Thursday, 14 December 2017

Off to the moon again.

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President Trump has just announced that the USA will once again point rockets at the Moon and beyond.

I don't know how much money it costs to go swanning around in space, and landing on floating lumps of dusty rock, but I do know that the money could be much better spent down here; where it's really needed.

We pollute the air, we pollute the soil, and we pollute the waters; so much so that people talk of our lovely planet being uninhabitable in years to come, if it's not blown to bits by nuclear weapons.

So what do they want us to do?  Are we really supposed to go to live somewhere where there is no air to breathe, no soil in which to plant our crops, and no vegetation whatsoever. Are they effing kidding?

Dear Mr Trump; why not simply try to make our true 'home' a better place to live. Let's not poison it any more than we have to, let's reduce the massive world over-population, and let's no longer rape and pillage every ounce of the world's minerals in order for the few to become inordinately wealthy.

And don't think, Mr Trump, that we didn't notice your mention of 'Military uses' in space; because we did!

No, let's not go back to the Moon, Donald; it's really not a very nice place, and I for one am certainly not going to live there.

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Christmases Past.

My earliest memories of Christmas are from our, then, newly built home in my native Lingfield, Surrey.

My father had designed the house (above) on the back of an envelope; this envelope was then passed to our local architect, a Mrs Swann, who straightened all the lines, and re-organised the plumbing so that nothing overflowed into the kitchen sink, etc. The resulting house was attractive, roomy and comfortable. It also came with about half an acre of garden; maybe more.

Like so many houses, it had a large sitting room that was rarely used. We ate, and relaxed, either in the breakfast room or the dining room. However at Christmas the sitting room became the focus of our attention.

For children Christmas is the biggest and best day of the year; bigger even than birthdays. The food, the presents, and the excitement of the big day outdid all others.

My mother loved buying and spending, and she usually overdid the amount of presents we received. I don't think we were 'spoilt', but the pure number of presents was always overwhelming. She loved to see an excessively large pile under the tree. She would even wrap a single pencil.

There was always a proper fresh cut tree, decorated with glass baubles, tinsel, and small lit candles set in clip-on tin holders. The rooms were festooned with paper chains, made at the breakfast room table by my sister and I, licking foul tasting glue on specially bought multi-coloured strips of paper; something that would probably be seen as 'child abuse' today.

My mother's love of excess also ran to her choice of the annual Turkey, they would weigh anything up to 27 lbs; huge monsters that would often have to be trimmed to fit into our average sized cooker. No freezers in those days so everything had to be assembled one or two days before the big event. My enduring memories of those early Christmases are of cooking, cooking, and more cooking. We spent our days watching intently as the essential Mrs Belton and mother prepared all the delicacies.

The days after Christmas were dedicated to eating the left-over Turkey in as many varied ways as possible; the sign of an adventurous and frugal cook. When I hear of people these days who 'bin' the remains of their Turkey after their Christmas Day lunch; I despair.

Letter writing began on the 27th. Every aunt and uncle had to receive an individual letter, thanking them for the awful tie or pair of gloves they'd sent. Extended family never seemed to have an ounce of good taste; so much stuff just got 'put away'.

When our own children were young we always did much as my people had. There was never a shortage of presents, food, or decorations. They now continue the excess with their own broods.

Even here, with just the two of us, I shall make sure that everything is done correctly. There'll be no cutting corners whilst I'm still around, even though our Turkey will only weigh around 4.5 Kilos (I've already ordered it).

My people sold our Lingfield house back in 1960, and moved down to the South coast. I missed it hugely; so many good memories.

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Turner Prize 2017.

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This year's Turner Prize has been won by Lubaina Himid, a 63 year old, born in Tanzania.

Frankly the four-person shortlist for this prestigious annual art prize was uninspiring. Ms Himid was possibly the best of a bad lot, although her work looks more (to me) like illustration for cheap novels rather than prize winning painting.

I think The Turner Prize is due for a return to real standards in painting or sculpture.

Above is an example of Ms Himid's work. Make up your own mind!

Monday, 11 December 2017

Hate Crime?

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I hear that 'Wolf Whistling' is possibly to become a 'hate crime'. I believe it already is in one northern UK town.

I should say here that I have NEVER whistled at a passing girl, nor would I ever do so.

Whistling at attractive girls has been a part of life since Adam first whistled at Eve. It is simply an outward appreciation of feminine beauty.

Young, and older, women spend hours (and a fortune) making themselves beautiful. They paint their faces lips and nails, choose their clothes very carefully, and spray themselves with expensive 'come hither' perfumes. They do their utmost to make themselves look and smell as attractive as possible.

If all that work is then appreciated by a couple of builders leaning over their scaffolding, can that really be seen as 'hatred'?

I have just been listening to a Radio 'phone-in' programme about the subject, and I was pleased to hear that most women were flattered by the attention they provoked, even if they did think it was a bit 'common'.

I fear that the man-hating radical feminist movement have been lobbying again. They really should relax.

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Here today, gone tomorrow!


Some time ago I mentioned about rescuing some discarded Blackberry cuttings from a nearby garden. They were of a particularly good thornless variety; but, although they started off well, sadly none of them survived.

The garden from which they came was quite large. The man who worked it comes from a village 7 kms away, and had generously been offered free use of the strip of land by my lovely neighbour L.

He grew a vast amount of produce; far too much for just he and his wife, so I imagine he was selling it.

The garden has now been stripped bare; hardly a single plant remains. The unpleasant man in question was a big supporter of the proposed 'holiday village' (even though he doesn't live in our tiny hamlet), and was exceptionally rude to L (how crazy is that!), to Lady Magnon, and a few others who were against the plan. He has always been a loud-mouthed old fool for whom rudeness and oafishness was a way of life. As a result, he has now been deprived of his free patch of land, and all that it offered. He's now taken out all his winter vegs and perennials, and has departed with his tail between his legs.

His was the second case of such rudeness that we have experienced in the past couple of years, and both perpetrators have lived to regret their silly outbursts; proving, I suppose, that it always pays to be courteous and well behaved.

Some simply have no idea how to behave, others do; boorishness does not distinguish. Good riddance to him.

Saturday, 9 December 2017



I am not totally convinced by the whole concept of SUPERFOODS; especially of the type 'Berries found only on the northern bank of some Tibetan mountain lake, that can only be reached by a tribe of Arab Pygmies, riding on the backs of female Yaks'. I'm sure you know the hype!

However I do believe in the healing qualities of Oats, Garlic, dark green vegetables, and Choucroute; plus a few others.

Choucroute's qualities rely on that fact that it is fermented; a process that increases its nutritional and health benefits.

It is known to aid digestion, improve the immune system, aid weight loss, and reduce stress.

It is also supposed to reduce the risk of cancer, invigorate the heart, and make stronger bones; but what 'superfood' doesn't? Who knows!

Regardless of all the above, I do love the taste of Choucroute. It is cheap, plentiful, and good for you. To me no winter would be the same without it. We tend to consume ours in the 'Alsace' way, but it's just as good with a pork chop.

The above half kilo of cooked Choucroute cost a mere €1.50. A bargain!

Friday, 8 December 2017


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I have always been fascinated by aesthetes. From Regency dandies, via Withnail, to certain present day Arabic squillionaires, their insistence on 'style', and accepting only the very finest or rarest is laudable. They also keep an awful lot of people in work.

Personally I have never been in a financial position to afford the title of 'aesthete', but I have had the pleasure of knowing one particular person who did.

M was at school with me, and he always stood apart from us other mere peasants as never ever accepting the 'norm'. I think it was he who insisted that we only smoked Sobranie cigarettes in our study rather than Woodbines or Player's Weights.

Whereas the rest of us furnished our study with tatty threadbare easy chairs, M purchased an ornately covered antique Chaise Longue. At one time he bought an early Silver Dollar which he sent off to Garrards in Bond Street to have made into a silver money clip. Very chic. On leaving school he bought himself a rather swish Lancia, whereas most of us made do with a bike or the tube.

His first flat was in a Georgian block by Oxford Circus with a uniformed Doorman and a Concierge; he also became a member of a prestigious Gentlemen's Club in St James. Both addresses looked very exclusive on his embossed note paper.

The strange thing is that even if I'd had the money to live such a lifestyle; I wouldn't have. To M it was normal. I think he was much influenced by his mother who drove a lovely old battered Royce, and wore hand-made Crocodile skin shoes. I was the type who just went along with the usual high street Hoi-Polloi; vest and pants from Marks, food from Sainsbury's, and all my aspirations aimed on next month's salary cheque.

M spent his life searching-out the best of everything. He was tall and slim, with longish silver blonde hair; he certainly looked the part. He wasn't at all 'dandyish', but one could tell that everything he wore was expensive. I don't think he was hugely wealthy; just discerning. He never married, nor did he ever have a 'job'. His life's aim was to live as well as he possibly could within his means.

I hadn't heard from M for ages, and I thought he may have died, but he's suddenly contacted me again, and I'm pleased to learn that nothing of his old life style has been sacrificed. These folk are few and far between, and should be preserved (possibly in a Museum!).

I don't know why he bothers with me, he must find me terribly dull.

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