The Brexit Effect – the Facts

I see that the Financial Times has at last weighed in with a film on the effects (mostly malign) of Brexit on the UK Economy. Well worth watching – but depressing as hell as an example of seeing a country indulging in an act of self-harm…

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UK Government in Chaos

Turmoil in the UK Parliament. Matt Green sums it up very well and exaggerates the situation only slightly.

Now that Truss has resigned after only 44 days as PM, the competition is on to find her replacement. Frankly, none of the candidates give me much hope, and I see that the appalling Johnson is likely to throw his hat into the ring. Be afraid, be very afraid…

Addendum: and Michael Spicer illustrates just how hopeless Truss was…

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When Rude Gestures Are Appropriate

Apparently, the ex-Chancellor of the UK was somewhat upset to (allegedly) receive a “rude gesture” from an estate agent in his home constituency.

Personally, I think he thoroughly deserved it… He tanked the UK economy with his “mini-budget” and caused a tsunami of problems in the property market.

And let us not forget that he went to a champagne reception with venture capitalists as soon as he had delivered the “mini-budget”.

I’m somewhat surprised that he hasn’t been pelted with something by now…

Of course, he is not alone in causing this disaster. There will be more Brexit chickens coming home to roost before too long, I think…

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Chris Killip Retrospective

Like me, Chris Killip was born on the Isle of Man. Unlike me, he was expelled from school at 16, but went on to make a name for himself as a world-class photographer. He died in 2020.

The Photographers’ Gallery in London opens a major retrospective of his work this coming week.

I came across this short film of him talking about his time spent taking photographs in Skinningrove, a fishing village in the Northeast of England. As a friend said to me: “one of the best talks about his own photographs that I’ve seen any photographer make… the humanity shone through”.

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Watering The Garden

Frighteningly close to reality…

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Love and Hate

Here’s a talent…

And here’s a different cut of the same song and performer, with a cold douche of reality at the end…

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RIP Hilary

Hilary Mantel is dead. She leaves us a marvellous body of work, but alas, we will never be able to read what she still had to write.

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A Fine Elegy

Elizabeth Windsor has died. Whilst I am no fan of the Monarchy, she served the country well. Jonathan Freedland has penned a fine elegy.

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Out Of The Frying Pan…

So Liz Truss has been anointed by a small bunch of elderly, well-off, white men as the next Prime Minister of the UK. The silver lining is that at least the disgraceful Boris Johnson no longer holds that office, after having consummately trashed its reputation.

The citizens of the UK, I fear, cannot afford to breathe a collective sigh of relief with the coming of Truss. If she puts into practice what she has promised with her views on economic policy, we are likely to see things in the UK getting worse, rather than better.

William Davies, in the Guardian, has a good analysis of the flaws in Trussonomics. He appears to hope that Truss will recant, but my fear is that she believes her ideology to the extent that it will not just destroy her, but the country as well. Beware the true believer.

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RIP Raymond

The author and illustrator Raymond Briggs has died. Not unexpected, but a sad loss all the same. He warned us about it in his book “Time For Lights Out“.

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Brexit: An Update

A parade of shits, charlatans and shysters (hat-tip to John Crace for this all too accurate description of this bunch of idiots who have irreparably damaged the UK).

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Happy Birthday, Watson!

Today is Watson’s 13th birthday. He’s still pretty active for his age, and still likes playing games, but we don’t go on long walks anymore – a 15 minute walk is quite enough, he thinks.

Time flies, it seems that only yesterday he was a puppy…

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“There will be no delays at Dover”…

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The Room Next Door

The Boris Johnson Farewell Special is a work of genius – Boris, sadly, is not. And he’s still around…

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There And Back Again – Again

I was in the UK last week visiting family and seeing old friends. Martin stayed at home to look after Watson and the garden.

Long-distance travel was entirely by train. First travelling from home to Amsterdam to connect with the Eurostar direct to London. Then after an overnight stay in London and lunch with an old friend and his partner in Stratford (my god, how Stratford has changed…), back to Euston to catch the Avanti West Coast express to Lockerbie, where my brother collected me and drove me to his home.

I spent a few days in the area seeing family and taking short walks, for example down St. Mary’s Isle (actually an isthmus), where wild raspberries grew in abundance in the woods.

wild raspberries

At the end of the isthmus, southwards is the Irish Sea:

On the ground…
In the air…
In the air – looking back towards Kirkcudbright

I paid a visit to the Dark Space Planetarium in Kirkcudbright – highly recommended.

When I graduated from Liverpool University in July 1970, I worked for a couple of months in a Summer job at the Liverpool Museum. I had been a member of the Astronomical Society at the university, so I was lucky enough to be selected to operate the newly-opened planetarium in the museum as one of my tasks. That planetarium was fitted with a Zeiss projector; at its heart was a light source that shone through tiny holes in copper foil and then focused through an array of lenses to display the night sky on the inner surface of the planetarium’s domed roof. It was, I suppose, the “analogue” version of a planetarium – at the Dark Space Planetarium the system was fully digital. A series of projectors mounted around the rim of the dome were controlled by a computer. That meant that trips through time and space could be simulated. Very sophisticated in comparison with what we had back in 1970. I mentioned that I had operated a Zeiss projector to the young man giving the show in Kirkcudbright, and his response was: “what’s a Zeiss projector?”… Time marches on and I felt old.

At the end of the week I travelled back to London for the weekend. I was staying at The Standard hotel on Euston Road. Once again I was made to feel old – the marketing of the hotel seems to be aimed exclusively at hip young people. However, it was comfortable and the staff were pleasant. The building was originally the annex to Camden Town Hall, and once housed Camden’s public library. A remnant of the library has been preserved in the hotel’s lounge area and I felt right at home there…

On Saturday I met an old friend for lunch in Brasserie Zedel and then we viewed the Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy.

Saturday evening was spent in the company of John Wilson and the Sinfonia of London at a Prom concert in the Royal Albert Hall. The programme was English music: Vaughan Williams, Bax, Walton and Elgar, with a new piece by Huw Watkins.

The Elgar was the old warhorse of the Enigma Variations, but John Wilson found things in it that I had not heard before – he is an excellent conductor and the Sinfonia of London (with members hand-picked by Wilson) is a very good orchestra. The audience cheered and stamped its appreciation at the end.

Prom Concert

Sunday morning was spent at the Wellcome Collection. I only had time to see three of the exhibitions and one installation there:

  • Medicine Man
  • Being Human
  • In The Air
  • The Archive of an Unseen (installation)

The Medicine Man gallery houses (a very small part of) the collection of Sir Henry Wellcome – a real cabinet of curiosities. The most bizarre (for me) was the tobacco resuscitation kit. In the eighteenth century the Royal Humane Society of London placed these kits along the river Thames for use in drowning incidents. It was believed that blowing tobacco smoke up the arse of a drowned person would revive them. I loved the deadpan caption that read “[this practice] might seem strange to us…” – no, it is bloody insane…

Tobacco resuscitation kit

And then it was off to the British Museum to (re)visit some of the galleries before meeting three old friends for High Tea in the Great Court Restaurant. I hadn’t seen them for years (in one case I think it has been 30 years since we last clapped eyes on each other). Thankfully, we were all still recognisable to each other – green carnations were not required – and a hugely enjoyable time was had by all.

Monday saw me catch the early morning Eurostar to Amsterdam, and then back home to the Achterhoek and the reunion with Martin and Watson. It was a very pleasant break, and now back to our usual routine – with extra watering of the garden needed in the current heatwave…

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Good Riddance to Bad Rubbish

So Boris Johnson has finally decided to resign. As usual, even in his resignation speech, he blamed others for his manifest failings.

And even now, he wants to stay in office until the Autumn, until a new party leader is found. No thought of handing over the reins of power to his deputy. Given that the deputy is Dominic Raab, one might be forgiven for thinking that we would see little improvement in that eventuality.

Indeed, looking at the rest of the current government, there seems little hope that things will improve for the UK.

Still, at least the UK will eventually have got rid of their worst Prime Minister in living memory. Rachel Clarke sums up the legacy of this loathsome man very accurately.

Addendum 8 July 2022: I watched his resignation speech yesterday. I got as far as him uttering the words: “…I felt it was my job, my duty…” before turning off in disgust. Johnson never had, nor ever will have, a sense of duty, except to himself and his ego. The Guardian has a good analysis of what he said, and what he actually meant.

Addendum #2 8 July 2022: Marina Hyde in the Guardian is on fire. The second sentence sets the tone and the bar high, and it gets only better from then on…

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Pareidolia Strikes Again…

Some people see the face of Christ on a piece of toast, others see sentience in a piece of software. (and he was trying to teach LaMDA transcendental meditation? Says it all, really).

Addendum 23 July 2022: What a surprise – not.

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How Very Convenient

Marina, I worship at thy feet…

“I couldn’t believe it when Prince Andrew announced he had Covid and therefore would not be attending today’s service at St Paul’s. That was the exact same excuse I was going to use to get out of writing a column on a bank holiday, but then I remembered that I’d had it in January, and also haven’t just paid £12m to an accuser in a sexual assault case. So here we are. And, indeed, here the Duke of York is not.”

I remain a republican – and am with First Dog on the Moon on this one…

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Mordant Mordaunt Myths

The continuing spew of disingenuous claims from British Ministers moves me to despair. Latest is Trade Policy Minister Penny Mordaunt trying to pull the wool over our eyes by describing the recent Memorandum of Understanding with the state of Indiana as the beginning of the path to a Free Trade Agreement with the US Federal government.

As Chris Grey points out, this is just wishful thinking and yet another example of Brexit newspeak.

And, as he says, Mordaunt also refers to the US as “our biggest trading partner”, when in fact that is the EU single market. Really, when are the UK public going to wake up to the fact that Brexit has been an absolute disaster on so many levels?

I’ll leave you with Matt Green, channelling Rees-Mogg. This is hardly satire any more – it’s too close to reality…

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Entirely Coincidental…

The headline from John Crace’s column in yesterday’s Guardian reads:

Any correlation between the truth and what Liz Truss said was entirely coincidental

Never a truer word was spoken. Let’s see, Boris Johnson declared the Brexit agreement an “Oven-Ready Deal” and signed it. Now he and his cohorts want to renege on the agreement and break International law. How anyone in their right mind can trust anything that this bunch of lying incompetents say is quite beyond me.

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