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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Up, Up and Away

Our neighbours took a balloon trip the other evening. The balloon was launched from their field, next to ours, and they took some photos of our house and garden…

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We found a pheasant in our greenhouse the other day that was trying to work out, very unsuccessfully, why he couldn’t walk through the glass…

I had to stand outside, opposite the open door, waving my arms before the penny finally dropped…

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I had read about a new series on Netflix called Heartstopper, the coming-of-age story of a gay teenage boy. It’s based on a webcomic by Alice Oseman.

Martin and I sat down to watch the first episode, and were delighted by it. It’s warm and funny, and shows the joy and angst of teenagers beginning to navigate their way through relationships.

Two things struck me. The first being how “normal” it seemed; Charlie, a 15-year old boy, is out at school, and being gay is not “a statement”, but just part of him, like his hair colour. He’s got a small group of supportive friends, and he’s able to ask an openly-gay teacher for advice.

The other thing was that the very normality was so very different from what I experienced growing up gay, and it made me somewhat sad to think back on how much I had missed out of life as a teenager.

Heartstopper is a little marvel – I hope that it shows some LGBTQ teenagers that they do not need to hate themselves, and that things will get better.

Addendum 27 May 2022: I just found out today that Joe Locke – who plays Charlie in Heartstopper – is another gay Manx lad! More power to your elbow Mr. Locke. You’ve made this old gay Manxman very proud of what you and your fellow actors and crew have achieved with Heartstopper.

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We Told You So

Chris Grey is on form as always in his Brexit Blog. This week he turns his attention to Boris Johnson, and Johnson’s debasing of the parliamentary system. Not that Johnson is alone in this, his entire cabinet resembles a fish that has rotted from the head down – and is about as useful.

I particularly liked Grey’s comment that

It is, as ever, worth recalling that Johnson and Brexit are as inseparable as a dog and its vomit. Yet even if the Prime Minister ends up being toppled by Partygate that will only remove the dog from the metaphor.

The damage that Brexit continues to do to the UK carries on, as do the lies told by the Brexiters, with William Rees-Mogg leading the pack.

Also on top form as usual is Matt Green. Here’s his party political broadcast on behalf of the Conservative Party. Never a truer word was spoken.

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Anne Frank as Vlogger?

A modern-day Anne Frank. Hopefully she will not suffer the same fate.

Fuck Putin and his regime.

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Is That A Threat Or A Promise?

I see that Meta (the company formerly known as Facebook) is saying that it may have to abandon the European Union.

“If a new transatlantic data transfer framework is not adopted… we will likely be unable to offer a number of our most significant products and services, including Facebook and Instagram, in Europe,” Meta said in its 10-K filing.

Stand not upon the order of your going, but go at once…

And good riddance.

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Knighthoods – On A Slippery Slope?

I see that Tony Blair has got a Knighthood bestowed on him in the New Year’s Honour’s List. Some are questioning this, given his actions in taking the UK into the Iraq war in 2003. It’s a fair point.

I note that the Speaker of the House of Commons, Sir Lindsay Hoyle has defended the appointment by saying:

“Whatever people might think, it is one of the toughest jobs in the world,” the Speaker said, “and I think it is respectful and it is the right thing to do, whether it is Sir David Cameron. They should all be offered that knighthood when they finish as prime minister.”

Really? Irrespective of how good or bad they were in office? Can we now look forward to seeing the ennobled Sir Boris in a few years time? My irony meter has just exploded.

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Merry Christmas

It’s not been a particularly good year, and this card is something of a memento mori because we lost Lexie earlier this month. Nevertheless, we wish you all the best for 2022.

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RIP Lexie

I’m sorry to say that we had to have our dog Lexie put to sleep yesterday.

Just over two weeks ago, she had a day when she refused to eat, and wouldn’t stir from her cushion. The following day, she was back to her normal self, but then a week later, the same thing happened. Last week I took her to the vet, where she had blood and urine samples taken. A couple of days later she had an echo scan, and the diagnosis was that she had an inoperable tumour and severe anaemia.

The vet’s advice was to have her put to sleep. We agreed that Lexie would spend her last weekend with us, and the vet would come here to put her to sleep on the Monday (yesterday). Over the weekend it was clear that she was failing fast, and so Monday was a mercy.

Lexie had only been with us for a short time in her life – just over three and a half years. We found her in an animal shelter in Enschede and adopted her. She settled in well, and she and Watson got on well together. Our original intention was that Lexie was to be Martin’s dog (Watson is my dog), but in the event, Lexie had other ideas, and chose me as her owner, much to Martin’s chagrin. She would follow me everywhere. We will both miss her. She was much more phlegmatic than Watson and was a calming influence in our household.

Lexie 18/11/2011 – 13/12/2021
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Brexit as Greek Tragedy

I’m currently about halfway through Chris Grey’s magisterial flensing of Brexit in his book: Brexit Unfolded.

He takes us through the events of the five years since the fateful referendum, recording who said what, and whether what was said made any sense, either at the time or since. Disingenuousness, or downright deception, particularly from the Brexiteers, reaches stratospheric levels time and time again.

I remain convinced that leaving the Single Market and ending Freedom of Movement for citizens was a huge mistake, one that began with the fluttering of Cameron’s butterfly wings and his ill-judged referendum, and that has ended with the ongoing catastrophe that is Brexit.

I’ve been following Chris Grey’s Brexit Blog for some time, where he does a weekly analysis of the current events related to Brexit. This book is, in large part, a distillation of the contents of his blog, and is eminently readable, if depressing in its message.

Highly recommended.

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