Tuesday, 25 February 2014


The HIGHLY significant other has started to write another book and blogging has to take a backseat.  But we hope you are anxiously waiting for a blog and so the next best is for the insignificant other to take up the challenge.

Of course you want to know what the new book of Margaret’s is to be about.  Modesty makes me think she is making a big mistake as she wants to base it on my life and that of other members of my family.  I suppose our lives have been more eventful than some, starting as we did as refugees from Nazi persecution and with many ups and downs ended with interesting careers, businesses and travels.  And of course the best part of all, for me at least, marrying Margaret.  Time will tell how it goes (the book, I mean).

Violence seems to be the order of the day.  How one weeps for the people of Syria, of other middle-eastern countries and now, of the Ukraine.  It is almost past belief for us who live in the relative calm of Scotland that people can kill and maim their own countrymen because of religious, ethnic or sectarian differences.  I had hoped these things had been left behind in the dark ages.  Perhaps future historians might regard our age as another dark age.  

Bloodshed on a large scale was in recent times restricted to wars among nations.  But now  we are also constantly reminded of violence in film and on television.  Margaret and I went to see “TwelveYears A Slave” recently. Brilliantly produced and acted – as the various Oscars won by the film underlined.  But the humiliation and violence perpetrated on the “slaves” was almost too much to bear.  And equally difficult to watch was the film “The Railway Man” (based on a true story).  The principal character was traumatised by his experiences as a prisoner of war of the Japanese after the fall of Singapore where he had served in the army.  The gratuitous violence meted out to the prisoners during the construction of the railway through near-impassable territory in Burma was yet another reminder of inhumanity.  Fortunately the film ended with a moving reconciliation between the ex-prisoner and his former oppressor.  OK, I like to bury my head in the sand when it comes to violence, but perhaps I am in a minority, as stories of violence of all kinds seem to sell newspapers and fill the news channels.

There was a charming article recently in our favourite Sunday paper “the Observer”.  Henry Porter started by reminding us of horrendous floods, storms, arctic blasts, and unusually fierce heat waves all around the same time but in different parts of the world.  He pointed out that the overwhelming scientific evidence is that climate change, exacerbated by man, is responsible for the increase in extreme weather events.  However, the vocal minority who deny man’s role in this (or even in climate change as such) can claim that there is always a small margin of error in scientific evidence.  Scientists tend to deal in probabilities.  So the climate change deniers can say “we are not convinced by the evidence”.  So, our smart correspondent invites them to provide irrefutable evidence that climate change and man’s contribution to it does not exist.  A fair comment – prove your case beyond doubt or shut up.

This is getting altogether too heavy and needs Margaret’s lighter touch.  So let us tell you that we had visits from the two wonderful grandchildren, each with their respective partners, who are soon to get married.  The girls looked GORGEOUS, the men looked just like men.  I am constantly in the doghouse on the subject of weddings.  While I think the commitment to getting married is wonderful, I have dared to suggest that scaling back a bit on the celebrations would leave a lot of money over for all the other things young couples (and perhaps even their parents?) need.  I’m just a spoil sport – my views fall on deaf ears.  And how would the whole wedding industry exist if they listened to this old grouch?

Unlike Margaret I can’t think up a jolly story or joke with which to end, but I was intrigued by an article by the Science correspondent in the New Statesman last week.   Michael Brooks reminded us that zinc has antiseptic and wound healing properties and is thus incorporated in many food supplements, ointments and pills.  But he ends his article thus: “Here’s a final tip in case the price of zinc lozenges skyrockets: a daily 100g of cooked caterpillars contains all the zinc you need.  You’re welcome”.  Indeed.

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