Friday, May 27, 2016

Peaky Blinders (again) and don’t miss Alpha House, but most of all: RIP Prince, who had more talent in his little finger than many wannabes can dream of

Bad Gastein - Last Day, but enough of that.

This is the second post tonight. The first, which you might have spotted was in what I’m sure would be called ‘dog Turkish’, that is ‘bloody terrible Turkish. I used Google Translate to translate my post into Turkish and as I know from testing it translating from English to German and vice versa, it’s useful, but not great. That’s by way of introduction.

Today was my last day here in Bad Gastein, but I shan’t balls on about it because like yesterday I did very little (as planned). Instead I shall rave and recommend two series which you will be able to catch. Then there’s Prince, who died recently. First off, Prince. I came across him one morning when I was trying to wake up and then get up when I was working on the Birmingham Evening Mail. In those days, the early 1980s, I had a clock radio which was set to BBC Radio 1. They played the usual shite but then a track came on which, in my soporific state, woke me immediately and I thought: who is that! The track was When Doves Cry.

What doesn’t quite add up is that, according to Wikipedia, the song was released in 1984. Trouble is that by 1984 I was no longer working for the Evening Mail and was no longer living at 45, Milner Road, Selly Park, where I seem to remember waking up and hearing it. So what is going on? Obviously false memory syndrome, though to this day I can ‘remember’ waking up to the song and thought I was still in Milner Road. But what the hell.

The point is that I was hooked and thought – and still think – that the guy was streets and streets ahead of more or less anyone else. I do remember Purple Rain (on cassette – remember them, must have been in the dark ages) and subsequently buying earlier and subsequent albums. Yes, he could go off the boil, and I remember being vaguely disappointed with the album in which Diamonds And Pearls figured. But Prince mediocre was still streets and streets ahead of many trying their very best and not getting there.

Maybe he really hit his high spot with Sign Of The Times, but even after that he came out with real gems. I was getting a little older then (I was 40 in 1990), so I wasn’t religiously buying Prince albums just because they were Prince, but I did carry on buying them after I had been able to listen a while.

Sadly, times moved on and left him behind. Hip Hop, especially, more or less threw a spade or two onto his grave, though it most certainly didn’t bury him. But then again he would suddenly come out with a true gem: if you like Prince and haven’t yet heard it, try Breakfast Can Wait: it’s on
what was once an EP or the digital equivalent and is the same song done in about eight different styles.

His death came as a surprise, but what is even more surprising is that there has been very little follow up.

I did read a piece by some guy who claimed he was selling loads of speed to Prince, and there were also reports that he was seeking help for addiction, but all that seems to have gone quiet. Why, I don’t know.

I wouldn’t at all be surprised if, despite his public distain for drugs, he had got himself addicted to amphetamines because he was knocking on – we all get older, even you – and the energy, the staying up all night in the studio playing, rehearsing and recording did have to come from somewhere. Let’s see what the real score was.

Next up, the two series. I think I have already mentioned Peaky Blinders, but here’s another mention. Try it, it’s good.

Most recently I have been binge-watching the first two series of a political satire available on Amazon Prime called Alpha House. Don’t be put off by the name. It isn’t some kind of latter-day coarse-arsed frat comedy, but a very funny, and very satirical take on the lives and doings of four US senators. As they say, the proof of the pudding is in the eating, so give it a whirl. The humour is – thank the Lord – dry rather than ‘comedy’, but it is all the better for that. Try it. I am off to Old Blighty tomorrow, and wish I wasn’t. I am now chilling and could do with more time off, but…

The next time I shall take a full two weeks rather than these nine/ten day breaks. Oh, and the next time I shall make damn sure I don’t get myself sunburnt. Finally, hello Libz, haven’t forgotten you. Keep in touch.

Benim Türk ziyaretçilere (To my Turkish visitors)

Her şeyden önce burada korkunç Türk affet .

Ben Google Translate kullanıyorum ve çevirisi veya sadece tam bir saçmalık olup olmadığını ne kadar iyi bir fikrim yok . Ben Almanca konuşmak ve ve Almanca'dan çeviri dışarı test ettik , çünkü çok iyi olmadığını biliyorum . Bu sizin için özel olduğunu. Ben , ister sadece sizin bir ya da birçok size fark vardır ya da bu çok blog ziyaret ve ben ilgisini uğrattı .

Bir veya iki gün önce, temasa ve bana kendinden bahset sizi davet etti, ama yanıt yoktu . Bu daha doğrudan davet kabul edilebilir herhangi bir şans ? Ne kadar ilginç bulmak benim blog hakkında öyle . Biliyorum merak ediyorum , lütfen bana söyleyin .

In English: To my Turkish visitors: first of all please forgive the terrible Turkish here. I am using Google Translate and I have no idea how good the translation is or whether it is simply complete nonsense. I know it isn’t very good, because I speak German and have tested it out translating to and from German. This is specifically for you. I have noticed that you, whether just one of you or many, has or have been visiting this blog a lot and I am intrigued. A day or two ago, I invited you to get in touch and tell me about yourself, but there was no response. Any chance this more direct invitation might be acknowledged? What is it about my blog which you find so interesting. Please tell me, I am curious to know.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Nothing much to report, so you’re probably wasting your time (even if you are visiting from Turkey). It’s up to you. I did have steak tartare for supper, but if that floats your boat, I really should seek help

Bad Gastein – The Last But One Day

It’s that itch to write again, which I can’t explain but which I don’t suggest has any further significance. Some people have an itch to talk, and do so incessantly to the annoyance of others. I have an itch to write. Where it comes from I don’t know.

So: today was the second-last day of my holiday and I feel I could do with a lot longer. Haven’t yet felt that moment I sometimes feel while on holiday when you give a sigh and relax. Oh, well. Can’t have everything. This bloody hives isn’t helping, and although it isn’t half as bad as it has been, it’s still there.

Today I did nothing in the way I like doing nothing. After I had put in my weekly stint finalising the Mail’s puzzle pages for next week (there’s less to it than even that modest description suggests), I took myself off down the road to Bad Hofgastein, a slightly bigger resort further up the valley where there is more room to breath. I again went to the Salzburgerhof hotel, mainly because I know it has excellent wifi and spent the next five hours just sitting outside, drinking lager, smoking my Laz Paz Wilde Cigarros and watched about four episodes of Alpha House, a new Amazon comedy about four Republican senators. It isn’t half bad and I can recommend it.

After that it was back to Steak und Mehr to try their steak tartare which Sigi Gsaller, who owns and runs the pension I am staying in, recommended. It was offered as a starter so I had one after a bowl of French onion soup. It was good. And that is it, dear friends. Nothing more to report. But there is something I should like to return to. After noticing a few weeks ago that this log is getting an extraordinary amount of attention from Turkey, I have been keeping an eye on the number of visits from Turkey. And boy do they make odd reading: as I said before someone or some people seem to find there’s an awful lot to read here. Why I really don’t know. But I find it intriguing.

Tomorrow will be dedicated to getting hold of some local tourist tat to take home to the family and some chocolate, then I shall simply do the same: chill out at the Salzburgerhof  hotel. Exciting, eh? Well, not really, but that’s just how I like it. I can still remember the days of ‘going clubbing’ when on holiday, usually to some godforsaken awful club with just a few visitors. But no more. And on that note I shall wish you all – especially my visitor or visitors from Turkey – a bon mot. Now I’m off to watch some of the second series of Alpha House.

Here’s a good cartoon I once came across which tickled me then and still tickles me. Some won’t get it. Most will.

Will it all end in tears – either way? Well, that’s what they seem to be predicting. But, hey, I’m still on holiday

Bad Gastein – Day before the Last Day (whichever that is)

And the should we/shouldn't we tell the EU to fuck off and leave our cucumber sandwiches along circus rolls on and on and on, leaving you, me and just about everyone else who doesn’t have a dog in this fight baffled and bewildered and bored. Both sides are predicting an economic holocaust if we don’t follow their cause – both sides. Which leaves me just a teensy bit uncomfortable: things are going tits up whatever happens. Well, great!

I have talked to several people over these past few months about it all – I’m not shy with strangers, just people I am close to – and by a stretch most seem to feel they are in the same schtuck as me, that just because you don't, as I don't, buy into all the Brexit/UKIP/Boris Johnson bollocks doesn't mean you are obliged to accept the other side hook, line and sinker. And it’s a real pain. Most of us
are very familiar with the genesis of what is now the EU, but I suggest it is unfair, perhaps even downright dishonest, to suggest that the original six, then 12, ultimately had their eyes on what might be characterised as a 'United States of Europe'.

What was uppermost in their minds, given that World War II had ended just a decade earlier, to come to some kind of arrangement which might ensure Continental-wide war and the death and destruction that brought with it was as unlikely as possible. The original grouping of six then evolved into an effective and profitable trading body and over the years other states joined. And that was when Britain first became interested (and there's nothing wrong with that). It has been pointed out ad nauseam that when Britain joined and when Britain first voted on whether to remain a member or not, the notion of political union was, at the very least, not a public one and was most certainly not publicly discussed.

It is quite fair to claim that private discussions between the politicians and theoreticians of different member states notwithstanding 'political union' was most certainly not presented to the public as an ultimate goal. And had it been, a certain Mrs Margaret Thatcher who campaigned to remain a member of the then EEC in the first referendum would most certainly not have done so. All that changed with the Maastricht Treaty in 1992, and I think when in future historians attempt to trace the seeds of the collapse of the EU, they will pinpoint that treaty.

This was when all the political union bollocks came in. And this was when that and attendant notions of a common currency etc were introduced. In a sense it was all introduced in a rather
underhand fashion. For most member states, especially those which had emerged from totalitarianism or dictatorhip, membership was economically fabulous and they were prospering rather well, and rather sooner than they might have expected to do so. In addition they were benefiting from all kinds of EU projects to build up the infrastructure of their countries.

When gradually the various former Communist Bloc states joined, it was most certainly to be able, to put it bluntly, to get a piece of the action: they wanted good times and good business, and becoming a member of the EU seemed the easy way to get them. I don't doubt that they were also aware of the, by now public, aspirations for 'political union', but nor do I doubt that they didn't fully realise the implications.

Then there was the infamous Lisbon Treaty and the cracks were already beginning to show. And as happens with such cracks in fundamentally flawed organisations, they were papered over as best as was possible with more serious repair work put off until later. But just how - I shall consciuously use the word - corrupt the EU had become was demonstrated by the response by Brussels to the Irish
No vote. It was ignored, the Irish were asked to vote again and this time a slight majority said Yes.

Certainly, there was a bit of tinkering with the Treaty text to ensure a Yes vote, but that was largely legerdemain: the ultimate objectives, arguably which the Irish had initially rejected, were still in place. Corruption doesn't necessarily have to mean backhanders and cronyism. One salient point, I think, is that the post-war idealists and bureaucrats who organised the Coal and Steel Community with time grew older and retired and were replaced with a certain other kind of politician and bureacrats.

By the late 1970s on establishing a career in the EEC/EC/EU was a nice number, a very, very nice number. I also suggest that those men and women who in the 1970/80/90s threw in their lot with 'le projet' as it became and made Brussels their home were the same who 10/20/30 years earlier were part of the 'student revolt' of the 1960s and who came to realise that they might still have their left-liberal ideas adopted Europe-wide by using the mechanisms of the EU. But they, too, in time
and very ironically, came to be seduced by the exercise and trappings of power, the copper-bottomed pensions and the rest. I am pretty convinced the EU will collapse spectacularly and destructively if isn't subjected to a root and branch process of reform. But that is unlikely to happen.

The trouble is that if Britain does remain a member, the danger is that any long-term reforms will be shunted aside in the interests of short-term advantage and it will all be back to square one. Come June 23, I shall be voting to Remain, but only because it is the lesser of two bloody great evils. But not by much. As for the EU ensuring peace in Europe (a facile claim which could equally be made about the Eurovision Song Contest), that piece of fiction might well come to bite Europe in the bum by 2030.

. . .

Was off again yesterday, to a place called Zell am See. Well, actually, not to the place but to a Gasthof on the side of the mountain overlooking the lake, called Mitterberghof. There I had my first Wienerschnitzel of this holiday and pretty much my first piece of meat. I did have a few slices of smoked ham and salami in a salad of sorts the other night at an Italian place called Angelo’s, but I’ve got to save that although I am most certainly not a vegetarian, I do find increasingly that I don’t eat a lot of meat. The exception will be tonight, however, when I go to a nearby steakhouse which, the owner of the Pension St Leonhard assures me, does a mean steak tartare. And boy do I love steak tartare, especially if it’s a mean one.

Sitting at the Mitterberghof, I was also again messaging a woman the other side of the world who has agreed to let me mention her here, but to please now call her Libz so that she cannot be identified. I did actually mention her in an earlier post by name, but I can’t think that will do much damaged. She isn’t 54 as she first told me, but 34, but I am still 66. (Oh, well, I had my time.)

I must admit there is still a small part of me who wonders whether perhaps he is quietly being lined up for some Nigerian scam and that it has started in Melbourne, Australia, is merely an indication about just how subtle fraudsters are getting. But what the hell: as long as I keep my hand firmly on my wallet in my back pocket – and make it obvious that that is what I am doing and not just feeling up my arse in public – I should be fine.

Here’s a piccy I took from my table on the terrace of the Mitterberghof.

PS Still got the hives, dammit. It comes and goes. It is rather like the prickling I got when I was coming off the codeine addiciton I accidentally landed myself with.

Monday, May 23, 2016

I visit to the set of Where Eagles Dare (or Burg Hohenwerfen as it is known hereabouts in Austria). And an open invitation to my Turkish and Russian visitors to make yourselves known

Bad Gastein - Day Five

Well, I did get off to Burg Hohenwerfen (pictured), and some fortress it turned out to be. First built halfway through 11th century by an archbishop who found himself caught between a rock and a hard place in a battled between the Pope and the then German emperor, who both reckoned they

should be the ones to appoint bishops and archbishops, he decided the safest place for him to be was on top of a very tall, rocky hill in the middle of a valley where he could see who was coming from any side. But rather than go through the whole of its history – which I only learnt today, anyway, so it’s not as though I am some kind of expert – here’s link to its Wikipedia page.

If some of you think it looks familiar (and haven’t actually already been there) you have seen it before it you watched Where Eagles Dare with Clint Eastwood and the usual list of ageing Brit film stars who tended to be rolled out on such occasions. And you’re right, when I eventually got to see the film, it didn’t do much for me, but then I didn’t actually get to see it until about 30 years after it was first released, by which time it had probably dated horribly.

For the record the only James Bond film I rate at all is Skyfall, and I shan’t be watching Spectre because my son tells me it is cack, though he did explain that after the original script was stolen as part of the Sony email scandal, it was scrapped and the producers started afresh which explains why none of it hangs together (he informs me).

The place was about 30 miles due north of where I am staying and I was surprised, and also a bit relieved to get out into the open again in a manner of speaking. I didn’t realise that after only five days of being in Bad Gastein, a pleasant town but which sits in the bottom of a valley with two very high mountains on either side, I had already begun to feel a little claustrophobic. Driving north, the valley opens out and it was like breathing a little better again.

The day had started rather bright so I didn’t wear the thick winter boots I had brought along to ‘walk a little in the mountains’, but wore some leather slips-ons, and that, as I turned out was a big mistake: the day grew cold and windy – and especially bloody cold and windy when the guided tour of the castle I had joined climbed to the highest point of the castle, its bell tower. Christ, was it windy.

So by the time the tour ended all I wanted was a strong cup of tea – and not the shite they tend to serve the far side of the Channel, but I proper mug of good old British rosy lee. Well, some hope. I did the next best thing and stopped off in a town five miles away on the way home – Bischofshofen – where I treated myself to a double-strength latte and brandy. And that was followed by three more brandies when I discovered that, for some reason, smoking is still allowed in Austrian bars (or so they told me).

While I was there the TV was on and the final result of the Austrian presidential election was announced: it wasn’t the fearful closet Nazi our Brit newspapers feared it would be but some yoghurt-knitting Green. Christ, they don’t do things by halves here, do they: from one extreme to the other.

The figures were tighter than a duck’s arse – 49.99 for the closet jackbooted Herbert and 50.01 for the gentle, planet-saving vegan 80-something former professor of I don’t know what. It will be interesting to see how this one is played in the media: alarm bells ring as a new Nazi would-be dictator with 10,000 storm troops at his beck and call is narrowly defeated in Austria – be afraid, cos he ain’t going away. Or Austrian have finally grown up and see sense to put paid to a pseudo-democratic Putsch by a new Nazi would-be dictator with 10,000 storm troops at his beck. It is such a a shame that all our papers, and not just the Brit ones tend to treat news as an episode in the Beano’s Desperate Dan or Minny the Minx.

Right, I’m off to have supper somewhere. Pip, pip. But not before I query who the nice Turk is – or the nice Turks – for whom over the past few months this blog has proved oddly fascinating. In the past month he/she or they have visited it an astounding 1,064 times, 575 times more than a Russian or several Russian visitor – their interest is also rather intriguing – and 844 more times than Brit visitors. I am intrigued so could you in Turkey (and Russia) drop me a line and tell me a little more about yourselves?

Sunday, May 22, 2016

This is me high (up - 2,230m above sea level – oh, and the sequence of writing might confused, so get a grip). Then I give a well-deserved plug to my most recent favourite TV series – give it a crack, ‘cos you will not be disappointed


Like the original kid with a new you, I'm using my new app to wish you well from 2,230 high (1.38 miles apparently) above sea level. More later. I'd now prefer to enjoy the air and sun.

The cable car to the top of Stubnerkogel is on the hour and I had the choice of going up at 11am or waiting till 12 noon, and as I don’t believe in rushing things at the best of times and certainly not when I am on holiday, 12 noon it shall be. Full report to come. (NB A fellow guest here at the Pension St Leionhard who introduced himself as James Moriarty has assured me from the top you get a marvellous view of the Reichenbach Falls which is not to be missed. He’s even offered to take me to them sometime. Worth the trip, he says. Nice chap, seems like a likeable sort.)

. . .

(This was written earlier, before the above)

As for the mountain, well I took the cable car up, but walked halfway down to the cable car middle station. That took the best part of an hour, although to be honest it didn’t feel half as long. I was
going to walk the rest of the way, but I found out that I can’t use my ticket again, so I took the cable car down, and next time I’ll just get a single and walk all the way down. I was also rather put off by reading a sign that the rest of the way was another hour and a half. Well, what with bursting for a pee twice, I thought I would put off the heroics to another day (but I shall – walking down was the first time where everything was beautifully quiet, the kind of quiet I have been craving).

I like castles and I’m told there’s rather a splendid one about two-thirds of the way to Salzburg, about 40 miles away. I was initially planning also to go to Salzburg, but what the hell. Might, and might not. Let’s see. Here are a few piccies taken up the mountain.

. . .

In the meantime, I thought I might advocate everyone here catching a British TV series which, to my mind, stands head and shoulders above almost any other TV series which has come out of Britain and is as good as the best produced by the US and the rest of the world. And as it is available on Netflix, maybe be you can get hold of it. It’s called Peaky Blinders.

I was rather late coming to it, in fact, though not for any particular reason. It’s just I tuned into the first episode of the first series when it was first broadcast on the BBC and for some reason or other went off to do something else after a few minutes.

The same happened with Breaking Bad, which I have still yet to see. I should say that what I find outstanding about Peaky Blinders is not necessarily just ‘the story’, but that its production values, cinematography, acting, dialogue, directing and, almost above all, its soundtrack are simply the best. No corners have been cut, but nor is there a sense of throwing money at a project and showing off. (Producing ‘the biggest’, ‘the longest’, ‘the highest’, ‘the most expensive’ and all the rest of anything is not the Brit way. If that’s your bag, check out any number of US folk and companies who are under the illusion that sort of thing gains them kudos. We Brits like everything, especially our humour, to be understated.)

To write that Peaky Blinders is ‘about gangsters in Birmingham just after World War I – known to those who took part in it or were affected by it at the time as The Great War (they obviously couldn’t have known that the sequel was already in development)’ – risks being misleading. It is about so much more: the brutalisation of men by WWI comes into it, as does the consequences of the Easter Rising in Dublin and the consequences of the Russian Revolution, the disruption to the British class system and to the balance of the sexes by the war and much else.

. . . .

Tomorrow, it’s off to Burg Hohenwerfen wherever that might be. It is said to look something like this. Bet that cost a bob or two. Or three or four...

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Just trying out. Later - seems to have worked, though I can't see yet how to add pictures on the app. And I make a new acquaintance, just by chance, a 54-year-old Bangladeshi Australian from Melbourne

Bad Gastein - Day Three: Cup Final day when Louis van Hopeless's fate is decided.

I have downloaded some kind of app which allows me to blog on the move and I'm trying it out. Why blog on the move, which involves - quite literally - one-finger typing? Well, as the Irish say just for the craic. I've just taken a photo of my lunch to be (as it were) to see whether I can also add photos. Well! Can life get any more exciting? I didn't think so!

Think on it: I'm sitting jn the back if Austrian beyond in a Gasthof with a large beer and a Gasteiner Bauernsalat and I can still burble on about fuck-all to my heart's content. Here's the photo (No, it isn’t. Ed), then I shall get on with lunch. Can life get any better? Well, yes, quite probably, but first I'll have lunch. If you are reading this now, more follows later. If you are reading this later, more followed.

. . .

Well, here’s later, I’m back at base killing time before the Cup Final starts at 5.30pm (18.30 local time) and perhaps – perhaps – bloody Manchester United don’t play like a kindergarten scratch side and will beat the shit out of Crystal Palace. I have already made the mistake of laying a fiver on them to win, and as I almost always lose my bets, that would seem Palace have it in the bag. Maybe I should put twice as much on Palace to win, but no doubt Sod’s Law will apply and I will find myself in the clover.

The first bit of this blog was written one-finger style on my iPhone using an app linked to Blogger. I just wanted to see whether it was any cop. I went for the £2.29 ‘pro’ version, which might seem like a waste of dosh to you, but as you can’t even scratch yourself in West London these days for less than a fiver what the hell. While I was sitting at the Salzburgerhof Hotel in Bad Hofgastein, just three/four miles down the road from here, I finally got around to contacting a Liblu Hossain who had Facebook messaged me a few weeks ago querying whether we had any friends in common.

Well, I didn’t recognise the name (and it was similar to a Skype scam I once came across in which someone would ask me to add her – always a her – to my address book, so I was cautious. As it turned out, so was she. It seems that somehow I had sent her a message asking whether she wanted to be Facebook friends. I can’t remember doing so, but these things can happen by chance, so earlier on I messaged her asking her why she had originally asked me whether we had common friends. I thought she might, perhaps, be a friend of my sister’s, who once live in Istanbul and has a lot of different friends, but that wasn’t the case.

To cut a long story short, it was just a fluke. But we chatted for a while and I said I would mention her in this ‘ere blog. So: hello Liblu, I hope you are well, and perhaps we can chat again, though the next time I shall do so at a laptop keyboard as I find typing with all my fingers a damn sight faster than with just the one. So that’s what I did today: got in the car, drove the few miles to Bad Hofgastein, found a bar/café/restaurant, had Gasteiner Bauernsalat for lunch, chatted with Liblu, then came back to watch the Cup Final,

I hope on one of the cable channels on the TV in my room or else on BBC courtesy of Zenmate which allows me to pretend I am in Britain. But I can’t leave without mentioning these bloody sodding hives. Today they were worse again and I am at my wits end. It’s all very well the medical bods informing me that it is ‘idiopathic’ i.e. they don’t know the cause, but that basically your immune system is pumping out histamine – which leads to the itching and thus scratching – in response to ‘an allergy’ of some kind. But what bloody allergy can it bloody be in my case?

If I remember it more or less started when I was visiting Seth last September in Spain, or a little after, although if the truth be told for several years now I have woken to feel a little itchy all over, though by no means as it is now. It isn’t quite as bad as it was in Spain because I am popping anti-histamine tabs as though there were no tomorrow, but that is just sticking a plaster on it all: I want to find out what is causing it in my case and see if I can’t sort it out from that end. My two suspicions have been sugar and alcohol.

Well, I’ve since knocked sugar on the head and sweet things and I have never been a big drinker anyway. But when I get back home, I shall knock booze on the head, too, to see whether for some insane reason I have become allergic to alcohol.

Pip, pip.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Not doing a lot, except spending some time with naked pensioners of both sexes (this is Austria, remember). And I give Peaky Blinders a plug

Bad Gastein - Day Two

I call it Day Two, but actually it is my third day here in that I arrived at Wednesday lunchtime, so really it is Day Three. However, I am discounting Wednesday because after getting up at 4.30am to get to Stansted airport and arriving here at just after one to be confronted by a surly Austrian workmen doing some kind of repair work to the drive to Pension St Leonhard where I am staying, I retired to the nearest bar I could find for a glass or two of wheat beer. He told me - actually, he swore at me - that he needed at least another hour to get done what he wanted but I gave him two so as not to cross paths with him again.

Trouble was that at my late age in life, two steins (or whatever) of wheat beer at what was pretty much lunchtime knock me sidways and then some. So within minutes of checking in and unpacking, I was crashed out on my bed and sleeping intermittenlty till 7pm. That's when I got undressed and made a night of it. Hence there wasn't much left of Wednesday to qualify as Day One. And that makes yesterday Day One and today Day Two.

Yesterday I went explore around town, although 'town' really does misprepresent Bad Gastein thoroughly. In many ways it reminds me of the towns which established themselves in the South Wales valleys - I lived and worked in a place called Abertillery for a while - and given that space is at a premium, unlike I should imagine from what I've seen in pictures of your average Mid-West town, the folk became adept at somehow utilising every last metre there was. Pension St Leonhard is up a slight hill just of the Bundesstraβe 167 (one for the nerds that, the ‘road buffs’), which is the main road. But almost all of Bad Gastein lies, if you are heading due south, off to your left, but you don’t really see it when you drive past. That’s where I went exploring, and I discovered that nine-tenths of the town is made up of hotels. Here are a few pictures to try to convey what I mean, Oh, and that's not smoke but clouds - the weather hasn't been great.

. . .

I said yesterday that there wasn’t much going on. Well, that is something of an understatement: there’s nothing going on. About 90pc of everywhere is closed to give staff some time off between the end of the winter skiing season and the beginning of the summer walking season. I’m told it all gets slowly back into gear next week. As I said, I don’t mind because all I want to do is exactly fuck all and that is what I am doing. Fuck all. Loads of sleeping, a bit of reading, a bit of watching films and series on Netflix (of which a little more below) and basically chilling out.

Today, for example, I patronised the Felsentherme, a complex of a swimming pool, saunas, Turkish baths and whatever, all based on the apparently healthy giving waters coming down from the mountain. Bad Gastein – the Bad is the giveaway – began life as a spa town with folk coming to take and bath in the waters. Franz Schubert came here apparently, and it was here that he wrote to of his Winterreise songs as well as a Gasteiner Symphonie, which has apparently been lost. (Maybe he just told folk he had written a symphony.)

The notable thing for we buttoned up Brits is that once you get to the sauna area it is nudity all the way – everyone of all ages (though when I was there it was mainly elderly folk) is in their birthday suits and not just in the sauna. And it is suprising just how quickly you get used to it. I have been in a sauna once or twice before (and wore bathing trunks on those occasion) but it is something you can get used to easily and I shall go again. I’m not too sure quite what the health benefits are, but, hey, who gives a fuck?

. . .

As for watching stuff on Netflix, I have been catching up on Peaky Blinders and I have to say it bowled me over. There are some very good TV drama series out there, notably The Sopranos (which more or less set the standard) and Breaking Bad (which I have seen very little of), Boardwalk Empire, Homeland and The Wire. There’s also some real cobblers – can’t say I cared much for Suits. But all were notably US productions and as they seem to have the money, the production values are usually far higher. Our Brit productions, although sometimes reasonable, though often pretty bloody awful, just paled by comparison. But Peaky Blinders has changed all that.

It can stand head and shoulders with the best of them, and, I have to say is perhaps even better than many. It is a gangster series set in Twenties Birmingham and London and convinces at every turn. And one of its most notable features is its soundtrack: it uses contemporary music but they tracks are all of a piece with what is going on. I can highly recommend it. The third series is now being shown on television here in Britain, but I’ve decided to wait until the series is finished and goes to Netflix so I can gorge on it as I have been gorging on the first two series. But now, as they say in other diaries, to bed.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

‘Hier ist im Moment nicht viel los’ – no, there ain’t, for which I thank the Lord

Bad Gastein - Day One

This latest entry finds me washed up in somewhere called Bad Gastein, about 60 miles due south of Salzburg in Austria and none the worse for that. In fact, the bloody, sodding, ongoing hives notwithstanding, I think I’ve fallen on my feet for somewhere to take a break. I’m here for ten days, staying at the Pension St Leonhard, which does bed and breakfast and has only about eight rooms, but which otherwise, to all intents and purposes, is pretty much like a standard hotel. Bad Gastein is a small ski resort which, I’m sure, doubles up in the summer as a holiday resort for all those brave folk who like to put on a pair of stout boots and pack a lunch and take off up steep hills and mountains.

Now, mid-May there are not a great deal of tourists, though there are some – me, for example – and it is an occasion for all the necessary work to be done which might involve partially closing roads, restricting parking to make way for vans and lorries and setting up noisy equipment on the pavements and which can’t be done either in the winter or the summer. But who cares?

I kept an eye on the long-range weather forecast and from May 18, yesterday when I arrived, until May 28 when I bugger off again, rain was predicted – either full-on rain or continuous showers (Pete: continuous or continual?) with the very occasional glimpse of sun. Well, I’m glad to report they have so far got it wrong. The car rental guy at Salzburg airport told me I was lucky with the weather – there was bright and glorious sunshine for the whole day yesterday – as it had rained solidly for the previous two weeks. It was also sunny this morning, though the sun has now disappeared and the owner of Pension St Leonhard told me this morning that rain was forecast for this afternoon (it is, as I write, 1pm). But, again, who cares?

I am here to do bugger all for ten days, if not even less, I brought with me three interesting books (The Victorian Underworld by Donald Thomas, A Glass Of Blessings by Barbara Pym and an autobiography of Karl Marx by Francis Wheen) and as far as I know you can read perfectly well and
enjoyably even if it is raining outside (as long as you are inside, of course). Then, of course, there is all that walking I intend to do, though my usual rule is to make no plans at all at the start of a holiday - except, that is, plan to do fuck all - and take it as it comes. But I do suspect that a little walking might be on the cards a the beginning of next week (but don't hold me to it).

Ah, but those sodding hives. Well, I’ll have to put up with them, is all I can say. They aren’t half as bad – they? That makes it sound as though they are some evil entities in a fairy tale marching all over your skin and making life unpleasant – as they were in Rome, and all-in-all a bit of a mystery. I’ve been swallowing anti-histamine pills plus a ‘natural’ remedy called quercitin almost hourly and quite possibly they have helped, though I’m not going to stop taking them to find out.

The mystery is that while in Rome I did have the red wheals etc which are an indication of hives, the result of loads of scratching, now I have nothing. But I do have that ongoing tickling/itching all over the top half of my body which in an odd way makes me feel unclean and in want of a good shower all the time. But at least other things take my mind off it every so often. My GP and the dermatologist he sent me to where pretty bloody useless – yes, it’s hives, they said, and not a lot we can do – and I’ve no option but to accept the situation, but . . .

But if this goes on for much longer, I’m going back and ask to be referred to an allergy specialist. My diet, touch wood, is better than that of many in that I rarely if ever eat bread or other wheat products (though am not fanatical about it – being fanatical about anything strikes me as always being a bad idea), I eat loads of fruit and vegetables and about the only meat I eat is German/French/Italian sausage, the small amount you will get in a spag bol or lasagne and, a couple of weeks ago when I did some cooking, a bit of pork.

In desperation I have taken to eating a bowl of natural yoghurt with fruit and/or nuts for breakfast and have rather got to like it. (NB Don’t ever kid yourself that all those fruit-flavoured and sweetened yoghurts are doing you any good. They are full of e numbers and associated crap and whatever minor good the yoghurt in them is doing you, the associated crap negates ten-fold. Try proper natural yoghurt – the Greek or Greek-style is creamier – and if you do want it sweetened, add a little honey.) Well, there you go.

Still hasn’t started raining and, in fact, it has brightened up in the past few minutes, so I shall do my regular Thursday puzzles chore, then consider going for another wander this afternoon. I am beginning to resist having a tipple at lunchtimes, however much I like it. I had a couple of glasses of Weiβbier yesterday just after I arrived here and they knocked me for six. Mind, I had got up at 4.30am to drive to Stansted and was knackered, so no wonder, but I must say these past few years having a lunchtime tipple does tend to knock me over whereas before – that is when I was younger – it didn’t.

As for Leave/Remain, a pox on both their houses, and then some.

Friday, May 13, 2016

In which I go social, twice, although on a small scale and also reach out the hand of friendship to my Russian readers (whoever they are)

Two social occasions to write about, both small-scale, but both very enjoyable and crucially not a mention of the EU, my cars, phones, Macbooks or that bastard Erdogan in Turkey who is wrapping the EU around his little finger when he finds he has time so spare from locking up journalists who dislike him - or might at some point in the future dislike him - and is constructing one of the 21st centuries first democratic dicatorships.

The first social occasion was on Wednesday when I took one Sue/Susan Wharton out to lunch at the Sir Charles Napier in, I think Radnage. Sue (as I know her and as I have always known her) is very good company, batting 90, getting unstable on her pins and, for me at least, one of life’s joys. She is the widow of Michael Wharton, better known to some in the world as Peter Simple, the supposed author of The Way Of The World column which appeared in the Daily Telegraph for many years. (I’ll look it up - ah, between the late 1950s and around 1990). Michael, who I only got to know when he was in his late 70s, was a satirist and a very funny one. (Here is a list of his characters, which might ring a bell with some here in Britain, though I doubt it.)

He was widely regarded as ‘right-wing’ to ‘very right-wing’, but actually he wasn’t really. What he dislike and poked fun at was what he might have called ‘cant’. And ‘cant’ is everywhere, on every political wing imaginable. Sue was his third wife and the only one I got to know. She taught art at Wycombe Abbey school (a boarding school for girls) and still works as an artist. She is now feeling her age and, I suspect is, as are many widows and widowers in their late age, rather lonely. However, she is a lovely woman, though oddly enough assures me that she ‘can be quite nasty’.

She was down here in Cornwall in April, staying with my stepmother, when I accompanied here to two St Endellin Festival Easter concerts, and it was then, while we were chatting until quite late into the night, that she first assured me ‘she could be quite nasty’. Well, I’ll have to take her word for it. In fact, I was so surprised at the time that last Wednesday I reminded her she had said so and asked whether that was really true. Yes, she said. Oh, well.

I like her a lot and would be hard pushed to spot anything nasty in her, but I am, of course, obliged to take her word for it. I feel, being the kind of wishy-washy sort, rather guilty about the cost of the lunch at the Sir Charles Napier, because it was not cheap. I shan’t say how much it cost me, but many, many, many folk would be glad of the sum I paid to help pay off most of their quarterly electricity bill. And I am aware of that. But it was very much a one-off and, I trust, she enjoyed it. I know I did, both the food and the company. She does not have many more years left, rather fewer than me probably. Sue is one of those people with whom conversation just flows and she knows a lot about art and painters and the rest, and I always enjoy her company.

I had sent her a copy of ‘my novel’ - Love: A Fiction, still available on Amazon - and I was interested in her comments. She told me two interesting things. First, she admitted that she didn’t enjoy reading it. But oddly, second, she kept reading because she ‘wanted to find out what happened’. The first doesn’t bother me really, the second rather cheered me up. She has agreed to read it again. I shan’t here go into it, but it is both not quite straightforward as is not quite what you might expect to be getting, but also very straightforward, though in a different way. Let me just say that I still believe in it, and am quite happy with what I produced.

The second occasion was tonight when a long-time friend of one Seth Cardew, Nick H. and his wife Ann (or Anne, I don’t know) came around to my stepmother’s for a drink. I had only met him once before, a few years ago in Spain when I was visiting Seth at his pottery bolthole in wherever and had never met his wife before, but know here by sight because she was a teaching assistant at St Mabyn primary school which my two children attended.

Both were - are - very chatty and we had a good evening. She drank white wine, most of a bottle, although I was pouring the drinks, so don’t hold that against her, he and I were drinking gin and tonics and my stepmother had her usual whisky with warm water and two teaspoons of sugar. In
 time my stepmother went to her bed once her carer appeared, and the three of us sat outside. (I mention that because all too often ‘sitting outside’ is not necessarily an option here in Britain, even in late spring and summer. I did a dreadful thing, but I am not at all ashamed of it.

As I get older I find I want to drink less and less, but don’t feel I can make guests stint themselves. So Nick’s gins were strong whereas mine where largely tonic water with just a dash of gin. So he might have drunk rather a lot - about seven of those rather strong gins - but I didn’t. They left about 20 minutes ago to drive home, but I am sure they will get there safely. (If they don’t - or didn’t - Honest Pat will inform you and beat his breast accordingly.)

. . .

What I like about talking to anyone - and I do mean anyone, whether Sue Wharton and Nick and his wife Ann/Anne - or Paul at the Brewers Arms and Ray, the retired bookie, or, again at the Brewers Arms Chris and the retire Methodist minister who is always immaculately turned out though he doesn’t spend more than a penny on his clothes and buys everything at the equivalent of Oxfam shops - is hearing the small, tiny, tiny details of their lives. I hear them, vow to remember them, then forget - or seem to forget - most of them, but it give everyone flesh and blood. And I have, rather late in life it has to be said, discovered the virtues of shutting up and listening, only saying something, asking a question here and there, to elucidate more detail, though not everyone is interesting.

Chris, for example, who I still say hello to is dull, dull, dull. After being unemployed for many years, he finally, two or three years ago, got a job just outside Bristol doings something or other parking new cars. If you ever drive up the M5 past Bristol and look to the side of the motorway - left or right depending on which direction you are heading in - you will see several hundred if not a thousand of new cars parked, for whatever reason. It is Chris’s job to, I don’t know, move them from her to there. I know that because he told me, but when he told me, he went into chapter and verse in such excruciatingly dull detail about his various duties that I have since restricted social intercourse with him to a nod and a hello. I don’t want to encourage conversation. But, being the wishy-washy sort, as I pointed out above, each and every time I merely not and say hello and avoid conversation, I feel a tad guilty and hope he doesn’t notice that I am essentially giving him the bum’s rush.

Ray, on the other hand is far more interesting. Long since retired, he still does the occaional bit of bookie’s work at various local racecourses up and down the west of England. Other details I have elicited from him is that he is divorced and has a son living in Berlin (where I once lived) who was going out with a very nice Dutch girl, but that, eventually bit the dust, although that might in time be rekindled. Then there’s the ‘carpet showroom’ in Chard where he and Paul (since now died) used to buy their rolling tobacco. The carpet showroom was, in fact, a knocking shop which did good business until earlier this last year it was closed down.

. . .

I notice this blog is getting a lot of attention from a reader/readers in Russia. So chaps and chappesses, this is for you.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Relax and stand down: I’ve completely forgotten what I was going to rant about. But there are still histamines and just how loose use of the word ‘genius’ has become. So still room enough to waffle

Well, there you have it, a perfect example of Sod’s Law: I post a blog entry warning that the subsequent entry I shall be sounding off and how, then when I come to write that entry, I can’t for the life of me remember what I was going to sound off about.

Actually, that’s not quite true: I intended a fully blown self-righteous rant about how folk in what we condescendingly call ‘developing democracies’ are so pleased to be able to have a say in who has them beaten up that they will queue for hours, days even, outside polling stations and compare it with the pitiful credentials in the West where we take so much for granted. So I looked up figures (it’s called ‘research’ in more pretentious blogs) for turnout in elections over these past ten years, only to find that although not up there in the 99pc level we find in North Korea and Kazakhstan, all of whom also are so pleased with their current dictator that they vote him back into office, it has not just been holding steady, but has often gone up. Oh, well.

But I don’t necessarily give up that easily (i.e. sometimes I do give up very easily): according to this site which has a graph listing electoral turnout in the EU overall and in the UK for every EU election from 1979 to 2014, turnout is declining rather sadly. In the EU it was above 60pc and has dropped to just above 40pc; and here in the UK - never quite the EU cheerleader of popular myth, of course - it has remained more or less steady at just around the mid-30s. OK, I’ll be honest: here in the UK it has risen slightly. If you look at the site I have linked to above, you will see it was around 32/33pc in 1979, then fell to a pretty catastrophic 25pc in 1999, but at the most recent election, in 2014, it went up to 35/36pc, thereby wrecking my thesis and making an outraged rant just that much more difficult. Oh, well. So I’d better swiftly move on to hives.

. . .

I’ve done a bit of scouting around - call it ‘research’ if you must insist on doing so, although I don’t being the unpretentious, down-to-earth, meat-and-potatoes Cornish hillbilly who likes to call a spade a fucking shovel - and have come up with this: our cells produce a substance called histamine which is related to our immune system and white blood cells.

This is what causes all those nasty symptoms such as headaches, a runny nose, thick throat and, in my case, itching and tickling. These are usually useful immune responses, for example a runny nose is intended to clear whatever shouldn’t be there out of your nose. But often histamine production gets out of control.

Our bodies also produce a substance called diamine oxidase, one of whose functions is to keep histamine production in check, but in some circumstances it sometimes doesn’t keep histamine in balance, so histamine builds up in our bodies. And that’s when you get, as I am getting, some of those nasty symptoms for no obvious reason. So, hayfever sufferers will get runny noses and eyes because the histamine is going into overdrive trying to clear the pollen from noses and eyes. I’ve also come across lists of several foods we are advised to avoid as they contribute - or are said to contribute - to the amount of histamine produced. Some also contain it, apparently. And here it is Sod’s Law for the second time: many of them are pretty much what I eat regularly.

It isn’t just that I like them, but they are said to be good for you. So, for example, the German in my is partial to herrings - remember all the health advice about eating ‘oily fish’? Sometimes I get a jar of rollmops, but more often I buy tins of herring and mackerel. They, I’m now told, are no-no as far as keeping the lid on histamine in your body is concerned.

Then there’s yoghurt. And I don’t mean the sweetened, flavoured shite which is crammed full of E numbers to ‘prolong shelf life’. I’m talking about the original, unsweetened Greek and Turkish yoghurt. I had it once when I was very young, and I didn’t like it, so I never had it again. But a few weeks ago desperately casting about to find some way to end this bout of hives, I began eating half a 500g tub of Greek yoghurt with three chopped-up satsumas for breakfast.

Yes, my skin cleared up in a matter of days, although the itching continued. Not only that, but I found I actually liked the stuff (though I do sprinkle a little sugar over it). And aren’t we always told to eat natural yoghurt and that a lifetime’s diet of the bloody stuff, both as a sweet and savoury element of their meals has ensured that any number of Greeks and Turks (and I don’t doubt other Middle Easterners) live until they are well over a century old. Healthy or what?

Well, possibly, except that the pages of foods to avoid to keep a check on histamines includes - well, you guessed it. Also listed are nuts - I eat them all the time and we’re always told they are healthy; legumes - ditto; salami and other processed meats - ditto and possibly the only meat I eat in an otherwise pretty vegetarian diet (though not for political reasons or out of principle. I happen not to eat that much meat); alcohol - so what does that say about drinking a glass of red wine a day, which is pretty much what I do, is good for ‘cardiovascular health’? And on it goes: pretty much my whole diet is a no-no as far as histamine is concerned. But...

But, and there has to be a ‘but’, why did it start about seven months ago when I have eaten the same diet for years? (I forgot to add that I eat very, very few wheat products, again not out of principle or for political reasons - if you know what I mean - but simply because I just feel better.) Members of the jury, retire now and consider your verdict. Because I’m buggered if I know what’s going on, despite all my ‘research’.

. . .

Last Monday, I was sitting at work when I was rung by the assistant to our paper’s astrologer to be told the great man had died. (Incidentally, the assistant is a semi-retired journalist who supplemented his income by assisting the great man in his worldwide operation - his predictions were carried by a great many newspapers from here to Patagonia, all of them, it has to be said, 24-carat bollocks, but more of that later (©Geoffrey Levy).

David N, for it was he, told me that our astrologer had been found dead early in the morning by his wife. He had suffered a heart attack, apparently his third. He had not been feeling well for a year or two since the second. Now, although I am about to poke as much fun as I can at the great man, Jonathan Cainer, I shall first mention that I do feel for his wife and, particularly, his seven children (by three different women). For them it’s a personal thing and they have lost a partner/father. I should also add that Cainer did actually believe the twaddle he was selling.

Apparently, he wasn’t paid by the Daily Mail, but his personal predictions - suckers could call a phoneline for their start in which Cainer would give a more tailored reading - made him his money. He had also, over several years, so it was some operation, painstakingly built up a database of based on the exact time and the place of your birth. David sent me mine and it was a substantial piece, about 60 pages of A4. I was given mine to be shown quite how extensive Cainer’s operation was. Everyone else had to pay for them, and they were not cheap.

Here is a screenshot of his price list:

What you got for your £24 to £39 might seem quite impressive. In fact, if the child born in the same hospital within minutes of your also sent off for his or hers, it would be identical. Jonathan Cainer had built himself quite a reputation, and the Daily Mail made the most of him as a ‘brand’. But there will not be one hack in Northcliffe Towers in West London where the great paper is produced who did not agree with me that astrological predictions generally and the stuff Cainer produced in particular was complete bollocks. You might as well read a First Great Western rail timetable to get an idea of your day today will be a good one and whether the stars are favourable for you to apply for a mortgage. So the front page the day after his death says more about the Mail - and, to be fair, papers in general - than about Cainer. Here it is - note mention of the man’s ‘genius’:

I shall concede that in one way Cainer was clever: his schtick was simple. He was always, always, always upbeat. Not once, as in never, did he ‘predict’ anything negative or sad or bad. So it’s no wonder that the gullible of the world made him one of their first ports of call.

Me? Scorpio, if you were wondering. They do say about Scorpios that they are the star sign most likely to laugh during a funeral and to die by being stabbed in back.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

I give you due warning that in the next few entries I shall be sounding off. So don’t complain: you have been warned

This is is a short posting only because it is one by way of introduction and also so that I can remind myself of one or two things.

Every week, I leave work in London and home west for just over two hours. I then stip off at the Brewers Arms in South Petherton for a break, to have a drink and a smoke and, if there’s any football on - usually Champions League matches - to watch some on Sky or BT Sport on the net. With a bit of luck, bosses letting me go and traffic permitting - both being as predictable as a next year’s weather - I am there by about 9pm and stay till pub shuts at 11pm.

Then it’s further on towards home in North Cornwall, down the A303, through the Blackdown Hills, where the road, the next 14 miles, becomes a winding single carriageway and along which, because I have done the journey more than 10,000 times and I know every stretch of road, I in my modest 1.6 litre 1998 Astra automatic - that is a car which is almost 18 years old - can overtake more timid drivers in their two-year-old 2.5 litre SUVs with impunity. They usually hate it: a bloody T-reg overtaking me in my 5-litre black Porsche/Rover/Nissan SUV? Bastard, I’ll get the cunt!

Yes, if they are also heading for Exeter, they can eventually overtake me on the 14-mile Honiton to Exeter dual carriageway, but they will have had to have been travelling at some lick on the previous few miles to catch me up. It’s what passes for one when you will not see 65 again and pissing takes ten times as long as once it used to be. (If I can be so crude, years ago when I was still a young thing and went out on the piss, then home again for a night’s shagging, the problem was different: then it used to take several minutes to piss because I still had a rock-hard hard-on. Ah, the glory days. Give me a minute. Right.)


The point is that I almost always spend the second half of my journey home, from the Brewers Arms to Higher Lanke, St Breward, rather less sober than I was when I set out from London. Not drunk, you understand, but after two modern 2016 pub large glasses of red wine - I stopped drinking pints of cider because I got fed up having to stop to take a leak - one has drunk the best of three-quarters of a bottle of wine and any pretence to being stone-cold sober is dishonest. I listen to the 10 o’clock news on the radio and much occurs to me. And that, the occurring to me is the point of it. I think ‘well, that might be something I could record in my blog (for which read diary/commonplace book)’, but invariably arriving home at 1pm I usually forget what I wanted to write.

So now, dear friend, I have decided to write this short entry to try to remind myself, at least to remind myself of what occurred to me tonight: There was a report on the new ‘deal’ between the EU and Turkey under which Turkey will lock up as many would-be immigrants to Europe as it can catch and stop them sullying the good lands of Western Europe in return for Turkish citizens being allowed to visit Schengen area countries without a visa. What appalls me is the cynicism of it all and how a once perfectly good idea - the EU - is being comprehensively ruined.

Then there was a piece about the local elections in Britain - today as it happens because the clock has just struck 2am - and specifically about the elections to the Welsh Assembly. More specifically the report was about how a large part of Wales is either uninterested in the elections or, more to the point, even unaware that they are being asked to elect members to their Assembly. Turnout is not just low, but is expected to be pretty much non-existent.

So what’s my beef? It’s this: is many parts of the world folk are living often quite shitty lives in unfree societies and would give their left arm to be able to live in a state where they, for a change, can elect to their government those they would like to see calling the shots. A good example is China - a good example - because it is a bloody huge country rules by a one-party state. Yet we here in the ‘free’ and ‘democratic’ western world who can now do so and have been able to do so widely for the past 70 years just can’t be arsed anymore to exercise our right to self-determination. But I shall first
like to do a bit of looking up on the web on both matters before I choose to add my two ha’porht worth here. Then there is the news that all things being equall one Donald Rutherford Surbiton Trump III has seen off all his Republican rivals and is most probably the chap to stand against one Hillary Rodham Clinton VII for leadership of the free world. And he might well win.

The sole point of this, my most recent, entry is 1) to give you due warning that at some point in the next few days I shall be sounding off; and 2) to remind myself that I am fully prepared to sound off. Now to bed. It is, after all 2am - actually 2.08am - and I am knackered. Not least because I had an extra additional small glass of wine on top of my two large ones. Bon nuit.