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Wednesday, 8 February 2017

"I Rather be a Sparrow than a Snail - Yes I would - If I only could"

Having not travelled outside our delightful isle for many, many years I found myself in Svalbard in January ( as regular readers of my blog will know). It has unleashed - there is no other word - the wanderlust in me. Think Phineas Fogg, the Ancient Mariner, Ulysses and Star Lord. Now the world is my oyster and I see unbounded vistas opening up before me. Well as much as a Civil Service pension will allow.

To spread my wings - where? To the East and the lure of the Orient, the ancient Silk Route, the Forbidden City, or the fabulous Pearl Isles of the Java Sea. To the West,  to the Land of Opportunity, to the wide Pacific? North once again to the Arctic and beyond. No South, that is where I want to wander as I wonder.

Places that conjure up adventure, discovery and ice. South Georgia, the Ross Sea, Mordor (aka New Zealand).....Antarctica. I dismissed Australia as being too far north -for God's sake some of it's near the Equator. As for New Zealand, I love their lamb but isn't it just one big "Lord of the Rings' theme park?

I've nothing against South America. It's very big and long, and inspired Simon and Garfunkel, but that was a long time ago. Yet for some reason I felt drawn further and further South until I was at the tip of that vast continent - Tierra Del Fuego. Penguins, Seals, Whales, Polar Bears and lots of other stuff. Perfect.

My hols have been sorted. TdelF in June, via the Ascension Islands, South Georgia and the South Shetland Islands. Now all I need is a suitably large icebreaker.

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

“One day I was counting the cats and I absent-mindedly counted myself.”

I want to talk about a sentient being with which we share this planet of ours.

My position, based on many years of experience, is clear. Our cat Ginja the Ninja is as sentient, even more so, than most of the neighbours in our street.

Ginja, or Billy Bongo, or Gingi Pops, has been part of the Coidan household for at least 8 years. A stray cat who decided to call on us and stayed.

I can honestly say I have spent more time talking to him, stroking and dodging his well aimed swipes than I have with anyone else other than the missus. I have learnt to read his every expression, his moods, even appreciate his ambitions - to biff really hard that big black cat from across the road.

Billy Bongo is a big, ginger tom with eyes that you melt into. There he is on the kitchen window ledge, wanting to come in but...maybe the timing's not quite right. He stares into my eyes - I say I understand as he sniffs my hand and rubs against the wall. He raises his paw and pats my hand, I stroke his head and rub his back. He jumps down and in the kitchen waits for me to stroke him again, and then he moves off to eat his biscuits.

It's "Pointless" on the telly. Billy Bongo taps on the window to be let in. You open the back door and he segways in. He raises his head for a stroke and heads off to the front room where the missus is waiting with an accommodating lap and many words of love and comfort. He stares into her eyes, stretches out a paw and purrs himself to sleep. Two more contented beings in this universe you could not find.

It is half eleven, time for bed. This is the beginning of the bed ritual. Sometimes he's waiting on the window ledge, more often than not he's nowhere to be seen. The thought that we might pass a night without this lump of golden fur sleeping slap bang in the middle of our bed fills us with panic. Glass is tapped, door handles moved up and down,"Ginji Pops" echos through the night.

In the bathroom his glass of water is prepared. Filled to the top, he can't be expected to stick his head in the glass, the glass is placed in the middle of the bath. In the bedroom, his blanket, especially chosen, is laid out on the bed.

He scratches on the window and is let in. Having had a late supper of dried food  he runs upstairs into the bathroom to have his late nightcap of water. He may join me as I brush my teeth but otherwise he's focused fully on his glass of water.  Having had his fill he trundles along the landing to the bedroom and jumps on the bed. If I happen to be there before him we exchange greetings, he rubs up against my hand or iPhone and I stroke him and rub his head - he loves that. We might even have a goodnight kiss, but usually he too intent on bedding down to let any familiarities get in the way.

At 5 am his bladder is full and he pats the missus on the face. She gets up, goes down stairs, watches him have an early morning snack and lets him out. There is much talking between the two of them in the early hours.

On many occasions during the day he will engage with us. The latest cat on the block, his liking for cat nip, and the success or otherwise of the cat food manufacturer's latest creation.

All this congress is achieved by an animal on all fours, without an opposible thumb, whose vocal utterances are limited and who seems to enjoy licking his bum.

Many people have these furry persons as companions for more years than they are married. As you sit reading, writing or just dreaming this delightful creature sits, sleeps, stares lovingly into your eyes and you thank God for creatures great and small and for this miricle of companionship who ancestors a few thousamd years ago happened upon us.

Get over it: Get a Plan

He was voted in by the US electorate. Not the majority but then  the majority didn't  elect our disastrous  Government. And he's delivering on his promises. It's questionable whether those promises were sensible but that's democracy. How often do you hear of a politician castigated because he delivered what he promised?

I didn't like Hilary Clinton, she struck me as being entitled. Because she's part of the white, rich, (liberal) upper middle ruling class she thought she was entitled to the Presidency. A lot of people disagreed with that. A lot of people weren't happy with what those entitled people had done for those less entitled. So Trump won.

His election is an opportunity. You could even contend that his apparently chaotic, disruptive first week is the best thing that could have happened to American and also Western politics.The failure of the liberal concensus to deal with almost every crisis in the last twenty years calls out for a dramatic change. Iraq, Syria, Libya, the financial meltdown and the subsequent bail out of the culprits of that disaster. The rise of Putin, the chaos in the EU, economic stagnation: the liberals have wrung their hands and hammered those least able to defend themselves. They've done fuck all right.

His election and his blitzkrieg on the American political establishment should be a call to arms. It's all very well marching in the streets, holding up placards and tweeting furiously about the injustice of his policy to differentiate between Muslims and others. While you're doing that you're not focusing on what needs to be done to argue the case for a more enlightened World View.

Why should he care what protestors on the East and West Coast say, they were flaky anyway. Heartland American is right behind him. Let the Germans bang on about liberty, inclusiveness and getting on with each other. He and his people would say without America all of  Germany would now be behind Russian lines.  What has America got from its role as World peace keeper? A lot of unnecessary aggro. The Yanks go in to sort out a country only to be told to "piss off " you capitalist pig.

So let's stop wasting energy in righteous anger. Let's consider where our liberal concensus has taken us, its failures and successes and come up with a 4 year programme. We can't do much about the Yanks, but maybe if they see what we can achieve in Europe and elsewhere they'll want to give it a try and ditch Trump.

P.S. Irrespective of the rights and wrongs of Trump's immigration policy, the sight of May whimpering and sucking up to him and a possible dictator in Turkey makes me want to march on Downing Street.