Perfidious Little Belgium

The New York Times in its review of The Darkest Hour refers to the film makers’ sham populism which is at its most evident when showing Churchill riding the London Underground and meeting The People (a motley mass of stiff upper lips and misty eyes).
Charles Moore writing in the Spectator opined that the film indicates when Churchill left Downing Street for the House of Commons to make his ‘We shall fight on the beaches’ speech he did so without knowing what he would say. (In the film) dear, patriotic citizens weepily beg Churchill to declare that we will fight on, so he decides that is what he will say in Parliament.
Obviously, in drama, one must not succumb to ‘the tyranny of fact’, but if you know that Churchill did not travel by tube, that he had thoroughly decided what he would say, that he always prepared his parliamentary speeches pretty much word for word, and that only a madman would go from Downing Street via St James’s Park station to get to Westminster, you cannot suspend your disbelief in the cinema.
The speech contains memorable lines – not just the We shall fight them phrases. In his speech Churchill outlined the immediate history which lead up to the British Expeditionary Force debacle and the Dunkirk evacuation. He highlighted but did not overdramatize the role of the Belgians:
“The king of the Belgians had called upon us to come to his aid. Had not this ruler and his government severed themselves from the allies, who rescued their country from extinction in the late war, and had they not sought refuge in what was proved to be a fatal neutrality, the French and British armies might well at the outset have saved not only Belgium but perhaps even Poland. Yet at the last moment, when Belgium was already invaded, King Leopold called upon us to come to his aid, and even at the last moment we came. He and his brave, efficient army, nearly half a million strong, guarded our left flank and thus kept open our only line of retreat to the sea. Suddenly, without prior consultation, with the least possible notice, without the advice of his ministers and upon his own personal act, he sent a plenipotentiary to the German Command, surrendered his army, and exposed our whole flank and means of retreat.”
Thus, we were betrayed by the Belgian royals and if there ever was a case for a full blooded republican coup, this must be it.
And yet the Treaty of Brussels was signed on 17 March 1948 which established a Western Union Defense Organization which in turn lead to the 1951 European Coal & Steel Community, European Economic Community (predecessor to the European Economic Community and the European Union) all of which would be headquartered in Brussels
Supranationalism does not have to be Socialist and Statist but you can see the advantages to the Belgians (like their Prime Minister Paul-Henri Spaak), it let their country punch above its weight and (hopefully) expunge the memory of their 1940 perfidy.

Blessed with Politicians

Larry PittmanIn North Carolina we are blessed with some of the most creative thinkers in the political landscape.
Take for example N.C. State Representative Larry Pittman
In the wake of the Parkland, Florida, shooting, Americans were asking why would someone do something so terrible?
Experts say it’s often a combination of mental illness, adversity in the shooter’s life – and access to guns. Larry Pittman took the speculation a step further.
He speculated on Facebook that the shooter, Nikolas Cruz, had political motivations and suggested the Florida shooter was part of a conspiracy to push for gun control so they (the communist Democrats) could more easily take over the country.
Larry is well known for his ahead-of-the-curve thinking. Last year, he proposed a constitutional amendment that would allow North Carolina voters to repeal that part of the North Carolina Constitution, which declares that “This State shall ever remain a member of the American Union; the people thereof are part of the American nation,” and prohibits the state from seceding from the United States of America; The amendment is currently languishing with that committee which runs the Legislature’s timetable.
Larry has been a registered Republican since 1972, when he was 17. He posts that he is proud of the fact that without his votes Jesse Helms would have never won elections to the US Senate, nor Ronald Reagan’s  elections as President.
We are truly “blessed”.

For more information please see

Des Res with Mod Cons

In 1967 Thomas Holmes and Richard Rahe produced an inventory of life-changing events known as the Social Readjustment Rating Scale (SRRS) which, surprisingly, ranked the act of moving home as the 28th most stressful life change. I am surprised at the ranking and can only presume that time has moved on and that moving home has moved up the scale.
My professional life is realty and last June there were 90,553 of us in North Carolina, so there is great pressure to get everything right when one’s own home goes on sale.
All of which is a roundabout way of blogging that our house at 5316 Coronado Dr., Raleigh 27609 is on the market at $620,000.
The house is a real gem and is in move in condition. We have been very caring of the property and have meticulously updated it as necessary. The upgrades include the kitchen, the appliances, the kitchen cabinetry and porcelain tiles in the kitchen and bathrooms. There are walk-in showers (one double with a frameless enclosure). All full bathrooms have luxury showerheads. There is beautiful hardwood flooring throughout,
Other features include:
Dual zoned HVAC system,
freshly painted exterior,
attached garage,
detached wired storage building and a
well landscaped, fenced yard,
paver patio.
The house shows well and the photographs if anything understate its attractiveness.
In short it is a des.res. with updtd mod cons, twenty minutes from the airport and downtown.
It’s well worth a look and full details are can be found by clicking 0n 5316 Coronado Dr 180215. The photographs can be seen on
Please feel free to call or email me with any queries.
Better still, please buy the house from us or refer it to your friends who might find it just the home they are looking for.

Property Designer Trends

My clients and customers know that I have little time for real estate decorating fads imposed willy-nilly on peoples’ houses without regard to the unique selling points of the property to be sold. Of course, houses and apartments need to be clean, uncluttered and welcoming. But are you selling into a lifestyle or are you selling a commodity where it needs to stand out on a value for money basis?
This weekend my reading included an article in the London Sunday Times espousing the philosophy of Ellie Rees, creative director of Brickworks, an estate agency based in north London. Her views on property decoration include “You need to think about the demographic of the person who’s likely to buy your property, and make it as appealing as possible to them. It’s not about being neutral. It’s about being quite bold and stylish, but knowing what that style should be. How grown-up? How family? How couply?”
Photography is key to getting buyers to book viewings.
“It’s that ‘property porn’ thing we have become so culturally obsessed with. Great photos mean more people click on the property on the internet, which means you’ll get more viewings and, hopefully, the best possible selling price.”
The full article can be found on
At Weichert I have access to professionals who have their feet planted firmly on the ground. I can put you in touch with decorators and photographers whatever the real estate need.

Limits to Brussels

Recently Leicestershire Council was caught recommending that residents not eat more than six sprouts with their Christmas dinner.
Quite rightly this has provoked mocking comment across the board. Some comments embracing the spirit of the bureaucrat e.g., what size should the sprouts be? Are sprouts fungible? Can they be transferred within the family? And so on.
Others are focused on the waste of money in having this idea and thinking it worthwhile of being broadcast, when there are so many other issues requiring attention such as education, potholes etc.
Margaret Thatcher was advised the government is about the three S’s – Streets, Schools and Security.
Tweeting about Brussel sprout consumption does not comply with this template. The tweet raises questions about the spending and governing habits of Leicestershire Council. How many of these soft-focus jobs are there, which do not address the hard questions of how we get better value for money for the residents and tax payers? Who had the bright idea in the first place and what was the approval chain which permitted its publication?
There was no scientific justification for the limit suggestion and subsequent explanations suggest that the tweet was aimed at food waste. Yet, most food waste takes place in food manufacturing and its retail. That is where the tweeter should take his/herself in his/her white coat, hairnet and wellingtons and properly focus on waste.
Meanwhile the Department of You Couldn’t Make It Up continues to expand and flourish.

Winterizing the Home

With winter here, it’s never too late to start thinking of ways to keep the home toasty all season long. As the temperature drops below freezing, here is a short list of things you can do to protect your home from the winter’s chill and stop your energy bills from ballooning beyond your budget.
Is it Drafty in Here?
“Improving your home’s insulation and sealing air leaks are the fastest and most cost-effective ways to reduce energy waste and make the most of your energy dollars,” according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
One of the easiest things you can do to prevent air leaks is to place a draft snake at the base of your doors. You can buy one premade or make your own by simply rolling up a towel. Wrapping your windows is also an effective way to stop leaks. All it takes is some heavy-duty clear plastic, which you can buy at your local home improvement store, and a hair dryer.
Is your Furnace in Shape?
While it doesn’t have to run a marathon, it’s important that your heating system is in shape for the long haul of winter. Schedule a tune-up before the temperatures drop and replace your filter once a month.
While you’re thinking furnace, think AC as well. Shut off the air conditioning water valve to prevent excess water from collecting in the equipment.
What about the plumbing?
If you live in a cold climate, your plumbing could be at risk to freeze and thaw (perhaps more than once) during the winter, which can cause pipes to burst.
Weatherproofing your plumbing is always a good idea. To do so, turn off the water supply to outdoor spigots, sprinkler systems, swamp coolers and AC units then drain them. If your AC or swamp cooler has components outside, make sure to cover them.
Have a pleasant winter
This advice comes from 2-10 HBW which offers the industry’s most comprehensive coverage for homeowners.

Avoiding Disaster – the Message from a Stained Glass Window

I was recently idling in the Sacred Heart Church in Raleigh when I happened upon one of the stained glass windows depicting the early life of Christ.
At first sight it appears to be an idyllic happy family get together. Mary watchfully spinning, Joseph standing guard over the infant Jesus and the infant Jesus himself with a hammer and chisel in his hand working his will on a piece of wood.
But where is the Judean Department of Occupational & Safety, where is the Nazareth Child Protection Agency?
The child is not wearing safety goggles nor is he wearing protective gloves.
It’s all very well saying that the child has his own protective guardian angels, and perhaps they will stop the chisels going blunt or other damage occurring to the craftsman’s tools. And why is Joseph holding an axe and looking vaguely lost?
Overall, it’s a picture which asks more questions than it answers.
And perhaps the real message is that unless you have the angels on your side, whatever you are doing, you had better wear appropriate (protective) clothing.