A concert, the weather and the dreaded Visit.

Well, I managed to book for Kate Bush ….. eventually.

Not the date we wanted, nor, even, at a weekend but at least I got some. I saw her on her first (and only) tour back in 1979 (in Manchester) and I remember it quite well. It was an amazing concert. Obviously, this one won’t be so “energetic” but I imagine she’ll do a good show in any event.

I have been so busy of late. So much so that this weekend will be a relaxing weekend. The temperatures should be in the 20s (°C) and it should be sunny – so that means a walk with the dogs, at least.

Of course, there’s the nagging thing about “The Visit”. That hasn’t gone away. The list is quite long now, which is to be expected. Few people know about it, which is the best thing.

Of course, it’s unlikely to be just this one. I’m expecting some other “visits” will have to follow. It’s almost like I shall be “sucked into” this thing. Like getting stuck in whirlpool – going further and further down, getting completely caught up in rounds of “visits”. I’ve avoided all this, so far.

Other things are being “sorted” but much more needs to be done before everything is ready. Still, one thing at a time, eh?

Update: And, apparently, I was lucky to get any tickets!

Believe the headline and become stupid.

The overall stupidity of people, although expected, shocks me still.

In the UK you can make a will. Normally you make it with a solicitor although you can make it on your own, as long as a witness (or, maybe two) sign it.

The will determines who/what you wish to leave all your assets to when you die.

A married couple will, normally, elect to leave their assets to their spouse. They might also leave something to their children. A lone parent may choose to leave their assets, equally divided, to their children.

Or, of course, they may not.

Some people choose to leave their assets to a charity. Or to someone who isn’t a relative. Or to only one of their children.

In other words, British people can choose who to leave their assets to – there are no rules but the will must be legally binding.

People who think that they SHOULD have been included in the will can, of course, contest it in court. But it has to be proved that the person making the will made a mistake or was unduly coerced by a beneficiary. This is only worth it when there is a lot of money at stake. Most ordinary wills are not contested.

For example, I doubt very much if my mother has included me in her will. And I very much doubt that, even if it were worth millions, I would be able to successfully contest it since we haven’t had any contact for over 25 years. I could hardly claim that I had a right to a share, could I?

Of course, some Christian principle may encourage her to leave me something. Or, from what I read, if she were Muslim, she would be expected to leave a share to me and exclude my sister. It wouldn’t seem fair but, then, wills aren’t meant to be “fair”. They are meant to express the wishes of the deceased.

So, I read today, in the DailyHate Mail, of a very rich guy who will not be leaving anything to his son!

Now, whilst not being a fan of that newspaper, it is seen as being an OK thing to do since he is saying that his son has to work for his money (and that’s OK according to the right-wing press).

And, yet, in the same paper, yesterday, was a story about how solicitors have been issued guidelines to help them when they are writing wills for Muslims.

This is because, according to their religion, there are “rules” that are meant to apply when someone dies. Of course, without a will, British law would apply. These guidelines are to help solicitors help their Muslim clients to draw up a will that is within British law but that follow the rules of their religion.

Unfortunately, these rules seem to be known as Sharia Law. And so, the headline leads people to believe that “Sharia Law” is being built into British law.

Which is just plain wrong and totally misleading.

And makes the people “shouting” about how terrible it is that “Sharia Law is being enshrined into British Law” seem really stupid.

And, to be honest, THAT really annoys me.

Tony Benn – remembering my parents!

When I was a kid, my parents rarely talked politics.

Or, there again, maybe they did but I just didn’t notice or ignored it.

I knew my maternal grandmother was a Liberal 8on of the old-fashioned Liberals) as she was a councilor on the local town council.

I knew, somehow, that my parents were Conservative.

And, the one thing I DO remember, was there utter hatred of a Labour guy – Tony Benn or, as I think he was known then, Anthony Wedgwood Benn. He was, i think, in their terms, bordering on evil.

I couldn’t understand it. I didn’t take any real interest in politics but I failed to understand how you could hate someone because of their beliefs and the words that they used.

Of course, one must remember that I was a very rebellious child. And the effect of them disliking something or someone tended to mean that I would be more open to that thing or that someone. On the contrary, the things that they did were so odious to me that, as an adult, these are things I don’t like to do. And so, things like packed lunches for when you go somewhere; carrying a lot of stuff with you all of the time – to the beach, in particular, are some examples.

In fact, I’ve listened to Tony Benn a number of times and, whilst not always or fully agreeing with his point of view, I can’t knock him for his right to have those views nor for his conviction in them, nor even for the intelligent way he would argue his case. Hate him? Certainly not.

And today he has died and tributes are pouring in (as they do). And i wondered, for a moment, if my mother had any thoughts on this (my father having died already)?

Still, that moment has now passed.

UK Government murdering vulnerable people

Atos have been under fire for a while now. Recently there was a case of someone in a coma being “invited”* to attend an interview for either a health assessment or to find out why she hadn’t got a job (I don’t remember the exact details).

The DailyHateMail had been fighting for some time to stop the “scroungers” on benefit from obtaining money by which to live. Using provocative language, they regularly “out” those who have been convicted of benefit fraud and, in doing so, get people to think that everyone who is claiming benefit is a scrounger who doesn’t want to work.

The “fit for work” assessments have been proved to be excessive and morally wrong.

So, although today, the same paper does have this article about a man dying as a result of Atos declaring him fit to work and the DWP stopping his benefits, one has to wonder why it isn’t the main item or, even, why it isn’t given as much prominence as those (few) that are found to be cheating the system?

The headlines should read as I have put in my title. It is outrageous that, in the 21st century, vulnerable people are being murdered by the state. This was what Dickens wrote about and here we are, a hundred-odd years later, having the same kind of compassion.

Truly dreadful. Makes me ashamed to be British.

Fucking politicians.

A post about moving

Sorry for not writing a post for ages but I’ve been a bit busy. Again.

Friday was Valentine’s Day and, as usual, I got F some white tulips. We hadn’t booked anywhere to have a meal but thought we would try Porca Vacca again as, according to F, the “old” people are back there. And they were and the menu was back to something like it was before and it was great (and seemed a little less expensive than before).

Of course, it was full but after about 10 minutes wait a table was free. A lovely meal and a lovely evening.

Friday, during the day, F had been to see a house. And by this I mean a real “house” with two stories and a garden. It was next to or in the middle of an old factory. Obviously, they were converting some, or all, of it to become residential.

It was beautiful inside, judging by the pictures and F confirmed that it was fabulous. There were just two problems: a) it was right by the motorway ring that surrounds Milan – which is raised and so there would be the hum of traffic day and night and b) there really isn’t any public transport to speak of.

Then, for Saturday morning, he had arranged a viewing of a flat near mine which had a garden. The particulars suggested it was quite big. We went to see. It was beautifully done but the size was large because they had included a large “room” that was under the terrace. This “room” was, almost, a basement but could not have been used as a real room. The terrace was fantastic and there were steps down to a large garden which was excellent – walled and quite private. But, the flat itself was just too small.

Then, Sunday morning, he went off to London for the London Fashion Week show and I was quite grateful, in a way, for a chance to spend Sunday doing whatever I wanted. In fact, Dino had been a little ill overnight so there was cleaning up, cleaning him, brushing them both, doing some shopping and making some soup.

Although I did watch one and half films as well. And went out to eat with friends in the evening.

And then he came back last night. And the three of us were very pleased to see him :-)

I was going to go to bed early but a) he didn’t arrive until about 10 and b) he had something to tell me.

So, in the end we stayed for about an hour in the kitchen, talking about his news. There’s a very slight possibility that he could move to London. It was an, erm, interesting discussion. He said his English would have to be better and asked for me to help. Also to help with a letter and a CV. Of course, I would. I have to stress the “slight possibility” here. We judged that it was a “very slight” possibility but you have to consider that anything could happen.

Of course, many things were going through my mind. Not least the fact that I’m transferring my pension out of the UK and what would it mean if I went back? Well, that’s something to look at. Plus, there would be the problem of a job for me which, at my age, is not guaranteed. Plus, there’s the dogs to consider but his mind had already moved on that one to a house with a garden.

And, so, I’ve realised that most of this post has been about moving (or potential moving).

And, yet, none of this is certain.

When “hot” doesn’t mean “hot”

I’m not talking about the weather. No. That is as cold as the tip of an Eskimo’s nose. Winter is arriving, for sure.

No, I’m talking (again) about differences between Italians and the English.

If you live here, can you remember the last time you had a really “hot” meal cooked by an Italian? I don’t mean “spicy” hot but hot hot. More like boiling hot. So hot that you had to cool it down by blowing on each forkful.

No,I didn’t think so. Meals, here, are regularly served on cold plates – the food itself hardly piping hot. The only exception to this is, sometimes, meat, served on a sizzling hot plate or, at one restaurant where they used to serve thinly sliced Branzino (Sea Bass) on such a hot plate that they had to warn you about it.

At the weekend, in partial preparation for a move, I was cooking stuff from the freezer. I found a Mincemeat and Apple Plait that I had made to use up the last of the mincemeat I had and some of the apples that we always buy at Christmas (and then leave to rot in the fruit bowl). I thought F might like it. And I made custard to go with it. Not a lot because (I thought) F doesn’t like custard.

I cooked the Plait and timed it just right so that it was ready to come out as we finished the main course.

In fact, F did want custard – and as much as I could give him – which was a bit of a bastard as it meant that I had much less and, if I had known, I would have made a full pint rather than half a pint :-(

But, he wouldn’t eat it.

He put it outside, on the windowsill, to cool down. I was quite shocked. I asked him why. He told me that he can’t eat hot deserts and had I not noticed that Italians don’t do hot deserts which, now that he had mentioned it, was true!

“But why can’t you eat it when it’s hot?”, I asked. Apparently, it’s bad to put hot things in your stomach. Who knew that, all my life I have been doing something so bad for me? And why wasn’t I ill more often?

And then, today, as I was eating my lunch in the canteen, I bemoaned (to myself, obviously) that everything is served fairly tepid on cold plates and, so, you don’t actually eat “hot” food. I was eating cauliflower which was almost cold. Partly because it was only tepid when served and then because the plates are actually cold. And that’s true (with the exceptions I’ve mentioned above) in restaurants too!

Perhaps it’s a climate thing? It’s certainly a cultural thing. And, again, we come back to the weird beliefs Italians seem to have about your health and what is good or bad for you.

In the UK, serving anything it was expected to be on hot, or at least warm, plates. And if it were piping hot, then that was better. But not here. Or, having just spoken to my colleagues, not for many people and, certainly, not for F.

Having spoken to my colleagues, I find that there are a few (but only about 3 or 4) sweets that are served hot. Unlike in the UK where, apart from during the summer, nearly all sweets are served hot.

And on warm plates so that they keep warm.

Sometimes, i miss certain things. This is one of them.

Italians are a strange bunch!

Things are OK now; A trip that I didn’t like; And relax.

Well, just to keep you updated, the problem that was, is “was” and is no more. Or, at least, not for a bit and, soon, possibly not forever again.

So, that’s good, isn’t it? Yes, it is.

Today has been a holiday but some work came in unexpectedly, yesterday, and today was doing that. In between, under the bloody rain, I did lots of things including picking up jeans that were having a new zip, taking stuff to the dry cleaners, food shopping and going to get F’s main present. I didn’t feel I could leave that until the last minute. Just far too risky.

So, now, apart from food shopping for Christmas and he last minute things and wrapping presents, I am done.

And relax!

But i just wanted to talk about Israel. Before I went, last weekend, for work, many people told me how lovely Israel is and how great Tel Aviv is, etc., etc.

Now I’ve been before. I wasn’t all that impressed last time. This time even less so. I just don’t get it. I obviously don’t see what everyone who’s been there sees.

Let me describe to you my feelings on Israel and, in particular, Tel Aviv.

it is a dirty, messy hole. I wouldn’t go and live there for all the money in the world.

And then there’s the people. Arrogant doesn’t even come close to describing them. A bit like the Italians (but much worse), everything is done much better in Israel, apparently. Except it isn’t. And they always want something for nothing. If it were up to me, I wouldn’t deal with them. They are, as we say in the UK, a nasty piece of work.

And let me just add something that is a bit controversial.

Let me first explain that what Hitler and Mussolini did in the war (and their people) to the Jews was horrific and inexcusable. It should never be forgotten and we should always be watchful that something like this doesn’t ever happen again.

If I were Jewish, and lived in Germany or Italy, it would have been possible that my grandparents would have been killed. So it’s not that far away from me, if you see what I mean.

However, whilst never forgetting about it, I do feel it’s time to put it behind one and move forward. I don’t want to hear about it every day.

You see, I wasn’t hungry. The first day we had a very large lunch and then a very large dinner, provided by our hosts. By day two, I really couldn’t eat much.

I had a little bit of the appetiser, declined the soup and the first course. The jerk just opposite, to the right said, “Oh you can’t be Jewish”. Stupidly, I ask why not. He replied that, if I had been Jewish I would have eaten because, due to the Holocaust, all Jews feel they have to eat everything!

Well, for one, I don’t believe that and for two, excuse me but FUCK RIGHT OFF! That’s not an excuse for you to be a fat bastard and, even if I were Jewish, I also have some pride about my fucking appearance which, quite frankly, you obviously don’t. And stop relating everything to the Holocaust! I guess, of course, that they can’t leave it alone because, I imagine, their parents constantly reminded them of it – but leave it alone now. As I said, we should never forget, none of us, but it should not be mentioned every fucking five seconds!

And, can I say that the hotel was the very worst hotel I’ve ever stayed in. And I really do mean EVER – in all my time staying in hotels (which is a lot of time and a lot of hotels). The Diaghilev, LIVE ART Boutique Hotel will NEVER see me there again. I was a little worried when I saw all the reviews so positive – but quite recent reviews. I should have stayed with my gut feeling. Cold, no hot water, no decent service, no breakfast the first morning. Dreadful, dreadful, dreadful. My review is on TripAdvisor but the reviews are, generally, full of people posting their first ever review who think it is the best hotel ever. So mine will be lost down the list, which is shame for the real travellers who will be so disappointed when they stay there. Next time, I shall be more careful with TripAdvisor (and I had thought I already was!)

There were two good things about the trip. The first was Turkish Airlines – on time, food good, service good (we flew Milan to Istanbul and then to Tel Aviv). The second was the meal we went for (just me and my colleagues) to < href="http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Restaurant_Review-g293984-d4793435-Reviews-Tapas_1_Tel_Aviv-Tel_Aviv_Tel_Aviv_District.html" target="blank">Tapas 1 where the service was great and the food superb!

Anyway, enough of all that.

In the meantime, I am, almost, ready for Christmas and so I say … BRING IT ON!

Pembridge – where are your photos?

Apparently, Pembridge, a small village in North West Herefordshire, close to where I used to live, doesn’t just put up a Christmas tree with some lights as most other places in Britain do.

Instead, it has 51 trees all decorated and with lights!

Pembridge is a delightful old, black and white, village with a rather unusual church tower. It always seemed pretty quiet and, although it is on the Black and White Village Trail, I’m guessing it doesn’t get too many visitors (from what I remember, there are a few shops and, maybe, a cafè – and a village hall which held regular antique auctions and, from which, comes some of my furniture).

What I was surprised about was that I could not find any photos of these Christmas trees! I would love to see it, especially all lit up.

C’mon someone from Pembrisge – post some photos on the net!

What do the Tardis and an Antarctic Hut have in common?

Sorry I haven’t been posting but there have been “issues”. It’s still not quite finished yet.

In the meantime, for you delectation, here are a couple of things I’ve been meaning to post.

The first is Google Maps’ inside view of Dr. Who’s Tardis.

The second is Captain Scott’s hut in the Antarctic.

In the first case, you are inside and can “walk around”. Be aware that if you go outside it will “vanish”, of course.

In the second case you can go inside the hut and walk around a bit. You can’t, however, go far from the hut.

Still, I liked them and have been meaning to put them up for ages.

Art – not so black and white

I’ve read a couple of articles recently that made me feel a little uncomfortable but, perhaps, not “normal uncomfortable”.

There have been many times when, for example, societies have burned books. Each time this is done, there’s an outcry. And the outcry is right, after all. i mean, literature is literature and it’s an art. There was also the recent “haul” of Nazi-looted art from some reclusive guy. Paintings that hadn’t been seen (or, in some cases, unknown) were “recovered” and may, in time, go back to their rightful owners.

But, that latest report is about who owns the art and not about destroying it.

Some years ago, however, the West was shocked to learn that the Taliban were destroying ancient sites – ancient works of art. So, one would think, the West is more enlightened. In the West we would not destroy art just because we didn’t agree with it any more.

It would seem true if you read the article about the fake Madonna and Child that turned out not to be fake.

What an amazing piece of art! Of course it shouldn’t be destroyed.

Should it? But there is a problem with this piece. It is in ivory. That is to say, the tusks from elephants. These days, ivory is (rightly) an “unacceptable material”. So much so that, recently, a lot of it was destroyed. So, what to do with this piece? In theory, it should be destroyed, surely? But it is a valuable piece of historic art and, apparently, beautiful. In the comments section of the first article, there are some suggestions that it should be destroyed. But is that not the same as the burning of books or the destroying of ancient places – just because society, at that moment, think they are wrong in some way? At the time this Madonna was carved, society did not see that it was wrong to use ivory.

It’s not an easy question to answer. And I’m not giving an answer here since there is no correct answer to this paradox.

And then I remembered reading this piece on Saturday where there was some disgust and cries of racism and calls for the offending piece to be covered up. Again, this is art. It may not be to our “tastes” now but does that mean it should be done away with? If it’s in the setting of a primary school, does that make it worse? Or are we projecting our adult consciouses onto children who will see (probably) nothing in the picture?

I collected the Robertson’s Golliwogs when I was a kid. And I’m sorry but, for me, they weren’t a depiction of “black people” but, rather, dolls (or badges or figurines). Cabbage Patch Dolls weren’t real either. Nor were Barbie or Ken even if Barbie and Ken had some resemblance to real people. And whereas I agree that we should not, in general, have golliwogs available now, to cover up a piece of art is a different thing.

At the end of this, do we have the right to determine what art should be seen? Do we have the right to destroy art from a previous society just because it offends our existing morals? Or, if we have that right, does it make us mere Western-Taliban or Nazi-like? Who do we think we are that we can permit this to happen?

It disturbs me that we think we can have the right while, at the same time, condemning other societies for doing the “same thing”. It’s not so simple – not so black and white.