Thursday, 31 March 2022
Wednesday, 30 March 2022
Tuesday, 29 March 2022
Monday, 28 March 2022
Sunday, 27 March 2022
Saturday, 26 March 2022
Friday, 25 March 2022
Banking ain't what it used to be.
Williams Deacon's had the feel of a private bank about it. My branch was in Cheapside, in The City of London. It had a commissionaire at the door, the interior was oak panelled, and there were very comfortable leather seats for clients to relax in. The tellers all wore classic City-Style dark jackets and striped trousers, and I'd actually been interviewed (interrogated) by the manager before being granted an account; they didn't want any riff-raff. It was also a 'non clearing' bank, which meant that one had an extra day or two before a cheque cleared.
When I received my first cheque book, I was very pleased, and rather amused, to see that I had become an 'Esq'. This has remained ever since, which I shall explain later. Flattery works wonders!
Sadly Williams Deacon's didn't last, and in 1970 it became Williams and Glyns. Williams and Glyn's in turn then became Royal Bank of Scotland in 1985, and since 2020 it's simply a part of the giant NatWest Group. It hasn't improved. The only thing that has outlived all the changes is that I'm still referred to as 'Esq' on my cards and cheques. Regardless of all this upheaval, I have somehow remained faithful.
My current branch has now closed. The last time I visited there was simply a reception desk, and a few small office cubicles, if one actually needed to speak to someone (and if they were available). I'm not sure where my new branch is.... they haven't told me!
In France banking is even worse than here. Add serious French arrogance to the lack of personal service, and you'll understand what I mean. You are made to feel as if YOUR money belongs to THEM, and how dare you ask for any. Even putting cash IN is a nightmare. They look down on their clients as being no more than an unnecessary inconvenience; or worse.
When I think back to Williams Deacon's it seems like a totally different age. The Commissionaire would raise his topper as he held open the door for me, the tellers all referred to me as 'Sir', and nothing was too much for them. I know such things will never return, but it would be lovely if they could.
Thursday, 24 March 2022
Wednesday, 23 March 2022
Tuesday, 22 March 2022
Monday, 21 March 2022
Sunday, 20 March 2022
As usual I was up at Owls Hooting this morning, giving me plenty of time to wrap a few presents.
When the snoring from upstairs had reduced to a mere purr, I dutifully crept up to the bedroom with an armful of prezzies.
"Happy Mother's Day" I shouted with glee, as I showered her with beautifully wrapped boxes.
"That's next Sunday" she replied in a nonchalant manner.
"Really? I thought it was today".
"Fraid not" she said insistently.
So, I gathered-up the beautifully wrapped gifts (Christmas paper still looks great in March), and took them back downstairs.
I told her to forget all about this morning, and pretend to be surprised next Sunday. Whether she will or not remains to be seen.
I was certain it was today.
Saturday, 19 March 2022
Friday, 18 March 2022
Thursday, 17 March 2022
Wednesday, 16 March 2022
Tuesday, 15 March 2022
Monday, 14 March 2022
Sunday, 13 March 2022
Saturday, 12 March 2022
Friday, 11 March 2022
I have two favourite charities, and rarely give to any others.
Firstly is Orbis. A wonderful organisation who fly volunteer eye surgeons around the world to correct sight problems. Donations go for medical equipment and the upkeep of their planes, which also double as operating theatres. The surgeons and nurses all offer their services free of charge.
The second is Médecins sans Frontières (MSF). Now a worldwide organisation, they send doctors and nurses to wherever in the world they are needed. They do wonderful work, often in the face of grave danger. For me, in this disastrous time, they have priority over Orbis.
With so many people wondering what they can do to help those poor people of Ukraine, may I suggest that MSF could use as much help as possible.
I have 100% confidence in them, and I trust that my small donation will be of some help.
Lady Magnon has preferred to place her trust in The Red Cross. Both charities desperately need whatever we can offer.
Thursday, 10 March 2022
History is there to teach us, but some choose to ignore it.
In June of 1941, the Germans invaded Russia, with whom they had both political and economic pacts. As they crossed the Western borders, the Russian people were actually pleased to see them, and I believe they even waved welcoming flags. They were eager to be rid of the oppressive Russian regime, and saw the Germans as their saviours.
So, how did the Germans react to this friendliness? In typical German fashion; they shot them!
They ended-up slaughtering Millions of civilians, as well as 3.3 Million Russian prisoners of war. After the shock, the Russians soon organised themselves, and the Germans were made to retreat.
In present day Russia, the civilians are deprived of reliable news, and refuse to believe that their own troops (sons) would go into Ukraine to bomb and kill. They proudly declare that 'the Ukrainians are our friends and neighbours, and Putin would NEVER do that'. I wonder if the Germans said the same about Hitler in 1941?
If one wishes to win 'hearts and minds' it's better to be nice to whoever you are invading; not slaughter them. Had the Russians recently entered Ukraine with parcels of Vodka, food, and warm clothing, people might have welcomed them. They might even have tolerated a change of government had it promised investment, stability, and prosperity.
The best way to alienate people is to mimic the German Unternehmen Barbarossa, and destroy and slaughter everything in your path.
The Russians, more than anyone, should have realised that!
Wednesday, 9 March 2022
I like to think of myself as a 'modern man'. I shop, I cook, I occasionally clean, I do my own washing if I can understand how the machine works, and, yes, I even do my own simple sewing repairs.
I've always been a little fastidious about trousers; Lady M might say obsessive. I'm prepared to wear them of any style, any material, and any colour, as long as the bottoms measure 14 ins.
At school we wore regulation dark grey pin-striped suits, and the trouser bottoms always annoyed me; they measured about 18ins, and, in my eyes, always required tapering. Not a lot, but enough to stop them flapping about.
My friend Bill (his son is now an MP, so I'd better not give his full name) had a grandmother who was happy to do some simple sewing for a few quid, and after having worked on my first pair, more work came flooding in from other boys who saw how much better they looked. She ended-up doing a roaring trade.
I still do my own sewing when I can. As long as it's simple, involves straight lines, and can be hidden from sight, I'll always give it a go. I'm talking of hand-sewing; I couldn't cope with a machine!
I've recently bought a few pairs of new trousers, and, of course, they needed work.
Lady M was highly amused by my rustic technique, but all went well, and I now have the trousers with the width of bottoms that I require.
It may sound strange that a man of my great age should be tapering his own trousers, but that's how I like it. I shan't be appearing on The Great British Sewing Bee, but I quite enjoy getting my fingers pricked occasionally!
Tuesday, 8 March 2022
This morning it was a very chilly 2 C here in Brighton. Luckily I was warmly dressed with hat scarf and gloves, and I'm certainly not complaining.
I thought of those poor people in Ukraine, where overnight it was -4 C, and lightly snowing.
Carrying all their possessions in a few bags, looking after children and pets, with very little food and water, and homeless. Often they are poorly dressed with no insulated coats, no woolly hats, and very few gloves. They carry with them just a few essentials. All they can hope for is that some kind country will allow them to stay, and give them food and shelter. They leave behind some crazy despot who is destroying everything they owned; and doing his best to destroy them as well.
It was just after 7.30am, and I walked back towards home thinking of all those stalwart Ukrainians. Billy had enjoyed his morning walk, I had already eaten breakfast, and I knew that my home would be warm and welcoming. I have water on tap, my central heating works perfectly, I have radio and TV, and I have a full store cupboard, full fridge, and full freezers. In fact I have absolutely nothing to complain about.
Life is never going to be fair and equal, nor should it be ruled by the strong over the weak. Sadly those with well equipped armies will always flex their muscles against the peaceful. Only when the rest of the world says 'enough is enough' will those war lords be brought to book. It happened to Adolph Hitler, Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden, and others. I am quietly confident that it will also happen to Vladimir Putin as well.
No, I'm not complaining, in fact I feel both extremely fortunate and humbled.
Monday, 7 March 2022
Sunday, 6 March 2022
Before returning to Blighty last October, one of my final major tasks was to return Haddock's to its former state as 'grassland'. Hopefully this Summer I will build a pagoda of some sort, and maybe plant another fruit tree. I notice in the above photo that there was still an Apricot tree there, that eventually died. Maybe I'll replace it. Anyway, Haddock's will no longer be a veg' garden, but a BBQ/party area instead.
All the raised beds have now gone, the ground raked and levelled, and, after having widened the gate to allow the mower in, everything was mowed. I shall continue the mowing, hopefully to make something that resembles a lawn.
We will probably go to France for three months in Summer. We'll open the pool, and make sure all is working OK. Our arrival will be too late to plant anything, and we'll certainly be there for too short a time to harvest. Over here we have nowhere to grow any veg', other than perhaps some Toms in hanging baskets. Maybe I will plant some, and keep my fingers crossed that they survive until our return. But generally we will be at odds with growing seasons; moving around at precisely the wrong times.
This will be the first year for decades that I haven't been currently planning my year's crops. The fruit trees will fruit, but not all during our sojourn. We may have Peaches, but Apples, Pears, Plums, Figs, etc will all ripen after our departure. I'm also hoping that we'll have some Globe Artichokes. I just hope that Boo Boo and The Cherub will take full advantage of what's on offer after we leave (provided that they're there!).
I shall really miss my veg' gardening. It has always been a major part of my spare time activities. I can hardly imagine life without soil under my nails.
I shall simply have to live differently.
Saturday, 5 March 2022
Friday, 4 March 2022
Under the Geneva Convention (rules of war), it specifically states that one should never target those who do not take part in hostilities; i.e. civilians. Women and children in particular. Sadly Putin has joined that long line of evil despots who rule by fear, and he's not afraid to demonstrate as much by widespread slaughter. To warn those very civilians that they must 'leave or die', is in itself a declaration that he intends to commit such war crimes. Those of us who thought that Europe would never see another Hitler have had to think again. Putin is on the rampage, killing, destroying, and even imprisoning children.
We already know that Putin's forces have targeted residential apartment blocks; the evidence is there for all to see. The bodies of innocent civilians are lying on the streets of Kyiv and elsewhere.
He must not succeed in this evil. He must be made to pay, this is too outrageous a crime for him to receive anything less than the ultimate penalty.
It would also be good to hear apologies from Putin's disgusting supporters. Countries such as Cuba, Venezuela, N Korea, China, etc, should be ashamed of themselves, along with those who support their evil regimes; especially those on the opposition benches at Westminster.
NATO and other friendly countries who are against what Russia (Putin) is doing, are still being over-cautious. Hitting their financial markets may affect Russian citizens, but it will hardly halt a blood-thirsty maniac.
When Argentina attacked the defenceless Falkland Islands, Mrs T sent a 'Task Force', and gave them a bloodied nose. Isn't about time NATO and her allies did something similar with mainland Russia?
Why is it that the Communist countries are always the ones who are at odds with the peaceful world? Maybe a few bombs on Moscow's finest buildings might make Putin think again! It's what HE'S doing elsewhere, so he could hardly complain!
Thursday, 3 March 2022
Wednesday, 2 March 2022
Tuesday, 1 March 2022
If there's one thing I detest, almost as much as I detest Putin; it's people who dump rubbish.
This is a classic example of totally unacceptable behaviour, dumping a pile of rubbish by the side of a large empty bin.