Thursday, 30 September 2021
Après la Fete.
Wednesday, 29 September 2021
Do the Maths.
Q: If you employ a three person workforce at £10 per hour each, how much do you pay all three for their hour's work?
Q: If you employ just two workers at £15 per hour each, how much do you pay the duo for an hour's work?
Q: If you can only afford to pay £30 per hour for your workforce, how many of your three workers will you need to sack after having jumped their pay from £10 per hour to £15 per hour?
These may sound like very basic Lower 4th Maths exam questions, and most of us would get the answers right. However, some don't seem to grasp the indications. If you increase basic pay by 50%, prices will invariably rise, and unemployment will also rise; of that there is no doubt.
Could someone please explain this to Sir Keir and The Labour Party; or are they simply very happy to be in opposition for the foreseeable future? We all know that The Labour Party is the party of high unemployment, and high taxes; but if they're looking for votes they should be a tad more caring towards those who traditionally vote for them.
I don't wish to knock Dear Angela Rayner (Deputy Leader, and The Shadow Secretary of State for The Future of Work), but she did leave school aged 16 without any qualifications. It's beginning to show!
Dontcha love 'em?
Tuesday, 28 September 2021
End of season.
Monday, 27 September 2021
Tomatoes & Apples.
Sunday, 26 September 2021
Saturday, 25 September 2021
Friday, 24 September 2021
Moving to Europe; then and now
The UK joined The Common Market in January 1973, but this had no easing effect on the complications of our moving to France in September of that same year.
The difficulties we faced are little known about, simply because so very few people joined my example. In the area where I settled, I was just about the first Englishman since the end of The 100 Years' War.
Since the EU replaced the old Common Market, moving to any mainland European country has been made very easy. You now buy your house, and simply transfer the Euros direct from your bank account back home. No different to buying a home in Blighty. When I bought my first big old farmhouse (below), things were very different. We even had to declare all imports; furniture, car, dog, etc, on which I had to pay an instant import tax.
In 1973 there were still strict 'Exchange Controls' in place. In order to send large sums of money abroad one was obliged to buy 'Investment Dollars' through The Bank of England, then use these to buy French Francs later. Everyone took their percentage. At the same time, holidaymakers going abroad were limited to £60 spending money. It was a period of severe financial restrictions.
It was a long and costly experience; but we pulled-through; eventually signing papers one day before we would have lost our 10% deposit (and the house) after the prescribed 6 months.
I was only 25, and had left behind some good jobs, and business ventures. I had no plans, so I'd made sure I had enough in the bank back home to see me through the first 10 years; I never touched a penny of that money, and by the time I temporarily returned to the UK in 1980, it had doubled.
I started an Artists Painting Centre, which I very soon closed on account of the bizarre people it attracted; I literally feared for my wife and children. Then I worked as a Stone Cutter for a while, and although I enjoyed the creative side of the work, the actual execution was more suited to hefty Neanderthals than present day Humans. Chiselling away at huge lumps of stone, then lifting them into place, was for 'others'.
Life was not always smooth. My daughter very nearly died of Peritonitis through poor medical diagnosis, my wife had baby No 3, and we had one other medical emergency. As 'foreigners', all hospital care had to be paid for with cash. No free NHS in France.
I'm happy to say that I've never sponged off either the UK or French benefit systems, I've paid all my bills on time, never been in debt, and I've never been in any trouble; I'm not that type. Nothing special about all that, you might say; but you'd be surprised by how many ex-pats cannot say the same!
It's been great fun over the past 48 years. We've had some wonderful neighbours, even though recently some have rather spoiled our peaceful atmosphere. 'Townie' newcomers often have no understanding of the previous calm and gentility of a tiny hamlet, and one has to bite one's lip and despair in silence.
Of course now the UK is no longer a member of the EU, and our status here has changed. Once again we would have to apply for a Carte de Séjour (residency permit) with all that that entails, if we wished to stay in our own home for 12 months of the year. However, with our particular situation it wouldn't be viable. I have always paid my taxes to my native country, and shall continue to do so. I am very much an Englishman. As non-EU members, I believe that all British ex-Pat 'residents' will soon be obliged to pay Taxes in France on all worldwide income, capital gains, inheritances, etc. No thank you!
p.s. I should add that entirely 'by chance' I learned that I had continued to own the 'Investment Dollars' that I'd purchased in 1973, and that they could be sold back to The Bank of England. I filled in the forms in about 1979, and received a very welcomed, and unexpected, £2,000. The value of the Investment Dollars that I'd held had more than doubled in value. A few months later they were abandoned, and I would no longer have received a penny.
Thursday, 23 September 2021
Wednesday, 22 September 2021
When I read of Brooklyn Sean's delightful gift to Trelawnyd's favourite son John Gray, I hardly expected anything similar turning-up chez Cro.
Monday is my 'adverts' day. Usually a bunch of supermarket, shoe-shop, garden centre, hardware store, etc, advertising bumf, turns-up in my mail box; most of which gets instantly 'sent to ground'.
However, on Monday an exceptionally large package also arrived; I was fascinated but confused. It turned out to be from my good friend Tony, in England, who had previously lived just a few hundred metres away from me before leaving unexpectedly. We were at college together (above Tony right, me left)The package included several 'collages' that he now makes. Having designed some of Dubai's most iconic buildings, as well as part of its infamous airport, he now confines himself to the art of 'collage' back in Surrey, two of which I've already framed.
Sadly, Tony suffers from MS, but this hasn't quelled his desire to 'create', and he now spends his days snipping and pasting. In a recent letter he compared his work in Dubai to what he does today; describing the latter as being 'just as fulfilling'. That pleases me enormously.
I love keeping in contact with old friends. We all know that our time here is limited, and we should make the most of it. Tony and I have a lot in common. We have very similar educational and family backgrounds; and we think in a similar way. Our interests are much the same, and we both refuse to suffer fools gladly. I was pleased to read that he still has an acerbic tongue for those who wronged him.
I don't think he reads this page, but I send him my thanks, and very best wishes. We need more Tonys in the world.
Tuesday, 21 September 2021
Day to Day.
This page (like so many others) is about daily life; often hum-drum, but occasionally dramatic.
I talk about the veg' I grow, our animals, life out in the countryside, our projects, my frustration with the Woke brigade who wish to sweep away the UK's rich and wonderful history, and even about people (who I've only ever been nice to) who shout at me at for no discernible reason. All is here, and open for all to see. I name the good, and always hide the identity of the bad.
Our lives here have been like the proverbial calm flowing stream. We were lucky to have good very neighbours, then unlucky to have a few not so good newcomers. The newcomers not realising what an impact they've had on the charm and tranquillity of such a tiny hamlet. They sadly considered it their right to cause chaos, mess, and noise.
However, living is such a tiny community, we consider it our duty to make things look as nice as possible. We mow our lawns regularly, swathe our buildings in flowering climbers, and our pool is beautifully 'landscaped' into the garden. Our cottage is certainly amongst the prettiest homes in the area, and its surrounding garden is always neat and tidy. Very 'English Home Counties', I suppose.
It is partly this which has prompted our horror at seeing the Water Co happily tearing up our trees, and digging holes in the lawn. It is soul destroying seeing the damage they cause without a care in the world. Had they kept detailed plans of where everything was buried, none of this would have been necessary.
Unfortunately, we have also recently had several nights of very heavy rain, and this has made matters even worse by washing away much of their in-fill work. Previously the track above was Tarmacked and useable; it's going to take some serious repair work to put everything back as it was. The road will now have to be totally re-Tarmacked to avoid it all being washed away again. They turned-up again yesterday, only to dig more holes. It really is unbelievable.
All this may seem inconsequential to many, but to us it's very important. Gardens do not appear overnight; they evolve slowly, and are treasured.
We are extremely busy at the moment, and have little time for dealing with mess and incompetence.
The Naughty Prince?
It rumbles on. Has he been served with papers? Or, has he not? Will he co-operate with the US courts? Or, will he not?
I'm no fan of Prince Andrew (nor of his ex wife). To me he is a totally irrelevant part of The Royal Family, I simply ignore him.
However, 'Randy Andy' is rarely out of the press these days, due to some fleeting sexual relationship he may, or may not, have had with some 17 year old American girl, called Virginia Roberts. Such casual 'flings' are normally no big deal; even in regal circles. Take Princess Diana for example, she had seven 'lovers' during her marriage, and no-one even mentions it!
I've tried to read as much as possible about this bizarre case, and I can only base my conclusions on what info' is out there; court papers, Wiki, etc. Most of us rather like the idea of Andrew ending-up in 'the slammer', but the evidence simply isn't there. I'm not even sure exactly what he's supposed to have done wrong!
As far as I understand Andrew and Roberts met in London through Ghislaine Maxwell. They danced together at some nightclub, then having returned to Maxwell's Mayfair home, and according to Roberts herself, she was 'asked' by Maxwell to 'do for him what you do for Jefferey Epstein'. And she possibly did as requested; although Andrew denies it. She could always have refused; but she does look very happy in the photo above.
At 17 years old, coming on to a 'Prince of the Realm' is no crime in the UK. Power hungry young women do this all the time with aristos, wealthy celebs, footballers, etc. As long as they are over 16, there is no wrongdoing on either side unless coercion was involved; which doesn't sound to be the case with Andrew. If anything, it sounds as if any coercion came directly from Ghislaine Maxwell. If Roberts had seduced Andrew in the USA aged just 17, that would be a different matter.
Of course, one doesn't expect The Queen's son to be cavorting with members of the late Epstein's hareem, but at the same time he was single and open for a bit of (sexual) fun, which doesn't represent any crime. On the other hand, putting himself into a position where he could be either blackmailed or sued shows his naiveté.
It's not always easy trying to analyse what's going on in such cases, but there is information out there. Please don't think I'm offering support to Prince Andrew; because I'm not. Nor am I offering support to Roberts. I understand she has already been handsomely compensated by Epstein in 2009 (said to be several millions), and has received yet more from Ms Maxwell, for 'defamation', in 2015. She certainly likes the idea of receiving lots of money for her previous 'services', and no doubt there'll soon be a book and a film.
Lawyers, over The Pond, are seeing nothing but Dollar Bills, and I hope more than anything else, that they are thwarted.
Maybe when Anne Sacoolas (who killed Harry Dunn in the UK two years ago) is handed over to the UK authorities, the UK/US authorities might start talking about Andrew.
Killing someone is generally seen as more serious in the UK, than having a night's rumpy-pumpy.
I repeat; I'm on nobody's side in this debacle. Just trying to look at the hard facts. It's possible you may view those facts entirely differently.
Monday, 20 September 2021
Another Shot to the Foot.
Sunday, 19 September 2021
Man with his Head in the Clouds, and his Feet amongst Lizards.
Saturday, 18 September 2021
RIP Sir Clive Sinclair.
Sir Clive was a great man; for a start he invented the electronic calculator, that puts him amongst the true 'worthies'. He's up there alongside John Logie Baird and Sir Tim Berners-Lee.
My first experience of him came via the young daughter of a good friend. I was visiting him when she grabbed me, and insisted on showing me something. On her funny little machine (ZX Spectrum?) she had written 'Hello, what is your name?' I then had to type in 'Cro'. Then I pressed a button and the message came up 'Hello Cro, welcome to our house'. And that was it. High-Technology had arrived; even small children had begun to programme computers!
I soon noticed that most of Sinclair's genius was being used to keep kids in their bedrooms, playing games (they still do). I didn't really like this idea, so, when Wills (my youngest) asked me for something similar I refused, but bought an Amstrad PCW 8256 instead.
Rather than playing games, I encouraged him to design his own; it didn't take much encouragement. He'd always been an intelligent boy, and he saw the whole concept of learning a computer language as just another task. The above is a quick sketch of him hard at work; totally unaware that I was drawing him.
This was in about 1985/6 (maybe later?), when word-processors/computers were still at an early stage of development, the Amstrad was a classic example of this. Green screen, very slow, etc.
Wills set to, and created his first game 'Cavern Capers'. This very soon became outdated, and he created 'Cavern Capers 2'. Versions 3, 4, 5, and maybe even 6, soon followed and his friends used to turn-up regularly to play them.
I do know that Amstrad was Alan Sugar's Co, but the development of the PCW 8256 probably could not have happened without Sinclair. To this day I continue to use a hand held calculator, and am grateful to Sir Clive for all the innovations that followed in his footsteps.
So, farewell Sir Clive, and I promise not to talk about the C5.
Friday, 17 September 2021
Epic moment! Kid joins breakaway at Tour of Britain 2021
Thursday, 16 September 2021
Wednesday, 15 September 2021
Je suis au jardin.
Tuesday, 14 September 2021
Monday, 13 September 2021
Me and Bridget Riley
Sunday, 12 September 2021
The UK's North/South divide.
Saturday, 11 September 2021
In Memoriam. Olga Kristin White.
Friday, 10 September 2021
Non-Human Family Members.
Thursday, 9 September 2021
Nor any drop to drink.
Is That All There Is? Peggy Lee.
Wednesday, 8 September 2021
'Avin a Larf.
Tuesday, 7 September 2021
US troops destroy military equipment before leaving Afghanistan
Monday, 6 September 2021
They're still here....
Cro's Style Awards No 54.
Sunday, 5 September 2021
Saturday, 4 September 2021
Friday, 3 September 2021
Thursday, 2 September 2021
Flying the Flag.
After my late Father-in-Law left his initial FO posting to the Embassy in Ankara, he was sent to our fledgling Consulate in Kathmandu, Nepal.
His immediate remit was to create ties with Nepal's Royal Family and leading politicians.
As in so many consulates around the world, work mostly consisted of getting wayward Brits out of prison, getting them medical attention, or loaning them money to return home. There wasn't a lot more to do.
Lady Magnon should have been born in Kathmandu, but a sudden outbreak of either Cholera or Yellow Fever (not sure which) forced her mother to return to England, and she was eventually born in 'leafy Surrey' (as was I).
After four years, when my Father-in-Law handed over the reins to the new incoming Consul, he took with him his small Union Flag, above, made by Shaw Bros of Calcutta in 1941. It's not a particularly old flag, nor is it valuable, but it's a highly prized memento. It was this flag (his own), which was raised over the consulate during his time there.
After Kathmandu he then went on to Moscow with all the difficulties that that entailed. A very different scene to that of Nepal. The future Lady Magnon spent her first four years in Moscow.
My own family owned a particularly nice Union Flag, that had been passed down through many generations. It was bigger, and much older than the one above, and was also a very prized possession.
It would have been used by family members to celebrate the end of two world wars, as well as during the reigns of Queen Victoria, Edward VII, George V, Edward VIII (briefly), George VI, and our present Queen Elizabeth II. Sadly it was loaned to someone and not returned. I would liked to have flown it to welcome King Charles III (if I'm still around), and pass it on, but that will not now happen.
I would never, ever, loan the one above to anyone; in fact I might even frame it. If that one was stolen, we would be even less happy than we are about losing my own bigger family one!