Powerless

The meteorology office issued a red warning, and at four in the afternoon when the storm was fearsome, the electricity was cut off. I had been using the mobile phone at the time ignorant of the outage and had run its battery down. No mobile. Only our trusty old phone, connected directly into the phone socket, now linked us to the outside world

‘Community spirit’ is a phrase, which I had thought was overused whenever I saw it on TV news programmes about local disasters, house fires, floods, and deaths caused by out of control cars or lorries. Old ladies with benign faces would comment about how good they had been in helping a poor unfortunate victim, or a man would declare that no one suspected anything like the disaster, which had occurred, could ever happen. Yet within the first hour, neighbours called to check we were OK, so did my uncle from London, 300 miles away.

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Page Three, Front Page, Back Page: Sex, Politics, and Sport. Andrew Windsor, Boris Johnson, and Novak Djokovic

Andrew, Boris and Novak

Prince Andrew was born on 19 February 1960 at Windsor Castle, the first child born to a reigning monarch since the birth in 1857 of Queen Victoria’s youngest child, Princess Beatrice

Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson was born on 19 June 1964 on the Upper East Side of Manhattan to Charlotte Fawcett, (died13 September 2021) an Oxford-educated artist, being the first married female undergraduate at Lady Margaret Hall. She was supposedly a socialist who, in later life, was said to be the only red in the village when the Johnsons lived on Exmoor.

Novak Djokovic was born on 22 May 1987 in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, as it was then.

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Return

His father told him a thousand times, ‘Eye on the ball and hit through it. Return, return, return,’ and no matter how many tennis coaching courses he’d received in the intervening twenty years, Yves’ mind still recalled his earliest paternal instructions.

Yves became world-class, fourth in all of France, and qualified for the finals at Wimbledon where the grass courts and the polite clapping of a crowd, more interested in strawberries and cream than the tennis, gave the impression that it was little more than a game in the park.

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Mowing the Lawn

Whilst for many cutting the grass is a tedious and onerous task, for me mowing the lawn is a therapeutic exercise. It allows my mind to wander as the lawnmower engine chugs gently away and the blades whirr across the grass trimming it to a satisfyingly even height. Of course grass grows everywhere and not every bit of lawn is so neatly cut as the fairways of Augusta or the square at Lords.

The windows of our house look out over a small garden lawn that I keep for best, rather like the front room my nan used to keep in her house for special occasions. And it is this small area that I loving mow often ignoring the other more awkward areas of long grass around flower beds and trees out of sight of the house.

With a lively anticipation I pull the cord and the mower kicks into life with a constant hum and I commence the exercise by trimming around the edges, in a way defining the problem.

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The Sixty-First Year of Service

I met met Jim Summons the other day. A nice old man with a gentle smile, a casual observer would say. Over the last eleven years I’d seen him faithfully and fastidiously operate the paper stall in Haverfordwest Station’s ticket hall but I’d never thought much about him.

This meeting was different. For the first time in nearly two years, I was about to make a train trip and pitched up to buy tickets in advance. It was hot, and Jim sat by his stall laden with an extraordinarily wide range of daily newspapers, periodicals and magazines. The ticket hall (a grand word for a space big enough for three socially-distanced people in these times of plague) was empty except for Jim. He sat in silence on a small stool leaning back against the wall next the entry doors. His white shirt matched the colour of his hair, and a well-worn leather cash bag which reminded me of the bag our co-op milkman used to carry on his rounds in the fifties hung on a strap diagonally across his body. In those days, it contained not only cash but a delivery note book full of pages, held open at the appropriate page by a rubber band, with details of the milk supplied and detachable sections which he left with his customers to confirm their weekly purchases. The bill was always hand-written in those pre-computer days.

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Spin

What is it about spin that is so fascinating? Why do we love to spin things and what is spin? Evolution designed our hands with fingers and an opposing thumb to make spinning an easy action. Flicking the thumb against the middle finger can summon immediate attention. It can also twirl a dart, which travels more accurately towards its intended target. A gyroscope is stable until it stops turning.

It was a crucial moment in the England vs Ukraine football match. Kyle Walker had the football in his hands, pondering where to place the throw-in. He whirled the ball in his hands. He spun it again as if to settle his mind with the distraction of the ball’s rotation. And again, he spun the ball in the air. He had made up his mind. He threw it in and the game resumed.

Spinning.

In other sports, we see Roger Federer spin his racquet as he prepares to make or receive a serve. It must help him concentrate and he is not alone. So many tennis players of all abilities do it.

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A Grave in Kolkata





PETER CUTHBERT HAD BEEN MEANING to visit his cousin Beatrice in Spain for years but like so many promises to himself, he pushed them aside due to lack of time, money, work commitments, or because he had not been able to organise and coordinate the trip with other matters. In February 2008, he finally made the trip to see her.

When he and his wife Janet subsequently visit India on holiday, a chance mention of a museum in Barrackpore revives dormant memories of a Grandfather who died mysteriously in India during World War One and Cuthbert embarks on a surprising voyage of discovery.

‘Thank you for a great story! Nicely paced, with a wonderful sense of place and culture. Intrigue and adventure all woven together with a clear sense of mystery.’ Ronita Sinha

Available now on Amazon as an e-book for Kindle readers. Click here.

Politics and Sport: Two Sides of the Same Coin?

In 1966, England achieved, for many, the zenith of her sporting achievements. She had climbed the mountain of world football and had come to the top, above the greats of S. America and Europe. The small group of working class lads, including one who had started out working as a cleaner on the railways, had achieved a high-water mark that looks impossible to be reached again.

Politicians have always been known to associate themselves with sporting heroes. An endorsement from a sporting icon is worth thousands of votes and so how much more valuable would it be if a whole team capable of winning the World Cup said vote for X?

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Capital or Labour


Marx believed societies developed through class conflict. The bourgeoisie controlled the means of production for money and the proletariat sold their labour into that production in return for money wages.

Which is the overriding consideration when tackling a pandemic emergency?

Today, 26 January 2021, the UK passed 100,000 deaths, a grim statistic. Did it have to be this bad? How have others countries done?

Of course, any pandemic will also cause peripheral damage, cancer or heart operations missed – possibly causing deaths– businesses wrecked, mental health damaged, etc. Any eventual report will include so many factors in the argument as to whether the UK has done significantly better or worse than similar nations. Its complex conclusions will be heralded as success by the government and a failure by the opposition

Osborne and Cameron’s response to the banking catastrophe, which can be traced to 15 September 2008 when the investment bank Lehman Brothers collapsed, sending shock waves through the global financial system and beyond, was to cut costs and freeze public sector pay to balance the budget or at least minimize the increase in the deficit. The pain fell on the low paid. Crudely, you could say that capital (the bourgoise) won, labour (the proletariat) lost.

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