3 February 2013

Good morning on this post-Groundhog Day – we certainly saw our shadows yesterday; it was bright, sunny with clear blue skies. Now what does that mean again? Ah, yes:

If Candlemas be fair and bright,
Winter has another flight.
If Candlemas brings clouds and rain,
Winter will not come again.

It has already been (and will undoubtedly continue to be), a great weekend of sport, possibly my favourite weekend of the year. Yesterday we had the start of the Six Nations Rugby competition in which this year the English team is reckoned to have a decent chance of topping the table. Without revealing any of yesterday’s results, let us remind ourselves that the English team always has the capacity to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory so we’ll see how things work out over the course of the competition.

And speaking of not revealing any results, I am looking forward to tonight’s Superbowl but will be obliged to record it and watch it tomorrow as it is on well past my bedtime here in the UK. So please, do not send me any information regarding the result until Monday evening when I shall have a chance to watch it. I shall studiously avoid listening to or reading any news so that I can watch it “as live” with the distinct added advantage of being able to fast-forward through all the advertisements.

I used to have a colleague at work who somehow almost always managed to spoil the result for me. At the time we often had meetings on Mondays and, if it was Superbowl weekend, I would record the match and save it for later. On the drive to work I would listen exclusively to music from my iPod rather than the radio as even the BBC morning news would have the result. I avoided reading the newspapers and would be careful not browse any news or sports sites on the interweb, all to avoid hearing the result before I could watch the game.

As I would arrive in the building it seems I would run into this particular colleague who would almost inevitably blurt out, “Well, how about those Giants [or whomever] then? Were they expected to win?”

At first, of course, one would conclude that he was just trying to be friendly and I would respond to his remarks in as polite a manner as I could muster, “Oh, thanks. I was saving the recording to watch later having very carefully avoided hearing or reading any results. Now, you’ve f***ing ruined it for me, you b*****d!” He would always apologise for spoiling my enjoyment but, in subsequent years it seemed clear to me that he was intentionally “announcing” the result which I guess was his idea of a great joke! Since I don’t have work meetings on Monday mornings anymore I don’t have to worry about work colleagues spoiling the show. My only concern is that I do have a visit to the dentist first thing on Monday morning – what if the dentist and/or the hygienist is a full-blown American football fan?

I wrote last time that the forecasters were predicting widespread flooding once the snow melted. OMG! Did we have floods or what? One day last week we took Molly to Edgecote for our afternoon walk. Many of you will know that the River Cherwell runs through the Edgecote estate and, in the process of our walk, we cross the river twice. As we meandered across the top of the hill and set off down towards the river, it was obvious that there was an awful lot of water – the fields were flooded and it looked doubtful to me that we would be able to reach the bridge to cross the river. When it came to it, however, Ms Playchute’s Wellington boots were about three inches higher than my Bean boots and she was able to wade across while I was not. Huge dilemma – which of us would Molly choose to accompany? No contest, of course. She went with Ms Playchute while I had to backtrack and plod through the mud to reach the bridge at the other end of the walk where we were all joyfully reunited.

Living in the UKThe government has been up to its usual nonsense this week. It seems that there are still too many pesky foreigners who want to live and work in the UK. So, the government has decided that it will launch a poster campaign in various areas, mostly eastern European countries, in an attempt to dissuade any potential immigrants from coming to Britain. Not surprisingly, this led to the production of a whole raft of spoof posters which you can catch here.

Several little titbits round and about this week. There was an article in the Guardian containing twenty “interesting” facts about the human body and another article, this time on the BBC site, explaining why the Bank of England maintains a £1m bank note and a £100m bank note.

Cameron Rebuked for LyingAnd finally, it seems that pigs might fly after all. There was a complaint early last week about a party political broadcast produced by the Conservative party during which Cameron claimed that the UK government, under his leadership, was “paying down” Britain’s debt. This caused a bit of a stink because it’s not true – the debt has increased under the coalition government and is not being paid down. Various parties and organisations wrote to the UK Statistics Authority and asked for clarification and yesterday the result of their investigation was announced:

David Cameron rebuked by statistics watchdog over debt claims

PM said the government was ‘paying down Britain’s debts’ in political broadcast, even though debt is actually rising

Oops!

Love to you all,

Greg