Tuesday, 17 January 2017

What A Waste Of Words

A wise person told me that the proper response to the inaugurating of the Donald will be to shed a tear for the world. There is something in this. However the thought occurs to me that waking on Friday to a Hillary Clinton presidency would be almost as deadening for the soul - another wave in the cruel statist tide. Sad times.

Nichola Sturgeon. I mean bloody hell, talk about overstaying your fifteen minutes of fame. I care not what she thinks her little bitty piss-ant economy is entitled to over and above what the rest of us citizens have to put up with. Not being Alex Salmond is hardly a life skill, but I struggle to comprehend what else recommends her to us.

giants in the earth
Nick Clegg. Some people just don't get it do they? Here's an expensively well-educated polyglot and yet he has not lost his mastery of getting it wrong. Nick, son, don't (as you did on Radio 2 this morning) presume to tell me what I did or did not vote for in the referendum. Deal with it.

If we get the politicians we deserve then we must have done something pretty gruesome in a previous life. I am currently enjoying John Bew's Attlee biography Citizen Clem, which only serves to accentuate the intellectual poverty of our political times. There were giants in the earth.

Monday, 16 January 2017

Slaughtering The Fatted Calf

By which I mean the troublesome lower leg muscles. Avid readers will have put up with me emoting on this subject before. Anecdotal evidence (that is to say whingeing at rugby club bars) tells me that this is the injury common to retired rugby players. And not just the fat old buggers like me - the same problem affects some far finer specimens of male athlete.


I have been known to announce that I am giving up road running (it's really shuffling with style) because of the regularity of the painful tweaked gastrocnemius. My last retirement was in the Autumn of last year. I was going to confine myself to short outings on the treadmill. But as I contemplate the dire state of my belly after Christmas I feel the pull of the open road - only outdoor running gives you that righteous glow. So here we go again. Same old, same old: this time I'm going to take it easy. Baby steps etc etc. Thus far we are seventeen minutes into this latest dabble. All clear thus far. Insofar as there is a plan I aim to add five minutes to the longest run each week, stopping at an hour. I'll keep you posted. Lycra and Oakleys are, of course, mandatory.

We're just back from a great weekend at the country estate. After a nice mooch round Beaumaris we took our repast at the Panton Arms in Pentraeth - I've been complimentary about this plain looking pub before but the praise bears repetition. I had slow roasted belly pork on mustard mash which would have passed muster in any wannabe fine dinery. Trust me - when it comes to belly pork, I'm a professional. You can tell by my own belly. Oh, and the beer's good as well.

Thursday, 12 January 2017

A Prospect Of Vengeance

Published in 1989, Anthony Price's A Prospect of Vengeance is his eighteenth novel. Great title but I'm afraid this one left me underwhelmed - unusual because I am an admirer of much else of his work. Too much of the tale is told in unpersuasive dialogue and, possibly me getting thicker, I didn't really get the denouement . As I come to think about it, I'm pretty sure I am getting thicker. Eheu, tempus fugit. You never lose it you know - Latin O Level, I'm talking about.

Reasons To Be Cheerful ... And Reasons Not

After the holiday splurge of blogging comes the inevitable new year lull while I try to cobble together something to write about. Of course there's plenty out there, but you have to make the effort to galvanise it into prose. So here goes.

Here's a paragraph I read this morning and which is so good that I should share it. It is from Rory Sutherland in the Spectator. He analyses the imperfections (nay imperfectability) of economics, the 'dismal science'. He explains how he confronts the dogma that underlies the forecasting failures of economists:
I try to solve this problem myself by being passionately and unquestioningly dogmatic about stupid things which don't matter: I believe the true word of God can only be expressed in 17th century English, am a great fan of the monarchy and am convinced, without a shred of empirical support, that the drink Dr. Pepper has real medicinal powers. The great thing about this is that by clinging to irrelevant certainties, I am free to change my mind about things which are actually important, such as the minimum wage or the need for free movement of labour. The ability to hold irrelevant things sacred is, I think, a great intellectual defence of conservatism.
Well, amen to most of that - I'm not so sure about Dr. Pepper but I think you'll find that this is true of a good Barolo.

The world is readying itself for the Trump presidency. It's already getting messy. In just the past few days we've had a run-in with Meryl Streep, allegations of a lurid blackmail tape and a bizarre press conference. Let's take them in turn.

Streepgate. La Streep used the platform of the Golden Globes (where she was getting yet another award) to condemn Trump's belittling of a disabled reporter. I have to be even handed here - I almost always find the right-on bleatings of luvvies tiresome and self-indulgent, so I should not put up with this instance just because I find Trump repellent. Of course she had a point. The man gives every indication of being a prize shit. His bellicose reaction (in which he offered the opinion that Streep is one of Hollywood's most overrated actresses) spoke volumes. For fuck's  sake Donald, rise above it.

That sex tape. Does it really exist? Who knows and until someone actually proves it one way or the other this is a non-story which has the liberal press foaming at the mouth and risking a gift to Trump of enough rope with which to hang his accusers. Mind you, it will be balls-achingly funny if it transpires to be true.

That press conference. Out of this world. The man has zero humility. Piers Morgan speaks well of him.  Enough said.

And the irony of this? To the extent he has a political agenda, there are plenty of good things on it. But if only, if only, it was someone less palpably immoral implementing it. And by the way Donald, an election where you lost the popular vote is not one that you won 'easily'. Still, in a gruesome sort of way, it's going to be funny watching him, so funny.

Sunday, 1 January 2017

Twelve Films At Christmas: 12

So that's that for another year. Number twelve was Stakeout, a light but entertaining action comedy showcasing the considerable comedic skills of Richrad Dreyfuss. We had seen this at the cinema the thick end of three decades ago. Getting old is a pain but what are you going to do? 6/10.

Not exactly rock and roll but we heralded the new year by doing our tax returns this afternoon. I'm due a refund - which is nice. That task out of the way, we quaffed Pol Roger. Which is very nice.

Terrestrial television coverage of British racing today switched to ITV. Sad to relate they seem to judge that the public service remit is met by giving a platform to that noisy pillock, Matt Chapman. Which is not nice.

Friday, 30 December 2016

2016 And The Kindness Of Strangers

So ends (well almost - there is another day to come) 2016. It has been a year of celebrity deaths, an unattended Olympics (this fact overlooked in the mood of British triumphalism), electoral schisms and general pessimism. I started the year unattached to any medication and finish it back on everything. In this latter regard I have learned my lesson - some things are meant to be. To those, particularly the Groupie, who were alarmed by my tumble from the well wagon, I apologise and thank them, particularly the Groupie. I'll try not to do it again.

Those electoral schisms - Trump first. The dust begins to settle but still I cannot see this as anything other than a scar on the face of America. The man is vile. What does become yet more obvious as Democrats sift through the electoral rubble, is that Hillary Clinton was a catastrophically poor candidate. Yet the closest they came to an alternative was a barmpot like Bernie Sanders with his half-baked student politico socialism.

As for Brexit, well you know which side of the fence I fell. What has been by turns most amusing and most horrifying is the wounded self-righteous gibberish of the bien-pensant. Usually sober and sane commentators have lost all perspective. And yes I'm talking about you Matthew Parris - you have branded millions of us as racist (which I am not) and you should be ashamed of yourself. I expect Polly Toynbeee to write bilge but I thought you better than that.

All of which can leave a nasty taste in the mouth. So it is good to finish on a note of reassurance. On Tuesday afternoon La Famille Roberts set out on a walk over Cannock Chase. DN1's GPS reading was our guiding star. Well here's the news - sometimes the technology goes wrong. We ultimately exited the Chase three miles from our starting point and enveloped in swift-falling darkness. We resolved to call a taxi and were on the point of knocking on the first door we came upon to get an exact postal location. Our interlocutor would have none of it. He would drive us round the Chase (we had conspired to traverse it) back to our car. I do not know your name Sir and we will never meet again but for that kindness you win the OG Man of the Year Award for 2016.

Happy New Year.

Thursday, 29 December 2016

Twelve Films At Christmas: 10 & 11

Two Disney films, both ambitious in conception and stunning in execution.

Sleeping Beauty has the luminescent palette of ancient devotional paintings and is visually arresting even if the trouble with fairy tales is that you know who is going to win and how. 7/10.

This year's revisualising of The Jungle Book has a lot to live up to, the 1967 cartoon being an indisputable classic. Yet this new version manages to nod musically to the earlier film whilst setting its own high water mark in computer generated images. I really enjoyed this. 8/10.