So we went to Rome.
On day one we went with our coach mates to the Via Populo (I shall have to look all the nmes up to be sure I have them right) of Rome, walked down to the Trevi, across to the Tiber and then, alone, wandered back up the Via Corso to our bus.
On day two we bought bus tickets and travelled to Maggiore, walked around St John's Leteran Basilica then up to the Colloseum and around the area to the northwest, unpopulated by tourists and full or splendid parks and buildings.
On day three we return to the Colloseum and then wandered over the Palatine Hills, stunned by the Roman town we had completely missed on a previous trip.
On Day four we went ot theVatican and once again was knocked over by the Pieta .
I was having my mind blown by the opulence of the Roamans and Christianity. Watching Trump and the inauguration and the ABC news whenever in our room and catching up on Fb or wherever whenever we stoppped for coffee and Wifi. Trump metamorophosed into a Roman Emperor (or Pope) embellishing everything with gold, assuming total control and bending the wrold t whatever he say as the right things to do for his own angrandisment.
And we heard of the perennial struggles and battles between tribes and states, fighting for trade, killing thousands, erecting triumphant arches and memorial statues. The spread of the Roman empire with roads, acqueducts sewers and art art art. Then its fall, and the rise of Christianity, nd then the unification of Italy, one nation which of course, to me, was another step on the route to Europpeanism. Clear as daylight to me, start with triba lvillages, then small provinces, then Regions and then a country... and then of course continue the route o working togethrr instead of fighting by creating a United Europe.. and finally a United world.
I only had one fight with a Brexiter.....more later
Busy weekend. Yesterday we went to Nailsworth and had a pleasant lunch with old friends. Today we went to the Bridge Club Christmas Lunch (the formal end of Christmas) and then came home to see Barbara who has come to stay the night.
We all talk about Trump. And then about Brexit. We all despair. We none of us know what to do. The whole world set of values has changed, there is no left or right or up or down. We all live in tribes and we know we are right and that the others are appallingly ignorant. I have one facebook friend, through bridge, who though a lovely (and old) lady is a Leaver. (Her husband, she told me, said how could we vote to be part of Germany when we had fought 2 wars against them) She often shares pretty pictures of cats but she also shares posts from an organisation called Proud to be British. Well I'm a follower of We are the 48% and get a non stop barrage about the horrors of Brexit, very comforting it is. But I've looked at Proud to be British and it has more followers that the 48% one and it too has a non stop barrage- of how awful the EU is. I know they lie, I know they are uninformed. But they are as articulate as we are. Depressing.
Also read three editions of the Financial Tiimes this week. I thought it would be like the Spectator but it's not. It's wonderful and everyday has given me new ideas. Yesterday's was the dreadfulness of speaking English- something I had always thought was a big advantage- no- not at all. All the Russians and Chinese and Europeans learn English and most educated people are bi lingual. But few people in the UK or US are familiar with other lanaguages, The result is as if we are living in a glass house. They can all look in and understand what we are saying and thinking, we look out only on darkness. We have a huge disadvantage in negotiations. What do you think of that?
Yesterday I spotted this beneath my bird tree. Well actually D spotted it. He sprang into action
At the other window I jumped up and down trying to scare it away. I needn't have worried, it is very very difficult to shoot an air gun, used once a year, 20 feet at at active rat. The phatt! sound was enough for it to leap in the air and dash away to the nearest farmyard. We have all lived another day.
Saturdays still mean something even when you don't work. They mean the shops are busier for a start. D always feels we should have a treat, celebrate it being weekend. Yeah. Anyway yesterday we completed our tax returns and in 2 weeks we will be in Italy so it does feel like off time.
Heard Ed Balls on the 9 am radio show this morning. I've always liked him and like him more and more. Like most politicians he's a human being, it really is a dreadful life being in politics, even at my local level poeple treat you as a pre-formed monster, they mistrust you and they delight in putting you down. Nearly all of the mps, meps, I have met have impressed me with their integrity, ability, and willingness to serve--serve not being a cliched politics word for ruling over you but really meaning trying to do better for us all through the machinery of democracy. I've met and worked with Graham Watson, for example, over the years. He's measured, sensible, amazingly hard working, just a solid good, intelligent bloke who puts up with shit and still tries to find ways to make things better. He was leader of the European Liberals so was well respected in Europe as an MEP. No doubt if he had chosen to work for Wessex Water (which I knew of course) he would be a top earner getting twice as much as he got as an MEP. But the good people of the SW, using proportional representation chose 2 UKs MEPs who are wholly useless over him and therefore lost what useful influence they had in Brussels. But how do you explain to people who haven't actually met or know them, that whatever the Daily Mail says they are kind honest people not monsters (Though of course all the UKippers are monsters).
By 11th night I mean of course January 5th, tomorrow is 12th night. Anyway Christmas is over, the decorations are down and we are resolving to lose weight, do better and be better organised. and to be more loving and kind to the people we value.
I have been listening to Persuasion downloads while walking (last week it was Northanger Abbey and Busman's Holiday (Dorothy Sayers I know). I love listening to things, no longer read things except internet and newspapers and Economist and New Stateman and Private Eye. Anyway I realised how much I miss Jane Austen, used to re-read them all every two years or so and went to look for my collection- and found only Pride and Prejudice. Where are the rest? Who have I lent them too? I hope they are in a good home, I am dazzled by her writing. Every time I read (hear) it I see more,find things I missed. When I first read her I thought it was an easy girlie story, well so it is, but she has acidic perception and a huge sense of humour. What a waste that she died so young. There are not many books that you can read over and over again. As well as Dorothy Sayers I've also been listening to 1950s favorites like the Day of the Triffids and the Midwich Cuckoos. ;brilliantly imagnative and also very very interesting to see how our perceptions have changed in 50 years (I mean roles of men and women and Vicars and Majors and the like.) Thinks are getting better, despite Brexit and Trump and other horrors.
Facebook has embarassed me by reminding me that 2 years ago I promised to be a better communicator and of course have failed utterly. But I'm trying again. I will write something on this everyday, even if nothing has happened. Most days I go for a walk and most days I take my phone with me and photograph interesting things to share with you- but then google photos eat up my pictures they by pass my computer (in the old days I would back up everyday and I knew exactly how to get to everything instantly) and I have lost the easy incentive to share with you.
Anyway I've just found that google photos can interact with weebly so I'll try it now Ben and Kate Well I think the link worked but I wanted it to display as a picture. Hector or Sarah and friend. Below is an image actually on my computer, I have unearthed a tin trunk full of old letters mostly written by my parents. But this was writtin by my great uncle to my grandfather in 1904. There are 5 other pages. I will doodle here frequently now. It is a way of keeping in touch with Hannah especially and also with anyone who cares enough to read it. I have such a good family and many good friends. I want to keep in touch.
Wow! I had no idea! I had never thought about how you run a sailing ship or a navy. There were 650 men on the Victory. 620 of them slept in 14 inch hammocks and lived in horrible conditions. Their food was rancid and vitamin free, they crapped over the side, they were beaten, their only consolation was a generous ration of booze. They had one gallon of small beer a day as well as rum and wine. They must have been constantly slightly inebriated-a sort of compliancy drug to stop them having the wits to react to how they were being abused. They worked hard and you have to hand it to the officers, running a ship like that needed a huge understanding of manoeruvring to balance wind against waves and the enemy, using sails and ropes, and directing efforts of 600 tired demoralised and slightly drunk sailors to pull winches, climb sails and push and load canons and measure gunpowder.
The officers had wonderful cabins with lovely furniture and private heads. Elitism of course, but they needed space- what skills you needed to navigate without satellites or radios or weather forecasts or radar, all the things we take for granted. If any of us was preincarnated as a member of the ship's crew we would be totally useless. All we could contribute would be knowledge of how unfair it was and how badly the sailors were being treated. If we did sucessfully organise a mutiny what then? The ship would crash on to rocks or we'd die of starvation lost at sea.
Well we all know that the worst happened. But Hillary actually got more votes than the man. Can you imagine if the situation was reversed- wouldn't he be huffing about crooked hillary and rigged elections, saying he should have won as more people voted for him. Like eveyone else I'm sick of it, miserable, what havoc he will wreak throughout the world. Now I can't bear to see the endless repetition in the papers and on the TV and radio with his smiling family and gracious words . I've never, never, seen any public figure who is so crass and rude and generally awful. And we have to live with him for 4 years at least, Let's hope the white undeducated men learn that he is total bullshit.
A non day, everything is suspended waiting for tomorrow. I am sitting at my desk and going through papers for a meeting tomorrow, wondering if the whole world will change before it starts. I'm sorting out my desk but not organised enough to buy dollars or buy or sell US shares or anything. (Cara and Matt have bet on Trump winning as consolation if he does).
Listened to Bob Dylan's first album this morning, he only wrote one or two of the songs on it but it clearly shows where he's come from and going to. I was alone in the house and was able to rage through the downstairs rooms while he was singing House of the Rising Sun singing along with the words and the intonation. A great great song, I was very angry when the Animals appropriated it, didn't think anyone could improve on Dylan's version. Listening to that music opened up my teenage sensibility which of course is still lurking under decades of overgrowth. Memo to grandchildren, relish and enjoy your feelings, they are as real and valid as they get and will underscore whatever later happens in your life.
I'm spending the afternoon with Kathleen Ferrier, amazingly my non musical father introduced me to her. So sad she died so young.