Thursday, 30 April 2009

Hail, Rain and Floods

Hail, Rain and Floods

What a long time since the last entry - busy busy busy!

Yesterday was a pretty awful day weather-wise, but nothing prepared me for the storm on the way home. At first, i thought the white specks were blossom petals brought down by the wind, but as I drove on, I realised that they were hailstones.

Not only that, but the road was about a foot deep in water in places. I stopped and got out to take a couple of pictures and got drenched by some idiot speeding through the flood in the certain knowledge that this would get him past the worst. It didn't and the water got into his engine and the whole thing ground to a halt. I didn't wait to see him climb out into the flooded road to push his car out of the way; I just imagined it as I drove off. Schadenfreude - wonderful word - wonderful feeling! (...largely unanticipated delight in the suffering of another which is cognized as trivial and/or appropriate. Theodor Adorno)

The amazing thing was that as soon as I passed under the flooded bridge into Blaby, there was no sign of hailstones, floods or even rain. When I got home (about 2 miles away) everything was bone dry. I'm glad I took the time to fit up the automatic irrigation system for all the flower pots. It turned out to be a pleasant evening, if a bit cool.

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Hillsborough twenty years

So, the actual anniversary day has come and gone. I watched the Anfield memorial and the Nottingham one. When will the truth be told about who was responsible for the deaths of 96 people?

We went to Nottingham afterwards to the Theatre Royal to see 'The Tempest' (RSC Production). Possibly the best version I've ever seen - African themed and full of excitement and vibrant music. Anthony Sher's Prospero is magnificent, john Kani (Caliban) dark and full of rage, but Atandwa Kani's Ariel steals the show.

The next addition to this blog will be back to the village.

Sunday, 12 April 2009

A catastrophic day

All photos in this entry © BBC

I’ve now watched the minute’s silence at Anfield four times and it brings tears to my eyes every time. It may come as a surprise to some that I am a life-long Liverpool supporter (indeed, it might come as a great shock to one of my acquaintances – an Everton supporter who wouldn’t even drive a red car, as I wouldn’t drive a blue one, that I don’t share his abhorrence of all things Liverpool City). However, I was born in Liverpool, and, although my parents left when I was a baby, in my relatives’ home no-one spoke to anyone else on Saturdays; half the front doorstep was painted red and half blue. We were a family divided by religion and football. Born Catholic to a convert mother and a cradle Catholic father, I should have been an Everton supporter, but I’ve always preferred red to blue.

On that day, 20 years ago, we were about to celebrate Ben’s 15th birthday the next day. We had decided to let him have a party on the eve and he’d invited some friends from school. So as not to give them total free rein, Marea was to stay in, in our bedroom while I went out to a political meeting; we were coming up to a County Council election and I was standing again. I returned home to find that someone had locked Marea in the bedroom and the house was in chaos; furniture and pictures had been broken, someone had thrown up on Ben’s bed and there were drunken young people everywhere. Having released Marea, we rang all the parents to come and collect their youngsters while we listened to lurid tales from the neighbours.

It turned out that most of the offenders were not Ben’s friends but gatecrashers from his school in Lutterworth. Indeed, some of his friends were good enough to come back to help clear up. Ben was devastated that an innocent birthday party had turned into a near-riot. We were told of young people making their way into the village already drunk and rowdy. The birthday party never had a chance of going off quietly.

The next morning we began to hear the news from Hillsborough where police stupidity had mistaken the distress of spectators attempting to escape from being crushed for a pitch invasion. The police were, and are, so contemptuous of football fans that they had corralled them into 2 small pens with high fences and barbed wire between them and the pitch. There was space available elsewhere, but fans were not allowed to move out of the pens where many died of suffocation.

“Some fans tried to break through the police cordon to ferry injured supporters to waiting ambulances, and were forcibly turned back. (44 ambulances had arrived at the stadium, but police prevented all but one from entering, and that one was forced to turn back due to the vast amount of people who needed help.)”

Police lied about opening gates to let even more fans in but the officer concerned escaped prosecution and retired on full pension.

If you want to read about the Sun “newspaper’s” (sic) lies about Liverpool fans and find out why it doesn’t sell in Liverpool, and read about the duplicity of Sun editor Kelvin Mackenzie and Tory MP Irvine Patnick, have a look at this Wikipedia page.

At home, clearing up after the disastrous party, we felt doubly distressed; our small mishap paled into insignificance against the catastrophe of Hillsborough, but the date and the circumstances have stayed in the memory ever since.

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Sunday morning pleasures

It's Palm Sunday and Marea's off to church to read the lesson. A glorious sunny morning; a great time to walk the dog. Managed to get another (better) pic of the Great Tit in the trees by the churchyard. The song was wonderful, though it doesn't compete with the songthrush outside our window.

We came across these ponies out practising in the sun. The driver told me that one of them has been out of action for six months with a broken bone in her foot, but you wouldn't have known it. The chemistry between the pair was plain to see.

Later, we moved some of the plants from the bank where the new summerhouse/studio will go; Penstemon, Paeonies, poppies and roses. There's lots of bindweed in there, but we'll spray it all with Roundup before the base goes down. They'll be starting in the w/c 20 April. I can't wait.

As I've written here before, we have begun to have a rat problem. Turns out that this is a general problem among the houses at this end of the village. It's all down to an infestation in the field opposite, so the Council has closed off the field and put down poison. I just hope it's safe for the wildlife.

Finally, the first Small Tortoisshell of the season appeared in the garden this morning. Looks like Summer's on the way.

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

The usual noisemakers

So far, the usual noisemakers have been the robins. You can rely on them being around throughout the Winter, singing in the hedgerows. We have a couple of street lights across the road and the robins think it's daylight all the time - it's like having our own nightingales. I sometimes wonder when they sleep.

Robin on the garden feeder

...and in flight

As I walk Molly each morning, I have realised what a variety of bird species we have around us. All these photos are casual ones taken on the walk, so the quality may not be great. Hopefully, over the Summer, I'll be able to sit still and get some better shots. I have been thinking about getting a bigger lens, but they're rather expensive. I'll have to give it more thought.

Male Chaffinch

Sparrows in the newly cut hedge

Blue tit with its head almost inside the feeder

...and sitting on an iron hanging 'basket'


Great Tit

Now, the song thrushes are taking over. We have one outside the bedroom window, and another a few yards away along the hedge. They sing and reply at great volume from dawn to dusk (not fooled by the street lights). Each one sings and repeats the song twice just to show it's not a fluke.

Song Thrush

... in the hedge opposite our bedroom window