Sunday, August 25

Toiling in the fields

Lot of visitors knocking about this weekend. This morning they took off in loaded cars, bikes strapped to roof. A day at the seaside? In nearby fields there’s no break for Sunday – figures are bent double, harvesting fruit and veg. Backbreaking (and thirsty) work in this heat.

At the homestead a succession of barbecued pork ribs, charred rib of beef, chickens broiled to perfection…several types of potato…more so in the variety of salad leaves…olives and fried cashew nuts. A glass of Chave’s finest.

A life on the sidelines

In relative terms, I’ve lived
A charmed life
Dodged many a bullet
And I wonder why I
Was spared
Whose place I took
Why me, so many opportunities
(Too often spurned)

It comforts me to sit
On the bench...the useful spare
Always there, just in case

Some nights I wake in a sweat:
What if he suddenly turns to me
And crooks his finger?

Saturday, August 24

BBC Final Score

You have to feel for Martin Keown. Fuckin’ arseholes. We don’t ask for much (On TV, men are still just about tolerated).

Friday, August 23

Blitzkrieg revisited

Seems most of England is heading in our direction for their bank holiday. Managed a haircut (pulse of the nation), milk, bread and papers, before beating a hasty retreat to the homestead. Weather’s playing ball, well into the 20°s; not a breath of wind. A chores free, guilt free weekend. Pork chops (saddleback) a la Rowley Leigh, a decent (Alain Graillot) white. Life doesn’t get much better.

Thursday, August 22

Intergenerational angst

“Contrary to popular millennial misconception that the baby boomer generation is living the high life at their expense, older people are actually paying more in tax while receiving a falling share of public spending. Millennials and people approaching middle age are enjoying more benefits-in-kind from the state than their predecessors despite a decline in the rate of pay rises. Nowadays older people work for longer or pay tax on private pensions; and though younger people benefit less, their net contribution is lower than that of their predecessors. Analysis found that people now aged 20-24 were net beneficiaries when comparing taxes and benefits, receiving £4,124 more than they paid in, while the generation born in the 1950s were net contributors when they were in their 20s and paid in £2,593 more than they took out.” 

We sometimes forget there are other generations…

“There is no shame in nostalgia for a world that was as one likes it. I am not above it. If globalisation goes into reverse in the coming years, as per the hype, I will sob Pathetically for the noughties, my own Eden, when the whole planet appeared to have been created for mobile young men with no responsibilities. It is just odd to live through the rebranding of the 1960s from the wokest of decades to the last truly conservative one.” (Janan Ganesh, Citizen of nowhere, FT) 

At the end of the day you can only play the team in front of you.

It takes all sorts

British army ‘targets’ under-18s from poor backgrounds to fill its ranks, writes The Guardian, highlighting a disparity between northern English cities and London’s migrant communities. The lefty brigade has never been a recruiting sergeant for the army and I recall my local youth club leader doing his best to talk me out of enlisting when I was 16. I admit that for some it’s a career choice of last resort, but that doesn’t invalidate the opportunities provided by the armed services. On concluding my regular service I did a brief spell in the territorials, the not-untypical recruit being an undergraduate from the local Russell Group university.

Against the grain

Norway’s sovereign wealth fund have increased their investment in equities to 69.3 per cent of its assets, contrary to the advice of most of our teenage scribblers financial commentators who have switched wholesale to bonds and cash. Time will prove which is right.

Stirring the pot

The SNP are a bunch of Nazis, says Scottish Secretary Alistair Jack, fuelled by anger, bitterness and resentment. If this doesn’t wind up the relatives nothing will. Fanciful as it seems, I think the Conservatives see this strategy as a way of replacing potential losses in the South West (to the LibDems) with more MPs north of the border.

Wednesday, August 21

Doesn’t necessarily have to be Brexit

The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t being said (Peter Drucker). “The new generation of educated French pols think they can speak English. What they actually speak is Globish, syntactically correct but with no understanding of the assumptions shared by British speakers,” says The Telegraph’s Boris whisperer, hinting at why our Gallic cousins don’t really get us. I could say the same thing about German acquaintances who freely admit to operating on a different wavelength. Have been reading translations from Russia and Chile which, while hugely entertaining, struggle to say what they mean (I struggle to hear what they say). Two days ago a BBC News presenter made an offhand remark demonstrating his total misunderstanding of the subject in question. How can we hope to reach an agreement on anything when we are often talking at cross-purposes?

Early morning

Sun has returned and the paddocks are buttercup yellow. Yard is more on the lavender side, lots of flowering oregano and red rowan berries – rabbits and white-tailed bumblebees. Early morning trail runners…riders exercising their steeds. Above me at 37,000ft an Airbus A320 en route from Manchester to Malaga.

Monday, August 19

The Devil's Spawn

Those most vilified pests who we love to loathe. Whisper their name, at the risk of your dinner guests choking on their vol-au-vents. Cyclists.

In praise of the grape

Today’s Times comment page (Thunderer) takes a stand again the high level of tax that is levelled on vino. “Duty on wine has risen by 39 per cent since 2010, while for spirits and cider the figure is 27 per cent, and for beer 16 per cent. The last chancellor to cut still wine duty was Nigel Lawson, 35 years ago, when we still had pound notes in circulation … It’s ridiculous that British wine drinkers are paying 68 per cent of all the wine duty paid in Europe.” Alas, my friends, taxes have to be raised from someone, and just as the top one-per-cent account for more income taxes paid than the bottom ninety-per-cent, then so too the “polite, pragmatic middle”. Consider it a public duty.

Am currently reading the recently reprinted Waugh on Wine (1986). Thanks in part to our former colonies we forget how far we’ve come these past four decades in terms of the range and quality of wines available to the general public – that doesn’t include £5/bot wine. The younger generation who appear to prefer pills and self-absorption don’t know what they’re missing. Back in 1975 my then employer provided Gudgeon with a generous expense account, encouraging me to venture out and enjoy myself (I might have misinterpreted his instructions). As a committed oenophile for more than forty years I continue to live up to what one assumes were his expectations.