The Coronavirus Diaries, 8th September 2020

It’s hard to think of the current incumbent of Number 10 and his coterie of chancers and liars as governing. Self-interest, self-aggrandisement, and a bloated sense of entitlement are their chief characteristics, while scapegoating, gaslighting and bullying are their chief tactics.

It is doubtless to draw attention away from their sorry record that they have decided to start EU bashing again. Johnson’s reaction to a well-briefed, well-prepared Starmer at PMQs has been to thrash around, dish out lies and insults and then tell his circle he wants them to dig for any dirt that can be found in Starmer’s record. Not exactly statesmanlike conduct. You don’t have to dig for dirt on Johnson. It clings to him, like layers of clothing. Digging for veracity and honour would be the hard task.

So today in Parliament a Tory MP, one Brandon Lewis, said that the government will break international law on the EU Withdrawal Deal but “only in a very specific and limited way”. Which however you read it still means breaking the law. Is this going to be the new formula for appeal for all those currently locked up in our over-crowded jails? “Yes, we have broken the law, but only in limited and specific ways, so therefore it doesn’t count”? Continue reading

The Coronavirus Diaries, 1st July 2020

It was good to sleep on a good mattress. The one on das Boot is not the most comfortable. It’s ok for a few nights, but much longer and my back starts to complain. I have had a busy day doing various tasks that individually aren’t much, but together make me feel I have achieved quite a lot. So another batch of washing went on the line, dried and was ironed before the rain came. It seems that we are in for a few days of grey skies and scattered showers. Better than the 40C days we are told will soon be part of the British summers.

I looked at a flat today, one that’s for sale locally. The location is great but it’s out of my price range by quite a bit and needs work. It was worth looking at though as it confirmed my my belief that I shall not be able to buy what I should like in my neighbourhood. So it’s back to thinking about my mental health day destination. I think another excursion there very soon is called for. A conversation with a work colleague about when and if our work will ever return underlined the thought. But she also told me about some steps she has taken to keep an online presence, sent me a taster and I think I may have to experiment. It was quite exciting.

I had a brief trip to a shop and came back with a new face mask. I’m getting quite a collection. I met Celia in the street and showed it to her. I think she may get one like it too, although yesterday she bought a box of disposable ones. I am still tempted by a linen top I have seen online, o maybe mask buying will be a distraction. It’ll certainly be cheaper. Continue reading

The Coronavirus Diaries, 19th June 2020

I’m still filtering and percolating (yes, I do like coffee, how did you guess?) my thoughts about Coronavirus and Black Lives Matter, plus there’s more than a soupçon of anxiety, more like a ruddy great tureen, about Brexit. Celia passed me Charlie’s copy of The Economist as she does most weeks. I have surprised myself by finding it, at least in parts, very readable. Also some starkly shocking stories.

I had never before heard of 1488 as a white supremicist reference. But there was a short piece about an app developed in the US which you can use to identify symbols and insignia and discover if they are to do with the Antifa or Aryan Nations. The 14 refers to the number of words in the slogan, “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children”. That is blood chilling enough, but 88 refers to the letter H, the eighth in the alphabet, so 88 translates as HH meaning Heil Hitler. Meaning there are still people about who would happily commit genocide and replicate the worst aspects of the Third Reich. There was a little light relief in the piece when it was explained that the app, VizPol, when tested in London, identified the writers’ children as white supremicists after confusing Peppa Pig, “a cartoon character of unknown political leanings”, with Pepe the Frog, an alt right mascot.

Another piece about the death of Burundi despot Pierre Nkurunziza, possibly from coronavirus, though the official version says heart attack, says few are likely to mourn him. He became president in 2005, but when his term of office came to an end he refused to go. I had a sudden horrible vision of Boris Johnson remaining Prime Minister for the rest of my life. There are so many things, self inflicted disasters, that have occurred in the UK over the past few years which in the sunny days of my youth I would have said could never happen here, that the prospect of Johnson going on and on, blustering and bluffing, lying and obfuscating, siring more and more children, no longer seems completely impossible. Continue reading

Happy Non Brexit Day

I thought tonight’s post would be about the cemetery again, maybe it will be later on. It is, after all, Hallowe’en.

But then I saw something on Twitter I just have to share. It made me laugh, but it is very close to the bone. Although people voted Leave in 2016 for a variety of reasons, some more noble than others, it has become increasingly apparent that it is a small group of already very rich people who will benefit, while the rank and file who made the mistake of believing in unicorns, will suffer.

But tomorrow I shall still be an EU citizen. Actually I shall still be one even if we continue on the disastrous path to leave as it turns out I have been an Irish citizen since birth. Thanks Mother. Good one. Continue reading

Liars, Charlatans, and Democracy in Peril

The last few days in Parliament have seen some extraordinary scenes. Boris Johnson, a man who seems determined to drag the office of Prime Minister through the mire, has repeatedly used disrespectful and inflammatory language. He has dismissed the fears of MPs of the death threats, rape threats, arson threats they and their families have received. “Humbug”was Johnson’s response, apparently seeing this as some kind of joke. He even referenced Jo Cox, the MP murdered by a member of the Alt Right who shouted “Britain first” as he killed her, and said she would have wanted us to ‘get on’ with Brexit. BS.

Others have suggested riots if we do not leave the EU on 31st October. Suggested these riots almost as a threat, almost as a call for riots.

I have been on a number of pro EU marches since June 2016. They have been characterised by good humour, politeness, warmth. They had a family feel. There have been dogs and children, wheelchair users. They have made me proud to be British at a time when my country, which I love, has been tearing itself apart.

I stood at Trafalgar Square over a year ago and, as I waited for the friends I was hoping to join, struck up a conversation with a a French family visiting London. They were warm in their admiration of the way this huge crowd was behaving. I have been with Americans who have taken photograph after photograph, and then decided they wanted to join in, be part of this. These marches, these demonstrations, have fostered such good feeling, such warmth from foreigners who had wondered whether London was a safe place to visit in these febrile times.

There have been no arrests. At the largest march over one million people of all ages walked together, calm, courteous even when abuse was shouted by the odd Brexiteer who had turned up to jeer. Some people tried to engage with the Brexiteers, to speak to them. They were repaid with swearing and threats, not dialogue.

I have only witnessed a Brexiteer demonstration by accident. There were only a small number of demonstrators, but they were loudly aggressive, threatening. One wore a Donald trump mask while others sang “We love you Donald, oh yes we do.” As a Remainer, I would not have liked to challenge them. The outcome would almost certainly have been violent. More than one person has said that Brexit has become like a religion, a particularly fundamentalist religion, where questioning and discussion, let alone disagreement, is treated as blasphemy and quickly suppressed, the questioner demonised.

This is a dangerous development. Democracy is a delicate creature. Look at history and see how many times people who thought they were secure were forced to flee their homes with nothing when anti-democratic, often populist, movements silenced debate and demanded adherence to a particular ideology; when the people comes to mean only people who belong to a certain group. Continue reading

Pants on Fire

A beautiful but cold evening here in London tonight. I’ve spent the day at home, not travelling far in any direction but still overachieving my daily step count goal. There were local elections across the U.K. this week. Boris Johnson, a London based politician whose acquaintance with truth is fairly loose, tweeted that he had been out to use his vote. Only when it was pointed out to him that there were no elections in London for him to vote in, did he take that tweet down. There was surprisingly little coverage of this. BoJo, like Farage, gets an astonishingly easy ride in the media. Or maybe it’s just that we are so used to BoJo’s pants being on fire* we don’t think of it as news anymore.
When the results came through it was clear that the Tories were massive losers, over a thousand council seats down. Labour lost around about a hundred, but all the news I listened to kept repeating that both main parties had suffered great losses. I’m not saying Labour did well, their losses compared to the Tories were in a different scale. Continue reading

Keeping it Sane

It’s been a busy week and a productive one. No, I am not talking about Brexit, though a new extension has been granted by the long-suffering EU until October. It sounds a good amount of time, six whole months, but once you subtract the days the house isn’t sitting it’s more like three. Mark Francois has made an arse of himself (again) by making threats to the EU and reading poetry aloud very badly, yet some people think he should lead the Tory party. Hello? Theresa May, whose air miles must be enough to get her to the moon and back by now, returned to the house and made the same speech again. Is it obstinacy, lack of imagination, or a plan to just wear people down? She does an aggressive upward look, reminiscent of Princess Diana, across the floor of the house to anyone who dares contradict her. Whatever the question was, Brexit is not the answer. Tonight, when the news was on, I deliberately left the room to avoid seeing the Farago announcing his new Brexit party with Jacob Rees-Mogg’s sister Annunziata on side as a prospective candidate. Some huge percentage of the adult population says it is suffering from Brexit related stress and anxiety. Tell me about it. I wake up from dreams about it.
Anyway, it’s Friday night and time for a bit of a break, though I fully intend to watch Have I Got News For You at nine o’clock, and I have already listened to the News Quiz. It’s like a itch I can’t help scratching. As though Brexit anxiety wasn’t enough, I have been worried about MasterB for the last couple of days. He has been under the weather, sleeping hugely, not nagging me much to play, taking only a cursory interest in his food. This morning, before I went to work, I rang the vet practice and talked to one of the nurses, describing his symptoms. If she told me to keep a close eye on things once, she told me a dozen times. Being Chief Litter Tray Monitor, I am well versed in MasterB’s bowel movements. Normally his digestive system functions admirably well, just the odd pungent smell from his hind quarters when he is sitting beside me, or the popping sound of wind breaking in tiny bursts. So I was able to say that yesterday’s deposit was less solid than usual. Today’s was even less solid than yesterday’s, so it seems something has upset his tum. I’m hoping he’s on the mend now as he has just led me to the kitchen and had a few mouthfuls of the wet food in his bowl, and his interest in biscuits has definitely returned. So long as it’s nothing serious, a few days of restricted calories might be just what he needs to shift the stubborn superfluous 500g he’s carrying.

 

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Prescient

Some people are saying they had no idea the country would be in reduced to such a state by the 2016 referendum and its result.

Where were they looking? What were they thinking? I have a little crystal ball someone gave me but I have never managed to see anything in it. But clicking on the related posts after the last one I wrote, I was struck at how prescient they were. Which suggests to me it was all pretty obvious then as I am no political pundit. Mind you I didn’t foresee Theresa May being praised for her heroic sacrifice of her career, praise that she put the country first because of her strong sense of duty. Call me naive, but I should expect any Prime Minister’s first priority, first loyalty, to be to the country, not their own career path. Perhaps that is why we are in the state we’re in now with Boris Johnson or Michael Gove being talked about as future Prime Minsiters, people we know have no scruples and enormous ambition. Theresa May has been quite happy to sacrifice 48% of voters who took part in the referendum, to sacrifice honesty and fair dealing by upholding the result and calling the dirty dealing regrettable, quite happy to sacrifice jobs and livelihoods of people who already have less than little.
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Back to Brexit

You would think that there had been no march on Saturday, no five million plus signatures on a petition asking for Article 50 to be revoked. Europe is talking about it, the world is talking about it, the UK government isn’t. No. The day after the march our esteemed Prime Minister met renowned Brexiteer MPs, people who would be quite happy to leave the EU with no deal. The Prime Minister followed this meeting up with a speech where she spoke about the British People (yep, they’re being evoked again but apparently my birth certificate lies and I am not one of them) and how they would not countenance not leaving the EU. No mention of the march, the petition, the fact that the referendum was advisory and not binding, and had it been binding it would have been declared void because of illegal activity by the Leave campaign.
Not. A. Word.
There’s the usual baloney about respecting the ‘will of the people’ respecting ‘the result of the referendum’. Nothing about respecting those who march peacefully, who follow the rules, who do not threaten civil disruption, public mayhem if this goes ahead, who engage in debate not rhetoric and meaningless slogans. Continue reading

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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