I refer to a broad range of topics, rather than to any suggestion that dusky maidens may be in the mind. Quite the reverse actually, for I start with the imminent, and final, FMQs of the year.
More than seven months since Elmer Fudd announced his resignation Scottish Labour finally have a new leader. And it is with Rosa Kleb in mind that I rebuffed any thoughts of maidens, dusky or otherwise, We are assured that Johan Lamont leads all of Labour in Scotland, but I still think that her colleagues at Westminster representing Scottish constituencies will take their whipping from the wrong Miliband, rather than the wrong Scot. I say wrong because Rosa took second place to Ken Macintosh in votes from parliamentarians and party members, so she hardly has the full support of her group at Holyrood far less Westminster. But she got the nod on the bizarre electoral college that sees union members, even those opting out of the party funding element of their subscription, deciding the leadership, rather than the party members or the parliamentary members. Rosa’s apointment seems to me to be a step backwards for a party in deep turmoil in Scotland, devoid of both direction and ideas. If the SNP had a wish list for Labour leader then Johan Lamont may have topped it! I await FMQs.
The Urchins are at home now, for almost three long weeks, and already there is a call for fish fingers, of which the freezer contains not a single one. We will get to see the RMS Discovery, in dry dock at Dundee at some stage in the next week or so. But there are other priorities, and others to consider. I am minded this week of the frailty of the elderly; that we assume that faculties that once functioned without doubt, can no longer be relied upon. Extra care is needed, and we have to find the time for those we always thought to be robust and eternal. We may yet have to set a couple of extra places round the festive table, but any offer will probably be refused. It’s a pride thing, but when we eventually wake up to ageing then you know it’s much worse than it seems, and can be denied no longer.
Despite the presence of said Urchins I hope to, nay must, find the time to get that bike and those old limbs out on the roads. The Grasshopper has been garaged for far too long, following a delay for parts, periods of poor weather, and even, whisper it, too much work on the desk. I fear that the lycra may find it all a stretch too far, and that is before the massive calorie intake of the excesses that lie ahead. But exercise I must, and soon. The ice has gone, the temperature reaches an unseasonable double digit level at this winter solstice, and the law of sod dictates that I lose my freedom with the school closed. But I will get in the habit again soon, and update you on life in the hedgerows in these parts. That promised camera, to bring pictures to the words, may yet happen, but not this week.
For this week there is spending and largesse, though certainly much less than in the past. I am hoping that all outgoing presents have the approrpriate level of thought, have use and a purpose. Surely the days of buying thoughtlessly, of dustcollectors, and whimsies, must be put behind us. I’d much rather receive a goat in Africa than a festive tie or whatever. That said there is a book list circulating and if, come the end of the week, I can cross off a few much wanted tomes then a smile may even cross this coupon. I am reminded often that, as a child, I once had a Christmas where every parcel contained a book. I must have been about nine or ten. Now if that were to be repeated more than 40 years later, that smile would be guaranteed, provided of course they were books of my choosing.
I have struggled to move on reading-wise since that astonishing memoir last week. Right now I am circuiting the world, via deserts, in the guiding hands of Martin Buckley. His Grains of Sand has been on my radar since we met four or five years ago, at Sandfords in Manchester. I finally picked up a first edition at Hay on Wye this year and right now it is helping me move on from Horwood’s childhood. We have traversed the Sahara and the Kalihari. This morning he took me through the Atacama, and above the Nazca lines. Ahead lies the Gobi, and more.
I mentioned those lines to The Networker earlier this week, for he is off cruising on Monday, en famille, eventually disembarking at Valparaiso. We had a session at the gym, but he did all the work. It is a massive trip for a man in a wheelchair, one that he may not be able to make in five years time. So he’s right, he has to live for today and to hang with the expense and the consequences. Every minute is precious and we know not what lies ahead.
I was pleased to see a return this week of Real Travel magazine, after an absence of a few months when the publisher went into administration. Fingers crossed for a successful return, link on the blogroll restored. Also popping up again this morning is Abdul Baset al Megrahi, giving his final interview, protesting his innocence one last time. There is still more to come out, and not just the book and the film. Keep up to date with the link to Robert Black’s postings on The Lockerbie Case, aside.
On the viewing front I have treated myself to try and fill the void left by the ending of Frozen Planet and The Last Explorers. Any excuse to avoid the festive schedules is a good one for me, and I suspect that a DVD player for the little telly may be needed. I heard a discussion of a series I had missed. The Killing has run through two series now, aired on BBC4. It is Danish with subtitles, and billed as the finest crime series ever. The second series was released on disc this week, so I had a wee treat. I had to force myself to switch off after the opening two episodes, of series one, last night. There’s also a new edition out marking the 65th anniversary of It’s a Wonderful Life, and that is on the shelf for a viewing on Saturday evening. Until then The Urchins have to put up with a nightly reading of The Night Before Christmas. They’re getting a bit excited you know.
And If I don’t get a chance to report in later in the week, have a good one, and a large dram. Go on treat yourself, and those special to you, just this once. I know I will.