Thursday, December 31, 2009


As I’ve said, I’ve really been enjoying Nick Hornby’s book “31 Songs”. Here’s a wonderful extract on “dancing” which completely sums me up – especially after my recent “clubbing” experience(!) - and also makes me laugh:
“If you are a white male – especially a white male aged forty-plus – the chances are that you are sadly and predictably deficient in one particular area: you can’t dance for toffee. Indeed, not only can you not dance, but you are also unwilling even to try unless you’re drunk or near-drunk, and unless you’re surrounded either by complete strangers (especially complete strangers who are older and/or even more disastrously uptight and stiff-limbed than you are) or by people you have known for a minimum of a quarter of a century, who are also drunk or near-drunk. I would love to be able to say, at this point, that I have shattered the mould; that despite my age, gender and nationality (because Englishness, I fear, is hardly helpful in this regard), I hit the dancefloor with all the enthusiasm and lack of self-consciousness of a three year-old (and a three year-old girl at that) and the fluidity of a young Baryshnikov… But of course, I can’t. The dancefloor is still, to me, the social equivalent of the North Sea during English seaside holidays – something to be treated with the utmost fear and caution, something you walk towards and away from over a period of several hours while battling with your own courage, something you plunge into briefly and uncomfortably while every corpuscle in your blood screams at you to get out before it’s too late, something that leaves lots of important parts of you feeling shrivelled”.
Hornby is writing this on the back of his experiences of “The Locomotion” club in the mid-eighties and, in particular, his fond memories of The Velvelettes’ song “Needle in a Haystack” – which he’d never come across before - but which I, somewhat embarrassingly, remember when it first came out in 1964!
You’ve just GOT to watch this clip – but, crucially, you need to turn up the volume. Be careful, it just MIGHT make you get up and dance (surely not!).
Photo: The Velvelettes.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

2009 reflections

This is my favourite photograph of 2009. I've only recently looked at it closely (it's a detail from a larger image). It was taken by Felix in St Ives on our October family holiday. Moira and I had been ushered on to the beach by the rest of the family in the early evening. We've just watched two paper sky lanterns magically disappear into the night sky over the ocean. We're relaxing and drinking champagne (as you do!) surrounded by homemade, sand-filled nightlights (hand-decorated by the grandchildren!) and are reflecting on just how blessed we are to be part of such a wonderful family. I think Moira and I quite like each other too (good job, with our 37th wedding anniversary due tomorrow - on 30 December)!
Other significant events of 2009:
  • Brilliant family holiday at Upper Saltings, St Ives in October.
  • My first ever school "snowday" happening on my 60th birthday in February (result!).
  • Best Concert: brilliant Joan As Police Woman at St George's.
  • Best Films: "Looking for Eric", "The Reader" and "An Education".
  • Best Books: "Engleby" (Sebastian Faulks) and "The Wasp Factory" (Iain Banks).
  • Best/Most Entertaining Exhibition: Banksy at Bristol Museum.
  • Best Theatre: "Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves" at The Tobacco Factory (featuring Felix!).
  • Most Entertaining/Enjoyable Live Sport: twenty20 cricket with school buddies.
  • Saddest: sudden death of Graham "Bodge" Hollows, aged 48.
  • Regret: Gerry and Merry Carol returning to Canada.
  • Outrages: Parliamentary Expenses and Banker's Bonuses.
  • Surprisingly Enjoyable: discovery of Permaculture and GrowZones.
  • Impressive Local Community Voice: BERATE/TESNO.
  • Community Arts Project (made me smile): "Play Me I'm Yours".
  • Holiday Surprise: Kettle's Yard, Cambridge (thanks to Moira!).
  • Biggest Frustration/Concern: failure of Copenhagen Climate Change Conference.
  • Best Family News: arrival of fourth grandchild Rosa Eve, born in July (Ruth+Stu) - and fifth one of his/her way next June (Alice+Dave).

Monday, December 28, 2009


This isn't a reference to the latest of James May's "Toy Stories" based on Hornby model railways (I've really enjoyed the series but actually found this one rather disappointing). I've recently been dipping into Nick Hornby's "31 Songs" again. Although it hasn't stopped me from enjoying the book, I'm sorry to say that I knew less than 30% of the songs (this sounds very sad, as if my musical background is extremely limited!).
Not any more though... thanks to the wonderful Spotify, I've managed to create a "Hornby playlist" (well, covering most of the songs - some haven't been recognised). As well as pointing me towards some new artists, it's made the book even more accessible.
Isn't technology wonderful (sometimes)!
PS: I've really been enjoying listening to music over the holiday period and have received lots of excellent CDs over Christmas - Devendra Banhart, Belle+Sebastian and Regina Spektor. Feeling very spoilt!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

cheaty bubble+squeak

For me, one of the best meals over the Christmas period is the family lunch on Boxing Day – which, for us, usually follows some form of exercise. This meal essentially comprises cold meats, bubble+squeak plus various pickles/sauces. Now I know that, traditionally, the bubble+squeak should be fried leftover vegetables… with the best bits being the slightly burnt edges. I have to admit that, over recent years, I’ve completely cheated on this. Frying large quantities of vegetables for lots of people has proved somewhat frustrating for yours truly from time to time. It seems to take huge quantities of oil and endless patience and, in order to take get the necessary burnt bits, inevitably produces a smoke-filled kitchen.
So now I simply form the chopped up vegetables into patties, coat with olive oil and bake them in a hot oven. Not quite the same perhaps, but much simpler for large quantities!
Photo: cheaty bubble+squeak.
PS: I’ve just re-read this and it sounds SO pretentious (I promise never to write about cooking ever again)!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

magic of christmas

Putting aside the true significance of Christmas, it was lovely to be able to spend yesterday in the company of a three year-old who was absolutely captivated by the wonder and excitement of the day itself. It was her first “real” Christmas and she had been eagerly anticipating it over the past few days – complete with Santa and all his reindeers! She loved the present opening and seemed genuinely thrilled by what she found inside; she was especially delighted by her blue scooter. She even had time to enjoy her Christmas lunch. At the end of the day, as she walked to the car, I heard her say to Ruth: “wasn’t that a lovely day!”.
Indeed it was!
Photo: “blue flash” – Iris trying out her new scooter down the hallway!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

a serious man

Moira, Sheila and I decided on some pre-Christmas cinema therapy at the Watershed last night. The Coen brothers’ film “A Serious Man” is set in 1967 (I’m not quite sure of the significance of this date – except perhaps it marked the early teenage years of the Coen brothers, growing up in the American midwest - but, for what it’s worth, it was also the year I started at uni!). It dips into the life of a Jewish professor whose life seems to be slowly collapsing around him – his wife wants to leave him for another man; his children are an absolute pain; his job is under threat; and his brother is useless and sponging. He seeks the help of three Rabbis, but no one can give him the answer he’s searching for. I know I’d need to watch it a number of times before I begin to understand even half the Jewish references, but hey!
It’s an uncomfortable, sad and yet, at times, hilarious film.
PS: somewhat pathetically, I’ve just checked how many times I went to the cinema this year and the answer is 21 (which represents a new personal best!).

Monday, December 21, 2009

down from up’t north

It’s been great having Alice+Dave (and Mikey+Dan) to stay for a few days before Christmas. Living in Leyland, we don’t get to see them anything like as often as we’d like to, but it was lovely to have all our daughters, sons-in-law and grandchildren round for supper last night. On night one, Mikey+Dan seemed to be suffering from jet-lag. They both woke up at midnight and refused to go back to sleep (at all!) – much to Alice+Dave’s obvious delight! I took the opportunity of taking the boys out on a long walk the following day to give A+D a well-earned rest. All went perfectly when, after two hours, I noticed that one of the buggy tyres had been punctured! Hey ho (or should that be “ho ho ho”?).
Photo: the boys with their eyes glued to the TV (literally!).
How sad is that!!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

another let down?

Like millions of others over the past 24 hours, I’ve been trying to come to terms with what precisely has been agreed at the end of the Copenhagen climate change conference. A couple of weeks earlier, I’d put together a power point for an Assembly at school and had written this on one of the screen-shots: “But, sadly and frighteningly, despite such very positive signs, there is still a chance that the conference will simply come up with political fudges and platitudes… and that no significant binding agreements will be forthcoming”. There WAS a climate change “deal”, of sorts, hammered out, but it fell far short of what campaigners had been striving for over recent months and years. Somewhat predictably perhaps, there seems to have an inability for the international community to break the climate deadlock because of incompatible national interests. The outcome has been variously described as “desperately disappointing” and a “disaster”. The recriminations have already started. It seems that many are blaming China for the lack of “deep cuts in carbon emissions”.
Reaction to the summit has been wide-ranging. These are just some of the comments from today’s “Observer”: “This marks a turning point in human nature” (Colin Blakemore, expert of human behaviour); “Obama is handcuffed by the political mess at home” (Jessy Tolkan, US activist); “Failure at such a grand level means we have to act locally” (Julian Hunt, scientist); “This was a huge step on from our work in Kyoto” (John Prescott, negotiator); “This fiasco will further alienate an angry public” (Benny Peiser, sceptic); and “China ended up a useful scapegoat” (Ailun Yang, campaigner).
So, we’re left with countries agreeing to register their planned emissions cuts by the end of January; the UN climate body’s meeting in Bonn (in May 2010) will tackle the issue of emissions; and then, hopefully, a major meeting will be convened in Mexico in December 2010 to “seal a legal treaty”.
Depressingly, it seems like deja-vu to me.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

… “and to think, we didn’t know any of these people five years ago”

Last night, the cream of our school’s teaching staff invaded the bars and clubs of Bristol. The “event” marked the end of what has seemed like a long, long term. They’re an amazing group of people – committed, professional, incredibly hardworking and, frequently, unsung. They’ve also become lovely friends. Stef and I started work at the school on the same day (and in the same role) and, during the course of last night, we briefly reflected on the fact that, five years ago, we didn’t know a single one of these wonderful people! Life is strange, but often has some really rather lovely surprises…. for which I’m very grateful.
Photo: I don't have a pic of all my friends from school, so here are just three of them (Emma, Helen and Bex)!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

dramatic contrast

Moira+I went along to the Tobacco Factory last night to see Felix perform in “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves”. It was absolutely brilliant. Hugely entertaining. The audience was completely captivated by a truly dazzling production. Brilliantly conceived and performed (we thought Felix was fantastic, of course, but we weren’t the only ones – see this review). The night was all about imagination, entertainment and the true magic of live theatre. You REALLY should see this show – it runs until 17 January – it will make your week/month… even year!
In sharp contrast, on Friday evening we went to see the St Paul’s Player’s production of “The Wind in the Willows”. I know it’s completely unfair comparing the Tobacco Factory’s professional theatre with the “Am-Dram” equivalent at St Paul’s Church, but the difference was striking in the extreme. In fact, the acting was largely good – we very much enjoyed the performances of Peter Nicoll (Toad) and those of our friends Anna (as a wonderfully engaging Mole) and Dean (as Albert, the horse). Unfortunately, in my view, the producer and director absolutely ruined the show. It was incredibly long (virtually three hours by the time we left) and would have been much more effective if two or three scenes had been cut completely; the change-overs between scenes were excruciatingly long (so much so that some of the audience started giggling in disbelief at one stage!); and the “design” of some of the props (especially the train!) was just embarrassing…. but what do I know?
You can book Ali Baba tickets on-line! Just do it!

at long last!

Yesterday, my football team beat Man U at Old Trafford. It was their first win there for 26 years. More importantly, it was the first time Villa has beaten the mighty Reds in any game since Alice+Dave got married in 2003! It’s just possible that I might mention the result when they’re down in Bristol this coming weekend!
PS: what was slightly bizarre about yesterday’s premiership footie results was that the ONLY winners were the three teams from the West Midlands (Blues+Wolves also won) – and with the same 1-0 result. Just thought you might like to know that!

Monday, December 07, 2009

forest of dean

Spent a very good three days in the forest last week with a group of Year 8 pupils from school. Very good to see children out of their normal school context (and for them to see their teachers in a similar light). As usual, the forest nightwalks were one of the highlights for most of the students. The facilities at the Dean Field Studies Centre are excellent (including climbing tower, zip wire, Jacob’s ladder, “leap of faith”, eco-trail, orienteering, plus various problem-solving exercises). Just amazing seeing students “having-a-go” at things that they genuinely feel are impossible for them to achieve (and complete reluctance to participate) – and then to witness their sheer sense of pride and self-belief when, against all the odds, they DO succeed. I just wish a handful of the parents could see what their children are capable of doing – with the right encouragement. They’d be completely amazed!
Photo: all they had to do was to ascend a 10m high telegraph pole, then stand on the equivalent of a tiny wooden tray while the pole swung furiously from side to side, then launch themselves into mid-air and try to catch a trapeze bar. Scary or what?

Sunday, December 06, 2009

climate change rally

Went up to London yesterday to take part in the Climate Change rally. Reported numbers vary, but it appears that something like 40,000 people took part. It was really good to feel part of such a passionate group of people campaigning for what is almost certainly the most important single issue in the world today. If I’m honest, given the crucial nature of the Climate Change Conference starting in Copenhagen tomorrow, I was disappointed that London wasn’t overrun by protestors. I came across this quote from Archbishop Desmond Tutu, which seems to sum up much of my own feelings: “No one is immune – rich, poor, developed and developing countries. We are all in this together. I will probably be spared the worst effects of climate change but I worry for our children’s future and for the millions of people who are already being impoverished and displaced”.
PS: great to meet up with friends - and was very amused to bump into Rob+Anna, who were desperately trying to "qualify" their banner slogans by writing additional words... using a 0.3 felt-tip pen!

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

bright star

Moira and I went to see Jane Campion’s “Bright Star” at the Watershed on Sunday afternoon. The film tells the story of John Keats’s unconsummated love affair with Fanny Brawne in the final days of his life. I thought it was a rather beautiful, tender film – with fine performances from Ben Whishaw and Abbie Cornish (and from Paul Schneider as Keats’s friend Brown) – although Moira did admit to being a “bit bored”! The blurb from the Watershed provides an interview with Ben Whishaw and, in it, he explains that there was a scene that Campion cut quite late in the day, where Keats gets very angry and jealous of Fanny. I’m pleased the scene WAS omitted because it would certainly have interfered with the overall sense of understated gentleness (despite the sadness of story) that I found so appealing.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

this world

On the day when the US President “vowed greenhouse gas emissions cuts” (beginning with a 17% cut by 2020, based on 2005 emissions, to a 83% cut by 2050), I watched an excellent “This World” programme on BBC2 last night (entitled “Can Obama Save the Planet?”)(you can watch it on BBC iPlayer). As the world’s biggest per capita polluter, the US must surely take a moral responsibility to take the lead in securing a “strong and fair agreement” in Copenhagen. The programme proved to be both fascinating and enlightening. For example, on the plus side, did you know (largely thanks to good old George W)(blimey!) that Texas produced the most wind electricity in the world? or that California has incredibly high electricity costs, but people actually have very low electricity bills (through impressive energy management schemes)? On the other hand, there do seem to be an awful lot of lobbyists around in the US (eg. acting on behalf of the huge - and influential - “Clean Coal” industry). My emotions fluctuated wildly during the course of the programme – hugely encouraging, illuminating, worrying and, ultimately, quite depressing. Whilst there are some amazing, talented green campaigners over there, there also seem to be an awful lot of heads buried in the sand!
Coincidentally, yesterday also saw the White House confirming that Obama would indeed be attending the Copenhagen climate talks next month. Whilst this is very good news, it seems he’ll only be there for the early stages and won’t be around for the crucial final days of the talks (he’s picking up his Nobel Peace Prize while he’s in Europe!). This all sounds reasonably positive but, of course, it all rather depends on Congress passing the necessary legislation in the early part of 2010!
Photo: Justin Rowlatt from the BBC’s “This World” programme - really engaging, amusing and impressive presenter.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

cystic fibrosis

I strongly advise you to read Victoria Tremlett’s article in yesterday’s Guardian magazine entitled “Experience: I hope I’m here for Christmas”. She’s a 22 year-old woman who was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis when she was two and she writes very eloquently about her long, frustrating wait for a lung transplant. All very humbling.
We have a Year 10 student, Nick, at our school with CF (another pupil at school with CF died last year) and I’ve spent a fair amount of time with him since he started secondary school. He’s absolutely brilliant – bubbly personality, very popular with his peers and prepared to have a go at everything - but I know just how tough it’s been for his mother (especially as a single parent). Although the life expectancy of CF patients continues to increase (about 75 per cent of affected children survive to young adulthood), coming to terms with the average life expectancy of between 30 and 40 must be very hard to live with.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

is it just me 2?

I went to Blacks today to buy some new laces for my walking boots. As most of you will know, Blacks is a highly reputable outdoor clothing and camping gear shop. They have helpful and knowledgeable shop assistants….
I duly found some laces, but didn’t know what length I would need and couldn’t see a chart or anything explaining what I would need. So I went up to this assistant, showed him the 120cm laces and asked him if these would be suitable for walking boots with six eyelets? I expected him to look up a chart or simply to be experienced enough “just to know” the answer, but no…. he got a six eyelet walking boot from a rack, took one of “my” laces and, very carefully, proceeded to overlay them precisely over the laces of the shop boot. I couldn’t quite believe my eyes and was rendered utterly speechless (amazing, but true!). Eventually, he said: “it’s very difficult to be precise, but I think these will be fine”. I hadn’t the heart to query his professional judgement and duly bought them. I’ve just returned home and have put them in my boots – they’ll JUST about be ok. 130cm would have been the better size, but there was just NO WAY that I was going back to the shop!
PS: somewhat pathetically (I hadn't got my glasses when I was in the shop), I've JUST noticed that, in small writing on the packet, it states "to fit 5 eyelets"!! Aaaaaargh!

is it just me 1?

I’ve got the wrong kind of ears for running.
I love my i-Pod. I’ve had it for about three-and-a-half years and it’s been a great source of pleasure. My only problem is that the earphones keep falling out of my ears when I’m walking. I walked into town this morning and had to adjust/replace my earphones about a hundred times on the way (you think I’m exaggerating!). Yes, I know I could always buy headphones instead, but they seem very bulky by comparison. During the course of my walk, I was overtaken by probably half a dozen joggers and it suddenly made me realise that THIS was why I didn’t go running these days!
PS: maybe all those years of listening to the radio in the night through my earphones enlarged the holes in my ears?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

the white ribbon

This film picked up the Palme d’Or at Cannes earlier in the year and, with Moira spending yesterday shopping in Birmingham with Alice, I thought I’d take the opportunity to take another trip to the Watershed. Michael Haneke’s highly-acclaimed film (I think it’s probably a masterpiece) is set in a small farming village in northern Germany on the eve of the First World War. It’s a brilliant and disturbing film and what at first appears to be a rather docile community slowly reveals itself to be a dysfunctional society, “plagued with anonymous, retaliatory acts of malice and spite” (as aptly described by Peter Bradshaw in his Guardian Review). The film is a beautifully-crafted, slow-burning mystery from beginning to end but, frustratingly for all of who watched it yesterday afternoon, the mystery was somewhat emphasised by a glitch in the sub-titles over the last 10 minutes!! By then, I just KNEW that the film would leave us “all in the air”, but it would have been good to know what the narrator was saying over those final minutes as the director panned around a bleak German landscape. I think the Watershed intend offering a refund but, frankly, I’d be far more interested in seeing a transcript of the final ten minutes’ commentary (in English please)!
PS: it’s quite a long film – nearly two-and-a-half hours – and I was pretty amazed that not a single person in the large audience needed to spend a penny in that time!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

sudden death

I arrived home from school yesterday afternoon. It was the end of the week. It was time to veg and relax into the weekend. It was then that Moira said we’d received some horrible news… my brain immediately went into a spin… I KNEW someone must have died, but Moira had used the term “horrible” and this gave a sense that the news would be unexpected… my mind continued to spin. It transpired that we’d received word from great mate Si that Graham/Bodge had died the previous day. He was a head teacher. He collapsed at school and died on the premises. Everyone was in a state of shock. He was a lovely, funny, gentle man. He was 48 and left a pregnant wife and two young children. Just terrible. Terrible.
Graham had been a young teacher at our children’s primary school. We’d got to know him well – and, for me, this was especially true during my time as a School Governor (he was also a member of our local parish church). I’ve got very special memories of watching a lot of Euro 96 on Graham’s telly “with the lads” – and especially England’s 4-1 thrashing of Holland. We were “quite happy” as a result. I will always remember that time.
My great buddy Pete and I frequently seem to be exchanging stories on the telephone of mutual friends who had died or had just been diagnosed with some horrible illness – but the difference is that we’re in our sixties!
At school this week we’ve been coping with news that the mother of two pupils in our House had died after “being ill” for just over two weeks (it was discovered she had stomach cancer).
Dealing with such things is sobering in the extreme. They pull you up short. They make me realise just how many blessings I have in my life and just how precious life is. Just how precious family and friends are (I really do count my blessings).
We mustn’t take such things for granted. We must remember to celebrate them… and often.
God bless you Graham/Bodge RIP.
Photo: Graham/Bodge from 1998 (thanks to Si Smith for pic).

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

sixth form options

Last night was “sixth form options evening” at school. I have very little to do with the sixth form – apart from chatting to pupils who have crossed my path at various times over previous years. You can get into our sixth form (in theory) if you achieve a minimum of 6 Cs at GCSE. The problem is that our school is so good at getting pupils to achieve very good GCSE results that we end up with accepting pupils into the sixth form who perhaps shouldn’t be there and for whom the step up to A Levels comes as an enormous shock. The system effectively encourages schools to “spoonfeed” pupils so that they pass their exams (obviously, the brighter ones don’t need this and will be successful anyway) – it’s not the pupils who are examined these days, it’s the schools! And, of course, this is often repeated for A Levels – with pupils being schooled (again, spoonfed in my view) to pass.
The trouble is, it seems to me, that for some of these “successful” students, the world of university education or the “real world” of work will come as an almighty shock to the system. It’s there that they’ll be “found out” – when there’s no longer anyone around to spoonfeed them in the way they’ve become accustomed… or maybe I’ve just become very cynical in my old age!

Monday, November 09, 2009

an education

Went to the Watershed again early yesterday evening (yes, I know - theatre on Friday, cinema on Sunday!). This time it was to see “An Education” directed by Lone Scherfig: an engaging coming-of-age story (based on Lyn Barber’s memoir and cleverly adapted by Nick Hornby) set in the early 1960s. It tells the story of a middle-class London schoolgirl (absolutely beautifully played by Carey Mulligan) who has her sights on going to Oxford University, until she is seduced by an older man who introduces her to the delights and sophistication of smoky jazz clubs, art, Paris and the high-life in general. I thought the entire cast were impressive, but I particularly enjoyed Rosamund Pike’s performance as a “faintly vacant and glassy-eyed” (as Peter Bradshaw described her in his “Guardian” review) girlfriend of the seducer’s “business partner”.
It was very English; it was also funny, poignant and completely endearing and it reminded me of just how unsophisticated and naive I was when I first started at university (some say I haven’t changed!) – and I certainly wasn’t endearing!
I really enjoyed it (it’s only on until this Thursday at the Watershed, so you’d better be quick if you live in Bristol).

Saturday, November 07, 2009

uncle vanya at the bristol old vic

Moira and I spent a lovely evening at the Bristol Old Vic watching Chekhov’s “Uncle Vanya” yesterday. A really excellent production – with Simon Armstrong quite brilliant in the Vanya role and Harriet de Winton’s design stunningly simple. Jeremy Kingston in “The Times” describes it thus: “This truly is the most wonderful production: a Chekhov that shows, as it must, the sorrows of wasted and wasteful lives but is performed by its exemplary cast to indicate also, as Chekhov wanted, the farcical comedy of those lives”.
The play touched on a number of issues which are very relevant for us all today – with references to the sustainability+care of the planet and also for Moira+me as we approach retirement. Very good to be back at the Old Vic again although, sadly, we were very aware that the average age of the audience was probably in excess of fifty – with very few twenty-somethings.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

copenhagen fears?

There is a growing consensus among scientists that we really do have a global climate emergency in which we have less than 10 years to stop and reverse the global growth in greenhouse gases before “runaway” climate change becomes uncontrollable. The “Campaign Against Climate Change” sees December’s United Nations Climate Talks in Copenhagen as the “most important international meeting ever held”.
However, I have to say that I’m becoming increasingly concerned that December’s conference will simply come up with political fudges/platitudes and that no significant binding agreements will be forthcoming. This article in “The Times” dated 31/10/09, outlining Angela Merkel’s belief that only a broad political framework was now possible from the negotiations and that the chances of a comprehensive treaty had effectively disappeared, only appears to confirm this. I get the feeling that all we’ve had so far has been politicians queuing up to demonstrate how wonderfully committed THEY are to the aims of the conference – almost on the basis that, if it does “fail”, they can all say: “well, don’t blame us, we tried our best – but it was all those others…”. Obviously, compared with the previous “Mr President”, it’s great that Obama is so determined to achieve a successful outcome in Copenhagen. However, even if this was possible, I strongly suspect that any proposed legislation arising from the conference would be blocked by Congress (if recent events are anything to go by).
I REALLY hope that I’m wrong on this and that the conference exceeds all expectations in terms of outcome, but it feels very much as if we’ve been here before!
PS: I was particularly depressed by comments on “The Times” article made by some readers (it would be interesting to know their nationalities!).

Saturday, October 31, 2009

holiday ends… but the memories will linger on

We’re back home after a week away in Cornwall. We “organised” the holiday some two years ago (pathetic, I know!) and we’ve been looking forward to it for months and months in advance. Strangely, as the event got nearer, I became really quite concerned that a) the anticipation would be a complete let-down, b) we’d get on each others’ nerves and/or c) the weather would be disastrous. In the event, it was just lovely. SO many wonderful memories in probably the PERFECT location (yes, I realise that one or two people might query this).
Feeling very grateful that everything went so well.
I just think we’ll be “drinking” memories of this holiday for many years to come.
Photo: this was the bay window view from our apartment (Dan wasn’t always there!)… how can you fail when you wake up to this every morning?

Friday, October 30, 2009


Last “proper” day of our holiday and I’m determined to make the most of it… early morning trek along the beach, favourite walks and generally chilling.
As you might have already gathered, if you read my blog on anything like a reasonably regular basis, my family is the most important thing in my life (friends come in a very good second!). It’s been SO good to share this week with Ruth+Stu+Iris+Rosa+Hannah+Fee+Alice+Dave+Mikey+Dan+Moira. It’s been really great to get together and especially to be able to spend some extra time with Alice+Dave and the boys – as we just don’t see them as much as we’d like to. Mikey is as disarming as ever and has calmed down hugely compared with perhaps a year ago (when he would happily throw toys around without a second thought)… I really enjoyed jumping in and out of “sand holes” on the beach and laughing+laughing in the process! Dan is a footballer in the making and seems to have a real “ball” fetish (he has a powerful shot on him and can even perform “drop kicks”!) – lots of athletic goalkeeping ability performed by grandad accordingly (much to the amusement of young grandson). It’s also been lovely to spend more time with Rosa (lots and lots of smiles and happy giggles). Iris has been as entertaining as usual – telling stories and going into lots of hilarious, over-the-top explanations (eg. when her grandfather took her to the loo for a poo and when he asked her if she’d finished, she responded with the immortal words “be patient grandad”!).
One of the highlights of the holiday has been the time spent round the huge dining table at the end of each day (we’ve taken it in turns to cook), after the children have all gone to bed.
Very, very special times.
Photo: compilation of photographs taken over the course of our week in St Ives.
PS: Alice+Dave had to leave on Thursday morning and Moira was anxious to get a “team photograph” (bottom of the compilation pic) before they went (hence jimjams in pic!); unfortunately, poor Stu had had to leave at dawn to catch a train for a business meeting (hence no Stu in pic!).
PPS: Another Iris story: I’d been telling her stories and suggested it was time for her to tell me one. She agreed and started: “Once upon a time”…. followed by a dramatic silence. After a while, I queried why she’d stopped. She responded with: “well, that was just an advert”!
You just couldn’t make it up!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

the idyllic holiday place

This is our fourth visit to Upper Saltings and, frankly, having “discovered” it about 10 years ago, it would be very difficult to come to St Ives and NOT to stay here! The apartment is a second floor, converted sail loft with wonderful views across Porthmeor Beach and over the Atlantic Ocean. Architecturally, the place is just stunning; it’s full of beautiful art and equipped with everything one might need for the perfect holiday. To some extent, we tend to “do our things” during the day and then take turns to cook and relax in the evenings around the huge dining table. Even though we’re so familiar with the place, it still takes our breath away each time we arrive and are hit by the sight of the turquoise sea as we enter the main living space.
Purely on grounds of expense, I suspect that this might be our last holiday here – but the memories will live on regardless!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

magical birthday memories

I think today marked the formal end of my birthday celebrations (at last, some will say!) and the beginning of Moira’s birthday "festival" (which will go on well beyond next March!). At about 5.30pm this evening, Moira and I were ushered out by the rest of the family on to the beach in the dark. Lanterns were duly lit (secret, homemade ones of course!) and two bottles of champagne were opened to celebrate our 60th birthdays (and, of course, our lovely family holiday), but then a very special thing happened….
Two paper sky lanterns were lit and let off into the sky. At first, it seemed as if the lanterns would simply “crash land” a few metres away but, magically, they both slowly rose into the night sky and sailed off across the sea to the horizon. It was really quite an emotional, almost spiritual, time – we cheered, we waved them goodbye, we sang songs and we watched them disappear into the black sky and traced their paths until the tiny dots of light finally disappeared. What a wonderful, memorable, happy occasion. Just absolutely magical!
We are indeed VERY blessed!
Photos: we were concentrating on the moment rather than taking pics (fortunately Felix took some!).

st ives

Moira and I love St Ives.
Before 1999, we probably hadn’t been back for nearly 20 years but, once we returned, we fell in love with the place all over again. We love the art; we love the architecture and the landscape; we love its comparatively small size; we love the sea and the beaches… and we also love the fact that, now we live in Bristol, it only takes us just over 3 hours to journey here.
It’s also rather nice that our lovely, lovely friends Alan and Gareth adore the place too and desperately try to visit it on a yearly basis.
I wonder when we’ll be back?
Photos: compilation of images taken though the course of the week thus far.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

happy birthday dan!

Yesterday was Dan’s second birthday. He seemed quite impressed that various members of his family had taken time off to help him celebrate on holiday in Cornwall. He certainly had LOTS of presents and took great pleasure in tearing off all the wrapping paper. He also did very well in making the appropriate “coos” of appreciation as he revealed each of his presents in turn (there’s just a chance that Dave+Alice will have to hire a trailer to get the stuff back to Lancashire!). One of the highlights (for all of us) was Dan helping his mother to make apple muffins for everyone!
Photo: Dan and Alice spooning mix into the cake tin (on the floor – as I think they do in all the best TV cooking programmes).

Monday, October 26, 2009

the bunk room at upper saltings

The Bunk Room is just one of the amazing spaces at Upper Saltings. It consists of six architecturally-designed(!), built-in bunk beds (three tiers high). This week, because there are quite a few of us (and because the bunks are not quite yet suitable for Dan and Mikey), Iris, Moira and I are sharing the bunk room together – and it’s all quite exciting (even for a 60 year-old)!
Photos: bunk room images (including one of Iris in one of the top bunks).

Saturday, October 24, 2009

upper saltings, st ives

It seems like absolutely ages ago now, but Moira and I decided to book a holiday for the whole family at Upper Saltings, St Ives to celebrate our 60th birthdays (October is more or less mid-way between or birthdays – obviously, Moira has yet to welcome her next decade!). We last came to the breathtaking Upper Saltings in April 2004 - there were eight of us last time, but now there are twelve! Despite the pretty miserable weather forecast, it turned out to be a rather beautiful day and it is wonderful to be back. We feel very blessed.
Photo: relaxing after the journey - the stunning window views over Porthmeor beach from Upper Saltings.

Friday, October 23, 2009

mr griffin on the bbc

So, BNP Leader Mr Griffin is going to make an official complaint to the BBC about last night’s Question Time programme – saying its normal format had been “twisted” so that it focussed solely on his views and described the audience as a “lynch mob”.
But he can’t have it all ways!
According to the BBC, the members of the audience were invited long before the decision to have Mr Griffin on the programme. In the event, it wasn’t surprising that the audience should focus its questions on the BNP Leader.
In a letter posted on the BNP’s website prior to the programme, he described the prospect of him appearing on Question Time as a “milestone in the indomitable march of the British National Party towards saving our country”. He also said: "Our violent opponents on the far left have promised to lay siege and barricade the studio venue, because they know only too well that this could be THE key moment that propels the BNP into the big time. Never before have we had the chance to present our patriotic, common sense solutions to Britain's nightmare situation to the public at large in such a prominent fashion. It will, in other words, be political blood sport. But I am relishing this opportunity."
I'm happy to say that I think Griffin’s credibility will have been severely damaged.
I’m inclined to agree with Kelvin Mackenzie’s view: “I've never seen a television show in which you felt your stomach turning over. The guy was basically lying his head off to create an image that he was basically a conservative who just had very strong views about immigration”. But, despite this, I also feel that Diane Abbott has pinpointed the key concern: "Everyone is talking about Nick Griffin. The programme has given him unnecessary exposure, unnecessary credibility and giving more credibility to a fascist party in the middle of a recession is a very dangerous thing."

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


I was absolutely appalled by Monday night’s “Panorama” programme “Undercover – hate on the Doorstep”. The behaviour of the young people featured in the documentary against the two Asian reporters (who posed as a married couple living in Southmead, Bristol) made feel physically sick. I just can’t comprehend how anyone can behave like this towards another human being – it was just barbaric. Yes, I realise that it’s probably only a tiny minority of young people in the area who behave in such a manner, but that doesn’t make it any more tolerable. I’ve just looked on the BBC website and Batook Pandya (Support Against Racist Incidents) is quick to point out that “there's a lot of good work going on in Southmead by the council, the police, everybody else who is with the youth service”. I don’t doubt that this is true, but I found the following quote from Barbara Janke of Bristol City Council somewhat predictable and painfully depressing: “Are we doing enough with young people in schools? Are we doing enough in other agencies within the city to tackle this level of prejudice?”.
It always seems to come down to “are the schools doing enough?”. Very rarely is there ANY reference to the role of PARENTS in all this.
I strongly suspect that the parents of most of the young people we saw on our screens last night are sadly lacking in anything approaching decent parenting skills. The depressing truth is that Monday night’s featured young people will themselves become parents in the not-very-distant future and one can only imagine, and fear for, what is likely to become of their offspring.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

500 posts (oh good grief!)

I recently noticed that I was getting very close to publishing my 500th blog post.
Well, I’m afraid that this IS my 500th post. How scary is THAT!
I started blogging in October 2006 (I blame Ian Adams!). I knew practically nothing about blogworld and simply thought I’d “give it a try” and see what developed (if anything). Posting the occasional blog has now become second nature. As some of you will know, I tend to post a blog very early in the morning (I know this is very sad, but I’m usually up each morning soon after 5am!) and this, together with checking out facebook stuff, is very much part of my daily routine while enjoy my tea/coffee+toast and focus/reflect on the day ahead. For me:
a) blogging is really a bit of a personal diary. Yes, I know it might seem strange to have a diary that everyone can see – but it provides a link for family and friends who I’m unable to see on a regular basis (eg. family activities and photos).
b) it also provides me with a useful aide memoir for various events (eg. a reminder of what films I’ve seen; games of golf; visits to friends; holiday destinations/memories etc).
c) it provides me with an opportunity to comment on things that are happening in the big wide world (politics; environmental issues; art; music etc).
d) crucially, I think it also provides me with an opportunity to focus on the things that are happening in my life in a positive way (usually!) and perhaps helps me to appreciate my family and friends even more!
I REALLY hope that the blog DOESN’T come across as a vehicle for me to say “hey, look at me… I’ve just done this (or whatever). If it does, I’m really sorry – that’s not the point at all.
PS: Blimey!! I’ve just checked my first ever blog only to discover that TODAY is actually my third blogging birthday!! How weird is that?

Saturday, October 17, 2009


My wonderful daughters+sons-in-law and lovely friend Heather gave me £120 worth of cinema tokens(!) for the Watershed for my 60th birthday. They’ve been just the most brilliant birthday presents! Since the beginning of February, I’ve seen some 17 films there (very nearly two a month – which is pretty amazing for me!).
Moira and I have just returned from watching Peter Strickland’s “Katalin Varga” (we were supposed to be seeing Terry Gilliam’s “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus”, but it was sold out!). I’ve seen it described as a “road movie, a revenge narrative and a compassionate study of the drawn-out effects of trauma”. It’s set within beautiful Romanian landscapes and manages to capture an intense atmosphere which it maintains throughout (heightened by a wonderful use of sounds). It’s a powerful, unsettling, but captivating film and I’m really pleased we went to see it.
Anyway, huge thanks again to Heather+Ruth+Stu+Hannah+Fee+Alice+Dave. You’re all stars!
Photo: excellent Hilda Peter, who plays the Katalin Varga character.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

blog action day: climate change

I realise that, in these days of public spending cuts, this might be a bit of a pipedream but I really believe that the UK Government should be investing money in making all schools carbon neutral within the next say ten years. At present, if our school is anything to go by, the “heating goes on” on some prescribed day – which usually coincides with the warmest day of Autumn (as it did this year!). There is very little control over temperature – which results in both incredibly hot and cold spots around the school – and levels of thermal insulation that are laughably poor. Here are just three examples: we have an absurd situation in one of the staff/disabled toilets where lights are turned on automatically (whether they’re required or not) as a person enters and this immediately triggers the biggest (and loudest) extract fan in the world into action; there was another loo where the fan operated 24/7 and it took several reminders from me (over a period of some weeks) before anything was done about it; similarly, the relatively new school canteen has a mechanical extract system which is not only incredibly noisy (conversation in some locations really is quite difficult!) but also the occupants feel as if they’re sitting in a fridge! Like an awful lot of schools I suspect, energy and waste seem to be given a very low priority (even though we’re signed up as an Eco-School!).
I know some rare schools already do this, but wouldn’t it make sense if every school monitored its use (and abuse) of energy? Wouldn’t it make sense to make use of the latest technology when it comes to energy? Wouldn’t it make a wonderful educational opportunity? Wouldn’t it be a great way to make young people aware of what might be possible in everyday life?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


Saturday’s Guardian and Weekend magazine included some fascinating stuff about teenage boys. It pointed to research showing that teenagers felt “wrongly demonised”. Here’s an extract: “The news may come as a shock to those who believe Britain is a broken society menaced by hoodie-wearing yobs, but research commissioned by The Guardian shows that the vast majority of teenage boys are ambitious, career-minded, home-loving and, above all, happy”. 87% are happy at home/with their family; 87% are happy with their social life; 88% are ambitious about their futures; and 88% believe their career prospects are good.
It really was fascinating stuff, but a brief interview of two 14 year-old boys from Kent did make me laugh out loud. It featured two boys named Blue Addison and Barney Hodson Laybourne (see pic) – both boys immaculately kitted out in colourful gear. Blue received £5 a week pocket money from his grandparents (hope that’s not setting a precedent?); Barney got just £3 from his Dad (when he saw him every other weekend). But don’t feel too sorry for Barney (pictured right) because the article went on to say that his favourite items of clothing were the 50 pairs (yes, fifty!) of trainers he owned.
Clearly, our girls were deprived.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

my bruvva and le donk

The picture, I hasten to add, is NOT of my lovely brother Alan in drinking mode – it’s Paddy Considine from the film “Le Donk and Scor-Zay-Zee” (read on!….).
Moira+I met up with Alan+Lesley+Megan+Eleanor for breakfast in Cheltenham this morning – in The Montpellier Wine Bar (great friend Helen has already made a comment relating to my consumption of red wine and breakfast!). It was just a perfect start to a Sunday, although it didn’t actually open until 10am, so it was somewhat later than I’m used to! Great to see the other half of the Broadway clan and to hear all about their latest exploits.
Later in the day, I went to see Shane Meadows’s “Le Donk and Scor-Zay-Zee” at the Watershed (Meadows directed “This is England”). The entire film was made in 5 days and takes the form of a fly-on-the-wall documentary – with Considine playing the part of a past-it roadie looking to steal glory from a “talented, unknown rapper”. It’s very entertaining (apart, for me, from the excessive amount of swearing) and sometimes ridiculously funny. The only real downside was one very large member of the Watershed audience, who spent the entire film laughing out loud (as in LOUD!) in a repetitive, whining, “heh-heh-heh” way! Very, very tedious.

Saturday, October 10, 2009


I can’t find my piece of the Berlin wall!
There have been various trailers on BBC Radio4 recently for programmes celebrating the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall. It made me wonder where I’d put my small piece of wall (won in a local Labour Party fundraising draw, I think?)…. I’ve been looking but, so far, in vain.
This seems to happen to me on a fairly regular basis (yes, there will be those who will put it all down to my age!). For example, I haven’t been able to find my lovely (expensive) Gore-tex waterproof trousers for several weeks now – and can’t remember the last time I wore them. Similarly (and I can’t for the life of me recall why I was looking for it), not so long ago, I was searching for a small black+white photograph of me playing football (taken in about 1970). I still haven’t found it. So, for my super power, I’d like the ability to be able to locate such things instantly please.
If found, please return to…..

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

goodbye mr chips

I’ve just finished reading my second book in two days.
Don’t worry, it’s not as impressive as it sounds – the latest was less than 130 pages and “big writing”! I’d read a little before going to sleep, but then woke up just after 2am and couldn’t get back to sleep.
I recently bought “Goodbye Mr Chips” (in hardback, published in 1934 but unfortunately without the wonderful illustrated cover!) from Dave Morgan-Davis’s fascinating Retro/Illuminate shop in North Street. It’s about a teacher at a public school in the early years of the last century – a far cry from the experiences of school today, but almost enchanting nevertheless (have I ever used the word "enchanting" before in my life?!).

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

the wasp factory

I’ve just finished reading Iain Banks’s “The Wasp Factory”.
It’s an amazing, hauntingly beautiful book written with breathtaking imagination and an astonishing eye for detail. It’s been on our book shelves for ages and I’m so pleased I’ve got to read it at last.
PS: Many thanks to Mike for recommending it!

Sunday, October 04, 2009

foundation weekend away

Some 20 or so members of foundation went down to Lee Abbey, near Lynton for the weekend. Leading up to it, I’d had an extremely full couple of weeks and, frankly, by Friday would have been more than happy to have opted for a quiet weekend at home… but, as so often happens when you’re tempted to do so on these occasions, it proved to be a really brilliant weekend. We were one of three groups who were staying at Lee Abbey over the weekend. We were by far the youngest of the three (apart from Moira+me!) and, unlike the painstaking preparation put in by the other groups (probably over several weeks), our “programme” was devised on the hoof over the last few days. In the event, it proved to be wonderfully stimulating, thought-provoking stuff. Last night, we decided to have a “friendly stage” – with people volunteering to come up with songs, poems, some improvisation etc (don’t worry, I didn’t perform – I vaguely acted as MC!). It was absolutely brilliant (an amazing amount of talented musicians and performers!). We were given permission to use the “tower” – a ramshackle shell of a building located high up on the headland overlooking the sea (and about a 10 minute walk through the woods in the pitch dark) as our “stage” and so, at around 10pm, we all disappeared to the tower for the latter part of the evening. There was no electricity, but we managed to light a fire and found a few candles… and then proceeded to sing various “rock(?)” songs at high volume to the accompaniment of Rob’s guitar and Tim’s harmonica. Some of the “party” stayed up until about 3am (not me, I hasten to add!) and, for a relatively brief but rather worrying time, managed to get themselves locked inside the tower! Dylan produced some absolutely wonderful photographs of the weekend (as well as videoing some interviews!). Hopefully, he’ll post them either on the foundation website or the foundation facebook site.
A truly wonderful weekend with a great bunch of people.
Photo: some of the group beside the crosses.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

joan as police woman

Hannah+I went to St George’s last night to see/hear Joan As Police Woman.
I knew it was going to be a good evening, but it far exceeded my expectations.
She’s a hugely-talented musician with an amazing, captivating voice. I came to appreciate Joan through my lovely brother Alan, who introduced me to “Sweet Thing” a couple of years ago – and last night’s version (with just her guitar and her voice) was a real highlight. To finish the evening, she played two piano pieces (“The Human Condition” and “To Be Lonely”) which were simply beautiful.
If you ever a chance to see her, grab it!
PS: It was also great to bump into lovely friends Mike and Paul.

Monday, September 28, 2009

duke of edinburgh award training

There are lots of schools around the country that participate in the DoE Award scheme, but there can’t be many (if any?) that would be able to match our school’s record of last weekend. Over 130 Year 10 pupils (virtually half of the entire year!) took part in DoE Bronze Award training with an amazing 39 members of staff involved (all unpaid volunteers) in a two-day trek over the beautiful countryside around Wells and Glastonbury. Not quite sure how she did it, but the entire weekend was master-minded by the irrepressible Carol.
A wonderful, if very full, weekend – with the only downside being that we all had to be back at school on Monday morning!
Photo: climbing barrow hill on the final leg of day one.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

peace one day

Yesterday was Peace One Day. I’d never even heard of it up until a fortnight ago.
The idea was launched by one man, Jeremy Gilley, in 1999.
He set out to find a starting point for peace. He had a mission: to document his efforts to establish the first ever annual day of global ceasefire and non-violence with a fixed calendar date. Remarkably, two years on, he achieved his primary objective when the 192 member states of the United Nations unanimously adopted 21 September as an annual day of global ceasefire and non-violence on the UN International Day of Peace.
At school, great friend Tom wanted to put on an Assembly for the entire school about Peace One Day and was duly given permission to do so by the powers-that-be (due to various logistic problems, this all happened last week and, ironically, I didn’t get to see/hear it - I was “required” elsewhere!) but, by all accounts, it provided a beautifully simple message to all those attending. He also asked pupils if they might be interested in producing some simple windmills to mark the day. He’d expected a pretty limited response but, in the event, was presented with getting on for 400 windmills! These were duly displayed at the front of the school and provided a powerful reminder to pupils, teachers and the local neighbourhood of the futility of war.
I think you should watch this short film from the website.
Photo: some of the peace one day windmills “planted” at our school yesterday morning.

Monday, September 21, 2009

away we go

Moira+I went to the Watershed again yesterday afternoon – this time to see Sam Mendes’s excellent film “Away We Go”. It’s about a couple in their early 30s facing impending parenthood. Her parents are long dead and they moved to Colorado to be near his parents – who, with no apparent regard to grandparental responsibilities(!) – announce that they’re off to spend two years in Antwerp. This results in the young couple embarking on a journey across North America (visiting friends, relatives etc) to find the perfect place to raise their yet-to-be-born daughter. It’s very funny at times and oddly touching.
We both thoroughly enjoyed it.

Sunday, September 20, 2009


It was great to see Steve+Bev again yesterday. Sobering thought to realise that Steve+I started our architectural course together at Oxford just 42 years ago… and, of course, neither of us have changed one iota! Like Moira+I, Steve+Bev met at Uni and the rest, as they say, is history. They visited us in Bristol about three years ago but, ridiculously, this was the first time we’d been back to Newnham-on-Severn since we moved to Bristol in 2003. Anyway, we had a lovely time – eating, drinking, laughing and chatting outside on a beautifully mild September day and then walking beside the river and through the village.
We definitely won’t leave it another three years before getting together again!
Photo: Bev+Steve in Newnham (note: Moira was in the original photograph, but had her eyes closed!)

Monday, September 14, 2009

the way we were

Gail+Ian+Moira+I were talking over supper on Saturday. Ian asked me about some music that had been playing and I made an apologetic admission that one of the tracks was from Sarah Brightman. Ian’s response was that he was currently into Barbra Streisand! This prompted me to remember Streisand’s “The Way We Were” – a song that my mother had chosen for her funeral (ten years ago last month). I hadn’t heard it for ages so, thanks to the wonders of Spotify, I played it over and over again before breakfast yesterday.
It reminded me that lot has happened over the last ten years…. Ruth, Hannah+Alice have all got married and, of course, Mikey, Iris, Dan and Rosa are now on the scene.
My mother would have been quite pleased.
Photo: Mary with Hannah (taken about 1982?)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

babs (+play me, I’m yours)

Gail+Ian+Debby+Ken are our very special friends. We’ve been friends for a long, long time and the lovely thing is that we try to get together over lunch to celebrate each other’s birthdays. Yesterday was even more special. Firstly, because we were celebrating Debby’s 50th birthday and, secondly, because it was the first time we’d all got together since Gail+Ian moved to Devon (they used to live in Oxford, along with Ken+Debby). We met up at Severnshed in Bristol and enjoyed a lovely meal together before walking through Queens Square and around the harbourside.
Photo: Ian providing us with musical accompaniment in Queens Square
Note: BABs is the e-mail shorthand for our get-togethers (Barnes-Adams-Broadway).
PS: on Friday evening, when I walking to Welsh Back to have a drink with some school friends, I noticed a lone piano in Queens Square. At the time, I just thought it was somewhat strange. Later that night, on my way home, I became aware of some amazing improvised jazz being played on a piano – the same piano I’d passed earlier in the square. It was just beautiful. One guy was playing; his three friends were standing around him and were just smiling; it made me smile too. A lovely moment.
Moira subsequently pointed out that it was all part of an art initiative – “Play Me, I’m Yours” (check out this website – some great pictures). Brilliant idea!