Friday, October 30, 2009


I'm surprised Guido hasn't trumpeted this from the heavens, but it appears that Tony Blair, at one time a shoo-in for EU President, appears to be no longer anything vaguely of a certainty.
In fact he looks like a dead duck.
Could that be to do with "Jonah" Brown endorsing him..???

Thursday, October 29, 2009

I'll Be Back...

Alex Massie in the Speccie has a lovely letter from Arnie ( Governator of California)
On a family blog like this I couldn't possible put it up here, but if you click here, you will be able to see his very pointed point....

Irritable Bankers

I had a lovely conversation this morning with a lawyer,who relates the following tale:
" A couple of weeks ago I took out a banker for what turned out to be quite an expensive lunch.
Yesterday he phoned looking for some deeds from a client and was truly irritable .
I told him I thought his irritability was completely inappropriate as it was a first request ( as in it wasn't as if I had delayed sending him anything).
He apologised, and said it was because all bankers were irritable at the moment.
My assumption is they go to bed irritable, get up irritable, and nothing happens in their dreams to make them less irritable ( which tells you a lot about what Bankers dream about).
Perhaps if we all stopped slagging them off and trying to stop their bonuses they would be less irritable.
But I doubt it."


The recently beautifully married Winchester Whisperer has a lovely Eastern tale today which only goes to reinforce my view that it is the flaw that makes the genius, or inspires the leap of imagination. There was a wonderful sci-fi book I read years ago about an enclosed city that every 20 years or so produced one flawed person. Over the eon's that sporadic being had not managed to get people out into the world. Of course, there would be no story unless the one in it actually did get people out and about.
Which he did.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Profound contemplation

Take a look at this...
Middle Ms. Lear is in London and saw this.
I think she is implying that this is what I do in Romania.
I shall, in any event HAVE to go to see it....

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Money,sex and finger-pointing

I've had a pleasant couple of days, if somewhat motorway centric, driving to Salisbury for a Gurkha Welfare Trust meeting.
I went with our new (Scottish Branch) Treasurer, who proved a delightful companion, and we managed to talk nearly the whole way there and back.
We were asked to put our expenses in in order to get a cheque before leaving, which we duly did.
As we had only had a couple of sandwiches and 2 coffees on the way down, it was deemed appropriate that we should receive simply double this paltry figure for sustenance.
I had intended to take our Treasurer to a London lap dancing club, eat at Mr. Chows and stay at the Ritz, but sadly it was not to be. Perhaps if our Chairman had been with us...
So with GBP 11.60 in hand, we got as far as Tebay before stopping.
Now you probably know that even the most unappetising plate in such places is GBP10, so the Treasurer - excellent chap that he is - said as I was the driver, he would have a packet of crisps.
But a solution was found - two bowls of soup, rolls and butter, juice and a yogurt came to GBP 10.56, leaving GBP 1.04.
The Treasurer, true to his excellent accountant's honesty, suggested we should send back this sum.
I, true to my spendthrift tendencies, bought a packet of crisps and blew the budget.
We had used the Tom Tom and ended up doing about 40 miles over some rather nice country roads.
When we were discussing this with one of the girls in Salisbury, she brought up the business of map reading. In descending order, the best map readers are supposed to be heterosexual males, followed by lesbians, gay men and heterosexual females bringing up the rear.
I know its incredibly non-pc, but we discussed why gay men should be worse than gay women, or straight men.
"Ah" said our hostess "They have difficulty keeping their hands pointing in the right direction."
So there you have it.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Romanian Goats

Those of you who follow me in Romania may be wondering how the goats are doing.
Very roughly, we now have so many goats and so many due to produce babies that they are taking over the village.
What happened in the past was that people bred goats, sold some, ate some and then bred some more. No one has ever NOT got rid of any and kept breeding.
You might find it extraordinary but we spent a couple of hours discussing this particular problem, which is a problem not only for the people ( yes we now have 3) looking after them, but for the very terrain they inhabit.
Suffice to say we agreed to keep the maximum number at 100 and to sell ( or eat) whatever number more we had. We will also have to buy some more land to keep feeding them - fortunately this won't be a problem.
On the subject of crops, trefoil would appear to yield 4 cuts a year and each hectare is worth about £500. This will feed about 8 goats for the full year - so input = about £60pa.
Cost of looking after them is about £30 pa ( total costs divided by total numbers) so lets just say the all-in cost is £100 pa.
There is, of course, the by-product - the dung which gets spread everywhere, but ignoring that, we would expect to sell each goat for about £300. This may sound a lot, but these are special goats - and it's only for the Billies.
So lets just say the 100 goats produce 100 babies, and 50% are boys. Our total costs will be £10,000 and our income £15,000 - with an extra 50 female goats thrown in to replace any that die.
Or start a new herd somewhere...

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Head for them thar hills!

One of the dangers of being in Romania is that you continue to think like a Brit and/or a townie. So I would fully expect some idiot to come out of a side road at full speed and attempt to despatch me whence I came.
What I didn't expect was a cow to try the same thing.
It was the lone stampede. I suspect it had got away from the herd and was going hell for leather for the hills - except it had to get across the road in front of us first.
I'm glad to say Alin was not on two mobile phones at that precise moment and was able to steer round the cow - thus blocking the pursuing posse.
Last seen the cow was half way up the nearest hill.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

East meets West

Various Ms. Lears have forwarded me this suggesting that this is - at last - a suitable job for me.
I was reminded of Middle Ms Lear coming to visit my office in the East End of Glasgow some years ago, parking outside the building.
When she came in, she told me that some children had come up to her and offered her a glass of water, which she found very strange.
It is impossible to render in writing what was actually said, but the translation was that famous phrase :" Do you want me to look after your car for you?"
The correct response - in the old days - was to hand over 50p and clip the lead urchin round the head. This is now regarded as a bit tooo lese majeste.
A denizen of the West end had come across town some time ago, and was approached with the same question.
"No thank you" he said "I have a Rotweiler in the car"
Lead urchin digs pal in ribs." See they Rotweilers - Ah never new they cud put fires out....."
He paid.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Corn, Cabbage, Goats and the Post

Life in Romania is never dull, but what it is, is extremely busy. This being the time of year when the crops are "got in" I have been busy selling corn.
Actually, I haven't. I've been discussing the politics, economics and spiritual dimensions of selling corn - with a broad-brush occasional mention of the price, which would appear to be very good.
There is a move NOT to sell the corn but to hoard it and sell for more later, but as this is our first year we probably ought to just sell and work out how it has done, which at least would give us a benchmark for future years.
Various odd bits of land have been discussed and the goats are being readied to be mated and then produce more goats, which should mean that next year we can sell some.
The sheep exist - somewhere. I just can't get them to stand still long enough to know whether I have lots - or not. Noone seems too bothered either way.
Overall, though, I would say things have turned out pretty well this year and now the weather has turned sharply colder ( there was a flurry of snow today) people will be much more ready to discuss selling land.
This is the weekend of the cabbage festival, which is being led by one of the most famous priest/singers in Romania. People will be flocking to hear him from tens of miles away, all coming to Mosna, and the police have already put in place road blocks to direct incomers to suitable parking places. We locals have pre-ordained specific parking spots. The Senators and Deputies, nearest, then the other Mayors, then Councillors and so on. Our spot is immediately behind the stand,beside our Mayor and in front of the rest, and I have to eat the first plate of new season's cabbage salad, and say "Pofta Buna!" roughly translated as "eat well".
There is, of course, to be a celebratory lunch which I am looking forward to, except for the fact that our accountant ( who works FOR the Tax Office) has intimated she would like to visit the Festival. She will have to come to the lunch as well.
I've been intrigued with the potential postal strike in the UK. Anything more sure to kill off the Post Office in anything like it's existing form would be hard to imagine, but hey, maybe we'll all be better off.
Romania has a different attitude to this.
I noticed a very smart new yellow box outside a paper shop the other day, but was astonished to see it had disappeared by the time 9pm came round.
Fascinated, I discovered it had returned the next morning, and nothing would do but I should ask about it.
Very sensibly, instead of having expensive buildings, post boxes and the like, Romania now has a system of post boxes which are issued to suitable shops to put in the street. They do have to be chained down ( everything here is) and taken in at night to avoid damage or vandalism, but the expansion in the mail services has been astronomic.
Maybe our own PO should try increasing collections and deliveries rather than cutting them down in order to raise the throughput.
But then, increasing business is not something we Brits regard as quite the done thing nowadays.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Toodle Pip!

Just about to set off to Romania via Valencia. This new route should be an interesting experience as I have two overnights in airports.
Mind you a plate or two of tapas en route will go down a treat.
As one of the Ms. Lears opined:
"Between the worn out shoes and the quote below - is Dad in fact not in Romania, but moonlighting as Shadow Business Secretary??
"I only get overweight on good quality food. And I always avoid unnecessary exercise." - Ken Clarke in conversation with Andrew Rawnsley"
See previous post for refutation.

First Quarter results

The first three months of the Official Walking regime are over.
I'm about 7 kgs lighter.
My Buddha like tummy has shrunk a little.
And I spend a lot of time hanging around bus-stops.
All in all I would have to say it's been quite a success. The Ms Lears are astonished that I have kept it up, but then, no one ever takes my determination about things seriously - it's the affable exterior. If I may say so, a bit like David Cameron.
The Doc wanted me to do a 24hr. Blood Pressure monitor, so I turned up at the hospital at the appointed hour. Promptly called through, the nurse started rigging me up for an ECG.
" Er, am I having an ECG as well?" I asked.
"It's just an ECG."
" No, I'm in for a BP 24hr test"
"No, you're here for an ECG."
" No, its the BP test."
Very belligerent, hands on hips. " Do you want to make me go and check"
" Yes" - and off she stamped.
Of course, she never reappeared, but another nurse did with the right equipment.
" Sorry about that - couldn't read the instructions properly " ( didn't read them at all, as they were typed)
So I was fitted with an arm band and monitor - which didn't work.
And another - which didn't work.
And then a third one, that was so big it would have easily done an elephant - and kept falling off .
Finally, the fourth one fitted and worked, and off I toddled.
If you have ever had to have this done, you will know how appallingly inconvenient it is. Every time it went off I was in the middle of something and had to stop. Then it went off about every 20 minutes. If I didn't have high BP before I certainly had it with the machinery.
Strangely, it didn't bother me too much overnight, and I dropped it back the next morning.
There was also a form that needed to be completed saying what I was doing during the day - as in 10:45 driving. 11:15 walking, 12:45 cooking ( it went off twice whilst I was in the middle of making two lots of soup),1:15 eating, 8:30 TV.
The ones that would have confused them from me were 9:00 pm computer 9:30 Chess - I'm looking forward to see what they make of it all.
The other problem is that I have White-Coat Syndrome, which I would expect carried over into the monitoring environment, so if you hear I have dropped dead from a heart attack it will be because they have made me have another test ( I intend to refuse if they want one)

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Weather forecast

I think it's because I'm now officially aged but I keep telescoping things in my head. So something that happened 10 years ago seems like last year and so on.
As a result, two events far apart now bring forth expletives and curses about how such and such is always happening.
I'm fairly sure about the following:
Lots of weather girls have first names that sound like "Gale" - especially on the BBC, and especially the Scottish ones- see here and also here and even here..
It could, of course, be a comment on the weather up here which, certainly at this time of year, is frequently " Gales and heavy showers"

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Michael Jackson - Alive?

Glasgow has just hosted the MOBO awards, and the Herald has on its front page a picture of La Toya Jackson, looking v. nice on the red carpet.For some reason it isn't on the web.
Now I seem to remember a while ago someone did a thing saying Jacko and La Toya had never been seen together, anywhere, ever. It may just have been a spoof, but looking at her today.....