Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Harassed Pumpkin Maternity Insurance

It strikes me that the high cost of insuring new drivers is resulting in a generation of teenagers who simply can't afford to learn to drive. Not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing - they're more likely to have an accident, especially boys, but isn't driving them off the roads just delaying the problem? 

All these claims of sexual harassment - it's worrying, from a number of perspectives. While I have no doubt whatsoever that it's rife in certain industries, it's one of those areas where it's the word of two people with, invariably, no witnesses or evidence. Without a shadow of a doubt, false claims have been made in the past, as evidenced by high profile court cases. What a great opportunity this could be for old scores to be settled - and that's the danger where the normal rules of jurisprudence don't apply. There's a great danger of a 'No, I am Spartacus' effect, and making false claims just makes it worse for women having genuine claims. False claims are difficult to counter, as you'd need shed loads of dosh to take someone, let alone more than one, to court for defamation, with very little chance of recouping the loss.

I was listening to an item on Woman's Hour yesterday morning while returning from taking Hay to the railway station. A woman campaigning for better maternity leave rights was saying that allowing women to go on maternity leave presented employers with enormous opportunities. She then reeled off a list of these so-called opportunities, none of which made the slightest sense. She could just as well have been reading off a list of Brexit opportunities. Employers, especially small employers, hate employing women of childbearing age for sound economic reasons and have to be forced to do it by law.

Lidl pumpkins 59p! Bought two over the weekend - not to carve, as that's simply a criminal waste, but to use for roast pumpkin or soup. Enough pumpkin, and our own, homegrown squash, for a couple of months now.

Monday, 30 October 2017

Venus and Mars

Overheard in a shop at the weekend:

Woman: "Well, where should we go?"

Man: "Anywhere you want, dear."

Woman: "How about the park?"

Man: "Oh, no - we went there last weekend."

Woman: "OK, how about the Mall'"

Man: "Oh, do we have to - I don't like it there."

This went on for several iterations with the man objecting to every suggestion.

Overheard while watching The Lord of the Rings - The Return of the King:

Chairman: "He was typecast as a hobbit after these films."

Hay: "With your teeth you could only get a role as an Orc in this film, or possibly your feet could be hobbit foot stunt doubles."

Hay can be quite cutting - when I forgot to make her tea the other morning she called me Memory Man.

Sunday, 29 October 2017


What a mess Spain is in. 

All we can be certain of is that 90% of the 42% who voed were for independence from Spain. Assuming there were no double votes, and the stories of irregularities are legion, that's 37.8% of the of the electorate  - not in anyone's lexicon could that be claimed as a mandate.

Some were prevented from voting, some will not have voted due to the referendum's illegality and there are accounts of double voting. We cannot infer any numbers from this - they cancel each other out, probably not numerically, but as a cohort that can be extrapolated into something meaningful.

A country survives by recognition and the international community is certainly not tripping over itself to recognise a newly independent state of Catalonia. This is probably as a result of the way the referendum was conducted, and as a consequence Catalonia appears isolated, which means doomed.

This cartoon from today's Sunday Times just about sums it up.

How far can this penchant for nationalism go? Catalonians are not exactly oppressed - they have a high degree of autonomy. One of the main reasons cited is that it's funding the rest of Spain, which is not exactly  true - Catalonia's rating is tied for worst with between 1 and 5 other autonomous communities of Spain, depending on the rating agency, and is losing businesses to other autonomous areas of Spain (in 2014, for example, Catalonia lost 987 companies to other parts of Spain, mainly Madrid, gaining 602 new ones from the rest of the country). That seems to me the politics of greed. Will Barcelona now secede from Catalonia, citing that it doesn't want its hard-earned taxes being used on poorer areas of Catalonia? Populist madness. Should London secede from the UK. 

That's not to exonerate Madrid. The Spanish government's heavy-handed response to the situation has been an object lesson in how not to handle a critical situation. The only solution is a legal referendum within Catalonia, but Madrid has already played into the hands of the populist demagogues in Barcelona, who will have planned every aspect of this by portraying to themselves to the drones as victims. Inviting the separatist leader to stand in a new election seems calculated to mitigate some of the early response. I'm sure the leader of the independence movement was itching to be arrested, as it is the usual tactic of populists who want to be portrayed as martyrs.

If nationalists have their way, we're headed for a map of Europe that will look something like a larger version of 1871 map of pre-unification Germany, with minor princely states that were constantly at each others throats. Vladimir Putin must be rubbing his hands with glee - the nationalists are doing his job for him, and they don't even realise it.

Yes, people should be allowed self-determination; however, a state's first duty is to protect its citizens, and a small state cannot defend its citizens as well as a large state. That means alliances have to be sought, but alliances can produce unwanted consequences, as we discovered to our cost with WWI and WWII - and, in fact, every European war since time immemorial.

Independence movements are legitimate where oppression is evident, but not when scurrilous populists use emotion as their weapon for their own self-aggrandisement. That's the small-mindedness that the European project was intending to eliminate. Emotive nationalists are the enemy of peace, as many wars have taught us. In the words of George Santayana; "Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it." The expression lambs to the slaughter comes to mind. Neither Spain nor Catalonia will benefit from this.

It must be their Latin blood. What's our excuse?

Saturday, 28 October 2017


I'm really looking forward to Chris Heaton-Harris' book on Brexit; however, I still can't understand why he wrote to universities teaching Brexit studies when he's a confirmed Brexiteer and these individuals have a persistent habit of decrying experts at every opportunity. Not only that, but all the information about lecturers and course content is already online.

Perhaps he wants to check whether universities are teaching a balanced curriculum. Universities are , after all, hotbeds of left-wing indoctrination - just look at how they teach evolution, gravity, particle physics - well. facts in general. It's disgusting! As one person said to me, they're only theories. We all know evolution is really Intelligent Design, gravity is Intelligent Falling and particle physics is Intelligent Electronics.

It was strange how that paragon of balanced reporting, the Daily Mail, jumped on the story and denounced universities without a shred of evidence. It was somewhat reminiscent of their vilification of the independent jud3iciary, who as we all know are left-wing, Brexit-hating pinkos - like the Church.

The Church is one of the worst bastions of left-wing bias - we all know Jesus was right-wing, and there they go making out that he was a champion of the poor and oppressed. Not many know that Jesus advised Judas to invest those 30 pieces of silver in Somerset Capital Management.

Did you know that universities teach left-wing maths where 318 + 10 = £1bn?

Friday, 27 October 2017

Log Jams

The other day I participated in a YouGov poll about train delays, the question being how long a delay is acceptable on a one hour train journey. I don't use trains a lot, but I hope it's not a poll paid for by a train operatoion company and a harbinger of things to come.

On Wednesday we had a walk into Yate and noticed that one of a couple of iconic trees was being taken down. I'm uncertain of the reason, but think it might have been to do with some nearby power cables. It seemed such a shame.

They have stood at the entrance to what is known as The Ridge for well over 100 years.

Pumpkin season on the shops now - 79p for a whopper in Lidl. The overwhelming number of them end up being carved and then thrown away, which is a sin in my book. I bought a huge one which will be used to make oodles of pumpkin soup for my skinny days.

I wonder if I should complain to the Press Complaints Commission about the Daily Mail. If kid were to read it, he or she could be led into believing it's quite acceptable to tell lies...

Thursday, 26 October 2017

University Social Media Salaries

We're watching a 2 part programme on iPlayer about the Reformation, each part being about 3 hours long. I thought it was going to be a documentary, but it's a drama about Luther in German with English subtitles - which means, unlike Hay, I can at least stay with the plot while making tea. 

It's strange to think that it all came about due to the argument as to whether salvation could be achieved through faith alone, as Luther believed, or through faith and works, as the Catholic church staunchly maintained and had it's logical conclusion in the sale of indulgences - the ultimate get out of jail card for Purgatory. However, the returns from the sale of indulgences weren't exactly going on good causes, wherein lay the problem. I say strange, as there are as almost as many extracts in the bible for each argument. Both claims can be supported - which goes to show how the bible can be cherry-picked for whatever argument you care to put forward.

What is remarkable is that Luther succeeded - but that was only due to Luther harnessing new technology in the form of printing, which, fortuitously, had been invented around that time. He was using the internet of the day and social media to promulgate his ideas, which had catastrophic consequences. Without printing, Luther would have been merely one of many heretics, with a very small audience, who would have become just another Roman candle.

Social media can be a boon and a curse. Disinformation can be spread just as fast as genuine news - as we know, with equally catastrophic results.

The Chancellor of Bath's salary of £450k came up in the local news the other day. I'm in two minds about this; universities have to fund teaching from student fees and, in this manner, are no different from any other business (government money goes only to research, not teaching). We may rant against footballers' salaries, but willing spectators pay these. When all's said and done, no-one is forced to go to Bath University except, perhaps, students from low-income families in Bath who want to live at home for financial reasons.

Tory MP Chris Heaton-Harris is now back peddling furiously about his letter asking to know the names of lecturers and course contents of university Brexit courses and claiming if was information for a book. The fact the letter was on House of Commons letter headed paper is a bit suspicious - you don't use House of Commons paper for personal use, and writing a book for commercial gain is certainly not parliamentary business. "Modest" use of House of Commons stationery is permitted under parliamentary rules, but I smell a McCarthyist rat. A Labour MP was censured for using Commons paper for personal use a few years back.

This YouGov poll result on the matter isn't exactly surprising:

Accusations of left-wing bias in universities and in education in general abound. If true, the corollary of this is that right wingers don't go into the education sector. Now there can only be three answers to this conundrum - they don't like public service, the pay is not enough, or they can't get the qualifications.

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Watery Cheshire Fascist Lending

Hay subjected me to a catch up episode of Country File last night. Saw something that surprised me; a farmer who had grown some cereal crop was wanting to test it for water content and I thought that he'd perhaps weigh a certain volume of it and do a comparison with crops from other years, but no, he used a moisture meter which looked as if it cost a small packet.

Also watched a programme where a family lives through the early 20th century. They'd got as far as the 30s and there was a bit about Oswald Moseley and his British Union of Fascists. Giles Coren was talking to the family and called the BUF a bunch of thugs led by a posh twerp. Sounded remarkably like Ukip before Farage resigned.

It's a pity that fascists forced so many Jews to flee to Israel. Israel has benefited and Europe has become poorer, both intellectually and creatively.

Discovered that Cheshire is a  county palatinate, along with Lancashire and Durham. Chester had its own parliament, consisting of barons of the county, and was not represented in Parliament until 1543, while Durham did not gain parliamentary representation until 1654, and the bishops of Durham retained their temporal jurisdiction until 1836. Incredible.

There was an item on the news last night about the company Bright House, which has been fined for irresponsible lending. While I agree companies selling stuff on credit need to check whether their customers are creditworthy (it makes sound business sense), surely there's such a thing as irresponsible borrowing? One woman who couldn't afford the payments said that credit was the only way she could afford big-ticket items - well my response would be that perhaps she shouldn't be wanting big ticket items and should focus more on essentials.

Another day of promo filming in the house yesterday. Can't wait to see the result, which should be in a couple of weeks time.

Tuesday, 24 October 2017


Had a film crew in the house most of yesterday and they're due to return today. The guys who rent one of our cabins have got to the stage of requiring a further round of funding for their new vacuum cleaner and have decided to go down the crowd-funding route. A location was required for their promo video and they asked if they could use the house - we had no objections. I had to stay upstairs and be quiet.

If anyone is interested, here's the link to Lupe Technologies. If you see the image further down on the homepage, some may recognise it as our kitchen. I believe in the product and was an early investor.

Once they leave our cabin (highlighted on the Our Story page of their website) for larger premises, I might turn their cabin into a Lupe Technologies museum - it all started here...

Overheard later in the evening:

Hay: "Did the film guys say what time they'd be back tomorrow?"

Chairman: "Nine."

Hay: "Was that nine o'clock or a German no?"

Monday, 23 October 2017

Cat Meme

Apparently memes are going round of cats behaving badly, with messages from their owners. Here's my contribution - but it's not my cat; it's my neighbour's...

The damned thing has a habit of sleeping on my keyboard.

A new coffee shop has opened in Yate. Gave it a go yesterday while waiting for Next to open so Hay could return the 20 odd items she'd ordered on-line (a constant bugbear with me) and was pleased to find they cater for road warriors - but there's no free internet, which is rather perplexing.

They have those brown sugar lumps that seem to have a dissolve half-life of a million years. Being sited on a car park in the middle of a shopping centre was in inspired choice of site.

Spotted this beautiful double rainbow while returning from taking No.1 Son to the station.

We watched Gunpowder, the new Saturday night drama on BBC. OK, they take a few liberties with historical fact but, on the whole, rather good, despite Kit Wossisname not being a particularly good actor in my opinion. I do, however, take issue with them sporting broadswords when by that time everyone was using rapiers (see, I learned something from that book on Elizabethan swordplay).

Sunday, 22 October 2017

Charity Shop Finds in Concorde

Struck gold in one of the local charity shops yesterday. Firstly that dress that went viral a few months ago when people couldn't agree on its colour (it's categorically black and gold).

Then a couple of pieces of genuine Ming Ching Hampton porcelain...

No.1 Son went to Bristol yesterday afternoon to have a look at the new Concorde Museum. Nice photo he took.

Hay watched the last episode of Rellik last night on catch-up. Thank Christ for that! I spent the time fiddling around with my smartphone.

Saturday, 21 October 2017


What with the weather going a tad cooler over the next few days, I thought I'd give the under floor heating a quick test drive. I'd forgotten how to turn it off - took me all day before I twigged a couple of valves in the engine room were closed. I'd been fiddling with the manifold most of the day, not realising I'd switched it off further back along the circuit.

Normally I'd be in shorts till near Christmas day - the record being New Year's Day a couple of years ago; however, this year the transition was made yesterday. I must be getting old. It's more to do with the damp than the cold.

That said, I must put some trousers on...

Friday, 20 October 2017


We were watching a programme on TV about the history of Chinese porcelain, presented by Lars Thrup, who I'm sure is not really called Lars Thrup - I'm convinced he's the younger brother of Christopher Biggins; he's a dead ringer for him.

Anyway, he mentioned the Ming and Ching dynasties, and it struck me that one of the local villages here - Minchinhampton - is actually a corruption of Ming Ching Hampton, and must have been an entry point for Chinese porcelain in the 18th Century...

I have a pair of Chinese porcelain vases - unfortunately one was accidentally broken by a friend and I don't have all the pieces. Bonhams in Henley valued them (pre-damage) at £800 over 12 years ago. Hearing that some old dear's vase, that she was using as an umbrella stand, sold for £43m has raised my interest in having the pair revalued. My dad brought them (along with a lot of other stuff) back from Shanghai in the 60s when the Chinese had a downer on imperial antiques and they were being sold off for a song.

No.1 Son is coming home from university for the weekend. Looking forward to having a chat with him about university life after his first month. All he will probably be interested in is having his laundry done and getting some nourishing sustenance.

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Dark Overdraft Materials

Overheard in the kitchen:

Hay: "Oh, according to their magazine, Waitrose are doing half bottles of wine. The worrying thing is they're calling them mid-week bottles."

Chairman: "Have they got anything called a breakfast bottle?"

No.2 Son inadvertently managed to go a few quid overdrawn on his bank account. I pointed out to him that this will incurr a fee, as it was unauthorised. He asked me how much that would be and I answered that I didn't have a clue, as it's more than 30 years since I was last overdrawn at the bank, and that's the honest truth.

I hear Philip Pullman has released a sequel to the excellent 'His Dark Materials' trilogy, but who is the he of 'His'?

Grape jelly was a success and the test jar set quite nicely. The problem was we didn't have enough empty glass jars for about a litre and a half of jelly; they all went to the charity shop last week. Plastic containers had to do.

Will be delicious on cheese.

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Jelly Data Selfie

The grape jelly making progresses:

Had to collect another bowl full of crab apples to provide enough pectin. The thing about crab apples is that once they fall on the ground they keep for months, as no creature in its right mind would eat the damned things - they're inedible. Producing pectin is the only thing they're any use for.

Had another look at my Facebook data selfie a couple of days ago - the predictions allegedly improve over time. The first two analyses are reasonably accurate but, for reasons already stated, I'm not so sure about the last two. Click to enlarge.

As for my overall personality traits - can't really complain.

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Grape Jelly

Hay's taken it into her head to make some grape jelly. We have loads of grapes from this year's harvest and plenty of crab apples to provide the necessary pectin, without which she'd just have grape juice. Here are the boiled crab apples from the garden.

And here are the boiled grapes.

Can't wait to see the final result...

Monday, 16 October 2017

New Blades for Old

As a prelude to watching Blade Runner 2049, last night we watched the original's final cut on Amazon. Hay noticed a necessary continuity error; just prior to making a run for it, Zhora is seen pulling on a pair of boots with killer heels, yet when she's finally shot and falls over, the heels have mysteriously disappeared and the boots are flat. Now were the heels jettisoned automatically by the boots to enable Zhora to run, or was it a necessity so she could run?

I've always wondered what Rick Deckard's job was that enabled him to immediately take up becoming a Blade Runner again. I mean you can't normally just drop your job immediately and he obviously had some occupation in order to keep body and soul together after retiring from being a Blade Runner. I've lived over 30 years thinking Harrison For's character was called Dekker.

It's strange how the female replicants have exotic names, whereas the males have normal, boring ones.

We're looking forward to seeing Blade Runner 2049, especially given the reviews.

Sunday, 15 October 2017

That Old Canard

It's becoming self-evident that, despite the Brexiteers' demonstrably false cries that they need us more than we need them, the EU will not give the UK special status; the broad, sunlit uplands of Utopia are a myth. This was known before the referendum, as giving the UK concessions would provide the green light for other EU members to demand similar treatment and herald the demise of the project. Ukip, however, in an act of national hubris, refused to listen to reason - people with irrational, dogmatic prejudices don't like being challenged by facts.

Now the call is for a hard Brexit - which is exactly what was predicted, and the start of the decline of the UK to a position of near irrelevance on the fringe of Europe, with declining productivity, rising inflation and a debt mountain larger than before the global financial crisis.
  • We will reclaim our national waters, only to be barred from fishing in the rest of the EU's waters and having up to 24% tariffs imposed on fish exports to the EU - our larges fish export market.
  • German car makers will not come to our rescue, as they don't want to see the UK becoming a back-door for cheap imports from the rest of the world and threatening the emerging markets of eastern Europe.
  • Japanese car makers will be subsidised to stay in the UK to the tune of their entire wage bill.
  • Logistics supply chains reliant on input from Europe will be thrown into disarray.
  • Air transport, be it passenger or cargo (according to IATA) will suffer a severe downturn due to policies not being in place and many routes will be closed.
  • We will lose all current Free Trade Agreements under the EU, and as a nation of 65m compared to the EU's 600m, we will fall to the back of the queue in future FTA negotiations.
  • Being a nation of only 65m, we will not get better deals than were negotiated under the EU - in fact, logic dictates we'll get worse ones as we're a smaller market.
  • Tariffs, combined with the additional friction and beaurocracy necessitated by customs procedures, will raise the cost of both imports and exports, adding to inflationary pressures and a loss of competitiveness on exports.
  • We will lose the Euro clearing business to Germany or France, along with 83,000 jobs and €930 billion of trades per day.
  • Economists have estimated the loss to the economy would be between 4% and 9.5% of GDP - between 12 and 29 times the cost of membership.
That's not to say there won't be winners, which is why they're heard arguing their narrow viewpoints, but they're only interested in their companies, not the UK in general. The CEOs of such companies have a fiduciary duty to their shareholders, not UK Plc.

Our only hope now is that Mrs May is using Fabian tactics with the Brexiteer's and delaying the break till such time as it becomes obvious to even the most hardened Brexiteer than this is pure folly, and calls for a 2nd referendum. My fear, though, is that the dogmatists who hate Europe with a passion and are dishonest about their reasons, just won't listen.

Polls, however, are encouraging and there is a gradual and growing swing to remaining. There will be cries of; "The will of the people should not be thwarted," but what if the will of the people changes? If a defendant is found guilty and subsequently evidence is uncovered that he or she is innocent, does justice demand that the original sentence stands? As David Davies said in 2012; "If a democracy cannot change its mind, it ceases to be a democracy." Democracy is a process, not a binary event.

The only people who Brexit will definitely benefit as a group are the speculators, who thrive on uncertainty. Lots of Conservative MPs have links to the City and some, indeed, own wealth management funds. It's hardly surprising they're Brexit fanatics. Parliament, for the unscrupulous, is a route to untold wealth.

Saturday, 14 October 2017


This is the latest book I'm reading:

I've learned a few things:

  • The reason men's coats button left over right is so it leaves the sword hand free if you need to unbutton your coat during a sword fight - as I have occasionally had to do.
  • Women are escorted on the gentleman's right arm due to the sword being on the left hip and an encumbrance.
  • Rapiers proliferated in Elizabethan times due to their much lower cost of production. This fuelled a high increase in violence (a lesson for the NRA - violence decreased considerably when the wearing of swords in public was banned).
  • Because of it's lower cost, the rapier was originally the weapon of choice of the lower orders and its use was frowned upon by the nobility, who were used to hacking each other to death with the broadsword, where size, strength and endurance won the day, rather than skill and tactics.
  • The Elizabethan fencing master was considered on a social level with a juggler, actor or vagabond, but this changed once the nobility adopted the rapier out of necessity.
  • The Germans turned fencing into a sport and the custom of shaking the right hand came from there, using the sword hand to signify disarmament and peace.
A certain personage is mentioned in the book - the splendidly named Palfry Alpar, who was former Arms Master at the Royal Hungarian Military Academy. His name sounds like a quaint village in the heart of  the Cotswolds, a bit like Meryl Streep, although that is in Somerset...

Friday, 13 October 2017

Dyslexic Cat Mirrors

Hay's new kitchen island is causing problems. Because it takes up a sizeable area of the kitchen, the various cats in the house occasionally go round a corner of it and run, unexpectedly, into another cat. With the black and ginger cats this is not an issue - they are brothers; however, when it comes to Kitty, it's a different matter and a fight is called for, with fur flying and cat screams.

We need cat mirrors at each corner so the cats get advance warning of Kitty being just round the corner. 

A new dyslexia centre has been opened in Bristol, according to our local news. You'd think there would be a simpler word for the condition - how the hell is a dyslexic person meant to find the centre if they can't read such a complex word? Non-dyslexics can even have a problem with it, for God's sake.

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Camembert Catastrophe on Facebook

Not content with one disaster, I compounded it last night while Hay was away for a couple of days. I made baked Camembert for No.2 Son and self, using Lidl Camembert, forgetting it should be made with pasteurised Camembert and ending up with the usual curdled, rubbery mess.

The image below is what it should look like; mine was more like one of those plastic replicas of food you see in restaurant windows in Japan.

Well, it's skinny day today, so I shouldn't be able to make a mess of a simple soup toight.

Facebook is becoming rather a nuisance. I'm constantly having to move my cursor to view what I want to view when scrolling, as things keep popping out of the background whenever the cursor goes over hyperlinks, of which there are simply too many these days. if it's not a damned advert for something I'll never buy, it's unnecessary information about people having posted a reply.

There's a PC-based application called Data Selfie that monitors your Facebook usage and makes an attempt at interpreting that, drawing a conclusion about your proclivities. However, it doesn't take into consideration why you're looking at a particular page, just the fact you're there. Nor does it take into account your smartphone viewing habits. The application has me down as as a conservative Christian, whereas nothing could be further from the truth. The only reason I visit such pages is to have arguments with conservative Christians. I wondered why I kept seeing adverts for guns and bibles - all is now clear.

Wednesday, 11 October 2017


Jacob Rees-Mogg has a particular hatred for the European Court of Justice, but I'm at a loss to know why. The only criticisms of the ECJ that I can find are nothing to do with the rulings, but the backlog of cases - in that respect it's not much different from the British courts.

One of the problems is that fines are quite hefty, which makes an appeal almost automatic, and that adds to the time taken for a case to be completed, but other than that, no-one is complaining, except for a bit of minor tinkering and in that applies to any organisation.

The ECJ has been raised as the poster institution of the Brexit camp for no logical reason and Brexiteers are being whipped into a frothy-mouthed fury about an organisastion which does nothing more than protect their EU consumer rights and arbitrates between EU member states on EU law. It seems more to do with the fact it has the word European in it.

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Contraceptive Loaf

Hayley is congenitally incapable of cutting a whole loaf. Slices invariably come out thin at one end and thick at the other and the loaf ends up looking as if it was given to a bunch of kids. Is this a female thing, or are there blokes out there who are also cack-handed with a bread knife? The ramifications for DIY are enormous for blokes who can't cut a loaf - just imagine the carnage following an attempt to make a couple of shelves. It doesn't bear thinking about!

We were watching a film called 'Gone Girl' on Amazon Prime the other night. A wife tried to frame her husband for her murder following her disappearance. Drops of her blood were found in the kitchen, which she had placed there, but he (being a bloke) was unlikely to notice. Hay maintained she could slosh buckets of blood on our kitchen floor and I still wouldn't notice. I do notice hacked loaves though.

Donald Trump's government has issued a ruling that allows employers to opt out of providing free birth control to women, allowing employers and insurers to decline to provide birth control if doing so violates their "religious beliefs" or "moral convictions". Seems to me that it allows employers to claim it's against their religions convictions, even if they have none.

Monday, 9 October 2017

Charlemagne's Pound Coins

Currently reading a contemporary biography of Charlemagne with two sources.

They pulled no punches in giving nicknames to chroniclers in those days...

I've noticed over the last few weeks that while supermarkets other chains are still taking the old pound coin, independents are palming them off on their customers and just shrugging their shoulders when you ask for new pound coins in your change. The cynic in me wonders if this is a deliberate strategy on their part.

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Over-Conspicuous Consumption

Ref my post last Wednesday about the trade-off in mate selection. Hay reminded me that mate selection can be based on something else, as it was in her case - pity, altruism and the feeling you have for a wounded animal...

We went to Plas Newydd yesterday yesterday - the site of my old school. It's a National Trust property now, so we thought we'd renew our membership, which recently lapses, and take in Penrhyn Caste in the afternoon. Well worth a visit. A 19th century exhibition of over-conspicuous consumption. The Lords Penrhyn had an income of £65k from the estate, plus another £1.5m from the family slate quarry - and that was in the 1800s. They weren't exactly a forward looking family with respect to industrial relations and a 3 year lockout at the slate quarry in the early 1900s still leaves a sour taste in the area.

Here are a few snaps:

Saturday, 7 October 2017


We headed to Betws-y-Coed yesterday as a stop-off point for some walking before a black tie, school reunion dinner in Llandudno this evening. Betws-y-Coed is one of those places where the only form of employment is working in a dining establishment, running a bed and breakfast or having an outdoor clothing emporium.

It seems most of the bed and breakfasts here are up for sale. Most are also run by Scousers - but there again, most of N Wales is Scouse. Time was (when I was at school in Anglesey), before the motorway was built along the coast road, the place was relatively isolated, but the motorway as opened it up phenomenally. And with Welsh now being compulsory in schools, many more speak it as a first language.

Outdoor clothing is something I find quite amusing; people spend an absolute fortune in order to buy clothing that's half a micron thick and weighs nothing, but still keeps you warm. What's wrong with a duffel coat and a cable-knit sweater, along with a canvass rucksack that soaks up water? If it's raining, an oilskin sou'wester and cape are perfectly adequate.

We walked from Betws-y-Coed, along the north bank of the River Llugwy to where the A5 crosses it and then back along the A5 - just over 5 miles - taking in Swallow Falls.

Friday, 6 October 2017

The Human Interest Story - And Fast

Years ago the only news reporters were men and all you got was factual news without any touchy-feely stuff.

I can't help thinking that it was the advent of female reporters, and consequently news editors, that introduced the human element into news reporting, which I find rather an annoyance due to its  manipulative nature, but I'm sure women adore because of the emotional value. Trial by Mumsnet, where opinion matters more than fact. It also opens the news business to, quite justifiable, accusations of bias. 

I prefer my news to limit itself to the plain and simple facts. Is that a typically male thing?

On Facebook I have news feeds from various news outlets; the problem is that many of them rush to be first with a story because their on-line publications contain adverts, and the first outlet with breaking news stands the best chance of getting a paid click on an advert. However, they seem to sacrifice accuracy for that speed, so, invariably, the news story is hideously inaccurate to the extent of being positively misleading. The BBC at least waits until there's a high degree of detail before releasing the story and is therefore is more trustworthy as a comprehensive news source.