Archive | June, 2019

Another Jaunt to Jersey..(1)

17 Jun

The mountain has to go to Mohammed. My son and his wife live in the Crown Dependency of Jersey. The pilgrimage is easy. It’s a 40minute flip across the water from Gatwick and the frantic hubbub of  Greater London is replaced by the calm civility of island life.

I hope Jamie doesn’t close his Italian kitchen in the North Terminal. The breakfast croissants are top of my list after the post-security reassembling of body and baggage. We sneaked a small table after a predatory hover-wait for a couple of flight attendants to drain their cappuccinos. The ham and cheese is my standard order, my lovely partner characteristically going for the vegan hummus wrap. As I tucked in my attention was grabbed by a kerfuffle at the table adjacent.

A well-spoken chap was complaining that the couple seated should get a shift on to allow him to settle in and scoff his breakfast. The young American couple would not be moved. They told him, politely, that they hadn’t finished their coffee. The pompous English git huffed and puffed and stormed off. I smiled apologetically at the young Yanks. Have a nice day, I said. They appreciated my support for what it was worth. I turned to my lovely partner, to engage her in a meaningful deconstruction of the squabble I have just witnessed. I had thoughts on how we have become hair-triggered, intolerant of others, too quick to judgement, to dismiss, to feel aggrieved, to feel entitled to feel riled. Naturally Brexit would have been a stop on my conversational journey.

She was dancing. Yes, literally. Earphones in, she was rehearsing a tap-dance routine for her debut performance as part of a Silver Swans group who have turned to ballet and tap for fun and fitness and to keep the Zimmer away for a decade or two. She was concentrating hard and jigging away, oblivious to all but her teacher on YouTube firing instructions to her inner ear.

Had our Easyjet flight not been delayed, her impromptu rehearsal would have been postponed. Without explanation we boarded the Airbus and settled in. I noticed that low-cost airlines don’t miss a trick to make a little extra. The seats have adverts on the cheap antimacassars. JD Sports, Fever Tree (since when was a small bottle of fizzy water worth £2.50?) and 3 Mobile were in your face. As is often the case, I couldn’t understand any of the announcements and I had to focus on something to distract me from the possibility of imminent disaster. Nervous flyer you see.

I count slowly after lift off and, usually, the seat belt sign is switched off before I reach 200. I reckon that if the captain feels relaxed enough, then I should too. On this occasion, not only had the captain not welcomed us aboard, he was clearly troubled by something. My palms became sweaty. Not unusual. 296..297..298..300. What on earth was going on? The cabin crew seemed to have received a signal that it was OK to serve drinks. At 363 the captain finally seemed satisfied that we were safe. I was able to wipe my hands, open my book and read.

The Susan Effect by Peter Hoeg. He of Miss Smillia’s Feeling for Snow. This new one is a political Scandi-noir thriller set, mostly, in Copenhagen. The translation from the Danish by Martin Aitken is brilliant. I say this having a little knowledge of the Danish language. Translations can read awkwardly and feel more detached from character and action than the writer intended. Aitken manages to create an authentic intimacy with deft and clever interpretation of small details. The chilling detached atmosphere is, by contrast, superbly realized. I’m at the bit where a monk has been beaten up, his bones crushed and he is being fed into a washing machine when the captain finally breaks his silence. We are 10 minutes from landing.

This is more like it. The man sounds like John Mills or David Niven. Calm, authoritative, all RP accent and pipe and slippers. Quite a contrast from the gruesome tale which had beguiled me for much of the trip (after the first 363 seconds). I now imagine the captain as a serial killer. Easily done.

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Pulling the wool….

9 Jun

Pouty Gove seems to have reignited the trend for baring his soul in public. His intention will surely be closely linked to ambition’s ladder – a ladder that has prompted others in the baker’s dozen (now just a starting X1) of Tory leadership candidates to manufacture and publicise the transgressions of their youth. ‘I once ran out of a sweetie shop without paying for my sherbet dip.’ Etc. For Pouty, his childhood ran until his mid-thirties and the sweeties were cocaine-flavoured but what the hell. If it gets him into office and keeps him out of America, it’s a price worth paying.

I am underwhelmed by the laughable distraction of this leadership circus. Only Rory Stewart has caught my attention as a man of good report. Not all Etonians are shysters. Take note Boris, you Spider. Your mate the Trumpmeister touched down in his handcart and, reportedly, kept his mouth in check after giving Sajid Khan both barrels on the Air Force One Twitter feed. It comes to something when the leader of the free world is praised for keeping his opinions under control, and behaving reasonably for three days, while on a state visit. I would have thought that this was the expected minimum level of courtesy for any eminent human being. But hey, the Donald is rewriting the rule books on so many things: manners, integrity, truth. I wasn’t much enamoured with the Queen’s rather complicit banquet fawnings either. And Donald’s high sounding nothings about trade deals are closer to tricks than treats. Halloween isn’t far off.

Much better was Her Majesty’s gracious applauding and standing to honour the D-Day surviving veterans and the fallen. Mother Theresa did us proud too. I felt a little better being British. And then I hear of our hooligan soccer fans abusing Portuguese hospitality and, closer to home, chatter over the vegetable section of Tescos in praise of Trump. It was along the lines of: He sticks it up ’em. tells it how it is. He won’t be bullied by anyone.

No he won’t because he is the playground bully.

Moved by D-Day, I am also enjoying the summer of sport. To get Boris out of your head just watch a little of the women’s soccer World Cup, the cricket, tennis. I needed to clear my head after too much Boris and Raab so Thiem v Djokovic at Roland Garros was perfect. And Federer v Nadal. And Konta and the new queen on the block, Barty. There was a lot of wind at the French Open but the drama was much more compelling than the silly farts race for Number 10. Remember baring your soul = pulling the wool.

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