Musings from the Merse
The wife is about to abandon me again and dash off on a mercy trip to French France to help out the eldest daughter and the Anglo/oz offspring with a house move. Thus once again Huttonian is exposed to coping with life in the raw, the shopping, the housework, tree felling or at least log splitting, fire clearing and laying, bird feeding-the list goes on and on. One event which I can't pin on her is a trip to Eyemouth Golf Club to talk about my experiences in the Diplomatic Service to the local Rotary. I am sure to be quizzed about my distinguished colleague Sir C Meyer whose 'controversial' (his word) serialised memoirs DC Confidential have taken the readers of the Grudgian and Daily Mail by storm to the benefit of Meyer's Privy Purse by the sum of £150,000 plus . (Some one said £300,000) Good work if you can get it. Even changing my talk to 'TD15 Confidential' is not going to raise a brass farthing but at least I'll get a very nice supper. I have raised £86.50p from a silver collection at three talks on the Middle East at the University of the Third Age, also in Eyemouth-and this is not beer money but for our charity Cerebral Palsy Africa, the brainchild of the Wife. I note that half of the Meyer's cash is going to his wife's charity dealing with the problems of abducted children by estranged fathers and this will allow the organisation to pay Lady Meyer £30,000 a year for her executive directorship. ( I am endebted to the media for this gen) Sadly CPA can't afford that kind of specie, neither for the wife nor the chairman of the Trustees and I am told that Rotary will not accept a plea for cash from its visiting speakers for any cause, however deserving. So I sup, I sing, I go.
Mind you I have a few kiss and tell tales of my own-probably not worth one fifty or three hundred grand-how many Ambassadors can claim to have been trodden on by Lady Thatcher at a Buckingham Palace reception: 'Sorry Young Man' she said making me a disciple for life. Not Sir C you can be sure.
More startling revelations later if (a) I am spared and (b) my agent (Hutton Think Tank, Media Section) agree.
I am much indebted to a super geek bloggee for a doctored image of the village hall site now showing a figure of an extra terrestrial rather than the possible offence giving image of a real person. The extra terrestrial has given its permission to appear -Thankyou Dr Sprock.
He was also concerned that Ms Z could be inadvertently advertising a well know alchoholic product in her team captain image so he has suggested an alteration removing the logo. Should the multinational in question agree on sponsorship the original shot will be restored. After all their drink used to be given free to nursing mothers in the Rotunda Hospital in Dublin so perhaps promoting healthy toddlers is not politically incorrect.
The Hutton Think tank is organising a competition for the best seasonal Rural image-not a glossy choccy box sentimentalising the countryside but of life in the raw as we know it. This entry is titled Slurry and Manse-bringing together Church and Agriculture in a dramatic visual fashion.
(click on images for startling effect)
Progress on the Hall with the arrival of (surely) Berwickshires tallest crane and some of the Meccano/Lego pieces to get the building going. The crane towered over the church and the top seemed to disappear into the night sky. A humonoid figure, back turned appears in one image-many apologies but he was a aware of my presence with a camera and that of the official Hall photographer and did not seem to mind. I know this story is of sopme interest to Huttonians not only here but also in foreign parts in such exotic places as , say, Portugal.
There are still far too many shopping days to Christmas and certainly more than can justify Sir Morrison's putting on their Xmas livery and pushing their Christmas special offers. Even Paxton House, that bastion of Borders gentility and decency had a Father Christmas lurking in a grotto over the weekend. PH combined a craft show with a two day open house -free tour and free mulled wine. But Father Christmas was getting no takers at 50p a knee -or actually no change from £1 a visit to the grotto tucked away in a corner of the Picture Gallery. At the time of our visit Ms Z was the only person under about 45 around and she felt that her pennies were better spent elsewhere so she passed the rather sinister looking Santa bolthole without a second glance en route to demanding a top up for her mulled wine.
This brings Huttonian to a point of Christmas etiquette. We plan to be in the lower Highlands for Christmas itself. But back in the Merse for Old Year's Night, Hogmanay, New Year's Eve and New Year's Day depending on ethnicity. Question: does that excuse us from erecting a Tree? After all a Tree is for Christmas unlike a Rottwieller puppy. Please, I hope it does. And anyhow I hear that there is likely to be a shortage of trees this year-global warming?-and we don't want to add to deforestation. Any advice on this philosophical point welcome.The warm glow on Santa's Kneewas from spilled wine and not tot's wee
(Hutton Book of Seasonal Haikus)
Poet in residence
in the Hutton Think Tank has, apparently, an ingrained deslike of fawning felines and has unearthed this pome as a warning to cat owners (or occasional hosts) everywhereWhat are You Thinking Cat?What are you thinking cat?
Eyes unblinking cat,
staring me down
Under you fur,
beyond that purr,
what are you thinking?
Is it love I see,
deep in your eyes?
Or is it contempt?
A calculated attempt
Is that what you are thinking?
I wish I knew what you are thinking.
I have this moment of doubt,
whether to put you out
away from the fire
into the rain,
fur soaking again.
“No he wouldn’t do that! “
I am sure, my fine cat,
that’s what you’re thinking
So I will look into your eyes,
eyes deep and unblinking.
If there is no trace of doubt,I’ll just throw you out.
To show who is master, who is cat,
To demonstrate that
you can never be sure
what I am thinking(attrib: Angus McAvitty former owner of the Fishwick and Horndean Killer Dogs sanctuary)
A bloggee has asked if Rosie the Cat is still alive and kicking. Alive yes-kicking rather feebly. She is a bit ancient, well past pensionble age, even taking into account propsed legislation to raise this and is now longer able to catch birds unless they are already dead. Like the frozen to death pigeon found on our lawn a couple of days ago. She is still a frequent visitor to the Old Manse , not in search of spiritual comfort but of heat and food. Decrepit she may be but she can get onto the Kitchen table and nick any titbit in a flash. And once ensconced beside the Raeburn she is hard to shift into the cold and the dark.
I I hesitate to show a new picture of the Village Hall site but it is human free. Indeed with the foul weather currently on offer from the BBC Weather Centre the whole of Hutton is human free as far as outside is concerned. But the image is a landmark one as it shows the basic foundations in place and despite the very heavy rain (29mm in the last 24 hours) the site seems to be draining well. Also, and nothing to do with the village hall, Ms Z insisted on including her team captain photo for the souvenir programme for the up coming Toddlers World Rugger Cup.
Because of inclement weather plans for extensive rugby training for the Tots World Cup had to be seriously curtailed and only indoor sessions were possible. Despite spectacular rainbows the weather reneged on the old saw about rainbows meaning the end of the shower it merely presaged a fiercer one. Anyhow some practice was possible in the indoor arena and here we see ZR combining a storming run through the centre with a Borders type Haka. Eventually the weather relented but Ms Z was only persuaded to leave the balmy 12C indoors for a work out on the pitch with full Innuit gear. This garment may be worn in the World Cup by our players to discourage opponents in the scrum from biting off little ears.
RACISM IN THE MERSE
? Perhaps not yet but for the first time that Huttonian can recall the Berwickshire leads
on the story of ‘Influx of Immigrants is causing problems’ This is the findings of an ‘alcohol related crime conference’ (Double gins all round?) in Berwick. It is mainly the Portuguese who were the ‘forriners’ in recent years working in the fish processing industry near Duns and but now, according to Inspector Ken Simpson, the Portuguese have been joined by a ‘lot of Poles and Lithuanians’ I wonder if these include the female plumbers about which there was much speculation in the summer. The apparent main grievance about these EU blow ins is that they take ‘0ur’ jobs and ‘our’ housing. The police seem to believe that they have also contributed to raising the crime statistics ‘ such as alcohol related problems, drink driving, carrying knives and domestic violence’ A lot of this is of course urban myth combined with instinctive prejudice-the fact is that Johnny Foreigner does jobs (like fish processing) which locals won’t touch and low paid agricultural ones which are increasingly hard to fill. Now they are coming in with their families they of course need housing on the same terms as us natives as is their right as EU citizens. So the sensible message from this conference was ‘lets make these people welcome and help them to integrate’ The truth is that around here has been largely ethnically homogenous for yonks and some of us are now reflecting attitudes too common else where in the UK that foreigners, even our fellow EU citizens, are a threat, a cause of many problems and in no way a solution to others. It bears watching-and the search for a Polish distaff plumber continues.
I hoped to stun bloggees with images of the elder Granddaughter in Rugger training. But she claimed (like most other relis) that Hutton was too cold outside. So here is an interior shot, two feet from the Raeburn. At least the gloves came off but not the hat. The other picture is the Hall under construction-I have moved the chap who was not consulted about being snapped and I defy anyone to identify the bloke in the cab-if any. So anonimity is preserved all round
A bloggee has commented that it is wrong for Huttonian to put people on to the rant without their specific permission
. This is in reference to the recent Hall image-or rather the hole where one day, Insha'llah, the new hall will appear in all its glory. I have to say the shot was meant to be of the digger and of the hole-the little figure was an inadvertent insertion and quite difficult to identify unless you magnify the picture by clicking on it. I will take an early opportunity to ask the bloke concerned if he has any objection -(and I now wonder if I should return to Newcastle and try and find all those scores of people who got between the camera lens and the Mountains of Mourne and retrospectively get their blessing for appearing on Musings.) I understand from a villager that a number of people have been taking photos of the hall site and the work in progress and no doubt including the workers in the scene. So why one rule for them and another for Huttonian.?I consider that the work on Hall is of considerable local interest (and beyond no doubt) so I will continue to chart its progress photographically. I will avoid the chaps at work so as not to give offence and I am sure future historians will be thankful . Vox Pop please
Once again the BBC are
at it with dire warnings about the coming days. 'The first of Winter' they chortle and the weather charts are full of little snow flakes blown along by tempestous winds from a north full of rings huddling together in a menacing way -a sort of Northerly Haka promising mayhem and disruption. The week end will be particularly bad they claim with a marked degree of relish. So we brace ourselves in Hutton as on the map we are where sleet meets snow. Sadly the warm Autumn and the prolific slurry laid on Hutton Hill has resulted in prodigous growth amidst the unploughed stubble so we would need a foot or more of snow before Hutton could hope to launch his newly acquired, soft cutting edge, inflatable sledge. In the meanwhile two workmen struggle on with the VillageHall site. The hole is deeper with a World War 1 type trench system outlining the shape of the foundations. One guy has a digger and the other a spade-the latter at least can keep warm as the cab of the digger is open to the elements. If the snow arrives as promised it will be difficult for Scott and Edmundsen to carry on-if they do it will be free entertainment for the elder granddaughter who arrives to day-GNER always permitting.
A witty bloggee has commented as follows via the e-mailfacility:Good Morning, Sir. I was recently reading your blog, and I thought...
read haiku, ref mobile:
makes you think... thnx 4 ur visit What can one say: id like 2 rep txt n kind but prblm fone buggrd so lft bhind.
Thick fog arising from Morecambe Bay and on the upper reaches of the A7 south of Hawick made our journey Mersewards more challenging than normal and the Old Manse itself was as freezing as anticipated despite the Central Heating at full blast since the morning. This morning we awoke to find it 22F -and much colder outside-no I jest, slightly. It was 22 or minus 6 C on our patio and a bit warmer in the kitchen but probably not much. A pigeon had succumbed to exposure on the front lawn and to our amazement two work men were doing their thing in an enormous hole which used to be the village hall and is now looking a bit like the preparatory work for a nuclear bunker.
The images include the Old Manse huddling amongst the trees taken from Hutton Hill and a distant shot of Hutton Village at the edge of Farmer O's field. Hutton Hole to be Hutton Hall is also featured. We will keep you abreast of this project as it progresses.
So its leaving a snug wee cottage for a freezing Old Manse and the Irish Sea and all Scotland to cross in the meanwhile-the auguries are good and the entrails of a grapefruit speak of calm seas, sunny skies but with a hint of fog here and there. The only hard thing is getting out of the womb of the car outside the Manse and bracing oneself for the tomb like cold within-from womb to tomb -that would save alot of living. Report later; if we are spared.
The Merse with its gentle beauty can't really match up to Newcastle on a sunny November day and no wind. Anyhow bloggees can be assured that they will see little more of Norn Iron until next Springhuttonian
Ms KB had a theory that King Canute was right. But they were both wrong as the tide reached the top of the beach behind her in about 20 minutes. She was ok as the minders moved her despite her protestshuttonian
An eyesore since 1887 the 'iconic' Slieve Donard hotel dominated the skyscape in the other direction. Not improved by the obtrusive extension to the right and plans by 02 to put up an aerial on the roof having been refused planning permission to erect it any where else.huttonian
A bloggee has asked for a shot of the two young Anglo/Welsh/Aussies-Mr P is 5 today and isn't quite as daft as he is putting on. Ms KB has to put up with a lot from her big brother but loves him all the same.huttonian
A more formal pose. Mr P in his new (and first) French school uniformhuttonian
A change from golf. Ms KB hot foot from France enjoying the balmy (as in mild) climes of Norn Ironhuttonian
Ms KB is only feeding her 'baby' as she is stuffed herselfhuttonian
When baby is full-fling herhuttonian
Mr P contemplating the rapids and feeding the river with fallen brancheshuttonian
And MrP modelling his Autumn collection in Tollymore Parkhuttonian
The tree behind was a bit hard to shift.huttonian
Wasn't me. Honest. It sort of just fell down.huttonian
OK it is a bit parky at 8-30
am but not life threatening. The sun is blazing down, not a cloud in the sky, the mountains glowing with health, heather and vitality. And the bloody course is closed. Just because its Thursday and not a day for the members who live in Belfast (about 90% of them) to come down. The reason, no, excuse, is its frosty and damage to the course must be avoided with all those major tournaments next year and of course the Walker Cup is just upon us in 2007. If they are serious about damage to the course they should close it every day of a Ladies competition and every Saturday, in the case of the No 2 track when the hackers come from far and wide to garden their way around leaving death and destruction in their trail. But Huttonian with his long straight drives, his immaculate divotless iron shots and his infrequent,gentle putts is barred until 'another decision is made' I suspect that this is the personal revenge of the green keepers.
Soon back to the Merse and I bet Duns stays open under 17 foot of snow and 22 degrees of frost. Them Borderers are tough and will play on while Ulster still says 'No'.
Days in Norn Iron are fast
running out and excursions to the Royal Co Down(PBUI) as some bloggees will apparently be relieved to hear-are coming to an end for this year. So Huttonian is taking every chance he gets to play a few holes before the other routine and humdrum pressures of the day kick in. This means a very early start and today in blazing sunshine and freezing wind I had the whole course to myself-a BA-(Before Alsatian) PH (Pre-Hackers) and above all a WBGK (Well before Green Keepers) tee off saw to that. I actually came across the one green keeper but he is of the old school-and kept a very respectful distance both fore and aft which presumably explains how he has survived to a comparatively mature age.
Starting from home obviates the necessity for using the Club house and cracking the more relaxed dress code. Some of the long deceased members must be spinning in their family mausoleums as it is now permitted to enter the public rooms of the club house without a jacket and tie-smart casual is ok-so no jeans or shorts-but in the summer shorts with knee length socks are acceptable. But this only applies to Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. 'Formal Dress' is de rigeur on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays. Formal in the RCD sense does not mean white tie as at Buck House but a jacket (ideally blazer with brass buttons and club crest) and tie (ideally RCD one) Last week I was half way up the stairs before I realised it was Wednesday and I had no jacket. I scuttled down again to the safety of my car before I could be accosted and publicly shamed.
Championships cause a problem with visiting golfers and means a relaxed dress code. 'Sex' is also relaxed and for the Curtis Cup visiting ladies were made honorary men and could make free use of the club house including the men's changing rooms. There are no ladies facilities- females normally banned from the Club House except under strict male supervision for eg Sunday lunch. The Curtis Cup Distaffers got on ok and I suppose managed the urinals well enough. No complaints anyhow.Needs must and nowadays Female golfers are expected by their lobbyists to emulate everything their male counterparts can do. If they can stand up and deliver in a howling gale on one of the toughest course in the world, standing up and delivering else where should pose no difficulty.
Great start to Tuesday. There was the Alsatian and its master in stalking mode-but well behind me and still intrusive but it had learnt something from yesterdays confrontation. At the second hole the ball I had been playing with came apart-it had been a present from a friend who found it on a beach and may have been over long in Neptune's locker at the Royal Atlantis. I broke it in half and then 'lost' both pieces on the middle of the fairway, and walked on. Poor deluded hound it thought this was the easiest find ever, scooped up both pieces and dropped them in triumph at his masters feet. The handler said something, apparently not very nice and Alsie slunk away. Not his week so far and Huttonian was left well alone.
Images follow. Sorry non-golfing bloggees but we will be back in the Merse soon and can get back to normal: the Tweed, Coos, ruins of village hall etc etc. Be patient
The drive at the 11th on the RCD (PBUI) Just a stick on the horizon to aim at and trouble, trouble everywhere.(This is the front tee-the championship one is 100 yards behind)huttonian
And the drive at the 12th. The fairway is 200 yards away-the green piece in front is a track leading past Alsatian infested gullies and bottomless pits.huttonian
13th Green. If you survive this far you have dome well. 440 yard par 4 with direct line over miles of gorse and heather.huttonian
Par 3 13th-No 2 course. Just as fiendish as the Championship track. Either you hit this green or you are buried. Click on image to see full horrors. But if of nervous disposition, better look away nowhuttonian
Again the no 2 course. Second shot to the 14th-that is is you got your first here over the gorse. Again a very precise iron shot required or your ball is gone and even the Alsatian could not find it.huttonian
Monday is a risky day for golf at the Royal County Down (PBUI) as any hint of frost or a drop of rain too much the greenkeeper in chief is inclined to close the course so as to enjoy a long lie in under the guise of protecting the links which needs to be in top class condition for the Walker Cup. 'Oh Really. Soon?' 'Yer. 2007'. Can't be too careful.
Anyhow today apart from a strong wind but not life threatening even in Glasgow the conditions were ok. No lady golfers in sight and the green keepers were apparently still abed perhaps in the expectation that the head poncho was going to close the course-he may himself have overslept and missed his moment.
The only remaining problem was the ball searcher and his highly trained Alsatian. Monday after a hacker strewn weekend is his best day for easy finds and does not have to penetrate too far into the rain forest to meet his quota. As I was the only golfer out he stalked me out of force of habit trying to anticipate the line of my next shot and hoping the dog can spot the lie of my ball before I do. There is not actually a nasty rush to get to the ball first-that could be categorised as criminal assault-but he is hopeful that when I have given up searching for one of my wilder shots and move on the dog is there in a flash and another nearly new Titleist in his wee bag. With a strong right to left wind on the holes 'coming home' the dog hugged the left hand rough and with that skill and anticipation which is the mark of an ex-police cur he successfully plotted the flight of a fairly wild hook at the 15th. The ensuing squeal was music to my ears and the thieving beast took off ballless(as it were) looking for safer employment with the owner in hot pursuit. Half an hour later I saw ball searcher still looking for his dog which was presumably sheltering down a convenient rabbit hole (most of the bunnies have been gassed).
I didn't find my ball either, it must have bounced off the Dog's skull, but it was a small price to pay for peace of mind and a hassle free finish.
This image hardly does justice to the famous Dundrum Car Boot sale which operates every week end in Dundrum, 5 miles north of Newcastle. Perhaps 1000 cars on a good day and with most things under 50p it is a kind of instant e-Bay-with the Bay but not the -e. We managed to get a whole range of items for the grandchildren and change from a fiver. If you click to enlarge you can see the Mountains of Mourne towering over Newcastle just down the road.huttonian
Our favourite mountain lake in Castlewellan Forest Park. No reason why it is on the blog except that it is our favourite lake.huttonian
The BBC weather centre
have been at it again with their long practiced art of meteorological terrorism. But last Friday they carried it to new extremes with dire advice not to leave the house and ‘dangers to life’. This warning was aimed primarily at Norn Iron and to the ‘Central Lowlands’ of Scotland with Glasgow being nominated as ‘particularly at risk’ Winds ‘in excess’ of 80 miles an hour, structural damage, power interruptions-better stay inside in the dark than risk being decapitated by flying tree trunks-such a feature of the Gorbals. I happened to be speaking to a Glaswegian at the height of the alleged storm. He mentioned that there was a bit of a breeze and that his hat had ‘nearly’ been blown off. We were later in Bangor, Norn Iron where being Friday afternoon thousands of reckless people were out for their week end shopping as if nothing as happening, as indeed nothing much was. Our host mentioned that he was grateful that the effete southerners who dominate the weather centre had actually taken notice of anything outside the Westminster Triangle. Last week a local weather buff had recorded winds in ‘excess of’ 112 mph. The weather map for Norn Iron that day had showed ‘winds light to moderate’ prevailing in the province.
Anyhow some people had taken the BBC’s warnings seriously and most of the ferries were cancelled. Must have been irritating for those frustrated passengers marooned in the Ferry Terminals, basking in the sunshine and looking at mill pond conditions in Belfast Lough and Stranraer harbour.
Comeback Mr Fish. You got it wrong once. But this is becoming a habit.
This is the cop shop in question. Note the fine Chinese Granite wall. Much better than the previous defences which completely obscured the building. Mind you they were needed as the station has been attacked on a couple of occasions including by home made pipe mortar bombs all except one of which failed to explode.huttonian
A few doors down from the pollis is the old Huttonian home bought by my maternal grandfather in 1922 or so. Now four flats. It was originally identical to the two neighbouring houses (built by a developer in the 1830s) but some one in the late 19th century decided to put on an extra storey and the castellations to overawe the guy next door.huttonian
The view from across the road of Newcastle huddling around Dundrum Bay. It has been compared favourably with the Bay of Naples by a cognescento, then working for the Norn Iron Tourist Boardhuttonian
One of the more unwelcoming
sights of our end of town is the Police Station-once known as the Pollis Barracks-a good military sounding title in the old Norn Iron where government structures were associated with the Unionist/Protestant establishment and what the IRA liked to call 'the forces of the Crown' or even The Army of Occupation. Now with Peace and the newly established 'non-sectarian' Police Service of Northern Ireland' the police posts are being demilitarised and the old barb wire, massively high walls, anti mortar bomb protection for roofs are being put 'beyond use' and the still useful bits occasionally turn up at car boot sales (now there is a thought for the IRA's weapons) Newcastle is no exception and the old high walls have come down and a more decorative one built. And appropriately enough the new wall is made with Granite. Good thinking-the Mournes are made of granite, mostly, the quarry up the mountain turned out the stuff for 200 years for much of Belfast and Liverpool and even for the Albert Memorial. Good old Queen Vic wanted the best, of course. So Mourne Granite for a Mourne Police station. Right on. Cool, Proper Bo.
Er, Yes? The granite comes from China.
Cheaper, easier to 'work' apparently. And no one seems to mind. Value for money' is a great Scottish quality that the Ulster Scots imported from the motherland. And if it was hewn from Chinese mountains by virtual slave labour, underpaid and over worked (unlike the granite) and then flown in as the PSNI are in a hurry-Well thats not our problem. Thats 'granitisation' and we must learn to live with it.
Paxton House is good; London parks excellent but to see Autumn at its British best Norn Iron is the place to be. Scenes from Tollymore Park followhuttonian
Why go to New England to see this when Ould Ireland is just as goodhuttonian
Hard to beat.huttonian
Foley's Bridge in the Park. The Earls of Roden are long gone but the landscaping of their Demesne survives themhuttonian
The Shima River on its way to the sea at Newcastle has still 300 feet to drop from Tollymorehuttonian
A memorial to Mr Fish. The trees felled in the Great Storm of '99 and/or 04 are still around/huttonian
The word is out amongst
the green keeping fraternity at the Royal Co Down (PBUI) Huttonian is armed and dangerous. Approach with caution. The little tractors melted away from the greens as I neared them. One Keeper did me the honour of carefully watching my pitch shot to the green he had so hastily vacated. Shot played (and it was a good one) he doffed his cap. Whether out of respect or because he needed to scratch the Beckham scalped head I do not know; but I have an opinion.
Huttonian’s former existence as a cookie pusher extraordinaire and imbiber of cocktails By Appointment has received some limelight in the public eye thanks to the entire Gerdieen semi broadsheet seemingly
being devoted to serialising the adventures of our former man in Washington. Not that Huttonian receives a mention as yet (anxious scanning of the millions of column inches has been pleasantly fruitless) and anyhow I never climbed those dizzy heights –the Parises, Bonns and Washingtons of this world, so I doubt if my memoirs would be of great public interest. They might of course be of some concern to a limited number of self styled movers and shakers and I have played with the idea of writing a sort of post dated blog, sending samples of it in draft to former acquaintances and suggesting contributions to my post retirement fund so as they can be excised from the final version.
Thus my motivation would be Fun and Avarice. But in the case of our man with the rather Germanic moniker I wonder what his bag is. Avarice? Well I suppose he is not having his afterthoughts so extensively serialised without some money changing hands. But I doubt if that is it. The burning desire to spill the beans about the true story behind the Iraq War? The first of those on the inside to let it ll hang out? Could be. But what comes through is the whinge factor-and the apparent wish not to consume revenge as a cold dish. Our Number One Ambo in the known world appears to have suffered a serious of slights at the hands of No 10 and the Prime Minister-mostly it seems of a social or personal nature (being left out of guest lists for meals with the President, exclusion of wife from ditto, not being invited to No10 to say good by to Mr Blair on his handing in of his Cocked Hat, sour comments about Public Schools from No 10 staffers; the list is long and rather trivial, if not down right petty) And it leaves a sour taste in the mouth that confidential conversations with the great and the ought to be good are given so much publicity within not so long period of them having taken place. If I was a senior foreigner I would be very careful what I would say to a British Ambassador in case it turned up, under lurid headlines, in the media a few months later. And if I were a highheidian in the Foreign and Commonwealth office I would be checking up in Sir C’s Personal File to see if, by any chance, he ever signed the Official Secrets Act. And if he did draw to his attention some of its provisions including the costs of accommodation in the Tower of London.
And another thing. The timing is very unfortunate for the nice Tony Blair under pressure from so many other directions. Is Sir C being used or is this another bit of the revenge thing?
Jealousy I hear you cry. Perhaps so. If the Gerdian would like the memories of a ‘diplomatic’ (if that is the right word) lesser light, suitably embroidered to warrant serialisation, I could be persuaded. They know where to find me.
No problems with the neo-Fishes
today –indeed a really glorious morning like those fantastic November days we always used to have before mobile phones, CD players, VCRs etc and when warm sunny winters were a promise and not a threat of impending doom. I well remember….*
The trick with such short days is to get to the Golf Course as early as possible before the earliest women with their carbon WMDs and leisurely chit chat and the octogenarian men with their electrified self propelling trolleys which pull them along the course at snail like speed. Too early, like today, there is a new peril. The Green keepers. These are not like the chatty weather beaten gnarled old gentleman of Duns but tough, fit, dedicated technocrats with cutting edge (and cutting grass) state of the art space age machines. Rocket scientists to a man and wholly committed to their task of keeping the Royal Co Down (PBUI) in ace condition. To these breed of single-minded zealots, Golfers, especially early golfers are a nuisance and to be ignored or tormented. Consequently you can easily spend 20 minutes after hitting an eye popping drive waiting for the green keeper to leave the green you are approaching as he relentlessly and thoroughly cuts every tiny blade –several times over-in that search for the Holy Grail of manicured perfection.
Today, I fear, Huttonian snapped. Held up at most greens the last green was a potential coronary of frustration too far. The green keeper on his wondrous machine was almost neurotic in his intensity-but not too intense in that I knew he knew I was waiting for him to vacate the target area. He had glanced, rather contemptuously, I thought in my direction as if thinking ‘Why doesn’t he play his wretched shot-he’ll get no where near the green, come on rabbit make my day.’ I was actually secretly inclined to agree with him but after another scornful look (200 yards away but I know those looks) I pulled out my three wood and hit the ball with all the irritation at my command. I should do that more often-the ball went dead straight towards my tormentor, carried the bunker in front of the green, bisected the wheels of his tractor-thing and ended up a foot from the hole. He roared off the green-victory! But then to my horror headed up the fairway towards me. Revenge? No. As he hurried past me he opened his bullet proof side window and with a flick of his cropped ‘Beckham-styled’ head awarded me the ultimate accolade: ‘Sticking out’ he said ‘Great wee shot’ and disappeared towards a distant green intent in getting there just before a creeping group of geriatrics could get within range.
They hadn't a chance
* Not too many golden memories please. Blog-ed
A visit down south to
the Republic of Ireland is no longer the big deal it used to be in the time of the Troubles-with the road blocks, frontier posts, army patrols slouching along the hedgerows rifles threatening the traffic and the military outposts all concrete, barbed wire and blackened one way glass in the pill boxes. Now it is almost impossible to tell where Norn Iron (Yu Kay) ends and the Republic begins. The road surface used to be a giveaway with the Republic side all worn and potholed; but now with the Celtic Tiger economy (and generous EU subsidies) the change to better surfaces occurs south of the Border down Dundalk way. You can only tell when you see the green phone boxes of the south, the road signs in Irish (and kilometres) and the Petrol stations with the euro prices showing that you can fill your tank at nearly half the UK cost. Of police and army checks, of pill boxes etc-not a trace and the old ‘unapproved’ roads crossing the border are all reopened and previously blocked or dynamited bridges back to their previous glory. And once you cross the border (marked today by the road sign which said '80 kph Limit' -going the other way it was a curt 60mph) you somehow seem to be in a more affluent region-better houses, nicer hotels, better cafes-how the old order changeth.
And the golf was good too if not quite up to the Royal County Down (PBUI) and the neo Fishes had no idea we had left Norn Iron so we had dry weather all day. Sorry Mr Deakin but you had sent such a foul morning to Newcastle we really had little choice.
At last some of the answers to one of the great mysteries of the age: The outgoing Routemaster bus weighs 7 tonnes and does/did 13mpg. The Johnny come later ‘Bendy Bus’ weighs in at 18 tonnes and does 4.5mpg-a mile a litre in new money. (Thank you Mr Ben Brook of the save the Routemaster campaign) Is that of any concern to the Merse I hear you whisper? Well yes; we have (NO12) Routemaster on temporary duty at the Chain Bridge Honey Farm. Permanently barred from Scotland as even at only 7 tonnes it can’t cross the Chain Bridge.
And these statistics are also helpful as easily mastered comparisons for Rural Societies like ours( now we are familiar with double decker buses) as in ‘The Slurry on Farmer O’s field weighs the same as two Routemaster buses!’ ‘ While that heap of muck on Farmer C’s field weighs slightly less than a Bendy Bus. Vivid, ain’t it.
Also useful for Pub Quizzes. What is most harmful to the environment: (a) A Bendy Bus(b) Farmer O's slurry or (C) a Routemaster Reply : A bendy Bus. Follow up expert question: What is more harmful to the environment and damaging to remaining rain forest in Berwickshire: (a) A Routemaster or (b) Farmer O's slurry. Answer (b) How do we know that-ask Mr Brook. Engines on the Routemaster, replaced only a very few years ago, conform with EU environmental standards as well as running on ultra-low sulphur diesel. No contest really.
Bloggees have asked for a sight of the Norn Iron cottage which is Huttonian's other home. Here it is. Old coachman's dwelling for the big house in front. The coach room, was first just that, then a garage and now our kitchen and the stable the utility room.huttonian
Just down he road is the harbour. Fortunately of little interest to the day tripper Right now it is empty of boats which depresses the interest factor even further. We can live with thathuttonian
This is called William's Harbour in the old maps. Three miles south of Newcastle just beyond the B****Y Bridge.It is said that Williamite troops landed here in 1689. I am not convinced its a long way from anywhere and there was even less anywhere in the late 17th Century. Newcastle-the nearest settlement hardly existed then and any army marching on its stomach would not have found a KFC or even Mauds in those days. And had they landed on a Thursday afternoon everything would have been closed.huttonian
And anyhow why land on a rocky foreshore with waves like these. William the Third, of glorious Orange renown, surely had more sense. No Kurious of Kilkeel, therewere no GPS' in them days but yes, he could have been blown off course.huttonian
Drama brings beauty-inner Dundrum bay in the post blackberry seasonhuttonian