Wednesday, May 31, 2017

An alternative manifesto

I managed to jot down the gist of the questions and answers from this particular candidate being interviewed recently.

Interviewer: Let’s begin with the hot topic of immigration and refugees.
Candidate: I was a child refugee. Although I don’t remember much about it my parents told me how hard it was escaping to and settling in a foreign country, with a different language and customs, and how grateful they were to be taken in when their lives were in danger in their homeland. So I would pursue a policy of actively welcoming refugees.’

‘Okay, so what about housing?’
‘Again I have experience of being homeless. I have been very grateful to friends who have let me sleep on their floor, but more often than not, I’ve slept rough, under bushes, at the sides of roads, and I don’t have to tell you how cold it gets at night or how risky it is. A safe home for everyone has to be a priority.’

‘Your education policy?’
‘I am a firm believer in an equal education for everyone. One’s academic progress should not be hampered by race, gender or background.’

‘And health?’
‘As I’ve travelled around the country I have met people with all kinds of illnesses, some who are unable to work, some whose illnesses have made lepers out of them. Good healthcare for all is a priority for me.’   

‘You’ve also made clear your views on foreign policy.’
‘It’s corny but I’m a believer in loving your neighbour. Treat them as you would want them to treat you, indeed as you’d treat yourself.’

‘You’ve been criticised on occasion for the company you keep.’
‘You mean when I’ve eaten with the elite?’
The interviewer laughed. ‘I was thinking more of the other end of the social scale. Even one of your closest aides has something of a dodgy reputation.’
‘It’s important that I get my message across to every level of society. The poor will always be with us but I believe it’s up to those who are able to provide for them.’

‘Recently the world seemed to teeter on the brink of war; how would you deal with that?’
‘If you’ve read my manifesto you’ll know the value I place on keeping the peace. I fully endorse and commend those who will act as peacekeepers rather than war-mongers.

‘What about taxation?’
‘I think I have made my views on taxation clear: everyone (here he stressed everyone) who is eligible to pay has a duty to contribute their fair share.’

‘So you want good housing, education, and healthcare; you want to work alongside our neighbours and you’re willing to welcome more people into the country. How do you intend to pay for all this?’
‘I’m willing to pay the price.’
The interviewer laughed. ‘I’m sorry? What do you mean by saying you’ll pay?’
‘I will pay whatever it takes to be able to offer justice, compassion and freedom to all people.’

All we have to do is accept the offer and throw our hand in with Jesus to try in our small corner to make the world a better place. 
June 8 and always Make the Cross Count.

Dear Heather,

My great-grandfather was a socialist who didn’t allow his principles to get in the way of a cheap drink and a good game of pool at Mumbles Conservative Club, which, as a master builder, he’d helped construct.

My great-uncle Woodie joined the communist party as a young man - a small detail that prevented him getting a visa to work in South Africa at a later date.

My great-aunt Violet never forgave Winston Churchill for sending the troops in to Tonypandy during the miners’ strike. The fact that the troops never arrived there is irrelevant: that he was willing to authorise their deployment was enough of a reason for her.

My grandmother, on the other hand, voted conservative although I suspect that was less for ideological reasons and more because she aspired to be the sort of woman who she thought would vote conservative.

As for me, well, I’ve toyed with the Lib Dems – who regularly email me but address me as Dear Heather – but my heart is with my great-grandfather.

For some time I was unsure about the way I would vote in this coming election. (Anything obviously other than Tory.) The seat is a safe Labour one and much as I liked Jeremy Corbyn and his views I believed what the media said about his leadership abilities. And I remember Michael Foot, another man of principle and the butt of so many jokes.

But then Jeremy Corbyn spoke about the use (or rather non-use) of nuclear weapons and I decided. Since then he has gone from strength to strength and I am excited about voting Labour next week. I don't know if the change in attitude that we're seeing in the country will be enough - I fear it won't - but we desperately need to be rid of May and the Conservatives.

As with the EU referendum I am voting with my heart. Again as with the EU I am happy to know that my choice is supported by many intelligent people whose opinions I trust. So while I am resisting the return of fox-hunting and the refusal to ban the ivory trade not to mention the gradual destruction of the NHS I know that others wiser than me have considered other major Tory policies and found them wanting. It's not just my instinctive distrust of all things Conservative.

One final point: if we want a good health service free to all we have to pay for it.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Cheeky grandchildren!

GrandDaughter1 (aged 7) wants to be an actor. Yesterday she was practising her impressions.

She placed a finger on her lips, frowned slightly and said, 'Now what was I going to do?'

Children are by far too observant!

That was after we'd been on the little trains.

The one about murder and the lavatory attendant

If you can cope with the setting being a book pulping facility - alternating with a public lavatory - then you will love this book, The Reader on the 6.27 by Jean-Paul Didierlaurent (*****). Translated from French this novella left me smiling - and wanting to read more. That's the only problem - well, apart from the book pulping - it ends just when you want it to go on and on.

About the power of words.
Thus Was Adonis Murdered, by Sarah Caudwell, (***) was first published in 1981 but it doesn't feel dated. Maybe that's due to the unusual style in which it's written where the action is relayed via letters and solved at a distance by logic.

It took me a while to get into the style but I did enjoy it and came nowhere near resolving it so it's a good job the woman accused wasn't relying on me to come to her rescue.

And it's not at all nasty as some murders are I believe. (I should perhaps say some murder stories.)

I also read Almost English by Charlotte Mendelson (***) and the very seasonal The Christmas Train by David Baldacci (****). The latter Husband had borrowed from the library and when he finished it suggested I might enjoy it. I've not read any of Baldacci's novels before and, apparently, this is not a typical, but it was very enjoyable and quick to read.

The one about order and chaos

You know what vineyards look like? Like this one in Italy, right?
Think again. Here's a vineyard in Lanzarote.
The same wonderfully ordered rows but this time the individual vines are grown in holes each with its own wind barrier.
You can't see very well in the photo below but, as in Italy, the hills are covered with the same neat arrangements. 
We spotted a vineyard for sale but as Husband said, 'It would be awfully hard work.'

* * * * * * * *
Unlike the vines I am anything but orderly. Chaos has a habit of following me.

Thus it was no surprise that I walked into a plate glass door nose first. Or that as I turned and stumbled away squeaking in pain I tripped over a table.

A little more surprising that i had a strange effect on the hotel restaurant toaster. I say that rather than saying that I broke it because I don't think it was really broken.

One morning I decided to have scrambled eggs on toast so I popped my bread into the toaster, you know the sort ...
Except the toast coming out of the bottom was rather more tanned than that. I like mine just lightly coloured so I had the brilliant idea of turning down the temperature.

Resulting in warm bread. I turned it up again and had the same result: warm white bread. I was holding up the queue so I hurriedly snook the toast onto my plate and casually wandered away.

As we left the restaurant much later I noticed a woman standing staring in confusion at her warm bread. What could I say? Nothing obviously.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

The one about hearts and wind

What is a girl to do when she's sunbathing and wants to keep her face out of the sun?
Rest Husband's hat over it.
But it's windy in the Canaries and in danger of being blown off.
Not if you put a stone on the back of your head.

Other people built squares and cubby holes out of stones. I thought a heart was much better idea.

Our favourite beach, playa majures.

And us as the sun sets over the red volcano.

The one about the Big Head and love locks

There is a promenade that runs from one end (our end) of Playa Blanca to the other end. Along the way we saw:
Freddy's cathouse although we didn't see Freddy;
a community of inuksuks, presided over by a Big Head;
(please tell me you - unlike Husband - can see the head)
an opportunity to keep fit - but not for long;
and no end of love locks.
On the way back through the marina we stopped for ice cream. For me not Husband as he resolutely refused it. He foolishly thought he knew best the way to the ice cream shop. I had to remind me that when it comes to ice cream I have a built-in sensor.

The one about the volcano and Raquel Welch

Lanzarote was created by volcanic eruptions at least 30 million years ago. The main volcanic area is a national park and the only way around it is by bus trip so my photos were taken through glass. That's my excuse for the poor quality.
 This very large crater (below) is almost barren. The temperature drops 20 degrees from day to night and very few life forms can survive such drastic changes.
The last volcanic eruptions happened in the 19th century and lasted for six years. Much of the island is very inhospitable lava field and the cliffs are weirdly eroded leading to some hollows and holes. I didn't get any dramatic photos from the holes as the tide was too gentle but did capture a good splash.
Lava field in front of a volcano

One of the most famous sights in Lanzarote is the green lagoon at El Golfo. It is worthy of fame on its own account but has the added attraction of being the site where Raquel Welch wandered around in a leather bikini in One Million Years BC.
The colour of the water derives from the microscopic algae living in the lagoon.

On the way back down the mountains we stopped to watch the camels. 
There were a lot of them but we didn't take a ride. I had this feeling that Younger Son and Nuora would probably not approve. And the camels just looked so bored and fed up.

The one about the hotel and the university don

We stayed in the 5* Hotel Volcan, which is on the eastern end of Playa Blanca, just near Marina Rubicon. It is spread out, as you can see in this photo, from just to the left of the 'volcano' as you look at it, to the right end, where our room was. It took us about three days to work out the quickest route to the restaurant/pool. Well, to work out any route really.
To get to reception you had to go through this cavernous hall, the idea of a cathedral emphasised by the  churchy music they played. 

I could quite easily have sat here for ages listening to Gregorian chants.

Somehow I managed to change the camera settings unintentionally for this photo of the exterior. The 'volcano' had string lighting coming down the sides, to resemble lava I suppose, but we were never out late enough to see it lit up!

The pool was large and there weren't a huge number of sunbeds but always enough (in spite of the many Germans staying at the hotel with their allegedly notorious habits of baggsying beds). Here's my very brown Adonis emerging.
One or rather two of the guests caught my attention. Two men, they were always at breakfast and dinner and quite often sitting outside at a table while the older man smoked. we never saw the older man without his slacks and blazer.
We - or perhaps I - guessed they were father and son, as they looked similar except the younger man had longer curly hair and didn't wear a blazer. but always a shirt. We - or again I - wondered if the older man might be a university don; he had that sort of look about him. Either that or he was a detective investigating a case along with his sidekick. (I've see Morse in Spain.)

Whatever it seemed very strange to go to Lanzarote and dress like that. I assume they never sunbathed or went to the beach and while there are some other attractions I wouldn't have thought they would warrant a week there. I should have gone up and said, 'Excuse me, I'm doing research for the tourist industry. Would you mind telling me the purpose of your visit to Lanzarote?' 

Next time I'll do that.

P.S. Do you like my drawing? there's more to follow ...!

boring holiday photos

I don't want to be boring ... but I do want to keep a record of our holiday so I'll post selected pics in stages, not necessarily chronologically.

For first time blog visitors, Husband and I have just returned from a week in Lanzarote, which is one of the Spanish Canary Islands, in the Atlantic off the coast of Africa. The idea was to get some rest and relaxation after a very hectic few months. And to eat too much. 

The weather was good, cloudy most mornings but the sun soon burned it off. Not too too hot and not humid. 

So read on. Or if you are bored by other people's holiday photos, feel free to ignore.

Am I missing something here?

Our hotel was in the posh end of town. It was so posh it even had a Pillow Menu.
Admittedly it didn't tell you how to get one of these pillows (or how much it would cost) but I was intrigued when I read it.

First of all I was pleased to see that the Paris classical pillow had been especially developed for resting.
Yes, I'd have thought that all pillows ideally would be made for restful sleep but, hey, perhaps this was especially somnifacient. (My spellcheck doesn't recognise that as a word but it is, I promise you. It means, according to Mr Chambers, sleep-inducing.)

But what really puzzled me was the Horseshoe pillow designed to protect your cervical vertebrae.
I don't know if it's a mis-translation or if I am particularly ignorant, or even if it were intended for use under one's bottom.

Ah, having my dictionary to hand I checked the meaning and I am amazed - at my own ignorance and the fact - that cervix is the technical name for the back of the neck. Well,blow me down with a damp lettuce leaf.

It also refers to a necklike narrowing of an organ e.g. the uterus.

More holiday stuff to follow. Proper holiday stuff I mean.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Who do you want to be?

Last night Monty led bible study in Zac's in part on the theme of hypocrisy. It was an excellent study and he suggested that God wants us to be transparent, the same person whoever we're with, people of integrity. (As much for our sake: it's hard work wearing different masks.)

Monty asked the question, 'Who does God want you to be? Who do you want to be?'
I thought straightaway of this old saying:

Then I thought, 'Actually, no. My dog doesn't have any illusions about me.'

As far as George is concerned I'm only nice if I'm feeding or tickling him. His attitude could be described as feline.

So instead I aspire to be as good a person as some people think I am. (No, really, some people think I'm good.)

* * * * * * * 

We go on holiday tomorrow so this'll be my last blog for a week or so. Burglars please note that the house is not unattended: Younger Son and Nuora have moved in to look after George.

Yesterday I told GrandSon2 that we were going on holiday in an aeroplane.
'A real aeroplane?' he asked.
'Are you going in a Red Arrow?'

I sort of hope not. 

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Mouse or Supermouse

The mice in the attic enjoy our poison so much they've eaten their way into the tub.
And, yes, we have tried the humane method.

If you see this woman

If I looked like this today, with the country on terrorist alert, I doubt they would let me back in.
That was my passport from 1973, for my first trip abroad, which happened to be to Mombasa in Kenya.
We went on an oceanography field trip, stayed in college dorms, spent mornings on the beach, ate lunch in posh hotels, and generally enjoyed ourselves. Our professor got his feet sunburned the first day there and spent several days in bed; our lecturer and his girlfriend (one of us students) smoked weed, while the most adventurous thing I did was to dance in a nightclub - I'd always been so shy I'd refused to dance in public before. Brown Sugar will forever have a special place in my heart.

And what did I learn? That if sand squeaks when you walk on it it means it has a high percentage of quartz. Worth going.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Aping an accent

I have a terrible habit - and one that seems to happen unconsciously - of copying a person's accent. 

So if I'm talking to a Yorkshireman I'll adopt the northern accent, if I'm talking to someone camp I'll get very theatrical, and if I'm talking to a Pakistani I sound like Peter Sellers.
Oh yes I forgot to mention that I copy the accent badly.

When I realise I'm doing it I make an effort to stop but I fear I could offend a whole load of people before that. So if I've done it to you please refriend me! I'm sure it must be some subconscious urge to make the other person feel comfortable. That's what I tell myself anyway.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

I'm not a knit!

This is the most intricate thing I ever knitted.
In fact it's probably the only thing I ever finished.

I made it when expecting last-born and then when he arrived decided it was too pretty for a boy so didn't use it. By the time my children had babies they no longer wore matinee jackets so it's never been worn.

But I can't get rid of it. It's evidence that once - just once - I knitted something.

P.S. I've added 'knitting' as a label. Now that's something that you won't often find on my blog.

Bringing out the monkey in me

Lovely walk yesterday afternoon with Younger Son, Nuora and GrandSon4 down through Crawley Woods to Nicholaston Burrows and on to the beach.

Coming back through the woods Younger Son attempted to help me brush up on my tree identification.
And then I climbed one.*

*Someone had nailed footholds to the other side making it easy! Getting down, however, was a little scary, especially that first bit getting my leg back over backwards - and the last bit where I misjudged the drop.

Best excuse so far

Me: I'm organising a fitness class for women on Monday mornings; you might like to come.
Woman: Well, I'll have to wait and see what Jesus wants me to do on Monday morning.

She could just have said no. Giggling to myself in the car afterwards I said, 'Go on, Jesus, I dare you!'

Friday, May 12, 2017

You know that good idea?

You know sometimes you have a good idea? Something you could/should do? And then halfway through it you think, 'Oh why?'

My desk drawer before I started.
There are only so many staples/tape measures/pencil sharpeners one person can use in their lifetime.
The end result. Which may not look like a huge improvement but it is. And I managed to find room for a few essentials that may just come in useful some time.
Like a whistle and compass. Well, you never know.

Tuesday, May 09, 2017


So I'm on my walk this morning when I realise I only have one tissue with me. (This is slightly after I remember I forgot to put on my fitbit. One of those days.) It's not that I have a cold but walking makes my nose run. And the wind makes my nose run. So walking in the wind makes my nose run run.

All I can say is that it was a good job I was wearing a long-sleeved jumper. 

I had a paddle but wasn't tempted to skinny dip, you'll be pleased to hear. A bit of a breeze. Or a howling gale depending on how appropriately dressed you happened to be.