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Archive for December, 2008

Podcast version: A brisk walk to Trafalgar Square, London

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Not surprisingly, given that Britain PLC is in the midst of the great shutdown for two and a bit weeks, London was very quiet this morning. Rising early, after a glass of Rioja from the bottle left by the kindly gentleman in red robes last night (we sorted the unfortunate misunderstanding about him being a burglar) I made  a few Tweets, emailed a few friends, called my brother, and escaped to wander through London… or part of it at least. The great thing about solo Christmas, as it is for me this year, is that one may do as one pleases and it pleases me greatly.  I am staying in Bloomsbury for a week or so to do a small project, so I walked first towards Covent Garden but then changed my mind and made for Trafalgar Square.

For some curious reason I found myself writing very bad French on Twitter this morning and this inspired me to spread some good cheer by talking to tourists, and others I came across, in my even worse spoken French.  I arrived in Trafalgar Square, wearing my Australian Drizeabone and sporting an increasingly luxuriant and increasingly absurd salt and pepper Zapata moustache. The square commemorates the Battle of Trafalgar (1805) and the main feature is Nelson’s Column (and the four lions by Sir Edward Landseer added in 1867).  Checking some facts for my post in Wikipedia, I discovered the heartwarming story  that in 1925 a Scottish confidence trickster, Arthur Furguson, “sold” the landmark to an unknowing American claiming it was for sale to pay off Britain’s war loan to the United States. (He also “sold” Big Ben and Buckingham Palace.)

Some years ago I was in a Black cab with a particularly talkative cabbie. He told me, as we drove up The Mall, that the flagstaffs lining The Mall are topped with ships, representing Nelson’s fleet, and are visible to Nelson standing up there on his column. The statue is 18 ft high and the column is 151 ft.  I put this knowledge to good use later.

Hipflasks are very useful things, and so it was this morning as I took a shot or two of Rioja straight from the flask.  I wandered about, taking in the square and the surrounding architecture.  I quote from Wikipedia: “On the north side of the square is the National Gallery and to its east St Martin-in-the-Fields church. The square adjoins The Mall via Admiralty Arch to the southwest. To the south is Whitehall, to the east Strand and South Africa House, to the north Charing Cross Road and on the west side Canada House.”

OK… enough of the travelogue.  What did I do? I drank the rest of the wine in the hip flask, roughly a third to a half of a bottle, and just enjoyed the scene, the pigeons, the tourists, the cloudy grey sky and the sharp cold wind on my face.  Bracing. It was then I heard two tourists talking to each other.  They were Australian… blokes in their twenties.  I was wearing an Australian Drizeabone, I had drink nearly half a bottle of wine.  My impeccable Christmas morning logic told me that these two tourists were perfect to practice my bad french on.

The conversation went roughly as follows…

Charon: Bonjour, Joyeux Noël à vous. Êtes-vous de l’Australie. Êtes-vous en vacances?

Tourist 1: Hi.  Good Christmas to you as well.

Did he speak French, I asked myself, not wishing to lose  my confidence in the face of a fluent French speaker.  I took a chance and asked a question I did not the answer to.

Tourist 1: No, mate, we’re from Aus.  You got one of our coats on…

This was music to my ears.  I resisted, at this stage, the impulse to talk English with a farcical French accent and continued…

Charon: Vous profitez de Londres? C’est Trafalgar Square. Cette statue est l’un de nos grands héros naval, Nelson.

Tourist 2: I thought Nelson was English?

I started laughing.  The game was up. Two Aussies thought my French was OK to a point they may have even thought I was French… perhaps le moustache I am sporting?   I told them that I was, in fact, a Scot, had lived in London for many years but just felt like speaking bad French to tourists as it was Christmas Day.  They seemed to find the idea amusing. We talked for about ten minutes or so.  They were doing the great Australian trek across Europe and other parts of the world.  Nice guys.  We talked about cricket for a while… the defeat of Australia and England by India and England”s chances of winning The Ashes this summer.  They thought we might do it.  Being British, I tried not to let my real view come out (We are going to stuff the Aussies this summer) and said that it should be a good series. I pointed to The Mall when they asked if Buckingham Palace was quite near and told them to look at the flagpoles on the way down – the ships at the top of each pole representing a ship in Nelson’s fleet at Trafalgar.  They liked that.  A most enjoyable way to work up a thirst for my return…

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Podcast version: A brisk walk to Trafalgar Square, London



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Well… here we are.  It is Christmas Day. I have opened the bottle of red wine from my Christmas stocking.  I tracked Santa’s progress across the globe courtesy of NORAD and Google Earth and now I am going to do what many people do….. possibly to excess?  Merry Christmas.

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Watch the Christmas Movie

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On the eve of Christmas… two podcasts for you, should you wish to listen

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1.  Geeklawyer does his own Christmas message

2.  I do a Christmas podcast with Geeklawyer.  We talk of (and drink) many things.

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On the eve of Christmas…..

It was quiet… preternaturally quiet… calm almost. I poured some Tempranillo into a large glass, swirled it around and sat back.  Christmas had arrived once again.  I have decided to amuse myself tomorrow by cooking a curry from scratch… a hot one from Southern India. I purchased all the necessary spices, the rice, some chicken breasts, bananas, mango chutney, some peanuts (I follow the Malaysian style of eating nuts, bananas, fruit and other sambals with my curries) and  some Naan bread. But that is tomorrow.  Tonight, I shall have turkey slices, some coleslaw and potato salad.

I have decided not to have Christmas pudding this year and I forgot to buy a Christmas cake. No matter… I shall look at Geeklawyer’s magnificent creation, baked a year ago, he tells me, and matured with alcohol these past twelve months. Geeklawyer drinks a fair bit of mead and has a taste for strawberry flavoured beer.  I know this.  I have seen him drink such a beverage at the Porterhouse pub in Covent Garden.  The consumption of mead  may account for the truly marvellous decoration on the cake, crafted by Geeklawyer himself,… an octopus about to grab what may well be a rabbit.  Regular visitors to my blog will recall that I met up with Geeklawyer only last Saturday for Christmas cocktails – the occasion when he took off a green jacket he was wearing, threw it in a bin on Longacre and put on a purple jacket he had just acquired from Paul Smith nearby. Little did I know, as we drank our way through double vodka shots, an excellent margerita and then red wine, that he was planning to decorate a Christmas cake with an octopus.  Res ipsa loquitur.

There was a plan to go out tonight with a couple of friends. One, unfortunately, has the unpleasant vomiting flu virus, and the other has gone AWOL and is, no doubt, at some club in Chelsea or elsewhere drinking. This has one advantage.  Instead of crashing in at about 6.30 am and then going onto Twitter, I shall awake on Christmas morning to find a large red stocking with a bottle of wine in it, similar to the picture on the header of this blog, at the foot of my bed.  I shall then drink it and listen to carols or Italian opera and then plan my Christmas movie ‘Urbi et Orbi’, ready for publication shortly after 3.00 when HM The Queen has finished her message to us all.

The Archbishop speaks to the nation…

While I do not share the proclivity for believing in non-existent entities enjoyed by many, I do like to keep an eye on what our clerics are up to.  Tomorrow, the BBC reports, the Archbishop of Canterbury is due to tell us…”People should not wait for “larger-than-life” heroes to solve the world’s problems, the Archbishop of Canterbury will say in his Christmas sermon.”

I cannot imagine that he is referring to our prime minister, self-styled Moses and Flash Gordon, saviour of the universe, so this seems to be a reference to some other fantastic creation of imagination rather than reality. The BBC report goes on to state that “The Archbishop is due to say: “History will end when God decides…..The gospel tells us something hard to hear – that there is not going to be a single charismatic leader or a dedicated political campaign or a war to end all wars that will bring the golden age. It tells us that history will end when God decides, not when we think we have sorted all our problems out; that we cannot turn the kingdoms of this world into the kingdom of God and his anointed; that we cannot reverse what has happened and restore a golden age.”

I’m not entirely sure whether the archbishop saw me with 500 loaves and fishes and a great deal of wine, or tap dancing on the Thames one night recently when I had a good night on the boat…. but… whatever the archbishop is having…. make mine a large one.

Christmas podcast to follow…. with Geeklawyer…  Now up on the blog…


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It is Christmas Eve…. and I’ve been able to do my interview with The Queen. It is a wrap as we say in the business….

Watch the Christmas movie?

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I’ll be back on Christmas day – with a message for all bloggers… throughout the world.  3.00 London Time….

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Daily Legal News

News update on Insite Law

Over the Christmas period 23 December – 5th January 2009 I shall continue to do news updates for Insite Law and update the section on what bloggers are up to.  Daily news podcasts will resume on 5th January.

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I have decided to celebrate Christmas after all….


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