WEATHER

As a Scot and a Brit, you’d expect me to like ‘weather’ – and I do. In Scotland, there is nearly always a wind blowing, which can vary from a light zephyr that just stirs the leaves, to a ferocious gale that whips the trees round in great circles. When we left Scotland, I kept wondering what I was missing until I figured out it was the sound of the wind. I used to love when we would be out on bicycle in Banffshire and would leave our bikes in the ditch and venture into a pine wood and sit there to eat our lunch, surrounded by the lovely pine scent, and the creaking of the trees as they were buffeted by the wind.

I like rain. There’s the refreshing smell when a shower falls on a parched and thirsty landscape – of dust and heat and then a green refreshment (all the lovelier because the necessary hot dry spell first is rare where I come from). There’s the washed clean feel of the landscape after rain. There’s the strange exhilaration when you’ve been caught in a downpour and you’re soaked to the skin, so you can’t possibly get any wetter, and you feel as if you’ve been set free. There are the beautiful rainbows that come after rain, sometimes doublers with strange light, that make you remember the scripture: ‘And I will set my bow in the clouds, and make an everlasting covenant with thee…’

I like mist and fog. The East Cast ‘haar’ – a cold, thick, grey fog that can linger all day – is not very pleasant, but the thin layer of cloud that will descend over a mountain can be like a bridal veil, concealing the treasures within. What had been a prosaic view becomes shadowy and mysterious -possibly slightly sinister, when previously its mood had been quite different.

I like snow. I love how when you look up into the dancing flakes you feel slightly drunk and disoriented. How silence falls swiftly, and the world is transformed into somewhere else, white, magical and beautiful.

I don’t like heat that makes entering a sunlit room feel like going into an oven. How you lie at night in a slick of sweat unable to breathe and how doing anything at all feels like far too much effort.

If you went out for a walk, and you sat down in the lea of a gorse bush so that you are sheltered from the wind, but the sun still shone on you and it was warm enough there that you thought: Maybe I should take my cardigan off – but decided against it – that’s the kind of warm day I like!

Au revoir to France

My name is William. I live in our house in London with my mother and father. My mother is the most beautiful mother in the whole world. She has blonde hair and when I snuggle up with her and twist my fingers in her hair, I know I’m a happy boy. My father is fun and I want to be as big as him and do all the things that he can do. He plays football with me, and takes me swimming and carries me up high on his shoulders. He also mostly drives our car. I watch him. I wonder how big I will have to grow before they let me do it. Our dog is Milo. He is just a dog. Daddy whistles and he comes. Sometimes when I whistle he does not come. Then he is a Very Bad Dog.

One day my Mummy was putting our clothes in a suitcase. She puts in so many of her clothes that Daddy cannot shut the case and gets annoyed. I am anxious that Fox goes in, but Mummy does not forget him. I do not know why we take all those clothes. It is warm and we don’t need any.

Daddy comes home from work and they put me in the car in my seat, surrounded by stuff and off we go. Nobody has told me where we are going.

We drive for ages and ages and eventually Mummy says its Plymouth. We line up with thé cars with dogs in them, and then we drive on to a very big ship. We have a very tiny room with 4 bunk beds in it to sleep in. It is called a cabin. Then we go wandering off through the ship – there are lots of these little rooms, and the floor moves up and down on the water. Then we meet Grandpa and Granma. I am very surprised to see them. Granma is in her wheelchair. She looks very tired. I wonder if my other grandparents are on this ship too, but if they are, we never fnd them.

We are to sleep on the bunks. (It is like sleeping on a shelf in a cupboard). Mummy tucks me in with Fox, and then she climbs into the bunk above me. We sleep. The bed rises and falls and rolls.

When we waken it is morning. Mummy dresses me before breakfast, even though I know I should get my breakfast in my pyjamas. I try to tell her this but she doesn’t listen, just gives me a roll. Then we go in the car and we drive off the ship. We have to queue for a man to look at us to see if we are who we say we are. How does he know, I wonder. But apparently we pass the test. Then we drive off the ship and drive into Roscoff. We are in France!

The four of them think Roscoff is a very nice town. It has very old buildings with statues carved in holes in the wall. There are nice shops and flowers beside the street. Grandpa has gone marching ahead and shouts to us to come. It is a hotel and thank goodness, they serve breakfast. I eat bread and jam, croissants and milk with a tiny bit of hot coffee in it. I am very hungry and it is all very good. Eventually we stream off in the hot hot car. Daddy is driving but he is on the wrong side of the road. I am very worried abut this, until I see that everyone else is doing the same so I relax and stop thinking about it.

We go to a French supermarket and they buy stuff. There seems to be a lot of bottles.

We find our house that we are going to stay in. I walk round it by myself. There is one big room with a cooking place, sofas and a TV, and a table where we eat beside the big doors that are windows. The dishes are kept in a wardrobe! Then there is a room with the washing machine in it and buckets and mops and all sorts of interesting things but they won’t let me go in it; and a bedroom and bathroom for Granma and Grandpa that the wheelchair can go in; and a toilet besde the stairs for everybody. Upstairs – I can climb them myself – are a bedroom for Mummy and Daddy and one for me. There is another bathroom but no bath so I get my bath in a thing like a little boat.

We stay here for a week and I do not want to leave it and neither does Milo. We visit small towns with churches with very ornate towers (called steeples.) We go to different beaches. They all have white sand, the cold, blue water that moves and tries to catch you, and nobody else on them but us. Grandpa has bought a little tent that I can sleep in. There are stones, and shells, and I make things with my bucket and spade. Milo digs holes – I don’t know why, he never finds anything in them, and I lie down in the hole. We have picnics. There is always sand on the food.

Most days we go out for lunch. I love when this happens. There is a special menu for me and Mummy discusses what I would like. But the things the adults are having are always more interesting. Granma will always give me some of hers. I eat lots of pancakes, and lots of icecreams. They are really good.

One day we go out and we find a field covered in stones that stand up, in rows. The adults are very interested in this, but I can’t see the point in these rows – they don’t go anywhere. In the garden of our cottage there are huge boulders as big as our shed, and they think these have once been part of a stone circle. I don’t think they’ve thought this through – these boulders are so huge, nobody could move them, and what would be the point?

I love it here. There are new things to see, every day. There are wonderful things to eat. Daddy doesn’t have to go to work, and there is always someone to play with me. Milo and I are sorry when it is time to go home.

Mummy says to say Au revoir to France. It means we will see it again.

LEOPARD SKIN SHOES

We woke this morning to a Towering Inferno incident where a high rise, heavily populated tower block in Notting Hill burned swiftly and fiercely. It is obvious that there will be heart rending tales of families trapped and dying on the upper floors, Somehow it seems to reflect our country’s present misfortunes. We watch while we burn but cannot help ourselves, except to salvage what we can and comfort one another.

Once again we were abroad when the General Election results were being called and listening to the outcome on our phones and laptops.

Looking at the mess and shambles left by the General Election, I wonder why political strategists (and politicians) get matters so horribly wrong. You would think they would understand the mindset of the public – it’s their profession to do so.

Firstly, one felt mild irritation that a General Election was called at all when the Prime Minister had said repeatedly that she would NOT call one. But, the British electorate being tolerant and reasonable, once it is called we resolve to play our part, to listen and decide.

Theresa May then takes that goodwill which she has been enjoying, which is extended to every in coming Prime Minister, and proceeds to throw it away more decisively and rapidly than I have seen any Prime Minister so far. She is arrogant and condescending. She employs the christian names of interviewers as if they were an unsatisfactory pupil and she the head-mistress. She does not bother to explain her Brexit strategy to us – we are too stupid to be involved in such weighty matters and we should be content to let her decide on our behalf. Indeed she does not seem to feel there is much need to persuade us, and on the Debate night, she does not deign to turn up. All she says is – repeated ad nauseum – that we have to choose between herself with strong and stable government, and Jeremy Corbyn, whom she rubbishes incessantly. Here is where I wonder about the intellectual capacity of her advisors. To my knowledge, whenever any politician has addressed the country saying, Who would you rather have running the country, Me or – (in Heath’s case The Miners), we have responded either by choosing the other party, or at the very least by stating, Not You. Also the British genuinely desire justice and fair play, and they do NOT like negative campaigning.

As for Corbyn, I found myself obliged to vote for him. I do not believe this election was about Brexit, the economy etc. I think in the end it came down to the moral stature of the candidates. Jeremy Corbyn had been threatened and humiliated by the Labour party’s disgraceful behaviour. Who did they think they were, to reject a leader who had been lawfully elected? Corbyn did not abandon his post; he did not give in to despair; he endured the isolation and rejection. He never lost his temper. He spoke his truth sincerely and I didn’t take exception to anything he said. In spite of the many nasty (and untrue) things she said about him, Jeremy Corbyn did not make any personal attacks on Theresa May. I am doubtful whether Corbyn would make a successful prime minister (though he is certainly more fit than those who opposed him.) It is quite likely that his policies would not be in my best interests. Yet I gave him my vote and could not in all consciousness have done anything else. It must have been a great comfort to him that in the latter part of the election every time he came out to speak, vast crowds had come to hear him.

As for personal integrity (or lack of same) consider George Osbourne. He was so ungentlemanly as to kick Theresa May when she was down and wounded; and he betrayed his party for a newspaper headline. We knew he was a shit; but we did not know to the full extent the kind of shit he actually was.

Theresa May does not appear to have learnt anything since the election. She only apologised to Tory MPs who have lost their seats when forced to, and she appears to see no necessity for apologising to us, for wasting our time and money on what was just a vanity and for being over taken up with her own image. As for going to bed with the DUP – that’s a dangerous game to play. She has returned Gove to her cabinet. Has she actually looked at him recently?

But I do not know why I am surprised that Theresa May has not exhibited more taste and judgement. This woman first came to our attention by wearing leopard skin shoes!