Turned Out Nice Again


I always say to my child, “…it’s good to have an eccentric parent, it’s character building and makes you more understanding of others’ foibles and motivations …”.  Generally, the Offspring responds positively to this (in public), but probably indulges in foul language and teeth grinding (in private) at Mother’s latest oddity.

On Saturday, the poor Offspring got both barrels on this one.

I should, first of all, point out, that I don’t think I’m eccentric, well, … not that much anyway.

Having read Chuchill’s amazing history of the Second World War, I couldn’t resist following up on other connected subjects, including music of the time.  I love the music of the 1940’s – toe-tapping, catchy, memorable or slushily sentimental, I’ve played it all.  Sadly, for the Offspring, much has been played in the car and whilst waiting for the school bus … Apparently,  it’s not cool to sing along to ‘Where can poor pa go in the blackout?’ at 8am in the morning.


On Saturday, the weather was foggy, so perfect for a trek around splendid Pendennis Castle.  If you’ve never been and you’re in Falmouth, take a detour up to the Castle.  The views are amazing (when the fog’s gone!) and immediately highlight the fortification’s strategic importance.

During the Second World War, gunnery was placed at the Castle to help protect Falmouth from both sea and air.  

And fortunately for us, lovely English Heritage who look after the Castle had chosen to engage historical re-enactment volunteers to teach visitors about what it took to train as a soldier and what life was like during the War.

At 1.30pm, we piled into the Education Room along with assorted children and adults for a talk on the Home Guard.   Fortunately, this included music of the time, which did not go down well with one member of the Family Unit.  Forced to sit at the front and listen to George Formby was almost more than flesh and blood could stand, but surely it couldn’t get worse?

After showing us how to make a Molotov Cocktail and then describing how it could be used to stop a tank, our enthusiastic teacher decided that it was time for the class to get involved, by singing a popular tune of the day.

Out came a board, with the words of the Offspring’s least favourite song:

(We’re Gonna Hang Out) The Washing on the Siegfried Line

Mother dear, I’m writing you from somewhere in France,
Hoping this finds you well.
Sergeant says I’m doing fine, a soldier and a half,
Here’s a song that we’ll all sing, it’ll make laugh!

We’re gonna hang out the washing on the Siegfried Line,
Have you any dirty washing, mother dear?
We’re gonna hang out the washing on the Siegfried Line,
‘Cause the washing day is here.

Whether the weather may be wet or fine,
We just rub along without a care!
We’re gonna hang out the washing on the Siegfried Line,
If the Siegfried Line’s still there!

We’re gonna hang out the washing on the Siegfried Line,
Have you any dirty washing, mother dear?
We’re gonna hang out the washing on the Siegfried Line,
‘Cause the washing day is here.

Whether the weather may be wet or fine,
We’ll just rub along without a care!
We’re gonna hang out the washing on the Siegfried Line,
If the Siegfried Line’s still there!

Everybody’s mucking in and doing their job,
Wearing a great big smile.
Everybody’s got to keep their spirit up today,
if you want to keep in swing,
Here’s a song to sing;

We’re going hang out the washing on the Siegfried Line,
Have you any dirty washing, mother dear?
We’re gonna hang out the washing on the Siegfried Line,
Why? ‘Cause the washing day is here.

Now whether the weather may be wet or fine,
Well we’ll just rub along without a care!
We’re going to hang out the washing on the Siegfried Line,
Well if the Siegfried Line’s still there!

Whether the weather may be wet or fine,
We’ll just rub along without a care!
We’re gonna hang out the washing on the Siegfried Line,
If the Siegfried Line’s still there!

All together now ….



(We’re Gonna Hang Out) The Washing on the Siegfried Line – Arthur Songwriters: Jerry Kennedy

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If Only They Didn’t Speak English


In my last post, I extolled the virtues of Bernstein and Wooward’s journalistic tour de force, All the President’s Men.

As a follow up, bring yourself up to date, with Jon Sopel’s If Only They Didn’t Speak English.

Sopel’s highly accessible book examines aspects of modern American society as it stands today and then reflects on the historical context, social change, legislation, recent events and other drivers, which have been instrumental in deriving the current state of play.

Sopel is uniquely placed to undertake this analysis, being both an outsider (British) and an insider (BBC News North American Editor) with access to the US political machinery at the highest level.

Guns, race, religion, patriotism and the government are all covered, but the golden thread throughout the whole, remains the impact of Donald Trump’s elevation to the role of US President in 2016.

Trump’s disrupting influence continues to be felt in all sectors of US society, and beyond, into the wider international community.  Brash and frequently incoherent, his attitude to women, thoughts on other countries and approach to international diplomacy are viewed by some as refreshing or honest, but by many, with horror and consternation.  The essentially, protectionist stance of his ‘America First’ policy has wide implications for Americans, key allies and trading partners.

Sadly, a key casualty of all of this is probably the ‘Special Relationship’ between the UK and US.  Whilst the two countries have a close history, the Special Relationship usually refers to the close bond forged by Churchill and Roosevelt during the dark days of World War II.  The relationship was always warmly reciprocated by the UK, who probably had more in common with its transatlantic neighbour than a French-German dominated Europe.

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All The President’s Men


On 9 August 1974, I probably wasn’t thinking about much, other than what kind of bike I might get for Christmas (yes folks, Christmas planning starts early for this kid).  If I’d paid any attention to the news, I’d have learnt that Richard Milhous Nixon had resigned as the 37th President of the United States.  

Whilst this shocking and unheard of event passed me by in 1974, a perusal of Katharine Graham’s The Pentagon Papers, followed by Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward’s epic, Pullitzer prize winning journalism, collated in their book All the President’s Men, soon put me straight, highlighted the continued and abiding importance of such investigations and the freedom of the press.

Both works focus on the Nixon administration’s actions and modus operandi, during and following two key events: the publication of the Pentagon Papers (initially by the New York Times and subsequently by the Washington Post and others) and the reporting of the break in at the Democratic party offices in the Watergate complex on 17 June 1972.

Watergate proved to be quite literally the tip of the iceberg for the administration, with a dark, dangerous mass of unethical and criminal behaviour hidden below the waterline, finally exposed by persistent efforts from the Washington Post, ultimately supported by other journalists and finally, by the legal-politico system.

Marking the 40th anniversary of Watergate, an afterword has been added to All the President’s Men and this poses the suggestion that Nixon fought five wars during his five and a half year presidency, which can be summarised as:

  • The war against the antiwar movement.
  • The war on the news media.
  • The war against the Democrats.
  • The war against the justice system.
  • The war on history (which arguably continued up to his death, with differing versions of events still being mooted).

Its often stated that history repeats itself.  Whether you believe it or not, head to the library dig out Bernstein, Woodward and Graham, read, then switch on your favourite US news channel …and compare.

Posted in Media, Politics, Reading | Tagged | 1 Comment

All About Eve

21F7E2F9-BAB4-46D5-960A-5498EE186C1CIf you’re trawling through the schedules, at a loss what to watch tonight, then search for Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s masterpiece, All About Eve.

Released in 1951, to critical acclaim (15 Academy Award nominations and winner in 6 categories, including Best Picture and Best Director), the film charts the rise and rise of an ambitious would be actress, who skilfully inserts herself into the life of a theatrical diva, then moves on, using, and abusing, relationships to get to the big time.

Anne Baxter plays the Machiavellian upstart, Eve, but the show belongs to Bette Davis, who is pitch perfect as the aging theatrical superstar, Margo Channing.  In her hands, the script’s cracking dialogue is smart, sassy and fun.

Marilyn Monroe debuts as Miss Casswell, but she hardly registers in the face of Davis’ assured, wise-cracking, rapid fire line delivery.

“Fasten your seat belts, it’s going to be a bumpy night”  

… for viewers, maybe.  But for Miss Davis, it’s a walk in the park.

Want a quote? 


Want a Wiki?






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Wanted: Scorpion Expert

CB229941-E24E-4042-BFD0-616BA10DC078Whilst its always good to interact with birds, animals and people whilst on vacation, some interactions are better than others.  This little fellow was having a doze in a shirt that had been left outside on our patio.  Unfortunately, he wasn’t found until the shirt was on and he was rudely woken up, at which point he took his revenge on the wearer in the usual way.

Having spent an hour googling various combinations of “… Dominican Republic, scorpians, stings, treatment, symptoms, go to hospital??…” we got precisely nowhere in either identifying the miscreant or in deciding if we should be heading for the nearest medical facility.

Fortunately, my husband has not suffered from foaming at the mouth any more than ususal, so we have assumed all is well…and the scorpion?  He remains anonymous.


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The Holiday Diary of a Brit Abroad


In 1892, George and Weedon Grossmith picked up pen and paper and crafted a masterpiece: the fictitious diary of Charles Pooter, a City clerk.  The journal is packed with hilarious anecdotes, vignettes and goings on (or should that be ‘gowing’s on’?) from the daily life of lower middle class surburbia, which is laid bare in all it’s glory, including the Pooter family’s holiday trip to ‘good old Broadstairs’.

So, in the spirit of holiday diary keeping, here’s my diary for Thursday, 23rd August 2018.  Location? A hotel in The Dominican Republic.

6am.  Awake early, as usual.  Doesn’t my body clock remember it’s supposed to be on holiday?

7.30am.  Oh bugger, still awake.  Everyone else is still asleep.

8.00am.  OK, I’m getting up.  I need café descafeinado (mucho). And breakfast.

[Off to hotel restaurant.  Pulls on grubby shorts and other assorted clothes from bottom of wardrobe, first, obviously].

8.10am.  Breakfast.  Why is it that restaurants make you feel like an epic loser if you have a meal on your own? All the other place settings are ripped away from your table because you are a sad loner with no friends or family.  Quick breakfast required after that welcome.  Speedy exit. 

8.30am.  Off to coffee shop. Massive queue.  Fortunately, staff are now used to me ordering 3 large coffees and don’t baulk at my order any more.

8.45am.  Back to room.

Boil on patio, reading and drinking coffee stash.  It’s hot, hot, hot.  No sign of movement from rest of Family Unit.

10.00am. Finally! The Offspring staggers out of bed and wants breakfast.

10.30am. Back to restaurant again for second breakfast.  Better now, as I have people with me, so am not in ‘losers corner’.

11.00am Coffee shop again for second epic coffee order.

11.15am. Back to room.  Me, to carry on reading.  Family Unit, to do whatever they do with iPads, while I read from my book pile, do cryptic crosswords and peruse edifying information on USA Today.

1.30pm.  Family Unit now sufficiently together to start getting ready to go to beach.  Temperature outside? Enough to melt rocks, but mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the mid-day sun, so let’s get to it.

2.30pm.  Finally, leaving the room for the beach.  How can it take so long to fill a small bag with suncream and a few bits and bobs?

2.40pm.  Beach, sea, swim. At last.

6pm. Return to room.  Have a rest.  Today’s been exhausting.

6.30pm.  Get ready to go out for dinner.  Will be eating at a restaurant on the beach, so put on shorts, rather than nice dress.  Spend time bickering with family.  

7.30pm.  Finally leave room, for the 200m walk to restaurant.  No time for pre-dinner ‘relaxing’ drink, as everyone is ‘starving’, in spite of hot dogs/nachos eaten whilst on beach.

7.45pm.  Dinner.  More random bickering that passes for conversation in our household.

10.15pm.  Finally back at the room, in a totally British state of tutting annoyance following a Fawlty Towers like dinner that left us sitting waiting for our order to be taken for about 1.5 hours.  Waiting staff didn’t even ask us if we wanted to see dessert menu.  In fact they seemed to just disappear, so we left. Very disappointing, but Family Unit fun as always.

10.45pm. Am sitting in bed.

So that ends my diary for the day, which has not been without Pooter-like annoyances.  However, unlike Mr. Pooter, my child hasn’t made funny comments about my holiday clothes, so I should consider myself lucky.

Me voy a dormir. ¡Buenas noches!

[I’m going to sleep. Good night!]

Diary ends.

Want to find out more?

The Diary of a Nobody by George and Weedon Grossmith

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Holiday Reading


What makes the perfect holiday read?

In days gone by, weight was often an issue and any vacationing bibliophile was forced to choose between books or clothes. But with the happy advent of the internet and the kindle, all this is in the past, leaving keen readers with a vast array of choice.

Fact or fiction?

New reads or old?

Different genre?

Throw away or keeper?

My list always includes two key items: Crime and Jane Austen.  This happy combination helps keep my mind off my crippling fear of flying.  After this, everything else is bonus, so I’ll be tackling a mixed bag of Homer and Journalism to keep the old brain cells going.

My crime choice, was the excellent Another One Goes Tonight, a recent addition to Peter Lovesey’s Peter Diamond series.  Hat’s off to Mr. Lovesey, as I thought I’d spotted the clue to the killer near the start of the book, but this turned out to be (in my mind) a small Checkov’s gun and the actual killer was a genuine surprise.  Trains, vintage dresses and a murder maybe, all neatly and unexpectedly tied together.

Try it and see.

Actually, now I come to think of it, I like the sound of Crime and Jane Austen.  Maybe next year, I’ll be reading my own efforts.

Want to find out more?

Try: http://peterlovesey.com

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