By David Theobald

Right! Starting the long journey home and my trip to the UK is done and dusted. Currently in the Cathay Lounge at Heathrow from where I will post this. The main point of the trip was to visit friends, many of whom I have known for fifty years. On that front, it has been an unqualified success. Some might be interested in a few reflections on the UK from a month in which I covered 4,800 km in one of Mr Hertz’s finest.

The UK in general. Visit friends who live in chocolate box villages and play golf on terrific courses in late summer/early autumn and there is nowhere like it. They have really quite good roads and motorways but the surveillance of these in the speed department is either awesome, or downright bloody draconian, depending whether you come from the JAG camp or the Norman Dewis camp (look him up).

If, like me, you are firmly in the Norman section, then don’t go to Scotland; I don’t think I got a speeding ticket, but the next couple of weeks may be crucial. I used public transport a little bit (only a very little bit – have to retain some credibility) – train to London (you don’t drive to central London) and Park and Ride to the Royal Navy Museum in Portsmouth – and they were good. The train ain’t cheap – alright, it’s bloody expensive – but it works, is clean and ran on time the day I used it. Coaches don’t go clickety-clack any more – no idea how they have managed that.

If you are in Dorset, go to the Bovington Tank Museum – it is excellent. So is the Royal Navy Museum in Portsmouth, with the Submarine Museum being the best of their offerings. I was going to do the Mary Rose but ran out of time – spent 7 hours in the Royal Navy bit. Don’t go to Central London if you don’t have to, it’s horrible. I went to Parliament to see if there really are both Brexiteers and Remoaners camped on Parliament Green – and there are; small numbers of both.

I walked close past (too close, as it transpired) the Remoaner picket. I was very disappointed not to see any blue hair but was not disappointed when I was accosted by a yoof with ‘Oi, you old bloke, I bet you f’ing voted leave’. Just like that to a complete stranger. He then pointed to his handwritten placard stating ‘No one born this century voted leave’. I asked him for the evidence behind this obvious lie and I got more effing and blinding. All class. Onto the Leave picket and I gave a thumbs up to a bloke patently not born this century who politely thanked me for my gesture. Seems the tribes are cut from the same cloth the world over.

Westminster and Whitehall are locked down with security every bit as severe as you would imagine. Policemen with serious-looking firearms everywhere and you can’t get within metres of setting foot on Downing Street proper without having a pass to get through the gate to the road itself and then, it would appear, going through airport-style bag scanning. Number 10 is still 50 metres away when you have done this. Home of the world’s oldest democracy looks like this?

The Village Inn has something for every appetite on the menu. Take your pick between fresh local seafood, vegetarian specials and delicious slow-cooked meats, accompanied by excellent craft beers and ciders, including Jail Ale from Dartmoor, Thurlestone Rock, Tribute and Avocet from Exeter Brewery. 

I thought pubs were closing at the rate of n per week where n is a reasonably large number. They may be but there are still heaps left. Most have transformed themselves from boozers into gastro pub type places and the food in these varies from good to outstanding. May I recommend the fish pie in the Village Inn, Thurlestone, South Devon?

With bags of character and delicious gastropub fare, The Village Inn is everything you could hope for in one of Devon’s classic traditional pubs, along with an added charm of its own. After all, it’s not every day you enjoy a pint beneath the beams of wrecked Spanish Armada ships, or savour chef’s favourites along with a perfectly conditioned pint of craft beer.

Jonathan Pie starts his Fake News Tour of Britain on Friday in York. I will be in Dairy Flat; so close yet so far. I was able to introduce him to several of my mates (vide supra) of various political persuasions and all found him to be very amusing even if, like me, they didn’t always (often?) agree with his stance on things.

The UK is in the terminal stages of wokeness. A news broadcast is never aired without at least one BAME and/or female presenter. Both the BBC and ITV are struck down by this but just when you thought you had got used to it you come across Lucy Martin presenting the weather on BBC. Lucy is a perfectly standard looking, even quite attractive, young lady in her early thirties I would guess. All going swimmingly until you look at her right hand. Swimmingly is something Lucy could not do that well because she doesn’t have a right hand. That’s right, the BBC has a one-armed weather lady. I am not accusing the Corporation of amputating her lower arm to fill the disabled quota, but I wouldn’t put it past them.

The BBC’s coverage of Politics is shameful. It makes NZ’s One News look positively even-handed. Their Political Correspondent, one Laura Kuenssberg is pack leader (and you see a lot of her at the moment with all the political shenanigans) and she is a shocker. It makes you desperate for the one-armed weather presenter.

In their clamour not to offend people with their bulletins the BBC give trigger warnings that ‘The following item contains language that may offend’. We had one of these before reporting of the robust evening of debate that followed the reconvening of Parliament after the Supreme Court nonsense (more on this later). Oh, goody a bit of political swearing coming up. The ‘offensive’ words? Surrender, traitor and betrayal. One News has a long way to go.

Brexit and surrounding bits and pieces. Where the heck do I start? This post is already too long, let me have a think and a write on the plane then maybe post something (if people are interested) from Hong Kong when I transit there.


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