One son works 50 hours a week in a pizzeria for 7€ an hour and is hating it.  He writes poetry in his head while washing up and scouring pans with corrosive liquids.  His boss tells him it’s by following orders we create beautiful things. Is it not by following orders that we become sheep?


It’s a real eye opener being in public with someone suffering from dementia. Stickers on foreheads would help. They might appear normal but the most extraordinary comments fly out of mouths at unexpected moments and anger flares. Members of the public are suddenly attacked verbally or aggressively wielded walking sticks.


The son of Brazil’s far-right, pro-gun, pro-torture president says “yes, I’m in favour of a dictatorship.” In the 1930s, the psychologist Erich Fromm noted that ideal conditions for the rise of dictators and autocrats were a “state of inner tiredness and resignation” which he attributed to the pace of life in stressed, industrialised societies.


In Europe chaos is being normalised. Boris Johnson has suspended parliament. His advisor Cummings bawls “When are you MPs going to realise that we are leaving on 31 October?” adding, “We are going to fucking purge you.” Yet nine out of ten stories on news site front pages are about dating, whacky diets and the shenanigans of minor royals.


Chaos reigns, democracy crumbles and those in charge seem singularly unfit to govern. As Prime Minister, Boris Johnson has lost six votes in as many days. He studied Classics but appears not to understand hubris. Rees-Mogg (50) who needs to lie down and take a nap during the day, still lives with his nanny.  


Edited, Hugh Grant’s strongly-worded viral tweet about Boris Johnson reads: “you will not mess with my children’s future. You will not destroy the freedoms my grandfather fought two world wars to defend. Naff off you over-promoted rubber bath toy. Britain is revolted by you and your little gang of self-pleasuring prefects.” 


David Cameron tweeted in May 2015 “stability and strong government with me, or chaos with Ed Miliband” Where is Cameron now? Fools pay him £120,000 an hour to speak. So he’s well able to afford to put the family up in £1728 a-night resorts in Costa Rica. Or sit writing his memoirs in a £25,000 designer Cotswold garden shed.


Someone wrote of James Joyce’s father “he’s domineering and quarrelsome and has in an unusual degree that low, voluble abusiveness characteristic of the Cork people when drunk… He is lying and hypocritical. … He is spiteful like all drunkards who are thwarted, and invents the most cowardly insults that a scandalous mind and a naturally derisive tongue can suggest.”


In the UK flicking between TV channels. It’s alarming. You need a vocabulary no more sophisticated than Trump’s to follow what’s going on.  Most of what I find is dull, patronising, formulaic. Little substance strung out to last an hour. “Fugitives” (following the work of specialist extradition police forces) is surely scripted by the Brexit party. 


That said, I have to admit staying with the yes formulaic but hugely entertaining Great British Bake Off, despite relentless, mind-numbing commercial breaks.  It’s inspired me to make a great effort with younger son’s imminent birthday cake.  There was also a fascinating documentary by an ex paramilitary about the troubles in Ireland.


One of the things I love best about the UK are its thrift stores – creative recycling for worthwhile causes.  In Stockbridge today a volunteer played exquisite Mozart concertos as I browsed a vast collection of DVDs, vintage clothes and toyed with buying one son tweed plus fours.


My search for WiFi in Edinburgh took me to seven cafés, a public library and a bookshop. It cost 19.70€ in 3 green teas, a macchiato and kale/spinach/mango smoothies. The journey began at 8.45am and came to fruition several loo stops later, at 5pm.   Document sent.


At Stockbridge library the old man sitting behind me was browsing pictures on a council  computer of young women in underwear.  I was astonished some kind of parental control/lock hadn’t been installed, but apparently lingerie catalogues slip below radars.  When we were kids, flashers were rife. Nowadays they’re getting their kicks online.


Jessie Kesson was born in a workhouse in Inverness two years into the so-called “Great War.” Her mother was “full with remembered poetry and song,” intermittently drunk & trying to make ends meet long before the creation of a welfare state. Denied higher education, Jessie Kesson nevertheless became a much-loved writer with a terrific ear for dialogue.


Where I live in France the rule is, generally, to greet people you meet in the street, or out on a walk. I thought I’d give it a go down by the Waters of Leith. My first cheery “Good morning!” elicited a very surprised, angry muttered “hello..”. After that it went better. Dog walkers the friendliest by far.


I asked a young man serving in a shop on Princes Street at the end of August 2019 what difference he thought Brexit would make.  “To be honest, I don’t think it’ll make any difference at all.”  He’s in for a shock.  A wine merchant off the London Road was more realistic:  “We’re dead,” he said. “Prices will double by Christmas.” 


Adults in public are playing Gem Grab, Candy Crush and other utterly inane games on their phones.  It totally eludes me. As does most British TV I’ve come across this week, dumbed down to almost brain-dead level.  Beasts in the field would have little trouble following most reality TV/documentaries.


The north-west coast of Brittany is covered in potentially lethal green algae. Waste from intensive pig, poultry and dairy farming and nitrates from fertilisers have entered the river system and are flowing into the sea. Algae decomposes and pockets of toxic gas get trapped under its crust. It can prove fatal if people step on it #madnessrules.


In a car, this town appears to be flat. But get on a bike, and suddenly there are hills everywhere.  I’ve just freewheeled down a dangerously steep one. Had a vehicle been coming the other way, my bike and I would have been total right offs. But we were lucky  and the roller coaster decent proved exhilarating!  


Things I appreciate about France include – health food supermarkets, the organic movement, free education, grants for students from low income families, accommodation for low income students, MJCs and music conservatoires in every sizeable town, organic wine, cheese, diversity of landscapes…. Things France could do with – flexibility, entrepreneurialism, thrift stores, general joy!