May Uber Alles

As I have said before , that on the basis of what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, Theresa May has got pretty tough. Every month or so she is for the Tower and every month or so she scatters her foes. Or more precisely they don’t turn up.Either she is good or they are are feeble. Whatever she now has a deal. The dogs can add bite to their bark or the caravan moves on. Many of these dogs have been barking so long that its obvious they have no teeth.

Lest hope the caravan moves on. At last. We are leaving, it maybe a mess,maybe that was inevitable now lets clear up the mess, shape the agreement to suit a real world rather than  t,he negotiating table. And a new reality will become norm, political temperatures will hopefully subside and we can just get on with it.

In the mean time the amount of nonsense talked,the posturing, the bloody shirt waving has not done our political class any favours. Though in truth they had few left.

It could be that May has won another battle but loses the war, That’s show business,baby. What she has always been good at is winning one horse races, so far on the UK political scene she still seems to be in  such a race.

Whatever, Octavia Rose  has been chosen to represent her school, Delilah Belle is almost walking and Arthur Albert had a good night. Ain’t life grand.

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Lays of Modern Sydney

Off to the Opera House to see Julius Caesar. Of course director James Evans wants to make the play “relevant”,”relentlessly modern” and the blurb tells us he succeeds and leaves the audience “breathless.”

So Caesar must not only die but change colour, Antony must not only change the mob’s mood but change sex, Brutus the noblest Roman must be played by the feeblest actor, dress -strictly dress down Friday-definitely no uniforms or suits- this is relentlessly modern and so it mumbles and fumbles on. The production had been touring oz and no doubt left them, breathless in Bunbury,Bendingo and Dubbo but for two oldies from Putney on the Thames one act was all we could lend our ears for.

But in life there is always a second act. A Riesling for me and a Malbec for the child bride in the opera bar overlooking the hatbour. The last light of twilight and the lorries and buses crossing heart breaking Harbour Bridge looked like racing jewels,the modern city scrapers lit up like Christmas trees. And all the while ferries out of Circular Quays scurrying  and chugging East,North and West taking the late commuters to their homes in Manly,Balmoral and Ryde. This whole interlude made even more “breathless” by the fact,that because we had foresaken the second act we were the only ones in  the bar.

So  it was a for few moments that we could reflect not only on the joys of being Arthur’s grandparents, the dramatic view and as the inky water lapped how comforting it is to be old and in love

A month ago I had seen Anthony and Cleopatra at the National.Maybe its because I’m a Londoner that I love London so,Maybe.

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Sleep Tight

I have a daughter and grandson on Australia and a brother and his large family in Canada. It helps me sleep at night to know we all share the same queen. God bless you Ma’am.

It is one of the most wonderful quirks of history and constitution that three of the world’s most successful states ,Canada,Australia and New Zealand, share the British  monarchy. On one  level quirky,reactionary,odd on another brilliant,original,efficient. Certainly in all those countries and the Uk there are those who say get rid of this ancient scar,this mess of medieval pot pouri. Others point out that effectively not having a head of state,another level of politics,is not only smart ,a neat compromise in a federal system but gives  a feeling of historic continuity. InAustralia the referendum 1999 went decisively in favour of the Queen. There have been suggestions that when she dies,such is her respect,that only then can things change

All this came to mind with the news that recent trip of Prince Harry and his now pregnant princess  boosted monarchy’s  popularity 10 per cent. Support for  a republic  in Australia now lies at 40%, while those against at 48%. The youth,looks,energy and work for charity of the young royals, all score. One idea is that the millennials have revolted against the baby boomers in their support for scandal free tradition and conservatism.


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Arthur Albert 3 weeks.

For nearly a week we have been staying with Alex, Adelaide and their new three week old,baby Arthur. As an old time ,hands off dad I had never thought much about babies. But now a few thoughts.Mostly brick wall obvious.

The last nine months have been spent growing in the womb. These last three weeks are a continuation of the same. So any idea that the smallest babies are any more intelligent,sentient or feeling than breathing foetuses is nonsense. Like leaves on a tree they tremble when the wind blows. They sleep,they shit,they feed. Of course all the time they are gaining,inch by inch,powers of sight,feeling,intelligence which will eventually make them little and then bigger people.

Certainly they have a range of expressions, they move their arms and legs,but these are surely involuntary spasms rather than an expression of any feeling. Certainly when hungry they rage, the sunflower follows the sun, the leaf withers in the drought.

Even I have held the little prince. He doesnt mind. Why? He doesnt know,he knows the difference between as nipple and a finger but he has yet to get real sight or smell. He hasnt even the nervous intelligence to hold or grasp. So if he is not hungry,he just likes the warmth or position of being held.

Sometimes he lies on Adelaide’s chest. A heart breaking sight for a grand dad. But he reminds with his a kimbo hands of a  koala bear. Lifeless and dull.But soon it wont be just weight he puts on but degrees of intelligence.The life form will achieve a life and it will begin.

When he arrives in England in April Arthur will have left planet womb and be in a foreign atmosphere. Meantime he is orbiting planet womb until he has acquired the wherewithal to enter mother earth.

These thoughts remind how helpless very small babies are,why before medical science got its act together infant mortality was so normal and even more, how given the much faster maturity of other mammal young how remarkable human evolution has been when our young are not efficient until their late teens .


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In Coogee Fields Where Polly Read

Polly was the smart grammar school girl  complete with blazer and pudding basin hat who read “In Flanders fields where poppies grow”. The bemedalled compere from the local Returned Servicemens League thanked “Poppy” before he realised his charming mistake.

Bakers Park  overlooks Coogee Bay which yesterday  glistened in the  sunshine. The flags of NZ and Oz fluttered at half mast remembering the fallen. The local air force cadets proudly waited in the sun,marched out,stood in respect,  for some in uniform it was too much and one or two fainted ,but luckily there were members of the Coogee Life Savers on hand.

No one stands more rigidly to attention than service cadets,no one marches more earnestly,no one has done more rehearsals. As in Britain the cadets were marshalled by  adults who looked like they were more suited to serving pork chops than creating warriors.

Around 100 attended the open air service. We were led by veterans and their  widows. A much decorated Army chaplain did most of the honours.As the Last Post  was played,the flags picked up the breeze and unfurled, a flock of doves came out of the local eucalyptus trees and Polly’s dad leaned over to congratulate his daughter. Earlier he had told her to speak up as many of the audience would be hard of hearing. Ok. Ok.

Just before 11 a fly past of air force jets roared across the bay on its way to the main Sydney Hyde Park  memorial. More in keeping with our local event the doves wheeled and spun. We clapped as the cadets marched off. They hopefully will grow old.

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Business Class

Travelling Business Class is  a metaphor for real life. You pay more,you get better service,lots of it, you dont use the same space as ordinary folk, dull queues are avoided,chanpagne is offered at every turn and the only time you meet ordinary people is when they serve you.

Which for people who live in expensive suburbs, commit totally to private education,up market holiday destintions, and end up in the highly paid top professions is exactly how they want it. Many and I include myself have lived entirely in a white,educated,professional middle class environment. Certainly we are aware of others,they mend our boilers. clean our windows,empty our bins-but really,friends?

For some the fast track  and extra space of Business Class is just like home.

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Australia Bound

Australia Bound

Today(Weds) we travel to Sydney to see Alex,Adelaide and newly born Arthur. Proud grandparents going to spend a few precious weeks with our close family. In many ways if Adelaide lived in Manchester or Leeds in terms of hourly contact we would see no more or less. But even in todays ,skype it on contact, emigration means someone may not be out of mind but they are over the horizon.

In the recent drama of  Arthur’s immediate after birth instead of mother and daughter being in daily physical contact, skype conversations and photos have to do, six out of ten .

Adelaide is a  highly sociable animal, her infectious laughter is one of her great hall marks. She has made many friends in Sydney,she has created a stellar career in charity fund management. Yet most(all) her friends  are ex pats-of which there are many. I know one ozzie socially and that is because he lives in my street. Ozzies in London stick together, Limeys in Sydney the same.

The great life long friends you make are those from school,uni ,growing up and first job. Small wonder even when there are few cultural barriers those who emigrate find it difficult. Of course that may change as Adelaide and Alex became young parents at the school gate. In all the streets I have lived the young families are the closest and the driving force.

But in our family emigration  carries scars. My dear fried Harry bemoaned on his death bed that none of his family  back in Japan made any last, farewell contact. They  argued that Harry in moving to England had made his statement. My sister moved to F lorida   nearly fifty years ago,to put it mildly there is today little contact-despite her efforts. But then we grew up in a family where emotions, intelligent or not were not highly valued.

But Vivien is determined, and what is not to like, that this will not be the fate of our family. Adelaide and Alex come to the UK  for two months next year. Bonds will be strengthened and we will be catching the Endeavour to Sydney once again in 2020. Meanwhile look up and wave, we will wave back. Temperature is in the 30s in Sydney.



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