Come Thursday we are all invited to vote in the Borough Council elections; all of us on the electoral register that is. If you are not on the register, get on it. Too late for this election but ready for the next which could occur at any time as we are in a state of political instability. Who to vote for? Party or person? The political parties have sent round leaflets, so you probably know the names of the candidates. Parties want you to vote for their candidate but, are their candidates any good? [Read more…] about Democracy
The cricket toughies, the ones who engage in heavy sledging, the brave men who face fast bowlers slinging down bouncers at 90 mph, the ones who will field at silly mid on (a position close to the batsman) collapse in tears when caught cheating. Mind you, the rest of the world really seems to have it in for them; something of an over-reaction. Many of us and many cricketers are enjoying a temporary feeling of schadenfreude; others will be feeling fearful lest telephoto videos of them are re-examined closely. [Read more…] about Playing the Ball
Here is what you need to know about nerve gas in relation to the events in Salisbury. Nerve gases are a terrible and frightening weapon but, if you survive an attack, you will be OK, unlike after a conventional injury which may leave you without a limb or full of shrapnel.
For much of my professional life, I have flirted with nerve gases. A dangerous thing to do you might think but interesting and important as recent events in Salisbury have shown.
What a difference a few years makes. Back in 1947 we had a real winter. Snow and freezing temperatures lasted for ages. Those were real austerity times, food rationing, power cuts every day to conserve coal, clothing was still rationed, nobody had central heating and most had outside lavatories, even the BBC was cut off during the afternoons to save energy. It was enormous fun. I could not wait to get out with my sledge and the chance of a snowball fight.
I guess most of us know of a person with one leg, an amputee, even if knowing is limited to Long John Silver from Treasure Island. There are quite a few amputees in the swashbuckling, sea-going world of fiction, Captain Ahab in Moby Disk, Captain Hook in Peter Pan, though his was a missing arm replaced by a terrifying hook. Lord Uxbridge, at the battle of Waterloo, lost a leg and many statements are attributed to him. He commented to his surgeon, in those pre-anaesthesia days, ‘the knives appear somewhat blunt.’ Oscar Pistorius, murderer and Paralympic runner is a living amputee, so is socialite Heather Mills. [Read more…] about Legs
Here is a story to freshen the fins and gild the gills even if you are not piscatorially predisposed. I heard the tale from the young Zoologist and Doctor who made the discovery.
Sri Lanka has a fish called Kami or Kami’s Barb or to give it its Linnean name Puntius kamalika. It is an unremarkable, small, silver-grey, fresh-water fish first recorded by Georg Dunker, a German ichthyologist, in 1912. He thought it was the same as a fish found in India, Puntius amphibius, first identified in the early 19th century near Bombay or Mumbai by a German naturalist. [Read more…] about A Fish Called Kami
You may not think of Sri Lanka as a place for a literary festival but every year a festival of international standing is held in Galle. Galle, on the South Coast, is a fort town built initially by the Portuguese but much extended by the Dutch from 1659 onwards to protect the natural harbour. Within are traditional dwellings and public buildings, law courts, a hospital, barracks warehouses and churches all being restored to their traditional state. It is now a UN World Heritage site and attracts tourists from all continents.
We arrived at the train station, sticky, shaken, hot and dusty after a six-hour journey broken by one hour in Colombo which gave us time to dash to an hotel for a comfort break. We stayed in a small Dutch style guest house which provided a fantastic Sri Lankan breakfast of egg hoppers and curry followed by a fruit plate with eight fresh fruits; banana, pineapple, water melon, papaya, lime, mango, orange and passion fruit. [Read more…] about Literary festival – Galle
‘Did you see the film?’
‘Yes, but it was not as good as the book.’
Is the book as good as the film or vice versa? At the Galle Literary Festival in Sri Lanka, a discussion took place between a film director Lord (David) Puttnam and four authors who have had their books made into films or TV series.
Lord Puttnam: Best known for his film ‘Chariots of Fire’ and many others.
Shrabani Basu whose book and TV documentary ‘Victoria and Abdul’ have been widely admired.
Maylis de Kerangel, a French author of ‘Mend the Living’ about the two sides of a heart transplant, donor and recipient.
Sebastian Faulks, author of Charlotte Grey and Birdsong and other books that have been made into film.
Alexander McCall Smith whose series ‘The No I Ladies Detective Agency’ has a strong following both in text and on TV.
We decided to travel by train from Kandy to Kadunnawa, equivalent to a trip from Southampton to Winchester, it takes about 30 minutes.
We have travelled by train in Sri Lanka before but always on the intercity express and always 1st class. This journey would be on a local train, just two stops. [Read more…] about A Ticket to Ride
A Little History
When the hillsides and jungles of Sri Lanka were being opened up to British planters of coffee in the middle of the 19th century, the planters were desperate for workers but the Sri Lankans, the Sinhala, were not interested in working for foreign colonialists. Why should they? They had their patch of paddy to tend, a coconut plantation and banana trees, they were self-sufficient and the British only needed them at the time of the coffee harvest. [Read more…] about A Christmas Eve Like No Other
Christmas Greetings from Kandy. Sri Lanka may be 80% Buddhist, but they do like the story of Baby Jesus. For many, religion is like belonging to a club, you can change or be a member of several. Why not enjoy the Poya days (full moon) at the Buddhist temple, Diwali at the Hindu and a few Carols at the Church? [Read more…] about Greetings from Sri Lanka 2017
Here in Sri Lanka we breakfast on plantain, as they call bananas here, buffalo curd, a macho version of yoghurt, and kithul, a treacle made from the sap of palm trees. We sit on our balcony overlooking the valley and admire our neighbour’s mango tree, heavy with green, unripe mango.
A troupe of monkeys, macaques, come along. The senior one sits atop an electricity pole surveying the scene. His or her, troops make their way along rooftops, electricity cables, tree branches from tree to tree, quietly and watchfully. Some mothers have babies clinging to their bellies. After a pause one, and then another, leaps into the mango tree.
[Read more…] about Whose Mangoes are They Anyway?
In association with the Hiltingbury Extravaganza 2017, the Chandler’s Ford Authors organised a children’s poetry competition. We had support from Chandler’s Ford Library, the Extravaganza Committee and Goadsby’s Estate Agents.
Participants had to write a poem on ‘Where I Live’. It did not have to rhyme, it did not have to be about your house. We looked forward to seeing how children would interpret the title and we were not disappointed. [Read more…] about Children’s Poetry Competition in Chandler’s Ford
Illness is illness – impairment of normal function of part or all of the body. Why, then, do we have illness and mental illness as if they are different things? We all fall ill from time to time, it may be an infection, heart disease, liver, bones, joints, any organ including the brain. But when it comes to the brain we call it mental illness and it carries stigma. [Read more…] about Why isn’t Mental Illness a Brain Disease?
It is not on every holiday that you find yourself involved in the rescue of a drowning man.
Our son, who lives in Chandler’s Ford, was enjoying a holiday at Bonchurch on the Isle of Wight. Relaxing after day visiting nearby children’s attractions with his four-year-old daughter, he heard cries for help. From his flat overlooking the sea he could see a man in deep water out beyond the breakwater waving, calling for help and in distress. Already another man was swimming towards him with the life buoy which was provided nearby. [Read more…] about Saved from Drowning
Every infantry man in a combat zone loves to hear a Chinook. Wop, wop, wop, you can hear the characteristic sound, you know what it is but you can’t see it. The twin rotor helicopter is coming in at 160 mph with 10 tons of stores and ammunition or re-enforcements. Once it lands, it will be there for 60 seconds, there will be no departure delays, no last calls for passengers, no check in queues. What isn’t taken off or loaded within the time is left where it is. [Read more…] about Chinook
Her Majesty the Queen was subdued on her birthday. So are we all after the film The Towering Inferno became reality at Grenfell Towers. Reality without the hero, without the Hollywood sanitisation protecting us from thinking about slow deaths due to smoke inhalation. The film was clean, vision only. There was no smell of fear, no burning of heat, no difficulty breathing, no choking or coughing. There was no edge of panic in voices and actions. [Read more…] about People First? Some Thoughts on Grenfell Towers
Who should I vote for in the forthcoming election? A person or party with political gravitas, one that shows qualities of statesmanship. Or should it be statespersonship? Where are such people? I only see squabbling fourth-formers exchanging slogans as if they embody the solution to the world’s problems.
Our politicians try to do their best but they are products of the system which seems to me to be flawed. But that is a story for another day.
[Read more…] about Who Should I Vote for?
José Ascaso had been riding his chestnut mare most of the day and was beginning to feel tired. Together, they had made good progress deep into the Pyrenean valley alongside Rio Ara. His plan was to spend the night in Broto, a small mountain town, and ride on into Ordesa Gorge the next day. The valley had become steep and narrow with the mountains rising to 6000 feet on both sides. He hoped to spot the Lammergeier, it is known to fly in the gorge. It is a large vulture with a wingspan of almost 3 metres and weighing up to 7 Kg. It feeds on bone after the other vultures have taken the flesh of dead animals. [Read more…] about Exclusive – Chandler’s Ford man found in Pyrenees
This is the time of year for festivals. After the self-imposed misery of Lent, it starts with Easter. When is Easter? Bishop’s secretaries throughout the land are kept busy answering that question.
Easter Sunday is the first Sunday after the full moon that occurs on or soonest after March 21st, the Spring Equinox. So now you know for all time. The earliest Easter Sunday will be on March 22nd but that will not happen until 2285 so you need not worry about it. The latest possible is April 25th and that will be in 2038. [Read more…] about Festivals