Sunday, 11 December 2011

Dereliction of duty

It probably sounded good in the brainstorming meeting which no doubt was run by an expensive marketing consultant, but I somehow felt that the trucking company may not have spent their money well when the side of their lorry was adorned with the line (in italics):

"We couldn't care any more"

I hope they weren't carrying someone's precious antique grand piano.

Europe's a mess isn't it? Whilst I can applaud Merkozy for getting tough about countries' budgets, I doubt that further integration is a good idea whilst the various pan-European political bodies remain shambolic at best and completely incapable at worst. Personally after many years of trecking round Europe changing currency every time I crossed a border I was delighted with the Euro, but it's a bad concept, badly implemented. It's frying pan and fire time though isn't it, and quietly The City must be smirking again as they realise how subservient the British Government is to it.

I've driven to Brighton and back in one day twice this week...which is probably the most the place has been visited in the last three years. We're having some work done there, and it always difficult to do it from a distance. I'm sure that builders are not malicious, but they have a habit of doing exactly what you don't want unless you keep the leash very short. And indeed, my list of corrections after the first visit was very long indeed, so much as I didn't want to, I was up early on Sunday morning to check on progress. No corrections this time, just some concern writ large that the work won't be done before the Christmas break. I still managed to be back within yawning and stretching time of the offspring arising.

There's a stretch of the A23 dual carriageway which has a double bend in it. I remember that when the road was upgraded, probably some fifteen or more years ago, this double bend was left as it was because the trees around it were ancient and protected. Sadly that doesn't appear to be the case anymore, and the whole lot have been chopped down. Perhaps they were diseased, perhaps the needs of road users were deemed too important, but whatever the case, they've gone, which is a real shame, even if it makes the road a little safer.

The Christmas season is well under way...tree up in the office, and now one at home too. To get us in the mood, we all trecked up to town to see Simon Callow re-tell Dickens Christmas carol. A completely bewitching performance managing to wring out every piece of emotion (from laugh out loud humour to tear inducing sadness) that's. That Simon Callow is a genius.

Friday night saw us walking the streets of London with Paul Talling. I'm not quite sure how I first came across him, but I'm glad I did. He is the author of two books - London's Lost Rivers and Derelict London. I have a fascination with old London and changing London, but am a complete junior school boy compared to Paul who has taken his passion beyond a hobby and now writes(Derelict has sold 13,000 copies) as well as running some very well-informed walks and talks during the summer months. We persuaded him to walk us up the old river Fleet, which essentially, is hidden in a sewer underneath Farringdon Road. Even in the freezing cold, the walk was fascinating...from the opening undiscovered (by us, at least) view of the Thames by night just near the remarkable Black Friar tavern (built on the site of a Dominican monastery), past Henry VIII's Bridewell Palace, through Smithfields meat market and on up to Clerk en Well, where we lay down in the middle of the road to peer a down a drain where we could hear and see the fast flowing river all the way to Kings Cross where he bade us farewell. Over three hours he didn't stop regaling us with the history and stories of the Fleet...mostly they seemed to involve nasty smells and carcasses floating down the river. The Boys particularly liked the (surely soon-to-be-revived) tradition of putting women in barrels and rolling them down the hills, the girls seemed to enjoy the more genteel history of the Venetian-like canal that Wren wanted to turn it into. If you get the chance go to Paul's web site here, and join one of his tours next we will.

The only downside is that I forgot to ask him to autograph the two books we had carried with us all evening