Tuesday, September 26

The People’s Front of Judea

Oh come on, don’t knock it. For entertainment value alone, John McDonnell’s worth the admission price.

Tom Watson performs a Michael Gove and morphs into a snivelling, obsequious jelly. Couldn’t happen to a nicer man.

Sunday, September 24

Swinging the lamp

It’s why so few organisations hire old geezers. Unless (for some perverse reason) you’re from the Lib Dems or the Labour Party, none of us wants to be harangued by Uncle Albert from nine to five. As someone who was an employer for more years than I was as an employee, hiring mature staff – despite benefitting from their oft immense experience – rarely worked. The temptation to prefix every statement with ‘In my day’ being an immediate turnoff. Gudgeon is the worst of ’em – I wouldn’t hire me.

Queen Angela

Failed to fix the roof when the sun was shining. Yet another been there done that.

“The AfD is a monster created by the liberal elites who have closed their ears to the German electorate’s concerns. In contrast, the Brexit vote gave vent to similar concerns in the UK before the far-right could get any kind of electoral hold. Nigel Farage might actually be given some credit for relieving the electoral pressure in Britain before things turned ugly.”

What a great day

Soft rain, thick fog and an accompanying silence – divorced from the world outside. Typical Sunday morning … returned the neighbour’s trespassing livestock, set a couple of mole traps (losing battle), cleaned up the fox/badger muck from the doorstep, retrieved cabbage from allotment. After two days of fish it’s back to mutton, this time with caper sauce and a superb seven-year-old Châteauneuf du Pape that’d been hidden away.

Saturday, September 23

Been there and done that

“Only 26% of voters aged 65 to 74 say Labour would be an option for them if another election was called. Crucially, this includes the 25% who voted for Corbyn’s party at the June general election, suggesting Labour has only a tiny number of potential new recruits among this age group.”   That’s because we were around in the 1970s and witnessed these pricks in action. They want to rerun the civil war we had then. Once bitten, as they say. If the Tories sell us out to Brussels, however, all bets are off. We abstain, Corbyn wins – and another generation gets to learn the hard way.

Autumn Morn

Here’s to the dawn of an autumn morn! 
     The cry of the hounds and the sound of the horn... 

The hunt is out this morning.

Thursday, September 21

Why pubs fail

An institution past its time? £4.40/pint. Tim Martin has a lot to be proud of, although part of me feels he’s losing the battle; we’re a dying breed. So-called poor people can’t afford to frequent pubs and those that can are terrified by health issues. So, it’s a middle-class thing? Not really, but it is a factor – maybe we don’t fraternise as much as we used to? In the old days my boozing companions included a broad selection of drinkers, including bus drivers and brickies, city traders and brokers, actors and writers, grocers and butchers. Surprisingly, given our diverse backgrounds, we were not much of a difference. How times change.

A divided society

Our local Kwik-E-Mart – or rather its ruling family – is in the news again. Whether or not to shoot badgers. It’s not just a rural versus town argument, as the countryside is as divided on most every subject as the wider population is about Brexit. Half my neighbours vote Conservative and want to bring back hanging; while the dipsticks, the others, are for Vince, insisting we should all adopt a refugee. I haven’t really got a dog in the badger fight, but if I do catch the brock that’s tearing up my yard looking for worms I will most certainly kick it in the nuts.

Wednesday, September 20

The equinox approaches

As days shorten and trees turn colour I find myself pleasantly reassured by the natural rhythms of life – the seasons, familiar faces departing and new neighbours arriving, everyday births and deaths. Change keeps life interesting and helps avoid those perilous ruts, the status quo. Theresa May and Donald Trump are there to remind us what happens when we go to sleep on the job.

Tuesday, September 19

My desert island dish

Hainanese chicken rice for this evening's supper.

D’oh!

Man who climbed mountain in underwear gets hypothermia.

Of course there are even dumber things you can do.

Empty talk

Brexit a pipe dream … just talk? Who knows? The downsides to a hard Brexit might be painful, but not as catastrophic as allowing the people from anywhere with stars lipsticked on their faces to win the argument – our staying within the EU on reduced terms. I doubt the UK’s internal divisions would ever heal.

Climate change was always a load of tosh, admit ‘experts’. Who’d have thought?

Monday, September 18

Nul points

Oh for a little style, even at the expense of substance. I’m listening to May in Canada and she appears bereft of either, is bloody awful. It wouldn’t be so bad if her obvious deficiencies were compensated for in some way. Unfortunately the girl’s an all-round dud.

Sunday, September 17

Mine's a large one

Lots of athletes out and about this morning. Though I limped across to watch the action, Gudgeon acknowledges his running days are long gone – yesterday’s jaunt a punishing realisation. So as an antidote to our fitness orientated neighbours I’ve organised an old fashioned Sunday lunchtime cocktail session for the slackers – Negronis all round. Must admit, while I don’t drink this sort of thing often, it’s a real treat. Venison on the barbecue and country music in the offing.

Friday, September 15

History is written by the victors?

“Our new national sport. Today’s blameless generation versus your guilty one. Who will atone for our fathers’ sins? Even if they weren’t sins at the time.” I didn’t reread The Spy Who Came in from the Cold before tackling A Legacy of Spies but I did watch a rerun of Richard Burton and Claire Bloom for the umpteenth time. Three or so books ago I was ready to write off le Carré in the same manner as those aging crooners that insist on taking the stage in inappropriate clothing when they should be home drinking cocoa. His latest book, however, is a quality piece of writing. Unfortunately the lad’s turned into an old woman and like many of his ilk seems intent on rewriting history to benefit the contemporary market.

Wednesday, September 13

Life’s a lottery

Captain Mark ‘Foggy’ Phillips served with distinction in the Royal Marines and SBS for 25 years. A great athlete and four times winner of the 125-mile Devizes to Westminster canoe race, Foggy contracts a disease so rare that only one in a million people is affected and subsequently dies after a short illness.

Tuesday, September 12

The morning after

Up town this morning to see a man bout a dog … before adjourning to the Ship for a pint. Advertised as an oak-beamed Tudor inn with nautical heritage, the pub’s more a throwback to the 1970s. Given today’s clientele I was going to reference Rebus, but the accents were more Glasgow than Leith. Lots of punters my age or older, and a couple of good-time girls who’d seen better days. I don’t understand the need for some lads of a certain vintage to dress like teenagers – and if you must wear cut offs, why cannibalise your pyjamas?


Speaking of good-time girls. RAMM's latest exhibition (opens today) features a selection of  modern art from their Fine Art Collection, including Patrick Heron, Barbara Hepworth, Lucien Pissarro and Brian Rice… While not my usual thing, you can’t but be taken by Isabel Codrington’s ‘Morning’ – aka working girl after a night on the batter.

Monday, September 11

Buy one get one free

Received a soaking while filling potholes in the drive…autumn has most definitely arrived. Dried off chopping wood under cover. All good stuff, fresh air and what passes for exercise – even the ponies were impressed I’d surfaced. Mrs G. has been salvaging what she can from the post-storm allotment and Gudgeon is now surrounded by jars of runner bean chutney.

Although the silly season is supposedly over I’ve yet to reengage with the political scene. It doesn’t help that, following the furore over gender pay disparity, our male commentators are increasingly replaced by the cheaper option.

Highly recommended



Sardinhas "Petingas" Picantes José Gourmet. Damn it they’re hot (spicy).

Sunday, September 10

Only a numpty would buy English wine

I wouldn‘t go so far as Marco: however, in general, it is pretty average plonk sold at inflated prices. “The French make the best wine. The English just play at it,” he says. “We make the best Cheddar, we make great pasties. But we can't make very good brie or baguettes – and the French can't make pork pies.” Each to their own. Would also grudgingly agree that “London is the No 1 food destination, full stop. It has the talent and (the people who can pay) the prices.”

Appears autumn has arrived

Gales! Driven rain is the homestead’s number one enemy, it goes with the territory – keeps me awake at night. Thankfully we don’t live in Florida. Reluctant to accept the seasonal shift we are still eating summer food: olives and Padrón peppers, veal loin steaks with quality pasta and classy tomatoes, a bottle of stuff from the far north of the Côtes de Nuits above Morey-St Denis (the last of my birthday presents).

Saturday, September 9

Should have been staked out on an ant nest

His severed genitals stuffed in his mouth. ...I’ve read too much Larry McMurtry and Elmore Leonard.

Have lived through worse

Some good matches today, but then the Premier League is a series of exciting games. Am currently listening to Motson who is stepping down – love the old stories. We are all looking a little worn these days. Everyone is down in Brighton, and while I’ve a soft spot for Chris Hughton and have fond memories of Brighton, The Grand Hotel, my money’s on the Baggies.

Having repainted ‘the wall’ I’ve hung our recent addition. The artist says the picture can be read as a metaphor for how we've entered the 21st century, with a series of international crises, ecological concerns and political instability – think John Milton’s epic poem Paradise Lost. To me it’s just a disturbingly spooky scene.

Nightmare in Cheltenham

Speaking at the Cheltenham Literature Festival… Hillary Rodham Clinton, Judy Murray, Chris Patten, Simon Schama… Grief, why would you? Perhaps for the deadbeat dad and gobby Brummie – their partnership must be such a comfort to Suzanne Moore and Marina Hyde.

Fish Fingers were never this good

The local metropolis is holding its annual food festival. Years ago these sorts of things were an opportunity for producers to promote their wares. Unfortunately they didn’t result in sales and have now deteriorated into a collection of fast food stalls selling questionable dishes of doubtful provenance you wouldn’t dream of eating.

Friday was fish day. Hake and John Dory. It was so good, today’s a repeat.

Thursday, September 7

Reviewing Pale Ales this week

Always a fan of pale ale, White Shield remains my standard from the old days. Another six brewers were taste tested over the weekend … Samuel Smith’s remaining the one to beat.

It’s that time of year: game birds appear in the butchers’ window.

Tuesday, September 5

When men resembled men

Early finish today, am in between (nearly) completing one project and moving to the next. Gudgeon seems to spend more time washing brushes than painting. As it’s lashing down outside I’ve taken a couple of hours off. Watching Edward Dmytryk’s ‘Anzio’ for the umpteenth time. Not exactly the greatest war film ever made, but what the hell – rather Robert Mitchum and Peter Falk than Daniel Craig and Tom Cruise.

You know you’re getting old when...

You take down a box of teabags from the cupboard for your morning cuppa and try to stuff a Matzo Cracker in the mug.

Sunday, September 3

Living the simple life

While not in the same league as Houston, today’s rainfall has been trés heavy. One or two diehards are sticking it out but most have struck camp and a bedraggled convoy is heading home. With nothing else to do I spent the morning applying a coat of vinyl to the bathroom walls – four hours stumbling about in the dark, choking on paint fumes. Quit in time for the Italian Grand Prix and a well-earned pre-lunch drink. We’re on day three of Friday’s barbecue, the latest reincarnation augmented by an outstanding salsa verde, plates of roasted vegetables and a fine Lalande de Pomerol. Thanks to a cold spring the allotment has been a disappointment this year; what it has produced, however, is first class.

Saturday, September 2

College struggles for new customers

In order to navigate the uncertainties of Brexit, farming needs to attract a more diverse group of people (clever urban types from a range of ethnic backgrounds) says first female head of Britain’s oldest agricultural college. There aren’t enough toffs (non-clever men in tweed jackets with leather patches and yellow cords) to fund my eye-watering vice-chancellor’s salary and pension.

Friday, September 1

Has to be barbecue

Monday, glazed baked ham and eggs; Tuesday, calves liver with green beans; Wednesday, feta and courgette frittata; Thursday, veal burgers and Greek salad. Friday?

Life in the sticks

It’s not so much a problem with Islam hereabouts as the rise of Beowulf style paganism. Neighbours have taken to dressing up in animal skins and, sword or axe in hand, dancing round a blazing pyre. Think of it as rural multiculturalism. One of these dark nights they’ll meet the hunt sabs returning from an exercise and all hell will break loose. While disappointed not to have been invited, the thought of having sharpened bones inserted in my chest and being suspended by rawhide straps from an oak tree is much less appealing than a mug of cocoa and an early night.

Thursday, August 31

Panic this morning

Fortunately a courier arrived in the nick of time with two-kilos of coffee beans. I don’t mind crawling around inside confined spaces with wrench in hand but life’s about incentives. ...Even with outside help I feel like I’m losing the battle. So much to do, and Gudgeon’s a lazy bugger at the best of times. Not that I’ve a great deal to complain about – rather me than David Davis. Our man looks to be making a decent fist of it, dealing with those slimeballs in Brussels must be frustrating. Everyone knows it will come down to a hard Brexit so why not cut to the chase?

Wednesday, August 30

Surrounded by pre-midlife crisis

A little rain this morning to dampen the enthusiasm of our new age hippie neighbours, ensconced as they are in their yurts and camper vans. Tuareg camp fires litter the horizon. Just one of them starts singing Kum ba yah and I’m letting the dogs out.

Sunday, August 27

Grumpy old man

I certainly achieved my ten-minutes/month exercise requirement this morning. Given the miles walked, the terrain, I could sit on my backside until next year and still be ahead of the game. Idyllic bank holiday weather … and so quiet? No argument from yours truly: the less I see of people the better. As soon as the rest of the human race fucks off to Mars the happier I’ll be.

I say quiet. And yet the birds, the chirruping swallows – aerial spiders, the shrill green woodpecker…buzz of insects, scurrying rodents. The forlorn cattle and whinnying ponies; subdued mumble around the smoking campfire, the idling quad bikes...

Saturday, August 26

Hurricane Harvey comes ashore in Rockport

A one-time favourite hangout of Mrs G’s – fishing, can you believe. Vaguely recall being holed up in a shack on the beach, dining on soft shell crabs and steaks (from a shark she’d caught), drinking beer, listening to Kim Carnes and Rosanne Cash. Think someone shot Pope John Paul II? It was a long time ago.

And a chilled bottle of something or other

If yesterday’s roads were busy, today seems as though the entire country has decamped to Devon. I grabbed a loaf, milk and papers, and hotfooted it back to the homestead. ...And not just the roads. Other than the odd military aircraft you rarely see anything in the sky. This morning’s vapour trails resemble the downtown map of a large metropolitan city.

The yard is a sea of yellow flowers, alive with butterflies and bees. Given the sunshine we’re lunching all’aperto (al fresco to you and me) on mozzarella and sweet tomatoes (lots of basil leaves), roasted Mediterranean vegetables (morelli artichokes, borretane onions, and red peppers) with bruschetta.

Friday, August 25

Up town for supplies

Everyone must already be on holiday as the streets are relatively deserted (calm before the bank holiday storm?). I note another impressive new block of student accommodation is taking shape – it’s a pity they can’t build similar affordable city centre homes for young marrieds and singles that work for a living (pay taxes and rates). Trustees of foreign pension funds and buy-to-let rentiers should be castrated.

Downing my morning coffee I was surprised to see a large group of visitors (Britons-in-waiting) from what was once referred to as Soviet Central Asia, all dressed in colourful Muslim garb and trailing a dozen or so children wearing Man Utd branded clothing. Gudgeon suspects it is he rather than they who is part of a dying breed.

Returned home to find several ponies had been delivered to the yard. The more the merrier, I guess.

Bachelor pads

Millennials can’t afford to buy a bachelor pad! bleats the papers. Men now require a partner’s income in order to buy a place to live. As if anybody could have acquired a flat of their own in the old days. It has always taken two salaries to ‘buy’ a home: that’s why people married. That and the sex. So-called bachelor pads (rented basement room beneath the bookies, communal toilet on the stairs) were a right-of-passage. While great fun at the time (all-night card games, the non-stop boozing), marriage came as a relief.

Thursday, August 24

Driving with care

This morning to the builders’ merchant to stock up on filler and sandpaper, rollers and brushes. Next to the Kwik-E-Mart and Ike Godsey’s, my favourite store. Roads are especially tricky this time of year, teeming with novice drivers heading to/from their holiday destination, lots of German/Dutch/French plates. Nut job jihadis aside, there are a lot of dangerous people out there.

Puzzling over the nature of time

The Times Jenni Russell writes “I am at the Edinburgh Festival … whisky, dinners, wine, late nights, fish and chips eaten in the queues. I couldn’t confuse it with a health farm. … enjoyable at the time but has left so little trace in my mind that it’s as if the days scarcely happened at all.” Russell’s perception mirrors Gudgeon’s foggy years in Scotland. The clue lies in the whisky and wine, the late nights.

Wednesday, August 23

I guess it’s back to Sunday lunchtimes at the Dog & Duck

MOTD and Sunday Politics. I don’t ask for much. Now even that’s gone, the big lad replaced by one of John Smith’s spawn. An all too rare right-of-centre heavyweight replaced by another ubiquitous left-of-centre BBC clone who will no doubt bring “an exciting and fresh perspective” to the programme.

Swallows populate the barn but it’s buzzards and tawny owls that are prominent in the yard. Summer is drawing to a close and, lazy sod I am, have begun to panic. I’ve failed to deliver on a number of projects – the list of outstanding maintenance work is as lengthy as it was in the spring.

Tuesday, August 22

Gourmet poultry

The Silkie (sometimes spelled Silky) is a breed of chicken named for its atypically fluffy plumage, which is said to feel like silk, and satin. The breed has several other unusual qualities, such as black skin and bones, and greyish-black meat. In addition to their distinctive physical characteristics, Silkies are well known for their calm, friendly temperament. It is among the most docile of poultry.

This one is definitely docile: it’s sat on a plate, smothered in tarragon and butter, waiting for the oven to heat up.

Monday, August 21

Mondays

There’s nothing about the homestead to suggest Marseille other than the glorious evening sunshine, but it’s enough for me to break out the deckchairs and pastis. Mrs G. is roasting a half-dozen quail. Bliss.

Sunday, August 20

Crystal balls and careers advice

The Guardian’s Larry Elliott writes that Dhaval Joshi, an economist at BCA research, believes Moravec’s paradox will have a big impact on the labour market. Moravec considers two scenarios for a stylised economy with three jobs: a high-income innovator, a middle-income manufacturer and a low-income animal tender... It makes you wonder, listening to neighbours’ kids reviewing exam results and considering options. None appear keen to follow their parents occupations, believing farming and skilled trades in the building industry a mugs game – hard work, with too many hours and little financial reward (even though said parents have managed to clothe, house and feed them, pay for their education). Everyone wants to be a doctor, architect or leader writer. I’ve refused to proffer advice and wouldn’t know where to begin – haven’t a crystal ball, other than to remind them plumbers, carpenters and sparkies will never go hungry, and everyone needs to eat. Yesterday I read a column by an Indian girl named Snigdha Poonam. Looking at the prospects for kids on her side of the pond, she notes automation is costing the software industry in India 200,000 jobs every year, that redundant software engineers are returning to their rural villages and becoming farmers. As she says, “That’s a disruption no one saw coming.” Youngsters hereabouts considering their future would do well to note Poonam, who reminds us that every month another million Indians enter the job market.

Smoked trout for breakfast

We’ve been taste testing smoked salmon this past couple of weeks and are obliged to accept there’s a lot of crap out there. Smoked/cured fish is little different to craft beers, in that every spotty-faced arsehole on the planet thinks he can brew beer and produce decent grub. The tragedy is many of the best go under because there aren’t sufficient customers with deep enough pockets. Everyone wants old-style BA service at budget prices. My favourite smoked fish producer – a class act – went out of business a month or two ago. Although the jury’s out, am struggling to find better than H. Forman and Son (have tried several of their products), not least the bog standard Gravadlax.

Veal steaks and pasta (wild fennel sauce) for lunch, along with a decent Barolo.

Saturday, August 19

How the other half lives

In this morning’s papers I read about what worries the wealthy. Capital preservation appears high on their list, keeping all that filthy lucre in the family. However with eight times as many quietly confident of this as are pessimistic, Clan Corbyn must seem an irrelevance. Likewise with Brexit. Although 75pct of British 18-24 year olds opposed Brexit, only 35pct of young millionaires consider it a worry. Evidently, a poor person’s problem.

August is the month of class anxiety, says Robert Armstrong, as he lies on his Long Island beach, gazing enviously at the vulgar display of wealth while fretting over the cost of potato salad at the deli. A self-confessed snob, his resentments deepening with his tan. ...Despite this being the holiday season, the homestead’s neighbours are out in force. Seemingly everyone but Gudgeon on top of a horse. They say money doesn’t buy class, but you can’t ignore the accents and manners that betray expensive schools and a certain aesthetic.

Friday, August 18

Sir Bruce Forsyth – ironically, a feel-good story?

Muslim terrorists and Donald Trump wiped from the news! If you are one of the many that found Bruce an irritating old fart, best you switch off this evening. The lad deserves a degree of ignominy if only for his rendition of Mr Bojangles.

Adverse climate

Losing battle … exterior painting.

Thursday, August 17

Failure is never an option

A neighbour’s kid has been awarded straight Bs instead of A*s and believes his dream is over. Fortunately as one door closes…

Morale booster

After an extremely fraught day (rain stopped play), a feelgood supper of Devonshire Haggis, aka Hog’s Pudding (Groaty Pudding to you and me), with large portions of Hodmedod’s Baked Beans. Soul Food par excellence.

Wednesday, August 16

Six-hour slog

The motor was booked for its annual service, and after delivering it to the garage I walked cross country and along the canal into town. Towpaths and muddy tracks are easy, it’s the concrete pavements and cobbled streets that aggravate my joints – stokes the grumpy-old-man syndrome. Took me two hours of traipsing round shops before finding a decent pair of jeans, ones that fit. Locating new trainers became a lost cause. I hate shopping but you can’t get everything from Amazon. Sat people-watching for as long as it took to drink two coffees and a bottle of water, then limped weary miles back to the garage. Some days are more exciting than others.

Thought for the Day

“America’s great gift as a country is its size and relative emptiness, its elbow room. That space allows for difference and is often mistaken for tolerance.” (Paul Theroux)

Tuesday, August 15

One satisfied customer

Apart from the occasional broken limb I’m not a regular customer of our sainted NHS. A once-a-year blood test to monitor my cholesterol level and that’s about it. So I was surprised – given the horror stories regarding staff shortages – to be offered a non-urgent GP appointment within 24hrs. Said GP duly referred me to a physio at the local hospital, who was happy to book me in for a consultation the following morning. Super clean/smart establishment, only four other clients in the comfortable waiting room – in and out inside forty minutes.

On the face of it, one satisfied customer. But that would be to ignore the fucked up flu jab that’s left me in eye-watering pain whenever I move my arm in the wrong direction. The condition is referred to as a shoulder injury related to vaccine administration (SIRVA). The NHS keeps quiet on the subject in case it frightens the punters and they refuse to have their seasonal jabs. Unfortunately on this occasion it was my turn to draw the short straw.

Sunday, August 13

Let’s hear it for our public services

A View from the Foothills is on its 13th reprint. Pure coincidence I’ve recently consigned his diary to the local charity shop in order to free up shelf space. Chris Mullin who failed the 11-plus – one of those rare beasts that appears more boring than you do. “I am fortunate to have a good pension, based on my 23 years in parliament (including four as a minister) and four at the BBC.”

Pork Scratchings

Out on the moor with Mrs G. this morning, half expecting to meet with hordes of tourists soaking up the wilderness. Just a single neighbour, checking his stock. Can’t believe we dodge the bullet so effectively in this neck of the woods. Lunching today on roast pork (Saddleback), enhanced with the Boss’s patented fennel/garlic/rosemary/pepper rub – an exceptional green-tinted Cote de Beaune, a birthday gift.

Saturday, August 12

Pressure valve

Saturday morning: to Tavistock Market for supplies. Traffic wise, have never seen the moor so busy; they tell me it’s bumper-to-bumper from Bristol to Exeter. You think: Suckers! But that’s to ignore their need to escape civilisation.

Success or Failure?

Team GB has done well, achieved a few fourth places – it’s a good World Championships? Just as well we’ve learnt how to pedal bikes, ride horses, sail boats … have Justin Rose and Andy Murray … access to performance-enhancing substances.

Friday, August 11

Well that was fun


Believe I’ll stay on the reservation today. Nothing clears the head
faster than pushing a wheelbarrow back and forwards
through the mire for an hour or so, especially when it’s raining…
and blowing a gale…and I’m freezing my nuts off.

Thursday, August 10

Culturally appropriate?

Included among my birthday presents was a DVD of Vincente Minnelle’s musical-romance, Gigi. While selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant", these days, just owning a copy is likely to have a man arrested. Even expressing a sneaking admiration for Honoré Lachaille – his infatuation with ‘little girls’, rates ten years in the pokey. “I’m not glad I’m not younger anymore.”

For some unfathomable reason all of my birthdays cards – many thanks to everyone – feature a bottle of wine and/or beer?  Stop sniggering, Mrs G.

Clickety Click

Pastries and Pol Roger (2008 Blanc De Blancs) for breakfast.  

For ever year of life we light 
a candle on your cake 
to mark the simple sort of progress 
anyone can make, 
and then, to test your nerve or give 
a proper view of death, 
you’re asked to blow each light, each year, 
out with your own breath.    (James Simmons) 

Wednesday, August 9

Tradition alive and kicking

Westfield's chief marketing officer Myf Ryan said: "The way we eat, cook, dine out and shop is changing at speed, and it’s clear that the millennial generation is making big changes to our relationship with food, from recipe delivery boxes to pop-up avocado bars to apps that let you order without queuing." Interestingly, millennials in Britain are eschewing 'traditional' foreign cuisines and prefer to eat different modern imports. Those in their 30s opt for Greek, Turkish and Vietnamese, while the under-30s prefer Italian, American or Mexican.

Jesus H. C., every bloody generation grows up eating a pastiche of Italian, American and Mexican (Guacamole) cuisine, ditto their graduation to Greek and Tukish...etc. This is traditional and not something new. Every frigging generation thinks it’s inventing the wheel. Elizabeth David anyone?

Out around Exeter yesterday…

Decided on lunch. Found place selling burgers and beer. Sat down at table to consume said meal and was informed that, though they had sold me a beer, the establishment didn’t have a licence and I couldn’t drink it on the premises. Ate burger – before transferring next door and downing a ‘licenced’ pint. Eventually returned home late afternoon, très weary, to be met by Mrs G. who insisted I accompany her on a jog across the moor for an hour or two. I still have it, thinks Gudgeon – while clutching his knees/back and swallowing a handful of paracetamol tablets.

A long way from either Kansas and Texas

I once read that our taste in popular music is determined around the age of seventeen, which could explain a certain nostalgia associated with Wichita Lineman and Galveston. An integral part of the soundtrack to eighteen months of youthful exuberance on the mountains and hills of North Wales.

Tuesday, August 8

Need to try harder

Despite our eleven years residence in Devon, today was my first visit to Darts Farm – awarded UK’s Best Farm Shop 2016. “Like finding Selfridges food hall dumped in the middle of a field, except with affordable prices and all the produce originating from a 30 mile radius.” (The Guardian, February 2005.)   Imagine one of those large, commercial garden centres but with jam and chutney instead of wilting flowers and privet hedging. It wasn’t so much the questionable produce or the dust-covered jars, so much as the mothers who allow their cherubs to play with the food on display. As a long-term customer of Selfridges food hall I have to differ with the Guardian’s assessment, and remain grateful for how well we’re served in our immediate vicinity.

Scientific research used to display more rigour

A bunch of lads from the University of Manchester ‘analysed’ ONS figures and determined people in northern England are 20 per cent more likely to die before the age of 75 than those down south. For the purpose of their study, they assumed north means anything above Watford, and southerners included the inhabitants of Great Yarmouth (who barely make it to retirement age). The study didn’t look at the causes of death, so could not identify what was causing the rise in the premature northern deaths. However they were confident that economic and social factors underpinned the disparity, and it was nought that couldn’t be put right by a large injection of cash from those namby-pamby taxpayers down south.

Sunday, August 6

A bonus

Enjoyable morning on the hills. Don’t get me wrong – am now back home watching the marathon (World Athletics Championships) on the box, the familiar streets with so many memories – it’s just that Dartmoor is a bonus I never envisaged, a world of Green Woodpeckers and Badgers, Ponies and Hunters.

Saturday, August 5

Late lunch or early dinner?

Barbecued rib eye steaks (rib intact). An attractive, energised, silky, spicy Côte-Rôtie from one of the greatest winemakers in the Northern Rhône – Jean-Michel Gerin. How the other half live? Never entered my mind.

Watching IAAF World Championships on the box

Am finding it difficult to get excited – athletics is something you follow in your youth (when you can still run yourself). While cleaning out filing cabinets yesterday I came across the programme for a IAC/Coca-Cola Meeting of August 29th 1975. Billed as an ‘all-star gala’, it included world record holder John Walker in the mile; Brendan Foster taking on a world-class field in his first 10,000 metres; Alan Pascoe, David Jenkins and Geoff Capes. The days I’d drive all the way to Crystal Palace for an evening (floodlit) athletics meeting are long gone.

Why is Gabby Logan dressed for a Country and Western revival?

Friday, August 4

Community spirit is dying

The main piece of evidence that neighbourliness is dying, is “most of us never borrow or lend anything with our neighbours anymore ... because the folks next door are more than likely to be Filthy Repulsive Cheating Repugnant Lying Fiddling Scum”. ...Gave me a chuckle.

Unexpected treat

While the Proms has already featured lots of good stuff, tonight’s Mauceri-led show – the Ella and Dizzy Revival – is one of the best. Most enjoyable.

Objects of beauty

Two of my neighbours drive classic cars, trophies of successful careers. And why not. Someone has to maintain our heritage – you can’t consign everything to museums and Qataris. Unfortunately it requires yours truly having to give way and reverse to a passing place whenever we meet. Small price…

We’ve barely moved since David Frost's day

Kevin Myers was right about the BBC, says Anita Rani – it’s as much to do with race and class as gender. But then we’d need to discount Anita’s independent school education.

Thursday, August 3

Heineken’s attempt at the holy grail

“This is a fantastic tasting beer. Our master brewer is so confident in Heineken 0.0 that he has given it his seal of approval. Drinkers love it too – initial feedback from both consumers and customers has been overwhelmingly positive, with a strong preference shown towards Heineken 0.0 versus other alcohol free beers. We really can say it’s the best tasting no alcohol lager.”

I finally got around to trying it today. Given the miles Gudgeon drives, I have spent thirty years searching for a passable non-alcoholic beer. Unfortunately the Heineken version is as execrable as the rest.

Do I not like Canadians

The Bank of England holds rates at 0.25%. Bastards. How the fluck are we prudent savers expected to keep the faith. On the plus side – if I understood him correctly – Carney believes Brexit negotiations will be a walk in the park and everything is going to work out fine. There’s nothing to fear but fear itself, he implied, much of which is stoked by hard-core remainers and the MSM. Hey, he was pointing the finger, not me.

Wednesday, August 2

Best laid plans

Rain stopped play. Nothing to do but hunker down with Glorious Goodwood on the box. Even there, the bar staff appear busier than the jockeys.

Tuesday, August 1

Set to challenge

It was going so well, all the way to the point he severed the gas pipe. One of those days… My best is cutting the electricity cable when everyone in the street was cooking dinner prior to a televised world cup qualifier. The street never forgave me. Our current project has been a fuck up from day one. In the old days I would rage; now I’m content to laugh it off.

The allotment needed a soak

Even by Dartmoor standards, this morning’s rain is something. Torrential seems an inadequate description, gutters and drains can’t cope and the stuff is lapping over the doorstep. August…holidays…children off school. Guess the weather shouldn’t be a surprise. Have already cancelled the two lads who were due to begin work in the yard as it would be a mud-bath. Unfortunately, I have things to do out there.

Monday, July 31

La femme fatale est mort

“I’m very proud of being half English and I think as time passes my best English qualities are more and more visible,” remarked Moreau. “I’m pleased I can be outrageous as only the English can be.” If being outrageous meant being her own woman, expressing her opinions unreservedly and having a number of well-publicised affairs, then she lived up to the epithet. ...Pure coincidence I’ve just sat through two old favourites, The Train and Monte Walsh.

The Buckie made me do it!

With a combined age of 1,075 years, the Donnelly family have revealed the secret behind their longevity – porridge oats. “We've always followed Daddy's habit of that nice warm bite before sleep,” said Joe Donnelly, the 72-year-old youngster of the clan. “Porridge at around 10pm, then again for breakfast at 7am. Cooked oats, milk, a spot of apple jam on top.” Of course, tucking into a bowl of porridge twice a day is just part of their wholesome diet, which also sees them enjoy a wealth of fruits, vegetables and meats produced on their 100-acre farm. The clan steer clear of alcohol and experts have questioned whether that has played a role in their incredible longevity. The only exception to this teetotal rule came from their mother who drank an entire bottle of Buckfast after the birth of each of her 16 children “to build her up again.”

Well done the Lionesses

England 1 - 0 France. I’m not sure you’d pay good money to watch this sort of thing, but well done the ladies. One in the eye for Macron.

Renowned former BBC presenter Sue MacGregor has said there will never be equal pay for men and women at the broadcaster “until men have babies”. Given Justine Greening’s harebrained scheme for self-select gender assignment this may be sooner than we think.

Dodging the bullets

The Battle of Passchendaele… The memory of my Grandfathers remain with me, as does the significance to both of WWI. Despite the books, the stories and poetry, I have no more sense of the actual reality than I do my Mother’s brothers’ experiences at Dunkirk, Mrs G’s Father’s years as an Allied prisoner of war in Auschwitz, and those that more recently served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Shit job; someone has to do it; glad it wasn’t me.

Sunday, July 30

Facts you wish weren't true

There are around three times as many reptiles reporters as there are employees in the steel industry.

The Irish Dimension (John Hewitt)

With these folk gone, next door was tenanted 
by a mild man, an Army Officer, 
two girls, a boy, left in his quiet care, 
his wife, their mother, being some years dead. 
We shortly found that they were Catholics, 
the very first I ever came to know. 
To other friends they might be Teagues or Micks; 
the lad I quickly found no sort of foe. 

Just my own age. His Christian Brothers’ School 
to me seemed cruel. As an altar boy 
he served with dread. His magazines were full 
of faces, places, named, unknown to me. 
Benburb, Wolfe Tone, Cuchullain, Fontenoy. 
I still am grateful, Willie Morrissey. 

When I was a kid, the lad I played with lived across the road several doors down. His house featured derelict stables out back, a relic from the horse and cart era, and for two little boys something of an adventure playground. He always wore a cap, it never left his head. Because they were a Catholic family I always assumed it was to hide the tiny horns that grew from the top of his forehead. How such notions enter the head of a four-year-old remains a mystery.

Women’s European Championship

Quarter-Final: German 1-2 Denmark… Well, that’s two hours of my life I’ll never get back.

Dispiriting stuff

Despite their infatuation with the European union and barely disguised campaign to overturn Brexit, British mainstream media remains obsessed with America and the Donald Trump presidency. Given our supposed aversion to chlorinated chicken, newshounds head off across the Atlantic on the slightest of pretexts and consume buckets of the stuff. I suppose for the next couple of weeks we’ll also be treated to blanket coverage of Princess Diana’s demise. Fried chicken and an insatiable need to fetishize death. Geesh! It’s enough to drive you to drink.

Worried I’m going to seed, for the past three weeks I’ve body-swerved the Dog & Duck, paid more attention to my diet and upped the exercise stakes. My sole reward is to have lost one pound in weight. Part of me thinks it ain’t worth the effort, another bit assures me the exercise will benefit my heart. Am also conscious that cycling and gym work did James Hunt little good.

Saturday, July 29

How about > 0.8Mb/s!

The worst parliamentary constituencies with download speeds of less than 10Mb/s.

University tuition fees to double

Looks like tuition fees will increase sometime soon.

Wishful thinking

Today’s papers are full of pensions guff, the usual dire warnings of old age penury. When I qualified for my state pension last year I automatically assumed there’d be another twenty years of hijinks to pay for, then goodnight Vienna. To reassure myself I used one of those online longevity calculators which confirmed Gudgeon will expire at 87. I can live with that. Am told current 20-year-olds will probably work until they are 80 and live long enough to receive a birthday card from the monarch. That’s too long. It’s not the longevity per se but the years of ill health in the final stretch, sitting in a care home, dribbling down my bib. Needless to say, I was out on the moor during this morning’s downpour ticking off the miles. If I fail to fulfil expectations it won’t be for the want of trying.

Friday, July 28

What makes you happy…

I suspect there’s more than enough evidence in the public domain as regards what we should or shouldn’t be doing in moderation, and while decision making will always be trade-off between the competing demands of our physical and mental wellbeing, at the end of the day an individual’s health is his own responsibility. Ergo the new menace, writes Simon Jenkins, is self-diagnosis. Doctors claim that a majority of patients investigate their symptoms online, arriving at the surgery demanding not diagnosis, but prescriptions. Burgeoning health columns in the media have a similar effect. Although this must be frustrating for GPs, it follows the zeitgeist for scepticism of anything passed down from above (although given my limited experience of GPs, healthy scepticism appears a wise approach). The wisest approach, Jenkins believes, remains the old alliance of sceptic and epicurean. What makes you happy cannot be all bad, whatever the nanny state tells you.

Queer politics

Although Jeanette Winterson describes the advance of LGBTQIA rights as progress founded on disgust and pity, she chooses to celebrate how far she’s come. Owen Jones prefers to view all opposition in terms of hatred, and believes society is diseased. There’s a sense of 1930s Berlin in Owen’s spittle-flecked push towards a ‘final triumph’ – anger and searing fury should be the proper response, he says. I wonder which of the two sleeps best at night?

Thursday, July 27

Neighbours

Lots of folks live up lanes 
With fires in a bucket, 
Eat windfalls and tinned sardines – 
They seem to like it.

Wednesday, July 26

Popular culture


Ah bless! Vladimir Tretchikoff’s Chinese Girl is no more and Banksy’s Balloon Girl has become the nation’s favourite artwork. There’s nothing I can add to this announcement that would reflect well on me.

Tuesday, July 25

Hang them all

There is overwhelming consensus amongst both Britons and Americans that Fred Goodwin should be swinging from a gibbet.

Cheers – mine’s a large one

Everyone’s favourite freelance journalist and political activist says booze is a joy – so stop criticising women for drinking. Must admit I have fallen foul of this recently when seated between two women at a dinner party, both strangers to me. For the last umpteen years I’ve been conscious of the opprobrium heaped on men who ply women with booze in order to get their leg over. So much so, and to make sure there’s no misunderstanding, I’ve gotten into the habit of commandeering the bottle as it’s passed around the table and rationing the amount the ladies receive. The two girls went along with this for about ninety minutes before totally losing it and informing me in no uncertain terms what would happen to my nuts if I continued to short-change them. Life’s a minefield these days.

Not dead yet

I put it down to reading these action man biographies. Having spent the morning running around town I limped home for an hour or two of log stacking; then feeling the call of the Untersberg, donned my walking boots and set out across the moor. Needless to say I am now cream-crackered. Gudgeon remembers struggling in a cross-country race aged 26 and realising I wasn’t 18 anymore. Forty years on things are not much better. On the plus side: today’s weather is glorious and there was not other soul out there. Just a rather large Chinook.

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?

Friday, July 21

Feisty woman of colour checks her privilege

“As someone who reads and thinks and is educated...(unlike).” Alibaba Brown advertising her credentials prior to disparaging the US electorate on tonight’s Sky News Papers Review.

Normal service is resumed

When it rains here, it rains – they reckon 50mm so far today. Surprise, surprise, this weekend’s Chagstock has tickets for sale on the gate. On the plus side I don’t have to water the allotment.

I’m sure this will go well

Boots the Chemist tells women they should keep their knickers on. Boots are a particular bête noire of mine in that they bug the pants off me every time I purchase a particular brand of decongestants. On two occasions I’ve been accused of buying the tablets to convert into speed or ice. For the avoidance of doubt I was unsure what speed and ice were and had to resort to Google.

Thursday, July 20

Other people’s children

It’s a common fallacy that – at least in economic terms – millennials will fare worse than their parents. Social mobility has stalled, they say. What is more surprising, however, is that – given how much money we’ve pumped into education (spending per pupil is double that of the mid-90s) – the literacy and numeracy skills of 16-24 year olds are amongst the worst in the developed world, and pretty much where they were 25 years ago. Contrary to popular belief, the younger generation are no more literate or numerate than the generation now approaching retirement, that much maligned (non-graduate) UKIP-voting Brexit generation. Is it any wonder industry and commerce want to keep the post-Brexit doors open.

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 for winter – ash and beech. Sheep, cattle and horses in every direction…the sound of tractors, quad bikes and chainsaws.

And though to keep my brain and body alive 
I need the honey of the city hive, 
I also need for nurture of the heart 
the rowan berries and the painted cart, 
the bell at noon, the scythesman in the corn, 
the cross of rushes, and the fairy thorn. (John Hewett)

I find three hours in town is sufficient, then I’m good to go for another week.

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... The difference between an Afro-Caribbean and an African, between living the grudge and living the dream.

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.

Ouch!

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

Lyric

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

D'oh!

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?

Manyana

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.”

Saturdays…

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.

Bats

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.