22 December 2013

We’ve had a couple of stunningly gorgeous mornings this week. It’s been brilliantly bright & clear, crisp and frosty with the sun so low in the sky it seems to scrape along the horizon. In the mornings on my rambles around the recreation ground with Molly I have to pull my hat down well over my eyes and stare at the ground a few paces ahead to avoid burning a hole in my retina. Hmm, perhaps that’s how I got it in the first place. Of course those couple of gorgeous mornings have been interspersed with the usual collection of grey and dreary mornings accompanied by the occasional deluge of Biblical proportions with gale force winds. What would we talk about if the weather weren’t so variable?

The Duck HouseWe had a grand day out last Saturday – Ms Playchute and I meandered up to London to join friends for the matinee performance of The Duck House, a play about the expenses scandal in Parliament a few years ago and then dinner at Browns after. One would think with such astoundingly absurd content to work with, the play would have been very, very funny. And, some in the audience did indeed find it hysterically funny; we found it less so. It was presented as a pantomime farce (which makes sense considering that the scandal itself was farcical – MPs of all parties with their noses firmly entrenched in the trough hoovering up whatever they felt they could get away with and then reacting with astonishment when the general public found their behaviour so despicable).

While glancing around at various reviews (after the event – I like to see something without the influence of having read someone else’s comments) I was struck by how many reviews used one of my favourite expressions:

Houston’s expenses turn out to be the least of his problems however, when it is revealed he has a housekeeper without the right paperwork, employs his wife as his secretary despite her not being able to turn on a computer and is claiming for a second home he has never stepped foot in. You couldn’t make it up! (Radio Times)

Twenty-nine pounds and ninety-nine pence for a glittery loo seat; £380 for 550 sacks of manure; a £2,000 bill for cleaning the moat. You couldn’t make it up. (The Independent)

The Duck HouseIt was, regrettably, all so predictable – at one point the woman sitting in front of me (who was one of the audience who did laugh hysterically throughout) even completed one of the lines out loud while the main actor, Ben Miller, was pausing for “dramatic” effect. It was just like a Christmas pantomime – “He’s in the wardrobe!” she shouted which at least did give Miller the opportunity for a bit of improvisation which was perhaps the best portion of the play.

Mildly amusing but, considering the source material, ultimately disappointing. You couldn’t make it up! (Befouled Weakly News)

The other day Ms Playchute and I were on our afternoon walk around the Edgecote estate when we saw, for the first time, the new water wheel in service. Many of you who have done that walk with us will remember the lovely Mill House on the estate. As you might be able to deduce from its name, there used to be a water wheel at the Mill House which was used for grinding corn. Of course that’s long gone although much of the infrastructure was still in place. Penny and I often commented how they might be able to erect a new water wheel and use it to generate some electricity to feed back into the grid.

In the early spring that’s exactly what they started. They needed to do a fair bit of work around the sluice gate and build an area to house the generator but it was all essentially done (or so it seemed) by early July. The wheel was in place and we fully expected it to be operational soon thereafter. For some reason, however, it wasn’t implemented until a few weeks ago and very impressive it is too! Talking to the people who live in the Mill House we learned that it had been running a bit off and on before we saw it but it was very noisy with an excessive amount of splashing. This required that they do a bit of adjustment which is why it had taken so long. Now it runs very smoothly and with a minimum of noise. Very impressive.


This week’s rant: another example of how journalism works.

A recent article published by the Daily Mail was headlined “Romanians arrested at seven times rate of Britons”. Unfortunately, as is the case with much that the Daily Mail publishes, it’s not true and contains significant distortions in an attempt to manipulate public opinion. The Daily Mail wrote that, “For every 1000 Romanians in London, 183 are arrested.” According to figures from the Metropolitan Police, the number of Romanians arrested in the previous year was 800. Doing the maths comes to the conclusion that this would amount to a Romanian population in London of about 4300. In fact, there are more than 60,000 Romanians living there. This works out at a rate of 13 arrests per thousand, not 183. The same article went on to say that the arrest rate for Britons is 26 per thousand – about twice the real rate for Romanians.

You couldn’t make it up! (But, they do and the amazing thing is that so many people believe them). The Romanian ambassador complained to the Metropolitan Police who apologised for the way in which their crime statistics were distorted by the Daily Mail.

Penny and I heard this on the radio the other day and, as it’s coming up to Christmas, I thought I would share it.

Benjamin ZephaniahTalking Turkeys!

Be nice to yu turkeys dis Christmas
Cos’ turkeys just wanna hav fun
Turkeys are cool, turkeys are wicked
An every turkey has a Mum.
Be nice to yu turkeys dis christmas,
Don’t eat it, keep it alive,
It could be yu mate, an not on your plate
Say, Yo! Turkey I’m on your side.

I got lots of friends who are turkeys
An all of dem fear christmas time,
Dey wanna enjoy it, dey say humans destroyed it
An humans are out of dere mind,
Yeah, I got lots of friends who are turkeys
Dey all hav a right to a life,
Not to be caged up an genetically made up
By any farmer an his wife.

Turkeys just wanna play reggae
Turkeys just wanna hip-hop
Can yu imagine a nice young turkey saying,
‘I cannot wait for de chop’,
Turkeys like getting presents, dey wanna watch christmas TV,
Turkeys hav brains an turkeys feel pain
In many ways like yu an me.

I once knew a turkey called…….. Turkey
He said “Benji explain to me please,
Who put de turkey in Christmas
An what happens to christmas trees?”,
I said “I am not too sure turkey
But it’s nothing to do wid Christ Mass
Humans get greedy an waste more dan need be
An business men mek loadsa cash’.

Be nice to yu turkey dis Christmas
Invite dem indoors fe sum greens
Let dem eat cake an let dem partake
In a plate of organic grown beans,
Be nice to yu turkey dis Christmas
An spare dem de cut of de knife,
Join Turkeys United an dey’ll be delighted
An yu will mek new friends ‘FOR LIFE’.

Benjamin Zephaniah

And, speaking of Christmas, we dispatched our seasonal greetings a few days ago, some by post (for those whom we think might appreciate a printed copy) and the larger portion by e-mail, partly to do a tiny bit for the environment but mainly to reduce our contribution to the shareholder dividend for the newly privatised Royal Mail. If you were on the postal list you may or may not have received your copy yet so don’t panic! If you were on the e-mail list and your copy doesn’t/didn’t arrive, it probably means that the e-mail address we have for you is out of date. Send us a new address (if you dare) and we will send a copy off. If you’re desperate though you can find the Christmas newsletter here. And whether you receive the posted or virtual version (or none at all), we think of you often and hope you have a splendid day and a relaxing break.

Loomus 21/12/13

We’re off to Nick and Lucy’s for the day and looking forward to a lovely time.

Much love to you all,




3 thoughts on “22 December 2013”

  1. Thanks, Greg, for the, as usual, newsy newsletter. Was a bit disappointed to see the old water wheel at Edgecote had been removed when I was there in the spring, but the new one doesn’t look too hideous and sounds rather pleasant.

    Am pleased to report that no turkey has died for my Christmas dinner in many a long year, although I can make no such claim when it comes to salmon – to whom I apologize.

    Have a super-fantastically-wonderful holiday!

    Lotsa love – J

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