Catching Fire – Peace down the Chimney?

De Hems2

Dutch bar in Soho

Mac is sorry for the brief hiatus, but has been quite busy assembling his own focus group of independents to contemplate and propose ‘standards of conduct expected in local councils’. He has finally managed to book the Dutch Bar in Soho for next week, which he felt was important for three reasons. Firstly it is on neutral ground. Secondly it was the centre of Dutch resistance during World War Two. Thirdly they serve plenty of bitterballen, which seemed quite appropriate to this discussion.

Mac had begun to circulate the topics to the group but unfortunately began the list with a response from one of his old friends to his last blog, “Does Thanet need a Birgitte Nyborg?” His friend had replied, rather bluntly Mac thought, “Screw Birgitte Nyborg, we need a Katniss Everdeen”. Katniss Everdeen is, as you will doubtless know, the heroine of the recent release “Hunger Games – Catching Fire”. Sadly the other would-be attendants then indulged in a round of online discussion about whether they would like to screw Ms Nyborg, totally disregarding the health and safety implications at their age, and also completely derailing any discussion about the rest of the points. Ms Everdeen, they thought, was far too young and in any case would be less impressed with their bus passes.


Katniss and her quiver

In the “Hunger Games” trilogy the people are treated with disdain and contempt by the ruling classes, which is one of the reasons Katniss reaches for her bow and arrows. Now you may well remember the theory aired this year that Robin Hood was actually from Kent and was one William of Kensham, so Kent has probably always been pretty good at this bow and arrow stuff. (Editor’s note – for older readers, Kensham is not where Horace Batchelor advertised his football pools on Radio Luxembourg, but a small hamlet near Sandhurst in the west of the county). To balance the argument, Mac has circulated some lists of impressive achievements  by various random council leaders, although he is not sure that anything can match the list that includes a claim to have installed a new microphone system in the council chamber. He supposes that will mean that people can now stop yah-booing each other or getting involved in fisticuffs. That at least might improve public perception of local standards.


Klingons – not great at integration

All of the focus group were born and bred in Thanet and some of them, against all the odds, still live there. Mac will be reporting back on his findings and will be also publishing them in Klingonese, as at least two of the national papers are warning of a significant influx of Klingons early in the New Year. Klingons, as Star Trek fans will be aware, do not marry non-Klingons, but fly their spouses in from outer space to wherever they currently reside. Vulcans do something similar. Neither of them are great advocates for integration but at least the Vulcans have lovely earlobes.

Mac has asked Santa this year if there was any chance of a ‘Buzz Lightyear’ Xmas – a sort of ‘to nativity and beyond’. You still get to keep the bright star, the lowly stable and the manger, but this time the infant is a girl. A baby Katniss. The wise men have brought a longbow and a full quiver of arrows. Forget the gold, frankincense and myrhh – they were always just for the donkeys and knobheads. That might just give us a future of tidings of comfort and joy, raising standards everywhere. So may your Xmas bring you everything you desire. But goodwill to all men? That’s a cracker.

50501-Santa-Going-Down-A-ChimneyJust one final thought. Apparently as a part of the tribute to Madiba, Santa will be attempting against the odds to deliver a gift of peace to every household in the universe this year. Just think on that. Peace down every chimney. Which if you were tempted to re-enact some of the ‘Catching Fire’ scenes as part of your Wii games, might be quite appropriate and just save the day.


11 thoughts on “Catching Fire – Peace down the Chimney?

  1. To call the very enjoyable gathering in De Hems before Christmas a ‘focus group’ is exaggerating more than somewhat. Being there himself, Marcusred can’t remember a lot of focusing going on in respect of any topic, though the elected official present seemed very focused on the barmaids and the wife of a friend unable to be present. Some things never change. Or perhaps the focus group Mac refers to was different altogether, a self-help group composed of former executives of a certain confectionery manufacturer, who meet to reminisce about the Milky Bar Kid and eat Smarties.

    De Hems was a very pleasant place to meet (and the company excellent) though the beer was mostly of the gassy Dutch variety. The one decent bitter ran out (self-explanatory). The only other bitter was laced with cinnamon. Cinnamon is good stuff – makes very nice ice cream. Bitter is also good stuff but what possessed Brains (the brewery, not the character from International Rescue) to combine the two passeth all understanding.

    Nor can Marcusred remember any reference to the two ladies mentioned in Mac’s blog – not that he would have known who they were. However, either of them would be an improvement on the current make up of Thanet District Council. Indeed, even Klingon councillors would be an improvement but Vulcans with their detached logic and lack of self-interest would be the best.

    Marcusred dares to contradict Mac here. The Vulcan ear has an unremarkable lobe, much like that of an earthling. The significant feature is the pointy bit on top. ‘Earthling’ was what the Mekon called us humans in Dan Dare, Pilot of the Future (from the Eagle comic, if Mac has any readers too young to remember this, or perhaps too old to remember it.) The Mekon was the ruler of the Treens from Northern Venus but despite his administrative experience, he probably would not be a welcome addition to Thanet District Council. Mixing the science fiction characters and stories here.

    Incidentally, Mac’s reference to booking De Hems might suggest to his more plausible readers that he had booked the whole establishment. In his former confectionery executive days that may have happened but not in 2013. If it was the De Hems gathering Marcusred attended, there was a very jolly atmosphere with lots of people in Christmas jumpers, including one with a reindeer head on the front doubling the distance from front to back of the wearer. (Marcusred was toying with writing ‘width’ or ‘depth’ there but the former refers to side to side and the other might suggest the reindeer head conferred unlikely greater gravitas on the wearer.)

    Marcusred is an avid watcher of University Challenge to marvel at other people’s knowledge. How do people just out of school know so much stuff? Don’t they go to pubs or do they just waste their time reading books? At Christmas there was a UC with former alumni of various universities/colleges, including a Gonville & Caius team who deservedly won the final. It was disappointing not to see Mac as part of the G&C team. Perhaps he was on the sub’s bench, awaiting the call if a member of the team collapsed from excessive focusing. Circularity achieved!

    A very good 2014 to everybody!

    • Dear Marcusred
      Sorry you missed the focus group. It was pulled forward because there was some odd chap wandering around wearing a reindeer head sweater, apparently collecting for Uckfield flood relief (or some form of relief). We thought at first he was selling Big Issues but he kept hovering around, making a nuisance of himself. Apparently he’s always like that, even when back in the home. It’s his carers I feel sorry for.

      As you mention it, I was slightly surprised not to have had an invite to appear on University Challenge, but when I rang the college they told me they thought I was more suited to the re-run of Alumni Junior Criss Cross Quiz which is coming at Easter. Funnily enough, whilst waiting for De Hems to open, I spotted the old Master loitering outside a display of Peking Duck in the Chinese area (he is actually a Chinese expert), so I could have asked him myself.

      I had the distinct impression that you were asleep for much of the afternoon, although it might have been the effects of the cinnamon and the gassy Dutch beer. I had the fizzy German beer myself and noticed later near Sevenoaks that I had fallen asleep on my neighbour’s shoulder. He was quite good about it, considering my rather fragile condition.

      I bow to your superior knowledge of Dan Dare and Mekons, but I think you have been watching the censored version of Star Trek. Previously Vulcans did have very nice earlobes, but in order to cram their heads with more pointless space trivia, each of them had a lobeotomy to stop up any gaps through which knowledge could escape. Hope that helps.

      Happy New Year to you and hopefully see you shortly in the Albion – that is if the strong winds have not borne you from the clifftop, whilst taking yet more photographs of the bay.

  2. Dear Mac

    Many Wishes at Christmas Time. Thank you Mac for all the fun and entertainment. I tell my chums at The Harpsichord that you are Lord Reith reincarnated, what with education and information too.

    Sorry Mrs K., I don’t want to meet you in Thanet or Broadstairs. As Mac wrote, I am a chap, and it wouldn’t do.

  3. Dear Mac

    I don’t live in a hovel! Where did you get that idea? I worked as a telegrapher, and could contribute quite some handsome pounds to our mortgage which my husband used to pay most of – so no hovels, please.
    Now how do you know Collie is a man? You know it’s good of you to point this out if it’s true, because that wouldn’t do, would it now? I thought Collie was a woman. Surely. Anyway, I never thought about it, so it’s good of you to point it out, Mac.
    Now, the point of me writing is I was quite amazed to see that when I write this there is on my left a picture of the Blessed One – none other, Mac, than Baroness Thatcher herself! did you do this? Because if you did, then a thousand thanks. So comforting to feel she is still near by. Because she’s dead, you know. She died of a stroke.
    Well, there’s her, then (no pictures): Party Politics, Daily Express, Ireland Tourism, Turner Contemporary, Isle of Thanet, Ireland Vacations, Map of Ireland.
    Why would I want a map of Ireland? I think my silly computer thinks I like Ireland because of you, Mac. Isn’t that right? Mac. And do you read The Daily Express too, Mac? I love it. All those puzzles. And you always know where the Queen is.
    But…who is Turner Contemporary? What a strange name.

    Bye for now.

    Your friend

    Mrs K Vary

    • Dear Mrs K. Well, fancy that. You’re a telegrapher, probably married to one of those lineman in the county, searching in the sun for another overload. I think Turner Contemporary was a lineman as he apparently seems to have kept scanning the skies over Margate. His landlady seems to have helped with the overloads.

      My apologies for the remark about the hovel, but I am relieved that you have the memories of Baroness Thatcher to give you solace through the winter months. Many people in Transylvania have embraced her as part of their folklore too. Merry Xmas Mac

  4. Dearest Mac

    I did giggle when I read about Kensham! Even my husband called out whats the matter from the other room – he doesn’t move well nowadays – and I said to him that you had written about Horace! Do you know – he even warmed to you, Mac; I was so pleased. You see, my husband used to say he worked for Horace Bachelor,and that his system only worked on alternate weeks? I didn’t believe him then, and I certainly don’t now – but I don’t say anything. I let him believe what he wants to believe.

    Do you think you could put me in touch with Collie? Is that allowed? You see, I would like to go to Broadstairs too if I could get the respite. I think we’d get on.

    I think the pictures you show are wonderful. How do you do that?

    • Dear Mrs K
      I hope the reference to the stable didn’t upset you too much. I had forgotten that not all of us live in houses and I am sure that your simple peasant hovel is thought quite superior in your parts.

      Speaking of parts and rather like your husband, my system only works every so often. The spraying is also becoming much more random, but then I guess that is less of a problem with a clay floor. That Horace was a real West country boyo, wasn’t he? I think eventually he was lost in space with that Alfie Bass.

      I do hope that Collie reads your message. If he does get in touch, I would suggest you meet by the Information kiosk near the Albion. I have a bearded friend who sleeps in there fairly frequently during the season and if you mention me, he would be only too pleased to buy you both lunch. He’s actually part of the Thanet focus group this week, so I will tell him to expect you.

      Unfortunately I have no idea how the pictures get added. I was lucky to engage a young slip of a girl as Editor as part of her work experience programme. She said she was a graduate from Caius College, just like that one in the recent Cloud Atlas film. I never knew they let girls in, but I suppose there are always little jobs that need doing around these old dusty colleges.
      Kind regards

  5. Well Mac now down to details I have here seen a big difference since returning from Rhodesia/Zimbabwe and although never lived in Thanet would like to come to the Thanet meeting but is that possible? because i don’t know if you have a constitution yet or whether you are going to make one up. This klingon stuff is just a joke I think so stop joking Mac and get on with making Thanet better. I want to visit Thanet for a long weekend, and I want a “good experience” so I am all for your efforts to make it better but wonder if Broadstairs is really the place for me to retire to. Is it I ask pet friendly?

    • Dear Collie
      Best not to book your place in the lorry just yet. Where I volunteer we have had a number of Klingons only this week, all fairly aggressive and none of them speaking any English. However each of them seems to have written down on a piece of paper the words, ‘National Insurance Number’. Quite amazing. So I don’t think there will be much room left in the stable this Xmas, let alone for anyone with Mugabe connectgions.
      By the way I have been asked about the spelling of ‘Madiba’. Madeba is actually Klingonese. In honour of Kahless the Unforgettable, who founded their dynasty, Klingons like to put an ‘e’ in the names of famous men. For example, Churchill would be Churchell and Gandhi Gandhe. Tony Blair for some reason is known as tosser.
      Broadstairs is a lovely place and you are less likely to be mugged. My friends walk their dogs regularly along the beach in winter, so if alternatively you plan to arrive in a small sailing skiff with three hundred others, one of them might be at hand to push you back out to sea.
      I will arrange a second meeting at De Hems for early February and will ensure that your invite is posted to Bulawayo. You are exactly the sort of man they are looking for to replace the current Council leader so keep studying Robert M.
      Merry Xmas

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