Greg's Occasional News & Views

11 February 2018

Another good week. A couple of gloriously glorious bright sunny days, as well as a couple of absolute stinkers but at least, in terms of daylight, we’re on an upward trend. That’s got to be good news, right?

This week’s Date Night involved a walk across the road to the Village Hall for February’s Moreton Pinkney Film Night. The film this time was Victoria & Abdul which was good fun. Both Penelope and I had seen it before, probably on an airplane on which we may or may not have been together. To be fair, we probably would not have gone out of our way to see it again but Film Night is as much a village social occasion as it is a film night. And, who can turn down a fish and chips supper?

It’s based on the true story of an Indian civil servant (for my American friends think “India” not Native American) who became a servant to Queen Victoria during her Golden Jubilee (1887). From Wikipedia:

Hafiz Mohammed Abdul Karim, CIE, CVO (1863 – April 1909), known as “the Munshi”, was an Indian attendant of Queen Victoria. He served her during the final fifteen years of her reign, gaining her maternal affection over that time.

Karim was born the son of a hospital assistant near Jhansi in British India. In 1887, the year of Victoria’s Golden Jubilee, Karim was one of two Indians selected to become servants to the Queen. Victoria came to like him a great deal and gave him the title of “Munshi” (“clerk” or “teacher”). Victoria appointed him to be her Indian Secretary, showered him with honours, and obtained a land grant for him in India.

The close platonic relationship between Karim and the Queen led to friction within the Royal Household, the other members of which felt themselves to be superior to him. The Queen insisted on taking Karim with her on her travels, which caused arguments between her and her other attendants. Following Victoria’s death in 1901, her successor, Edward VII, returned Karim to India and ordered the confiscation and destruction of the Munshi’s correspondence with Victoria. Karim subsequently lived quietly near Agra, on the estate that Victoria had arranged for him, until his death at the age of 46.

Judi Dench was excellent as the elderly Queen Victoria and the rest of the cast were splendid. Tim Pigott-Smith was similarly excellent as Victoria’s Private Secretary in what, I think, might have been his last role, and for my money Eddie Izzard as Bertie, the spoiled and petulant Prince of Wales, stole the show. Ali Fazal played the Munshi and the companion who accompanied him to England in the first place, Adeel Akhtar, was excellent in his scathing views on the Royal Household, England in general and the absurdity of British rule in India. It was a lot of fun and and there were several burst-out laughing moments.

Friday was the inaugural walk of the Moreton Pinkney Walking Group, coordinated and chaired by our own Penelope Playchute. Someone posted the suggestion for a walking group on the village Facebook page a few weeks back and Ms Playchute eagerly replied that she would be very interested in such a group. One thing led to another and before you know it there is a meeting in our front room with half a dozen other keen village walkers.

Apparently, there had previously been a village walking group but it had declined to the point of non-existence. Not that there is anything to stop anyone from tromping across the countryside and enjoying the numerous lovely walks in our neighbourhood. Some people, though, thought it would be nice to have a regular opportunity to stride out with a like-minded group of people. As you might guess, that certainly wasn’t me but sometimes there’s no escaping.

So, on Friday we met up with 12 other villagers for our first stroll across the countryside. It’s a bit tricky at the moment as everywhere is water logged and muddy but one of the ladies in the village suggested a walk which was very good, not too long (just over 3.5 miles) and not too muddy (largely on roads and a reasonably well-maintained bridleway). It was a great success and now we have to find another walk to embark upon next week!

I managed to watch the Superbowl “as live” on Monday afternoon. I am much too old to be staying up until three in the morning (even though I don’t have to work in the morning) so I set the recorder going and slept the sleep of the good and righteous. Monday morning is one of my spinning mornings so I was off to the gym bright and early having taken care not to read anything! I fired up none of my numerous devices and the radio on the way to the gym played music only from my iPhone. Fortunately, no one at the gym mentioned the game and so I was home safe and dry. I had to wait until the Moreton Pinkney Walking Group had finished their initial planning meeting before I could switch it on. But then, bliss as I watched it from start to finish. As I was watching the BBC transmission there were no advertisements and having recorded it meant that I could fast-forward through Justin Timberlake’s performance at half time. Great match and a well-deserved victory for the Eagles. Commiserations to all the Patriot fans amongst our readership.

I wrote a few weeks ago about the government-backed Ponzi scheme that outsourcing has come to be. John Crace had an excellent column in the Guardian earlier in the week recounting the evidence given in testimony to a Parliamentary committee investigating the collapse of Carillion. Apparently, none of the directors seemed to find any problem with awarding themselves huge bonus payments and prioritising share dividends over pension contributions when the company was about to go under. How do they get away with it?

We’ve had good news and some excellent photos of the progress of young Max Gregory as he continues his stay in the hospital. He’s still tiny as can be but the medical staff are all pleased with his progress and so are we! Keep up the good work, Max.

And finally, the following is this month’s cartoon on my Whyatt monthly calendar. It seems to sum up perfectly the relationship I have with the lovely Ms Playchute.

Love to you all,



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February 2018
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