Week 205

18th November, 2012

Disaster today. My huge, desktop coputer has thrown a wobbly and gone into cardiac arrest. In truth, I had known it was coming for a few days. The on/off switch has been temperamental. It is either the switch or the power supply which is fortunate. At least the hard drive storage is alright. Now, I’ve got to find a company to help me with this.

19th November, 2012

At 9.00 am we will go to PCWorld repair desk. If that is no good, I have a number of choices around Woking. We also have to fit in a swim at the Health Centre and picking Phyllis & Colin up from Gatwick Airport. I took the CPU of my set up down to PCWorld which has now been amalgamated with Dixons/Currys. Their technical centres have been fantastic sources of support but now they have been instructed to deal with only a small number of branded products. They couldn’t deal with mine which came from Evesham Computers in 2004. Evesham went out of business in 2008. I did a quick search in the area for independent tradesmen and settled on SurreyCPR, a very local, one man firm who had an excellent website. I phoned him at 9.00 am and he was with us by 12.00 pm. The problem turned out to be the power supply unit (£50.00) but this meant I needed a new display card (£20.00). I asked for a new DVD Writer to be fitted (£30.00) and the hour’s call out was £50.00. The total of £150.00 was wonderful and I would have paid it three times over. The computer cost me £2,700.00 eight years ago.

Phyllis & Colin were supposed to be landing at 18.15. I monitored Gatwick’s arrivals board and was amazed that the flight was estimated to arrive thirty minutes early. Because we were concerned about rush hour traffic and finding parking, we left an hour before they were due in. It turned out that there was virtually no traffic, car parking was easily accessible and then Phyllis & Colin were forced to stay on the plane because its landing was early. The passport control was a crowded nightmare and we ended up waiting for a very long time.

20th November, 2012

On Monday, while I was waiting for a computer repair, I used my laptop to continue my research. I subscribe to an on-line service called Ancestry.co.uk which gives me immediate links to most of the important databases. I managed to locate my Great, Great Grandfather, Richard Sanders born in Birstall, Leicestershire in 1821 and his wife, Anne who was born in Desford, Leicestershire in 1828. I know David Pritchard has already covered this ground but I feel obligated to at least rehearse it myself before adding to his research. (Hope you are enjoying your Sunday, David. I was wondering who The Observer reader was. At last you’ve revealed yourself.) Today is a wet day – grey and rather gloomy. The temperature is only 12C/54F. We will have our swim but otherwise will stay tucked up and I will have time to go on with my research.

I Googled the name Mabel Lilian Flook / Mabel Lilian Sanders and came up with a piece of unformatted database data entitled FLOOK WILLS. This is what it said.

MARTHA ANN  </b>  WICKWAR GLS WID </b> 1928  to  FLOOK, GEO WM .Brewers Clerk  &  SANDERS, Mabel Lilian w/o Richard

It so happens that this was the year of the birth of her last child, Edwina, and just before her incarceration in The Pastures Hospital. I will raise this with my new best relative in the Flook family.

21 st November, 2012

The Greek newspapers note that increased optimism about a deal for Greece in Europe is bolstering the value of the Euro. Samaras is playing a much more cunning hand than I ever gave him credit for. I didn’t think he had it in him. He is holding a shaky, flaky coalition together while taking an angrily sceptical population, kicking and screaming through the pain of major surgery without much sedative being offered. However, even Samaras, having got Greece to accept its side of the bargain, needs Europe now to honour its part.

22nd November, 2012

We drove to West Byfleet station and caught the 10.00 am train to Waterloo which only stopped at Surbiton. From Waterloo, we took the Underground to Green Park where we got off and walked to Fortnum & Mason. As one enters the shop, it looks a bit like an Eighteenth Century Knocking Shop. Further inside, it looks like an upmarket Woolworths gearing up for Christmas. We bought lots of things for our Greek friends – specialist teas, coffees, chocolates, biscuits, etc. Then, laden down with our purchases, we went across the road to sit in an alley (That alley turned out to be the Burlington Arcade.) drinking fresh coffee (at what turned out to be Laduree, world famous Parisian cake makers and inventors of the famous double-decker macaroon.). You will note how tired Pauline looks. Anybody who tried to shop with me would look just as exasperated. I am not a happy shopper. Sitting drinking coffee and watching the world go by is more my sort of thing. Later, we went back to Green Park for the Underground to London Bridge for Borough Market. This was absolutely fantastic. Every type of food produce one could imagine was on sale. We even met a Greek girl from Sparta who was selling olive tea. We tried it and bought a bag. We bought four more pheasants for less than we paid in Yorkshire and then had lunch in a fish restaurant (The Fish! Kitchen) in the heart of the market. We had fish, chips and mushy peas – wonderful quality fish in beer batter, mint flavoured peas and excellent chunky chips with a cold bottle of Trebbiano. The bill – £60.00 and no newspaper wrapping in sight.

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We were home for 4.00 pm and then I slept for a couple of hours. I was exhausted. I’m certainly not a shopper. Recovered in time to watch a delightful, new semi-comedy drama called Last Tango in Halifax and starring Derek Jacobi, Anne Reid & Sarah Lancashire. It was wonderful and so was the landscape.

23rd November, 2012

Early trip to Tescos for the weekly shop this morning. By 10.30 am it is so teaming with silver shoppers that we cannot bear it. On this particular morning, however, I am really struggling after so much shopping yesterday. I am absolutely exhausted and really only want to lie down in a darkened room. Still, Pauline is determined to make mincemeat today in preparation for mince pies. I don’t know why. We only eat them all. We even cancelled swimming today and sat quietly with a smoked salmon salad for lunch before doing a few jobs. I had some writing to do and phone calls to make. Pauline steeped her dried fruit in brandy. Fortunately, I arrived just as she was spooning through the mixture and I offered to taste it. I was allowed.

For Dinner tonight I cooked braised rabbit  and served it with savoy cabbage and baked potato. The rabbit was bought in France so, of course, it came whole including its head. The eyes looked at me as I severed it. I’m not al Qaeda, I said to the eyes. They didn’t look convinced. Tonight, there is a rabbit’s head rolling around in my bin. Having said that, the rabbit was fantastically tasty and produced a wonderful gravy which really complemented the meal. Sorry eyes.

24th November, 2012

I was born in to the United Kingdom. The Commonwealth was all around me. By the time I had reached my late twenties, alarm at the rising tide of immigration had made me English. The Northern towns where I lived and taught had developed substantial Asian enclaves, almost no-go areas at times. I started to travel abroad – to Greece, to Italy and to France. I became decidedly European. I am still fervently European but my allegiances are being sorely tested. I live half the year in Greece and shop during the other half in France. I love to travel and stay in Italy and yet the ever expanding Union is testing the patience and pocket of all around me. Defending my European credentials is becoming harder. Economic migrants from both Bulgaria and Romania are much poorer than the rest of the EU, with GDP per capita of about 33% of the EU average but will soon have free entrance to our labour market and benefits system. In return, I may, in theory, have free entrance to the Greek Health Service – if they had one. It is little more than symbolic in places. Drugs are in short supply. Doctors are unpaid. Experienced doctors go private. The market is totally out of balance. It is hard to see a way out of this at the moment.

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