Monday, 16 September 2013

Just For A Moment I Thought I'd Gone Mad

It happened a couple of weeks ago when Vince Cable slagged off the government's wretched Help to Buy Scheme. Saint Vince was making the point that such interventionist policies can stoke up an undesirable asset bubble - he might equally have said that such schemes verge on the immoral, but then Vince is a liberal rather than a libertarian. But credit where credit's due - Vince you were spot on.

But then he started banging on about his bloody Mansion Tax again. I think we all know what I think of that. As for today well talk about having your cake and eating it - Biting the Hand

Why is it by the way that inflation is a 'bad thing' except when it applies to housing? Among much else Mark Twain got this right - Buy land, they're not making it anymore. One of the many wise things I never said but wish I had.

Sunday, 15 September 2013


The worst thing about any holiday is that you have to go back to work afterwards. Holidays can be rated inversely by reference to the extent that you can face work at their expiry. Cornwall 13 ranks high. Tomorrow will not see me at my best in the office.

Cornwall/Kernow. A beautiful county perched on the extreme left edge of England, bordered only by Devon. Some highlights: the beach and coastline at Sandymouth, a contender to take Bamburgh's hitherto unchallenged best beach in the world award; walking in the mist and rain from Sandymouth to Bude and back; St Ives - make sure you don't make the rookie mistake of trying to drive to the centre of the town, instead take your medicine and park at one of the outlying car parks and steel yourself for a vertiginous descent and eventual knackering ascent; Tate St Ives - though in truth the exhibits will always struggle to live up to the aspect of the building; the Hepworth Museum - I thought this was a surprising gem that served to give context to the sculptures - they do a joint ticket with the Tate which makes good value.
The Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden

 As one should on holiday we ate plentifully if not always well. As one should also do on holiday we took the chance to watch some films on the old dvd box. And jolly good they were too, none new to us but unwatched for several years and unreviewed on this blog. So here goes.

Thirteen Days is the story of the Cuban Missile Crisis told from the viewpoint of a Kennedy White House insider. The Russian perspective is barely considered. That is not a criticism. A good film. I am precisely of an age to have lived through the Cuban Missile Crisis but not to have experienced it (I was two). Is it taught in modern history lessons I wonder? It bloody well ought to be.  As the tag-line has it  'You'll never believe how close we came'.

Kevin Costner is much derided but it seems to me that he is in a goodly proportion of decent enough films - Thirteen Days included.

Heartburn is Nora Ephron before she wrote the brilliant When Harry Met Sally. Jack Nicholson does his usual matchless portrayal of Jack Nicholson and I'm all in favour of that. Meryl Streep is predictably competent even if there is that annoying hint that you can see the method being applied. This is a slight film with human beastliness at its heart and matching human resilience fighting against the nastiness. This theme it shares with the final entry in our own little Kernow Film Festival.

The Purple Rose of Cairo is another slight comedy with betrayal at its centre. Halliwell dismisses it rather (though granting it a single star - more than it affords Heartburn) as nothing more than an elongated sketch. That is true of many of Woody Allen's films but perhaps he is a victim of his own successful method. When The Artist seemed to me to deploy all manner of Allenesque tricks it was hailed as innovative. When Allen does it, it is repetitious. Not Allen's best film but not by any means anything other than a good one.

A Good Time Was Had By All

In what must have been something of a record, Sharon and the BFP only dined out once in Cornwall last week. However our one experience bears a recommendation. We were accompanied by nephew Harry who resides in Falmouth and who had nominated The Cove at Maenporth. The website describes the restaurant as 'award winning' though is not immediately forthcoming as to which awards, but I can well believe it having been highly taken with the line caught sea bass. Imaginatively prepared (pigs' trotters were involved) but not so that the imagination got in the way of the taste. If Big Fat Pig awarded stars for restaurants The Cove would qualify. If in the area, give it a try. Worth a detour even if only vaguely in the vicinity. That good. Cove website      

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Big Fat Pig Sur Ses Grandes Vacances En Cornwall

My soulmate and I are in Cornwall for a week. We have rented a beautiful cottage a few miles from Bude and it has a nice kitchen (though not of course as magnificent as the edifice the builders are currently constructing back at the ranch) and a hot tub - how debauched! Big Fat Pig is mid campaign in the battle to undo all the good work of recent exercise having managed only one desultory run yesterday evening. BFP is not only gorbing (my thanks to my late father-in-law for that descriptive and spell-checker challenging word) but he is also back on the booze having rescinded the self-denying ordinance at the wedding of Katie and Rhodri Parfitt last Friday.

The wedding - a damned fine time was had by all. The next generation came very well out of this nuptial celebration. They were cheerful and accommodating to their elders and refrained from laughing when we took to the dance floor. There were even three competent, sincere and beautifully judged speeches from groom, best man and father of the bride - the last of these being my little and estimable brother. A rather moving and touching day. Excellent grub also - troughed up by the BFP.

And so to Cornwall. We holidayed here quite often when the girls were young but have not been here for more than a decade. It is two hours too far away to be weekendable but it is magnificent when you have the time. Better out of season as well.

Top tudor gaff
National Trust properties have occupied our last two days. Both Cotehele and Lanhydrock were under siege from people older even than BFP. If the Church of England was latterly the Tory party at prayer, then the National Trust is the current middle-classes at their leisure. An honesty box in the book shop perhaps best sums it up. Both properties were well worth our time and Lanhydrock is particularly arresting.

The National Trust - what to make of this very successful organisation? It is not immune to political orthodoxy and wrong-headedness - hunting and wind turbines both show it at its worst. However its core work of preserving how we have lived and the landscape we inhabit, is discharged with a charm and efficiency which is enviable - and of course they can still have an honesty box in the second hand bookshop.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

... Are Brilliant Mark XV

Traditional British beer ... I have been off the booze for a month now and was going to wait until Katie's wedding on Friday before falling off the wagon but a bottle of IPA had my name on it.

The National Gallery. Free. Fantastic. And a cracking website. Today I was in that London and my meeting finished early so I studied not only Seurat's Bathers but his other smaller preparation pieces exhibited alongside it. Have a look for yourself - National Gallery-Seurat

Apple and granola muffins. Or more precisely an apple and granola muffin, singular, enjoyed in the National Gallery coffee bar.

Russian Caravan tea.

Trains when they run on time.

Monday, 2 September 2013

Self-Evident Truths

Deserves a quiet night
Count Arthur Strong's Radio Show has not survived the translation to television. This is a pity.

REM's Automatic For The People is a jolly good album.

Rory Bremner is very clever and talented. He was at King's at the same time as me. Our paths never crossed. Rory Bremner, sad to relate, is no longer funny.

People can very often be very bloody marvellous.

More often people can be very bloody annoying.

I'm not half looking forward to my holidays.