Apologies for the absence. Have been in the Peak District, doing a family reunion/parents' ruby wedding/mother's birthday/father's day thing. Web access was damn near impossible, and even radio and TV were sketchy. The isolation was refreshing, but I did begin to feel a bit lost without Google on hand to settle trivia arguments with my dad.
We managed to kick ITV into life for Thursday's Trinidad match. The last few weeks of hype had already sabotaged any last vestiges of empathy I might have for the England team, and their woeful performance vindicated my cynicism. I was happy to join with the Anglophobe Scots in cheering on T&T, and after Gerrard scored it was the pain in the eyes of Shaka Hislop - a onetime darling of Fratton Park - that will be the lasting memory.
Patriotism (of a lefty, Orwellian, JB Priestley hue) returned the following day, as we shook off the hangover with a trek past wild rhododendrons and wilder sheep up to Win Hill, and the glorious view over Ladybower. The temptation to hum 'Jerusalem' was immense, especially as we had our backs to the cement works that scab up the vista on the other side. And all was well with the world...
...until yesterday, when we went to Chatsworth, ancestral seat of the Dukes of Devonshire. (Why the Dukes of Devonshire have pitched their tent so far from their nominal stamping ground is a mystery beyond me. Anyone?) It's not the sort of place I'd go out of my way to visit, but it seemed a shame to miss out when it was on the doorstep. And it's all very nice, with Landseer, Tintoretto, Canova and Lucien Freud all existing in unlikely harmony. However, I went into full-on pedant mode when I saw the explanatory caption to one of the fab ceilings (by Laguerre) supposedly depicting episodes from the life of "the Roman emperor Julius Caesar".
Now you don't need to have had a posh, classical education. A passing knowledge of a couple of Shakespeare plays would do. Or even a quick scan of I, Claudius. Or simply watch that ludicrous Rome shagtacular. JULIUS CAESAR WAS NEVER EMPEROR! THE FIRST EMPEROR WAS AUGUSTUS! In the whole inclusivity/accessibility debate about culture and heritage, surely someone ought to be ensuring that people who might be dipping their toes into the whole Western art canon for the first time are presented with information that isn't ignorant bollocks? Maybe?
But to end on a positive note, if you're passing through the village of Hope, Derbyshire, do check out the Cheshire Cheese pub. The beer's good, and the food portions are vast, as might be guessed from the landlord's ample frame. We dealt with our haddock, chips and a hillock of mushy peas, but Small Boo stalled halfway through the similarly generous chocolate sponge pudding, and went to bed early with a tummy ache. While I stayed up, grumbling about Julius bloody Caesar. Like you do.