Greg's Occasional News & Views

13 January 2019

Boy, is it quiet around here. Adam, Ava and Jessica left on Wednesday afternoon for a three-week break in China visiting family and friends. No more little voice shouting up the stairs in the morning welcoming us to the new day, no more “chase me” grandpa, no more tricycle excursions to the park across the road (at least for the next three weeks). My goodness it’s quiet around here!

Thursday evening was another Moreton Pinkney Film Night. This time the film on offer was Swimming with Men which was cute and tolerably amusing. It’s not likely to trouble the Oscar voters too much but was fun nevertheless. Rob Brydon plays a middle-aged man going through a mid-life crisis. He’s a whiz of an accountant but is utterly bored with his day-to-day life. Meanwhile, his wife has been elected to the local council which occupies her time and the Brydon character feels shut out and useless. He is, however, a regular patron of the local swimming pool and there meets a group of similarly middle-aged men who (for some reason) have started a male synchronised swimming team (who knew there were such things?). The film is very formulaic and, surprise, surprise, the team go through various challenges before ultimately coming second at the “unofficial” men’s synchronised swimming world championships.

As we were helping to clear up the village hall after the film we got to chatting with a neighbour about the film and the general standard of the films we have for our viewing pleasure once a month. We agreed that this was the sort of film which, had we run across it on television at home we probably would have switched off or turned over after five minutes. In other words, don’t go out of your way to see this one. But, because it was at an occasion with a significant group of similarly minded villages, it was still good fun. I suppose the three gin and tonics and the fish & chips supper might have contributed somewhat to a very pleasant evening.

We were over at the recreation ground the other day while Jessica hurtled around the car park on her tricycle when we saw a red kite drifting serenely in the sky above. This still causes some considerable excitement even though this particular red kite has become a neighbourhood feature over the past year or so. He/she is the result of a fabulously successful breeding program introduced in the early 1990s to save the species from extinction. As the breeding program became increasingly successful we began seeing kites further and further from the Chilterns and when we were in Byfield we saw the first couple reach our neighbourhood. Now we have a more or less permanent presence and see him/her most days.

Red kites were driven to extinction in England by human persecution by the end of the nineteenth century. A small population survived in Wales, but there was little chance of these birds repopulating their original areas.

Between 1989 and 1994, kites from Spain were imported and released into the Chilterns by the RSPB and English Nature (now Natural England). Red kites started breeding in the Chilterns in 1992 and now there could be over 1,000 breeding pairs in the area. The reintroduction has been so successful it is not possible to monitor all the nests, so the overall size of the population can only be estimated.

Since 1999, chicks have been taken from the Chilterns to reintroduction sites in other parts of the country.

The red kite reintroduction has proved to be one of the greatest conservation success stories of the 20th century.

Big excitement looming on Tuesday when Parliament is finally scheduled to vote on Mrs May’s Withdrawal Agreement. This is the vote she pulled before Christmas as it was certain she would be defeated. Since then she has had several rounds of discussions with the EU trying to extract more concessions and with various of her backbenchers to try and win them over. It still looks like she will lose although it may be closer than it might have been before Christmas – intriguingly, several Tory MPs who oppose the deal were offered (and accepted) knighthoods in the New Year’s Honours List so we’ll see how many minds have been changed or, if one prefers, how many have been bought off. Whatever the outcome, though, it’s easy to forget that the government has spent two years trying to negotiate a Withdrawal Agreement – if this (or something else) actually gets through the UK still has to negotiate its future trading relationship with the EU. So, with only about 75 days until the UK is scheduled to leave the EU we are still no closer to knowing what the hell that means. In this Alice in Wonderland world we currently live in I guess anything is possible.

Love to you all,



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