Greg's Occasional News & Views

6 January 2019

Happy New Year to you all – I hope your celebrations were wildly successful and enjoyable. Ours certainly were. We celebrated with gusto when the clock turned to midnight. Midnight in Moscow, that is. And, by “gusto” I mean by snoring, of course.

Christmas is just about cleared away. Apparently, we’ve been through all the left-overs and we’re back to having to prepare proper meals. I’m not quite sure I believe that – Ms Playchute prepared food for three to four weeks but somehow it’s all gone! I can’t imagine where it went other than around my waist.

The tree has been de-decorated and placed outside ready for the recycling chaps to arrive and the lights and decorations have been safely stored away in a box which has carefully been placed somewhere safe which we may or may not remember next year. Most importantly, the lounge has been restored to its proper order and the television is back in its rightful place – directly in front of my chair so that I can see it more easily,

We went off to the Chipping Norton Pantomime on Friday afternoon, Jessica and Ava’s first experience of the bizarre holiday tradition of pantomime theatre in the UK. That’s two and a half hours I will never get back again!

I think you need to be a child of a certain age to enjoy pantomime. Jessie was a bit too young to make any sense of it and got bored after the first hour or so but up to that point she was pretty well engaged. Ava found it “interesting” but there is no question that it is a wacky form of entertainment which is virtually impossible to explain to someone who has never experienced it – you really have to see it to believe it!

I had always imagined that pantomime is a uniquely British form of entertainment – not so! It has a long theatrical history in Western culture dating back, apparently, to classical theatre. It developed partly from the 16th century commedia dell’arte tradition of Italy and other European and British stage traditions, such as 17th-century masques and music hall.

Luckily, we escaped relatively unscathed although I am concerned that Jessie might be scarred for life.

More from the “You Can’t Make This Stuff Up” Department. Since no one seems to very much like the agreement Theresa May has negotiated with the EU, the Government is making contingency plans in the event of the UK crashing out of the EU with no withdrawal agreement in place at the end of March. Amongst the areas they need to address is how to ensure there is additional capacity on cross channel ferries to ease the congestion in Dover since clearing customs and immigration will now take hours rather than minutes. As part of this very prudent forward planning, the government has paid £13.8 million to a firm to provide extra cross channel freight capacity. The intriguing things is that the firm in question (a) has no ships and (b) has never carried out this type of business before. I’ve written to the Minister responsible offering my services – I don’t have any ships and no experience either but I’m willing to give it a go for a mere £10 million. No reply so far.

And finally, this from the “Getting Your Brexit Priorities in Order” Department. The government has ordered two naval frigates to be redeployed from the Mediterranean to the Channel in light of the “invasion” of migrants, mainly from Syria, attempting to cross the English Channel in small rubber dinghies.  This prompted the following observation on Facebook:

On an average day in the UK:

3,700 are forced to visit a food bank

5,400 suffer domestic abuse

4,750 sleep rough on the streets

4 migrants arrive in a small rubber boat across the channel

Guess which one the government is calling a “crisis”?

Nope, you couldn’t make this stuff up.

Love to you all,



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