Kent County Show

We spent today at the Kent County Show in Detling. Our dog training club was running dog games there in aid of the Royal Marsden Hospital and we decided to go along.

We’ve never been to a big agricultural show like this before and it was obviously quite the place to see and be seen among the people of Deepest Kent. I understand that over 90,000 visitors were expected over the three days.

Atttactions included traditional crafts; the Kent Police Band; Popchoir; livestock shows; a vintage vehicle show; traction engines. There was so much to see.

It was great to be able to take our dogs along with us for what must, to them, have been a long and eventful walkies. They largely behaved well except for when Oscar decided to bark at a cow in the show ring, which unsettled her; and when he was frightened by a mobility tricycle coming up behind him.

Raffles had a go at the scurry event but was distracted from his pursuit of a tennis ball after jumping three bales of hay by the irresistible aroma of a little girl’s chips. Oscar crashed into a fence by trying to take an alternative route that avoided strenuous jumping, but eventually retrieved a dummy in the correct way despite a bloody nosey. We didn’t think either of our boys would fancy the dash n’ splash: they’re both a bit too cautious for that.

It was a great, relaxed day out, and one I’d recommend, especially for townies like us. It’s still on tomorrow if you’re interested.

Monsoon life

Monsoon life

Once again I am in India visiting my mum.

The monsoon has started, bring relief and refreshment after months of extreme, building heat. Despite the dinginess, it really is pleasant to go out in the warm rain.

Here are some photos I took on the way from the airport to the Dignity Lifestyle resort. I was expertly driven, as usual, by Mr Namdev and the photos were taken from a moving car so you’ll have to excuse the blurriness. On reflection I should have been brave and used a very fast shutter speed on Manual focus to reduce the blur but you live and learn I guess.

There’s low cloud and revered cows trundling down the busy Mumbai arterial road or even sitting down making everyone work around them, while hitchhiking crows and people going about their normal business. Those are pomogranates being sold at the roadside in that rain-blurred picture. They looked so pretty and reminded me of how the French stallholders piled up their own wares at our local market in our Western Parisian suburb.

Up the road outside Karjat is a film studio where, I think, a recent US music video was filmed, controversial for its inaccuracies and apparent exploitation of the idea of India. The only elephants you’re likely to find around this part of the world are made of painted plaster.

How’s she doing, your mum?

It’s about time that I updated you on my mum’s life in India. 

My most recent trip was a couple of weeks ago, and I was despondent about going, partly because I spent most of MsDD’s Easter holiday away from home, away from her, and partly because when I went to see mum in January, it was clear that she no longer recognised me. She was quite gloomy and uncommunicative. I was very sensible and rational, and told myself that this was because I form no part of mum’s day anymore. The nurses, who were keen to get her repeat her amusing little quips, are now her whole day to day life so of course she won’t treat me, a virtual stranger, as one of her gang.

“LThey’d just had a ridiculous heatwave in Neral as I arrived and some of the floor tiles in the common day room had lifted so this part of the building was too dangerous to be used by the frail old ladies and gentlemen. (They’re looking into replacing the tiles as soon as possible.) It’s really difficult to keep an open-plan building cool in 45 degree heat, so the ladies and gentlemen were taking turns having everyone around to theirs to hang out with the air conditioning and watch TV.

I spent quite a lot of time with my mum watching Marathi TV and railing at the characters in the soaps. We revisited an old joke when two characters shared a hug and I put my hand up to shield us and yelled “Break!” which is what my mum always used to do at any public display of the tiniest bit of intimacy. I think this made her chuckle.

On one occasion mum did recognise me, I think, when she asked why I wasn’t at school but it was fleeting. 

And so it goes. And I’ve booked another trip for June. 

 

 

Footscray meadow frolicking

Spring would appear to be just around the corner. Today’s sunshine felt almost warm and, if you look closely enough, there are traces of a green fuzz on the trees. Or maybe that’s wishful thinking. 

Anyway, it’s half term and as I had no music school commitments for a change, I accompanied the boys on their walk to Footscray Meadow. They seemed very happy today and enjoyed a good run about. It was a good opportunity to find out about the rapid shooting capabilities of my new camera. It takes dozens of pictures in a second so you never miss the perfect action shot. The trouble is that you have to sort through hundreds of shots to find the perfect frames. Here are a few of them. 

Nonauguration day

Remember this picture? The Reverend Jesse Jackson moved to tears of joy on that November morning in 2008 when Barack Obama became President Elect of the USA? What an era of hope and joy and pride the picture conveyed! What we have today is the opposite feeling and I’m shedding tears as I write this.

I am doing my best to ignore the vile, disgusting cesspool, the tangerine manbaby who has come to power in the USA. I simply cannot believe that he has replaced Barack Obama, whose extreme grace and dignity and statesmanship I have always admired. He and Michelle would certainly be guests at my fantasy dinner party. I suppose that is a subject for another blog post.

Trump’s election brought with it so much disillusion. I had thought that we had got over our atavistic human discrimination and lying and name-calling tendencies. I thought we had grown up, left all that behind. The painful aftermath of the Brexit vote and the subsequent election of this grossièreté has made me despair. We haven’t moved past disgustingness, have we? 

I’d normally watch the presidential inauguration but I’m boycotting it today and doing other things instead. For me it’s a normal day, nothing special:

After seeing Eliza off to school; feeding the dogs; doing the dishwasher; putting a wash on, I started the day with some admin. Here I’ve organised the accompanist’s music for my festival debut in March. I’m singing five songs, in three categories. They’re all open classes, which means that professionals can enter as well as amateurs but that sort of takes the pressure off me in a way. I’m not competing with anyone, not even myself, as we’ve seen, tht is the road to Hell. I just want to take advantage of an opportunity to perform these songs in public.

Raffles was being particularly clingy this morning. I was struck by this. He does like to cuddle up on the sofa in the evenings but he’s never normally as needy as this. Perhaps he does care about our emotional needs after all. 

Next on the agenda this morning was a 9.30 Zeros to Heroes homework run in Norman Park. 34 of us turned up for the run, which was far easier today than the one on Wednesday, even though today was the coldest it’s been. When I turned up at the start it was still -2C!

We’re only on Week 3 of the course so it’s not actually that strenuous at the moment but still fun in a group. Again, it’s not competitive and I’m happy to stay in the middle of the group but today I was passing people instead of being passed so there is hope for me. One more homework this week and I’ll be a quarter of the way through the course.

 

 

 

Next stop, after taking my music to the Post Office, was the garage. It’s MOT day for my 9 year old car, which has developed an ominous rattle in the last couple of days. I asked the mechanics to check this: it’s not good news. Some exhaust bracket has broken on my car’s undercarriage probably through going too fast over uneven road conditions. Hm. It’s going to cost but the person responsible takes the consequences, I suppose.

Lazy Raffles

It was a pleasure to walk the dogs on this crispy, sunny morning, once I’d actually rounded up Raffles and got out of the door. There seemed to be a lot more birds around today: a woodpecker yammered a tree and a denuded, sculptural oak on the golf course hosted some of our bright green ring-necked parakeets. Further along the golf course I spied a flock of ground feeding birds that looked like thrushes. There must have been at least 25 of them, pecking their way between the fallen leaves but they were frightened by Raffles before I got a chance to identify them. Not for the first time this week, I wished I’d had a camera with telephoto lens.They looked like thrushes but I didn’t think they flew around in gangs like this. They were too big to be long tailed tits.  Does anyone know what they might be?

I find myself rather concerned at Oscar’s behaviour at the moment, though. He keeps picking up and eating n’importe-quoi like tissues that have been dropped by revolting littering humans – when you have a dog you realise how filthy humans can be. He’s never behaved like this before. I wonder whether he’s regressing into a second childhood.

Home, then, to a hot shower; a muffin and cheese for lunch; some more admin; a missed call from a gardener supposed to come and pick up the keys. When Eliza arrived home she told me about her plans for the autumn House Music competition which were, to my mind, utter genius. Something as clever as what she’s planning would never have entered my mind but she first has to persuade enough people to buy into her plan and that’s not always easy with sixth formers’ egos as they are. 

Then finish off the ironing, make supper, try and do a singing practice and finally, later on, check-in online for my flight to India on Sunday.

 

Today I have not tweeted anything. Those who know me must realise what a remarkable act of self-restraint this is. I am not watching or listening to the news: I do not want that tangerine kleptocrat to derive any ratings figures from me. I’ve favourited and retweeted a few interesting articles, though, but it’s a day to get on with life. The kakistocracy might have commenced over on the other side of the Atlantic but we can resist by being ourselves and living our lives and loving the things we do. Small acts of defiance await in the next four years. They might be private acts but they are still defiance. I will try and defend grace and humility and dignity. I shall let hope prevail over debauchery. 

I found this song this morning, a setting of my favourite Maya Angelou poem. It is things like this that will get us through.

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