Marmiteboy - Urbane Warrior.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Benazir Bhutto 1953 - 2007

Benazir Bhutto was an extremely brave person who refused to bow down to the threat to her life. She was determined to bring democracy back to Pakistan and today paid for that determination when she was assassinated at an election rally in Rawlapindi. We can only hope her death was not in vein and that the people of Pakistan are once again free to choose their own government.

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Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Oscar Peterson 1925 -2007

One of the truly great jazz pianists, Oscar Peterson died on 23 December in his native Canada aged 82. He was one of the truly great jazz players with an instantly recognisable style. He played fast but very lyrically not only showing superb technique but also his fantastic improvisation skills. Oscar's 'Night Train' album made with bass player Ray Brown and drummer Ed Thigpen remains one of my favourite jazz albums of all time. Oscar Peterson was a true musical genius and will be sorely missed.


Tuesday, December 18, 2007

A New(ish) Arrival.

Readers my be aware of my love of pussy cats. I have lived quite happily with my boys Marmite and Twiglet in darkest Essex. They get on very well and love to play fight and chase each other around the flat, shedding fur (Marmite) and knocking stuff over (Twiglet).

I have lived at the flat for about two and a half years and for all of that time a rather large female cat has either hung around in the garden or has snuck in when no one is looking to nick food. All the neighbours around me have wondered where she belongs. She is fit and healthy, with a lovely shiny coat but from her actions it seems she belongs to nobody.

Over the last year or so she has become bolder. I'd find her asleep on my kitchen table when I got up in the morning or when I got home from work. She wouldn't venture any further than the kitchen and was happy to cadge a bit of food if she could. I tried forcibly to chuck her out on many occasions but she showed her displeasure by hissing and moaning at me. The neighbours still often asked who the fat tabby with white feet belonged to because she obviously was trying it on with them too.

About three months ago I tried to see if she would come further into the flat. She was very weary of coming further than the doorway to the lounge. Then one weekend when Lily and Sybil were staying she decided that she wanted to come a see Sybs (who was on the computer). She trotted into the lounge and settled down on the floor for a sleep. That was a turning point. She pops about for a quick wander like the boys but has decided she likes living in Chez Marmite and is now a permanent fixture. She sleeps on the bed with me at night and loves being fussed and curling up to whoever is available on the sofa. Twiglet get s along very well with her and Marmite is getting used to her but likes to tell her who is boss a couple of times a day. She has been named Podge due to her immense girth. It seems she was very adept at begging for food.

Obviously I was still a bit concerned about just who, if anyone, she belongs to. The friend I bought the flat from assures me that she was around as a kitten with two others about 5 years ago so it seems she has been dumped. The other two have long since disappeared (probably by the same tactics as Podge).

I am, therefore, a three cat family and when Lily and I move in together (which will hopefully happen next year) we will be a six cat family. Which is a lot of Felix I can tell you.


Friday, December 07, 2007

Gdansk, Zubrowka and Solidarnosc.

The trip to Gdansk was not really planned. Father O'Malley rang me one Satruday evening about six weeks ago and stated that he had book three seats on a flight for himself, Jock Pop and me to Gdansk in Northern Poland, total price £1.56. Now that is cheap! I booked some hotel rooms at £21 a night and it was on.

We left home at 4:00 on Wednesday morning and arrived at Gatwick for our flight out. Upon arrival a taxi dropped us at our hotel for us to dump our bags and we headed into town. Gdansk is one of the three towns dubbed the 'Tri-City' in Northern Poland along with Gdynia and Sopot (twinned with my home town of Southend).

Gdansk is probably most famous for Solidarnosc (Solidarity) the trade union movement that defied the Communist regime in 1980. It was a revolution that captured the attention of the world and catapulted Lech Walesa the leader of Solidarnosc to iconic status. He eventually became the President of Poland following the fall of Communism and was awarded the Nobel Peace prize. The 'Roads To Freedom' Centre on Waly Piatowskie is well worth a visit therefore. It costs just over a quid to get in and is moving, frightening and a great tribute to the human spirit.

The one thing that you will notice if you live in the UK is just how cheap Poland is. Taxi's are a fraction of the cost of the equivalent fare in Britain. The 10 minute ride into the town centre from our hotel was about 3 quid, the journey back from the station to my flat today cost £10!!

Food is hearty and also very cheap. You can have a massive meal for under a fiver. if you fancy a booze up then you will fall over before you run out of money. The local brew Zybiec is a pound a pint and vodka (which comes in double measures) is about the same. My favourite Zubrowska (Bison Grass Vodka) is a gorgeous drink. I had had it on a couple of occasions before but at a 6 zloty a go I had quite a bit more of it. It probably didn't mix well with my pain killers (i.e. it stopped them working) but hey, it's not often I have a booze up these days and I didn't go mad. Not as mad as my companions who were really suffering this morning on the flight back after drinking copious amounts and not getting back to the hotel until 2am. How I laughed.

Gdansk is a great place. Friendly people, good food, fantastic drink and as cheap as chips. If you get the chance give it a go. I'm looking forward to going back.