Antisemites to the left of us, islamophobes to the right; let’s stick in the middle with EU

Only a few days to go before the general election and Boris Johnson has yet to take the opportunity to say anything truthful. He has also refused to be interviewed by Andrew Neil, presumably because he knows he would come out of it badly, though he might choose, as he did in the Leaders’ Debate, to make jokes when asked about the importance of truth. For most of us being caught telling lies in our professional lives would spell the end of our careers. Not so Johnson, his is a career built on lies. Lies are the key to his success. We all know he lies, he knows we know he lies, so if elected and it turns out – surprise! – he has again lied about the NHS, getting Brexit ‘done’, about the glorious and golden opportunities that will unfold once we have left the supportive embrace of the EU, well we knew in advance he wasn’t telling the truth, so how can we feel betrayed?
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Lessons From History: Tourism and Trump

I woke early this morning and remembered Trump had won the Presidential election. Further sleep was impossible. The television has been turned on in the room on other side of the wall behind my head, so I guess I am not the only one feeling a horrified fascination with the result.

We got an intimation of how it was going yesterday lunchtime at Federation Square where Vcki and I had headed via a boat that looked remarkably like das Boot, only quite a bit bigger.

 

There was a screen at the square, and the subtitles were reporting gains for Trump. We watched, appalled, for a few minutes, hoped it was wrong, and headed off on Trail 7, Victorian Melbourne. We moved swiftly from the big riverside buildings to homes that have been through cycles of varying status.

It maybe an evolutionary safety device to help us hold onto our sanity in the face of the unthinkable that allows us to inhabit several planes of thought at once.

I love the lace decorations on the older houses in Melbourne, and yesterday’s walk was full of them.

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A Week

I feel like someone who has got behind with her homework; no posts for a week, and the less I post the less motivated I am. Is this the beginning of the end, or just a bit of a pause? So just a few random thoughts about the last week or so while I catch up.

British politics continue to bemuse and frustrate me. Goodness only knows where or what the Labour party will be in twelve months time. Theresa May, our safe pair of hands, has suggested that people who live in homes where the government would like to frack could receive financial compensation. Sorry, but to me that makes no sense. Fracking makes no sense; the risks far outweigh the advantages, surely we should be investing in sustainable energy? And those people who live on that land are only the temporary custodians, the effects of fracking are something that future generations will have to deal with.

The local feline population has quadrupled over the last few weeks. The mystery of the pretty tabby has been solved, and she’s a he, so I got that wrong. My neighbour Wendy has been rather hoping he’s homeless, but it turns out he is called Romeo and is the loved cat belonging to the local Kurdish supermarket. The manager was both surprised and amused to learn Romeo has been exploring our garden. So that just leaves us wondering if the scruffy black cat with the white bib, the white and ginger cat, the two huge cats that look like pumas, have homes. The two fluffy black and white cats live over the wall; I think the smart (as in appearance, his IQ is questionable) black cat with the white bib is Johnny from over the road, and there seemed to be another tabby tonight. I am going to be on litter tray duty for a while yet.

But MasterB is still enjoying his new wobble biscuit toy, which from my point of view is great, as it doesn’t roll away and get hidden or stuck in awkward places round the flat.

Wobbly toy

Wobbly toy

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Of the Supervet, Trump, BoJo and the Brexiteers

It’s the usual story: I should like to be in bed, but just as I started to make tracks, MasterB, who has been feather hunting most of the evening while I tried to watch The Supervet, Noel Fitzpatrick, without crying (fail), decided it was time for him to go outside. Then we stood on the pavement for an eternity until he could be persuaded into the safety of the garden. There I left him and came indoors.

After The Supervet, Channel 4 had a programme I could not bring myself to watch about what it might be like if Donald Trump were to win the US presidential elections. Truly I can believe that western civilisation is on the rocks and terminal decline when a man such as Trump can be a serious (sic) contender for this job. Ditto that for BoJo as UK Prime Minister. Politics trivialised.

I did see an excerpt where Trump, or ‘the floss-haired one’, as he was described in the Guardian TV guide, declared that he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and not lose votes. Can you still run for President of the US when standing trial for murder? Or would his argument – and I use the term as loosely as he does – be that he doesn’t know the bullet killed the person, maybe they were dead before he fired. He has defended his aide who has been charged with bruising a journalist who wanted to ask Trump a question – imagine going into journalism and finding yourself having to do that; no wonder they call it Grub Street – by saying he doesn’t know if the bruises were there before, and that surely if the journalist’s arm had been gripped so hard as to cause a bruise he’d have expected her to cry out.

When I broke my wrist I didn’t cry out. Did that mean it was a fracture I had overlooked, and been carelessly walking and riding around with, but only admitted to once I had done my brief Superwoman flight and crash landed on the road? Continue reading

A Week

I may have to stop MasterB listening to the news; he seems to be adopting statesmanlike poses. What shall I do if he starts to brush his fur into an Osborne?

The Statescat

The Statescat


I just listened to Stephanie Cole reading one of Penelope Lively’s short stories, Licence to Kill. It had all the hallmarks of classic Lively – a certain dry tone, economy of words, acute observation and insight into the human condition. I want to write to her to say how much I have enjoyed her writing over the last thirty years, but I don’t think she’s on Linked In, and even if she is, I’m not.

There are a few fan mail letters I need to write; thank-yous to people whose writing has informed, entertained and enthralled me all my adult life. Katharine Whitehorn’s Observer columns made me want to read the newspaper. Clive James TV columns in the same newspaper introduced me to literate, crafted reviews.

If anyone knows where I can send the thank-yous, please tell me.
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In It Together

Maybe it’s the optimism of spring, but the general election is looking a lot more interesting now than it did back in January.

Sunny Boy

Sunny Boy


The leaders of the three main parties still look and sound like Stepford Wives and could probably make a mint selling recordings of their speeches to cure insomnia. Well not David Cameron. At least not for me. He does bad things to my blood pressure.

Sal of Greece, aka Japonica Flowers here in wordpress Land, says that when the anti-austerity party was elected to government in her adopted country people started smiling aagin.

It’s a comment that has stayed with me. The speeches I have heard from the three main parties have each extolled their party’s virtues as being the best to govern, but they don’t exactly make your heart sing. UKIP is about the politics of fear, and could cause a surge in prescriptions for anti-depressants, and we keep being told that the NHS is pretty hard up right now.

Increasingly I find I am paying attention to groups of people who are not standing for parliament but who are working to achieve change in different parts of the country. People like Focus E15 who grew out of a protest when a local council tried to disperse single mothers from a Newham hostel to private rentals 100 miles away; people like the New Economic Foundation “Economics as though people and the planet matter”. At times it feels like the spirit of Greenham Common still lives. Continue reading

Whose Country?

There’s a debate on the television tonight. I may or may not watch it. Probably not.

It’s billed as the leaders’ debate. Seven people who lead parties standing for election next month. I anticipate it will be an event where each of these leaders have several carefully crafted lines that they will at all cost say. I doubt very much whether we will be treated to a thoughtful discussion about how our country is, the choices we might make.

I watched George Osborne on Channel 4 News the other night. The experience was bad for my health. If you don’t know who George Osborne is, congratulate yourself on having escaped exposure to a man I described on Twitter as an oleaginous git.

I am hoping Natalie Bennet will at least be unscripted. She was ridiculed some weeks ago when she admitted not knowing the answers the questions she was asked. I found it quite refreshingly honest. Most politicians ride roughshod over their questioners just bleating out the lines their spin doctors have coached them to say.

I saw another interview with someone last night. I don’t recall his name, but he was part of the business community who say we should vote Tory because that would be best for the country. I really wanted him to define what and who he means by country. For I had a very strong feeling his country is composed of a small percentage of the population who have most of the wealth.

The mantra of there are more people in jobs and more jobs is a mantra full of holes.

Zero hours contracts are great for those people because they never have to live on them. Ed Miliband wants those on zero hour contracts for three months to have those contracts converted to permanent ones. This is either fudging the issue or showing a belief in human nature that is touching but probably misled. It would be all to easy to tell the employees their services weren’t needed after ten weeks.
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How Would Your Cat Vote?

I am rather disappointed that less than two weeks after the excitement that was the Scottish Referendum, UK politics has gone back to be mainly blah again. Last week Ed Milliband forgot to mention the deficit in his main speech at the Labuour Party Conference. Jon Snow grilled him with barely concealed exasperation, like a public school house master who is getting very tired of this student who continues to dither. I have some sympathy with Ed. I threw precious marks away in my finals when I was so confident in what should have been my best paper that I put all the frills into my essay but failed to include the main points. Something that occurred to me about ten minutes outside the exam hall and literally stopped me in my tracks. George Osborne, who I am still not convinced is a real person, gave a speech today where people on benefits were warned of more cuts, because we cannot ‘tax our way out of difficulty’. That’s not exactly what he said, but I didn’t have a notebook beside me and am not prepared to watch the speech again. It translates as ‘we shall leave people with money alone because they have power and influence and can make our lives uncomfortable. Also, we have money too, and cannot conceive of what it must be like to not have choices. Therefore those of you who fall into that category are not like us and do not qualify as human beings worthy of our sympathy and attention’. A few weeks ago someone wrote a long but brilliant piece in the Guardian about the City of London’s rôle in our country. We, as voters in a supposedly democratic country, think we choose our government and that our government is ultimately accountable to us. Step forward the City. The government is accountable to the City. Another interesting, but frankly depressing piece, was about how the country’s assets have been sold off; many now in the hands of other countries. We are effectively tenants in our our own land. So how did this get me to cats? Well. If you know me, or if you have followed this blog for a few years you will know that I adored Cat. He adopted me, opened my eyes to the pleasure of feline company, and made me reassess their position in relation to dogs. I should previously have classified myself as a Dog Lover. Actually, I should still classify myself as a Dog Lover. Nothing expresses joy in the world like a dog. Dogs are amazing, wonderful creatures who enhance our lives, give generously, empathise, protect us and remind us that loyalty can be bought by a sausage. Continue reading

UKIP? Oh Grow Up

It’s a strange time. A man who preaches the politics of fear has achieved creditable results in both the local and European elections. Across Europe the far right has done well. Racist, xenophobic, homophobic just-about-any-phobic parties have received lots of votes. Though not, sigh of relief and some pride, here in London, where we know a thing or three about living in ethnically, sexually diverse communities made up of people of all colours, creeds and nationalities. And hey, you know what? We like it. We don’t feel threatened. We reforge our national identities all the time as new influences enrich our lives.

The idea that Englishness is somehow immutable is a nonsense. It doesn’t take much understanding of history to know that.

I looked at my fellow passengers on the bus the other day after hearing yet another speech about how how national identity was threatened and I felt proud. The two women sitting front of me were in their early sixties, obviously friends, chatting about their families, their homes. One black, and from her accent from west Africa, the other south London to her core. There were school girls of different races, some wearing the hijab, giggling and jostling each other just as remember doing with my friends decades ago. Tuning into other conversations, there were a number I couldn’t understand. The languages sounded esatern European, but I wouldn’t know what they were.

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