Brexit the Unthinkable

Stupid people sticking it in Cameron’s eye as payback for all the hurt and pain he showered on them. Stupid people for not knowing that the other eye was theirs and they just struck themselves blind.

Or was it cocky little Middle Englanders, sure of the way we can forge a new path. Ha!

Stupid Cameron – well he got his comeuppance. And that tiny spark of pleasure is no pleasure at all compared to the pain he meted out with his last gasp.

I should have known. For years I said that I didn’t want to involve myself in any social or political movement in England because I didn’t think it would do any good. People just want to be mean-spirited. What is it with them?

I should have known. This is the people that complained about the Tories and then elected them for a second term. All those smug little Englanders – I’m alright Jack, I’ve got mine.

Everyone wants to know ‘why’. Well it’s the same reason they voted the Tories in. The small-minded English voted in the meanest people to do their dirty work for them.

Does no one recognise that it’s just a bloody accident of opportunity as to which minority group gets it in the neck. It’s the scroungers ruining the country. It’s the immigrants. No it’s not. It’s the scapegoats. It’s always their bloody fault.

That’s Britain to a T. Sweep it under the carpet and pretend the place is clean.

Do you know what the English answer to anything is? It’s ‘no’. When people have a choice between saying ‘yes’ or saying ‘no’ – they say no just for meanness.

Saying yes means helping out, stepping out of role for one second.

Saying no puts people in their place, and everyone knows their place.

I keep coming back to the class system. Look at Cameron and Corbyn. They could be characters from the Two Ronnies. “I look down on him because he’s working class…”

Is that where the pain comes from? Is that what they heard in the ‘Take our country back’ message?


The EU Referendum – A Long Week In Politics

It’s been a strange week in British politics. The EU referendum has driven every other kind of political question to the margins. The only question is IN or OUT of the European Union.

It is an open secret as to why we are having a referendum at all. It is because the Prime Minister, David Comeron, feared a takeover by an alliance of the far right of his own Conservative Party and United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP).

He was accused at the time of putting party politics above the health of the nation.

When he went to Brussels to negotiate changes, he said that by holding a referendum the Euro partners would know that he wasn’t just posturing when he set out his demands.

And then he came back and pulled out of his hat a small or non-existent rabbit, or a big rabbit – depending on who is telling the story.

Then the campaigning got under way and his message was that we would risk falling off a cliff if we voted to leave.

Well if that was true when he said it, it was true before he went to Brussels and he should never have risked the decision to a vote that was out of his control. Not if he believed in the principle rather than the desire to hold onto power.

How Real Is UKIP

So how real is the threat from UKIP? If there are only a few UKIP supporters, then they aren’t much of a threat.

After the national election, Lord Leach of Fairford, Chairman of Open Europe, wrote to the Times saying what would have happened had the German form of PR applied in the general election.

Under that system, any party getting less than five percent of the vote is not allocated seats. The reason for that is to prevent a huge number of parties with one or two votes each swamping the actual business of government.

And what would have happened is that we would have had the Conservatives with 275 seats, labour 229, UKIP 92, Lib Dems 54 and no seats for any of the other parties. That is, the SNP would not have got any seats at all.

The Scottish National Party swept the board in Scotland – but only because it has 56 constituencies in a country that is only five-million people out of a total UK population of sixty-four million.

In other words, our first-past-the-post system and the constituency boundaries that apply in elections hide the fact that UKIP has a large base of support.

Here are the numbers for the seats, the number gained and lost in the election, the actual number of the popular vote and the percentage of the vote that the number represents.

Conservatives 330 (+37, -10) 11,334,726 36.9%
Labour 232 (+23, -48) 9,347,324 30.4%
SNP 56 (+50, -0) 1,454,436 4.7%
Green 1 (+0, -0) 1,156,149 3.8%
Lib Dems 8 (+0, -48) 2,415,862 7.9%
UKIP 1 (+0, -1) 3,881,099 12.6%

Nearly four-million people voted for UKIP. But they only got one seat in Parliament.

So the threat was real and Cameron has played it well – well that is if the Remain camp wins.

But what a risk to take.

My Prediction Is…

I think the vote will go with David Cameron and the Remain camp.

And if it does, then he will be saved again. And for some stupid reason, people will think he was the better option and we will all love the moderate Tories. Ha!


It’s All Connected

First published 31 Jul 2013

I remember sitting by the side of a field years ago and gently unfurling a leaf. Inside the curled up leaf there was an orange, slightly translucent earwig with nasty-looking pincers.

I opened more leaves and there were more earwigs. Some leaves had several earwigs tucked inside them.

Wriggling, segmented, translucent orange insects with big pincers were not top of my list for beauty and I remember thinking that the earwigs were invaders.

That was in the days when I saw everything as disconnected.

And yet I saw myself as a keen nature lover. I often went out and looked at birds and trees and plants and fungi and insects, and at just about everything from the clouds to the sea to the earth and the rocks.

I could see myself as a keen nature lover and yet dislike certain parts of it.

That wasn’t so strange, was it? After all, some parts of nature are definitely unpleasant for humans if they come in contact with them.

But taking myself out of the picture, it was also true that I saw nature as disconnected.

Now, over the years I have come to see that the leaf depends on the earwig and the earwig depends on the leaf.

I see that there will be something – a microbe, a bacterium, a process – something that dictates that the balance is preserved as long as there are leaves for earwigs to curl up in, and earwigs for leaves to curl around.

I see that the balance will be broken if there are no earwigs. If that happens then somewhere down the line there will not be any leaves.


I Wailed At The Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem

In about 1996 I went to Yad Vashem – the Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem.

I queued for a ticket, and in front of me there was a young couple. Neither was Jewish but from the conversation I made out that the young woman’s father or maybe her grandfather was one of the righteous gentiles who had helped Jews during the war.

Apparently he was commemorated in the museum and the woman in the ticket booth explained to the young woman where she should go to find the records.

While I was waiting, I saw a postcard on a shelf in the booth. It was a photograph of an installation in the grounds of the museum. It was few railway boxcars on a piece of track built into a hillside and leading up into the sky.

When it was my turn to buy a ticket, I asked about the railway cars and the track.

The woman in the booth explained that the railway cars had been ‘rescued’ and brought to the museum and that yes, those very cars had been used to transport Jews to the death camps during the war.

I said that the image was terrible, and the woman said with a sympathetic tone said ‘Yes, this is Yad Vashem.’

I felt a wave of sympathy; it was so sad.

I walked on towards the buildings and started to walk along a path between rows of trees planted to commemorate the righteous gentiles who had helped Jews during the war.

I suddenly had an image in my mind of a thin woman with a headscarf standing near an old stove and holding a frying pan and I saw in my mind’s eye German soldiers marching with shiny helmets.

The woman wasn’t someone I recognised specifically, but how shall I say it – In principle, it could have been my great grandmother.

I don’t why that image came into my mind.

I had been to the Anne Frank house in Amsterdam years before and I had touched the frying pan on the stove in their hiding place – or perhaps it on the floor below.

I remember that I imagined that Anne had touched it, although perhaps it was just a frying pan brought in to put on the stove for visitors to the museum to see.

And on TV programmes like The World At War, I had seen German soldiers marching,

But the woman holding the frying pan that I saw in my mind’s eye as I stood in the sun at Yad Vashem – I didn’t know who she was – only that I was connected to her.

I mention about the Anne Frank House and the TV programmes I saw because my rational mind is trying to explain what happened.

What happened next was that I reeled and almost fell against a large rock in the garden and I wailed.

I felt my insides opening up and I wailed. I didn’t cry – I opened like a dam. I said, almost shouted, complained – into the air – ‘They killed them all: They murdered them all.’

Even as I was wailing, I thought it must be all too common for people to break down in Yad Vashem. I realised that I didn’t care whether I was making a scene, or causing some kind of embarrassment in pubic. I just didn’t care. I was not crying. There was nothing in me that was intentionally pushing or letting out the wailing – it just came out of me.

I was truly wailing.

It was a revelation to me. I felt that I didn’t know myself. Where had that wail come from?

It made no sense – I wasn’t even born then when it all happened.


Audiences, Culture, and Rubbish In Cinemas

Rubbish in cinemas bugs me. There, I said it.

So here’s what happened.

Tamara and I like to watch a film to the end of the credits, so we are often the last to leave.

Seeing the room after the film has ended is like seeing a room after the party has ended – rubbish (‘trash’ in American English) and detritus everywhere.

Call me a fuddy-duddy (actually don’t), but I can’t believe the mess that a gathering of human beings can leave after being in one place for two hours.

Popcorn, discarded cans, boxes, wrappers – the popcorn sometimes looks like someone decided they didn’t want popcorn after all, and scattered the contents of the box on the carpet.

One night we went to see Coco Before Chanel – a French film with subtitles, with Audrey Tautou in the lead role.

As we were leaving, I noticed that the floor was clean.

A cleaner came in with her black plastic bag to pick up the rubbish, and as we passed her I commented that the room was unusually clean.

Oh yes, she said this one and Screen 3, which was also showing a French film. I asked whether this was always so, and she said yes, audiences at foreign language films always left very little rubbish.

So now we know.