The World at Large
Not a great deal has grabbed my attention in the news this month. This may partly be due to the fact that I haven’t been paying much attention: the weather has been beautifully sunny and I have been quite busy. It is also probably a lot to do with the fact that the news has been dominated by sport and I’m really not very interested. Nonetheless, I suppose it has to have a mention.
This month saw the start of the World Cup and, for England, the end of it too as they lost all three games they played. Hardly surprising when our club teams buy in foreign players who then play against us in national tournaments I suppose. In other World Cup news, there was much furore caused by Luis Suarez (Liverpool striker playing for Uruguay) biting an Italian opponent. Apparently he has done this kind of thing before; perhaps he should be put down.
At the end of the month things were looking better in the tennis as Andy Murray was blazing through Wimbledon without losing a single game. Sadly, as I write, he is out having lost to Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov in the quarter finals.
The news was no better for the rugby or the cricket. All hopes are now pinned on our cyclists in the Tour de France which starts in Yorkshire on 5th July.
Staying with sport (must we?) the gloss of the world cup has been severely tarnished by protests in Brazil over the cost of the event, and by FIFA coming under fire from allegations of bribery in relation to Qatar’s winning bid for the World Cup in 2022.
That is about as much as you are ever likely to read about sport in one of my blogs.
More important news hiding beneath all of the sport included trouble in Iraq as Muslim fundamentalist militants led by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isis) captured a number of cities and took control of the west of the country. The group is even considered a bit too extreme by al-Qa’eda, so that can’t end well.
Meanwhile, nearer to home, there are concerns of a “Trojan Horse” conspiracy by Muslim fundamentalists to take control of schools in Birmingham. Michael Gove and Theresa may both got into trouble for arguing about the situation. There are also concerns about Britons going off to fight as jihadis returning to the country radicalised and bent on causing trouble. Personally I don’t care about what race or religion people are, but we definitely need to do what we can to prevent religious zealots turning the world back to the Dark Ages, and especially our corner of it.
June 6th marked the 70th anniversary of D-Day – the Normandy Landings and the Liberation of Europe. There was much poignant coverage as old soldiers visited the beaches for perhaps the last time and recounted tales of unfathomable bravery and hardship. One old soldier in particular became something of a celebrity: Bernard Jordan escaped his care home to attend the event. He turned 90 shortly afterwards and was overwhelmed when he received 2,500 birthday cards from well-wishers and admirers around the world.
Britain was once again at odds with the EU when David Cameron failed to get support for his attempt to block the selection of former Luxembourg PM Jean-Claude Juncker from becoming president of the European Commission. This does not bode well for future negotiations.
The long-awaited verdict came in on the News of the World phone-hacking trial: Andy Coulson Guilty, Rebekah Brookes, not guilty. Again our beleaguered PM found himself in trouble, apologising for his lapse of judgement in employing Coulson as his director of communications.
And finally, right at the end of the month, Rolf Harris was found guilty of 12 counts of indecently assaulting four girls in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. Unlike some of the other much-loved entertainers from my youth who have been similarly dragged through the courts of late, everyone seemed genuinely surprised that Harris was involved. It all seems very tawdry and depressing.
Okay, so perhaps more caught my attention in the national news than I thought, but there was definitely less in the local news.
After much angst around the move of the Eastgate Market to make way for TKMaxx, it turns out that the market traders are staying put. In a secret ballot in March they voted 21:5 in favour of staying, so the council is allowing them to. The new TKMaxx is now ‘on ice’ and may be revisited once the King’s Quarter is available.
Meanwhile, more pressure is being brought to bear on Marks & Spencer to lease out their old store in Northgate Street, which was another contender for TKMaxx. The current lease agreement reported by the Citizen is unlikely to encourage anyone to take it on, so Gloucester may be left with a large, empty carbuncle for some time.
Plans have been reported for the old Tanners Hall to be turned into a car showroom. This sounds like an inauspicious fate for the city’s oldest remaining secular building, which was originally a medieval merchant’s house. I’m in two minds whether it would be better to leave it alone or whether it may be better preserved as part of a car showroom.
And to end with bad news: having reported last month about the decision to call it a day on Gloucester’s first micro-pub planned for the corner of Southgate Street and Llanthony Road, now I hear rumours that Gloucester Brewery have decided against converting the old Bridge House into a brewery tap. The good news is that they haven’t given up the idea all together, but are looking for alternative options.
June has been another very busy month. The weekend of 6-7 saw the annual beer festival at the Pelican to celebrate their anniversary of opening, and an excellent event it was too. As last year the weather was very good, there were a large number of beers and the place was packed. I even helped out behind the bar briefly, but that didn’t seem to spoil things too much and I got a T-shirt for my trouble.
I did a lot of motorcycling by my standards during the month. It began with a nice gentle half day ride with the RoSPA Advanced Motorcycle Group to Old Down Country Park near Bristol. I upped the ante the following weekend, however, with a ride around the Brecons with a friend: around 270 miles of mostly narrow single track roads. Brilliant. Later that week I had the opportunity to travel for work and took the bike for another 150 mile round trip and then, finally, the following weekend I went on the bike camping to Porlock with friends.
This latter was the ‘blokes weekend’ that a bunch of my friends do every year, but my aversion to camping has meant that I haven’t been before. However, I am converted: it was an excellent weekend and I’m looking forward to next year already.
And finally, right at the end of the month was Cassington Bike Night: a superb event in the motorcycling calendar.
Other social events included a 50th birthday bash for our friend Heather. She chose to celebrate at the Tivoli in Cheltenham, and very good it was too – I suspect we will be going back. There was some kind of football match on later in the evening, so everyone dispersed quite early which was a shame, but probably no bad thing as it was the day before my Welsh ride out.
This month’s CAMRA Social was at the Northend Vaults, where the beer was excellent. Some of the other pubs we visited during the evening were a bit disappointing, however.
We had more luck toward the end of the month when we went into Gloucester with our friend Sal: a great meal at Portivo Lounge and no disappointment with the beer at Doctor Fosters and The Pelican.
Finally, more news on my on-going, unsuccessful battle to get fit and lose weight. I actually had managed to lose some weight last month after returning from Venice, largely due to a new food combining eating programme my wife devised. However, after last month’s mishap at the gym I didn’t exercise for a while and I have slipped into bad eating was – mostly eating out during our busy month.
I am now exercising again, but with the bad experience at the gym allied with the good weather I’ve decided to try to find alternative ways of exercising. I have dragged out my bicycle and devised a 5km circuit to start with and, on other nights, I go for a run around a 1Km circuit. This may not sound like much, but it is probably about what I usually do in the gym, I just have to work out how to incorporate some weight work.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t enjoy it any more than the gym, but at least I get some fresh air.
This has been an abysmal month for blogging: I blame the good weather, my busy social calendar and lack of inspiration from the news.
Anyway, excuses aside, I produced only four blogs during the month. It serves me right, therefore, that I had the lowest number of monthly hits for over a year.
Fighting Political Apathy managed to find its way back to the top slot for the month, but blogs written during the month came in at second and third: Just Another Anytown UK? and Bikes, Beer, Pork Scratchings and Sunshine in Porlock respectively.
The other two languished in the bottom of the top ten, including last month’s review. These take quite a lot of effort and don’t appear that popular, so they may not survive much longer.
So that’s it for June, have a great July!