Monday, 10 August 2015

The more things change, the more you go "Oh no, not this rubbish again"

So, welcome to the first official posting in this blog's new guise as The View from Pudding Island and already with this post's title I realise I seem to have got off to a slightly grumpy start.

The thing is I thought that having lived in Greece for the last three-and-a-bit years with only occasional visits to England it would be a good opportunity to highlight what changes I noticed had taken place in "the old country".

Unfortunately I haven't been out and about as much as I would have liked so when not reading or sleeping - and lately I've found myself doing an awful lot of those - I've been watching TV. That has been my window on the world.

In Greece we had no TV. We had the capability to watch DVDs and we could watch TV in cafés, but watching the tube just never featured in our lives and I didn't miss it one little bit. I should point out Mrs C didn't always agree with me on that point.

Having shunned TV in Greece I have embraced it here in the UK. It's my new best friend, but like all best friends sometimes it does go on a bit. Leaving aside general programming, some good, some bad and more of which maybe another time, my view of my native land and the wider world is formed generally from news programmes.

Oh lord, it's depressing. It's generally people doing horrible things to each other, or wanting to do horrible things to each other, and a bunch of gurning tossers who have been around for ever all going on about what they would do to stop horrible things. So that's the news which is occasionally interspersed with cute stories about ageing pandas which resolutely refuse to reproduce.

The other snapshot I get of Britain is through TV advertising. If the news is what people think you ought to know then advertising is what people want you to know, but only so you'll part with large sums of money. Gambling, money lending and ambulance-chasing solicitors are some of the mainstays of TV advertising these days, plus occasional ads for people with either diarrhoea or constipation. In advertising circles this is probably regarded as an each-way bet.

I realise I have got off to a slightly dyspeptic start with a title for the post which could be applied to the blog itself, but bear with me, I'll try to lighten up as I go.

For those who missed it last time, I thought I'd explain one more time why the blog has changed from The View from the Olive Grove to The View from Pudding Island. Quite simply, I changed locations - Greece to the UK - and Pudding Island was writer Laurence Durrell's rather disparaging title for Britain. While it may be a bit snippy, it's still quite funny and I do love a good pudding. So there, I will almost certainly never seek to explain this again, but just to help clarify matters below there is a picture of Pudding Island and also one of jelly, I love jelly.

I didn't want to leave you without a bit of music so here's Changes by David Bowie. It seems quite fitting as there are a lot changes going on in my life at the moment.

  • "Satellite image of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in April 2002" by Jacques Descloitres, MODIS Land Rapid Response Team, NASA/GSFC - Cropped from: Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons - 
  • "Rainbow-Jello-Cut-2004-Jul-30". Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons -

Friday, 7 August 2015

Only slightly more frequent than Halley's Comet

I know, I know, it's been a while since my last post. In fact, it's been more than two months. What can I say? It wasn't meant to be like this.

In that time we have moved back to the United Kingdom and got our house sorted out, all of which took time. For much of that period we have been without the internet both in Greece and in the UK and don't forget that I am also naturally indolent.

To compound these admittedly fairly weak excuses, since my return to the UK I have found I have what for the time being I shall refer to only as "health issues". The precise nature of these is still being determined, but they have been a distraction.

Anyway, we now have the internet at home - hooray! - and to distract me from my other distractions I feel I should get back in the blogging saddle, as it were.

Much has happened over the last two months. When we left Greece, the banks had been closed and the rest of Europe seemed to be waiting for the Greek economy to stop circling the plughole and finally disappear without trace down the drain. That hasn't quite happened, but Greece and its economy are still on the critical list and likely be to be so for a long time.

Here in Britain politicians on all sides seem intent on showing they can be tough on migrants trying to get through the Channel Tunnel to seek asylum status in the UK. As ever the "who can be the nastiest" competition seems to be going the Conservatives' way. They have plans to introduce legislation which will make it illegal for landlords to rent property to people who do not have the proper status to be in the UK. A friend pointed out that this was not that different to laws used by the Nazis in pre-war Germany to make life impossible for Jews. Sometimes the Tories do seem determined to embrace their reputation as the Nasty Party.

Having said that, Labour have been coming up with some spectacularly stupid ideas, not least of which is that the French government should pay compensation to the UK for migrants who get through the tunnel. What a great idea, alienate the government at the other end of the tunnel by demanding money from them and then expect them to cooperate with you in dealing with this complex problem. In case you're wondering I don't have an answer to the problem, but then I'm not the prime minister, nor am I leading the opposition.

The title of this posting referred to this blog's recent lack of frequency. I think I can do better than post at the same frequency as Halley's Comet which is visible from earth every 76 years, just so long as I can combat my natural indolence. That also brings me to the blog's title. Some of you may remember that I felt that on my return to the UK I could no longer keep calling it The View from the Olive Grove. For sure when I look out of my house here in Devon I definitely don't see any olive trees.

So what to call the blog? I had one or two useful suggestions from friends, but being the pig-headed type that I am I wanted to come up with my own answer. Eventually I settled on The View from Pudding Island. The reason for this is a bit hazy, but basically writer Laurence Durrell, who had a strong connection with Greece, used the term Pudding Island to describe Britain, a country which he hated although he was technically British. I certainly don't equate myself with Durrell, nor do I hate Britain, although I suspect that like a lot of Brits I have a fairly ambivalent view of the country of my birth. In a more positive light, Britain does have some great puddings. So, The View from Pudding Island it is, hopefully starting on Monday. See you then. I'll be spending much of the weekend tinkering under the bonnet trying to give the blog a new appearance.

As ever, I like to finish with some music and for this post I have chosen Sloop John B by The Beach Boys. I wanted to use it for a post before we left Greece but circumstances intervened, however, it's too good a song not to use, so here it is.