Friday, 28 February 2020

Getting some in part 16

Dateline:23rd April 1991, AWM 218, RAF Cosford.

Dear Mum and Dad,

Shock news from your loving son as to why he's not rung: I lent Mark some money and he failed to pay it back. I know I'm a mug, bt, it was one of those things. A big mistake and not one to repeat.

Anyway, I enclose a cheque, please pay into my account. If you can't find the paying in book there'll be slips in the branch. Yes, I am skint again, but don't worry I will survive. After finding out how much it cost to reverse charges, I won't be doing that again. You will probably say not to worry, but I hop you understand why I won't.

Apart from money I'm OK. Mark sulks, but who cares? Saturday went well, she bought be pizza and drinks (no idea who that is), I left at 11, and spent most of Sunday in bed, watching football, etc.

We finished consolidation training yesterday, but I was the only one on the course who finished all the tasks, but as the whole course has to re-do it, so do I. To make it worse, I got a Uni7, a commendation. You can get a good or bad one, I got a good one. And I quote, "excellent attitude, which was a refreshing change. Positive confidence" and, "thorough knowledge of all subjects". I can tell you, I could hardly fit my head through the doorway.

Only myself and Amanda got Uni7s so far on the course!

So, we got four day's extra work to do now, but I'm still in a good mood. I feel as if I've done something really good. We've got an exam on Monday then FINALS on Friday 3rd May. Arrggh, mega-panic, etc.

There's a sports day on Thursday, a load of us are doing a tug-of-war. For some reason I had to have nother medical, and I am now officially 3cm taller than I was in September! By 1995 I will be 15 feet tall.

Sorry, but its getting late, and as there is more news, so I'll finish here,


Thursday 27th February 2020

Jools' last working day of the week. I still have Friday to do as well.

And it is to be another grey and cold day, meaning the digging up of the patio I have had planned all week was postponed. Again. And as was any walk round the neighbourhood on a wild flower hunt.

So, once Jools had left for work, I put the bins out and then went to the spare room for another round of phys on the cross trainer. And twelve minutes into the session I reach the end of the playlist I had been working through for the past five or six weeks. Nothing for it but to start of the beginning of the next playlist.

Fifty eight Press play and get pumping.

I felt good, good enough to do a second session in the afternoon? Maybe. Possibly.

Anyway, after cooling down, make breakfast and set up the office and get down to work, and I have a task I am best suited to; preparing a report on the requirements under a clause in an ISO standard. I rubbed my hands and got reading and typing.

Sparrahs Much time passes.

I stop for yet more cheese toasties for lunch, a huge brew.

And carry on with work. My main concern was what to do for the shot of the day, there is either my workstation. Again. Or some RAF stuff, or birds in the garden. I chose the latter, a pair of fighting chaffinches, arguing about who should be sitting on the perch at one of the feeders. In fact, the birds were much more interesting than work.

And indeed, come four in the afternoon I go back to the spare room for more lard pumping.

I can then go for a shower and a change into some clean clothes, all to be ready and sweet-smelling for when Jools came home.

Dinner was the old dependable; bangers and mash and beans. Which is a fine meal, especially when the bangers are this season's wild garlic ones, though not ones we picked the ramsons for.

And that's it for another day. More football to follow on Twitter, music on the radio, all accompanied by a glass or three of sloe gin.


On trade

I have said several times that anyone who talks about trade purely in terms of tariffs really doesn't understand trade. As it is non-tariff barriers that will really be difficult to overcome.

It comes back to the control/trade compromise.

I read a good article by Matt Bishop on how the UK has come to where it has, and it seems that most Brexiteers see trade in a 19th century way, one which deals in finished goods only. Modern trade is about complex supply chains, crossing and recrossing borders, because its cost efficient to do so. And that for most suppliers, this is normal. And for organisations like whom Jools works for, they send parts hither and thither to be cut, coated, treated before receiving them.

This involves a courier, and a courier will carry many consignments, I have read that one company says each truck carries on average 300 consignments. In a post Brexit world of the hardest Brexit, each of those 300 consignments would need customs declarations, proof of origin, and where a component have several parts, orgins of those too. One of the hardest is going to be foodstuffs, the WTO rules of biscuits and their ingredients and what tariff or customs rules to apply is very complex.

Things that exporters to the EU currently don't have to worry about or do, but might have to. Or not. So they will have to prepare for both, or all scenarios. Each time the UK Government changes its mind on what Brexit is, it creates costs for UK business making them less competitive.

Trade, certainly since the second world war, has been about the removal of barriers, either tariff or non tariff, so to facilitate trade, and the UK under Thatcher was a leading advocate of that, not that you would think that now. What Brexiteers cannot grasp is that the SM and CU are the reasons there is frictionless trade, you simply cannot leave either or both and expect to have frictionless trade. By definition, Brexit will create friction, which will create delay, which will create costs.

Saying this isn't the case doesn't change reality, and until Brexiteers understand reality, rather than denying it, we might be able to find a way to make this shit show work. But for now, the Government is suppressing all criticism of Brexit, stopping Ministers going on radio and TV shows that are over critical, even when there is a public health issue to publicise. This is clearly madness, but we are seeing MPs, Ministers and now Civil Servants being replaced not because they are trying to sabotage Brexit, but because they don't believe in it.

That the Government won't even start an economic impact assessment until after it has been agreed shows really they don't believe in it either, but really like the unfettered power that the WAB will bring, and will use it to justify attacks on the BBC and the Judiciary.

Reality won't change, the very real and difficult choices will have to be made, and accepting the risks and costs those choices bring are best shown now, rather than later.

Thursday, 27 February 2020

The Brexit conundrum (reprise)

It is the stated aim of Her Majesty's Government to have a trade policy independent from the EU.

Today, Michael Gove confirmed that the UK would honour, in full, the Withdrawal Agreement.

The NI protocol says that for agri and some other Goods NI would remain in the Single Market.

Both cannot be true.

It is possible Gove, Johnson et al do not understand what they signed up to.

But it is more likely that they signed up to it with no intention of honouring it.

That would be a grave mistake, as I have previously said, all trade talks and agreements are conducted "in good faith", or that each takes the other at their word. If the UK were to break their word on this, it would make any of the 900 plus deals the UK have to make as the other party would insist on legal measures to ensure compliance. This is the UK, in trade terms, putting up a huge neon sign above Downing Street saying that the UK cannot be trusted.

It has been suggested that the UK will not participate in the International Patient Group, meaning that UK companies and individuals won't be able to protect their inventions and innovations. But I'm sure the Government know what they're doing.

Michael Gove has committed to recruiting 50,000 new customs officers. This is a skilled job and training usually takes two years, they need to be ready in ten months. 50,000 customs officers earning the living wage would cost £1.25 billion a year in wages alone. How's that for a Brexit bonus?

And by the end of the year, Brexit would have cost the country £200 billion in lost GDP, more than all of the UK's 49 year EU contributions.

Wednesday 26th February 2020

Rest day. From phys.

And after four sessions in two days, it felt like cheating to do none, but rest is as important. I know I'm not running a marathon or cycling round New Zealand, but even still, pays to be careful. And with nearly three weeks at home, lots of time to get plenty of phys in, and soon enough it'll be light enough to go for a walk when Jools comes home. In fact, on Wednesday she was earlier than usual, back at twenty five to six, and was still light outside. It did fade quick, but the years grows ever older.

And after a week of wind and rain, how great to wake up with clear skies and the promise of a nice day, even if the weather was turning colder, cold enough for snow in East Anglia and further north.

But not here.

So, Jools got ready, and I lazed around until she had left. Had an early breakfast listening to a podcast before getting down to work, setting up the office and dealing with the issues of the day.

Fifty seven Through the day I go out whilst waiting for the kettle to boil, and I see that the Snake's Head Fritillaries, at least those in the old wheelbarrow, not only have sprouted, but two have formed buds on each stem. This is two weeks ahead of usual, and thinking how the imperialis were the same, then I put two and two together and ponder the possibilities of orchids flowering next month!


Mulder So much to do and so little time with work getting in the way.

At the end of the day I have an early lunch of yet another cheese toastie, and overcook it so the bread is thin and crispy and covered in cheese that had leaked out, also very crispy. Simple food, but lovely.

I make a bowl of hot and spicy salsa to go with the nachos we were to have for dinner, made in enough time so the flavours could marinade and get stronger. That was the plan.

Sundown at St Maggies Outside, the sun set in the west, not going down until well after five now. Warm golden light played on the trees and valley sides overlooked by the kitchen window. It looked fabulous.

Sundown at St Maggies I took a few shots, and again when Jools came home as dark clouds brought an end to the day.

Sundown at St Maggies Lets eat!

I was listening to the football in the evening, when the phone rang:


Well, let me explain. I am an only child. As were both Mum and Dad, so no aunts, uncles, nieces nephews, cousins, etc. But there are more distant relations. Maureen and Donald live in Hemel Hemstead, north of that London, and it is thirty five years since I last saw them. I found their address in an old contact book of mine, thirty years old, and to be honest, I wasn't sure if they were alive or not. But, I wrote to them before Christmas to let them know what happened to Mum.

And I heard nothing.

Until last night.

Now, one thing you should know about Donald is that he has an obsession. He likes orchids.

Yeah, how freaky is that? But he grows his own exotic orchids in a heated shed-cum-greenhouse in his back garden. I do have memories of looking in and seeing exotic flowers growing from bits of tree bark.

So, what are you doing with yourself these days? He asked after he had introduced himself.

Well, I said, this might tickle your interest, but I photograph native hardy orchids.

So, we talked about orchids for quarter of an hour, ones I have seen, the ones he has seen and grown and places to visit in France and beyond. I then told him of the Kent church project, and how that is going, and he was really pleased that I had these hobbies that are a bit unusual.

Sadly, Maureen had Parkinson's, and cannot come to the phone, and when I suggested visiting, he was unsure. But we did cover a bit about Mum, though not in any great detail, so after half an hour the call ended.

And that was that, really. More football, some sloe gin and bed at ten.

Getting some in part 15

We are now drawing to an end to my trade training, and in June will be posted to my first RAF camp, which will be RAF Marham near Kings Lynn, but could have been anywhere in the UK from Cornwall to the West of Scotland, and anywhere inbetween.

That weekend we went to Fawey in Cornwall for Paddy's wedding. When we arrived after a six hour drive down the M5, we found his family and friends throwing each other in the harbour. As they do. By this time I had a nine year old Mk V Ford Cortina 2.0 lite, which we all went down to the wedding in.

Dateline:8th April 1991, AWM 218, RAF Cosford.

Dear Mum and Dad,

I hope you are both well. It is Monday morning and we have just had PT. As only seven of us did it, we played four-a-side football.

I suppose you want to know how the weekend went. We had a good time! On Friday, we went out and got slightly drunk. Went to bed at about 02:00. Saturday morning was spend cleaning our kit. We then had to walk to the church, and got lots of looks from the locals as we walked.

Paddys Wedding The wedding went OK, we then had to walk to another hotel for the reception. We had four pints each before the meal.

And then after the meal and speeches, we had to walk back to our hotel to change, before walking back to the other hotel for the disco. I was drinking lager and a 30 year old port at £3.35 a glass. I danced with a girl called Helen, but she wasn't impressed when I tried to get her back to the hotel. But Paddy tells me she was trying to find me Sunday morning, but we had already left.

We left Cornwall at 11:00 yesterday and we back on base at 16:30.

We are on guard tomorrow, so that's 12 hours of boredom. At least we are spared a bull night as we will be on duty.

We've got a very quiet weekend lined up, planning to spend it all in bed. Its the FA Cup on Sunday, and both games live on TV!

This time last week, we were in that pub in Bilston eating chilli.

Anyway, hope you are both well, see you on the 19th!


Wednesday, 26 February 2020

Tuesday 25th February 2020

What is this we see outside, a blue sky? And warm orange light on the horizon, meaning there would be sunshine.

After Jools got ready for work, I go upstairs and do a session on the cross trainer, and am back down again, making breakfast so I am ready to start work at nine.

But despite my commute of just three feet, I am still two minutes late. Broken points at Surbiton.

Then it is on with work, sorting documents out and preparing for a meeting.

Fifty six I take a few minutes to wader round outside; there are at least eight imperialis showing already, and the first ones to show already have their leaves unfurling. In the trees and bushes, birds are singing sweet songs of love, gathering nesting material. It all sounds and looks like Spring, but it is still February, and there could be a kick to winter as yet.

Hellebore Back to work, I have an early lunch then get down to the really serious stuff I do.

Daffs in the sunshine In the afternoon, clouds roll in, turning the sky from blue to black before they dump fifteen minutes of sleet on the house, and for a few moments the ground turned white.

Hail on the rock garden I take pictures.

I also go and do another session on the cross trainer, my legs now quite tired, but I finish then go for a shower and put on some nice clean clothes.

That's better.

One final check of mails then I pack away the office for the night and begin to prepare dinner. It is to be carbonara, a variation I copied from Jamie Oliver, it uses no cream, just egg yolks, so isn't too fatty. Garlic butter made and melted, spread on sliced cornbread and then cooked in the oven until crispy.

Again, I bring it all together for when Jools comes home, soon though we will be able to go for an evening walk first, meaning more exercise!

We eat and I drink red wine, as it doesn't drink itself. Good to know I still have a job.

And that really is it. Jools was sleepy so she went to lay on the bed, and then inside the bed and so fell asleep. I followed Chelsea in the CL v Bayern, and Bayern ran out easy 3-0 winners.

Oh well. Time for bed.