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.

Bummer

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

Events...

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

Fridays…

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

Low-budget

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.

Cheers

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 Ch√Ęteauneuf-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.