie gras), but a tour de force nonetheless.

Saturday, April 15

Rebalancing the economy

A nice day. More visitors/walkers than I’ve seen so far this year. In the dog house after becoming distracted and singeing everyone’s kebabs. The Langoa Barton was gratuitous overkill by way of an apology, but as we’re all going to hell in a handcart I might as well enjoy life while I can.

Arsenal just a bunch of pretty boys

“My own team Arsenal win titles when the squad brimmed with what are known in the London area as wrong ’uns. Big, pugnacious egos who won at all costs. The club is now as civilised as it is stagnant. (The case for oafs and egotists)”

FT’s paywall unfortunately. Ganesh remains one of the reasons I still shell out for the weekend edition. It’s also good for lining the floor of the chicken coop.

Engineering a path to happiness

When your glass is as full as anyone could reasonably expect it to be, chances are you’re happy. Mo Gawdat, Google’s chief business officer, believes the formula for a good life can be expressed as follows: happiness is equal to or greater than the events of your life, minus your expectations of how life should be.

I’ve always thought the baby boomer generation blessed, in that we never expected too much from life. Expectations were low growing up during the 1950-60s – relative to our parents’ generation, so long as we weren’t being bombed by Germans or invaded by the Soviets, everything was cushtie. Of course the day is still young.

Friday, April 14

Good Friday fish

Label on the bottle informs me I am drinking a rare, high-quality example of mature, partially oak-fermented wine, with subtle nut, brioche and caramelised pear aromas that mingle with Muscadet's typical citrus and mineral backbone. Best suited, it says, to a fish pie – which is just as well, given that’s what we’re eating.

Our local train service has an English Electric Type 3 tractor on duty today. Old workhorse and hardly a thing of beauty, it elicits the same sort of charm as those bullnose Bedford lorries of yesteryear. Diesel engines, they’ll be the death of us … always assuming a thermonuclear war doesn’t get there first.

Thursday, April 13

Maundy Thursday

The holiday begins. And following two weeks (OK, ten days) of alcohol-free, healthy eating – the gallons of carrot juice and the moderately-enhanced exercise regime, I believe I’ve earned a decent supper. Hopefully it won’t be my last.

After reading Trevelyan’s tales of the Alhambra, and given lamb is something of an Easter tradition, thought we’d kick off with a taste of La Mancha, Spain’s largest plain (where the rain stays, mainly). “Slow-roasted leg of lamb with fennel seeds, pimentón and potatoes.” Have been required to venture north to Logroño for the wine, albeit it’s a sublime 2001 Gran Reserva from one of the oldest bodegas in town.

Wednesday, April 12

More kebabs in the making

To Exeter yesterday for supplies; this morning Totnes, to pick up more essentials (out of beer). It’s about as much exposure to civilisation the outside world I can take just now as all the roads are congested with visitors arriving for their Easter break.

At the homestead there’s a chill in the wind – and fortunately for yours truly it’s coming from the north west, putting us on the right side of our neighbour’s muck spreading operations. This side of the hedge is all coconut-perfumed gorse and musk-scented blackthorn blossom. The first lambs of the year have been released outside, while on the moor every rain-filled puddle is alive with squirming tadpoles. Snakes have eaten ours.

We’ve a rare live football match on the box this evening, from the Westfalenstadion. Although I spent barely three years in Dortmund, and it was many years ago (think Horst Witzler), I still follow their progress. 

Tuesday, April 11

Age catching up or new specs required?

Couldn’t believe it. A familiar face, striding towards the door in that unmistakeable jaunty manner – an old and once close friend from South London Mansions who I hadn’t seen in more than ten years. Rushed outside to greet him, exclaiming my surprise – nay, shock – at his unexpected appearance, blathering on like an idiot and shouting for Mrs G. to come see. Idiot indeed. The lad assured me we had never met, that he was merely a lone walker seeking directions. If I ever take to wearing salmon pink trousers, or you see me driving a Toyota, please shoot me.

Some things will never change

Raiding my collection for donations to the Easter charity book sale I came across several of those we all use to decorate our shelves but never read. From an inscription on the flyleaf it seems I acquired Under Milk Wood sometime in the ’70s but had never been sufficiently enthused to get past its cover. However, after reading Dylan Thomas’s drama during the weekend, the characters proved compelling enough for the book to remain a keeper. Bad luck on the charity drive. Lucy Norton’s The Sun King and His Loves (Louis XIV) had sat ignored since’82 (still wrapped in tissue paper), and though worth the read, will probably prove more fun to others. I am currently racing through Shades of the Alhambra (’84), written by Raleigh Trevelyan. Given Tim Stanley’s article in today’s Telegraph, it is a poignant reminder that Christians and Muslims have been slaughtering each other for two-thousand years.

Sunday, April 9

Never put off the fun bits

Ditched the usual Sunday morning MOTD repeat and set off across the moor before eight. Why wouldn’t you, it’s such a glorious day. Apart from one lad fly fishing I had the place to myself.

There are now two swallows circling the homestead, reason enough to wheel out the barbecue. Yesterday was pork ribs, today chicken. Let’s face it, Easter weekend (much like my Aintree investment) will probably be a washout, so rather than plan ahead best do this sort of thing when the opportunity presents itself.

Friday, April 7

Doesn't make it summer, but...

A lone swallow arrived at the homestead this morning.

Thursday, April 6

Kebabs are back

No way would you would choose to work inside today, not once the homestead’s temperature exceeded 35°C. The yard was a pleasant 14°C, though under the sun it seemed much warmer. First time this year I’ve felt the need to mow the grass moss and light a bonfire (to venture out in T-shirt and shorts). Attempting to crank up my body after winter hibernation is proving a struggle (I need to acquire a new ride-on). Still, the fire was fun: who needs to recycle when you can burn stuff. It’s still smouldering now after eleven hours (the surrounding trees range between 40-70ft and shed a fair amount of debris during winter). Retrieved my barbecue from the barn and spend two hours with a wire brush and bucket of soapy water. That’s the worst thing about winter: no kebabs.

Wednesday, April 5

Peace is priceless

A taste of the summer this past couple of days. At least I'd like to think so. All around the flowers are blooming; a Goldcrest – Europe’s smallest bird – is harvesting spiders’ webs from above the window. Though the schools are off it’s deathly quiet. Unfortunately work beckons: places to go and things to do.

Tuesday, April 4

Get a life for feck’s sake

Moyes should be charged with bringing the game into disrepute or with discrimination and is fortunate not to be sacked? I’m still not sure what’s worse here: the reptile’s (Jason Burt) pious garbage, that the Telegraph’s has to produce this sort of crap in pursuit of internet traffic, or Gary Lineker’s pathetic virtue signalling. All three need a slap. In refreshing contrast there’s a Toby Young article in this week’s Spectator eulogizing his attachment to QRP. I was particularly impressed by the four-year-old son’s disparaging refrain to the Swansea crowd.

Sunday, April 2


Left home this morning after listening to the newspapers being reviewed on the Marr show by that sour-faced Spanish bird married to Clegg. Returned two hours later to discover we’d declared war on her homeland. The next couple of years are going to be lots of fun. Europe has to appreciate that while their natural inclination is for compromise and consensus, Britain prospers on confrontation – adversarial politics, and reruns of Second World War movies.

Life returns

Great morning up on the moor (sunshine). In a week we’ve seen our first Grey Heron of the year, have also been treated to squadrons of Skylarks, Meadow Pipits, Stonechats, Wagtails and Willow Warblers. There are Crows, Wood Pigeons, Sparrows and Song Thrushes nesting around the yard. As the Tawny Owls have decimated our Vole population there is an abundance of Spring Flowers (and Bees) – Oil Beetles are thick on the ground.

Saturday, April 1

British fishing grounds for British fishermen

Yesterday’s lunch featured giant Dover Soles that had seen better days. It’s not often our local fishmonger disappoints. The old girl in front of me complained about the cost of fish (two lemon sole for £15), but if we aren’t prepared to pay, the Italians and Spanish undoubtedly will. Too many Brits view food as a utility cost rather than a pleasure. I wonder how many people aged 16 to 24 actually eat fish – whether fish has a future or will be signed away?

The first of this season’s boarders: two mares, one in foal. It’s non-stop rain at the homestead but pleasant enough – hardly Cyclone Debbie.

Wednesday, March 29

Hey man, what’s up?

New front brakes and tyres after 28,000 miles? Doesn’t seem an excessive amount of mileage, though it probably says more about my driving than the motor. While the grease monkeys did the necessary I walked cross-country and along the canal into the city centre. Ate breakfast at the usual place. It’s staffed by young white hipsters who talk like they’re Huggy Bear’s younger brother. Can’t quite bring myself to perform that high five shit.

Donald Tusk’s response

Who’d have thought – from Brussels’ point of view – that when it comes down to the basics it’s all about the money? Sheds light on the failure of Cameron’s pathetic attempt to broker compromise, in that Europe’s sole interest in the United Kingdom is the size of our chequebook. No wonder they refer to us as Treasure Island.

Everyone has a dog in this particular fight, but it doesn’t mean all voices are equally valid. Natalie Bennett’s primary objection to Brexit appears to be the effect it will have on our beaches? And Paddy pants-down – the guy’s a prick. At least Sinn Fein do the decent thing and stay home; the SNP are a one trick pony, a Shetland pony at that.

Immigration will remain high, probably

If there was one single reason for the swing to Brexit it was democracy, to take back control. Immigration appeared our principal concern, the dilution of national identity/culture. In the past whenever protests were raised against mass immigration, government would raise its hands and say they were powerless to intervene – it was what we were signed up to, blame Brussels. …Now it may well transpire the level of immigration post-Brexit will remain high, if not from Europe then from India, China and wherever else we do business. We will continue be told the country needs these outside skills and talents to keep the show on the road. However I would like to think that in the future Westminster is required to make an effort to sell us this proposition, to detail the steps they are taking to fill labour shortfalls with our own young people – our old people come to that, the sick, lame and lazy. I’m not so sold on ‘the world’s brightest and the best’, as jobs for me and mine. If the government fails to satisfy the electorate then, unlike Jean-Claude and the boys, we can vote them out for someone else. At least that’s the attraction.