Friday, 2 December 2011

Going to the dogs ...

Going? Passed through customs at Terminal 3 The Dogs International an hour ago and now checking in at The Dogs Holiday Inn.

I'm referring to Portugal. It's not normally my style to have a go at my host country which I'm very privileged to live in - thanks for that Portugal. But I got something through the post the other day which made me think no wonder this country is broke!

It's a fixed penalty notice for the princely sum of €15 (£13) because I paid my 2008 Road Tax late. (Called Imposto Unico de Circulação (IUC) in Portugal - it's the annual tax you pay for owning a car.)

Now I don't object to paying Road Tax, especially as it's very cheap in Portugal - €52.84 (£45) for a year - compared with the UK (about £150). Nor do I even object to paying the penalty for late payment. But what I DO object to ...

... is the reason WHY I didn't pay the tax on time, namely, because nobody reminded me to pay it. In Britain, you get a letter a couple of weeks before which you take to the Post Office and you buy your Tax Disc - couldn't be simpler.

And the other thing about this which makes me even crosser is the fact it's taken them three and a half years to get round to sending out the penalty notice. It's not because I object to the €15, it's just the sheer and utter hopelessness of the incompetence of having left it so long!

Can you believe that it's not possible to pay monthly National Insurance Contributions by direct debit in Portugal? You have to pay at an ATM between the 1st and the 20th of the month following. How easy is that to forget to do? I'm quite an organised person where that sort of thing's concerned but when I signed up to the Segurança Social online portal thingummy recently, I consulted my conta corrente and was surprised to discover I was €1.36 in arrears. Turned out this is interest because I was a few days late paying the May 2010 instalment! Well sod them, I'm not going to pay it until someone asks me for it.

Note to Portugal - the way to get people to pay taxes (or anything else) is to make it easy for them to pay. A system like direct debit whereby they don't even have to think about it is optimal. And once you've made it easy to pay but they still don't do it, you hit them hard and fast with the penalty. It's a simple little thing called cash flow.

And you wonder why the Germans are getting a bit fed up with bankrolling Greece?

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Water, water everywhere ...

... but not a drop to flush the lav with.

Today's the first day since March in 2011 I've had socks and shoes on and anything more than a T-shirt.

October is one of the nicest months on Flores with calm, clear days. It's a real Indian summer and all the plants and shrubs start to flower again until a big storm comes along in November to mark the onset of winter and trashes them (there's no other word for it) - the vines, the hibiscus, the bougainvillea - with the salmoura (salt spray). It comes as a shock every year but if anyone's "data-mining" this for climate change research purposes, it happened on the 1st November in 2011.

Jings, I've just read that previous paragraph back and it makes me sound like some kind of hippy-dippy, tree-hugging eco-warrior. Far from it - I've got a carbon footprint the size of Greece's sovereign debt and I'm quite comfortable with it. (Unlike Greece. Or Italy. Don't let me digress onto that.)

Where was I? Oh yes - yesterday's perfect storm. First one of 2011 which photo above doesn't really capture at all. Not only was the electricity off and on all day - we're used to that - BUT THE WATER WENT OFF as well.

I put that in CAPITALS because the initial reaction was any excuse not to have to do the dishes by candle light was a good thing. But that was before the dire implications became clear - when the electricity goes off you can light a candle but there's no quick fix to not being able to flush the lav.

We had a team talk "You need a pee and we've got two flushes left - is this a good use of resources?" It reminded me of "Did he fire six shots or only five? You gotta' ask yourself a question, do I feel lucky?"

"Well, do you punk?"
I'll spare you the full details of how this resource allocation scenario panned out [yes I did type that with no irony intended] and suffice to say, we found ourselves this morning around 8am gathering every receptacle in the house together. That included emptying a half drunk bottle of wine (the fact it was merely half drunk in our household is a rare enough event.) Then we drove to Ponta da Faja to fill them all from a public tap - I'd remembered from translating Pierluigi's definitive history of Flores that PdF has a different water source from Faja Grande. Before I remembered that, I'd been thinking about the mill lade to the water mill at Fajazinha. But just as I was about to strip atavistically to the waist and stride out in search of man's most basic need, I turned on the tap and it was flowing again. Phew!

Great, now I can have a nice hot shower and stick the electric kettle on for a cup of instant coffee and generally increase my carbon footprint to the size of Novaya Zemlya (and if you don't know where that is, it's easier to spot on Google Earth now the ice has melted round about it).

But it did get me thinking about composting toilets. Well not for too long as I'm not sure they'd work work very well en suite. Apparently the flies are the problem. Anyway (back in the real world), we've not yet poured away all the bottles and pans of water we assembled today. Once bitten twice shy and all that.

    Makes you think.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Distinguished visitor #2

This was as close as I got, unfortunately - the Presidential Merc swishing past our front door just before seven this evening:-

About ten minutes earlier, I'd been summoned by the "Whoop" of a police siren (American style - not a British "Nee-Naw") to be told by a Fed that I'd need to get my car off the street. This was presumably in order that the Presidential motorcade could indeed swish down the narrow streets of Fajã Grande rather than have to carefully negotiate the usual obstacles lesser mortals have to contend with on a daily basis. (As today was dia do lixo, we were having a titter earlier about the prospect of the limo crawling down the road after the Lajes falling apart bin wagon (garbage truck) and its attendant pong.)

I was down at the Balneareio earlier in the day. José Diamantino had shaved but was chain smoking with a nervous demeanour and admitted "tudo pronto - mais ou menos" (everything ready - more or less). It appeared the jantar was taking place in a marquee on the lawn (which, with the box hedges, was noticeably recently cut).

Looked like everybody was going to be seated on forms, though - no sign of any spaces for thrones. Nice weather for it as well.  


Surely I can't be the only one to have noticed the uncanny resemblance between aging rocker Brian May and pioneering English scientist Sir Isaac Newton. I wonder if by any chance they're related - I think we should be told.

Newton                                                           May
What's that barnet all about Brian? Isaac had an excuse. You don't.                                          

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Distinguished visitor

Tomorrow, Friday 23 September 2011, Fajã Grande plays host to no less a personage than His Excellency Prof. Aníbal Cavaco Silva, the President of Portugal.

Fotografia Oficial, Setembro 2008

There's going to be a grande jantar (piss-up) at the balneareio hosted jointly by the presidentes of the câmaras municipais of Lajes das Flores and Santa Cruz das Flores. That requires some explanation.

First, the venue. Balneareio translates literally as "bathing facility". It can apply to the showers in a sports stadium but in FG means the bit where you swim in the sea (there being no beach as such) and more particularly the bar-restaurant there where you get your beers, ice creams and burgers on a hot summer's afternoon.

Often booked for island weddings, the Balneareio is run by a jolly chap called José Diamantino and his wife with the assistance of a team of local teenage girls. I can picture Senhora JD lining them up (inc. JD ele mesmo who will be ordered to shave for the occasion) to give them a sharp lecture on minding their Ps & Qs and telling the local lags usually to be found lined up at the bar shouting at each other that they'll need to make themselves scarce (rather like Fawlty telling the ladies they wouldn't be welcome at the Gourmet Night.)

Second, the hosts. There are, incredibly for an island of fewer than 4,000 people, two separate câmaras municipais (local authorities) on Flores - Santa Cruz (the north half of the island) and Lajes (the south half). Beaten only to the bottom spot by Corvo (pop. 400), they are respectively the third and second smallest CMs in Portugal and they don't get on with each other.

"The White House" - HQ of C.M.L (Camara Municipal das Lajes)
For a start, there's a territorial dispute. As long ago as the 18th century, worthies were sent to adjudicate but unfortunately they only fixed the boundary as being an imaginary line between the mouths of two rivers on the west and east coasts of Flores. In a pre-GPS era, that left not so much wriggle as thrashing about epileptically room as to where that line actually ran through the island's unhelpfully irregular interior.

More recently, border tensions erupted into open warfare a year or two ago when a Santa Cruz JCB was found digging sand alleged to be a few metres on the Lajes side of the DMZ. The matter was pursued to court (I'm not kidding!) and SC were mulcted in damages amounting to tens of thousands of Euros which, last I heard, had not yet been paid.

The presidente of the CM of Lajes is João Lourenço, the owner of the Flores equivalent of B&Q

That picture of JL sitting magisterially on his throne on the pier at Lajes glaring King Canute style at the waves is scanned from an edition of the Lajes Boletim Municipal which caused gales of mirth locally - had His Highness been borne aloft in his chair on the shoulders of the vereadores (councillors) from the White House down the hill to the sea, asked one wag? Presumably, the presidente of SC will be bringing his chair to the presidential jantar tomorrow - I can just picture them jostling their chairs against each other to get closer to His Excellency.

I must say, I'd been expecting the village to be swarming with Feds today, sweeping the place for security and making sure Frank's cows were safely penned in so they couldn't shite on the street and risk splattering the presidential limo. But no sign - the skies are darkening and the wind's getting up. Perhaps SATA have cancelled and the whole thing's off. I'll let you know what happens.

Incidentally - in case anyone's in any doubt about my British sense of humour - I consider it to be a GOOD THING that Frank's cows are allowed to shite on the street here. There's probably some humourless nanny state somewhere (Scotland, probably) where that sort of thing is banned. Don't get me started.

Rush hour in Faja Grande

Friday, 26 August 2011

Tax demand

I received a tax demand today from Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs (the UK tax authority) for the princely sum of £12.30 (14€, $18) for fiscal year 2010-11.

Money very well spent, IMO, as the "subscription fee", as it were, to be able periodically to write to UK (and Scottish soi disant) Government Departments who annoy me saying "Though resident in Portugal, I remain a UK tax payer ...". (In fact, when I first did the calculation myself, it appeared I would not be paying any UK income tax at all for 2010-11 which was a matter of some chagrin to me. I was having to console myself with the fact I pay UK VAT and excise duties on booze and petrol when I'm there in December/January each year. But in the end, I just slipped under the bar of being an income tax payer.)

Anyway, I shall be writing to HMRC tomorrow with my cheque telling they can have it with my pleasure provided they spend it on something deserving like a by-pass or an aircraft carrier but under no circumstances are they to give it to anyone to buy a community woodland with. And especially not the crowd who said on their website:

"A necessary element of land acquisition funding is the raising of a proportion of the price paid by the community itself ... It is proposed that the community contribute approximately [5%] of the acquisition cost from sources such as:
* Charitable trusts - there are a number of grant giving charitable trusts that have supported community land initiatives in the past.
* Local fundraising - this can include fundraising events (sponsored activities such as walks, swims etc.), ceilidhs, raffles, bring and buy etc.
* Private donors - many of the large community land buyouts have been assisted by sizeable donations from private individuals ..."

So, apart from the fun-run and the raft race ("Right, so we've got sixpence!"), your idea of contributing to the price yourself is not putting your hands in your own pockets but scrounging it from charities and donors?

"So all we have to do is buy a raffle ticket, yeah?"

Friday, 12 August 2011

National language?

Under the headline "Gaelic Jargon Lessons for Civil Servants" I read in the media of an "online toolkit" being "rolled out" to employees of Forestry Commission Scotland, Scottish Natural Heritage and the Crofters Commission in order to provide them with useful phrases in Gaelic relevant to their spheres of operation.

(For non-Scottish readers, FCS, SNH and the CC are the Scottish government agenices responsible respectively for forestry, nature conservation and small farms. Gaelic is a language spoken by a small minority of Scots: all Gaelic speakers also speak English.)

I was amusing myself at the thought of some earnest young FCS apparatchik (with a name like Alpin Leadbetter, a degree in Geology and Arc-welding and a fleece bearing his employer's logo) frantically booting up the toolkit in order to be able to drop the Gaelic for "sitka spruce" into conversation with some bulbous nosed crofter from Wester Ross on the scrounge for tax-payers' money to plant a community woodland with. And that, being from Manitoba, Alpin fails to spot that the crofter's lilting accent is that of Wiltshire rather than Wester Ross and consquently doesn't have a single word of "garlic" in his body. Not to mention the fact that, as there isn't an English for "sitka spruce", there's highly unlikely to be a Gaelic for it.

Roughcastle Community Wood - what's the Gaelic for "inspirational"?
So far so titter-value until I got to a quote in the story from John Angus Mackay, chief executive of Bord na Gaidhlig (Gaelic language agency) who praised the Gaelic jargon toolkit for "raising the profile of our own national language".

What? Gaelic, Scotland's national language?


Quite apart from the absurdity of describing as a "national language" a tongue spoken by fewer than 2% of the nation's population, what the Gaelic cultural imperialism zealots persistently overlook is that there are vast areas of Scotland where Gaelic has NEVER been spoken, namely the green and yellow bits on the map below:-

The green bits just happen to include the country's capital (Edinburgh), biggest city (Glasgow) and the bits where two thirds of its population lives so it seems John Angus MacKay of Bord na Gaidhlig needs a basic lesson in the linguistic history of Scotland. Here it is - this is not very difficult.

The aboriginal language of Scotland was what linguists call a "P-Celtic" language, the closest surviving example of which is modern Welsh. In the first millenium AD, Scotland was invaded by Gaels from Ireland speaking Gaelic (a "Q-Celtic" language) and Angles from England speaking - wait for it - English (a teutonic language). Gaelic spread east and south while English spread north and west. The aboriginal P-Celtic language was snuffed out between this linguitic pincer movement. The high water mark of Gaelic's spread was as coloured pink on the map. That was in the 11th century AD. Since then, it has been retreating back north and west in the face of English (green on the map) to the point where Gaelic is now spoken by only about 60,000 people - 1.2% of the population - in the very far north west and the Western Isles.

The following picture illustrates what a polyglot culture Scotland in fact has, historically speaking. It's of a road-sign near Inverness:-

Picture credit The Poss
Looking at all these names, Muir of Ord is English (Muir = Moor); Thurso is Norwegian reflecting the Viking heritage of north east Scotland (yellow on the map). I don't know what it means but compare with names of places in Norway like Oslo and Bodo etc. And Beauly is even French - Beau Lieu. Yet some apparatchik with a greater sense of political correctness than of Scotland's diverse cultural make up has seen fit to translate it all into Gaelic!

Why? Judged by the numbers of speakers in Scotland, it would make as much sense to translate all these names into Punjabi or Polish!

I agree with David and I'm going to hit "Publish" now before I get any more ventilated about this. 

Friday, 22 July 2011

Loja Macau

In Britain, they're usually owned by Indians or Pakistanis and have names like "Ali's Cave" - shops that sell everything from screwdrivers to binoculars through flip-flops to handbags via artists' canvasses, plumb-bobs and washing baskets - all piled high and sold low at prices in direct proportion to the per capita GDP of the countries the stuff is manufactured in.

In Portugal, such shops are owned by Chinese people. In Ponta Delgada on São Miguel, every second building is a chinese shop (where it's noticeable they all have exactly the same stock) and there are now even two in Santa Cruz das Flores.

We went in to the chinese shop in SC yesterday to buy a cheese grater and were somewhat flabbergasted to find out they didn't stock them - pencils with flashlights in the bit which is normally the rubber on the end and all sorts of other goodies I'd have been thrilled to find in my Xmas stocking as a 7 year old (indeed, as a 48yo) yes, but cheese graters, no.

There were, however, some consolation prizes to be had in the chinese shop. I got a very nice wee set of spanners for 3,50€

If you zoom in on that a bit, it'd be a great entry on the "familiar household article viewed from an odd angle" round on "Ask the Family". As it happened, I wanted them in order to tackle the nut faintly visible at the top of this picture ("Mother and younger child only") underneath a sink and only accessible with the degree of wrist and finger co-ordination normally reserved to gynecologists:-

Anyway, I've digressed, where was I? Oh yes - things bought at the chinese shop apart from the cheese grater we went in for. Exhibit 2 - a pair of lightweight cotton summer shorts, a snip at €7.95, and possibly the best aspect of which, worth twice that easily, was the washing instructions:-

I was also interested to discover yesterday that what we call just "the chinese shop" has a name. Shops on Flores are very difficult to find because they don't have signs outside. I suspect it's because the owners take the view that everyone knows where the shops are so why waste money putting up useless signs advertising what everybody already knows. The same syndrome probably explains why, when a new shop opened up recently, they put flyers in everyone's letterboxes which informed you it was a butcher's but not where it was. ("Everybody knows where José João's cousin's going to be opening his shop ... Tsk! Tchoh!")

Anyway, despite the fact it's in a building which used to be a residencial, the only outward marking on which is the crossed knife and fork restaurant symbol usually seen at motorway service stations in the 70s, the chinese shop in SC is, in fact, called Loja Macau:-

What is the article depicted bottom right next to the dismembered body parts - a pair of sunglasses or a bra? Whatever, loja is the Portuguese word for a shop and (for anyone who doesn't know) Macau is the Portuguese equivalent of Hong Kong - a small Portuguese territory in China handed back to the PRC at the same time as the UK surrendered HK. Gambling is Macau's thing - it is to China what Vegas is to the States.

There's another shop in Santa Cruz which, in fairness, does have a sign with a name although it's so small that it doesn't register and we call it something else. Can you guess what that is? 

Sunday, 17 July 2011

That article

Well done to David for spotting this on the Express' website (I didn't know you were an Express reader.)

Not only is the population of Flores actually just below 4,000 as Marisa correctly points out but I am now 48, not 46. This is due to the fact that journalist Richard Webber hacked my phone for this scoop two years ago and I gather it's been languishing in the property editor's basket awaiting a day of nothing better to report ever since.

I expect property prices in the Azores have moved a bit since he wrote the article as well. But I don't care - we didn't buy this house as an investment and I ascribe a value to it of £0.01 (= €0.01 and $0.01.)

There's the inevitable story about the photo of us in the article. The journo asked for a picture of us by the house back in December. Of course, he never visited the Azores in the course of researching the piece and I think he had visions of deck chairs by the pool on Christmas Day. In fact it was feckin parky (British English for "a touch on the cool side") on the day we grabbed a neighbour to take a couple of snaps.

The results produced the usual female response to photos. Here are the ones the readership of the Express didn't get to see:-

1. "You can't send that, my hair looks mental"

2. "Nope. You look a fat bastard"

 3. "Delete that, I look a right spaz."

So it ended up being "I suppose it will have to be that one although I'm not happy about it".

Of course, the star of the show is the house. The picture printed in the Express was one I took about 3 days after we arrived here in May 2006. It seems so long ago now ...

"My back door looks too fat ..."

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Morangos com Açucar

It's Portuguese for "Strawberries with Sugar" and is the name of a long running kids' soap opera on Portuguese TV - it's sort of half way between Grange Hill and Hollyoaks.

During the school summer holidays, it becomes Morangos com Açucar - Férias de Verão ("Summer Holidays") when the cast decants from their school in Lisbon to a resort on the Algarve and take their clothes off. Well not all of the cast: girls with fat thighs and hairy moles - only included in the fully clothed winter version of McA in a token nod in the direction of diversity - are left behind with the fat boys. If there were a summer holidays version of Eastenders, then Heather ('Ev) Trott would not be in it. Nor would Shirl or - and now I come to think of it, anybody. Not since Kara Tointon left, anyway ...

Thus, Anabela is guaranteed a suntan in Cascais this summer:-

... whereas Papoila can look forward to a summer of wiping tables at a motorway service station north of Santarem

Anyway, I've digressed - how did I get on to this? Oh yes, Morangos, naturally I have no interest whatever in watching skimpily clad teenage girls (especially once the fat and unattractive ones have been weeded out leaving only the svelte ones with tight sweaters and short skirts (Ooh! Suits you! Ooh!) for the middle aged viewer's delectation), no, it's because McA has CeeFax 888 subtitles and thus it's a good Portuguese lesson.

Seriously - tonight I learned that se não te importares means "if you don't mind" (said to someone you're on familiar terms with). And cheira tão bem means "smells really good" in the context of cooking. And if you think that's not very important to know, there are often lots of things cooking smelling really good (if you don't me mind saying) when you walk down the main street of Fajã Grande around lunchtime. In fairness, my Portuguese is not so bad that I didn't know that these expressions would be something like that but you always have to be careful that some idiom in English doesn't translate exactly into Portuguese. So it's great to be able to watch the subtitles on McA and get confirmation.

I wonder what's the Portuguese for "You're damn right it is" (Pois e?) in the context of the reply to "Do you think my arse is too fat to get a part in McA - Ferias de Verão?"

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Ruling Britannia - just say no

There was an election to Scotland's devolved (autonomous) parliament on Thursday and, though it pains me greatly to even think about it, it was won handsomely by the Scottish National Party - that's the lot that want Scotland to become fully independent of the United Kingdom which  I don't approve of.

The new political map of Scotland - SNP is yellow.
The SNP's win can legitimately be called a landslide in that they've even managed to win a majority of the seats in the Scottish Parliament (since 2007 they've been governing as a minority administration) in an electoral system designed to make it very hard for any party to gain an outright majority. They got 45% of the popular vote and 69 out of the 129 seats in Parliament, up 23 from last time.

Of course, there will now be no living with their leader, the unbearably smug Alex Salmon pictured above boarding his campaign helicopter (dubbed "Saltire One" by the media) to fly off to a presidential style victory accolade on the lawn of a hotel in Edinburgh yesterday afternoon.

There is inevitably renewed talk of a referendum on Scottish independence in the course of this parliament. (There was talk of it in the last parliament too but it was shelved due to recession etc. - very much a case of every cloud, say I.) But console yourself by recalling the SNP only won 45% of the vote on Thursday and not everyone who votes SNP believes in independence. So we're a bit away from Scotland seceding from the United Kingdom yet. I hope.

On the subject of referendums, there was one on Thursday, throughout the UK, on changing the UK electoral system. At present, it's very simple - the candidate with the most votes in a constituency (area of the country which sends a member to parliament) wins: he/she doesn't need a majority and could be elected with just, say, 20% of the vote if the next man got 19%. And what's more nobody else gets into parliament to make up for this lack of majority.. (I'm talking here about our "lower house", the House of Commons. Our other house, the House of Lords - our Senate - is not elected.)

This system tends to favour the two biggest political parties, Labour (centre left) and Conservative (centre right) who win disproportionately large numbers of seats in parliament compared to their percentage of the national vote. This is at the expense of smaller parties like the Liberal Democrats (centre centre) and Greens. And because it's effectively a two horse race, British elections usually produce a majority in parliament for one of the big two. Hence the Lib Dems, as Britain's perpetual third party, are always banging on about changing the electoral system.

So, when the 2010 election, unusually, produced no majority for Labour or Conservative, the Lib Dems made it a condition of entering the coalition with the Cons that there be a referendum on changing the voting system to something called "Alternative Vote" - God knows what it is or how it works but it's something a bit more like proportional representation and designed to match the seats won in parliament a bit more closely to the parties' shares of the national vote.

And I'm very pleased to say the result was that the British public (God bless 'em!) rejected any change by a margin of 2 to 1. This is a very satisfactory consolation prize for the SNP having won in Scotland.

Politics is a frightful enough business as it is and any move towards more coalitions, involving even more compromising and cutting deals instead of just saying "We've got a majority and this is what we're going to do and if you don't like it you can vote us out in 5 years time", is a bad thing as far as I'm concerned.

The loss of the AV referendum has left the Lib Dems and it's strangely eye-browed leader, the Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg looking a right pillock to put it mildly.

There's a paradox about Lib Dem voters. A lot of them have slagged off hapless little Clegg for the compromises he made on LD policies to join the coalition with the Conservatives. This is reckoned to have cost them a lot of votes in the Scottish election with a lot of their voters having defected to the SNP. But making compromises is part and parcel of being in a coalition. It's routine in many European countries e.g. Germany which has an endless succession of coalitions and political parties' manifestoes are more in the nature of wish lists rather than pledges. We Brits are just not used to that which is the norm elsewhere. Electoral reform (= greater likelihood of coalitions and all that that implies) is a central plank of LD policy so why do their supporters have a go at Cleggy when he does what has to be done to enter into one? WTF?

Anyway, it's all academic now considering we've voted a resounding "No" to changing the system. And we know what we'll be voting in the next referendum (Scottish independence), don't we?

If the prospect of never having to see that fat smirking face again isn't enough to make you vote "No" then I don't know what is.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Wedding Fever

I must say that the question which is exercising me the most in the run up to the wedding is not what her dress is going to be like (couldn't give a toss) but which royal dukedom will be conferred on Prince William.

The odds being offered on the various options by one firm of bookmakers are as follows:-

4/7 - Duke of Cambridge
7/2 - Duke of Monmouth
4/1 - Duke of Clarence
9/2 - Duke of Sussex
8/1 - Duke of Connaught
12/1 - Duke of Kendal
14/1 - Duke of Windsor

Let's analyse these in turn:-

Cambridge - Several short lived infant sons of James Stuart, Duke of York (as in "Grand Old ...") who later became King James II (1685-88) were styled Duke of Cambridge but the last adult dukes were Prince Adolphus, the 7th son of King George III (as in "The Madness of ..."), and his (Adolphus') son, Prince George (pictured below) who died without male heirs in 1904.

Monmouth - Do me a favour! The last (and so far only) Duke of Monmouth was executed for high treason in 1685! He was the illegitimate son of King Charles II (1649-85). After his father's death without legitimate children, Monmouth, a Protestant, led a rebellion to prevent the accession of the late king's brother, the Catholic Duke of York as James II. He figured a Protestant bastard would be more acceptable to the populace than the legitimate Catholic heir but figured wrong and got his head chopped off for his pains. Not a very auspicious precedent for Prince William.

Clarence - This has some potential in precedent (important to the royal family) because the last Duke of Clarence was the last royal duke to be in the same position as Prince William - i.e. the grandson who is the eldest son of the eldest son of the current monarch.

He was Prince Albert, the eldest son of Edward, Prince of Wales, the eldest son of Queen Victoria who became King Edward VII (1901-1910). The problem is Prince Albert died in 1892, aged 28, while his grandmother was still on the throne. So this may not be considered a good omen for Prince William (aged 29). The Duke of Clarence was also the one thought to be Jack the Ripper so perhaps best avoided.

Sussex - the last (and only) Duke of Sussex was Prince Augustus, the 6th son of King George III. He died in 1843 without heirs but a nice portrait:-

Connaught - Having a laugh? This title was conferred on Queen Victoria's third son, Prince Arthur, in 1874 but Connaught is in the part of Ireland which seceeded from the United Kingdom in 1922. Although we now recognise that as the Republic of Ireland, it's about as likely as creating Prince William the Duke of Zimbabwe. Tchoh!

Kendal  - Not sure where this has come from. Never heard of a Duke of Kendal before. According to Wikipedia: "The titles of Earl of Kendal and Duke of Kendal have been created several times, usually for people with some connection to the royal family." It's a small town in the Lake District best known for Mint Cake, isn't it? No, No, Kendal won't do at all.

 Windsor - This was the title created for King Edward VIII after he abdicated in 1936 to marry a divorcee. An American divorcee to boot. A most inauspicious precedent so a complete no-hoper for William.

What we're looking for is the dukedom borne by the last eldest son of an eldest son of a reigning monarch who went on to become monarch himself. And I just don't think it's ever happened before. King Edward VIII (vide supra) was the eldest son of the eldest son of King Edward VII but he was only 16 and unmarried and still styled Prince Edward of Wales when his father became King George V and he was catapulted straight to being Prince of Wales.

So what they need is a new title of appropriate woody-ness, grandeur and seniority. I would suggest Duke of London. If his father is Prince of Wales and his grandfather (the sovereign's husband) the Duke of Edinburgh, then why can't the next most senior member of the royal family be the duke of the capital? Or if you don't like that, what about Duke of Belfast? (As he's going to be King Billy one day, they might as well start getting the Irish used to it now.) 

Of course, we could think the unthinkable and not give William any title at all. Indeed, there are rumours he's asked not to be created a duke and remain as plain Prince William of Wales. But there's a problem with that in that Waity-Katie would not become Princess Catherine but Princess William.

This is because one can only be born a princess, not become one by marriage. The wife of a prince is Princess Husband's Name (as in Princess Michael of Kent). That is unless the sovereign creates you Princess Your Own Name as the queen did for Princess Alice, wife of the Duke of Gloucester (third son of King George V) in recognition of her lifetime of public service. But if W-K were to be created Princess Catherine, then Princess Michael of Kent would want to be called Princess whatever her actual name is and who knows where all that would end ... (And before anyone mentions it, she wasn't Princess Diana, she was Diana, Princess of Wales which is totally different.)

Oh well, we'll find out on Friday morning. See you on the balcony at Buck House afterwards.