The Befouled Weakly News

11 April 2010

I sat down on Thursday afternoon to watch the recording of the Wednesday night baseball game between the Yankees and the Red Sox. As I settled into my chair, I was astounded to hear Dave O’Brien describe the day’s weather in Boston – sunny with temperatures reaching 91 degrees.


We’ve just seen the sun for the first time since early October 2006 and still need gloves, hats, sweaters, jackets and our Bronco Nagurski long underwear!

Actually, although you will know that it is a rare occurrence, I am exaggerating just a bit. In fact, the weather for the latter part of the week has been glorious. The temperature reached nearly 60 degrees on Thursday and has been in the same vicinity since then. And, while the sunshine has not been blindingly blinding, we have at least seen the sun for much of the time. It turns out they were right after all - Spring is bursting.

Aubretia on the patio
Daffodils in Byfield Churchyard

I guess you will have picked up that the tediousness of our election campaign has begun. We are exceedingly fortunate that our campaigns only last four weeks (apart from the constant name-calling that goes on all the time). The election itself will be on 6 May, but even that four week period seems like an eternity when there is nothing but negativity spewing forth from either side.

There was a 61% turnout at the last election, almost exactly the same as in the last Presidential election, I’ve just discovered. I’m impressed that even that number of people can be bothered – they’re all as bad as each other and it is increasingly difficult to find any differences between the various manifestos. In any event, given the bizarre democratic process we employ in this country, the election is actually decided in a handful of marginal constituencies and, in our case, it doesn’t matter who we vote for: this area has had a Conservative MP since the time of Simon de Montfort.

Fortunately, some people have got the right approach to the whole charade. Have a look at this clip from the BBC site – I think it’s a great strategy.

Those of you following David’s blog in Japan will know that he needs to acquire an Alien Registration Card and carry it with him all the time. When I first came to the UK in 1973, I too needed to acquire a similar certification to prove my dispensation to live and work here. Of course, I didn’t need it to acquire a mobile phone – there weren’t any! (Indeed, I don’t think we had a landline until Adam was born).

In those days a woman married to a British citizen was automatically allowed to settle in the UK. A man married to a British woman, however, had no such rights, hence the need for me to acquire a Work Permit and an Alien Registration Card. I was also obliged to register with the local police station – clearly it was essential that the local constabulary knew who and where these dangerous aliens were. One time we even had a visit from a policeman from Stratford when we moved from Bracknell to Edge Hill or Radway who was anxious to inspect me (and my card, I guess). Fortunately, he found everything in order and it wasn’t for another two or three years before the European VisaVIPPCourt decreed that the British position was discriminatory and men were granted the same rights as women married to UK subjects. After that judgement, I had to send my passport off to the Home Office to be adorned with a stamp/visa stating that I was “Given leave to enter the United Kingdom for an indefinite period”. Since then I’ve been through three or four passports and nowadays when I pass through immigration they very kindly endorse my passport with “VIPP” which I would love to think stands for “Very Important Person Possibly" but, in fact, means “Visa in Previous Passport” which I can only acquire each time I come through by continuing to carry the original albeit now expired passport with the all-important original visa.

Since the weather has been fine for three days now, Ms Penelope has suggested that it’s time for the first lawn mowing of the season. Naturally, I disagree but fortuitously I ran across an Andy Capp cartoon providing the perfect opportunity to turn this into a romantic gesture.

A Romantic Gesture

We’re away next weekend so you may be lucky and escape the dross of the Befouled Weakly News clogging up your inbox. Well, you can always hope for the best.

Much love to you all,


PS - She won. The lawn received its first trim of the season yesterday.

Given our gripping election, I went looking for some “political” jokes this week. Just like decent politicians, decent political jokes are very thin on the ground (or they are ones we’ve used before). Still, I found the following quite amusing – allegedly delivered by Johnny Carson on air in 1991:

"What Democracy Means to Me"
by Johnny Carson

To me, democracy means placing trust in the little guy, giving the fruits of nationhood to those who built the nation. Democracy means anyone can grow up to be president, and anyone who doesn't grow up can be vice president.

Democracy is people of all races, colors, and creeds united by a single dream: to get rich and move to the suburbs away from people of all races, colors, and creeds. Democracy is having time set aside to worship -- 18 years if you're Jim Bakker.

Democracy is buying a big house you can't afford with money you don't have to impress people you wish were dead. And, unlike communism, democracy does not mean having just one ineffective political party; it means having two ineffective political parties.

Democracy means freedom of sexual choice between any two consenting adults; Utopia means freedom of choice between three or more consenting adults. But I digress. Democracy is welcoming people from other lands, and giving them something to hold onto -- usually a mop or a leaf blower. It means that with proper timing and scrupulous bookkeeping, anyone can die owing the government a huge amount of money.

Democracy means a thriving heartland with rolling fields of Alfalfa, Buckwheat, Spanky, and Wheezer. Democracy means our elected officials bow to the will of the people, but more often they bow to the big butts of campaign contributors.

Yes, democracy means fighting every day for what you deserve, and fighting even harder to keep other weaker people from getting what they deserve. Democracy means never having the Secret Police show up at your door. Of course, it also means never having the cable guy show up at your door. It's a trade-off. Democracy means free television. Not good television, but free.

Democracy is being able to pick up the phone and, within a minute, be talking to anyone in the country, and, within two minutes, be interrupted by call waiting.

Democracy means no taxation without representation, and god knows, we've just about had the hell represented out of us. It means the freedom to bear arms so you can blow the "o" out of any rural stop sign you want.

And finally, democracy is the eagle on the back of a dollar bill, with 13 arrows in one claw, 13 leaves on a branch, 13 tail feathers, and 13 stars over its head. This signifies that when the white man came to this country, it was bad luck for the Indians, bad luck for the trees, bad luck for the wildlife, and lights out for the American eagle.

I thank you.

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