Thursday, 30 November 2017

On Trump's Last Post.

I thought of making quite a long and sensible post on the issue of Trump and his re-tweeting of British far right videos. I decided against it because I don’t suppose it really matters to me if Trump chooses to push America’s reputation down to where the worms crawl and the rats make their homes. Why should I care?

What does disappoint me is that Theresa May says the offer of a state visit to Trump is still open. She says that it's important to maintain the 'special relationship.' Well, anybody who reads this blog regularly will be well aware of my opinion of little Donald, so my disappointment will come as no surprise. And it seems there have been calls from British MPs to have the offer rescinded. And I’m quite sure there are loads and loads and loads of other British people who feel the same way. So let’s make it clear to avoid any confusion:


It was interesting to note, however, that Mrs May finished her announcement with ‘a date has not yet been decided.’ OK, maybe that’s the get out clause. Let’s all hope.

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

What I Do.

So here we are again: it’s Wednesday and I’m supposed to make a blog post about my routine shopping visit to Ashbourne because that’s what I do. It’s a self-imposed discipline, the prosecution of which requires me to take note of every little circumstantial nuance to find something about which to say a few words because I have nothing to declare but my blog. So let me see…

Did anything exciting, uplifting, inspirational, frightening or funny happen in Ashbourne today? No. Did any dog befriend me? No. Did any dog behave aggressively towards me? Yes, but it was a poodle and its human was a young girl who giggled so it hardly counts. Did I see anybody slip on a banana skin and ask ‘why do people find it funny when somebody falls over?’ No. Did I encounter any of the Ladies of Mill Lane as I sometimes do? No, not even at a distance. Did I give money and a warm muffler to a pale and hungry waif I found shivering on a street corner? No. Did a squadron of hungry griffins darken the sky intent upon decimating the population?

I’m plucking at non-existent straws here. Is my life come to this? All those mountains climbed, cataracts survived and barriers overcome… Is that sad, or what?

I did, however, have one interesting little sensation when I was walking up the narrow cobbled alleyway between Victoria Square and the pet shop. (It was the last place in which I had what passed for a very short and guarded conversation with the Lady B, and is therefore entitled to a mention in the tourist publications as a Site of Special Historical Significance.)

I felt like some character not untypical of a darker sort of Dickensian novel: a shuffling, snivelling, solitary, inconsequential creature bereft of common comforts and the good offices of humanity. Does that sound sufficiently Dickensian? I think so.

The feeling passed quickly, and then I went for a cup of Americano with cream because that’s what I do.

Late Night Epiphany.

I just found this and discovered that Americans can be quite nice people (at least the off the wall ones.) Whoever would have thought it?

Slightly drunk and going to bed.

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Wasted Wishes.

I received two ‘Happy Birthday’ wishes today, both by email. One was from Mel and the other was from a writers’ forum I engaged with once and to which I must have given my date of birth in order to register. I’m glad to report that, for my part, I managed to be completely oblivious to the significance of the day, which is probably just as well because it wasn’t exactly a happy one.

Back to the Bad Old Days.

Vis-à-vis my previous post: I decided to watch the second half of The Old Curiosity Shop in the hope of seeing Daniel Quilp receive his comeuppance, and so I did. I was also hoping that the death of Little Nell would be as amusing as Oscar Wilde said it was, but in that I was disappointed. A little overly mawkish perhaps, but hardly a laughing matter.

On a side note, it did strike me that the world is still full of Daniel Quilps. The modern phenomenon of public exposure and accountability has forced them to be more secretive about their dastardly deeds, but they’re still here and thriving.

And I’ve long thought it curiously hypocritical that many of the people who revere the works of Charles Dickens – socially crusading stuff in its day – are often the first to decry the notion of a welfare state, preferring instead to champion the kind of rampant free market ideology which spawned the class divisions and abusive excesses characteristic of Victorian society. And isn’t it delightfully ironic that Mrs Thatcher drove a privatisation policy aimed at making Britain far more dependent on the free market principle, having proudly declaimed that she wanted ‘a return to Victorian values.’

Monday, 27 November 2017

On Positive Depression.

Tonight I tried to watch the 2007 adaptation of The Old Curiosity Shop. I turned it off half way through because when the black dog has already got you by the throat, the unremitting darkness of The Old Curiosity Shop only serves to enrage him further.

I did realise, however, that depression has its useful side. The more depressed you are, the less you tend to give a damn about anything; so when the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune land on your unprotected head, the turmoil thus engendered can sometimes be ameliorated a little – although it does depend on the nature of the slings and arrows, of course. Still, yet another example of life’s little ironies.

I did warn of the winter blues, didn’t I? And I did say that November tends to be the worst month. Tomorrow is my next indelible marker of mortality. I hope nobody reminds me of it.

Milking Non News.

I gather an alleged grandson of the Queen is going to get married to some American actress I’ve never heard of. And of course, the media is going into one of its incomprehensible frenzies as it always does at such times, giving a matter which is of comparatively little import at least as much coverage as it would a high level political assassination or major terrorist attack.

I wonder why they do it. Are they trying to persuade us to give a damn, or could it have something to do with attracting advertising revenue? I find the whole thing quite mystifying, but it seems that quite a lot of people do give a damn, which is the most mystifying aspect of all.

Sunday, 26 November 2017

Nepal's New Era.

I just read that elections have been held in Nepal for the first time since the end of the civil war between security forces and Maoist insurgents. All levels of the population have been allowed to vote and the response has been enthusiastic, with many people walking for hours through snow in the Himalayas to vote at their local polling stations. It was also mostly peaceful, the only trouble coming in one of the more northerly regions where police deployed armoured vehicles firing snowballs to disperse a protest by yetis demanding universal suffrage.

When Rainbows Fail.

There was a rainbow over the Shire yesterday, a perfect example such as you might find illustrating a child’s story book. The sky against which it was placed was a dark slate grey, and the landscape over which it stood was a sunlit mixture of fields, hedgerows, copses resplendent in autumn livery, and the characterful 17th century stone house which stands on its mediaeval footings at the side of Green Lane.

Half my brain was telling me that I should be finding the sight exquisitely beautiful and inspirational, while the other half was concentrating on the reason for my not so doing. It didn’t take much working out, but it would take a lot of typing to explain it. Besides, I’m not only growing tired of being me, I’m even growing tired of talking about me.

Saturday, 25 November 2017

An Early Christmas Note.

Every month I donate a fixed sum of money to Shelter, a charity set up to help homeless people in Britain, and every so often they send me emails. The latest missive is all about ways to further help Shelter at this festive time of year when Want is keenly felt and Abundance rejoices (they didn’t actually say the last bit, I just felt like quoting it so that some naïve soul somewhere in the world might take pity on me and kindly ascribe a measure of erudition to my generally impoverished mind.) One of the suggestions runs as follows:

Make space for the gifts you’ll be receiving this Christmas by donating unwanted items to your nearest Shelter charity shop.

This is me they’re talking to. Me, the guy who answers every irritating ‘are you ready for Christmas?’ query with a carefully rehearsed speech outlining the three pillars on which the celebration is built in order to explain why I make the informed choice to ignore it. Here is a list of the Christmas gifts I receive:

1. A miniature (5cl) bottle of scotch from Mel which she gives me every year. She insists on maintaining the tradition for superstitious reasons, fearing that if she breaks it there won’t be anybody to send one to next year. For my part, I save the empty bottles in a specially commissioned drawer. I pretend to be pursuing the hobby of miniature scotch bottle collecting in the hope that one or more of them will become valuable one day, but really I’m just as superstitious as she is.

That’s it; that’s the list of the gifts I’ll be receiving this year. So what do they want me to do in order to make space for it? Throw away one of the empties? What do they take me for? An unfeeling rationalist?