The price of beer is expected to go up. There is a shortage of hops. A few years ago there was over-supply. So world-wide growers ripped out their plants. Now there are not enough. In an early Stage 1 Economics lecture I learnt about the hog-cycle. Too many pigs. Not enough profit. So farmers cut down the numbers. Prices rise. In an effort to cash in on the boom farmers increased numbers. And so the system perpetuates itself. It seemed to me even then that a canny farmer would take the long view. But I suppose many are in no position to do that. At least pigs can be breed quickly. Plants take longer to mature. But people will always drink beer.
I would that my illness was as cyclical. I had a strange wishful dream last night. I was at a conference, it seemed American, the word Seattle hovered in my consciousness. One of the guys there was a hockey guru. After a day’s discussion he and I would take our hockey sticks down to a park and practice the skills of shooting and trapping. After the conference ended I hired a rental car and drove over a high pass on a winding road – it seemed like Dyer’s Pass - to a beach beside a gorgeous, placid harbour. I wandered along the beach until I reached an old gun-site where sitting on a concrete pier I skipped stones across still water. Skills I’ll never use again.
Ali and David came for lunch yesterday. They brought me a belated birthday gift, a lemon tree in a container. The Dublin Bay rose they gave us when we settled here is blooming well. In time we should be able to harvest our own lemons, with memories of the tree's origin. Anne and they went off to a presentation of Handel’s Messiah. I’m delighted Anne could go. Hearing it each year is part of her Christmas tradition. I watched the rugby replay while they were out. In an exciting, indeed commanding display the All Blacks beat France 39 to 12.
Ali and David also lent me the complete DVD set of Simon Schama’s History of Britain. I am grateful for the opportunity to see it in its entirety. I saw most of the series when it was shown here in the early years of this century. It's also good to see it on a larger screen.
I watched the first episode last night It starts with the Stone Age village of Skara Brae in west Orkney. Over the next four thousand years, Romans, Anglo-Saxons, Danes, Vikings and Christian missionaries arrived and made their contribution. On my first visit to England I visited the sites of several of the burial barrows of those ancient Britons. The stone circles of Avebury and Stonehenge I found breath-taking and the size of Maiden Castle was awe-inspiring. We have mainly only conjecture and imagination to get a handle on the society that created these things. These people are amongst my ancestors. We have clues about how they lived but what did they think and feel? Schama rightly gives credit to Bede – who left a record of his period and his own experience. I’ve seen Bede’s tombstone in Durham Castle.
I also watched half of the second episode which was about 1066, the last successful invasion of Britian. The major visual source was the Bayeux tapestry which I had greatly enjoyed seeing in my 1999 visit to Normandy. I always felt sorry for Harold, having to fight on two fronts, first, his rebellious brother with his Viking hordes in Yorkshire and then, William the Bastard, soon to be renamed the Conqueror, on the south coast.
Worrying financial news from Dubai. If the oil barons have over-committed themselves and cannot meet repayments then heaven help the rest of us. Oil prices could sky-rocket – which in the long run could be a good thing, forcing research into alternative forms of energy. A different level of the hog cycle.
Today’s the last day of November. Three year’s ago we first saw the place where we now live. Here are selected excerpts from my diary for that day. ‘A howling gale all night. Four Wellington houses lost their roofs. ... We drove to look at a town house. ... Quite a long driveway and there at the end was the house, quiet, big and modern. It had almost all the requirements we wanted with two exceptions. It was NE facing and would not get much late sun. The garden was entirely camelia and roses – and a lemon - with little space for a raised herb patch. Virtues: A downstairs bathroom and an upstairs bathroom. Very close to shops and bus route. Within walking distance of Mall and library. No change needed. Garage with internal access. Built in bookshelves. Gas. Separate laundry. We both fell in love with it. Probably us and a dozen others. ... Back home I made arrangements for Larry [our builder] to look at the town house tomorrow. ... Don Brash has quit politics. He looked quite relieved on TV. Having watched the headlines, Brash overshadowed by Fiji, we turned the TV off and discussed an offer for the town house. [We reached a decision. The Rubicon was crossed]. ... Rereading Ian Wedde’s Sonnets for Carlos. What a wonderful series it is, the wonderment of fatherhood and the delight in existence.
Wedde’s Commonplace Odes is my poetry companion at present. A fitting comment to end a blog that begins with the hog cycle.
WORDS with Douglas McLennan
14 hours ago