Thursday 28th June

Florid and flaxen-fair, fleetingly floating, filmy and flimsy as a fluttering fritillary, Felicity Cholmondley-Brown, fragrant and flighty at forty-five, with features like finely threaded filigree, ‘fol-de-roled’ her fleet-footed and faltering way through the flowery fronds and front lawn of Cholmondly-Bottom, ancestral fiefdom of the feudal Cholmondlys for four hundred and forty years.  Her mind, as usual, was miles away – re-living her student days in the early Nineties in Paris; dark basement cafes on the Left Bank, sinking into the silky embrace of some Alain Delon look-a-like, smoking Sobrainie cigarettes and listening as yet another budding Jacques Brel plucks discordant chords from an out-of-tune guitar.  ‘Ah well, never mind,’ she thought, ‘those wonderful days are over now.  I must hurry and gather these blooms, for it is almost four and guests will soon be arriving for the tea party.’

Meanwhile, in brown tweed plus-fours in his equally brown study, Sir Cheriton Cholmondley-Brown, eighty and invariably inebriated, was ripping up Pizza Delivery leaflets with barely supressed glee. “Why the buggers should have the audacity to walk up my mile-long drive and deliver them I’ll never know.  If I want a ‘pizza’ I get my charwallah, RamJam, to make me a nice Rogan Josh stuffed Nan.” Sadly, he had missed the actual delivers as he was occupied in chasing two Jehovah Witnesses round the estate, pausing only to refill his shotgun.  Sir Cheriton, known colloquially as Cherry-Chum, had brought his manservant and cook back from his time in India, but had never bothered to ask the ‘brown-blighter’ his name, merely referring to him as ‘RamJam.’

The door-bell rang and old Scrotum, wrinkled retainer, faithful factotum and general dogsbody, wheezed his way to the door.  It was Major and Mrs Honiton and their son Raiph, closely followed and almost overshadowed by, Winifred Sloane; a large lady of even larger opinions.  As she sat, or rather, collapsed, into an ornate antique armchair, the springs groaned, as did Sir Cheriton.  She exhaled, and suddenly her voluminous breasts broke free from their ill-fitting and cantilevered brassiere – like exploding airbags.  They descended, swinging pendulously inside her semi-transparent blouse.  Turning his gaze away reluctantly, Sir Cheriton glanced outside at his small herd of prize Freisian dairy cows.  Cherry trusted nobody to milk these but himself, and his hands were already twitching rhythmically as he murmured to himself “I’d love to get my hands on those udders.”

His wife was chattering away like some infernal songbird to the guests.  Cherry, deaf to almost all entreaty, managed to filter out her squeaky voice – ‘At least she isn’t one of those niggly-moaning old nags like my first wife.’ he reminisced.  ‘Had to have her put away in that asylum in the end, cost a few bob, but worth it to silence the wretched woman.’  He had really had her committed because of her incessant sex-drive, ‘Why, the woman wanted me to impregnate her more than once a month.  What did she think I was?  I was barely sober even then, a miracle I could raise another glass let alone anything else.’  Eventually, he had resorted to having RamJam sleep on her bedroom floor to stop her nightly pestering’s.  He could never quite understand how it took three and a half years since he last ‘invaded her underwear’, for his beautiful dark-haired and olive-skinned daughter Laetitia to be born.  He had some idea it was supposed to only be nine months, or was that elephants?  ‘Biology, never a strong suit.’  He glanced over at his dusky daughter who sat, simply cross-legged on the floor, a look of benign pleasure and inner knowledge spreading across her placid features, occasionally broken by her deep uttering of “Ohm” “Ohm”.   ‘Lord knows what she sees in that’ Cherry thought to himself, ‘Give me a pint of gin any day – if it’s ‘O-bloody-blivion’ you are seeking.’

Sir Cheriton’s slightly confused musings were broken by the arrival of the twin girls by his marriage to Felicity.  Jenny and Gwenny, just 16 and giggling uncontrollably after consuming a litre of vodka in their bedroom, flounced into the parlour.  Their mother smiled and asked how their Art lesson had gone that day – their Rastafarian Art teacher, Moses Akimbo, having left an hour earlier.  “Oh, great fun” said Jenny.  “Yes, we had a wonderful time” said Gwenny, giving her sister a conspiratorial wink.  Sir Cheriton couldn’t understand why Felicity had ever ‘let that Blackie into the house’, but times were changing, he had to regret – though Cherry’s politics, being slightly to the right of Attilla the Hun, he still hankered after Empire.  “Look what we gave India” he declared “Civilisation, Gentlemen’s clubs, Gin, er..Gin Rummy and, well… lots of stuff.  All they ever gave us was flies and syphilis.”  This reminded him that he really must renew his season ticket with the local VD clinic.

“I suppose you call that Art” he said, pointing at the huge abstract canvas propped up against the sideboard. “I can’t see what it’s supposed to be at all; you might as well all three of you have rolled around naked in the paint for all the skill I can see in it.”

“Oh, don’t be ridiculous Daddy” said Jenny.  “Really Daddy, what sort of girls do you think we are?” joined in Gwenny, tugging furiously and rather belatedly at her mini-skirt, which, riding up her shapely thighs, revealed a few multicoloured daubs and a thong not much bigger than a postage stamp.

“What-ho, Cherry old Chum” said the Major.

“What?” replied Sir Cheriton.  “Oh Yes, What-ho Major”

Felicity called Scrotum over and asked him what he had been doing that afternoon, as he was still in his farm clothes.  “Well ma’am, I’se been helpin’ old Ben the Boar with the Sows.  He be gettin a bit old now and can’t quite get his corkscrew into the cork these days, so he needs a helpin’ hand like.”

“In that case, before handing round the Sandwiches would you like to….wash your hands?”

“Oh, I already done that Ma’am, up aginst a tree in the yard.”

Suddenly, Sir Cheriton leapt from his chair and yelled “Good Lord, there are two simpering Nancy-boys on the lawn.  Scrotum, get my gun and make sure both barrels are loaded.”

Felicity ran to his side and re-assured Cherry that it was simply the new Vicar and his young Curate, both, gaily dressed in striped blazers, white flannels and wide floral ties as, straw boaters askew, they minced their way to the house. ‘Vicar? Well I’ll be buggered’ thought Cherry, ‘or probably will be if I ever go to that church again.’  He simply muttered “What’s the matter with them, anyone would think they were still at Eton, dressed up all girlie like that.  Should have outgrown that nonsense years ago, like I had to.”

“What?” queried the Major.

“What ho Major” replied Cherry with a wave of his hand, this sufficing for them both as conversation.  He glanced over at the spread of delicacies and spotted a large bowl of curried quails eggs in lime pickle.  He had been blocked up for a week now and his eyes were watering at the sight. “That’ll shift things I should think, give me the right liquorice.” he muttered “knock a few balls round the billiard table on their way out too, I expect.”  Sir Cheriton daily spent an inordinate amount of time in his private lavatory, equipped as it was with a small freezer for his toilet rolls.

Winifred Sloane waddled across the room like some oversized hippopotamus to greet the two churchmen.  “So nice to have a young and civilised vicar and your handsome curate as well, it has saved the parish money too, as you are both living at the vicarage. Single young men, so vibrant, so colourful, and no girlfriends either. What joy.”

“Scrotum” bellowed Sir Cheriton, “Have you been helping yourself to my barrel of gin in the cellar, damn thing’s nearly empty, the tanker only filled it up last week.”

“No Sir,” hacked old Scrotum, “Me doesn’t like the stuff.  Gives me the right colly-wobbles. I’se a scrumpy man meself.  Oh yes, scrumpy-dumpy for me.”. as he danced on the spot.

“More tea Major, or Mrs Honiton?” asked Felicity.

“Actually.” Mrs Honiton, a small bird-like creature tweeted, “I’m not sure where Raiph, our son has got to.”

“Oh, the girls are just showing him their art-work upstairs in the studio, nothing to worry about.”

“But he is so impressionable” she chirruped “he really knows nothing about Art, or anything really. Such an innocent boy.”

The conversation subsided, Winifred Sloane was showing the two brightly clad ecclesiasts Sir Cheriton’s large collection of stuffed hunting trophies; she, leaning slightly back to counterbalance the weight of her enormous mammalian protuberances threatening to pull her over.  “Look at the size of that horn” said the vicar. “Mmmm, yeeeess” smirked the curate, rather enviously.  Cherry, having finished off the entire bowl of devilled quails eggs, excused himself and scurried upstairs in somewhat of a panic.

Felicity looked around, the room almost deserted, the remaining sandwiches already curling at the edges and the chocolate cake barely touched – the only sound, a deep occasional “Ohm” from Leatitia still seated sphinx-like on the floor.

The major and his wife rose muttering “Great success Mrs Cherry, great success.  Now where is that boy, Raiph?”

A scurrying sound and a few loud bangs accompanied by raucous laughter came from the staircase, and Raiph eventually emerged, red-faced but smiling, his lipstick smudged shirt-tail flapping ominously outside his trousers.

As Sir Cheriton belched, grunted, and reached for another frozen toilet roll, the sound of his stentorian farting could be heard half-way down the mile-long drive.

Felicity wandered out again, her mind drifting gently back to Montmatre meanderings, moules et frites and moustachioed, muscle-bound Monsieurs, tall, dark and have-some.  ‘Still’ she thought, ‘everyone seems to have enjoyed themselves – which is really the secret of a successful tea-party. Till next week then.’


Thursday 29th June

13) Things coming to a head….

The amazing thing about Harriet was that she was never really a junkie; Jane would meet one or two of those down the years and she was never one of these sad desperate idiots.  No, Harriet did heroin and all the other stuff because she enjoyed it, the immediate effect; that incredible rush of pleasure as it seeped into her veins.  She explained it to Jane once as being at last awake and in touch with her innermost self, she said it made her feel ‘absolutely right’, and because it was so special she tried to ration herself with it.  She said it was too incredible to be high all the time; she needed the low of ordinary being to appreciate those precious moments.

She confessed to Jane one night when she was a bit too drunk, and though it horrified and scared her too, it didn’t really surprise her.  Whatever had changed Harriet must have been so much larger than anything they had experienced before, must have been so different and so overwhelming to have changed her that much.  This bright and breezy, nonchalant and brilliant girl was now moody and self-obsessed, and yet bored with everything, she seemed tired of all their old friends, their old haunts, their parties, even their music seemed to instill in her that jaded look; her eyelids would close just a bit too far, and her head fall back as she would let out her “Oh God, what a fucking drag,” type statements.

*  * *

‘My, my June – you are a deep one, aren’t you.  I’m always too busy working to think if I am happy or not.  I just gets’ on with it, you know.’ Ted sighed  ‘I never expected my life to be any different.  I mean, what else is there?  You grow up and gets’ married and raises your kids, just like your parents did for you.  I reckon I’m not such a bad dad to my boys, that’s all I care about.’

‘What about me then Ted?  Don’t you care about me, or is it all just Julie and the boys.  Am I just your bit on the side, for when you get bored?  Is that it, Ted, is that all I am to you?’

‘No, no June.  You are far more to me than that, but I never imagined leaving Julie, if that’s what you’re getting at.  I do love being with you, but I don’t want to leave Julie.  No, that’s not what I was thinkin’ of at all my girl.  And if you has any sense in that pretty head of yours, you’ll forget all about that too.’


‘I can’t hear nothin’, now come here and give us a cuddle.  I have to be back on the farm in an hour, we’ve just time for another session.’

‘No, listen Ted.  I’m sure I heard someone downstairs.’

*  * *

The first time Harriet tried acid was such a revelation, like a blanket being lifted off her head.  Suddenly she could see everything so incredibly clearly; it was as if she had never seen anything before, not properly.  She had gone with Jim to a big house somewhere on the outskirts of Leeds.  And it was full of groovy people around and they were all tripping together.  Harriet couldn’t stop laughing, she could remember that – she just kept finding everything anyone said incredibly funny.  And it lasted almost the whole weekend, she couldn’t really remember what she ate or drunk, it was just conversation and laughing and seeing everything looming in and out, as if her eyes were microscopes and could see right into the heart of things.

One time in the garden they were listening to this music being played quite loud, and Harriet was dancing and spinning round and she was watching as the ground went down in front of her, just like an escalator only she was hovering just above it, and the grass and plants kept disappearing into some sort of a hole in the garden right in front of her feet.  It was incredible and the funny thing was she wasn’t frightened.  Somehow she was in control, even if she couldn’t stop the ground going down the escalator – she was floating just above it, so she was fine.  she only ever did acid a couple of times; it just went on far too long, and you had to be somewhere safe to do it.

But after that nothing fazed her at all, nothing scared her.  She tried cocaine with Jim one time, but it wasn’t for her; it made her feel too paranoid, she didn’t like that at all.  And then Jim let her try heroin; they smoked some in a sort of pipe, and it was great.  Much stronger than dope, but not that dissimilar.  It made her feel relaxed and free, as if all her worries were over, she could do anything, be anyone at all.  It was a bit like dope and drink and acid all rolled into one, it just made her feel for the first time in her life as if she was content at last.  All that restlessness, all that burning desire to be someone paled into insignificance, none – of that mattered anymore.  It made her happy, and that was why she did it.   Nobody ever asks that, do they?  They all condemn it out of hand, and make no attempt to understand why?  The big thing they never tell anyone about drugs is how good they make you feel.

The Human Gatekeeper

Tuesday 27th June

In my book, available on Amazon kindle only, “2066 – a personal memoir”, I explored the possibilities of a rapidly approaching future where developments in Artificial Intelligence meant that Computers were far better than humans at almost every task.  The question I asked then was, what would people be for?  If Computers are making better decisions than people then why should people even bother to think at all.

Well, just like every future prediction ever written, mine will undoubtedly be wrong too.  But we are in some ways already there.  Many processes are now automated. And can have disastrous consequences if not checked.  But who is doing the checking.  Example – while ordering coffee recently I inadvertently ordered decaffeinated capsules and didn’t spot it when reviewing the order.  Of course, the computer accepted the order – though possibly in future it might throw up a query as to if I was sure that was what I wanted as it differed from my normal order.  Actually, quite a few years ago I came up with (but I am sure I was not the only one) the idea of the human gatekeeper.  That is – a human pair of eyes to look and see if whatever data you were receiving and about to process did indeed make sense.

We will soon all be using peer-to-peer invoicing, whereby on a companies’ purchase order, sent electronically of course, will be imbedded all the nominal and customer codes in their Accounts programme.  When the invoice arrives it won’t even be needed to be printed.  A simple click and it will not only be filed but also it will update your Accounts with all the imbedded information.  Statements will automatically be checked too.  This all sounds wonderful, except…..lots of humble accounts clerks will no longer be needed.  And of course, if an error creeps into the system (possibly caused by a human) then it may, and indeed will almost certainly, go un-noticed.

There is the eternal question – “How much should we trust Computers?”.  Pretty soon this may become “How much should we trust humans?”

I suppose that every generation fears for the future for their children or grandchildren.  But I can see a possible future where either we have to pay people to do nothing, or barely anything…already happening in automated banking halls full of machines and one poor assistant helping the incompetent (well, me mostly).  Or maybe the whole Capitalist System will have to evolve differently.  At present, it employs people to produce products or a service and pays them less than the cost of the end product.  But if more and more tasks are accomplished better and faster by computers then who will be left with money to buy the end products.

Or maybe we will go back to some sort of serfdom, where the elite rich have jobs and income and the rest work for them in some menial way for scraps.

However for the present I still believe in the human gatekeeper…imperfect and fragile as we may be….we gotta keep checking these smart bastard machines.

T – is for Thick as a Brick

Monday 26th June

Of all the weird and wonderful bands which emerged in the wake of the Beatles and the explosion of musical ideas in the Sixties, Jethro Tull must rank among the strangest.  The band was always the conception and musical vehicle for Ian Anderson, classically trained flautist and a rock and roller too, but with a touch of traditional folk on the side.  One never knew quite what to expect from the band.  There were definite folky albums ‘Songs from the Wood’ and ‘Minstrel in the Gallery’, but others were a bit rockier like ‘Aqualung’.  I saw them in concert a few times, and was forever amazed at the quickfire changes between heavy rock and suddenly a lyrical flute solo, performed by Ian standing on one leg and often in cod-medieaval costume.

‘Thick as a Brick’ was essentially a concept album, and at the same time a complete spoof.  It was released in 1972, and was one long track with the music fading and rising between sides one and two.  The premise of the record was that it was written by a twelve year old prodigy called Gerald Bostock – who didn’t want to become ‘Thick as a Brick’.  The album came as a provincial newspaper “The Saint Cleve Chronicle and Linwell Advertiser”.  This was a real twelve page newspaper, full of silly stories about Gerald winning a poetry competition with his poem “Thick as a Brick”.  But most of the stories were in the vein of Monty Python with a joke about a non-rabbit running through most of the articles.  There were even crosswords and Sports pages and small ads.  Completely off the wall, as was the album itself.  I still cannot quite understand what the lyrics were all about “I really don’t mind if you sit this one out” – it begins, almost inviting the listener to take the record off.  But the fabulous chords and repeating motifs are brilliant.  Possibly a fore-runner to Tubular Bells of the following year, it had several sections and some great tunes and was largely instrumental.  Of all of Jethro Tull’s many albums this is by far my favourite.  It sold poorly I think at the time, but has become a cult album and a firm favourite at Jethro Tull’s concerts.

And there really has never been a record anything like it….

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Warm Summer Rain

Saturday 24th June

We have had quite a few days of really warm weather.  And this morning (Friday) we had the blessing of some warm summer rain.  The temperature much cooler, if only for a short while.  There is nothing quite like warm summer rain.  You can smell the rain in the air, it is soft and plangent on your face, refreshing and gentle.

One of my musical heroes, Phillip Goodhand-Tait wrote a song with that title “Warm Summer Rain”…and it always comes to mind when we have this weather phenomenon.  The song is one of his best.  It begins with the sound of birds chirruping and a gentle strummed guitar before the piano and his voice….Oh, and what a voice.  So distinctive, with a yearning and imploring edge.  They tried on this one album to turn him into a ‘Pop-Star’ with brightly coloured shirts and even a minor hit ‘You Are’ – but Phillip was never cut out for ‘Pop’ stardom.  He had been in a rock and roll band ‘The Stormville Shakers’ but had been making beautiful solo singer-songwriter albums in the early Seventies.  Not sure when I first heard him, maybe it was on ‘The Old Grey Whistle Test’ (surely due for a new run-out, even if whispering Bob Harris might be a bit old to front it these days).  I learnt so much from that programme; saw so many new bands in the studio, interviews with my heroes and some great album tracks too.

Anyway, as Phil sings “Well I have to admit that the rainbows out today” it lifts my heart.  Such a simple sentiment, “I have to admit that I tried to look away – from the kindness of her tears, and the blindness of the years – do I have to tell her the Summer’s here again – Warm Summer Rain, drawn cold insane – what every Summer does you’ll never know.”

I got to speak to Phil (via e-mail) a couple of years ago, when I bought two Japanese mini-album CDs from his website.  He still manages a few concerts a year and sells his old records on the internet.  I was so pleased to talk with him and sent him a copy of “Catherine’s Story” which he read and said he really enjoyed….

I am never sure just what the lyrics mean –  a mix of sadness but uplifting too.  And the most immaculate vocal from Phillip.   Love it….

The Temperature Rises

Friday 23rd June

We are all having some sort of a heat-wave, temperatures all over Europe on the rise.  Including Britain of course, where you have been suffering mid-thirties for a few days.  Spare a thought for us.  We have had approaching and breaking 40 degrees for almost a week now.  But actually it is the nights which are worse, it almost seems as if the temperature actually rises just as you are going to bed.  Windows wide open and still not a breath of air.  But somehow you do manage to sleep, if only fitfully.

And with the aftermath of the election still fresh in the air, the Political temperature has risen too.  At this time of year it usually cools down; M.P.s keen to get away for their long Summer break.  But Brexit has now started in earnest.  And despite all the Media commentariat declaring that a hard Brexit is dead, we still do not know what (if there is indeed any) our beleaguered Government’s plans are.  Mind you, Labour seem almost as confused.  During the campaign their line was that we would have to leave the Single Market, but since then – quite a few voices have risen to declare their desire for a much softer Brexit.  British industry too, which had apparently been slumbering for a year, is now demanding at least, full access to the Market.  Indeed, even the Government seems muddled, declaring one minute that they will walk away from a ‘bad deal’ and the next that ensuring a trade deal is of the utmost importance.

Also we now have the unusual situation of an almost, or possibly, or we simply don’t know – of some sort of an arrangement with the DUP.  Fraught with danger for the Peace Process as it is, nevertheless the Tories are terrified of a quick Election, especially with Mrs. May in charge.  And yet they don’t want a leadership contest just now either.  They are hoping the shine will come off Jeremy and Labour and that the temperature will fall.  But the heat is on I am afraid and shows no sign of letting up…

All The Tired Horses In The Sun

Thursday 22nd June

This was one of the new Dylan songs on maybe his strangest record “Self-Portrait”.  The album itself was hated by the Music Press, and by many fans too.  Bob had wound everything up to such a pitch with a string of brilliant albums culminating in 1966’s ‘Blonde on Blonde’.  And we all expected it just to continue.  Bob had gone electric and was playing live with the Band to raucous and riotous audiences, even being accused of ‘Judas’ in Manchester.  He apparently had a motorcycle accident, and took some time out.  Actually a lot of time out.  It was 18 months before he released another record, the very different, almost biblical ‘John Wesley Harding’.  He then gave us a country album ‘Nashville Skyline’.  By now his fans were more than confused.  What on earth was Bob doing?  It seemed he was trying to lose his fans, or at least the mantle of ‘Poet of a Generation’, or ‘Protest Singer’, or any of the other labels that had been draped over his shoulders.  But when he brought out ‘Self-Portrait’ it seemed the limit.  Many felt truly insulted.  Rolling Stone even asked “What is this shit?”.

The album itself was a mix of old standards, strange new songs (two versions of a couple) and a handful of rough live performances.  Among the new songs was ‘All the tired horses in the sun’ with it’s one line lyric sung over a girl chorus “All the tired horses in the sun, how’m I gonna get any riding done’.  At least that’s what it sounded like, but maybe Bob was really singing – how am I gonna get any writing done.  Expressing maybe the lethargy that had resulted in his apparent lack of new and exciting songs.  Actually I loved the record, for me it was revelatory, exploring new ideas, and taking us down different roads.  Bob has suffered from some sort of writer’s block a few times.  In the mid-Eighties he gave us a couple of albums full of old traditional songs, and just recently we have had five (2 single and one triple album) of old standards from the forties and fifties.  Every time this happens we all wonder if the ‘Real Bob’ will ever return.  But then the question ‘What is the Real Bob?’.

It has been extraordinarily hot the last few days – and I too have wondered just how I’m gonna any writing done too.


Wednesday 21st June


‘Did you like that?’  June tentatively asked Ted.   She wasn’t sure if he would think she was too forward or slutty or, something like that.

‘Well, it was different my girl, I don’t mind telling you that.’ he replied leaning up on one elbow, ‘Where did you learn that trick then?’

‘My girlfriends are all talking about it – you know, the ones I used to work with in Dormans before I got married, we get together every now and then.’ she explained. ‘They are mostly married but Leslie and Janice are single.  Everyone is doing it, apparently.  I had sort of heard something about it a while ago, but now it’s all the rage; or so Janice was saying.  So I thought we should try it. Did you like it, Ted?  Would you like me to do it again?’ she asked, maybe a bit too eagerly.

‘Maybe later, you know what I really likes though, don’t you June?’ and he smiled that devilish smile of his, as he gently patted her bare bottom. ‘But tell me, have you done that with Phil?’

‘You must be joking, Ted!’ June was shocked he could think such a thing. ’Phil and I hardly have sex anymore, let alone that sort of loving.  To be honest I can’t wait till Harriet has finished University and Jane and her leave home, then I can begin to sort myself out.’

‘What do you mean, “sort yourself out”?  You can’t be that unhappy, can you?  You’ve a lovely home and Phil’s always been a good earner, you can’t want for nothin’ surely.’ He said.

‘Oh Ted – none of that means a thing; the house, the clothes, the car, they’re not the things that matter.’

‘So what does matter June?  What is it you really want?’

‘Don’t you know Ted?  Why do you think I have kept on seeing you all these years; and right under the nose of my sister too?’ June looked deep into his eyes as she continued. ‘I love you Ted.  More than I ever thought I could love anyone.  I’ve tried, believe me I’ve tried, but I don’t think I could carry on if I didn’t have you.’ Scared of seeing his reaction she looked down and spoke quietly, as if to herself,   ‘I kept telling myself to forget you; that I should just accept my lot with Phil and the girls, but I can’t do that.  In a couple of years Harriet will have finished her studies and Jane will have left school, they’ll be able to cope without me then.  Heaven knows I’ve been a poor mother to them anyway.  I always felt that Harriet never needed me somehow, even as a little girl she was so independent, and Jane, well Jane follows Harriet around like a lost sheep.  I do worry about her, but what can I do, what use am I to her anyway?  Besides she’ll be a grown-up soon and will have to manage her own life. I have enough to think about myself without worrying how everyone else will cope when I am gone.’

*  * *

‘Did you like that Jim?’  Harriet smiled back at him, knowing of course that he loved it.  All men did, so she’d heard, and besides Jim was so smacked-up half the time he couldn’t keep it up when he tried fucking her, it kept going floppy.

‘Mmmm, that was lovely.  Now what do you want for that my sweet little chick.  I know you only come round here when you want something, don’t you?’

‘Yeah that’s about it Jim.  I like you alright, but no way do I want to be your girlfriend or any of that lovey-dovey bollocks.  What have you got for me this time?’

‘Not that much at the moment.  My man has let me down a bit.  I’ve got some Mandys and Purple Hearts, but not much else.  Unless, of course, you want to try some of the real hard stuff; I’ve got some acid and ‘H’ if you really want to give it a go.  Not sure if you’re ready for acid yet though, a few weeks ago you’d only smoked a bit of dope now and then; I don’t want to be the man who turns you into a junkie.’

‘I’m far too sensible to end up a junkie Jim.  I do stuff ‘cause it gives me a thrill, but if you know anything about me you must know I am not the junkie type.  I will never end up in the gutter; I can assure you of that.  I have things to do, people to meet, places to see, and no nasty little habit is gonna stop me.  And you are right, I am not ready for heroin yet, but I might try some acid, but it’s got to be the right time and the right place, I don’t want a bad trip.’

‘Well, if you are sure, there is a party coming up next weekend out at this big house in the country, and they’re all planning to drop acid; there’s gonna be a couple of bands playing in the gardens too, so it should be really cool.  If you like I can pick you up on Friday evening, it’s gonna last right over the weekend, so be prepared.  This stuff is real strong and will last for two days so you better prepare yourself.  It’ll be a blast.’

*  * *

Summer of Tragedy

Tuesday 20th June


The Summer has barely started – though it is hot both here in France and in England.  And already what a Summer of Tragedy we have had.  Westminster was barely three months ago.  A mentally disturbed ‘lone wolf’ ploughed a van into people on Westminster Bridge and then ran amok with a knife, killing amongst others a Policeman guarding the Palace of Westminster.  Right at the Heart of Government.  A lone wolf – but one wonders how many other lone wolves may be circling their prey?  The election was called and campaigning underway when we woke to the Tragedy of Manchester.  Young teenagers being collected by their parents at a pop concert blown to smithereens by a suicide bomber.  This time a Libyan, known to the Authorities – indeed indirectly supported as an enemy of the Gadhafi regime, and allowed to travel to and from Libya at will.  Campaigning was suspended for a few days as we absorbed the enormity of the tragedy.  And just as things appeared to return to some sort of normality we had another attack.  This time on London Bridge, and Borough market.  More deaths, more known to the Authorities terrorists – this time mown down by the Police.  How strange that a few years ago this reaction, by American police, might have horrified us, now we accept it as the norm.  Again, campaigning halted for a few days.

The election itself and it’s uncertain result.  Jubilation and tears and negotiations and uncertainty as a weakened prime Minister clings to power.

Then less than a week passes and we have the horrific fire at Grenfell Tower.  We still don’t know the number of dead….maybe we never will.  A catalogue of failures and accusations of broken regulations swirling around.  An inquiry promised but for now anger and despair and disbelief.  How could this happen in the Twenty-First Century?

And this morning (Monday) we woke to yet another atrocity.  A white anti-Muslim has driven his van into a crowd of Muslim worshippers outside a Mosque in Finsbury Park.  So far, only one reported death. Maybe another lone wolf – who knows?  This time the man has been arrested.  And the Summer has barely begun.  We wait in fear now of even turning the TV on each morning.  Will this senseless death continue?  Will there be yet another tragedy?  Has Pandora’s box been opened by the xenophobic Referendum Campaign, how will Society get back to Decency and Understanding again?  I am simply appalled by this Summer of Tragedy….

Carmina Burana

Monday 19th June

We have several members of the ACFAA choir who come into the Café.  And just lately they have all been excited about their coming performances of Carmina Burana.  Now, I start from the principle that “All music is good, there may be some I am less familiar with”.  And I am less familiar with Classical Music, but like most people I like what I know – which is the popular stuff.  So, we had no idea what Carmina Burana was.

In fact it is a collection of 12th Century poems and songs which were put to music in 1934 by the German composer Carl Orfff (a little known fact is that several of the musical motifs were actually suggested by his brother Foch, to say nothing of his nephews, Pizz, Blo and Yack).  The concert was in Eymet church, with wonderful acoustics.  But it was a hot night and the church was packed with people even standing at the back.  Well, it was certainly dramatic, the piano’s accompanied by timpani and drums for several rousing choruses.  Most of the singing was in Latin or Medieval German or French, but I find even when sung in English I can rarely understand the words of Operatic singing.  The choir were brilliant, especially the soloists, and the whole experience was enjoyable – even if the church pews were a bit hard.  There was a standing ovation and everyone walked across to the Café de Paris for a well-deserved drink.

Certainly a different musical experience than we normally have here in Eymet.