Politics … I wish it were quieter

I know that most of you will have had enough of my political meanderings but, let’s face it, there’s a lot of it about at the mo.


a picture of a local flower before I bore you with politics

Shamima Berum. Now there’s a story. What I don’t get is the press reporting that the public don’t want her back in the UK, and that Sajid Javid has bowed to popular opinion by removing her citizenship. Well, no offence all of you, but that’s not my opinion. And I reckon I’m not alone. And it’s not about the fact that us snowflaking liberals think she deserves a second chance. Or that, like a Nazi wife, if she’s not pulled a trigger she shouldn’t be held to the same set of rules as their really unpleasant husbands. I’m clear …  she deserves to be subject to the full force of the law and dealt with accordingly.

It’s not about that. It’s about two much more important things.

First, she’s ours. and we are a grown up country (tee-hee, looking at Brexit …). By banishing her to the third poorest country in the world, Bangladesh, we’re passing a buck which should not be passed. Who do we think we are? ‘You have her! We don’t want her.’ Well, sorry, but that’s neither fair, nor what a first-world country should do.

Second, what message are we sending to the almost-radicalised? What about her family and friends in the UK? And the extended ex-Bangladeshis in and around the country? What are they now thinking? I’ll tell you what they’re thinking. ‘My country doesn’t like Muslims. This is how they treat our sister. A woman with a child.’ I know I overstate this here, but the rule of thumb is for every terrorist you kill, you spawn five more. Not bringing Shamima Berum home is sending all the wrong messages and encouraging radicalisation.

As for her poor child. It’s not the kid’s fault. And if it grows up to be a nomadic Islamist, I’m pretty sure it will not look kindly on its nation.

And all because the right-wing xenophobes are shouting the loudest. Shame.

Moving on, and briefly staying on politics. I don’t know what the eleven independents stand for, but I’m voting for them. The choice appears to be the caricatures of Johnson, Rees-Mogg and Corbyn … all of whom have agendas to which I cannot subscribe. Or a new grouping which finds the middle ground. I reckon the eleven will soon be twelve … and then there may be a tipping point. We’ll see.

On, on.

We had a lovely walk on Sunday at the Newport Wetlands and then popped and saw an old army pal of ours, Daren (his wife was working locally). Daren is a few years behind us … and is just a couple of years away from pushing off into the sunset in their Hymer. They’re v excited, a feeling I remember well. Between now and then they have a number of trips planned. Today, for example, they’re heading to the Alps skiing in her! We’ve never skied from a van and it took monumental effort not to say ‘sod it’, load the van and follow them south.

This week has been a day at a school, two days with Jen and today, a day pottering around in the summer sunshine (that what it feels like). We’ve laid some grass seed down in the back garden, cleaned the car and I did some work in Doris … just messing.

C’s sister, Annie, is down tomorrow for the weekend, which will be nice.

Oh. And we’ve had a flirtation with solar panels on the roof. I’ve had a couple of quotes, including fitting a battery to store excess sunshine. The cost is between £5 and 7.5k, which would save us in the order of £350 a year in electricity. The maths doesn’t make sense (pay back takes as long as 15 years), so any decision would be about spending some money for the benefit of the world, which is not a bad reason, but … it’s a lot of thousands of pounds. No decision yet.

Have a great end of week.

We’re heading for the hills

Andrea Leadsom, Leader of The House of Commons, tweeted on Friday that the students/children who were not in school, protesting about climate change where, and I quote, ‘it’s called truancy, not a strike’.

Now just reflect for a second, Andrea. Just imagine what your government could have done with the billions of pounds they have spent on Brexit in the past two and a bit years and spent that on climate change instead. Let’s do some maths. We’re looking at having solar panels and a 3kW home battery fitted. The quoted cost is £8k. The government has spent/is spending £4 billion on Brexit, half of which is assigned to contingencies in case there is a no deal – something that Theresa May could rule out in a single sentence.

I’m getting my calculator out. £4 billion divided by £8k is … 500,000 homes. That’s 1,500 megawatts of home-grown electricity. That’s three nuclear power stations of roof-mounted electricity … and goodness knows how many jobs created. And, of course, with that sort of spending power the government could cut the price in half and put up a million houses’ worth.


a per pros nothing, I’m thinking of using my newly found sewing skills to make myself some trousers!

So, Andrea. Leaving aside that this week we found out that we’re losing half of the world’s insects which is going to do all sorts of nasty things to the world. And, by the way, along with fuel price hikes, Fly Bmi has gone into immediate administration because Brexit has reduced their participation in the EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme and Brexit uncertainty has limited their ability to secure valuable flying contracts in Europe. Brits stuck abroad will eventually get home, but Bmi’s 376 employees might not be able to afford a holiday this year.

So, kids, I say strike! OK, do it safely and with the full knowledge of your parents or guardians. But strike away. Somebody has got to shake the establishment, because us adults are not doing a great job.

Ho hum.

Oh … and did you hear His Trumpfulness in the Rose Garden? ‘I didn’t have to do this. I just wanted to do it quicker …’ (… declare a national emergency to appropriate funds from the defence budget to build the wall that Mexico was going to pay for.) I’m not sure about you, but hey, I think if you ‘don’t have to do it’, its not a national emergency? But, what do I know?

The world is spinning out of control and we have a set of people in charge so blinded by their ambition that they can’t turn their heads. Yesterday C was talking about buying a small holding somewhere out of the way and making it self-sufficient, ‘so our kids have somewhere to feel safe’. Our generation used to feel like that thirty years ago when we were facing nuclear destruction at the hands of the Soviet hoards. Now, we fear our own destructive governments. Where’s my pitchfork? I’d join a rebellion.

For the record, we’ve had a relaxing three days. C’s made some bandanas, I’ve been working on Doris and getting close to finishing edit two of book 5. Just in case you have the same problem, I’ve forever been having difficulty getting the key to work in Doris’s driver’s door. Yesterday I went to town with plenty of oil, but nothing seemed to work. And then I had a thought. What if it’s the key? Hey presto … I picked out one of the three spare habitation keys and it worked perfectly. Clearly over nine years the main key had worn and was no longer fitting properly. Simples!


and I fitted a new grille to the Focus. Hurrah!

Finally we’re off out today for a walk and a picnic. I think we might pop into Wales, now that the bridge is free. I’ll let you know how it goes on Wednesday. By for now.


Happy Valentine’s Day


Valentine’s day. I’m sure there should be an apostrophe in there, but in today’s loose use of grammar Google isn’t so sure. Anyway, happy Valentine’s day to you all and especially C. I think the best thing I could say about my long-suffering wife is to lift a quote from a lady we had supper with last week. She said to me, ‘You’re very lucky to have found someone who’s prepared to live the bohemian life.’ And she’s absolutely right. If I look around at my pals and their wives (all of whom we both love), I pretty sure none of the girls would have married me. More pertinent, if their husbands had said a couple of years ago, ‘Come on, dear, let’s give everything up and push off into the sunset in a cloud of unburnt diesel’, they’d have suggested a trip to the neurosurgeon.

I love you Claire. And thanks for accepting a stranger and left field approach to life which restricts us in some ways, but expands our horizons in so many others. It’s been a blast and continues to be so.

For the record. Tuesday was an awful day. I worked from home. But our new Janome sewing machine didn’t. After last week when it kept hitting the backplate in reverse, Tuesday morning it kept missing stitches, again in reverse. And, no matter what I did, it kept missing stitches and ‘birdnesting’ under the webbing.

I went for a run at lunchtime … which is still going well (every second day, religiously), had some lunch, went back to work and, hey presto, the machine worked fine. How does that happen? I hadn’t changed anything. I wasn’t doing anything different? Grrrrrrr.


£35 to you sir

Better yesterday at Jen’s. We are producing some really different stuff in some great colours. Orders are steady, which is good in that I’m not having to push too hard. The woman who helps us out has produced a couple of dog blankets – using our design and our materials. She is a brilliant seamstress and I hope the photo does her work justice. The one in the picture is for sale (with your dog’s name) for £35, which I think is a really good price for something that is handmade and takes 2.5 hours to make.

You might like to pop to our new website: Cubblys


my new helper

I’m not back at Jen’s until Tuesday (Monday I’m at the school for a one-to-one with one of the deputies) and we have nothing in the calendar until then. I’ve got some jobs to do on Doris and I’m 2/3’s of the way through edit 2 of book 5. I am loving it, I have to say. Once I’ve finished the edit I’ll drop it into Word (currently it’s chapter-by-chapter on GoogleDocs) and do a full spelling and grammar check. And then, hold your breath, it’s off to my 6 beta readers. That’s the scary part!

Anyhow. Happy Valentine’s day, with or without an apostrophe.

Hello LA!

I have an ‘in’. When we were at Mary’s we met a lady whose son is the CEO of a TV company in LA (which stands for Los Angeles, in case you’re not sure). She’s given me his address and an introduction. As a result, along with the five enquiries I sent out last weekend, I shall dispatch Unsuspecting Hero’s screenplay to the world-centre of film and TV in the next day or so. Fingers crossed.

And I’m half way through edit 2 of book 5, and really loving it. Editing takes some effort – it’s about making sure every sentence is as clear and descriptive as it can be. I can’t say I’m an expert, and indeed if I had an agent/publisher they’d be paying a professional to do it for me, but I do know what I like … and what I think works. It’s important not to confuse editing with proofreading. The first sorts out consistency, plot holes, over and underwriting, and some of the language. Proofreading looks at spelling and grammar. And I am rubbish at the latter … and I do have to pay an expert to do that for me.


We got back from Mum and Dad’s at lunchtime – it’s a 3.5 hour journey and it drives me mad (A12, M25, M4). But it’s worth the effort. I thought that, whilst Dad continues to deteriorate, Mum was in a much better place than last time we saw her. I took Dad for a walk whilst C took Mum shopping, and then we attempted a bath. Unfortunately, no amount of balancing and heaving could get his leg over the side of the bath. So we had a strip wash instead. What disturbed me was, after supper, Dad started trying to explain something. We think it was about a man who was trying to do something unpleasant to all of us. Dad unsteadily got himself out of his chair, paced a bit with real frustration, bordering on anger. Then he sat down again, half went to sleep for a  few seconds, and then gingerly stood again and vented. We had no idea what he was worried about. It was disquieting to see him so upset. Eventually he went to bed.

Ho hum.

We’ve got a pretty quiet week this week. I’m on 3/4 days sewing duties, but the weekend is free. My old boss from my first school emailed me and asked me if I wanted some teaching as they had a temporary gap over the coming weeks. I know that I really didn’t have a great time last year at the state school, but teaching (rather than crowd control) with some A-level work at a private school is a much different occupation. And I so wanted to to say yes. Alas, other commitments … etc.

Anyhow, enough from me. Have a great week.



There’s a special place in hell …

Of course there is. And, if you’re a snowflake of a Brexiteer you can pervert Donald Tusk’s statement to say that he said that about all of you wonderful people who voted to leave.



He said there was a special place in hell for hard Brexiteers who voted to leave without a plan as to how to pull it off. And he’s right. No plan = chaos, a possible slip into recession, the loss of many many jobs, food shortages, did I mention chaos, shortages of medicine, etc, etc? So … there’s a special place in hell for those of you who are more than happy that we break away from the best customs union we could belong to without a sensible plan to replace it.

We had a chat to C’s cousin, Eva, the other day. Apparently because their grandfather is Irish they may be able to apply to become Irish citizens. Good. The question is can I get a passport too if I’m married to an Irishwoman? She has the hair and the temperament for it, so I deserve some recompense …


doing my bit for the British economy

I’ve just had a long day at my school in Farnham (a 7.30 start). And I made a load of leads and collars on Wednesday morning for Cubblys – and I shall make some more stuff tomorrow (we’re at Mary’s at the mo). It has been busy.


on the way home from Farnham today

The consultancy stuff is fun. I saw eight folk today, of varying ranks and specialities. For my part it’s mostly listening, and offering bits of advice here and there. I don’t charge a great deal, but it’s not bad for a day’s work … and I do come away with a feeling that I am making a bit of a difference.  I have more work this month (a 360 degree appraisal for a deputy) and another full day clinic in April, so it’s all keeping me in a bit of beer money (which I use to pay off the mortgage!).

Anyhow, now that I’ve got the Brexit thing off my chest I feel a little better. I could go on about His Donaldness and the SOTU (State of the Union). But instead I’ll let you know that I have 5 beta readers lined up to look over book 5, which I should have ready by the end of the month. When it’s away being read I shall write the blurb and have a go at the cover.

Hurrah from me!

Wistful thinking

There is still a big part of me that just wants to travel. I’ve spent a good few hours in Doris over the past week, fixing things, fitting a new mattress (IKEA double replacing the two Hymer single foam ones) and making stuff for Jen using her as a workshop. Whilst we live in the least complicated of houses – 5 rooms, one of which is a bathroom/loo, there is something about the simplicity of vanlife that shouts loudly. You are restricted to what you can do domestically, so you spend your time outside … or just reading, or similar. In a house, even one as small as ours, there’s something to do. Something to paint, to clean. Moreover, if you do sit and read, something is nagging at you … ‘why are you sat there. Do something!’.


it took me 20 minutes to clear Doris’s roof

In a van the vista changes. There is always a different view, one which you never tire of, because if you do you move on. I spent ages just staring out of Doris’s huge front window, with a pair of binos in hand. And sleeping is cocoon-like. Her double bed is raised to allow for a garage. It’s big, but the low ceiling feels comfortable. Like being back in the womb … Freud and Oedipus springs to mind.

So why aren’t we travelling? What’s stopping us parking up on the Costa Notalot and browning our knees? Good question. I suppose part of it is recharging the whole travelling bug batteries … probably more for C than me. Second are the work and family commitments we have here. Of course we only have one shot at this life, and we would be on the spot at the time of crisis when we were needed. But Jen’s business, my parents etc are all good reasons to apply the handbrake.  But are the great reasons? At the moment, yes, especially as we are planning 2.5 weeks in Scotland just before Easter, and our 6-weeks in SE Asia (not in the van) over the summer. But I do feel a long trip coming up. Ten weeks would be good – Brexit dependent. We’ll see what 2020 looks like.


the snow is leaving us slowly

We’ve had snow here, more than most places. Thursday was a beautiful white out. Friday more of the same, with Cassie (who is now back with Jen and James) enjoying the snow. Yesterday was beautifully clear as was today with the snow and ice lingering on. It’s warmer now and more so tomorrow. Good because I’m up with Jen Monday/Tuesday then off to Mary’s Wednesday for a day at my Farnham school Thursday … then Mum and Dad’s for the weekend. All good.

And the books? Well, C has finished Book 5 and likes it … which is a good sign as she does have a habit of telling me when it’s not so. I’m a fifth of the way through edit 2 and I’ve started to prime my beta readers for a look-see at the end of Feb. If that goes well I’ve got a couple of months for a proofread, blurb writing and prepping the cover. And, all being well, it’ll be on the shelves in July as always. Then …

… book 6? Why not?

Didn’t sleep well

Where do you get a 4.5 tonne, 7.5 metre motorhome MoTd? At the council’s place in Yate, that’s where. They MoT articulated lorries so Doris is easy. Anyhow, she was booked in for 7.30 this morning – the coldest night of the year. I didn’t sleep well – Cassie sleeps on our bed when she’s with us, and last night it was my turn to be slept upon – and I woke, as I always do, many times before the alarm went off.

After I cleared her windscreen (which is the biggest in Christendom) and checked that the roads weren’t so icy she’d slip all the way to Yate, we set off with some stuff I’d bought for Jen/Cubblys in Doris’s garage – I’d drive to Jen’s once the MoT was done. Now I don’t know about you, but I’m not keen on MoTs. It’s the thought that if you fail, you have no choice but to get the car/van fixed straight away and then bring it back for re-inspection – in short, leaving you without transport and an admin nightmare to sort, especially with a big vehicle like Doris. So, when halfway to Yate there’s a loud knocking noise from the roof, I’m thinking that this is going to be an MoT failure. I had checked all of the usual MoT failures, and had done my best to de-ice the windscreen washers … a schoolboy’s error on a cold morning.

I pulled over (it was still dark and blooming freezing). I opened the main top light and had a peak out. Nope. Everything was still attached on the roof. Mmmm. So I set off again. and still there was this unnatural knocking sound from the roof. I thought maybe I’d left a tool on the roof and it was rolling about? Maybe?

I got to Yate and was met by the nice mechanic who asked me if I could help him … he was the only one in at 7.15 am. They have two bays, both of which are white and yellow … and immaculate. He drives it over the pit, and I then get in the cab to turn on lights etc. I’d mentioned the knocking problem to the mechanic knowing that some major part of Doris may have broken and it would cost a million pounds, take days to sort and remove a few more years off my shortening life.

He found the problem. ‘Come into the pit.’ Sod this H&S nonsense … off I went. And there it was. The outer skin of the silencer was hanging off. ‘Unless you can tie it up I may have to fail you on that. Don’t worry about it, I’d cut it off if it were me.’ A minute later and with a piece of wire wrapped round the silencer holding the ‘tray’ in place, we were done. (I’ve also got to replace the windscreen wipers.) Done. Tick.

I then took Doris to Jen’s to unload the stuff I’d bought for the business, including a decent waist-high material table. The place is beginning to look like we mean business. Which we do. We both assumed that January was going to be a slow month, but in the end we weren’t far off December’s total, which means we were able to pay ourselves a few bob. All good!


Finally, I don’t want to discuss Brexit. People across the world are laughing at us. Once we were thought to be a bastion of sensibleness. Where democracy works. Where the right thing is done. Not now. Now they all think we’re a bunch of party-centric, self-centred loons. Businesses will be deserting us soon … not just because we’re leaving the EU and its open market, but because we can’t organise a packed lunch.

So I’m not going to talk about Brexit.

Speak later!