Friday, 30 September 2022
Thursday, 29 September 2022
Wednesday, 28 September 2022
Tuesday, 27 September 2022
Monday, 26 September 2022
Sunday, 25 September 2022
After my recent posing about 'best fun', I suppose it's obligatory to ask the opposite.
With this question I really didn't have to think for more than a split second. Without question it was my time spent on The London Stock Exchange.
I had turned down an offer to study Architecture, and on that final day at school I really didn't know what to do. It was a couple of good school-friends who suggested I join them in The City, and I soon secured myself a position with one of the oldest firms of Stockbrokers in London. I was to become a 'Blue Button', a trainee stockbroker. (I tried to find an image of a Blue Button on Google Images, but such images from the mid-60's seem not to exist)
Saturday, 24 September 2022
Friday, 23 September 2022
Thursday, 22 September 2022
First it was the Great British Bake off; cake making. Then we had The Great British sewing show, then jewellery, then singing, then dancing, then cookery, then so-called 'celebrity' versions of all these shows.
Now I see that we have a new Great British Furniture making show, and one can but wonder where it will end.
Some while ago I did suggest a 'Celebrity Bomb Disposal' show which I'm sure would have attracted huge audiences. Just imagine the tension as Diane Abbott or Ms Markle defuse huge bombs with shaking hands and sweaty brows. At home the TV audience would be heard shouting "Cut the red one" or "Cut the blue one" depending on how soon they wish to see them blown to pieces. Audience numbers would be through the roof.
Wednesday, 21 September 2022
Tuesday, 20 September 2022
Monday, 19 September 2022
Sunday, 18 September 2022
Saturday, 17 September 2022
I suppose I've been drinking alcohol since I was about 15; probably even earlier. Even my study at school was rarely without a bottle of cheap British Sherry.
After school I drank beer; mostly at lunchtimes.
On moving to France, I, of course, drank red wine. Our evening meals have not been served without red wine for 50 years. I'm not a big drinker, but I always thought of wine as being as important as the Lamb chop, Steak, or Pasta that accompanied it.
However, quite recently I decided to give-up my alcohol drinking (I'm on week 3). I have one or two minor health issues and I'd wondered if they might be being worsened by my evening consumption of wine. Having stopped, the only difference I've noticed is that my blood pressure has definitely dropped, which I suppose is a good thing.
I've always been a strong-willed person, so stopping after all these years has not been difficult. There is a slight feeling of 'what do I do now' when the clock strikes six-o-clock, but I always find something.
My abstinence is not 100%, I shall drink one or two glasses with my Sunday Roast; not to do so would be irreverent, but other than that, nothing.
For the moment I see no return to Pétrus or Ch' Cheval Blanc on a regular basis. I'm perfectly happy with Lemon juice or even a diet Coke. And, with the economies we'll all soon have to face, I shall probably save myself about £40 a week at my wine merchant.
Other than losing the pleasure that wine drinking brought, I can only see my move as a win/win situation.
I've just seen an advert on TV advising folk to 'Go Sober this October'; I simply started a month in advance.
Friday, 16 September 2022
Thursday, 15 September 2022
Whilst currently in the market for a new (s/h) car, I was thinking hard about what my preference would be if I had plenty of money, as well as easy access to a garage that could service it on a regular basis.
I finally came up with the classic Land Rover Defender. That rugged four-wheel drive metal box that conquered the world.
Tuesday, 13 September 2022
Monday, 12 September 2022
Sunday, 11 September 2022
Saturday, 10 September 2022
Friday, 9 September 2022
Thursday, 8 September 2022
Today (yesterday) is a pivotal day in UK politics. It represents the transition from Johnson to Truss, and today is her first real test as new Prime Minister.
Every Wednesday at noon the leader of the opposition (and a few others) has about 30 minutes to ask questions directly to the PM. Known as PMQ's, it is the weekly sparring between Conservatism and Marxism, and is the showcase for the policies of both sides.
It must be said that Liz Truss is slightly lacklustre; she has little of Boris's forceful character, wit, or even knowledge. She is a politician above all and will answer her questioning logically, but without much humour. On the opposite bench Sir Kier Starmer is bland, uninspiring, and totally out of touch with what makes UK Plc tick. He isn't a difficult opponent.
I watched with great interest. We all knew that it was at this moment when Truss needed to set-out her policy for the next year or two. It was also at this very moment when her, and the Conservative party's, future would be decided. She needed to be honest, tough, and inspiring.
She was OK; that's as far as I'd go. She falters in her delivery and doesn't seem to be able think far enough ahead. As is usual for every Tory PM, she did try to teach the opposition about the folly of 'Tax and Spend', but they never listen. Every Labour government has ended a term in office with very high unemployment and the country's finances in an awful mess; you'd think they'd try to learn.
Liz needs to be cautious. She has sacked all Rishi's supporters from their previously held positions and could well be building an enemy camp on the back benches. Her first speech on Tuesday afternoon outside No 10 was uninspiring but to the point. That morning Boris had made his farewell speech from the same podium with entertainment humour and gusto; a very different performance to that of Truss. She desperately needs lessons in public speaking!
Liz was president of the Oxford University Lib-Dem club whilst at Merton, but we'll try to forget about that! I couldn't help thinking that she has replaced a formidable leader and will need to make a lot more effort. If her own party treated Boris as they did, I can only imagine what they'll do with Truss if she shows weakness.
Wednesday, 7 September 2022
Like most young men, I've done some pretty whacky things in my time. Being an Art Student for five years certainly helped.
I started thinking about my 'best times' a few days ago, and several things went through my mind. Encounters with famous people, last minute decisions to fly off to Paris and elsewhere, and my (unsuccessful) rowing exploits being amongst the favourites.
But I was looking for something that I'd classify as the MOST fun, AND the most memorable.
In about1985, my oldest (Kimbo) and I went off to Kos for a 2-week beach holiday. We stayed in a quiet, rather eccentric 'hotel', and ate at beachside tavernas; exactly what one does on small Greek islands. Sea, Sun, and Squid during the daytimes, and Moussaka, Retsina and Sleep in the evenings. The perfect way to unwind away from the tedium of everyday life elsewhere.
One evening we took a private boat ride out to a tiny island for a BBQ; I think there were about 8 of us in all. We swam in crystal clear waters, dined on roasted Lamb, and returned to the 'mainland' in pitch dark and choppy waters. A rather attractive young lady clung on to my knee throughout the return journey; she explained that there was nothing else for her to hold on to (ahem).
It was one of those magical evenings that can never be repeated. I've been to plenty of wonderful evening village dances, BBQs, and parties, but nothing compares to that very special (and almost exclusive) evening spent on an exquisite sandy cove on a miniscule island in the Aegean Sea. The scenery, the swimming, the food, the slight danger, and the cool scented night air, were the making of a totally memorable evening.
I don't suppose I'll do anything like that again. A dodgy back, dodgy hips, dodgy legs, and a dodgy knee, all suggest that my pleasures will, in future, be taken closer to home.
Tuesday, 6 September 2022
We worried about the price of wine, but we have not deprived ourselves, nor suffered financial hardship. Our small nightly consumption has remained the same, and possibly even improved in standard.
We worried about catching (and dying of) Covid, but this hasn't happened. Our neighbours on both sides have been ill, but somehow the virus has not traversed the walls. We still hear of the occasional case but in general, although we hear of the rising number of cases, the panic seems to be over.
We worried about Billy acclimatising to life again in England, but without cause. He loves it here and has become a well loved member of the Canine Community. Everywhere we go people shout 'Hello Billy'.
We worried about not being in easy reach of open spaces, but we have rediscovered plenty. Other than the two nearby parks, we also often head for the early morning calm of the beach. Even in a bustling city there is room for quiet contemplation somewhere or other. Having a dog makes one explore!
We worried about whether our old friends would remember us, but of course they did.
We worried about losing access to our favourite charcuterie, and with reason. There is no question that the charcuterie counter at my supermarket in France knocks spots off anything here. As far as I can see, Bacon and Pork Pies are the only regularly bought preserved Pork products. Imported slices of ham in vacuum packs do not, in my mind, constitute 'charcuterie'.
Methinks we did worry too much.
Monday, 5 September 2022
It is no exaggeration to say that Donatello's is a major Brighton Institution.
Opened back in 1987, it has increased in size and reputation ever since. When we went this last Saturday evening it was heaving with eager clients. Even though we had booked a table we were obliged to wait for about 15 minutes for that table to become available. It was a beautiful warm evening and 'The Lanes' was buzzing.
The restaurant itself is on three floors. I believe it seats about 300 diners and has a staff of over 100. On a busy night (like Saturday) each table probably has three successive lots of diners and continues well into the night. Tables also spill outside onto the small busy square beyond.
We ate and drank liberally, and everything was of an extremely high standard. We started with a simple Tomato bruschetta, and a couple of plates of Calamaris. Our main courses were the reason for going, they offer Mussels in a creamy white wine sauce (Cozze marinara) as a starter, but my son (Kimbo) being a man of impeccable taste ordered it as a main course for each of us, the servings having been trebled in size. It was really delicious. A variety of decadent deserts finished off a superb meal. We drank both pink and red wines.
Rarely have I visited a restaurant where the staff work so hard and efficiently. Everything was perfect.
When you next visit Brighton (which I presume you will very soon) it is worth remembering the name Donatello's. Mid-week you might possibly get a table without booking, but at the weekend no chance.
For four hungry and appreciative diners the cost was under £150. No complaints there.
Verdict: 10/10. I should mention that whilst mid-meal someone somewhere started singing 'Happy Birthday', and the whole 300 diners joined in.... it was a superb moment.
Sunday, 4 September 2022
Saturday, 3 September 2022
I'm not very keen on TV. I would never watch Love Island, Coronation St, EastEnders, etc. In fact my choice of viewing is very limited.
However, I do have a plug-in device that has all sorts of quite interesting programmes/films/etc downloaded onto it, and over recent weeks I've watched all the different series of Rick Stein's culinary travels, and had just begun to watch the Two Greedy Italians series, with Carluccio and Contaldo. There's something about the combination of life-style, history, travel, and food, that really appeals to me.
I say I've 'watched' these programmes, but in fact I've probably more 'snoozed' through most of them than paid attention. I tend to turn-on the TV after lunch to accompany my siesta. I don't watch much else.
Carluccio and Contaldo are a very amusing couple of 'cooks'. If you like Italy, like Italian food, and like a good laugh; then this series could be for you. You also learn quite a bit about Italian history en route.