From the vaults: A winter visitor (18/12/2010)

It’s stopped now but that was as sustained a spell of snowfall as I can remember for a good few years. It might have varied in intensity and size of flake but for hour after hour it never once looked like coming to an end. If radio and television updates are any guide it sounds as though the general synopsis at 21:00 hours is chaotic and likely to remain so.

I can sympathise with those affected, in some cases badly so, by the disruption and delays but it’s hard to deny the aesthetic appeal of a good coating of white powder. A black dustbin in the garden presently looks like a huge glass of Guinness, and even the pile of bricks denoting yet another part-completed construction project has been softened and camouflaged.
A series of stills of the back garden could have been taken in black and white and would have looked scarcely any different: until, quite unexpectedly, a young fox appeared, balanced nonchalantly on top of the fence…

We’ve seen them around the garden on a number of occasions; usually older specimens looking tatty and furtive. This was a youngster with a lush, thick winter coat, possibly enjoying its first snow. It seemed pretty comfortable in its environment and happy enough with the vantage point. We’re a bit ambivalent about feeding garden mammals as, living close by a park with a large pool, it would be easy to attract rats. As it happens, this particular suburban specimen looked in pretty good condition and quite well nourished. Fortunately our near neighbours no longer keep chickens.

Our visitor then led me a dance; cavorting around the garden as I moved from window to window (and floor to floor) trying to get a shot that wasn’t either out of focus or blurred by motion. This (above) was as good as it got before foxy decided he’d had enough of our company and departed for gardens new.

               Going nowhere anytime soon


From the vaults: A winter’s tale: one of many… (10/12/2010)

I came across Amanda Copeland’s story in last Sunday’s Observer. It was an item in the Cashsection; a part of the paper I would usually skip past. She, along with her children, is just one of many caught in the perfect storm created when the arbitrariness of government butts up against the dismissive arrogance of the financial services sector. A financial services sector fresh from begging indulgence and double helpings of cash from taxpayers.

We’re all in this together; at least we could be: an unfortunate sequence of circumstances and this could happen to any of us. Or our children…

Interestingly there’s another little item about the same lender (Alliance & Leicester), just a few pages further on in the same issue of the paper. It concerns the “Appalling insensitivity” (the writer’s words, not mine) of their treatment of a woman who was both newly bereaved and a victim of crime.


From the vaults: Footloose and feckless (08/12/2010)

The view from the bedroom window suggested cold but inviting; the backlog of jobs – deferred, partly completed, long overdue – demanded restraint and self discipline. There could be only one winner.

There seemed little sense in driving far, so we parked up in a familiar spot about 10 minutes from home and made our first port of call a small pool, frozen apart from an area adjacent to the outflow, where, bearing food, we were greeted with enthusiasm by an assortment of ducks, geese and a pair of swans. In the ensuing chaos we tried to implement sound Marxist distribution theory and make sure every one of them got something according to their needs; but it was impossible to be completely confident.

Hoarfrost clung to just about every surface; even the strands of a barbed wire enclosure were made to look attractive. Progress over frozen tracks was painfully slow at times and the thing we noticed most was how long it took us to warm through; generating, as we were, very little heat from our level of activity. Thumbs, invariably the last thing to get warm for me, were just about opposable again as we reached the half way point.

We got back, rosy-cheeked, red-nosed and invigorated. The jobs, irresponsibly ignored, were still there; waiting. Some of them still are; while I sit here fecklessly keying yet more inane ramblings into a blog. Is it any wonder we don’t have a Lexus and a place in The Caymans?