​Don’t panic!  Don’t panic!  I have not been taken hostage by little green men in search of intelligent life – they’re still knee-deep in hen parties and bottles of Bolly in Tiger Lily convinced that their journey has been futile.  No, I have merely been immersed in the day to day misery of life whilst being subjected, once more, to the ramifications of the ‘Beast from the East’.  What can I say?  Even my car has given up the ghost.  It seems that winter is never ending and life, for most, seems to emulate the gloom.  Then, in St Andrews yesterday, I came across a little book which restored my faith: The Wisdom of Prince Philip by Antony A. Butt.  Completely devoid of any filter, Prince Philip says it as it is.  Quick witted, his humour is caustic and his political gaffs infamous.  It is said that the Queen, in private, is very funny.  This book, full of her husband’s little gems, serves only to support that belief.  I have no idea how, alongside him, she keeps a straight face in public!  Suffice to say, I bought four copies in an endeavour to spread some much needed cheer.  I plan to end with one or two of my favourites from said book.
Meantime, I have an eclectic mix of topics in mind following the week gone by.  You know me, given half a chance I would live out my days on Walton’s Mountain submersed in family values, beautiful scenery and Ralph Waite!  No longer with us, Pa Walton stood for everything good and, to this day, I glean a quiet reassurance just hearing his voice and his words of wisdom on True Entertainment.  I suppose it takes me back to my childhood – Monday night, 8 o’clock on BBC 2 – but it is testament to the popularity of the programme that it is still shown, constantly, forty-five years on.  Beautifully written, my book of quotes abounds with the words of these real life characters, and there are lessons to be learned in every line.  Compare and contrast …
This week has been dominated by the continued investigation into the poisoning of the former Russian spy, Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, with a nerve agent in Salisbury on March 4th.  Where is Pierce Brosnan when one needs him?!  Seriously, it might well be a scenario straight from a Bond film for which one pays, certain of two hours enjoyment and sheer escapism.  This, however, is real life.  Russia is refusing to accept responsibility as Britain adopts the heavy hand and so it unfolds.  A living game of chess.  Human nature, once more, laid bare as pride, greed and ego stand firm.  Nothing changes in this circle of life.  We have been here before.  I wonder what Maggie and Ronnie would make of it all?  Perhaps they are living happily ever after on Walton’s Mountain secure in the knowledge that the sun will rise and the most important things in life are health and family … 
I, often, write in the early hours – in my head, that is!  A brain which rarely sleeps now, I try and commit lines to memory refusing to leave the warmth of my bed or open the shutters to the incessant grey.  Recently, I was pondering what I actually do?  What would I reply, if asked?  Well, I write a blog weekly; that’s using the term weekly loosely as my weeks can amount to 8 or 9 days depending on my motivation and that which occupies the majority of my time – single-handedly funding the legal service!  Yes, I can jest but, those close to me know that my legal battles are tantamount to a full-time job.  Oh, that I could resign tomorrow but, six years on, I have learned of my inner strength and the wealth of material  gleaned shall be the source of my writing the minute the ink is dry.  Who said anything about libel?  My name and I am not inclined to change it just yet!
Changing the subject somewhat, however, I attended my first – and suspect, last – Body Combat class this week.  Even typing that sounds ridiculous!  My friend and neighbour, Jet, seems to have been bitten by the fitness bug of late and, in the vain hope of reclaiming some semblance of my former svelte figure – the laughter indicates that one is still awake – I decided to sample one of her classes: something along the lines of Boxercise which involves punching and kicking.  A problem with pent up aggression?  Never!
So, Tuesday evening it was.  Dark and miserable, I dressed appropriately in the lycra-esque leggings and fluorescent trainers, swapped the bottle of wine for a bottle of Evian and trotted round to Jet’s.  Was I nuts?!  Well, seemingly the whole world is nuts as the car park was packed and, through the windows, one could see semblances of the human form reduced to nothing more than robots programmed to follow the programme!  It was 6.30pm on a dark, winter’s evening and these people had just finished work, taken off their lanyards and succumbed to another form of brain washing.  Why?  Who dictates that one must leave work/one’s desk and computer and spend the next hour or so in communal exercise in a communal place?  Striving for the seemingly communal size and shape, whatever happened to the individual?  I was despairing before I even threw my first punch!
Jet had told me that it was preferable to arrive 10 minutes before the start of the class as those taking part like to queue in order to secure the best place.  Of course they do!  She was right.  She had not prepared me for the young woman ahead of us, however, who seemed to be slightly unhinged and proceeded to direct her story of her sore toe derived from falling off her stilettos at the weekend – did anyone mention alcohol? – at us at every opportunity and regardless of our disinterest.  If only Prince Philip had been there …
As for the Body Combat?  Not for me, methinks.  Twenty-five lycra-clad women following an athletic, toned instructor punching and kicking for one whole hour to the beats of …  none the wiser!  Some computerized, techno rubbish which would drive one to drink – or a bottle of Evian.  Suffice to say, paramedics were not required and, despite one or two spontaneous ‘time outs’, I lived to tell the tale.  Arising the next morning, I felt nothing.  No, that’s normal!  More specifically, I seemed to suffer no ill effects from the previous night.  Perhaps I was fitter than I thought?  Fast forward several hours and I had the answer.  Obviously beneficial, would I consider a further class?  No comment.
In this cruel world, thank God for the little things which tickle one.  My 91 year-old father – Pop – phones me most evenings at 6.30pm.  Like me, he enjoys nothing better than a good moan and his sarcasm runs through my veins.  I have adopted the habit of sending him a copy of my blog, weekly, and he claims to enjoy it often revelling, I am sure, in the constant references to himself and his huge influence in my life.  I respect his opinion and covet his praise and so I was somewhat taken aback when, in one such phonecall this week, he told me that I had made a mistake.  Instructing me to hang on, I heard him rustling paper as he sought the offending line only to inform me that I had mistakenly used a nominative rather than an accusative.  Laughing, I told him that he was probably right – ‘Not probably’, he said,  ‘I am right!‘  Pop, I learn from the master.  Love you to bits!
Now for the Prince Philip gems I promised.  Perhaps a topical one?  In 1967, asked if he would like to visit the Soviet Union, the following was his response:
‘I would like to go to Russia very much – although the bastards murdered half my family.’
Finally, one of my favourites, asked of a Scottish driving instructor in 1995:
‘How do you keep the natives off the booze long enough to pass the test?’
Imagine a world full of Prince Philips and Alice Tinkers?  Oh, I wish …
This is Trish, signing off.