Saturday, 15 November 2008

Any excuse or How to take the rough with the smooth

I don't need an excuse to go to Winchester.
That said, in stark contrast to the opening statement, I have managed the following excuses to go there in the last three months:
1 It's a convenient place to stop for lunch on the way to the where we're going
2 It's a useful route away from the the traffic jam on the way back from where we were going
3 It's a convenient place to stay when visiting a friend who lives in a town 15-20 miles away
4 It's a nice place to meet up with another friend and his wife for Sunday lunch tomorrow

It's hardly the social whirl of the century. But it is good to remind myself that the place I want to live is somewhere I always want to go back to.
Other excuses could have included
1 The torch lit procession through town for Guy Fawkes day
2 Because I want to
3 It's a really nice place to go
4 I feel at home there. In fact, I almost feel as though I own it although I know that I will probably never have the money to own so much as a bath and a sandwich toaster there

Tomorrow's trip is pretty important in that it will give Diana the chance to meet the final piece of my friend jigsaw. It's the man I inappropriately call Fildew. It's also the man I should accurately call Paul. He's married to Sarah whom I've never met. Should all the invited people turn up to our wedding next year, there will be three Sarahs and three Pauls. So, Fildew he remains.

And Fildew is an enigma wrapped up in cling film. If he felt comfortable with communicating with the outside world he'd be the most popular person around. But he's not so he has to make do with those who are dogged. In this case, that's me.

Anyway, if I thought he'd be able to stand the pressure of being sociable and organised for an entire day, I'd consider asking him to be my best man. But, like me, he's not.

Of bricks and mortar
After much gentle persuasion and idiotic determination, Nationwide finally deigned to lend us the money to buy the house in Ascot. Even after the decided to tell us that we had to stump up an extra £12,500 or go to hell, it took them three days to make a decision.

And within 24 hours of finally having the mortgage approved? The phone call. The estate agent. The news. The vendors have been knocked back by the owner of the house they wanted to buy. So, we're back in limbo. They want to sell us the house. We want to buy it. Where we go from here is anyone's guess.

Thursday, 6 November 2008


For anyone who may be upset by the result of the US election, here's a potentially unexpected bonus:
Sarah Palin's daughter no longer has to enter into a politically expedient marriage

By the way, if you are upset by the US election, why?

Isn't it frightening that a democratically elected politician in the great democracy on the planet has to give his first speech as president elect behind bullet proof glass?

Isn't it more frightening that the glass is there because of the fear that a fellow American is likely to be the one pulling the trigger?

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Hope has sprung

The fat lady is warming up. I am going to bed.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Hope springs eternal or Waiting for the great leap forwards.

I remember 1992. I remember expecting Labour to win the general election and the crushing disappointment that followed. I couldn't believe that after 13 years, people still wanted to vote Conservative.
What crushed the spirit were the polls. Right up until the exit polls, Labour were destined to be the largest party in parliament. The result would reshape Britain's political boundaries. The pollsters got it wrong.
At least, the pollsters were said to have got it wrong. Perhaps they asked the wrong questions or wrote the answers down without really listening. Perhaps people were ashamed to admit that after 13 years of social division and policies that began the credit boom which is only now unraveling, they were still voting for the government.
Anyway, it's unfair to say anyone got it wrong. That would suggest that people used their democratic right frivolously and I'd hate to think that anyone would ever do that.
Well tonight my fear is that it is 1992 all over again. I had personal reasons to be deeply interested in the outcome of the 1992 general election. I have personal reasons for being deeply affected by the outcome of the 2008 presidential election.
In the last 18 months I have met and befriended more Americans than in the previous 34 put together. In under a year I am marrying an American and it's possible we may eventually live in the States. In the last four days I have become acutely of my dependence on prescription medicine. My heart condition is controlled by various prescription drugs and being without one of those drugs over the last few days has been intolerable.
And so I have been following the debates about health insurance with great interest. Only, there haven't really been any. It's been a non-existent issue.
It does rear its head in conjunction with the rhetoric of the campaign. From the right, the rhetoric has been all about socialism. Considering one of the main ways to get at Obama is to call him a socialist, it is amazing to think that no one in the US knows what a socialist actually is.
To think that anyone espousing a health scheme that still revolves around private insurance is a socialist is idiocy and juvenile propaganda. To claim that taxing those earning over $250,000 to help lower (not remove, lower) the cost of health care is as far removed from socialism as I am from a getting a book deal. Taxing the wealthiest to help the middle classes is not socialism. It's a glimmer of the redistribution of wealth.
Can you imagine a European socialist party with a limited tax plan to slightly reduce the cost of private health insurance by slightly raising the tax of a few? A socialist government would destroy the private system and replace it with a universal, centrally funded system that ensured equity regardless of social standing or wealth. A socialist government would increase the safety net for the poorest, funding it with the excessive wealth of those who had previously benefited from tax breaks designed to win votes rather than improve society.
Obama is no socialist. But until that term stops being thrown around with the same weight as thief or murderer, then sensible political debate will not happen.
But then calling him a liberal didn't stop people telling the pollsters they were going to vote Democrat. Socialist is one step further down the line. And I'm worried that the label will stick, that enough people will believe he cannot be trusted and it'll be 1992 all over again. That the (mental) energy invested in this election will bring only disappointment.

Anyway, I'll honour the outgoing president with one of my favourite Steve Bell cartoons:

Hope springs eternal. Every four years.

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Were you just being kind?

I can't seem to stop sighing. What's that all about?