Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Daniel Barenboim

My friend listened to Wagner's Ring Cycle conducted at The Proms by Daniel Barenboim, the 70 year old conductor of the Staatskepelle Berlin orchestra. At the end of the performance, Barenboim held his baton up for ten seconds. There were ten seconds of complete silence in the Royal Albert Hall. This was followed by thirty minutes of rapturous applause.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

RIP Geoffrey Evans

My father's old friend from the Fleet Air Arm, Geoff Evans, has died. They met in Gosport in the autumn of 1939 and were then posted to Ford. One warm Sunday in 1940, my father and a few friends from Ford were relaxing in Arundel when they saw German aircraft overhead, bombing their base at Ford where Geoff had remained on duty. They rushed back. Geoff had been knocked off his feet by a blast but was fine. They spent the next few days digging up the unexploded bombs. "Rather you than me!" commented their Sergeant.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Greek ruins

My Classics teacher friend tells me that only 170 schoolchildren took Greek A Level this year. Classical Civilisation ("Class Civ") is fast replacing Classics as a university degree. oimoi, pheu pheu.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Dear Sadie

Sadie's husband Jake had been slipping in and out of a coma for several months, yet his faithful wife stays by his bedside day and night.
One night, Jake comes to and motions for her to come closer. He says, "My Sadie, you have been with me through all the bad times. When I got fired, you were there to support me. When my business failed, you were there. When I got shot, you were by my side. When we lost the house, you gave me support. When my health started failing, you were still by my side. You know what, Sadie?"
"What dear?" she asked gently.
"I think you're bad luck."

Thursday, July 25, 2013

It's a GAL!

Welcome Prince George Alexander Louis!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Children of today

Monday, July 22, 2013

Sporting hero of the week

Hurrah for Chris Froome who won the Tour de France!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Lady Constance Lytton

My suffragette friend was telling me about her heroine, Lady Constance Lytton (1869-1923). She was not allowed to marry the man she loved because he was too poor and so she remained a spinster, looking after her mother at Knebworth after her father, who was Viceroy of India, died. Her sister Emily married Edwin Lutyens and her other sister Betty married Arthur Balfour's brother.
Constance's life changed in 1905 when she inherited £1000 from her great-aunt. She used some of this to support a singing and dancing group for working class girls and through this she met some suffragettes who converted her to their cause in 1908. Participation in suffragette demonstrations caused her to be imprisoned in Holloway but she was released on the pretext of a weak heart when the authorities discovered she was the daughter of Lord Lytton.
Outraged that her treatment was different due to her class, she cut off her hair and dressed up as a seamstress (see second picture), taking the name "Jane Warton". She then went to a suffragette demonstration in Liverpool and hurled stones at an MP's car. She was imprisoned in Walton jail where she was given 14 days hard labour and force-fed 8 times.  Afterwards, she wrote an account of her experience in The Times, wrote a book Prisons and Prisoners and gave many speeches condemning force-feeding.
Altogether she was imprisoned four times which took its toll on her health: she had a stroke in 1912 from which she never fully recovered. She lived to see women over 30 being given the vote in 1918 but in the end she had to be nursed by her mother at Knebworth and she died in 1923 aged 54.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013


"I'm just going out for 20 minutes," I said to my father.
"Alright dear," he replied. "I'm looking forward to the 21st minute!"

Tuesday, July 16, 2013


My friend asked me if I'd seen the blunder by the San Francisco TV station which reported that the names of the three people killed in the plane crash there were Wi Tu Lo, Ho Lee Fuk and Bang Ting Ow and the Captain was Sum Ting Wong.
He remembers being given a card by an earnest young South Korean broker from Dong Bang Securities: the name was One Suk Su.

Monday, July 15, 2013

St Swithun's Day

Glorious day here in Winchester!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Hurrah for the Burnley Express!

Jimmy Anderson took ten wickets against Australia.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Biscuit of the day

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Alfred de Musset

Alfred de Musset
Called his cat "Pussay."
His accent was affected,
But that was only to be expected.

Monday, July 08, 2013

Cyn cyn!

My dear reader Portinari and his lovely wife, La Bella Signora Portinari, introduced me to the Italian bitter, Cynar, on Saturday. Its main ingredient is artichokes and it is a delicious aperitif served with ice and fresh orange juice. We were fortunate to enjoy LBSP's excellent shortbread with it. Happy days in Lewes!

Sunday, July 07, 2013

Sporting hero of the millennium

Thursday, July 04, 2013

CV of the day

My name is Benedict le Gauche and I was born on 02/05/85 which makes me 28 and ripe as a lemon. I’m looking for a job I’ll like. As a man of integrity I’m not about to try and give you the impression that all the jobs I’ve had previously were brilliant learning experiences tailor-made to equip me for precisely the job I’m applying for (hello you) when in reality they have been, for the greater part, boring and drudgerous and disheartening. I should state I was not bad at them. The capacity to bear such trials whilst retaining an atmost-times sunny disposition might be called something like ‘the ability to work under pressure’.Yes. I wasn’t bad. I was good in fact – I can’t think of a job I wasn’t good at. (I can: a call centre job at a company called GOVNET– ‘a communication tool that government uses to communicate with the third sector’ and home to the most disastrous horseshit I’ve had the pleasure of peddling, commercially.) So, but via some kind of weird pride or fear of being disliked I have hitherto been inspired to perform above averagely for every company I’ve ever worked for and believe that I can harness this same  fear in the furthering of your company goals. Who knows? I might even like the job! Though this is statistically improbable. Some short sentences about me: I excel at customer service – really fly, you should see. I can lift more than it looks like I can lift. I like working on my own if there isn’t anyone fun to work with, but can also stand the company of people I hold in contempt and am, in this sense, versatile. I can work incredibly long hours, and will work for very little money. I have ginger hair and for a lot of people this is a talking point. Sometimes I do not feel like I am completely in control of myself and I have to pinch myself very hard. I like the great outdoors. As of the 11th January 2013 I am free from all venereal disease. Thanks for taking the time out to read my application. I’ve tried my best to be honest. I really excel  at customer service and do, through great force of will and habit, hide the worst of my qualities.

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Quotation of the day

"President Hollande has sacrificed the environment on the altar of austerity."

Delphine Batho, ex-Ecology & Energy Minister

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Obit of the day

Professor Malcolm Parkes' obituary is in today's Times. He was a paleographer and an expert on medieval handwriting at Keble College, Oxford. Here's an excerpt:
"His funeral sermon recalled his role in a student production of Richard II when the college chaplain, now a bishop, pushed him in a wheelbarrow down the aisle of the chapel as together they played the cameo scene of the gardeners, as variations on Bill and Ben, the Flowerpot Men were played on the organ."
One of his students said, "his generosity of spirit was as remarkable as his generosity with spirits was legendary."

Monday, July 01, 2013

Salad of the day

Another weekend, another picnic, the first of the year in glorious sunshine. I made a new salad which was well received: baked butternut squash and grilled halloumi cheese (all cubed) with fried quartered mushrooms and balsamic vinegar dressing. The gooseberries from the garden, in a mixture of custard and cream, made a good topping for my cinnamon meringue as well.