Greg's Occasional News & Views

27 May 2018

It’s been a lovely week, jet-lag notwithstanding. We’ve had some grand sunny days and we’ve been able to lie in the hammock with wine glasses in hand on a couple of occasions. Sadly, the weather turned cold and wet at the end of the week, just in time for our visitors.

We did have one splendid set of visitors on Thursday, though, before the weather went south. Julie and Ian Leigh stopped by for lunch on their whirlwind tour of England – we’re honoured that we got a visit. They moved out to Australia some years ago and this was one of their brief visits back to the UK. They’re very good friends and Julie and I worked together all those years ago trying to put the ICT right in Oxfordshire schools. We managed to do a few good things. The weather was fine and we were able to dine al fresco, somewhat of a novelty for us but an everyday occurrence for them no doubt. It was lovely to see them.

Last Saturday we took Annabelle to the Shen Yun Chinese dancing show at the ICC in Birmingham – a great day out. We caught the train from Leamington and made our way to Birmingham. Like the seasoned traveller that she is, Annabelle had all the necessities for a train journey – food and drink, puzzle and sticker book and a set of Top Trumps at which, not surprisingly, she won.

The Shen Yun performance was very good and we had the full array of classical Chinese dance on display – beautifully choreographed mesmerising displays with leaps and tumbles, ribbons and extra-long sleeved dresses and, at one point, pocket handkerchiefs the size of dinner plates with weighted corners thrown in. The dancing was best, I thought, when it concentrated on the traditional, historical tales – we even had Monkey Magic on his cloud smiting the bad guys. The more modern, politically-laced stories had less natural beauty and culture, it seemed to me and were fairly ordinary.

Annabelle was enthralled, or at least seemed to be, for the whole show. At several points she tapped her fingers on the rail in front of her or copied the dancers’ arm movements as they twirled and swirled on the stage. As well as being just a great day out with our granddaughter, it had the added advantage of enabling us to avoid anything to do with the Royal Wedding. We did hear it blazing out of several establishments as we walked from New Street Station to the ICC but thankfully saw none of the other coverage, not even the news.

We ended up the splendid day by dining al fresco (again) with Bubble, Nick and Lucy on a lovely afternoon – self-made pizzas in Nick’s new pizza oven. Excellent

If, like us, you missed the coverage of the Royal Wedding, Bad Lip Reading has you covered.

Penelope has been working tirelessly to drag the garden into shape since we got back from the States. Spring was late here so she wasn’t able to get as much done before we went away as she normally does. So, she’s been playing catch up ever since. She’s winning though, as you would expect. The vegetables are in and more going in, the borders and overgrown bushes and trees have been attacked and savaged or, in some cases, removed all together and the orchard has received a rough mow in preparation for an elaborate labyrinth.

Some things never change – I saw a wonderful article in the Guardian reporting on a meeting between UK Home Office officials and EU officials. It was called so that the Home Office could update their EU counterparts on progress they had made in the task of co-ordinating the rights of European nationals in the UK after Brexit. As a metaphor for how the current government operates it’s perfect:

Firstly, the Home Office officials turned up late for the meeting. They then outlined their proposal that EU nationals living in the UK after Brexit will have to register using an App. Registering will be easy as “user friendly as an online account at LK Bennet.” Unfortunately, they then had to concede that their App does not work on iPhones.


And, for no particular reason I was reminded of the following:

Arguing with an idiot is like playing chess with a pigeon. It’ll just knock over all the pieces, shit on the board, and strut about like it’s won anyway.

Love to you all,



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