Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Ride baby ride

It was the Cat's graduation last week.  Very splendid indeed and delighted she got her first from Exeter.

Bizarrely I decided to cycle back from Exeter to Essex.  By myself.  It was absolutely lovely.  I dodged the showers. Got only marginally irritated by Google maps.  Saw some very splendid scenery indeed...including two white horses carved into the hillsides.  It confirmed that when cycling up hill and down dale is better than on the flat.  240 miles in 2 and a half days was perfect.

Sunday, 10 July 2016

New world

I'm not too sure I recognise the world we live in at the moment.  It seems a different place to the one I grew up in, and the certainties of the past have disappeared.  In the last month, change has come thick and fast, and there is plenty more in the weeks, months and years ahead.  We live in an age of uncertainty.  The Chinese curse of 'May you live in interesting times' has never been more apt.

Let me try and remember some of the fun things we've been doing.

I went white water rafting at the Lee Valley White Water centre (where else?).  I went with the same friend who took me bobsleighing last year...or was it the year before?!  So not content with trying to get me pummelled to death down the bobsleigh track, he wanted to drown me.  This wasn't just any white water rafting session, this one was led by Tim Baillee, one of our Olympic Gold Medal Winners.  I managed to stay in the raft, which was a relief to me, as the water is terrifying fast and powerful...and we won the race, with Tim's help.  Great fun, as the photos show.

I've been chosen as the next President of our Old Bancroftian Association, the 'job' starts next April 1st which may be totally appropriate given how mediocre my school career was.  Anyway, I'll get a very nice  medal to wear round my neck and attend many functions where I'll be expected to give a speech...this is not to be recommended as my public speaking abilities are minimal...and that's being generous.  But I am pleased with the honour!

The Cat has finished her degree and gained a First...a more than well-deserved achievement.  Now all she has to do is find a job in her chosen career...theatre - whether that's back stage or on the stage will depend on the opportunities that present themselves.  We celebrated at The Woodford, a new restaurant near us that has been given the Evening Standard's restaurant of the year award...which is quite an achievement given that our neighbourhood is notorious for having nothing but KFC to dine in.

There have been a number of firsts other than The Cat's.  I took my first steps in 10 Downing Street...thanks to a possible business event I'm organising.  This was the Tuesday before the referendum, and even then the beds were being wheeled in ready for a busy night.

Funnily enough, when I went past Downing Street on my other first...being part of a protest march...it was a little different

I cried when the results of the referendum were announced.  I have been brought up a European, and for me the EU is the embodiment of that.  I am more angry about the result than I have ever thought myself capable, so have continued to campaign for us not to break with Europe, and will continue to the day I die.

On the entertainment front, we combined an evening of horse racing with a concert by Will Young.  We managed to avoid the rain, won 50 quid and had a brilliant time.

We went to a dinner for supporters of the National Theatre, and I managed to completely demoralise the Director of one of the plays there when I didn't disagree with her when she said it was very flawed.  And there was I just trying to avoid an argument....  The National has featured a lot in our lives recently...we went to see the Threepenny Opera, which was fun, I loved it more than The Cat's Mother, even though we agreed it was quite flawed.  Connections is the National's youth group national competition.  More than 500 entries, with the best twelve performed at the National.  Delightfully, the Cat was Assistant Director of 'Spilling my heart out' which was one of those chosen.  Such a proud moment to see and realise just how much talent she has.

This week has been far too busy...an evening with Burt Baccarach at the Festival Hall, accompanied by Joss Stone.  Fabulous to see, amazing he can still perform at the age of 88, even though he looks desperately frail.  An evening at the ENO to the Cat's Mother's brother conduct the orchestra in a performance of Madame Butterfly, followed by a reception at Drapers Hall on Thursday...very grand surroundings indeed...and on Friday Needles and Opium, a play by Robert Lepage at the Barbican. The last one was utterly amazing...way beyond anything I've ever seen on the stage before.   Perhaps the overdose of culture will cheer me up.

And to end on a happier note, Mum has a new dog, Dandy

Friday, 17 June 2016

Jo Cox

On a very personal note, I remember as if it was yesterday the moment I had to tell my 8 year old son his mother had died.  Brendan Cox has to do that for his and Jo Cox's three and five year old children.  I can imagine the pain he and the children will go through, made infinitely worse by the terrible circumstances.

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

The world is flat

I am convinced we've finally reached a tipping point and the world has at every level gone totally, absolutely and completely barking mad. 

Trump for President?  Really? Really, really??? I cannot believe that he has got this far...how could any intelligent, thinking person vote for him with his ignorant, bigoted views.  Ah yes, he's a populist and we know where that gets us.

Brexit?  Really?  Really, really??? In an interconnected world it is crass stupidity that we will be out there on our own.  We won't.  We will be having to make hundreds of new agreements with other trading blocks from a position of weakness.  The EU has been massively good for the UK and for every individual citizen here but the asses who are running the Remain campaign have stuck rigidly to their scare tactics, which no one likes.  Do we want to be governed by the Little Britain mentality politicians like Boris Johnson and Nigel Farrage, or monsters like Gove and Duncan-Smith?  It's a nightmare, and we will all suffer badly if we leap.  I'm posting on Facebook every day a benefit of being in the EU in the hope it might make a little difference

Orlando? Really? Really, really??? A terrible, terrible avoidable tragedy, and we've all be shocked by the reports of people texting, sending photos and videos to their loved ones just before they die.  What is it with America that mass killings are acceptable?

I spent the last week, or four days of them, cycling from London to Amsterdam.  Roughly 370 miles with eighty other people of various ages, size, fitness and ability.  Unusually, I quickly made friends and spent the time with three others, two of whom are from Brighton.  We all helped each other enormously to cover the miles....you might think that cycling on the flat through Belgium and the Netherlands would be easier than the hills and valleys of England and France, but it's not so.  The benefit of a hill is that at the top you can coast down, whereas the flat requires constant effort and in the Netherlands where the roads can be very straight for a long time it can be quite disheartening!  We got a little wet, but mostly burnt in the sun and had a great time as we passed through Dover, Calais, Dunkirk, Brugges, Breda, before reaching our destination.  I added a little extra to the journey by doing the bit from Tower  Bridge to Crystal Palace as I just wanted to go from central London...and as a reward they opened the bridge for me (nothing to do with the boat going through underneath!).

Hardly a picture taken by me, but I've gathered some: