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Tony Grist

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National Mythology In The Making [Jun. 20th, 2018|12:38 pm]
Tony Grist
Peter had to get into a cupboard in our bedroom so I emptied it and took the contents down to the patio to sort through.

I found....

Item: a bunch of snapshot photos from my mother's childhood.

Item: a collection of chuldren's books- dating from the late Victorian era through to Roger Hargreaves, one of them a picture book printed in the Soviet Union.

Item: A collection of small toys- mostly busted.

And this....

An account of The Battle of Britain published by the Ministry of Information on behalf of The Air Ministry in 1941. It was priced at sixpence each or, if you were bulk buying, 50 copies for £1. I wonder how many are still knocking around?

On the inside front cover is this quote from The Prime Minister

"The gratitude of every home in our Island, in our Empire, and indeed throughout the world, except in the abodes of the guilty, goes out to British airmen, who, undaunted by odds, unwearied in their constant challenge and mortal danger, are turning the tide of world war by their prowess and devotion. Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few."
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The Closing Engagements Of A Pointless War [Jun. 19th, 2018|10:17 am]
Tony Grist
William Hague (who I find it hard to think of as "Lord" Hague- remembering as I do the water splash and the baseball cap) is calling for the legalisation of recreational cannabis. If only he'd done it while he was still in office- and in a position to move things along.

But if the squarest man in Britain is for legalisation the thing itself can't be far away.

Legalisation will come. It's bound to come. It's long overdue. The War on Drugs (instituted, I believe, by Richard Nixon) has been a gigantic folly. And cruel, cruel, cruel....
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Living On A Building Site [Jun. 18th, 2018|05:34 pm]
Tony Grist
The bathroom sink has gone, so has the bidet which the cat used as a cat bed. Two bathroom cabinets have come down; I sorted through them yesterday and they were full of things nobody was using- including my father's shaving kit. We have an upstairs toilet for the time being (which is nice) and the bath is still in position because it's made of cast iron and the only way Peter says he'll get it out is in pieces. He'll see to that tomorrow; he warns us it'll be noisy.

The last time we let ourselves in for serious building work was in Oldham. That was much grimmer than this: for one thing it was far more extensive, for another it took place in winter. On the other hand we were younger and more resilient.
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More From Woburn Abbey [Jun. 18th, 2018|10:09 am]
Tony Grist

The Cedar of Lebanon between the North and South Courts

The North Court.
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More Home Improvements [Jun. 18th, 2018|09:23 am]
Tony Grist
 So I've taken everything moveable out of the bathroom and Peter, the bathroom fitter, is about to remove all the fixtures- and then we'll be without a bathroom for a fortnight or so. What larks. 

We'll still have a shower and a downstairs toilet.

Unfortunately my mother hates taking a shower....
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You Never Know What They'll Take Home With Them [Jun. 17th, 2018|11:19 am]
Tony Grist
 My daughter and eldest son were talking about the time I took them as children to see the bog body known as Lindow Man in the Manchester Museum. To this day Alice says she can remember everything about him: how he looked (all leathery), what he had for his last meal (some sort of nasty porridge) and how he died (the ritual triple death: garrotted, throat cut and smacked on the head with an axe).

We saw the Egyptian mummies too- but they were less real, she says, less in your face, less awesomely dead.

I didn't think twice about it at the time. I reckoned I was furthering their education (as indeed I was). It didn't occur to me that I was taking them to see the body of a murder victim.

You never know what children are going to take away from any given experience.

I went round Woburn Abbey yesterday with my eldest grandchild, Ivy, who is six. If we hadn't had a worksheet to slow us down we'd have been in and out in five minutes. Thanks to the worksheet, with its questions and exercises, we spent time listing the animals in the murals in the Blue Drawing Room, counting the Canalettos (there are twenty five in all) and looking for specific items in the magnificent dolls house (we never found the hairbrush).  She impressed me enormously by identifying all five senses personified by the dainty desmoiselles on an 18th century screen.

I wonder what she'll remember of it all....
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Woburn Abbey [Jun. 17th, 2018|10:01 am]
Tony Grist

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Ants [Jun. 15th, 2018|10:33 am]
Tony Grist

How did they know that a cupboard halfway up the wall is where we keep the honey, jam and sugar?

They can smell it, I suppose.

But from outside the house?

Evidently. Or perhaps they sent their scouts in to do a general reconnaissance and they found it after taking a good look at everything.

Ants are awesome. 

Ailz says we should wipe the shelves down with peppermint oil because they hate the smell- so that's what I've done.
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Lawnmowers, Strimmers And A Touch Of Romance [Jun. 14th, 2018|12:27 pm]
Tony Grist
 Matthew arrived with two young people and set the garden to rights. They cut the lawns while he did the weeding.

When Julia says she's going to do the weeding  she means she'll be picking her way daintily through the flower beds with a trowel.  When Matthew says it he means he's going to lay into everything that doesn't move with a strimmer. 

Sometimes I have dreams of doing artistic  things with the garden. And then, after Julia has been absent for three weeks, Matthew shows up mob-handed and throws petrol at the problem. 

But then gardening isn't really my thing. I get pleasure from the unplanned occurrences- like mint turning up in the flower beds and evening primrose colonising the crazy paving by the donkey shed. 

"Oh, look," said Ailz, "One of his men is a girl."

They were a sweet young couple. "So, said Ailz, "Are you just friends or an item?"

""We're friends and an item" said the girl. "Best friends."

She had a new ring. A thick copper band. He's a blacksmith- and had made it for her. It was turning her finger green.

"Copper is good," said Ailz. "medicinal."

"I've worn a copper bangle for years," I said,. "For my arthritis."
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Emergency Gardening [Jun. 13th, 2018|09:19 am]
Tony Grist
The gardeners haven't been for three weeks. There are reasons for this. Reasons familiar to any small business. You pause operations for personal or family reasons- an illness, a bereavement- and the jobs pile up, your casual labour seeks employment elsewhere and your life is made unpleasant by disgruntled clients.

I understand, I do.

But you leave a mature garden unattended for three weeks in the growing season and you're on your way to recreating the environment of Sleeping Beauty's castle. 

I don't really like to intervene. I don't like trespassing on the domain of the professionals- but needs must.

I was out this morning with my shears and rake.

Isn't bindweed wonderful? It'll climb anything that's to hand- even a nettle, even another bindweed stem. There's also a woody, sticky plant that's almost as prolific. It's straggled all through the wild roses.  As I chopped and pulled I was suddenly hit by a wave of mintyness. How did that get in there? No-one invited  it. Never mind, it can stay. I'm not pulling up mint.

Earlier this year Julia and I discussed plans for the vegetable patch, but they've been preempted by wild Nature. You can barely get in there anymore- and much of the new growth is nettles and thistles.  Still, if  If you edge down what was once  the path you eventually happen upon currants and gooseberries. When I've finished writing this I'm going in...
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