Friday, 28 June 2019

'In risu veritas'*

Mark Twain is quoted as saying, "Humor (sic) is the good-natured side of a truth." (I'm going with this quote on the subject, as Twain is American, rather than the possibly better-known 'many a true word is spoken in jest', that can be found in Chaucer and Shakespeare.)

While I hesitate to concede that Trump has a good-natured side, the idea that he can joke with Vladimir Putin about election meddling is a little worrying. The Democratic candidate debates have now started in the States, and Trump wants to have four more years - presumably he hasn't undermined the system quite to his personal satisfaction yet - so meddling from a country whose leader thinks that liberalism has had its day, that Trump is talented and that freedom needs to be limited to remain within the bounds of tradition, isn't something to joke about. We need progress from the kind of Stalinesque values Putin seems to hold so dear, not a regression back to them.

Meanwhile, on the same day, it is reported that Theresa May has told Putin there must be no further interference in the style of the Salisbury attack. Of course, Russia denies any involvement. One has to wonder if other interference - such as election [for which read 'referendum'] meddling would be acceptable. I haven't seen any report of Putin's view of Boris, though as someone who is perfectly happy with a personality cult and no problem with outright lying, he'd probably be happy if Boris won.

That's the Boris who says we're out of the EU on October 31st with or without a deal, and his cabinet will be made up of people who support a no-deal Brexit, an arrangement disliked by the banks and industry, quite apart from people who travel much. Though, let's face it, Jeremy isn't a whole lot better.

It's no wonder I'm grumpy and need to apologise unreservedly to anyone who had the misfortune to interact with me yesterday....

*Latin quote by James Joyce apparently, punning on 'in vino veritas'. A bit of bilingual knavery there!

Friday, 21 June 2019

Garden Invasion

I couldn't face writing about the main stories in the news this week, politician-laden as they are, so I thought I'd write about a higher life-form.

This wee beastie.

Not the best of photos, but I didn't want to get too close, and there was a certain amount of camera shake.

I was doing some gardening a few days ago (yes, it does happen, if not as frequently as it should) and was pulling out a load of sticky weed, or as I grew up calling it, lady's bedstraw, and noticed a number of these creatures. They looked like a cross between a scorpion and a caterpillar, and being very brightly coloured, I assumed they were toxic.

They are not aliens, contrary to any initial suspicions, but in fact (I believe, after some extensive research on google) are the larvae of the harlequin ladybird, a large and aggressive immigrant version of our own beloved ladybird. The harlequin ladybird, the internet reliably informs me, is larger and more orange than red, with less distinct spots. A little further perusing of the weeds found a couple of these adult versions, doubtless responsible for the outbreak of something that will probably inspire Hollywood and my nightmares.

(Now the etymologists among you entomologists will of course point out that 'alien' is from 'alia' as in other, from another place, so technically they are aliens. They certainly looked it.)

Alien or just aggressive invader, I wasn't having any of it, so some more ruthless weeding took place, in addition to some preemptive pruning wherever the little 'darlings' had settled. I'm sure they will enjoy the warmth of the composting bin. I could only find a couple this morning when I went searching with the camera app switched on, and this one was trying to do a bunk even as I snapped it.

Admittedly, I wasn't wearing my glasses, so it's possible the garden is laden with them. What chance the birds will snap them up as additional delicacies.....

Friday, 14 June 2019

When going to hospital makes you worse

There used to be signs up in the local GPs' surgery asking patients with 'flu to stay at home, rather than infecting other patients in the waiting room (they may still be there, but I haven't been to the doctor recently so don't know).

It's evidently a problem as people sit around waiting, that all their infectious/contagious conditions can be passed on via the magazines and toys that are supposed to provide entertainment. (I always take a book.) But you would have thought that a hospital would be better able to separate out such people, so that going to hospital generally got you better, rather than worse.

I can't comment on the rate of infection via hospital waiting areas. However, it is worrying that hospital food - so often the target of criticism for its poor quality as it is - can be a fatal source of infection.

The outbreak of illness related to hospital food reported here is potentially very widespread as the company involved supplies 43 NHS trusts across England. It seems to me that economies achieved by production on a very large scale simply result in lower employment across the country and a higher potential risk of problems. And that's before the quality of the meals is considered.

According to the article, the lines known to be affected have been withdrawn and production stopped, for now. But a number of people have died, others are very ill, and I know that if I am in the unfortunate position of being in hospital any time in the near future, I shall be asking for food parcels to be brought by my visitors.

Friday, 7 June 2019

Why I Find British Politics So Depressing

So today Theresa May finally sets aside the poison chalice that is the leadership of the Tory Party.

Except the really poisonous part, which she hangs on to until the leadership election is conducted and successfully concluded. Being Prime Minister, while we dither over the terms of Brexit.

I don't understand why anyone in their right mind would actively want to be Prime Minister at any time, let alone now when the country is so completely divided. You might have thought that the arrival of Donald Trump would at least unite the country in our loathing of him, but no, Nigel and Boris looked positively delighted to see him.

And the leadership contest continues to rival the Brexit Catastrophe for laughability as the number of candidates is far greater than the number of Tory MEPs. They've had to change the rules to stop it become a total cascade of candidates.

While Theresa May has been leader of the Tory Party, the nation has been dominated by Brexit. Our MPs have been distracted from local issues - such as the completely unnecessary Oxford-Cambridge Expressway - by something that should never have been placed in the hands of the uninformed electorate in the first place. There has been no leadership.

As for the next leader, Boris appears to be the front-runner, a man described by Donald Trump as a friend and a 'great man', although he doesn't seem to be quite so popular within the ranks of his former colleagues in parliament. He probably has his own private health care, so if he is chosen, Trump will doubtless raise the subject again of US interference in the NHS as an integral part of any trade deal.

Our inability to look beyond party politics and some individuals' desire for power is breaking the country. The people who will suffer are those who are powerless to purchase a way out.

Sunday, 2 June 2019

Serving a higher cause

There was a slight hiccup in the posting of blog entries as I have been part of the production team behind BCOS' most recent show, Evita. It's kept me busy (and sane!) but in a good way. Even though last year's show, Chess, was a huge success critically and hardly made a loss so that we thought Evita couldn't rival it, it did.

Much of this is down to the people involved - cast, crew, Front of House supporters and others. Whether it was spending spare minutes on Saturday from work to purchase additional supplies for the Front of House, or learning both a chorus part and a principal role in case the leading lady was ill, there is such dedication to the show over and above personal wants, that between us, we pulled off an astonishing piece of theatre that played to virtually full houses of very happy, extremely complimentary people.

Putting something else first, above personal wants, is something that a number of politicians could try. There are too many jokes doing the rounds about the number of Tory party leadership candidates for it to be funny. If only some of those in parliament could try to put the needs of the country first, instead of their party or their own greed for power (naming no names, Mr Johnson), we wouldn't be in the mess we're currently in.

When the bookies' front runners are endorsed by Donald Trump, you know we're in trouble.