Whisky the key to Home Rule for Scotland

HOME rule for Scotland is being debated at the moment although the English don’t seem to care a moth-eaten sporran one way or the other.

At issue is a land traditionally inhabited by a people in skirts famous for blowing wild music out of one intestine-shaped item and for eating a meal cooked in another.

Add to that a language whose brogue is so broad that conversation with them for “Sassenachs” is practically impossible without a translator and you wonder why Westminster doesn’t just tell them to get on with it.

That reticence owes everything to whisky.

The Scots view every dram consumed by the English as pure waste, a loss eased only by the loch-fulls of money we have to pay to get it.

What then enrages the Bannockburn Boys even further is that Westminster gets its own back by levying all sorts of taxes on the precious liquid.

Therein lies the main reason for Scottish Independence.

Scotland reasons – and not without some justification – that if they can only cut the English adrift then whisky can help them rule the world.

Their faith in the attractiveness of whisky is sound because you need something wonderful to gee you up a bit when you’re facing a chilly climate with no underwear. When you add in voracious biting midges during what passes for summer it’s enough to drive anyone to drink.

So Scotland wants out, it wants its own currency, it wants to rule its own affairs and it wants only enough whisky set aside for export as is absolutely necessary to help balance the books.

Westminster is being quite reasonable about this. If Scotland wants to print a banknote showing a scraggly sheep on a windswept hillside blurred by lots of squiggly ink to stop it being forged, then good luck to them. The House of Commons certainly doesn’t mind Scotland ruling its own affairs because of delicious anticipation that it could all go horribly wrong, but to give up control of whisky? No chance.

Ever since former Chancellor Gordon Brown’s rather public support for whisky no one has been left in any doubt just what really matters to the Scots.

Independence would allow them to massively develop the whisky trade, to vastly expand the number of sites where it is made and to build whisky concessions into international trade agreements.

You could wind up with new brands for the political arena such as Salmond’s Snifter, Barack’s Blend and Maggie’s Malt….well perhaps not that.

Whatever the name on the bottle, the contents clearly hold the key to Scotland’s future. They know it and have put Highland hooch at the heart of their Independence drive and Westminster knows it but is keeping quiet.

So think carefully when you next go down the off-licence to renew supplies. The whisky you are buying could soon by rationed if Scotland has its way.

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London Marathon

SO that’s the London Marathon for another year, dishing up its annual banquet of heartwarming stories and firemen dressed as gorillas although, thankfully, no bomb blasts.

The equivalent of one decent crowd at a Premier League football match largely set off together but finished like one of the more nightmarish council debates, drawn out at great length with any winner long since forgotten.

Televised coverage focused as usual on stories following the likes of big butch Bert, a 28-stone chef running the marathon to raise money for his private gastric band operation.

There always seemed time to follow this presenter or that weatherman, pasting a smile on their faces as they passed the 22-mile mark where a somewhat less tired colleague interviews them about who they are raising money for. Of course the cameras cut away before the red-faced sweating runner, now a little less jolly, chokes the life out of their interviewer.

No marathon would be complete without a few proposals of marriage, usually around the “lucky-for-some” 13-mile mark, while another popular favourite is something along the lines of two stunning girls kissing a policeman. Always good for a brief word in the ear the next morning from his Inspector who, as luck would have it, was sweating heavily in a polar bear suit just behind the girls.

Then there are the spectators, living proof that keeping running is the best thing.

Somewhere along the way there is bound to be a camera-strewn Gerald Snodgrass asking some luckless competitor to “Go on! Give us a smile” as the runner stumbles out of a portable toilet where last night’s pre-race celebration curry had just been jettisoned.

Jack the Lads are almost obligatory. You know the ones I mean. Those who shout mindless encouragement while sprinting alongside the main stream of runners to show them how it’s done before diving away to the pub because Spurs v City is on the box.

Finally we come to what are termed “the elite runners”.

This group of athletes would view running from Weymouth to Dorchester as a light warm-up and usually look so relaxed in the early stages that they might just be popping out for a Sunday paper.

But they’re not quite so relaxed towards the end when rivals, spectators and presenter Jonathan Edwards risked getting trampled underfoot in fanatical pursuit of the finishing tape.

And when it was all over – except for 73-year-old Millicent Maybe arrested by security staff when her zimmer wheel jammed and she swung suddenly into Buckingham Palace gardens – it is left for the big clear-up to start.

This is a marathon in its own right as discarded water bottles, energy bars and false legs are collected up and hauled away for disposal.

So if you’ve been inspired by this year’s event to have a go yourself next year, then start training now. You’re going to need it.

Barbecues: A Guide…well sort of.

WE are almost at that time of year when people brush off their rusty spider-filled barbecues and vie with each other to take a perfectly good piece of meat and set fire to it.

I’m relatively new to this game having probably only hosted about 30 odd barbecues – some of them very odd — in my entire life, so here are a few tips for all you newcomers like me.

Begin by alerting both your nearest neighbours to the barbecue. You’re on good terms with them now but this can change rapidly if their lines of clean washing are obscured by rolling clouds of charcoal smoke.

Then you should turn your attention to the barbecue itself, ensuring all those smelly, curly black bits still stuck to the grill from the final barbecue you had last September are scraped off. If you don’t have a scraper don’t worry too much. Mortality rates from consuming such vintage bits of meat are reassuring low.

Giving the bowl of the barbecue a bit of a scour is always good for getting rid of crud, piles of ash and the remains of grandad’s dentures which must have shot in there last summer when you did those extra strong chilli burgers and he screamed.

With all equipment in reasonable condition, great care should also be taken where you site your barbecue as unleashing a furnace near the wife’s favourite clump of flowers is unlikely to go down too well. Any excuse about stray gusts of wind will draw a withering response and you’ll end up having to do the washing up for the next week.

Caution must also be exercised over the quantity of lighter fuel used to ignite the charcoal since moustaches, eyebrows and other facial hair can be gone in a flash and take weeks to grow back, so tell her to take care.

Having caused the minimum of garden damage to get the barbecue going, always choose a decent quality of meat to cook.

Too much fat in the food will swiftly transform into liquid fat trickling on to the coals, transforming your hotly glowing charcoal into a raging inferno of lava proportions. Shortly afterwards your food, the barbecue and distressingly large areas of your garden will be obscured by flames.

Always ask your guests hiding in the far corner of the garden how they like their meat done as this displays an air of professionalism and knowledge which helps to allay any suspicion that you have little real idea what you are doing.

A decent pair of thick oven gloves is always a help. Diners love the smell of cooking sausages and steaks but seem less appreciative of the smell of burning hair, screaming and the cook suddenly plunging his hand into the bowl of coleslaw.

When all the meat not still on fire is cooked and it is time to serve, don’t stint on the mustard marinade which can help disguise any small mistakes which may have been made such as putting chops on the grill before igniting the lighter fuel instead of after.

Finally when eating the lightly carbonized meal you have prepared always make sure that your doctor’s number is left near a phone for convenient use later in the evening, also checking all guests before they leave for any unusual pallor or signs they may have vomited recently.

Bear all this in mind and you can’t go wrong. Happy cooking.

 

 

 

Tourism Information Centre (TIC)…well maybe.

WHAT are we supposed to do now after lack of key staff forced the council to close Weymouth’s Tourist Information Centre weeks ahead of schedule?

Why those staff didn’t feel like staying on until the Pavilion’s official closure on May 31st is beyond me.

Surely it couldn’t be disillusionement or that they felt redundancy was a poor reward for years of loyal service and I’m sure they weren’t influenced by having to pay to retrieve their own redundancy notices because the council hadn’t put enough stamps on the envelopes.

They no doubt fully accepted the council’s explanation that it was an unfortunate “administrative error”. After all, as council employees, they must have seen a few of those in their time.

No, what concerns me is that a town whose lifeblood is tourism no longer has a recognised point where visitors can go to find out about the area.

Various outlets and shops are being used for little information points to try and paper over the cracks and provide somewhere people can go to browse leaflets about attractions or find out about events, but what are they like? So I took a walk to see what there was.

My first port of call was Honest Bert’s, a new enterprise boasting TIC stickers which has been set up in the doorway of a deserted shop in St Mary Street just out of sight of the CCTV cameras.

There I met Honest Bert who was wearing a trilby, dark glasses and a long tan coat which he opened to show me an incredible array of genuine Rolex watches which he was offering for the very reasonable price of £5.99 each or two for a tenner.

I pointed out that he was displaying TIC stickers but there was no sign of any tourism leaflets never mind any obvious maps, guides or details of accommodation vacancies.

Warming to my theme, I accused him of being a fraud at which point his face assumed a hurt expression as he took me to one side. The explanation he then provided me with proved entirely acceptable, so I apologised and moved on. Apparently “TIC” stood for – Tickers Inside Coat which there clearly were.

Not wishing to be caught out again, I was a little more cautious when I saw more “TIC” stickers in a small butcher’s shop. Just as well. They apparently stood for “Tripe in Containers”.

By now I was so wary that when I saw yet more “TIC” stickers in the window of another business I didn’t ask a single question but tried to see if there were any leaflets on display or other tourism paraphernalia.

There were and I tentatively approached the owner and asked if he was one of the new tourism points I’d heard about.

He replied: “Course I bleeding am! D’you think all that over there is some sort of exotic new shopping display, well do you?”

I assured him I didn’t and that it was nice to see a business doing its bit to help keep tourism information going in Weymouth.

“Tourist information be damned!” he said. “I only did it because it was free and it was a nice boost for me business.”

With a sinking feeling I asked what was the name of his business and he replied: “Terry’s Ice-Creams.”

So if you are wandering round town and you happen to see a “TIC” sign be careful. It could be anything from genuine leaflets or simply a refreshment outlet offering “tea in cups”.

Gold!

GOLD has set country against country, sparked brutal murder and put rings on countless fingers for marriage.

This precious metal has its comic and tragic side with a legion of stories.

Discoveries of gold have often been made by pure luck including one prospector in America who was out climbing about in the mountains when he slipped and dropped his revolver down a cliff.

He carefully climbed down to find it, picking a piece of quartz up at the same time as he picked up his gun. When he got back to camp he idly tested the quartz and found it was very rich in gold, so he staked a claim and sparked a gold rush.

Another major claim was found when a prospector fell into a creek to the delight of his companions. They laughed at him, so he threw a rock at them….but it struck another rock on the bank and revealed a yellow scratch. Not long afterwards there was a valuable mine on the spot.

In Australia there was the problem caused by rich miners paying for their tram fare in gold.

They thought it was amusing to tender a sovereign but, if several of them were on the same tram, the poor conductor quickly ran out of change and had to take people’s names to reimburse them later! The practice stopped when one wily conductor charged all their fares to one miner!

Back in California, two drunks met a bit of a shelter problem while stumbling home and took refuge in an old miner’s hut where they lay down to sleep off their binge.

But heavy mountain rain produced torrents which threatened to sweep away the hut and the two were rudely woken by water pouring through gaps in the walls.

They tried to climb the hillside to safety but were swept away, one man being lucky enough to be swept into a clump of oak trees where he clung on but the other man drowned.

When the flood subsided the first man found a shovel and began to dig a grave for his friend….during which he discovered one of the largest gold nuggets ever found in California. It made $10,000 being exhibited for spectators and another $22,000 dollars when it was finally sold. The drunk never touched alcohol again, went properly into mining and died a millionaire.

Luck regularly played a big part in big finds and one prospector setting out from town with his mule stumbled over a large rock just lying on the main street where hundreds of miners walked every day. It turned out to be a huge nugget of gold which weighed 35 pounds.

Not all discoveries have such a happy ending and one miner who spent years searching for gold finally struck it rich when the hole he was digging began to produce nuggets. He stood there with his hands full of nuggets, realising it was the gold strike of a lifetime….and promptly collapsed. By the time help reached him he had died from heart problems made fatally worse by his excitement!

Nuclear Shenanigans

IT has been said that getting threatened by North Korea is like walking through a car park and getting barked at by a Chihuahua locked in a Mini.

But it would appear that the days of not taking their wild threats seriously are gone after America revealed that the increasingly hysterical North Korea has the capability to launch nuclear-armed missiles. Let’s put that in perspective.

North Korea has already held several nuclear tests with evidence that the devices used were between about one third and a half the yield of the bomb used on Hiroshima in 1945.

No one should underestimate the damage that such an NK device could achieve if it exploded in Japan, Hawaii or Alaska, but it pales into insignificance when stacked up against Russia’s 1961 nuclear test which was nearly 10,000 times more powerful, the largest thermonuclear weapon ever tested.

Even tests by India and Pakistan in more modern times have been up to ten times more powerful than North Korea’s efforts so far.

The problem for the world is not that North Korea’s nuclear threat is insignificant but that it has a nuclear weapon potential and is threatening to use it.

All it will take is just one small mistake, one small error, one small misunderstanding – such as the joke about NK leader Kim Jong-un telling a general “I said lunch, not launch!” – and humanity will be counting the cost for centuries.

His father, Kim Jong II, was publicly portrayed by the state’s media to be a man who didn’t need to defecate and who once shot 38 for a round of golf, a world record with 11 holes in one,  although such an improbable sporting achievement while full of ordure at the time may mean both are linked!

Whatever the sins of the father, the son seems hell-bent – perhaps an unfortunate choice of words – on carving himself out a reputation as a leader.

What seems to have escaped NK’s attention is that, if he turns warlike rhetoric into warlike actions, he could soon be leader of a very large area of carbon.

South Korea, Japan and America are already taking precautions and, while diplomacy is their public choice of action, I’d be surprised if contingency plans are not in place to retaliate and retaliate spectacularly if North Korea is ever unwise enough to actually launch a weapon.

So what is Kim Jong-un’s game plan? Why is he risking his entire country for the sake of what seems to be a futile bit of sabre rattling?

The answer lies apparently not in the UN courts but the basketball courts because Kim Jong-un is known as a fanatical fan of the sport, particularly player Kobe Bryant of the LA Lakers.

Apparently the Lakers somehow doubted Kim Jong-un’s claim to regularly score 100 baskets a game and refused to offer him a lucrative contract including one of those nice free pencils with a Tryton the Laker King rubber on the end.

The backlash from the infuriated NK leader has seen him mobilise his entire country – ranked a terrifying  29th in the world in global firepower terms behind Ethiopia – so we’ll have to wait and see if he is rabid enough to push the button.

I was recently amused by a friend telling me about his efforts to help a schoolboy with his homework about the Second World War.

My friend was stunned when the boy asked if the famous 1,000-bomber raids on Germany had used nuclear bombs or just ordinary ones.

As he told me: “Christ! If they’d used nuclear bombs you’d still be able to see the glow at night now!”

All joking aside, any conflict is a serious matter and the possibility of nuclear bombs going off is a very serious worry indeed.

As Bertrand Russell once said: “War does not determine who is right – only who is left.”

Stamps of Disapproval

ARE there no limits to our glorious council’s ability to spectacularly shoot itself in the foot?

There might have been hopes that Weymouth and Portland’s public Achilles heel would be toned down by the heavily hyped new partnership with West Dorset but bloopers seem, if anything, to be getting worse.

Bad enough that staff at Weymouth Pavilion feel they have been shabbily treated by their bosses, but how much worse must they be feeling now after effectively being made to pay for their own redundancy notices?

The whole issue of job losses at the Pavilion is clearly a sensitive one….so why was it dealt with so insensitively?

There cannot be a single person in this town incapable of correctly attaching a stamp to an envelope yet the council somehow managed to make multiple such mistakes when sending out redundancy details to affected staff.

The first thing those staff knew about their noses actually being rubbed in their dire situation was when cards began to drop through letterboxes notifying them that they needed to collect post.

That was because it had stamps on it which were nine pence short of the required rate, the postal services also levying a £1 handling fee.

What it must have been like for employees to go down and pay £1.09 for post only to find it was their own redundancy notice doesn’t need much imagining.

They told me it was “appalling” and they said they didn’t know “whether to laugh or cry”.

They also said the council had been in touch, had apologised and had offered to reimburse anyone who had paid the £1.09, but staff said the whole scenario just added “insult to injury” because of the unenviable situation they found themselves in.

The point is, if staff being dispensed with can find themselves being treated like this, then no wonder I’ve been told by some remaining staff that they aren’t exactly chock full of confidence at the moment.

You’d have to have been living at the other end of the country not to be aware that Weymouth and Portland council is desperately trying to balance its budget books and is closing the Pavilion and selling off its own offices and the Guildhall as part of its attempts to do so.

So committing this gaffe when the watchword at the moment seems to be that “we’re all in this together” couldn’t have come at a worse time.

The only thing that people are now sure they are sharing with the council is what gardeners put round roses, something which, unlike money, does not seem to be in short supply at the council.

The official public line from senior officials at North Quay is that the whole thing was “an administrative error”, something an old boss of mine would have described as “ten out of ten for stating the bleeding obvious”.

The only good thing is that we are being reassured that this type of horrendous mistake happens very rarely…..until the next time.

Easter little horrors!

EASTER is the most potent destructive power that this world has ever seen.

Forget about the hysterical outpourings from North Korea, forget about grim faced responses from South Korea and America and pay no attention to terrorist incidents wherever they may happen. The force of which I speak is far more destructive.

It is the humble chocolate Easter egg and the human child.

Taken separately they are both sweet, but combine them and you have a weapon capable of causing almost unlimited damage in a frighteningly short space of time.

My home town of Weymouth in the county of Dorset on England’s south coast looks like a war zone at the moment thanks to the happy shrieking efforts of thousands of children.

Spurred on by the thought of finding a mouthful of chocolate, these innocent little darlings have laid waste to vast areas of gardens and public parks in almost every town you come to.

It is easy to spot which community announced they were going to hold an Easter egg hunt for children because terrified adults in tattered clothing can be seen clinging wild-eyed to the topmost branches of trees or barricaded in their garden sheds, desperate to escape the tidal wave of terror unleashed by tiny tots.

I viewed one Easter egg hunt through the safety of binoculars from a nearby hill and it was not pretty to watch.

The only semi-sane moment seemed to be the start point where an adult explained that clues entitling the finder to a chocolate Easter egg had been hidden in various points of the garden.

The moment he’d finished speaking a howling mob of children ripped away his clipboard and one arm of his shirt as they battled to see if any clues had been written down that they could use.

No luck there but it did give the poor man vital seconds to escape and lock himself in a portable toilet.

Outside it was mayhem with hoardes of screaming four-year-olds tearing aside branches, knocking over ornaments and uprooting plants in their search for concealed clues.

It was rather like watching locusts at work as this bit of green and pleasant countryside was reduced to a wasteland of battered vegetation and broken flowers.

Odd items of children’s clothing were dotted here and there while the largely hysterical organisers seemed to have banded together for safety near a compost bin, their faces contorting in terror when any child came near.

Finally the children’s chocolate lust seemed to abate a bit enabling some air of order and decency to be restored through the liberal use of Mace, tasers and repeated charges by police mounted on steeds commandeered from the local pony club.

Even then the cost in human dignity was appalling, smelling salts having no effect at all on an apparently catatonic Miss Huntingdon who had become cornered in an arbour where a baying pack of three-year-olds ripped the woollen tights from her body.

Mr Probisher was no better, his attempts to get one ravening girl to share her armful of eggs with other children provoking a vicious assault. Surgeons are hopeful that prune juice will help him pass most of the eggs in a natural way.

 So it was with some pride that the chairman of the organising committee for the Easter egg hunt felt recovered enough to tentatively suggest that they will be repeating the event next year.

Sadly I had to turn down their entreaties to join a crack new Rearguard Squad being recruited for the hunt. Perhaps the SAS could help.

Cobra!

HOLIDAYS give us some of the most memorable moments of our lives and often some of the funniest.

It doesn’t matter whether it’s Dad tripping over on the dancefloor, some sunbathing woman’s shriek as a child drops an ice-cream on her or the sight of people getting soaked on the water splash.

We all have our favourite moments and the incident I have detailed below is one of my favourite moments which happened during a holiday to Thailand. I wasn’t laughing too much at the time but, looking back on it, the humour was there for all to see. Hopefully you’ll enjoy my memory and bring back some of your own. Here it is.

 

 I WAS gripped by a deep need to pee but utter terror held me immobile, teeth clenched and legs turned to jelly as my fingernails gouged deep holes in my knee caps.

There was the merest hint of a whimper from my left as a fat American tried to hide behind his flashgun but the only other sound was a dozen gagging throats trying to suck air into paralysed lungs. Nobody moved.

This was raw fear Bangkok style and the fact we had all paid to visit the Red Cross snake farm meant we only had our idiot selves to blame.

Just the word cobra commands instant respect and attention, but none of us expected to be sat barely an arm’s length away from hissing death.

Even the Thai commentator had frozen in place and why not.

Between us coiled ready to strike was a 10ft King Cobra just looking for an excuse to bite someone.

Being brought out in a sack and rudely dumped in a heap had fuelled its already foul temper and someone was going to pay.

Then on stage came Pot the village idiot masquerading as a member of staff who incredibly turned his back on the cobra so he could laugh with us and point out all the fun we were about to have.

We laughed hysterically back at him while silently praying for him to bag the snake which by this time was striking at anything that moved.

Our prayers went unanswered because Pot obviously felt the cobra was slacking and proceeded to goad it into a frenzy.

His bug-eyed audience held its breath at so much fun as Pot stuck out a leg or an arm for a quick venom injection only to whip it away as the now thoroughly hacked off cobra struck and struck again, infuriated by misses measured in fractions of an inch.

Pot finally stood still, bent forward and as the cobra concentrated on his foot he grabbed it behind the hood and bagged it to thunderous applause.

Everyone gabbled praise and tried to leave, but no! This was just the start.

Before we could stampede to the entrance staff brought out another bag and there was a disgraceful scramble for the seats furthest away from the new fun.

What could it be? Perhaps a prize draw for an antidote, but a quick flourish and we all froze again. Another snake, this time a Siamese cobra hissing like a bad kettle. What a nice surprise.

Nobody moved – no change there then – but staff added a twist by bringing out a second sack and emptying another cobra on to the concrete, this one even more livid than the first.

Sheer madness….and the staff who then brought out two more sacks with two more bundles of hooded joy were absolutely certifiable. Trouble was, to choke the life out of them we had to go through the snakes to do so. Nobody moved.

With four slithering cobras looking for an argument even the staff had to jump about a bit, but the smiles stayed in place right up to the point when cobra cunning caused a riot.

Pot reached for a sack only to find a cobra hiding underneath it. Nobody moved.

He stepped back, the triumphant snake slithered forward and Pot was trapped in a corner.

One shaking woman snapped out: “Having fun now?” and the snake whipped round and came for us. Nobody moved.

We would still be there now frozen in our seats but for the intervention of something far more determined than the cobras. A late-arriving Japanese tourist.

Four cobras and so close! What a wonderful photographic opportunity, so he snatched out his Nikon and began to take flash photographs.

This was the last straw for the cobras who grimly headed straight for him.

Ah so! Close ups! The man knew no fear but everybody moved and our panic-stricken stampede away distracted the snakes long enough for sweating staff to catch and bag them.

This left the Japanese to smile and bow in bewilderment as we tearfully clapped him on the back, thanked him and shakily took our leave.

After all, you could only have just so much fun in one day and our guide said we had to save ourselves because tomorrow we were getting up close and personal with some tigers. Nobody moved.

British Empire No More

THERE was a time when Britain was the premier country in the world. Those days are a distant memory.

Gone is Empire and perish the thought that we might even think of sending a gunboat anywhere to enforce our wishes because we’d be made international pariahs. Anyway, we couldn’t afford the diesel bill for sending a warship any further than the Isle of Wight.

Now our claim to fame is more likely to be hidden away than boasted about such as our status as the eighth laziest country in the world while, out of 143 countries, we rank in the bottom half of the list for happiness.

We are also down to 27th in a list of the best countries to be born in this year behind South Korea – assuming North Korea doesn’t drop a nuclear bomb on them – Kuwait and Chile. Nigeria finished bottom behind Kenya and the Ukraine.

The news is pretty grim on the economic ratings front as well with Britain predicted to be overtaken by the likes of Mexico and Indonesia in coming decades.

It may not surprise you to learn that Britain doesn’t feature at all in the world’s top 22 destinations for retirement, but it is ranked ninth in the world as a favourite honeymoon destination. It was beaten by the Maldives, the Caribbean, Greece, Italy, Thailand, Africa, the USA and the Seychelles.That’s all right then!

Britain fares even better in the world’s top holiday destinations for 2013, being ranked fifth behind Spain, France, Greece and the USA.

So spare a thought for the faded British Empire which, at its height, was the largest in history.

Barely 90 years ago it gazed, sometimes benevolently and sometimes not, over a quarter of the entire planet and a fifth of the world’s population.

We can now barely muster enough military clout to have a realistic chance of defending the Falkland Islands while our economic woes are so pitiful that we don’t know where our next import of wine for the House of Commons is coming from.

We have a welfare state which has crumbled from the pride of the world embracing all who needed healthcare to an institution under siege with generally wonderful staff fighting a terrible system and poor funding.

A comfortable old age is rapidly becoming a myth to rank with honest politicians as we all struggle to make ends meet.

Values change and what we took for granted before such as food on the table and a roof over our heads has to be increasingly fought for and fought for hard.

Jobs attract an avalanche of applications as the populace struggles to give itself an income it can rely on and we have all just been told that it could be 2020 before the stranglehold on interest rates is relaxed enough to give savers even a semblance of hope.

Yes, we have come a long way……..down….. slowly swapping the days of Empire for the days of Expire.

Like every Government for several decades, the current one is talking about belt-tightening and jam tomorrow in a political atmosphere constantly compared to squabbles in a school playground but without that intelligence.

Ordinary people are left longing for stability, perhaps not of Empire which had its own flaws, but certainly for a simple state of living where we’re not constantly looking over our shoulder.

I suppose nostalgia isn’t what it used to be. Still, we’ve always got a heatwave summer to look forward to, haven’t we?