Friday 19 August 2011

It's what you know

There are some things The Cat's Mother knows and there are some things that I know.

She knows that, in her absence, the house has gone to rack and ruin, the kitchen is a disaster area, the dishes are still dirty, have become mouldy and are walking around the house by themselves, the rubbish lies scattered around the garden, and there are mountains of unwashed clothes beckoning for her domestic hand.

I know that, in her absence, the house has been quiet, the kitchen is as tidy now as when she left, the dishes are neatly stacked in the dishwasher, the rubbish has been taken out and collected by the bin men, and we've washed the clothes we've worn.

I wonder who's right? We'll find out tomorrow.

Two events have dominated my newspaper reading over the last 48 hours, and caused me to reflect on destiny.

Yesterday the Autonomy Corporation was bought by US technology giant Hewlett Packard for a whopping 10.3 billion dollars. That's a lot of dosh. You may not know Autonomy...and why should you? I only know it because the founder, Mike Lynch attended the same school as me, and as The Boy does now. He's four years younger than me and was always a bright spark, getting there on a scholarship (as indeed did I). Not much more to say other than well done...always good to read about someone you know (of) doing well...and as I understand it, he deserved. I'm not sure what he learnt at school that I didn't, but whatever it was, it's served him well.

The other story is the death and repatriation of Lt Dan Clack in Afghanistan. He was just 24, and a very well liked and respected officer. A man of great potential. He's the first Old Bancroftian to have been killed in action since the second world war, and had been at the school between 1998 and 2005. Lieutenant Clack was killed while leading a ten-man patrol into the village of Dactran to speak to the local nationals and discuss a shura due to take place the next day. Approximately 150 metres from the front gate his patrol was struck by an improvised explosive device, killing him and injuring five other members of his patrol. What a terrible tragedy for him, his family and those close to him. I remember when I was at school one of the things I learnt was that Afghanistan was an unconquerable country that was little more than a waste land. It has a tribal system which suits the place; democracy is not a natural fit. So the other part of the tragedy is that he was fighting an unwinnable war trying to impose an alien political system which has been imposed by western political leaders. If only they'd been in the same history lesson as me.

Wednesday 17 August 2011

It's all in black and white

When I was younger I thought in black and white. Things were right or wrong, good or bad, left or right. But age and experience has proved otherwise...there was never one moment when The Boy crawled and then walked, when he gurgled and then talked, it would even be difficult to pinpoint the exact moment when his mother moved from life to death.

In our day to day lives, things are rarely just one thing or another. Take the police response to the riots. Evidently their response was too soft. This not long after they were criticised for being too hard at the G20 riots. During the height of the riots there were public calls for the rioters to be hung drawn and quartered, but now the sentences are being handed down, they're being criticised as too harsh. It's not a very black and white issue is it?

Over in north Africa, it seems to have finally registered that the motley band of rebels fighting Gadaffi may not be all that we want them to be. So after millions of £s has been spent supporting a liquorice allsort army the diplomats are now talking about a 'catastrophic victory' which might lead to civil war, or a takeover by islamic extremists. Well I hate to say it (I don't really) but that was bloody obvious months ago. The choice has always been choosing between the lesser of two evils. It's never been a black and white issue.

Now talking of black and white, that's the theme of this week's gallery, so here's a picture I took of St Paul's Cathedral...The Boy and I used to go past it every night when we walked home from my office over The Wobbly Bridge and I loved it. I took it with my mobile phone

This picture though isn't black and's a view of the cranes on the St Petersburg sky line when we were there last year. It's just an illusion as it was taken in full colour on my big Olympus camera.

As I said, things are rarely black and white.

Monday 15 August 2011

Just ignore Mrs Worthington

The problem with using the name Nota Bene is that when I open up my Hotamil account, the 'system' thinks I'm Italian and offers to translate the whole page for me. It was funny for the first five hundred times, but now the jokes beginning to wear a bit thin. Mama Mia! On the other hand, its probably better than the e-mails that I get from PRs addressing me as Dear Brad presumably because the email address is bradstockboys. If ever I want to change my name to Brad Stockboys, I'll let them know. Or maybe they've seen a passing resemblance to the other famous Brad....its an easy mistake to make.

The Cat's Mother and The Cat are away sunning themselves in France this week, so the mice are out to play. Well, when I say out to play I mean we're eating deep fried frozen pizzas all week, leaving the wrappers all over the sitting room floor whilst slobbing around watching DVDs full of sex and violence. Well, when I say 'we', I mean 'me'. No doubt The Boy will shame me with his goody-two-shoes behaviour. Youth isn't what it used to be.

The Cat's Mother has taken it on herself to make me relive the misery of my (and UP's) 'O' level years by taking us to all the plays we studied for English all those years ago. Shakespeare's Winters Tale is already crossed off the list, as is MacBeth. We've seen an operatic version of Turn of the Screw previously. The Playboy of the Western world is a future 'must see'. This weekend we saw Marlowe's Dr Faustus at The Globe theatre on the South Bank. It was absolutely fantastic...oh that it had been on when I was studying, I may yet improve on my Grade A. If you've never been, and get the chance do go, but make sure you bring a cushion. The afternoon was capped by The Cat bumping into and getting the autograph of Dr Who's assistant. Haven't got a clue about her name, but she's very pleasant, happy to sign away and have her picture taken with hoards of adoring fans...lovely.

This weekend was the finale of The Cat's two weeks course at the National Youth Theatre. She did amazingly well to get a place...the competition was remarkably stiff, but she shone at the auditions. The last two weeks have been a roller coaster of emotions for her, as they built up to this and on Saturday they gave their performance at the National. It was a fabulous thing to see her participate and hopefully this is just the start of a path which will see her dreams come true. If you can spot her in the video, you're doing well...better than I did for half the performance!

Wow, I've reached the end and not a political comment. But I do like Warren Buffet's recent comments which I'm sure apply over here as well as over there.