Saturday, 28 April 2012

A gentle moan to protect our green and pleasant land

They keep on telling us here that there's a drought. Tell that to my boots. Yesterday I managed to escape the confines of four walls and a tv and headed out to the Heath in the hope that I might manage to expend some energy. Leaden grey skies, gale force winds and an ominous prediction of yet more rain. I walked onto the Heath for probably about three hundred metres and then the heavens opened. Once more I was drenched. I cut short the walk, not jealous of the dog walkers with their heavy winter anoraks and their wellies and umbrellas following doggy footprints. Difficult to see the footprints, depleted as they were by mud and squelch.

I made my way back towards the Village and coffee. Rain gushed from overloaded drainpipes onto the streets, causing mini-rivers that gurgled onto the roads and into flooded gutters. It made sense to avoid them, otherwise my boots would have been drowned. As it was, the rain teemed down onto me, soaking my all-weather coat and my hood, pulled down over my eyes so that I was almost blinded, hardly shielded me from the onslaught. The hosepipe ban remains. It has rarely stopped raining for the three weeks that I have been back here. Where's it all going? Why is there no plan in place to retain what is a natural phenomenon in spring time: rain?

I have a moan. 'Oh, no.' I hear you murmering. 'Not another one!' But yes. When is this country going to move into the twenty-first century? Why can't any government put into effect legislation that actually saves water, much in the way that some other countries do, instead of manifestly enabling the water companies to waste so much? Our fount-of-all-knowledge, the village newsagent, he who knows everything that happens in the locale, takes note of all water leaks and then informs the local authority. The last broken pipe endured for weeks and it was only because of Mr. Fount's continual phone calls that the council did something about it. However, this retarded action was only after unaccountable thousands of gallons of water dispersing among the rats and foxes and sewers of London. What a prodigious waste of a natural resource that we the populace are told to preserve but that the elected government does nothing to protect.

So I'm sitting here, looking outside and the rain continues unabated. The sky is deep winter grey and huge great drops soak the decking that we should be sitting upon in garden chairs and drinking spring cocktails and eating salad. Oh, to be in England now that spring is here!

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Dead laptops, muddy dogs and doric columns

My computer died. Over the last few months it had been sending me messages. Mostly like 'help!' and 'save me!' It was over six years of age and in these times of new technologies, that was positively ancient. It used to heat up so much that I didn't need an electric blanket. You could feel the heat emanating from the poor dear. So it finally left me on Sunday morning. I turned him on and nothing. No light. No heat. No warming hum. Just a blank sound of a dead machine. It was as if he had been a friend to me. Now I have to make friends with my replacement. I'm still looking for favourites that I had secreted into files. Secreted being the right word. Where ARE they? Anyway, everything is pure and pristine and clean and shiny. How long it remains like that is anyone's guess.

I'm also back in the UK. It's cold. It's also grey and wet and windy. I am NOT used to this! Where's my sun? Well, actually, the sun does doff his hat occasionally between the showers. I'm spoilt. I know. April in the UK is supposed to be like this. I well remember walking the dogs on the Heath on April mornings and coming home with them completely soaked and full of mud . The hose would be out and the towels would be spread around and the flat would smell of wet canine. Do I miss that? Not really. Then, again, I'm lucky because I have The Win to walk around in TA. He's of the Frenchie breed and he hates the rain. He dodges the puddles and the showers and huddles under shop awnings even if there's the slightest tinge of damp in the air. He's quite adorable though and I'm quite the Frenchie lush these days. I saw a tiny puppy yesterday, cradled in her owner's arms and I had a thought... No. No, not really.

So we are now making 'arrangements' and I have my dress. Who said that there's no 'happy ending'? We know that the only real ending is the one that leads to worms and dust but on the way we can digress, can't we? Lovely photos appear of the happy couple and there's smiles and laughter and cheering news. My dress is very pretty and colourful. It's perfectly apt for the occasion and I only hope that I don't fall over and break my neck on the shoes that I have bought to accompany it. Maybe I'm being too complacent. Maybe I think that I'm younger than I am and my balance is as it used to be. Maybe I just want to look good! Beth has hers too. Vivienne Westwood, no less. It's going to be a hoot, what with Mariachi bands and doric columns and heart shaped swimming pools. But, really, who cares. More to follow.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Britain's snoops to freedom of thought in the Middle East

Isn't it scary what's happening in the UK? I'm talking about how even our emails and blogs and, no doubt, comments on articles will now be vetted by local councils. Facebook and Twitter too. Whatever happened to that once lovely island? When did we allow these intrusions into our day-to-day lives? We are continually watched by CCTV cameras. Every traffic light hosts a camera in order to see that we don't dare use our common sense to traverse a road - even when the traffic light is so temporary that the hole it is overseeing rarely sees a car coming in the opposite direction. How long will it be before the thought police break into our homes because we even mention someone of the opposite faith or we criticize the government?

The government has full knowledge of the hate preachers and the terrorists in our midst. Surely it needs to concentrate on these before it concentrates on us! Why doesn't the government crack down on those hate sites posted on Facebook? Why not go after the nauseating 'films' of beheading and suicide rallies that feature so frequently on YouTube? Why not simply deport those whose presence on British universities is so divisive and who have no connection to the country other than to whip up further hatred towards one particular race and country? The French government can do it, why not ours? Because it's easier to snoop?

They started working next door at 6.30am this morning. I was awake. I was not ready for the banging. I took myself into the kitchen and even though it was early and the sun was just making its way over the heads of the buildings opposite, it magnified the dust. I'm not a bad housekeeper but, as is often pointed out to me, we are in a desert! Not entirely a desert but there's enough sand and dust around that it often appears to me to be a total waste of time to continue with the dusting. However, we would then be covered in the stuff if I didn't bother! Every day I go around with the mop and the duster but it's a thankless task. We've had some amazing weather the past few days. Hot and sultry and very summer-like. Of course the dust is combined within the heat - a symbiosis of the two. Very Middle Eastern.

There was another demonstration in Kikar Rabin last night. It's Tel Aviv's major square for all kinds of large gatherings. It was renovated recently and is a really delightful place to sit and watch humanity. There are newly landscaped green areas with fish ponds and comfy chairs and the Philippino care-givers take their charges in their wheelchairs to sit and chat while watching the karp and the goldfish swimming among the reeds. Just recently the municipality created a bike lane at the side of the square and it is graced by tall, elegant palms and seating and floral arrangements every few metres. The fountains have been cleaned and painted and the paving slabs that once hosted tanks at Independence Day events have been replaced. Last night apparently a few hundred people managed to get themselves together again to protest the cost of living rises. I'm always in favour of protest when it's due but I do get irritated when it spills over into egocentricity. From demonstrating one topic it seems to follow on that you impede the traffic or get in the way of other people carrying out their own lives. So two or three hotheads were arrested. I wonder whether their Facebook pages will now be vetted by those above or their Twitter accounts taken offline. I doubt it. We still seem to have some autonomy here. Let's hope that it lasts.