Friday, 30 December 2016

Hastings Battleaxe's 5th Blogiversary. What will 2017 be like?

Five years ago today Hastings Battleaxe was born. Let's start with some thoughts about the blog, look back on the global horrors of 2016, and finally, wonder about making things a bit better for 2017

 I've read that the average lifespan of a blog is 33 months. Well, we've well exceeded that. Battleaxe started slow - it took over a year to reach over 1000 page views a month. Oddly, this month is the busiest ever, with over 10,000 page views.
    This blog is never going to be a viral sensation, or make me money. Why?  If I just stuck to the original brief I set out in my first post - Hastings and the surrounding area from the perspective of a newcomer - I might do better, but it wanders round over the place.
     Successful blogs have a niche, but as well as Hastings, Battleaxe rattles through UK travel, overseas holidays, art and exhibitions, home and gardenconcerts and theatre, (including, this year, a first commissioned review post), clothes, politics, poetry. The most popular posts ever are about the Chelsea Flower Show, and a stay in the Conquest Hospital Hastings.
     Do I care about this mish-mash?  Not really. The blog has a life of its own and I still enjoy writing it. Many people clearly enjoy reading it - strangers stop me in the street and tell me they are Battleaxe fans - and in 2016 I had my first ever visit from an American reader, who came to check out Hastings and the Battleaxe - +Tina Batori 

      So, what of  2016?  What a grim year. 
      In this country, the Conservative Government was consumed with out-of-touch hubris, totally underestimating the 'up-yours' mood of the voters, and the self-serving, wicked yet highly effective  propaganda from trolls like Johnson and Farage. We are now stuck with the disaster of Brexit, with nobody apparently having the least idea how to take it forward. The only certainties are that it will cost us millions, trash the economy and deprive us all of our European Citizenship.
      In the meantime, all our public services are unravelling before our eyes. Councils are starved of cash, the NHS is on its knees etc. etc.
      Effective opposition to the government is desperately needed, but the Labour Party is dominated by a cult obsessed with Jeremy Corbyn as their (and the country's) saviour. It's so embarrassing. I tell you, I can't even have a political argument with my Tory relatives any more. 'What about Your Labour Party...' they hoot derisively, 'Honestly, imagine that ghastly man as Prime Minister! An utter farce!'  Trouble is, they're right.....
      The Middle East and the world migration/refugee situation?  Putin? Just horrendous. Where to start.....
      Then, to crown it all, across the Atlantic, the Trump card was played. It's bad enough being ashamed to be British, but I'm so glad I'm not American.....
Farewell to decency, grace and dignity......
     What can Battleaxe do to make 2017 better?  In global terms, absolutely nothing. Alarmingly, we don't know what will happen next.
     In the words of Churchill, one could 'draw the sword of freedom and cast away the scabbard'. Unfortunately, as a Battleaxe in Hastings, brandishing even a plastic sword of freedom round the town centre would only get me arrested......and no way am I ever going to attend Labour Party meetings - one whiff of Momentum and I'd have a stroke. So what will I do?
     I won't buy any nasty fear-mongering tabloid newspapers - but I don't buy them anyway, so that's not hard.
     I'll challenge any incidents of racist or suchlike behaviour I witness - but I do that now, too. Sometimes it can be risky. A while ago I tackled a horrible man who was shouting racist abuse at some poor cashier in a motorway service station and nearly got myself beaten up.
     Of course I'll carry on with the WI stuff and such-like - I enjoy it.
     Oh, rats to anything else worthy and meaningful.  I know....
     I'll resolve to wear all my clothes, shoes and boots, and use every one of my handbags. Sounds easy, but no. Battleaxe has a clothes excess. I have eleven winter coats - one of which I only acquired yesterday. I have twenty pairs of boots. Shoes and handbags? Am ashamed to tell you....
     If I get something out and decide I really won't ever wear it/use it again, I promise I'll get rid of it.
     So, the world as we know it may be collapsing, but at least I'll be well dressed.
     Here's me in the latest winter coat - a vintage faux fur, bought in Rye with Philosopher and our old friend Shaun, who has been  staying for a few days. Am looking a bit pale and wan because it was my first real day out after being laid low with evil virus all over Christmas. Am still not right.

New coat, with Shaun (in new hat) and Philosopher....

      I'll finish with a lovely photo taken a few days ago - sunny Hastings Pier. Whatever else, we are lucky to live here.

                            Happy New Year from Hastings Battleaxe! 



Friday, 23 December 2016

Happy Christmas from Hastings Battleaxe - plus a poem.

Christmas good wishes from Hastings Battleaxe!  


I'll do Battleaxe's take on the sorry state of the world and hopes for the New Year in the next post, which will mark the fifth 'Blogoversery'.  In the meantime, here's some politically incorrect seasonal 1950's glamour - and the gorilla poem I read at the Stanza group party the other week. 

What a ridiculous combination of topics - but hey, so what.

Vintage Frederick's of Hollywood seasonal outfits...
    Battleaxe has been busy, as is to be expected this time of year, but is now laid low with a terrible cold. Just back from a poorly couple of days in Brum. It may have been the traumas of the WI Committee Christmas meal at my house that did for me - the chicken had gone off, meaning Philosopher had to run up to Ore (or Oray as we call it now after Strictly) to fetch buckets and buckets of KFC - and then Digby burst in through the cat door carrying a live rat....
     I don't think this poem is very good, but I hope you'll enjoy it as a Christmas offering.
     Back in October, Kumbuka, a 29 stone gorilla from London Zoo escaped from his enclosure through an unlocked door and drank five litres of undiluted blackcurrant squash. He was tranquillised and returned to his quarters unharmed. In the same week, Nigel Farage likened Donald Trump to a silverback gorilla.
     This year also, another silverback gorilla, Harambee, was shot dead in America when he approached a young child who had fallen into his enclosure.
     You may wonder why Kumbuka is so well versed in philosophy.  The poem was mostly written during our cruise. Think of me and Philosopher sipping our cocktails in the Darwin Bar before dinner, glaring suspiciously at our fellow travellers while discussing Rousseau's theories about the intelligence of the great apes.... 
     I've added some photos of our gorilla hero, from the internet.

It's all those gassy vegetables....


I like lounging on this log. Beyond the glass,
you simple creatures push and flail,
all fighting for a glimpse of me...
You believe you're better off out there, and free,
but if you read at all, I think you'll find

how Rousseau wrote that apes like us are
noble, nature's truest men. Or, consider Marx's
chains, which of course, could never bind
my liberated, uncorrupted mind.
Then Hegel on the other hand.... I know

one shouldn't tease inferiors, but how can
I resist?  Carefully, I pick my time...
Now! While lunging forward really fast,
I bare my teeth and punch the glass...
Hear those children scream!

That reminds me of Harambee, poor departed
friend. We've learned from that, you know. See 
a child in trouble?  Just ignore it, look away,
even let it die. Sounds brutal, but I have to say
there’s lots of you, but us gorillas? Very few.

Ugh, flashes in my face. Deliberately I
scratch my balls and slowly turn away.
'Trump' you call, 'Let's see you Trump!'
No trouble folks, I'll lift my rump...
Phew, sorry, that was's

all those gassy vegetables y'know.
Dieting is such a frightful bore,
It does nothing for my mood,
and I'm too obsessed with food.
Eesh, I had some fun the other day.....

Some idiot left my gate undone
so what was an ape to do? Well,
out I'm strolling, cool as fuck,
couldn't quite believe my luck
as 'KUMBUKA' they all go... And?

You never learned my actual name. Too
hard for you to say, rather private anyway.
You labelled me 'Kumbuka' when I came,
like an old-time slave. I rise above the shame,
never answer. But, returning to my tale,

I just adore that ghastly purple squash,
although it 's own brand, rather cheap.
What am I like? It's artificial, sickly sweet,
I swigged a bloody skinful, neat.
Whoa, sugar rush! I must have passed out cold,

next thing I know I'm back at home, with
extra cake for tea. Saw myself on telly, why does
one look so fat? Then I heard the loonies shout
'Return Kumbuka to the wild', 'Let Kumbuka out!'
Such self-deceiving fools. Wake up and face the truth.

My only life is here, you've made me what I am,
You trash my wild, turn my rivers into sand.
Out there I'd slowly starve, or die of thirst.
You steal my kids for pets or shoot them first
for fun..... Let Kumbuka go? No bleedin' chance.

Hey you back there....
Bring out the purple squash, and fast!

And punch the glass.....
What was it that Hegel said?

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