Sunday, October 19, 2014

Renault Clio IV (TCe Expression) update ...

... I have just been sent a recorded delivery letter from Renault boasting of their serious concern about their cars and customer satisfaction. I am requested to make an appointment with my garage to carry out a check on the brakes (presumably some problem has been reported).

Despite the many complaints made on the various forums, there is no mention of the infamous wind noise issue.

While I am at it, over the past few weeks, the irritating 'click' sound (originating somewhere near to the back window) has mutated into a creaky sound at various places along the right hand side (passenger side as this is left-hand drive). I have a definite sense that the right rear of the car was not very well finished.

Anyway, I will make the appointment & pass on these gripes expecting to be told - as before - that this is 'normal' (but abnormal) for the model.

This aside, it's a good car & I have to admit that the quietness of the engine probably throws cabin noise into sharper relief. Pity, though, that Renault build & service is not up to its design concept.

(This post is directed particularly at my Portuguese reader).

Saturday, October 18, 2014





... in praise of shadows, 3pm ...

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Apologies for the hiatus but things have been unusually busy - & enjoyable. The days positively fly by.

Less jolly has been a seemingly perpetual cold since the beginning of September (thick chesty cough, catarrh) & yet nothing sufficient to force a day in bed. Not even the feeling of being 'under the weather' simply 'I wish this would go away'.

The pool has now been closed for over a month but I've been walking every day - 30 mins the minimum up to 2 hours or more. Sunday morning in the woods at 8am I stood transfixed by the sunlight coming up from behind the trees - the light falling upon the wooden gate, fence struts & the under side of leaves. A moment that then suffused the rest of the day. Reason, then, to put on the boots & head out.

Tune in next time for updates on the reading & ear food.

Sunday, September 28, 2014


So I see a Mr Reckless has defected to UKIP on the eve of the Tory party conference.

Mr Reckless ... the stuff of cheap fiction. Which, of course, it is.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

On the rebound from John Latta's Ashbery post - consolation for my own daily errancy. A couple of weeks ago a student asked: "How many books are you reading?" gesturing to the piles on the various desks behind me plus the several volumes lying next to my cup & register.

I began to explain & realised the further I went the worse it sounded (the old adage of "don't begin a new book until you've finished the one you're currently reading" echoing down the decades). In desperation I tried out the analogy of planes stacked before landing - which is more or less accurate.

That's pretty much how it is - on any given day I have two or three books 'in the air' as, for instance, today: Bunting's Collected, Keith Waldrop's new one (The Now Forever) and Davenport's Geography of the Imagination (for the Ruskin essay). Quite why, I'm not entirely sure: hope that they will kick start some writing? A certain quality in the day? A mood, a scent, an inkling? Or simply the comfort that comes in having some words to hand?

& who knows what the eye might alight on? This, perhaps:

My tongue is a curve in the ear

('Villon', Bunting)

A line that transforms the day.
The walking bug is getting serious. First, the purchase of a new pair of boots a month ago (La Fuma, excellent); today, a rucksack - more accurately what's now called a 'day pack' - (Eastpak Wyoming, dark blue with a leather base, does all I need).

The point being, if I walk up to the Pain Quotidien of a weekend morning I need somewhere to stow the baguette & croissants leaving the hands & arms free. QED.

Casting my mind back, I think the last one I bought was in Bristol c. 1990? These days E. uses it for Scouts.

Do I miss the pool? Sort of. Yet walking offers other pleasures - fresh air, variety (not simply the soles of the feet of the person in front), & a rhythm that seems to fit with the wandering mind.

This morning I see two crows on the pavement fighting over an empty nutshell. Shrieks, wing flapping, pecking. A pointless argument over nothing.

No ... I'll leave it at that.



In the beginning you make a mess but tell everyone you've tidied things up. Years later the mess has got worse so you come back to 'tidy up' and make an even bigger mess. More years go by and the mess has started to spread further and further. Some mess is even turning up on your doorstep which makes it Real Mess. You realise that the people who lived in your mess have now learnt how to make mess of their own and have started exporting it. So you decide to have another go at tidying up except now no one quite believes this will do anything other than make the mess even worse and - more worrying still - who, now, can tell the difference between mess and more mess and even more mess: 'your' mess, 'their' mess, 'our' mess ... ?

"That's a fine mess you've gotten us into, Stanley" as Oliver Hardy used to say.

Bring on the clowns.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

The 7:30 am now routine morning walk around the school neighbourhood before shouldering my bag of responsibilities & going in.

Today, turning into the home strait, I see a colleague in the Music Dept., open-necked shirt, smoking a cigarette. I greet him & we shake hands. He explains he's trying to give up the habit - but he likes a smoke while out on a walk. Doesn't make sense, but there it is. He shrugs.

Although I don't smoke, I can understand his dilemma. We talk about the pleasures of an early morning stroll - the houses still more or less asleep, the bird song, the fresh chill to the air.

I explain that I walk my dog - at which he nods & looks around. The joke is, of course, I have no dog. Then the penny drops & he laughs.

I begin to head back towards my car. "Our secret" I say conspiratorially, looking over my shoulder. He nods & drags again on his cigarette.

As I walk to the car I'm thinking about this strange 'brotherhood' (sisterhood, too, is possible but I haven't yet encountered any women) drawn by the morning. What compels us to find this little space (a mere 10 ... 15 ... 20 minutes or so)? To think, to wander, to 'commune' with the spirits of the air - or simply to prove we're not completely at the mercy of someone else's schedule?

Whatever it is, it does me a power of good.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

... try as I might, I can find very few arguments as to why Scotland would want to remain part of the United Kingdom.

The very sight of Cameron, Milliband & Clegg crossing the border would be reason enough to say 'get lost!'

If Scotland does break away, I wonder whether the Flemish community here might see it as a kind of precedent. & that scenario is another story ...