Friday 5 July 2024

British General Election over and done with, thank goodness.


So - after little more than one month of campaigning we now have in Keir Starmer a new Prime Minister - and a Socialist to boot (which some evangelicals, of whom we have negligibly few here, may class as 'Communist', which is just risible!) though he's actually more likely to be socialist in name rather than in practice. Nevertheless, I'm reasonably content (so far) with the result. More delight felt at having had the Conservatives chucked out with their worst result in history than Labour's stonking triumph with their own best ever result in terms of seats won.

The direction I come from is having voted Green in every election for 27 years - at least whenever there was a Green candidate option. If there wasn't a Green I'd go Liberal Democrat (mainly because of their very pro-European Union stance) though without an equivalent enthusiasm.

The Greens managed to quadruple their number of seats won.... to four! - out of a total House of Commons membership of 650. I'm happy at that. Though still minuscule, if these four are anything like as vocal, measured and effective as the last sole member was, she having stood down this time after 10 years dutiful service, it should raise the profile of Green issues, which I rate as the single most grave threat (even certainty?) facing the world - before everyone is either drowned or burnt to cinders in the final conflagration. This won't happen in my own remaining time but I feel ever more sure that it's now pretty well past any hope of avoiding dire, horrible fates to come. I can only fervently hope that I'm wrong, but even so I cannot comprehend how anyone having children for whom they have regard - and especially grandchildren - can possibly be a climate-change denier in the face of the ever-accumulating evidence while the small percentage of scientist deniers dwindles yet further. Of course many of us are madly exasperated at China's uncaring, reckless behaviour above all, though I'll have to write at length on that subject another time.

So we've kicked out our first Hindu P.M., Rishi Sunak - hardly the worst ever though, frankly, not far from it. He was our first non-Christian, non-Jewish, non-atheist (openly), political leader - and, frankly, none the worse for having been of his faith, towards which I had quite agreeable feelings. Although Premier for a little over just 21 months, Sunak was the richest P.M we've ever had. His wife being a billionaire (through inheritance), he himself reputedly has more money than our King Charles himself!

Now Sir Keir (rhymes with 'near') Starmer will have to prove himself. Under our crazy first-past-the-post electoral system he's won two-thirds of the seats available with just one-third of the votes cast, with a thumping majority of 174 seats over all 13 other parties combined. It's actually turned out to be the most disproportionate General Election result ever in terms of relation between total votes cast and seats won. (Liberal Democrats won 71 seats - their best result in over 100 years, yet the Reform Party, although receiving over half a million votes more than the Lib Dems, won just 5 seats. That's got to be hopelessly unfair!) Starmer managed to get significantly more seats than even Tony Blair won in 1997, even though his Party's share of the national vote was 8% less than then. 

Incidentally, the newish far-right Reform Party was a major factor in the final result, deflecting perhaps as much as some few millions of votes from the Conservatives who, they considered, weren't quite as adamantly anti-(illegal only?) immigrant as much as Reform wanted. It's led by one Nigel Farage, a very familiar name here at home though maybe not so well known overseas. A blindly passionate supporter of Tr*mp, he's even spoken in America at some of the BLOTUS rallies. Attention-grabber, this dangerous and colourful Farage has now at last won a parliamentary seat at his 8th attempt! Should be....erm....'interesting'.

So, overall a strange and unique result, positive or not depending where one's sympathies lie, but which I'd rate as 'fairly promising, though by no means overwhelmingly so'. However, Starmer already gets a big  thumbs-up, even two, for having appointed, in his first few hours, the most ever number of female Cabinet members, more than a few of them taking some of the most senior offices including Angela Rayner as Deputy Prime Minister - and not before time! Rather oddly, Labour is the only one of our larger parties - as well as some smaller ones - never to have had a female leader. Even the Conservatives have had no less than three female Prime Ministers to date, even if one of them had been the totally calamitous Liz Truss, P.M. in 2022 for all of 45 days!  (Btw: Mrs Thatcher famously never allowed any other women at all to join her Cabinet during her 11-year premiership - as well as placing a bar against men with beards!)

So then, what will coming years bring? Can only wait and see - but here's hoping!

Sunday 12 May 2024

Eurovision last night - results and my verdict


Switzerland won. I've no complaints. This weird body-balancing act would have been my third choice. Good to have a third-time winner (last time 1988) from a non-obvious country without political issues muddying the waters. 

Singer 'Nemo' is, it's said, the first 'non-binary' winner to take the title. (I had to look up that term for its meaning. I just can't keep up with the lingo!) 

Second came my own vote, Croatia, an act and song as daft as any, but I liked it on first hearing.........

In third place, a song (part-ballad, half rap) which didn't appeal to me at all, Ukraine, two females of, well, disparate size, shall we say......

At number 4 came France with one of two solo male 'power' ballads' with no frills, no backing distractions - just the song simply and here powerfully delivered, and which I thought passable (just) - though with the singer in a perplexing semi-diaphanous outfit, and wearing underneath it what seemed to be just a nappy/diaper........


And in 5th place, the contentious Israeli entry (but of course!). We were told there was some boos from the 70,000 audience but I didn't hear any. I thought the song indifferent. Incidentally, it seems that the British public voted to give its maximum points for this entry. Why? Out of 'sympathy' for having to face demonstrations?........

Poorish showing (yet again!) for the U.K., coming 18th out of 25, which is actually much better than most of our recent entries........

I still think our act, visually, was the best out of the lot, though the song itself was no great shakes. In the final viewers' vote (now taken from the more than 100 countries globally who take the transmission live!) we were the only participant to receive zero points from the public, our final not-last placing being due entirely to the individual participating countries' appointed juries, which have equal weight with the public vote. (Work that one out!) 

And then there was Spain, with its gloriously outrageous act, which ended up, most sadly of all, in 22nd place. Oh well. C'est la vie!.........

............and, btw, you can't see it here, but those boots the guys are wearing are high-heel stilettos. How they managed to stay upright with all their twisting, writhing and stuff beats me! 

The presenters, Petra Mede (Swede) and Malin Akerma (Swedish-American) did an efficient job. There was, this time, just one occurrence of the dreaded yell of "Are you READY?????"......

Just one further maddening thought on the voting. Like last year, just as the presenters were saying to us that we could vote as many times as we wanted (which I assume meant voting for as many countries, other than one's own), commentator Graham Naughton chimes in on the voting procedure saying that we couldn't vote for the U.K. but must vote for the countrY (resolutely in the singular!) we wanted to win. No mention of voting more than once! This is exactly what had happened a year ago. Why can't they sort the darned thing out, for heaven's sake? And to further cloud the voting issue, after casting my vote, about 15 mins later I wondered what would happen if I tried to vote for Croatia again - so I did, and the same recording of Norton's voice comes on "Thank you. You have voted for Croatia". So was my vote for the same country counted twice? - or is there some mechanism for filtering out multi-votes for the same country? And if I'd tried to vote for our own U.K., would that have gone through? What a shambles! Get it sorted, people!!!!

Oh, yes - and Austria's Conchita Wurst turned up in the interval to briefly join as part of a trio to sing 'Waterloo', a 50th anniversary tribute to, of course, ABBA who won in Brighton (just 12 miles from me sitting here) in 1974........

So, another year gone. All in all, despite the protests against the Netanyahu government as well as the elimination of the Dutch act - of which we still don't know the details - it was a pretty good contest this year, and I'm reasonably satisfied with the result, which itself is a rare thing.

So next year where? Zurich? But somewhere fresh and Alpine for sure in any case. See ya there! 

Saturday 11 May 2024

Eurovision tonight - gayest ever by far, but controversies.


In Malmo, Sweden (last year's winner) - Israel's participation, exacerbated by its winning a place in tonight's final has, as at now, clouded the event which promises (-ed?) such up-front 'gayish' fun like never before. However, though Russia has not been allowed in for the last two competitions following its invasion of Ukraine, one can hardly maintain that the Israel's government's recent acts have been any less egregious than that of President Putrid. Very large demonstrations in Malmo itself as well as around Europe and, indeed, the world, protesting against Israel's involvement in this show. Current betting odds puts Israel second-favourite to win, though I'd give the song a score of only 2/5). 
So, I'm conflicted - should I do an individual personal boycott and not watch the show? Shhhhhhh!.....but no! Sorry. Can't help it!

Added to which, now this morning there's a question over the Dutch act, which was/is (rightly, in my view) one of the most touted to win - a crazy earworm of a song with even crazier act. The singer has variously been reported as having had a physical confrontation with a photographer, with police involved - or having too aggressively addressed Israel's female singer on her country's participation. They might be linked. But this Dutch entry was excluded from yesterday's final dress rehearsal, a video of the song being relayed instead. At this time of writing we don't know what's going to happen. (Latest bulletin: Netherlands has now been disqualified from tonight's final - first time this has happened for any country in Eurovision's 68-year history. We still don't know the details of what had happened to bring this about but if it had be so, there it is. I can reveal now that the song/act would have been my number two choice of them all).

I've now three times heard all 26 songs in tonight's final and am pretty sure who'll get my vote. Excluded by having received inadequate votes in the heats were two openly gay participants, Denmark and Belgium among the eleven 'losers', but there's plenty more well worth watching out for among those left in the final. I just must point out Spain above all the others (8th in running order) where, if you're looking at the female singer performing, halfway through I guarantee that your attention will definitely turn to her two male backing dancers, both bearded. Talk about flaunting it in-yer-face - and I just love, love, LOVE it! Song's not at all bad too!

Apart from the preponderance of men in backing roles (dancing, some singing) for many of the acts - with clear gay 'signals' in some - several of the acts have eye-popping special effects, some trick camera-work but also some startlingly acrobatic in actual performance. Right up there and possibly best of all in that respect is the U.K. entry by one Olly Alexander who wanted to make his rendition "as gay as possible". Well. he's almost achieved it though I'd rate his song as only middling, maybe just slightly above.

So, with only 12 hours to go and, though I always watch the show, I've not for a long time felt such keen anticipation for the result. Go, go........but who?  Ah, that would be telling! Which I'll do tomorrow. 😃

Tuesday 9 April 2024

R.I.P. Dearest Patchie, my best friend in the entire world.


He passed away just 24 hours ago, here on my bathroom floor to where he'd hauled himself - a few months before he'd have turned 20. Collapsed kidneys, he was reduced to a fraction of the weight he was just a year ago. Vet had thought he had a chance of surviving so just day before yesterday I'd paid for expensive medication. No regrets.

Moved in with me in 2013, leaving his home 200 yards away, where he'd been co-habiting with 2 dogs. Owners had sent out fliers asking if anyone knew of his whereabouts. When I answered they were relaxed about letting me take him in, getting his microchip transferred.  

Patchie always very affectionate towards me, loving my lap (and purring loudly) - but ever hostile, and probably jealous, towards two others, Bobby and Sloopy (both from unidentified homes, both still here), who also moved in here a few years after his own arrival, he understandably likely regarding them as 'imposters'.

Missing him ever so profoundly, bless his little soul. 💔

Sunday 10 March 2024

The Bible as one's favourite book? Are you serious?


Last year I completed my 10th cover-to-cover reading of the Bible, most of them having been in the King James' version. I must have been in my late teens, and still devoutly religious (R.C.) on my first attempt at climbing this 'Everest', reading the then sole Papally-approved version, the Douay-Rheims (the scope of 'approved' has since been widened). At that time for me the task was completely for religious reasons.

So now, some six decades later, when I still read a passage of the 'Holy Book' on nearly every morning (at least 95% of days- as also the Koran, by the way and the Bhagavad-Gita - but all that will have to wait for a future blog post) what are my feelings about this collection of writings comprising what we know as 'The Bible', most of which (nearly all!) by a hodge-podge of writers unknown - even if a name has been attributed it doesn't mean that those are the actual names of the authors. (The four 'official' gospels have assumed named originators even though little or nothing at all is known about them). 
There is no generally accepted selection of 'authentically' Biblical books, no 'standard' of those meriting inclusion in the canon, but what today most mean are the 37 parts of the Old Testament and 27 of the New. This is not the place to go into the history of who and why certain books were chosen while others, of which there were dozens of contenders, were disregarded. Loads of info can, of course, be researched through Google which will likely leave one bewildered with the vast array of 'evidences' (much of which being disputed) plus opinions based to a large extent on pre-conceived notions of what the writer wants to believe. 

But to get to the nitty-gritty - what do I think of the Bible as a 'read'? Well, quite frankly I find by far the largest part of it heavy, stodgy, ponderous, mostly boring, rarely 'inspirational' and only extremely intermittingly even interesting. Those relatively few (considering its vast volume) interesting episodes in both books are so sparingly written, with so few adjectives or adverbs to bring it to life, that they read as dullish reports of events, some highly improbable, rather than involved witness accounts, which they hardly ever were, being written years, decades, even centuries after the purported events. Moses, the assumed author of the first five books of the Old Testament (the 'Pentateuch') takes on the heaviest of all mantles in describing the Creation of the Universe itself, some 13.8 billion years before he was born - or, if one thinks that this 'God' would never allow His human instrument to make any mistake, some 6,000 years ago. So how did Moses know? Well, Divine inspiration, of course - or in other words, God told him! So despite all present scientific evidence in Astronomy, Physics, Geology, Archaeology, Biology......everything! this 'God' must have created all this evidence just in order to fool us into believing it whereas in 'fact' it's a fairy-tale because only the words that s/he dictated to Moses is the incontrovertible account of what happened. It only begs the question - Now why would s/he do that? What would have been the point? Of course we all know the catch-all response in 'defence' is......."God works in mysterious ways". S/he sure does!

But to say that the Bible is one's favourite book above all others? Just what other books have these people read? Have they read any others at all?

However, it's perfectly natural to wonder why on earth I myself keep reading it. I ask myself that very question. The best I can offer is that it's become a habit and still holds a fascination as to why such a collection of largely dull nonsense has become undoubtedly the most influential piece of 'literature', certainly in 'Western' culture, of all time - and I'm still searching for why that is so - though I'm sure that the answer lies in human psychology, the very natural need to find an answer to the most basic questions of existence - wherefrom are we and why? - and it's ever so 'handy' and, moreover, lazy to follow others who claim that they, above everyone else, and despite vast evidence to the contrary, possess the unchallengeable TRUTH

As to it being one of my own 'favourite' books, in that sense I have no doubt it wouldn't even feature in my top 1,000 - or deserve inclusion in such a list at all! My ultimate accolade for the Bible remains a resounding "Bah, humbug!" - though only (overwhelmingly) mostly. 😀

Wednesday 14 February 2024

The ultimate bleak read? - Steinbeck's 'East of Eden'.


I finished it yesterday, a quite hefty 600 pages in my paperback edition.
If you're looking for a disturbing novel, this is the one, no kidding! It's destined to resonate in my mind for days to come, and in no heart-warming way. It's essentially a 'horror' story, though not in any supernatural or extra-natural sense. Always down-to-earth, but dark - oh my, ever so! Hardly one moment of respite, no humour at all - and, despite that, considered as possibly Steinbeck's greatest novel. He himself thought it so. Based, to some extent on his own life and ancestry (though just how much remains veiled one never knows), he inserts himself a few times as narrator though ever at arm's length from the happenings told, without his giving away either how much actually occurred or to what extent the story is his own creation. But I do find his style of writing and his choice of vocabulary extraordinarily fine.

It's a dynastic saga starting about three generations before the then present (it was completed in 1952) and contains hardly any sympathetic characters, though a prominent one is 'Lee', a Chinese manservant, a few times referred to as a 'chink' - so called only in conversations, I think. (Occasionally the 'N-word' is also casually used, as it certainly would have been in the writer's own day). This quietly tolerant and quite amiable 'Lee', the sole, vaguely likeable character, is ever-ready to voice pearls of wisdom which other characters sorely need to heed. 

The story begins in Salinas California towards the end of the 19th century, where and when Steinbeck himself was born - he (thrice married, though so what?) becoming a dreadful, habitual misogynist, by several accounts. 
Easily the most terrifying person in the novel is one Cathy, with no redemptive features and the mother of male twins, the latter who, at the age of 17, will end this saga towards the end of World War I. I could go on further about this Cathy but it would involve horrific plot spoilers at the heart of this 'jolly' (not!) tale.

I first became acquainted with Steinbeck's works some 30 years ago when I read 'The Grapes of Wrath', and was so knocked out by it that I wished I'd encountered him a lot earlier. Then I read 'Of Mice and Men' which I found almost as impressive - and then, back in 2002, 'East of Eden', which I've noted that I'd 'read', though on second reading finished just now, I didn't recall one single thing about it as being familiar. I can only think that back 20 years ago I'd been so daunted with its length that although I must have read the words they passed by my eyes unregistered, though how I got through so many hundred densely-packed pages in such a manner I can't explain. Anyway, this present time I read the novel with not only full attention but with a number of synopses at hand which I regularly consulted so as not to lose the drift. And it worked marvellously well - even if the final effect on me felt so negative on an emotional level. Nevertheless, and despite its writer's indefensible reputation, I must now concur that 'East of Eden' is a truly great work. 

When I was 10 my mother took me (and, perhaps, two of my as-young brothers) to the cinema to see the then new James Dean film of 'East of Eden', the actor himself having recently been killed in a car crash at the tragically young age of 24. But why she took us to see such an adult story I have no idea, though she almost certainly had no preconceived notion of what the film concerned. Of the film itself I have no recollection whatsoever. I badly want now to see it again. However, the character that Dean plays (as one of the two mutually hostile twins) when the book ends his character is just 17 years old, the actor himself having presumably been 23 when the film was shot. It's not such a big deal now, as such similar inappropriate-age castings have always happened. But with this film, one of Dean's three major iconic roles (along with 'Giant' and 'Rebel Without a Cause'), that remains a somewhat niggling curiosity.
But rather more pertinent is the fact that the character ('Cal') which Dean plays doesn't appear in the novel until two-thirds through, and even then only as a young boy. He only gets to his teenage years until a further near-hundred pages. Additionally, in the list of the film's characters there is no mention of the aforementioned, evil-incarnate 'Cathy', so strategic to the large bulk of the novel.  Clearly the film deals with only a selected smallish extract of the book, possibly having been intended to be mainly a vehicle for Dean.  

In conclusion, then, if you are avid reader and one who hasn't yet encountered this novel, I couldn't urge you too strongly to give it a try. However, be aware that if your reaction is similar to mine, it could well affect you profoundly. A 'pleasant' read, one which you can let gently waft over you, it is not - though an intense, involving and unforgettable experience it could surely be.

Now, though I must tackle more Steinbeck ('Cannery Row' has some strong recommendations) I want to get back to something rather more uplifting. A re-read of 'Alice's Adventures in Wonderland/Through the Looking-Glass' perhaps? - and try to block out of my mind that particular author's penchant for photographing nude, pre-pubescent girls. Oh dear!......... 

Saturday 27 January 2024

Oh my days! BBC's 'Traitors' now ended. Huge gap left.

 If you're not familiar with this programme's format - though you've almost certainly heard about it - I'll not here lay out details of what the programme is, because if you'd been already interested enough you'll have been watching it.

In my view, justifiably the TV sensation of the last couple of years - with the now just completed series being as maddeningly compulsive viewing as was last year's, leaving me bereft once more now that it's over. We're not even entirely sure there will be another series!

I won't even hint at any spoilers for this year's resulting winner(s?) of the accumulated £95,000 (US $118,000) prize money, nor any indicators as to the others who lost out by being 'murdered' or banished, despite my hoping they'd have gotten further - however, I actually have already laid a tiny clue as to one particular unsuccessful contestant I'd especially favoured. 

After 2023's 'baptism', I couldn't wait the too many months for the BBC to do another, so I watched on iPlayer the American and the Australian first series. And we were told that Australian second series is also now available to watch, so I'll shortly be going there. The American programmes used the same Scottish castle location and its grounds as the two British series did. As emCee/invigilator they had actor and gloriously camp Alan Cumming in the role, though that's not to take anything away from the superbly domineering (and a bit scary) Claudia Winkleman in ours.

This year's progs gripped me every bit as much as last year's though I did get rather more uneasy this time with the occasional increasing bitching between contestants which seemed to get downright nasty now and again - though they always insisted afterwards that in spite of the apparent hostilities they were all still friends. I've no reason to disbelieve them though when the arguments were happening I did sometimes get decidedly uncomfortable.

I wasn't going to do a blog posting on this subject but it's affected me so deeply, so rivetting it was, that I just have to relieve some of the weight from off my chest and get it out there. 

Okay, so now where's Australia Series 2?...........

Sunday 21 January 2024

Disappointed (again) by my favourite radio programme.


I've been listening to the weekly 'Desert Island Discs' (on BBC Radio 4) for over 60 years, and have ever found it a most absorbing programme. For those not familiar with its concept (though I have blogged on the subject previously) it's that a well-known personality/celebrity from any field (such as scientist, actor, musician, politician....). and of any nationality, is invited to choose eight tracks of music (not complete albums containing multi-tracks) to take with him/her to a mythical deserted island which will last, potentially, for the remainder of that person's lone life. In addition they may have one book (aside from the Bible and Shakespeare, which are given gratis) and just one single luxury i.e. something inanimate and of no practical value nor anything which increases one's chances of survival. Though since the programme began in 1942 advances in recording techniques have rendered it almost impossible for all the rules to be strictly observed and absolutely consistent throughout - thus complete symphonies/concertos etc are permitted (though one is expected to identify which particular movement or section) but not complete operas (only specific arias, ensemble sections etc), nor complete oratorios, plays etc. Nevertheless the concept remains unchanged - and, after all, it's only just an entertainment, a bit of 'fun'.

Now I was so looking forward to listening to that Wunderkind von unserer Zeit, cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason - still only 24, the third of seven siblings, all talented and variously playing violin, cello and piano, some of them more than one instrument, though at the moment Sheku is the most celebrated, having already appeared at the Last Night of the Proms as well as playing, by royal invitation, at the wedding of Prince William and Kate. (One of Sheku's sisters will shortly be appearing in this town where I live to play a Mozart piano concerto with our local amateur symphony orchestra).

So I was most interested to hear Sheku being interviewed about his eventful life (so far!) interspersed with his eight choices of music. No problem with his music selections, but as to his talking, my God, I could hardly understand a word of it! I have heard him speaking on TV several times, but there at least one can follow lip movements, and besides there's additionally the option of turning on subtitles as well, which, to be honest, I do quite often use in order to get the fullest experience. But on for this radio programme I was lost so much of the time when I was desperately interested in what his answers to the questions about his life would be. What a let-down!

It's by no means the first time I've been disappointed in the same way by this programme. In 2007 the renowned, theatrical (mainly), actor Simon Russell Beale was the guest and that really was the worst I have ever heard for non-comprehension - entirely under-the-breath, semi-whispered mumblings!  I just gave up and switched off. So unexpected from an actor whose very being and livelihood depends on his words being heard and understood. I can only think that when some of them are in a broadcasting studio with a microphone under their very noses, they assume that every vocal sound they make will be picked up clearly. Well, it's not so!

Another disgraceful mutterer is the lavishly over-praised Sir Ian McKellan, though only when talking 'normally'. I've seen him live on stage several times and there he can project when called to, though hardly ever elsewhere. I used to have a video of that 'Othello' production of a few decades ago, with a superb interpretation of the title role given by opera singer Willard White, whose every word was as clear as a bell - even though he'd never acted in a 'straight' play before, having only appeared in sung operatic roles. However, for me, McKellan as the villainous Iago (actually given more lines than Othello himself!) let down the entire production with his shamefully mumbled deliveries, so unfair to the rest of the cast. I chucked the video away!

I cannot claim that my hearing is anything like perfect. At my age it would be absurd and a complete lie. There must be some deterioration, even if I'm not aware of any significant loss in my everyday life. But when I don't catch something on the radio (and I'm very much a lifelong radio addict) it does bring me up sharp - though it doesn't really happen that often.

So as to Sheku's D.I.D, I'll give it another shot on BBC iPlayer, but I really shouldn't have to be doing this. 

Slow hand-clap, Sheku - and, please no encore! 

Wednesday 3 January 2024

First Happy NY kiss on TV from NY - draws anger and hate.


As I usually do early on New Year's Day, at 5 a.m (our time) I tuned in to watch Sky News TV broadcast from New York's Times Square to catch their celebrations - with the obligatory relaying of 'Ol' Blue Eyes' belting out "Start spreadin' the Noos....." Great stuff! But at the climax moment I was very pleasantly and very surprised to see the first visual kiss of 2024 being a gay one - and the camera lingered. When it was over my considered reaction was "Surely not! I must have been mistaken." and then thought little more of it - that is until this morning when I read that there's been oh-so-predictable outrage in certain American circles. (Oh, the horror of it!) The decision to show the two men physically bonded together in osculation must have been decided in advance. It's hard not to think otherwise. There was no quick change to a camera shot showing the kissing of what would be deemed a more 'acceptable' M-F couple. I think what we saw lasted at least 20 secs, possibly half-a-minute, before it turned to other similarly affectionately embracing couples. And what makes this particular first couple even worse (if that is possible!) is that this at least one of this pair seemed to be - God help us! - of mixed race!  Will there be an inquest as to how on Earth this got through? I don't see why there should be though doubtless there'll already be clamours for one.

The pictures were broadcast on CNN and ABC amongst others - and it seems Sky News used the same source. I'm only sorry that after it was over I was quick to dismiss my observation as having likely been mistaken. Now that I know for sure that I wasn't wrong I can only see it as very welcome progress. And I'm equally happy that many countries around the world will also have taken the same broadcast, no doubt causing a flurry of panic in those many countries where such images give rise to imprisonment - or even far worse. Russia maybe? - though certainly not on the 'official' Kremlin (= Putin) -controlled, anti-American channels. Would surely have given Pres. Putrid a heart attack, though I trust it wouldn't have been terminal as I'd dearly love his royal highness to live long enough to be a centenarian - though totally incapacitated, unable to move, speak, even indicate what he wants - poor chap! And fancy being the one who's delegated to changing his nappy every few hours! (Tee hee!) Must be at least as bad as having to change BLOTUS'.......erm, diaper - if it's not being done already - maybe by Rudy Giulie? But I digress. (Got a bit carried away with my hopes for the coming year). 

Anyway, to return to the subject in hand........

I haven't seen in a real-live New Year since 1990. Always been alone since then, retiring around my usual time of between 8 and 9 p.m. but inevitably woken up by the sound of fireworks. When they began I checked on the cats and found each, as expected, cowering in wide-eyed terror - one under the bed, another in a cupboard, and a third at the bottom of the stairs, where it's darkest. And they don't move until they're sure, or hope, it's all over, though the odd errant distant bang or pop sends them scurrying back to their hidey places again. 

The last New Year 'seeing-in' that I experienced and mentioned above, was 1990 in Amsterdam. In those years I had an annual routine of being at the critical time in the 'Eagle' leather bar (near the Royal Palace and on the edge of the red light district) where, at midnight, ABBA's track of 'Happy New Year' was always played to announce the arrival of the magic moment - interrupting the various intercourses or mutual consensual fumblings going on in the (purposely) dark spaces and toilets, though it probably made no difference to those already engaged and busy in such!  😄

Anyway, here's wishing my handful of blogpals (of whom I feel ever so privileged to have, every single one of you) all the very best for 2024, including all the money that you need - plus a bit more - and most important of all good and ruddy health to all of you! Cheers!!!!


(Added later - 5 Jan).........

This couple's comments on the anti-gay reaction to their televised kiss here...........