Ok lets get the bad news out of the way. The economy is in a terrible mess, the housing market has fell through the floor, companies are crashing by the minute and jobs are being lost on a spectacular scale. The weather is cold grey and foggy, terrorist attacks all over the world are increasing and most of the people I know are feeling lower than at any time I can remember. I have as I write, a raging hangover and the housework is piling up. You would wonder what there is to write about!
Well even in these uncertain and gloomy times there are a few rays of sunshine about. For instance Commander Riker and me have gone on a health kick. We have finally come to realise that chips with tomato sauce do not count as two of your five portions of veg a day. With this in mind I went shopping for our dinner one day last week during our lunch break. I came back with a bag of fried chicken for protein, a couple of steak pies for carbohydrates and a salad box filled with tuna and pasta covered in salad cream to give it some flavour. The only thing that could have made this healthy wholesome dinner even better was to wash it down with a couple of pints of ice cold Becks but as we were both in work we declined. I have also discovered that a glass of fresh orange juice with juicy bits in it counts as one portion of your five a day. This means that five glasses of Gin and orange a day should have me in the peak of condition very soon! If only my chief partner in crime and best drinking buddy, the Tiler was here then we could support the flagging drinks industry, put more money in the chancellor’s coffers and become healthy.
News arrived from the Traveller who is working in Oz and he is settling in very nicely. He is due to come home in January for a few weeks; boy is he in for a shock. Captain Pugwash rang me the other night; it was the first time I have spoken to him in almost six months. I can report he is in rude health and we are going to meet up one night during the coming week. The Beancounter and I are going along to Sophia Loren’s house for an advent meal. If it is anything like the meal she prepared for Lent then my whole health kick is going to go out of the window within a matter of days. Speaking of which I have managed to tidy up a lot of the photo’s that SL gave to me from Halloween and as soon as time allows I will put them in the gallery with a link to them. I will also try and tidy up some of the many photos taken from Bonfire night and do the same.
Last Night Roger Moor arrived with a bottle of Jim Beam (it is the reason I have a hangover). I could not let the poor man drink it all by himself and so with my help we dispensed of the said bottle. During an evening of talking bollocks about a great range of topics we ventured onto English grammar and particularly the use of the apostrophe. It has appeared to me that the use of correct grammar has sadly declined and just two of the many reasons are the use of text speak and the Microsoft dictionary. This then begs the question should we bother at all with the apostrophe? Very few people get it right and even when you do Microsoft tells you it isn’t. It is actually a hot topic with many younger people dispensing with it altogether and a lot of English teachers sadly shaking heads. My guess is that it will die out within a couple of generations with only scholars using it, a bit like Latin. No one uses it anymore except for professionals who like to slip in the odd phrase to make then seem more knowledgeable than the average prole. In short it will die a death or possibly intereo mortalitas.
It’s been a fairly hectic past two weeks, starting off with a Halloween party and barbecue in the garden. This was fairly well attended with all the usual suspects, Bean Counter, The Beast, now known as The Animal due to the discovery of certain unpleasant connotations associated with that name, Sophia Loren and her mum and Roger Moor. Bowls of chilli, stew and a stream of burgers were rustled up by Commander Riker and Ted Magnum to feed the hordes. The photographs would have been brilliant save for the smoke from the fire pit and barby.
Fast forward a few days and it appeared as though the world was on tenterhooks awaiting the outcome of the most powerful man in the world, the incoming president of America. He is the first black man to become the new resident in chief of the Whitehouse, Barrack Oboma. This was followed the next evening by our very own tradition of Bonfire night in which we Brits celebrate the failed attempt to blow up the houses of parliament in 1605. Who knows what the world would have looked like if Guy Fawkes and his co-conspirators had of succeeded. However the Ghastanbury posse celebrated in style with an enormous bonfire and enough fireworks and explosives to start a small war in Central America and of course heaps of food and the odd beer or two. Congratulations to RM and his other half for a fantastic spread.
The Driver came to see me on Saturday gone and he stayed for a couple of nights while we put the world to rights. That brings me up to today which as we all know is the anniversary of the end of the Great War. There are only three men left alive in the UK that fought in that terrible conflict. Who knows how much longer we will be fortunate enough to have their company as living reminders of mans inhumanity to man and the ultimate triumph of good over evil?
Whilst watching the commemorations on TV I started thinking about world events today and the similarities with 96 years ago, two years before the start of World War 1. Europe was in the grip of a financial meltdown with right wing parties across Europe vying for power and the arms race that ensued allowing countries to take part in the war. It is not hard to see the comparisons with the 1930’s. Financial meltdown, particularly bad in Germany due to the terms of the Versai treaty, the rise of the far right in Europe, Franco, Hitler, Mussolini and mass production of ordnance and armaments in Germany.
Now let us stop for a moment and look at early years of the 21st century. Worlwide financial meltdown, an insurgence of the far right in Europe and whilst not yet a threat they are certainly growing. The comparisons are not favourable, but, with all we have learned from the last 100 years, they would not do it again would they?
Château Ghastanbury has at times resembled grand central station with so many people arriving and phoning over the last few weeks. I am not grumbling mind but it is one of the reasons for so few blog entries of late. As usual many things have got my goat recently, not least the fact that ticket touts inflate the prices of tickets required by Joe Public. For example, last week tickets for the ACDC Black Ice Tour went on sale at 9am. By 9-20am the box office for the venues had sold out and only promotion companies had any for sale at all. My usual port of call, “master of tickets” (made up name naturally) was selling tickets with a face value of £40 for almost £180 each and merely one hour after being on sale.
This represents an absolutely monstrous profit but worse still is the fact that so many vendors had managed to obtain tickets at short notice at the expense of Joe Public. When will tickets be sold to the people that actually want to buy them and isn’t it about time that concert tickets, like airline tickets had to be purchased with some form of identity and that identity shown when entering the arena? Such a simple action would at a stroke stop profiteers from buying tickets they have no intention of using to sell on ebay or to unscrupulous touts who wish to make an obscene profit from honest fans. I have no problem with people making a profit from a commodity that supply far outstrips demand for but touts and tickets agencies are up there with solicitors and estate agents and I suppose these day’s bankers. Vultures with a human face!
There is almost a happy ending; I managed to acquire tickets in the end but not for any venue in this country. With tickets for the MEN going for £180 each it was cheaper to buy tickets for Paris with a night’s accommodation thrown in. The cost of the tickets for Paris? £179 each. It has taken some time to warm to the new Album from ACDC with the tour of the same name but I am getting there. There is not one track that leaps out and grabs you with the same ferocity that “Whole lotta Rosie” did nor “Back in black” to name a few but the whole album is starting to grow on me. By the day of the concert I expect to know them word perfect.
Summer has finally bowed out and the clocks have gone back bringing short days and long nights. Sadly it has been accompanied by a dramatic drop in temperatures and for the first time in what seems like ages I have had to switch on my central heating. Naturally such actions have had me turning green with envy at the thought of friends far away in sunnier climes. Friends of over 20 years standing have recently moved to Spain to run a coffe bar in Camposol Spain. It is called the Costa Café and Tearoom and naturally it based in Camposol on the east cost of Southern Spain. As soon as I obtain more details I will post them here for any one who wants to pop in and try the menu. I wish them all the best and if you are in the area and passing, pop in and let the hard working staff behind the counter know Smokehouse sent you. The Traveller is now working in Oz and from the sounds of it may well obtain an extended work permit and perhaps a living permit. Will I ever see him again? Who knows but if our positions were reversed I would not be coming back!
The big news is that I am to become a great uncle. Well not exactly, but Little Miss Sunshine’s daughter is pregnant and as I am an honorary uncle to the daughter it follows I would a great uncle to granddaughter. I wish both mother and daughter the very best and all that they would wish for themselves. It never ceases to amaze me how many nephews and nieces I have. I seem to be the black sheep of the family, the one who is spoken about in whispered voices and never in front of the children! My extended family grows by the day.
Desperate times require desperate measures and the current economic situation has thrown what plans I had into complete disarray, so much so that I have taken to looking at alternative lifestyles and accommodation. With this in mind I have booked a short stay in a Yurt some time in the summer months of 2009. As well as being a break it will give me a chance to see if these dwellings live up to the reputation of the Mongols as being somewhere you can live in for years, completely waterproof and capable of withstanding temperatures of minus 35c whilst having a life span of 20 years or more. In short a glamorous tent which has coined the phrase Glamping.