Saturday, April 26, 2008

Bring down the borders

Politics (and birdwatching) would be so dull if you took the people out of it. I felt cheered by an informal political chat I then had at lunch with some colleagues. One rookie new guy was saying he shared George W Bush's view that capitalism would solve the climate change problems. After that he said that he thought Overpopulation was the problem. C and I are always having this debate. There's too many people in the world (they say). The population is too large. The world can't support it. We must stop the Indians/Chinese/Blacks/hispanic/other discriminated group from reproducing. But we need to encourage the 'indigenous' white population to reproduce.

Going back to my lunch yesterday, for almost the first time in my life I found myself winning the argument against this Malthusian, racist claptrap. A world population could fit into a country the size of Switzerland (7bn) and this would have the same density as Manhattan. Even better we could squeeze into Texas and have four times as much space per person. This would allow all the other space in the world - South America, Europe, most of North America, Africa and Australia to be dedicated to agricultural land or whatever we wanted, thus no food shortages.

I kicked off the debate because the price of rice doubled overnight on Wednesday. They can't even get it in Ghana. The biofuel targets must stop and we need to bring down the borders and allow people to escape starvation. I wrote to Diane Abbott.

Perhaps I was in a good mood, the sort of mood that is ok about starting political arguments, as prior to this debate I had found myself cornered yesterday by one of my favourite colleagues as this person confided in me, swearing me to absolute secrecy, that they were going to leave the union we are both in. The person then launched into a minute by minute account of some union event with other union members they had attended. I found myself giggling and then laughing at loud, at the unconfidential nature of this top-secret news I was getting. The person then said to me 'You're not taking me seriously are you?'. At which point, I said 'It's your wit, you say funny things. ' The person carried on.

We were walking along in much the same vein and then suddenly the person said 'Oh Look at that blackbird'. And there before our eyes was this huge black bird with large white flecks on its head. The person peered over and moved closer, in much the same way I would expect Bill Oddie to. I was thinking to myself - Wow, an ornithological genius in our midsts, this rare species is going to be identified. After some inspection she came back to me, saying 'Yes it's a very old blackbird' ...(I was already laughing) 'Or a big blackbird with paint splattered on its head.'

Saturday, April 19, 2008


We had an absolutely amazing holiday just recently - a series of mini-breaks including a stay in Birmingham, culminating in two nights at 'Burgh Island' - the only hotel with its own island. It is where Agatha Christie found inspiration for a couple of her books - 'Evil Under the Sun', which I managed to get a 'facsimile' copy of on our way there and 'Ten little Niggers' - a facsimile copy of that was not available. Funnily enough. I did find out that the title of that book was only changed to 'And then there were none' in 1980! And reading Agatha'a autobiography I found that one of her early collections of short stories was called 'Anna the Adventuress'. It is quite striking reading this account from the First Lady of Crime Writing how little has changed . Anyway I put any decent views I had to one-side for the weekend and soaked up the opulence, sun, sea and sand. Although it was freezing as husband will testify - he actually swam in the sea and I've got digital photographic evidence.

Now I've actually decided to go part-time almost enjoying writing a history of geriatrics at the moment. All the time I'm thinking 'Why didn't this happen earlier?'. It's just not the done thought or thing for historians. They all seem to think and write 'Oh brilliant at least it happened then'. I am trying to turn more Whiggish. Reading Agatha Christie helps. There's a famous Randy Newman song about it.

Anyway, more positive news.
The garden is coming on, S's father is helping us navigate freecycle to get rid of the washing machine. Have a brilliant life coach (another thing apart from getting rid of cancer for me that the NHS has given me). Am on my way out of London. The spare room is lovely with a beautiful room length library spanning a whole wall. Another dinner party tonight - my favourite dish, Lamb Rosemary and Orange.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Family things every so often

One of the reasons we picked Leeds as a place to live is because my brother lives here. I was thinking it was a pretty rubbish reason to move somewhere, but lately I've decided it's an ok reason. We had an in-laws party yesterday and it worked surprisingly well. We cooked of course, the computer entertained and the other humans drank a bit. All of the brothers, mine included were making each other, myself included, laugh. The cat locator was got out, after we got bored (or should I say they?) of the Nintendo Wii ( I do recommend Golf) and the Playstation 3 (I don't recommend Call of Duty 4). My brother gave me a number of a gardener who can do hard landscaping and husband's brother gave his verdict on Trotsky's missing leg fur. We had the obligatory arguments of course - is Mark Ronson a rubbish guitarist for example. Overall though everyone was on good behaviour. Husband has got man flu which may account for this civilised account. I was discussing as well the benefits of a brother as opposed to sister - of course it means he can do all the mail bonding palavar and I don't have to worry as much about the female bonding, especially these days when being camp is so much in fashion with every man and his dog, literally, being able to cook Toad in the Hole up to professional standards.
It's surprising how we managed to do all this and the shopping and go on a narrowboat in Skipton. Particularly entertaining, apart from brothers and us women was the story of 'Often Eddie' from Skipton. He used to get paid sixpence each way apparently to tow a barge down a particularly dangerous bit of canal, where they didn't want to waste a horse as they were more precious than humans. People used to ask him how often he towed the barge each day and he just used to say 'Often' so they couldn't calculate how much he was earning.