Here was a Plague

That’s the title of an excellent article by Tom Crewe in the London Review of Books about the history of the Aids crisis.

It seems so long ago now, and I count myself amongst the lucky survivors, but we lost so many friends and lovers in that dark period. It should not be forgotten.

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Wolves on the March

Interesting article in the Guardian about the return of the wolf into Western Europe – they’re creeping into the Netherlands as well. Cue for impassioned debate about whether, as a protected species, they should be subject to controls.

It’s also a bit ironic, since the damage caused by wolves here amounted to a paltry €10,247 in 2017 (21 dead sheep). In the same year, damage caused by other protected species was €26,201,907 (wild geese) and €1,581,542 caused by Coal tits… Still, for the shepherds concerned, it can’t be pleasant to come across one of your flock with its throat ripped out…

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Typically Dutch

The Dutch have a reputation for being straightforward, bordering on rude, in their interactions with other people. I had a prime example of this in an encounter yesterday.

My Lenovo wireless keyboard and mouse has been giving trouble over the past month or two. The keyboard and mouse become unresponsive at random intervals – and no, it’s not because the batteries are dead. When this happens, the only thing that will cure it is a reboot of the PC. The fault definitely seems to lie in the Lenovo devices, since plugging in a spare mouse and keyboard will immediately work without the need of a reboot. My spare keyboard has one non-working key, and was the reason why I swapped it for the Lenovo keyboard in the first place.

At any rate, when the Lenovo keyboard and mouse froze again yesterday, I thought enough was enough, and resolved to get a replacement keyboard (I already had a spare mouse). I jumped in the car and sped off to the local computer shop in town. Unfortunately, this being a Saturday, the shop closes at 16:00 – as I saw, with a sinking feeling, on the door as I opened it at 15:59.

“Am I too late to buy something?” I asked. “I’ve just cashed up – what do you want?” came the reply. “I need a new keyboard, because my old one has just died”, I said. “I can’t help, I’ve cashed up”, came the rejoinder. No “Sorry”, no sympathy for my plight, just “I can’t help, I’ve cashed up”. I knew that he wouldn’t help, but could he not have softened the blow with a simple “sorry”? That’s so typically Dutch…

Oh well, his loss – I ordered a new keyboard from CoolBlue, and it will be delivered today (on a Sunday!)…

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RIP Lindsay Kemp

Alas, Lindsay Kemp has died. I saw his theatre-piece Flowers (A Pantomime for Jean Genet) in London in the mid 1970s, and was bowled over by it. I’m fairly sure that I saw it on two occasions, one being (I think) in the Bloomsbury Theatre (then called the Collegiate Theatre) in Gower Street, London, but I can’t find a reference to Flowers ever being performed there.

Lindsay, with just ten other performers (including Jack Birkett) created a powerful theatrical experience that remains with me. Thank you, Lindsay.

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Be Careful What You Wish For…

Boris Johnson’s throwaway remark that “Brexit means Brexit and we are going to make a Titanic success of it.” proves a hostage to Fortune.

It’s really not going to end well, I’m afraid.

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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.


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:


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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