Comey and the Cancer on the Presidency   Leave a comment

The spectre of 1974 returned yesterday as the testimony of James Comey drew my attention away from the UK General Election results.

A few weeks before Nixon resigned in disgrace, I bought “The Missing White House Tapes” which had just been released and was highly predictive — spookily so — of the events to come in the month or two ahead. I dug it out of the stacks and, although I haven’t listened to it in 30 years, could immediately remember some of the tracks verbatim. I may have to correct this later, but I’m pretty sure that “The Swearing Out Ceremony” administered by Billy Graham went like:

God damn you, Richard Nixon.
Richard Nixon, you son-of-a-bitch.
Get the hell out of here, you’ve lied your ass off.
Fuck off.

I’m not sure about this next one, but I think it is also responsible for the first time I heard the term “Hung like a Hebrew National,” which would close the loop back to my hot dog story a week or so back.

Oh, right.  It was the weasel, John Dean, that spoke the words “Cancer on the Presidency” in those 1974 hearings.  He has since redeemed himself in my estimation.  Weasel Comey is getting there, too.  Not there, yet, but on a fine trajectory.

 

First Vote as UK Citizen: GE 2017   1 comment

 

“Your address?” I answered and received my ballot then looked around.
“Where…?” I started and she pointed to some booths. “Sorry. My first UK election.”
She waved the pen toward the “Bernie 2016” on my t-shirt.** “Make it count.”

 

This was the simplest ballot I have ever seen. There were five candidates and nothing else:

Boris Johnson, Conservative Party
Mark Keir, Green Party
Rosina Robson, Liberal Democrat Party
Vincent Lo, Labour Party
Lizzy Kemp, UK Independence Party

Disappointed there were no sham candidates like Al Murray or The Monster Raving Loony Party (save for Boris), but maybe I’ll get lucky next time.

 

 

**This is extracted from a “Do’s and Don’t’s at the Polling Station” article reprinted everywhere, in this case from the BBC website:

Can you wear political clothing?

People shouldn’t wear party political clothing. Voters dressed in party T-shirts will not be able to enter the polling station as it may be intimidating.

Political figures in the wider sense may be fine, for instance a T-shirt of Che Guevara would be acceptable.

So, Bernie Sanders really is the modern equivalent of Che. Makes you feel all warm inside, eh?

 

 

Tudor Rose, Coulsdon, Surrey   1 comment

 

I left my regular digital camera at home on this run so the smart phone was serving as GPS route tracker, wi-fi device, and camera all day.  Less than a mile after the Wattenden Arms, a mile away from my train station (just over 23 miles into the journey, today) I took a snap of the final pub of the day, the Tudor Rose.  The device then shut itself down.

Actually, I could relate to this.  I, too, was exhausted and didn’t realise just how sick I was (nor how much I would be for the next 4-5 days) and I needed this break even though the rest of the run would be downhill and should be easy.

 

 

I went outside to sip a Becks and try to get motivated to leave.  An Indian woman was at a nearby table chain smoking, really pulling the things in with two or three draws then lighting another off the previous one.  Just beyond her, a  young couple were eating some chips and didn’t seem especially keen to share them with the toddler they were minding.  I had the impression that the temperature was dropping rapidly but in retrospect it was probably the sweat drying and the fever settling in.

The pub is big and seems more restaurant than bar, but it is also a grand house.  The impression I got at ground level in the garden was of an elegant cottage from one of the colonies more so than an English pub.  Its light, wooden frame interior seems more at home near a beach in Bermuda, Rhodesia, or New Zealand; the exterior brickwork belies its relative recent construction (or renovation or addition — the roof stacks look late-Victorian but the rest screams 1970’s mock-Tudor).

I tried the phone again and it came up with 5% battery left but by the time I snapped a couple of more shots, it shut down again.  It was still early, but the skies had started to get overcast (probably from the plumes of tobacco burnoff at the next pew) and I needed to get going.

 

Posted June 3, 2017 by Drunken Bunny in Pubs

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Wattenden Arms, Kenley, Surrey   2 comments

 

You’ll find the Wattenden Arms in the shaded village of Kenley (it is surrounded by urban forest and green space) on the north edge of RAF Kenley which the Luftwaffe tried its best to bomb into oblivion in 1940.  My notes on the back of the maps I printed out for this run specifically told me to look around the place for WW2 memorabilia which is supposed to be a feature of the pub; however, you have to actually consult the notes to act on them and it was only today that I spotted them.  Oh, well.

 

 

I had a bit of a wait while the barman fiddled with the lines to the Lilley’s Mango cider which, once he finally was able to fill the glass did so with a lot more sediment than I have ever seen in this usual Christmas treat.  While waiting, I admired the cornice work and the old wooden bar.  Beautiful house.

 

 

Outside, there were mostly solitary drinkers.  One old guy came out muttering to himself and the others all averted their gaze.  He stopped at a table where a fellow typed away on a laptop, pointed at one of the canvasses on the garden walls, and demanded, “do you even know who that is?”  The kid never looked up and just said, “sorry, no.”

“Beatles tribute act?” I offered, reckoning that this guy is me in a few years (if not me, now) and I owed it to my future self to respond. He looked over, shook his head, and whistled a short, sharp report. A wee terrier trotted out of the bar and they went to a table kind of remote from me.

A moment or two passed as he continued a private dialog in public. He looked my way again and pointed at me.
“No. No. That’s the Beatles, that is.”  He seemed agitated.

“I don’t think so,” I put to him. “Paul and George look like they’ve just dismembered an enemy, and John’s head is too big and rectangular.”
He got up and stood in front of the picture for a minute. “Dear lord! You’re right! Disgraceful.”

“And, don’t get me started on Nico, over there.” He looked at another canvas.
“I thought that was Joni Mitchell.” We were probably both wrong.

 

Posted June 3, 2017 by Drunken Bunny in art, Pubs

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Sir Julian Huxley, Selsdon, Surrey   2 comments

 

Another 3 miles along from the Sandrock, the fourth pub of the day was also the fourth one I had planned to go to (although the first of the planned ones that was ready to serve when I arrived).  The Sir Julian Huxley, named for the eminent evolutionary biologist and brother of Aldous Huxley, is a pretty standard Wetherspoons but since this was a Tuesday I knew I could get a pint and a decent steak with sides for £7.50.  Since this was the first food of the day, it was long overdue (at least 17 miles overdue, in fact, and my legs were feeling the depletion).

 

 

I didn’t realise, at the time, that the sore throat and congestion I awoke with would dog me into the next weekend and I now think the profuse sweating I exhibited after quickly downing a graciously proffered pint of tap water was due to the fever that has raged for the last several days.  I chose a seat, therefore, not too far from these two old ladies that appeared to have finished up all but the last few sips of a bottle of wine thinking that they would probably be leaving soon and I would have the cubby hole we shared to my offensive self.  Their coffee arrived.

When I get sucked into a politics conversation in a Tory neighbourhood — like mine — that the Tories don’t really give a shit about (again, like mine), I usually try to steer things around, gently, to such a place that I can say about one gripe or another: “and do you know why that is?  It’s because the Conservatives are fucking you, and you’re not only taking it but your asking them how to make it better for them.”

Initially, I was a bit concerned that our conversation that developed — between me and these older women watching in horror as I wolfed down the chips, peas and beef whilst wielding my knife and fork incorrectly — was going to go that way (sometimes I have less self-control than at others), but early on one of them said, “do you know … I’ve voted Tory all my life, but Theresa May has sold us up the river.  Never again.  NEVER.”

So, this was one for me to just happily listen to, asking just enough to keep them chatty.  When they left, the other one stopped a moment to ask if I was eligible to vote.
“Yes, first time since Citizenship.  It’s pretty exciting.”
“And, who is your MP, if you don’t mind me asking?”
“Boris,” I said since everyone in the country would know him from the single name.
“Johnson?” she completed, then, “Boris Fucking Johnson?” I was shocked and pleased at her filthy tongue. “Hear,” she called to her friend, “this one is represented by Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Fucking Johnson.”
“Oh, you poor man,” her friend called back. “Come along, dear, our minicab is here.”

 

Sandrock, Croydon, Surrey   2 comments

 

Kung Fu Fighting was on the radio when I entered the Sandrock, now 14 miles into a run that saw my first three planned pubs all not-yet-serving or simply closed (the most recent being the Goat at the 12½ mile mark). I was also incredibly hungry and the pizza here in Tony Lombardi’s gaff looks fantastic but I had my heart set on the cheap steak meal waiting at planned pub #4 (they can’t ALL be closed, eh?).

Mr Lombardi and what I took to be the bar manager were testing some white wines with a fellow that had come in, it seemed, for that express purpose.  When this guy wandered away and started talking to a relatively young man at the bar about pizza, the young guy said something I couldn’t remain quiet about.  “I like all the normal toppings but I can’t stand artichoke hearts.”

“What are you SAYING, dude?” They turned to look at me. “Hearts are the BEST topping…slightly salty, usually a firm bite to them, and the texture…”
“That’s what I can’t stomach, mate: the texture,” he interrupted.
“…is like a woman,” I finished, feeling a bit like Swiss Toni at this observation.
“It reminds me of rice pudding.”
“Where are you getting your women? Or, your rice pudding? Or, am I repeating myself?” They laughed, thankfully, and then smirked at something behind me. I looked back to see the probable bar manager — the only woman in the house — grinning about something. But, my glass was empty and the road ahead a steep climb so I bid the folks farewell.

 

Posted June 2, 2017 by Drunken Bunny in Pubs

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Greyhound, Keston, Kent   2 comments

 

It would have been hard to pass by the Greyhound without a stop.  It is a gorgeous house within and without and the banner proclaiming it the local CAMRA pub of the year was more endorsement than any place needs.  Plus, I was still a pub down on my original run schedule and the stop at the Fox — despite the grand hospitality — had neither slaked my thirst nor satisfied my desire for a “pubby” pub.

 

 

The couple that run the Greyhound were at least as friendly as the Fox proprietress, though, and the old house appeared to be freshly cleaned right to the rafters (outside, as well).  A brief chat with the landlady about the slate of beers on offer and I settled on the astringent 4 Hopmen of the Apocalypse by Totally Brewed (I decided to be brave and forgo the proffered taster glass).  It was soothing to the sore throat and crisp and refreshing — so much so that I developed a chill sitting on the porch and had to retreat to the bar.

 

 

By this time, a couple of groups had already made their way in (it was now 11:30 am) on what seemed to be a public transportation defined pub crawl.  Wee Keston would be well served with just one of these pubs but the residents must have done something splendid in a previous life to deserve BOTH of these (or, just this one, for that matter).

 

Posted June 1, 2017 by Drunken Bunny in Pubs

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