Put on a happy face


It is Spring. On Monday our old friend Vernon Equinox made it official. Good old Vernon. For further confirmation, if such be needed, look out of the window and observe the rain. It is wet. Very wet. Wetter than Mrs. Thatcher’s cabinet. And the garden is yellow. Forsythia. Primroses. Daffodils. Lesser Celandines. Throw in a few violets, the wood anemones, cherry blossom, magnolia, camellias and hordes of hungry lagomorphs and you can be sure that Spring is here. The woodpeckers and nuthatches are tidying up last years cavities. The pheasants are strutting around and rising up to drum their wings. This is my patch. Keep off. The diminutive wren launches stealth raids on the contents of my moth trap. The Chiffchaff has arrived to its own personal fanfare. I even thought I heard a passing Sedge Warbler in the muddy part of the wood yesterday.

All of which is balm to the soul, confronted as it is by contemporary politics.

A chum of mine described Trump45 as an embarrassment. I almost prefer Colt 45.

Che gelida manina,
se la lasci riscaldar.
Cercar che giova?
Al buio non si trova.

A tragic opera in a series of dumb acts.

I watched Comey and Rogers and felt a vague sense of relief that perhaps there might be a happy ending after all. And how I cheered the wonderful Kristina Dunz, the reporter who finally shouted the emperor has no clothes. Still, the story has some mileage left in it yet.

And in the meantime we have a family wedding to look forward to. Cost Centre 2 will tie the knot in December. We are now mulling over maybe leaving the carnage of post rational Britain and returning to the People’s Republic of Hong Kong. We have spent five of the last eight weeks there and realize that whatever the benefits of Brexitstan, life in the colony may be better.


Originally this post was different, rather more macabre. Fate however intervened and I didn’t finish it. That was fortunate in the light of the events at Westminster this week. I was working in the City when both the Stock Exchange and The Baltic Exchange were bombed by the IRA. The Bulldog Spirit prevailed then and it will prevail now. For all of the dangerous egomaniacs around today – Kim, May, Trump, Erdogan, Mugabe and a good few others – the world still grinds forward and evolves faster than politicians, bringing us improvements we could never dream of. We have to learn how to adapt to some of them but the basics of hunger relief, child mortality and absolute poverty are diminishing. There has to be optimism alongside the mourning for common decency and the blinding rage of populism.

In contrast to the day I started this, the sun is shining and there is warmth in the air. The long shadows are of lengthening days and trees in bud. And there is life in the old dog yet.

ZEN Lulu



31 thoughts on “Put on a happy face

  1. Bravo Andrew
    It’s really great to see you
    To know your dog’s
    Are still barking
    It makes me feel
    There’s still a little
    Left in me
    As Sheldon Always

  2. Welcome back, Andrew.
    Back to Hong Kong? I know the feeling. We are still mulling to go back or not. It is called inside out. Even so, it must be lovely to have spring in Britain. Here the rain has been relentless. Apart from that we had air-con installed above the ceilings. I play around, somewhat listlessly, with the controller. So many options.

    • We had aircon installed too Gerard but I leave that to Shirley. Its beyond me. I can’t even work the TV magic box. Smart my foot – it is the stupidest system imaginable. Much too complicated. I want a simpler life.

  3. Your garden must be quite lovely. All those yellow blooming flowers and birds busy as bees.

    It seems a shame that you will most likely return to HK but I can well understand wanting to move after all the crazies going on. The American that was killed in London lived in my town before moving to Utah. He was a good man.

    Hopefully you and Shirley will be much safer in HK and you won’t have to deal with the idiocy of the government.

    It was good to read your lovely post. Your writing is wonderfully descriptive.

    • There is plenty of government idiocy in HK Yvonne but then it is Red China. Nowhere is safe politically, I fear so we’ll just go wherever we feel happiest. The deaths last week were so tragic but we can’t be sure HK will be immune. Too close to North Korea for a start. So the garden is my safe place for now.

  4. Vern Equinox – jolly fine chap.

    Better re-apply for your Mai Po permit and you’re set !

  5. Vernon doffed his cap to us briefly, but then p**€3D off leaving a trail of ice, hail and some seasonal sleet – the daffodils are not tossing their heads in sprightly dance, I can assure you. It is 10am and 2C!

    Back to Honkers? Things must be dire if you are thinking of packing up and leaving. I have to admit, I have no desire to return to Blighty but I could happily live on a Scottish island or the west coast of Ireland. If we ever decide to leave our Iberian mountain, , wild and wooly will be our next big adventure.

    • Somehow I don’t think you will leave Spain in a hurry, Lottie. Return or not is a big decision but we do miss our social life and everything here is a challenge to get done. It was 12c today and felt very warm. The first Blackcap was heard in the garden. Vernon is hanging around here for now.

  6. So pleased to see your post pop up in my reader. There’s been a dearth of entertaining reading lately. Spring in deepest Hampshire is the place to be – but after that, I wouldn’t blame you for jumping ship.
    Love the portrait of Madame Lulu.

    • Oh I’ve been reading a lot but the entertainment value has been mixed. This is the best time of year for our garden. Mme. Lulu is honoured. Thank you.

  7. We’ve moved out of Britain into the independent state of Johnsonia. Population : 5 (2 people, 2 cats and a sheepdog) It’s a Jolly life.

    • That sounds good. Do you have passport control? We are off to Edinburgh shortly and I’m wondering whether we have visa free access.

  8. And don’t forget the hedgehogs. We’ve had barely a sighting in the last months now, like buses, they are queuing up. Maybe they will make it even if we all go to hell in a handcart. So good to hear from you, please keep us posted on the activities of your garden wildlife. I will be sad if you disappear to Hong Kong again, but I have no trouble understanding. Like you, we had a surprising and hopeful day yesterday, thanks to a number of things, including Vernon. Outside my window the birds are having a spring ball.

    Threadgold Press will be bringing out a scholarly book that might just interest you. Calling London: Travels by British bankers 1904–1963 by Edwin Green. More soon.

    • That sounds a good read! On the list. Oddly we don’t get hedgehogs. I’m not sure why that should be. I have only once seen a fox here. But I’m sure they are around. Yesterday the bees and hoverflies were out in abundance. Vernon is cracking on.

  9. Good to hear from you!
    Back to Honkers?! Who would’ve thought.
    All the best for Cost Centre 2’s wedding planning.
    All the best to you and your family, wherever you decide to live.

  10. I can’t personally say much about the current British experience, as I know little aside from what I hear on BBC America, but I can say that our current experience is less than comforting. There are daily assaults on a clean environment and common decency with hard fought improvements on the human condition heading in the wrong direction all being led by a group of the most unpleasant and downright mean-spirited group of anti-social greedy zealots in the history of the U.S. I try to turn to nature whenever possible but today is one of snow, sleet, rain, freezing rain and general slushiness. At least your report of spring busting out all over is encouraging for what waits for us.

    • Thanks Steve. Sorry the reply is late. I think we are better off than the USA but the powers that be don’t seem to be taking us in the right direction. I hope our environment is protected but there are already voices pushing to dilute what we have on the statute books. I’ve been out most days recently and nature is very restorative as is the family. We just have to hope that common sense will prevail and ultimately the right thing gets done. Removing Bannon is a start.

  11. Great to read your blog and the mix of nature and comments on the the new politics we have found ourselves with. I have been almost blogged into a silence by it but love the nature links we all can share. Hong Kong? Is there much nature to peruse there, I gather Singapore has begun to ‘ green’ itself.

    • There is plenty of nature in HK. Lots of wonderful country parks and biodiversity. All preserved by a few stalwarts fending off the slavering developers, who see dollar signs where we see greenery. Thanks for commenting. Much appreciated.

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