Friday, 20 July 2018

they lied to us (refrain)

they lied to us
I'm running out of tee shirts and had to dig out a couple of older ones. This one from 2008 is still apposite and could be repurposed easily for current times. A little lie could be that the 'no deal' crash (Br)exit is the preferred government option all along.

  • Why else put someone like David Davies in charge for so long? He only spent 4 hours in head to head with the EU and never showed any signs of a plan. We knew he was blagging it back in 2017. Some say he resigned with dignity. I accuse him of being asleep at the wheel.
  • Why else let the so called European Research Group(ERG), run by Jacob Rees-Mogg continue to target every related government paper and hack pieces off? It's not about European Research, it's about ways for a rich toff to exert influence.
  • Why else would Steve Baker leave the government to join the ERG? He knows where the bodies are buried what was happening in DexEU (Dept for Exiting EU) and most significantly knows about the work already completed on the 'crash out' option.
  • Why else would Theresa May scrabble around to produce a 12 point plan on a couple of sheets of paper right at the last minute? It's almost tRumpian.
  • Why else would the UK issue a 24 language summary of their intentions with enough translation and grammar errors to make everyone who has read them irritated and dismissive? Not forgetting it raises the wider issue around precise interpretation of individual words.
  • Why, when doing these translations, pointedly produce a full translation for Welsh (not an officially recognised EU language) but not for Irish (which is) and do this when Northern Ireland also the source of one of the key controversies?
  • Why hint at an early recess for Parliament, even if it was thrown out? Like 'job done' here's a reward.
  • Why run the lurching and shambolic process right to the recess of parliament, leaving only a few remaining weeks to get everything settled?
The populist street phrase now is 'Why don't they just get on with it?' - with no interest in the finer detail. In practice it's the ruthless beasts of the main parties trying to grasp power in the pretence that they are carrying out 'the will of the people'. Expect to get last minute situations sprung into the debate, which will give no-one time to properly respond.

Cameron, Osborne, Farage, Johnson, Gove, Davis, Rees-Mogg, Corbyn should all be very ashamed. I can't tell for May, who I have to keep in the 'hapless' column at the moment.

Oh well, it could still get worse, I suppose.

Thursday, 19 July 2018

TDS and the need for a reboot

Has the President of the United States been hacked? I can't think of any other excuse.

Look closely and his pixels don't properly align. His entire operating system is malfunctioning.

Not just at the level of previous narcissism and mendacity, but now as fundamental unconscious incompetence.

Aside from the would/n't statement, we had the follow-up where he answered 'No' to whether he thought the Russians were still targeting the US.

This too was later claimed as a misspeak.

Apparently, as explained by a White House spokesperson, he was simply saying 'no' to the idea of more questions.

It will be interesting to see how he unspools his 130 minute private conversation with Putin, although one has to assume this will be opportunist and revisionist.

He's just claimed his 'appropriately late' endorsement for Roby won her the Alabama GOP Primary.

His spinners are already generating him a new tightly scripted 'Exceptionalism' speech to attempt to reset a leadership tone. His acolytes will believe it along with any other staccato directive soundbites.

Curiously, there must be pieces of the Trump system still operating, He's actually tweeted a term to describe his own condition. He thinks it applies to others, but it's a case of one finger points forward and three point back.

Trump Derangement Syndrome. Would/n't you know?/no? System Exception. Kernel Panic. Reboot.

Wednesday, 18 July 2018

Suite 1742, Reine Elizabeth Hotel, Montreal

This time we're in lovely and friendly Montreal, staying in the hotel where John Lennon and Yoko Ono staged their Bed-In. It was the second Bed-In actually, because their first one was at the Hilton in Amsterdam, when they had just got married. Famously that one is described in the road trip lyrics of the Ballad of John and Yoko.

Lennon and Ono protested strongly at the acts of governments appearing to do the wrong things. A lesson for today as well.

To set the scene, here's a Canadian TV description of their exploits, en route to Montreal.

And here's the original song, which was performed by the Beatles and shows the complicated route which led to the second protest about the need for peace and culminated in the second song. It's the only pop video I know that features Basingstoke and Hatch.

The song Give Peace a Chance was composed, arranged and performed in suite 1742 at the Reine Elizabeth in Montreal. Here's the 5 minutes version.

The hotel was recently remodelled and the original room has kept the spirit of the day back in 1969 when the song was performed. The promotional rate to stay in the room is a bit more that we'd pay. It's $1,969. echoing the year of the protest. We are staying in the lovely hotel, but can only glimpse the old green phone from room 1742.

The Ballad of John and Yoko

Standing in the dock at Southampton
Trying to get to Holland or France
The man in the mac said
You've got to go back
You know they didn't even give us a chance

Christ you know it ain't easy
You know how hard it can be
The way things are going
They're going to crucify me

Finally made the plane into Paris
Honeymooning down by the Seine
Peter Brown call to say
You can make it O.K.
You can get married in Gibraltar near Spain


Drove from Paris to the Amsterdam Hilton
Talking in our beds for a week
The newspapers said
Say what are you doing in bed
I said we're only trying to get us some peace


Saving up your money for a rainy day
Giving all your clothes to charity
Last night the wife said
Oh boy when you're dead
You don't take nothing with you but your soul,


Made a lightning trip to Vienna
Eating chocolate cake in a bag
The newspapers said
She's gone to his head
They look just like two gurus in drag


Caught the early plane back to London
Fifty acorns tied in a sack
The men from the press
Said we wish you success
It's good to have the both of you back


Monday, 16 July 2018

in which I encounter tic-tac-toe the humpback whale

Meet Tic-Tac-Toe - a wild humpback whale that came up to our boat today. We're back in the mist-enshrouded wilds along the St Lawrence River and had a kind of substitute Jaws moment when this huge humpback whale appeared right in from of us.

No picture from that startled and incredibly close encounter, but a few from later when the same whale reappeared ahead of us.
This particular humpback whale has a migration of about 7,000 km. They mate and calve in the warm, shallow waters of the Caribbean and Cape Verde and then return to the St Lawrence River, where this particular lady seems to thrive.
Rude to ask about weight? Maybe a guess would be a svelte 30 tons. That's a lot of krill.

Friday, 13 July 2018

i negotiate the hotel roadblock

Getting to our hotel in Québec was slightly awkward because of the extensive roadblocks. They were all because of the Festival d'été de Québec. I decided to ask a policeman how to navigate the last part of the barricades all around the hotel area. He good naturally described the route. I have a feeling he'd be doing that several thousand times in the day.

The stage closest to our hotel was the Bell stage. Before it got like the picture above, it was pretty easy to get around. Here's a soundcheck session from this afternoon.
That same stage opened properly in the evening and here's a tiny clip from this evening's excellent Lorde concert.

Thursday, 12 July 2018

a brief stay at Château Frontenac

There's no getting away from it. Our current hotel is large. It's the Château Frontenac in Québec.

Originally built with around 130 rooms, it was progressively extended until around 1920 when the whole central core was added. Another 17 floors bringing the total guest rooms to around 631. It's the main landmark in the city.

Yes, the hotel is bustling with people, Yes, we had to negotiate roadblocks to get to it, but it's a fabulously central location to explore Québec. So far every street has been interesting and quirky.

And everywhere we go seems to have a view back to the hotel.

Did I mention it was big?

Green Day - American Idiot live from Milton Keynes

auto scheduled
Remembering a prescient song from the days before pervasive smartphones.

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Mont Tremblant

A few years ago we stayed in Whistler, BC. It reminded me of a kind of Disney designed village and our current venue is like another version. This time it is near Mont Tremblant, QC and a cross between Portmerion, Port Grimaud, part of Disney and possibly even a vision from Westworld.

There's a purpose built village which incorporates several hotels, winding streets, and a variety of shops and restaurants.

The whole area bustles in the afternoon and evening. We were there during the Blues festival and the main squares rocked with the music. Late night, it goes quiet and then at about 8 am there's the first signs off a new day.
No cars are allowed in the main area, which makes it reminiscent of many European cities where the traffic has been stopped from the central streets.

The difference here is that it was built like it, along with the swooping cablecars over the rooftops and along the main street.

It's brilliant fun, but also slightly strange to think it was suddenly brought into existence about 25 years ago.

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

if you go down to the woods today

We decided to try some footpaths.

All very pretty although at a certain stage we decided it was best to be back inside a vehicle.

It's not difficult to guess when.
Okay, nothing too serious with a bit of care.
Quite picturesque, actually, although the signs are turning increasingly French.
Strange that the very nice lady warned us about something in French. Surely the French word bison means something else?
It's getting slightly sticky underfoot.
Although the local wildlife don't seem to find it boring.
I suppose after the wild boar, we need something more ooh-ahh inspiring.
But wait. This fellow looks as if he wants to own the path around here.
And now I understand that warning. Don't feed the bison.

Monday, 9 July 2018

Château Montebello

Onward to a wooden lodge in the wilds, the Château Montebello.

It's s huge log-château that was impressively built in a matter of months. At its centre is a hexagonal rotunda containing a six-sided stone fireplace more than 20 metres tall.

The rafter timbers are 18 metres long and there's a couple of mezzanine levels. The rooms splay out in corridors on each of the six sides.

The Scandinavian builders were led by a Finn, Victor Nymark, a master-builder who taught the workmen the ways to cut and splice the logs together. A special rail track was laid on to bring the timber to the site, with truckloads of British Columbian timber arriving every day.

Its setting in on the shores of the lake-like Ottawa River adds to the charm, and it has been used for all manner of events, including a G7 summit, NATO meetings and various other world-leader events. Spot a few famous faces in the group below:

Sunday, 8 July 2018

Byward Market

We took a look around Byward Market. A few blocks of fresh produce market, with a French feel to it. There was a very French patisserie and several cheese shops as well as plenty of local fresh vegetables and fruit.

Around the area were many cafes and bars with frequent references to the local poutine, which is a chips and cheese with gravy dish. I deduced that there is a basic version as well as more complicated varieties with added toppings.
We seemed to be on the edge of the full French speaking area, with still the majority of signage in English. Across the river things would be different.

Saturday, 7 July 2018

this time it's Ottawa

My first visit to Ottawa, which is a very pretty city. We are staying in a hotel next to the Parliament buildings, and we have a view out towards the Rideau canal and parliament.

This city has a human scale, with less high rise and big roads than Toronto. It somehow reminds me of Paris, with the green areas and landmark buildings.

We've been out exploring, both the city and the Ottawa River, which curves dramatically through the city. Founded by John By, who features on prominent landmarks as well as originally naming the city, which was Bytown.

John By was responsible for the construction of the Rideau Canal, which was completed in around six years and links a 200 kilometre stretch from Montreal to Kingston (which is on Lake Ontario), as well as neatly bypassing an often US-controlled stretch of the River Lawrence.

Olden days maybe, but perhaps in these trade war times there's some history repeating itself?