1 EAGLETON NOTES: December 2016



Saturday 24 December 2016

Thankful Thursday: Work

Okay it's no longer Thursday and I don't work (for a living) any more. However I thought of this post yesterday (which was Thursday when I started this post) and was working (though not for a living) all week at my son and daughter-in-law's house to be (which is now almost ready for habitation) together with my son and various tradesmen. 

One of the things about working with other people is that BBC Radio 2 seems to be the default acceptable radio programme of choice (for non-UK residents Radio 2 is a popular light mixture of music and chat). One of the presenters is Jeremy Vine. So far as I can gather he indulges in a sort of pop journalism. Until last Thursday the words he had uttered had passed over or through my head without any of them stopping. On Thursday the subject of internet availability arose and my ears pricked up. The Government is to pump another couple of hundred million £s into making fast broadband available in remoter areas. Apparently I now have what BT regards as superfast broadband (If I'm lucky I have 2.5MbPS which is half of what I learned Netflix regards as needed for to watch a movie) so this is a subject close to my heart. 

And then the words that will forever lead to me holding the aforementioned Mr Vine in contempt. Paraphrased "If you live in a remote area why would you want or should you have broadband internet anyway. I thought the whole reason for living in a remote area was to get away from such things." Now I am realistic enough to know that he was being deliberately provocative but he carried on espousing that line of thought until I eventually went to work out of earshot. 

Then it occurred to me that there are probably millions of people in Watford who now believe that philosophy and will vote for independence from the Remote Areas thus ridding themselves of expensive members of the population who are such a drain on their taxes. Mind you we'd probably end up in the urban areas taking their jobs.

Happy Christmas.

Sunday 18 December 2016

Christmas Decorations

Those of you who know me (and, I suspect by now those who don't will have realised) also know that I am not a Christmas person and the one and only time I have had a Christmas tree since I have lived alone was when Friend Who Knows Too Much said she would only bring The Girls (her two wonderful daughters) if I put up a tree. So I did. I also put three sets of lights on it (it was a reasonably sized tree) and plenty of decorations. During the morning two sets of lights went out and then as they walked in the third set expired too. None of the spare bulbs I had would fit any of the sets on the tree and they were all different from each other so I couldn't even pinch from one to mend another. So the tree sat there in a shadow of what should have been its glory. The tree went out and the decorations went to a charity shop. That was the last time I had a tree.

Actually no. That's not correct. The first Christmas I spent in New Zealand Catriona was only just 5. She made me a tree. Each year that tree has come out and has been on display as it is this year:

 Together with another one Catriona made for me:

This year I thought I'd make a bit more effort. Not entirely my own effort I have to admit. My little Santa (gift some years ago from FWKTM) is next to the candle and the glass piece centre top is a gift from the USA and the glass tree from a friend in Glasgow who is a very talented glass artist.

The mobile, bottom right, is a reminder of the large one my family acquired when we used to stay in Berlin and Bavaria in the '80s.

In addition I have 
I must be getting mellow in my old age.

Tuesday 13 December 2016

Memories of Games

During a certain period of my childhood Saturday night was very habitual. Dad went to the Broadgreen Abbey Hotel to meet some of his friends and Mum and I and younger brother CJ went to our maternal grandmother’s house about 15 minutes walk away. There was no television, of course, so we usually played games: cards or dominoes being the most usual so far as I can recall although we did play some simple board games too like Ludo and Snakes and Ladders. The card games were usually Newmarket, chase the ace and rummy.

I should add that later, until my grandmother came to live with us, Dad or Mum (often accompanied by CJ or I) went to my grandmother's for supper every night around 9pm to check that she was okay.

This was all brought back to mind this week when, having finished a complete refurbishment of the main guest bedroom, I started moving things from their current temporary homes to a new storage place in the bedroom. One of those things was the stock of games I have kept: some of which date back to those days at my grandmother’s.

Almost all the games were inherently 'betting' games (eg Newmarket or chase the ace) and, of course, lives had to be won and lost and scores had to be kept. For that purpose and when playing 'Put and Take' (see the little brass spinner in the beans) we had my grandmother's tin of beans: the St Bruno Flake tin with the very beans we used back then. Later when I had my own family we used the Marmite jar filled with dried fruit stones. I cannot remember when the tiddlywinks first came into the family but, of course, we had some of them (and probably that box) since the '50s anyway.

I used to play rummy, cribbage and dominoes with Dad. I occasionally won at rummy but at the other two Dad was unbeatable. These dominoes are not from that era but Dad made the cribbage board out of a slab of solid brass and the holes were square(ish) to take the Swan Vestas matchsticks Dad used to light his pipe.

In those days Patience was played a great deal as it was until the presence of versions of patience appeared on every mobile device. Generally we used ordinary playing cards but most had 'travel packs' for playing in more confined spaces from one's hospital bed to railway carriages.

As a child I loved draughts (another game that Dad usually dominated in the winning stakes) and chess (a game Dad didn't play). My first chess set was this boxwood Staunton set but when I went into hospital for several longish spells when I was in my mid teens a lady who lived nearby gave me the red-boxed travel set which I used for many many decades. I am astonished that it has survived so well.

Two games my wife and I played were Bezique and Othello

Pass The Pig was a more recent addition to our games. When our son, Andy, was dying in hospital Pass The Pig seemed to be copeable with.

Monday 12 December 2016

On Being Right

Here lies the grave of Jeremy Day.
He died defending his right of way.
His way was right.
His will was strong.
But he's just as dead as if he'd been wrong.

(This is a poem I have used since I was a teenager. It is in my journal from that era. I cannot find an original source and I have none specified in my journal. I cannot believe that it is an original of mine although I would like to believe that. If anyone knows the source I would be grateful if they would say so.)

Friday 9 December 2016

Just Occasionally

We have weather in the Outer Hebrides which makes you realise that there is nowhere else on earth that you ant to be (at that moment!). Last Monday was such a day as I walked by the Stornoway Golf Course. It was windless, cloudless and very cold.

There was a time many years ago when I used to walk this course regularly trying to hit a golf ball around 18 fairways an into 18 holes with as few swings of a club as possible.

PS I'm away from the Island at the moment and have not had much time to read blogs. Apologies.

Saturday 3 December 2016

A Fiver For Your Principles

As some of you may know I am by inclination although not in practice a vegetarian. 

As some of you may know the new Bank of England £5 note contains minute traces of tallow which is an animal product.

It now appears that a café in Cambridge is refusing to accept the notes because they will not have animal products in their establishment. ( http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-cambridgeshire-38184599 )

Presumably, therefore, they will refuse to serve anyone wearing leather shoes, silk underwear or woolly jumpers.

How fortunate are we to have such first world problems to worry about?