March!

Even the media reckon there were around 700,000 people on yesterday’s march. That may well mean there were more. Certainly the streets were full, the mood good. A feeling of solidarity with people you don’t know about a situation that is all wrong.

I’m not saying we all agreed. I am not convinced yet about a second vote though I am slowly moving in that direction. My outrage is with the first vote where we know the rules were broken by the Leave campaign. In my eyes that is enough to suspend the whole process. Carrying on is a slap in the face for democracy, and democracy around the world has had its face slapped a lot in the past few years.

Trafalgar Square

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Monday Miscellany

I was watching Krishnan Guru-Murthy on Channel 4 news interviewing a woman in Syria who is sticking absolutely to one line. Krishan is polite but insistent when she claims that her side is suffering few casualties. He’s witnessed the fighting, the casualties cannot be as minimal as she suggests. It’s frustrating all round; for Krishnan who isn’t getting answers; for the interviewee who is not a fluent English speaker.

The gap between different sides is evident in so many of the arguments we see on the news. Brexit is once more grabbing headlines. I just heard that dread phrase ‘the will of the people’ again a few minutes ago. It’s a phrase that simultaneously makes me rage and makes me depressed. The will of the people is presumably all the people. So as the referendum result was so close, I cannot see any justification for a Hard Brexit regardless of what Jacob Rees-Mogg and his 61 cronies want; talk about the tail trying to wag the dog.

Across the pond there has been yet another school shooting, where a young man with evident mental health issues combined with a taste for guns and the politics of the far right killed seventeen of the students at the school from which he had been expelled. This is horrific on so many levels. It seems that concerns were raised about this youth; this massacre could have been avoided. We have seen composed and articulate survivors speaking out against the culture of guns in the US, we have seen less of survivors who have injuries that will scar their bodies as well as their minds for the rest of their lives. Continue reading

Thoughts from Luton Airport

So far so good. Up betimes thanks to MasterB who anticipated the alarm by two minutes, making me wonder if he some special sense of when it’s about to go off. Breakfasted, showered, cat litter replaced, coffee grounds and banana skins deposited in the garden compost bin, crockery washed up and put away, and, with MasterB’s inimitable aid, bed stripped and remade with clean linen for Birgit.
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Imagine

Although I bought my copy of today’s Guardian shortly after breakfast, I didn’t look at more than the headlines until late afternoon. I was working, outside, on what must have been the coldest day this autumn, wrapped in warm layers, particularly blessing my thermal vest. Afterwards I went for lunch with a  friend in a blissfully warm and unassuming Italian cafe near Borough High Street,  away from the end that attracts visitors in their thousands these days. I could go on about how much Borough has changed in the time of my south London tenure, but I’ll leave that for another time and space.

At home, and after playing with MasterB and feeding him, I reached for the paper. For those of you unfamiliar with Saturday’s Guardian I should perhaps explain it has a number of sections. The main news section today was bulky, but I have found the news this week so profoundly depressing, and the attack on the mosque in Egypt so awful, I couldn’t bear to start there. As is my habit I flicked through the sports section to see if there were any pieces about women’s sports. The Guardian is a liberal paper, it’s right on about so many many things, but does not seem to comprehend that  its sports section caters almost exclusively for admirers of male athletes. You could be forgiven when you look at it for thinking that women have yet to hitch up their skirts and play tennis, and that there are no women to be lauded and  admired for their sporting achievements outside the four yearly fest that is the Olympics. Today one story about women’s football. But the lack of reporting on women’s sport is another subject for a different day.

The Family section which I always make a beeline for failed to thrill; I flicked through the magazine noting several long articles I shall read in a day or two. The food section has some nice lentil recipes I am extremely unlikely to make, so that’s now en route to my neighbour Jolita. Nothing in the travel section grabbed me, and I always keep the Review until last – apart from the crossword which I messed up almost immediately. Continue reading

Blogsy be Kind

Will Blogsy be kind tonight? I don't know. I hope so, but the internet signal goes from weak to disappeared so maybe not.

For the record, it's Saturday night. I am sitting in the forecabin with a blanket over my legs and I am warm and cosy. MasterB is on the bed where he has spent most of the day after being extraordinarily vocal for extraordinarily long amounts of time during the night.

I slept in once he allowed me to sleep at all.

He has had shore leave, two lots in fact. One he decided quite quickly he wanted to get back on board, the other he was looking increasingly confident, had just dug a shallow hole and squatted down when a couple approached from the far end of the marina. I thought they were heading for a car, but no they continued towards us, presumably going to the pub a mile or so away. MasterB lowered himself to his belly and scuttled back to the boat and the indoor facilities.

Earlier I went to the organic farm and bought some salad. There wasn't much in the shop. An architect called Colin who I met in the car park explained the lack of rain has held growth back. He started the conversation by asking me if I came there often, a cliché so hackneyed I wasn't sure what he meant. It turns out he helps at the farm once a week and is married. By some curious chemistry we quickly devined each other as non Tory Remainers. That's how I came to stand in the April sunshine for a good thirty minutes clutching the money I still owed to the shop's honesty box while we agreed on almost everything. There was a sticky moment when he asked if the Daily Mail was my newspaper. To dignify the Mail by calling it a newspaper is several steps too far in my book.

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One of the Fifteen Per Cent

This mural on the south west end of Waterloo Bridge makes me sad.

Euro

Nine months on, Brexit is still something that makes me feel bereaved. Maybe it always will. It felt like a knife turning in a wound when the letter triggering article 50 was delivered to the EU. The same week that letter was written, Nicola Sturgeon announced she would be calling for second referendum on Scottish independence. That call has now been endorsed by the Scottish parliament. Sturgeon’s critics shrugged and rolled world weary eyes. Of course she wants another referendum they said, the Scottish Nationalists are party with just one goal. which is by and large true, and it certainly would have been a big surprise had the Yes vote won by a narrow margin and the Scots Nats wanted a second referendum just to make sure the country hadn’t changed its mind.

Teresa May’s rebuke about disunity, and  Scotland’s foolish notion of leaving the UK, her greatest trading partner, caused some hollow merriment, as that is exactly what she and her sidekick David Davis are determined to to do taking the UK out of the EU. Continue reading

Prophylactic Names and Parliamentary Responsibility

I don’t think I could ever fall in love with a man called Nigel, or Donald. They are names that just don’t do it for me. Try imagining passionate moments with a man with either name. “Oh Nigel!” “Oh Donald!” No. It sounds like something from a bad sitcom. Comedy names; cartoon ducks.

Shame the parents of the current prominent owners of these names didn’t just practise safe sex rather than landing their offspring with prophylactic names. Maybe the new US President parades his family so often to show how against the odds, and I am not just talking about his name now, he has managed to persuade three women to have sex with him.

That Nigel Farage has also children makes me realise there is no accounting for tastes.

But I do find it incredible that family men can be so cavalier with the future of the planet. On the news tonight there was footage of Trump signing a document that could mean the go ahead to oil pipelines. He chooses to ignore the evidence about climate crisis and puts all our lives, all life, in jeopardy, spouting figures for jobs that presumably he has just made up as no one else has those figures, as though jobs now make up for the loss of polar bears tomorrow. Continue reading

Of Trains, Boats, Brexit, Bombing and Neanderthal Attitudes

My short ride to the mainline station turned into a slow crawl across the capital. In theory, taking a train should have meant a fourteen minute journey that circumvented the clogged roads at rush hour. The driver kept as informed with a practised and resigned calm; red lights delaying our arrival at Blackfriars; a train ahead with technical problems preventing us from reaching Farringdon. I had expected to have time to kill at King’s Cross, maybe buy a coffee, admire the roof for the nth time. Instead I raced over the road from St Pancras International, found my train on the departure board, wove through the crowds and made it with just two minutes to spare.

Older Nephew is meeting me I hope at Cambridge station. We’re off to winterise das Boot, which means going to the pump out at Ely and probably lunching in a pub there, returning to the marina, emptying the water tank and adding anti-freeze to the engine. I’m hoping it’s more relaxing than the first part of the journey.

We shall doubtless talk Brexit and Trump. Now, most of you will be aware that there was a referendum in June over whether to stay in or leave the EU. I, like 48% of those who voted, wanted to remain. The question was a simple stay or leave. But somehow the government led by the redoubtable Theresa May, has decided that parliament should have no say in the niceties of how we leave the EU, what our leavetaking should be. No, she says, there will not be a discussion along the way, The Country Has Spoken and we must respect that decision. OK, fair enough, it was a slender majority, but it was a majority and much as I should prefer to remain an EU citizen to the end of my days, I reluctantly accept that is not to be. But people did not vote on immigration. Or if they did, they were answering a different question to the one asked. They did not vote on remaining in or out if the single market; on freedom of movement or pan-European health care. Some people will have voted so the 350 million pounds claimed by the leave campaign could go to our beleaguered and beloved NHS. Funny how that money does not seem to play any part in the post Brexit world. Instead leading Conservatives are talking about stopping foreigners taking ‘our’ jobs. The proposal by Amber Rudd that businesses should report on how many foreign passport holders work for them was roundly denounced and dropped amid assurances that we had misunderstood. The fact that this was background to my reading of The Hare With Amber Eyes made it all the more sinister for me. If you don’t know the book I urge you to read it. Aunt Nessa, who died nearly two years ago, sent it to me and it has sat on my shelves until now, a little bit of unsuspected golden treasure. It’s a memoir by Edmund de Waal, a ceramicist based in London. He is descended from a banking family. A Jewish banking family. The hare in the title is a netsuke, one of a collection made by his ancestor Charles Ephrussi in the nineteenth century. Continue reading

Strange Times

I saw Michael Gove yesterday. He saw me too, but I doubt if he’s blogging about it. He wouldn’t know me from a hole in the road. It was at Westminster tube station, late in the afternoon and it looked like he was heading into the Palace of Westminster. Maybe he’s got some prep to do before next week’s party conference and decided to do it when fewer people were about. I don’t know what his popularity ratings are, but I’d be surprised if people are rushing to sit with him in the canteen.

He didn’t look great; rather pudgy, as though he’s been comfort eating. Ah well. It’s not every day you do your bit to lead your country to a disastrous referendum vote and then find yourself voted out of power. I am indebted to Ken Clarke, words I never thought to type or say, for his pithy summing up of the situation in which we find ourselves. It is bizarre that I and people like me who voted remain are now hoping and praying that we can make leaving the EU work, while those who voted leave snipe from the sidelines and demand that the things they thought they voted be enacted in every tiny detail. Ken is a heavyweight survivor of the Thatcher era. Not my favourite politician, though perhaps I should be careful what I say as his London pad isn’t so very far from my own abode. However, according to Sky News, this is what he said.
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