Thursday, 30 June 2016

Political games

They say that a week is a long time in politics. Which is indeed true, however, it is also true that a day is a long time in politics too. Sometimes even half an hour is.

You see, yesterday, the current Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, Michael Gove, his wife "aacidentally" sent an e mail with the deal her husband should drive out of Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson aka "Boris" in return for his support, stating that her erstwhile employer's, The Daily "Hate" Mail, and that of Rupert Murdoch would not be forthcoming. This made Sarah Vine, sometime columnist with the Mail into some kind of Lady Macbeth figure, the power behind Pob. Even earlier yesterday, media mogul and Austrailan American and non-British tax-payer Rupert Murdoch stated that he saw Mr Gove as the next Prime Minister.

This morning, Mr Gove announced that after several people told him he should run, he was indeed running. That would be his collection of singing potatoes speaking then? In his press release, he said he doubted Boris' leadership abilities. Now this comes after several red tops lead with how unstoppable Boris was in the race to replace Cameron.

At half eleven, Boris was scheduled to have his own press conference in which he would launch is own bid to be PM. At quarter past eleven or so, former BBC Economics Editor, Robert Peston tweeted that Boris was in fact pulling out of the race.

Anyway, the press conference began and to the stunned looks on his aides and supports faces he said that he was not the man to be PM.

The world continues to turn, and the man who performed a 180 degree about turn to join the Leave campaign was in fact leaving the building, his career in tatters. Still got to laugh.

It is clear that both Gove and Johnson used the Leave campaign to further their own careers, and are still doing so even as the country goes to ruin. This is the so-called political elite.

Teresa May is also running, she has ruled out pressing the Article 50 button until the end of the year, "after discussions", Gove also speaks of delaying it. The EU made clear no pressing the button, no discussions normal or formal, So we have a phony period, one at which might continue until the end of time with the button not having been pressed. The British and European civil services know how to delay things. This really could go on forever.

It seems that a vote from both houses of Parliament would be needed to be passed, striking the 1972 act from the state book BEFORE the button is to be pressed. If the button was to be pressed. There is no passion for passing such a thing from either house, so in order to get it through a General Election would have to be called, with on one side waiting to remain and the other wanting to leave. That would give a mandate for the law to be struck off and then the button could be pressed. Or not.

It is clear that the electorate was lied to, and the media allowed this to happen. This is beginning to sink in, and so "buyers remorse" might take place and enough people change their mind. But if the election or another referendum is delayed until the new year, next summer perhaps, there would be enough young new voters to change the outcome anyway.

Anyway, Britain still in the EU, not article 50 has been enacted. 7 days after the referendum.

Wednesday 29th June 2016

I have had enough of my shoulder and the lack of sleep. After being woken at four in the morning once again by the jarring pain as I turned over, I vowed to do something very dramatic, and go to the hospital in the morning.

This did have the negative effect hat I would have to drive the car to drop Jools off in town, then wait at Buckland Hospital for the minor injuries unit to open. Just after nine I saw a nurse, who confirmed that I had ripped my shoulder muscle, which meant that the only thing was to go to see the osteopath once again, and once home I booked an appointment for the afternoon, had breakfast and then began work. The day panned out much the same as any other when working from home; sunny outside whilst I had meetings on the computer. And by the time the work for the day was done, clouds had rolled in from the sea and it was raining hard outside.

I had to go to collect Jools from town once her bus was due, thus braving the utter chaos that is rush hour coupled with a ferry arriving. But then there is the route back home along Reach Road to use in such cases, leaving the hustle and bustle of the town, turning right by the castle, then winding the way up and along the cliffs, over Jubilee Way, clogged with traffic, until we had clear views to the dark shape that showed where freedom in La Belle France lay.

Our living room is nearly clear of cutter; we just have to move the hi fi back to it's desired position, the bookshelf has been replaced by two wall hangings brought back from Japan; and very nice they both look in the alcove.

Souvenir of Japan Jools helps me coat a couple of packs of shrimps with some Japanese breadcrumbs which might make them tempura. Or not. But with some home made savoury rice and a sweet chili dip, it was a perfect light meal.

Afterwards, I made the forst layer of the rumtopf; the instructions said don't use rhubarb as it makes the liquor too sour; but we have loads of it as we have begun bartering with people at Jools' factory; jars of jelly for fresh fruit. A good deal. Anyway we are good for ingredients for crumbles now. Anyway, rhubarb, blueberries and the first raspberry of the year from our canes. Added sugar and most of the bottle of pinapple rum I bought on my last trip to Denmark, and its done. Just have to wait to Christmas now, and once I add strawberries, raspberries and so on before of course.

Anyway, tired, achy, we go to bed before nine and before its dark.

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Tuesday 28th June 2016

I awake with the smell of fresh brewed coffee creeping up from downstairs. It seems I have slept through the alarm. It is a grand day outside, but I have to stay inside and work. Such is the life of a manager.


But as I have said, several times, I do like the life and the job, so, best put on my dressing gown and see what is happening with the world.

Now, I know I said I wasn't going to mention "the vote" any more, but I think it is worth stating that on Tuesday, our glorious leader, Tory Boy David Cameron, met with his European equals for the lst time before they shut the door on him forever (Maybe). All day they tried everything to get him to announce the enacting of Article 50; but it was all bluster, as only the country wanting leave can. And so another day passed with no activation, and so nearer political stalemate.

Reading the newspapers is a very different experience to reading political, legal blogs about the situation, and so I have been pre-warned about what would and wouldn't happen that day. At the end of the day, the head of the European Council admitted that there would be no activation until a new leader of the Conservative Party is elected, and the legal process in Britain concluded, which could mean further delay. To show how little concern there is from Number 10 the PM has appointed Oliver Letwin and the Cabinet Office to lead the informal discussions.

So, not article 50 notification; contenders jostling for position to be the new Tory Leader and PM, the Parliamentary Labour Party trying to remove Corbyn, quite what's going on there I have no idea and the England Manager resigned a few minutes after England crashed out of the Euros. A quiet day all round then......

Which is just as well I'm in charge at work, giving myself several rest periods during the day in which to think about things. Well, if I'm honest, my shoulder really has got back to how bad it was a couple of weeks ago, and so a repeat visit the osteopath was arranged for Wednesday, and just about everything I did bloody hurt. So, even sitting at the dining room table, typing hurt. So I did what anyone would do in the same situation; write a blog about it!

Outside the sky clouds over, the wind blows, and so I am tempted to sit on the sofa with Molly to watch "Coast", she just loves sitting laying against our legs. So unlike Molly of old, she seems to like laying with us, if not on our laps, then very near to it. Although she sticks to the strict rule that one stroke is good, two is better and three strokes means getting your hand shredded. Just so you know. We listen to Dark Side of the Moon on 180 gm vinyl; Molly seems unimpressed, but then spooked by all the alarm clocks.

Alas there is no football on TV until Friday, so Jools and I will have to fill the void with conversation, that is once she is home. She leaves work late, but as dinner is left over aubergine and pasta salad, that's not a bad thing. Its all dished up and ready to go when she gets home. I crack open a bottle of red, and another day has passed us by.

As has June....

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Monday 27th June 2016

Pay Day.

Although no bonus. As yet

Did I say bonus? Yes I did, seems like paying me a wage isn't enough, so I am expecting a bag of jelly beans to drop through the door any day now.

I will also work for beer and/or cheese and onion flavoured crisps, just so you know.

And it is the start of the working week, so why then am I awake at half four in the morning? Still early enough to hear the blackbirds, singing from their nests, joyous at the thought of a new day. Oh yeah, bloody insect bites. Seems that the rash of bites, we, literally, suffered on our last visit to Wink's Meadow wasn't enough. So went back, not covered in layers of thick clothing and/or Jungle recipe anti insect spray. So, within seconds of stepping into the meadow, we were both fending black bity things off, not getting them all before they got to taste Kentish (or Norfolk) blood. Which meant that under the warmth of a duvet, the bites began to itch.

At half four in the morning, such things become obvious, whereas in a meadow in Suffolk, you just think of getting orchid shots. Or I do anyway.

So I am up and about at half five, feeding the cats and making coffee.

Jools gets up, has breakfast, and once she is dressed, made her lunch, I settle down and listen to Public Service Broadcasting's Race for Space remix album, which was really the idea in getting the new record deck in the first place. And why not? So I sit in the pre-work quiet of a Monday morning, watching the birds forage for seeds in the front garden. Yes, upon reflection, this is better than sitting in an airport.

The bane of the modern business traveler is the travel expense report, and coming to the end of the quarter, HAL at the head office has been sending me repeated mail reminding me to clear them before the end of the week. So began the search for the missing receipts.

So, work begins, I have meetings, a stack of mails to deal with. So, normal working day then.

There is corned beef sandwiches for dinner, and ignoring the cats as they meow for attention and/or lunch. It matters not which, the meows are the same. Outside it is bright, but windy, so no real regrets about being inside and working rather than being outside playing with cameras and orchods. In fact a real life drama was played out as most of the Labour Part responded to the biggest crisis in the country by reverting to some interanl bllod-letting and regicide. I can't say I understand why they chose this moment, but in two weeks the Chilcot report is published, and Tony Bliar maybe heading for a war crimes trial. Proibably not, but most of the resignees were former Blarites. It sucks that they could be so selfish at this time, when the country is heading down the pan.

Because as Monday went on, no Article 50 notification was made by Great Britain, or the United Kingdom as it is non-ironically called these days. So, arguments continues, as Team "Brexit" withdrew each of the "claims" they made during the run up to the referendum. Bastards. And Boris published his latest Torygraph post was that we should be closer to Europe. Now the wanker tells us.

At half four, I settled down to watch the Spain v Italy game, Jools came home, then after bacon butties I settled down to watch the England v Iceland.

Now, I have already blogged about that, suffice to say it was a dog of a performance by England which just was dreadful, started off OK, but by the time Iceland scored their second after 15 minutes, England lost their shape and just got worse. No leadership on or off the pitch, no passing, no movement and no ideas. Glad when it was over to be honest.

We went to bed, I was angry again and stayed awake until the wee small hours.

Not going to Iceland

Those of you who read these words might have been expecting the "disappointing football match blog", well here it is.

England lost last night to Iceland in the knock out phase of the Euros. England were dreadful, I mean really bad, and yet I found myself wanting Iceland to score a third as it would make it worse. England did not register a good chance on target the whole game, and conceded thanks to two goals that would embarrass a park team. The manager resigned, but there is no one really to replace him, because as I have pointed out, those that have gone before from Kevin Keegan to Sven to Steve McLaren to Capello and now to Roy have achieved about the same results. The only common factor is the players.

Not good enough.

This is what I said two years ago at the end of the last world cup:

"Nothing has changed, and nothing will change, we will stumble into the major competition every two years, hoping against hope that this time it will be different, but it never is. So, until football admits to itself that there is something wrong, and the FA actually does something about it, it will not change. I was so angry after South Africa, and yet, the FA did nothing. And so this time round, I’m not angry, just disappointed that four wasted years, no real change has happened, nor has any change been put into motion.

The likes of “Super” Frank and Stevie “G” will now being closing their international careers, each two years there has been nothing but optimism followed by failure. The players say they are sorry for letting the fans down, let the FA say something similar, saying how sorry they are at the failure of getting out of the group stages for the first time since 1958.

So, while the rest of the world celebrates and looks forward to the next stage of the competition, England’s layers will be either on the beach soaking u the rays, or getting ready for pre-season. The really sad thing is eight weeks from now, the league season will be under way, and all this failure at international level will be forgotten, and the media will be telling us how great the Premier League is. And nothing will change.

Quite how English football has sunk so low, and we are so happy for it to be this way is a tale of money, money and more money. And how the incompetent FA allowed the Premier League to be set up, and failed to put in controls and so the league bloated and became the foremost football organisation in the country, and the success of the national team is of no concern to the PL, just how the billions keep rolling in from TV companies from around the world.

Eight years ago, Germany were horrified by only reaching the quarter finals, and so reorganised the game in their country, and four years later, a youthful German team took England apart en route to the semi finals. Oh, if only the FA would take such actions after this shocker, but things will not change, the same players for the most part, will be laying the same tactics and we will endure failure once again in Russia in 2018.

It is, after all, just a game, and gives us something to talk and moan about, those 52 year of hurt."

And after the world cup in 2010:

"And what a let down, England were even worse than in previous games, and despite pulling a goal back before half time, and having a perfectly good goal disallowed, they were a very poor second to a cool and efficient German team, that now goes on the meet Argentine in the quarter-finals. This is a healthy dose of reality for most England fans, brought up on the belief that England has always been the ebst as well as inventing the game.

But years or under-investment in youth, and over reliance on expensive imports have meant a darth of talent in the Premier League, and this day had been coming a long time, that most hadn’t seen it coming is a sad indightment on the FA and Premier League.

Many of the so-called world’s best, or Golden Generation have had their international careers brought to an inglorious end, and rightly so. Failure of the basics like how to control the ball with one touch or be able to pass to each other being worse offences than tactics or who should or shouldn’t have played.

That there are no real replacements in the pipeline means that the day when England might challenge for the World Cup is maybe a generation away, and only then if there is a sea change in attitudes, which lets be honest, isn’t going to happen any day soon."

So, nothing is going to change and as soon as the new season begins it will all be forgotten about. As the FA doesn't care, why should we?

Monday, 27 June 2016

Sunday 26th June 2016

Sunday, and the plan had been to head out to snap some local orchids, but in the event the sun failed to break through the clouds, and in truth my heart wasn't in it. A week away and a day on the road yesterday, and I was shattered, and just wanted to chill out and maybe watch the footy in the afternoon.

We begin the day with bacon sandwiches, which is as good a day to start the day with anyway. I review the shots from the day before, and upload some of the Frog Orchid shots, and shots of the other orchids, then got down to deal with unpacking and setting up the turntable.

Rega Planar 3 This is only the second brand new turntable I have ever bought, the last one was a small Technics thing in 1983, which was really plug and play as it had a linear arm rather than the usual pivot one. That required no setting up. Back at the salesroom, the owner made it very clear hat the arm had to be balanced very carefully, turn these dials to zero, adjust this weight until it floats, then set both of the dials to 1.75. Sounds simple.

Rega Planar 3 I took the box into the kitchen, then unboxed it, removed the old deck from the hifi, plugged in the new one in and set about balancing the arm.

I did as was told and what was in the instructions. That done I tried to play Altered Images' Don't Talk to me About Love, it skipped dreadfully. I rebalanced the arm again, and got the same result. Through the day I did it many more times, adjusted the two dials and some made it better, slightly. I was frustrated to say the least.

Rega Planar 3 I gave up and helped in the garden, made coffee, watched football. And I thought, one last try.

I thought I could hear something dragging as the platter turned, it didn't sound right to me, but I could not work where the noise was coming from. I looked at the needle in the groove and liked the reflection, and as I moved my head I could see the wires from the cartridge meeting their reflection, meaning they were touching the record! I looked closer, and that was the case, so I lifted the arm us, pressed on the wires making them run closer to the arm and away from the vinyl. I put the arm back down and had Madonna blasting out Like a Prayer in perfect audio. Wowzers.

Rega Planar 3 I had done it, which meant that when we had dinner, aubergine and pasta salad as you asked, whilst we listened to the new Public Service Broadcasting new remix album which arrived at Chez Jelltex this week. Super it is too.

Football in the evening, and that was about it for another weekend. Seemed so short and tomrrow nothing but work and travel expenses to look forward to!

Sunday, 26 June 2016

Saturday 25th June 2015

I won't carp on about the EU vote, not on here. Just so you know.

Anyway, Saturday dawned clear and bright, and we should have been out snapping orchids at the seaside in Pegwell and Sandwich Bays, but instead, we are to get in the car and drive to Essex. To pick up a turntable. But what with the great weather forecast, I got thinking about orchids again. THere is an orchid, but then there always is, that is probably extinct in Kent, a small green orchid, called the Frog Orchid, that used to grow in Dover. Or that was the last known site. Indeed a couple of years ago, Jools and I went to look for it, now that I have seen them in real life, we might go again, if there is time. Anyway, checking the orchid book, the best site in EA for them was one we have visited before, Wink's Meadow in Suffolk, so the plan was to drive up, look for the orchids, then drive down, pick up the turntable and be home maybe for 5.

In fact the plan had bee to collect the turntable first, then drive to Suffolk, but as we were both awake just after 5, and had breakfast and coffee and we ready to go just after six, we thought we would just get going.

A pleasant drive up the M20 to Dartford, no delays and only a few poor drivers. Through the tunnel and into Essex, turning off to go up the old A12, we saw it was jammed up right from the roundabout, so we drive all the way back round, back onto the motorway so we could go up the M11 instead. When I thought about it, there was little difference. So, we cruised past Stanstead at 72mph, just slow enough for the sat nav not to bleep at us. Up past Saffron Walden, up the A11, then along to Bury St. Edmunds, and finally up the familiar road to Diss. THis used to be my old stomping ground, and when we did turn off towards Metfield, we were just 14 miles from Bungay.

We know the way so well now, along narrow lanes to the village, then along through some attractive old houses, out onto the perry track of an old USAF airbase, then finally up a dead end lane to the reserve. The road was partially flooded, so we parked on an old aircraft dispersal pan, got out put our walking boots on in case it was wet in the meadow, it was.

THe meadow isn't that large, but by June it is pretty overgrown, and the Frogs are small, about a foot tall, so finding them was going to be tricky. The first thing was to walk round the edge of the site to see if we could see any; that took 45 minutes. We saw hundreds, if not thousands of Pyramidals, some Southern Marsh and a few Common Spotted. But no Frogs. We had been there nearly an hour, and even after following some tracks across the centre of the meadow, we could find nothing.

Pyramidal Orchid Anacamptis pyramidalis When we were at the site for the first time, I went into the village shop to ask for directions as we could not find it, and one of the assistants was a volunteer there, and she had mentioned the frogs, but we were too early. So, I asked Jools to drive back to the village to see if she was there and to ask for directions where on the site the Frogs were. I stayed behind to look. I had found a small colony of Southern Marsh, so I hoped that's where the Frogs would be. So, Jools went off and I looked. With no luck.

Pyramidal Orchid Anacamptis pyramidalis var. albiflora I followed the path into the centre of the meadow and looked closely. Still no luck. I heard Jools return, and I looked down. There was a small orchid spike. I stooped down and the lip revealed it to be a Frog. I had found one, at least. Jools showed at the gate, laden with sausage rolls and lashings of fizzy pop, so I waved at her to come over to see.

Frog Orchid Coeloglossum viride All I had to do now was to wait for the sun to break through the cloud cover, so I waited and waited until the sun did break through, and I got my shots. But then we looked around and saw many more spikes, I suppose about a dozen in all, some spikes still emerging, others nearly fully open. But I did not take shots, in case of damaging any more spikes. I did get shots of the single Bee also in the area, and with that, we walked back to the car.

Frog Orchid Coeloglossum viride Should we call at a pub for a bite, or just head back down to Essex? Hmm, a tough call, but in the end, we decided to head back down south, with just a diversion at a highly recommended church, Thornham Parva, and luckily for us, it was just half a mile off the A140 on our way south. So, set the sat nav, and off we set.

Frog Orchid Coeloglossum viride Usually, we like to have the radio on on Saturday, Huey and Liz Kershaw shows, but as this weekend is Glastonbury, and for once the thought of it left me cold, and for the first time we watched not one minute of it on TV, and I switched the radio off as we listened to a set by Savages on the way up. So, in silence as Jools struggled to stay awake, we made our way back down to Diss then down to the church.

Situated down a quiet lane just off the main Norwich to Ipswich road, after a few stunning large houses sits the ancient church, in a small churchyard with a thatched roof. Inside it has the traces of fine wall paintings that the Puritans failed to remove, and was a real joy to call in and experience. I take shots, then looking at our watch, just after half one, we made our way back to the car and back on our way.

The hi fi shop was in Harlow, just off the M11 near to the junction with the M25. We drove south into Essex, with the sky full of wonderful clouds and stunning light, promising lots of weather before the day was out. The shop was out of the town, so far out of the town that I wasn't sure that I had the correct postcode, but after following directions down narrow lanes, we came to an old country manor house, and in the renovated outbuildings was the shop.

The deck was ready to go, so we had a coffee, chatted, but we really wanted to get going. I paid then took the deck to the car, and we left, back to the motorway.

At least traffic was ligt, a lot of people would now be at home or in the pub ready for the Wales v Northern Ireland game. I wanted to get home to see it too, but I knew we would miss the start. At least the rain held off, and once through Maidstone the traffic thinned out, so we made good time, hammering down the motorway to the coast and home.

We arrived home to an indifferent welcome from the cats. I made a brew then switched the TV on to watch the game. It was exciting, but lacking in quality, it was won by Wales in the 2nd half thanks to a fine move resulting in an own goal.

Scotch eggs and ice cream for dinner, easy to eat before the evening game.

The turntable and new adventures in hi fi could wait until the morning.