Monday, 10 August 2020

If Only Life Was As Simple As A Nineteen Seventies Mickey Mouse Radio

Hello there. Hope you're feeling well.

It is you know very easy to be depressed about the world today. And well, I'm not going to say shake yourself out of it because I'm equally depressed as well. Not I stress the sort of depression that makes me want to jump off a cliff. But what Michelle Obama called a called the low level depression.  I know what she meant. It's the sense that everything is conspiring against you.

Obviously the initial cause is the Corona virus. But then you have the knock on effects of the virus. Already many thousands of retail jobs have been lost in this Disunited kingdom with the possibility of worse to come. Especially as to quote the catchphrase @Winter is coming@. Are we already in a second wave of Corona? Could we be in a third in the winter? Furthermore the possibility of more lockdowns cannot be ignored.

Oh for the days (as those of us old enough will say) that when you heard the word Corona you thought of a soft drink brand in the eighties.

And remember Brexit? The effects of that will start to be felt January next year. What if the pandemic is not stopped then? The double whammy will hit.

But in terms of Bridgend in South Wales the whammy might be triple. For next month is when the Ford company will close it's engine plant there. I will properly chat about this when the closedown occurs but as I've mentioned before the effect on the already weak local economy and the lives therefore will be devastating.....and that was before the pandemic.

I cannot recall a situation where more than one disaster has been inflicted upon us at the same time. That I would argue is the most frightening thing of them all.

So if only life was as simple as a Nineteen seventies Mickey Mouse radio.

And here it is.

I was given it as a child and for some reason which I cannot recall now I'm weary and craggier later it's emerged from the detritus of my life. Obviously it needs a clean but after all these years, no decades later, it actually works.

Being from the seventies it wasn't operated by conversation with an imaginary female in your house that the wife will not wonder about. Or old style by pressing a button to reach the next station. No for the volume you move the dial between the ears. And for tuning it's the dial between the ear and the pointy nose.

You won't be able either to access all the radio stations on the planet young people. It won't even give you all the stations in Britain. Or even Wales for that matter. It's reach is just those stations on the AM frequency. The sound quality would be, well, variable. So I suspect that the only stations I would be able to listen to would be BBC Radio Five Live or BBC Radio Wales.

If only life was as simple as a Nineteen Seventies Mickey Mouse radio.

But reality bites.

As do real mice.

Until the next time.

Saturday, 8 August 2020

The Bravest Pub Restaurants In South Wales And Other Corona Virus Meanderings In Wales

Hello there. Hope you're  feeling  well. 

If you take the road from Penarth to Sully in South Wales you will pass the village of Lavernock. To say @pass@ is overdoing it a bit, as probably going through it's side roads would give a better picture of the village. The road I'm mentioning would be full of suburban houses and countryside.

However it also had a large pub restaurant of the Harvester carvery chain. I went there once. The food was just edible. Every item was so drab you wondered whether led by the vegetables the meal had just committed suicide.

So it was no surprise to me when it closed down. Before I should stress this time of Corona. But now, still in this time of Corona, it has been reopened. Not as a Harvester but as a Ego group pub/restaurant  called The Schooner Inn serving Mediterranean food. 

Meanwhile on the A48 between Cardiff and Bridgend there is a pub restaurant called The Red Lion. There are now signs around the pub saying that it's "Under New Management".

In one respect the timing is perfect. The Welsh government having just allowed the reopening of pubs/restaurants. Still it's a tremendous risk starting such a business in this time. especially as the number of cases in Wales, though relatively small, have started to increase. So their vulnerability to any further lockdown is immense.

As I've mentioned before I cannot remember the last time I went to a shop deemed "non-essential" since this began other than l last month's trip to the hairdressers. Everything retail is really hanging on that slender thread at the moment.

I am not a drinker or the greatest visitor of restaurants. So I wouldn't be a regular visitor during the old normal times. Still I wish both establishments the best for what it's worth. For they are definitely brave.

Here in Wales when it has come to face masks things are really odd. The Welsh Labour government has been (rightly) very cautious with regard to bringing things slowly back to what was the old normal. Yet when it comes to face masks they have gone out on a limb even compared to England where at this moment you don't have to go into a shop wearing a face mask. 

Why? Who knows? After all you have to wear a mask if travelling by public transport. For Wales to be England on this issue is just bizarre.

Even so. More and more people are wearing the masks. Thanks to Corona the whole world is gradually looking in a fashion sense like bandit country.

On a more light hearted level I've never mentioned my job and I'm not going to here. But I've stressed it's not fundamental to world existence. Even so I need to wear a mask and am happy to do so. A few days back I suddenly realised that I'd forgotten to buy razors. But it quickly occurred to me that it wasn't the disaster I originally thought . Partly because the mask itself covered the face fungus but also as the light is blocked by the mask the stubble grows less than it would normally be. So I suppose add Gilette (other razor manufacturers are available) to those companies affected by the times we live in now.

Until the next time.

Monday, 3 August 2020

The Second Biggest Enemy Of The Older Reader Makes An Entrance. Cuban Style

Hello there. Hope you're feeling well.

Just like The Penguin is the second biggest villain for Batman after The Joker, or the Cybermen come second in the Premier league of enemies to Doctor Who, then for the older reader after failing eyesight the greatest foe he/she will experience is the knowledge that if you distill the plot to it's barest essence then you have read similar stories before.

The Price Of Paradise by  Susana Lopez Rubio is the latest novel where this enemy has returned.  

Basically the plot is as follows:

1)  Boy sees girl and is in love.

2)  Boy meets girl and they fall in love.


3) Girl is already in a relationship with another. And he's not a nice guy.

And the point is this. When you realise that then you know that whilst not knowing the route that will be taken you've a pretty good idea of certain landmarks in the story and crucially the final destination.
I won't spoil it for those of you lucky to be young enough to still be surprised. But basically I knew it was going to end in one of two ways.....and it did. 

It's a long book and to be fair it is readable. But that doesn't mean to say it's any good. It's set through the generations from 1947 in Cuba and is filled with various characters Unfortunately none are beyond cliche level and that includes Cuba itself.

So I go through the novel hoping to be surprised, but knowing I won't be. That I tell you is one of the greatest hells a reader can go through.  Especially when my expectations prove justified (And don't forget when I start reading a book I operate on the Mastermind principle that I've started so I'll finish).

I am a 56 year old man with n occasional back problem. I don't really have the time to read a relatively recent work of fiction just to be reminded of novels past.
Until the next time.

Thursday, 23 July 2020

My Body Is A Temple In The Time Of Corona....The Acropolis

Hello there. Hope you're feeling well today.

I've chatted about this blog a lot about the Corona virus. After all what else can we think about first? However let's chat about it's effect on my body.
As I might have explained before I am not and never will be an exercise junkie. Those people cycling and exercising the lockdown away is not part of my locker of stuff. How people can actually enjoy exercise is one of the great mysteries of life along with the fascination of women with shoes. Lockdown has not changed things. Partly because I've been working through it and also because I've been surprisingly too tired afterwards.

Has anything changed in the past few months? Well let's have a look.

My hair has been cut. Thankfully not US Marine but now done. Hairdressers are a profession that will probably survive the economic depression about to come. Or perhaps they won't. Perhaps we will just see people with long silver shaggy hippy hair (me) or shorn of everything folicily that they had. 

And that's the men.

I could also mention my glasses. The opticians are now open. But do I want to go in at the moment? For the moment I don't think so. If I feel my eyesight is weakening then I will go. But now I'm cautious. 

And as for my teeth. I had an appointment in April. Obviously cancelled and am waiting for the call to come in. I've a chipped front tooth which is socially acceptable for the first time in dental history, and besides part of the time it would be covered in a mask anyway. Nothing I can do. Presumably the lecture on dental hygiene will eventually become a half hour enamalised extravaganza of teethy dos and don'ts.

The best thing about being a 56 year old man with an occasional back problem is that you are too old to care about a body image. I know who I am and what I am. As long as I don't look as if I've been dragged through a hedge backwards and forwards I'm not bothered by other people's opinion.

Dieting? Not intentionally. I'm not slim but I've lost a bit. I find myself eating a lot more bread than I did though. Simply because it's the simple (ie lazy) thing to do. I admit.

I have the body confidence of a man hanging on the edge of the cliff. And as someone who is not into sand and can't swim no one will ever call me beach body ready. 

But in truth. I've come to terms with the Acropolis of my form.

Until the next time.

The Unexpected Unexplained and Other Problems

Hello there. Hope you're feeling well today.

I should have had a relatively relaxing break. But for reasons I cannot explain. At least not yet, things have been thrown out of kilter. And because of this unexpected unexplained things that I could do once the Corona virus restrictions have been put on hold.

The thing about the unexpected unexplained is the need to wait, to be patient, and things will be resolved. But whilst I am a patient man the feeling to scream out at the injustice of watching your life almost to a point of pausing whilst I could not blame on anything from Wuhan.

Meanwhile things outside of the unexplained seem to be worse as well. Whilst restrictions on the Corona virus have begun to be lifted I would argue that the (necessary) rules allowing for these restrictions to be raised actually makes the feeling more dystopian. For example that the bookshop in Penarth has limited opening hours for browsing, or that we all have to do the dance of social distancing, or that face masks are now a fashion statement.

I have said before that the people I have hated the most during the lockdown was not those who have were furloughed but those who enjoyed the experience. But quickly behind them are those who are trying to have fun. I'm not talking about those who are trying to please their children, just those who are drinking in the pub pretending that the past few months have not happened.

And yet already there is a cull of people made redundant from these shops. "Non essential" is probably the second most feared word in retail after online. The world will be unlikely to return to what it was. Cure or no cure.
And of course I haven't mentioned Brexit once. Or indeed the way this Westminster government gives the impression both of being incompetent and sinister at the same time.

So hopefully there will be a time when the unexpected unexplained will be explained. For the moment though it just seems to add onto the grimness of the world around us.

Until the next time.

Tuesday, 14 July 2020

The Near Midnight Meanderings On A Movie With A Microwave Meal Part 31: Megamind (2010)

Hello there. Hope you're feeling well today.

Well this was a unexpectedly surprising film for me, a 56 year old man with an occasional back problem for me to like, but there you go. An animated film supposedly aimed at kids that had I been at the cinema with my daughter watching it I'd have probably had an afternoon nap in.

The central character is a blue headed comic book style villain with a large blue head. Sent to Earth as a child by his parents from a planet on the verge of destruction.

The other child who escapes from the planet becomes as an adult the superhero (Metroman) of the city they land in. He is the one lauded by the populace. That is until Megnamind actually beats him and so becomes ruler.
Thing is though having achieved his goal Megamind becomes bored. So he decides to create a whole new superhero to fight against. A decision which causes unexpected problems.

What this film does is to take a lot of comicbook cliches (mainly from Superman) and subvert them. Such as Megamind looking like the Superman baddie Brainiac, or taking the main female character flying above the city, or having an ordinary guy gain extraordinary powers. 

I understand that whilst not making a loss Megamind did not make as much money as other Dreamworks animated films. I suspect this might be one of the reasons why. For an adult would look at this with affectionate nostalgic amusement. A child however would wonder what on Earth is going on.

But as I'm far,far away from being a kid I liked it. And I suspect other adults looking for something to entertain and nothing else will like it too.

Until the next time.

Tuesday, 7 July 2020

The Question All Atheists Need To Ask After Reading A Father Brown Book

Hello there. Hope you're feeling well. 

Well let's get to the question first. If you are an atheist and have just read a Father Brown book by G K Chesterton, who would you be more likely to believe exists if a gun was pointed to your head? 
1) God 

2) A Father Brown type figure. 

I would argue that all atheists would pick God. 

I have read one G K Chesterton book before. The Man Who Knew Too Much. Well trust me that man wasn't me. A most confusing piece of rubbish truly had not passed through my vision in a long, long while. Well The Innocence Of Father Brown is not as bad as that. But it's still rubbish. 

Father Brown, supposedly a priest of an Essex parish that gives the impression of quietness/ politeness to almost the point of timidity before revealing whodunit. His ordinariness is pre Columbo without the skill. And anyway how can you be truly ordinary when you walk around in a robe all day? 

The stories are both rushed and rubbish. Father Brown works out whodunnit whilst for the rest of us it's just too much of stretch to work out how he did unless there was help from a diety. No human really could work it out. My suspicion is that Chesterton just worked out the crime then the solution in the shortest possible time. Hence this haphazard nature can explain why in one story the newly discovered dead body is moved and in another it's kept there until the police have finished with their scene of crime investigations.

Now I must admit that as a rule I don't think that crime short stories featuring a regular character work. Simply because the novel allows more breathing space. But even allowing for that these stories are awful.

Father Brown is, apparently a parish priest of an Essex parish and yet the stories are set in places such as Paris and Scotland. Perhaps he's a secret agent for the pope. A sort of double o heaven.

He's also not a socialist and a bit racist to other religions. There is a line when describing something in Hindi that " They are letters and symbols in a language I don't know but I know they stand for evil words ".How he knows this is not explained. 

I have another Father Brown book to read. And when I do I might like it. It would however be a god given miracle. 

Until the next time.

Tuesday, 30 June 2020

Climate Change In Wales. How It's Not Gone Away

Hello there. Hope you're feeling well today.

Because of the Corona virus a lot of issues have been put on the back burner for the moment has been climate change. But it's worth coming back to it because it's not gone away.

Here in Wales the weather has had some various odd parts to it recently and all are worth discussing. If we take the last two weeks in June there has been torrential rain which has caused flooding in the South Wales Valleys (though part of that might be down to more man-made causes which I'll chat about once the situation becomes more clearer).

There has also been a couple of blistering hot days and now in South Wales at least the weather has been cold, grey and windy. Now when I say cold, grey  and windy I'm not talking as if I'm comparing it with January. But we're in June, in the summer, this should just not be happening.

This picture was taken June

This is what people would have been talking about if it wasn't for the pandemic. The way the weather has turned. The climate change deniers (the people I'm sure who voted for Brexit and who believe that the Corona virus threat is just overblown or basically that the cautious Welsh approach to Covid should be abandoned and replaced by the reckless Westminster one (And yes Welsh Conservatives I'm talking about you).

Wales has a large agricultural economy. Already threatened by Brexit it could be equally damaged by a changes in the climate. Crops could be damaged and yet again those scenes in the supermarkets of hoards of people clearing out the stock could reappear.

And if the food chain is depleted there would be higher prices and social disorder. Coupled with the pandemic and Brexit Britain will be an even more disunited place than it currently is.

The Welsh Labour government, rightly cautious regarding the pandemic needs to be more rigourous in attacking climate change. Agriculture and the environment are devolved issues so plans need to be drawn up for it to be more proactive.

And of course independence is the only ultimate way that Wales can take the issue of climate change head on. So that it can have more installations built to harness wave and wind power without having to rely on Westminister's approval (which in the current insane right wing administration it will not get).

So the consequences of climate change have not gone away. Even in the summer.

Until the next time.

Monday, 29 June 2020

Women Know Your Place.......By Another Woman

Hello there. Hope you're feeling well.

When I downloaded to my Kindle Catherine Beecher's 1841 book  for free A Treatise On Domestic Economy For Use Of Young Ladies At Home And At School I thought I was going to poke gentle fun at the sort of book which taught women which knives to put at what angle at dinner time whilst cooking a three course meal and darning twelve pairs of socks. 

Ladies after all, as my wife never ceases to tell me, can multitask.

What surprised me was how polemical this book (popular in it's time) turns out to be. By the end of chapter one I learnt that Ms Beecher she was one of those insane right wing American Conservatives and consequently she would have definitely voted for Trump.

For example no woman should be forced to obey a husband other than the one she chose and therefore with whom she accepts to be her superior. I must remember in our next wedding anniversary to thank my wife for picking me as her superior. I'm sure it will be appreciated.

Similarly people should pick their employer and then becomes subordinate to them. Yet really most people don't choose their employer more just accept when a job is offered to them.

And of course being 1841 America the group of people not mentioned by Ms Beecher are slaves. They of course having no choice in the matter of their employer. Ms Beecher in a later chapter actually describes them as "shiftless". And a lot of them probably were, given the fear of being caught should they try to escape their oppressors and of course the last time many of them did move it was unwillingly from their home country before being shipped to the United States.

America whilst not without it's problems is in Ms Beecher's eyes the best country to live in with the best society. This is of course Conservative cobblers, which history shows up simply by there being the civil war a couple of decades later.

Women, even if they think and act like men must look pretty. But it gets even worse. On the matter of conjugal rites (sex) according to Ms Beccher they need to acquiesce to what the husband demands. Essentially then at best she's basically telling women to lie back and think of America and at worst there's the acceptance of rape.

Now I know what some of you are thinking here. That I'm putting my year 2020 vision with the past when attitudes were different. This is akin to the right wing argument on the question of statues. However let's compare  a near contemporary to Ms Beecher. the writer Louisa M Alcott. No radical feminist she and yet the writer of Little Women comes across as Rosa Luxemburg in comparison.

Ms Beecher states that in Europe a man submits to "the despotic sway of women". Just where in Europe in such volume was this the case? And indeed how exactly did women at that time hold such power when they didn't have the vote?

No matter. Foreigners are ignorant. America is the best.

American women according to Ms Beecher take no interest in politics, says the woman who has spent the first chapter taking an insane Conservative position.

But at least America in 1841 is a place where a woman could travel alone without fear. When I read that two words entered my head. "Yeah right"

Where American women (and let's just mark down here that for American women in this book read White women born in America) do fail apparently is that they age and are frailer quicker than their ignorant foreign counterparts. Part of the problem might just be that a lot of them live in the sort of wild terrain that makes life tough. Maybe but wouldn't that affect men as well?

Part of the solution to this in the author's eyes is that despite saying American women more educational than other nations (really?) they should be taught more on matters to do with their domestic duties. Those other subjects are to be left to men.

And wait for it....excessive learning makes you ill. And we're not talking about cramming for exams here 

An interesting sidetrack to me was that this was the second book I've read in two years which suggests that tea is bad for you. That it would cause  "suffering" to the health of women. The first was William Cobbett book on farming. Two guidebooks (on different subjects) coming to this conclusion without any evidence to back it up.

(Ms Beecher also says this about coffee but I'll let Lavazza/Starbucks defend the bean)

To go back to the Trump analogy Mexicans have bad teeth because they drink hot drinks. That is Trump there and then. Make a derogatory statement and then make a laughable one trying to prove it.

If you don't want to drink a hot drink? Simple. Eat a cracker. For me that would have made me turn the kettle on immediately to make a cup of tea. Oh yes I'm a rebel in the eyes of Ms Beecher I'm sure.

Amazingly given what we've already chatted about the author praises boys who know domestic skills and does seem to suggest that surgeons should be paid a living wage but that's no mitigation for what's been said previously.

Eventually this book does turn into what I thought it would be when downloading. However I'd gone beyond caring by then.

If you want a book on Housekeeping written by a Conservative fool then this is the book for you. Otherwise best avoided.

Until the next time.

Wednesday, 24 June 2020

How I, The Man Of Mystery In Our Street, Doesn't Strike Twice.....Again

Hello there. Hope you're feeling well.

As I've explained previously I have according to the wife gained a reputation as the man of mystery in the street where I live. Simply because of my shift work when the street has been applauding kids who have had birthdays during lockdown, clapping for key workers or even listening to the impromptu concert from the opera singers living a few houses along I've been absent.The

And even during the week I had off. I was ready to do the key workers clap on the Thursday only to be told by the wife that it had stopped.

However as I've also explained I enjoy this reputation if only because it's better than the real thing.

Anyway we come to Saturday afternoon. It's about three and I'm returning from work having done an eight hour shift. Wife is doing work in what we mockingly call the front garden. I go inside quickly. I need to go to the toilet.

"Dad" shouts daughter. "Go outside now and join mum chatting to the neighbours opposite"

I'm touched by daughter's concern. The wish she feels that I should mingle in. She is however to be disappointed. As I've said I need to go to the loo. And when you've got to go you've got to go.

Second event occurs Monday morning. I'm joining my wife doing some work on the front garden. Suddenly she shouts:

"Hello J...!"

This shout is to a woman living opposite from our house and two houses along on the right. So this means not only does she talk to actual neighbours (whose first names I've forgotten) but she knows

If I didn't know any better it was as if the wife had sucked all the sociable parts of me to herself thus making herself even more at one with the street. But I'm not bothered.

When during wife/near neighbour conversation I emerged from behind the hedge. Near neighbour was surprised.

"I didn't realise you were there"

That's me folks. A 56 year old man with an occasional back problem but who can still move like a ninja when it comes to being anti-social.

But as I said I'm really not bothered with what the neighbours think of me. Indeed whether they think of me at all. Except perhaps in one respect.

I hope they don't think that one day after a murder they have go in front of the TV cameras and say "He kept himself to himself"

Mind you if they think that perhaps it only perpetuates my utterly underserved man of mystery reputation.

Until the next time.

Tuesday, 23 June 2020

Penarth: From Comfort To Discomfort

Hello there. Hope you're feeling well today.

Sometime last year, around autumn/winter time the BBC Wales main 6:30 news did a piece on Penarth. Basically it was lauding the fact that the town centre had adapted rather well to the times we lived in then.

Sure it had the brand name retail outlets , it also had the butchers and bakers, but also the coffee bars and restaurants, a sweet shop and a bookshop (the sweetshop owner was the one they did a live interview with). Penarth it appeared could survive the new internet world order well. And I didn't disagree with that point of view, describing the town in this blog as the urban equivalent of a comfy pair of slippers.

That was however in the time of BC (Before Corona). The time when for my generation when you heard the word Corona you either associated it ith the Mexican bear or a range of soft drinks in the seventies or eighties.

The town centre of Penarth has, like everywhere else, suffered because of the virus and th subsequent lockdown. The thing though that makes Penarth different is that the things that made it successful beforehand are the exact same factors which it has to battle against now.

What makes it important is that as of yesterday as long as they adhere to social distancing and other Corona controlling methods all non-essential shops are now open in Wales. i say @non essential@ but it still does not include pubs, restaurants and (for me the crucial one so far) hairdressers.
And let's start there. Penarth has a number of pubs but great deal more bars, restaurants and coffee houses serving trendy coffee trendily. Again that trade is for the moment still not allowed. But once opened the questions that would need to be asked is whether people would go in their numbers again for a coffee? Or buy a book? Or by a gift?

Also a lot of these shops are relatively small. So very difficult to do the dance of social distancing. And part of the pleasure in shopping in these sort of shop is the browsing. Something not easy to do under lockdown.

People might have queued outside some of the shops for all I know. But whether they will go in on impulse is another matter. I live roughly a twenty minute walk away from the town centre but I have been since March only been to the town centre a couple of times partly because shift work makes it difficult but also because lockdown has meant that I would only go to get a few groceries. And even then that lessened because of the opening of the convenience store near where I live.

Neither wife or daughter are considering going to Cardiff town centre let alone Penarth's in the near future. I work in the Bridgend area but there's no reason yet for me to go into the town centre. And there's a place that as I've explained before has been damaged before Corona, is definitely suffering because of Corona and has to be braced with the economic knock on effects in the future of the closure of the Ford motor company's engine plant in September.

And so there's the problem. Corona has killed for now the urge to impulse buy. Whether that urge can rise again from the dead is debatable. But for now when what seemed to be a relatively secure town like Penarth is venerable then unless the situation is resolved soon things will be very,very,very bad wherever you live.

Until the next time. 

Wednesday, 17 June 2020

A Corona Virus Update From Wales. Including Education, Dreams and The Fifty Shades Of Grey That Is My Hair

Hello there. Hope you're feeling well.

Well the good news is that apparently there's a cheap new drug that cuts the death rate for the Corona virus. However whilst the cutting of the death rate is something (obviously) to be welcomed it still means that the virus is still there. All the hype of the news seems to cover that one fact. And that's worrying. For you know that some people are going to act as if the old normal had returned and that will presumably result in a second spike in the disease. So the new normal is still with us folks. For a while at least.

Which leads us to education here in Wales.

As previously mentioned in the blog Welsh schools (uniquely in this Disunited Kingdom) are set to reopen on the 29 June for a month. Daughter's school wants a response by today (Wednesday) as to whether she is coming despite only giving us a guidance on their plans late yesterday. However in way I'm not particularly bothered. Because I and the wife were inclined to say no beforehand and nothing has changed our mind.

Why? Well various reasons but ultimately (baring in mind that the online schoolwork will continue for this period) it bore down to this following:

1) Daughter was only set to go in for one day a week for this one month period (one day per week for each year period apparently) and then there would be the summer break anyway.

2) At least one of her current teachers (and possibly more) would be unable to attend for various reasons such as being at home looking after a more venerable family member.

3) Whilst the risk to daughter's health is considerably less than the wife's or a 56 year old man with an occasional back problem that are her parents it's still there.

As I've said before in this blog assuming things progress satisfactorily  far more reasonable for schools to be allowed the time and the preparation (even the practice time) for a September opening than at the end of June for a month.

And now back to my hair.

As you can see the fifty shades of grey have gone wilder now. Prompting the wife with the support of daughter to resume their nagging that it should be cut. I've resisted. knowing full well that surrender would mean that my hairstyle would turn into American marine. 

Perhaps though American marine is an unfair remark Perhaps the fairer comparison would be the sort of Brexit loving voter adorning himself with union jack clothing whilst demonstrating to "protect public monuments" whilst attacking the police in the process.

Anyway. Point is. Not my style.

However the wacky professor look is not my style either and if hairdressers are not going to be opened for a while then the forces of nature and female nagging might mean that I have to give in.

I've seen films of hairdressers reopening in other countries and I must admit I'm surprised. They might be wearing facemasks and gloves but there cannot be any social distancing between customer and the hairdresser. They're very close. Indeed if you're waiting in a queue to get your hair done does that mean you're going to be outside the high street where these (normally small) shops are?

And it's going to be difficult to have any chitchat with someone with a mask on their face.

Of course that's just about me who wants nothing more than his hair cut (not slaughtered) presumably these problems are magnified if you want to go beyond that.  

And yes I've tried to be amusing about this. But it doesn't hide the fact that even on what was a normal monthly event in my life has now changed because of Corona to a new normal event that requires decisions beyond what I old normally needed.

A quick word on dreams. Just two days back into work and the deep sleeps with the weird dreams return. This time I'm walking into the kitchen of our house and I notice that one cupboard door is missing. Not only that but the contents of that cupboard (tinned food) is missing as well).

It was the only cupboard to be touched.

So in my dreams so far I've had an affair with a woman I don't know, happily killed a man I don't know and now am the victim of a tinned food thief.

More livelier than my actual life I can tell you.

Until the next time.

Sunday, 14 June 2020

Let's Talk About Statues (Including An Old Friend From Bridgend)

Hello there. Hope you're feeling well.

I suspect that for most people (including me) this has been the moment where statues have been ne of the most dominant issues that have ever entered our lives. Whilst we are living in the time of Corona it was definitely the week of the statue in this Disunited Kingdom.

Personally whilst on a general level I feel it should be done in an orderly manner you cannot really argue with the Black Lives Matter movement toppling the statue of Edward Colston. After all statues of real human beings are put up as a celebration of a life so that when subsequent generations question that life (like....let's see.....the guy was a slave trader) then really what is the justification of keeping it up?

Well the justification you hear amongst the right wing is that history is being destroyed. This is of course rubbish. By that logic Germany should be full of statues of Hitler, Iraq of Sadaam Hussein and Eastern Europe of Stalin.

So my view is that when the issues are clear cut just topple the statue. Who with a conscience really cares?

Of course the conversation comes into focus when things are not so clear. Here in Wales there is a debate around a statue of former Prime Minister Gladstone. Gladstone is indeed an interesting case of a man who supported slavery in the beginning but later regretted what he did. Is acknowledging his error good enough to keep the statue up? The power of redemption and all that? Or do you think, rather like a pardon given to people executed for murders they are later found innocent of, that a fat lot of good does Gladstone's regrets do to those people from Africa sent as slaves.

Personally I'm inclined towards the latter. What's interesting is that until last week I wasn't aware of Gladstone's initial views towards slavery. I certainly was never taught it at school and films/TV shows that I've ever seen about him emphasise the "liberal" part of him and never his most illiberal of acts.

Which I suspect is the same for Churchill. The one great and shining moment that he did have as wartime Prime Minister does appear to have glossed over aspects of his life which I don't remember being mentioned until now and certainly something I wasn't taught at school either. You wonder as a fifty six year old man with an occasional back problem whether a lot of (let's face it white) people's issues stem from being taught propaganda as children.

The next film/TV series about Churchill's life outside of the second world war will I suspect be worth watching.

Let's lighten the mood now. Because whilst not to my knowledge based on a real person let's chat again about my favourite statue which is in Bridgend Town.

This photo (taken I should stress a few years back) emphasises exactly why it's technically the worst statue I've ever seen. After all who outside of The Exorcist is capable of turning his head as far as our friend here? Or indeed bend their legs?

But like a particular type of movie it's so bad it's riveting. It's presence makes you smile. You don't want it to go.

Is it under threat? Not to my knowledge. Then again the building behind our friend were the public toilets until  closed down by the Labour council. So nothing is impossible.

I think if it was threatened though the events of the past week would make me want to know from the council whether there are statues in the borough of lives that make them more deserving to be toppled before our friend here.

Until the next time.

Saturday, 13 June 2020

In The Midst Of A World In Crisis It was Time For A Coffee Break

Hello there. Hope you're feeling well.

I mentioned in a previous post that one of the things I wanted to do in this week of leave I'm having is to use the cafetiere for the first time. Something I've never done before and in view of my Italian background embarrassed me.

I say "embarrassed" but let's be clear. The reason for this was quite simple. Coffee for me comes into that group along with Indian food and rugby as things I didn't dislike but given the choice I'd go for something else.

And let's be clearer. The choice instead of coffee would be tea.

But still a packet of ground Lavazza coffee had been bought months ago, the cafetiere years ago, and I did wonder when hard Brexit (remember that?) becomes a reality when would I actually use them again.

Cometh the pandemic economic dystopia moment cometh the time for coffee continental style.

So you start with the necessities.

The package is classic Lavazza which according to the blurb gives an aroma of chocolate. There are various other aromas available including "Wood and tobacco" to which I say "What?"

But no matter. The cafetiere was made warm as per the instructions and I put a couple of dessert spoons in. I poured the water (hot, not boiling) and waited as per the instructions for a few minutes.

Then I poured the coffee into the cups. For the wife coffee is with milk. For me no question it's black. Which is odd given that I prefer a lot of milk with my tea. but there you are.

And the result? Well the wife liked her coffee and I liked mine. It was the best cup of coffee we've ever had at home. We could have imagined that we were in a perfectly sunny day in Pisa if it wasn't for the fact that it was an unusually pouring down with rain afternoon in Penarth.

But if you think that's a complete victory for Lavazza and I've been 
sponsored by them nothing could be more further from the truth. 

Let's put it this way. 

For the rest of the day I drank only tea.

Until the next time.

Wednesday, 10 June 2020

The Welsh Government's Education Misstep Now Evolving Into A Full Banana Skin

Hello there. Hope you're feeling well.

I spoke in a recent post about the Welsh government's policy for schools to reopen with staggered classes from June 29th. I explained why personally I opposed it due to health issues and to my belief that children's education would not suffer if schools closed until September (allowing them an adequate time to plan) given that even under this policy the kids will only be there for a month anyway before summer holiday break.

Well never in my lifetime has a policy been so quickly undermined and that's because of the insane rightwing led Westminster government who had already commenced a policy of schools reopening in England yet has found that on a practical and logistical level it just proved impossible to implement before September and even the possibility existing that they might have to delay it further than that.

So if the gung-ho Westminster administration has been forced by the weight of logic to temporarily abandon the school's reopening policy surely the more (rightly) Corona cautious Welsh government should do the same?

At time of writing the answer is no. But clearly they should. Not just for the list of reasons I gave above. But also because the Westminster government has (this time unwittingly) undermined it. After all if you are parent with doubts before you are definitely not going to let your child go to school now. 
Therefore the children who would return to Welsh schools would be pitifully small.

The reopening plan is therefore dead before it has even started.

So why waste time and effort on a flawed policy anyway? The sensible course would be to abandon the June policy and aim for a September reopening thus allowing schools to properly plan for the new educational normal.

The Welsh government is paying the price for acting like the insane English right-wing haste on this. The sooner it's abandoned the better. 

Until the next time.

Tuesday, 9 June 2020

I've Seven Days Leave. What Will I Do?

Hello there. Hope you're feeling well.

As I'm writing this it's around five o'clock on this Tuesday morning. I'm on leave for seven whole days. Days which basically have become almost  a virtual staycation for the first time in this lockdown period, given that I've had the day release by key workering.

What's funny about this leave is that I booked this before the Corona thing started when nagged to by my manager because I was the only one who hadn't booked time off. She I think regrets it now. Be careful what you wish for.

But for me personally whilst I booked it as it was one of the few weeks not being taken by my co-workers I'm glad I did. I've mentioned before how tired I've ben getting these past few months because I think of the pressure Corona has added to my working life in everything I do given that I'm not like the wife working from home. For the first time ever I feel as if I physically need a break.

Of course though given that trips to the shops (actually mainly the convenience store) there is no place I can really go out to. So while wife is working from home and daughter is (hopefully) doing her homework I am in a way by myself for a large part of this period.

So what to do?

I have said to the wife that one day I'm going to spend doing absolutely nothing but slob out watching football matches in empty stadia from around Europe I've recorded and constant cups of tea. I may not get away with it for the complete seven days but there will be one where this will be the priority.
That day though was not yesterday. Wife focused on work in the garden mainly because the refuse workers will be collecting the green waste today. More of such work will be scattered like falling leaves across the week.

Don't think there will be much work I'll be doing inside the house this week. But the blinds have broken on one particular window and the headboard to our bed seems to be loose (which as I recall was the most difficult thing to deal with those nine months previously when I put it together in the first place so I'm not looking forward to dealing with that).

There will be paperwork and e-paperwork to deal with which includes the electricity bill. The wife thought it was high (it might be) until I reminded her that she and daughter have used more electricity since March given they've spent more time physically in the house. It is I think literally one of the prices of lockdown.

And then there comes the more stupid things. I realised the other day that I've never tried one of those cafetiere things in making coffee. Indeed I've never used ground coffee at all which I must admit I'm partially ashamed of given my Italian background (only partially mind you given as regular readers will know I prefer a simple cup of tea). Well I'm going to give it a go in this period.

I'm also going to sort out my Filofax. Rather like my Kindle/paper book relationship nowadays I want to straddle my planning between my tablet and the organiser (chosen because it looks like an old Victorian hardback book).

And I have the opportunity to put full shifts in learning Welsh. Which is something I do want to do.

Of course other than paying the electric bill whether I actually do the above things time will tell. Life of course is good at interfering. Still I'm going to have that day of absolute slobbishness come what may.

Until the next time.

Monday, 8 June 2020

Three Awkward Social Conversations In The Time Of Corona

Hello there. Hope you're feeling well today.

Corona has changed many things in all of our lives as we fear becoming a statistic in an ever increasing death toll. One of the unexpected ways it has happened is in the ways we deal with each other. There examples of which happened to me in the last week. the

Lockdown has been gradually eased even in Wales so more people are returning to work. Some of those people when you ask them how it was smile and tell you that life in lockdown was great as they did some DIY, tackled the garden learnt Norwegian (OK perhaps not the last one but you get the drift).

So these people not only enjoyed lockdown they were perfectly happy to tell you what a great time they had. Meanwhile you, who did not have the time that they had to do the things they did because you were key workering at the time find yourself too tired to do anything with the normal spare time that you still have!!

You mention to these people that you've been at work during this period. Either they smile and say nothing or change the subject. For the best excuse of doing nothing during lockdown was that you were otherwise occupied at the time.

The next social Corona conversation is a bit more personal. There is someone I know at work who I would best describe being friendly with rather than being friends. The sort of person for example that you would wish a Merry Christmas to without sending a Christmas card for example.

A few days back I'd seen this guy for the first time since before lockdown. And after saying hello I asked how the lady was. This is my own personal euphemism when I've forgotten the actual name of the person but wish to be polite.

The answer I got was unexpected. They had split up.I

They had been together as a couple for at least five years to my knowledge so this was a shock.  Needless to say I tried to go away from the subject as gracefully as possible. He seemed to have taken it well but how did I know? Unexpectedly I had trampled onto an emotional issue and I did not want to go further on it as it was none of my business.

Thing was though even that old line given to (especially) men in this instance did not apply here. After all saying that there was "plenty of fish in the sea" is no comfort if they are 2 metres away from you. This is not the time to be single and ready to mingle.

To misquote Jackie Collins I suspect the world is full of married men who find themselves suddenly relieved that they are actually with someone.

So I said nothing but pleasantries and privately but genuinely hope he finds someone once this Corona tragedy is resolved. There was nothing I really could say to him without appearing to pry.

One final story. I was walking along the street yesterday when a guy on the other side of the street coughed. As you do nowadays I looked. He looked back.

"Don't worry" he said smiling "It'sa smoker's cough"

The irony that by reassuring me he didn't have one illness when he could have been slowly breeding another for himself seemed to have been lost on him .

Such is the world in the time of Corona.

Until the next time.

Sunday, 7 June 2020

The Welsh Government's Education Mis-Step

Hello there.Hope you're feeling well.

As regular readers know for the most part I've supported the Welsh Labour government's lockdown strategy. The more cautious approach to an England controlled by the insane right wing can only be commended.

Indeed you could say (and I'm going to) that Mark Drakeford's unwitting legacy as First Minister is that more people are realising that an independent Wales not only can make decisions outside of Westminster but actually do them better.

But last week there came a notable mis-step. And the issue was education.
Education minister Kirsty Williams announced that from the 29th June schools in Wales would reopen. The lessons would be staggered across the school day and that the school period would be extended by an extra week.

Let's deal with that last point first. As I mentioned when discussing the opening of schools in England (but even more so here) I don't accept for one second that a child's education is going to be affected either way by returning to school in September and not June given that they will close a month later anyway?

Surely making September the opening date will allow schools to plan properly instead of the feeling that they are being rushed?

How for example should children get to school in this time of corona? By school bus? Well they would have to be doubled to take account of social distancing. It would also effect welsh language schools more given that they have a larger catchment area.

Young people are affected less by corona but they still they get it. So when you hear reports that the chief medical officer for Wales was against it as well as schools in the North West of England delaying the opening of schools there because of an increase in Corona virus cases there you think that this was a decision that did not need to be taken now.

I received an email from the daughter's local school about this. And for clarity it would have got a FAIL in my book. But once you got used to the wading in the educational mud the inference was clear. They were planning on how to reopen and would come back to us. To my mind they were as surprised by the Welsh Labour government's decision ( though to be clear Ms Williams is a Libdem) as the rest of us

Parents will not be forced to have their children return to school for this period. Nor should they be. Speaking for myself as things stand the risk is too great. It's not a cast iron decision but unless anything changes she can wait for September.

This move by the Welsh Labour government was a mistake. They should take a step back from following the insane English right wing as quickly as possible.

Until the next time.

Tuesday, 2 June 2020

Of Tiredness, Sleep and A Dream Of Murder In The Time Of Corona

Hello there. Hope you're feeling well.

I have mentioned before that one of the biggest surprises for me personally of life in this time of Corona has been the effects on my sleeping habits. For far from being unable to sleep, or at the very least being uncomfortable trying to sleep whilst the effects of the pandemic ravage the world I have instead had the most deepest of times in the land of nod. This from a man who suffered from bouts of insomnia you might have felt would have been, at least for me a pleasant side effect. But no. Whilst I'm not on the narcolepsy other end of the spectrum there have been moments when I've not been that far off.

Indeed when I'm awake there have been large parts of th day when I still feel tired. Sometimes, like today, I give myself an extra half hour nap at nine thirty after waking up at seven. And I do, almost instantly, nod off.
It's not that I lack the energy so much as I lack the inclination.

So why is this? The only explanation I've had that makes any degree of sense is that because I'm not working from home but key workering in my normal workplace I have to deal with not only my normal tasks whilst having to be conscious and aware of every step I take in this time of Corona. That I have to wear gloves and a face mask (which as I side effect means that you don't have to shave as frequently). That you have to keep a distance from your colleagues. That basically you have to be careful about everything.

The point is the pressure all around you. Working from home you have the relative comfort of being confident about the surroundings you're in.
Though booked before all of this I have next week off. I've told the wife that whilst every other day I'll help around the house as much as i can, Monday I will just completely and utterly rest. Whether it's sleeping or watching Polish (and Danish, and Portuguese they're all coming in now) football I'm just going to relax.

Which leads me to the murder I committed in my dream.

And let me tell you the murder was vivid. I pushed somebody into a drain filled with liquid. I'm assuming it was water but given I was busily killing there was no time to check.

Here's the weird thing. Rather like the other dream I've chatted about
in this blog when I had an affair not only have I never killed anyone (law authorities please note) but I don't even know the other central character in real life. In this case the victim. All I can say is that it was a young male with dark hair.

And yet here I was....killing him.

In dreamworld I must have really hated him because just to make sure he didn't escape from drowning I suffocated this guy with the actual pillows I was sleeping on that night.

Oh and the really worrying thing.....I  it.

Best to return to insomnia methinks.

Until the next time.

Sunday, 31 May 2020

Keep Lyric In Limerick

Hello there. Hope you're feeling well.

I have mentioned previously in this blog that taken as a whole  my favourite classical radio station is RTE Lyric FM in Ireland as it's for me the most accessible given that whilst I do like listening to classical music I really don't know my Bachside from my elbow.

When I last chatted about I railed against the proposal then made to close the station, which I remember thinking that it was a brave (well OK stupid) thing for a man born in England to criticise Irish public policy given Brexit and now the Corona virus.

Well since then RTE the state broadcaster decided to keep the station running (hurrah!). But what I didn't know until last week - no reason why I should - was that the station is based in Limerick and the new proposal, which I presume the Corona virus has put on the back burner for a while, is that it should be moved to Dublin.

Now in passing let me say that I have no knowledge of the economic argument on this, but it confuses me how one organisation (the BBC) seems to think you can save money by moving divisions away from London but RTE seems to think money is saved by becoming capital city centric. Somebody is surely wrong somewhere.

I have, let's be clear never visited the Irish Republic (though I would like to) but when I heard the proposal it seemed to explain exactly why the style of Lyric FM works. Being away from the main urban metropolis allows you to be in touch with the rest of the country. It's the thing that makes it accessible.

What would probably happen should the move occur is that very slowly, almost at iceberg pace, the station will start to change character. It will slowly turn into something that would pander to an elite not be a friend to everyone. This would be a disaster, and like all accidents involving an iceberg you would not realise it was happening until it was too late.

And remember RTE wanted to close the station down. If being elitist is what it becomes there would be less of a popular backlash should it try again.

So wherever we are in the world we should try and keep Lyric in Limerick.

Until the next time.

Saturday, 30 May 2020

The Reopening Of MacDonalds In Bridgend And What It Says About Humanity

Hello there.Hope you're feeling well.

Modest post title or what?

I first got the news on Twitter (A place where ironically I get a lot of my news from nowadays) p. McDonald's were reopening their "restaurants" for drive thru orders only.

Now I think the world has moved on from looking down on the Big M nowadays. And this is from a man who weaned himself from eating there. Haven't done that for about two years now. So I think the general reaction was as follows:

1) "Great I can't wait to go".

2) "OK but personally not interested". (I'm in this group)

I passed by the local McDonalds franchise in Bridgend where I work. Lights were on inside. Back doors were open.

They were preparing.

In Bridgend and probably in other places as well there's probably another reaction which straddles both responses.

" What about the traffic? "

And it's not an unreasonable worry. The McDonalds in Bridgend (outside the town centre) is to the edge of a retail park near a main road. The local KFC which opened a week before again just like the McDonalds for drive-thru only is on the other side of the road. There were for the first few days massive queues. People waited I'm told for an hour just to get fried chicken.

Thing is whilst KFC were probably surprised by the interest and had to organise traffic stewards they had literally more room to play with in terms of organising traffic than MacDonalds which has a relatively small car parking space.

So the worry is that so many people will drive to MacDonalds on Tuesday (as I understand the date it will be opening)  and that not only the roads to/from the retail park might be blocked but that the onward queue might spread to the main roads around the town as well. All for asking for a large Big Mac meal with Diet coke (always diet coke  you notice).

So why given the taste is quickly forgotten are people prepare to tolerate the possibility of  so much havoc?

Why, irony of ironies, queue for a long time for fast food?

Well it's easy to mock. But I suspect that the reason is simple. People are grasping for life before Corona and when you see something perhaps not "normal" but moving the way there you grasp it with both hands and put the bag with the food on the passenger seat and the Diet Cokes on the container holders in your cars

So if people want the large Big Mac Meal (though try ordering Fillet O Fish meal - you will making that queue bigger whilst they try and cook it) those of us not interested should not be snooty about it.

As long as the traffic's OK.

Until the next time.

Friday, 29 May 2020

Why Not Just Ban Second Homes In Wales?

Hello there. Hope you're feeling well.

i have mentioned recently in this blog how the Corona virus has brought the issue of second homes to sharp focus here in Wales..The way people from England and more crucially from Corona virus hotspots have moved to their second homes here has caused deep anger. Whilst i would not in any way support any sort of violent actions against them it is nonetheless the case that moving to Wales whilst potentially having the virus and so infecting it on others is a violent act in itself.

So it therefore leads us to the question. Should the devolved Welsh government in one form or another depending on what powers they actually have actively seek to stop people owning second homes in Wales?
I believe they should.

Now before I go on let me stress that I'm talking about people who own caravans in holiday sites and the like. Simply because I lack the knowledge to comment about it properly. 

And it should also be noted not every second home is owned by somebody outside of Wales.

Still the question has to be asked. After all what benefit to the local economy is there due to the casual visitor. The employment of a housekeeper? A happy estate agent? Big deal.

The local economy would be far more helped by people actually living there when the weather is not picturesque. When it's not blowing a gale.. For that is the commitment that second home owners lack. The local economy needs an affordable social housing programme not somewhere for the arrogant to socialise by themselves and their friends they've brought along for the ride.

The Welsh Labour government has perhaps by accident acted more nationalistic than it has ever been (rightly) in it's response to the insane Westminster government over Corona. It needs to go further in  this so that this scandal of the second home owners driving to England never occurs again. 

Wales is different to England. And Westminster needs to know this is not a flash in the pan 

Until the next time.

Thursday, 28 May 2020

So Brexiteers Football's Coming Home.....Via Poland

Hello there. Hope you're feeling well.

During the EU referendum (remember that?) and indeed before people who came to Britain perfectly legally were vilified by the right wing Leave people. Indeed the focus seemed to be on the Poles. How dare these East Europeans come to these shores and either open businesses or do the jobs that the British did not appear to want to do.

Fast forward to the present day where this unbinded from the EU Britain is being led by a group of opportunistic clowns from Westminster whose response to the corona virus pandemic seemed to have been as chaotic as Boris Johnson's hair. Crucially for the future the more cautious Celtic nations approach have done them no harm in comparison and will be remembered when independence becomes the political issue again.

I've chatted about how Corona has affected Scottish/Welsh independence in this blog and will do so again. For the moment though with one digression let's chat about Polish football. A subject I know very little about. But given the non evidence of football in Britain at the moment worth chatting about.

The digression then. A Westminster government minister actually encouraged furloughed workers to pick fruit from farms otherwise they would rot. A job that the East Europeans used to do. Bet that got them wetting themselves with laughter in Warsaw.

Anyway the news has come that the Polish season is being resumed on Saturday and it's actually being shown on the free to air channel Freesports. I mean isn't that great? Everybody in Britain can see football without having to pay for a subscription. So unBritish...and yet so better.

The quality? Only time will tell. But one of the great things about football but at whatever level and whatever country football is a sport where you can quickly latch on to what's going on and get involved. As mentioned before Personally I've always been of the view that overseas leagues are more interesting when you support a particular team.

The first televised match is on Saturday between Legia Warsaw and Lech Poznan. Not being a glory seeker my Polish team will be the one who loses the match (if it's a draw I'll toss a coin).

So football can come to every British home. Free and via Poland. Obviously Brexiteers are going to say thankyou.

Until the next time.

Wednesday, 27 May 2020

How The Madness Of The English Right Wing Is Helping Scottish/Welsh Independence

Hello there. Hope you're feeling well.

This pandemic has changed people in many ways. But it is probably the first time since devolution that most people in every part of this Disunited Kingdom have felt that they are living in three separate countries. And it's the differing policy towards the virus that has caused this.

I have mentioned previously how they have dealt with the virus itself. And how England has been far and away the worst nation of the four in this regard. Now it's time to discuss the measures Westminster has been planning to move out of the lockdown which are the most radical and probably the most premature.

Next week schools in England only will open. Conservative ministers and press will talk about the education of children and try to dismiss the health concerns of teachers as union bashing. Really? The risk may be small but it is there and personally I don't accept that the education of children will suffer if they're not open by 1 June given that they will close in mid July anyway for the summer break.

Surely the most sensible plan is to get them to open in September to allow them to plan for the new Corona normal properly. But no the insane English right wing want to get it open now.

In England only estate agents are open. Thus allowing people to step into your house and touch and breath goodness knows what to your space. Madness.

I've seen a report suggesting that Welsh estate agents are not happy that they can't open here. That doesn't surprise me. No opportunity to sell a second home.

Let's briefly mention another one. Shortly outdoor markets will be open in England......words fail me.

But we come back to the point that the Celtic nations have been more cautious in the easing of lockdown measures and rightfully so. They fear a second spike in the Corona outbreak. Yet the insane English right wing want to take it in their stride.

And because of this mindset some English people travel across the borders to Scotland and Wales thinking that they can however they find lockdown rules still apply and are shocked when supposedly Serf nations are Serfs no more and the police tell them to go back.

So why are the English right wing so insane in not following the more sensible cautious Celtic approach? Well I suspect because when you are so embedded in a political philosophy you don't accept that even on some issues your enemy might be right. 

But acting as they have done. Having shown themselves to be on the wrong side of sanity. The English right wing have provided ammunition to the supporters of independence. So in a way I suppose we should be grateful.

Until the next time.

Tuesday, 26 May 2020

A Short Note About Me Learning Welsh.....Again

Hello there. Hope you're feeling well.

I am conscious in this blog of saying that I would do things and finding out that life with all it's problems pushes me back. 

But hey let me try again.

Whilst there is always the need to continually be fluent in a language I've decided to concentrate for the next six months on Welsh (which is a language I can speak - though not fluently).

The plan is simple - whether it will work is another matter - but here goes. 

From next Tuesday I will just go as much as possible to learn,watch, listen to Welsh in all my non work days. To be as immersive as I can possibly be. And then write about it. The point about writing about it is to show how far I'm progressing.

We'll see how I do.

Until the next time.

The Near Midnight Meanderings On Movie With A Microwave Meal Part 30 : The Battle Of The River Plate (1956)

Hello there. Hope you're feeling well.

Without in any being detrimental in any way to the men who served in that conflict I must be honest and say that I approached this not being a fan of second world war naval movies. They seemed to lack the glamour of the air battles and (literally) the wide landscape to work on of of the ground campaigns

Essentially in between the naval battle itself they are just dull.

This film tries to solve that problem by telling the true story of the hunt for the German pocket battleship the Graf Spee. The hunt was on because it was responsible for the sinking of a number of merchant ships destined for Britain carrying supplies of food. I knew vaguely of this before I watched this movie. Though as it transpired not well enough.

It starts by the producers thanking various navies for the making of this film. But interestingly it then moves to individuals including a Frau Ruth Langsdorff. I must admit to have wondered how and indeed why she would want to help the makers of a British film. Very quickly this mystery is explained. Her husband was the captain of the Graf Spee.

Peter Finch plays Herr Langsdorff and in a few scenes he just walks away with the film's acting honours. And I tell you why. Unlike the  British characters he is not a German cliche. In the first main scene he is civilised,  gives a drink and is polite to Bernard Lee, who plays the captain of the latest merchant ship to be sunk. Indeed let's pause there for a subliminal message. The Graf Spee destroys a  merchant ship led by a guy with a working class accent. It'll only face a true battle with proper battleships led by public school voices. 

And eventually the three ships to hunt the German vessel enter the screen powered by the posh voices of people like John Gregson, Patrick Macnee and Anthony Quayle (who is described as "the old man" for reasons I don't get).

When the posh boys discuss the plan of action for the first time it's in a manner which in another time they might have used in a golf club (including drinks in the end).

Also let's not forget that whilst it's small and powerful it's still a case of three against one. The film doesn't really make the case for the quality of the allied ships on offer. One of these vessels is from New Zealand (cue disparaging remarks by it's presumably British captain) but you would have had great difficulty spotting a kiwi accent in the scenes on that ship

So cue the moment when men are looking at binoculars and telescopes looking at the sea from the deck to spot the dastardly Deutsche. Historically accurate I've no idea but it was a dullsville watch for me.

Money has been spent on this film, except when it came to these scenes, it just looked like a bunch of actors in a studio and when the battle scene does occur it looks like a bunch of actors being chucked with containers of water in a studio.

Now I mentioned before that I wasn't completely knowledgeable of the Graf Spee and the final quarter of the movie after the main battle brought it into focus. I won't spoil things by explaining what occurs but again viewed purely as a cinematic experience it was an anti-climax. If this film was a man it would be apologising to it's lover.

I had started this movie wondering given the quality of the people working on it whether this would have changed my opinion on second world war naval movies. In the end it just heightened my dislike of them even more.

Until the next time.

Tuesday, 19 May 2020

My Problem Reading In The Time Of Corona And Will The Anthony Burgess Plan Solve It?

Hello there. Hope you're feeling well.

In this time of Corona that we live in all aspects of our lives have been affected in different ways. For me as a reader I must admit that I've actually read less books during this period. Don't forget that unlike wife and daughter I've been key workering which means that I have exactly the same freetime as I had before. I have lockdown plus day release.

But, as I've previously mentioned, whilst the workload (though rising) is not on pre lockdown levels the pressure seems to have increased. So when I do have free time I don't so much curl up to a good bank but to a blanket instead. I just feel so tired. As I've mentioned before I sleep far more frequently and deeply than pre lockdown. Wife and daughter think that's just laziness. But they're wrong. Laziness would be just sitting in front of the TV but they are the ones whilst staying at home who watch far more television than I do. Indeed there is just one, and I repeat that, one programme recorded on the digibox that's for me.

As I think I've also mentioned before apart from going through the back catalogue of Inspector Montalbano there has not been one programme we've watched together as a family. The dissenting voice being me (I mean what man would seriously watch The Crown). I just would rather have a nap.

But back to reading. Another factor in my slowness in reading this year has been the closure of libraries. I miss the thrill of the surprising discovery. I sort of had a pattern developing this year of e-book, library book and a paper purchase. With one of the triumvirate missing there seems to be something lacking.

So temporarily I'm going to replace the library with reading (and in some cases rereading all the published writings of a particular author and (unspoiler alert) that writer will be Anthony Burgess.

Why him? Well he wrote prodigiously so there's a large body of work to plough through. He also wrote on varied subjects. Also He could never be accused of being boring.

I also intend to read the books as much as possible in chronological order something I've never bothered to do with any writer before. I've ordered a used copy of the The Malayan Trilogy which as an added advantage, just turns out to be a Penguin paperback to add to my collection.

Will it stop me wanting to go to sleep? I doubt it. But otherwise it might just give the impetus my reading life needs right now.

Until the next time.

Monday, 18 May 2020

The Rise Of The Small Convenience Store In This Time Of Corona

Hello there. Hope you're feeling well today.

You know phrase wise 2020 will be remembered for just one simple term, for "the new normal" explains exactly what this Disunited Kingdom is like. How things you took for granted has been upended by this virus.f

I'll give one quick example. A few months back if anyone walked into a shop with a mask your first assumption would be that the place was being robbed. Now it's a health issue.

That's the new normal.

But let's continue with retail. The lockdown started in March. A few days back I tried to remember the last time I bought something in a shop other than essential groceries. I couldn't do it.

So if we're talking about shops and for the moment ignoring online I would as the title of this post suggests, say that the biggest beneficiary of the Corona virus has been the small convenience store.

When I moved to Penarth in October last year there was a convenience store in Tennyson Avenue near where we lived.It was a tired place with a tired looking guy who seemed to be there whatever the time you happened in. It closed early on a weekday evening and not at all on a Sunday. I wouldn't say we didn't shop there, but only if all other options were unavailable.

About two or three months later (was it something we said?) the shop closed down. Another retail statistic looking as tearful and sad as anything closed down from life would do.looking

Roughly a week ago though the shop reopened. The first day it opened the wife texted me to say she was impressed. So let's pause here. I get a text from the wife at work. There's no family emergency she just wanted to tell me that she liked a shop!

Anyway a couple of days later I came in and yes I was impressed too. It's not from a chain but just a small business as these stores used to be. Bright, clean impressively stocked and although obviously taken as a whole it's more expensive than the supermarket there were bargains to be had. It was certainly cheaper than the nearest Spar.

So I wish it well. It's started at just the right moment in this time of Corona. But I suspect things are looking good for convenience stores in the future as well. For whilst the supermarkets and online will always get the big shop and convenience will get the small purchases there is that group in the middle. The shop that's too big for a basket but too small for the weekly trip. What Corona might have done is to lead us to the convenience store when medium shop is required and that's no bad thing for communities.

Until the next time.

Sunday, 17 May 2020

The Welsh Way (Pre Corona) Of Dealing With Death

Hello there. Hope you're feeling well.

Yesterday the wife sent me a text whilst I was on the early shift at work to say that somebody I knew had died. I won't go into any of the details here, except to say that it wasn't because of Corona.

Because of Corona though it's unclear whether there will be a funeral. It will depend I suspect on the situation when that person's body becomes available. For the moment if it's limited to a small group of people then I won't be included.

And I must admit I would be relieved.

This would not be because this person and I didn't like each other. We got on fine. Similarly I don't in any way consider myself superior. Nothing could be further from the truth.

No the simple reason is that we were peripheral to each other's lives. In the film of the person's life I would be low amongst the cast list with a few lines just before the extras. I would quite simply feel a fraud, a notch above a funeral chaser.

Nonetheless if there is a funeral as per BC (Before Corona) then I will attend. For that is the Welsh way. No matter how slightly you know the deceased you go to their funeral to comfort the people, normally their relatives, that you know more.

It is a situation that's even more marked when there is no family or strong friendship with the deceased. I've known people go to funerals who they barely knew beyond saying hello to because they have a friend who is more closely affected. It's not to remember the dead but to be there for the living that's more important to them in these circumstances.

So in these times of Corona when we are already socially distant it would 
seem that the Welsh way of dealing with death has become distant with it. 

Which would be a pity.

Until the next time.

Wednesday, 13 May 2020

A Short Post On The Possible Death Of Bridgend Town Because Of Ford And Corona........And Why Welsh Labour Is To Blame

Hello there. Hope you're feeling well.

I should have gone to Bridgend Town at the end of last month. As I normally do now I would have gone to the dentist and then spent a few hours wandering around and subsequently chatting about it before going to work just outside.

Of course I didn't because of Corona, the dentist having cancelled the appointment, but I'm still working in the borough.

Now Bridgend Town is a place at serious danger of being the first urban victim of Corona but the marker needs to be laid down here. Should the town die whilst it receive outside body blows the real killer will be Welsh Labour.

As you will see from putting Bridgend Town on the blog search engine I have chatted on many occasions about the town's decline which has been mainly caused by the incompetence of the local Labour council. Just to give four examples here there was the botched pedstrianisation, the agreement to have the Macarthur Glen discount operation almost literally down the road and the closure of the public toilets and the moving of the town centre public library away from the town centre.

All of this and many more meant that there are swathes of empty shops in the town centre it is literally a ghost town in the way that you could see from some of it's buildings the glories of the past hiding in shadows from the tragedy of the present.

The point is that was the situation before Corona.

And let's not forget that in just over four months Ford, the biggest employer in the area, will close it's nearby engine plant. Thus many people will find themselves without a job and unsure what their future will be. So outside of the supermarkets will these people be spending their redundancy money in the town? Of course not.

Who knows what the future will bring when Corona is defeated. But what is clear is that people are unlikely to go to the town unless absolutely necessary. Thus the strong possibility that a weakened town's decline becomes permanent. And whilst Welsh Labour would not have killed the town by weakening it through their incompetence they are just as culpable for it's potential death.

Until the next time.