Wednesday, October 31

All work and no play makes...

This has been one long month, albeit we’ve completed most everything we had set out to achieve. Not quite there, but the remainder is more about dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s. Can give some thought to having a bit of fun.

Tuesday, October 30

A cunning plan?

On the face of it Hammond’s budget didn’t sound half-bad; in fact it was relatively optimistic. A budget for ‘strivers and grafters’. I wonder what happens when the current economic cycle turns? This is a crisis of confidence for a Conservative Party that has lost its way. In the same manner Blair moved to the right to reassure Tories, May has parked her bus on the social democratic left. Hardly the buccaneering adventurer we’d hoped for. But then there’s a serious election in the offing; not a whimsy like Brexit, but one that may determine Britain’s path over the next couple of decades – arguably the remainder of my life. I was born into a bombed out and broke 1950s Britain, and could be handing it back in much the same condition.

Monday, October 29

That time of year

Now this is what I call a real frost. A beautiful day, but zero degrees this morning. Time to turn on the central heating and chop more wood; exchange my polo shirts for flannel.

Saturday, October 27

Modern-day public stocks

I wonder to what extent the Telegraph’s salacious pursuit of Philip Green is in danger of fostering a Kavanaugh-style polarisation of public opinion, not least when lowlife Hain is on the opposing side. Whatever the rights and wrongs of this latest case, I would hope the lad gets his day in court rather than being summarily stripped of his knighthood. The court of public opinion can be a fickle thing, siding with the likes of goody two shoes Cliff Richard while prepared to believe the worst of a Jew in the retail trade. Denigrating Tommy Robinson while praising Lord Peter “I’m speaking out against wealth and privilege” Hain. No surprise No10 is among the first to jump on the bandwagon.

Friday, October 26

Glass half-empty

According to this week’s Speccie the country isn’t doing too badly. “Companies have been hiring at a rate never seen before. Youth unemployment is at an all-time low. Salaries are (finally) rising faster than inflation. The Office for Budget Responsibility, which has been almost as gloomy as Mr Hammond in its outlook, will have to admit that it has yet again got it wrong and that the public finances are in healthier shape than it has assumed. Income inequality is near a 30-year low, and corporation tax receipts are churning in at a rate that has astonished the Treasury.” Good as things appear, however, I suspect its nothing Theresa May and her chancellor can’t fuck up given enough rope.

Same old same old...

“More than 50,000 military personnel from 31 nations opened Nato’s biggest exercises since the Cold War yesterday, defending Norway against a possible attack from the east. the two-week show of strength, intended to project western readiness to deter Russian aggression, involves the deployment of 250 aircraft, 10,000 tanks and land vehicles, and naval vessels such as USS Harry S Truman, a nuclear aircraft carrier.”       …I spent my teenage years skulking round Rhineland forests, waiting for Russian tanks to roll across the border. Fifty years later we’re both still at it.

Wednesday, October 24

Pipe dream

A wonderful spell of fine weather. As with summer, however, the sunshine remains off limits. Autumn and we’re still trapped indoors, decorating. When we do finish painting there’s new lighting to be installed, carpet and blinds to be fitted. Outside has been sorely neglected, the list of chores ever lengthening. Promised myself we’d take two months off at the end of October – a pipe dream? Am trying to recall how we managed to do this sort of shit when we both worked for a living.

The diet of champions: gallons of coffee and a box of Ella’s iced fingers.

Sunday, October 21

Bah Humbug!

Flicking through the Sunday newspapers merely confirms the rightness of my decision to stop the world and get off. Lunatics and asylums ain’t in it. I count it a plus that work on our local transmitter has deprived the homestead of radio and television signals, sparing me the broadcast media’s worthless opinion. …To the market this morning, loading up on veal and venison – both freezers are just about full. Whatever’s waiting in the wings, be it Brexit or Corbyn, pestilence and plague, at least we won’t go hungry.

Friday, October 19

Still hard at work

Tres weary. Since Mrs G. sacked the decorator and installed me in his place, it’s been nose to the grindstone. In order to meet the Boss’s exacting standards, walls and ceilings have to be restored to perfection, knots, holes and blemishes dealt with, everything sanded to within an inch of its life. Three different undercoats to address the multiple surfaces, a minimum two topcoats on each. When not painting, I’m either washing brushes and rollers, or driving to Exeter for more supplies – have spent a small fortune on posh paint. Guess it keeps me out of trouble, idle hands and all that.

Wednesday, October 17

Too busy to post

Painting & Decorating. It’s not so much the prep as the god-awful wall panelling I have had to remove – my predecessor was a moron.

Sunday, October 14

Not gonna happen

“Experts, says the BBC’s environmental analyst, generally agree that for healthy lives and a healthy planet, the battle over climate change will have to get personal. That could mean people driving smaller cars, walking and cycling more, flying less, buying less fast fashion, wearing a sweater in winter… AND EATING LESS MEAT. People will still live good lives, but they'll have to make a cultural shift. If governments do not feel able to back those messages, they say, the near impossible task of holding global temperature rise to 1.5C will become even more difficult.”

…Not gonna happen, certainly not in my lifetime.

Sundays…

Wonders never cease: it has stopped raining and the sun made a brief appearance…ladybirds are emerging from window frames. A morale-boosting Oirish stew for Sunday lunch – a lazy Sunday. Lazy for me, that is; we’ve taken in a stallion and he’s busy defiling the mares. Lazy means idle hands…and just as we found our food supplies running short, so too the wine cellar. Have spent my idle moments ordering up supplies from Bordeaux and the Languedoc, North West Spain and Tuscany. Everyone needs a hobby, something to keep them occupied during autumn and throughout those long winter nights.

Leaders' debates

I see Sky TV’s debate petition has stalled in the mid thirty thousands. If something was popular with the public I would anticipate hundreds of thousands, if not millions, to join the clamour. 36k seems such a piddling number for a national campaign, and maybe reflects the public’s antipathy to political debate. Perhaps May and Corbyn should agree to a dance off with their respective partners, a la Strictly? Television debates are nothing more than an opportunity for snake oil salesmen such as Cameron and Clegg – skilled in the art of flannel – to impress the gullible.

Saturday, October 13

Restocking freezer

The yard resembled a war zone this morning. Took off across the moor to Tavistock Farmers Market before the next weather front arrives. Today is one of those days you’re better off staying home, except supplies were low. Picked up steaks and joints of native-breed beef, and an assortment of saddleback pork. Throw in yesterday’s half-hogget and the larder’s suddenly looking healthier.

Contagions of sentiment

“Many people are turning their backs upon specialists, whether in the fields of medicine, science, economics or foreign policy.” Max Hastings decries the contemporary fashion for ‘sentiment’ as an antidote to ‘experts’. And what right-thinking person could disagree with his premise? The trouble stems from people such as Max who spend much of their time belittling anyone that actually does disagree. Like many of his ilk, Max believes there are those born to lead, and the rest of us – those bereft of the necessary cognitive, technical, or social skills. It’s the sort of in-your-face arrogance that led to Brexit, Trump and Corbyn. A little self-deprecation, humility, goes a long way.

Friday, October 12

Autumn is the hardest season

Storm Callum has arrived with the usual litany of fallen trees and flooded roads. Up here on our wind swept corner the deluge is particularly heavy, first real test of the summer maintenance programme. Have dispatched Mrs G. to check on neighbours; those downhill of us keep a dingy at the back door.

The electricity supply has been restored in time for supper. A portion of hogget from the man next door. I guess the reason an animal is classified as ‘rare breed’ is that there’s not enough meat on the carcass to make it economically viable. I also suspect the breed is not to everyone’s taste.

Wednesday, October 10

All work and no play

While I’ve managed an occasional trek on the moor, the homestead is keeping us busy. One more room to decorate and that’s the lot for this year. The actual painting isn’t a problem, so much as choosing a colour scheme. In the old days I would prevaricate at length, before painting everything magnolia. These days it’s white, albeit a poncey Farrow & Ball white.

Monday, October 8

Good luck with that one

“Using gas boilers to heat homes could be abandoned as governments are set to face renewed calls for dramatic action to tackle climate change. A major report on the impact of global warming, to be published on Monday, will warn about the speed and scale of measures required to keep temperature rises to a level beyond which many vulnerable countries say their survival is at risk.”   ...I’m sure these people inhabit some sort of fantasy world. Listened to the papers review on Sky News this morning… In past times everything was attributed to being ‘Thatcher’s fault’. Seems the great lady has been usurped by Trump.

Saturday, October 6

Good times do end

“When Novak Djokovic beat Kei Nishikori to reach last month’s final of the US Open, he ensured the survival of modern sport’s eeriest statistic. No man born after 1988 has won a grand slam singles title. In this discrete world of fixed rules and limited variables, all the accumulated gains in physical conditioning, technical know-how and performance data have failed to make a Stanislas Wawrinka, let alone a Djokovic, from the uncountable tennis-playing boys born after 1988. The cohort that is 30 or below has no answer to its elders. That we have lived through an unrepeatably good era of sport, and are due drabber times, is hard to accept, so resilient is the idea of history as linear progress. While it is confined to sport, that idea is a harmless naivety. If it bleeds into the real world, however, it creates the expectation of continuous improvement in material life. When this is dashed, well, look around you for the fallout. The anger of the day stems from a kind of innocence. It assumes progress to be the natural order of things — not just the way the world should be, but the way it has been most of the time. So, when we find ourselves renting at the age our parents bought homes, or stuck in a mill town that peaked two generations ago, we think something anomalous is going on. From there it is a small step to the conclusion that our venal rulers have jammed the normal operation of history. Dump them and the machine will resume its gradual upgrades. The leftist millennial and the middle-aged reactionary both treat the past as a baseline from which there must be, if not constant improvement, then no slippage at all. A lifetime of peace and riches since 1945 has left us with this sunny take on how history works. Unfortunately, progress proves to be fitful and reversible. We take a golden age for granted, until it ends.” (Janan Ganesh, FT)

Part of the game, this time of year

You spend a good part of the day raking leaves, loading them into a wheelbarrow and trundling each load down to the composting site some 120yds distant. Then you wheel out the mower and treat the yard its last shave of the season, before clearing gutters and downpipes in advance of the rain. Only to wake this morning and find the homestead buried under a carpet of leaves, gutters and downpipes blocked. You spend a good part of the day raking leaves… Don’t laugh, it beats the gym.

Thursday, October 4

Bygone era

Maurizio ‘Zanza’ Zanfanti, legendary playboy from Rimini – obituary.

Tuesday, October 2

“Every country has the government it deserves”

For all our faults – and we’ve a fair few – England’s a none-too-shabby country. Listening to Conservative Party Conference speakers, however, you wonder what we have done to deserve such a shower. Is contemporary politics so unattractive a career? I could forgive their woodenness and lack of stature, if the trains ran on time. But they don’t. And don’t get me started on the so-called opposition.