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The World Turned Upside Down

We were in the Northeast of England last week. We visited Tynemouth, Durham, Bishop Auckland and Sunderland.

Tynemouth was reasonably prosperous looking, quite a few eateries and with a bustling Saturday market, Durham was busy, as you would expect from a Cathedral city. Sunderland was a typical city – in its centre anyway. (I did pass the Stadium of Light but it was in the dark.)

The attraction of Bishop Auckland was the recently refurbished Auckland Palace/Auckland Castle former home of the Prince Bishops of Durham. As part of the entry ticket we were able also to enter both Auckland Tower centrepiece of the Auckland Project (though the tower itself was closed due to high winds) and the excellent Mining Art Gallery just over the road from the tower.

The town itself though was deserted (well, it was a Sunday in England) and very run-down in appearance, empty shops prominent.

I can therefore see why the locals might want change but how on Earth they think voting Conservative will in any way improve their lot is beyond me.

The Tories’ track record in aiding the working person is poor to say the least. And for a former mining area to vote Conservative is an act either of outstanding forgetfulness – or remarkable forgiveness. This truly is a topsy-turvy age.

If I go back in five years’ time I very much doubt the town’s fortunes will have recovered.

By that time we may also have witnessed the NHS even more in hock to private provision (if not sold totally down the river,) judges neutered, Channel 4 and Ofcom eviscerated, the BBC dismantled, Parliamentary constituency boundaries redrawn to favour the Tories even more and voters without photo ID disenfranchised. Not to mention the rise of the cult of Alexander de Pfeffel.

Is all that really what the inhabitants of Bishop Auckland and its neighbouring towns desire?

There’s also a clash of mandates with respect to Scottish independence to resolve. Or not, as the case may be.

And a one-sided trade deal with the US to endure.

Plus I’ve not even touched on the EU negotiations which might still be going on.

What’s to like?

I’ve Been Away

I’ve had a holiday sans internet for the past fortnight, cruising the Baltic – but I had scheduled various posts in the interim which seem to have gone on alright.

I’m back now, but I’m shattered.

I’ll get round to posting more soon.

Blog Problems

It seems that over the past few days A Son of the Rock has been to some extent inaccessible. Though able to publish new stuff I myself was getting a 404 message when trying to access previous posts.

My administrator has given things a tweak and I hope everything’s all right now.

Blog Problems Again

I’ve been unable to publish my latest book review post – on Proxima by Stephen Baxter. It wouldn’t schedule nor publish directly, all I got was an error mesage when I tried.

The blog wouldn’t accept the whole thing but I have managed to save an incomplete draft by saving it a paragraph, or less, at a time. But there’s still about half a sentence it just won’t accept. I haven’t tried to schedule it or post it direct though, as previously it has thrown me out contact with the server whenever I did so. My blog administrator suggested all sorts of things like clearing my cookies and cache – thank you, Duncan – but it wasn’t having anything to do with saving the whole post. I’m hoping the problem will somehow go away.

I want to see what happens with this one before attempting anything else.

Fingers crossed.

Normal Service

I switched the computer on yesterday for my son to have a look at it and attempt to resolve the problem I’d had with it.

Lo and behold it loaded up no bother at all.

Technology, huh?

At least I can access all my files again – and my internet bookmarks.

Hope it stays fine though.

Normal Service?

I’m having computer problems at the moment.

There was an update on Wednesday night and on Thursday and yesterday I could not access my files. I doubt the update had anything to do with this but it’s a strange coincidence. I hope the files are not gone forever as they contain records of my Art Deco posts as well as those of my Friday music ones and I’m not entirely sure my back-up disc is working properly.

I can however use the good lady’s settings to access the internet – hence the two previous days’ posts.

I’m hoping things will be resolved today by my IT consultant (it’s handy having sons who work in programming) but otherwise it may be a new computer.


What with one thing and another I’m late in posting about books I’ve read recently (not to mention trips I’ve been on.)

I’ve got Paris Adrift for Interzone 274 to write up and haven’t come near to thinking about what I’ll say about Science Fiction: A Literary History.

I suppose the second category (above) for this post ought to be Reading not Reviewed.

I’m eighteen months behind on photographs of places we’ve visited. That trip north to Ross-shire was in August 2016.

I’ve got things on for tomorrow, Thursday and Friday. Goodness knows when I’ll catch up.


Poppies – and Christmas – in August

Yesterday I had to travel about Fife and the Edinburgh area.

In St Andrews I spotted British Legion poppies (the small ones made of metal; presumably manufactured for those who think that the normal paper ones do not sufficiently show off their “patriotism” or generosity – but I call it their ostentation) at a checkout in the “M&S Food” there.

Later in a supermarket in North Queensferry, on the way home from a dinner at my eldest son’s, just inside the door was a stack of tins (well, nowadays they’re “plastics”) of Roses, Quality Street, Celebrations and Heroes.

Christmas has long since started in August – that was always when annuals were published – but Remembrance Day? They’re still beating the drums at the Edinburgh Tattoo for goodness’s sake.

How Much Do Ant and Dec Get Paid?

The Tories came up with this wheeze to get the BBC to publish the salaries of its top earners as a way of kowtowing to the wishes of their masters’ at News Corp, Sky and elsewhere as part of their continuing project to undermine the BBC. The theory seems to be that people will object to TV Licence money being “wasted” on celebrities who (by definition) are not doing a “proper” job.

Agreed these are ludicrous sums, but no more so than top footballers’ pay (perhaps less) or the even more egregious amounts paid to heads of banks and CEOs/directors at large companies, who don’t do a proper job either.

And what’s appropriate for the BBC is surely good for its broadcasting rivals too.

After all, if I happen to buy a product that has been advertised on ITV, I still pay for Ant and Dec’s salaries even though I never watch them. Ditto for anyone that appears on Sky. Why should their payments be any more commercially confidential than those who appear on the BBC?

I look forward to the day when the salaries of those at ITV and Sky are made public instead of just being estimated.

I won’t be holding my breath though.

Blog Maintenance

My blog administrator tells me some sort of update operation is taking place on 16th-17th March.

No more blog posts till the 18th then.

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