Wednesday, June 30, 2010

A letter from Joanna Lumley to our 7 Gurkhas

Beyond the seventh mountain,
Beyond the seventh glen,
Beyond the seventh waterfall,
March seven Gurkha men.

This could almost been written for you! In fact it comes from the Disney film of Snow White: and these eerily, almost-accurate words came from the mirror consulted by the Wicked Stepmother.

Scotland would not be the same without the tread of Gurkha feet over its hills and glens, and I am thrilled to think that this year you will be organising a scarily ambitious programme to raise money for the GWT.

May good fortune and fine weather dog your footsteps, and may the pleasure of companionship cancel out the pain of blisters. This brings a thousand good wishes and Namaste to all your fine walkers from Joanna and a whoosh of green smoke and an eerie cackle from the Wicked Stepmother (whom I am able to channel at will).


Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Gurkha Highlander 2010- Day 3

The memorial service for Gurkha Highlander went off exceptionally well last night - even the sun came out, and the hills had that magnificent grandeur they take on when cloud and sun come together in a certain way.We had a lovely message read out to us from Joanna Lumley, which I know is now being disseminated through the media.
You may not know this but Joanna was married to her present husband in Fort William- just along from where we are climbing the seven summits.
Frank in the Spean Bridge Hotel had again produced his best curries, and everyone had a jolly party afterwards.
Today the lads climbed Creag Meagaidh, getting up and down in about 5 hours,although two of them did it in about 4.
When I went back to pick them up I donned my walking boots again and headed up the hill. After about 45 minutes two ladies and a dog came running towards me - I would have to say they were of the " broad bosomed, bold, becalmed, benign " of Balham fame - except their broad bosoms were anything but becalmed as they jounced about with each step. They steamed past with a cheery wave and I conti. After another 5 minutes or so, two of the boys ( who were in training for Trailwalker until they got an injury so are now in recovery training)came flying down the path towards me. I dug in my pocket and held out the van key,which one of them grabbed out of my hand on the way past.
I turned back at that point...
The leader today was a senior serving officer, whose connection is that he was in
10th Gurkhas as a Captain. The more astonishing thing about him is that he was in a class of 7 at Stirling University in his youth, along with Jack McConnel and Tommy Sheridan.He also had Eric Joyce with him, well known as the MP who claimed the most ever expenses. Amongst other subjects they were studying politics, and the discussions must have been wonderful.
Tonight we are having Baht at the organiser's house in Kingussie - followed by another party/fundraiser in the Silverfjord hotel.
Should be fun...

Monday, June 28, 2010

Gurkha Highlander 2010 - the Seven Summits

I suppose this is technically day two and the weather, as ever, continues to disappoint. Whilst most of the UK is sweltering in 80F heat, we in Spean Bridge are on about 14 C ( = 56F) with heavy rain and mist. In fact, as we drove towards the departure point this morning, there were 3 Munro's ahead of us. You could see the top of two. I asked the boys which one they thought they were going for." The one with the heavy mist, sahib" came the chorus.
Frank made us his special fish curry last night.The Nepalese are not huge fish eaters, so they were a bit circumspect to begin with when it appeared. Suffice to say it all got eaten.
We just saw the end of the Engerland match. End being the operative word.
We did, however, watch the Argentina versus Mexico in the bar, where there was a man and a women in Argentine strip, going berserk for most of the match, the lady screaming in what I assume was Argentine and the bloke in a very strong Scottish accent. At half time I asked them how they came to be here. They lived just up the road and the lady was from Argentina. The chap made it quite clear that following Scotland was toooo depressing, whilst following England was clearly out of the question. Plus it helped with matrimonial harmony if Argentina lost as they could commiserate with each other.
Before setting off this morning we had a practice at the Commando Memorial for the wreath laying we have tonight. Piper Samir played "Flowers of the Forest" most sweetly, and Sgt Dev laid the wreath with enormous aplomb. I hope it goes as well this evening when supposedly TV crews and newspaper journalists will attend.
In the meantime, I have to get in the food for tomorrow's climb, which includes lots of sweeties. Gurkhas have a sweet tooth, especially for chewy ones, so several jumbo bags will be required. Then I have to get the tea flasks ready for the boys coming down off the mountain.
As Corporal Ang said yesterday " I didn't know tea could taste as good, Sahib!"

Sunday, June 27, 2010

GH 10 launch!

I'm sitting in the reception at the Spean Bridge Hotel, which is, as always, the nerve centre of the Gurkha Highlander Operation each year.This is GH10.
Frank, the owner, and all the staff are so good to us that despite the place being generally overcrowded, we love being here.
Together with my chum, we drove Arnold Clark's minibus down to Sandhurst on Friday, and I ate my first curry of the period. Quite why I'm not sure, as I could have had a KFC or a McDonalds or a kebab in the immediate vicinity of the Travelodge we were in.
On second thoughts, the curry was the most acceptable option.
It didn't stop us having an egg & sausage McMuffin for breakfast - the option of GBP7.50 or GBP 1.99 was no contest when every fiver we can save pays for the food for an old pensioner for nearly a week in Nepal.
Sandhurst itself almost brought tears to the eyes of my pal as we drove to collect the lads - he had been there 37 years earlier as a sprog lieutenant. I have to say he has lost none of his military bearing over the years, despite not being career military.
We stopped off in Stafford to collect the rest then battered on up the road. My chum got off at Croy to take the train back to Edinburgh, and I drove on.
Frank welcomed us like long lost friends, insisting all the kitchen staff met us,as well as the customers in the bar, the restaurant, the hotel and the fish and chip shop, so it took a while to get to the first drink - which Frank paid for himself.
His boar curry was delicious, as was the chicken and pork, and the rice mountains were quickly demolished. Mind you, we do not have The Man Mountain with us this year who could eat any four people under the table and still be looking round for seconds....
Sunday dawned dull and cold ( 14C) so the smart new fleeces were donned for the assault on Ben Nevis.
The format is a bit different this year ( you can read about it here) which means I will have slightly less driving to do ( if you discount the 2000 to collect and drop off the boys. This was done to save enough for 20 pensioners for a month - times are really tough in the world of charities and we have to go for even more value for money.
So please - give money if you can, but even more importantly mention the Gurkha Welfare Trust on your blog, or Facebook or whatever.
I promise you it will make you feel good....

Saturday, June 19, 2010


The Sun ran a front page special last December after the draw for the World Cup.
It ran:
Those with some linguistic ability will spot the initial letters form " EASY". The sub-title was " Best English Group since the Beatles!"
I have little or no interest in fu'baw, but I have to admit to my interest being increased by England's two appalling performances so far.
In order to progress they now have to beat Slovenia, which, from last night's performance looks a)impossible and b)has the potential for an England defeat.
I told you the reason for the white flags with the red crosses in an earlier post.
I suspect there are even more England fans with metaphorically short appendages this morning....

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A fairytale romance..?

Back to Glasgow and some better weather.
Things here in the underworld are getting a little sticky.
Glasgow has always been known for it's "gangs" but of course these are just the footmen for the knights, lords, earls,dukes and kings behind them.
Sometimes a footman gets the better of himself and then things become somewhat hairy.
Jimmy, for it is he, many years ago did some odd things in Ireland, and to this day frequents a pub called the Crystal Bells on Glasgow's Gallowgate. It is entirely untrue to suggest it is an IRA drinking den.
Now Jimmy had a lady-love ( Senga - in case you don't know this is Agnes backwards. It's like houses and pubs that are called NIA ROO. This is OUR AIN backwards. Got that?)
Senga, like many a lass, had her head turned by the wealth and power of Sean, and dropped Jimmy for greener pastures.
But inside Senga's breast her attachment to Jimmy never left her, and after yet another enormous row, she dumped Sean.
Now Sean is one of the high ups in charge of various taxi firms in the town and connected to the Crystal Bells ( you need to keep up and make the connections yourself.)
Senga phones Jimmy, begs forgiveness, tells him she is finished with Sean, and can they meet - in another pub which shall remain nameless. Jimmy goes along, and he and Senga start chatting and canoodling - and then Sean walks in, alerted by just about everyone in Glasgow who he had told to let him know where Senga was.
Sean slaps Jimmy about the face a couple of times and tells him to leave Senga alone, or Sean will set about Jimmy in no uncertain terms. In order to save Jimmy from a worse fate, Senga tells him to go. Jimmy agrees, and goes to the loo to tidy up a bit.
Only he bursts out ten seconds later brandishing the knife he had down the inside of his sock, and stabs Sean 53 times, all the time shouting " Set aboot me? I'll show ya set aboot me, ya ***@@^!"
In the ensuing mayhem Jimmy escapes, leaving behind the knife sticking out of Sean.
When the police arrive,they are able to get half a dozen witnesses, DNA and fingerprints off the knife, and promptly put an APB arrest warrant for Jimmy.
That was six weeks ago. Jimmy discussed with his lawyer trying for self defence (even to lawyers and criminals with flexible minds, 53 stabs is a bit much for self defence - 8 or ten yes, but not 53...)but the lawyer said the best bet was to turn himself in.
Jimmy, of course, is heartbroken - not that he killed Sean but that Senga will now have nothing to do with him.
So the for the last 6 weeks he has been wandering around Glasgow from house to house as various relatives go away for a few days, but blind drunk most of the time.
It hasn't stopped him drinking in a large number of pubs causing problems,nor ending up in the Crystal Bells shouting he could batter any one present.
He even turned up at a police station one night when he had forgotten which house he was supposed to be hiding in and asked them to put him up for the night. As he was clearly totally drunk, the police refused to take him in,so he sat on the pavement outside and went to sleep - from which the police roused him about 7am.
But here's the thing - why are none of Sean's associates after Jimmy, and why are the police ( who would appear to be taking urgent and stringent steps to arrest him) not got him yet?
Could it be connected with various taxis being set alight in the night and the police being very grateful for Sean's death?
As Bubble would say in AbFab " Who can say..?"

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Love in the time of Cholera

You may remember that I am involved in the domain name business, which has broadened my knowledge of human failings and quirks considerably.
One of the more annoying things are the emails from people saying they want a domain we own, but they have no money, and would we be really kind and just give it to them.Or say they used to own it and demand we give it back to them - again for free.I wonder if they would let me have their England fubaw shirt for free... no hang about, they well might.
Anyway, one of the things we do is dating sites - I know, tacky and sleazy - but there are something like 20 million ( yes that's MILLION) people registered with dating sites in the UK alone.
For some reason South Africa has not that many less, but of course the holy grail is North America, where there are well over 50 million men and women of every sexual orientation looking for the One - or even just a one-night stand.
In amongst these are the poor souls who have a serious problem, like an STD (HIV,herpes, aids etc).They have no fewer yearnings and needs than the rest of us, and of course there are actually quite a lot of them out there.
So it wasn't a total shock when I got a request to add to the dating sites we have one domain that has good traffic for related medication (might earn 50p per day) and
which,when translated into an STD dating site, appears to be earning USD 10-15 per day.
I do not in any way suggest, dear reader, that you have such a problem, but I can only say my eyes have been opened to another area where help is desperately needed.
Click here to find out more.
PS The title of this post refer to a rather good book by Gabriel García Márquez

A miss is as good as a mile

I'm seriously busy in Romania, catching up with all the stuff I should have done last time when a) the weather was bad and b)I spent a couple of days in bed.
It hasn't prevented everyone ( and I do mean everyone) laughing like drains at the England - USA fubaw match that ended in a draw, after one of the classic goalkeeping blunders by some overpaid stiff called Green.
I am,of course, not English, so the joke is even better as far as my Romanian friends are concerned.
I did hear a joke that superseded the match.
The new British Government is seriously worried that men's penises in the UK are becoming too small to perform properly.
As a result they have asked that every man with a penis of less than 3 inches in length display a white flag with a red cross on it either as a flag on their car or out of the windows of their houses.
If you've been in England recently you will know that there are literally millions of poor chaps in a dire state.
Can't say I've noticed any such flags in Scotland - or Wales for that matter.....

Monday, June 07, 2010

A Charitable weekend

To Corstorphine Fair on Saturday for the Gurkhas.
30,000 people attend this event which is in aid of local charities.We had a visit from mthe local MSP, the MEP, the ex-MP and the new MP, all of whom ( of course) wanted their pictures taken and to be associated with the Lumley Campaign.
I wouldn't mind so much, but not one of them put their hand in their pockets ( or handbag) to give us a donation.
Overall though, it was a good event, and apart from collecting money, we gave out lots of leaflets. In common with most military charities, our supporter's average age is increasing so we need some younger blood at the bottom end.
The preparations for Gurkha Highland 2010 proceed apace. There is no offical cap this year as we are trying to reduce the budget ( where have I heard that one before?) so I will be wearing my 2009 cap.
Or maybe the 2008 one.
On Sunday I helped out the Friends of Maxwell Park at the Ready Steady Grow event.
I really must start charging for my time...

Friday, June 04, 2010

Plus ca Change

I apologise for being away for so long, but I have had a great many problems to contend with - not least having to change my email which rendered this account inoperative for some time.
Romania finished off well apart from the weather that was poor for the time of year.
The wedding went well and instead of the bride being ransomed it ended up as the bridegroom ( Nicou) who was more than bemused with the whole thing. I managed to get candle wax and honey all down my jacket, so it is presently residing in the specialist cleaners.
In the meantime, I see we now have a coalition government. It remains to be seen whether it will be strong enough to force the banks to stop lending to it, and start lending to the poor benighted punters. I had a discussion with the regional director of RBS today, whose brief is:
1) Do not lend money on property
2) Where you have lent money in the past, claw it back
3) If you can't get it back, up the charges, margin and fees.
4) Er, that's it.
In effect, whereas bankers used to get bonusses for lending money,they are now getting bonuses for getting it back in. It will all end in tears, as all things with the banks do in time.
I am gearing up for Gurkha Highlander 2010, which is actually named "The Seven Sisters", the idea being to do 7 Munroes in 7 days. Fortunately, I am only driving again.
In the meantime, I was on the Somme again for a boy's outing, which was great fun, even if a bit chilly. It culminated in an excellent lunch on Sunday in Arras at a restaurant that had just opened two days earlier. The food was excellent as was the ambience - but we were somewhat surprised to discover that the Chef was from Swindon.
I sort of think the level of his food was a bit beyond the good people of Swindon...
As an aside, the spell check suggests " Swindlers" for Swindon...
The most extraordinary thing about the battlefields is that when the war ended there where literally thousands of square miles with nothing in them - just mud, holes,metal and bodies. These bodies keep appearing - we saw several new graves in some of the cemeteries with addenda in the registers. The thought at the time was that no one would ever live in the area again, but good land ( especially owned by a Frenchman) is precious, and the villages all grew up again quite quickly.
One of the more interesting things to do is visit a German Cemetery. There are very few as most bodies were taken back to Germany, but there are a few here and there.
Complete with Jewish headstones.
The thing is, the non-Jewish corpses have a simple black metal cross with the name, rank and job of the interee.
The Jewish ones were removed during WW2 and melted down to make bullets - so at least the Jews could be useful. The bodies were removed from their Aryan colleagues.
Now, the headstones have replaced the gaps and the bodies have been returned.
In Schlaflige Ruhe