Well, I'm back in lovely Worcester Park after a week of sun in Phoenix and the more generous-spirited may suggest that I brought the sunshine back with me, though all I seem to have got out of the bargain is jetlag. It seems to have done something to my internal thermostat though as I've been leaving the house in the early (and cold) mornings minus coat or hat, which I wouldn't have been without ten days ago.
As I cruised down the wide Phoenecian roads and surveyed the vast shopping malls with their enormous parking lots I did wonder what it would take to recreate something on the same scale in London. According to Wikipedia Phoenix has a population density of 2,937.8/sq mi and its upmarket neighbour Scottsdale is even more spread out with a density of only 1,305.2/sq mi. Contrast this to London with a whacking 12,331 inhabitants per square mile and you'll quickly understand why our road system doesn't work any more. In order to get London to the scale of Phoenix you'd have to more than quadruple the size of it from its current 607 square miles to 2,549 square miles... making it 57 miles across (about the distance from Trafalgar Square to Oxford). I wouldn't recommend Phoenix airport (aka Sky Harbor) though as with all the official xenophobia that's now in place for our own good it took us 90 minutes to get through passport control.
Moving on, few of you will have failed to notice that today is St Patrick's Day with Google sporting its themed banner and everywhere proclaiming the joys of 'craic'. Although I am one-eighth Irish my only participation in the day will probably be to watch the special Simpsons episode (first one to premier outside the US) and then find something useful to do around the house. If you want an alternative Irish view of the day then read Eamonn Forde's article in The Times, entitled "‘Irish pubs - the Disneyland of the Dipsomaniac"
"Probably the wrong sentiment to express today, but St Patrick's Day makes me embarrassed to be Irish. My ruddy cheeks burn with shame as green, white and orange bunting is draped listlessly on every pub with extra-cold Guinness on tap and all talk turns, inevitably, to “the craic”."
Once you've applauded or derided that you might want to read up on the word 'craic' and why there are dissenters to its modern usage:
"[T]he spelling craic causes serious nausea among intelligent people. This glib spelling of the word was invented in the 1970s ... it is the context of the use of the (recent, modern) Irish spelling of the word that is the issue - if craic is to be used, it should be used while writing in the Irish language, OR placed in parentheses or in italics when writing in English. I stress that this is a word which was NEVER in the Irish language"
Whether you agree with those views or not it'll give you something on an Irish theme to talk about this evening!