Greetings from America, where our President has recently stated that, "The nation that invented the automobile cannot walk away from it." Presumably because that would involve, you know, walking. None of us here remember how to do that. Maybe he meant Germany, where the first functional automobiles were invented and produced in the late 1800s....So we CAN walk away! Rick Richard Risemberg...in nearly all weathers; a round of cycling in the rain - Carl Giles weather (I love it); first to the Council House to prepare a video of the working relationship between the city's lead scrutiny councillor and the officer managing the process. We discussed methods - from fly-on-the wall to a less spontaneous set of reflections on how they worked together. Meantime I'm talking to John Martin in Australia about the films of Mayors and managers he's making. Then my favourite responsible unemployment - sitting around to donate blood, being questioned, tested, and treated to tea and shortbread. Pleasurable sloth for a needle in the arm. Some bills to be checked. Our energy estimate have been increased - an extra £1200 a year. This must be addressed; then, work over the counter at New Street to get the best deal for a week in the Highlands before Lin and I return to Corfu in April. Got an Inverness return ticket for £52. Mum delighted. Last night we were an hour on the internet trying to get the best deal to get us to a Gatwick Easyjet flight, ending up with a combination of coach and train reducing a standard class fare of £168 to £43.60. This belt-tightening must be happening everywhere. Then, up the New Street escalators, through the Pallasades, and out via the ramp behind an arrested man. Up Corporation Street to get my favourite Tor Orientals at John Hollingsworth in the Western Arcade, then out of town on the Walsall Road; first to Newtown Red Cross to buy some novels for pence and a light jacket for a £1, then on to Hanif's for a long delayed haircut - a bit of a wait, as he had to leave the shop to pray and wash and return to have a chat about my folding bike - "brilliant!" He and other customers were also glancing at TV news about the attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team on a Pakistani channel. I couldn't resist a tray of curry and chips eaten below a dripping shop awning watching the spray raised by the passing traffic below the boarded tower blocks.Home in the rain. Laid out my wetwear to dry and found the cat had used our bath as its litter. Cleared that up, did some internet shopping, got an e-mail from my friend Robin:
'People at the ward committee are almost all still under the delusion that there's an economic recovery coming a few years ahead. Meanwhile in the real world, GE is about to go bankrupt, and the economy is just starting a spectacular nose-dive crash in the next few months.' [See J H Kunstler on 'the long emergency' vs. 'return to normal in a few years']Honey e-mailed from Corfu "It was 18°C today" "I hate you" replied Lin. London tomorrow to Portcullis House for a workshop on questioning as practised in Parliamentary Select Committees; preparation for a talk next week to the Birmingham Victorian Society on Handsworth Park and a call to Richard Biggs at Actionoptics in Hythe about getting a replacement prism for Jack's Wray monocular that broke in Greece - "we should have what's needed. it would have been much more serious if it were a lens." Parcelled it up for mailing. I do like ticking boxes sometimes. Meantime Lin's been in Staffordshire with her parents checking on their aches; scolding her mum who fell over the other day and bruised her face and never said a word. Meantime the last city train from Piraeus, six passengers on board, was burned out at Kifissia by a score of late night youths wearing clockwork orange outfits bearing sledgehammers and petrol cans. Citizen journalist Teacherdude has blogged this with a picture of the train and some helpful conjecture around motives, as well as an insightful account of the background to riot police-Afghan refugee clashes in Patra. (See also) * * *
My 30 year friend Rajinder - painter, lithographer, conversationalist, entrepreneur - just back from an hour's business in Newcastle, was eating with me in Sangams on the Soho Road. We were discussing films. "You know that my nightmare is to find that it's no longer possible to get films of Laurel and Hardy. That would be the worst thing." We talked about children - us - actually getting physically sick with laughing so much at those old films. He mentioned the fine art printing shop he and his family have just started here, and about our friend Richard Worrall's new job as a transport strategist in London. I said "Rajinder, you and Richard make being happy and successful look so easy. What now with the economy?" "This problem will be over - in a flash. It's a very good thing. People get rid of most of their cars and visit relatives instead of going for a drive. Stay where they live instead of getting a new house. Stay doing something instead of wasting time on a holiday, watching TV. What's a holiday? Make a meal instead of going to the pub. Lot of changes for the better. We've been living in the wrong place. It will be so different." Later he wound gracefully through the Handsworth traffic in the big hired transit van he was taking back to Wednesbury that evening and dropped me home. "You know what" said Lin "I think R's also a hit man. There's a rolled carpet around something lumpy in the back of that van." Could be. I did ask R once but he said "No" he hadn't got time for that as well.