“The Special One”

 

Hey and hi. Here I go again with my limited knowledge of ‘the beautiful game’. So as you may or may not know, Jose Mourinho is about to be named manager for Manchester United. There have been a few glitches though. Yikes. I hate glitches. You see, apparently,  image rights negotiations are delaying Mourinho’s appointment as Manchester United Manager. As it has emerged that Chelsea still own his name as a trademark and could demand a six-figure sum from United before any deal is concluded. But really, this issue will not scupper his appointment at Old Trafford. Thank goodness. Mourinho is expected to be named as Louis Van Gaal’s replacement after the Dutchman was sacked on Monday DESPITE winning the FA Cup. Football is crazy. I don’t even watch it and I know very little about it. But you wouldn’t know it. Hah.

Oh, I nearly forgot why I even started this blog post. Ok, let’s do this. They call Jose Mourinho ‘The Special One.’ Yes. Why? Please give me a break. Is he really that special? While I was not looking-has he found a cure for breast cancer, the Zika virus and Lyme disease? Am guessing, no. What has he done that is so spectacularly wonderful? Please enlighten me. Please and thanks.

Well, believe it or not, Mourinho gave himself that name/moniker. Yes, yes he did. I could have told you he was arrogant (and I have done so in previous posts). When Mourinho moved to Chelsea in June 2004, he held a press conference upon joining the club and said, “Please don’t call me arrogant, but I’m European champion and I think I’m the special one.” Can you believe he said that? So, the media has dubbed him “The Special One.” I would like to give Mourinho the benefit of the doubt here-I mean, his first language is Portuguese and English is not his native tongue. But sorry, most Portuguese speak English perfectly well. I don’t think there were translation issues here. The guy is just arrogant. Yes, yes he is. But anyway, Good luck to him. I may not like the guy but I don’t have any ill will towards him. So yeah, that is why he is called ‘The Special One.’ And knowledge, is power, people.

Cheers

 

 

University Fees (UK)

Female graduates

Salutations. University Fees. Uggh. The end. But seriously, everyone bemoans University Fees-both here and in the US. Tuition is WAY too high. In fact, I had a cousin who recently graduated from Princeton University. And while Princeton is a great school, its tuition fees are eye-wateringly diabolically high. In fact, if my cousin were to rob a bank, lets say that I would not be that surprised. For real.

Here in the UK, University Fees have had an interesting history. Tuition fees in the UK were INTRODUCED across the entire UK in 1998 under the Labour government as a means of funding tuition to undergraduate and postgraduate students at universities. Yes. Please read that again. Later on, tuition fee caps rose with the Higher Education Act 2004-under the Act, Universities in England could begin to charge variable fees of up to £3000 a year for students enrolling on courses as from the academic year of 2006-7. Wow. Then when University fees rose to 5K people began to loose their minds. I found it amazing. I thought those people should have been grateful to only pay 5K. But then again, if one was never expected to pay tuition then had to commence paying tuition, then I can see why they got mad. I get it. I don’t understand it, but I get it.

Current situation

Universities in England will now be able to increase tuition fees above £9000 from Autumn 2017. Yes, ‘Autumn’-they don’t say ‘Fall’ here. Anyway, it is believed that the increased tuition will ensure high-quality teaching. Further, the plans aim to encourage more competition and better consumer value for students. The government will announce in 2016-2017 which Universities are allowed to increase their fees. Sorana Vieru, vice president of the National Union of Students, said students would be “outraged” at the prospect of tuition fees being increased. Well I suppose so. Better not apply to ANY American Universities then. Don’t even think about Princeton.

That being said, maintenance grants/loans are available for students. Of course, you have to repay your student loans. Duh. One last thing, if there are any American college bound students looking to study abroad for F-R-E-E well then, Germany is your best bet. Look into it, I would if I were you. That is all.

Cheers.

 

 

 

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Devizes

Greetings. When you visit London Town (and I hope you do) why not stop and visit Devizes? Oh, you are not familiar with it? Allow me to wax lyrical about this beautiful place located in Wiltshire. Devizes is a market town and civil parish in the heart of Wiltshire, England. Pictured below is Wiltshire- a county in South West England.

Devizes serves as a centre for banks, solicitors and shops and also has an open market place where a market is held once a week. In addition, it has nearly 500 listed buildings (a listed building, in the UK, is one that has been placed on the Statutory List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest), some notable churches, a Town Hall and a green at the heart of town. Its development grown around the 11th century Norman castle.

Brief History

Devizes Castle was built by Osmund, Bishop of Salisbury in 1080, but the town is not mentioned in the Domesday Book (a manuscript record of the ‘Great Survey’ of much of England and parts of Wales completed in 1086 by order of King William the Conqueror) as the castle was on the boundaries of the manors of Rowde, Bishops Cannings and Potterne became known as the castrum ad divisas (the castle at the boundaries), hence the name Devizes. Further, on John Speed’s map of Wilshire (1611) the town’s name is recorded as The Devyses.  The first castle on the site was of the motte and bailey (fortification of wood or stone) form and was probably made of wood and earth but was sadly burnt down in 1113. A new castle was subsequently built in stone by Roger Salisbury, Osmund’s successor. Devizes received its first charter in 1141 permitting regular markets. The castle changed hands several times during the civil war between Blois and Matilda in the 12th century. In addition, the castle held important prisoners, including Robert Curthouse, eldest son of William the Conqueror in 1106. Robert was kept in Devizes for 20 years, before being moved to Cardiff Castle.

The town has had churches since the 11th century and has 4 Church of England parish churches.  The oldest is dedicated to St John the Baptist and was founded in 1130.

From the 16th century, Devizes became known for its textiles-initially white woollen broadcloth but later the manufacture of serge (a type of twill fabric), druggert (coarse woollen fabric), felt and cassimere /Zephyr cloth. In the early 18th century, Devizes held the LARGEST corn market in the West Country of England (and also traded hops, cattle, horses and of course various types of cloth). Further, before the Corn Exchange was built in 1857 the trade in wheat and barley was conducted in the open, with sacks piled around the market cross.

In closing, Devizes is a lovely place with lovely people. You should visit. I would if I were you. Here are a few pictures of this magical place. And pictures do not lie.

 View of Caen Hill locks, Rowde, Devizes, Wilthsire

 Back in the day

  Long ago

Wadworth Ale is quite strong, but you should try it…

Cheers

The rag and bone man (scrap metal dealer)

The butcher the baker and the rag and bone man who rings his bell and shouts ‘any old iron?’. I know you were waiting for the candlestick maker, but this is 2016 not 1816. The supermarket experience in the UK is made up of going to the butcher, the baker and others. Yes, we do have supermarkets but we don’t do Costco or Sam’s club.

Going to the butcher for the first time was a bit intimidating. There was meat everywhere perfectly tied with string. A fly buzzed hazily and the butcher behind the counter was burly and butch with thick sausage-like fingers. He wore a kind gap toothed smile and wiped blood on his apron. Get. Me. Out. seemed to resonate through my body as my vegetarian status was quietly contemplated. I must admit, I felt a bit lost. How could I order what I wanted when I didn’t even know the proper names of sections of the cow (or other animals)? Further, nothing looked familiar and of course nothing was cooked. ‘Hello Madam’ chirped the butcher, as he grinned broadly at me. ‘What are you after today?’ I thought sheepishly to myself-I am after the EXIT sign-can you please direct me in that direction? Am pretty sure he could smell my fear-I was in a butcher’s shop after all. He spoke to me politely. I told him what I was after and how many people were in my household. He proudly showed me his best cuts of meat and even told me how to cook them! It wasn’t so bad, my intermediary-err…my butcher educated me, helped me and wrapped my meat up nicely for me.

Next stop, the bakery…this was more my territory. The baker was a middle aged woman with bright shining eyes and ruddy cheeks. It did not escape me that she was generous around the middle. I liked her immediately and knew I could trust her. With my life, if needed.  We spoke politely about the weather as I ordered a 4 Marlborough buns, 3 Eccles cake, 2 Egg custard tarts and 1 Mince pie. I left happy and was pretty sure I would be visiting the dentist in the next week or so.

‘Any old iron?’ the old Gypsy with pockmarked skin called out as he drove his white van up and down the neighbourhood. What? He wants scrap metal? I just give it to him and then our transaction is complete? Yes. Weird but ok, I am cool with that. I recently heard a story that a couple had been cleaning out their kitchen, so they put their washing machine and tumble dryer in the front garden-a sort of temporary resting place. In the UK you will find the washing machine and tumble dryer in the kitchen. Weird. Don’t even get me started.  Anyway, the couple later returned to their garden to retrieve their white goods, but quickly realised that both items were gone. They had not heard the cry of ‘any old iron?’ as their washing machine and tumble dryer were subsequently scooped up by the scrap metal man.

The butcher, the baker, the rag and bone man and me. Welcome to England, mate.

A Pair of Queens…

Kate (pictured) stunned in this little red number that looked very similar to Mary's

Hello and hi. Our Kate, I mean the Duchess of Cambridge has not been in the news as of late. I guess, she is entirely way too busy raising her children, cleaning and cooking-and yes, there is some general DIY to do as well around her house. Oh and she has to also take the rubbish out and remember which days to recycle what- as paper and plastic are collected on different days. And as for that husband of hers, well, I hear he is not working a full 40 hour week-but does he help around the house? Nope. he does not.

Ok, so perhaps I am poking fun of our Kate. It is only because I like her. I like to be jealous of her…more like it. I mean, not every commoner gets to marry a Prince, wear Alexander McQueen designs, travel for free and look postively glamours. I mean, I kind of need that in my life. I especially need that red dress of hers by Alexander McQueen-but am sure I can get a knock off version at TKMaxx (back home its called TJMaxx) but I digress, as per usual.

So Kate has not been in the news is the point I am trying to make. But recently, some here have drawn some startling comparisons between our Kate and another princess. Meet Crown Princess Mary of Denmark. Those princess-girls are pretty similar. Some say they might even be the same person, but I seriously doubt it. But they look the same and have a similar dress sense. They are not quite dopplegangers of each other but they are pretty darn close.

Both Princess Mary and the Duchess of Cambridge started out as commoners-but both women find themselves in the unique position, in that they are set to be Queen one day. Lucky them. Living the dream. Mary is Australian-born, and married Denmark’s Prince Fredrik in 2004. Both Mary and Kate are well known for their elegance and fashion sense. Oh please. If I had all that royal money, butlers and free travel- I would also be known for my elegance and fashion sense. Come. On. Instead, I have to pay for my transporation…which I am usually running for in my trusty brougues, with my shirt half tucked in and half tucked out. The point I am trying to make here, is that if my life was made easier by money and royal connections-I too would rock the classic and elegant look that these lovely ladies do. For real.

So Mary is 44 and our Kate is 34 years old. Both women are strikingly beautiful-I will give them that. They both have young families and royal responsibilities (which do not include taking out the paper and plastic recycling). In addition, both women have a similar taste in fashion. Please see below for the pictures. As pictures do not lie.

Mary met her future husband Prince Frederik during the 2000 Sydney Olympics, before they married in 2004Kate first met Prince William when they studied together in Scotland in 2001, however they didn't marry until 2010

Our Kate is way too thin. Am I right about this? Yes, yes I am. Please someone give that girl a cheeseburger. Seriously. But Kate looks great in her Stella McCartney dress which can be yours for only £685. Total Bargain. Not.

Mary (pictured) looked gorgeous in this stunning blue dress during an event in Denmark in MayBoth Kate (pictured) and the Australian-born princess share exquisite fashion sense, often dressing in similar style dresses or shades - as these two blue dresses shows

Here is Kate pictured with the Alexander McQueen dress I need in my life. Mary’s dress is also nice-however, I don’t need that one as much.

Can you tell if this is Mary or Kate? It's no surprise if you can't with the pair often looking almost identicalKate (pictured) stunned in this little red number that looked very similar to Mary's

Crown Princess Mary and Crown Prince Frederik have four children - Christian, 10, Isabella nine, and five-year-old twins Josephine and Vincent

Kate and William also enjoy the snow judging by this picture of them with their two children George three and Charlotte one

 

But it's not just with primary colours that the princesses match, with both Mary (pictured) and the English royal wearing similarly patterned green and blue frocksKate (pictured) wore this unique dress during a trip to India alongside Prince William earlier this year

The elegant princesses also know how to dress up for the occasion wearing similarly toned gownsAs per usual, Kate looked stunning in this crystallized lilac ball gown

And there you go. I think you get the point… now that I have posted pictures ad nasuem. And for anyone out there who wants to grow up and marry a prince. Go for it. These two did-and lived happily ever after. Respect. That is all.

Cheers

 

 

 

Life with my Grandparents. Update.

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Hello and hi. A massive thanks for reading my latest stuff ‘Life with my grandparents.’ My grandparents would find it mildly amusing that people are reading about their ordinary lives. But to me, they were pretty extraordinary.

That being said, all future posts related to this subject will now be here in my new blog titled appropriately: Life with my grandparents. So, if you are interested (and I know you are) you can read/find it there. I have just added Part 5. So, with that being said, please check out the link and of course ‘follow’ me. But please don’t follow me in real life, because that is called ‘stalking.’ Just wanted to be clear- so we are on the same page. Thanks again for reading my stuff. It means the world to me.

Cheers

P.S. Will still be blogging in ‘Life in London, American Style’….you better bet your apple pie and Twinkie I will be.

 

 

Coutts & Co Bankers

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Hello and hi. It is highly unlikely that you will ever have an account at Coutts. But maybe you will-I just don’t know. I certainly do not have an account at Coutts-that I do know. Yes, yes I do. Do you know much about Coutts? Well today you will know more about Coutts than you did yesterday. You are welcome.

Coutts is a private bank and wealth manager-founded in 1692. It is the seventh oldest bank in the world and its International arm was recently sold to Union Bancaire Privee. It is owned by RBS (The Royal Bank of Scotland Group) since 2000-when RBS purchased its parent, NatWest. Yawn. Anyway, Coutts formed part of RBS’s private banking division. During its time with RBS-it acquired Zuruch-based Bank von Ernst &Cie. Big yawn and stretch. There is more regarding the financial history and which banks acquired Coutts… but just know that in 2011, RBS Coutts was renamed Coutts & Co.Limited.

History

The bank which was to become Coutts &Co, was originally a goldsmith-banker’s shop. It was formed in 1692 by a young Scots goldsmith-banker, John Campbell of Lundie, Scotland. He set up a business in London under a sign of the Three Crowns (as was customary in the days before street numbers). The Coutts logo today still has the three crowns with its headquarters still in London.

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Campbell died in 1712, leaving the business to members of his family. Although it was George Middleton (probably related to our Kate) who had become Campbell’s partner in 1708-it was during Middleton’s stewardship, that the bank was able to withstand one crisis after another. For example, The Jacobite revolution of 1715 threatened the stability of the banking system. Other stuff happened too but thankfully, stability for the bank returned in 1735. John’s son, George Campbell was also a partner and he became sole partner after the death of Middleton in 1747, after which the bank was renamed the “Bankers of 59 Strand.” In 1735, John’s Campbell’s granddaughter married merchant and banker, James Coutts. The bank became known as Campbell &Coutts. The rest is banking history, as they say.

Clients

Coutts most notable clients includes members of the Royal family. The Queen banks there. As does William and our Kate. In fact, until the 20th century it was a clearing bank to the nobility and landed gentry (oh please let me be landed gentry in my next life. Landed gentry refers to a historical British social class-consisting of land owners who live entirely from their rental income. It refers exclusively to members of the upperclass who were landlords.) Today the clients of Coutts, in addition to the royal family includes: entrepeneurs, entertainers, sportsmen, professonals and executives. And a certain American blogger. I kid.

There are extremely stringent requirements to being accepted as a client-and not just based on average and total financial assets. Prospective clients need at least £1,000,000,000 in investable assets (not including real estate), they must have a good sense of humour, wear brougues and wear matching socks at all times. So, as you can see-I will never be a client…my socks NEVER match. Truth. In brief, Coutts is viewed as a bank for the rich and famous of British society. Like all banks, it is pretty secretive about its client list.

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Malpractice

  • Breaches of money laundering rules

In March 2013, Coutts was fined £8.75m for breaches of money laundering rules after 3 years of ‘serious’ and ‘systemic’ problems in handing affairs of customers vulnerable to corruption because of their political links. Yikes. Aint nobody got time for that. As a result, the FSA (Financial Services Authority) fined Coutts becauuse of an “unacceptable risk” that the bank could have been handling the proceeds of crime for a 3 year perioud after failing to properly deal with customers classifed as “politically exposed persons.” I do wonder if all of their assets were exposed as well? Please know that I am talking about money here, as my parents read this blog. Yup.

  • Mis-selling of AIG savings product

In November 2011 the FSA fined Coutts £6.3m for mis-selling the American International Group (AIG) Enhanced Variable Rate Fund between 2003-2008. The FSA forced Coutts to compensate ALL customers who suffered a loss as a result of its failings in selling AIG Life Premier Bonds. Later Coutts agreed to settle at an early stage in exchange for a 30% discount on its fine which would have otherwise been £9m. My goodness, do you see why people choose to put money under their mattresses? Much safer there, in my opinion.

So now you know everything about a bank you will NEVER have an account with. But hey, this post was informative-right? Of course it was. Thanks for reading.

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Cheers

Notting Hill Carnival 2016

Good time: There have been smiles all round today as people and performers come out for a shin dig and celebration 

The Notting Hill Carnival is an annual event that has taken place since 1966 on the streets of Notting Hill and the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea-in London Town. Every August, over two days (the August bank holiday Monday and the preceding Sunday). It attracts around 1 million people annualy, making it one of the world’s LARGEST street festival. Plus, it is a pretty significant event in British culture. Yes. Yes, it is. In 2006 the UK public voted it onto the list of icons of England. Despite its name-it is not part of the global Carnival season, preceding Lent.

Goodness! These two dancers are fully in character with angry and distressed faces as the perform in layered dresses 

History

Provessor David Dabydeen once said “Carnival is not alien to British culture.” As Barththolomew Fair and Southwark Fair in the 18th century were moments of great festivity and reckless abandon…it was a party after all. There was juggling, whoring, drinking, masquerade-people dressed up as the Archbishop of Canterbury and indulged in vulgar acts. It allowed people a space to act crazy, but it was banned for moral reasons and for the anti-police behaviour that went on, which included the stoning of constables. Naughty people.

Notting Hill Carnival saw its roots take shape in the mid-1960’s, which came from two separate but connected strands. A “Carribean Carnival” was held on 30 January 1959 in St Pancras Town Hall in response to the problematic state of race relations at the time (we feel you USA)-which included the UK’s first widespread racial attacks. The Notting Hill race riots in which 108 people were charged, had occured the previous year. The 1959 event, held indoors and televised by the BBC, was organised by Trinidadian Claudia Jones, often described as the “the mother of the Notting Hill Carnival” in her capacity of the Britain’s FIRST black newspaper The West Indian Gazettte-and was directed by Edric Connor; showcaseing elements of Caribbean carnival in a cabaret style. It feautured the Mighy Terror singing the calypson ‘Carnival at St Pacras’, a Caribbean Carnival Queen beauty contest, the Trinidad All Stars and Hi-fi steel bands dance troupe and a Grand Finale Jump-Up by West Indians, who also attended the event.

The other strand was the hippie London Free School inspired festival in Notting Hill that became the FIRST organised outside event in August 1966. This festival was a more diverse Notting Hill event to promote cultural unity. A street party for neighbourhood children turned into a carnival procession when Russel Henderson’s steel band (who had played at the earlier event) went on walkabout. By 1970, the Notting Hill Carnival consisted of 2 music bands-the Russell Henderson Combo and Selwyn Baptiste’s Notting Hill Adventure Playground Steelband and 500 dancing spectators.

By 1975 Notting Hill Carnival became a major festival as more steel bands, reggae groups and sound systems were present. Notting Hill Carnival is actually pretty reminiscent of Jamaican dancehall sessions. Respect.

In recent years, the event has been largely free from serious trouble and is generally viewed very positively by the authorities as a dynamic celebration of London’s multicultural diversity-which many would agree is dominated by the Caribbean culture.

In 2015 there was a tiny (ok big) amount of controvery when the Notting Hill Carnival Turst charged journalists £100 to cover the event AND demanded copies of all work produced relating to the event within 3 weeks of the end of the Carnival. Say what? No body puts baby in the corner. The National Union of Journalists organised a boycott of the event. However, as of today, the charge remains.

Everyone mostly had a bril time this year. However, police have reported that 6 people (including a boy of 16) were stabbed and 100 people were arrested for carrying drugs and knives. Every year this happens. You would think people knew how to behave themselves. But sometimes they act like Weiner’s. Anthony Weiner that is. I mean, I don’t know if there was sexting at the Carnival-but I do know that some people behaved rather badly. That being said, it was a fun day for Londoners. Yes, yes it was. And one last photo from the Notting Hill Carnival… some were feeling a bit, erm…cheeky. Baby got ‘back. There appears to be some ‘junk in that trunk’. That is all.

Procession: Festival organisers will hope for a better day two after yesterday's logistical nightmare for medics tasked with treating 411 patients and taking 71 to hospital

Cheers

Treaty of Le Touquet

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Hello and Bonjour. Do you know much about the Treaty of Le Touquet? Non? Well, today you are going to learn. Oui. You are welcome. In February 2003, France and the UK came up with the ‘Treay of Le Touquet’-it was formerly known as the Treaty between the Government of the United Kingdom and the Government of the French Republic concerning the implementation of frontier controls at sea ports of both countries on the Channel and the North Sea. It does not take a PhD to figure out why they went with the abridged version. For real.

The agreement provided for juxtaposed controls on a number of cross-Channel ferry routes. The Treaty was put into effect in the UK by the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 (Juxtaposed Controls) Order 2003. France has established immigration checkpoints at Port of Dover-where the French Border Police carry out immigration entry checks into the Schengen Area on passengers travelling to Calais or Dunkirk. My American brothers and sisters, please refer to your maps. Yes, I said it.

Presently, the UK has immigration checkpoints at the ports of Calais and Dunkirk. At Calais and Dunkirk, passengers go through French exit checks as well as UK immigration entry checks before embarkation.

According to the BBC, Xavier Bertrand recently said that people living in the camp known as the ‘Jungle’ should be able to apply at a ‘hotspot’ in France rather than waiting to reach Britain. UK officials currently check passports in France, which stops MANY from entering. The Home Office chimed in and said, “those in need of protection should seek asylum in the first safe country they enter. ”  Further, Mr Betrand indcated that under his plan-anyone rejected by the UK would then be deported directly to their country of origin. They are not to collect 200USD. And they should probably sell Baltic Avenue…of course if you are playing UK Monopoly, Baltic Avenue is renamed Whitchapel Road. But I digress.

Image result for image of baltic avenue and whitechapel road in monopoly game board

The Jungle

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The Jungle camp has now become a focial point of France’s refugee crisis-there are nearly 9K people living there, according to the BBC. Nearly every night, many desperate people will try to circumvent passport checks by hiding inside vehicles that entering the port and the Channel Tunnel to get to Britain. Oh my word. Those poor people. Not only do they have to live in sub standard conditions in the  Jungle but they have to hide in vehicles to reach the UK. Horrible.

Bertrand hopes that in amending the bilateral agreement between France and the UK (Treaty of Le Touquet) it would help alleviate the current problems/issues. As earlier stated, the treaty allows British immigrant officials to check passports in Calais-while their French counterparts to the same in Dover-and without it, the UK officials would have to wait until people and vehicles actually arrived on British soil.

The government indicated that it was committed to working together to protect the shared boreder in Calais and insisted there was “an excellent relationship with the French government on these issues.” Well, that is good. In fact, it is mighty fine.

The Jungle camp in Calais

One last thing, it is terribly sad that 9K migrants are currently living in the Jungle camp in Calais (pictured above), and their living conditions are pretty deplorable. Yes, yes it is. And further,  approximately 4K lone children are claiming asylum in the UK-with their care and resettlement options/challenges now down to local authorities. Yikes.

Also, how does BREXIT affect the Treaty-what will happen to the Treaty of Le Touquet when Article 50 is triggered? I have no idea. And guess what-neither does the government. That is all.

Cheers

 

Queen Victoria’s wedding coronet

Coronet

Hello and hi. A temporary export ban has been placed on the magnificent sapphire and diamond coronet that belonged to Queen Victoria-this ban has been placed to prevent the coronet from being sold abroad. A coronet is a small, simple crown. It is often worn by lesser royalty and peers/peeresses. It is not to be confused with a Corenetto-which is an ice cream.

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The coronet was designed by Prince Albert for his wedding in 1840 to Queen Vic-he designed it, while he himself was actually eating a Corenetto-hence the name. All true people, I deal in truth. Anyway, the coronet is at risk of being exported unless a UK buyer matches the £5m asking price. Anyone?  Anyone? Bueller?

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The temporary ban was imposed after the owner applied for an export licence. Yikes, good luck with that, mate. That coronet is staying put in England. Truth. Matt Hancock, Culture Minister-who imposed the ban said that coronet symbolised one of the UK’s “most famous love stories”…well, after Posh and Becks, that is. Pictured below are our Posh and Becks. Wow, they look so different now. See, how money ages you? Stay poor and good looking I say. Yes.

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The coronet is 11.5cm wide and mounted with 11 sapphires, which are all set in gold, with diamonds set in silver. According to the BBC, experts consider it to be one of THE most important jewels of Queen Victoria’s reign. Our Victoria received a matching sapphire and diamond brooch given to her by Albert the day before their wedding. Lucky girl.

When Queen Victoria’s beloved Albert died, she refused to attend the State Opening of Parliament until 1866, when she wore the coronet. Both the coronet and brooch are also featured in perhaps the most famous official portraits of the young Queen Victoria, in 1842, by Franz Xaver Winterhalter.

Official portrait of the young Queen Victoria, in 1842, by Franz Xaver Winterhalter

The coronet was later given by King Geroge V and Queen Mary to Princess Mary on her marriage to Viscount Lascelles in 1922. It was later sold to a dealer in London, who then sold it to the export license applicant.

The temporary ban followed a recommendation by the reviewing committee on the export of works of art and objects of cultural interest (which is administered by the Arts Council). My sources tell me that when the committee met, they were served sparkling water along with corenettos-seriously folks, you can’t even make this stuff up. No, no you can’t. The reviewing committe recommended that the coronet’s “close connection with our history and national life, and its outstanding significance for the study of the young Queen Victoria”. Watch this space to see what happens next regarding our Vic’s coronet.

Cheers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Life with my grandparents. Part 4

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It is mid-day and time for lunch. My grandmother plates out my grandfather’s food first. He eats first and alone. I do not agree with this methodology. But I eat after him, so I don’t have to wait too long. My grandfather eats in silence and alone, as he carefully and meticulously uses his knife and fork to gently push the food onto the fork-his fork. You see, my grandfather has a designated fork, knife and plate in which he alone eats from. I am starting to feel hungry-my incessant complaining makes me hungry. Of course it does. My grandfather eats every morsel of food on his plate. My grandmother cooks fresh food for him every day. There is no such thing as ‘leftovers’ and besides, my grandfather would simply not tolerate it. Instead, any leftovers are left over to ‘Killer’ and ‘Sunshine’ who are grateful for any food coming their way.

My turn to eat. Finally. My grandmother has prepared mince beef with bora (similar to a green bean). It is seasoned with onions, garlic and flat-leaf thyme. There is rice too. Earlier, my grandmother picked the rice with her industrious hands-this means, that she sat in her hot kitchen and picked out the bad bits or discouloured grains of rice, then she cooked the rice to perfect perfection. Everything is delicious. I drink some cream soda which is in a glass bottle. I want to drink out of the bottle but my grandmother’s non-verbal cue of that of her raised eyebrow, indicates that I should use the glass she has provided. I find this annoying, but say nothing. I keep quiet…for now, anyway. All done eating and I carry my plate into the kitchen so my grandmother can wash it. “Alrite Miss?’ I reply with a crooked smile-it is now my turn to use non-verbal cues. My grandmother nods her appreciation.

It is now time for my grandmother to eat. She eats last. As she is dishing out her food, I watch her with mild interest and I want to tell her how we should eat together as a family. I want to tell her about women’s rights-about equal rights. I want to tell her that her serving my grandfather is terribly old-fashioned. In short, I want to educate my grandmother. But my grandfather says I must pick  my battles and believe you me, I do not want to battle with my grandmother over this. This is not a terribly good idea. Instead I say ‘any ripe mangoes, Grandma?’ She replies ‘yes’ and gently reminds me to use a plate, along with a knife. I smile and bite down hard on my back teeth. Why can’t I eat it with my hands and let the juice run down my chin? I don’t understand why she wont let me. This is another battle I choose not to have with my grandmother.

Everyone has eaten now, albeit separately. I wander into the veranda where the tiles are cool on the bottom of my feet. My grandparents have both fallen asleep in their favourite chairs. I sit on the veranda and enjoy the nice breeze. It still feels pretty hot to me. I can hear a cockerel as well as a cow baying in the distance. Down below in the trench, there is a belching crapppo. A crappo is a large, tropical toad. He is not belching of course, but it sounds like he is. Long ago, crappos were used in the sugar cane fields as a form of pest control. I think they are pretty disgusting, especially when they ‘belch.’ It is way too hot to be thinking about tropical toads. I lean back in my chair in the veranda and fall asleep, as I dream about cooler climes.

Constable ‘Hotstuff’

Superintendent Bobby Singleton

Hello and hi. Meet Constable ‘Hotstuff.’ I mean, I can see why you would call him that-he is a bit easy on the eyes, not to mention that he is a doppleganger for Ben Afleck. For real.  Meet Superintendent Bobby Singleton (I seriously doubt that he is single…I mean) he is a policeman from Nothern Ireland, and he was recently in a Facebook video-giving some safety tips to some youths, ahead of an upcoming festival in Belfast-which included tips about drinking responsibility and applying liberal amounts of sunscreen to avoid turning flamingo pink. But no one was paying much attention to his carefully constructed advice. They were more interested in the eye candy on offer, on the video. Judging by the comments left on the video, Constable ‘Hotstuff’ was a pretty big hit with both men and women. Of course he was. I mean, ‘duh.’

Someone left a comment which said:“I feel I speak for a large percentage of the female population in NI when I say, if more police officers looked like that – I’d find a new rule to break every weekend… And three on a bank holiday,” Another said, “Seriously are they trying to encourage women to try and get arrested?” One bloke found this officer so handsome that he even may be questioning his own sexuality. Yup.  He later added, “I like to think I’m straight, but even I looked at that picture and thought ‘Jesus, he’s handsome!’

According to Newsbeat, BBC-who had contaced the Police Service of Nothern Ireland, wanting a comment, was told that Bobby Singleton was not currently commenting on his newfound popularity. Well now, that is a crying shame. Yes. Yes, it is. That is all.

Cheers

Life with my grandparents. Part 3

I woke up and noticed that the mosquito net had already been rolled up and tucked into its wooden frame. It was 730am and the mosquito net had been rolled up by my grandmother, as I had clearly overslept.  A mosquito was biting me on my arm, so I slapped and killed it dead.  I knew it was dead as I saw my own blood emanate from its crushed body, as it smeared onto my skin. Mosquito legs and my own blood…what a way to start the day, I mused to myself. It was so hot already.

I trundled out of bed and my breakfast was already waiting for me on the table. It included: some thickly sliced bread, guava jelly and cheese. It was so hot that even the cheese was sweating. Have you ever seen cheese sweat? When cheese sweats, it collects small drops of water and subsequently sweats. I reached for the guava jelly instead, as I knew it came from my grandmother’s own laborious efforts. My grandmother’s hands were always industrious. They were either washing clothes by hand, cooking, sweeping, or clapping roti in that hot kitchen of hers. Now, her hands were resting as she read the newspaper in her favourite red velvet chair. That chair was an eyesore. But I decided to keep my opinion to myself. Well, for that moment, anyway.

I sat and greedily ate my thickly sliced bread, which was smeared with Anchor butter which came from a tin and guava jelly which was in a glass bottle and of course had been made my dear old grandmother. The Ovaltine that lay before me was in my favourite chipped enamel mug,  but it was too hot and burned my tongue. I desperately wanted to tell my grandmother, but one does not openly criticise my grandmother’s efforts. Ever. Not ever.

Now that I was full up on bread and guava jelly (albeit with a burnt tongue), I felt that I now had enough energy to complain. I was ready and rearing to go. I then proceeded to declare that it was entirely too hot for this time of the morning. I was dumbfounded at how people could even live like this. I then proclaimed that the heat was counter-productive to my general sensibilities. I heard my grandmother draw in her breath in a measured way. It was probably too hot for her too. My grandmother did not look up from her newspaper when she said, ‘Young Miss, perhaps if you complained less-you would not feel so hot.’ I narrowed my eyes at her and my mouth fell open like a codfishMy grandfather softly chuckled at our exchange and went back to reading his paper. I took my cue and closed my mouth. I was done complaining for the day, as per my grandmother’s gentle but firm, suggestion to do so.

Post breakfast, I sat myself down in the rocking chair by the window. At least here, I could feel some breeze on my face, as it gently threaded its way through the right-leaning coconut trees and into the open window and onto my sweating face. I could hear ‘Killer’ growling at something or the other, outside, from the open window. I wondered if he in fact had ever killed another dog or human.  I shivered at the thought of ‘Killer’s’ bellicosity.

My thoughts then fell on the Dutch people who used to live here in this hot place. The Dutch were everywhere and nowhere. Not a single Dutch person in sight -but their presence was still palpable. The Dutch had named towns, villages, streets and had left their architectural design in the form of kokers, as well as the seawall they had built to mark their once presence.

The Dutch built a sea-dam at the front of their estates and a backdam behind the estates. Then, to keep out water from the surrounding undrained lands, they built side-line dams.  They dug canals alongside the side-line dams to collect excess water from the estate through a network of smaller trenches. We (like others) had a trench that ran parallel to our house-although I liked to think of it as a ‘moat.’ But it was not really a moat as it did not surround my grandparent’s house. The side-line canals flowed towards the sea-dam where kokers or sluices were erected to control the overflow.

The kokers still stand today like silent sentinels as they offer protection to people, animals and property-making sure we don’t get drowned out by the sea. Later, the original sea-dams were reinforced with concrete sea-walls. The Dutch were masters at digging canals. In addition to digging canals, the Dutch built roads, as planters were responsible for maintaining roads. In fact, failure to carry out road repairs could result in the forfeiture of a planter’s entire estate. Pictured below is a koker.

I bet it was far too hot for the Dutch, that is why they gave this place away to to the British. But I think it was probably more complicated than that. So, the Dutch left but their place names remained. Towns, villages and markets with Dutch names such as: Vreed-en-hoop, Beterverwating and Stabroek Market. Even my grandparent’s surname is Dutch. But they did not look Dutch to me, nor did either of them have a deep and abiding love for the colour orange. But somewhere, down the line-my people mingled with the Dutch and it is clearly evident, by our family surname.

Time for the market. My grandmother has informed me that she is going to Stabroek Market in town. She has not exactly invited me-but rather, has made a declaration… which I took as an invitation. I quickly find my shoes (although my grandmother would call them ‘Yachtings’) and I announce I am coming with her to Stabroek Market. She smiles gently and raises her eyebrows. This is my grandmother’s non-verbal cue for ‘Yes. Fine.’  I think my grandmother likes my company. Even when I am complaining.

Bishop Bell School

Hello and hi. I don’t like telling people what to do (actually I do) but please heed my advice when I tell you that you should NOT send your child to Bishop Bell School in Eastbourne-situated on the south coast of England. Best home school your children or just let them run wild in the streets but please don’t send them to this school. You have been warned. You are welcome.

Check it, I hate to make broad generalisations but sorry (not sorry) the facts simply speak for themselves. What on earth is going on at that school? Good grief. Enough histrionics. Allow me to get on with the getting on.

The Bishop Bell School (full title: The Bishop Bell Church of England Mathematics & Computing Specialist School) is a mixed secondary, Church of England 11-16 voluntary aided school in Eastborne. The school offers a post 16 (sixth form) college and has an on-site nursery for small humans aged 3-5. So far, so normal.

Well now, ‘so far, so normal’ sadly does NOT apply to this school. This school has been rocked by a couple of scandals. All of them played out in the media for us all to witness the horror and judge the teachers and students there accordingly. Yes, yes indeed. Bishop Bell School has been at the centre of THREE major child safeguarding problems, including a child sexual abuse scandal.

They are as follows: In February 2009, teaching assistant Robert Healy was jailed for 7 years after he admitted grooming 2 girls using the social networking site Bebo, followed by having sext with them. 7 years? Make that 70 and throw away the key if I were the Judge.

Canon Gordon Rideout was allowed to remain chair of the school governors for more than a year-despite having been suspended by the Church of England following a CRB (Criminal Records Bureau) check and desite the school being aware. Oh my Lakshmi. Rideout was jailed for 10 years in May 2013 for abusing 36 vulnerable girls and boys at a now closed Barnardo’s home in Crawley, West Sussex, over a 4 year period between the 1960’s and 1970’s. My God, that makes me want to vomit in my mouth. Yes, yes it does.

In September 2012, maths teacher, Jeremy Forrest was arrested in Bordeaux, and was subsequently charged by Sussex Police with the abduction of a 15 year old female pupil. The pair hatched the plan to run away and escape as they apparently fell in love.  Forrest was found guilty in June 2013 after pleading GUILTY to 5 further charges of sexual activity with a child and was jailed for 5 1/2 years. The judge said that Forrest had been repeatedly warned by colleagues but he had lied to them and had been motivated by self-interest. Although a review published in April 2013 did not find evidence of “any significant or systematic failings in safeguarding” following the Forrest verdict but there were calls for headteacher Terry Boatwright to be sacked (fired).

Jeremy Forrest has now been released. He and his teenage girlfriend kept in touch while he was in prison and she promised to wait for him on the other side of freedom. Thankfully, that little girl saw sense and broke it off with him. Like I said, Forrest is out, now 33 and has a 29 year old girlfriend. He will never work as a teacher again. Ever. He has now reinvented himself as a wannabe rocker.

Pictured below is Jeremy Forrest with his then wife. Of course their marriage broke down during the trial. Man, she dodged that bullet by divorcing him.

So there you have it-some information on Bishop Bell School. Parents, mind your children, keep them close and protect them in equal measure. That is all.

Cheers