23 November 2014

I guess winter is on its way. We’ve had a pretty dreary and miserable week with the notable exception of Tuesday morning which was glorious – bright sunshine, clear blue skies and a crisp easterly breeze which was positively invigorating. Sadly, it didn’t last and it’s been another grey and cloudy, cool/cold, misty and foggy, wet week.

From “The Other Coast” by Adrian Raeside

Wet Dog Weather

We’ve been watching the weather in the States with interest and were pleased to hear that family and friends were not yet engulfed in the deluge of snow they had in western New York the other day. I hope it doesn’t come our way – it’s too soon for that sort of thing.

Ms Playchute and I enjoyed a splendid afternoon out on Wednesday – we went to the “old people’s” afternoon showing of Mr Turner at the cinema. As you know full well by now, I would not be taking Ms Playchute out for an afternoon’s entertainment if I didn’t have some sort of voucher – this expedition was courtesy of a 2 for 1 offer from our cell phone provider. Hey, I don’t care who provides the discount, just as long as there is one. And, since we’re both old people now, it’s an absolute bargain.

We had been looking forward to seeing it ever since one of our friends gave it a very positive review and I have to say we were not disappointed. I’m not sure I would “rave” about it but it was certainly very, very good and the two and a half hours positively flew by. It is, of course, a film of the later years of Joseph Mallord William Turner, the English landscape painter with Timothy Spall playing Turner. It’s directed by Mike Leigh and, like all his work, the cinematography is stunning with wonderful lighting, rather like a Turner painting, as it happens. Now what are the chances of that?

The film was great and we both enjoyed it.

A wonderful, rich film. Spall is superb.

four-star

– Befouled Weakly News

Films like this always make me wonder – how accurate is Spall’s performance? One presumes that everyone did their homework and that Turner was, indeed, a cantankerous, eccentric old man. Assuming that to be the case, Spall certainly does cantankerous old codger very effectively.

While chatting with Dad the other day, he reminded me of the impact of a volcanic eruption on Turner’s paintings, especially his sunsets. One of the reasons some of Turner’s skies are so stunning is because he was painting at the time of the Tambora eruption in 1815. Thought to be the largest in recorded history, the Tambora eruption killed around 10,000 people directly and more than 60,000 others due to the starvation and disease during the ‘volcanic winter’ that followed.

The volcanic ash and gas that was spewed into the atmosphere during the eruption drifted around the world and produced bright red and orange sunsets which were seen in Europe for up to three years after the event. Not much fun for the 70,000 to 80,000 who died as a consequence but it did provide the inspiration for some great art.

I’ve run across a worrying sequence of stories over the past couple of weeks concerning chocolate. First of all, I saw the good news in the Guardian that a recent study seems to suggest that chocolate can reverse memory loss in older people. I suppose one ought to take the results of this study with a pinch of salt as it was part-funded by Mars (the confectionary company, not the planet in case there was any confusion). Still, it’s a helpful study for those of us who are concerned about what we eat – red wine and chocolate certainly can find their way onto my healthy diet plan!

But not a day or so later I came across several articles suggesting that the world is running out of chocolate!

The world is running out of chocolate and by 2020, the sweet treat may be endangered.

This potential calamity is due to a variety of factors but the bottom line is that we are eating more chocolate than is being produced.

But, there is hope. We can all take appropriate steps to help conserve the dwindling supply, according to an article in the Guardian. Unfortunately, there’s no magic wand; the simple advice is to use and eat less!

I wonder if I can get chocolate prescribed on the NHS as medication to prevent memory loss?

Love to you all,

Greg