Good morning on a tolerably, tolerable day – a bit fresh to be sure and somewhat grey but at least it’s dry (so far). Yesterday was glorious – bright and sunny with clear blue skies but fresh to the point of being positively frigid as the wind has turned round to blow from the northeast bringing way too much Arctic-like conditions our way. Snow in the highlands, even.
And goodbye to British Summer Time – thank goodness.
Thank you to those who responded to my “test post” earlier in the week. We had been having a few issues with the automated alerts sent to those of you who have been foolish enough to “subscribe” to the Befouled Weakly News. (It’s actually a really useful feature – you enter your e-mail address in the space at the bottom right of the screen and you will then receive an e-mail whenever the News is updated). While some folks were receiving the alerts, others weren’t. An upgrade to the plug-in thankfully solved the issue but we’ll need to keep an eye on things.
I’ve mentioned a couple of times in recent weeks how we’ve enjoyed some lovely autumn colour, much more colourful than we generally get although still a drab understatement compared to what those of you in the great Northeast witness each autumn. The BBC had a short clip on their web site from the National Arboretum in Westonbirt, Gloucestershire explaining (or, at least attempting to explain) what causes the autumn colour and why this year seems to be particularly good. The Guardian also had a photo gallery this week of autumn colour around the UK and further afield.
I ran across an intriguing weather forecast earlier in the week – it seems we are (were?) due to have some “Blood Rain” in the UK, a weather condition of which I was previously unaware, I have to confess. It seems that storms in the Sahara throw fine sand and dust particles into the atmosphere which then get swept northwards causing the rain to have a reddish tinge and leaving behind a dusty residue. It is supposed to have been preceded by a spell of warm weather as the wind comes from the south – since I can’t recollect any particularly warm days this week, I suspect it didn’t get this far or was blown back to the Sahara when it met the Arctic winds we are currently enjoying. Still, when/if you see red rain and/or a dusty red residue on your parked car, you’ll know all about it.
A couple of quick examples of how politics works in this country these days. (I wonder, is it just UK politics which works this way – I doubt it). Picture the scene – the Conservative Party is trailing badly in the polls and needs a boost. At the same time, two of the big energy companies announce gas and electricity price rises well above the rate of inflation. So David Cameron, the Prime Minister, sensing the impending backlash from consumers, announces that the government will legislate to ensure that energy companies are obliged to ensure that their customers are always given the lowest energy tariff. (You need to understand that the energy companies here have a myriad of tariffs to offer their customers, the main purpose of which seems to be to confuse anyone who doesn’t hold a PhD in energy marketing). So, what’s wrong with Cameron’s announcement, one might well ask? It turns out that Cameron had spoken with no one about the policy, neither the energy minister nor the energy secretary could explain what it meant and the energy companies quite naturally started bleating about government interference, which is something with which the Tories are certainly not normally associated. In short, it was a soundbite moment which, upon further investigation, has no substance.
Secondly, an excellent article by Andrew Rawnsley in the Guardian about the resignation of the government’s chief whip after he made some less than polite comments about the police who patrol Downing Street. It’s a long story of which our non-UK readers will have heard little, I suspect. In short, Andrew Mitchell, the Chief Whip, was leaving a meeting in Downing Street when he had a confrontation with the policeman guarding the gates. Mitchell concedes that he made a few unkind and unwise remarks; according to the policeman and some other witnesses, he (Mitchell) swore at the policeman and called him a “pleb” who was supposed to be there to f***ing help him rather than be a hindrance. It was a case of “he said, they said” and Cameron gave Mitchell his full support (it’s usually a death sentence for politicians when the Prime Minister announces that they have his full support). In the end though it was the Conservative backbench MPs who forced Mitchell to resign. As Rawnsley put it:
The police have lost a lot of the trust they once enjoyed, but forced to choose between taking their word for it and that of a cabinet minister, even Tory newspapers plumped for the police officers’ version of events.
Lawyers and politicians – don’t you just love them!
Finally, a new book details the crime de la creme of typographical errors, from hotel brochures advertising a ‘French widow in every bedroom’ to Tea Party signs declaring President Obama’s ‘crisis of competnce’. The Guardian has a gallery of some of the best.
And finally, finally, Annabelle came by for a visit yesterday to play with her favourite birthday present which Grandma made!
Off to Dublin for a few days – we’ll raise a glass of the black stuff and drink your health.
Much love to you all,