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Sunday, 24 February 2013


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On the subject of The Struggle: has your wife been equipped with a 'grabber'? This is a stick about a yard long, with a pistol grip at one end and a pair of jaws - operated by said grip - at the other. It's wunnerful for picking stuff up (it even helps one pull one's pants up) and you'll usually find that there's also a wee magnet on the business end, to extend its versatility. If you don't have one, do get one. We have one for upstairs, one for down: one was supplied by the NHS and the other we bought at a garden centre.

Yes, indeed, DM, the 'grabber' is essential kit. We were paid a visit by 'Somerset Mobility', or some such, and suitably raised toilet seat attachments were fitted with side handles to assist getting up and down (our loos now really are 'throne rooms'), a plastic chair with arm rests for use in the shower, the 'Memsahib's armchair was raised by means of plastic blocks, a set of crutches provided, and finally, the essential 'grabber' which she now swears by. The privately-owned hospital which does nothing but contract work for the NHS was simply superb. Already the Memsahib is moving much easier and whilst it would be an exaggeration to say that she goes up and down the stairs like a gazelle, she is moving more quickly and with more confidence.

My understanding of Banksy's work is that they are genuine murals, but the owner of a building which has been graced with his muse will tend to put up a piece of clear plastic to cover it. What with it being worth more than the building, and all that.

The bloke is obviously talented, but in my view no more than an old-fashioned sign-painter. Good draughtsmanship, coupled with some clunky and obvious political point. If it weren't for the money, I don't think many would have escaped the power-hose.

Good to hear about the Memsahib, by the way. She has my continuing wishes for a speedy and full recovery.

Ah, so perhaps that was indeed just a plastic cover - but how did they get the painting off the wall without damaging said wall? I feel an investigation by at least 200 Met officers is called for followed by a parliamentary enquiry using the services of 10 MPs and a dozen lawyers! Thanks for your good wishes, 'W'.

Well done with the Sunday tucker and it's great news that the memsahib is surviving under your regime.
What a wonderful human being you are! I'm sure somebody's sent a quiet little note to the queen already but if not, I'll rustle up a few lines and send an email today.
Lord Duff of ? .... hmmm!



You go to the store and get several of the same frozen dinner. Cook them up in the microwave. Put the contents in the appropriate number of serving dishes or straight on to the dinner plate and take them in to your dearest for dinner.

It is easy to clean up. Be sure to to get the packaging into trash quickly just in case.

May she have a speedy recovery.
Hank’s Eclectic Meanderings

Concerning My Way. The songwriters you list ... Is that a joke? Those are untalented rappers. The lyric is by Paul Anka and the melody is a French song.

A bit of "My Way" history.

Good to know the Missus is doing better. Have you considered a *chair lift* for the stairs?

Glad to hear Mrs D is keeping you busy and you are keeping so cheerful 'n all. Have you considered some temporary help - a nice lady from the Baltic regions perhaps? Just to help keep the mess tins polished and sweep up the billet.

Andra, I'm sure Her Majship is already aware of my many good works and it is only a matter of time before the embossed letter arrives!

Hank, thanks for the tip and I did consider it but alas those processed foods have just had an exceedingly bad press 'over here' with sundry rascals inserting dead horse into them.

Dom and 'Uppers', thanks for the correction. In my haste I just swiped the whole thing off a lyrics site and whilst I hesitated at that list of writers - which looked like a committee! - I didn't have time to check. The link provided by 'Uppers' carries the happy information that Sinatra thought the song was self-indulgent but, as his daughter put it, "It stuck and he couldn't scrape it off his shoe!"

Incidentally, 'Uppers', bloody-bloody TypePad put one of your comments in the Spam Box but I have rescued it. Also, we have double-turn stairs which would have made a chair lift hideously expensive. However, with me standing immediately below her she has managed them and already she can get up on her own with just one crutch and holding the bannister. Game girl!

JK, a fascinating story but I think Kevin Myers is making a bit of an 'Oirish' stretch!

The thought had occurred, Roger, but I suspect the Memsahib might be a bit accurate in the hurling of crutches!

Quite right, Andra. Lord Duff of Mummerset!

Ah, good! Maybe you'll be soon ready for some spanish recipes. Just let me think something to surprise your wife (and family and friends) with. It's now or never!

Ah. The King Tiger. That was a tank, that was.

Good suggestion, DM, given that I have a record of very amateurish 'mumming'!

Ortega, what I would really like from you is a blog post on the situation in Spain and the reasons why the 'campesinos' have not marched on Brussels and burnt it down?! Seriously, I would like to know what, if anything, is going on in Spain because it is amazingly quiet given the hardships the media keep telling us about - especially the unemployment.

Nigh on impregnable, 'H', so I believe, thank God they didn't get it until too late!

So you choose knowledge of the Spanish situation over kitchen pleasures? Well, I can't say that in neither one case nor the other I'm the most appropriate man, but I'll try to do my best.

First, about Spain, as about anything else, I'm affraid, do not believe what you read in the papers or see in TV. My trust in the BBC (please, do not laugh) was shaken many years ago when I saw its information about Spain and I guessed they do the same all over the world.

The crisis here is the usual case that comes when cheap credit (the rates went down when we became EU members) does not force devaluation of the money, since the peseta had left place for the euro. That brings always some bubble of one kind or another, and in Spain it went to the house market, because of historical reasons (here the houses are seldom rented and the construction business was a well prepared one). Prices went up at 15% year after year while the credits were actually free (interest rate being equal to inflation rate), making everyone think: why not? After all, house prices never fell, as everybody knows. Of course, the Government, who was making a lot of money in taxes from this situation (plus dubious money coming from allowing to build in land previously not supposed to), was able to expend as a mad man. No idea of saving for hard times: that does not give you votes.

When all that ended, as all bubbles eventually do, it brought the bankruptcy not of the banks themselves alone (they became the owners of hundreds of thousands of houses nobody wanted) but of the State, who, lacking the money coming from taxes, had to borrow at a rate higher every passing day and to reduce the expending. Somehow people felt less sympathetic to that than to the previous madness.

On the other hand, you must have in mind that here the jobless rate is always high. In the best of times, it was still about 7 or 8%. And so, while the British GDP has fallen as much as the Spanish one, you have today the same employment level as before the crisis while our jobless rate is today above 25% of the working population (wich is always lower here than in other European countries).

So, it is true that many people are having a hard time. Many do not have a job and quite of them are losing the houses they bought with money they didn't have (the original idea was: even if I can't pay, I shall sell the house at a higher price and still make money). But the contrary is happening. After the Spanish law, when you cannot pay your debt, the bank takes your home, but you still own him if the house price is lower than the whole amount of the debt. In this way, you found yourself homeless and still owning money.

Why not a revolution then, you seem to ask. Well, contrary to the general idea, Spain is a middle class country (that is Franco's regime only lasting legacy) and revolutions usually happen when people feel they have nothing to lose (as counter revolutions when rich people feel they have everything to lose). And you must add also what we call 'black economy', that can represent as much as a 20% of the Spanish GDP. I do not know anybody, and I know quite a few, that while receiving money for being jobless is not working at the same time.

The question, in my opinion, rests more in the long term and the way the EU will go. Today, it is seen as a bad marriage: nobody would do it again but the divorce is even worse. Maybe will come the day when the option will be: Germany paying (forever) a part of its GDP to the EU (including the already falling France) or the economies in the south will keep on going as bad as today for a long, long time. Then we will see.

Maybe next time I'll explain you how to make a decent paella. Less reason to cry there, even if you are a begginer.

There was only one way to deal with a King Tiger.

If that's what you have to do to get a MM and MC, imagine what it takes to win a VC?


Thanks, Lawrence - see new post above!

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