Week 439

Sunday, 21st May, 2017

What a wonderful day! I suppose it was all over UK but here we had blue, cloudless skies from Dawn until Dusk with lovely warmth reaching 21C/70F. No workout today. We even sat outside in the sunshine with coffee and newspapers.

Tomorrow is the deadline for registering to vote in the General Election. There are still so many people who have not and, probably, will not get a vote. I find it so hard to believe. I couldn’t wait to vote in my first General Election. In 1969, the voter age was reduced from 21 to 18. I would like to see it reduced to 16. My first vote was in June 1970 when the country made the mistake of electing Tories and Edward Heath. He was in power for just over 3 years and presided over the oil price hike and petrol shortages accompanied by the miners’ strike and the power blackouts. Fortunately, we had another chance to vote in February 1974 when Heath thought he would have his position strengthened but found himself replaced by dear old Harold Wilson from Huddersfield. Heath went on to sulk for ever! Wilson went on to embrace the White Heat of Technology! I had a third chance to vote when Wilson called a snap election just 8 months later when he secured the massive majority of 3.

Wilson sadly retired as he developed the first signs of dementia and James Callaghan took over before losing to THATCHER in May, 1979. So, excitingly, I had the chance to vote and change things in UK four times in the first decade that I was eligible. The Scottish Independence Referendum campaign was so invigorating for the Scots, it would be great to engender that appetite for change in UK elections.

Monday, 22nd May, 2017

If days can get more wonderful than this, I want to see them. The sky was blue; the sun was strong; the temperature reached 26C/79F and all was well with the world.

Strong & Stable (Not!)

We went shopping and then I cut the lawns, watered and fed all the herbs in pots before setting off for the Health Club. We had been told that the outdoor pool would be closed for repair and refurbishment but the work was only just about to get under way and we were able to do a last outdoor swim under sunny skies before the pool was drained. It was delightful. By the time we got home, I had completed 16,000 paces and was ready for roast salmon with pesto topping and salad.

The day had started on a bounce as strong & stable May had proved anything but by changing her manifesto promise of 4 days ago after being told how upsetting it was for her core supporters. You can’t get more strong and stable than that. It is almost unprecedented in modern election politics. The Labour Party did exactly what I wanted them to by announcing the cancelling of University Student Fees from the new academic year thus aggressively fishing for the youth vote hours before voter registration closed. Isn’t politics exciting?

Tuesday, 23rd May, 2017

Lovely day which I spent gardening in the morning, trimming hedges, watering lawns, cutting edges. We went off to the Health Club for a couple of hours and then came home to cook our meal outside in the garden. I was in charge of griddled courgettes, mushrooms and shallots with chicken thighs which had been marinated in garlic and tarragon.

The News and newspapers have been wall-to-wall Manchester Bombing but I did notice in The Independent that Jane BG has been working her magic again. They reported under this heading: India cancels plans for huge coal power stations as solar energy prices hit record low that the cost of solar power in India had been in free fall against the cost of coal. That is when people should consider moving to renewables. We shouldn’t be hurting ourselves economically to do it but, rationally selecting the cheapest option. I still don’t understand why it cannot be made mandatory for all new property’s roofs to be constructed of solar power generating materials. On that scale, it would soon become cost effective.

Wednesday, 24th May, 2017

Gorgeous, gorgeous day which was sunshine all the way and peaked at 26C/79F. We had to do our weekly shop today because we are going to leave for a short pilgrimage to Yorkshire tomorrow. I put the water sprinklers on the lawns for a couple of hours and then we went off to the Health Club for our third, consecutive session of workout. Unfortunately, today we were not able to swim. The closure of the outdoor pool has started to show its true impact. Swimming classes filled the two, indoor pools so we gave it up as a bad job and basked in the Jacuzzi and Sauna.

The Weak & Wobbly.

The Manchester bombing has given May the chance to play the ‘firm smack of leadership’ card so I am pleased that Corbyn has declared hostilities reopen from Friday. He was just building up a head of steam as May was floundering in ‘U-turns’. This momentum has to be quickly re-established. I got one piece of election literature for the local election and that was from the Tories. When I confronted the others at the Poll Booth, they pleaded lack of funds. In this national ballot, I have received just one piece of literature. Guess who from.

What Nick Herbert has omitted to point out is that, only a week ago, he belonged to a party who pledged to take your house away and deplete your savings down to the last £100,000.00. It doesn’t matter that you have scrimped and saved to shore up your finances against future disasters. As soon as signs of dissent appeared, May insisted she never really meant it. There was always going to be a ‘cap’ and it was always going out for discussion anyway. NOTHING HAS CHANGED, Don’t Panic! NOTHING HAS CHANGED, Don’t Panic! – apart from that! This is duplicitous politics at its worst.

Of course, it followed the Hammond U-turn disaster. Careful-as-he-goes, Philip Hammond jumped recklessly into a policy of raising National Insurance charges (basically, a tax) which went down like a lead balloon and had to be reversed within days with the mantra of ‘the listening government’. Unfortunately, it was listening to the wrong people.

Thursday, 25th May, 2017

A hot and sultry night has given way to a very hot morning. By 7.00 am, I was outside watering potted plants and giving them a good talking to, telling them that we are going to Yorkshire and that they had to look after themselves for a few days. Bags are packed and everything else done. We are setting off early in order to have enough time to visit as many people as we can.

This morning feels like a ‘Sifnos’ one. The people of Sifnos, on the other hand, are feeling a different heat. The Greek government has passed through harsh, new measures on tax and pensions only to find their optimism dashed once again as a bailout tranche is denied them. New charging for water is adding to the pressure on outgoings and I’m told that they are currently worrying about ferry services in the winter which are uneconomic in a time of essential economies.

As we left Sussex at 9.30 am, the temperature read 25C/77F and, after driving through the fringes of the Sussex Downs, we crossed into Surrey to the temperature of 26C/79F. The Yorkshire border brought 27C/81F and, when we stepped out of the car in Brighouse, we thought we were in Southern Europe. It had taken a rather frustrating 6.5 hrs with problems on M25 and M1 holding us up and slowing us down. It’s almost impossible to enjoy a drive across UK any more. The fact that the weather outside was for enjoying and we were trapped in a metal box did add to the frustration.

Friday, 26th May, 2017

It’s a hard life!

A hot night has given way to another hot day which read 27C/81F on Marsden Moor at mid day. After BREAKFAST, we drove over to Royton to visit my old colleague and good friend, Brian. It was a lovely visit and we talked non-stop for a couple of hours before driving back to Huddersfield by crossing Marsden Moor basking in baking, hot sun. The moors always look so Greek in this weather.

After leaving Brian, we drove a ‘Memory’ tour through Meltham and Helme, stopping to gaze on those-we-have-known. The nice thing is that memories are not all they’re cracked up to be. Yorkshire and its stone properties and the Moors and their stark desolation are just that – memories which soften and fade with time.

Ruth ‘holding’ me – before I started at the gym!

This evening, we are going out to help Ruth celebrate her 70th birthday. This is more about me than her. I’ve got a 70 yr old sister!!! Fortunately, I’m still quite young really. Let you know how it goes later in the evening.

I was a post-war baby brought up on food rationing and coupons. Look how huge I was as a baby. Suet Pudding, Jam Roly Poly, lots of bread & butter, home made cakes and pastries were the staples that have given me a life long weight problem.

Ruth did well by managing to gather under one roof for a few hours quite a few of my siblings – Bob, Jane, Catherine, Liz and Michael – which was no mean feat. It was certainly a very interesting experience. It was almost like having all my own weaknesses and strengths reflected back to me. I could really sense that I was in them and that they were very much in me. When Catherine approached and spoke, I saw my Mother more strongly than I have done in 30 years. When Liz giggled, I was transported back 50 years sitting in our family dining room. Ruth, who is very gregarious and active, looked very happy with her own family and friends around her and she deserved that. Her girls and their children are quite delightful. I couldn’t stop telling anyone who would listen that the last time I saw Karen, who is now 42, was in her plastic pants and nothing else shuffling around the lounge floor before she could walk.

I also met one of my cousins and his lovely wife. My cousin (D) preceded me at the Grammar School my Dad and I both attended but had left before I got there – so he is obviously very old. I think I have seen him twice in the past 40 years. His wife assures me I have met her before but my terrible memory denied that. She is a delightful lady who has a lot to put up with. I suspect (D) has some of my stubbornness (Doesn’t that look an awkward word?) and, instead of taking his wife’s advice, has to arrive at his own solution.

In essence, (D) needs to lose weight if he wants to live another 15 years with his lovely wife. The trouble is, he has lived with this weight problem for so long that changing it looks an impossible task and he feels it is too late to try. If he did, he would quickly find that quite the reverse is the case and he would come to relish the achievement. There are very few things really left to achieve in retirement but this is one rewarding goal.

Saturday, 27th May, 2017

We got back to the Hotel this morning at about 1.00 am and were in bed for 2.00 am. The alarm went at 6.00 am on a hot and sultry morning and we were on the motorway by 8.30 am. The M62 and the subsequent M1 were both lovely to drive this morning but, having got on to the M25, we began to crawl at an effective 15 mph for a couple of hours. As soon as we got off the M25, our trip down through the Surrey Hills and the fringes of the Sussex Downs was quick and delightful. I estimated we would get home for 1.00 pm but it was 3.30 pm before we actually made it. 7 hours is a crazy time to take for that journey.

The Labour Party have been soundly condemned for advancing views about Terrorism, its causes and prevention in the course of fighting the election. The Tories, meanwhile, have done exactly that in the guise of ‘strong government’. Polls this weekend show the Tory lead cut from 25% at the outset to just 6% now. Although this may be illusory, transitory or a ‘blip’, the Tories are wobbling. The Times cartoon today encapsulates this position neatly.

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