Saturday, 22 January 2011

Radio 4 - what happened?

I have stopped listening to Radio 4. Increasingly I found the content negative, repetitive, stereotyped and quite frankly tedious. Over the last few months like a mindless mantra, almost every programme, debate and comment has been prefixed by the phrase "because of the budget cuts". Because of the budgets cuts X has to do without Y and because of the budget cuts A enjoys less of whatever and so it goes.

It actually reminds me of when son Cameron was at nursery school. One of his classmates was a very funny kid who had an amazingly vivid imagination. Given half an opportunity he would regale you with a long drawn out and intricate story about "what just happened". It usually involved fire engines, motor cars, sirens and traffic collisions. All very colouful, told with great gusto and waving of arms. He then always, without fail, would finish his story by saying: " and it all happened that way because I have a willy." From a four year old, it was endearing. From an erudite world class radio station, its annoying.

Lets all just acccept that the previous government grossly overspent and the resultant bureaucracy like a bloated tick needs to be reigned back to something that resembles appropriate normality if this economy is to recover. And then lets just move on.

The little kid must now be approaching puberty. I have no idea where he is or what has happened to him. It's probably safe to assume, however, that his willy is just as important to him now than it was when he galloped about the nursery school playground a decade ago.

I have always maintained that the world is made up of three sorts of people: those that make things happen, those that watch what happened and those that wonder what happened? Cameron's clasmate is almost certainly someone who will grow up making things happen - for better or worse. At the moment, for me at any rate, Radio 4 is not making things happen at all and in fact it has suggested that there is a fourth sort of person in the world: those that make this unhappen. What a shame.

Monday, 17 January 2011

What is it about dogs?

My late father had a great word. He used to talk about crapology, often heard saying "this is crapology" in a way that a Japanese business associate of mine used to say "this is a bullshit!" Now my father never actually defined the term but I assume it referred to the study of crap. Out of sterile London and on a farm, I am only now becoming fully aware of the signficance of the term because as all country folk will know, we are constantly surrounded by the material in all its glory.

Now the brown substance could actually be managed and kept at bay if it were not for our canine companions. What is it about dogs that make them go for the stuff? Bella the Collie is the worst. In all other respects she is a model citizen and a credit to any nation. But put her in front of a pile of sheep/cow/chicken/cat shit and she blots her copy book big time. In the first instance she eats it - with relish and then comes and pants dog breath all over us. Not Channel No 5.

But what she did last night took the biscuit. We had our neighbours in for supper and very pleasant it was too until Bella came in from outside caked in fox shit. Now for all those innocent townies who have been spared this life defining experience, fox shit is toxic and can kill at 50 paces. So Bella had rolled in this stuff and then graced us with her presence in dining room adding insult to injury by frolicking on the carpets thus spreading the weapon of mass destruction all over the place. Our guests left shortly afterwards - cannot imagine why.

Bella slept in the kitchen but by this evening when we could tolerate the smell no longer. I donned wellies and dragged her into the shower room. I must admit she was very good although she made it quite clear she hated every minute. Sans dog shampoo, I grabbed the nearest thing to hand, our Head and Shoulders anti-dandruff stuff which did the trick. Now with a substantially less aromatic dog, peace has been restored - at least we can sit in the same room as Bella without being knocked side ways but I have to acknowledge that this doggy preoccupation with excrement brings into question their poll position on the evolutionary scale. Cats would just never do anything like this. Mind you, how many times have I been woken at three in the morning to the sound of a cat crunching mouse bones? All the animals are in and I have locked down the cover of the dog flap ensuring that at least tonight I will be spared canine and feline evolutionary short comings. But tomorrow is another day and it will bring a fresh batch of crap.

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Christmas a la Scotland Farm

Any attempt to follow tradition is blown out of the water if you own a Labrador or any animals for that matter. Picture it: Christmas Eve on the Farm and its all very snowy, presents under the tree, turkey in the fridge waiting to be cooked. We are all watching a DVD (yet another James Bond) when I look across to the family and say "Where's Oscar?". Bella the Collie is on her back sprawled out on the sofa, feathers to the wind, but of the Lab there is no sign.

Oscar we discovered was in the lounge opening presents that did not have his name on them. Furthermore he had managed to climb into the tree, extract and consume all the biscuit decorations I bought at the Hawkley Christmas Fayre, leaving the little red raffia tassles strewn across the room - bit of a smoking gun I reckon. How he managed to achieve this without causing the already rather wobbly tree to topple over astonished us. I mentioned this subsequently to other Labrador-infested households around the village (and its amazing how many there are) only to be confronted with the response: "Totally normal, what do you expect from a Lab?" Interestingly, Oscar had a partner in crime when it came to demolishing the Christmas tree. Jenga the little grey cat became obessed with the whole scene, sitting for hours on the arm of a chair and staring intently into the branches. The upshot of course is that there are now more baubles in corners of the room, under sofas and even in the conservatory than are left on the tree.

But back to Christmas Day. The Lab then finishes opening all the presents while we have tea and mince pies, the only non-homemade thing on the day's menu. And horrible mince pies they were too. How could an upmarket supermarket known for its quality sell such rubbish? Oscar then contributes to our meal by stealing our napkins (for the South Africans our there read serviettes)off our laps as we eat. With his soft Lab mouth he manages this without us even knowing, leaving a lump of soggy paper mache under the table. After lunch all the animals get a plateful of turkey and even Jenga tucks in. I spared the hens a turkey offering though - too close to canibalism for my liking. I did however crumble the last of the mince pies and scatter them across the lawn. The hens were delighted but then Paxman and Co will vacuum up anything.