Tuesday, 13 April 2021

The Front Garden Snobbery

Hello there. Hope you're feeling well today.

Just a short tale told to me to give you today. 

We are at this moment in the process of installing a drive in the front of the house rather than the mixture of concrete and jungle that we inherited. The workmen are impressively quick and in just one day everything was clear. A wide dirt mud patch that they will continue to deal with tomorrow.

It's the morning. The wife was outside (I was inside nursing my back - see previous post) and a woman walks past, stops and looks at the dry patch of earth in front of her.

"Are you going to put grass there?" She asks the wife. The response was no it's going to be a drive. To which the woman groaned and walked away.

The wife was dumbstruck. After all most of the houses in the street are exactly the same and yet this garden snob literally turns her nose up on us. The latest non gardeners amongst the suburbs. Personally people like that make me want to tarmac everything. 

Until the next time.

The Occasional Back Problem....Occasioned

Hello there. Hope you're feeling well today.

I'm conscious that this blog is going hypochondriac with every post I take. Honestly had not intended to mention my health for a while when this happens.

I'm in the living room having a (restrained) argument with the wife on the renewal of  house insurance as we were trying to work out what exactly is the difference between house insurance and emergency house insurance (not as simple as I first assumed I'll admit).

Then all of a sudden I feel what seems to be a ripple on the small of my back, the right hand side. The effect is to make me feel paralysed for the moment. The wife sees my face and knows something is wrong. 

Standing up slowly I don't really know what to do. The wife sees the pain in my face. Slowly I get up. As if an invisible girdle has been tightened to one side of my body. Or perhaps more appropriately it's like one of those movies where an alien something has attached itself to your body.

Walking becomes robotic or nothing. Bending down is impossible. To tie laces I needed to sit on a stool.

Let's not forget that this was the first day of my week off work....timing is everything.

Most of the time was spent being propped up with two pillows against my back watching TV and just not being comfortable with what ever was causing my back attack.

And I was truly frightened. Scared because my back had suddenly become a problem with no obvious cause. 

Just like when I had Covid the night was spent sleeping in the living room simply because of the problems if I was almost literally stuck with pain upstairs in the bedroom. I used the pillows differently. One was traditionally used for my head. The other was for comforting my back.

Amazingly today things have got better. I say amazingly because in the past recovery has been slow. The throbbing feeling is still there and being careful is well in my thoughts. Still I can bend much easier and I can walk without people assuming I'm impersonating a Peter Crouch dance move after scoring

Do I think this is Long Covid or old age? My gut instinct is neither. When I've had a back pain in the past it's in the same place. Still the manner of the back attack is a worry.

So when I describe myself as a [insert age here] man with an occasional b.ack problem. You now know how it creeps up to haunt my health.

Until the next time.

Sunday, 11 April 2021

Long Covid Or Old Age, The Saga Continues...

Hello there. Hope you're feeling well today.

On Thursday I came home from work. I'd something to tell my wife. 

"Today" I told her "I felt very sweaty".

She didn't really understand what I was talking about.

"That's another symptom of Long Covid"

She tried to buck me out of it. "You're just being obsessive" 

My response ? "Well you were the one who made me think I could have it"

She wasn't impressed. 

And yet both positions are true. As I've said in previous posts I've been grappling with a series of various things such as muscle pain on my right shoulder, a tightness on my left foot, fatigue (I'd slept for seven hours during the daylight hours of the previous day). I could go on but basically it's a feeling that I'm out of sorts.

Still it's nowhere as bad as people I've read who have had it. I go to work and there's no "brain fog". This is the reason I don't go to the doctors. Whilst they're busy with people with far greater problems than me I feel it's a waste 

The wife tried to say that I was just depressed. Only for me to say that if true that also was a sign of Long Covid.

She still wasn't impressed.

Yet of course my original assumption that all of this was just old age might just be the right one after all. I'm fifty seven. Old to me but people keep on telling me that I'm young. These are the sort of people who are about my age, so that means if they accept I'm old then that would mean that they are just as decrepit too.

I have this upcoming week off, I'm going to basically have a rest. It's the first time I've had a break where I'm looking forward to rest physically. This I hope will make me know what I have one way or another, Or perhaps the rest will cure it? Who knows?

Here's the thing. If it is all just old age then I'm OK with it, I just have to adjust and live it.

But if it's Long Covid then I'm scared. Scared of the unknown that those words present. It's how it's going to end up that bothers me. If I'm still feeling this way if/when this time of Corona is over then I will go to the doctors. This just needs to be dealt with.

We shall see....

Until the next time.

Tuesday, 30 March 2021

Is Welsh Coronavirus History About To Repeat Itself? The Welsh Labour Gamble

Hello there. Hope you're feeling well today.

Last week I had my hair cut. That's right those long silver locks have now gone. Curling up my neck like paper exposed to the sun.

This week I can see anyone I like outside socially distancing in a garden. I can also travel anywhere within Wales I like.

In two weeks all shops will be open in Wales.

In two weeks I will have the week off. Apart from finally finding a garage capable of working out what is wrong with the mighty Kia and (depending on my health) helping Plaid Cymru in my own little way with the forthcoming Welsh Senedd election I intend to be in absolute and utter monk like isolation.

Why? Well I do need the rest but also for the fear that history will repeat itself. That now it's supposedly summertime people will go out en masse to places like Barry Island or Porthcawl. That the mistakes of late last year will be made again. 

As I posted last year the biggest mistake the Welsh Labour government made with regard to their handling of the virus thus far was in muddying the waters as to what the policy was after lockdown two. This I would argue caused Wales to have in a period the highest rate of the virus in the world.

If for example you can go to Porthcawl beach without anyone monitoring your social distancing then if the weather is OK then, particularly in this forthcoming holiday period, you know that crowds are going to come

So what we're seeing is the ultimate gamble. That the progress of the vaccines will offset the greater chance of catching the virus. Of course this might work. But who knows? And if it doesn't it could be disastrous.

Personally a more slower timescale would appear to have been more justified. Welsh Labour will need to understand that if it doesn't work, particularly with all those variants now mentioned then they would be to blame.

Until the next time.

Monday, 29 March 2021

Waiting With Joan Didion Whilst The Wife Gets Her First Covid Jab

Hello there. Hope you're feeling well today.

Yesterday I got the first of the vaccinations. At time of writing there hasn't been any side effects thank goodness. Though in terms of the Long Covid symptoms I may have experienced in the past few weeks the only surprise was being told by the nurse that it will be three weeks before it's fully effective. So won't really know my situation until then (which incidentally includes the urge to sleep like a baby during the day in my rest days).

It also means for a while I don't know about the pain on my right shoulder which as I've explained previously means reading for long periods is currently uncomfortable. 

Anyway today was my wife's turn to have the jab and learning from my experience the vaccine people don't mind if you come early so that's what we did. They're taking place in a leisure centre a short drive away in Barry. Near a group of interestingly shaped houses with a very arched triangular roof not (literally) at the centre of the house but to it's side. You drive in a place where it would appear works have been abandoned during this pandemic and so whatever way you're going you will be taking just one lane to go round the corner, dropping the wife in front of the entrance and then going to the nearby car park to wait.

So what was I going to do there? Well the title gives it away. After all I'd loved Slouching Towards Bethlehem so much it was time I started on the other Joan Didion book I'd bought with it. When I came out of the centre yesterday the wife was busily chatting with a woman. Me? Only Joan is the other woman in my life currently.

The first essay I read (and didn't finish here) is the title one where she sweeps through the fag end of the sixties such as the doors and a woman accused of murder along with Charles Manson. Personally I'm getting echoes of Brexit here. The idea of the end of an age and how it seems to have brought a new even more uncertain future. But hey that's all for when I finish this book. Needless to say though I'm still a fan.

But I get interrupted. A bulky guy enters. He has the authority that a High Viz jacket gives. What is he doing? He's showing some thicko that there is space in the car park for his vehicle. The guy behind the wheel being too lazy to look for himself.

There was confirmation of one of the most important rules in motoring. Never trust a man driving a black range rover with alloy wheels and tinted plates. There were three of them in my time there. The worst was the guy with a baseball cap reversing into the space one handed. Of course he has a personalised number plate, which I approve of, all the better for avoiding him with.

What is noticeable is the number of men there in their fifties dressed in a black T-shirt with [insert heavy metal group here] on it. There were two exceptions. Me with just a black adidas shirt with no design other than the company's logo and a guy wearing one with San Francisco on it. Personally this amused me given the book I was reading.

A young girl, early twenties, walks past. Clearly she has just had the jab given that the sleeve is up on her shoulder. I look at her and I know that I'm not the only one. It's a look not of lust but of wondering how it was that someone so young has received a jab so early.

Another guy in a high viz jacket comes round. Younger and with a ponytail. He asks people in the cars why they're there. "Waiting for the wife" is my response. After all did he seriously think that I'm around a car park in a makeshift vaccination centre for fun? Trust me much as I'm her newest fan there are far more comfortable places to read a Joan Didion book, with or without a dodgy shoulder.

At last the wife returns and for the first time the car fails to start in her presence. In a way this is a good thing as she is now a witness to it's problem. It does start eventually with heavy foot on acceleration movement. Come the week commencing April 12 I'll have to deal with this once and for all by taking it to another garage.

So then round one is done. Have to wait for June apparently for round two. You wonder though with all these variations whether this will just become a diary date for the rest of our lives.

Better finish reading this book as soon as possible then.

Until the next time.

Wednesday, 24 March 2021

Does Joan Didion Provide Pain Relief From Long Covid and/or Old Age?

Hello there. Hope you're feeling well today.

The story so far.

For a while now I've been getting aches and pains which I've just assumed to be old age and just continued with life like the good little soldier I am. However the wife. a person whose immediate reaction to any ailment I might have would be basically that men are weak and women put up with everything (though as I've written before she was magnificent looking after me when I caught the Corona virus) didn't say anything of the sort this time, Indeed it was she who mentioned the possibility that I had Long Covid

Now I thought long Covid was just the "brain fog" (which I don't have) and nothing else. But looking at the list of it's symptoms on the National Health Service website it seems that I've got a good chance of winning (if that's the right word) Long Covid bingo.

Whatever it actually is, as a lifelong reader the greatest pain is in my right shoulder blade. As if someone is continuously pressing their foot against it and so after a while causing reading to become uncomfortable. My short term solution to this was to ignore novels and biographies and so forth  just concentrating on books of short stories or essays for a while. The idea being that instead of taking long mountain climbs I go for little literary walks instead. Not a complete reader workout perhaps but still doing the exercise.

Now read on.

Some of you might ask how a Joan Didion book came to be the first one I'd come to read under this new regime. Well that's all to do with the writer Fran Lebowitz...... and Netflix.

Unlike the wife and daughter I watch very little Netflix but I was aware of Ms Lebowitz's highly publicised series "Pretend It's A City" where she chats wanders around New York and chats a lot more.

It left me cold. Not sure exactly why. Perhaps you need to be more intimate in your New York knowledge given that I've never been in America let alone there, perhaps a show set in a vibrant bustling city is not a good watch in a pandemic. Anyway I dropped it after two episodes.

But anyway like all streaming Netflix sees your viewing history and basically says "You've watched that why don't you watch this?". So the algorithm  saw I've seen the Fran Lebowitz show and, even though I didn't like it, suddenly recommends similar. One of which was The Center Will Not Hold, a documentary on Ms Didion's life produced by her nephew the actor Griffin Dunne. I was aware of Ms Didion, though I'd not read anything she produced before (so many books so little time) so not having anything better to do I watched it.

I won't spoil things for you by going into detail but I will say I really can't recommend it highly enough. I've watched it more than once which for me is a rare thing. Also as a side issue if you see black and white pictures of her in the sixties you will know there are few people who looked cooler.

However back to this post the point is that the film reminded me that some of her essays did come out in book form and immediately after watching the film for the first time I'd ordered a copy of a few of them (in paperback please note) online.

And of that order the book I've just read was this:

So then let's answer the question of the title, remembering that I was careful with my words. Did she provide pain relief from Long Covid and/or old age (relief please note and not cure).

The answer simply is yes. Indeed whilst admittedly there is not a lot to compare it with (though this does include Philip Roth) it's the best book I've read this year.

Let's start with one fact. For the most part this is a group of essays mainly written and set in late sixties California or at the very least there's a Californian connection. As I've said before I've never been to America and I was a child in the sixties and yet unlike Ms Lebowitz's TV series I am there.

But whilst the setting is mainly settled like George Orwell her subject matter does vary from essay to essay and I like that in writers. 

Her skill in unquestionable. Take the piece on John Wayne. She is able to explain that he is a movie star and like all such people capable of making a bad film watchable through the power of his presence but effortlessly shows that we all grow old eventually.

I would say that the documentary I mentioned before does spoil the big reveal of the title essay. But there is a matter of fact comment afterwards that's almost as shocking.

I read it quickly. Not because of the problem with my shoulder but truly out of enjoyment. Funny this the way to come to a writer. A scenario of aches and pains caused by a pandemic and/or old age, a TV series I didn't like, a streaming service algorithm and a documentary I did like. Probably the weirdest route I've experienced but at least as a reader it was worth it.

Until the next time.

Saturday, 13 March 2021

Old Age vs Long Covid? My Personal Debate Continues

Hello there. Hope you're feeling well today.

I've been chatting in previous posts about the aches and pains I've been having lately. Things that have been persistent but have not stopped me from doing anything in my daily life.

In the beginning I'd just assumed it was old age and lived with it. The idea of going to the doctor, especially in this time of Corona just seemed to be a waste of time.

It was the wife, a person, aside from when I actually had the virus, would take any thing I mentioned with regard to my well being with the general attitude "men" who suggested that in fact what I was having was long Covid.

Initially I batted this back. All I ever read about with regard to long Covid revolved around "brain fog" and a difficulty in concentration. This I've not had. However going on the NHS website other more physical things could be included. Some of which I have....but it could be old age as well.

I do feel as if I need a break. It's been a while since I've had a true rest as I've explained previously and I've booked a week off in April just to do this. Wife and daughter have been in lockdown since this all began so whilst they've been working they've had more time to relax as well. Time being something I've not really had these past twelve months.

But there is something else. As regular readers will know I'm trying once and for all to learn French and Welsh. Also that I'm a regular reader. Both however I'm finding more difficult since I caught Corona. Again the problem is not concentration but physically the act of picking up a book and turning a page seems more difficult than it was before. Things just seemed heavier.

And yes I know it's odd. I can still pick up things far more heavier than a book when at work. But somehow it's far more of a burden here. The only thing I can think of is that when you're holding a book it's being held in one position for a long length of time. Same when you're full on studying given that you're in a pose without much variety.

So what can I do about it? Well in one sense nothing until this time of Corona is over. I don't want to waste the doctor's time and if there is nothing to stop me doing things then I'd feel a fraud.

Still I want to read and to be fluent in languages. Especially when I seem to be living in a Disunited Kingdom where the learning of languages aside from Mandarin by the right wing seems to be discouraged. Particularly if they're from Europe.

What I'll do then, temporarily anyway, is not to discard these things but to change the way I approach them for a while. In terms of reading the idea that occurred to me was nor to read novels or biographies and just focus on collections of essays or short stories. The logic being that once you finish one part then that's it. Small hills than climbing the reading mountains for a while. For the moment then I've stopped the novel I was reading and changed to a collection of essays by Joan Didion.

As for learning languages this will continue. But for now the time limit will stop. At least until I know what I'm having to deal with for sure.

 I will however add the other language I have a vague knowledge of, Italian. Once I'm fluent in one of them then it will be replaced by Scots Gaelic. Monday and Tuesday will be French, Wednesday and Thursday Italian and Friday and Saturday Welsh. Sunday becoming a day of linguistic rest. The spirit you see is willing but the state of the body is a tale of the unknown at the moment.

Until the next time.

Sunday, 7 March 2021

Could The Royal Family's Troubles Effect Welsh Independence?

Hello there. Hope you're feeling well.

This whole Harry and Meghan/Is Meghan a bully? / Oprah interview/ British media reaction thing is an odd thing for republicans like me to work out. Ultimately it's like watching a match between Arsenal and Manchester United if you support a different team. Media focus will be on the game but you're not really sure who you're rooting for if anyone.

Personally I have no idea where the truth or otherwise lies. But this Royal televised address by the Queen (which I haven't seen) does give the impression of being a rather shabby move.

The ultimate Queen's Gambit as it were.

And when the Oprah interview is shown on TV in Britain tomorrow evening and I won't be watching it. I'll be asleep as I'm doing the early shift at work the next day. Wife/daughter will though.

Also again whether Meghan is a bully or not you look at the tabloid coverage and if you're old enough you do see shades of their approach to Princess Diana.

But anyway everyone will be chatting about all of this and that's not really the point of this post. This chat is about it's long term effect on Welsh independence.

So let's start with the obvious. The Royal Family is a pillar of privileged English Unionism indeed a symbol of it. Consequently if it's at war with itself then it cannot bring an image of unity instead it starts to symbolise the disunity which is mirroring the Disunited Kingdom as a whole.

It is a process that will not be instant but will probably begin when the queen dies. For when Charles becomes king he will not be as popular as his mother. For a man who apparently wanted to be king this is probably the greatest irony of all.

He was as I recall a popular figure until the figure of Camilla emerged in the public consciousness. Even if we put it at the most basic level there is not a heterosexual man who truly understands how he preferred a woman with the face of a mountainside to Diana.

Ah you say but there is Prince William. Well yes there is. But if there is friction between brothers and their respective wives then this will damage him as well. The Royal family's image of unity across the four nations would be no more. They become damaged goods. 

Another traditional Unionist totem tumbles. 

Indeed if things turn out as I've just outlined then it's decline will mirror declines of many of the dynasties of our time.

As it will start from within.

Until the next time.

Art and Upton Park

Hello there. Hope you're feeling well today.

You know I moved to South Wales in 1997 and yet rarely have I felt nostalgic or wistful about the first thirty three years of my life living in the East End of London and that imaginary border where it's still really the East End but could be considered a part of Essex.

But (you knew there would be a but) I think as I've made clear in this blog the one and consistent exception has been West Ham United. It was five years ago come September that I came to say goodbye to an old friend that was Upton Park and I'd blogged about it at the time. The last game had been played that May and I could see that the bulldozers and other machines were already at work as West Ham moved to the Olympic stadium

Though to oldies like me the soul of West Ham will be forever Boleyn

Fast forward then to the present day. I have a little bit of money to spend. Not much you understand but enough to be ever so slightly able to spend a little more without feeling guilty about it.

So I bought this:

Now let's be clear before I go on. The company that produces this does similar things on [insert football club name here] so I'm not going to say it's one man and his brush producing a work with a tear in his eye. This is a mass produced product. Still, if it can conjure up emotions and memories for me then it has done it's job. And for it's effect then this is art and no one can deny it. 

So in a part of South Wales will be forever Upton Park.

Perhaps I'm holding on to my memories too much. Subject to events I will find out. Because the last time I went there it was the day before was the twenty fifth anniversary of my father's death. Come this September it will be the thirtieth and subject to how the pandemic rules regarding travel pans out I'll be visiting the cemetery to see him again.

The day before though I intend to see how the old friend that is Upton Park has changed. In a way I'll be seeing how life has affected art.

Until the next time

The Insomniac Meanderings Post : The Shift Workers Curse Edition

Hello there. Hope you're feeling well today.

What is the shift worker's curse? I'm glad you asked. It's Sunday seventh of March. I've been working in the morning for the past few days. Yesterday I went to bed at ten pm. No alarms no nothing to wake me up. 

Instead of course my body clock. which is why I woke up at 4am

So now I've reverted to the insomniac I was pre the time of Corona. Add to that I've got a cold. Not to mention those problems I've chatted about a few posts back. What fun eh?

So what have I done in this time? Well firstly watched a Serie A game from a few weeks back between Napoli and Juventus, As you do. entertaining game and, a good thing for the neutral Napoli won.

It is I can tell you cold outside. Glad I'm not going to work today. Mind you am having problems with the mighty Kia Picanto at the moment. It's noticeably not starting first go more often than notand I have to press on the accelerator for it to move. You may ask why I just take it to the garage? Well I did.

Last week I took it to the local Kwik Fit who ran it through a "diagnostic check" (since when has work on a car been treated like a TV medical drama?). Anyway they found nothing. Leaving me at square one.

Will probably take it to another garage the next time I have two days off work just in case they find something and it takes time to deal with. In the meantime I just have to play Russian motorised roulette with the mighty Kia until this mystery is solved. Don't think this abnormally cold weather for this time of year helps though.

It's 7:43 now. And all of a sudden the urge to snooze hits me. This really is annoying.

Until the next time.

Saturday, 6 March 2021

Welsh Liberal Democrats .... Why?

Hello there. Hope you're feeling well today.

Did you know there was a Welsh Liberal Democrat conference going on? Well no neither did I until I happened to read it in the BBC Wales website. It's leader, Jane Dodds said in the conference speech that Welsh independence would be ten times more painful than Brexit.

Now of course I could give you a detailed rebuttal of her statement. (For example perhaps she could explain mathematically how she can work out this "ten times worse" figure?). But really why bother? They only have one member in the Welsh Parliament the Senedd and polls suggest that they will be wiped out in May's elections/ Let's assume for the sake of argument that the polls are correct. It would mean that aside from anyone mentioning David Lloyd George Liberalism in Wales would become just a memory.

So why is? Well it's simple really. They're just pointless. Labour has the power but as I've mentioned before the real eventual battle is between separatists and unionists. Given that Unionism is represented to it's extreme degree by the Conservatives and to a lesser extent by Labour with Plaid Cymru the main political group for independence then what is the point of the Liberal Democrats when political opinion suggests they are out of touch with the battle ahead?

They call for a "federal " Wales. Yet with an economic disaster looming once the pandemic ends who wants the woolly jumper approach anymore? When the status quo has not worked for Wales for centuries people are looking at other options. Options which the Lib Dems are unable to provide the Welsh electorate.

Apparently the current one Libdem Senedd member Kirsty Williams was given a lifetime achievement award in the conference. I suspect that history will view her real achievement as being it's last ever member.

Until the next time.  


I Grow Old Part Two : Do I have Long Covid?

Hello there. Hope you're feeling well.

I mentioned in my previous post the sudden aches pains and general weariness (as opposed to tiredness) which seem to have attacked me in the past weeks.

Now I just assumed that all of this was old age catching up on me. And to be honest I still do. But the wife has said a few things that has stopped me in my tracks.

The first was when I said that I felt I needed time off work to recharge my batteries. After all apart from when I contracted Covid in November I'd not had a real break in a long while. And I consider the time off work because of Corona to be more of a recovery than a break.

Now I'd expected the wife to have responded along the lines that she does the cooking, cleaning and the candlestick making so what am I talking about? But to my surprise she agreed. Which made me wonder whether I looked worse than I thought I did. And at the moment trust me when I say my own view of my body is not great.

But the second was that all these aches and pains I'm experiencing was actually a part of Long Covid. She apparently just typed it up on the internet and that is what came up.

This surprised me. After all when I've heard people talk about Long Covid "Brain fog" is the phrase that keeps being banded about. And I know that is something I've not had.

Yet again though the wife looked at me and thought I'd looked unwell enough to check this out. Something which I find disconcerting.

So in essence three things are happening to me.

1) I'm growing old.

2) I have Long Covid

Or the third probably most fun option of the three.

I'm growing old and have Long Covid.

Until the next time.

Wednesday, 3 March 2021

I Grow Old

 Hello there. Hope you're feeling well.

Example one: I have had for about a month now a pain around my right shoulder blade. It doesn't hurt me in the sense of constriction to my arm movements, but it's as if some ghost around me is constantly pressing a foot against me. Just to make me realise that it's there.

I stay much longer in the bath than I should (and I've made it clear I'm a fan of bathing at leisure) because it's the one thing that gives me any relief.

And speaking of feet.

Example two: When I wake up every morning now I feel a stiffness above my left foot. As if I've been tagged for some misdemenour electroically. A walk down the stairs and wandering around the kitchen by myself relieves the stiffness. But still like the shoulder blade it's something i've nor been able to shake off.

Example three: And I would admit from the outside that this is the most nebulous of the tree examples but still. Even though I've fully recovered fro having the Corona virus I am physically looking forward to my days off work in a way that i never was before.

To put it as simply as I can whilst I'm not physically tired I feel weary. I am not at ease with myself.

There are other examples that I could mention, but they all seem to lead to one conclusion.

I grow old.

Now regular readers to this blog will know that i have never hidden the fact that I'm a fifty seven year old man with an occasional back problem or that the fifty shades of grey i have are in my hair. Still what bothers me is not that I'm getting old but that the speed of decline has started to get bigger.

Perhaps it's always been this way, I don't know. Neither am I saying that having the Corona virus has anything to do with it, except perhaps indirectly in that I certainly notice the aches and pains and stiffnesses than I ever did before. Other things need to made clear as well, feeling older does not mean a decline in my health. I might live to be a hundred and yet i might die of a heart attack tomorrow. Life is nothing if not uncertain.

Also I've not gone to a doctor. In this time of Corona it just seems frivolous to be complaining of relatively minor things, especially as they've not stopped me from doing things.

Still as I've said before it's the sudden increase in this examples which bothers me. Whether this is in fact the start of one battle you know you won't ultimately win but you know needs to be fought otherwise enjoy those things life still has to offer.

I grow old. The feeling that the countdown clock has somehow speeded up is something I cannot shake. It means that somehow I will need relax more and yet do more in order to enjoy those small quiet little pleasures as well as trying to succeed in the tasks I've set myself. This i suspect is the conundrum that many people face in their lives and it's one that I will need to deal with myself.

Can I do it? Who knows? When i die it will probably be in a life I feel unfinished. Still no matter. Perhaps through the pressures that real ageing adds to the other daily toils of life perhaps by trying to get through this seemingly sudden puzzle will I be able ti inch through to some sort of conclusion.e

And also. When we are out of this time of Corona perhaps now I feel the countdown clock has fast forwarded I should also show my family the extent of my devotion to them. They are the extraordinary wrapped in the ordinary.

Until the next time.

Tuesday, 23 February 2021

The Break Days In The Time Of Corona

Hello there. Hope you're feeling well.

I have explained in this time of Corona that I am the only one between myself, the wife and daughter who goes out regularly to work. But also that there is no sense of freedom here. I go to Bridgend to work and I return. It is not freedom. It is day release.

So when like today I have a day off it's back in the restriction world we all have to face. The majority who accept this. The minority it appears happy to spread and receive the plague germs just to return to a liberty that probably was never really there in the golden age rose tinted glasses they're wearing.

The sleep I have now since this has all started seems to have now gone full circle. I was an insomniac then at the start of all of this I had the deepest most comfortable sleeps that ever wrapped itself round me. Which I mentioned at the time surprised me, assuming that the fear of catching the plague would keep me awake. 

When however I did catch the plague in November. I had loads of sleeps. All of them comfortable. All of them throughout the fortnight of my isolation. And it was comfortable, knowing as I did that I was lucky that it affected me in a relatively mild way.

But now I've completely recovered I have returned to insomnia. On this particular day I've woken up at 4:30am which is even more annoying as I'm on the morning shift at work from tomorrow so I actually set the alarm for 6am. The plan being that I would be ready for sleep at 7pm when I go to the bedroom. So waking up even earlier than that is just annoying.

Also in terms of shift work the worst break is the day before the early shift simply because it's spent like a countdown clock. The closer to the time before you sleep the less things you actually do aside from preparing for tomorrow. It's truly like the Sunday night before school.

Breakfast is bread and jam normally though if I'm lucky Croissants (Aldi/Lidl/Tesco - No artisan bakery) . Personally I want to relinquish the bread and jam bit simply because it's too much. However it became the dominant breakfast almost this time last year when lockdown hit and the supermarket shelves became bare of the essentials for a while. Bread and jam meant you didn't need to use milk.

I don't exercise. I don't have a bike and the idea of running through the streets looking stupid and ready to catch pneumonia fills me with dread, Especially if you include me a sudden attraction of the domesticated wolves that are the canines of the neighbourhood. I'll walk if there's a prize as it were at the end of it. But at the moment whatever the prize is it's likely to be shut. I am seriously thinking about Yoga but my body is seemingly battling against it. My right shoulder feels as if someone's been pressing onto it with a hammer, my left foot in the morning feels stiff and there is a slight ache underneath my right buttock. It seems that physically I'm having a bum rap at the moment.

And because of my shoulder I'm spending more time in the bath, something that's not bad in itself. A relaxing bath is a quiet pleasure, and depending on whether it's a French or Welsh day I'm listening to France Musique or Radio Cymru.

The real trouble with these days is the inability to plan properly. Firstly because if there is something to do if you find that there's an absence of that essential something which you can't get immediately as the relevant shop is shut and secondly because, amazingly, these days actually move surprisingly quickly. Before you know it it's time to go to the sleep you already know you're not going to fully get.

I have spoken before that since I've had the virus Youtube has become my go to media outlet of choice. But I'm noticing that even now I don't have the virus I've been reading less. That will need to change. Ordered a couple of Joan Didion books of essay collections from Amazon yesterday. I do intend on those non work moments to read at least an hour every 24 hours. Back in that reading groove is something I definitely want to do.

I'm not cooking at the moment. Not that I've done much in the past but the wife is afraid that I will spread the plague to the food of the day. Fair enough. But I suspect when the plague finishes more demands will be made on that score which is fine by me.

It is of course the inability to do anything on impulse without thinking about it first which is the greatest constriction in these times. The inability to discover anything outside of those doors. That being said I'm fine staying in powered by regular cups of tea, Being an only child self isolation and entertaining yourself because of it is nothing unusual.

And before you know it the break days have finished and work returns. 

Until the next time.

Monday, 22 February 2021

The Power Of Bridgend Mcdonalds And The Trapped Residents In This Time Of Corona

Hello there. Hope you're feeling well today.

I have mentioned the power of Bridgend Mcdonalds before. When after lockdown one the "restaurant" was allowed to reopen but as a drive-in only. 

And the queues began.

Now I mentioned before when I chatted about this that whilst I personally have weaned myself off the big golden M many years previously I could understand why this occurred and was not going to be snobby about it. In this time of Corona I could see that people were clinging to things before then. McDonalds therefore had an aura of the old normal before the new normal that we were all grappling with now.

Bridgend McDonalds is in fact just slightly outside the town centre but as it's the only one in the area it's popular. If my eyes are anything to go by more popular than the KFC (which does good business) which though directly opposite is a bit more difficult to get to.

However it's popularity has only increased in this time. What has caused this is that there is a roundabout for the entrance that if you continue onto the road and not turn to partake of the fare of Big M it actually leads to an ordinary residential street linking to what is in fact a small estate. Not a gated place but rather something that could be secure in itself given the lure of the the big out of town stores surrounding it. If you did not know of the existence of the estate you wouldn't notice it. 

Security through ignorance as it were.

But that entrance to the estate is the only entrance and consequently the only exit as well. So every day remembering that it's part of a retail park including a big Tesco and Lidls there comes moments when the roundabout is blocked due to the swathes of drivers their families and of course their cars seeking to enter and leave Big M. Consequently if you are guilty of unfortunate timing then the residents going for whatever reason are trapped. Lockdowned whether they like it or not because of the lure of the Big Mac or a Happy Meal.

Their journey through the roundabout becomes a sort of roulette wheel. Whether the residents are lucky or not.

Of course you could ask why aren't they just in their homes? Why don't they just walk to the Tescos or the Lidls etc which are still open? This is after all a country, a world in lockdown? The answer, as I indeed can personally attest to is that not all of us have been fortunate enough to be able to have stayed at home in this time of Corona. Some of us have to work, others have to go to hospital.

But the real point is this. Whilst I can understand people clinging on to the old normal the continued power of Big M in attracting many customers despite a limited menu and being drive through only does make me worry. Not in a snobby way but more in the sense that these people do not appear to have considered other options (KFC aside). That Big M in Bridgend appears to have taken over from tobacco as the ultimate legal drug. One in which anyone can purchase and of course which includes, hopefully when the pandemic is finished, will include the group which would be barred from all other legal drugs being under aged.

So in a small part of Bridgend Big M is even bigger. My suspicion is that even at the pandemic ending the estate will be forever at risk of the lure of the Big Mac or the even Bigger Mac. Forever potentially trapped because a child can only be happy with a Happy Meal by his/her side. 

Until the next time.

On Yes To Yes Cymru And Why Plaid Cymru Needs To Have More Passion About Independence

Hello there. Hope you're feeling well.

I have in this blog chatted about Yes Cymru before, the growing apolitical organisation campaigning for Welsh independence. I've stated that whilst I've no problems with it being apolitical it should acknowledge Plaid Cymru for the moment being as it is the only party that campaigns for the Wexit from England. After all being apolitical does not mean power. It means the force of a particular argument but without the force of a party implementing such a policy then what's the point?

But nonetheless I've wondered to myself whether I should join it as well as being a member of Plaid. I've toyed with the idea for a while. One of the plus points of Yes Cymru is that what it has, and what I would argue Plaid is lacking with regard is the clear passion to take on the issue.

Now don't get me wrong Plaid is the party of independence for Wales. But as I've said before leader Adam Price needs to be more populist in putting his opinions and the policies of the party forward. However what has made me revisit this is a tweet from Plaid's official account last week (Feb 17). Which stated that it believed that independence was the way that for thousands of families Wales would become a better fairer nation.

Of course no one would argue with that and I am paraphrasing. What I'm not paraphrasing is the start of the tweet which said:

"We don't want to win independence just for independence's sake"

To which my initial response was ...."What"?

After all why shouldn't you have independence just for independence's sake? What other nation is conquered by another and yet appears almost apologetic in seeking what was taken by force from them? Let's be clear, the main party of Welsh independence should be banging the drums shouting in the streets putting posters on the wall rippling with passionate debate for the cause.

Plaid's tactics appears to be a more dormouse like approach to the issue, probably noting that support for independence does not yet have the majority. But that does not matter. Plaid is the party of independence for Wales or it is nothing. It needs to be loud and proud on this. For as I've said before it represents the only alternative to the current failed Unionist model.

Can you imagine Welsh Conservative leader Nikita Kruschev, sorry Andrew R T Davies providing an equally quiet defence of the disunion in between meals? Of course not.

You can see in the demonstrations and the badges and the posters that Yes Cymru has the passion on the issue that Plaid does not at this moment show. It bangs the table whilst Plaid is sitting on the corner eating a chicken curry.

So when the pandemic is over. When people can demonstrate en masse for the cause then I will join Yes Cymru and if I was Adam Price I'd copy their tactics for the main party of independence.

Until the next time.


Friday, 19 February 2021

After Reading Book One Let's Keep America In The Dark

Hello there. Hope you're feeling well today.

Ever since the advent of the e reader there has cropped up a new type of book series. Basically book one is cheap as you're hooked in and then the remaining parts of the series will appear rapidly and of course you will be charged for them.

So when I bought my first Kindle some years back I decided to buy a couple of these things to try it out. Of course with the way of these things though it's only years later when I actually start to read one of these type of books.

Invasion USA by T I Wade basically is the story of the entire nation (indeed the entire world but who cares about that let's focus on America) brought to it's knees from New Year's Day when everything electronic made in cheap Chinese factories stops working. Thus leaving the world, though obviously America is the world, vulnerable to invasion.

I say vulnerable to invasion but in this not slim book the attack hardly happens. We know it's going to happen, dastardly Chinese villains tell us this is the case. Throughout the novel hints of a worsening situation are sprinkled like icing but clearly the real beef are for the following books. And you know what that would be OK if it wasn't for the fact that what we get in book one is padding. We are told in book one of the full blow by blow account of the lives of the main characters including the ability of some of them to fly old-style (eg without Chinese electronics) planes.

Everything pre Chinese electronics is celebrated. Indeed there are moments in this book when I wondered whether it was turning into a manual for old machinery in disguise.

Of course we know why that is. You really don't need to read the other books to know what's going to happen there.

So for the second time this year I feel it was a waste of the money I didn't have to pay for it.

Possibly this could have been a more enjoyable read and worth reading the other books in the series if written by a better author. But in this universe I finished this book perfectly happy to leave America into the dark.


Wednesday, 17 February 2021

Learning Welsh Part Three: The Radio Part Is Obvious

 Hello there. Hope you're feeling well today.

I must admit whether it's French or Welsh I haven't been doing the language learning recently for the simple reason that life interferes. 

Even so this may be delayed from time to time but it will never be stopped. Welsh continued today.

My schedule for Welsh days obviously includes listening to the radio and the station for Welsh language speakers has to be BBC Radio Cymru. 

As I've mentioned before the station's big problem is exactly the same as the TV channel S4C in that it has to be all types of channel in one stream and so you cannot really say you like every programme on the channel.

However unlike S4C Radio Cymru does have the occasional option of splitting into two. Breakfast time is one of those options. Today have listened to Dros Y Brecwast. The style of the normal news radio channels. Next week will be listening to the more relaxed style of the other stream which we'll chat about then.

A short post but just mentioning that the language learning is not forgotten.

Until the next time.

Sunday, 14 February 2021

The Welsh Conservative Leader Nikita Krushchev's Stockholm Syndrome Love For Westminster

Hello there. Hope you're feeling well today.

The last time I chatted about the Welsh Conservatives it was over the "boozegate" affair but things have changed since then and that includes the leader of the party Paul Davies who resigned and so is now replaced by Andrew R T Davies. Like the previous leader, and the previous leader before that (who is actually the new leader) Mr Davies sports the Soviet Sixties Politburo look beloved of all Welsh Conservatives and in this case it's the balding portly (which I mention because he was actually Welsh Health spokesperson for the party before moving up to his current position) previous leader Nikita Krushchev.

Nikita is not shy of bellowing his pro Unionist views in between meals. And recently he wrote such a piece for the right wing think tank Centre for Welsh Studies ( think pretentious Daily Express and you have a good idea). He says in the article that he is a proud Welshman, Conservative  and Unionist. But Unionist is the key one here. Welsh Conservatives are in love with Westminster in the same way that hostages develop a love for their captors.

He claims to be proud of Wales' history. Yet that history is barely taught in Welsh schools. Claims to be proud of Welsh sport and yet there is a good chance as I've said before that Welsh Six nations matches could go to Pay TV which as I've mentioned in a previous post will result in the slow death of the iconic status of Welsh rugby. If this happens then it was something which as a party Welsh Conservatives would have known but apparently either did not care about or were not listened to. Proud of the National Health Service, created at the time by a Welshman but who Nikita would have to prove he would not have fought against at the time if he had been alive in it's formation.

The interesting  question for all Welsh Conservatives and particularly this current bunch of appartachiks is to ask whether they have ever questioned Mother England's Conservative policy on anything really and if they did whether they were listened to. The impression given is no in both cases.

Nikita's view is that being a supporter of the Union is not being disloyal to Wales. He is right to say that. But it is being disloyal to Wales if you're perceived to be lacking independence of thought when the interests of Wales diverge from that of Mother England. I was born in London. But Nikita continuously gives the impression of being London's man.

He cites the success of the vaccination programme of Corona virus as an example of the success of the Union and yet fails in that article to mention the high UK death rate from the pandemic. Most of which is in England.

The suspicion is that the ultimate aim of Welsh Conservatism is to abolish the Welsh parliament and merge Wales back into Mother England as it was pre devolution. It does fit into my ultimate view which I've explained previously in this blog that the real battle for Wales is between those who believe in Welsh independence and those who support Welsh surrender.

Nikita rails against Welsh Labour's "Indy curious" stance. Though it is weedy compared to Plaid Cymru's position it's still an acknowledgement of the rising pro independence movement in Wales. Nikita's position on independence though is simple. 

Ignore it as Mother England knows best. 

So come the election for the Welsh Parliament in May unless he can prove otherwise Wales would be under an administration run by Nikita no more than an East European Communist state with eyes constantly towards Mother England for guidance.

And nobody should vote for that.

Until the next time.

Tuesday, 9 February 2021

When A Reader Is Distracted By The Blizzard

Hello there. Hope you're feeling well today.

You know readers are susceptible to being distracted as the rest of us. There am I reading a book which I won't chat about now when I realise something about the podcasts I've being going through.

A quick digression. When I discover a new podcast for the first time I go through the entire back catalogue of the series which as in this particular case actually starts five years ago.

This particular podcast was a series of readings from the pages of The Blizzard football quarterly (which started in 2011). It's not a magazine, probably not a book either. Somewhere in between. What it does do though is to approach football from an angle and style not normally shown in Britain.

And as I was listening to these podcasts the sudden realisation dawned on me.

I've already got a couple of them (whatever you a group of Blizzards I don't know).

Issue zero and issue one was bought by me a few years back (no idea why the numbering system). I'd read issue zero almost immediately and liked it but had not got round to issue one simply because of too many books too little time.

But now it had an attraction. It was there. Available. I wanted to read it. So the book that was there has been put away. Bookmark at the relevant point for me to return for it another day. It's not I must admit the first time I've done this. When my eye is turned. Though I must admit when I return to reading these books with the embarrassment of a wayward husband realising a mistake has been made I can instantly continue from where I left (unlike the wayward husband in that regard).

So what did I think of it? Well of course a large variety of writers means that I didn't like every article in the, well I'm going to call it a book. After all the article linking legendary seventies Leeds United manager Don Revie with disgraced Seventies American president Richard Nixon is a bit of stretch.

But there are articles about the first football game played by the newly independent state of Israel or the French captain executed by firing squad for being a Nazi collaborator. Even interviews with established players such as Dennis Bergkamp are approached at from a quirky angle which attracted me. So ultimately straying towards it was the right thing to do.

Even readers can be swayed.

Until the next time. 


Tuesday, 2 February 2021

The Question To Ask All Unionists In Wales And The (Mark) Reckless Response

Hello there. Hope you're feeling well today.

Mark Reckless is an odd beast in the Welsh political world. An former English Conservative and UKIP MP he moved to Wales and represented UKIP, The Conservatives, The Brexit Party and the Abolish The Assembly Party in the Welsh Senedd, Making certain he wins the Connect 4 of Welsh right wing politics.

I don't follow him on Twitter but occasionally he comes on my timeline and on a subject I can't remember he tweeted to me that he liked living in Wales.

And in a rare spot of inspiration I tweeted a question back at him. A question which should be asked of all Welsh Unionists.

The question was: In the event of Welsh independence would he stay?

Now there are three answers to the question:

a) Yes. Which speaks for itself.

b) No. Which doesn't speak for itself. I mean "I want to continue being a serf and move to England" makes no sense.

And the Mark Reckless response. Or rather lack of a response which was to not answer at all. 

Now when Mr Reckless appears on my timeline I. always politely without insulting him or his family continue to ask that question which he continues to be silent about. Unlike any other subject in the entire known universe which he cannot resist opining his opinion towards. Whether it was asked for or not.

My view based on nothing but my gut is that if he doesn't answer the question it's not unreasonable to make the assumption that he would scuttle back to England in the event of Welsh independence before you could say Union Jack.

So remember the question. Hopefully as support for Welsh independence grows more Unionists here would have to answer it. 

Until the next time.

Saturday, 30 January 2021

The Best Sofas Are The Battered Ones

Hello there. Hope you're feeling well today.

I must admit that since I've had the Corona virus in November the one real constant companion I've had has been the three seater sofa in the red room. And I stress when I say "constant" I was in absolute isolation from wife/daughter let alone the rest of the world. 

We keep the red sofa flying here

It is as you see a simple leather sofa (or is it leather effect? - I've forgotten). Red to denote my political affiliations (not really - it just seemed a good contrast to the walls).

One of the first easy decisions when we first suspected that I'd caught the virus was on the issue of whether or not I should sleep upstairs. I said no to that. To me sleeping upstairs was going to run the risk of how I was going to get down the stairs if things went really serious. Sleeping downstairs was just a no brainer really.

And it was a comfortable bed. Obviously having a fortunate light strain of the virus meant that the biggest symptom I had was the tiredness. A good night's sleep, then a mid morning sleep, then an afternoon nap, then an early evening nap then a night's sleep again. The sofa had to take all of my frame on a relentless basis that fortnight.

As I've also posted before on the moments when I was fully awake it was from there that I would briefly watch TV/Youtube programmes before going back to my naps .Or having breakfast/lunch/dinner. My appetite and sense of taste being unaffected by everything.

If you look closely at the sofa you'll see that there is an indentation to the arm. This is a fault in the sofa and absolutely nothing to do with my head (it was there before I had the virus). It was there before I fell ill and it's still there now. Also it does seem to have faded in one particular point quicker than a sofa within twelve months of it showing should.

And we did have a warranty....but it was with Harveys....the furniture store that went bankrupt. 

Of course originally I was annoyed. But now as long as it doesn't collapse on me I feel actually relaxed about it's state now. It's battered like I am but it's comfortable, does it's job and as I said it was a companion when I needed it most.

Sometimes you know perfection is over-rated.

Until the next time.

Tuesday, 26 January 2021

Learning French Part Three: The Return Of Coffee Though Not Croissants, The First Experience With A Baron and France Musique With The Lady With "Rope"

Hello there. Hope you're feeling well today.

Well yesterday (Monday) was a French day. What I'm trying to do in these language days (and this includes the Welsh days - which will be obviously far more full on) is to not just learn the language by following the traditional methods but when for whatever reason I can't directly learn then just integrate it into my day in a different way. So in a sense it's acting like the French act. (though in the understanding that it's Penarth and not Paris!)

And so in the morning when I woke up I remembered to make myself coffee and not the instinctive reflex action of tea. This is after all the hot drink of choice for most French people (I remember when at Eurodisney years ago how wimpish the tea bags were whereas the coffee seemed to be on steroids. Judged purely on that experience tea is in France the skinny guy who gets sand kicked in his face at the beach.

I must admit that nothing changes my preference for the drink of exotic leaves. But as I've said before I've never disliked coffee so I was OK with proceeding. Of course another advantage of tea is that it's instant variety is refreshing but also relatively quick. With coffee for the full proper taste you need to plan first and the thing about having a sudden thirst is that all the planning is thrown out of the window and you settle for instant.

Which is what I did that morning. And indeed for most of the day. Lavazza being my instant coffee of choice. What I should teach myself is the art of patience when it comes to hot drinks. I have a Bodum French press and I've also seen those tea pot looking mixed with a Dalek Coffee makers where it's boiled on a stove. I'm inclined to buy one of those though at the cheapest price possible. After all if you start to drive you really should go for a small car and not a Rolls-Royce.

No croissants mind you. Regular readers will know that it has become my petit dejeuner of choice but lockdown means amongst other things that you go to the supermarket less than previously and instead aim for the smaller local shop for essentials instead. Whilst I've nothing but praise for my local small shop a short walk away from me croissants are I'm afraid too European exotic for it's taste.

My French TV to view list seems to be growing every time I write a post. It started with Spiral, then the BBC documentary series Paris and now the political drama Baron Noir. Now of course I watched it with English subtitles, but the point is that you're hearing the language being spoken by the French and in series where there are no obvious Gallic cliches. If you were looking for an accordion in Baron Noir you would be disappointed. The first episode was gripping and I will be watching episode two

I have been learning more French through the methods we've chatted about previously (The Teach Yourself French book and Duolingo) I always make sure that in such days Francais I do at least one hour of French from these methods. Progress is of course slow but that does not matter. As long as it's progress that's success enough pour moi. 

As I've explained before during days Francais my radio listening is split between two stations. If for example I'm in a bath and ready for full on French concentration then I listen to the Everest on the ear for the French learner that is France Inter. If however I'm doing something else then the classical/jazz France Musique becomes my station of choice. As it was yesterday evening when I started my hour of learning.

Which leads me to this.

I tweeted that whilst I liked the programme (and for British jazz fans remember it's on between six and seven in the evening GMT) I couldn't understand why the lady (Nathalie Piolie) was holding a  piece of rope.

She kindly replied that (it was my choice) it was either a Mic cable or a washing line to hang her vinyls on. 

Now her response was revealing. Firstly it confirms again that more French people can not only speak English but can joke in the language as well.

Secondly even ardent Brexiteers have to confirm that the French can make even Mic cable seem artistic.

Until the next time.

france musique jazz

Monday, 25 January 2021

Learning Welsh Part Two: In Which Football And The Wife Interrupts

Hello there. Hope you're feeling well today.

I must be honest that yesterday was not the greatest day in my Welsh learning efforts. One of the reasons was deliberate on my part I must admit. There were two live FA cup matches on which I could not resist watching. If only because I knew that there was no point recording them as I'd know the result before being able to watch them.

And besides one of them was there to decide which one out of Manchester United and Liverpool would have the honour of losing to West Ham in the next round. As it turns out it's the Red Devils who will have to experience true hell against the Hammers.

But I did spend a little time on the Teach Yourself Welsh book. Learning how for example plurals in Welsh change depending on whether it's considered masculine or feminine (Cath - Cathod - Cat Cats for example.

And then the wife walked in. Seeing me writing these words onto my workbook. She queried what I was doing and I told her. No secret. Not as if I'm having an affair.

She was unimpressed. Given that I've promised to go back to Welsh in the past and have one reason or another had to stop I understand her doubts but still I'm going to do it this time. Being deliberately slow and unpressurised by time I think helps.

I've also put Welsh on Duolingo the web facility mentioned in my last post on French. Again simple things so far. Will chat properly when I'm well into it.

As for the Welsh language channel S4C aside from finishing off a Pobol Y Cwm omnibus the programme I watched was C'mon Midffild a legendary comedy series about a village football team. 

I start with football...and I end with football....though with a Welsh language twist.

Until the next time.

Sunday, 24 January 2021

Populism And Plaid Cymru - Another Chat As To Why They Should Use It For Welsh Independence

Hello there. Hope you're feeling well today.

I've spoken about this before. But I'm going to bore you by chatting about it again. For Welsh independence whilst not the majority opinion is still growing however Plaid Cymru's position remains relatively unchanged. 

I have stated before that Adam Price the Plaid Cymru leader needs to be more populist in his approach. There is nothing wrong with populism in itself. Being a nationalist is not being nationalistic. After all it was the Unionist Jacob Rees Mogg who stated that fish were happier in British waters (perhaps someone should have explained to him that unless caught fish have more freedom of movement than the citizens of this Disunited Kingdom). Similarly being populist does not mean supporting a border wall between America and Mexico.

With Senedd (Welsh government) elections coming in May (for the moment anyway) and perhaps depending on the Corona situation this will be the first where the battle between the Unionists and Nationalists will be the one which will be on the agenda.

Now of course Unionists will be in the advantage they will have the current Welsh Labour and the Westminster UK government on their side. This will be a battle and not a war. But it's important that Plaid makes inroads into the Welsh electorate. It needs to engage with those who take little interest in politics unless events cause them to stop and think where they are in the scheme of things.

What Brexit and the Corona virus appears to have done is to take the issue of independence into the mainstream for various reasons. It cannot be ignored by those who wish it anymore. Of course Unionism will make attempts to stop this revolution in thoughts for independence to continue. But it's I would argue too late. "When" could be a long time coming but "if" is no longer a debate.

So Plaid needs to up it's game on the populism front. Independence is after all the only alternative to the failure of everything else that has blighted the lives of the people of Wales for centuries.

And what Adam Price and Plaid Cymru needs to realise is that the Welsh Conservatives will use populism against it. It's new leader Nikita Krushchev, sorry Andrew R T Davies, is not afraid to pronounce loudly to everybody on everything between meals no matter how questionable.

So the energetic populist engagement with the voters in the next election must be a priority for Plaid. Wales depends on it.

Until the next time

A Short Note About Snow Envy....Not From Me Though

 Hello there. Hope you're feeling well today.

The wife got a call at around  8:45 this morning, a Sunday morning please note, from a friend.

The friend asked a question. Did we, living in Penarth have any snow this morning?

The answer was yes. Not heavy. Soon to go when the sun really comes out. But still settling snow nonetheless.

Her answer was surprising. No snow in Barry Town which is about a ten minute drive away.

It must be, she said, because Barry is nearer the sea.

But that wasn't true. She lives in Barry Town not Barry Island. Living in Penarth we are also near the sea. Whilst not by the sea it's not that far away from where we are.

And I wondered whether what the wife experienced was snow envy. Why I don't know. Personally if I could have shifted the small sliver of the white stuff we had to Barry Town I'd have gladly done it. After all why would anyone over eighteen really like snow unless they're into winter sports. It's intrusive dangerous and easily loses it's novelty value after the first day.

When I watch pictures of communities suffering with heavy snowfall my reaction is sympathy but also gratitude that it's avoided me.

So for those people with snow envy. Be careful what you wish for. 

Until the next time.

Saturday, 23 January 2021

In Which I'm Defeated By Rome

Hello there. Hope you're feeling well.

When you're a general reader, as I am, you run the risk of getting a book that is beyond you. Not because you're thick but because it's subject matter is something that you know relatively little about but the author will assume you know a lot more.

Tacitus' Histories is such a book. But let's be fair he would have every right to assume that his Ancient Rome audience was more knowledgeable than I would be regarding the four emperors following the after Nero. Not that of course he would have been thinking of a fifty seven year old man with an occasional back problem living in Wales in this time of Corona in the year 2021. Indeed I'd have doubted that he would have the need to have thought about 2021 at all.

When I started reading I'd wondered whether I should have got an introduction but ultimately I realised that it would have made no difference. To me it just went at breakneck speed. Characters were introduced and quickly discarded without any real background. I found myself wondering what was going on, catching some semblance of understanding then losing it immediately.

It felt like going around on a chariot race without taking any lessons. There is nothing in the book where a literary pit stop is allowed so that the reader can just take it all in.

I think of the characters in the book Claudius was the only one I really knew of beforehand and only then that was because of Robert Graves' books. Otherwise they were new to me.

So if you're interested in Ancient (but not as generally well known) Roman history written by someone relatively close to the events then this is the book for you. Otherwise best avoided.

Until the next time.

Friday, 22 January 2021

Learning French Part Two : The France Inter Radio Everest, Hunting For Amber and Starting On Duolingo

Hello there. Hope you're feeling well.

So then day two of learning French and I start listening to the talk radio station France Inter. This is the equivalent for a learner of jumping out of a plane without a parachute. For not only is the French freewheeling and colloquial but the subject matter is more of  local French news than anything global. 

Now I know full well that the above is my ignorance and not that of France Inter, You might ask why am I listening to it in the first place. Well the answer is that I see France Inter as an Everest for the learner. I can view it from the ground but the moment I reach the summit by understanding most of what I'm listening to then I know I've succeeded.

And not just listening. You can view it on Youtube. The clips I see are of five socially distant people with facemasks chatting around a table. And as it's on Youtube it's suddenly interrupted by ads. Now the first time this happens with France Inter it turns out to be a music video by a woman called Amber something singing a quirky tune which I understand bits of. She's accompanied by a guy firstly wearing a face shield and then in something properly worn by a French flapper in the nineteen twenties.

I quite fancy buying that tune online. But there's no way to rewind the ad and the info button provides no info on the lady. So I wait till the next time it appears when the woman's name and the title of the tune is shown again at the start. I'm a patient man so I wait for the next time.

I'm in the living room. The wife suddenly calls me from the kitchen. Dutifully I go there. You can of course guess what happens when I return to the living room. The tune is on. I missed Amber again.

I am a patent man...but there are limits...so I'll hunt for Amber another day.

C'est la vie

My main French TV viewing other than Youtube was the first part of a three part documentary on Paris which was shown recently on BBC4. As someone who has been to the capital twice in his life (and one of those I don't really count as that was Eurodisney) it showed me both tourist and the non tourist Paris I missed as well as it's history.

It's a good documentary and well worth watching with a French presenter Sandrine Voillet who not only knows her job but speaks English so well she can use expressions like "in your face" (to describe a painting of a woman spreading her legs) with ease. The only disappointment was the realisation that it was an old series. And when I mean old Jacque Chirac was president. Whether or not contemporary Paris has changed is therefore something I wouldn't know.

Have I not been going through the book as well? Au contraire Teach Yourself French has been opened. Gaelle Graham continues to ease us all into the language by using the phrases that have been transferred to English. The baby steps continue. But they are still being taken.

And speaking of baby steps leads me to Duolingo. The free language facility on the internet. I start from the beginning. With pictures it asks me for the French for a boy. Well I do know that. So the first exercise was a walk in the park. Presumably it will get harder to Everest level as I progress.

Until the next time.

Thursday, 21 January 2021

The Alleged Welsh "Boozegate" Affair Part One: The Chicken Curry Defence and The Weirdest Welsh Conservative Independence From Number Ten

Hello there. Hope you're feeling well today.

Well here in Wales the big political story is linked to this time of Corona but in an indirect way. Welsh politicians (including the Welsh Conservative leader Paul Davies) were seen drinking in the Welsh Parliament bar despite an alcohol ban for drinking in pubs for the whole of Wales at that time.

Now I say "Part One" in the title because an enquiry is being held as I'm writing this at the time. So whether rules have actually been broken is a matter for conjecture. I'll chat about it again when the report is out.

For the moment some thoughts pop up about this.

Firstly when these "Covid breaking" stories by the powerful enter the public domain they tend to be relatively close to the actual event. This however is supposed to have happened on the eighth of December, about a month and a half ago. You cannot therefore escape the feeling that this has come to light now because someone has planned it this way. If I was a betting man I'd say it was a Welsh Conservative given that three of the four people alleged to have participated was from that party. After all if it was a member of a different party surely it would have been out far sooner than this.

According to the news when asked about the situation a number ten spokesperson stated that Boris Johnson expected everybody to go "above and beyond" in adhering to Covid rules. You did seriously wonder whether she said that with a straight face in the light of the Dominic Cummings affair. Still that's number ten's view now.

This view suggests that the Welsh Conservatives should temporarily step down from their posts whilst this enquiry is taking place. And yet they are still there (unlike the one Welsh Labour AM involved Alun Davies where the whip has been taken off him). It only goes to show that despite their cold heartedness towards other people's jobs should they become threatened then they fight to keep theirs  for dear life. In other words only when it affects them do they show independence from Westminster

(A quick digression until this emerged the Welsh Conservative leader's only memorable feature for me - like that of his predecessor Andrew RT Davies was that they sported the slightly fat balding look of the Russian communist party of the sixties to the eighties. They sport the Nikita Khrushchev very well).

Now of the main four involved three have apologised. Acknowledging that they have broken the spirit of the law (though not the rules itself). This of course they should have realised at the time - but they didn't and even if no rules were broken they will be vulnerable to the perception that they are guilty because of that at the very least. If we assume that those involved stay in their posts then it might become a factor for their seats in the Senedd elections this May.

But if there is a funny aspect it's to do with the fourth person Conservative Nick Ramsey. He denies being involved in all of this, claiming he was socially distant from the rest and eating a chicken curry at the time.

Now I've no idea one way or the other whether he's telling the truth. But you know that there will be more than one person in Wales who will in the next few weeks deny any charge being brought against them by claiming that they were alone with only a chicken curry for company. 

If only there was a way finding out how many people are going to use the Chicken Curry defence.

Until the next time.

Wednesday, 20 January 2021

Learning Welsh Part One : Back To To The Pobol

Hello there. Hope you're feeling well today.

So it's been the first day of relearning Welsh. Now let me be clear again. My Welsh is in that twilight zone position of not being fluent but far better than the cat sat on the mat. I know as well that when we are rid of this time of Corona my opportunities for learning the language multiples 100%....given that I'm in Wales!

But for example my TV viewing for the day begins and ends with programmes for the Welsh language channel S4C. The recordings from the DVR come into view and they begin with programmes from around the Christmas period. Starting with Ryan and Ronnie.

Ryan and Ronnie were classic Welsh language comedians from the sixties and seventies and you know what? If you ignore the seventies lack of fashion sense it's still funny today. And yes I understood a lot of the jokes given that they did have a visual sense of humour.

Adre is your classic "here's a celebrity and this is what their home is like" type of programme. Undemanding stuff (so good for the learner). but entertaining nonetheless.

But of course if there was one programme to return to. A programme I've mentioned before in this blog it's the Welsh language soap opera Pobol Y Cwm. 

In all honesty I have not been watch the soap since contracting Corona in November which caused my concentration levels to lower (I prefer the subtitled weekly omnibus version to watch). So returning to watch it was like seeing an old friend.

I've not ignored books though. The primary learning tool is going to be a similar Teach Yourself Beginners / Internediate  Welsh by Julie Burke and Christine Jones. 

Baby steps taken again then.

But still steps.

Until the next time.