Remain a Star

By twelve midday, when I was still with my clients, Parliament Square was already awash with banners. Cyclists were circling the square (sic) to the accompaniment of Electric Dreams, a song I have never really liked, but from now on shall listen to with affection. My clients, from the US, were captivated. In particular as we made our way into and across Green Park they were stopping to photograph banners, deriving special pleasure from any deriding Trump. We were supposed to part company at Trafalgar Square, but they stood and watched as marchers moved slowly by, banners and placards held aloft. There were some real corkers, and I am so cross that I forgot to charge my camera battery last night. I’ve got a few pictures on my ‘phone which will have to do.

We all agreed we were witnessing history, I intended to join the march, and I really shouldn’t be surprised to learn they joined in too. Finally they left to get some lunch and I sat by a statue and ate the salad I had brought with me. The woman beside me was German and we chatted. I said I was hoping to meet some neighbours, one of who is also German. Texts suggested they might be some time, then they said they were on Pall Mall, and we fixed a rendezvous by the lions in the square. There was a French couple beside me, and once they had made friendly eye contact a conversation started between us. French is my second language, and it may sound silly, but marching to say I want to remain in the EU, it felt positive to be able to converse with these fellow Europeans in their language.
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Welcome to the WeekEnd

The petition to revoke article 50 reached 3,000,000 at lunchtime. It’s now at 3,706,979 and I think it’s slowing down. There was a very uptight member of Leave Means Leave on channel4 news tonight who claimed it was open to fraud and that he personally had signed it three times within five minutes. Whether that is true or not, the excitement generated by this petition is wonderful, and it obviously has some ardent Brexiteers such as the oleaginous Farrago rattled.
Not that the Prime Minister has any intention of considering any changes to her deal. Is it lack of imagination? arrogance? stupidity? obstinacy?
Anyway, when I finish work at lunchtime tomorrow I shall be marching tomorrow for a People’s Vote, though whether I shall succeed in meeting any of my friends is doubtful. The sheer number of people last time meant I gave up and walked with strangers.
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A Sign of Hope

For some weeks now, due to the bizarre political situation in the UK, I have felt like I am living in a Tom Sharpe novel. You know the ones. He wrote them in the 1980s and most were set in a dysfunctional South Africa. I never expected those scenarios to feel like real life in the second decade of the C21 in this group of islands I call home.
For nearly three years since the ill thought out referendum about the UK’s future relationship with the EU, those of us who voted Remain have been sidelined. The Breat British Public and their Will apparently excludes us and our will. We have marched, we have demonstrated. Parliament has ignored us, despite our numbers. The Electoral Commission has ruled that the Leave campaign broke the rules. Utd all government could find to say was that it was ‘regrettable’ and the referendum result must be respected. The subtext of this was of course that anyone who voted to remain, who had not broken the rules could,in the eloquent phrasing of Mr B Johnson, ‘go whistle’.
Last night, with just nine days to go to the deadline, we seemed to reach a new low. At this rate our government will surely find itself tunnelling through to Australia soon. Faced with the complacent smirk of Mark Francois, a politician whose election to office brings the whole of our system into disrepute, his intellectual capacity being either so well hidden no one has seen it yet, or possibly non-existent, saying that he is quite happy about a no deal exit from the EU, I felt deep despair and helplessness. There is no effective opposition in Parliament, no one offering an alternative. I feel abandoned.
I tried reading my next book group book (Heartburn by Nora Ephron. For such a slim volume it is taking me a very long time to finish it) but my eyes kept sliding from the page.
I turned to Twitter in search of a hashtag game to lighten my mood, and found a petition. This is a screen shot of it from earlier this evening.
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Fine words butter no parsnips

Sunday night. Celia and Charlie have just gone home. We had supper together, good chat, good wine, great gin. Maybe more about the gin at a later date.

Like many we are still processing the events in Christchurch and our reactions to them. Such evil. How has this happened?

I have been impressed by articles I have read, mainly, but not all, in the Guardian, that ease us away from the idea of a lone gunman and open our eyes to the global movements of the far right. While not so nameless politicians have been pointing fingers at the threat of Islamic fundamentalists, the far right has been mobilising on a global scale, aided no little by those not so nameless politicians. So let’s name some of them: Trump, Erdogan, Goldsmith, May, Johnson, Farage, the BBC.

I’m not sure about Erdogan, but the others, save of course the Farrago, have issued statements expressing their sympathy, saying their prayers and thoughts are with those who were gunned down and their families. Just think about that for a moment. Think about May and Goldsmith’s slurs when Sadiq Khan was running for Mayor of London, how they said he would be a terrorist threat because he is Moslem. Johnson has made repellent remarks about women wearing hijabs. Trump, well, where do I start? The BBC hurts me more as it is an institution I have grown up respecting, but increasingly the ‘balance’ it offers on political programmes is tilted; I read it as a fearful response, a kowtowing to the vocal bullies, it has given a platform to some of the most hatefilled people of our time. This is not free speech. This is not the BBC I knew. This is not balance. Continue reading

Eight years on, pet remembrance day.

Next week 20th March it will be eight years since Freddy, aka Cat, aka Freddy the Gorgeous Boy, aka Monkey, died. My lovely boy. Again on the Sunday following the anniversary I shall be remembering him, and all the other animals who have enriched my life, by lighting a candle and raising a glass (or two). There’ll definitely be a toast to MasterB, Freddy’s very worthy successor. MasterB is Freddy’s legacy, and I love him as much as I loved Freddy. I am fortunate. Two cats, two treasures. Continue reading

Dandelion Days

I’m watching the news where we keep switching back to the Commons chamber where a series of votes are taking place. So far the House has voted against a No Deal Brexit, which is fine, but if the EU, understandably frustrated by the situation, decides it does not want to engage with this pantomime anymore we shall leave with a no deal.
I don’t want to leave at all.
However, it is all too likely that a month from now I shall be living in a country unmoored. Prices will go up but income will go down. We are warned of empty shelves in the shops. I can buy lentils and so on, but what of green veg? Well, the answer maybe dandelion leaves. I was doing a spot of weeding on Monday, and as I dug out some dandelion plants I noted their young green leaves. So I separated them from the other weeds, chopped off their roots, brought them indoors, washed them and popped them in the fridge. Continue reading

Eat vegan, eat tasty

I really should have known better, but sometimes a bargain seems a bargain, even though as I put it in my basket I calculate how many meals I could make from scratch for the same price. So when I visited a branch of Tesco hoping to buy some spring greens I should have looked at the vegan macaroni cheese Reduced in p[rice), noted that it exists, and left it on the shelf. Maybe had I found those spring greens I might have done. I can buy spring greens in my local branch of Morrison’s, but the ones Tesco and Sainsbury’s sell are much greener, fresher, younger. But there were no spring greens and I was curious, I admit it, about the vegan macaroni cheese, or mac and cheese as it is increasingly called in supermarkets. (I was confused by this name for some time, wrongly assuming it was something to do with the hamburger chain, but it seems a passing fad to sex up a old, familiar, and much loved supper standby).
Well, I shan’t be buying it again. There’s bland, and then several degrees down the scale is Tesco’s vegan macaroni cheese. Fortunately I had some whole grain mustard at the ready and a tasty (home assembled) salad of watercress, spinach, pomegranate seeds, tomatoes, black olives, spring onion and avocado. Continue reading

New Toy

MasterB has a new toy. He likes it very much. It’s a gift from Octavia who read about it in a magazine at the vet surgery where she had taken the Grey Ninja for her annual check up. Normally Octavia would not read the magazines on offer, but she had forgotten her ‘phone. It’s a good thing I was sitting down when she told me: Octavia without her ‘phone? Unbelievable. I thought at the very least surgery would have been involved to achieve such a scenario.
It was a good outcome for the Grey Ninja and MasterB though as, in the said magazine, Octavia read about honeysuckle wood, an alternative to catnip, and something most cats love. As I said before, MasterB’s opinion was positive. It was also immediately evident.

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Winds of change

Nineteen days until the UK leaves the EU and we still don’t know how it’s going to work. Or not. Any pretence at smoothly running government has long since gone. In many ways this is far more interesting, and I do hope the same old familiar party lines will not reappear 30th March. Anyone who thinks that it’ll be over in any aspect is deluding themself. There is no sign of the fat lady waiting to grab the microphone, though quite a few people with megaphones and a lot of flags. The far right have (again) grabbed the Union flag. This does annnoy me. It’s my flag too and I don’t see why a bunch of nationalists should be allowed to wave it about as though they are its keepers.
So while flagged deprived, I have finally filled in my application for my Irish passport, having received an answer to my query about whether I could submit a witnessed copy of my UK passport rather than the real thing.
I am supping with Octavia, and she will witness my signature, sign my passport photos in which I look like the perfect candidate for the post of Rat Catcher in Chief, and endorse my photocopy.
Then it’s a matter of some six weeks wait. Continue reading

Finding my inner anorak

A couple of weeks ago on a gloriously sunny morning three of us joined a group of people on a platform at Ealing Broadway.
I don’t think I have been there before. We were given orange wristbands and then stood about, peering down the track, amid a buzz of happy chatter and an array of serious cameras.

On the platform

One of us was wearing an anorak, but it’s fair to say just being there our spiritual anoraks were on show.
For those of you not familiar with the term, an anorak is a lightweight waterproof jacket favoured by trainspotters. I’m presuming trainspotters exist the world over. If not, they are enthusiasts, usually male, who spend their free time on railway platforms noting the type and registration number of the trains arriving and leaving the station. They are not heroin addicts despite Danny Boyle’s celebrated film Trainspotting.

Like the term anorak, the film’s title has a wider meaning: people with a simple and often single-minded obsession with a single subject.
looking around we were surprised at the wide demographic represented. Some people had dressed up. We were going to ride on a 1930s tube train, one of the last journeys it will make on the network before new signalling makes it impossible.
These trains went out of service in the 1970s, I will have travelled on them on journeys across London, but by the time I came to live in the capital they were gone.

Later generations of underground trains shared some of the same features: the wooden floors like duckboards, the wooden panels, the hanging straps which look like upside down mini punchballs, the rounded profile, the red paint. All this brought on waves of memories.

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