Saturday, 26 September 2009
Firm-bosomed assistants crediting maturing sums.
Conspiring with mates to loaf and to work less
And watch the time, to beat the evening run;
To bend the rules, to doze beneath the plane trees,
And fill each day, though it is such a bore;
To charm the board; catch Hazel's fragrant smells;
To telephone the Colonel; to eat pudding more,
And still more, and later, calculate my fees -
Filling in expenses being like shelling peas -
For work must never overcome my idle cells.
Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o'er-brimm'd their clammy cells.
Friday, 18 September 2009
Thursday, 17 September 2009
It's a dashed bad show, but the bursar from the idle girls' country club is clamouring for a cheque, the lady idle will insist upon Caribbean winter breaks, and the wine merchant has applied for charitable status, so long is it since he had a sniff of a guinea from yours truly.
I had a chat with a man who knows someone in the City who told him that the smoke had cleared and as far as he knew no more large banks were going to go down the swanee. Furthermore, some of them were actually hiring and paying a living wage. Something to do with Government guarantees. Splendid.
So I'll see if I can quantitatively ease myself into the old dark navy blue, dust off the bowler and polish the silver ring on the umbrella. A word in the ear of the head steward at the club, and I'll be expecting the usual table at 1pm for the forseeable.
So, Monday morning, up to the smoke. Up in the air to Jersey, actually, for a quick shufti, followed by some nice fish, one hopes. More than that I cannot really say, but I'd appreciate no snide comments about bankers' bonuses or taxpayer bailouts. The way I was going, in a few more years I would have been eligible for the Nat King Cole, housing benefits and I dare say council tax relief as well. One's credit rating would have simply died. Just think what you have saved yourselves.
Given that only three of you read this, it won't be missed if it becomes a once-a-week job, will it? I will continue to visit the comment threads of more industrious bloggers.
The name of this blog is not changing. It wouldn't do to break into a sweat; busy people in a frightful rush tend to forget things and worry the horses. No, Idle it remains.
Monday, 14 September 2009
Idle spent his weekend in unbroken sunshine in Ulster. It looked lovely, but there is pain behind the beauty of the benighted province.
Some parts of Northern Ireland really are beautiful, such as Narrow Water above Warrenpoint. The layby just downstream of the old castle tower jutting into the water from the dual carriageway, and the gates opposite, were the scene of the second of two cowardly IRA atrocities on 27 August 1979, the first of which had killed Lord Mountbatten and members of his family at Mullaghmore. It was a warm and beautiful August Bank Holiday. A trailer of straw sat in the layby.
This is what the first Warrenpoint bomb would have looked like (the picture is of a simulation, carried out after the event). It was set off from across the water/border in Ireland, as a convoy of two army trucks and a land rover passed. Though targetted at Royal Marines, whose duties included safety at the small port at Warrenpoint, the victims were in fact a detachment of Paras, who were providing an extra company to the Queen's Own Highlanders, the battalion responsible for the bandit country of South Armagh.
The first bomb, about half a ton of explosive, killed six paras. The survivors, believing themselves to be under attack from across the border (the heat of the explosion having caused bullets and ammunition in the wrecked land rover to explode), returned fire across the water. A most unlucky civilian, a footman from the Queen's Household on holiday in Ireland was shot dead. (Independent reports afterwards confirmed sniper fire from the Republic). Immediately, the CO of the Queen's Own Highlanders scrambled with his signaller and medical team by helicopter from Bessbrook, a few miles to the north. Standard operational procedure required an incident command point to have been set up close to the explosion. Lt Col David Blair arrived to find that a stone gatehouse across the road from the old castle tower had been chosen.
His immediate concerns were to secure the area and evacuate the seriously wounded, which took time. He felt the gatehouse too obvious a location for the ICP and ordered those that could, to fall back further into the park behind the gatehouse (in the gateway bay opposite the castle tower in the top photograph, no longer there). But there was no time; the second explosion, half an hour after the first, was devastating (left). The IRA set it off just as a helicopter was taking off with wounded. Even larger than the first bomb, it destroyed the gatehouse and killed another twelve soldiers, including Lt Col Blair. Extraordinarily, the helicopter managed to just about escape the blast and ditch successfully, but the IRA's low cunning of second-guessing operational procedure had worked. To this day, the Queen's Own Highlander colonel is the highest ranked victim to have been killed in action by the IRA.
The Colonel's widow, together with many officers and Warrant Officers, marked the thirtieth anniversary of the horror last weekend. Services at Warrenpoint, at Ballykinlar and at Palace Barracks, Holywood were sombre occasions. But the drinking and carousing in honour of all the dead were less sombre. At a time when our armed forces are being starved of equipment whilst fighting unpopular and unwinnable wars, it gives us a melancholy pride to know that the tours of duty that we carried out in Ulster were done for a righteous cause, and were done superbly. It was said the Troubles could not be won militarily, but eventually the IRA sued for peace, by then infiltrated at every level and unable to sustain their war.
Friday, 11 September 2009
Thursday, 10 September 2009
Monday, 7 September 2009
Tuesday, 1 September 2009
Now and again, driving in the evening, I find myself listening to that odd duo, Radcliffe and Maconie on Radio 2. They seem to know their music. They have a thing called The Chain, where each song must be connected, in some way, to the previous show's 'Chain' song. Sometimes the link is obvious, sometimes tenuous, often quite complicated.
I am going to attempt a Blog Chain, to coin a phrase. Lilith did a post yesterday which she called #1 in an occasional series of her Desert Island Dance Tracks. It was the daddy of all rock and rollers, Chuck Berry, with Brown Eyed Handsome Man.
I could have headed off towards Van the Man with Brown Eyed Girl, or any song by that great duo the Handsome Family. You see how this works? But my song, continuing the chain, is the first single ever released by the Stones. It is Chuck Berry's Come On. Berry released it in October 1961; the Stones released their cover less than 2 years later, so it was still pretty fresh. Berry's original was a slightly slower tempo, so the Stones rocked it up a bit, but didn't try anything too fancy. Where Berry had short flashes of lead guitar, the Stones went with Brian Jones' harmonica. Perhaps Keith was still finding his feet. The rythm section sounds sublime, as ever. I always have this on the playlist when we are dancing in the tent here and it never disappoints.
Okay, who's going to take this chain further? Ideally, you do a post on your own blog (flag it up in the comments section here so we know where to go). I fully expect this chain to sprout in myriad directions, and still be going strong in a year's time. I think it would help if you posted the best YouTube version of it you can find. I have not been able to find live footage of this one; never mind.
Get those discs spinning, folks. Let's see where it leads.