The final round of visitors for the year have left. Nobody else is likely to want to visit now – it’s cold and wet and it’s dark by 4 pm. We’ve had our first icy patches, a taste of the coming winter, and the days have not yet finished shortening. Peace at last. Just to be sure, I will be circulating rumours about demons prowling the grounds in winter.
My mother has suggested we turn this place into a bed and breakfast. We’ve had a taste of what that would be like this year and it’s an absolute ‘no’ from both of us. See, neither of us actually like people very much and we don’t like getting up early. We don’t like the extra laundry generated by rapid changes of bedding and possibly most important of all, we only have one bathroom.
Add to that the absence of heating in the upstairs rooms and it would take some serious building work to make this place habitable for more than just a few people.
Anyway, the visits are over until at least late March, when the weather usually starts to become a bit less horrible, and that means lots of writing and publishing. I have a short story collection by the somewhat eccentric Gastradamus and editing is under way on the submissions so far received for the Christmas anthology. It’s going to be a big one and submissions are still open.
I have been trying to catch up with the news. Apparently Donnie Trumpton is now to be impeached because of something to do with Ukraine, but I can’t pay too much attention to other countries’ politics. Ours is in such a shambles it’s all anyone can do to keep up with it all.
Boris the Spider has promised to restore 5000 miles of railway and all the stations associated with it for 500 million shiny British pounds. We’ve all had a laugh at Diane Abbot’s flimsy grasp of real life costs, but Boris seems to be no better. 500 million would lay about a mile of track after they’ve paid for and demolished all the buildings that now exist on the old track beds. Most of the old bridges are gone, the ones left won’t be safe after half a century of neglect, and many of the tunnels have been filled in. 500 million? Hahaha.
The Keith and Dufftown Railway is a privately owned preserved line. It runs from the old Keith Town station, through a couple of wayside halts, to the old Dufftown station. It’s a favourite trip for me because it runs the old diesel multiple units I loved travelling on in the Welsh Valleys – the ones where you can sit right behind the driver and get a view through the front window.
Also because Keith is the home of Chivas Regal’s distillery and Dufftown has the Glenfiddich and Balvenie distilleries. It’s where the exceptionally smooth Singleton of Dufftown comes from. If you like ancient buildings, the ruin of Balvenie castle is also worth a visit. It’s very close to Glenfiddich’s distillery.
Now, just for once, there is a point to this digression. The old Keith Town station, now privately owned, is not too far from the main Keith station that is still operated as part of the national network. There is no longer any track between them, but the track bed is intact. The private railway would dearly love to reconnect to the main line but it costs far too much. If they could do it they would be able to provide the distilleries in Dufftown with a rail link to the main line. Yeah, there would be considerable profit, allowing the private line to actually pay the volunteers who run it now, and it would also reduce the numbers of huge trucks leaving those really big distilleries to transport whisky along the terrible roads in the area.
Boris, that might be a good place to start.
Jerry Cordite has promised free broadband for all. Yeah, right. We are still on copper-wire phone lines on posts out here. I don’t think he’s costed the more remote areas, you know. I actually get faster internet using the phone on 4G as a hotspot – but that only works in the right parts of this place because mobile reception is shit too.
Besides, as several commenters on Twitter have pointed out, if you’re going to make something free, why not water? Or electricity or gas? You know, stuff everyone needs. Not everyone uses the internet, even now, yet everyone will have to pay outrageous taxes so Jerry can give out his freebies. The taxes wouldn’t seem quite so bad if they were covering something as basic as a reliable water supply.
Ah, but it’s not really about free broadband. You’ll never see that. The first stage in making the internet ‘free’ is, of course, for government to take total control of it. Then they won’t make it ‘free’ in any sense. The government once owned British Telecom, the railways and the postal service. Was any of that ever free? Once they own something, they profit from it. You pay the costs, they take the profit. That’s socialism.
The internet under government control will be censored, monitored, and, as has just happened in Iran, switched off when the population cause the government problems.
Don’t imagine the Tories are any different. Tessie Maybe salivated at the prospect of internet control for many years, and tried to get it more than once. Government control of the internet is a terrible idea, no matter who is in charge.
I see Extinction Rebellion have rebranded as Election Rebellion, which is no surprise. They were always obviously communists using any pretext to force their ridiculous and deadly world view on us all.
They are now going on hunger strike for a week for some reason or other, I don’t know what they hope to achieve and don’t care. A week? They’ll be in Pret as soon as the sun goes down on day one. They cannot go 24 hours without their avocado toast and gingerbread lattes.
A week. I am singularly unimpressed. Muslims do this every year and they do it for a month. So the feeble watermelon warriors are going to try it for a week, once, and I bet not a single one of them makes it to Wednesday.
I once co-supervised an Indonesian student through his M.Sc. Brilliant guy, we ended up with a very good paper on ruminant microbiology from his eight weeks with us. Needless to say, he passed easily.
He was Muslim. This was back in the 1990s when we weren’t assailed with Islam this and Islam that from all sides. We thought nothing of it. He was a devout Muslim but he never mentioned it. Never tried to convert anyone. Never threatened anyone. Never demanded a prayer room or any kind of special treatment. His religion was personal to him, as it should be. And he was a very nice guy in general.
It was Ramadan, in June, in Scotland. The sun was up before 5 am and still there at 10 pm. He wasn’t eating or drinking anything during daylight hours. The poor bugger nearly passed out before we figured this out. And yet he produced work of a quality good enough to publish. While slowly starving to death.
The Watermelon Warriors, the ones who haven’t given up by Tuesday, will, on Wednesday, be on Twatter and Farcebok telling the world how they are suffering for their cause. I’ll tweet them pictures of plates piled high with food to help them cope.
Still, I suppose they’ll be well practiced for their dreamed-of Socialist future under Corbyn.
Then they’ll finally find out what ‘hunger’ really means.