19 February 2012

Man FluWell, it’s been a pretty miserable week in the Stragnell household. I started developing a cold on Tuesday (Valentine’s Day, I know!) which has progressed steadily downhill all week approaching full-blooded “Man Flu” by the end of the week. And, as we know, if I’m miserable I am quite capable of making everyone within a ten mile radius miserable as well! So, I’ve had a miserable week, Penelope has had a miserable week, the dog has had a miserable week and the postman and rubbish collectors were exceedingly fortunate I was otherwise occupied when they visited.

And, to make matters worse, the weather’s not been too bad – very moderate temperatures, the snow has gone and the mud has largely dried out (although Molly still needs a vigorous hosing off when we return from our walks).

Then, this morning, much to our dismay, the forecaster’s prediction of a  return to Arctic conditions was realised when we awakened to more freezing temperatures and a smattering of snow. That’s enough, thank you!

I ran across an article in the Guardian this week which just doesn’t seem to make any sense. Perhaps that’s because it is to do with another government proposal to reduce the deficit. See if you can help explain it to me.

As you will remember, the coalition government here is frantically trying to reduce the deficit by cutting everything they can and the armed forces budget is no exception. Servicemen and women are being laid off and someone came up with a great idea to raise a bit of cash by selling off a 178 acre site at Ashchurch in Gloucestershire. The only problem is what to do with the 6000 tanks, carriers and cars which are stored there. The obvious solution? Send them to Mönchengladbach in western Germany where they can be stored until we need them.

No problem so far but this is the point at which I begin to have trouble working through the logic of the scheme. We are in the midst of bringing soldiers back from British bases in Germany as part of the budget cuts yet we’re proposing to send a whole shedload of equipment there which will need looking after. Then there is the slight problem of how to get them there without spending a fortune which will be a bit of a feat. Then, when they get there they will need to be stored in a secure environment as the technology is top secret stuff. Not to mention what happens when we actually need them? Fortunately, civil unrest is pretty unusual in the UK (never mind the riots last summer) and I suppose the UK doesn’t really need a couple of thousand tanks to point at its own citizens so perhaps that’s not a problem after all.

I know the analogy doesn’t quite work but it seems somewhat similar to my deciding to sell my garage to a property developer for a handy sum and then finding a lock-up garage in Mönchengladbach in which to keep my car from now on. Clearly I will have to rent the garage in Germany and hire a nice couple to keep an eye on it for me and perhaps carry out the occasional service but surely that will be less than what I’ll get for selling my garage. The profit I’d make would just about cover the cost of a couple of journeys to Mönchengladbach whenever I need to take the car out for a spin. The more I think about it, the more sense this makes. Has anyone got any contacts in Germany who might be willing to store my car for me?

No wonder the deficit continues to grow.

Breaking News – you read it here first (unless you didn’t). You will remember the small misunderstanding surrounding some journalists on the News of the World hacking into mobile phones that eventually resulted in Rupert Murdoch taking the decision to close the newspaper. There was widespread speculation that the demise of the News (which was a Sunday only newspaper) would be short-lived and that Murdoch would begin to publish his daily newspaper, the Sun, on Sunday in its place.

On Friday he flew into London to address the latest round of bad news – a number of journalists on the Sun have now been arrested by police investigating corruption. It is alleged that they regularly paid serving police officers for information. As part of his morale-boosting message he announced that the Sun would replace the News of the World by launching a Sunday publication “very soon.” Quelle surprise!

Lucy, Nick and AnnabelleFinally, a sequence of great photos of Nick, Lucy and Annabelle at Lucy’s brother’s wedding last December. Lucy’s new sister-in-law Cassandra posted them on Facebook the other day and I have to say they caused much hilarity in our household. As Lucy commented, “Annabelle being a little over-excited again.” We’re hoping to get an 8” by 10” glossy of the second one down.

Much love to you all,