Monday 29 November 2010

Alice Beatrice West 1913 - 2010

My grandmother Alice died on Saturday at the grand age of 97. She woke up as normal but faded and passed away in the arms of a carer mid morning.
She really was a link with a different era or indeed eras. Born before the Great War or the Russian Revloution, her parents were Victorians. She came of age during the Great Depression and joined the many setting up home in London's new metroland suburbs.

She saw the abdication crisis, the rule of the dictators and brought her own children up in the Blitz.

She lived through an incredible century. There were properous as well as impoverished times -- she never had it so good with Macmillan and enjoyed a Saga brochure retirement. She enthusiastically took to the new Jerusalem with its foreign holidays, night schools and patio doors but never lost her sense of thrift and self reliance -- she had witnessed the impermanence of civilisations and systems, she had seen them come and go.

I do wonder if we will expereince lifetimes like hers again.

Tuesday 16 November 2010

Love at first bite

I fell in love last night...with a chip, or in fact a whole portion. The cause of this potato epiphany, Mr Heston Blumentahl's celebrated thrice cooked version. Sublime. Not that the rest of the meal wasn't up to his "perfection" standards but the chips were something else. I have tried chips on five continents and to eat possibly the most familiar dish in the world and still be rewarded with such a sensation is a real achievement.

Thursday 11 November 2010

A blog for our times

I have been enjoying Redundant Public Servant's blog  if enjoying is quite the right word. He desribes it as "News from the front line of deficit reduction" and like all great blogs it merges the personal with the timely and the profound. He writes so well I cannot picture him as the author of anonymous government memos and disseminator of ghastly offcial gobbledegook. I feel we have a future Orwell prize winner. 

Tuesday 9 November 2010

New Internationalism

I was in the USA on Sunday. I recieved a text message from a friend in Zanzibar. He told me that a Spanish footballer in Liverpool had played a blinder, scoring twice and bringing his team, owned by an American, a much needed victory over another English team, owned by a Russian, and populated mainly by Africans...

The Zanzibari friend -- who goes by the name Gerrardi after his favourite English player -- partied all night.

Tuesday 2 November 2010

The Best Weather Service

We have launched the new weather service for S4C. It works. It is the UK's first service which uses 1km forecasting data -- that means the information you get is directly relevant to your actual location, not somewhere down the road or over the hill or in the next county.

This is most useful on the website -- here for the English language version, here for the Welsh. When you enter your postcode you get the forecasst for that exact postcode, so it gives a street or close neighbourhood picture. It works all over the UK. This is a huge improvement over the rather dishonest BBC weather website which asks you to enter the postcode and then gives you the forecast for somewhere miles away. Very little use in our highly localised climate.

Monday 1 November 2010


With the world's eyes turned on the US Mid-terms it is hardly surpirsing that yesterday's election in Zanzibar has gone unnoticed.

We are still waiting for the result and the EU monitors report no violence or intimidation. Not quite what I am hearing. My contacts on the ground say this morning there is a very heavy troop build-up in the centre of the capital and the usual heavy handedness in terms of beatings and intimidation. People are very scared just now.