Breaking New Ground

A new chapter has begun in the ongoing saga to get high-speed internet in the countryside around here: today, the work began on digging the trenches for the fibre optic cable.

The director of the company that is investing in the network, together with two councillors from the local authorities around here thrust their shovels into the ground to mark the start of the work.

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I was there, along with other local volunteers (“ambassadors”) for the campaign to get the network, as well as employees of the council and the company doing the work of laying the network.

Persfoto schop in de grond Achterhoek Zuid

Apparently for our project there will be 750 km of trenches dug, that will ultimately hold about 60,000 km of cable.

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Pride Badges

The LGBTQ+ Pride season is upon us. Today was the London Pride march, with 30,000 marchers. The Guardian also had a story about a treasure trove of LGBTQ+ badges being found in an attic.

That reminded me that I must still have a box containing a small collection of my own. Sure enough, a rummage in a cupboard produced:

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A few of these come from the 1970’s. The Campaign for Homosexual Equality badge may well date from 1974, when I helped organise the second annual CHE conference, which was held in Malvern, Worcestershire. I suspect the GLF badge will date from the mid 1970’s, whilst the Heaven badge was produced to celebrate the opening of the Heaven nightclub in 1979.

I attended a number of marches in those days. The early Pride marches, of course, but also anti-Fascist marches and Women’s Rights marches. This photo of me and my mother was taken in June 1975, shortly after I had finished marching (along with 20,000 others) in the demonstration organised by the National Abortion Campaign.

Mum & Geoff 1975

Heady days…

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Steve Ditko

The Guardian reports today that Steve Ditko has died aged 90. He was one of the great comic book artists. I remember as a boy going round the corner to the newsagents in Walpole Avenue, in Douglas, Isle of Man, because they had the best selection of American comics in town. I soon came to recognise the Ditko name and his style of art, and always picked up an issue if he had illustrated a story in it. Alas, my comic collection has long since perished.

Walpole Avenue was a narrow street, and across the road from the newsagents was the Royalty Cinema, long since demolished. During the summer seasons in the 1950’s and up until the mid 1960’s it hosted live shows, usually of the stage hypnotist, Josef Karma – always billed as “The Great Karma”. I saw his show on at least two occasions, and was suitably impressed.

Childhood memories…

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Jaron Lanier and Social Media

An interview of Jaron Lanier, and why he thinks that Facebook and its ilk are bad for us both as individuals and as society.

He’s absolutely right, of course, but the damage has probably already been done. The one false note in this interview comes right at the end with a truly insulting observation from the interviewer, Krisnan Guru Murphy. Fortunately, Lanier is too much of a gentleman to rise to the bait.

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First Brexit, Then Trump, and Now This…

Patak’s have stopped importing their pickles to the Netherlands!

This is an absolute f***ing disaster! No more Hot Lime Pickle or Brinjal Pickle? My Indian cooking will not be the same. What are we to do?

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The Sermon

So, today there was a wedding, a Royal Wedding. And while I wish Harry and Meghan to live happily ever after; I remain a republican. This Royal Wedding was unlike any I have previously seen. Today, I witnessed the sermon from the Rev. Michael Curry. And  “witnessed” is the apt term.

Yes, I’m an atheist, but I loved this. Probably shook up the congregation a bit, but quite right.

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A New Arrival

It’s been almost a year since we had to have our Labrador, Kai, put to sleep. We miss him a lot, although our other Labrador, Watson, seems much more sanguine about it. In the beginning we didn’t actively think about getting another dog, but in the last few months we have begun to entertain the possibility.

We decided against getting another puppy – Watson was enough of a handful to think about avoiding going through all that again – so we kept an eye on the central website of the Dutch Animal Shelters, thinking that we might be able to adopt a dog.

As a result, in the last six weeks we’ve visited four animal shelters, the length and breadth of the Netherlands, looking at possible candidates. The first one was far too hyperactive for us; Watson is as mad as a box of frogs as it is, the thought of yet another did not appeal. Then Watson did not get on with the second or the third candidate, but the fourth seemed just right.

We went last Saturday with Watson to the animal shelter in Enschede to see Lexie, a 6½ year old female Labrador cross. We were all, Watson included, taken with her. Initially we thought that we’d have to make several visits to the shelter before the process of adoption could be completed, so we were surprised when the staff said that  we could adopt her that very day.

So, since last Saturday, we are now the proud owners of Lexie.

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It will take a while for her to settle in, at the moment she is very dependent on us, and does not like to let us out of her sight, or to be left alone. However, she is now becoming confident of her territory in our large garden, and today began exploring beyond its borders, so we’re going to have to keep an eye on that. She and Watson are getting on well, and play together.

And today we had a surprise from our neighbours. It’s the tradition around here to welcome new arrivals into the neighbourhood. Usually that’s for babies (mostly human – but last Sunday our neighbours celebrated the arrival of a foal at the farm next door). I looked out of the window after dinner, and saw balloons tied to the entrance to the garden, which certainly were not there a couple of hours earlier. Walking out to the front revealed the following sight:

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It says: “Welcome to the neighbourhood, Lexie”.

It’s a delightful surprise. Thank you, neighbours! Hartstikke bedankt, buren!

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