Custard? Frozen???

Oh my God!

It happens once in a while.

You hear about a place and think ‘That’s gotta be cool! I have to go there/try on one of those/see if it’s as bad as it sounds…’

Here’s the latest:

Leon’s Frozen Custard Drive-In.

Oh yes!

I can hear the conversation now.

Hey babe, I’m just going to pop round to Leon’s Frozen Custard Drive-In for ten Benson. Can I get you anything while I’m there? Some erm, frozen custard…?

Cool.

Erm, literally.

The downside is that Leon’s Frozen Custard Drive-In is in Milwaukee.

Oh bum.

🙁

Brennig.

Dim Cymraeg ‘yn warthus’

There’s an English bit below for those of hard of hearing…

🙂

Mae Llywodraeth y Cynulliad wedi dweud bod penderfyniad cwmni teithio i ofyn i’w staff beidio â thrafod eu gwaith yn Gymraeg yn “gwbl annerbyniol”.

Dywedodd y Gweinidog dros Addysg, Diwylliant a’r Gymraeg: “Mae’n hollol annerbyniol fod Thomas Cook wedi gwahardd staff rhag siarad Cymraeg yn y gwaith.”

Mae Carwyn Jones wedi gofyn i’r cwmni gyfarfod ag e i drafod eu polisi at yr iaith Gymraeg,

“Ein amcan ni yn y tymor hir yw creu Cymru ddwyieithog, fel bod pobl yn cael y cyfle i siarad y Gymraeg neu’r Saesneg”.

Roedd y cwmni wedi dweud y dylai sgyrsiau am waith fod yn Saesneg am mai hon oedd “yr iaith oedd yn cael ei defnyddio fwya ym Mhrydain”.

‘Gwarthus’

Roedd ymddygiad y cwmni’n “warthus,” meddai Cymdeithas yr Iaith ac yn tanlinellu’r angen am Ddeddf Iaith newydd.

Mae’r mudiad am brotestio y tu allan i gangen y cwmni ym Mangor ddydd Sadwrn os nad yw’r cwmni yn newid eu hagwedd.

Mae Bwrdd yr Iaith wedi dweud fod penderfyniad Thomas Cook wedi eu siomi.

Ac mae penaethiaid Thomas Cook wedi dweud nad yw rheol iaith y cwmni yn y swyddfa ym Mangor yn wahanol i unrhyw un o’u siopau eraill.

“Er tegwch i bob aelod o staff, lle bynnag mae’r swyddfa, mae disgwyl i’r staff drafod busnes yn Saesneg,” meddai llefarydd.

Ond dywedodd y cwmni eu bod yn caniatáu sgyrsiau personol yn y Gymraeg neu unrhyw iaith arall.

‘Siomedig’

Mae Comisiynydd Cymru y Comisiwn Cydraddoldeb Hiliol, Aled Edwards, wedi rhybuddio y gallai’r polisi busnes dorri’r ddeddf cydraddoldeb hiliol.

Os oes prawf, fe allai’r comisiwn gynnal ymchwiliad ffurfiol, meddai.

“Dwi’n credu bod diogelu hawliau pobl i siarad eu hiaith eu hunain o fewn eu gwlad eu hunain ac yn y man gwaith yn rhywbeth priodol i’w ystyried,” meddai.

“Mae gen i’r pŵer i fedru cefnogi person cyflogedig os ydyn nhw’n teimlo eu bod nhw wedi cael cam.

“Os ydw i’n teimlo bod anghyfiawnder fan hyn, dwi’n medru cysylltu â’n pwyllgor cyfreithiol”.

Dywedodd Bwrdd yr Iaith Gymraeg eu bod yn falch bod y comisiwn yn dangos diddordeb.

“Dwi’n siomedig iawn bod cwmni fel hyn, cwmni mawr rhyngwladol, wedi gwneud penderfyniad o’r fath, sy’n ymddangos i mi ddim yn un call iawn,” meddai Meri Huws, Cadeirydd Bwrdd yr Iaith Gymraeg.

‘Sarhaus’

Dywedodd Dafydd Iwan, Llywydd Plaid Cymru: “Mae hyn yn dangos yn eglur fod rhagfarn afiach yn erbyn y Gymraeg yn bodoli o fewn rhai o’r cwmnïau mawr hyn, ac mi fyddwn yn annog pobl sy’n byw yn ardal Bangor i ddefnyddio’r cwmnïau teithio lleol sy’n parchu’r Gymraeg, ac yn barod i drafod eu busnes yn yr iaith.

“Mae agwedd sarhaus Thomas Cook yn brawf arall o’r angen am Ddeddf Iaith newydd a fydd yn rhoi statws gyflawn i’r Gymraeg, ac yn rhoi hawliau mewn deddf i siaradwyr Cymraeg.”

Dywedodd Hywel Griffiths, cadeirydd Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg: “Mae gwaharddiad Thomas Cook yn amhosib i’w gynnal.

“Disgwyliwn y bydd pwysau wrth eu cwsmeriaid a chyrff cyhoeddus, yn ogystal â thwpdra eu sefyllfa eu hunain, yn eu gorfodi i dynnu nôl o fewn dyddiau, efallai yn ystod y dydd heddiw.”

Ychwanegodd Carwyn Jones, y Gweinidog dros Addysg, Diwylliant ac y Gymraeg: “Fe ofynwyd i Fwrdd yr Iaith Gymraeg yn eu llythyr gorchwyl wrth Lywodraeth y Cynulliad yn 2007-8, i ddatgbygu’r defnydd o’r Gymraeg yn y gweithlu, gan gynnwys hybu ymwybyddiaeth a sensitifrwydd ieithyddol.

“Mae Bwrdd yr Iaith Gymraeg wedi cynnal cynlluniau peilot gyda Heddlu Gogledd Cymru a Chyngor Ceredigion er mwyn datblygu’r defnydd mewnol o’r iaith yn y sefydliadau yma. Mae Llywodraeth y Cynulliad wedi datblygu ei defnydd mewnol o’r iaith Gymraeg er mwyn gwireddu ein ymrwymiadau yn ein Cynllun Iaith Gymraeg yn fwy effeithiol”.

Newyddion…Â

So what Thomas Cook are actually saying here is that:

  • it’s OK for the staff to have private and personal conversations amongst themselves in Welsh
  • it’s OK for the staff to have professional conversations with members of the public in Welsh
  • it’s not OK for the staff to discuss things like ‘training and team performance’ amongst themselves in Welsh.

I’m beginning to think that Thomas Cook managers might need to be replaced.

Brennig.

Is it me…?

Just outside the Limehouse Link tunnel there’s a big sign that says what is – and isn’t – allowed on the road through the tunnel.

It lists ‘Inflammables’ and ‘Explosives’.

Erm, isn’t petrol inflammable and, erm, explosive?

Brennig.

Music hath charms to soothe the savage breast…

do you know how many people misquote that erm quote and say savage beast? no, me neither. but it’s got to be a big number…

Anyway…

Last night’s drive to the house in Brixton was accompanied by Smokers Outside the Hospital by Editors.

When I say accompanied I mean the whole trip.

It’s brilliant (Ted).

So brilliant that it’s only surpassed by this morning’s dose of Sigur Ros.

Back to Smokers Outside the Hospital.

I loved this track the first time I heard it on Mark and Lard Radcliffe and Maconie on Radio 2 a couple of weeks ago.

The track has a slow build but makes it to an anthemic hook that could have been written by Embrace, U2 and Snow Patrol had they met on a boozy night after a large quantatity of McCafferey’s had been put away.

The vocalist is reminiscent of Brad Roberts of Crash Test Dummies (the Canadian group who had a stormer in 1993 with Mmmm Mmmm Mmmm Mmmm).

And that’s the thing…

Is Smokers Outside the Hospital so notably good because it’s as different from the bulk of the pap that’s in today’s charts as Mmmm Mmmm Mmmm Mmmm was different from the stuff that was around in 1993?

Whatever.

It’s a brilliant track.

Book review – Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky

This novel was the set text of a book group I attend.

And…

I struggled with it from the outset.

But because it was a set text I kept up my struggle, battled on with it long after I would have given up on a novel-of-choice.

From the very first page I found it difficult to frame.

Suite Francaise is a fictionalised story of a group of characters set against the backdrop of the early days of the Second World War in France.

I tried to read it in the mental setting of the novel that it purports to be, but felt uncomfortable with it in this light.

My head kept trying to position the work as if it were a factional narrative, something along the lines of a ‘Diary of Anne Frank‘ kind of work…

But this too felt uncomfortable.

There is no doubting the sheer horror of the story of the persecution of the French Jews (by the French, implicitly, as well as by the Germans) that lies behind this fictionalised account.

There is also no doubting the sweeping vista that the authoress had intended Suite Francaise to become; five distinct tales set within the framework of a classical symphony, each with a differently paced-movement, Allegro, Andante…

We shall never know the pace of – or melody behind – the other movements because Irene Nemirovsky perished in an entirely predictable, tragic manner, long before she could finish creating her planned scenes, characters and settings.

I did wonder if it was the fictionalisation of the tale that made the book such a difficult read.

And then I slept on it and the next day remembered the two versions of ‘War and Peace‘ I’ve read.

The first was an early translation that had the feel of an old black and white move: strong atmosphere but stiff characters, stilted dialogue, seemingly cardboard-constructed settings.

The second – and much later – translation felt far more comfortable. Yes it had depth and character but it was as if the scenes somehow had removed their corsets; they became softer, less wooden, not as formal.

This makes me wonder if a different translation of Suite Francaise might find what, for me, this version is missing.
 

History repeats (wiser heads than Bush and Blair)

General Carl Philipp Gottfried von Clausewitz (01/06/1780 – 16/11/1831) wrote between 1816 and 1830 his acclaimed and (even now in the 21st Century) influentially pivotal text ‘On War‘.

On War‘ is the strategic thesis that effectively dictates what will win and what will lose the modern military battle.

Von Clausewitz’s thought-provoking exploration in to the logical rule of war is required reading at most modern military colleges – the Army college at Sandhurst is no exception.

The learned General makes it plain that ‘a war should never be fought on two fronts’.

Book 6, Chapter 7 – The Offensive Battle – is particularly interesting in the following observation of the flanking/outflanking manoeuvre:
‘To be able in turn to operate with success against the flanks of an enemy, whose aim is to turn our line, it is necessary to have a well chosen and well prepared position.’

Indeed Von Clausewitz’s contemporary, the Prussian Field Marshall Alfred Graf von Schlieffen sought to ignore this rule when he put forward a plan to fight a campaign on two fronts.

Von Schlieffen’s plan was later executed by the advancing German forces in the early stages of the First World War and resulted in a massive, costly (in human terms) and unbelievably painful period of trench warfare in which the better-armed, better-fed and better-equipped Germans comprehensively lost the battle.

It seems that two modern-day Generals haven’t read von Clausewitz’s definitive philosphy on warfare.

Bush and Blair.

It was a huge error in military judgement for Bush and Blair to commit a massive amount of military materiel to the open-ended and undefined ‘War or Terror’ which has resulted in the wilful slaughter that now defines the US-led invasion of Iraq.

But this error was compounded and magnified a hundred times when taken in the context of the other two military fronts that the US and UK were already fighting.

Afghanistan.

Yes, the war in Afghanistan is being fought on two fronts – and that’s something worth reminding ourselves of:

Afghanistan is currently host to the NATO-led military force which includes a large number of US forces.

Outside of this deployment – and external to this military structure, chain of command and communications model – are the US-led forces (almost exclusively composed of US ‘Special Forces’) who are fighting the local ‘War on Terror’.

So we have two distinct military operations in Afghanistan:
* The ‘regular’ forces that comprise the NATO operation and,
* The ‘special’ forces that comprise the ‘War on Terror’.

And in Iraq we have a third military operation; tens of thousands of staff fighting under the US-led ‘War on Terror’ (Iraqi Chapter) banner.

So the ‘alliance’ is actually fighting a war on three fronts.

I wonder what von Clausewitz would have said about that?

Having a break, having a Worcestershire Walkabout…

It’s lunchtime, it’s so quiet that a veil of complete and utter silence hangs over the valley.

Except for the twittering of the birds in the wood over there.

The view on three sides of me is green and arable; open fields stretch down and away from the hill I’m standing on.

Behind me is the American Barn (stable block) and the lorry park.

I’ve taken a half-hour lunchbreak (even though it’s 15.00) to check on the health and wellbeing of my boys – Beech and Vin.

The fly that’s been stalking me since I climbed out of the car is in for a shock if it gets too close.

Anyway…

Beech is fed up.

He doesn’t understand why he’s shut in his stable as though he’s a naughty schoolboy, grounded for overstepping one too many marks, when he hasn’t done anything naughty and it’s wonderful weather outside.

So I tried to explain that having a fractured leg meant no running, jumping or larking-about outside with Cousin Vin, but it does mean he has to stay in and try to not move too much… but he doesn’t get it.

He’s adopted an expression of puzzlement crossed with frustration; it suits his mood very well.

But he’s wearing a couple of sliced apples.

On the inside.

My fruit-based gesture of goodwill seems a little pathetic, particularly when I see him stumping around his stable with his floor-length Robert Jones Dressing on his near foreleg.

Vin was also pleased to see me.

As I walked down to his field he lifted his head, pricked his ears and made little whickering noises as he strode purposely towards me.

He looks good; keen, fit, healthy, raring to go and he shows no ill-effects from Saturday’s workout at Hilltop Cross Country.

I’ve trotted him up in the field, just to check he’s not lame after suffering the cut to his coronet band on Saturday.

Thrilled to see him move with his customary athleticism and no sign of tenderness.

Vin too is internally wearing a couple of sliced applies.

There’s a dressage competition over at Swallowfield on Saturday that I’m taking him to; Prelim 10 and Prelim 18.

Two more dressage tests to learn.

It’s very hot this afternoon.

Vin now has a sheen of fly repellent but my stalking bluebottle doesn’t seem to be particularly repelled.

I think I hate flies.

I need to go now.

I’ve been super-productive, got lots of work done today that I would still be struggling with, had I been in the office.

But I’ve got lots more to do.

The temptation to tack Vin up and school him in the arena for 20 minutes pops in to my head but I look down at my running-short-clad legs and dismiss the idea instantly.

I get in the car, start up, put the air-con on full blast and pull slowly out of the yard.

Bugger me.

That bloody fly’s in here!

Be afraid, be very afraid…
 

Short shorts, medium shorts and long shorts…

Yay!

I’ve just finished the SciFi short that I’ve been working on for a few weeks.

Yeah I know, shorts shouldn’t take a few weeks, I should be knocking them out the way a chicken produces eggs (but perhaps with a little less straining and a lot less blood on the finished product).

But other things get in the way…

This evening I spent an hour and a half writing up documentation for a work-project. I have lots more documentation as well as analytical outputs to produce in the next couple of days…

But…

I have the germ of an idea for another short story which, in theory, has a ready readership through a print magazine (rather than a magazine of the ‘e’ variety).

I’d like to sit down and work on this idea but I can’t see me having the time to even rough-out a draft synopsis for the next three to four weeks.

I’ll play with it in my head while I’m on the road, instead.

Brennig.

Sticks and stones (2)…

The title proved to be prophetic in a way.

This morning’s timing got changed; I rang William at 08.00 and said I was still up for the session but was going to be late down to Hilltop.

He said they had a cancellation overnight and did I fancy a slot at 11.00.

Did I?

Is the pope a Catholic?

I jogged back in to the barn and broke the news to Vin.

He looked at me inscrutably over his haynet, paused mid-munch, thought complex equine thoughts then continued munching.

I fannied about the yard, had a hot chocolate, did a final run through the checklist and went to get Vin.

Getting Vin was incredibly tough.

I walked past his stable – no large orange-coloured head looking over the door at me.

I did a comedy double-take and walked right up to the door.

He was in.

Lying down.

Fast asleep.

And I mean fast asleep!

I’d already groomed him but Vin (bless!) had got down on to his knees, rolled over on to his side, curled his legs underneath him and fallen fast asleep.

In a pile of specially laid (oh yes, I have no doubt of this!) horse poo.

He had a green stable stain right up his belly, left side of his barrel and left shoulder.

I called him.

His body language said ‘La la la I’m not listening’.

He wasn’t.

He was actually fast asleep.

I walked up to his slightly snoring form, slipped the head collar on and started calling him.

He looked up at me as if I were out of my head, turned and rested his head on a foreleg and closed his eyes again.

Sue and Laura were wetting themselves.

I eventually got him to wake and with a little (lot) more coaxing got him to stagger to his feet.

By now I was running out of time so I just loaded him, closed the lorry up and at 10.10 we drove out of the yard and headed down the A38, M5, M50 and on to Ledbury.

We arrived in good time, I unloaded a very settled-looking boy and set about getting him ready.

His stable stain brushed out as did the bedding shreds that were still all over him.

With Vin tacked up and booted and his rider wearing the customary degree of protection I mounted up and hacked down to the start of the cross country course.

We were late starting our session (we being three females aged between late teens and mid-thirties), late because one horse in the earlier group had lots of problems and William doesn’t like to give up on anyone.

When our group started Vin’s initial canter-lengthening scared the living daylights out of me; he slipped straight in to racehorse mode and tried to tank away with me.

I brought him back to the pace I wanted and we established a smarter rhythm and began popping over the warm-up fences in a short-course.

William called on us to give a lead to one of the other competitors several times – I couldn’t decide if the horse or the rider was having the problems.

We soon moved to the next field and Vin was absolutely brilliant, confidently jumping tree-trunks, shark’s teeth, helsinki rails and railway sleepers – light in to dark, dark in to light; my nerves long since vanished, Vin and I working together as a determined team with an objective at every fence.

It was brilliant.

We were brilliant.

It didn’t last though; we didn’t approach one set of steps with sufficient impulsion and he clattered the first element with his near fore.

The blood was flowing pretty fast; he’d cut himself on the coronet band – a very small cut but I don’t take chances, our day out ended there.

Sarah (bless) walked back to the lorry with us to make sure we were ok; it was nice to have a little chat with her.

Vin seemed fine, I flushed the cut with eight gallons of water, inspected the wound then flushed it some more, just for good measure.

Then I gave him a bath; he loved that!

We loaded up and made our way home.

Back at the yard I flushed his cut some more, groomed him then turned him out, then I went and snuggled Beech before cleaning the lorry out, putting the tack away and parking the lorry in its bay.

And then I got in my car and drove home, as high as a kite on adrenaline – despite Vin’s little mishap.

A brilliant day!

Brennig.

… and words will never…

Sitting at my desk this afternoon.

My boss quietly walked up behind me, said “Hi” and sat down in the vacant chair.

Are you going to be ok with that thing we spoke about earlier?

I looked at her for a moment; she took my silence as an affirmative.

It’s a very tight timescale.”

I stared at her for another few seconds and then said, “Yarp.”

Her turn to sit silently and stare.

Obviously  not seen Hot Fuzz.

But inside I was peeing myself.

🙂

Brennig.