All posts by Bill Sticker

Expatriate observer of life in the UK and British Columbia, Canada. Politically slightly right of centre with a pro libertarian bias. Writes, publishes and now a lot more relaxed about life in general. Is keeping his British accent for tax purposes. Travels a lot.

That’s interesting…..

You know how you come across certain snippets of information and your head just nods and you do a big internal “Oh wow. That makes sense.” I had such a moment this morning when I heard about a Swedish drug company donating the sum of a hundred grand to the UK Liberal Democrat party. “Okay Bill.” You might say. “Foreign companies donate to political parties all over the world. Big deal.”

Well sort of, and don’t get me wrong I’m inclined to agree, but when it is a particular drug company which is the major supplier of puberty blockers, you might be forgiven for putting two and two together. The two halves of this little equation being the upsurge of the transgender agenda with its surprisingly smooth intrusion into public education, the Limp Dems being very much on board with the whole identity politics thing and the possible financial benefits to the drug company concerned. Not that I approve of foreign interventions in individual nation states, but money is money, politicians are permanently on sale, and a bribe is a bribe, no matter it’s format. Arms companies used to do it all the time because that’s the way certain cultures did and still do business.

Meanwhile, back on my original topic, I was thinking thus; drugs cost a lot, tens, sometimes hundreds of millions to develop, but the applications of puberty blockers are very limited. Ergo there is a smaller market for said drugs than something mainstream, like painkillers for example. Early onset puberty can prove difficult, not only for an underage child, but also for parents and anyone within their social circle. However, early onset puberty to the degree that puberty blockers are required was once a very rare phenomenon. Nowadays we are told that such things are on the increase. Some claim this phenomenon is due to ‘Gender bending’ chemicals like those found in cheap soaps, certain types of plastic food containers and cheap Teflon. Other, more credible studies cite social and racial influences for early onset puberty. Whoops! forgot the trigger warning there. Oh well, can’t be helped. Don’t shoot the messenger etc.

However, there is another, and more sinister agenda here. All of a sudden there are a lot of surprisingly well funded and connected NGO’s and pressure groups pushing an associated use for such puberty blockers via their activist agendas.

Money is coming from somewhere to fund a very small number of vociferous activists who some, even of their own kind, are loath to be associated with. Could it be that the activists have been taking a sly backhander from the company who supply the drugs used to begin a soi-disant ‘trans’ children’s descent into their own bleak futures? Because the perverted activists who have infiltrated the Anglophone education system are pushing vulnerable children that way? Just to increase sales of an expensive drug to vulnerable young people who only think they need it?

Jesus H Christ on a bike! Surely no-one’s that cold bloodedly callous, are they? Are they?

Will this be the next Thalidomide scandal?

Excuse me. I think I’m feeling very nauseous…..

Parent stuff

Mildly concerned about the most recent knife attack in London as it happened in an area that Youngest regularly passes through on her way to and from various venues. So it’s the usual mildly frantic back and forth on the messaging services we use to confirm she’s not in amongst the victims or witnesses. Don’t know what we’d do if she was, but the very least would be us on the next available flight out to London to help out any way we could. Nice to hear that the Met were on the ball and shot the assailant, but not so good for the folks he managed to damage.  By the way, kudos to the guys who tackled the knife wielder with a fire extinguisher and (Would you adam and eve it) a Narwal tusk.

We fretted for a while about Youngest getting caught up in these things, but this is where she has chosen to be, and it turns out she was in a nearby pub with her mates at the time, having missed the whole stabby event by twenty wonderful minutes. We’re relieved, but what can you do but do the parent thing and at least show her that we do worry about her safety?

Other news is that I picked up my postal ballot yesterday and will be using it shortly. Small hint; it won’t be going to any remainer candidate, they’ve been messing things up for the last three years to the point where UK business is having trouble planning much needed investments and creating employment and thus wealth. Mrs S feels the same way, so as far as we’re concerned Labour, the Limp Dems and Greens are out of luck. They’re all equally clueless.

As for the vociferous big business lobby who continually push for European integration, which will be good for them but very few others, they got the UK into this mess, so no sympathy for when BREXIT does finally happen. I hope Johnson does get a large majority to push BREXIT through but I’m also hoping that Big Nige and the BREXIT party will bag a few seats, just enough to keep the Tories feet to the fire. One should not put thy faith in people with such a singularly poor track record of backsliding. Okay, my heart says vote Tory, but my head says they’re not to be trusted.

What else? Oh yes, I brought my Lemon and Grapefruit plants into the kitchen, away from the frosts and hailstorms which are currently making their presence felt in our neck of the woods. One of the Lemon plants is looking a bit scraggly, but out of the other five, three have stems almost as thick as the tip if my little finger. Also our four Grapefruit seedlings are well leafed and will probably need larger pots by the time Spring rolls around. It’s quite the little jungle in the sunny corner of the kitchen. Our deck garden is looking a bit woebegone after the adverse weather, however, ’tis the season etcetera.

With regard to our current Canadian day jobs, Mrs S and I have decided we’re jacking them in 2020 when our contracts end. It will mean a bit of rearrangement of tax and investment strategy, but we should be fine. I have a not inconsiderable cash reserve to drop into the pot, which will help. Why we’re doing this is the continual messing around the Ministry insist on imposing on our organisation. The plan is for me to do a little online retraining, as will Mrs S, then next spring we’ll be packing our bags and setting off for pastures new for a while to see what we can make of things. Even with only a minority Trudeau Government in charge they will economically damage Canada to the point where it is going to be much less business friendly than we’d like, so we’re spreading our wings and pootling off to see what we can find.

Last ride of the season

Still coughing and spluttering a bit to the point where my upper chest aches first thing in the morning. This London cough has been no fun at all. I’ve been home for three weeks and it’s hanging around like a bad smell. Gone but certainly not forgotten.

The other not so good news is that the Mutts insurance finishes tomorrow. So I went for a quick spin around town for the last time this afternoon before I put my big blue motorcycle into storage. Temperatures locally have settled into the single digits with some serious hail on Tuesday, some of which, like my cough, I noted was still hanging around at the edges of the road as I rode around town.

When I was bowling along happily in the sunlight it wasn’t too bad, but once passing through shadows for more than a kilometre, despite several layers of insulation I felt the cold leaking in. After an hours meandering around at both highway and urban speeds I retreated home feeling like I’d been working in a cold store, naked. Chilled to my bones. Haven’t felt this cold since I was soaked to the skin on a rainy Winter days foot patrol. It was just like half my body heat had leaked away.

Now as Mrs S likes to say I have what she calls a ‘cold weather metabolism’. Anything above zero Celsius doesn’t really bother me. Normally speaking. I can sit in an unheated room in light clothing while everybody else has chattering teeth. Think there must be some hidden Geordie in my DNA. So the wind chill must have been getting into sub zero territory. Should have worn my trusty old heavy leather riding jacket rather than my Summer riding gore-tex. Maybe some heavier gloves and switched on the heated grips. However, we can all be wise after the event can’t we?

Oh well, it all burns calories and I’m off to arrange some storage insurance tomorrow before I put the Mutt into hibernation mode for the Winter. Not that I won’t be running the engine at least twice a week to keep the battery alive and fluids circulating. Then when the temperatures begin to rise in Spring I’ll put full riders insurance on again and get out and about. Not that it’s been a great riding season for fair weather riders like me. To be quite honest I hear all the panicmongering about the coming heat death of the universe as promised by the UN and think “Bring it on.” Some higher temperatures and less rain, at least around Victoria BC this Summer, would have been nicer. I remember the foreshortened riding seasons of the 1970’s and 80’s. Those weren’t much fun.

Now there’s a promise of a longer, thirty year global cold period coming, perhaps even a descent into a new Maunder-like solar minimum, which kind of makes a nonsense of all the rhetoric about oceans drowning the cities or higher temperatures making places uninhabitable. Seriously, haven’t these people heard of galoshes or air conditioning? No really. I’ve a sneaking notion that as things cool we’ll actually see global CO2 levels stop rising or even begin to drop off as outgassing from the oceans that cover two thirds of our little blue green planet reduces or even reverses. The upside of which will mean that all the carbon doomsayers will have to find something sensible to talk about. Not that it’s likely. Some people just aren’t happy if there’s nothing to act up about. Me, I like being able to relax and enjoy things. We only get one life each and it’s important not to waste it.

The downside of a global cooling means coughing up funds for some better insulated riding gear. Winter drawers on as they say. Note to self; must get some shares in Damart or other maker of thermal underwear. Now there’s a marketplace which is due to take off in the next few years.

Recovery mode

Well here we are, back in our chosen BC domicile. Still feeling rather rough around the edges and mildly debilitated. Whatever we have has subsided a little but not gone. It’s just lurking around like a deranged stalker, choosing it’s moment to leap out shouting “AHA! Bet you thought I’d forgotten you, eh?” On the plus side it doesn’t look like either of us are about to die, although our mutual coughs have yet to disappear.

At present there’s a risk we might both get fired as the new accounting system head office set up is (We think) still not fit for purpose. Not that it’s our fault, but the idiot in charge is covering her back, doubling down and setting deadlines which another division have just refused to comply with. That’s right, they’re trying to force us to use a new accounting system which our much larger sister division has just binned. Thus I am working on a Sunday and the following Remembrance day holiday to see if I can iron the bugs out.

So, come Wednesday there was this big video conference where we thought we were going to be hauled over the coals for not being able to make their poorly documented package work. It’s on days like these one feels like Edmund Blackadder on the eve of his proposed epic voyage around the world. That scene where Lord Melchet hands him a blank sheet of paper as a map, asking him if he’d mind filling in the details as he went along. (In episode 3 ‘Potato’) I get annoyed when people do this to me because; firstly I don’t get paid enough and secondly it’s their package which they are paid to manage. Now they’re handing out deadlines and ultimatums? Eff off. I’m no slacker. If a job is at all possible it gets done. If it isn’t, well sorry peeps but you’re not exactly paying megabucks and I’m inclined to do tortoise impersonations to within the shell of my previous job spec. My immediate boss knows this and has written some very pointed emails to the jokers pushing this implementation. Besides, if I can’t do it, I can’t think of anyone else in the organisation who has made it work. Good luck with finding my replacement guys.

Mrs S has seen my reactive scowl and remarked that maybe it’s time we both handed in our papers on this particular company. My response is that maybe it’s time we both moved on.

Well the upshot is that despite feeling like I’ve just had a serious run in with a steamroller we’ve not only beaten their deadlines to a bloody pulp by sheer old fashioned slog, along with a little ingenuity where guidelines were lacking and emerged victorious once more. Having handed in a report on the weaknesses of their systems, as soon as we’ve caught up we’ll be allowing ourselves a bit of a time out.

Despite being disappointed that we weren’t in the UK for BREXIT I see Bojo, the UK’s deceptively jovial Prime Monster has refused to play nice with Big Nige and the BREXIT gang. He may be refusing to be seen to be playing ball with a free trade, free speech faction just in case certain high-rolling donors pull their much-needed shekels from the Tories coffers. Maybe he thinks the election is in the bag. He may be wrong like Treason May was. The remoaners may yet have a sting in their treacherous little tails. The Tories I think, will need any support the light blue faction can offer. Same as they currently need the DUP. Cave, cave Mister Johnson.

However, my judgment is currently very cloudy and I feel like I need a weeks rest to recover fully. As far as any election goes December 12th will be the acid test.

The London Cough

Excuse me, I will be brief. Am currently suffering from what I am calling ‘The London Cough’, an unspecified ailment caused by excessive catarrh build up at the back of the throat. It begins with a rather unpleasant hacking cough, accompanied by repeated feverish episodes that doesn’t follow the normal pattern of a seasonal cold. Usual cold and cough medication barely touches it. Just when You’ve got to feeling somewhere near normal and you’re no longer coughing up dark green chunks, along comes another bout. Not to mention the disruption of sleep which is further debilitating to the point where only repeated naps of up to two hours each are possible. Five days of this so far (Add on top of normal sleep deprivation from jet lag as we’re back in BC now) leading to an overall malaise that makes you feel like you’ve been run over by a truck.

This malady is not quite Flu, as there are no real aches, and the fever comes in short bouts, just like having one cold after another. Very curious, but also debilitating. Mrs S was first to catch it, four days before we were due to fly out and I two days after. Thus our flight back to BC was punctuated by hacking from others so afflicted. Wonderful in flight entertainment, not. Or should that be snot?

See you when I’m feeling human once more.

You don’t hear this every day

A head of state as a caller to a radio talk show? Now that is truly awesome. What a coup.

Let’s face it, Trump lacks subtlety. He’s not eloquent, he’s brash, forthright and occasionally a bullshitter. But not an outright liar as some claim. He exaggerates rather than tells total untruths. Unlike many of his predecessors and detractors who would not recognise truth if it was tugging at their sleeves.

Don’t care much for the man himself, but I do like what he’s doing for the USA economically. The UK could have a piece of that action instead of hiding in a hole and whining incessantly about how bad Trump is.

On that topic, I never understood this reflexive anti-Americanism some people have. Maybe it’s because the yanks are brash, successful and outward looking. Unlike their most vocal critics, who come across as a bunch of petty, jealous, xenophobic losers.

Today on the home front, I’m off to lay a few evil spirits with elder sibling. Following Ma Sticker’s demise in 2014 we had serious disagreements over the estate which almost went to court. Now matters are more settled, I’ll be rubbing his nose in it in a gentle sort of way. Even if I’m not really looking forward to our meeting. I’ll just have to put my game face on, wear my best coat, a dangerous smile and accentuate the positive.

Eldest is currently in recovery mode after long term boyfriend gave her the elbow, the fool. Personally I think they were right on the point of making their relationship permanent, he panicked and ran. Not an attractive quality in a spouse to be. Getting married to raise a family is a big step and requires courage which we now see he hasn’t got. If he ever comes crawling back, I think she should first kick him in the nuts for being such an idiot then buy him a kitten to keep him company in his lonely old age. Tonight, (Australian time) she’s out on the town with her friends in Sydney to have a little personal time and think about getting a better place to live. Whilst we’re able we’ll wire her some pennies to help her keep head above water post breakup. It’s what family is for.

Steak!

I love a good steak. Which is great because steak restaurants are big in London right now. All sorts of ‘Gaucho’ type restaurants are in vogue, some where they give you a large chunk of hot stone upon which you can literally cook your own piece of beef to your idea of perfection and others where they serve a particular cut, medium rare, or should that be medium raw.

Notwithstanding, the customer service I have experienced in all of these has been little short of excellent. The quality of beef though, perhaps not as great as I’d hoped. Living in Canada as I do, the quality of steak cuisine is very good, from the on-a-budget version at a Denny’s roadside eatery to more upmarket fare, I have rarely been disappointed but for one thing, there is a cut of beef that knocks every other for six no matter how barely it is cooked. It is not often served on our side of the pond and unlike cuts I have now come to regard as inferior, can be had at a lower price. Possibly because your average Canadian consumer has yet to recognise true quality of this ‘butchers cut’. They’ll happily sink their teeth into the much chewier Rib-eye, but offer them the piece of flesh I refer to and like as not they’ll turn their noses up at it.

The piece of meat I refer to is called a ‘Flat iron’ steak and I have yet to eat its peer from any breed of cattle. Cut from the inside of the shoulder blade on a forequarter, this particular bit of muscle has an entirely different texture and flavour to any other. Firstly, texture. A flat iron steak has an almost buttery feel in the mouth, it almost melts, even when almost tartare. The grain of the meat runs longditudinally from end to end, not cross grained as with most other cuts. Properly butchered there will be no tough membranous tissue which sometimes mars the wonderful saliva inducing mellowness of this cut. Next, flavour. Mass market beef can be a bit of a flavour desert, not so the flat iron. It has a more pronounced beefiness combined with it’s splendid texture, a taste that might have you wondering why the hell you’d want to eat any other part of a steer.

The best news of all is that there is a chain of restaurants in London which specialise in this cut, serving it a little too rare for my liking, but the butchery was good and despite the redness of the meat, slipped down a treat. Did I also mention that they’re also not as expensive as most of the ‘Gaucho’ style steak houses? A full flat iron steak will feed two hungry meat lovers, even if I would have liked a little larger portion (and hotter) of their Horseradish sauce. Their creamed spinach too is enough to restore a badly Bluto battered Popeye and put a twinkle in his eye that his paramour, Olive Oyle, could not mistake.

Now I don’t do shout outs like this often, if at all, but if you want to get away from the fancy stuff masquerading as food whilst in the UK’s capital, you could do worse than visit one of the nine (At the time of writing) “Flat Iron” franchises dotted around town. First come first served. Expect to queue. Don’t forget your dessert. (Oh, the calories, the calories!)

Unless of course you have the misfortune to be a vegetarian, or worse still, vegan. Then I am afraid there is no hope for you. You poor thing.

BTW: No one really ‘hates’ vegans, vegetarians or other diet obsessives as claimed in the Grauniad.  The rest of us find the endless proselytising somewhat tiresome, even annoying, but no-one really hates them.  For example, one of my stepdaughters is a ‘fish vegetarian’ (Won’t eat meat but will eat eggs and fish).  Which I find curious but hardly a Casus belli.  To truly hate someone over their chosen diet would be to say that the matter was worth taking seriously.  Chacun a son gout.

Another day out

Good old rainy London. Gave my new raincoat a thorough testing today. Wandered around Covent Garden and environs sampling pleasures and tastes while dodging the drizzle tainted crowds. Mrs S directed our steps into a couple of expensive venues I would normally never go anywhere near. For example one of the top rated patisseries in London.

Well colour me impressed. The coffee was excellent. Heavy on the Italian influence rather than the bitter American. Quiche that was divine, and as for the Sachertorte, that was light and melted in the mouth rather than leave you feeling like you are chewing stodge, as happens with so many mass produced versions. Exquisite. I’d had an indifferent pint of IPA earlier, so perhaps I was ready for some quality.

We’ve had a deal of discussions with family and friends of late where the discussion has centred around quality stuff and why it’s worth the price. Reason one; longevity. A really good pair of boots will last ten times as long as a much cheaper pair. Why a good quality suit is a good investment (Buy two, with extras if you can – looking smart is never a bad idea) Nice cotton shirts feel better and last longer. M & S basics more comfortable than the cheap stuff from Primark. A little more spent on the basics means you can go cheap on the accessories.

Anyway, I’m standing outside one store on the Kings Road and an expensive car snorted past. Then another and another. People were walking past me in expensive clothes and a thought hit me. Rather a large thought about the economics of everyday life. It made perfect sense and for a few seconds all the dots lined up, I saw the entirety of human economic activity in action and why free markets really do work.

Every single one of us is connected by a massive web of transactions, be those social, emotional or financial. From the single jet of a fountain to the massive money machine that is the City of London, which in turn is connected to all the other major centres all over the world.

Let me enlarge. The single fountain jet provides social value because as humans we like to look at flowing water, it calms and stimulates us, therefore it has worth. However the fountain jet needs water and power to create that worth. These are not free, the power to drive the water has value, as has the water itself, it needs to be sourced, transported through a network of pipes with a lot of other water. The pipes through which the water flows need to be manufactured, channels dug through the ground for them, the complex net of pumps and storage to maintain an even pressure. All of these need human effort and intervention.

Then there’s the electricity that powers these networks created by investment in power plants made out of millions of complex components from heat exchangers and steam handling technology to the massive transformers and circuit breakers which manage the power output (For the sake of brevity I’m excluding ‘renewables’ here, just talking about base load generation). All of which has to be funded and made by finance. Money must be made, credit obtained to pay for the intricate web of costs that underlie even the simplest nut and bolt. Part of what I do as an investor is loan money to larger companies so that they may pay for new machinery to build and maintain those power plants and networks of water pipes. Which kind of brings me round in a circle to the pleasing spectacle of the fountain jet.

Therefore I posit that anything in motion consumes and creates energy and energy is a function of life. Likewise the market of life is in constant motion. Each of us, is whether we like it or not, is interconnected through diverse voluntary transactions to everything else in this world. Thousands of times a day. Every time we step out of the door. Every leaf swept, every drop of rain cleared, everything man made has multiple costs from the parts of a leaf blower and the parts needed to make the machines which make parts for leaf blowers. The credit and finance to pay that cost has to be raised by financial institutions which are the money machine we are all part of, from the beggar hunkered down outside the supermarket to the flash git in his Maserati posing down the street. Sometimes the chains are not obvious, but they are there nonetheless.

Isn’t this a fascinating world we live in?

Update: Tearful phone conversation with Eldest who dwells in the fabled land of Oz. Long term boyfriend just walked out on her, the idiot. That is all.

Getting kitted

Mrs S got me into a store yesterday. I’ve been half heartedly looking for a new raincoat, but some of the prices for what I wanted were somewhat eye-watering. Almost seventeen hundred dollars for a classic Aquascutum? Wowch. So I’d been dodging the issue.

So when she saw the Barbour store on Regents street I was hustled in and forced to act as tailors dummy. They did have a cattlemans full length coat I was a little tempted by, but we decided to postpone a decision for after lunch as they only had it in one rather unpleasant colour. Yes we could have bought online, but that’s not the same experience. So we asked the assistant to put it by and promised to return after a Moroccan style lunch.

The capital streets currently seem calm and busy with tourists, mostly from Europe and South America, at least on the Tube. Piccadilly and environs were their usual self, with little of the outrage and shenanighans we’d been led to expect. As I said to Youngest’s friends over dinner last night, I thought the old place was better than I remembered it from the late 90’s. People politer, air much cleaner but just as rainy. Hence the need for much improved outdoor wear.

After lunch it was back to the store with Youngest as fashion adviser who took one look at proposed purchase and firmly shook her head. “It’s too much” was her judgement. So we cast around for something a little more reasonable and ended up with a slightly more expensive, but equally robust item. Oh, and a heavy felt Trilby. I like hats like Trilby’s or Akubra’s, they give the face a certain framing and keep most of the inclement weather out of your eyes. Also when you’re like me and hairdressers start to charge search fees, they are a comfort. Not to mention having a certain cachet, marking one out as either a gentleman or arrant rascal. Depending upon how it is worn.

Barbour have long held a reputation for being like armour plate. A man’s jacket, for example, takes quite a long time to wear in properly and get that traditional battered look they were famous for, so much so that one impatient fashion victim reputedly got a friend to wrap his brand new Barbour around a Land Rover’s bull bars for a few days heavy off-roading. After which time the garment had gained a little ‘patina’ and the look of a real outdoorsman’s garment (Looking like it had been dragged through blackthorn hedges for years and used as a bed for two incontinent Lurchers and several litters of kittens). Thus adding to the owners street, or should I say field-credibility.

Anyway, the Brexit clock is still ticking because although an extension was requested as required by the Benn act, the EU has yet (At the time of writing) to approve. I think the public mood has been over stimulated with project fear and that the only thing that will mar the air on the day the UK finally leaves is an huge sigh of “About bloody time too.”

Where there is tea

There’s an old World War two slogan that came to my attention yesterday. “Where there is tea there is hope.” attributed to English dramatist Arthur Wing Pinero from his play (Book?) ‘Sweet Lavender – a comedy in three acts’. Saw it first in the Churchill War Rooms, now it seems to be popping up everywhere. On souvenir mugs and teapots, on tee-shirts, fridge magnets, even in sermons. Like a modern interweb meme it seems to materialise in the most unexpected places. See below.

These are frustrating times. People do not do what they are asked and seem incapable of passing on messages correctly, or even performing simple tasks. This is something I often find, when tempted to hurl my laptop across our hotel room because for example the account I’ve been given to manage data has not been set up correctly. Even the most creative solution I’ve been able to come up with won’t work, so I am reduced to reverting to older, more tried and tested methods to get my job done on time. Getting things done has always been an important facet in my life, and to not be that way is incomprehensible. So with Parliament at present. Won’t have an election, won’t deliver on Brexit, in fact will do anything but do the job they were put in place to do.

In these times I always fall back on a morning cuppa to hit my reset button and restore my internal equilibrium before stepping up to meet the challenges of the day and emerge victorious. Well, not always, but I don’t give up without having a damn good go at it. If in a losing fight, it’s always useful to make sure that any aggressor gets the message that one is not to be trifled with lightly. A mug of what I call ‘builders’ tea (English breakfast with milk) always helps. No idea why. Perhaps there’s some obscure biochemical trigger within the blend which calms the emotions whilst stimulating the cognitive faculties? I do not know.

No other hot drink has such a restorative effect. Coffee leaves me buzzed but disorganised and those wishy washy herbal brews are little but flavoured hot water with no readily sensed benefit, yet a traditional English ‘cuppa’ can drag me out from under a metaphorical ton of rubble to fight another day. This is one of those unexplained mysteries of life which can lead to exchanges like;
“Sir, that building collapsed on you. Do You need to go to hospital?”
“No, I’m a bit beat up but I could really do with a cuppa.”

I know I’ve explored this topic before, but can anyone tell me which is the best? Is PG Tips the most efficacious or perhaps Tetley, Yorkshire Tea, or even your basic bog standard brew? Let us plumb the depths of one of life’s great mysteries together.

Time out

Right. Fed up with hearing about the Parliamentary antics and have elected to spend tonight at the theatre after a pleasant steak dinner. An online booking, a skip and a jump on the tube and we’re forgetting all our cares for a couple of hours.

It doesn’t help that all the news, both personal and public, has been unpleasant to say the least. From Elderly Friends dementia to the near-equally eccentric behaviour of the UK Speaker of the House of Commons, I am forced to ask myself, is there an epidemic?

It would explain a lot….

Update: well, we had a jolly fine time at the Garrick watching ‘Noises off!’ with some very polished slapstick routines which had the audience roaring.  Recommended.  We even got free ticket upgrades.

Boris Johnson won his vote on the current Brexit deal by a larger margin than predicted and the comments threads in the FT are more full of pro-EU comment trolls than usual.  Including those praising Barnier as the person who has been tasked with ‘repairing’ the relationship between the UK and EU.  Delusional, much?  Hey he’s 68.  It’s a retirement job.  The likelihood of him ‘achieving’ anything are as remote as the nearest quantum black hole.

Tomorrow I am signed up on a short basic butchery class.  Will try not to remove any of my own bodily particles as part of the learning process.

The only blot on the horizon was seeing Trudeau get re-elected.  Although on the bright side he’s only got a minority government so I hope he won’t be able to do too much more damage to the Canadian economy.

Fingers crossed.

Wandering about

Today we’ve been ambling amiably around the V & A, taking tea surrounded by the sumptuous sculptures of tyrants long gone with the epic line of poetry; “My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings, look on my works ye mighty and despair. Nothing beside remains…” echoing around what passes for my cognitive processes. Was going to spend the day in the National Science Museum, but it was full of kids, it being half term. So I elected to wait until next week for that small pleasure.

Otherwise feeling a little gloomy because no matter what we do or say, Elderly Friend, safely in her upmarket Canadian care home, is convinced we aren’t ever coming back to Canada, claiming we have abandoned her. As the days pass we get reports that she’s getting get worse and worse, with ever more of her brain shutting down on the gradual journey into the long night.

We write postcards every day, we send messages saying; “See you when we get home”, nothing seems to make a difference, Elderly Friends short term memory will not encode new information, no matter how many times she is reminded, or how many messages are glued to her apartment wall. Sometimes we get a small respite, but no doubt our voicemail will be filled with increasingly angry and frustrated messages when we get home. We’ll just have to roll with it as it happens.

It doesn’t help that the people we asked to keep an eye on her just aren’t ready to cope with what we’ve been handling for months. So it’s middle of the night emails disturbing our otherwise blessed repose and Mrs S is showing the strain after only a week. As if they want us to fly all the way back across the Atlantic right now to ride to the rescue. Not gonna happen folks. We’ve earned this break and anyone who wants to sabotage it will find our email firmly switched off. We have done our bit and can do no more.

Nothing beside remains…. Just a case of doing our own thing whilst matters beyond our control progress. Preparations are in place for the worst case scenario, which seems to be approaching with the speed of an express train. All we can do is wait.

Sometimes I catch myself offering up a dark little prayer for her merciful demise. “Please God, give her an easy death. Soon.” The person we loved has already left us and we must steel ourselves for the outpourings we know will come from her relatives when her body shuts down.

At least there’s plenty of London to wander around.

Don’t make them angry – too late

Today was a quiet day after all the shouting and posturing from various groups, including that bunch of treasonous vermin in Parliament. The ones desperate to block BREXIT, that is. Also quiet because the silly people of extinction rebellion are getting the message that their antics will no longer be tolerated with good humour.

I get the sense that both groups have worn out their welcome. The most credible polls say a Tory landslide if Bojo, the deceptively clownish UK Prime Minister can get his deal through. If not, the light blue ticket will make serious inroads into the overall vote. Then may the Lord have mercy on the souls of the betrayers of democracy. Or not. Like so many, I no longer care. For heavens sake have done!

I also get a seeming that Corbyn, when it comes to an election, will lose out massively to Farage, because certain leave constituencies would not vote Tory if you tortured them with horrible spiky implements, but they’d back the light blue ticket or stay home with a vengeance rather than back Labour as currently structured. Farage will gain support because he and his don’t like or trust the Tories, they see him as a threat and, dear children he most certainly is. People overall are sick of the artificial delays, many remain first time voters have openly stated that they will not vote so again. The logical conclusion is that disaffection with the anti-democratic antics of Parliament is a palpable force.

Yes, the banner wielding student activists and public sector boomers were out in force around Parliament on Saturday, but when the rain came down, the noisy blue flag waving party, about 1000-1500 strong (My estimate) at speakers corner went silent. I was actually less than two hundred yards away when it all went suddenly quiet. Then carried on walking with a quiet savage smile on my face as Mrs S and youngest were luring me on with the promise of red wine and decent steak. Which, dear reader, I later consumed with gusto and chimichurri sauce.

Now a different kind of rain is about to fall for all these anti democratic protesters. They are making everyone else angry. As we saw with those commuters and the XR protesters, that anger will flare. They had better hire bodyguards next time they pull that crap. Especially outside of London.

What we’re in the middle of now is effectively a new peasants rebellion, a new Battle for Britain and the UK. If Boris falls, so will all the mainstream parties in a real ballot box romper stomper if the people are betrayed yet again. Never mind your soft soap ‘people’s vote’ which is just another way of trying to hold back the growing tidal wave of disaffection. A solemn promise was made. No ifs, no buts. We Brexiteers knew what we were voting for. Out means out. ‘Deal’ or no.

Me, I’ve already voted in Canada and hope my solitary ballot does some good against the corporatism of the Liberals and Tories. Not to mention the other rob dogs calling themselves the Greens and NDP.

Tomorrow I have work to do before pootling off to visit the Science Museum and later a pleasant evening lecture on something hopefully devoid of anything remotely associated with 21st century politics. Tick tock. Pass me a whiskey love.

Londinium again

Touched down and still a little jet lagged but quite enjoying the environs of Kensington and Chelsea with an afternoon bloggers meetup with Tom Paine of The Last Ditch and Leggy from Underdogs bite upwards. Two gentlemen whose intellects left me a little giddy. Or was that just my jet lag? I don’t know. Very enjoyable afternoons talk.

Liked Tom’s idea about travel books. I reckon he should do a series of them. Such as “Tom Paine’s America” Subtitled; ‘one man and a Ferrari go in search of the real USA’. He could do the same for Europe and Russia, as he has travelled extensively in those regions.

Work however, has me starting with a new accounting package, which means I haven’t quite thrown my laptop across the room in frustration, but the temptation is there. Hell of a time to engage on a steep learning curve, but I hear that one of my organisations other divisions has already refused to use this package as structured, so they’ve given it to me to iron out the data entry bugs. Oh for heavens sake! I’m supposed to be on holiday! Grr.

My sense of frustration has been somewhat alleviated by the entertaining spectacle of several Extinction Rebellion idiots getting a righteous kicking from angry London tube commuters. Good, these XR people need a few hard lessons for giving everyone else a hard time. Especially when the real science is against them.

The problem is that the fashionable science regarding climate change XR derive their panic from is unproven and only derived from incomplete mathematical climate models. I’ve seen several credible sources analyse the IPCC report and associated outpourings and their conclusions are totally different from what the climate modellers and XR claim.

The more empirically correct version of climate science is undecided as to the cause, but does not agree that climatic variation is man made, or even anything to do with carbon dioxide. As I’ve said before, we’ve suffered from all of these prognostications of doom from the climate modellers for over fifty years and not a single one has come true. So I am refusing to curtail my travel simply because some eccentrics have got a bee in their bonnet over matters they palpably do not understand.

Saturday promises to be interesting because I will be around Wastemonster visiting various sights and will give any protesters who attempt to bar my path very short shrift. “Excuse me, thank you -byeee” kind of thing. I’m a tourist. A sights to see, places to go, not interested, TTFN attitude. Might even be fun. Might even see the outcome of the BREXIT vote in real time. Who knows?

Got to dash. Meetings with daughter and a decent curry await.

Final pack

Travel days are coming and I’m packed and even more ready than Mrs S, who is fiddling around with the fine detail before we board the great tin bird which will, providence willing, bring us to not so sunny old Londinium for a long overdue break, even if it is in many respects a working holiday.

Today is larder emptying day, and I’m using up the last fresh ingredients before shutting down the kitchen this evening. Tonights repast will be a revisitation of a Cajun remoulade, ingredients below;

A quarter of a large Red Pepper (Fresh Red cabbage can be substituted if no peppers)
Half a stalk of Celery
One Green (Spring) Onion
A quarter cup of fresh Parsley (Not dried)
Half a cup of full on Mayonnaise
Half a cup of full fat Sour Cream or Creme Fraiche (Creme Fraiche is best)
Two heaped teaspoons of Dijon Mustard
Two heaped teaspoons of Horseradish
A shake or two of Lea and Perrins Worcestershire sauce
A shake or two of Tabasco
Two heaped teaspoons of Paprika
Four heaped teaspoons of crushed Tomatoes or two medium size tomatoes
A third of a teaspoon of Cayenne pepper.

However, because I’m clearing out the last of the fresh stuff, said recipe has been amended to a very satisfactory simplified green version;

Half a large Red onion
five stalks of Celery
A quarter cup of fresh Parsley (Not dried)
Half a cup of full on Mayonnaise
Half a cup of full fat Sour Cream
Two heaped teaspoons of Dijon Mustard
Two heaped teaspoons of Horseradish
A shake or three of Tabasco
1 home grown green Habanero pepper with seeds removed

Just throw it all in the liquidiser and let rip until you have a smoothish sauce. First taste tests indicate that it’s not so hot in the mouth as it’s predecessor. However, the remoulade is tasty and satisfyingly viscous. Might benefit from a squirt of Lime juice, might not. Tonight I shall be serving some with fried Pork steaks and Broccoli mash with garlic butter as I’ve given up on starchier vegetables. My waistline is thanking me for it.

So, tickets and bookings are paid for. Sterling Banking facilities are set. New cell phone in hand. This time tomorrow we’re off and running.

No doubt the desperate anti-Brexit crowd and doltish Extinction Rebellion people will block our path at some stage, but we’ll cross those mildly awkward bridges when we come to them. If push comes to shove there are plenty of decent pubs within short walking distance of our lodgings.