Friday, 15 August 2014
This is my summer - a summer of culture and sport. I’ve fulfilled one long-term ambition (seeing Rick Wakeman perform Journey to the Centre of the Earth), enjoyed the football World Cup, the Commonwealth Games, an opera (La Traviata), a rock festival in Hyde Park (watching Black Sabbath, Faith No More, Motorhead and Sound Garden), several Proms (with 7 to go plus Proms-in-the-Park), the tennis (I went to Queens for the day and watched Wimbledon on the telly), and the cricket (two series: England vs Sri Lanka and now England vs India).
Monday of last week was my birthday. After two weeks in which I saw Simple Minds perform at Kew-the-Music, drove from London to Scotland, went to four events at the Commonwealth Games (the opening ceremony, Rugby 7’s semi-finals, hockey and the athletics on 100m finals night), delivered the FY15 Plan (budget) to the Powers That Be in Glasgow, re-enacted the Battle of Bannockburn, attended a 60th birthday party, attended three Prom concerts (a Greek-themed one, Mozart’s Requiem and the War Horse Prom) and went to the Ballet (Swan Lake), I took a much needed day off work on my birthday and crashed out.
It took me the best part of a week to recover from the Scotland trip plus the weekends that bookended it. Scotland was a mixture of holiday to attend the Commonwealth Games and work, both coupled with little sleep – I trekked into the Glasgow office on 4 days including on the morning after the Opening Ceremony, when we’d got home at 2.30am and I had to be up at 6am in order to get the one-and-only direct train into Glasgow from Inverkeithing.
Somewhere in there, I've also managed two overnight trips to Manchester - it doesn't feel like work when you're spending the time at work with friends - plus several days working in the Tower Bridge office. After one of those days at Tower Bridge, I even managed to extend my birthday celebrations by going for drinks/dinner with Dark. (We were surprised at 9pm when there was a gun salute at the Tower. I can't find out why there was a salute at that time so I've assumed it was to commemorate the start of the Siege of Lierge in WW1.)
The weather has been glorious, too – long, hot sunny days for most of the last two months. I managed to get sunburnt at Queens and again at the Commonwealth Games (I never thought I’d ever get sunburnt in Glasgow!).
As an August baby, I'm a child of the Sun - I was born in the week that Spring habitually returns to Melbourne. Long, hot, sunny summer days feel like my birthright. Bring them on Apollo. Bring them on.
Monday, 4 August 2014
One hundred years ago today, the Great War started. "The lights are going out all over Europe. We shall not see their like again," said Sir Edward Gray, the Foreign Secretary. Tonight, like hundreds of thousands of others in Britain, our home is lit by a single candle in memory of those who lost their lives.
Everywhere you go in Britain, the councils have planted great swaithes of poppies...
Ninety-nine years ago this week, at the Battle of Lone Pine two young men died - my mother's uncle and my father's uncle. They died fighting the Turks, throwing their grenades back. A third boy, a cousin, survived and was awarded the Victoria Cross.
Lest we forget.