Friday, 30 November 2007

The Light Interlude

Well the strikes according to me made its appearance in the guardianweekly podcast and in comparison with the other items on the show, mine was decidedly the most interesting.

No I joke. It was the least beefy of the pieces. There was stuff about George Bush's Annapolis extravaganza, the election result in Australia and a look at Anglo-Soviet shenanigans a year after the poisoning in London of the ex-KGB spy Alexander Litvinenko.

Just before I went into the studio on Monday, my interviewer, Isobel Montgomery, was talking to Ghaith Abdul-Ahad from Baghdad.

He was on a visit to London and had just dropped into the Guardian to say hello to a few people but once word got around that he was in, he was all over the shop giving interviews.

Ever considerate about other people's needs to go and hit the joys of Selfridges, I didn't delay him with another plea for an interview. After all this is not that kind of blog.

Well, what on earth is this kind of blog? Simple really. It's just an airy reflection on a life spent between two of the juiciest cities on earth.

There are plenty of places to find perspicacious insights into the onset of armageddon. But for the moment I'm keeping it breezy.

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

The Buy-Off

Hurtling through northern France on High Speed 1 — or HS1 as I constantly see in the brochures — I wonder if I’m a one.

I’ve been musing on atavistic parochialism.

How could this in any way be related to moi? I live and work between Paris and London; I studied French and German at university, hell I’ve even lived in Karlsruhe.

But when it comes down to it. Am I just a south London boy at heart?

What launched me on this quest for inner enlightenment was Sunday night. I arrived at the flat where I grew up and the calf injury sustained during my self-styled heroics on the football field on Saturday morning began to feel better.

Is there a mystical energy in Streatham that revivifies the locals? Perhaps. But at any rate its centripetal forces didn’t replenish me enough to be able to run for a bus on Monday morning. It was more of Quasimodo like gallop.

But on Monday morning I did feel considerably better. And then there was the preparation for the podcast interview on the south bank and a plangent cry for the lost terminal at Waterloo. Face facts Paul. You're Clapham-born and Streatham-bred.

It might explain my brooding brow during the journey to St Pancras International from home in south London. It is much longer. But I cannot argue about the voyage to central Paris — that is spectacularly shorter.

And it’s going to get sweeter the longer the Business Premier Lounge is under construction at St Pancras International.

Outside the room where it will be eventually housed, there was a long table containing a crop of national newspapers.

Genial Eurostar staff ushered travellers to the fruit bowls and soft drinks on the flank and a particularly well-groomed young Eurostar suit was spending time apologising to an equally well-buffed woman.

“How long is it going to take to finish?” she inquired.

“Well, two weeks ago it was completed,” lounged the suit. “But then there were some problems with the heating. And the thing is with this building….and quite rightly so…you can’t touch anything without English Heritage being there. So that’s what’s causing the delay. We hope it will be ready before Christmas.”

Maybe HS1 really stands for High Smarm One.

The way he was looking at this lady, you felt he’d like to obtain her telephone number for heritage purposes.

And who could blame him for she did indeed look lovely even at six in the morning.

As I went to get my bottle of water I thought that his kind of smooth patter deserved its rewards.

But that was before I encountered the mother of all pitches.

I was handed a large white envelope. It didn’t contain money sadly but a message from the chief executive Richard Brown.

“Dear traveller," it began chummily.

"Welcome to St Pancras International and thank you for choosing to travel with Eurostar today.

"I am delighted that you are among the very first of our valued travellers to benefit from high speed train travel, direct from the centre of London to Continental Europe.”

Well obviously there I’d disagree since St Pancras International doesn’t seem that central to me. But this is about me embracing fresh concepts and spaces.

“At the present moment finishing touches are being made to our new Business Premier Lounge, so I am very sorry that this service is not available for you today.

"I would like to offer my sincere apologies for the natural inconvenience and disappointment.

"I hope you will accept the enclosed gift voucher as a gesture of apology and thanks for your understanding for the delay to the opening of the Lounge.”

Said voucher is for a gift box of fine wines and I am to contact Tordoffs, Eurostar’s wine importers, to arrange delivery.

Well that’s mighty neighbourly as a Western gunslinger might intone.

But could I be won over by such crude gimmickry? While I was on the cusp of succumbing I thought a glib renaming of the Bee Gees song — How cheap is your love? might bolster my scepticism.

No. Not really. It's too good a deal.

Not even a staunch south London boy can look a northern gift box in the mouth.

Especially if that's where the contents will end up.

Monday, 26 November 2007

The Self-Promotion

It was just like being interviewed for a radio show. The wonderful world of podcasts. There was a little studio on the fifth floor at 119 Farringdon Road and there I was asked about the travails of the strike.

What was it like? And what will happen next? There was nothing new to say. But at least I was saying it in a new venue.

I went to the National Film Theatre on the south bank cafe to collect my thoughts before going in for the chat. It was a bright morning, the sun reflecting vividly on the snake of buildings on the north side.

I'll miss my Sunday mornings in Waterloo. Perhaps I need to take a Sunday morning and walk around St Pancras Interntaional. I might discover its charms.

Sunday, 25 November 2007

The New Era

Two hours and 25 minutes? That’s barely enough time to read some of the papers and start writing something worthwhile.

Oh the joys of travelling between Paris and London. It was my first journey on the Eurostar since the London terminal was shunted up to St Pancras International on November 14.

Thanks to the debilitating virus which rendered me less than vigorous for a couple of weeks, one of the biggest transformations in British communications has passed me by.

But I've lived the change. I looked out of the train window and saw the darkness of the Channel tunnel. So not much change there.

The Frequent Traveller Lounge in Paris wasn’t at all like I remembered it before my illness.

There were Sunday papers. So I got a hold of the Sunday Times. Needless to say there were articles about England’s midweek loss to Croatia.

The debacle has quite rightly been weighing on the brightest brains in English sports journalism.

What’s been exercising my mind since the defeat has been just how long my boy is going to be affected by the gastro going round his crèche.

At about 3.15am on Thursday morning he woke up and started coughing. It progressed as smoothly as the passing in the Croatian midfield into regurgitating the previous night’s supper.

I wondered if he’d somehow witnessed England’s abject performance at Wembley and was giving his response.

But no this was an intermittent tummy bug.

On Thursday night his rejection of the evening’s supper arrived at 11.15pm — a much more convenient time for parents.

He and bits of his cot were mopped up and he was back in bed and sleeping before you could say: “Don’t back off the Croatian midfielder….. he’s going to shoot from 25 yards."

On Friday morning I fed him his Cornflakes and did my impression of the England defence.

Nothing shot out so he was taken along to the crèche. Since then he’s been fine. It’s been my turn for affliction.

I played football on Saturday morning for the first time in about three weeks. I only had about 30 minutes in me but because we only had 11 players I realised I had to prepare myself for 90 minutes.

My mistake was to go to my usual slot in right midfield. You need legs for that and 40 minutes in they’d gone.

I went up front. I truly love it up front. Especially the dream state it allows me to enter. Once embedded I can continue my delusion of running angles à la Hernán Crespo. Sure enough we went in at half time 2-1 up. I did not score but I truly believe it was my sly canter which pulled the defender out of position and gave the skipper the chance to shoot and score.

As I was eased through the lush Kent countryside on what has now been dubbed High Speed 1 — or HS1 as the Euro initiated call it — I still felt that my header against the crossbar when we were 2-1 up was pivotal.

If it had gone in, I don’t think they would have come back. As it was 15 minutes later they were 3-2 up. It came back to 3-3 and in a diabolical decision I was deemed to have fouled the goalkeeper in the prelude to one of our team scoring a fourth.

I still maintain that the goalkeeper got to a 50-50 ball cleared it poorly and then hit me.

But the ref didn’t see it that way. In fact the ref didn’t see a blatant foul on one of our players before the other side scored their third goal.

What fascinated me was the amount of kicks the other side dished out and how all these middle aged blokes, many of whom probably spend a good part of their week behind a desk, went about the pitch proclaiming that football is a physical game.

You take a look at some of them and think: You may well be right and what about your physique?

As for my own, I went into the match worrying about my left hamstring. I was pleased to emerge with said hamstring alive and twanging concordantly.

It’s my right calf that’s not so clever. I think I was kicked there as I was shielding the ball to bring a teammate into play.

Or is this my way of saying I overdid it?

I must say out of the window it looked all very industrial wasteland. They're lucky the train is going at more than 180mph you don't want to feast your eyes on this strip of urban disintegration. At least the apocalyptic vista is soon replaced by a tunnel which is far beneath north-east London.

When I was a reporter at the Guardian I once went down the sewers in north-east London. Can’t remember what the story was about. I’ll have to fish it out of my cuttings book.

Maybe the boss on the newsdesk didn’t like me and hoped I’d get lost down there. Strangely enough I came back.

And like a woft from the fetid waterways so have Croatia.

England have been drawn in the same qualifying group as them for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

What are the chances of that happening?

Probably astronomical.

The cost of doing up St Pancras International was high too and I’m not overly impressed. Maybe it had something to do with my dodgy calf and having to walk from carriage 14 all the way to the exit which seemed like it was mile away. From now on I shall book tickets in the first five carriages on the way to London.

There also seemed to be another 300 miles to negotiate to reach the streets.

And Euston Road doesn’t quite have the same allure as the National Film Theatre, the Hayward Gallery and the view onto the north bank of the river Thames.

Oh I’m being nostalgic perhaps. No I think I'm being logical.

Begone thoughts of yesteryear. I must acquaint myself with change. A bit like the average French train driver and his pension plan.

I’ve been invited onto a Guardian podcast on Monday to talk about the strikes in Paris. I have said as long as I can make a blatant plug for what I’ve been writing about in the blog.

It mustn’t be too political, I’ve been told. Me political? Not likely. If there’s a chance of self-promotion, just lead me to the bland lands.

Maybe I’ll meet some of England’s footballers there.

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

The End

The Frog and Rosbif near Les Halles has a fantastic big screen but deeply dodgy wine. But I go there to watch the football and not because of the quality of their grapes.

But after seeing England lose 3-2 to Croatia, I won't even bother to whine. Coming back from 2-0 down to 2-2 was heartening. Then to capitulate was just the kind of drama one needed like a poor wine.

So England won't be performing in Austria and Switzerland. This is exercising lots of people on Radio 5 Live's phone-in programme at the moment.

I'm pretty sure the police forces of Austria and Switzerland must be jumping up and down with joy. They won't have to deal with fans rampaging their way round the mountains.

The golden generation fails to shine. Oh woe. But maybe not. There's now talk about radical overhauls in England.

They're talking on the radio about changes at grass roots level. I love that phrase "grass roots".

If they are going to revamp at that level, then one thing's for sure. I'm not likely to see a winning team for another 20 years or so.

Oh well. Time to adopt another country. Any ideas? How about France? Not a bad choice Paul especially since I live here.

There was a small screen in the pub which was showing the Ukraine v France match and the French were cruising. They'd already qualified courtesy of Italy beating Scotland on Saturday.

And there couldn't have been a bigger contrast. England labouring, France polished.

Well at least Britain isn't under the cosh of a transport strike.

But then loads of French people don’t have to go and check their bank accounts because the government has lost computer discs containing sensitive details about who receives child benefit payments.

The British government's customs and revenue department has done this. And I have to make sure no one is pilfering through the billions in my bank account because of this blunder.

I want compensation for the mental turmoil I've been put under because of this catastrophe.

As for the anguish caused because of England's footballers, I don't think there's a currency to repay that kind of loss.

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

The Teachers

I was listening to the Cocteau Twins this evening and I thought of John Peel. God rest his soul. It was on his BBC Radio 1 programmes back in the early 80 that I first heard the band.

Wonder what has become of them. As part of my rehabilitation, me and my girl watched North By Northwest last night. She likes James Mason and I like Cary Grant's suaveness.

On the DVD there was a special feature introduced by Eva Marie Saint relating how Hitchcock went about making the film. Fascinating stuff especially since the next film he made was The Birds.

I don't think now is the time to go into Hitch's predilection for ice-cold blondes and menace.

But actually perhaps now is the time to continue the theme of threat. This was my second day of interaction with the strikes.

And I think the teachers did the road users a big favour. They were having a day of action in protest over rising class sizes and their general conditions.

This meant that one or other of the parents had to stay home and guard their offspring which, I assume, led to fewer people out and about.

Before going off the to radio station, the entire family stepped out for the park but the rain curtailed that jaunt. And we repaired to a cafe nearby.

I left everyone at Eric's as he was at home looking after his two children while his partner went off to work.

It seems to me the teachers, rather than increasing pressure on Sgt Major Sarko, actually let him off the hook. The atrocity of the train and metro strike was undermined rather than exacerbated.

Forget the special privileges of the transport lot. Commuters can get on their bikes, into cars and they can even walk to circumnavigate scant public transport.

But if the teachers go medieval, the current woe will look like a folk dance. If there is no school, a swathe of society will be helpless. You won't be able to go out and hire a nanny just like that — they're quite expensive and the ones who might not be pricey, might not be altogether legal.

So where does that leave you?

In my opinion the Sgt Major can stand as tough as he wants against train drivers but he ought to keep the teachers well onside.

Which brings me on to Wednesday night's qualifying games for Euro 2008. England are at home to Croatia, needing a draw to go through to next summer's tournament in Austria and Switzerland. Croatia have already advanced, but a win for the away side and a Russian victory over Andorra and it's a no show for England's finest.

I must admit I am in a quandary about this. England perennially fail to do anything significant and it's been agonising watching them dwindle just as they should be emerging as titans.

If they're not even there then I can just get on and observe objectively.

I will venture out to watch the boys.

This is the kind of collective experience I need to be part of.

Monday, 19 November 2007

The Return

Ooh la la, c'est la préhistoire.

I was chirping this little rhyme as I cycled home this evening.

I think that travelling in Paris is barbaric at the best of times but since the transport strikes it's become a jungle.

The social order has broken down. There are throngs of pedestrians spilling onto the cycle paths. Serried ranks of cyclists bunch up and jump red lights en masse and what's playing out is a symphony of despair.

It was my first day in the midst of the mayhem and I have to say that certain roads weren't as busy as I'd expected.

I was primed this morning at the crèche. The director asked if I could help her out by keeping the boy at home on Tuesday because the teachers are on strike. One of the crèche assistants has got children in school and there's no one to look after them.

The other assistants can't make it because they live so far away..........and there's not much in the way of transport. So the ramifications come down and tweak my nose.


Saturday, 17 November 2007

The Game

As it happened I went to play poker on Friday night. A complete amateur with people who knew what they were doing.

Most of them did. There were two others who hadn't played before and really how difficult is it to lose money? We started at around 11pm.

By midnight I was starting to wilt physically but the problem was that I'd made more than my 10 euro buy in. I thought that leaving at 1220 with about 16 euros wasn't really the way to go about bonding with the guys.

So I set about losing it and I must say I was successful. I was out by 1.50am. The first to go but I felt I'd done enough to show to myself that I could play and win. And play and lose.

I think poker has come to me too late in life. There are so many other places to lose and gain money. I just don't see me being seduced by this game to such an extent that I'd forsake football on Saturday morning and take this up on a regular monthly basis.

But at least I learned bit about Texas ringjack or whatever it was I scalped myself with such aplomb.

I returned home to find a boy in a state of misery. He had his triple shot for measles, mumps and rubella about 10 days ago and as the doctor said at the time, if he's going to be unwell it should be in 10 days time.


So he's taken to waking up and just screaming. Some real hearty bawling. But as I'm recovering from a debilitating virus I am on hand or bended knee to soak up and salve this kind of cacophony.

I took him from his cot and put him on the sofa while I cosied myself into the cushion complex on the floor and listened into the BBC World Service on the earphones.

He calmed down and I went to sleep. This boy doesn't bluff. Why go out and seek thrills when you can stay home and live on the edge?

I got a letter from Eurostar today telling me that they haven't yet completed the lounge for frequent travellers at St Pancras International.

Apparently the station has got the longest champagne bar in this corner of the cosmos but as yet no lounge for the hapless souls who take the train on a regular basis.

As long as the vast majority are happily sloshed.

I've been offered a couple of complimentary drinks to ease me through this inconvenience, says the letter.

I must admit I only gave the missive a cursory glance when it arrived and ought to study it in more detail. My initial feeling was billions have been spent on a lavish refurbishment and the lounge isn't finished. How does this happen?

Odd. Especially since emails over the past few months have been telling how Waterloo is going to meet its eponymous end and St Pancras International is the zipping place. Only takes 2hrs and 15 minutes. That's not really enough time to fulminate about having to fraternise with the hoi polloi before boarding the train.

But that might be good for me. I'll really appreciate the ace facility when it is finally opened.

On the subject of aces, I've been watching the Tennis Masters from Shanghai.

Sport+ brings it to us about 11 hours after the matches have happened. So there's no element of suspense since I've already seen the results on the event's website.

Still I've been impressed with the abilities of Roger Federer to play averagely and still end up in Sunday's final. But I guess that kind of thing tends to happen when you're world number one.

Though Saturday's semi final saw a straight sets victory over Rafael Nadal, I just know that come June it will be Nadal lifting the Roland Garros trophy. But that's then and on clay. It will be interesting to see if the Swiss can overcome David Ferrer who's in his first major final on Sunday.

Ferrer's got nothing to lose even though he has never beaten Federer. It might be a case of beginner's luck.

A bit like me and the poker.

Friday, 16 November 2007

The Bubble

There’s never been a better time to be recovering from a debilitating virus. The exaggerator in me would like to say a life-threatening debilitating virus.

Ronald Reagan was known as “The Great Communicator”, I’d like the moniker of The Great Exaggerator.

But that would jeopardise my future writings. Who would believe in me? Who believes in me now?

Anyway, now is not the time for ontological doubt. Or perhaps it is as I recover from a debilitating illness.

The doc has said I have to take it easy if I want to return to full fitness. So go easy on everything…like swimming.

I asked about yoga. She said see how you feel.

So I went along on Thursday night. I felt less flexible than before but given what I’ve just gone through, I’m just happy that I feel. Perhaps I exaggerate.

During the same consultation with the medics (it has a war zone ring to it) I thought it prudent not to ask about playing football this Saturday.

I want the doctor to take me seriously.

With that thought in mind, I declined the offer to go and play poker on Friday night. There’ll be about eight guys there. There’ll be pizza. Good pizza too as one of the players is the owner of the pizza house venue.

There’ll be beers and smoke. In essence all the things that make men men.

No wonder that I thought this would be an ideal opportunity to acquire some hunkiness.

The snag to this latter-day quest for machismo is the 1030pm start. We’re in France so is that 1030 for 11?

As I’m virtually horizontal at 10pm at the moment, I don’t think it’s for me. You need energy to bluff and that’s not something I’ve got in abundance. I have no doubt I can bluff. The boys plan to do it on a monthly basis and this is something I’d dearly love to do. High stakes (50 euros), testosterone, pizza, beer, smoke.

But even when back to full heartiness, 1030pm or so is a bit late especially with a 9.30am kick off on Saturday morning. And I have a commitment to greatness on the football field especially since I’m doing the yoga to assist me in my quest for balletic exploits on the pitch.

Helas. The choices.

The poker crisis helped me to realise what a jolly bubble I’m living in. This whole strike is passing me by.

In years to come I’ll be asked: “What did you do during the strike?”

I’ll have no answer because I’m a strike profiteer. I’ve not suffered at all. I have no tales about 20 mile traffic jams; scuffles in the metro; punch-ups in the cycle lanes or anything like that.

I’m in a state of serenity and this has little to do with the yoga. I heard that the disruptions might go on until November 26. Surely that’s just a nasty rumour.

Jamie – owner of the pizza restaurant and instigator of the poker night – reckons one of the big rubber companies is fomenting the dissent.

Since I thought I’d been struck down by germs introduced into the atmosphere by international terrorists, I’m inclined to be open to a plethora of theories. After all it is possible, well, the former is at any rate.

I do know that what we’re living through is a terror. There’s fear of change. There’s fear of accepting the reality. L’exception francaise has been proudly promulgated as one of the wonders of the modern world. It shouldn’t work but it has been.

But its moment is over. That might elicit schadenfreude in many quarters; I don’t feel there’s anything to mourn. Maybe that’s because I’m not French.

But even as a Francophile, it’s easy to see that l’exception has had a good innings and now it’s time to advance in a different way.

My second job as a journalist was at the Nottingham Evening Post. Back in the late 80’s it was still possible to witness the devastation on the Nottinghamshire villages of the pit closures. Once the colliery was gone, there was nothing. It was barren. You could taste the desolation as you drove in. What else could they do? They readapted for sure.

But since then I’ve always been sceptical about any politician who says that change is an easily manageable phenomenon. I don’t believe that it is.

What are people angry about here at the moment? Not about not working but about their spending power after they’ve been working. That’s a fair concern. But it’s hard to win people over to your cause if they’ve never had a job.

Even from my vantage point of Chez Prune after dropping off the boy at crèche, it’s fairly clear that change is necessary in France. Sgt Major Sarko isn’t a genius by predicating an entire political life on that. What’s striking is that his political adversaries haven’t tried to manoeuvre onto this ground because that is where the future obviously lies.

Disruption, transport chaos, street protests it’s really the last hurrah of the ancien régime.

The terror comes next.

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

The Showdown

You knew it was going to happen. It was just a question of when. Students are it. Gas and electricity workers are at it. And the bus and train drivers are too.

It's strike time. And the country starts its meltdown. When was the election? 200 years ago? No but six months ago and as far as I remember, there was an overwhelming poll for the Sgt Major.

He told everyone what he wanted to do while the socialists were committing hari-kiri. And the majority lapped it up, well they voted for him.

There were always going to be those who were going to attack outside the ballot box and I suppose this is their moment.

It's all being offered as the battle of toughness. The Sgt Major and his überreformer persona V the benighted.

The thing is if the Sgt Major loses then what? More of what we had under President Chirac? And if the special privileges are maintained? Well it will be the majority paying for the few.

It's intriguing. Waiting for the denouements is fascinating. Well that's because it's not my pension at stake. That's because I don't need to travel today.

Me, me, me. Good grief this stuff is catching.

Saturday, 10 November 2007

The Future

Parisian traffic notwithstanding, I should live long enough to show the boy the correct way to watch the six Star Wars films.

I've been merely struck down by a virus, the doctor told me this morning after my latest trip to her surgery.

Though I will live for at least another few years, I am weakened and I've been told to avoid work for a few weeks.

This recuperation, of course, coincides with the huge changes that are happening with Eurostar.

Sunday would have been my last journey into Waterloo from Paris and the return on Tuesday morning, one of the last out of the terminus before it closes to Eurostar services on November 14.

But thanks to sickness I can forget about the swan songs and nostalgia. The next time I go to London for work it will be on the new super fast line into St Pancras International. Twenty minutes will be hacked from the journey time, I'll descend at a "destination station" and more importantly Britain will be part of a vibrant high speed European network.

Blighty's only been a decade in the catching up but it has at least arrived.

I'm just curious to see when Eurostar will increase the prices as their way of helping the travellers lap up the splendours of this brave new world.

Friday, 9 November 2007

The Decree

Creativity is supposed to flow during illness, says one line of literary ideology. Oh dear.

It's true that I've not committed anything to paper of late. But I have been productive.

I've generated samples on demand for various doctors and chemists. I have doused the sheets in rivers of sweat and as for my interactions with the toilet......

Still don't know what's wrong. I went to the doc on Thursday after a few days sleeping. She got me to walk through the waiting room with a little plastic beaker — which I did with a nonchalant dignity.

I offered some liquid into said beaker and walked back through the waiting room. People in waiting rooms have nothing better to do than look I guess. I decided it was the dashing pink Oxford shirt and light chinos combination that was catching their attention and not the hapless sap on the way back from his first instant urine sample at the doctor's surgery.

Today's blood test was more straightfoward. I dropped the boy off at creche. Forewent the coffee at Chez Prune and went into the lab. They had really good music on. Some classy jazz and there was a Nespresso machine available for general use just outside the cells where they deprive you of your blood.

I said to the doc as I left her cell: "You've got great music here. Please pass on the compliment to the boss."

She was genuinely pleased that someone had noticed. Clearly they must have had a recent meeting to discuss how people can be made to lose their vital juices in a much more harmonious environment.

The silky sounds of jazz.

"On the jazz" is a phrase often used in the A Team. It is supposed to denote a plan or series of schemes of impudent simplicity.

So the leader of the A Team, Col John "Hannibal" Smith, would often be praised for being "on the jazz".

And having used this opportunity of sickness to watch certain episodes from season 2, my only conclusion is that Stephen J Cannell, the co-creator of this particular 80s classic, has been on the jazz for many years.

Because I've been sleeping at times when I'm usually awake, I've been left awake at times when I'm usually asleep.

And for these junctures, I've wheeled out the Rockford Files starring James Garner. Recuperation is a joyous process.

The Rockford Files — which Cannell sired in the mid-seventies — are just such timeless vignettes of how to elude pomposity and venom.

Listening to Rockford talk his way out of a putative dead end has sent me off to sleep with a smile.

This bout of enclosure has also helped me solve a question which I posed a few months ago in and I think I have the answer.

The viewing of the Star Wars episodes has definitely got to be chronological even though I've just rewatched episodes IV, V and VI chiming in and out of consciousness.

True, because of this I've missed quite important slabs of denouement. But since I know the story quite well, I can safely decree the boy child — when he is of a decent age — will be shown episodes I, II, III, then after a day's rest— IV, V and VI.

I shall not turn.

If my present ailments do not allow me the force to actually perform this task myself, then it shall be put into my will.

Shares in houses and insurance funds are one thing.

Appreciating Star Wars is a matter of galactic import.