4 February 2024

Good week, bad week, very bad week! Weather has been decent – very moderate with largely clearish skies and only a smattering of rain. The bad part of the week started on Tuesday when I began to exhibit symptoms of sciatic pain. Oh my goodness, I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy.

It all started with a bit of lower back pain, especially after walking Daisy of an afternoon. Now this is nothing new – I’ve had spats of lower back pain from time to time. But this is of a whole new order. On Monday I was struggling to walk without a very pronounced limp and by Tuesday I had developed the classic shooting, burning, throbbing pain down my left leg, especially in my left butt cheek. Wednesday morning I managed to get myself to the doctor who basically confirmed what I suspected – sciatica – and gave me a crate full of pain killers. I asked him for the strongest horse tranquillizers he had available but he didn’t have any to hand. And, I have to say, the pain killers aren’t doing much killing. They take the edge off it but OMG this is brutal.

What makes it even more brutal is that we are/were due to fly out on Friday for a three-week holiday visiting dear, dear friends in Hawaii, Ben, Brex-Anna and Max in LA and then two of my brothers and a sister in New England before coming back to the UK. That’s looking exceedingly doubtful but, in an effort to give it our best shot, Penny has delivered me to a chiropractor for a couple of sessions and this evening I’m off to see an acupuncturist. Miracles do happen, I’m told. We’ll see.

On to nicer things . . .

As I wrote last time, we went on a Movie/Date Night last Saturday to see The Holdovers with Paul Giamatti which was very good, we thought. Paul Giamatti is excellent as the old, curmudgeonly teacher at a posh, boys boarding school in New England in 1970. At the last minute, he is given the task of looking after five boys who are not able to go home for Christmas. They hate him and he hates them. After a few days only one of the students remains in his charge and they share a voyage of mutual discovery over the Christmas break.

An aside: How did I not know until literally a few days ago that Paul Giamatti is Bart Giamatti’s son? I never put two and two together. For those of you who perhaps don’t know, Bart Giamatti was a professor of English Literature at Yale and Head of Ezra Stiles College when I was there. He later became President of the university and after that Commissioner of Baseball. It was he who settled the Pete Rose gambling scandal by negotiating Rose’s lifetime ban from baseball. In my view, he’s also responsible for one of the finest essays I’ve ever read about baseball, The Green Fields of the Mind. It’s a bit long but listen to the language, the pace and the rhythm. Especially poignant to Red Sox fans

If you are remotely interested you can find the text of the essay here.

Another aside: In all the recent cinema/television reviews we’ve posted, I neglected to say that we have just recently finished the latest Fargo series which we thought was excellent! Juno Temple was surprisingly good as the lead – she mastered the Fargo “accent” flawlessly – and Jon Hamm was very convincing as the evil, abusive, corrupt sheriff who leads a group of “patriots.” Must watch TV!

Both items this week come from the unbelievably incompetent and dysfunctional Home Office.

You will remember that Rishi Sunak’s flagship policy is to deport those who cross the channel in small boats seeking asylum to Rwanda for processing. This will allegedly act as a deterrent. The Supreme Court ruled that his previous attempt to enact this policy was unlawful as Rwanda was not a safe third country. So, the government introduced legislation which says that Rwanda is a safe country, i.e., as one Tory peer commented, black is now white because the government says so. At the same time, it has been revealed that the Home Office granted asylum to a number of migrants from Rwanda on the grounds that they had real fears of persecution if they were returned there. In other words, Rwanda is a safe country except for the fact that it isn’t safe. Really, you could not make it up.

Secondly, the High Court ruled last week that the Home Office had operated a “secret” policy affecting the asylum rights of at least 1500 people found to be victims of human trafficking and modern slavery. Basically, the Home Office decided to simply ignore a court ruling stating that victims of trafficking and modern slavery should be given “leave to remain” in the UK while their claims were pending. Instead, the Home Office simply “held” those cases back for months, barring those affected from work, renting, opening a bank account or accessing mainstream benefits, contrary to the court ruling.

Someone has got to be held accountable for this – this was not a policy that some junior civil servant at the Home Office implemented. This had to have been approved by whomever was Home Secretary at the time, either the sinisterly inhumane Priti Patel or the equally evil Suella Braverman.

And while we’re talking about sinister and evil individuals, two images which caught my eye recently. One by Cold War Steve and the other the cover of last week’s New European magazine.

And finally, even “Award Winning” sourdough bakers do have the occasional mishap.

A distressingly poor loaf of bread.

Meanwhile, keep happy, keep smiling, keep exercising, be good, be careful, and keep safe. And be gentle to wasps and bees.

Lots of love to you all,


5 thoughts on “4 February 2024”

  1. My knowledge of, and interest in, the game of baseball is pretty much on the zilch side of negative, but I could happily listen to Bart Giamatti’s piece for hours. What a voice, what poetry.

    Re. the sciatica – have put in a personal plea to the gods of pain to ease up, give you a break. Not that anyone – god, human, or feline – listens to me these days. I have clearly passed the point of relevancy. Sigh…….

    1. I agree with you J about “The Green Fields of the Mind.” I’ve been listening to the “Chinwag” – a podcast by Paul Giamatti (and Stephen Asma) and his voice is like velvet. He must have gotten that voice and delivery from his dad. Paul often references his father and his time at Yale but I had no idea they overlapped with your time at Yale, Greg.

      I too have been praying to all the gods and goddesses for a quick recovery from the dreaded sciatica. We’ll see if any of them were paying attention during yoga this morning. God speed!

      1. You’re very sweet. I overlapped with Bart Giamatti, not Paul who is consdiderably younger than I am! I agree with both you and J – Bart Giamatti’s reading is magnificent – the voice, the tone and, especially, I think, the pace.

        Love you.

        1. I meant that Paul references his father’s time at Yale. I see he went to Yale as well but you’re correct , he is much younger than we are.

    2. Thank you, you’re very sweet. I agree with both you and Susie – Bart Giamatti’s reading of the article is magnificent – the voice, the tone and especially the pace when his description of the game gets exciting and then the sudden pause when it’s all over. A splendid piece of writing but I guess you would expect that from a Yale professor.

      Love you lots,


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.