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Tony Grist

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A Hunch Confirmed [Feb. 27th, 2017|05:30 pm]
Tony Grist
On the 6th of this month I posted a couple of pictures that seemed to relate to my father's wartime work with a RN bomb disposal unit. They show a bunch of sailors standing round a large hole in what I assume to be Romney Marsh (because that's where I know he was stationed) and the very big bomb that  came out of it.  Today I unearthed this...

It clearly belongs in the same sequence- and that's definitely my father in the centre in the naval officer's cap.

Here's what's stamped on the back...

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Memory Lapse [Feb. 27th, 2017|12:26 pm]
Tony Grist
I did it again.

Stuck the hose in the horses's water butt, walked away and thought about other things for a hour or so. I haven't been keeping tally but I think that's probably the fifth or sixth time.

It's only the field that gets flooded but even so I hate it that I'm wasting water...
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Dostoevsky's Greatest Admirer [Feb. 26th, 2017|10:44 am]
Tony Grist
The Brothers Karamazov was Stalin's favourite book. How odd. Somehow you don't think of that murderous lump curling up with a good book- and especially not one as weird and theological as this- but that's how it was. He was a great reader- typically getting through 500 pages a day- which is one hell of a lot- and his tastes in literature seem to hark back to the poet and seminarian he once was- before the power trip kicked in.  So what did this blower-up of churches make of Dostoevsky's Christian mysticsm? Quite a lot apparently- because his copy of the book survives and it's the chapters about the saintly Fr Zosima he seems to have studied most closely, underlining passages about murder, guilt and forgiveness with his coloured pencil. What can we make of it? Nothing really- nothing for sure- except that these questions engaged him. The chapter one might have expected him to home in on- Ivan's "poem" about the Grand Inquistor who seeks to relieve the world of the great burden of thought- goes unmarked. Was it too close to home or did he baulk at gifting posterity with anything too self-revelatory?

The remnants of Stalin's library have, apparently, found their way into Vladimir Putin's private office- and Putin, when he has nothing better to do- likes to take volumes from the shelf and discuss Stalin's underlinings with his visitors. Those are sessions it would be good to sit in on.

Do you think Trump reads Dostoevsky?
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Waterloo 1970 [Feb. 25th, 2017|04:18 pm]
Tony Grist
The logistics. Simply, the logistics of the thing. It's a battle movie on the scale of the original battle. The director, Sergei Bondarchuk who had just filmed War and Peace-  brought much of the Red Army with him. It's one of the few war movies where a panoramic sweep of the battlefield shows soldiers as far as the eye can see- and everyone of them a living breathing human being.  There's no fudging, no trickery. According to Wikipedia Bondarchuk had 15,000 infantry and 2,000 cavalry at his disposal plus 50 stunt riders. It had never been done on this scale before and couldn't be done today. There's no Red Army any longer and modern armies don't come cheap.

Besides, they'd use CGI. And it's not the same.

The action is a little slow but that doesn't bother me. I like slow- and always have done. And no, it doesn't last as long as the original battle.  Bondarchuk- or his producers- is guilty of jazzing things up a bit- all those fireballs and roaring petroleum-fed conflagrations; the real thing would have been a little less whooshy- more smoke, less flame.  And while the movie  doesn't slide over the cost of war it never adequately represents what cannon balls and grapeshot do to the human body.

The acting is variable. Christopher Plummer is memorably good as Wellington- and gets most of the best lines (the real Wellington was a great slinger-out of one-liners) but Rod Steiger is too pouchy and too much the grey-faced New Yorker to convince as Napoleon; this isn't someone you'd march behind to Moscow and back. Jack Hawkins is an endearing presence, ditto Terence Alexander, but mainly the supporting cast have little to do but stand around being stalwart- or if they're supposed to be French- shout while covered in mud. The odd little humorous or pathetic interludes- notably those featuring Declan Donnelly as a Jack the Lad squaddie- feel shoe-horned in.  Pity- given this was an International co-production and so much was spent on getting the uniforms right- that they couldn't see their way to employing any actual Frenchies or have them speak their own lingo.

But all that's beside the point. You watch because you want to see men and horses marching and galloping en masse- because you want to see the widescreen chock-full of gorgeous uniforms-  a spectacle the likes of which the world is never going to witness again.  Please God.
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For Sale [Feb. 25th, 2017|10:06 am]
Tony Grist
It's in the news this morning that Eastbourne Council is planning to sell off the farmland around Beachy Head- which it purchased in 1929 with money raised by public subscription.

The idea was to hold the land in perpetuity, with strict controls over its use and guaranteed rights of public access.

Perpetuity turns out to mean less than a hundred years.

It so happens we were up on Beachy Head yesterday afternoon- and I was- among other things- admiring the plaques that record the purchase and thinking, "Well done, Eastbourne."

This morning my opinion of the town and its Council is a little less enthusiastic.





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Next Time I'm Going To Chelmsford. The Cubicles Have Prettier Curtains... [Feb. 24th, 2017|09:38 am]
Tony Grist
Earlier this week we took my mother to Maidstone hospital for a routine eye check-up and the following day she got a call from their robot asking her if she'd recommend them to someone undergoing the same procedure.

I mean, what a silly question. It implies there's a choice. I know the Tories think the NHS should be run like a market, but really....

My mother went to Maidstone because it's the nearest hospital with an anti-veg clinic. I suppose she could have looked around and weighed up the pros and cons and opted for somewhere else a good deal further away but who in their right mind- or without the use of a private helicopter- is going to do that?
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Doris [Feb. 23rd, 2017|10:29 am]
Tony Grist
When did Doris become a comedy name? Is it all down to Doris Day? Most classical Greek names have a certain fizz to them but Doris is as flat as week old lemonade.

Anyway, Storm Doris is here. Winds of 94 mph have been recorded and commensurate damage done, but not locally, I think. Here it just got a bit noisy. Later I'll have a stroll round the fields to see if anything substantial has been broken. We were expecting Julia to come and do some gardening but she's stayed away; sensible woman.
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Take Your Pick [Feb. 22nd, 2017|12:13 pm]
Tony Grist
A British jihadi who was locked up in Gitmo for a couple of years blows himself up in Iraq and...

Depending on what media site you feel comfortable with....

Either the Americans were right to lock him up and if they'd been thinking straight they'd have thrown away the key.

or

a monstrous miscarrage of justice took place and it's no wonder the man became radicalised.

or

The security services let us all down and what we need is more surveillance....
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66, But Still Handy With A Screwdriver [Feb. 22nd, 2017|11:25 am]
Tony Grist
Bloody toilet seat in bloody bathroom finally came unscrewed. It's been threatening to do this for days. Good news is I still have whatever it takes to get down on the floor, figure out where all the silly little washers go and screw it back on again.
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It's A Job, But A Pretty Crap One. [Feb. 21st, 2017|12:33 pm]
Tony Grist
One of our more or less regular carers- middle-aged, Bulgarian- has quit the agency to work for Tesco.  And why not? The care job is a zero hours contract, lots of driving, no allowance for wear and tear on the worker's car. Our even more regular carer- also Bulgarian and middle-aged- has a client who's going away for a while- which means she loses the hours and the money- with no way of getting redress...
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