Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Sith,Spin & Sin

I'm sure everyone has caught up with Brown, Smith Institute, Charity Commission etc etc, better known by Guido as the Sith.
I have been looking back at a few things and read the following quote. Compare and contrast as they used to say:
" New Labour is a party of ideas and ideals ( really?) but not outdated technology ( er their email system at No.10 and their general IT savyness leaves a lot to be desired) What counts is what works ( Eh??) The objectives are radical ( destruction of the United Kingdom, the constitution, the legal system, etc etc) The means will be modern" ( screw the voters for as much as possible but by stealth)
This was from their 1997 manifesto. Don't imagine for one minute you didn't go for it. Middle England ( and all of Scotland) fell for it hook line and sinker. What was different about Bliar and Brown was that always before, politicians and political parties believed in something at their core, and got elected to bring that belief to fruition. NuLabour was quite different. Admittedly old Labour could never be elected, so they had to start from the premise that there were NO shibboleths, and their sole raison d'etre was to be elected.
Now we see the end result. Because their is no " soul" to NuLabour ( which there clearly was in Old Labour) there is nothing there - a vacuum.
The appalling thing is we will all be paying for it ( not only in cash) for years to come.

Roundup and Pan's Labyrinth

Yes this is what the police are doing with Levy, Turner et al. They are, as the saying goes, getting their ducks in a row. There WILL be charges. Bliar will get off scot-free. Others will end up inside.
On a more important point, I have been castigated for using the word " nice" in relation to one of my daughter's boyfriends.
At least, I think so - it came as an email with just the word " Nice?" - so maybe it was congratulating me on my perspicacity. Mind you, simply calling them boyfriends is probably not allowed any more.
BAFTA was showing Pan's Labyrinth last night. An excellent film, original and thought provoking, but with a real-life sad ending, or maybe that should be a fairy tale happy ending. The performances were good, but I am continually astonished at film characters leaving alive people who should manifestly be killed when you have the chance. Mercedes the housekeeper stabs the Captain in the back. Then in the right shoulder. Then cust his face in two and says " Touch the girl and I will kill you - I have gutted many a pig."
So why didn't she stab him in the stomache? Or under the ribs? Then he wouldn't have been able to do much about anything, would he? I suppose one has to assume it's for the dramatic effect of the story.
Earlier on, the girl eats two grapes she was not supposed to and awakens an ogre. Mind you, she had been told, both verbally and in writing, AND by the fairies not to. But she did it anyway. How annoying is that?
I always say I don't mind a mistake, but I get cross with stupidity - we all make mistakes, after all. So I am particularly fed up with the cash for peerages thing and the cover-up. It's utterly stupid.All they needed to do was sacrifice one low level person and it would all have gone away. Now the Labour Party will be destroyed for a generation. I'm not necessarily sad about that, but we do need them for Democracy to work.
Or maybe this truly will be the end - a rump of Old Labour and yet another party amalgamation of LibDem and NuLabour.
Terrifying thought.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007


Simply an observation. Whenever I read a blog, I click on the " next blog" icon before going to something else. Believe me, the header to this one is nothing LIKE as weird as some of the stuff I have come across.

British Justice

Mrs. Lear has been sitting as a juror for the last few days in the hight court in Glasgow. The case revolved around demanding money with menaces in the " security " industry. As in, if you don't give us the contract we will a) smash your face in and b) destroy the premises. Of course, the accused are far too smart to do it that way. What they actually do is turn up at the building site, present a very snappy brochure with quotes from "satisfied" customers, and suggest it would be worth employing them. Nothing else needs to be said. After all, if you find stuff nicked and destroyed three nights on the trot and the chap turns up again expressing astonishment at your problem,it's clearly your own fault if you don't get the message.
What galls me enormously - and this runs right through the Crown Prosecution Service, the Police and Prosecuting Counsel - is the belief these people have that simply saying " You did it" is enough to convict. In the scenario above, no crime has been committed - the terribly polite large gentlemen are merely trying to help you. As a result there are lots of prosecutions which are brought largely because the Police etc want to be seen to be doing something, and giving the toe-rags a fright. Of course, it has exactly the opposite effect. After you've been up two or three times and had the cases thrown out of court, you don't worry too much. And there's no place for you in prison anyway.
Mrs. Lear has been assuring me since Friday that the case would last 2 to 3 weeks. I predicted it would be dismissed by tomorrow. I was wrong by a day, and most of yesterday and the hour or so this morning was taken up with legal arguement, so the jurors had little to do at all.
Of course, if you are a law abiding citizen, that is a completely different matter. Driving offences by their very nature have a 100% clear-up rate. Don't pay your council tax and see how long it takes them to bang you up. Defend yourself against people who come into your house in the middle of the night uninvited, or prevent some poor soul from getting attacked in the street, and you will very quickly find your collar felt.
It's time there was a root and branch change in our law and order situation, and I can guarantee you John The Bruiser Reid won't do anything apart from spew out more meaningless platitudes and laws which will be unenforceable.
Let's have fewer, properly enforceable laws. Let's have ctrimes properly investigated, with properly documented evidence, properly prosecuted ( most prosecuting counsel don't even get to see the evidence until a day or so before the trial) and properly sentenced.
Oh, and by the way, police numbers have just fallen.

Monday, January 29, 2007

My three girls...

There are going to be repurcussions from this blog, but I don't mind.
When I was courting my first and only wife, her father had a ditty which he liked to pronounce from time to time. " My two girls are a couple of pearls, no father could wish for more. But where will I find a couple of swine, to cast my pearls before?"
Now I have three daughters, and I have always said to them that what matters is that HE loves YOU, because eveything will always then be OK. Very occasionally, it works the other way as well, and then things are as perfect as being married actually is ( give or take the odd row). Rather later, I suspect, than most father's have had to deal with it, two out of three of my girls now have boyfriends who I have met. You can tell I'm a dinosaur, can't you? I may say Mrs. Lear also says that my children are terrified to bring any boys to meet me as I am an ogre who eats people. This is manifestly untrue. I only eat them if I don't like them.
Anyway, the two young men in question are extremely nice. I know that's a horrible word, but it is the correct one in this instance. They are both highly intelligent, polite, have a good sense of humour, and put up with me. One who came to lunch yesterday needed to leave at 3pm but was too polite to say so, and therefore didn't leave until nearly 4.
Now for the bit that's going to cause the problems. I am not PC. I believe children should say please and thank you and sit down at regular mealtimes with their parents. They should speak at table and converse. They should learn to read, write and do mental arithmetic, and their parents should help them to these abilities. Teachers are only there to reinforce the lessons from home.
My point is that my girls have clearly found young men who have been brought up in the same way, and with the same good results. It gives me enormous hope for the future.
But I will refuse to pay for lavish weddings, because I believe the money is better spent as a deposit on a house. My girls are earning their own money. They can afford a modest wedding if they so wish. I believe the present mania for large weddings, stag weekends away etc, actually is an effort to show a phony love, which is ultimately doomed to failure. I really really object to the wedding presents I have given going to the other side, as has happened when several of our friend's children have been divorced. And I object even more to having to cough up for a second wedding wedding present. Or in one case a third.
But what I AM pleased about is that the two girls are happy. No father could ever, ever wish for more.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Tete a Tete

I've just finished reading this book, written by Hazel Rowley, about the "Lives and loves" of Simone de Beauvoir & Jean Paul Sartre.
Pretty much all of it is known already, and her writing style leaves me cold - she is forever putting in bits which are unconnected. " Then Sartre slept with X . His play was the sensation of the year, and Beauvoir wrote a letter to Y." Eh?
Anyway, the thing that struck me forcibly was that - although both of them wrote beautifully ( read Beauvoir's diaries) Sartre was the most appalling person. He is continually lauded for being amusing and fun ( despite being mostly drunk and drugged from what I can see) and enormously generous, but his idea of humanity was non-existent. I suppose as an "Existentialist" that was what he intended. He clearly derived some thrill from being a complete control freak, although Beauvoir chose to believe he was " faithful intellectually" to her always.
Beauvoir emerges with much more credit that Sartre, but she was clearly complicit in his subterfuges.
Maybe there is not such thing as an honest man. Maybe being brilliant leads one to have a different kind of morality to the rest of us. Tony Bliar clearly operates on this principle, and I can think of one or two others who do as well.
Spelled slightly differently ( Tete a Tate) there was an Edinburgh radio show of the same name by a guy called Tate. I only ever came across it once, when I took Stephen Donaldson, author of The Illearth Trilogy ( then sextuplet, nonuplet etc etc) to be interviewed a la Desert Island Discs. Tate was a terribly nice man who liked a drink. His questions tended to be short and interesting, Donaldson's answer long and boring. After about 2o minutes, I noticed Tate had dropped off. Donaldson didn't. After about 10 more minutes Tate woke up with a start and said, very loudly, " Bugger me". The entire control room dissolved in laughter.The recording was stopped and a whisky was passed in to the recording studio. It got going again a few minutes later, but didn't last very long.
As the protagonists came out, Tate muttered to the director " Did I miss anything?"
" No" came the reply" Nothing we're going to broadcast anyway."

Thursday, January 25, 2007


Who used lies to order the invasion of a foreign country?
That's too easy - Hitler regarding Polish attacks at Gleiwicz and Bliar on WMD in Iraq.
No similarities there then.

Which is which? Part ?

Who passed a law - I've put that slightly incorrectly - issued a decree - against " Malicious attacks against the national community" and gave powers to the police " to protect our nationals from potential offenders".
In case you have not been following this general idea, there are enormous similarities between the behaviour and actions of our own beloved leader and government and those of Hitler and the Nazi Party in 1930's Germany.
I'm not for one moment suggesting that the Bliar government is right wing and fascist. They wouldn't dream of incarcerating their citizens illegally ( well actually they would) so er.. Yes the above are quotes from Hitler's infamous enabling act.
But have a look at the wording and intent of the Terrorism act of 2006 - and remember it was against terrorists that Hitler was making laws. The enabling act was the act that allowed Hitler to rule by fiat.
We call it Orders in Council.


I'm just back, courtesy of Wizzair, and jolly good it was too.
I stayed in Sighisoara ( a world heritage site but there are lots in the immediate vicinity) which is a 5hr. train ride from Bucharest. Single first class £14, and bang on time with an excellent onboard restaurant - beer and schnitzel £4.50.
Anyway, I was there to look at the Saxon villages ( Prince Charles is helping the Mihai Eminescu Trust stop them disintegrating) and they are beautiful.
The people are lovely.
The cows in the street are lovely.
The pigs in the barns are lovely.
The food is delicious.
The wine and beer are delicious.
The chickens and sheep wandering all over the place are lovely.
The Mayors control everything - ie central government doesn't interfere with local matters AT ALL.
The weather was lovely.
I could go on but you would get terminally bored.
My point is eveything is 100% organic for miles around - they couldn't afford fertiliser other than excrement and don't intend to change.
And they really really want to keep it that way, and have lots of ecotourists who DON'T ruin it.
Being in the EU since January 1st. they are coming to terms with the wall of money that is already crashing through the country. My hope is the Mayors will control it, guide it and use it to best advantage.
I loved it.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Burns night & Feegles

I spent a most enjoyable evening at the Glasgow dinner for Scottish Spina Bifida last night.Somewhere in the region of £60,000 was raised, an excellent top table of speakers, and good friends abounded. Our table remained silent whilst the speeches were made, unlike some who continued to chatter. I put it down to basic BB-type ignorance.
One of the speakers cracked two jokes which I liked - they are almost certainly old.
The first was " Where would we be without laughter?" And the answer? " Edinburgh" Brought the house down in Glasgow as you can imagine.
The second was sexist and Aberdononist, so those of a nervous disposition look away now.
A young Aberdonian tells his Glasgow friend he is getting married in the highlands, and he is going to wear the kilt.
" What's the Tartan?" asks the Weegie.
" I thunk she's wearin' a wee bitty white dress,ken".
Just so you know, "ken" is not his name, but the Scots vernacular for " you know".
What struck me during the evening was that people still laugh at stereotypes, however much we say we are or have to be Politically Correct. There were at least half a dozen homophobic references, innumerable sexist, and a surprising number of sectarian. But they were all taken in good part, pace a complaint to the race relations board today.
And surely - to a degree - that is how it should be. We are all prejudiced about all sorts of things, and to deny it is to deny our very essence. I have a hobbyhorse which is that it's the quirk that makes the genius, and it's the prejudice that makes us behave as we do in all sorts of situations.
I'm presently reading one of Terry Pratchett's books about the Feegles. They are small blue creatures in kilts who inhabit Discworld. Pratchett maintains they are not Scots, but I defy you to tell the difference. They fight, drink, steal, lie, are ineffably not PC and are generally not too bright. One of the great lines is " Feegles can get oot of onywhere - except pubs of course."
But the point about them is they are utterly lovely. They are caring, family orientated, hard working creatures, with whom it is impossible to stay angry for any length of time.
Just like we really are.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

On a different topic..

..I have spent some of the last few days at Olympia in London.
There have been two shows running. One the Daily Telegraph Adventure show. The other something called BETT, which is all about "Educational Technology".
Now call me cynical, but I couldn't help but think the latter might actually be mostly about various educational establishements and departments across the UK spending your and my money. After all, GB has promised even more mega billions ( obviously to no effect) to " Our schools and universities".
The adventure show was tucked into Olympia II. For those of you who don't know, this has three levels, and is about the size of a medium Tesco. And they had closed one level, so only two-thirds of a medium Tesco. All the exhibitors paid their way, as did all the people who visited the show, about 26,000 of them at £10 a time. Of their own after tax money.
BETT on the other hand was in the main show area, plus all the remaining ancillary space. Probably double a mega mega Tesco in size. Probably as many as 150,000 visited the show, not one of whom, I'm sure, actually paid the entry themselves. And for sure they would have been in hotels and restaurants spending our money. And buying lots of gizmos to improve " edukashun" when what is needed is good teachers, not teaching aids, however whizzy. What makes a good teacher? Someone who imparts a love of learning. Do that and all else follows.
My point, of course, is that there is not the slightest balance in our present society. Bliar and his minions, and all their council and neo-government appendages, have been given the key to the money box, and have comprehensively emptied it of OUR money. If you ain't in their ( extremely large) clique, you are well and truly screwed. They had the benefit, they deny it to others.
Don't believe a word of the hype - there ain't no magic bullet.

BB & the Union

Back to the grindstone again. I've been in London on business for a few days and saw Anthony and Cleopatra with Harriet Walters and Patrick Stewart. Staggeringly good production and acting in a play that has some of Shakespear's finest poetry. It's not particularly well know ( not like " To be" or " The quality of mercy") but in it's own way quite beautiful.
And the weather has simply got worse over the last week, we now have snow and wind as opposed to rain and wind.
However, the heading of this musing is "BB & the Union".
You may think there is little in common, but I would aver that there is. Despite the rantings from all parts about racism in BB, from what I have read, it rather sounds like good old fashioned playground jealousy. On the one side, relatively ugly, unintelligent boors, on the other beauty, brains and culture. It was ever thus. Your different from us so we hate you. Granted the difference may include colour, but I'm willing to bet if the beauty was a ladette they would all be pals together. Jealousy is apparently the second strongest emotion after what is called "flight & fear."
So maybe now you see the connection with the Union. The Scots are getting more than the English , and, let's be honest, Scotland has enormously better quality of life in most areas.
If NuLabour ( who have famously let the Genii out of the bottle with devolution) in the guise of Bliar want to secure TB's "legacy", all they need to do is stop Scottish & Welsh MPs voting on devolved matters at Westminster.
That, of course, won't happen, because that would be the end of Labour. But the Tories just might promise it in their manifesto.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Har Har

Oh, Gawd, it's back to the wind and rain.
But on the other hand I watched " In the Thick of it " last night. The feeling of dying days of an administration, the PERFECT Glaswegian insults delivered by Peter Capaldi and his sidekick, made me rock with glee.
And the namby pamby moronic MPs on both sides perfectly encapsulate why we the public - if we are still allowed to exist - don't trust ANY politicians.
I quite liked the Steve Hilton character - I don't know him personally, but I'm sure he is MUCH more intelligent that this - who, again, perfectly captured the NuTory ethos.
On a real note, it looks like the Tories have £20million or so to fight an election, with Labour in deep trouble financially. Watch out for Brown doing his best to smooze potential donors, which will be like watching a nail-biting rictus from Discworld trying to articulate. As the DT says, he has no conversation.
But then, I have said before elsewhere that I know someone who was on holiday with him years ago for 4 days. Brown took no part in any of the household chores ( shopping, cooking, washing up) nor did he do what such boors normally do as a contribution, which is to entertain everyone with witty repartee and sparkling conversation. He sat reading in silence most of the time, glowering and biting his nails for the remaining few minutes of his day.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Orders in Council

Iain Dale had a very good bit about the above, and the ( perrenial) government cockup.
So, OK, I'm getting a bit obsessed with this - BUT:
Which government in a two year period handed out over 800 decrees but only enacted a total ( I think) of 22 laws passed by parliament?
Which government fabricated justification to invade another country? And whose leader then said - and here I paraphrase - " You can trust me with the fate of our country and people. If we don't invade, what would you say to me when we are being attacked?"
Which leader said quote " When I go through it all again, I am convinced that it has been given to me to lead our common cause (against our enemies) to a victorious end."
Which government abdicated it's belief in the consensus of a council of nations in order to pursue it's own ends?
Which Party Leader said " Wherever I am and wherever I go, whatever the outcome,I will be with you always"?
And finally for now, which deputy party leader said " The rational political view has prevailed"?
And tomorrow you can have part IV.

On a lighter note..

.. we have sunshine today and little or no wind. This may not necessarily sound like a cause for rejoicing, but to those of us in the West of Scotland, this is just about the first day in about three months that work outside could be continuous.
We can pour concrete!
We can clean gutters!
We can fix holes in roofs!
We can build walls!

Which is which? Part II

I'm sorry that was so easy. Here's the second part.
Which government used fear of internal revolution to abolish rights which were previously enshrined in law, sanctioned house and personal searches without due legal process, allowed wire-tapping,and arrest on mere suspicion of terrorism ?They then filled the prisons so much that army barracks, ships and police stations had to be used to accommodate the criminals.
Which government brought in laws abolishing centuries old rural practices, discriminating against certain categories of farmer?
Which government massively expanded employment in the state sector before it's second term elections, which we call gerrymandering, but which they call increasing public services?
And finally, this one is a bit more difficult: Which government hounded a senior civil servant to death when he departed from the party line and told the truth - then had an inquiry which exhonorated the government. I want both names please.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Which is which?

Just a little test.
The first government I'm talking about won power with about 25% of the electorate voting for them. It's first edict was that it would maintain the status quo. It's second was to downgrade the Upper House, dismissing most of it's sitting members. It then did away with the nation's chief legal officer and replaced him with a close friend of the head of government - who then said unless the lawyers toed the line they would not get any more funding from the state.
The second government won power with about 25% of the elctorate voting for them. It's first edict blah blah blah.... they would not get any more funding from the state.
Compare and contrast.

The Teddy Bears

Unless you are in Scotland the present spat about Walter Smith, the SFA and Rangers will not have bothered you too much. To many Scots, this is THE critical event of 2007 ( and so early in the year too).
Walter was an extremely succesful Rangers manager in the 90's who left for greater things - ending up as Scotland manager after the unlamented Bertie Vogts. I'm afraid I regard this position now as merely an old folk's home for worthy ex-footballers.
However, the one thing Walter would bring to the Teddy Bears is belief in the shirt. This - in case you don't know - is the thing all managers try to instill. Martin O'Neill has it, Alex Ferguson has it ( remember what he did with Aberdeen with no money), and Steven Gerrard has it, along with many others to a lesser or greater degree. LeGuen does not have it. Wee Eck had it, but lacked lots of other skills. It is perhaps the single most important factor in winning or losing a game of football, and makes the picked eleven play as a team - and substitutes slot in unselfishly to WIN. It applies in business and politics as well, and I hardly need say, Mrs.T had it, although I am more than unsure about the preasent government.
Glasgow, of course, is well known for its humour.
The present story doing the rounds is two Jimmys in a bar.
" I hear that Gordon Ramsay is going to be the 'Gers new manager" says one.
" What? says the other " because he used to play for them and can cook?"
" Naw - it's because he's got a great way with mince."
( For those who don't know, mince is Glasgow slang for a bloody load of rubbish."

Monday, January 08, 2007

Ya big jessie ye!

Nice piece about Marr interview and GB at the weekend on several blogs. A local Kircaldy man was quoted as saying he remembers our Gordo as a " a big jessie". Apart from the fact that I seem to recall the Gordo was a comic book monster in my youth, this expression is Scots for gay - cf a big girl's blouse which merely means "feart".
What I think this says is that he is NOT - as the West Wing would have it -" The real thing". And despite whatever we may now think, very large sections of British society in 1997 definitely thought TB WAS the Real Thing.
And what is the definition of THIS phrase. Well, Jed Bartlett admitted, on screen, he screwed up. Way to go!

Friday, January 05, 2007

Education again

For some reason I have been unable to read Cobbett Rides Again! over the last week or two.
Imagine my delight to pick up this gem today.
"Education goes forward to the past.The Telegraph is reporting that the most gifted pupils are to be given vouchers to enable them 'buy' additional tuition. Don't I recall a similar system which featured something called an 11+ exam and Grammar Schools in the bad old days before comprehensives. There are a couple of other innovative wheezes I've just this second thought up. How about apprenticeships where young people can learn practical skills on the job, and what about turning all those new universities into polytechnics and teaching science and engineering instead of psychology, social science and media studies. No, probably too revolutionary."
I couldn't agree more.

Scotland the What?

This used to be the name of quite a funny trio of Aberdonians, who were virtually incomprehensible to anyone south of Dundee.
However, the " what" above refers to what might happen after the May 3rd Scottish elections.
Best guess so far is 7 extra seats for SNP and 6 less for Labour. As an aside, I happen to know that Alex Salmond and the SNP bank with Clydesdale Bank, as I met him there the other day.
But what might happen? Well, the most interesting thing is the new party being launched by Archie Stirling - to be called Scottish Democracy by the looks of it. There is no doubt that many people want the Union to remain, and - the Scots actually being deeply conservative - any referendum would almost certainly vote to retain a near relation of the present situation ( we get more money than the English, and we are not turkeys voting for Christmas).
I always say we do not know we are born up here. We have nothing approaching a traffic jam, as long as you are not trying to cross the Kingston Bridge when Rangers are playing at Ibrox. We have three international airports within 30 minutes of Glasgow ( one of which is about 10 minutes from where I live). OK it rains a lot in the West, but the East is as dry as the South of England, and actually has more hours of sunshine. Add to that what is generally regarded as stunning scenary, world class sailing and outdoor pursuits etc etc, and lots of people ( especially from England) are prepared to take a huge drop in salary to lead a better life than being stuck on the M25.
My own view is that the Scots are actually playing this quite cannily. By telling pollsters that they are going to vote for the SNP, they are ensuring that NuLabour will throw scads of benefits and money at them before the elections. Then they will vote in a parliament that is effectively hung, and not much will get done for a few years, which, as every student of political philosophy knows, is the best way forward for any country.
I do know several people who - the minute the referendum result on the Scottish Parliamnent was known - sold up and left for Suffolk. Very much a laissez-faire county.
And lots of major businesses ( down from 108 to 52 at last count, 1997 - 2005) have moved their headquarters south, or been sold to English or foreign companies.
But at the end of the day, what do we ALL want?
Myself, I want to be left alone, be able to earn enough to live on, and enjoy myself when I want to.
Any politician who could deliver that would have it made.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

5 things

Everybody with a blog is doing " 5 things you didn't know about me". Every time I tell my youngest daughter something about myself in my youth, she says I am lying , so here goes.
1. I used to play the trumpet quite well.
2. Whilst living in Germany as a boy, I won the USAAF open golf competition.
3. I also won the USAAF pistol AND rifle shooting competitions.
4. When I was sent home aged 12 with a line from school saying I needed glasses, my mother told me to behave myself.
5. I was embroiled in huge controversy at school, when I won a French prize whilst NOT doing French, and all the members of the French A level set went on strike, as they had been studying for the prize for 18 months.
My point about all this is that - despite the fact that I think of myself as cheerful, kind, caring etc - in reality I piss people off.
Especially the USAAF, who promptly banned me from entering ANY of their competitions.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Did I say under 40?

I have predicted the Lib Dems will be below 40 seats at the next election. The latest poll, whisked through some sophisticated box of tricks, actually puts them on a potential 14. Looks like Ming is NOT going to make it, but Tories should steer clear of giving him a push. And wait for the defections to come across to DC

Happy New Year!

Yes well I've been away, as all the people who read this blog will already know.
I had a lovely time, and just wanted to share three small things with you.
They were in a motorway service station in France.
There was a sign saying that they were responsible vendors and did NOT sell anything of more than 18% alcohol in their restaurant.
Next a lady sitting at the next table ( clearly taking pity on an old git) offered me a glass of her wine. Noone's ever done that anywhere before, and I certainly don't see me being offered a slug of somebody's cola in Newport Pagnall.
Finally - and compare with my view that grandparents' brain's immediately turn to mush at the first wail of the little one - a smart with it granny ( French) was looking after two small ones on the other side from the drinks lady. One of them dropped it's bottle which I picked up and returned to the lady.
She looked witheringly at the child and said " Grandmothers should NOT have to look after their grandchildren!"
No mush there then!