Tuesday 14 Mar

 

Where have my friends gone?


I’ll tell you. France, Germany, Spain, New Zealand, etc! The reason? No, it’s not because they want to get away from me, it’s because they all said they want a better life for themselves and their children.

This country is finished they told me. My young nephew, together with his wife and three young children are the latest of my relations to go. They bought a house by proxy in Auckland, New Zealand, three months ago and moved. Before they even got there he was offered three good jobs and now he’s working as a cabinet maker and French polisher [his trade] for a well known hand-made furniture company. Whereas he was unemployed in England, because people here now buy more flat-pack cheap furniture than good quality goods. He was finding life here was increasingly awful and difficult. He couldn’t even get a job sweeping the roads because of all the cheap labour that this Government is importing.

ExpatsEarly last year two families from our little town moved to France and bought a run-down farm in Normandy between them and are now busy renovating it. In one of their emails to me they said, “The world is not a very happy place today but here in rural France, lost in the woods and surrounded by very kind people, deer, beautiful birds and countryside, we live a happy and contented life”. He also mentioned that the children enjoy going to school over there, whereas it was a difficult job to get them to go to school here.

Already this year I have been to the farewell party of another couple from my married days, he was my best man, who are moving to Bavaria, Germany, to be with his wife’s relations. She is German by birth.

I would love to move away from this country that I once loved in my younger days. It has now become a crime ridden hell-hole. Along with other people I know I dare not go into the city after dark because of the gangs roaming the streets.

I left it too late to emigrate. Most countries wont accept old, burnt out people because we would just be a burden, not being able to contribute to their economy we would be just be a drain on it.

AFTERTHOUGHT: It seems that hundreds of Brits are moving to France now, in particular to the Dordogne valley. According to the papers some ex-pats are getting together and buying whole villages that are derelict and setting up their own communities (Ghettos?). They are all seeking the laid back life style that France is so famous for, but I think if they don’t make the effort to integrate with the indigenous population and learn their language and culture, then they are going to destroy the very thing they went to France for.

The ex-pats should realise that they are the foreigners in another country now. I spend a lot of time in France (I have family there) and I can see the resentment in the faces of the French when a crowd of Brits stand chatting in English in the bars and shops. The French accept you if you speak to them in their own language and join in with community events etc.

When I’m there and a Brit ex-pat asks in English if I’m British I just shrug my shoulders and say “Moi? Je suis français. Je ne vous comprends pas”. and walk away, sniggering.


Old Git Wit: Once you have accumulated enough knowledge to get by, you are too old to remember what it was.

Friday 7 Feb

Today I was on a bus travelling to Leicester, the nearby big city, to do some shopping.

Sitting opposite me was a respectable looking gentleman, smartly dressed with highly polished shoes looking for all the world like he had just stepped out of a high class tailors shop. I noticed that he was totally engrossed in his book.

It was the book that caught my attention, I just couldn’t believe it. It was “Mein Kampf” by Adolf Hitler with a picture of said gent next to a swastika on the front cover. He glanced up briefly whilst turning a page and saw me looking at him “Do I know you?” he enquired. “No”, I replied,”I was just wondering why you were reading such a controversial book in public, that’s more than I dare do!”

He left his seat and crossed over to sit next to me. “It’s not what it appears to be,” he said softly, “I’m actually reading ‘Lolita’ by Vladimir Nabokov and I don’t want people to think that I’m just a dirty old man, so I stuck this cover over the lurid picture of Lolita on the front of the book. I would rather people think that I’m a neo-Nazi instead!” He showed me the text and sure enough it was the book he described; I know because I read it when I was at school.

miss-tiggy-winkleWith that he smiled, returned to his seat and continued reading.

I thought that was a brilliant idea and planned to do the same thing next time I travel on the bus. I could stick a fake cover, like ‘Das Kapital’ by Karl Marx complete with the hammer and sickle on the cover of my favourite book and read it quite openly in public without the people knowing that it’s really ‘The tale of Mrs Tiggy Winkle’ by Beatrix Potter.

Monday 27 Jan

Today is Holocaust Remembrance Day in the UK. Our local church is organising a remembrance service and this evening there is a dinner with a speaker who claims to be a survivor of Auschwitz camp.

Although I don’t doubt that there was a Holocaust, but there are one or two things that puzzle me about it. We all know that the Germans are very methodical in everything they do, good or bad, and in Nazi Germany they kept records of practically everything to do with the time they were in power and during the WWII.

For instance every Jew, Gypsy, Dissenter, Jehovahs Witnesses and other undesirables were documented either before or after they arrived at the concentration camps. All the Jews had to give details of property and money they owned, what their trade or job was, family details etc. These details were entered into ledgers and other documents against a number and the number was then tattooed on their arm. Now if the Nazis intention was to gas them or kill them anyway it seemed a bit pointless to document them as this could be used as evidence against them in the future, and was. This is true because the Russians released all the paperwork they had managed to retrieve before the Germans had time to destroy it. Some of this paperwork is on display at the Memorial Museum.

There is a lot more about the Holocaust I cant get my head round, but I wont bore you any more with this topic. It happened, and now it’s over and just another part of history. Like so many things in the past, we will never know what really happened.

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Today I decided to clear out all the rubbish in the outhouse to make room for all my new rubbish, sorry, junk. Junk is useful, rubbish is not.

I took several carloads of black bin bags to the local rubbish tip “Refuse and Recycle Unit” as it is now called. It’s an amazing place, there are huge containers marked “Garden Waste”, “Domestic Waste” (for landfill), “Electronic Equipment”, “Scrap Metal”, “Paper & Cardboard”, “Flat Glass”, “Recyclable Waste” (?), and the most appalling one, “Organic Waste”.

waste-foodThat one was overflowing with waste food, some of which still looked perfectly edible. My guess is that it came from local supermarkets, because a lot of it was still in those plastic containers they use. There were bananas, apples (still in plastic bags), prepacks of potatoes. onions, carrots etc. When something goes a day past it’s estimated ‘use-by-date’ it’s considered unconsumable and thrown out. I couldn’t get close enough to read the labels to see which supermarket it came from.

Disgusting, when you think that nearly half the world are on a starvation diet. To make matters worse, most of the dumped fruit and vegetables are probably grown in the third world countries and then imported here for us to waste.

Sunday 19 Jan

~~~~~~Very early, about 10 am ~~~~~~

Today I decided to do a few odd jobs around the house that had been pending for quite a while. I am one of those people who keep a “To Do” list on the kitchen notice board, sick I know, but with a brain like mine you need something to remind you.

Now, where was I, oh yes, I was going to catch up on the more urgent jobs like washing the cat’s dishes; I should imagine she’s fed up with the dried up remains of last weeks meals stuck all over them.

Then there’s “Sweep the chimneys”. No, I don’t think so, maybe some other day. “Repair the ironing board”, noooooo, I don’t think so, then it would mean I would have to iron the enormous pile of shirts, sheets, unmentionables and socks. “Clean out the fridge”, well, it doesn’t smell too bad, and after 4 years it can’t get any worse; I’ll leave it until the cheese walks out in protest.

I know! I’ll make something to eat, like a nice salad and some bread. There’s some tomatoes in the fridge, a bit elderly though, and some onions if I cut off the long green shoots, a wrinkly cucumber, and some fresh parsley on the windowsill.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Later ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

It didn’t turn out too bad (1). Then I made the bread (4) just to try out some wholemeal flour (3) my friends had brought back from their holiday abroad; the rainy and windswept Isle of Wight. I can’t say I was impressed with the quality, because I wasn’t; it didn’t rise properly. I think it must have been well matured before she bought it because it tasted VILE. Groo!
montage
1) Tomato, cucumber and onion salad with fresh parsley and a French style vinegrette.
2) My everyday white bread, made as a ‘bunloaf’*.
3) The wholemeal flour my friend brought me from the Isle of Wight.
4) The bunloaf, or sample if you like, I made from the wholemeal flour.

* ‘Bunloaf’ – Bigger than a Bun, but Littler than a Loaf.

Monday 13 January

my-journalWhen I designed this blog my intention was to dedicate it to articles about handwriting and calligraphy. Then I checked around the Internet and found hundreds of blogs and static pages doing just what I had intended to do, and no doubt there are thousands more that I don’t know about so I decided to use this blog for something else.

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When I was in the Army I always kept diaries and journals and having got into the habit I carried on writing up to the present day. I’m the only one who ever reads them and I keep them away from prying eyes. Just as well because some of the entries are a bit too “flowery” to be made public and the evidence in them could be used against me and I would probably be blogging about “Life in Prison” now.

So I thought I would write about the daily life and tribulations of a typical old git with a mangy fat cat, who lives alone in a scruffy old house, and who the neighbours choose to ignore; in other words ME!

180px-The_Play_What_I_WroteNaturally I will leave out the Anglo-Saxon words so as to not to offend the sensitivity of any ladies who might stumble upon this blog whilst looking for Mills and Boon romantic novels.

I don’t profess to be a master of the correct use of grammar, and sometimes I write like what Ernie Wise did, and I have been known to make smelling pistakes occasionally.

So without further ado, just what have I done today? I had planned on making some bread so I laid out my stall. Let’s see now. . .flour, yes. . .warm water, yes. . . salt, yes. . .pinch of sugar, yes. . .mixer with dough hook, yes. . .proofing oven on, yes. . .yeast?. . .Oh NO! I forgot to buy some.

I’ll just go to the shop and get some instant yeast. Yes, that’s what I’ll do. Won’t take five minutes.

[RING RING] Oh for F . . . Heavens sake! Who can that be? Opening the door I was greeted by “Hi Keith, I wonder if you could do me a favour?” That was it, I was trapped. I let her in and we spent about three hours searching the Internet for some wool of a certain green she needed for a project; something like a cross between Lincoln Green and Squashed Frog poo. Needless to say I couldn’t find anything and she accused me of not trying, and stormed out. I shouted “Be off with you then wench, and don’t slam the d [Bang!] oor. . . too late!”

Ah well, there’s always tomorrow to make my bread. In the meantime I just have to have some ginger cake with my tomato soup.

‘ave a nice day, y’all.