Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Back to Life

Back to life, back to reality .... as Soul II Soul put it ages ago when I were a lad.

After a dozen or so days in London and nearly a week without the brood, I returned to Paris.

Chores, administration, duties. The stiff stuff of ordinariness.

Went out on Monday night in London with a mate from work. A pub called the Fellow. Fine place. Should be fined for the prices. A bag of crisps? £1.50.

I still think that is a lot of money but perhaps people who live in London don't think it is. Maybe I am cheap.

Anyway it was good to go out and do what journos are supposed to do. Gossip with colleagues.

Cycling to south London wasn't scheduled but that is probably good for me. Don't want to be too rigid. Not with The Guardian looking for voluntary redundancies before turning the wheels which could bring compulsory redundancies.

Stay flexible. Be ready to get on the bike to look for work as the tough talking Tory Norman Tebbit bellowed when I were a lad.

Back then I didn't have to wear glasses. Now I do. I picked up the new pair yesterday just before playing tennis. They are beautiful. But they were not cheap.

No wonder I complain about the price of crisps.

Sunday, 11 November 2012


It has got to be something significant to stir me to my blog.

Of course that shouldn't be the case. I should be at it every day. But there has been a lapse.

It shouldn't have happened and I will make amends.

The first reminder was a piece in The Times about blogging. It said that bloggers - if they are serious - should get on with it and produce every day. If it can't be much, it has to be something.

Right. And with that logic there's no excuses.

The second jolt - and this was slightly more tectonic - was church this morning and a little trip out onto the green patch outside the church for the Remembrance Day laying of the wreath.

I didn't look at the memorial. In fact I never knew it was there. But the congregation stood outside and sang a hymn ... Our rock in ages past ...and then we said a prayer or two to hail those who sacrificed all during the world wars so we could proceed to dishonour their efforts in our greedy, selfish society.

During two minutes silence, there was a little toddler who was being anything but silent. She was jittering around walking up to the wall and back again.

I thought where are the parents. Get a grip. But then I thought that really is a bit crusty. Internal tut tutting.  And ironic as we were marking people who'd died so that we weren't all living in year 70 of the thousand year reich.

Fortunately that game ended well before half time.

And during the moments of contemplation on the church green, I thought of school and my French teacher there. A bloke called Vic Baker. The mildest of chaps. He imposed no order in his lessons and they were boisterous affairs. I remember getting threatened by the bloke sitting next to me to give him the answers to a translation - otherwise he'd punch me.

It was a strange affirmation of my excellence because he knew that I was going to get the answer right. But - here's the thing - he didn't want all the answers because if he got too many correct, the teacher would have known that he'd been looking at my work. I later heard the boy had become a police man.

But Vic Baker probably knew what was going on. I once mentioned the disorder in the class to a school mate's dad.

The dad said that he was letting us all get away with it. And then recounted how back in a war day, the mild mannered French teacher was some top behind-the-lines commando.

Even though he was getting on, he could have wiped most of us out before we'd got to nous sommes.

Maybe it was just a story. But it was a good one. And one that I've kept with me all these years.

Vic Baker is probably long gone from this earth. But I smiled wryly at the toddler girl.

I've not been asked nor told to fight in a war. And probably am too old now to do so.

The fight - as the vicar later expounded - is to make sure that we strive as much as possible for peace.

I'd like to think of Vic as a youthful ruthless assassin, it contrasts so vividly with his meekness.

I won't forget.