Walking in the Shadows

Random musings from Warwickshire on life in general... Things that make me laugh, make me cry, things that wind me up beyond all endurance - and everything in between.

Banning books again....

I don't normally post things from the Daily Mail, but this was something that caught my eye.  It's written by Amanda Platell, and it resonated with me....

Back in Australia in the late 1960s, my teacher introduced us to a book called To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee.

She told us it would change our lives for ever, revealing a world to us far removed from our own: deepest Alabama during the Great Depression, a society torn apart by racism.

Looking around my class of all-white kids, I couldn't see the relevance at first, until I read the book and fell in love with the characters — Tom Robinson, the innocent black man falsely accused of raping a white woman, and Tom's lawyer Atticus Finch fighting to save his life — all revealed through the eyes of Atticus's unforgettably courageous six-year-old daughter, Scout.

Little wonder it captivated our class, or that it had become an instant classic on publication. 

Its messages about prejudice and justice resonate with anyone who reads it; so beautifully written — and so unbearably sad — it can break the hardest heart.

No one could come away with anything less than a burning sense of the evil and cruelty of racism.

So how bewildering that, as part of its mission to 'decolonise' its curriculum, James Gillespie's High School in Edinburgh has banned this masterpiece from the Scottish equivalent of GCSE study, claiming it plays into an outdated 'white saviour' narrative, contains the N-word and that its representations of black people are 'dated'. 

Well, in the book the 'white saviour' Atticus is vilified for even trying to defend Tom.

Yes, the book contains racist language: precisely to expose the racism of its society. Teenagers don't need to be protected from offensive language in great literature: they are old enough to see these words for what they are.

And as for 'dated' — are we now to ban any book written or set in the past? 

Perhaps I'm too busy basking in my unconscious 'white privilege', but I know that had it not been for Harper Lee, this white kid from the Perth suburbs would never have had her eyes opened to the hideous reality of racial prejudice — nor become so acutely aware of early white Australians' shameful treatment of Aborigines.

Perhaps teachers at James Gillespie's High School might reflect on their own history before rushing to cancel others. Gillespie was a very rich 18th-century merchant who is believed not only to have owned slaves himself but to have traded with the slave-owning tobacco plantations of Virginia.

The hypocrisy of banning Harper Lee's text, while keeping his name above the school gates, is a sin to make poor Tom Robinson weep. 

I have to admit that I have never read the book - yes - I know that it's a classic - but this opinion piece in today's paper struck a chord with me.

Those few rare people who know me, know that I am a big reader - a bookworm.  I'm happiest when I can curl up on the sofa with a decent mug of coffee and my kindle, and read in peace.

I admit that there are some books that I wonder how the hell they managed to get published (the 50 Shades series instantly springs to mind) but it's because I had the opportunity to read it and draw my own conclusions about the book.  I know that there are people who think it's a really good series, and that's fine with me.  It would be a boring world if we all liked the same thing.

But banning a book because you don't approve of it?  Not if I can help it.  Salman Rushdie summed up my feelings on banning books with this wonderful comment:

If you don't want to read a book, don't read it. If you start reading a book and you don't like it, you always have the option of shutting it and at this point it loses its capacity to offend you.

Again, another author I have tried (and failed) to get with his writing style, but he sums up my feelings on banning books perfectly.

It would be one hell of a boring world if we all read / liked the same things....  Republic of Gilead anyone?

Back when I can tear myself away from my kindle...


In these days of no trust
Evermore hostility
We're all living
Under the same old sky
'Cause we're all living
We're telling the same old lie
In these days
In these days
In these days of no trust

Another postponment

Should have guessed that things were not going to go smoothly this year...  I've just recived this email from the Magnum mailing list....

It is with sincere regret that Magnum are postponing their autumn 2021 shows until next year. With the uncertainty of some European country’s management of the Covid pandemic and numerous other logistical problems the band and promoters alike have decided it is in the best interest to reschedule again to 2022, the band’s 50th anniversary year.

The band’s prime interest is fans health and safety, as well as their own of course. We all hope that by the end of the year the worldwide pandemic will be under control and we can all move freely about and go to full capacity shows. The test events that have been going on recently are good news indeed for the entertainment business but, we all feel that we still have a way to go yet before we can have an all clear. 

The shows are being rescheduled as below and there will be further announcements in due course. 

All tickets remain valid, and will be transferred over to the new dates.'

In the meantime the band are carrying on with the recording of their next, as yet untitled, album which should be released in early 2022

Monday 28 March 2022 Cambridge Junction
Tuesday 29 March 2022 Norwich Waterfront
Wednesday 30 March 2022 London Islington Assembly Hall
Thursday 31 March 2022 Birmingham Symphony Hall
Sunday 3 April 2022 Southampton Engine Rooms
Monday 4 April 2022 Cardiff Tramshed
Tuesday 10 May 2022 Goteborg Pustervik
Wednesday 11 May 2022 Oslo Vulkan
Thursday 12 May 2022 Huskvarna Folkets Park
Friday 13 May 2022 Stockholm Fryhuset Klubben
Saturday 14 May 2022 Karlstad Nojesfabriken
Monday 16 May 2022 Malmo Babel
Friday 09 September  2022 Belfast Limelight 1
Saturday 10 September  2022 Dublin Voodoo Lounge
Sunday 11 September 2022
Monday 12 September 2022 Glasgow Garage
Tuesday 13 September 2022 Sheffield Leadmill
Wednesday 14 September 2022 Nottingham Rock City
Thursday 15 September 2022
Friday 16 September 2022 Holmfirth Picture Drome
Saturday 17 September 2022 Manchester Academy 2

At least I have something to look forward to - apart from the second damned COVID-19 jab.

Ah well, time to call this quits - I need a break from the computer.

Back whenever...


No sign of the morning coming
You've been left on your own
Like a rainbow in the dark
A rainbow in the dark

Stunned by a film

Just watched The Greatest Showman.  I have got to admit that I wasn't sure if it was the sort of film that I would enjoy...  But I have not only enjoyed it - I've done something that I don't normally do..

I've bought the soundtrack.  Normally, I enjoy a film, and don't think any more of it.  But the soundtrack just hooked me from the first track.

If you've not watched it - put doubts aside and enjoy.  Hugh Jackman makes it a really easy film to watch and the rest of the cast help make this a feel good film.

And yes - I did shed a few years in places.

Ah well, time to wipe the tears away and go and help prepare dinner.

Back when I get the chance....


Cause every night I lie in bed
The brightest colours fill my head
A million dreams are keeping me awake
I think of what the world could be
A vision of the one I see
A million dreams is all it's gonna take
Oh a million dreams for the world we're gonna make

Getting the Jab

Yep – I’ve had my first dose of the Covid-19 jab.  I’ve had the AZ (Astra Zeneca) variant.  The jab itself was painless – the nurse who did it was very professional, as was the entire team who were administering the jabs.  

I did like the way that the staff went out of their way to reassure those of us who are less than keen on needles, and also made sure that I was aware of the possible side effects.  

The only thing that I will say (more of an observation that anything else) was that the staff trusted people to stay put for the length of time specified.  The gentleman who was telling me about the possible side effects, and things to watch out for, spotted my medic alert, and when when I was asked about it, instantly instructed me to wait 20 minutes after my jab before I could escape.  Thank god for the kindle – I would have gone nuts.

I freely admit that I felt decidedly off on Friday – to the extent where I didn’t think I would be safe enough to drive on Friday night.  That put a dampener on my weekend plans, but my partner was sweet, and said that he didn’t want me driving, as it’s not a short drive to see him.  Ok – it’s not that far (about 40 miles) but it’s on some nasty roads (or I use the M6).  Either way, it meant a weekend at home.

And yes – it was the right thing to do.  I spent yesterday dozing, and was barely able to move my arm (I felt like I had done 15+ rounds with a certain M. Tyson…) And I will admit to being very grateful for the kindle – it meant I could read without having to hold a heavy book in my right hand.    

Today?  I feel brighter than I did – but it still hurts to lie on my left arm, and I am still tired.  But, if it’s a sore / bruised feeling arm, or risking catching this dratted virus…  Give me the sore arm any day.

Ah well, time to call this quits – my eyes are tired and I can hardly stop yawning.

Back when I get the inclination… (or my arm stops hurting!)


You try, yeah, you do your best
But nothing seems to work
You're not like all the rest
When you're the one who hurts
Oh, what a day

Recall sorted and Exhaust Gas Regulator....

Well, the Monster is back, and the recall has been done.  But that didn't clear the error.  No - the annoying little monster did that as I was driving to Arbury this morning.

When I started the car, I got the ping and the warning message (as well as the engine management light on the dashboard.)  OK - I knew about that - it was going to be sorted out.  What I didn't expect was for the damned thing to disappear as I was driving!

So, muttering all sorts of things about the error, I dropped it off to be dealt with by the capable engineers at Arbury, and went shopping with Mum (I'd been smart, and booked the morning off, so I didn't have to rush about like a headless chicken to try to get back to the dining table!)

As we're still in lockdown, it wasn't as if we could head off to Solihull for some retail therapy (to be honest - I've not missed that!)  Instead, it was wildy exotic - off to Morrisons to do the food shopping.  There were some things that we couldn't get, so we headed to Warwick to Tesco to finish off (and I was able to get the obligatory coffee - can't resist Costa coffee...)

We still had time to kill, so we were able to go to a couple of garden centres, and as we were heading back to Leamington, my phone rang.  It was Molly, calling me to let me know that the Monster was out on a road test, and should be ready to collect.

That suited me fine, so Mum and I headed to Arbury, so she could drop me off and head for home with the shopping....  I went in and spoke to Molly who told me the news....  The recall was sorted (software only) but the bad news....  The EGR valve (aka exhaust solenoid) was playing up again.  

Despite the car clearing the error, it had left a record in the ECU so that they could have a look and see what it had recorded.  (Always said the car was plug and pray!)  It turned out that the EGR valve was playing up, so they took it out, cleaned it up and reinstalled in.  

If it throws the same error again (and doesn't go into limp mode - where a snail can overtake you shaking it's little fist at you as it goes past you) - then I have to call Arbury to get it booked in and they will have to sort the EGR.

But, at the end of the day, as long as the little monster runs, I don't mind.  

And time to call it quits - I am fed up with staring at the computer screen.

Back when I get chance...


Write in dust all you say
Look for the answers you know you can trust
One day they might blow away

Car check

Well, I've checked the car, and at least the battery hasn't drained overnight.  That's one good thing. The bad thing?  Still got the engine management light (and ping). 

Now all I have to do is speak to Arbury to see if I can get the Monster in earlier than Thursday, as I don't really want to risk having to wait for the car over the weekend, when I have plans made.

That, and the fact that this puts added stress on Mum's car with mine being unreliable at the moment.  All I can hope is this is something stupid, because I really *don't* want to have to change the Monster...

Time to call Arbury and see if I can get the car in earlier.

Back when I've spoken to the service team.

*****Update - 08:40 - Spoken to Molly at Arbury Leamington.  The earliest I can get the Monster in is Thursday.  But, they will do the recall work before starting to look at the diagnostics for me, as the issue may be something to do with that, and they don't want to charge me unnecessarily for the diagnostics if the issue is cleared with the recall.  

At least I know that the car is OK to drive, as I didn't experience any loss of power - but it was had to tell as I was only ½ mile away from home when this error triggered.  So, all I can do is pray this issue is sorted, otherwise there is another bill landing on my feet courtesy of the expensive little Monster.


Oh it gets harder to decide
Fingers crossed there's no time to celebrate
Who are you saying maybe it's our fate?
And when you said you've never lied

Another set of warning lights

Great.  Just what I *didn't* need to get.  Coming home last night, I got a "ping" from the car, then the dashboard lit up like a Christmas tree, and the dreaded "Engine fault - have vehicle repaired" message came up.

I know there is a recall on the Monster (hell, the car is booked in for Thursday morning) but this is now starting to get annoying.  I need a car that is reliable, and much as I love the Monster, it's becoming a nuisance.

If this is another problem, I may well have to start looking for a replacement car.  Which, with the current lock-down is not really viable as I need to test drive the new 208, to see if I like it...  And if I don't?

I've got no idea what to look for.  

Ah well, I'll have to see if the battery is dead this morning, and if it is...  Then Peugeot can fix the issue at their own expense.

Back later (when I have checked the Monster)


When things never happen like you wanted
Dark nights always keep you in the shade
Some words would be better left unspoken
No joke there's a price that must be paid

Recall on the Monster

Not the sort of letter that I really wanted to receive – especially on a Friday afternoon.  An envelope from Peugeot with the words “THIS IS NOT A CIRCULAR – SAFETY RECALL INFORMATION

Great.  Now what’s gone wrong?  So, I open the envelope, and the following was revealed….

As part of our quality monitoring programme, we have identified that your vehicle requires a software update to prevent a potential reduction or loss of braking assistance.  This software update will improve the diagnosis capabilities of the braking assistance system.  This will prevent any risk of reduction or loss of braking assistance.

Your vehicle is equipped with a three cylinder 1.2 Puretech petrol engine, recognised for its dynamic performance as well as for its low fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.  To improve the efficiency of the internal engine components, this engine is fitted with a timing belt, which operates inside the engine lubricated by the engine oil.  If your annual mileage is greater than 9,000 miles and your usual trips are shorter than 6 miles, we recommend arduous service intervals which include replacing the timing belt very 62,500 miles or after 6 years, to help ensure the reliability and durability of the engine.  Combined with using the recommended engine oils, adhering to the servicing intervals and refraining from adding other products (e.g. additives) to the engine oil, will ensure the durability of the timing belt.

This safety recall consists of updating the software and a check of the condition of the brake vacuum pump and the timing belt.

This precautionary work is considered essential and will of course be completed free of charge.

Please contact your chosen dealer, quoting safety recall code xxx, who will be able to book an appointment to carry out the safety recall and give you further information if required.

So, the little monster is booked in for the work – the only charge to me will be the sanitizer (nuclear warfare for bugs) – a whole £4.75.  I don’t mind that at all – and cannot fault my dealership for the service that they have given.  They gave me the first slot (at a time and date that suited me) so that I can drop the little monster off and let the engineers work their magic. 

Time to call this quits – I’m being summoned for dinner.

Back when I get chance.



Hold on, there’s a new way a-coming
Looks like it’s arriving tonight
There’s no more hiding or running
There’s no more walking on ice