18 January 2015

Good morning – hope everyone is waking to a splendidly splendid morning! (Or, for those of you ahead of our time zone, that you’ve had a wonderfully wonderful day). We’ve had a cold week but not quite cold enough – the temperature has hovered just above freezing so the ground is not frozen rock hard and the gallons of precipitation we’ve had have ensured that the ground is wonderfully soggy and muddy. As I’ve said before, if it has to be cold we would much rather have freezing temperatures so that the mud turns solid and we can simply skate over the surface on our daily walks. Regrettably, ‘tis not so and mud is the predominant feature.

Scorpion Wolf SharkI was amused by the post on Scorpion Wolf Shark’s Facebook page remarking how cool it was to see their band’s name in the LA Weekly. (For those who don’t follow the LA music scene [or our Christmas newsletter], our Ben plays drums for SWS which is, as he was keen to point out, the sixth most popular three-animal-named band in LA).

Well, I have to report that SWS are not the only talented and much-sought-after musicians in the family – I made my latest musical comeback on Tuesday evening at the Byfield School After School Club! (CDs, autographed Tour Dates poster and a limited number of Tour T-Shirts will be available through our on-line portal in due course). The organisers wanted to start a music club for the kids who attend the after-school club and for some bizarre reason they asked if I would be so kind as to give the kids a session on the guitar. The idea is that various musicians playing a variety of instruments would attend over the year to give the kids a wide exposure and hopefully appreciation for different kinds of music.

So, I dusted off the guitar, which I probably hadn’t picked up in eighteen months or so, and produced a play list to last about an hour. This required a significant amount of internet research so that I could locate the chords and lyrics to various songs I intended to “perform” and on Tuesday evening I trotted off to the school for my 2015 debut performance.

I have to say, the audience was pretty rough consisting as it did of about six primary aged children and two adult leaders but we did all have a good time rousingly singing some of the old classics – Midnight Special, Blowin’ in the Wind, Tom Dooley, etc. When we finished the session one of the children even asked if I would come back again one day! What was he thinking??!!!

Thursday we had lunch with our good friends Indrani and John Gleave and some other acquaintances which was lovely. As the sole American attending, I was asked what I felt about the Islamic “expert” who, following the Charlie Hebdo tragedy, was interviewed by Fox News and who stated that Birmingham, our second most populous city, was 100% Muslim and a no-go area for any white person. Much of what I said about Fox News cannot be repeated in a family publication such as this but suffice it to say that his comments have been widely ridiculed here in the UK and, without putting too fine a point on it, are complete bollocks! What’s interesting to me is not so much that Fox News would interview an “expert” who hasn’t the slightest clue what he is talking about but more significantly, this “expert” has apparently been called upon to lend his expertise to Congress. Goodness help us if this is the quality of “expert” advice which is helping to guide US foreign policy.

I ran across an article in the Guardian which prompted one of those “Now why didn’t I think of that?” moments. It seems a public official in India took some leave twenty-four years ago and essentially never returned to work. He applied for various extensions of his leave which were denied but he was only eventually sacked after the intervention of a cabinet minister after twenty-four years. As I say, why didn’t I think of that when I was working?

Love to you all,