So that was October 2014…

Another month, another monthly review…

The World at Large

All the bad stuff that I have blogged about in previous months continues, with wars and skirmishes across the globe. In particular, fighting against Isis continues, with Britain sending in RAF jets but ruling out putting ‘boots on the ground’; but perhaps I shouldn’t dwell on all of this too much as apparently the world isn’t as bad as we believe, as I blogged earlier this month.

That’s as maybe, but the Ebola crisis seems to be getting worse and worse. It is spreading so fast in West Africa that it is predicted that by December there could be as many as 10,000 new cases a week. Charts have appeared on social media showing that it is still small fry compared to deaths in Africa caused by AIDS or Malaria, and actually it is not that easy to catch as it is transmitted only by bodily fluids, so maybe we shouldn’t panic. Currently there is no reliable cure, however, and it has moved from a purely West African problem as cases have now been recorded in the US and Europe. Extra measures are being introduced by airlines to try to stop the spread, but these have largely been discredited as useless.

It’s been party conference time: yawn! Ed Milliband messed up by missing out a huge chunk of his speech about the deficit and immigration (nothing important then); Cameron promised some nice tax cuts, but there are obvious concerns about how that can be funded whilst reducing the deficit; and Clegg mostly slagged off the Tories, but didn’t rule out working with them again in coalition after the next election. Meanwhile, UKIP have their first MP as Douglas Carswell, who defected from the Conservatives, won back his seat in Clacton. I fear for the future of British politics…

The EU haven’t been helping things by demanding a surprise extra payment of 2.1 billion euros (approx £1.65 billion) by 1 December based on a better than expected recovery making British gross national incomes better than declared. The fact that cash-strapped Italy and Greece were also targeted for higher payments whereas Germany and France are to get a refund doesn’t play well for European harmony. Cameron says he’s not going to pay.

Another thing from the Conservatives was a vow to repeal Labour’s Human Rights Act of 1998 and replace it with a British Bill of Rights and Responsibilities. There seems to be some difference of opinion about whether that is a terrible idea that will deny citizen’s their rights, or a long overdue step to curtail the crazy rulings from Strasbourg.

From human rights to nonhuman rights; the appeals court in the US is to decide whether chimps have the same rights as humans – a case has been brought claiming that a chimp in New York has been “unlawfully imprisoned” in a trailer park.

And speaking of chimps… Top Gear have been getting into trouble again after being forced out of Argentina by an angry mob, incensed by their number plate, H982 FKL, which was accused of making reference to the war with Argentina. I confess that I generally like Top Gear even though it does often sail a bit near the mark, but in this case I think it may have been innocent. Not for the reasons given by their director, although they do seem quite compelling, but because I think this is too subtle for them.

The law is getting tougher on on-line trolls. It surprises me that there is anything contentious in this but there is. I know there is a link with freedom of speech, but I think where cowards who feel safe in their anonymity wage systematic campaigns of abuse and threats they over-step that right and they should be treated the same as if they shout threats in the street. This is a cancer on the internet that needs to be cut out.

Science

It seems that Stonehenge is even more impressive than we first thought. This month reports have come out about archaeological work that started back in 2009, which has discovered 15 new monuments in a four mile area around the main monument. It also seems that there were structures on the site some 5000 years earlier than Stonehenge.

Scientists have discovered that exercise rots your teeth – I don’t know how come I have so many fillings!

Local Interest

More plaudits were heaped upon Gloucester this month as a new report lists it as the second fastest growing retail destination in the country. Separately, retail shopping consultants the Javelin Group ranked the Gloucester Quays as the sixteenth most upmarket place to shop in the country.

Disinterested as I am in sport, I haven’t really been following the plight of Gloucester City Football club, who have been homeless since their pitch at Meadow Park got flooded in 2007. This month, however, the planning committee unanimously approved proposals for a multi-million pound stadium back at Meadow Park. Now all they have to do is raise the money…

In pub news – a story I missed last month – the Northend Vaults has changed hands again. Having invested an awful lot in renovating the pub, landlord David Thomason has left, citing the birth of his first child and the need for a more suitable environment to bring it up as the reason. This is a shame. Although I never warmed to it in the same way as, say, the Pelican or Fountain, he did a sterling job in turning around what was a troubled boozer and the beer was never less than excellent when I was in there. The new manager is Steve Wood, formerly of the Station, who is turning it into a live music venue and one of Gloucester’s healthiest eating pubs.

Elsewhere there seems to be trend toward pub/ fish shop cross-over. First the former Cross Keys on Barnwood Road re-opening on 1 October as Queens, a fully licensed fish & chip restaurant. Now news that the Coach and Horses in St Catherine Street has taken over the fish & chip shop next door and offers tradition chip shop food at the tables, which apparently happened some months ago.

Personal

October is a very important month: it’s my birthday! I had a very nice time, thank you for asking. It gave me the perfect opportunity, as if one were needed, to visit some of Gloucester’s fine pubs and drink far too much of their fine beer.

A delicious, dark birthday gift.

A delicious, dark birthday gift.

I was also in Gloucester the previous weekend with friends for dinner at the Tiger’s Eye at the Old Bell, and very good it was too. I especially enjoyed the Gloucester Brewery Vanilla Porter that they had on tap and was even more pleased to find some bottles of it amongst my birthday presents.

In sadder news, I have attended two funerals this month: both relatively young women in their forties, both with young families and both previously full of life an enthusiasm: a tragic shame and my heart goes out to their families. I know as you get older you have to expect to attend more funerals, but surely this is far too early.

The Gloucester CAMRA AGM happened on 1 October. Turn out wasn’t huge and the existing committee were all voted back in, so no changes there. Later in the month there was a better turn out for a social meeting with a difference at the Water Poet, where we enjoyed an evening of beer and sausage tasting.

Motorcycling has been taking a bit of a back seat over recent weeks, but I did manage the half-day RoSPA ride around the Cotswolds with a stop at the AV8 Cafe in the Cotswold Airport and a good ride out for a work meeting, where I got the opportunity to try out my new GoPro.

DCIM101GOPRO

My Blogging

Another very poor month for blogging, matching last month with just a pitiful 5 blogs posted. But again, my hit rate is much better than I deserve – I reported last month as my third highest hit rate ever, but October has now knocked it into fourth place. Weird!

By far the highest hit rate was once again “Fighting Political Apathy” getting a huge number of hits (for my blog anyway), second only to last October when its hits last spiked.

The only blog written this month to do any good was my (belated) report on my Hawk & Owl Experience, largely because the Barn Owl Centre re-tweeted it a couple of times and posted it on their Facebook page, so some mutual benefit there.

My other blogs of the month came in seventh (review of September) and ninth (Is the World as Bad as We Think?) with my pondering on Stairs and my (also belated) report on my visit to Ordnance Brewery not even make the top ten.

So that’s it for October: ten down, two to go….

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About Darrel Kirby

I am what I am.
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