Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas

This is a lovely article about a lovely unsentimental, sentimental song. Twenty five years ago. As you get older, time always surprises you. Another Christmas, another year. Have a good one.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

A ghost story

Telling tales about spooks and spirits is a Christmas tradition, so here is my contribution - a YouTube of a TV programme. It is a supposed investigation into a haunted house. It is terrible, absolute rubbish, it stinks.

My favourite moment is the one when, after the dodgy medium has been chuntering away throwing out guesses, the "historian" emerges from her eavesdropping and confirms that he has got a date right. Spooky! How on earth would anyone know the date of the English Civil War if they hadn't been told it by a dead catholic priest? After that they all sit in the dark, knock things over and scare each other. The only saving grace is that I am not sure how seriously all the participants took it. If they did, god help us!

But I love it. Because there are metaphorical ghosts there. They are my memories. This was my Uncle's house. I spent long childhood holidays there, together with a few family Christmases. It was derelict when he bought it and he spent the twenty years until his death in 1982 renovating it, embellishing it with some false flourishes that the film seemed to be particularly taken with.

I have slept in that four-poster bed many times and never been hauled out of it by a poltergeist. As for the "Cromwell Room", there were no flickering lights when I stayed there. And I used to like the cellars, they were light and airy with big windows to the front as the house is built into a hill.

There are no ghosts. We only have the science of human perception and a literary tradition. It is a tradition that has been associated with Christmas since Victorian times. So if you want to be seasonal, read the best, the ghost stories of M R James. But do remember they aren't real. And sleep tight.

Friday, December 19, 2014

The answer is ...

Back in Greece. The rain has been heavy and the citrus fruit is ripening. I have been doing some proper writing, so have neglected the blog. Sorry to my diminishing band of readers. To start me off again, here are three things to which there are no satisfactory answers.

1. If we want Members of Parliament to behave more like normal human beings, why do we moan when they do? I mean, who wouldn't play Candy Crush during a mind-numbingly boring meeting if they could?

2. If this country could make Fifty Shades of Grey a best seller, showing that we are perves and not prudes at heart, what on earth does the censorious establishment think it is doing drawing up an arbitrary list of practices that are to be banned from British porn, even if they are available everywhere on the internet? (And just what were those meetings like when they were drawing up their list?) At least it sparked the best protest ever, though only half the participants could speak out.

3. When we will see top football clubs treat their supporters with respect rather than an obedient cash cow? This report on the treatment of a Manchester United supporter who was the victim of extreme police brutality in Rome is shocking.
In the most shocking footage a woman in her early-20s is filming with her camera until a policeman snatches it and his colleagues wade in. Three hit her in the face. A fourth strikes her with his truncheon. She disappears and the legal documents filed by Imusa state that is her being flung down a stairwell …  
Trio Medusa went to Old Trafford to hand the woman a new camera loaded with goodwill messages, including Francesco Totti asking her not to be put off from visiting Rome again. “We would like to apologise for the treatment you received and we hope it has not damaged the opinion you and your fellow supporters have of our city,” Totti tells her. “We would also like to invite you back to the Olympic stadium and treat you as our special guest.” ...  
As for the woman who went to see her football team in the Eternal City and took a beating from the local police, she is Carly Lyes from Rusholme … and, when United did eventually get in contact, it was not in the circumstances you might imagine. In 2010, during protests about the club’s ownership, she lifted one of those banners that were popular at the time, saying “Love United, Hate Glazer”. She was thrown out and the club allege she was “disorderly”. Carly has been banned from Old Trafford for life.
The answer is a lemon.

Friday, December 05, 2014

A tribute

To the late Jeremy Thorpe. You have to be old enough to know what this is all about.

We had real political scandals in those days. MP's expenses - pah!