Monday, 31 December 2007

Looking Back

As I sit here at my computer on New Year’s Eve, eating a bag of Fair Trade Bombay mix, and drinking a bottle of Nicholas Feuillatte Champagne, I’m trying to think of something clever to write to sum up 2007. Not sure why I’m not drinking ale, and I’m failing miserably on the summing up. The year 2007 wasn’t a fantastic year for me, although there were probably more good times than I can possibly remember. We had a great holiday in Alsace. The lady got a much more interesting and better-paid job. And there were a number of nice outings and weekends away. To counteract that some shit happened; I was diagnosed with skin cancer, and we have so far failed to sell the house (with very little prospect of a sale in the near future), so no move to Norwich just yet. Bugger.

Quite by accident, I’ve just come across an article about the New Forest, on the website of The Boston Globe. I am immediately transported back to my childhood. I was probably about 10 or 11 and we had embarked on our first camping holiday. We were headed for Dorset. It was in the days before many major motorways, and so to avoid a lot of traffic, and being in the school holidays, it had been decided that we would travel overnight. We stopped for a few hours passed London, and all five of us tried to get some sleep. Mum and Dad managed some, but it was impossibility for excited children. After the early hours catnap we hit the road again, just as dawn was breaking. I could make a smutty joke about ‘the crack of Dawn’ at this juncture, but rest assured readers I’ll not bother. It was breakfast time as we came upon the edge of the New Forest. Our stomachs were rumbling. Time to stop. In this age of Health & Safety etc. etc. it’s probably not allowed, but on that morning Dad got out the Primus stove, started pumping away at it, lit it, and proceeded to fry up. Sausages, eggs and bacon in the New Forest. Mother busily buttered bread, or was it rolls? I can’t quite remember. I suppose it’s why barbecues are so popular, as you can’t beat the experience of food cooked and eaten out of doors. It assaults all of the senses. I’m sure in terms of what someone like Heston Blumenthal does it was very mediocre fare, but to a little lad on his first experience of a camping breakfast, it was the best meal I’d ever had. Still today I would say that it was certainly the best breakfast I’d ever eaten; Great smell, great taste, priceless atmosphere and beautiful surroundings. The memory of the smell, the air and the early morning dew on the leaves and plants will I hope never leave me.

I’ve looked a bit further back than just the past year. Thank you The Boston Globe for jogging my memory.

Monday, 24 December 2007

Saturnalia I presume

Whenever you hear the phrase ‘political correctness gone made’ you know very well that it’s a hoax with no or very little basis of truth and the flames of this outrage (driven invariably by bigotry and xenophobia) usually being fanned by the likes of the Daily Mail. This sort of Neanderthal thinking always raises its ugly head at this time of year, when normal right thinking people who dare to describe the period around the winter solstice as anything other than Christmas get labelled as p.c. nutters.
As an atheist, I use the term Christmas along with a number of other labels to describe this time of year. My personal favourite is Yuletide because I just happen to like the way it sounds. But I wouldn’t care if the word Christmas were banned from common usage. Festivities in aid of the Winter solstice have been around a lot longer than the notion of monotheistic delusions about worshipping a magic man with a beard. So quite frankly I don’t give a shit what people call it, as long as they don’t call it the holiday season or holidays. Holidays are what you go away for when you take time off work. Often somewhere warm, but not exclusively. Holidays ain’t fucking Christmas!

The Daily Mail squad, in a hang-up from Victorian times, are so morally and probably sexually repressed that they can’t cope with anything that challenges social conventions that owe their ancestry to the time when ‘we were not amused’.

Thursday, 20 December 2007

Bring back hanging for everyone

I think that the Kenny Richey case is a perfect example of why on a practical level the death penalty is totally and utterly wrong. Apparently there was an occasion when he was an hour away from being executed before being given a reprieve. Surely there is no justification for executing an innocent, or even possibly innocent, person. One of the many things that the American right-wing red-necks and Daily Mail readers have in common is that they confuse Justice with Revenge. Justice is only justice when the higher and pure moral ground is taken. State murder is just as wrong as murder by an individual. What right has any person to take the life of another? If you say ‘none’ then you are arguing against the death penalty. If you say ‘some’ or ‘plenty’ then you are saying that murder is acceptable, therefore why are you making it as a crime and one punishable by death at that?

For those of a religious disposition, who believe in a creator god, to take the life of anyone is a blasphemy. You are setting yourself up as an equal to your god. From what I know of the mainstream religions it’s not the done thing. For those of us that don’t need the crutch that is religion, but care about humanity, it would be hypocritical to preach that something is wrong and then go and do the self same thing. Legitimising it under the framework of law doesn’t make it any more justifiable, or any less abhorrent. And for those a little more intellectually challenged (Sun readers etc.), two wrongs don’t make a right!

As I write this blog, Kenny Richey is apparently quite ill it would be a bitter irony indeed if he did not make it to become a free man.

Sunday, 16 December 2007

I suspect I'm Compo

On Friday night I met up with my two oldest friends for a drink and a meal. One of them, my best friend from school, I had not seen for nearly two years, although we had chatted on the telephone during that period. There were lots of things to catch up on, so we all had much to say over our very mediocre meal. I can't remember exactly how it came up, but I think we were talking about concerts, plays, shows etc. that we had seen and were going to see, my best friend from school said, I don't really like comedy". I was quite shocked by this. How can you not like comedy? In our youth we tried to write comedy scripts together. All rejected by the BBC I might add. He was a big fan of The Goons, The Good Life and Woody Allen. What he went on to clarify was that he didn't like comedy nowadays and thus had stopped watching or listening to any of it.

As far as I'm concerned three of the most important things in life are music, ale and comedy. Life without them would be most unpleasant; culturally inert. For the weak willed it might be enough for them to turn to religion. Not my friend though as he's a vicar in the C of E. And despite the fact that he goes to cricket matches, ballet, Katie Melua concerts and drinks lager he's still a great bloke and remains a good friend. I think the friendship between the three of us has survived because we all enjoy taking the piss out of each other, knowing that we can all take it. And whilst we do not all share the same interests, we have enough overlapping ones to make it a viable and sustaining trio. We also share vaguely similar political views.

In our earlier adulthood I often used to suggest that we would end up like Compo, Clegg and Foggy out of Last Of The Summer Wine. We could never agree on who would be who!

Compo, Foggy & Clegg

Saturday, 8 December 2007

Holiday Season

What the fuck is the ‘holiday season’?
I know one thing, it isn't now. The holiday season is all year round as people take holidays all year round! I suppose typically people take the majority of their holidays in the summertime, although winter breaks have become a lot more popular. So there you have it the holiday season is all year. So unless you want to show yourself up as the wanker you possibly are, stop using the wretched term.

Sunday, 2 December 2007


This week's news on the housing market told us what we already knew; houses just ain't selling at the moment. Our house has been on the market since the beginning of September. It is in what we know to be 'a desirable part of town'. Yet we have only had four viewings. I'm not a big lover of estate agents, I think you pay an awful lot for not a lot, but I feel confident that our current agents have worked as hard if not harder than most around. There seems to be a lack of confidence, first time buyers seem to have gone away. Consequently the market is stagnating. The time of year now doesn't help either. I suspect it could well be summer before we get to move to Norwich. Oh well!