Greg's Occasional News & Views

24 September 2017

Welcome to what will likely be the last edition of the Moreton Pinkney Picayune for the immediate future – Ms Playchute and I are off to China on Thursday to visit Adam, Ava and the charmingly delightful and gorgeous Jessica for a few weeks so communications could be limited. Limited only because we have too much fun when we visit China and don’t seem to find the time to do much of anything else. There will be a full report upon my return. You may have to wait somewhat longer to enjoy Ms Playchute’s account – after China she is flying off to Australia to spend some time with her sister J visiting some of their Australian relatives. She won’t be back until mid-November! Don’t fret; I am sure she will fill the freezer for me before we go. (Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha).

We had our friend Mary over for lunch on Tuesday and enjoyed a nice stroll up the road to Canons Ashby on a lovely afternoon.

Over lunch Mary recommended the film Victoria and Abdul starring Judi Dench which she had seen the previous evening. So, without hesitation we booked up to go see it at the Banbury fleapit that evening and really enjoyed it. It’s not going to win any Oscars, I don’t guess, but it was light and quite amusing at times. I had seen various trailers and thought it might be fun but I had not appreciated that it is intended as a sequel to Mrs Brown which came out about twenty years ago. In Mrs Brown, Judi Dench plays Queen Victoria and Billy Connelly plays her servant, John Brown, with whom she found some comfort following the death of Prince Albert. In Victoria and Abdul she again plays Queen Victoria and the film charts the close friendship she formed with Abdul, an Indian Muslim. He is a small time administrative clerk in a prison in British India and somehow (because he was quite tall, allegedly) he is chosen to present a commemorative coin on the occasion of the Queen’s Golden Jubilee. The Queen takes a liking to him and he is eventually elevated to the role of a trusted adviser to the Queen, much to the dismay of the Royal Court and the government of the day. The Smithsonian magazine has a good article about the relationship.


Entertaining and good fun – the Moreton Pinkney Picayune

A lovely meal afterwards at Pizza Express across the road rounded off a splendid evening.

Wednesday morning I collected our clock from the horologist and it is now back in its rightful place in the niche that was the old serving hatch when Framington House was known to all as the Dun Cow public house.

We acquired the clock from my father as part of the Great Yard Sale and it has quite an interesting history. It was very likely originally a longcase clock produced by Peter Stretch of Philadelphia in the period before the revolution. At some point the face was used to produce the mantle clock that we now enjoy. The workings are old but not original and although it started its life in Philadelphia, in about 1900 it was shipped “around the horn” to San Francisco and then to a ranch in Montana. Eventually it made its way into the hands of a former patient of my father’s from whom he acquired it. When my folks began to downsize it made its way to me.

We had it in Byfield and it worked well for a time but gradually it became increasingly erratic. It would work for a while and then stop. It would gain time and then lose time. Fluctuations in temperature and/or humidity seemed to affect it. About a year ago it stopped working all together and I began to think I might have to find someone with the skill and expertise to give it an overhaul. An internet search for a qualified horologist led me to a chap in Banbury, of all places, to whom I delivered it in February. He was confident he could mend it and, after some months of waiting, he finally called this week to say it was ready. He has done a magnificent job and as well as working reliably and accurately for the few days we’ve had it back, he’s also restored the face and repaired the minute hand which had been broken. I must say, it looks gorgeous and the quiet tick-tocking is comfortingly soothing.

The Brexit madness this week comes courtesy of Theresa May’s speech in Florence on Friday where everyone expected her to outline, finally, what sort of Brexit deal the UK wanted. Not surprisingly, perhaps, it was all a bit disappointing as, once again, the Prime Minister failed to give any clear vision of what the promised land of milk and honey in a post-Brexit Britain would look like. Paul Waugh hit the nail on the head in the opening paragraph of his summary:

The inherent problem with last year’s Brexit referendum was that its binary In/Out choice meant Leave voters could only tell us what they didn’t want (to be in the EU) – not what they did want. And just as the ‘Vote Leave’ campaign refused to specify a vision for post-Brexit Britain, Theresa May today followed a similar approach.  The PM spent quite a bit of time saying what wouldn’t work, but not what would.

And when it came time for Mrs May to define what a future trade relationship with the EU might look like after Brexit, instead she sprinkled a few vague and meaningless nouns and adjectives around hoping, perhaps, that no one would notice there was no substance to what she was saying:

But on this most crucial of issues, what a trade deal would look like, she had no answer other than the vague vision of abstract nouns: “an ambitious economic partnership which respects the freedoms and principles of the EU, and the wishes of the British people”. Not so much Brexit means Brexit, as Brexit means blancmange: a bland, tasteless dish that harks back to the 1970s. It’s no wonder Michel Barnier, the EU negotiator, said he now awaited detailed “negotiating positions” not generalities.

Once again, though, I think John Crace had an excellent summary in the Guardian:

It had also just come to the Machine’s [Mrs May’s] attention that Britain would need a two-year transition period – something that had occurred to most five-year-olds when Britain had triggered article 50 – so would it be OK if we stayed in the EU for an extra two years? If so we’d be happy to pay our own way in exchange for having no real say in how the single market was run. Double brilliant. She had just negotiated worse terms than we were already on.

Simply astonishing.

Susie alerted us to the following Saturday Night Live sketch.

Although I’m not quite ready for the special Alexa for Seniors, it probably won’t be long. Susie also sent along this alarming photo from her recent visit!

And finally, I meant to share this photo some time ago but, of course, forgot. It’s difficult to see but it is a photo of some writing on Annabelle’s playhouse in the garden. Annabelle wrote it and it says:

Come in no

groanups a loud.


Love to you all,






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