3 May 2015

Hello, and welcome to the May Day bank holiday weekend! We’ve had a decidedly mixed week – we had some stunning, sunny weather at the beginning of the week although it certainly has not been what one might consider to be “warm.” Indeed, there were smatterings of snow in County Durham which is, of course, considerably further north than here.

Snow in Durham

While we were in the States we had an e-mail from our neighbour Nina who was baby-sitting our Molly. Nina had noticed a small protuberance on the left side of her mouth. I had noticed it just before leaving but had assumed it was simply her elderly jowls exposing themselves from time to time. The photo Nina attached, however, led us to believe it might be something more serious. So, we arranged for Nina to take Molly to the vet and ultimately a biopsy and diagnosis followed – it turns out that it is a malignant tumour requiring removal. So, our “105” year old Molly went under the surgeon’s knife on Monday. We brought her home Monday evening and, due to the effect of the anaesthetic she was wobbly and decidedly unsteady on her feet but otherwise in pretty good shape, all things considered. We know this is only “buying time” but, at 105 years old we have decided not to submit her to more radical surgery or chemo – we’ll just have to watch and see when the “bad” days start outnumbering the “good” ones. Of course, a day after the surgery you wouldn’t know that she’d had anything done were it not for the shaved side of her jaw where the surgery was carried out. She positively bounds out the door for her morning and evening walks and vociferously demands her breakfast and dinner at the appropriate times. Animals, in general I guess, are quite simply amazing.

As most of you will know, our election is coming up this week – we’re off to the polling booths on Thursday and, for the first time in a national election, I will get to vote for another losing candidate. Our constituency is a very safe Tory seat which explains why we have such a dick-head for an MP. The good news is that this will all be over for another five years and while, as they say, the result is too close to call, it’s almost certain that we shall have another coalition government.


Five years ago, most of us probably thought the coalition was a good idea – the Liberal Democrats would put a brake on the excesses of the rabid Tory right. Alas, it turned out that the Lib Dems had no convictions they felt worth defending and they have seamlessly morphed into Tory Lite. The speculation a week out is that the Tories will be the largest party but will be short of an outright majority and, even with LibDem, UKIP and Ulster Nationalists support, may still be short. If that’s the case the Tories can try to rule as a minority government but it’s not likely that they would get very far as virtually all the others are committed to bringing them down. So, there could be an interesting week-end of horse-trading, bribes and promises no one has any intention of keeping before we get a new government. Interestingly, if there is no overall majority, the sitting PM gets first crack at trying to form a government so Cameron will certainly try to cobble together enough support. We can only hope that he falls quite a bit short!

Nope!Still, one amusing aspect of the election campaign has been the alternative election posters. The Guardian had a collection produced by art students. My favourite is the Nope poster featuring Nigel Farage, leader of the loony right one-trick pony United Kingdom Independence Party. UKIP’s only position is that every problem we face in the UK is due to being a member of the European Community and all the European interference that brings as well as the “flood” of job-stealing, benefit-scrounging foreigners who flock to the UK because they will instantly receive free housing, free medical care, and benefits sufficient to live a life of luxury for years and years to come. Damn! I wish I had known all that when I emigrated to this country all those years ago.

And, courtesy of our favourite international diplomat, who spotted an article in the Guardian about runaway goats in Georgia being lured back into custody by an officer dangling a bag of Cheetos. I wonder whether folks moving to Georgia to take up important diplomatic posts should be given a supply of Cheetos as part of their necessary equipment?

And finally, a video of a Swiss mountain climber scaling the north face of the Matterhorn in record time. The north face is 1100 metres high and its ascent generally takes an experienced climber something between 8 and 10 hours. This guy, Dani Arnold, sprinted up in one hour and forty-six minutes! Makes you exhausted just thinking about it!

Love to you all,