Floods: The long way home

Last week’s floods sabotaged my usual walk home from work – or at least, the part of it that involves a low-lying field near Millennium Bridge.

At first it almost looked as if Rowntree Park had opened a new lido:

86800306_10157356781938882_4532204663612637184_n.jpg

But that was before the height of it! On one final day I just-about got away with wading across the said field – higher than the path that runs through it – in my posh boots (they held!!) but then the waters rose higher and I had to admit defeat…

Here’s a duck who shouldn’t really be able to swim that near Skeldergate Bridge’s parapet: 87866012_10157381736383882_1410850645967110144_o.jpg

An optimistic life-belt:86970189_10157359913353882_7295310386742427648_o.jpg

Street-lights looking eerie87937523_10157398453188882_1332413225903325184_o.jpg

Skeldergate – I think that’s one of those classic shots someone always does during York floods:87483293_10157379232973882_4954797237579284480_o.jpg

And just to remind everybody that not all of the city succumbed, here are our city walls by twilight, the same evening:88083949_10157398427283882_1714587846922207232_o.jpg

After all, it is supposed to be spring!88212679_10157398452483882_5780894949553733632_o.jpg

 

Book Review – ‘The Guilt of Innocents’

The Guilt of Innocents (Owen Archer, #9)The Guilt of Innocents by Candace Robb

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I love to read these adventures set in York as it was back in the day – and as large chunks of it stil are! This one full of lively characters, many by now a little older and wiser than in the first one I read.

What particularly appeals to me are the Author’s Notes after the tale – the searches in our city’s archives where she got the information and inspiration; the way a tale comes together in an author’s mind.

Why not 5 stars this time? Only that I found some of the prose a little more pedestrian than in the 1st tale. Sentences like “Owen was concerned about…” when it could have been put in a more interesting way.

View all my reviews

You can call me daft – the sequel

20171118_115640.jpg

At the end of 2018, I had a go guessing what 2019 might bring.

Here in the UK I got it right – after a fashion. Brexit did, indeed, neither happen nor not-happen in 2019. And likely for the reason I proposed: no-one could come up with a way forward – in or out – that would satisfy a large enough collective of people (and establishments – for example the Commons, the Judiciary, the CBI and the like).

Construction of Hinckley C nuclear power station had just begun when I wrote at the turn of last year. I’d been hoping the inevitable delays and cost overruns, along with the plummeting in costs of other sources of power such as offshore wind, would cause a strong soul to call a halt. But no: I got it wrong.

How about ‘the collapse of a massive conglomerate few people have heard of’? I got that wrong in a way – who the heck didn’t know who Thomas Cook was? Or Mothercare, for that matter?

We come now to the Student Loan book. Nul Points here for me: nothing happened.

Likewise, thankfully, no country joined Greece and the like in financial purgatory.

Across the Pond, meanwhile, the President remains in office in spite of everything – as indeed I had said he would.  I didn’t think he’d bomb or invade any country in 2019, even though the mean time between such events appears to be only a few years. And I was right: he managed to restrain himself… until the first week of this year.

As for Australia. I am so, so sorry. I had no idea how dreadful it would be.

 

 

 

Very short book review – ‘Sapiens’, by Yuval Noah Harari

Sapiens: A Brief History of HumankindSapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A broad sweep through the prehistory and history of humankind with a fascinating thesis about ‘what makes us different’ – even from the other human species like the Neanderthals (I shan’t spoil it for you). Never a dull moment among our ancestors’ twists and turns.

Why did I not give 5 stars? Only because some of the final chapters’ speculation about the future seemed, to me, a little dated and let the rest of the ‘story’ down. But perhaps that’s just me.

View all my reviews

A little Christmas tale: All Bar You

mistletoe

I hadn’t meant to go.

But the rest of Engineering talked me into it. “Come on, it’ll be a scream.”

So I put on my jolliest clothes, and I went.

Engineering weren’t there.

I glanced round the room – didn’t recognise a soul. It looked like only the higher-ups: short, pasty middle-aged men; and their P.A.s, all younger, smarter made-up than me.

Work’s Christmas do.

Executive ballroom, Montague Hotel; near the city walls. Lavish deep red-and-gold garlands, huge tree; myriad tiny lights. At least the venue had class.

I headed for the mulled wine. Thus armed, I mingled – find an interesting conversation.

A group discussing local fee-paying schools: Tadcaster Grammar, St. Peters; Bootham. Another arguing the finer points of some tax-avoiding scam. House prices.  I rolled my eyes.

I noticed mistletoe.

Fat chance, guys.

He stood out, directly beneath it. Golden-blond hair, ponytail: tall, slim, straight; severe.

And he turned and looked right at me.

I made my way towards him. Set down my warm wineglass and gazed up at him.

Crystal splinters of eyes: golden lashes.

Frisson.

I didn’t know what to do with my hands as he embraced me. Sparks shot across my palms. I closed my eyes.

Deep: dark.

Lost…

I gaze up at him again.

“Do I…know you from somewhere?”

“I know all in this room: all bar you.”

He’s kissed everyone? The blokes too?

He shakes his head.

“Oh…sorry. I didn’t mean…”

“I am Fear: the sum total of all these people’s fears. Fear of ageing, cuckolding; ridicule. Status anxiety. Fear of poverty, death: of time itself. So intense, here in this room, that I am able to materialise in human form.”

I’m lost for words.

“What if I told you this was your last day?”

Strange thing to ask at an office party. But different, at least.

I concoct some witty answer-

But those eyes: he’s serious!

That’s not fair!

“I’m only twenty-five! My friends! My work! My parents! I’d leave my brother an only child!”

“Are you not afraid for yourself?”

“No! I’d be dead, wouldn’t I?”

“Then I don’t know you.”

“No. You don’t-”

But he’s gone.

A short tale for Guy Fawkes’ Night

“Mu-u-um…”

Oh-oh. That’s five-year-old-speak for, ‘I’ve got one of those questions.

“Yes darling?”

I tuck her in.

“What’s Torcher?”

I balk. What the heck have they been teaching her at that school?

“It’s what they did to Guy Fawkes. We learned about him today. He couldn’t write his name afterwards: after the torcher.”

Why can’t she ask the standard stuff like ‘where do babies come from?’, ‘Why is the sky blue?’ or even ‘why are there rich people?’

I gather my wits.

“Well, er, it’s… for example when they shine bright lights in your eyes when you want to go to sleep, or… erm… hurt you if they want you to tell them something… something they want to know.”

“Like, who helped you with the gunpowder?”

“Yes.”

“Guy Fawkes didn’t tell them.”

Dear God please don’t let her ask me what ‘hung drawn and quartered’ means…

“He must have been very brave.” Hmm: that probably wasn’t the right thing to say.

“Is that why we have fireworks? Because we want to remember how brave he was?”

Er… “No… no, that’s not it.”

Something whizzes overhead. The drawn curtains flash white, a split second before a deep boom echoes, outside and in.

Wait

“Did your teacher tell you how Guy Fawkes was found? In the cellar?”

“Yes! One of the Lords was… a friend, of the gang who wanted to blow up the Houses of Parliament. And he wrote him a letter saying, don’t go. Pretend to be ill. He didn’t say why. But the man thought… anyway he told someone. Like a policeman. And that’s how they found Guy Fawkes.”

“So they found him out without having to ask anyone anything.”

“Yes…” She frowns, puzzled, then brightens: “Without having to do any torcher!”

“Yes.”

I’d never thought of it before that question.

So now, whatever other people may be celebrating tonight – the saving of hundreds of lives; the confounding of Treason; the preservation of the Mother of all Parliaments to live to fight another day – when I bite into that lump of pitch-black parkin and gaze at the fireworks that light the sky, I lift my glass of blood-red punch to the tale that shows by example:

Torture doesn’t work.