2008 — 5 July: Saturday

While I wait for the Nick Cave / Jools Holland programme to finish slurping onto a hard drive, it's time for tonight's picture. It's from June 1982, when Peter was two and a twiddley bit, and had exactly the same platinum blonde hair colour that I did at his age. This was taken on one of our only visits to the Chandler's Ford lake:

Christa and Peter in June 1982

G'night at 00:19.

Is it really possible...

... that a World Bank report can be suppressed in this day and age to avoid embarrassing a certain about-to-be-replaced chap in Pennsylvania Avenue? Who could possibly care about his feelings? (Follow the money!1)

"It is clear that some biofuels have huge impacts on food prices," said Dr David King, the government's former chief scientific adviser, last night. "All we are doing by supporting these is subsidising higher food prices, while doing nothing to tackle climate change."

Quoted in The Guardian

Meanwhile, the Gulf can sell its oil at record prices and keep its own air conditioners running by burning far cheaper imported coal. "Per capita energy consumption in the Emirates is six times higher than the global average and a third more than even the US average". (Source.)

Amazing what you can miss while gently rambling around amidst the butterflies in Selborne. Oh well, soon be time to saddle up the non-biofuelled Yaris and buy another mouthful of fuel for me, while I can still afford it. "The cost of living for pensioners has increased by more than that for all households during the period, particularly in the last five years," said Martin Ellis, chief economist at Clerical Medical. (Source.) But shoes and clothing are cheaper... What a world! (A world in which even Socrates gets misquoted, it seems.)

I know nothing; I'm from Barcelona! (I didn't even know, until I read the obituary2 for Charles Wheeler, that his daughter Marina is Mrs Boris [London mayor] Johnson, for example.) Time (12:07) for a bite or two, I guess.

If a protected deposit of £35K covers 96% of accounts and a proposed increase of that limit to £100K would cover about 97% of accounts, there are quite a few extremely cash-rich folk knocking around. I'm listening — don't ask me why — to the BBC's Moneybox programme. It was always Christa's choice, but rarely mine.

Junior's just rung to let me know he's a lot better, and is now strolling around Covent Garden shopping. Lucky lad!

Pacified inner man and pacifist thoughts

In homage to niece #1 (whose DNS woes in Italy are sorted out) I've just polished off a mixture of meatballs and spaghetti.

I was also earlier prompted (having heard about the work of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission on Sandi Toksvig's Excess Baggage programme) to do a quick search and then email my genealogically-inclined sister-in-law down in New Zealandland with the name of a presumed relative. I was right. In fact, Lis has just sent me an article she wrote, so I now know a bit more about my great uncle William Stuart Mounce, who was killed on 6th August 1915: "Sadly he has no known grave but is commemorated by name on the Helles Memorial, Gallipoli," which names 20,763 dead. "Members of the Hampshire Regiment are mentioned on panels 125-134 of this memorial". The poor devil, a younger brother of my grandfather, was only 19. And how odd that I've lived for the last 27 years in the county whose Regiment he served. (We were both born in the Midlands.)

As Lis says, "I don't like war — but after learning about what he went through (and my own grandfather and great uncle) I have to acknowledge that they did a great service to their country." I couldn't agree more, Sis. Thank you.


I never realised what my 66p per year was buying. Fascinating. There is now an estimated funding backlog of £32 million in today's money... "This backlog relates to essential maintenance and does not include any allowance for projects such as the re-decoration of the State Rooms at Buckingham Palace, most of which were last re-decorated before The Queen's Reign". I fear (as a totally unreconstructed Republican) I host a related quotation from Edward VII himself from a letter he wrote on 21st March 1901 to "his" Chancellor Sir Michael Hicks-Beach.

Purely as an experiment...

... I dipped my shopping toes into some exotic fruit (viz. Black Velvet apricots). They look like slightly furry purplish plums, taste pretty much like "ordinary"3 apricots, and will not be featured in any future shopping. Most disappointing, even though reduced to a mere £2-49 for six of the blighters. One learns a little something every day.

I also treated myself (after all, it's pension day tomorrow, technically) to the Saturday edition of the Guardian. Again, I don't think I'll be repeating that experiment. The world seems to have gone completely barking mad while I wasn't paying attention in the last year or so. (Or maybe it's me?) And knowing what's coming up on the major broadcast channels doesn't make it any more appetising than the weird apricots. I shall have to remind myself of the Master's opinion of TV: "For appearing on, dear boy — not for watching."

Back to the far more reliable "Jazz record requests". And then time for yet more food, I guess. I phoned dear Mama, by the way (if you're reading this Bro, she'd like to know your travel plans) since I figured Peter's call cheered me up, so I could pass the favour along up the generational phone line, as it were. Well, all I can say is that at least the weekend calls are free. Tell me again, somebody, the advantages of extreme old age?



1  Today's snail mail assures me (in the form of an offer from the most aggressive of my credit card companies [its HQ is not too far from Washington, funnily enough]) that "when I call them" to transfer a card balance (do they mean debt?) to their card from one of the inferior ones I also hold, I will save money. Were I to tell them I have no credit card balances do you think I would cease to be a "valued client"?
2  A lovely comment from Jude Kirkham, Vancouver: If the BBC wants to honour the memory of this deserving journalist, then never ever have another piece on Paris Hilton.
3  According to "Love in a Farmer's Market": A pluot and an aprium are both second-generation apricot-plum hybrids. Crossing a plum with an apricot yields a "plumcot". Cross a plumcot back to a plum: that's a pluot. Cross a plumcot back to an apricot and you get an aprium. Closer to an apricot in size, with some of the apricot's fuzz, but sweeter than the sweetest apricot. The "black velvet apricot" is a variety of aprium with dark purple skin and very short fuzz.