I Quite Liked It Before Actually

Last week the diligent fellows at the Office of National Statistics happily informed us that our little Island is about to get a tad more crowded. The current population is around 64m, that's just over 10m more than when I was born or roughly 20%, half of which has happened since 2001. The ONS reckon there will be some 74.3m of us queuing at the doctor's surgeries in 25 years time. Happily, I for one will have no need of South West Trains then because given they can't cope now they'll never manage with those numbers but what about the pubs? With apparently up to 29 pubs closing every week they'll never fit us all in. That's a national crisis brewing right there if ever I saw one.

The huge net increase almost all results from immigration, ('this is 6.6 million or 9.8% higher than the zero-net-migration (natural change) variant'), and the impact that has on the birth rate. While there are complicating factors, longevity being the most obvious, its clear that Tony and Gordon's social experiment of letting more immigrants in over a ten year period than came in the previous 1000 years is going to have social consequences although you can be sure, not for Tony and Gordon. 

There are positive economic advantages to the trend and we certainly don't have the grave issues of population profile which are threatening future prosperity in countries like Japan and Germany, although the Germans do appear to have woken up to the problem and in recent months have taken an industrial approach to solving it. No, our problems are more culturally orientated and connected to national and local identity. We've seen it be diluted in just one generation and its clear that the land that our grandchildren will be born to will be radically different to the one that we knew as children. It has I suppose seemed like a far away place for a long time as it is but I do retain a misty eyed memory of a country I saw the last vestiges of when a young boy. A place where men wore hats all the time, where courtesy came as standard and where anyone who collected his weekly pay in a brown packet whistled while he worked. 

Quite frankly, I would be back there like a shot if I could. So, just for fun lets take a quick trip back to the place where an ordinary GP with a curious and inquisitive mind could conjure up a world leading invention. 

There is nothing about that clip that I don't like. From the boffins in tweed suits, the GP with odd bits of Mecanno keeping his Heath Robinson contraption together, the ashtray by the telephone, the doctor doing house calls, the received pronunciation message, (IWOOT), and.... the soldering. Bit of a lost art, soldering these days. With built in obsolescence  manufacturers assume a 'use and replace withing 7 years,' marketing approach. Hardly anyone repairs anything. Not on my watch. Taking something apart in 20 mins and then spending 3 months figuring out how to put it back together is one of the joys of being a Dad, 'leave it to me son; I'll tackle this one,' or, 'no love, don't even think about buying a new one; I'll have that washing machine as good as new in a jiffy.' She did get a little anxious when I sent the little guy 30 ft under the floorboards when we wired the barn up but it was a moment of nostalgia for me; my own father sent me under the floorboards quite regularly actually when he was wiring up whatever was his latest project. Anyway, we got the young fella back and the place hasn't yet burned down. So, here we go, in praise of soldering, aforementioned youngest making an 8x8x8 LED Cube when he was 14...................... (don't ever start one of these btw... they are difficult, time consuming and a real baxtard to get to the complete programmed finished state).

Don't Be Jealous

Each  morning this week I’m greeted with a Snapchat from one of the kids from HK. He’s there for the Sevens. Don’t ask how a student can afford to be in HK for the Sevens because I’d also like to know and I’d also like to be there.

pick up point

pick up point

I haven’t been to HK since the eighties when I enjoyed two weeks acclimatisation there prior to going to Brunei for a Jungle Warfare Instructors course. We thought we were on a jolly for two weeks; the Army didn't. We spent the two weeks doing early morning runs and PT on the beach and long tabs in the New Territories by day. We had just one day and night off at the end and we made full and comprehensive use of it. As I said to the boy before he left, “whatever you do son, don’t go near Hot Lips bar in Kowloon.”

Alas, I discover it is no more. Like many things it is consigned to history’s rubbish bin but I did find a description of Hot Lips on the "Going Downhill," blog which sounds pretty much like an echo of my own! Anyway, Going Downhill  gives  Hot Lips, and HK in the eighties, a pretty good description which some of you who were there might enjoy.

"Gone is the Hot Lips Bar romanticized by an article in the New Yorker magazine referring to reminiscences of the movie “World of Suzie Wong”. One executive guest, I took around to see the city, wanted to go there. Soon after we entered the Hot Lips, we sat down in a large booth, the required escorts came and sat down next to us, the obligatory watered down drinks came and we of course we gladly paid. The escorts were definitely not comparable to Susie as their glow of youth had now to be applied with brushes, but they were reasonably attractive and had good teeth."

As it happened, when there we moved on to a bar in Cameron Road, the name of which was forgotten about 5 minuteness after walking into it, but I seem to recall spending a solid shift in there with occasion forays to place next door for a rejuvenating sauna. We started chatting to an American there who was revisiting the places he'd been on R&R from Vietnam. I obviously wasn't in Vietnam but I'd kind of like to do a "bars of my youth," trip...... or would I just be left sad and disappointed? ...... probably.

Whatever Became Of Fiona?


Last night I was throwing together another eclectic playlist for the delectation of future guests at Crumble Towers when I chanced upon a track I haven’t heard for a very long time, Different Drum, (oddly enough was written by Mike Nesmith of the Monkees). It's a great track, well until some girl you're in love with plays it to you because she's too inarticulate, embarrassed or callous to tell you you're history. Never happened to me obviously.

But how could I have forgotten how fantastic Linda Ronstadt was and which teenage boy didn’t harbour deeply unchristian thoughts about her….. well, until Debbie Harry came along, certainly? You see, any readers not growing up in the seventies may not be aware that the decade wasn’t at all about punk rock and miners strikes; no, it was about Linda, Debbie, Farrah, the girl in the flake advert, Anni-Frid and Agnetha, Bo and lets not forget, Fiona McDonald who lived down the lane, (wonder where she is now?), who apart from an unfortunate propensity to completely ignore me was, in the eyes of a growing Highland, boy, drop-dead-gorgeous……….. don’t think she ever spoke to me you know. I'm not bitter.