Wednesday, 20 February 2013


What’s today been like for me in my ivory tower here in the frozen north.   Well, not so frozen after all.    Believe it or not I have been sitting outside on a garden chair in bright sunshine.   Admittedly, I was wearing two cardigans, but it was warm and bright enough in the lovely light of the sun to sit and start my latest small, home project.   That is to try to take-in or make smaller some of my eight pairs of trousers or pants as our American relations call them.   Yes, you see I am getting THINNER.   It is called dropping a dress size, in my case almost two dress sizes.   Whether I shall be successful with this only time will tell – I mean the sewing and the dieting.   So far it has worked quite well.   For five weeks now I have been trying a version of the FAST DIET, a version which includes a few small glasses of wine in the evening, and an attempt to do the half-fast idea nearly every day.   I have lost 10 pounds so far.   But I don’t want to brag too soon, as I know how easy it is to put the lost weight back on.

How’s this for hot news?   Today I read in the Guardian dated 20th Feb, 15.38 --just now my clock says 15.58, so it’s hot off the press that Mayor Bloomberg of New York has made a small step towards s rational policy towards marijuana.   It seems that people found to be carrying marijuana will no longer have to spend a night in prison.   The article I read states that it is more black people and Hispanics who have suffered from stop and search policy of the New York Police, suggesting that by rights white people are every bit as guilty of smoking the weed.   Although Mayor Bloomberg has admitted publicly to having smoked this stuff, I have to confess that has not been part of my life experience.    Should I be glad or sorry or regretful?    Well, who knows?   You can’t have every virtue or every vice.   That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Great heat on the media, TV and  Radio and the newspapers about the Booker prize-winner, Hilary Mantel’s comments about Kate Middleton.   The papers have gone to town against the author in a big way.   Apparently she has accused the princess of being having a plastic smile and of being without personality.   However I believe the opinion of the columnist of the Guardian who thinks that the comments of Hilary Mantel have been hyped up by the press.   Apparently the speech was made at the British Museum for the London Review of Books.   Although it was a small part of a long speech, four paragraphs out of thirty, and had been made two weeks before the press honed in on it, they have lambasted the author who was in a way largely criticising the media for the way they used the princess as eye-candy for their papers.  

Going to the theatre tonight to see a team of male dancers perform.   I have no idea what to expect.   The programme was chosen by G. hoping to please our house guests – Ruth, Naomi and Nathan.   Hope it will be a successful outing.   Meanwhile, I have to go and make Spaghetti Bolognaise with some baked cherry tomatoes and left-over minced beef.    Also they can have each have a slice of my high calorie white chocolate and cream celebration cake.   Don’t you just wish you were here?   Don’t answer that!   Keep happy!!

Thursday, 7 February 2013


What a strange country we live in!   We are bombarded with news and opinions.   We can’t get enough of either of these.   The latest cause for discussion and disagreement between different strands of society in the United Kingdom is the meaning of marriage.   What marriage used to mean when I was a girl was it was the state that all normal young people aspired to and sure enough when I reached the grand old age of twenty-one, I got married.   You got married, and usually you tried not to produce any children for as long as possible (no contraception pill in those days).   Well sooner rather later you did have children, and that was what marriage was for, wasn’t it?   I even remember being taken by a playmate to be shown a little girl whose mother was not married.   She was I was told in hushed tones a “bastard”

Changed days!   Nobody wants to get married among the young people in their twenties that I am familiar with.   They don’t want children either.    This is for the same reason as it was for my generation.   They don’t want the wife to stop working and earning money.   They can’t afford it.   The whole set up of engagement and marriage, sixty or seventy years ago was to make sure that there was a father to provide for his family, because usually married women didn’t work.   It was society’s answer to an unavoidable situation.
Of course the churches were involved, and so was the law, and that was that.

But I remember seeing a TV progamme about the Eskimo Culture whereby in those harsh snowy conditions, and long distances to be travelled across the freezing country, when arriving at the igloo of a stranger, the traveller was offered immediate hospitality and shelter from the weather.   Also he was offered if he wished, the opportunity to spend the night with the wife of the owner.   I suppose life was so fragile in those circumstances that it didn’t matter who was the father of the child that his wife might produce (and it widens the gene pool. GW).

What I am leading up to, of course is the great discussion and voting going on in parliament about whether two people of the same sex should be allowed to be married.   It seems that this is what gay couples of both sexes wish to be allowed to do.   Many politicians, especially Tory MPs, do not approve.   Great columns are being written in newspapers, notably Polly Toynbe in The Guardian, on the subject.   Some people can’t see what the fuss is about when there are so many other pressing problems for the government and the populace.   I agree.  What about the economy?   The withdrawal of benefits from disabled people?   What about the proposed referendum for staying in or out of the European Union?  If gay people wish to be married, then good luck to them.   It is their business.

Moving on, I heard Al Gore, the American ex-Vice-president, who also ran for the presidency at one time, speaking on television.   He is finished with politics and fears that in the USA democracy is under strain .   This is due to the system of great corporations lobbying in the interests of their business.  The needs of the population the politicians are elected to represent are forgotten, due to greed and self-interest.  As usual it’s all about money.   Al Gore states that not once in the recent presidential election was either Obama or Romney, or any other candidate, asked a question about climate change and what could be done to slow the obvious changes for the worse that  were occurring in weather systems all over the world.   Gore has sold his small TV News Channel to Al Jazeera which, he claimed, had become a very responsible channel.    This up-and-coming company is said to be applying for a license to transmit news in America.   They might even challenge the mighty CNN Company.   What a funny world we live in!

Talking about environment matters, my magazine from Friends of the Earth, states some reasons to be cheerful.   They are:

1)      There is a growing chorus for a ban on pesticides sparked off by the desperate plight of bees which are dying in their millions.   Bees are vital for many of our food crops and people are petitioning the government to put this crisis at the top of the agenda.   Petitions have been signed and handed to David Cameron, while all over Britain thousands are getting involved by planting wild flowers and handing out information for the campaign.
2)      Technology is on our side.   The price of solar panels is plummeting.   Electric cars are selling more and more.   We hope that human ingenuity may solve some of our problems.
3)      The European Union has begun to realise that demanding land for the growing of biofuels is depriving farmers of land to grow food.   Also the British Antarctic Survey has been saved from oblivion, meaning that the early warning system on climate change has not been dismantled.
4)      Last year, the CBI says, green growth was responsible for a third of all UK economic growth showing that green business was good for the economy as well as the environment.
5)      Some thinking politicians of all parties, and some CEOs of large companies are on the side of the Green Party.  So we may take heart.

Gerald has been advising me about what to write in my blog today.   His choice: a) Trouble in parts of the National Health Service – patient neglect and inefficiency, big time in some  hospitals (one hospital in particular). b) The Royal Bank of Scotland being fined millions, and we, the taxpayers being the ones paying for it.   c) Hidden inflation in our economy due to smaller packaging in supermarkets but the same price being charged, and substitution with cheaper ingredients, for example horsemeat (cheaper than beef) found in Ready meals.

Ho! Ho!  As I said what a queer, funny, tricky old world we live in!   The only good thing, I suppose is that our communication and our media systems are so good that now we know all about our mixed-up planet instantaneously.   Is this good or bad?

A consolation:   Only Irish coffee provides in a single glass all four essential food groups:  alcohol, caffeine, sugar and fat. (Alex Levine)

Second consolation:  Don’t worry about avoiding temptation.   As you grow older, it will  avoid you.(Winston Churchill)