One of the Fifteen Per Cent

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


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.
Continue reading

Gun Culture and the Ginger Ninja Calendar 2017

Given I have rather more work to complete than is good for me, I have had a rather gentle day. I caught up with some of yesterday’s paper. There were thoughtful pieces, an interview with Jeremy Corbyn I could not bring myself to read, a piece about very small gardens I have put aside to read later, comment about the presidential race in the US. This picture caught my eye.



Continue reading

So Why the Long Face?

The weather, work and pleasure have conspired to create a pleasant week. It’s been warm and sunny suggesting that Summer may be catching up belatedly on her duties to ripen the corn, make us smile and allow the baring of feet.

Work has taken me to interesting places, and MasterB, intimidated by two new young cats on the block, has needed my reassurance and company in the garden, meaning I spent a relaxed hour or so reading my book by the cherry tree when I got home this evening.

Hampton Court Flower Show has been strutting its stuff. I didn’t have tickets, but I did visit the palace which was wonderfuly empty while the horticulturalists and other thrill seekers examined the exhibits and stocked up on plants.Entrance gates Hampton Court palace
I caught some of it on the television and was very taken with a pergola made from the splayed branches of a dead tree reaching toawrds each other lke etoliated fingers. I was hoping to find a picture online but no luck so far. If you were there and you have posted a picture, please do put a link to it in the comments box. Continue reading

One Week On

This whole media access thing is very strange. I know I have comments on the blog, because I have had notifications via my ‘phone (battery how dead), but I cannot view them or answer them via my iPad because despite positive bars apparently the signal strength is insufficient. It was also insufficient last night when I posted via Blogsy, which is where I am typing now. Does Blogsy have some special deal with the internet? Why is it that nine times out of ten I can post from Blogsy but be unable to view anything else online? Not being technically savvy, these things bemuse and bother me.

Older Nephew came to das Boot today shortly after a text from Celia had alerted me to the fact that the Brexit narrative had again deviated from the expected path. This time it was the announcement that BoJo is not going to stand as a candidate to lead the Tories. Unable to face up to the crisis he has created, was Older Nephew’s opinion. I agree. Continue reading

Brexit Blues, Other Music and Even a Smile or Two

Three days on, and as I haven’t woken up to find I dreamt the whole thing, I think I have to accept that a slender majority of the UK population has voted to leave the EU, and it is going to happen. The fact that numbers of people who voted leave are now saying they only did so as a protest vote because they thought there was no chance of it happening is hardly comforting. Nor is the fact that there are growing reports of people being being told to ‘leave’ or ‘go home’ exactly reassuring. I wished I could remember Lenny Henry’s repatration gag about about how much it cost to get home to Dudley. Anyone got a link to it?

I want a badge that says I am one of the 48%, or perhaps the hashtag started by Jo Rowling #theindecentminority in response to the Farago saying it was a victory for decent people. As a London Remain voter I find myself now dismissed as a wealthy Prosecco swigging loft dweller who enjoys diversity as an exotic background to my rarified life and has no understanding of how ‘ordinary’ people live. I do swig Prosecco occasionally, but the rest is very wide of the mark.

Power Monkeys raised bitter smiles from me late on Friday evening while MasterB reacquainted himself with the garden and checked out the smells left by new cats in the neighbourhood. In time maybe I can rewatch the whole series and it’ll make me laugh again. Right now, I think I’d cry. Though I just rewatched this from a couple of weeks ago and laughed again, so maybe I should just head to Channel 4 on demand right now.

So long as Andy Hamilton and co keep writing there is some good in my country. And tomorrow I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue returns to Radio 4 for a new series.

Back to the Brexit emotions. One of the moments on the news that got to me the most was when President Hollande announced, in a good speech I felt, that la Grande Bretagne was no longer part of the EU. He should have said le Royaume Uni, or has it been decided that Northern Ireland can stay? It was a speech that I should have liked the politicians in this country to make.

Nicola Sturgeon has suggested the Scottish Parliament could throw a spanner in the works by refusing to agree to departure, and more than three million people have signed a petition started before 23rd June demanding a rematch if certain criteria were not met. The person who started this petition voted Leave and is now furious that it has been hijacked by Remainers. I think that is quite funny. Until Angela Merkel spoke up saying the UK should have some time to sort itself out, it seemed that the rest of Europe was going to demand the keys back tomorrow. These two songs started going round my head:

for the rest of the EU
and this for the Remainers

Continue reading

Back to BoJo and Trump

I am not the biggest fan of the Evening Standard. It’s a free rag that belongs to the same stable as The Daily Mail, that exemplar of spleen.

However, I picked up a copy tonight at the bus stop outside Waterloo station, returning from a day in the country. It was work rather than pleasure, but very enjoyable to be in Wiltshire.

The ES is not a demanding read, or at least only in the sense that one usually struggles to find anything worth reading. It is the perfect fit for the litter tray, and I use it on das Boot all the time. Tonight though, as I flicked through the pages I found this picture.

So yes, I’m back to BoJo and Trump, two politicians with so much in common, not least the attraction they have for otherwise sensible people. An American lady I met last week told me how much she liked BoJo. She also told me she disliked the new tall structures of glass and steel that are springing up across London. That’ll be Boris, I said. Her eyes widened. He has overruled local authorities fourteen times and given planning permission for very tall buildings, some in quite sensitive areas I explained. She leant forward and listened. This was obviously not the tousle-haired, lovable Boris of her imagination. Developers and that magazine no home should be without, Skyscraper News, love him. Read it if you don’t believe me. The man has done immense damage to London, and bar the cycle super highway, little good. Even the so-called Boris Bikes were a Ken initiative. Ah, Ken, another politician whose ego has destroyed him. He was a great Leader of the GLC, and for that I shall always have a residual affection for him, but he was a much less great mayor. Continue reading