Witness X

An article in The Times today

refers to a mystery witness in the Crashgate hearing, who only came forward at the 11th hour to bang the nail into Briatore’s coffin.

Witness X is described as being a member of the Renault team, and having been told of the crash plan in the presence of Briatore. He claimed that he did not know the plan was being carried out until the crash occurred.

Why is it necessary to hide the identity of Witness X?

And why did Fernando Alonso attend the FIA meeting on Monday?


On Sunday morning the swallows were massing in our garden. They looked more like a swarm of locusts than birds. I’ve never seen them in such numbers. Every inch of overhead wire was taken; they were sitting on the roofs, clinging to the trees, and circling in the skies. And then all of a sudden they were gone in a thick, squealing cloud.

And this morning in the market last week’s sandals and straw hats had been replaced by woolly scarves and gloves.

Looks as if it’s time to bid “au revoir” to summer.


Well, Renault must be feeling rather pleased and relieved, don’t you think? A two-year suspended ban and no fine.

Personally I would not have wanted to see them out of F1, but given the gravity of the offence, endangering the lives of drivers and spectators, surely there should have been a fine at least equal to that handed out to McLaren last year for a less serious offence?

Can we expect an interview with Alonso to hear how he feels now about “winning” the race thanks to his team cheating?

Long toes

Nine days in London, and two observations.

The first concerns the police, who seem to have two modi operandi:

1.   Standing on pavements in groups of between 2 and 6, with arms crossed, chatting.

2.   Racing round the streets at manic speed, blue lights blazing, sirens screaming.

There is clearly some purpose to this which is beyond the understanding of a simple country woman.

The second matter concerns toes. In the current very pleasant mild weather, many feet are wearing sandals or open-toed shoes, and I couldn’t help noticing the unusually long toes belonging to some people. I’m referring to the toe that lives next to the big toe. Some of them were so long that they were hanging over the end of the shoes they were in. Having very boring little feet myself – the toes running in descending order – I am so envious of the very elegant feet that these long-toed people have.  They reminded me of those little furry animals called aye-ayes, that live in Madagascar and have one very, very long finger which they use to dig insects out. I wonder if people with long toes have found a similar use for them?

Look who’s wearing the trousers

I almost became a Ryanair fan after our recent journey to London. Not that I’ve ever had anything against the budget airline per se, but as somebody who loves travel I’ve always found the experience of being transported like a package unappealing in the extreme and much prefer the longer but more interesting option of independent travel.

So when we were asked to deliver a friend’s car to the UK last weekend, my heart gave a little jump at the prospect. I love the long drive, the leisurely ferry crossing, the excitement of not knowing what lies around each corner. The plan was to leave early enough to be able to cruise up to the docks by the minor roads, avoiding the dull motorway and its extortionate tolls. Finding ourselves trapped behind a combine harvester for six miles within ten minutes of leaving home was unfortunate, as was the learner driver moving at .5 mph through the winding lanes of a small town, and between the two of them they cost us a 48 minute delay which forced us to abandon the scenic route for the monotonous motorway.

Still, we reached the docks in good time, boarded without problem, and then sat, and sat, and sat, watching the seas slopping very angrily against the harbour walls. After we had sat for at least half an hour, a loud announcement called for a doctor, nurse or anybody with the smallest modicum of medical knowledge to present themselves at reception with the speed of light. We sat some more whilst some unseen drama enacted itself, and finally put to sea more than an hour late. Having been up and on the move for 14 hours, I tried to sleep in one of the reclining chairs that does not recline sufficiently, but every 20 minutes a blaring announcement blurted out warnings and news:

The boutique is open

The cafeteria is open

The seas are very rough, the deck is off limits

The restaurant is open

The seas are very rough, the deck is off limits

The restaurant will be closing in 15 minutes

The cafeteria will stop serving meals in 15 minutes, but will continue to serve drinks

The gaming machines (had I mentioned the constant noise from the gaming machines?) are closing in five minutes. Any coins put in them after that time will be swallowed up for eternity.

We are approaching the docks. For our safety, we are asked to stay in our seats until told to do otherwise.

I have been up and about for 20 hours when we reach terra firma UK, and nothing will make me feel human except for a packet of greasy chips smothered in salt and vinegar. Both local chippies are closed, although all the Indian, Chinese, Thai, Kebab and Pizza houses are still open, but we press on to the next town where we find all their fish and chip emporia are also closed for the night. By the time we return to “our” little town, all the ethnic eateries have closed, too. We have nothing to eat except the remains of a bag of hazelnuts.

Next day, having delivered our friend’s car, we must now find our way to London, and our friend’s friend kindly volunteers to drive us there in his car. With him comes his adorable little Shih Tzu dog, Charlie, who sits beside me on the back seat. Occasionally he sits on my lap. That’s when I notice that Charlie has a sticky botty which he has wiped thoroughly on the one and only pair of jeans I have brought with me.

It is late afternoon in Tooting and I have nothing to wear on my lower body except jeans coated in doggie-do. There is no washing machine in the flat, and the launderette is half a mile away, and I am wearing only a T-shirt. TOH profers a pair of his trousers. They are slightly too large in the waist, and fractionally too short and look very odd with my sandals. Trying to look as insouciante as it is possible for a woman to look who is wearing her husband’s ill-fitting trousers, I scour the charity shops for a second pair of jeans that I can afford, and manage to find a pair of Per Una for £3. They are designed to stretch to accommodate a body two sizes larger than mine so they actually fit me quite well, leaving the stretch aspect unstretched. Even if I gain a couple of stone, they will still fit, and you can’t often say that, can you?

If we’d come via Ryanair, none of this would have happened. 😀

400 death sentences lifted

400 beings who had been sentenced to death. Their crimes? Being old.  Being ill. Having outlived their usefulness. Owner got bored with them. Owner died. Needed medical care that owner would not or could not pay for. Owner got something more interesting.

All of them would have been destroyed if one woman hadn’t come to their rescue. And 400 is a LOT of mouths to feed, let alone the physical demands of caring for them virtually single-handed.

Here’s a delightful video, accompanied by the title track from the progressive rock album “Journey of the Yak”, showing one woman’s superhuman efforts to make the world a better place for its most vulnerable creatures:

Giving a home to an appealing kitten or puppy isn’t hard and rewards you with years of happiness. Taking into your home and heart those who are in the last few months, or even weeks of their life is something quite different; having to cope with the inevitable trauma when that life comes to its end is the hardest part of being an animal lover. You need a very particular strength and love to be able to do that repeatedly and continually.

Visit Tower Hill Stables Sanctuary website