Mad Max Clifford

Wednesday 30th April

My mother used to insist that bad people would always get their come-uppance.  Presumably through divine intervention the wrath of God would descend and the evil-doer would (eventually) be punished.  I used to wonder just what evil-doing had been committed by starving children and cancer sufferers but apparently these were all part of God’s plan, and not for us to question his supreme wisdom.

Whether she was right I very much doubt, but am happy that Justice seems to have at last caught up with Max Clifford.  The man was not only a serial sex-offender by the evidence presented at his trial but a thoroughly unscrupulous and nasty piece of work.  There was a time in the nineties and naughties when he could do no wrong.  In fact he reigned supreme in the gutter press, suppressing and planting stories presumably for huge sums to protect or popularize his rich clients.  Newspapers seemed to accept his version of events with no question.  If Max was on your side you knew you would come out right.  He defended the indefensible and achieved degrees of whitewash for his clients they could only dream about.

But ever since the phone hacking scandal his star seems to have dimmed.  And then after Jimmy Saville revelations and the news that Max Clifford was one of the ‘celebrities’ being investigated he has looked a dead duck.  Apparently the reason he ‘got away’ with controlling the press was that he had the dirt on so many editors.  And now they must be crowing, and will have their revenge.  In spades.  For me, as long as we don’t have to see his greasy sneering self-righteous face defending yet another footballer or politician caught ‘in flagrante’ I will be happy.

Come-uppance never seemed so sweet or so well deserved.

The Whole Manchester United Thing

Tuesday 29th April

Last week’s news was dominated by the shenanigans at Manchester United, even though events in Ukraine may still have far more long-term significance.  It seems that the media cannot get enough of Man. U., and we like dutiful children lap it all up.  Football had moved from the arena of just a sport into celebrity, and now it is the managers who are feted (or abused) as much as the players.  And Manchester United has been exalted above all the rest; it is almost as if we all think that we rather than the Glazer family actually own it.

There was the awful plane crash in 1959, was it, when a generation of young players was lost.  Then the ‘Busby babes’, Denis Law, Georgie Best and more recently Beckham, Cantona and Fergie himself.  The manager of managers who insisted that nobody was bigger than the club itself, except maybe Sir Alex himself that is.  And they kept winning, despite flourishes from Arsenal, Chelsea and Man. City, united were always there, at the top or very close.

Last year Sir Alex at 71 retired, and it was a national occasion, a celebration of the man, the team, the national game in a genuine outpouring of affection.  His chosen successor was David Moyes, a fellow Scot who had been at Everton for years.  At the time I was skeptical; the man had never won a thing and Everton were a competent but distinctly run of the mill side.  What could Moyes bring to the party?

As it transpired of course, very little.  And now he has gone.  It was partly results, but I suspect it was really the players, who just couldn’t accept this newcomer, this interloper, this new man telling them how to play football.   Maybe led by Rooney, who knows, but this weekend after Moyes had been sacked they looked a different team.  Maybe Ryan Giggs just told them to play however they liked.  Maybe it had all been planned, maybe they needed this poor year to begin to refocus.

And of course now the speculation of who will be the new manager.  There are even suggestions that Ryan will hang onto the job, at least as nominal head coach, while others do the transfers and decide who plays where.  Whatever happens we are sure to be on the edge of our seats watching the whole Manchester Untied thing as it moves onto another year.

The Charm of the Green Baize

Monday 28th April

Sports come in all shapes and sizes, from the Marathon to the 50 metre indoor sprint.  From eighty minutes of frenetic physical contact on the rugby pitch to the five days of chess-like concentration of a test-match where a draw is often a great result.  But for sheer endurance of concentration little can match Snooker, and the World Championships are the where you find the longest matches.  In some sports it is all over in the blink of an eye, with a photo-finish as a decider but in snooker even the lowly second round matches are over 25 frames, each of which can last a half-hour or more.

And it is incredibly skillful, and tactical and a beautiful game at the same time.  The frustration as often for frame after frame after a reasonable safety shot you find yourself sitting helpless as your opponent clears up the table, waiting for that one slip when you might just get back and have a chance to play a few shots.  In some ways it is akin to physics, working out the angles, the trajectory of both the target ball and just as important the cue ball, the possible plants, the snookers and the escapes often round three sides of the table.

And for me, I can watch it for hours; I find nothing more relaxing than watching the slow glide of the balls over the green baize.  It is the ultimate couch potato sport, even if you nod off chances are that they will still be playing when you open your eyes again and you won’t have missed that much.  What a wonderful sport.

Not Quite Back In The Swing Of Things

Sunday 27th April

I mentioned that I has an eye operation.  I discovered eighteen months ago that I had Glaucoma.  It is too high pressure in the eye itself, which causes irreparable damage to the optical nerve.  If left untreated I would have probably gone blind.  Luckily having my eyes tested my reading for eye pressure was off the scale so I was sent to Moorfields for treatment.  I have been having drops morning and evening and while there was some progress it wasn’t fast enough for my doctors, so an operation was recommended.  Not quite sure what they did but basically they have increased the drainage of the eye itself so that the pressure should drop faster.   It will be three months before we know for sure if it has worked.

The operation itself had filled me with trepidation.  Although fairly routine, any operation is a bit scary, and I had been warned that there might be some pain, some bruising and of course there was always the chance that I could be blinded as a direct result of the op itself.  Thankfully there has been no real pain, a dull ache at the back of the eye and a minor irritation at the front of the eye itself.  One of the worst aspects of the operation was that I was conscious and had to lay flat for over an hour.  My shoulder blades were really aching at the end of it.  Next day I went to have the bandage off and though my eyesight was pretty blurry I could see.  Double vision lasted another day but now my eyesight is almost the same in that eye as my ‘good’ one.

But I am not quite back in the swing of things yet.  I hve to keep putting eye-drops in, one sort every two hours and the other every four, and I feel quite tired most of the time, maybe an effect of the anaesthetic itself.   Of course if successful they will do the other eye.  But at least I will know what to expect this time.  I am of course incredibly thankful for the surgeons and all the staff at Moorfields who have been wonderful.  And thank goodness I had that eye test in the first place.

Sorry for the wait

Saturday 26th April

Over ten days with no blogging, and strange that for three years was once such a vital part of my life can have been dropped so easily.  The reasons are as follows; firstly friends arrived to visit us in France, and I was so busy that I had next to no time to write a daily blog, let alone log in to post it on-line.  Then the journey back, where I was moody and out of sorts, one of the dogs was poorly too and, exhausted at the other end, we had to rush to the vets.  After a week of him looking miserable he is at last seeming to perk up a bit.  The day following which was Easter Monday I went in to work to catch up on the mountain of work but sadly had an awful migraine headache all day which I just couldn’t shake off so to be when I got in and I slept.  Tuesday a very long day at work until 8.30, home and shattered and to bed.

Then Wednesday I had an operation for Glaucoma on my eye, so I was out of action almost all day.  Thursday and recovering somewhat but vision still blurry, so didn’t write anything.  Today (Friday) to Walton and feeling better though still tired.  So a half-hearted excuse, and a hal-hearted blog.

Maybe I will get back on the case soon.

No Time to Blog

Tuesday 15th April

We seem to be so busy with last minute jobs, tidying up and cleaning, shopping for provisions, washing clothes and general chore that I had no chance to just sit and write my blog.  And yesterday evening, which we had agreed was to be a quiet one indoors ended up with friends coming round with a bottle of wine.  We consumed that ans anther in no time and then were on the brandies and liquor Peregourdine.  Great fun, but no blog done.

Today we have friends from England arriving so there will be even less chance.  Like the missing flight this may be the last signal you receive for a while, but don’t send out the search planes just yet.  The black box won’t tell you anything anyway.  I may be missing, presumed having a good time.


Monday 14th April

I have often pondered happiness; what is it exactly?  And why is this state so desired and yet so transitory.  And often hard to recognize at the time; easy on reflection or in anticipation but at the time that it is happening happiness can be elusive, hard to define, almost ephemeral.  As soon as you ask yourself if you are happy, then the moment of non-thinking enjoyment slips away.  So maybe the secret is not to think at all, but to just enjoy thoughtlessly, unquestioning and unreasoning, no analysis, no judgement, in fact no thoughts at all.  Just be.

This afternoon we went for a simple walk with the dogs, an untried route and ended up down by the river Dropt, a tiny wending footpath that actually led nowhere, but so calm so undisturbed so peaceful.  The sun was shining, birds in the trees, a cockerel the other side of the river crowed, the dogs were off their leads and happily following the path with us.  Sheer happiness.  So hard to define, so easy to lose, but actually so easy too.  Why do humans make everything so complicated, so stressful, so hard.  Then we ended up at Café de Paris and a cold Hoegarten sans citron.   Perfection.  Bliss almost.  Definitely approaching happiness I would say.

Lovely lunch

Sunday 13th April

Today (Saturday) started misty but by twelve it was really sunny, which was just as well because we had been invited for lunch.  Paul and Lyndsey, who we bought the house off eighteen months ago now had asked us over.  It was the first time we had been to their place though we had met them a couple of times in town.  It was out in the country and not overlooked by anyone, which is just as well as they are naturists.  Thankfully they and we were clothed today, though I for one wouldn’t mind a bit of nudity au naturel.

They have a lovely house which they have practically doubled in size recently with a brand new extension.  Gorgeous views too, and a pool and a lovely garden.  Not that we are jealous, our house is just perfect for us and we prefer being in town anyway.  We had a lovely cold salad lunch and a really good chat.  It was one of those days when the conversation was easy, when the food was perfect, the wine free-flowing and pleasant, a bit of sunshine and good company.  We were there for about four hours, and I felt that at last we were being really accepted into the life out here.

Home and I still managed a couple of hours of painting, so a near-perfect day.

And here we are again

Saturday 12th April

It is warm, sunny – hot even. Summer has come early to Eymet, or at least a lovely warm spring.  As usual there have been many DIY jobs to do.   My bedroom needs the skirting boards, which are actually only strips of tongue and groove, filling and painting.  We have a cheap carpet to lay too.  The garden room has had a bit of dampness during the winter, and quite a collection of dead creepy crawlies littering the floor.  So that room needs emptying, airing and a bit of repainting.

And another bedroom to paint.  So I certainly won’t get bored.  But just now I was out in the sun and it was wonderful.

We will go to Gambetta tonight for live blues music, a meal and a few drinks.  We should meet a few old friends too.

Lovely to be back her – puts all the nonsense of the last two weeks into perspective.

Return to France

Friday 11th April

Today, Thursday, I am flying back to France.  First flight this year actually.  My partner is already there, she drove down on Sunday and Is really enjoying herself.  I have been working hard, actually harder than for a very long time this last two weeks and I am exhausted.  It has been extremely stressful, with late night e-mails and phone calls from irate suppliers looking for payment.  And at work it has been constant.  I won’t bore you – everyone has a hard-luck story to tell.

I am trying not to worry, especially about the wages next week – first time with the agency and as I will be in France I am just a bit worried that it will go alright.  I have to try to let go, if it goes wrong there is very little I can do about it anyway.  I am almost dreading the return too.  I will have to work on Easter Monday, probably a long day, catching up.  At least the phone won’t be ringing constantly.

But for ten days I will be in my beloved Eymet, where the whole pace of life is different.  Everyone is laid back, relaxed, taking their time and enjoying themselves.  I can’t wait.  So bye for now.  It may well be that some days you don’t get a blog….so what?  I may have better things to do with my time.