25 August 2005


It's hard to believe that she has been on this planet for sixteen years and eleven months. She has been a fantastic daughter and we love her to bits. Often she seems older than her years - wise, calm and compassionate - until you visit her bedroom which resembles either a frantic crime scene or the ramshackle interior of a shanty town dwelling on the outskirts of Sao Paulo - then you're reminded that she really is sixteen after all. I guess that today will live in her memory forever. At school, she received her long and anxiously awaited GCSE results. Any lingering anxiety evaporated when the exam slips torn from her envelope informed her that she had earned eight A grades, two B's and two C's. As Fred Flintstone would say -"Yabadabadoo!".... I'm so proud of her... our lovely Frances.

22 August 2005


How many gallons of this amber liquid have I consumed in the last thirty five years? Surely enough to fill an Olympic sized swimming pool! They say that beer has been around for at least 6ooo years. In recent times, getting legless on ale has been a very rare event for me. Mostly it's a social thing - some lubrication - and when life has serrated edges, somehow three or four pints smooth away the sharpness. I have been in thousands of pubs and in my view "the pub" is something the British Isles should champion more loudly. Nowhere else in the world will you find such a phenomenon. The pub is communal and open to all from the most miserable gits in Christendom to those who are the life and soul of every party, from rich bastards with flashy cars and vulgar personalised licence plates to happy "losers" with nothing but coins jangling in their pockets.
Sadly in corporate Britain, we have seen so many great pubs closing in recent years and the rise of of homogeneous themed places where staff wear uniforms and beer isn't necessarily the top tipple on the drinks menu. Looking at my watch it's time to go for another bellyful of beer... "And it's guzzle, guzzle... as the beer goes down the muzzle..." or "I want a beer just like the beer that buried dear old dad..."
...So here I am back at the keyboard, four pints later. Met some chums. Laughed. Ogled. Tackled the weekly quiz. Put the world to rights. Why is it that the "authorities" always emphasise the bad bits - drink driving, fights, alcoholism, marital problems, obesity, liver problems.... you're only "allowed three units"... relaxing licensing laws will result in "Armageddon on the streets"? Beer is like mother's milk for grown ups. Let's chill out, enjoy our pints and support our local pubs - with apologies to American readers - especially those poor sods residing in Utah!

11 August 2005


We - that's me and the wife - have just got back from an eight day break in France. Mostly we stayed in the Midi-Pyrenees region with my brother and his partner Suzy. They are modernising an old farmhouse there. It's in a very peaceful location looking south towards the Pyrenees - an ever-changing panorama where light and shade dance differently upon the mountain slopes and where at night distant thunderstorms will sometimes suddenly illuminate the horizon. We drank wine and listened to the cockerels, trying to ignore the hungry eyes of Pichu the neighbours' Pyrenean mountain dog. For part of the time, we were in Gruissan on the Mediterranean coast - such a contrast - with hundreds of Gallic holidaymakers promenading around the port as luxurious yachts bobbed in their moorings. I'll be using blogger to create a website for my brother's place which includes four gites - rental cottages. Watch this space! It's a great place to go if you want peace and undisturbed sleep - at least until the cock crows!