Saturday 6 August 2011

Saturday shots

My monthly round up of the pictures I've taken. It's amazing to look back over the last 31 days and see how much we've done...I shall so enjoy looking at these in twenty years time and remembering 'the good old days'. I've been using my phone a lot to take pictures with a technique called HDR, hence all the very saturated colours.

The windsock in front of the Regency crescent where we live in Brighton. If you look carefully there's a ghost of what looks like a coke can in the sky

Sunset out of our back window in Brighton

Mushroom stall in Borough Market

Borough Market flower shop. Keen Harry Potter film goers may just recognise this building

Candle on restaurant table

Chichester Cathedral

Reflections in the Regency Canal

At Hackney Wicked festival, the biggest Stick street art ever

River Lee by the Olympic Stadium

Canoeing on the river (not us!)

Inside these drawers are posters from the London Underground

On the beach...south bank of the River Thames...he was sculpting a shark

Squid at Borough Market

London smoked salmon at H Formans

The Cat on the paddloes in Brighton

The crowd at the's heavily edited to get this result

Chichester Cathedral

My birthday own Roas drawn on old hanging files, now framed and ready for hanging

Brighton Beach

Sunset in Brighton



Brighton beach huts

Did you ever get one of these for valentines? Love lies bleeding: the flowers when they come drip 'blood'

At Hurts in Somerset ticker tape as the finale

More beach huts

No month is complete without some street art

More street art beside the River Lee

The valentine plant flowers...aren't they stunning?

An art project called Bow Bells

Friday 5 August 2011


They say you can't buck the market, and that's certainly the case at the moment. But in a world where profits can be made by driving prices down as well as up, and the truly important test of performance for a financial trader is the profit at the end of the day, we are seeing the global economy throttled. A phrase that I have seen too much of recently is that when governments came riding to the rescue of the banks in 2008, it simply transferred the debt from being a banking problem to being a sovereign one. Since then we've seen banks (I include that any financial organisation) make £billions and bankers pocket £millions. In the meantime, anyone outside the bankers bubble has seen their effective incomes drop, quite possibly they've lost their job, and prices for even the most essential items such as food and fuel rise, whilst their pensions have been eroded.

Alongside this debacle are the politicians who've helped get us into this pickle...firstly by creating the conditions over the last twenty years whereby the the financiers could wheel and deal with impunity, and then once we the crash happened by failing to take the necessary steps to reform the global financial sector from top to bottom. They continue to run scared of the Bob Diamonds of this world who weal enormous financial clout without any sense of responsibility...and as we all know with great power comes great responsibility...or not if you're a banker. Politicians of all colours have shown no sense of leadership, have failed to recognise that the system is broken and needs to be tossed away to be replaced by something that works for the majority, not the selfish minority.

Phew...thank heavens that's off my chest. Last night we were out with one of my oldest friends - The Creative Director (TCD) and his girlfriend (PE) who is a picture editor at news organisation that specialises in listening to people's phone messages. The Cat's Mother asked me what a creative director is, so I explained "he draws pictures" which is a lie, because actually he tells other people to draw pictures. In the past, I've been known to rock home from evenings out with TCD in a 'bit of a state', but last night we were all grown up.

The great thing about old friends is the memories that go with them. TCD has a chip on his shoulder. Literally. One weekend more years ago than I recall TCD and PE were down in Brighton for the weekend. We spent a hot sunny day on the beach drinking beer. Slowly. But the effect was unfortunate. We got it into our heads that it would be really funny to go into the Kentucky Fried Chicken and ask for a 'Schlongburger'. We did, and rolled around in hysterics before we were less than politely asked to leave. As we headed back to the flat TCD tripped up the curb and went down with the most almighty crash. We laughed. Boy did we all laugh as we staggered up the stairs. I guess the pain came on the next day, but he never went off to the doctors, and that's why his left shoulder has a big lump on it, even today.

The other story that we had to recount for The Cat's Mother's benefit was about PE's friend who one day ended up with a mouthful of pigs semen. But I realise you're all to busy to sit and read about that.

Anyway poor TCD had been made redundant earlier this year from his high-powered international job. It happens (see above). Two days before they exchanged on a new flat. They went ahead none the less, and since then he's kept himself busy with freelance work. Let's hope it continues and someone kicks the bankers in the goolies rather than allow them to mess up everyone else's lives.

In lieu of First Friday Photos tomorrow will be 'Saturday Shots', if I can cram it in before The Boy re-materialises. I'm not really sure where he is at the moment, but I have a feeling he has air under his feet rather than solid earth.

Thursday 4 August 2011

On yer bike

So the markets have started gunning for Italy and Spain now. I'm the last to suggest that their economies are in the best shape, but it does seem that private speculators are hell bent on achieving financial collapse for their own personal benefit. The EU has expressed concern. But what is abundantly clear is that a combination of greedy financiers and poor political leadership is creating a vicious circle that could create economic conflagration, mass unemployment and poverty not seen before. It's been the way for a long time to let the markets decide, but really the time has come for that to stop. That will involve massive reform of the international system...but as the American budget debacle shows, that reform is long overdue.

For the last four years, people have given me a funny look when I've told them that I cycle the eighteen miles to work on a mountain bike. Truth be told, my enthusiasm for it has been getting less and less, especially since we moved to Loughton and the hill at the end of the return journey is like a mountain to me. So my fitness has been tailing off. If I did the journey by road it's a lot shorter, but I much prefer going down the side of the canals and past the Olympic site which is a quite beautiful way of staying countryfied all the way into the centre of town. But as the paths are mud tracks I've had no choice but to use the heavy mountain bike. Until now. The paths have been resurfaced as part of the improvements by the Olympic committee and it's now much smoother, so I've splashed out on a lovely racing bike which is so light I can lift it with one finger. It's beautiful and once again I can get myself fit again. Which is a good thing.

I mentioned in this post about going for a check up by Life Line Screening. The initial results had looked OK to me (I am a Doctor, but a Doctor of Spin so maybe I'm not entirely qualified to make medical judgements), but as I had to pop into the doctor I showed him the final results that had been sent to me. I also mentioned my brother's heart attacks. I wouldn't quite say he panicked, but his air of professional disinterest changed completely. He immediately prescribed statins to reduce my cholesterol, and sent me off to get another blood test because my previous results showed a high likelihood of diabetes.

I took a decision about the statins...not to start taking them at the moment but rather try and tackle the problem with a better diet (one that doesn't involve a packet of marshmallows every day), but will keep it under review. I went for the blood tests yesterday, but hope that everything will be OK. I'll know in a couple of days. It's a nuisance really. But does make me really pleased that Life Line Screening made the offer...and re-inforces my feeling that if you reach a 'certain' age, then it is more than sensible to get a check up, whether by them, another private service or your own doctor.

The Boy meantime will be back on Saturday, and is currently enjoying some r'n'r on Bintan Island, wherever that is. After the depression of losing their last match has worn off, he seems to have cheered up by doing some watersports and riding an electric motorbike. He keeps mentioning it's very expensive. I don't know what on earth he means.

Tuesday 2 August 2011


A couple of years back, before The Cat's Mother and I were an item I was invited along to a fabulous party she had organised to celebrate her birthday. It was held in the garden under a glorious marquee, the disco played and the wine and champagne flowed all night. It was glitzy and glamorous and I new practically no one. But I do remember a very drunk man singing and dancing and celebrating louder and more wildly than anyone else there.

As The Cat's Mother and I grew closer and I became part of the wider circle of friends, I was re-introduced to this man. He was a character, a man who lived life to the full and treasured every moment. For him every moment of life was to be enjoyed to the max. A glass half full kind of person. A person who could bring a smile to everyone's faces through a quick quip or a jaunty jibe. Not a bad bone in him. He burnt the candle at both ends and in the middle as well.

He was part of our group which went off to Russia, and led the celebrations on our sleeper train late into the night, early into the morning. He was one of two that went in search of a kebab along the rest of the train, and was literally kicked down the corridor by a small blond female trainguard who probably spent her spare time throwing the hammer. And sickle. Fortunately there was enough of us that we had the carriage to ourselves and didn't disturb another soul. You may pick him out in the picture above. When we left another female trainguard who in her spare time clearly throws the discus said (phonetically) 'Shobar' which became the 'word of the holiday' even after our tour guide told us it's meaning and we had to hang our heads in shame. Later on that holiday, at the Space Museum and afterwards, he kept us more than entertained with impressions of dogs hanging their heads out of the windows of cars with the wind blowing their ears as they traveled to the space centre to be blasted into space.

Earlier this year, he danced 'til dawn at our New Year celebration, and kept the men in the winning position for the 'hat game' (you know where names go on pieces of paper in a hat and when pulled out you have to give's known by a million different names) against the cheating women. And again at UP's amazing birthday celebrations he didn't hold back in helping things go with a swing.

It may be just that he knew his time was limited because he'd grown up with a rare illness, one that gradually ate him up from the inside, that he made the most of his time. Or it may be that he was just someone who knew how to enjoy himself and bring a smile to those around him. This year, he went rapidly down hill, but that didn't stop the humour until yesterday when it stopped. Full stop. He wasn't yet 50.

I bet heaven is a riot today.

Monday 1 August 2011

Poggy's tail

If you've got a little spare cash...and that's a big IF these days isn't it?...I'd highly recommend a couple of books by Paul called Derelict London, and the other London's Lost Rivers. I can't say why the decay of one of the world's great cities holds such fascination for me, but it does, and both these books capture it well, mostly in pictures.

And I guess it's my fascination with seeing odd bits of London that means that when we took our guests into town this weekend we went a rather obscure car, tube, Light railway, boat and finally Shanksy's pony. They're English, but live in Berlin, so they are strangers in their own country, and it was interesting to hear how Queen2B and The Prince viewed this country...a lot more positively than any one else I know does. Even the Italian who sat next to me, was jabbering on about how marvelous our our public transport system is. Mind you, when you've got a slimy dirty old man in charge of your country, you can't expect all to be right can you? I guess that's the benefit of seeing in from the outside. It's not that I don't appreciate all the good things that England has, but there are just too many downsides too.

One of those moments, and I don't doubt that it is one that you had to be there to fully appreciate, was a story that Queen2B told, about how when she was much, much younger, she played with the children of a very upper class family. In true upper class fashion, they were all as mad as a box of frogs, and all the children had been given ridiculous nick names. I would recount them all, but a couple of glasses of wine has made me forget all except one - Poggy. Dear Poggy was evidently a sweet little girl, but unfortunately her bottom kept falling out. I don't mean she dropped her knickers or her trousers, I mean erm, err, erm her bottom kept dropping out. The first time this happened when Queen2B, who was just eightish, was looking after her, Queen2B had not been warned. So was somewhat non-plussed when Poggy asked her to scoop it back....I'm sure it was terrible, but on a Sunday afternoon by the canal, we giggled like we shouldn't. Like I said you had to be there. Poggy evidently runs a shop on the south coast now, so hopefully in her middle age it's all been sorted.

Saturday we did an off-beat tourist tour which took in Borough Market, and ended up at the fabulous production of War Horse which is still running. Again, if you have any spare pennies, it's money well spent....taking puppetry to a new level. I wish the Boy had been here to see it too, but he was supping at Raffles in Singapore. That's something I've never achieved...yet!

Sunday, was entirely given over to food...firstly at my favourite restaurant - Formans -who had failed to return six phone calls and three messages. That's true English service for you. We then moved on to another place, also on the Canal 'Olive E2' where the service couldn't have been more attentive...that's southern European service for you.

A sleepless Sunday night meant that I was up and awake to hear the Americans announce that they'd finally decided to stop arsing around and would sort out their budget issues. All around me I could hear the world breath a collective sigh of relief. But the net result in the long term will undoubtedly be to hasten America's decline as the world's leading (in fact only) superpower. That will be interesting for future generations. I wonder how that looks from Singapore?