Friday, November 14, 2008


Dutchess County, New York, mares stand close and munch hay together in the paddock below the barn; drizzle softens hillsides of naked woodland; sky is layers of soft greys; long streamers of geese fly south; my grandson does his lion imitation; my daughter beams with pride. Mothers are like that - thinking their kids remarkable. Frankly, crawling is no big deal. Nor is giving the occasional roar.
I see Shane, ten months, through unprejudiced and unemotional male eyes. He is loving and totally lovable, extraordinarily beautiful, a natural comic and possessor of an intense intelligence - in fact much like his Mom.
I am not certain yet as to whether Shane is an oracle.
Charlie Boo (my grandson back in England) is an oracle - though his forecasts of the future are not absolutely reliable. However, this may be my misinterpretation of Charlie's reading of the runes. He is equally wonderful in all other ways and has an equally wonderful mother. The Dads are OK too...

Thursday, November 13, 2008


My daughter lives in Dutchess County, New York. I can ride Amtrak from Pen Station or Metro-North from Grand Central. Amtrak is faster and more comfortable. It is also more expensive. I take Metro-North and save fifteen dollars. Grand Central is one of the world's great rail stations. The oyster bar at Grand Central is one of the World's great restaurants. Fifteen dollars buys half a dozen Bluepoint oysters plus tip.
There is no senior discount on the bus from Kennedy to Grand Central. Heading back to Kennedy I travel half price. The senior discount plus the saving on Metro-North pays for a full dozen Bluepoints.
My daughter says that I haven't saved a dime. However, she doesn't eat oysters.
I claim to have eaten a dozen and a half Bluepoints free.
Possibly a similar logic and discipline to mine has smashed the World's economy.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


I flew AerLingus back from New York to Birmingham (England) earlier in the year, transiting at Dublin. My biker boots are too big to pack. I was wearing them. At Dublin, I had to pass through Security a second time – no chairs at the security gate. I had to sit on the floor to drag the boots off - undignified! And worse...
(a warning that Tax Free shops at airports don't give): I bought a large bottle of rum for Bernadette at Kennedy. Dublin Security confiscated it.
Who got to drink the booze? I hope they got sick, threw up and were kicked out of the house by their spouses....

Meanwhile here I am back in the US at my daughter's home, playing with my grandson.
People here ask where they can buy OLD MAN ON A BIKE. The book isn't available yet in the US. or and most good British bookshops have it in stock. HarperCollins Australia have it listed for December 1.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Flying was slow in the fifties and DC3s had few creature comforts. However there was no demand that you be at the airport three hours before take-off. Three hours in the car to Heathrow, three hours in the terminal: I am exhausted already. I collapse by the boarding gate and watch the US election results on TV.
When I first flew as a young man, Southern States enforced legal apartheid no less vicious than that in South Africa.
Today the US has elected Senator Obama to the Presidency. Were I a citizen of the United States, Democrat or Republican, I would be immensely proud.


I took my first commercial flight in 1952 - Dusseldorf to London, mid-winter - in response to a telegram: my mother was in hospital and unable to write. Unable to write had to be serious. The plane was a DC3. We got bounced around in a storm. I sat next to a Gay male German movie actor. The actor believed that we would crash and determined to have his last grope before death. Being groped was a new experience and not really my thing. However I was a polite young man, a lieutenant in a Lancer Regiment. Fending the actor's hands off without giving offense demanded concentration. I had no space for fear. My politeness was rewarded. I traveled up to London with the actor in a chauffeured studio car and telephoned the London Clinic from his mews house. I wasn't able to talk with my mother. She was out to dinner. She had cracked her wrists in a fall and had moved into the clinic as a convenience - nurses to help her bathe and dress.
I had a weekend pass. My mother wasn't expecting me. She was busy much of the weekend and we didn't see much of each other. The weather was fine on the flight back to Germany. I had a seat by the wing. Later I flew over much of Africa in DC3s. They were trusty planes: you could watch the propellers spin. And flying was a romantic adventure. Turn your coat collar up, tweak the brim of your hat and you were Humphrey Bogart watching the plane lift off in Casablanca...


I flew Air France to New York on November 6 for my adopted daughter's wedding. My youngest son, Jedediah, drove me to London's Heathrow Airport. We left home at 2 am. Nighttime on the motorway can be scary. Jedediah passed his driving test only a couple of months back and I am a nervous passenger. Jedediah drove beautifully. We listened to the election results broadcast from the USA.
Jedediah said, “You want Obama to win?”
“Yes, I want Obama to win...”