Friday, 4 February 2011

It's a slippery slope

hiybbprqag - no I'm not explaining that.

Last night we watched Louis Theroux in Israel. He is an absolute master at allowing people to dig their own graves. The programme was about Settlers. A masterful piece that should open a few eyes. I would love to see change in that region.

The Cat's Mother loathes exercise, so when she travelled with us to go skiing last year, her friends fell of their collective chairs. It was a significant feather in my cap evidently. She came back complaining that it was a ridiculous thing to be doing, the clothes were ridiculous, and ski boots were ridiculous. I think you get the idea. But secretly, I just knew she enjoyed herself. At least she was still speaking to me at the end of the week.

And I've been proven correct as we'll be off to the slopes in a couple of weeks time. This time we will be accompanied by The Muffins - The Cat's Mother's sister, husband and girls. The smaller Muffins are eight and five, and will share lessons with their mum and The Cat's Mother. The Boy, The Cat, Muffin Dad and I will be doing our own thing. But I have a suspicion we will be missing out on all sorts of jolly japes. Here is video evidence of last year's trauma. I think she did very well.

In preparation, The Cat's Mother has started going to exercise clases. Remarkably, the class is run, I believe, by an ex Pan's People girl (well, woman now). So for all those boys who used to get their weekly thrill by watching the cavorting on Top of The Pops, here we go....did you have a favourite?

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Times they are a changing

It's tumultuous times around the globe, and even in the world of Nota Bene very many things are changing. At home it's all for the good, although the challenge of getting where we want to is quite daunting. Of this more soon. At work, it's all for the bad, but then that is the state of the nation isn't it?

The Boy and The Cat have done their mocks, with, in most cases, fabulous results. And where they're not what the could be, they at least know where to focus their attention. The next challenge is to decide which 'A' levels to take, but that decision seems to be more about which degree they want to do, so things have to be done a bit arse about face. At the start of the process it all seemed quite easy, but as the day of reckoning looms, the picture gets ever less clear. The Cat's Mother and I can only offer so much guidance...and I knew I was way out of my depth when I suggested the boy got the Uni's to send him a prospectus...of course all these things are available on their web sites. the one thing that seems certain is that he won't become a marine biologist as predicted by a soothe sayer before he was born. Clearly she didn't realise that you needed two sciences at 'A' level to do that.

It was quite a peculiar start to the month today. I managed to punch a hole in the wing of my beloved Jeep...I thought I was being careful in reversing round the edge of a truck, but all I was doing was quietly gouging the metal. Ouch.

Then I had to run the gauntlet of the paparazzi...I know I'm a legend in my own lunch hour, but in this case it wasn't me they were snapping. I had to go to the municipal tip (yep, I was playing hooky from the office) which is situated by the Spurs practice pitch. It's not very salubrious, but there were TV and press photographers everywhere, so I can only assume in amongst all the Lamborghini's and Ferrari's was Mr Beckham.

I was a good boy scout when I left Waitrose - there was a dear old lady pushing a trolley up the hill looking quite distraught. She'd lost her car and thought it might be at the top of the hill, or round the corner. I jumped out of my car, and in my most patronising way asked what colour it was. "It's red, Japanese, a Nissan and the registration begins S997" I walked up the hill and round the corner, but it wasn't there, so I walked back to the supermarket. There it was right outside, so I helped her with her trolley back down the hill, and loaded the shopping in, I have a feeling she shouldn't have been driving, but that's for the authorities to decide. And she at least didn't have a hole in the nearside wing of her car.

Monday, 31 January 2011

Letting the genie out of the bottle

Well thank heavens it's the end of January. I'm never sure why January was's interminably dull, grey, cold and inhospitable. And of course we have to deal with The Boy's Mum's anniversary. Seven year's down the road, it remains as poignant as ever.

They say the two topics you should never discuss are politics and religion, but I find them both wonder I studied politics at uni. But that was in the days of the Soviet Union, so a goodly portion of my time was spent Kremlin watching, and after its collapse I wonder if it was time well spent. If it happened now, I'd probably be demanding my money back.

Away away in Arabia, the political landscape is changing and changing fast. I look on in a mix of interest and amusement. At the Iraq Inquiry Blair talked about being in the business of 'Nation Building'. Well you can hardly say that he's being successful in Gazza where the local population are deprived of the basic materials they need to build. And it was him that refused to condemn the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in the hope they would crush Hezbollah. The long-term net result of that is that it looks as though the Lebanese may well gain a pro-Syrian government again, and the West will have lost an important middle east ally. Let's not get into Iraq or Afghanistan...oh...oh we have already. Of course one place where he has been successful nation building is Iran - no longer held in check by Iraq, it is becoming a regional super power with a nuclear capability. No wonder the Israelis are worried.

In Egypt, we can't be sure of the outcome, but my money is on a less Western-inclined leadership which gains legitimacy through the ballot box. If that happens, it is really only a matter of time before other pro-Western states like Saudi Arabia begin to tumble like dominoes. It's interesting that we have tried to impose democracy on countries that are not ready for it, and have failed - Iraq and Afghanistan, yet where a desire for democracy is deeply ingrained, the west is unlikely to benefit from it. I can't help also recalling that in Palestine, Hamas won the last free elections...which the west refused to accept, creating the current impasse.

The Foreign Office must collectively be cacking their pants at the prospect. Decades of diplomacy are unravelling before their eyes, leaving the west at its weakest in this key region, just as oil supplies which are vital to the western economies, are beginning to dwindle. No wonder western governments such as the UK and US are sticking their nose in (where it's not wanted) and suggesting that Mubarak cuts and runs...their suggestions that he introduces reforms are wholly unrealistic and they must know that...they desperately need to gain favour with whoever succeeds him. If the military comes to power, we will have a temporary solution, but not one that will give the people what they are seeking.

The storm clouds are really beginning to gather around Israel, and that will undoubtedly increase their already mega-high levels of paranoia. Who knows how they will react. They didn't react well when peaceful charities tried to take supplies to Gazza, slaughtering nine of them, so I can't imagine it will be well, and in my head I can already see a mushroom cloud. The beneficiaries of all this are likely to be Russia and China. Our hand in this game of poker looks remarkably weak. I blame Bush and Blair..and Obama who failed to act on the brave words at the start of his presidency.

In April whilst The Cat and The Boy are off skiing, we were planning to head to Jordan. We may need to rethink our plans.