It may only be just over a minute, but I am suddenly very, very excited. Check this out! The captain, it would seem, has returned!
One of my favourite actors is Sir Ian McKellen. I loved his portrayal of Gandalf as well as his appearance at the 2012 paralympic opening ceremony. As he turns 80, friends including Derek Jacobi, Janet Suzman, Michael Sheen, Bill Condon and Stephen Fry pay a well earned tribute to him here. Happy birthday Mithrandir!
My parents just dropped me off back in Charlton after a long drive from Normandy to some great news. The podcast version of my university memoir, Sweet Home Alsager, is now online. All eight chapters can now be listened to here. Enjoy!
My brothers have now both gone home. Mark and Kat left us yesterday, the children needing to go back to nursery today; and Luke and Yan set off back to the uk this morning. Today is dads birthday, so we have spent a nice leisurely day, first visiting Mont St Micheal then reading in the back garden. Mont St Michael is an ancient monastery standing on an island not far from here. It kind of reminded me of the temples we saw in India, only when you follow the causeway out to the island you find it’s ancient winding roads edged with modern shops. I found the juxtaposition of medieval and modern commercial most striking. It felt like a cross between Hogwarts and the Westfield shopping centre. The problem was the paths were very steep, so at times we found ourselves wishing my friend John was with us to help push my chair.
I have always enjoyed listening to my dad read to me, so this afternoon he has been reading some of Lee Ridley’s I’m Only In It For The Parking to me. It’s clear that Ridley is a very talented writer and that I was stupid to be so bitter and cynical. What he has written is probably a seminal text on disability. I’ll post a full review when i have read it all, but I have never heard what I recognised as my world discribed so well, or with such an astute balance of seriousness and humour. Not only is it clear Ridley knows what he’s talking about, but he knows how to explain it in a way that is accessible and understandable to everyone. I’m now looking forward to reading the rest of the book; the only problem is I’ll have to get my own copy as I gave the one we have to dad for his birthday.
This weekend has been the first time I’ve had chance to spend time with my nephew and niece, O and E. It has been very special. At 5 and 2, they’re both bundles of energy, full of fun and laughter, apart from the occasional paddy. Hearing my brother mark being referred to as daddy has been quite amusing; but it really is obvious that fatherhood is second nature to him, as he discusses science and world affairs with us adults in one breath and reasons with a toddler over the consumption of breakfast in the next. Mind you the children still seem a little apprehensive about their uncle Matt: I have tried to spend time with them, such as joining in a football game last night, but O especially seems not to know what to make of his wobbly uncle. Of course the remedy for that is just time, and I’m now really looking forward to the coming years, to watching them grow and develop. Given that they’re both already bright as buttons, I can already tell they have astounding futures ahead of them, and they will bring their parents and the whole family a great deal of joy.
This entry finds us in northern France, and by us I mean my family, ie myself, my parents, both my brothers and their respective families. I drove down yesterday with mum and dad, to a beautiful old medieval farmhouse in Normandy. It’s wonderful to see everyone together again, and to meet my young niece and nephew. Judging by the breakfast we just had, it will be quite a few days. We haven’t been together properly like this for such a long time I think it was certainly overdue.
As chilling as it is, I think I ought to flag this Guardian piece up today. Focussing on a new exhibition in Berlin, Martin Kettle writes about how ”[t]he political landscapes of Brexit Britain and Weimar Germany are scarily similar.” History, it seems, is repeating itself: as in Weimar Germany, ”[h]ere, also, there is a surging narrative on the right about national betrayal, which seems likely to score heavily in the European polls next week. Here, more than half the public, according to a recent Hansard Society survey, says it supports “a strong leader willing to break the rules”. Here, racism of various kinds is on the increase. And here too we have experienced political assassination (also from the far right), public threats of violence against politicians, and official warnings that MPs are no longer safe.” This is a warning which I fear we can ill afford to ignore