Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Guilty pleasures ...

There seems to be something inherently wrong about enjoying yourself whilst the world is doing its best to tear itself to pieces. The UK is in turmoil with possibly the least competent and likeable (and nobody can mention "charismatic") politicians in my lifetime lying and making impossible promises, whilst the rest of Europe cannot quite believe the mess the British have got themselves into. Add in to the mix terrorist outrages, the continuing drownings in the Mediterranean Sea, Turkey (and that one word says it all) and the unbelievable Trump posturing around Europe, and it seems at face value that all is bad.

We went out for a drink yesterday afternoon and were hailed by a couple I recognised but can hardly call as friends - more casual acquaintances, and friends of friends. Ann went over to say hello. She is suffering from a brain tumour, and has been given months to live. He, quite understandably, looked a hundred years older than I remembered him. And yet, there they were, living life to the fullest extent they could.

It was a sobering experience and made coming home to enjoy ourselves all the more poignant. We had gin and tonic by the pool, a quite delicious lunch of cold, roast chicken, salad and the best-tasting potato salad I can remember (made even better by Ann picking some spearmint she had planted). After that we sat on the steps of the pool, until I decided that I just had to go in for a swim. Encouraged by Ann, (who refused to let me dawdle as I came to terms with the water temperature) I swam a few lengths and dried off in the sunshine.

It was a lovely couple of hours to end an interesting day, but in the back of my mind, I felt slightly guilty enjoying myself when surrounded by some much doom and gloom. I read recently that you should live every day as if it is your last, and perhaps the writer was correct. No one knows when the number 52 bus is just around the corner.

Sunday, 14 May 2017

"Mind your language"

Like many people I use Facebook as there are a number of groups on there I interact with, and - for example - my IPTV provider uses a closed group to answer technical problems with certain channels. I often read these posts, as my knowledge increases by seeing how other problems are resolved. Unfortunately, being Facebook, there is the ability for people to comment on other peoples' posts.

I posted the other day about the HD version of a channel, and pointed out that the definition was too high to play smoothly on my television, which only played at a maximum of 720 dpi, rather than proper HD which is 1080 dpi. The first comment was "For fuck's sake, get with the programme." It took me a few minutes to work out what this guy was referring to, and this was helped by the next post. "Christ, don't be such a fucking tight wad. HD TVs are as cheap as chips." There were other posts in a similar vein, almost all using somewhat robust language.

In any event it caused me to think about the way bad language has permeated all levels of society, from the Duke of Edinburgh telling a photographer "Just take the fucking picture" to the poorly educated who commented about my television set. What a great shame for all who value the English language and the English way of life. I can remember a headmaster telling the boys at a school where I taught about bad language. He explained that it was a fact of life that people swore. As I remember he told them that when he hit his thumb with a hammer he did not just say "Oh bother". He was telling impressionable schoolboys that there should be a legitimate reason for using bad language.

I went back to Facebook and read random comments made in other groups. Many, many posters were almost functionally illiterate and could not construct a meaningful sentence. Yes ... I do understand that this is social media and that "text speak" is all the rage. But ... I cannot decide whether this makes me an old fogey or not. On balance I swear when the metaphorical hammer hits my thumb. The decision, as they say, is yours.

Sunday, 7 May 2017

UK Politics ... what a shambles ...

I have often written about my dissatisfaction with politicians, irrespective of party, and their mendacious and amoral approach to their "jobs". Never has this been more apparent than in the last couple of years. It is apparent that expenses are still a trough into which many MPs dig their snouts, just having to be slightly more circumspect about their accounting. In fact I often wonder how MPs manage find the time to sit on committees, take part in debates and look after the interests of their constituents whilst milking the taxpayer.

The decision to call a General Election was absolutely correct if (setting aside what is best of the country) your sole purpose is to stay in power. Any Prime Minister in living memory would have called an election if their main opposition was in such a parlous state. The prospects of a landslide will only benefit the occupants of the Westminster "bubble" and will not improve the situation for anyone else. I despair to see an opposition that is totally unable to land any sort of meaningful blow on the government, although the right wing media would not let us, the voters, see it even if it happened.

We are, as expats, part of that group that are - or may be - used as bargaining chips by either side. In the same way the three million EU citizens living and mainly working in the UK are in a similar position. How dare the politicians who are elected (and that has nothing to do with the EU bureaucracy) to serve us take that approach. It would seem that citizens count for very little in modern Britain. No doubt politicians sleep well at night, if only due to the exhaustion they must all be feeling as they fill out more expenses' claims.

Where are the men and women of honour I remember from my youth who put the UK and its citizens first, second and third? I can remember Sir Alec Douglas Home resigning in 1964 after suffering a narrow election defeat and his humility and honesty have stayed with me to this day. When I look back at Blair, Brown, Cameron and May ... I am filled with loathing.

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Bee eaters ...

It is one of the most evocative sounds at this time of the year when the bee eaters arrive in Argaka to herald what they consider to be the start of summer. Not only do they sound like no other birds do, but they are indescribably beautiful. When you watch as they wheel overhead it is as if the whole of the rainbow is on display. One of the things we have both done in the last few years is to take much more notice of the wildlife here. And the lizards are so much bigger than they were in Bexhill ...

Ann's birthday is approaching fast and I trust she will have thrown off this bug that has afflicted us both, and left us with little or no energy. We drove to Paphos yesterday, and I had to hang around for a couple of hours waiting for Ann. So hardly an energetic morning but, by the time I had driven back home, it felt as if I had run the marathon. So fingers crossed that we shall be able to celebrate on 12th, especially as we have been invited to another friend's birthday on the 11th.

Watching the farce that is the UK election on television has been hilarious and depressing at the same time. I cannot remember such an inept and hapless bunch of "politicians" in my life, and I refer to all sides here. Dianne Abbott's interview on the radio was hilarious and reminded me of that Green Party leader a couple of years ago who could hardly remember her own name, so confused was she. Taken together with Mrs May's obvious dislike of chips by the seaside (Ed Miliband eat you heart out), and the entire BBC news broadcast could have been from Spitting Image or Monty Python.

We are not a million miles away from being able to apply for permanent residency in Cyprus, after five years' of living here. Apart from the paper trail required, it is apparently a much simpler and less expensive process than applying for nationality (and you have to lived here for seven years). So come the Autumn we need to sort that out just in case our thoughtless politicians upset the EU even more in the coming years. So fingers crossed for that.

Monday, 1 May 2017

Strong and stable ...

What an enormous farce is the General Election campaign in the UK at the moment. If it was not so sad I could easily imagine that the Tory election strategy ("strong and stable" and "coalition of chaos") was part of a televised satire from Monty Python. If you want a laugh (before you cry) check out the YouTube video of Mrs May being interviewed by Andrew Marr on Sunday morning. I have never seen such a farcical response from any elected leader. It is almost as ridiculous as Alex Salmond being interviewed with reference to educational attainment - or the lack of it - in Scotland.

We are slowly recovering from the nasty bug that has afflicted us for some time now. I am much better but Ann has a little way to go before she is free of the coughs and lethargy. We are pottering around the house and just saving our strength at the moment as we have a trip to Paphos tomorrow which cannot be put off.

The cats continue to moult and it would be possible to vacuum twice a day if we desired. Sitting on the terrace the other evening we saw and heard the first arrival of the bee-eaters, which always herald the coming of summer. They tend to sit on the electricity cables on the field opposite and then swoop and warble as if the is no tomorrow. I assume the few we saw were the advance guard and so we await the arrival of the main party. Such beautiful birds and such an evocative sound ...