Monday, August 3, 2015

Lord Sewel and and Changing Rooms in La Senza

Now I'm all for each to their own, and if the chairman of a Standard and Ethics committee feels the need to don a scarlet brassiere and leather jacket to snort coke from the decolletage of his houri, and at this point it may be pertinent to examine the influence of Max Moseley and Dominic Strauss Kahn on their contemporaries, although Cynthia Payne did make a mint from the political elite in the sixties and seventies for similar services, so maybe Max and Dom are not to blame.

What the bestockinged Sewel gets up to behind closed doors is his own business, good luck with the mirror in the cold light of dawn, and how long before a motion is passed decreeing that all branches of La Senza must provide both male and female changing rooms, but the tone and subject of his language during his after hours adventures are more of a concern for a man in his parliamentary position than his choice of underwear and the strength of his snuff.

In a brief lifting of Operation Stack, Madam and myself conducted an early morning retail raid on positions across La Manche. The visit passed without incident. Buying wine is a given, as is olive oil and enough baguettes to fill the freezer as it is about the only bread that doesn't make us bloat (what goes into some UK bread at the moment) We filled up with diesel at 78p a litre, bought three months worth of Lavazza coffee at a third of the price of any supermarket over here, stocked up on runny cheese and pate, took lunch and were back home by 3pm. Three hours later, operation Stack was once again in place as two thousand souls up from the horn of Africa, who had been hiding over the brow of the hill tried to storm the tunnel, halting all trains.

Now I'm no radical, but putting my blue sky, let's throw some ideas up in the air, shoes on, how about this for a solution.

For one week a choice few will be given a medium sized car and a set budget and invited to ride the roads of Northern France, for the second week they will be asked to ride the rails of the same area, throughout this time they will only be allowed to shop in a French supermarket, any money they have left at the end of two weeks they can keep. They will then be invited to repeat the same experiment with the same budget in the south east of England, at the end of the four week period they will be asked where they would now like to claim political asylum, I am confident that two weeks of the UK motorway and rail system may sharpen the mind and empty the pocket a little, and your average Pierre must look at a UK supermarket deli and think " Is that it? at home we have them this wide(sweeps arm with gallic flourish)

News in from the correspondent on my other shoulder:

We have fantastic ferry workers, cheddar cheese, imperious sausage, black pudding, magnificent beef, lamb, venison, pork, we're having a go at wine - and one day who knows? Our potatoes remain unmatched by any nation in the world (Francis Drake knew what he was up to, bar the cigars) and at this point could we examine what has happened to Jersey potatoes in recent times. I don't mean to sound like my Grandma, but Jersey potatoes just don't taste the same as they used to (reaches for slice of half moon and further Craven A)

On reflection this proposal may not fly, UK sausage will prove to be the clincher, but our motorways and national rail network are not that great, and hey Flash, now you've got full power, how long before you propose we trade the accountant and oil worker surfing the top of that Norbert Dentressengle lorry for a few trade unionists or environmental campaigners?

During our drive back through the 50mph average speed check that stretches across much of Surrey and Hampshire it became apparent what a much trumpeted "smart motorway" actually is.

In an attempt to add a human touch to the extensive roadwork experience, new signs in the shape of smart phone text message speech bubbles were displayed amongst the cones and inert diggers, proclaiming "welcome to our work place" and " Broken Down? we come to you" the thought of someone breaking down, then being attended by someone rushing up first to erect a sign by your stranded vehicle reading " We're Here!" followed by a second one saying " It looks like you've broken down" only to reach in his van to erect a third with the message " I am very sorry, but I do not have my Happy to Help sign" before driving off, did cross our minds, but how about some more appropriate signs such as "Here all Year" or " We've gathered lots of cones and we will use them"

Through the froth, we shall now attend to the river.

Where there is still froth. But that's ok according to a piece in our local paper reassuring a member of our local town society who expressed concern over the colour of the water in the river near the high street. He had highlighted the brown gunk that was slowly smothering the weed and the cloudiness of the water, tests were carried out and according to those charged with protecting the environment everything was ok, and conditions were within the required normal centiles.

There, they said it, brown gunk cloudy water and poor water quality in this chalk river are now considered a normal occurrence in summer.

This shouldn't be the case.

An inch and a half of rain in a day may have spread panic throughout the hermatically sealed radio studios of this land ( I shan't go on, a little more Prodnose please, and much less vanilla) but it freshened up the river and perked up the fish no end with ten fish caught over the weekend, the biggest a senior brown trout of four pound taken off the top in the middle of the morning. A platoon of otters in residence for forty eight hours saw some circumspect fish and a trail of half eaten fish on the bank (grayling, pike, trout and a roach of more than two pounds) but hey that's what Otters do, the UK Fish population can take the hit........... can't it?
There may be a difficult conversation that needs to take place, and at some point somebody needs to be brave enough to start it.

One fish that continues to evade capture and so far the Otters, is the star of last year's mayfly video "Yoinks Grendel's Mor Cometh" - June 2014. She is now a substantial fish approaching five pounds and her shape can just be glimpsed in the bottom right hand corner of this photograph of the fishing hut. She has seen her fair share of artificial flies and when she is not in the mood she melts away into the far bank for some respite. If she doesn't succumb to Tarka I have every confidence that she will be in the same place this time next year only a pound or more bigger. Oh yes, there are some canny trout in this stretch of the Dever.

The weed isn't in great shape with brown gunk smothering any that isn't in the flow, and it may be the case that some starts to pull out during the next few weeks. There are also a few fish with the odd speck of fungus on their nose, which is a sign of stressful conditions. The top meadow that we subject to the medium of fire is about to burst into colour, principally with hemp agrimony but also loosestrife, willow herb and other stuff and will soon be alive with butterflies, and the moth count of an evening is also on the rise.

We are also inundated with gulls I read in the paper about a new craze that has kicked off with the youth of today. Gull running is vaunted as the new Nintendo, and involves holding a piece of pasty, chips or a crust of bread on your head and seeing how far you can run along a particular pier or promenade before the offering is taken by a gull. It is a shame it wasn't on the list for the 2012 Olympics, but with a little practice I can see medals in this for the UK.

We are not being mobbed by gulls in this valley, but we now see them and hear them on a daily basis, whereas it used to be only the odd occasion.

And so to the North, to visit Aunty Joyce in Pickering after a brief stop in Stamford to see friends, and then on to The Game Fair for the first time in over ten years. Soon after entering the Harewood House show ground we came across "Nige" who was embedded "deep cover" eschewing his usual beer and a fag for a cup of beautiful British cappuccino in order to avoid detection. It didn't seem to be very busy and the fishing area was much diminished from when I last attended the fair at Broadlands, when The Hampshire Riverkeepers Association had a stand. Many big names associated with all things angling were surprisingly absent and somehow I missed the couple of people who I was meant to be meeting but, but hey ho, there's always email, and thanks to the ST for the entrance passes and offer of free food.

I shan't bore you with our return on the highways of these Isles, but it was both prolonged, and harrowing and it is plain that all too often key road links are simply overwhelmed by the number of people using them and they fail to function as they should.

Now if only I knew a big noise in transport strategy circles,

Wait a minute.......

This written rubbish has been brought to you by an internet connection provided by a mobile phone company and not the leading telecommunications provider in these isles,

Which is my pocket money done for this month, but at least I didn't spend it all on sweets Grandma

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