Desert Island Discs

A long long time ago, or so it feels, when I was in Spanish exile, I whiled away my time writing blog posts by hand.

One of them was Desert Island Discs. As I had no television, internet or other distraction and couldn’t be bothered with the radio, I played records. Those black round things from the last century.

For those of you who don’t know DIDs, it was a Radio 4 programme presented by a gravelly-voiced Roy Plumley who introduced a famous person, and asked them to choose eight records if they were cast away on a desert island. They also got to choose a book, Shakespeare and the bible were already provided.

I realised eight records was not an easy choice. So compiling my list, I went for as many multi-record albums as I could, eg all Beethoven’s piano concertos, Handel’s Messiah, Verdi’s Requiem etc.

Then I began to split it by categories. Choral, piano, symphony and pop.

Reading Ark’s post about the Tom Robinson Band last night reminded me of this unpublished post.

We play pop quiz here. I put up some music from YouTube and he has to guess the band and the name of the song. We don’t bother with the year. Sometimes he gets it after a couple of chords. Sometimes he can sing the words (I am totally useless at lyrics I just sing lala happily) but can’t get the band or the title.

He gets tired of it quickly but can’t resist playing along. I missed my vocation in life as a DJ.

So here is today’s Top Ten Thirty!!, Pop Pickers. (Courtesy of the late Alan Freeman, who sadly has now been linked with the Savile allegations of paedophilia)

These are not in order of preference, rather today’s random favourites. Tomorrow is another day.

1 American Pie – Don McLean. One of the ones I never bought and wished I had. Partner got this one in two notes.
2 Baker Street – Gerry Rafferty. Another winner for Partner. Who couldn’t recognise that wonderful sax intro? I did buy this one.
3 Relax – Frankie Goes to Hollywood. I loved this repetitive bass beat. I would turn it up on the stereo as a teenager so that it was reverberating around the house. My parents were actually quite tolerant, surprisingly.
4 Bits and Pieces – Dave Clark Five. I not only have the single, but saw them at Bridlington, aged five or six, and stamped my feet along with everyone else in the Floral Pavilion, pony tail swinging away as I did so.
5 Nights in White Satin – Moody Blues. Just classic and mesmerisingly beautiful. Who couldn’t like this? It’s a get it on the first note one in the pop quiz stakes though.
6 Lady Eleanor – Lindisfarne. Similar type of music to NiWS. Beautiful and haunting. Another easy guess on the quiz, especially as I play the Nicely Out of Tune album endlessly.
7 Things We Said Today – The Beatles. This was a hard choice. My first Beatles record was She Loves You (yeah yeah yeah) – 1962. I’ve got a fair selection of their singles, I Want to Hold Your Hand, This Boy, Can’t Buy Me Love are all faves, as is A Hard Day’s Night. But the flip side of that, Things We Said Today is the one that I play the most, so it gets on the list. Listening to the old singles, they had a very clear sound, and the guitar music is – to my uneducated ear – good. And while I loathe Paul McCartney as a personality, I think he is a bloody good musician with a cracking voice.
8 There’s Always Something There to Remind Me – Sandie Shaw. I just love the way she belts this out. She announced her retirement from music last year. There will always be this record to remind us of her wonderful voice though. I’ve chosen this record as the first vid link because I just think it is so good.
9 House of the Rising Sun – The Animals. Another easy one for Partner on the pop quiz. The Animals were from Newcastle. When I lived in Newc one of my bosses split up from his wife, and the local gossip was that she was living with an animal (one of the band). One day, I got a ‘phone call from a Mrs X who wanted some decorating work. Mrs X lived in the same area of Newc as my boss. They had the same name. I figured it wasn’t a good idea. So we never worked for Mrs X and her animal. My former boss, Mr X, currently has a rather high-profile job in the UK, no, let me call that a top job. In fact the top job for his profession, so I am not naming him. He’s from Yorkshire for what that’s worth. He never liked me. He didn’t like journalists. The Animals:
10 Radar Love – Golden Earring. Just wonderful.
11 Seven Seas of Rye – Queen. Far better than their later music IMO. It was out around the same time as Radar Love.
12 Hotel California – The Eagles. I love the dreamy quality of this. When I was a teenager I used to go a pub called the Roundabout (it was a round building) except it was referred to as the Mid, I think because it was previously the Midland Bank. It was a hang out for hippies, dope smokers and laid-back music – I wasn’t the first two, but I did like the music. At 14, me and a similarly tall mate would go every Saturday. She was dark, I was blond. We made a good pair. My parents didn’t like her :D
13 Sultans of Swing – Dire Straits. Another Newcastle band. I like Dire Straits, and they sound similar to the Eagles. In Spain, my neighbours like them too but pronounce it Dear Streets which always has us in hysterics as we try to explain to them that they are saying calles muy caras.
14 Take a Walk on the Wild Side – Lou Reed. Beautiful voice, lovely music. Listen to that sax. Sadly died last year.
15 Brother Love’s Travelling Salvation Show – Neil Diamond. This is on his album Gold, and I just love that gospel music. Such powerful singing. He’s known for more famous hits, but that is my fave.
16 Gold – Spandau Ballet. Because after mentioning Diamond’s album of that name I have to include this. I don’t have any of their records but I did see them live in Bradford having been dragged reluctantly to a concert at St George’s Hall. Just WOW! The record is good on its own, but live was superb. More sax, there is probably a theme to my choices :D When he belts out GOLD it is electrifying.
17 Vienna – Ultravox. Another one from a similar era. Beautiful clear singing, and lovely music behind the song. Another haunting one.
18 Big in Japan – Alphaville. I first heard this in Italy when I was working there as an au pair (!) I just HAD to buy it when I returned to the UK. Love the beat. I can even work out some of the words – You do what you do to me .. Oh and Big in Japan of course.
19 It’s a Sin – Pet Shop Boys. I adore PSBs, I didn’t know who they were for ages, just liked their music that I sang along to, well lalalala in reality.
20 Self Control – Laura Brannigan. I always forget her name but I love this and her beautiful voice. Gloria was also a great record. Self Control has more than 20 mill views on YT!!
21 One Night in BangKok – Murray Head. This reminds me of Big in Japan with its intro. By the time I heard it I was having lots of nights in Sydney and had already visited Bangkok. I’d listen to the radio in my little hostel room and just waited every night for it to come on.
22 Hit the road Jack! – Ray Charles. What can I say? There are no words for this incomparable classic.
23 Delilah – Tom Jones. Like Paul Mc I think TJ is an obnoxious person but he has a wonderful voice. A bit like Bassey. Welsh partner can sing this one word-perfect. I love the brass in this music. The sentiments are terrible, but as a piece of music it is class.
24 River Deep Mountain High – Ike and Tina Turner. This is another one that always sends shivers down my spine, it is brilliant. Especially played loud. I don’t have the original, but I have Nilsson’s version which isn’t bad although nothing can beat Tina. Nilsson died in 1994, aged 52, younger than me. Good grief.
25 The Free Electric Band – Albert Hammond. This is a Gib blog so got to end with our most famous Gib musician. I can play this for ages, I can even sing the words. I thought he was American! He was evacuated to the UK during WW2 and was born in London but was brought up in Gib. I also thought he was a one-hit wonder because that was the only single he made that ever made the charts in the UK. He wrote ‘It Never Rains in Southern California’, ‘The Air that I Breathe’ for the Hollies and ‘Freedom Come Freedom Go’ for The Fortunes. I made my classic mistake of saying he was a one-hit wonder one day to a couple who were running a local bar. She’s since died and he went back to the UK. Fred patiently explained that Hammond had written more than one song! But now, I can’t resist a few more songs.
26 Long Cool Woman – The Hollies. While I think ‘The Air that I Breathe’ is dirgey, I love this. The Hollies are from Lancashire. And listening to the lyrics where it ends with ‘had it all’ remind me of one of my all-time bestest ever records.
27 Get it on – T. Rex. I’ve got the single and the Electric Warrior album. I had a crush on Marc Bolan for years. Loved his voice and his music. Listen for that bit toward the end where the music fades and someone sings ‘bang a gong’ in a high voice. Sublime.
28 Neanderthal Man – Hotlegs. This one always makes me laugh. When I was a kid we had caravan holidays on the east coast of Yorkshire. My parents took me to the local pub just down from Ulrome Neanderthal Man was a favourite in the pub. It was so loud and noisy that everyone just put it on endlessly. I don’t think anyone started off liking it, but it was an in joke. Most odd. Don’t ever remember hearing anything else in there. There were calls for NM if something else was put on! Def not the sort of music my parents liked, but even they joined in and put their ten pence in the juke box to put it on. I bought the single. The joke was on me later on. I hated 10CC and their whingey music. Hotlegs went on to become the rather more famous 10CC.
29 Stayin’ Alive – Bee Gees. Another band I loathed. My partner however, did like them. I have to say, I actually like this one very much now. I think the tall good-looking one has an amazing voice. And is he fit in the YT vid? Oh yes. Partner had a mate who apparently looked like him and was a real woman magnet. By the time I met the mate he was fat and didn’t look remotely like Mr G. Interesting the twins who were younger than Barry are both dead now. Sad. I didn’t realise how successful they were (because I didn’t like them). Only outsold by Elvis, The Beatles, Michael Jackson, Garth Brooks (who??!!) and McCartney. And 35 mill views for this vid!
30 Total Eclipse of the Heart – Bonnie Tyler. Let’s really end with another British singer, Bonnie Tyler (who I also thought was American, sort of like Dolly Parton yes?) who was born in Wales. She has the same birth name as my sister-in-law – Gaynor. Some years ago there was a brilliant YT version of this by three people miming the words as they raced along the road at 90 miles an hour (that was the title of their vid). They had to change the title, but I’ve found it, here it is. I think it is great, but the original was better because it was perfectly synched and it had loads of views. I’m surprised it is still up. Given all the pesky people who moan about copyright ;)

Enough!! As for my eight, the must-haves are Sandie, The Beatles, Dave Clark Five, Moody Blues and I'll worry about the other four later.

And the one I forgot. How could I have done? Eloise – Barry Ryan. Born in Leeds (West Riding, Yorkshire). This record dates from 1968, and is full of orchestration and a powerful voice. To Freddie Mercury et al, orchestration was being done well before Bohemian Rhapsody and this is a perfect combination of pop and orchestra. So I planned to end with a Gibbo, but have ended with someone from my birthplace. I couldn’t track this record down for ages, got it confused with the Prices for some reason.

Here’s Barry, who was around 20 when he recorded Eloise. Isn’t he gorgeous? There are good-looking men from Yorkshire after all.

He’s still performing this song now at more than 60 years old. Either he’s miming on all the YouTube tracks or he has retained his voice. He still isn’t bad-looking either. Look at the HUGE orchestra. Worst lines in the song: My Eloisa, I want to please her!! Terrible!! He can’t possibly sing now like he did 40 years ago. Or can he? I wonder if he can sing On Ilkla Moor Bah’t ‘At?


The Damned released their version of it in 1986. It was their biggest hit (no 3 in UK charts). Terrible. Not a patch on the original. Part of the appeal is the way Ryan sings Eloise in a high voice. Dave Vanian’s style just doesn’t make it. Ryan decided to become an arty photographer.

Caged, docked, and vamped

The men in the street were erecting a metal cage. Perhaps it was an official feeding station for feral cats for my neighbours?

Perhaps it was to punish people caught feeding monkeys?

I walked out of the block with Little Rat. The pavement was blocked with wheelie bins and the large cardboard boxes that the cigarette shops dump in our street when they have sold far above the legal limit to naughty smugglers.

I asked how I was supposed to get past. One of them pointed to the road and said they would only be five minutes. Roughseas did not want to walk in the road thank you very much so I suggested they move the offending cartons. One of them sighed and told his colleague to move them. I thanked them very much and we continued on our imperious way.

On our return after more than five minutes, they were still hard at work. Well, one of them was hard at work and three of them were standing around as is the usual practice here.

Light dawned. ‘Oh, it’s for the monkeys,’ I said. ‘Everything is done for a reason,’ said one of them. Not a cage for the monkeys, but to prevent them raiding the bins.

One of the neighbours seemed to think it was for stag nights. Should I wake up one morning to find a naked man imprisoned in there I will do my best to take a photo for you all.

No naked men.  Sadly.  Yet.

No naked men. Sadly. Yet.

I felt sorry for a) the bin men as it makes their job harder and longer and b) for the man who cleans the bins and outside our block every Saturday as it makes his job harder and longer too.

It turns out my feral cat-feeding neighbour had rung up and complained because he couldn’t take his aging disabled wife out when the monkeys were there. Being a true Gibraltarian, although she likes to claim her British ancestry, she’s frightened of them. I have never seen a monkey go for an old fat disabled woman. They are more interested in plastic bags full of food, rubbish bins, and my dogs. This is invariably dealt with by saying ‘hello nice monkey, please go away,’ and ‘NO’ in an assertive tone to both dogs and monkeys. I am in charge of this pack and that includes monkeys. If there is any doubt, they then get an Arthur Scargill style finger pointed at them, and ‘FUERA!’. (Go away).

The iPhone saga

So there will be no more pictures of monkeys taken out of my bedroom window, or of excited spectators watching the performance. I had some good ones to share with the world, but they were lost on my iPhone, Hal 5.

Hal 5 was refusing to charge, so I reluctantly took him and his lead into the Apple shop. I had an annoying conversation with a so-called technician in which he rudely told me if I wanted a modern iPhone I should be prepared to upgrade my computer so iTunes would recognise it. So I spend £500 plus quid on a ‘phone and then have to upgrade my software or buy another computer? I don’t think so, but he was lucky. I figured he was so thick a lecture on wasteful consumerism would have been met with a robotic stare.

As Hal’s charging lead (lightning to USB cable in techie Apple speak) was working for his ‘phone and a different lead wasn’t working to mine, my unfriendly robot diagnosed the culprit as a malfunctioning docking station.

‘You can take it to La Cañada if you want.’ La Cañada is a large shopping centre in Marbella which I have never visited and had no intention of visiting with my iPhone. Why would I drive 80 odd kms, or get the bus from La Linea and then another bus or a tedious walk, when I bought the ‘phone from the Apple shop five minutes walk down the town?

I said I didn’t want. Robot looked disappointed. Two weeks later I got a ‘phone call, luckily not from surly robot, but a pleasant real life person. I needed to disable find my ‘phone. It needed to go to La Cañada (ha!!) to the other Apple shop as the Gib staff aren’t authorised to open them. ‘They’ll probably swap it for a new one,’ he added. They didn’t, he rang the next day, it was ready for collection. The superstars at La Cañada had obviously fixed it immediately.

When I got it back all my photos had gone and it was on factory settings so I needed to spend ages faffing around with it. Then when I took some photos Hal the laptop wouldn’t recognise Hal 5 on iPhoto. Great. I have a mobile ‘phone with a decent camera and I can’t load it directly to the computer. So now I have to email my photos to myself. I went out and bought some new batteries and a new charger for the Canon digicamera.

Yesterday I connected the two Hals to charge Hal 5. The iPhoto suddenly decided it did know Hal 5 after all.

Today it didn’t. Back to sending myself emails of photos. And back to the Apple shop tomorrow.

The Vamps

Meanwhile the Vamps in the flat above us are in fine fettle this weekend. On Friday the Chief Vamp started throwing the coffins around and screaming at the top of her husky cigarette infected voice. ‘Te odio,’ she yelled time and time again. (I hate you). More coffins thrown around and huge torrents of tears that I thought might leak through into our flat.

Last night however was party night. Apparently they went in and out of the block half a dozen times after midnight, none of which I heard but Partner did.

‘They’ve got to be on coke,’ he surmised. ‘They go out but come back home to snort a line so they don’t get caught doing it.’

What a mundane explanation. They are clearly vampires as I have always maintained. They go out, find some unsuspecting prey, and either eat it in the street or bring it home under the pretext of a party. They were still at it when I took Little Rat out at 6.30 this morning, but they must have fallen into their coffins around 8am. The neighbour next door to them told us today that he didn’t sleep last night.

It’s not just werewolves who get excited at full moon. Vamps do too. Full moon today, Sunday 16 March.

Food (vegan)

Here, for no particular reason is a pic of last night’s tea. Cauliflower not cheese. Recipe here. Served with organic jacket potatoes, sadly not mine as they were ganneted immediately I’d picked them from the finca. I like the crispy skins so will only bake jacket pots when I can use organic ones.

Cauliflower with a generous topping of tomatoes, olives and parsley

Cauliflower with a generous topping of tomatoes, olives and parsley

Seeing red – follow-up

And for those of you who didn’t wade through the comments, WordPress disabled my stolen photo on Mr Caswell’s site, leaving him with a large empty box containing a tiny question mark in the centre. He then took down the empty box stating that the photo had been copyrighted. Um, yes. See that © ?

For some reason, after stealing my photo, he decided to follow my blog. I mention this merely to point out that I was aware of it, and it didn’t alter what I wrote.

Phil wrote an interesting comment about how someone let him know that his photos were for sale on someone else’s site. Whether you are a professional photographer or not, for someone to take your work and then try to make money out of it is despicable and deplorable behaviour.

Interestingly, when I wrote on the WP support forum, one of the commenters said perhaps people didn’t understand about copyright. That may be the case. If you don’t understand why copyright is important I wrote about it here. With the internet and the rise of self-publishing, the issue of copyright is ever more important when people are trying to make money out of their writing and/or their photography.

Copyrighting your work and photos won’t stop determined thieves, but you are at least asserting your right to your intellectual property/material and have a good case should your work appear elsewhere. If that does happen, you need to take out a notice under the Millennium Digital Copyright Act (MDCA) – raincoaster (who posts regularly on the support forum, I’ll try and add the link later) has some great information about it. If it’s a WordPress blog, as it was in my case, you click to the left of the main header bar and hit report content and follow the easy peasy steps.

To those of you who don’t care two hoots about copyright – I wish you did.

Seeing red

As you do, when you wake up at 5am, I clicked on Hal.

Five am is a nuisance. It is too early to get up, but too late to go back to sleep before getting up at 6am.

I flicked onto comments.

‘Hi, borrowed one of your pictures …’

Borrowed? Give it back. Right now. Stolen more like.

Do I have © slapped all over my photos for some dimwit to ‘borrow’ my photos? Do I have a lengthy page of T&Cs to be ignored?

At 5am the roughseas were very turbulent, much to Partner’s annoyance.

‘Leave it alone, does it matter…?’

Yes, it does. Very much.

Mr Caswell received a reply to his on my blog.

I then wrote on the WP support forum and received some immediate and sensible advice. Thank you raincoaster and auxclass.

Next I posted on the borrower’s site, which I didn’t really want to do, but couldn’t resist offering him the choice of paying me for my photo or taking it down. Forthwith.

Given that he is in America, I generously gave him a few hours leeway.

Meanwhile back over on the WP forum, I was being advised to take out a DMCA immediately. This is where you report a breach of copyright under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to WP. So I did.

I am NOT flattered if someone steals my photos. They are mine. I have fairly clear T&Cs that say so.

I am not flattered if you steal my text either.

If you want anything I have created you pay for it, unless of course you are an animal sanctuary which is totally different. But otherwise, don’t steal my fucking work.

It’s not even as though I am the world’s best photographer for goodness’ sake. I copyright my photos out of principle. Not because I think anyone would steal them.

And yet they just have done. Not only that, but they were stupid enough to tell me they had done.

I looked up said blogger and discovered his main interest was God. Well, there’s a surprise. Hey mate, have you heard of the Ten Commandments? Thou shalt not steal, for example?

So basically, take your Ten Commandments, try abiding by them, and leave my photos alone. Thief.

Here is the photo in question.


Here is my response from WP, received after about five hours since I submitted the complaint:

Hi there,

Your DMCA Takedown Notice has been received and reviewed for completeness.

In accordance with the requirements set forth by the DMCA, we have disabled access to the material identified as infringing. Please note that we have notified the user who uploaded the material to provide them an opportunity to formally challenge this removal. If the user decides to submit a counter-notice you will be notified immediately.

Thank you,

World book day in Gibraltar

Book crossing, book fair, it was all happening across the street from me, so the idle roughseas legs didn’t have to walk too far to see if there were any goodies for her to snaffle. So this will be a book post with a few reviews thrown in, including some very good reads.

But first, on the subject of snaffles and freebies …

Having successfully, well almost, apart from a couple of leaks that will get fixed, sorted the plumbing for the block, the vamp upstairs generously offered us her flat screen TV as she was getting a new one.

‘I know you don’t have one, so I thought I would offer it to you first.’

Wow! Although where to put it in our overcrowded flat was another matter.

And we’d also need to get a rip-off contract from the local supplier for satellite or whatever it is.

‘It’s analogue,’ she told Partner. I don’t think she did. She more than likely said it was either a) not analogue or b) digital.

Regardless a free TV is a free TV even though we have no time to watch one, and I don’t have the desire.

‘I’m dismantling it tonight, and I’ll bring it down tomorrow.’

Partner could hardly contain himself with excitement. I wondered how much I could get for it in Friday Ads after it had sat unused for a while.

Coming back in the door on Sunday afternoon with Snowy, I bumped into her. She was carrying some disgusting-looking MDF out of the block to dump in the street. I don’t like MDF which is one reason I don’t have fitted kitchens. Or fitted anything. Or tat furniture. Wood should be solid and last far longer than I will. And age better than I will.

‘Hahaha,’ she laughed, carrying out the huge pieces of tat as though she was Zena. ‘Your partner thought I was giving him a TV, hahaha,’ and she collapsed again in laughter as she dumped it tidily on the street. Her flatmate held the door open for me.

‘I’m not going out,’ said the flatmate, and pointed to her jimjams. I can’t remember the last time I saw this woman dressed. This was of course, Sunday afternoon. Given that Spanish women do it all the time in my pueblo and so do the Gibbos on the local estate where Partner works, I shouldn’t have been surprised. But hey, we live in a posh part of the city.

‘Why would I give him a new TV? I’m getting new units. This is what I’m getting rid of,’ added the vamp, as she came back for the tat that her flatmate wouldn’t take out.

I wandered upstairs laughing and relieved that I didn’t need to find space for a nasty intrusive noisy large TV.

Partner was also laughing his socks off. Even he thought it was funny. He started to tell me the story but I told him I had already heard it from the vamp’s mouth.

She’d originally said he wanted us to have the TV (!) because she didn’t want the Moroccans who come to scavenge our bins for rich pickings to take it. This TV MDF unit thing was so bad – and mouldy – that even the Roccies never took it. A British couple looked at it as they needed to put up a shelf, and they rejected it. It got taken away by our street cleaning service.

Apart from anything else, we actually have a TV unit left behind by the previous occupant of the flat. It is full of books, and hopefully will stay so.

Onto books.

Black Out by John Lawton

There are a number of books with this title but this is somewhat older (1995) and is set in the London Blitz of 1944. I’m not a fan of wartime books but this looked interesting and sounded as though there was more to it than met the eye.
It’s basically a crime novel, or rather that’s how it starts out. Smart unconventional copper has been exempted from signing up to fight in WW2. His family were rich Russian émigrés and he didn’t do what was expected, unlike his brother who joined the RAF. He is an instinctive police officer rather than a plod.

The beginning is not particularly gripping but after a few pages I was wrapped. The main character is brilliant, partly because he isn’t perfect. He breaks the rules at work. He has two women on the go at once, one of whom is connected with the case. He totally gets it wrong. Flawed heros. Don’t you love them?

There is good dialogue, excellent depiction of characters, some sex and some swearing, enough to make the story valid, but not too much to over use it. Just right. It has action. Lots of it. Although it is complicated, even roughseas managed to follow the plot, and certainly couldn’t have guessed the end. Working out who was going to be the baddie was such fun.

So if it started off as an ordinary crime scene novel, the ending was very good, very good indeed. Better a good ending than a good beginning?

I read hard copy books very quickly indeed. Partner doesn’t. He was half-way through it in a day. Three hundred and forty two pages of an excellent read.

Marks out of five?

Well, I couldn’t fault it. Not even any glaring proofing errors or inconsistencies. Given that it is crime/thriller/spy, it is pretty near the 5s. It is difficult to compare scores between genres, eg I unhesitatingly gave Tolkien 5 and Rowling 1 (and that was generous). I’d have to give it 4.8/4.9. It was just such a great read, I’ve already read it another couple of times before I take it back to the library. And look for more of his books, do hope there are some. I’ve just looked him up, and apparently he has written quite a few. Gets around four stars awards on book sites, but I think Black Out is well worth more than four, it also won a book award.

Highly recommended in case you haven’t worked that out.

Two Faces of Nemesis by Antony Melville-Ross

MI6. Need I say more? M-Ross writes a good tale. Fast-paced, and moving from London to New York to the Columbian jungle as the story unfolds.

mrossAs with all spy stories there is some deceit in there somewhere, and like the Lawton book, I was trying to guess just who was the spy on the inside, but was taken totally by surprise with this one. M-Ross doesn’t pull any punches and things don’t always end happily ever after. The good people get killed too.

Well-written, plausible characters, and a good easy read. Marks 3.8 to 4. It’s the second M-Ross book I’ve read (with the same main characters), and I’ll be hunting down the rest in our library.

And now for something completely different.

Northern Lights by Philip Pullman

This is a very good fantasy novel, allegedly aimed at young people I suppose, but is perfectly good for adults. nlights It’s 400 pages of mystery, imagination, twists and surprises. Our heroine Lyra lives in Oxford with her demon. Everyone has their own personal demon. Brilliant. I want one. Almost as much as I want a Gollum (Tolkien). Your demon is basically your soul – impossible to live without it. And in a more physical sense, your demon is your companion.

There are witches, iron bears, wolf-demons and all sorts of exciting warring factions. There are gyptions who are barge people (without demons). From the genteel cloisters of Oxford, Lyra travels to the frozen North in search of her missing friend Roger, a kitchen boy from the college, and commits, unwittingly, the ultimate betrayal. Poignant and powerful.

This one won the Carnegie Medal and the Guardian award and justifiably so. First published in 1995.

It easily merits 4 out of five, and I’d push it up to 4.3. It’s the first part of a trilogy, so I’ll be looking out for the other two.

Once in a full moon by Ellen Schreiber
botoxThis one was, well, nothing. Schreiber has written a series of books called Vampire Kisses. This book is actually about a werewolf. And obviously the nice girl (with botox lips by the look of the cover) who falls in love with him.

He comes from the wrong side of town so her mates are all very snotty with him, although he actually does come from money.

The plot is thin, the characters and conversation banal and the designer who thought having a black page for every new chapter with a full moon at the top needs to stop watching so many films. What works on films doesn’t work in print. I did not like having to read white print on black at the start of every chapter. The cover is vile too. As you can see.

Marks? One out of five on the grounds that if you have nothing else around it is readable but has no literary merit. It is nothing like as good as Meyer, but I suppose I should read one of Schreiber’s vampire novels to see if I just read a poor example of her work. Although based on that one, Enid Blyton is a more interesting read.

Book fair

The book day was interesting. It was meant to be book crossing, but in fact, the sign just said, help yourself, all books free. So I did. I only took four. No Tolkien, no Lawton, M-Ross or Pullman, needless to state.

Four free books, plus publicity blurb, cute little bird postcard to bottom right that was a kiddy book

Four free books, plus publicity blurb, cute little bird postcard to bottom right that was a kiddy book

There were dated chick lit books including Bridget Jones’ Diary by Helen Fielding. The success of a mediocre book, leading to a hollywood film leaves me cold. Especially as we went to school together (year above me) so naturally I am insanely jealous of her success. There is a bit of a difference between someone who lives in Los Angeles and London and someone who lives in Spain and Gib. OK, so I would prefer the latter even had I the choice, but still, the choice would be nice.

But it made me muse how fickle fiction tastes are. Back in the 90s when Helen’s book was first published, there was a waiting list in my office for people to read someone’s version for free. And there it was, unloved and unwanted on a book giveaway. Instant success isn’t lasting. Read once, throw away later. Apparently her new book received poor reviews, but isn’t selling badly. What do you want, sales or critical acclaim? I’m no longer sure which I would prefer.

If I find my school photo with us both on I’ll scan it in. I’m sure I was more blond than she was back then, and she is far blonder than me now. How can that be, I ask myself?

Local authors

I also visited the local authors’ stalls. I had no idea Gib had so many local writers. There was a very nice-looking self-published children’s book about a bird story (see postcard in pic above), yet more indeterminate fantasy/love stories, and some good factual publications by Richard Garcia, one of which was a compilation of his own historical postcard collection. Very coffee table.

And, from one day to another.

International Women’s Day

Two days later, March 8 was International Women’s Day. This year’s theme was Inspiring Change. Suitably bland I must say. Apparently we can all be advocates for inspiring change. Really?

There were two events in Spain listed on the official international website. One was a yoga class and the other was to get on your motorbike and travel abroad. I really don’t think lack of yoga or imagination to travel abroad on your motorbike are the biggest problems facing women in Spain or elsewhere.

Meanwhile, the UK was listed at the top of the events schedule and won gold with a whopping 420 events, USA had a mere 263 to fall in for silver, and Aus caught bronze with 158, only just pipping Canada however, who had 154. The next country on the list after these glorious white patriarchal powers was India with 91 events.

For those of you who are relatively new to my blog/s, here are my previous women’s day posts, which summarise my views about this token gesture of one day a year towards women, while ignoring their serious plight for the other 364/5.


Health warning for sensitive souls on this one – there is some swearing:


And if you don’t believe me, read this:


See, nothing ever changes.

But in the spirit of doing my part to inspire change, I shall continue to point out these uninteresting facts, and try and persuade you all to be at least a little less sexist in your choice of language. (Clouds readers will know exactly what I mean.) Similarly behaviour.

Many years ago, before automatic locking was invented for ordinary cars, I used to go out with three friends from work, and we would take it in turns to drive. Two of us would always unlock the passenger side first so that the other person could get in before we got in the driver’s side, rather than leaning across and unlocking it. We were both perfectly capable of opening the passenger door, so there was no need to do that, but the passenger wasn’t standing around like an idiot waiting for the driver to get in and reach across. My friends were all women. The other two didn’t do the unlock gesture. I found it really courteous when the one friend did.

The message there is, do something to help someone or be polite and respectful regardless of gender. Not because of.

Commonwealth Day

Another two days later, we have Commonwealth Day. Never let it be said I am not patriotic. I like Commonwealth Day. Here in Gibraltar we get a bank holiday so it means a long weekend and we all promptly hot-footed it back to Spain. Where it is not a bank holiday, obviously.

The Spaniards on the firm where Partner works feel most discriminated against. While they are happy to take Gib bank hols, they want the Spanish ones too. I just love that. It says it all. I don’t just want to come and get my cake in your country, I want to eat it in mine too. Can you imagine Gibraltarians working in Spain (some do) asking for Commonwealth Day, Queen’s Birthday and National Day as holidays for them?

Every time a bank hol comes around they moan about it. The firm closes down for holidays. All firms do. So no, they can’t work triple time and get a whacking wedge for being in on a bank hol and take the Spanish ones of their choice as a quid pro quo. What they simply want is their bank hols as well as ours. And they want to run Gib?

The theme for Commonwealth Day this year is TeamCommonwealth, as Glasgow is hosting the Commonwealth Games in summer. I do hate these ghastly phrases like TeamThis, TeamThat, and TeamTheOther.

It’s another bland theme about we all need to work together and co-operate. Yeah.

TeamRoughseas worked to put up a boat cover as a sunshade over my garden on Commonwealth Day. TeamNextdoorSpanishNeighbours promptly pointed out the rain wouldn’t get through which was a bit of a cheek as he has dirty great corrugated steel roofing over his terrace so no rain gets through there, it just bounces off it like a dustbin lid.

Boat cover over the veg patch

Boat cover over the veg patch

The commander of TeamRoughseas (me) decided we weren’t likely to get much rain in the near future, so we left it up.

TeamRoughseas (him) also repaired the bedouin’s tent above our terrace (lets the rain through :D), and changed the cockerel’s water, as well as generally messing around in the garden, weeding the path, mopping out the house, and going into town (him) for cable ties and dog biscuits. Great teamwork.

Fixing the bedouin's tent above the terrace

Fixing the bedouin’s tent above the terrace

Our cockerel has earned his spurs at teamwork -check out the size - bigger than his feet!

Our cockerel has earned his spurs at teamwork -check out the size – bigger than his feet!

World Days

Today is World Day of Muslim Culture, Peace, Dialogue and Film.

Then we have two days off before a heady March 14 when it is International Day of Action for Rivers, and Pi Day. Pi Day?? The following day is World Consumer Rights Day. Having a laugh. What rights? World Consumer Service Day would be a good start, let alone world consumer service year.

But the one I’m looking forward to is the third Friday in March (21st this year). World Sleep Day. zzzzzzzzzzz

Here one world day, gone tomorrow.

Otro día, another day

And your Gibraltar sleuthhound is here with breaking news. Or rather breaking glass.

Wandering out this morning Partner encountered a dog walker we know (OK, so we know most dog walkers around our streets).

‘Look at the jeweller’s window on your way down,’ he said.

‘I asked the police if they had caught them yet, but they hadn’t. That means they won’t.’

Long gone across the frontier presumably. We never heard a sound, and it is only five minutes walk away. They’d bent the grille and smashed the glass with a sledgehammer and grabbed the lot. Odd, on a Saturday night, as there are normally people walking around at all hours in the early morning coming home from clubs or parties.

Perhaps they were Spaniards belatedly celebrating Día de Andalucía which falls on 28 February?

This was instituted to celebrate the referendum of the Andalucían people to become an autonomous community back in 1980. A bit like Gib’s national day on Sept 10 celebrates their decision to retain British links.

Andalucîa also nominates a favoured son or daughter on this day. This year it is Miguel Ríos, a singer from Granada. Can’t say he is to my taste so no linky. Look him up on youtube if you want. Rock, but nothing special.

The next day, 1 March, was St David’s Day, ie the Welsh National Day. One wears a daffodil and eats leeks or something like that. We did neither. Welsh Partner drank beer.

I did however, get an email newsletter from a company I use, Ethical Wares, based in Wales, which said:

St David (Dewi Sant) was a Welsh Bishop during the 6th Century who has since become regarded as the patron saint of Wales.

He was also a Vegetarian or Vegan and his monastic followers were forbidden to eat meat.  His monks pulled their ploughs by hand as they weren’t permitted to use animals!

Good one, St David.

Which leads me neatly onto another clever little segue (one has to use these words on WordPress), whereupon I shall, somewhat belatedly, moan about rich tosser British princes shooting animals in Spain, or more specifically in Andalucía, and then launching a campaign about endangered animals.

All the news stories very carefully pointed out that RTBPs were not hunting illegally. Well I don’t care whether they were or they weren’t. It’s not as though they are starving is it? They are doing it for fun. They are no different to the Spanish royal family who decided to go big game hunting two years ago.

I’m neither pro nor anti-monarchy, but gratuitous shooting of animals is unnecessary. Can’t they find anything else to do with their time and leisure and money? The only reason for not getting rid of them, is that you would then need a head of state. But I’m beginning to think that might be better. Charles (ie Prince of Wales) has always been pro-hunting. They should get off their privileged backsides and go and work dahn t’ pit or in t’ mill or even in a boring office, and learn how to save money instead of getting big handouts on the back of taxpayers.

On the back of the Marius the giraffe news story, you would think someone, somewhere, might manage to learn something about PR.

Dear Royals,

It is not advisable to go hunting animals the day before launching a campaign to stop illegal poaching. To the average person in the street that looks hypocritical regardless of whether or not the boar and deer you killed were done so legally. And to the average journalist it makes a cracking story.

Yours coldly


How can these people rationalise supporting the WWF and endangered species and merrily go shooting for entertainment. More to the point, they shouldn’t get caught doing it if that’s what they want to do. Shit for brains?

Perhaps they should be fed to the lions, like Marius the giraffe, because clearly their genes are less than exceptional, just like his were?

Meanwhile, I’m wandering around Gib and noticed some strange men with hi-vis jackets and sticks. Ape management or something it said on the back of their jacket.

I asked what he was doing, as Little Snowy clambered up the steps to find his monkey friends.

‘Scaring them off to go back up the Rock where they belong.’

‘People shouldn’t feed them,’ I said.

‘That’s true, and the same people who feed them, then complain. These are wild animals and they bite when people touch them.’

Well, I don’t touch them. We all have our own space, and coming down the town and looking cute seriously helps tourism.

Now do I suspect a conspiracy theory here? (I usually do).

We have taxi drivers who charge a healthy sum (for them) to take people up the Rock to see the monkeys. Why go up the Rock to see the monkeys if you can see them wandering around Main Street?

I have seen taxi drivers feed monkeys (illegal) so tourists can get pretty piccies. And then kick or strike out at said monkeys to send them away when they have served their purpose.

Now we have more aggression against the monkeys. With aggression comes fear. And with fear, comes more aggression from monkeys who are harmless if you leave them alone.

So come on you down there, little officer. Come up here and we'll play chase on the roofs. And down the drainpipes.

So come on you down there, little officer. Come up here and we’ll play chase on the roofs. And down the drainpipes.

Today we spoke to another monkey enforcement officer aka ape environment management.

We agreed that more rubbish bins were needed and she said the taxi drivers were the biggest culprits for feeding them.

Stupid policy. Stupid people.

And we have a government minister who happens to be – yes – a taxi driver.

Job creation for some and keeping others in a job too. While victimising monkeys.

Just minding my own business, on a chair, and posing for a few photos. What's wrong with that?

Just minding my own business, on a chair, and posing for a few photos. What’s wrong with that?


Shopping. I hate it. With an absolute passion. I have shopophobia or whatever it is called. Alternatively perhaps I am the archetypal Yorkshire person and just don’t like spending money. More likely both.

Along with hating shopping, I am also useless at washing clothes. I can just about manage to handwash a few scarves and delicate pullovers, but otherwise everything gets chucked in the machine on a 40 wash.

The problem of course, is that dirty stains never get treated, so stay in the clothes. Whereupon my ‘clean’ ie washed clothes don’t look spotless.

Being the lucky companion to two dogs, my clothes also get covered in dogs’ hairs. On top of that, when Little Snowy decides I am a better toy than his dog toys, he rips holes in my pullovers. Luckily my arms are still intact to date.

Podencos have the most bizarre teeth. He has two evil incisors on the top, but underneath, the same two are set horizontally. And once these eight teeth clamp down, neatly interlocking with each other, there is no way to retrieve articles of clothing without ending up with a hole.

I have four sets of leggings (yes, I know they are so 80s and such a terrible fashion statement, but not being short or fat, they aren’t that bad on me) and they are all in holes. Every single pair. I can’t blame them all on the Podenco as they were in holes before we got him, but he certainly hasn’t improved the situation. And I have a pair of grey faded jeans and a pair of black cords for funerals or interviews. That’s as smart as I get. They were the last pair of trousers that I bought some three years ago maybe? Can’t remember.

The finish is wearing off my synthetic boots. Good style but poor quality which is a nuisance. I would pay more for better quality that lasts longer. Penny wise pound foolish and all that.

A pair of boots in a shop window caught my eye. I could buy new boots and stop looking like the local tramp or bagwoman. In I boldly went. Flat heels, good. Synthetic, very good. Where were they made? No label of origin in the boot on display. I looked at some of the other products. China. Ethical dilemma.

Did madam want to sit down and try them on? No madam didn’t have any money, well not enough money (ie £20 I’d only gone to the post office to buy a stamp). Madam could use a card. Madam didn’t have her card with her either.

I decided to go home and get the twenty quid. On the way home I looked in a couple of clothes shops for leggings or decent trousers. So long as they weren’t made in China. I found some. Cambodia, Egypt and Bangladesh. Not much better than China in terms of régimes, but China is the one that annoys me at the moment, so I’ll accept the others as less worse.

I bought THREE pairs of trousers. I hope I don’t have to go through that excruciating experience for years.

And the boots? I mentioned them to Partner. ‘China,’ he said with a quizzical look on his face. I didn’t buy the boots.

Meanwhile poor little piggy wigs seem to be making it on the blog circuit.

A vegan blogger posted up a vid where a piglet is fed into a machine and comes out as sausage. It’s a spoof because the piglet just drops through a hole in the machine and is produced alive at the end. So no-one needs to worry about the fact that their sausages are made out of pigs.

Piggy vid

Um. Double standards or what? People want to eat sausages without knowing they come from pigs?

And – what are you really eating?

Here is an extract from another blog. Link to full post here.

Today, The Humane Society of the United States released horrifying hidden-camera video footage of pigs being fed diarrhea and the ground up intestines of their own piglets at a factory farm in Kentucky – Iron Maiden Hog Farm.
Although the practice of feeding pig guts and shit to other pigs is common on industrial farms across the country, it is illegal under state law. 

Seriously, that is so sick. And you could be too. Remember BSE anyone?

And nearer to home, a Spanish resident blogged about the annual pig killing in her part of Spain. Also illegal in the way the pigs were killed. The post included photos which apparently weren’t the worst ones.

The only thing I can say is that at least she isn’t a hypocrite and was willing to go and watch the happy slaughter of lots of pigs and then partake in the blood and guts afterwards before then getting her share of said dead pig/s.

Why make this into a spectacle? A village event? What is so glorious about killing defenceless pigs in front of a village full of people. I can’t imagine the fear those animals faced before they were killed. And to revel in it??

I’ve lived in Spain for more than twelve years. I live in a campo village and all my neighbours are Spanish. We don’t have quaint customs like that. Or more to the point, we don’t have illegal customs like that, because as the blogger pointed out, killing a pig with a knife is now illegal, but hey let’s all trot along to the latest village festival because it’s such fun yes?

This was, without a doubt the most disgusting, offensive and revolting post I have read this year. OK, it’s only two months in, but I doubt it can be capped. Utterly vile. Glorification of killing defenceless animals in an illegal manner? Join the Michael Vick club.

The idea that this sort of event is ‘real Spain’ and they are ‘real people’ is just outdated. My Spain is no more or no less real than anyone else’s. Pink’s Sotogrande mansion is just as real as my small finca in La Axarquía. But we all need to move with the times and bull-fighting and pig-slaughtering in an illegal fashion because of ‘tradition’ and as a spectacle are an anachronism.

Years ago, I worked in the Lake District in the UK. People who moved there complained about the nuclear power station at Sellafield (previously Windscale but renamed because of yes! a bit of a problem). Locals didn’t like the protests against Sellafield as it provided jobs. Incomers were told if they moved to the Lakes, they should accept the status quo.

Well, I don’t. Accepting the status quo is the most ridiculous reason for justifying extremely poor behaviour whether against animals or people.

Since living in Spain, I’ve noticed three types of expats.

1) There are the ones who congregate in the ex-pat communities and don’t want to learn Spanish, ‘Why should we? they’re all wogs anyway’ – or words to that effect.

2) There are the ones who embrace everything Spanish, ignore anyone of their own nationality and proclaim that everything appalling about Spain is just cultural and historical. Wonderful frozen tapas reheated in the microwave. The relaxed mañana syndrome when you wait days to get anything done. Such fresh veg (covered in Agent Orange) etc etc. These people clamour to be part of the local life and to be so accepted immediately.

3) And then there’s me. Yeah, it’s a nice place, that’s why I’m here. I’m in the middle. I don’t rush to be part of every village event, I don’t need to. My neighbours aren’t just the ones in the street. They are all around the village and in the campo. We don’t do the bar. We don’t need to do it to meet people. It’s not an exciting life so I can never tell you about killing animals in my village, just boring old religious pilgrimages. Although I would rather see that than dead pigs.

Cute (alive) pigs. For now.





The virgin goes off to sea.


Real life.

Boring as hell. Just repairing the wall with the advice of José.

Day to day life in Andalucía is doing up your house

Day to day life in Andalucía is doing up your house

Rescue dogs thrown out in Spain. A little respect for life wouldn’t go amiss.

No use.  Chuck 'em out on the street or in the bin

No use. Chuck ‘em out on the street or in the bin

Let’s feed him to the lions


I don’t normally reblog, (I asked permission first), but I couldn’t ignore this story.

You’ve probably all read it.

Baby giraffe killed with bolt gun because he is a pleb. Common genes make him not worth breeding from. Ripped apart in front of audience including kids, and fed to lions in the guise of education.

The only education to be gained from that is:

1) Zoos are not a good thing

2) People are sick

3) Children will grow up thinking it is ok to kill animals, disrespect them and treat them as meaningless objects whose lives have no value. Killing a giraffe, publicly cutting it up and feeding it to lions in a Copenhagen zoo hardly mimics life on the African savanna.

There were offers to rehome Marius that were rejected. Even my tough native Yorkshire offered to take him. An individual offered €500 to home him.

It seems that only offers from people who abided by the strict breeding code would be considered. Why not neuter him? Oh wait, if he can’t make money we need to kill him.

Not only do we have pedigree breeding of dogs and cats to crazy rules, now we have pedigree giraffes. FFS.

It’s called eugenics, made popular by those nice men in Germany in the 1930s.

Would I be here today if these crazy principles were practised? Would you? No.


• Do not go to zoos. Do not take your children or grandchildren to zoos. I am sure there are good zoos out there, but that doesn’t outweigh the bad ones, better no zoos. Would you like to be caged up or in a small compound out of your natural habitat for people or animals to gawk at you?

• Sign the petitions for the director of the zoo to be sacked (links on the reblog).

• Don’t go to animal circuses, and don’t go to animal rescue homes at the weekend to look at all the cute doggies and kitties as an entertaining day out.

• Take some responsibility for your life on this earth and respect those who we share it with, however badly we do that.

• If you want a domestic animal, please rescue one instead of buying from a pedigree breeder. If your heart is set on a certain breed of animal, there are always pedigrees available in either breed-specific shelters or in your average common rescue shelter.

OK, off back to my hiatus.

In the meantime, there are a couple of posts here: (everypic)

and (land rovers)

and for those of you who haven’t read it (clouds)

A Pippa Snowy post to follow at some point.

Originally posted on My Vegan Heart Blog:


I know I said no ugly pictures would be on this blog but I’m sorry we can not just turn our heads to what was done to this innocent baby giraffe.

To say that I am incensed does not even begin to convey the anger and rage I am feeling at the moment.  If I lived in Copenhagen the asshole c.e.o. that allowed an innocent baby giraffe to be slaughter would have no rest because I would be heading the biggest boycott/protest.  Actually the only thing that would make me feel better would be if I could personally torture this pathetic excuse for a human being.

Yep I am one angry and pissed off vegan right now.

For those of you who have been distracted by the Olympics and are wondering what the heck is Ivonne talking about?  Oh and the Russian Olympics–well that’s a whole another rant right there.

View original 312 more words

A brief hiatus

I don’t know if that is tautological or not. I suspect, although in common usage, that it is.

Anyway regardless of grammer, a pause, a gap, a breather to get on with life.

These include in no particular order:

A demanding puppy

Snowy seems to think that I should not be spending time tapping away on Hal and that my time is better spent on the sofa with him so that he can either lie on me and fall asleep, eat my pullover, or play tugging with his toys.

For example, all sofa throws currently on floor, and toys, and fleece jacket I wrapped him in earlier. He is, however, currently licking a toy which makes a change from chewing the sofa.

In order to tire out said demanding puppy, I wandered him up to Rosia to play on the beach. This was successful in that he fell asleep on return. So did I.

Rosia Bay

Rosia Bay

Trying to tire the pesky pup

Trying to tire the pesky pup

Land Rover parts

Water pump needed for the Santana, no idea what type it is, so trying to source an unidentifiable water pump off the internet is so not my idea of fun.

The water pump. But which water pump?

The water pump. But which water pump?

Dixon Bate drop down towing hitch (or something like that) is also needed. Given that I have no idea where to start, no idea what I am looking for, fruitless task doesn’t even come near my description of what will be a waste of time.


I am drowning in it, and after almost sorting it a couple of weeks ago, it is overflowing again. And I really really must right (while I probably meant write there, right is also correct in this context) my papers for our next board meeting, given that I seem to be the only one capable of writing a half decent sentence, providing recommendations, and generally herding cats.

First World War

In the meantime, as light relief, or maybe not, given the subject matter, here are a couple of pix from this year’s calendar from the Gibraltar Heritage Trust, which has sadly gone up to a whopping £6.50.

This year, unsurprisingly, the trust is commemorating the start of WW1. Somewhere recently I read we would hear a lot about WW1 this year, so I might as well get in there.

As ever the calendar has some excellent photos. While it’s not (as far as I am aware) printed on recycled paper or from sustainable sources or supports animal charities, the elderly or the homeless, it is a classy and interesting product and full of historical info.

Onto, as ever, the Gib history lesson, taken from the calendar, so all credits due to GHT as I’ve done no background research on this one.

There was no fighting on the Rock, but Gib contributed to the war in its own way. Gibraltarians signed up and the Gibraltar Volunteer Corps was formed (the forerunner of the Gibraltar Regiment).

Gib served as a refuge for steamers avoiding submarine attack, a coaling station (one of our piers is still called Coaling Island), a place to obtain fresh water and provisions, a repair harbour for damaged vehicles, and a naval station and dockyard for Britain and the Allied Forces.

Patrol boats continually monitored the Strait of Gibraltar and we have a memorial to those who lost their lives doing so.

Memorial to those who served in WW1 patrolling the Strait

Memorial to those who served in WW1 patrolling the Strait

Thousands of sailors, many of them crews from torpedoed vessels, were brought to Gib to recover.

A prisoner of war camp was also started at Windmill Hill.

The picture for January is of a Curtiss Atlantic. From 1915 to 1917 the Admiralty established a seaplane base in Gib, with five landplaces operated from the racecourse (ie before the runway was built) and three seaplanes that operated from land by Chatham Counterguard.

They were used to watch the Strait for enemy submarines and U-boats and to help the torpedo boat patrol.

Curtiss Atlantic Seaplane at the dockyard

Curtiss Atlantic Seaplane at the dockyard

February’s picture shows the first bank notes issued in Gibraltar – another centenary. They were issued under emergency wartime legislation with the intention of helping meet liabilities in case there was a run on either the Anglo-Egyptian Bank or the Government Savings Bank. Apparently there was indeed a run on the bank so emergency notes were issued.

Two shilling notes!!

Two shilling notes!!

With which I shall slink off to do all those things I don’t want to do. I may however, sneak onto Clouds or Pippa’s to write a couple of quick posts.

Hey hey we’re the Monkees

Here we come, walkin’
Down the street.

Just walking along the drainpipe. As you do

Just walking along the drainpipe. As you do

We get the funniest looks from
Ev’ry one we meet.

Big baby on the favourite corner spot next door

Big baby on the favourite corner spot next door

Hey, hey, we’re the Monkees
And people say we monkey around.
But we’re too busy singing eating
To put anybody down.

I heard there were rich pickings in these bins

I heard there were rich pickings in these bins

We go wherever we want to,
do what we like to do
We don’t have time to get restless,
There’s always something new.

Hey, hey, we’re the Monkees
And people say we monkey around.
But we’re too busy singing eating
To put anybody down.

Baby on the balcony next door

Baby on the balcony next door

We’re just tryin’ to be friendly,
Come and watch us sing eat and play,
We’re the young generation,
And we’ve got something to say eat.

Baby, baby (where did our love go?), just happily sitting on the street

Baby, baby (where did our love go?), just happily sitting on the street

I couldn’t resist it. It’s actually quite accurate for our local monkey population. I used to like The Monkees. Maybe not as much as Dave Clark Five or The Beatles, but I liked them enough to sing the above song, or I’m a Believer, on my way home from school.

Although an American band, one of the group was British, Davy Jones. The band was formed in 1965 and released music until 1971, with the TV show running from 66-68. Anyone my age will remember it. Over the years, the band has done reunions, and since their formation, sold more than 65 million records.

Jones was a good looking young lad, born in Manchester, in 1945. He appeared in Coronation Street as Ena Sharples’ grandson, (his TV début) and also in Z-Cars. (old Brit police series). Although he started training as a jockey at Newmarket, he ended up in the entertainment industry after starring as The Artful Dodger in Oliver in the West End. (The role played by Jack Wild in the film). Jones died aged 66, from a heart attack in 2012. The remaining three members have subsequently made two tours.

Gib monkeys

However, let’s get back to the real monkeys walkin’ down the street.

Gibraltarians are paranoid about these monkeys, without a doubt.

The other day I wandered out with little Snowy only to be confronted by my Jewish neighbour and a woman across the road with a dog telling me not to go to Main Street because there were monkeys. Oh for goodness sake! I’ve walked past loads of monkeys with Snowy, even the ones sitting on the bins outside the door. I tell him NO, not to bark, and NO, he can’t go and play with them :D

‘You must go up the back,’ they both insisted. Yawn. I couldn’t be bothered to argue, so off up the back I went.

I wasn’t well pleased when I recounted this tale to Partner, only to hear he had walked past the same couple on another occasion with Big Dog Pippa, for no-one to mention monkeys to him or tell him to go on another route.

Do I look like a wimp? Is Snowy a wimp? Podencos hunt bears in Andalucía, so I’m sure a monkey would be nothing if he got his nasty vicious teeth around a monkey’s neck. Not that I am advocating any of that. I just find the attitude irritating.

Yesterday, I got a ‘phone call. My neighbour opposite, warning me not to take out the dogs because – yes – the monkeys were in the street. Groan. After much neighbourly chat, I picked up the iPhone and took a few pix, seeing as it was clearly such an important event. By the time Partner came in from work ten minutes or so later they had all gone back up the Rock to their den.

There is no need for this ridiculous fear. People need to learn to live with monkeys and stupid tourists need to stop feeding them. More to the point, the grasping taxi drivers should know better and should also stop feeding them when they take tourists up the Rock. We also need more rubbish bins, so that the rubbish can be safely put away instead of overflowing onto the street. Hardly rocket fucking science is it?

And following on from my Holocaust post, what is it with Jewish people and animals? On the day that I had the rich neighbour next door warning me about monkeys, one of the daughters upstairs decided to stand in the middle of the road, rather than on the pavement with Snowy. The dog is tiny! Admittedly, Pippa may have a vague wolfy resemblance but we have lived here for so many years now that everyone knows he is a gentle giant.

I told the silly girl to go in the block in front of me. No, no, no!! She said, dancing in the street. Said girl is in her mid teens. Meanwhile her father was answering the buzzer to let her in the block. I went first and held the door open for her. No, no, no!

‘Just hold the door,’ I snarled wolfishly, ‘and you can follow in later’. And then what? ‘The light’s not working,’ she bleated. At which point I was heartily sick of Little Miss WhingeArse and cleared off upstairs.

It didn’t seem appropriate to write such trivia when I wrote about the Holocaust, but really, I can’t do with people moaning and wimping about nothing at all. Monkeys, dogs, lights, who really cares?

Note: just to prove how responsible I am:

• the lights in the block are now on permanently until the electrician comes to fix it,
• I can’t organise the monkey trips down the town which will soon stop anyway,
• my dogs don’t normally bite people, although they do like pats and strokes.

My dogs:

Different Gib monkeys.  My boys. Monkeys had all gone home by then

Different Gib monkeys. My boys. Monkeys had all gone home by then

A good Monkees song:

Last train to Clarksville

And for a different take on last train, by the British band ELO:

Last train to London