Friday, 1 July 2011

gathering storm clouds

I had an unexpected trip back to the office on Wednesday evening when i forgot to set the phone system, but that afforded me the opportunity of riding my motorbike in a more relaxed way than usual and it was great...really feeling the freedom of the road. I took a slight detour through Canary Wharf just as the sun was setting and seized the chance to take this picture. Of course, the towering blocks of the banks' offices say a lot about their wealth and power. It's a constant theme of mine that they should be stripped of both as I can't help but feel that they give immense wealth to their shareholders and staff at the rest of society...and that may be Government reforms of the banking system should look more at how they should contribute to the greater well-being of society, rather than simple regulatory and fiscal matters. I love the way the clouds are gathering behind the skyscrapers...let's hope this is a harbinger of change.

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Sweet sixteen

There's nothing like the gentle sound of your sixteen year old son wretching violently into the toilet at half past one in the morning to make you realise that time has indeed marched on since you were changing nappies in the middle of the night. The bodily function may have changed, and the end that needs attention may be different, but the need to be a diligent parent has remained. I stayed in bed whilst The Cat and The Cat's Mother tended to his needs. Not that I was uncaring, it's just that I thought my role was best as amused father the following morning. I may yet be proved right.

We had been to the 18th birthday party of the daughter of a friend whose son is the boy's best friend. It took place in the sort of bar that appeals to eighteen year olds, but for the grown ups it was a moment to think, "I'm so glad I don't have to do this anymore" It was alternately red velour, black walls and shiny mirrors, in places dark in other places bright and sparkly. Lovely. The Cat's Mother and I thought we should stay for an hour, which was both polite and enough time to catch up with the other oldies we know. It wasn't long enough to embarrass the offspring with our presence. We left as The Boy downed a(nother) beer and The Cat finished her first gin and tonic. At some time nearing one in the morning they crashed through the front door. And forty five minutes later The Boy made his presence felt in the bathroom.

For no obvious reason, our alarm clock decided that it had missed out on the action and some time around four in the morning it decided to turn itself on. It took me several minutes to work out what the time was...have you ever looked at your watch sure in the knowledge it must be a quarter to seven when the hands are definitely telling you it is five past four. As was the digital clock nest to it. It's like drinking a cup of coffee when you think you've been handed a cup of tea.

The Poet Laureate and Auntie Gwen hauled me up for my comments about public sector pensions, so let me just say's not that I think people don't deserve to have a living income when they retire. I do, absolutely. But there is a real has been apparent for a decade or two that the pensions offered simply cannot be afforded...they will bankrupt the country. The private sector is offering much worse pensions than it used to because of the affordability issue. There are two factors at is the ageing population...people are living longer so pensions need tobe paid out for longer, and secondly, by far and a long way the greatest growth in employment over the last decade has been public sector employment. So there is/will be more pensions to be paid for a longer time. Whether it is the current rabble in No 10 or the descendents of Tony Blair, the decisions would ultimately have to be the same. It's harsh. I know that, but at the end of the day it is horribly inevitable that change has had to come. The promise is, though, that public sector pensions will remain the best available. Personally I think we should all move to Greece where (I'm told) if you're in the armed forces you can retire at 45 and then your children get to inherit your pension when you pop your clogs.

And quickly backj to my photo a day...this is Monday night's...a panorma of the quad at The Boy's school. I realise these don't work so well on the blog...the best thing to do is simply to right click and download can then enlarge it in your normal photo viewer so you get the effect. Or don''s up to you!

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Tormenting kids (2)

I'm trying to catch up...and I've only two days to do it.....uuuurgh! At the moment the rain is pouring down, the thunder and lightning are banging and flashing, and Noah is about ready to launch his Ark. In the real world, the ICC has issued an arrest warrant for Gadaffi for butchering his own citizens, which seems strange as I thought that was part of the basic job description for a tyrant. Life can be so unfair.

I'm delighted to see that in honour of my birthday, some 750,000 public sector employees are taking the day off. I admire their chutzpah, especially because my own celebrations are going to be quite modest. I hear they they are going to be marching and waving banners. I'm deeply honoured, and as far as I know from studying 'This Day In History' this will be the most significant event ever on June 30th. Some, of course, are a little embarrassed by their support for me, so will be claiming that it's all about their protecting wildly extravagant pensions which will bankrupt us all before we know it. But I know the truth and am touched. I mention my birthday only in passing, and don't feel obliged to send me birthday greetings on Thursday. Between 9 and 12.

Back in history, on Sunday we went off to see Elton John. A five minute walk from the flat to the Sussex County Cricket ground. We awoke to a sea fog which enveloped the city, lifted, then enveloped it again, before burning off to allow us to sit in the scorching sun getting bronzed (red). Reg played a cracking set of two and a half hours seemingly enjoying himself immensely, as did The Cat's Mother and I. The offspring, however, realising this was not in fact a Bo Burnham gig didn't have much fun at all. It may have been that they were determined not to enjoy him, which was odd as they had duetted with 'Your Song' at UP's birthday bash in the early new year. At the end we followed the Yellow Brick Road home as we watched The Sun Go Down on me.

Tormenting kids (1)

I guess when one says, "I feel like I've been violated" and the other says "That's the worst thing that's ever happened to me", it would be wrong to judge it an all time success?

The Cat's Mother and I, on the other hand thoroughly enjoyed our feet being nibbled by garruda fish at a spa in Brighton at the weekend. It sure as hell tickles like crazy to start with, but then gets very relaxing.

Monday, 27 June 2011

If graffiti changed anything it would be illegal*

Well I always knew that I wouldn't be able to manage a post on Saturday...we were traveling down to and enjoying the Brighton sea air, and we were busy enough that I couldn't get near a computer. Sometimes it's good to be free of the tyranny of the key board.

Friday night we did a guided tour with some friends of East London's Street Art. This was different to my previous attempt which largely involved me going "Phwoar...look at's brilliant", as it involved a paid for guide. Who knew his stuff. So we learnt many things including the difference between tagging, graffiti and street art. That there are interesting rivalries, and that Banksy may be the public's favourite street artist, but not necessarily the street art community's. We had about three hours looking up walls and down gutters to see the best of Britain's new talent, and even got to hold a mushroom made by Cristiaan Nagel. Most of this was in the rain, and we still came away transfixed and fascinated and completely enthused....

You can find out more from these two web sites here and here

*thanks Banksy...