Monday 29 April 2019

Water party

This is what our local hyper-planet of largely un-needed stuff is proposing at the moment.
Fete d'l'eau - water party, Fete de actually being wordage used in French supermarkets to drag you in and spend money on special offers/seasonal goods/bulk buy, etc - not impromptue water fights and people dressed in scanty bathing attire.
Fete de vin in the autumn I can sort of relate to - time of the grape harvest, local wine companies making space for their new influx, a certain celebration of the wealth of different wine types, etc. Even though we might only buy a couple of bottles it's quite interesting to look at the wooden boxes stamped with the producers' names, and gawp at how people could possibly imagine spending three hundred euros on one bottle . . .
The pig (fete du cochon) fete is vile: lines of cooler cabinets filled with everything from brains to trotters, where fleets of customers pick through the mountains of cling-wrapped/poly-trayed pink  items before loading up their trollies, without the slightest thought, I imagine, as to where it has all come from . . .
There are many other fetes de whatever, but a water fete is the first I have seen, following on closely from the Jesus-emerging fete - marked in acres of chocolate rabbits and chocolate anything else remotely Easterish.
A fete celebrating ideas for conserving water might have been nice - water filters, household devices for reusing water, a small talk illustrating where our local water comes from, tap water tasting. . . Nope. This was just an excuse to push as much water in plastic bottles encased in plastic packaging as possible. And the REALLY stupid thing is, we have a major mineral water source just down the road a few km away which used to sell bottled water in the local supermarkets until the corrupt local council managed to close it down. Happily, for us, you can still go there and fill your own bottles which is great.
SO. And I know I've gone on about this before . . . but, what about, the local, or nearest other source - not somewhere in Italy or Scotland, could provide a couple of huge water dispensers in the supermarkets where you could take your bottles back and refill them for say, 10 cents a go?
Possibly not as simple as I imagine, but better than container lorries of plastic water bottles being driven from hundreds and thousands of kms away just so we can have a choice - if we even need one anyway, most people, at least in this planet-sector, being blessed with sanitary drinking water.
Mark read me some extraordinary info from the Guardian this morning re the amount of plastic water bottles used in one year.

Imagine laying out half-litre bottles on the pitch at Wembley Stadium. You could fit 1.7m bottles on the grass, packed into a tight grid. Now imagine building up layers of bottles, covering the same area, to build a tower. To contain all the bottled water we buy each year, you would end up with a 514-metre skyscraper – 200 metres taller than the Shard.

Not something to be celebrated.

Leclerc's own emulation of the afore-mentioned plastic-bottle sky-skyscraper?

A slightly different fete d'l'eau in Cambodia.

Friday 19 April 2019

Time for a new swear word on this planet?

Wonderful tad of editing . . . all swear words + Casino and Las Vegas by 'Roll the credits.

Desert golf course

The very phrase sounds somewhat unlikely.

The heroes in one of my 'work in progress' novels arrive on Earth after they are given a lift by a space-debris clearing vessel. Unable to say exactly where they will be dumped they find themselves in a bald and desperately hot bit of Death Valley.
See extract below.
While I was studying a map of said city (I have been there) I was curious as to what the very dark green areas within the city limits were - the rest of the colour pallet being mainly grey, beige, sandy, etc, as you might expect for a city built on a desert plain.
Golf courses.
I was fascinated and horrified, so then got completely side-tracked from the main story and spent an hour gawping at lavish, celluloid sites bragging about their golf ranges, pools, five star dining etc. How can this be allowed? Money, of course. But it's so extraordinary to more or less drape grass over sand, artificially landscape, and add elaborate water features/post modernist pilaster-encrusted buildings. In fact, the only 'natural' features might be the sand bunkers - but they are probably constructed with special white sand imported from elsewhere . . .
Even odder, I couldn't find anything much on the environmental impact of such places; tapping in: environment destruction by golf courses, and other attempts only produced one Guardian article and loads of YouTube videos of drone footage tours of the various SEVENTY or so Vegas courses, and films of grinning, overfed people taking a break from gambling and eating to stroll/buggy about on manicured grass.
Wonder how Lake Mead is doing these days.

Extract from Jez.

I’m still not sure where we are. 
No. I have no idea where we are. Ruby is sleeping in the shade of a scraggy tree – the only
one visible for some distance. It is intensely hot. Dry-hot. I feel worried that the
quantity of Bistanch’s version of water won’t be enough to keep us hydrated for long. The
arb, sun is high overhead and the silence is almost painful – just the humming of a breeze
through the needles of a vast cactus nearby and the maddening chirp of some lone insect.
Just as I’m wondering if the waste collecting crew might have misguidedly dumped us off 
onto another planet, a plume of dust announces the arrival of a vehicle. I stick out a thumb,
which is what I believe Earth-dwellers do, and wait to see if the driver stops. The truck
slams to a halt spraying sand and grit. A sandy-haired female peers out at me.
    “What in Heaven’s name s’yu doin’ out here?”
    The truth is probably not the best answer. Err, “. . . Our car got stolen . . . and we were
    “Don’t say! Where you heading?”
    This is difficult as I don’t know where we are. I think perhaps feigning death or at least
shut-down might be good but then she might just drive off and leave us.
    “The thing is, I can’t remember – think the drugs must have been really strong. And my
wife’s pregnant. You couldn’t take us to the nearest town, could you?”
    “Vegas? Sure. That’s where I’m heading.”
    “Vegas? Gambling, eating . . .”
    “Oh, yeah . . . and bariatric surgery.”
    “Right . . . what is that?”
    “Jump in and I’ll tell ya. Need a hand with yer wife there?”
    “No, that’s fine. Thanks.”
    I run over to Ruby, pick up the bags, shake her awake and harsh-whisper: “We’re near
    Las Vegas! Hurry, I got a lift – oh, and you’re pregnant.”
    Ruby stares briefly at me then scrambles to her feet. “What?”
    “I’ll explain later.”
    The woman signals to throw the bags in the back and to join her at the front. She
watches Ruby strap herself in. “How many months you gone, Angel?”
    “Just two,” improvises Ruby. “Thanks for this, it was getting so hot out there!”
    “Yeah, sorry, not much better in here. Air-con’s a bit on the way out. So, yer partner there didn’t remember where the car gotten stolen.”
    “Oh – it was Independence . . . do you live out here?”
    “Sure do. Don’t like Vegas. Used to live in San Fran but there’s more call for what I do out here. Got me a little place at Indian Springs, and a cheap city hotel when I need it.”
    “What do you do in Vegas?” asks Ruby.
    “Was ‘bout to explain to him – Bariatric surgery.”
     I glance around the grimy cab, note her weathered, brown hands.
    “You operate on people?”
    “Sure. Stomach reduction – biggest center for it in the states now.”
    “So, people come to gamble and get their stomach . . . shrunk?”
    “Stapled. Yup.”
    Ruby and I fall silent and watch the parched landscape zip past. I wonder why this woman is driving a truck, and ask her.
    “Bike got sand in the carburetor and wouldn’t start so Walt said to borrow this today. Hospital’s on the outskirts so I can park. Ya been to Vegas before?”
    Ruby leans forward and raises a hand. “I have, some years ago.”
    “Like it?”
    “It was . . . interesting. But I didn’t imagine I’d be returning.”
    “Ha! I’ll be getting out again soon as I’ve got enough to change direction.”
    “To what?”
    “Woodland burials.”
    “The way to go, honey.”
    I look out again at the beige nothingness of the desert.
    She laughs and slaps the steering wheel. “Of course not! Like I said, I’m outta here – back to Maine. Where I’m from. There ain’t no woods here, or much green, just the odd golf course – well, seventy actually.”

Wednesday 17 April 2019

What would happen if . . .

This morning I read a Guardian article where the columnist had tried NOT using Google for a week.
Of an age where he could recall life when phone numbers were mostly stored in his head and libraries were the go-to place for more generally unknown information, it made interesting reading. Especially the point that he finds it almost impossible to concentrate on anything for longer than a couple of minutes before something else occurs in his mind and a new search is started.
Of course I had to then look up - on Google what would happen if the Internet really crashed - the main premise of my post-apocalyptic novel.
I didn't actually get very far as after typing in 'what would happen if' I was fascinated to see the top searches appeared to be:

If everyone went vegan - I was pleasantly surprised by this one

If you didn't sleep

If Facebook was turned off . . . What, and what, what? That is more than worrying - 3rd question?

If the moon disappeared

If humans disappeared

If you hired two private detectives to follow each other . . . er, didn't expect that.

If America left Europe to fend for itself. Mm.

Then lots more major concerns that humans might consider: what if the sun stopped spinning, what if the Earth stopped spinning, what if there was no moon, what if it really is made of cheese (not really) etc.
And a more in-depth one: What would happen if the sun suddenly became a black hole without changing its mass . . . think we could probably imagine what would happen.
And just for fun, and that I should be doing a job I want to put off, I just tapped in:
Supposing that, and the 3rd answer (the first two were to do with missing trains) and found:

Supposing that the rat weights follow a roughly normal model.

Enough Google for now, I think.

Monday 15 April 2019

Dog sub-blog, No 3

I asked if I could photograph this little fellow somewhere in Dorset - I think.
Somewhere at the back of my mind a similar image stirred, then I remembered this morning - a certain Star Trek episode called, Let that be your last battlefield, (thank you wiki) The below-pictured character was, I seem to recall, somewhat malevolent, unlike this Jack Russel, who appeared, on the surface at least, to be full of contentment and keen to greet strangers.


Saturday 6 April 2019

On the doorstep

I lived in Dorset for about seven years and visited the county during many school holidays before that, but somehow failed to make the trip over to Brownsea Island.
Brownsea is the largest of eight islands in Poole Harbour and is reached by a cheerful little yellow ferry, the voyage taking about twenty minutes.
I think if I had visited during those years it would have become a regular haunt - with a National Trust membership as the fee plus the ferry return trip adds up. Or, perhaps it might have been worth buying a tiny boat and traversing the straight myself - or not - the swell from a larger vessel cutting across in the other direction was quite impressive . . .
Amongst many other historical facts on Wiki, I was interested to learn that the whole island was purchased in 1927 by Mary Bonham-Christie for 125,000 pounds, and as she was a recluse by nature, ordered all other inhabitants to re-locate to the mainland. Nice.
Nowadays the island is a carefully preserved nature reserve and home to many water birds, bats and red squirrels - not that we saw any. But we did enjoy the walk, the peacock flocks, the views of sparkling not-at-all brown sea and an excellent National Trust cream tea.
I had a sudden longing to live on a very small island as the ferry left - just the sight of those waterside houses - bit of fishing, tend the salt-brave plants, sit outside and watch the sun disappear over the sea's horizon and later listen to the wind buffeting the pine trees in front of a evening fire.



Impressive ivy 


Birches - I think

A relaxing peacock

A tree's life

View from the departing ferry