9 March 2014

Good morning after a week of fairly decent weather – quite a few bright and sunny mornings and only the one grey and drizzly day. With the clear skies we’ve had some frosty mornings which is always a blessing; Molly comes back relatively mud free and requires no washing off. The hosing down is reserved for the afternoon strolls after the frost has dissipated. Not surprisingly, with the temperatures soaring into the high 50s (F), Penelope wanted a fire in the grate.

The one drawback to clear, sunny morning skies as we draw towards Spring? The sun arrives earlier each morning and occasionally Molly decides that as soon as the sun begins to make an appearance, it’s time for her to rouse us from our slumbers and demand her breakfast and morning walk. Neither funny nor clever!

12 Years a SlaveWe had a nice afternoon out on Wednesday – Ms Playchute accompanied me to the early matinée performance of the film 12 Years a Slave at the Northampton cinema multiplex. We had both wanted to see it before it won the Oscar for best picture and I was reminded by one of the numerous “spam” e-mails that finds its way into my inbox each week, that I could get a free ticket with any other – two for the price of one, as it were. This comes courtesy of Orange, my mobile phone provider, who support what they call Orange Wednesday. Any Orange customer can send a text asking for a free film voucher. Admittedly, sending the text does cost 35p but that’s still a pretty fair price for admission to a cinema these days. All we had to do was to purchase one ordinary ticket which, since I am a tired, old person these days, we acquired one at the “Senior” rate. (I guess the idea is that pensioners and other “senior” citizens snore through the film and therefore it’s not really fair to charge them the full rate?)

We both enjoyed it very much and the subject matter is, of course, very emotive. But, was it really the best picture this year? The only other film we’ve seen of the ones which were nominated was The Wolf of Wall Street which, I have to say, I thought was a better film. But I suppose that’s the issue – how does one define the “best” film? Is it the film one enjoys the most, is it the one which makes the most profound statement, is it the one with the most emotive and emotional message? I guess that’s why the members of the Academy make the big bucks!

Ms Playchute had a quick hospital appointment on Tuesday morning during which I observed a sight which made me chuckle. The traffic was horrible and so I had to drop her at the hospital entrance while I trawled the car parks looking for a spare space. After I parked I had a long walk through the hospital to reach the department where Ms Playchute’s appointment was to be held. As I walked along the long central hospital corridor, I noticed a chap coming towards me with earphones, clearly listening to some music. OK, that’s not all that unusual – people do that all the time nowadays. As he approached, I noticed that he was carrying a desktop computer under his arm and it appeared, to all intents and purposes, that he was listening to music which was emanating from the desktop computer rather than the iPod which was discretely tucked away in a pocket somewhere. It made me chuckle and reminded me of the joke about the chap with a new wrist watch:

A Polish tourist comes back home after visiting the USSR. He carries two very large and heavy suitcases. On his wrist is a new Soviet-made watch.

He tells the customs man: “This is a new Soviet watch. It’s a wonder unknown in the capitalist countries. You see, it shows the time, the rate of your pulse beats, your blood sugar level, the phases of the Moon, the weather in Warsaw, Moscow, and New York, the complete railway timetable for any journey in the Soviet Union and much, much more!”

“My goodness, that is a wonder,” the customs man agrees. “And what is it you have in these two large suitcases?”

“Oh, that’s just the batteries for the watch.”

Another week, another report on the impact of immigration commissioned by the government which they seem reluctant to publish as, once again, it doesn’t support their narrative. This one was set up to investigate the claims made by Theresa May, the Home Secretary, that the “flood” of immigrants had the effect of taking the jobs of large numbers of British workers. In fact, the report concludes that

there is “very little evidence” of such job displacement when the economy is growing. One Whitehall source told The Independent the review found immigration had a “negligible” impact on British workers.

And, just to remind you that the government has form in this regard, the Huffington Post has compiled a list of the seven, so far, reports which the government would prefer remained hidden from the public, particularly in the run-up to European elections in May.

And finally, a couple of silly snippets to round off your week.

Firstly, I hope you all enjoyed a wonderful Shrove Tuesday earlier in the week. For some reason the pancakes never materialised in our household this year but thank goodness for the annual foolery that is the Ashbourne, Derbyshire Shrove Tuesday football match.

Secondly, we have a sneak preview from Annabelle & the Band rocking out. I was hoping that the full album would be available for download from iTunes but Nick tells me they are busy planning the world tour first to build the fan base. I’ll let you know when and where you can get the single.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fE647N5LMS4

And finally, finally, a snippet from the Jimmy Krimmel shown on National Teacher’s Day which was earlier this week.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9T8ovblvQM0

Late Update: A terrific photograph of Jack Monroe, perfect for International Women’s Day, from a collection of photographs commissioned by the Observer.

Jack Monroe

Jack Monroe is a food blogger who made her name with recipes for ultra-affordable meals, which she created after she left her job at Essex County Fire and Rescue Service and was forced as a single mother to find cheap ways to feed herself and her son.

Poverty is the sinking feeling when your small boy finishes his one Weetabix and says: ‘More, Mummy, bread and jam please, Mummy,’ as you’re wondering whether to take the TV or the guitar to the pawnshop first, and how to tell him that there is no bread or jam.

weatherEven later update: Today, Sunday, looks like it could be one of those glorious Spring days which makes the months of rain and gloom seem almost worthwhile.

More of the same, please!

Love to you all,

Greg