Of course, because I have been on holiday for much of it, this may be (will be) a bit (a lot) sketchy, but here goes.
The World at Large
This month, of course, included Remembrance Sunday (Veterans’ Day in the US). For my part, I wore my poppy with pride on my bike jacket throughout my trip; others did something grander. The art installation Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red at the Tower of London, marking the centenary of the First World War, reached its conclusion, with 888,246 ceramic poppies representing every British and Colonial soldier killed during the war. It attracted more than four million visitors and has now been dismantled with the poppies sold off for charity.
This month also marked the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin War.
Much as I lack interest in politics, I can’t help but mention another UKIP success at the polls. Following Douglas Carswell’s successful defection and re-election last month, this month Mark Reckless repeated the feat in the Rochester and Strood by-election. I can only hope that people will show more sense when voting in the national elections next year, but I’m not betting on it.
More race problems sparked off in the US when a grand jury decided that a white police officer should not face charges for shooting an unarmed black teenager. This cause riots with cars and businesses set on fire and stores looted. I don’t intend to try to argue whether the decision was right or wrong, nor am I surprised that people reacted angrily to the news, but I always wonder what it is about such events that people think will be resolved by smashing shop windows and helping themselves to TVs.
Before I went off on holiday Christmas still seemed like a distant event, but having returned it is suddenly upon me full-blown. There are Christmas decorations appearing everywhere, carols are playing in shops and the usual schmaltzy adverts are appearing on TV.
This was all eclipsed, however, with intense scenes of rampant commercialism and greed as Black Friday arrived on the 28th November. This is the latest American import, which makes sense in America, where Thanksgiving has just finished so people’s minds turn to Christmas and stores slash prices to entice shoppers. The fact that Thanksgiving means nothing to us doesn’t seem to have stopped people from embracing it, with saddening scenes of people fighting over bargain TVs across the country.
This month the European Space Agency landed a space probe onto a comet for the first time, marking the end of a four billion mile, ten year journey. The Philae lander touched down on the exotically named comet 67P, a lump of icy rock 4km across travelling at 135,000km/h. The expertise to achieve such a monumental feat amazes me: it touched down almost exactly on schedule.
Unfortunately, at the last minute things didn’t quite go to plan. The landing gear failed to operate properly and it bounced off and came to rest in deep shadow half a mile from the intended landing site. This meant the mission was cut short as the solar panels couldn’t recharge, but it is hoped that it will be re-activated when it passes close to the sun next summer.
I really haven’t had any chance to catch up with local news whilst I was away. There was one big news story when I got back however: the City Council and Stanhope finally acquired the land from Aviva needed for the King’s Quarter scheme. The multi-million pound deal has been signed, but there are still some small parcels of land required, so we’re still not quite there yet.
Obviously most of the month has been taken up with my holiday: a coast-to-coast trip across America from LA to Orlando on a Harley Davidson, christened the Deliverance Trip. You can read all about it in daily instalments starting here
Since getting back into the country we haven’t been bored. We had an excellent night out in Gloucester with friends to belated celebrate a birthday that happened whilst we were away: four excellent pubs and three different bands in one night.
We also managed to get to the Gloucester Quays Victorian Christmas Market, where I managed to start my Christmas shopping – mostly presents for me in the shape of beer from Gloucester Brewery and Hillside Brewery.
Finally, on Sunday we got to the last day of the Bike Show at NEC, which was a great event as ever.
The month’s blogging started with a dearth of blogs due to the fact that I was away and don’t like to advertise my absence by blogging about it. Then when I got back I started my daily blog of the holiday, racking up a total of 13 blogs during the month – I haven’t seen numbers like that since January!
Despite that, the month’s most popular blog by a long way was once again Fighting Political Apathy, with an old post about the Fleece coming in a distant second. My most popular holiday blog post came in third place – the prologue. Perhaps that’s because it has been out longer, or maybe that’s as far as most people get before they’ve had enough. Trip posts filled up most of the rest of the top ten slots, with last month’s review languishing down in 17th place.
Overall hits not bad, with 5th most hits per month ever.
So that’s it for November, just one more of these reviews to do and I’ll call it a year.
Normal service will be resumed with a Deliverance Ride blog tomorrow – Day 11: a rest day in New Orleans.