It’s everywhere!  What is?   The mood.  Everyone is fed up and there’s no getting away from it, things are only going to get worse.  I have spent the afternoon fighting with a wireless printer which has gone on strike for no earthly reason.  I’ve been through the instructions, done nothing different whatsoever and no response!  My laptop says it is there but try telling the printer that.  Thing is, technology is so frustrating and time-consuming, particularly if one refuses to give up.  A battle of wills, there is no way I am letting some pesky microchip get the better of me …  or is there?  Eventually, I just had to conclude it was stupid, switched it off and walked away.  To be continued.  Meantime, I drove into town to get supplies and popped in to see a friend in her shop.  I found a conference for the disgruntled into which I fitted perfectly as we bemoaned everything and anything – life!

I didn’t watch the rugby this morning (Sat) but, listening to Graham Norton, I heard the result.  It’s weird but I was glad that South Africa had won.  What is it about Scotland and England when it comes to sport?  Well, let’s face it, in most disciplines, England seems to have the upper hand – and so it has been for as long as I can remember.  While the Scottish team is never lacking in enthusiasm, somehow, it is never enough!  Who could forget Ally’s Army and the 1978 World Cup in Argentina?  Shattered dreams but, regardless, there is an undeniable fondness for that piece of Scottish history and I, for one, will forever remember it with a smile.

Hold on, though, Scotland has Andy and Jamie Murray, our tennis heroes!  Claimed as British, when winning, the English have, however, been known to throw Andy from the fold in times of strife.  Fickle.  When it comes to sport, though, there is an undeniable arrogance about our friends south of the border, seemingly not schooled in the art of losing.  Trounced by South Africa, 32:12, in Yokohama today, the English rugby team should hang their heads in shame; not because of their performance on the pitch but, rather, their despicable behaviour following their defeat!  Presented with their silver medals by World Rugby Chairman, Bill Beaumont, many of the players made no attempt to put them on while prop, Kyle Sinckler, took his straight off again, visibly upset.  Sportsmanship.  So important, it should be on the school curriculum!  In an egocentric world, however, peopled by pushy parents, sadly it is a quality which is now deemed unnecessary if not detrimental.  Look no further than primary school sports days … a lesson in life and a character exposé of both parents and pupil.  Winning was never paramount in my sporting childhood.  Doing my best was what counted; it was innate and I was never a sore loser, rather accepting any outcome with grace.  I credit my parents for this attitude, one which I have passed on to my children.  Yes, it may smack of a lack of killer instinct but one’s sportsmanship – or lack of – is a metaphor for one’s approach to life; a life in which winning means so much more than coming first.

Don’t for one minute think any of the above has any bearing on politics!  Not allowed to broach that subject – self-imposed embargo.  Suffice to say, recognising the arrogance of the English on the sports field in no way aligns me with Scottish independence.  I’d rather be staked to an ant hill naked!  So, should the worst happen, I’ll let you know where I’m heading: it’s a toss up between Montana and a vineyard in Tuscany!

Oh, last thing about the rugby before I move on to my list of ‘interesting’ topics – there has been absolutely no mention of the English team’s behaviour apropos the medals on the television or radio news.  Interesting, that …

Halloween.  What to say?  Did I miss something?  In my day, we used to don some ridiculous homemade attire (going for funny rather than scary – funny that!) and torment our closest neighbours who were also friends.  Whether we sang a song or recited a poem, some effort was required and the words ‘trick or treat’ had not yet infiltrated our shores.  Fast forward to Becca and Manny in the 90s and little had changed – for us, anyway!  Manny, habitually, wore his Hunchback of Notre Dame mask made more authentic by the cushion stuffed up his jumper.  Perfect.  As for Becca, she would be dressed, in the early years, as a witch courtesy of my old school cloak – so many uses – before moving on to Baby Spice or some pop star.  The point is, it was fun not competitive and there was no fixation on horror and ghouls.  Who wants to open the door to a child dripping in tomato sauce with a sausage as a severed finger?!  Then there’s the expectation of something for nothing …

It all seems a distant memory now – tick, move on – but it did make me think about this obsession with horror and violence today.  One need only look at the big box office films – Terminator: Dark Fate being one – the gratuitous violence on TV, to say nothing of that which is the focus of video games and consoles.  What of the furore surrounding the video game, Fortnite?  Personally, the deliberate mis-spelling brings me out in a cold sweat before any thought of the subject matter but I do believe it involves the elimination of one’s adversaries by some form of obliteration.  Of course. What happened to Hopscotch and Kick the Can?  Two things: both require leaving one’s bedroom and engaging with other people!

A tad cynical?  Not in the least.  This week, I learned that there is a company in America offering parents the chance to re-touch their children’s school photographs.  Premium re-touching involves whitening teeth and more extreme editing whilst Basic allows for the removal of blemishes.  One word: help!  Add to that the recent revelation that almost half of toddlers have tried a crisp before tasting greens and volunteering to be the first civilian on Mars is becoming less whimsical!

Who, exactly, instructs or funds these studies?  I have a note from the 24th October to the effect that researchers have found that long-term health conditions such as arthritis are affected by the weather …  and news in, the world is not flat!

In need of some light relief, I turned to Graham Norton on Friday night.  A stellar guest list, Dame Julie Andrews, Jennifer Aniston and Reece Witherspoon adorned the sofa – or not!  There is an old Scottish nursery rhyme which begins ‘Three craws sat upon a wa’’ – I promise – and, suffice to say, that’s exactly what these three intelligent women brought to mind.  Reece Witherspoon wore a dress – black; Jennifer Aniston wore a trouser suit – black; and Dame Julie obviously did not consult Jennifer Aniston and, too, wore a trouser suit – guess what colour?!  Has Graham issued a uniform dress code?  Boring to look at, they were, actually, equally boring to listen to and only the appearance of Sir Ian McKellen in a tweed suit and characteristic scarf, much too large to be termed a cravate, injected some much-needed colour.  What is this determination not to adorn?  A determination to appear asexual?  A determination to be taken seriously?  How sad when one recalls the glamour and femininity of a bygone era before the word ‘lady’ was all but confined to the dictionary.  Think Grace Kelly, Sophia Loren, Deborah Kerr, Doris Day and, of course, the inimitable Audrey Hepburn.  Given, she did wear a lot of black but she never forgot her pearls!

Let me finish with two pertinent quotes attributable to Christian Dior:

‘Black and white might be sufficient.  But why deprive yourself of color?’  and

‘Inividuality will always be one of the conditions of real elegance.’

At least he agrees with me!

This is Trish, signing off.