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Tuesday, 20 February 2018

264. Brexit – Where are we now?

The moronic, xenophobic, destructive, entitled, delusional neighbours from hell, about sums it up.

If listening to Theresa May’s latest call to the EU for co-operation fried my mind with the crazy contradiction then David Davis’s assertion that Brexit would not lead to a ‘Mad Max-style dystopia’ almost caused me to lose my moorings.

Each time matron May or dim Davis or gargoyle Gove or bonkers/racist Boris or rancid Rees-Mogg open their mouths, it seems this is as mad as it can get – but it never ever is.

In May’s ‘Road to Brexit’ speech in Germany she calls for special cooperation on security and says
“The challenge for all of us today is finding the way to work together, through a deep and special partnership between the UK and the EU”
The call for this co-operation sounds plausible and genuine and serious and statesman-like and all the other rabid illusions we’re now used to. However, in order to listen to this without going insane you have to blank your mind to the fact that we HAD a special partnership and the UK unilaterally crapped on it … 

The road-to-Brexit this government is on involves sitting in a car powered by paranoid delusions and falsehoods.  We are steered by double-speak into a narcoleptic state usually only seen in those at the mercy of synthetic cannabinoids.

But as the last few strands of sanity hang by a thread, a horrible image manifests. On the positive, it reassures me I’m not mad – at least not as mad as the Tory front bench or our so-called opposition (any time Jeremy Corbyn wants to announce the Labour Party’s actual position on Brexit we are all waiting…)

The EU is like a neighbourhood that pulled itself up by the bootstraps after a long and hideous history. This history included wars and slaughter and poverty and various monarchs and other ‘leaders’ waging war – usually at the extreme expense of the lower orders. There was all the usual stuff to contend with – plagues, famine and pestilence and general not-good stuff. Then after two attempts at annihilation 1914 - 18 and again in 1939-45 with a little help from Nature (flu epidemics etc.) oh – and a bit of genocide – the neighbours finally decided they’d had enough. They’d rather have good lives for future generations. They set up a sort of neighbourhood watch; not the sort where you just put a sticker on the window and peep out occasionally when a car alarm goes off – but a proper one to do with co-operation - a ‘deep and special partnership’ you might say.
The neighbourhood started to look up. There was co-operation. Houses improved. No fights in the neighbourhood. New people moved in and things changed but basically it was ok. Yes there were the whingers and whiners who thought they could have a better front door or a bigger garden or if things reverted to the way they never had been in their 1950s fantasies but on the whole they were told to shut the fuck up and be grateful things were a lot better than they had been.
THEN
A privately educated racist called Farage with a pint in his hand and help from some other posh schoolboys who think politics is a game you play in the 6th form common room and a non-existent opposition - conspired to persuaded the family of whingers and whiners that they would be happier if there were no rules about straight bananas. That family decided to trash their house – wreck it – dig up the garden – smash the windows including the parts that belonged to a family who did not want the house trashed and a couple of adjoining properties. They are the neighbours from hell and they wrecked things for the whole neighbourhood.
AND NOW?
Now they are going round each of their neighbours asking for help to put their house back together – they don’t really know how or why and don’t have a plan for rebuilding or any idea what their repaired property should look like and they are trying to make out its everyone else’s job to work all that out - their argument runs thus -
You have to help us and be nice to us and let us have ALL the benefits we had before we trashed our house and caused upset in the neighbourhood because otherwise the neighbourhood will just be crap with this big eyesore right here…

And that’s where we are right now.
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Tuesday, 13 February 2018

263. I promise I won’t sit in the wasteland screaming I TOLD YOU SO...


… but as time cycles spin faster and a fashion trend of three years ago is already hailed as ‘retro’ and stock markets are more jittery than a crack addict who just got stopped for having no lights and the boys with money are happy to spend it on toys that cost the GDP of a medium size country and the addled, narcissists and mediocre become 'leaders' and the masses are scared of their own shadows and believe any twaddle that is repeated often or loudly enough and our children breathe diesel while we cut down trees like there is no tommorrow thus ensuring that there won't be  - we do need to re-calculate our doomsday scenarios.

Which – by the way – will look something like this…

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

262. BREXIT – the nuclear option could soon be delivered by a brexit dream team (The ‘D’ Team!) say an hysterical media…



Yes – Brexit bonkers, brain-frozen, barmy as a box of frogs, batty, Britain-breaking, loony tunes, la la land loopy is now looking likelier than ever and the circus of clowns is in town ready in the wings to bring the house down (pun intended).

Theresa May has maxed out trying to hold the fantasy ground where the xenophobes can have everything they want but Britain can still benefit from the EU economically. It was becoming an unbearable exercise in delusion and double talk with only the weak and weird able to mumble through any of the gobbledygook without going insane; dim and dull as dishwater David Davis or the craven Liam Fox.

Now – the mainstream media tell us – we are a cliff edge away from what they are referring to as The Brexit Dream Team. I’ll translate that for you – triple shit on a stick x 1,000,000.

The ‘D’ team would, we are told, be led by Boris Johnson, our racist  Obama-insulting Foreign Secretary who gave us the lie about – well pretty much everything during the EU referendum - but mainly the £340million per week to the NHS oh and corruptly wasted millions of pounds on the never built Garden Bridge when he was mayor of London etc, etc. 

His deputy would be Michael Gove – the man who also spouted lies because he thought the British people wouldn’t be mad enough to vote to leave but it would make him popular – oh and derided experts through the whole process and is now our Secretary for the Environment – Yay. 

Jacob Rees-Mogg would be chancellor. J.Re;Smogg is the man who thinks philanthropy should be left to toffs like him if they happen to have a few spare guineas left over once they’ve paid for private school for their half a dozen or so offspring and who is vehemently anti-abortion even though he financially benefits from a drug used to induce abortions.

That’s it. That is what top-shelf Britain has to offer to sort the Brexit mess...
And part of me is sinking slowly into the quagmire of – BRING IT ON. LET IT HAPPEN. Because since June23rd 2016 it’s been like sitting in the dentist’s pre-op room waiting to have all our (not in particularly bad condition) teeth pulled out and replaced with rusty paper clips.

A madman offered the procedure. Some folk in the waiting-room volunteered for the procedure and about half did not. And even the half that voted for it have sort of changed their minds now they can hear the badly-wired, wobbly old drill being tested and the nurse has announced that they've run out of anaesthetics (or the anaesthetists have all gone back to their EU homes). But it’s going to happen.

The mad discordant headache-inducing jingle of jingoism and xenophobia is whining over a speaker and – even though it’s going to be horrible for me – who didn’t vote for it and horrible for those who did but came to their senses – it still might be worth it to hear the tiny rabid minority who have the rest of us by the throat, up a tree, over a barrel, up a creek without a paddle, over a cliff - scream

Or could we just wake up from the nightmare?

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OH – and as regards last week’s post – in view of the financial reports last night - maybe change my “within 24 months” prediction to ‘within 24 days…’

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

261. Beware the Disconnect

The mainstream media has recently been awash with government statements that the UK economy is doing well – certainly better than expected. Also, Brexit is “not a disaster” (D. Cameron at Davos – well he’d have to start thinking that wouldn’t he – for the sake of his sanity) There are more folk employed than ever in the UK. Everything in fact is going swimmingly. At the same time we hear that working class youngsters are increasingly fearful of attending university because of sky rocketing debt. Deprived areas in the UK are seeing – for the first time – a decline in health and life expectancy. Life expectancy and health have been social positive v negative indicators since the Booth & Rowntree poverty reports of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

In my twisted ‘wrong’ world of out here, I see the generation currently under 40 with their faces stuck in their phones (see last week’s blog) economically, socially, environmentally, blighted. And – thanks to the highly regarded BES (British Election Survey) we now know that Corbyn’s youthquake was NOT. Young people did not come out en masse to vote for their future in Theresa May’s disastrous snap general election. And who could blame them, suffocating as they are under the economic mismanagement and careless economics and social selfishness that has become entrenched.

Life crushing debt from the moment they leave the parental home is standard now.

Homelessness – overt and hidden is at epidemic levels in the UK.

Insecure, low paid, future-bleak jobs or worse – zero hours contracts (see blog 174. Zero hours is not a contract) have quickly become accepted norms.

Never being able to buy homes or even have a secure tenancy in a decent property – which was the golden post-war promise to Britain, is the new reality. And this, when our cinema screens are awash with sentimental WWI & WWII films.

And – no pensions.

As company after company slough off their pension responsibilities – whether it’s Sir Philip Green to buy yachts or Tata steel in Wales – because Cameron’s government vetoed French and German attempts to protect EU steel from Chinese over-production or most recently Carillion – the company that enjoyed government contracts long after it was in a mess and has now handed its pension deficit over to the government for the tax payer to pick up (while continuing to pay bonuses and shareholder dividends) or Barclays and any number of other companies – because – well everyone else is doing it.

Save me from my parallel universe and prove me wrong.

PLEASE

The truth of course is always more straightforward than it is presented. It’s not about complicated contradictions. It is the simple old equation that when a tiny minority get into a frenzy of too much wealth and too much power there is not enough left of resources, compassion, care and humanity for the vast majority. In other words everything goes to shit. It has happened before if your memory stretches back that far The Great Depression of the 1930s – if not so then just go back as far as 2008. The thing is we live in a speeded up world and the gaps between these crises will get shorter.

We must deconstruct what is meant by The Economy. When capitalism is as unfettered as it is right now The Economy is not anything to do with wellbeing or fairness or the majority of people doing well. That’s nonsense unless you are a delusional or self-serving quote Rex Tillerson who still buys into the idea of trickle-down economics i.e. if those at the top get richer there will be an economic benefit which will trickle down to us mere mortals. That has NEVER worked.

So it is simply this. There may be more money sloshing about and moving around. There may be more profits being made. There are definitely more profits being skimmed off. There may be more billionaires buying art (see blog 253. Souls for Sale) But the number of folk benefitting from all this sloshing around wealth is tiny. Miniscule. The disconnect and the apparent confusion exists in that huge, ever growing cavern between those who have accumulated more wealth than they could spend in 100 lifetimes and those who cannot get clean water or a secure job or a roof over their heads or medical care for their chilren.

I would – as I often do – point you to other posts on this blog where I’ve outlined this thread of thought but there are far too many to choose from…
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And thanks to The National – one of the newspapers – along with The Guardian, The Independent and The Glasgow Herald that provide me with therapy by regularly printing my letters (see blog 244. A Litter of Letters) thus helping me let off sardonic steam and stay sane. This week they printed a combination of x2 letters I wrote about that wanker Gavin Williamson – our Secretary of State for Defence…

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

260. This is my phone – and yet I live.

(+ this week’s book offers)
This is my phone –


No apps to tell me what I’ve eaten
No app for algorithms to tell me what music to listen to
No access to facebook (no facebook) to check on the 500 ‘friends’ I don’t know.
No twitter no twaddle
No mainline to my life for targeted advertising from consumer stalkers trying to turn me into a CMo (Consumer Moron)
No map app – so I actually have to look where I am going
No daily recharge
No camera function - so I see the world around me first hand
No cricked neck from permanently looking DOWN
No missing my actual life because of manically checking if the world is ‘liking’ me
No forced upgrades
No shit I didn’t ask for and don’t want.

As society self-harms with abandon; shopping in stores that are aiming to be human-staff-free, banks (ditto) stumbling towards a moronic future where being a moron is encouraged and facilitated by technology because it is so SO good for profits, I feel as if the Matrix is deep and I choked down the reality pill. 

OOOOH the media cry to self-driving cars, like children watching fireworks. Who asked for them? Who debated if they were a good idea? Is the answer to road deaths and bad health and wasting the earth’s resources not already with us? Don’t we call it public transport? (or walking – God forbid) But this is where rampant capitalism is leading us by the credit card.

SO – forget the Zombie analogy as in A. Chakrabortty’s article in The Guardian last week
or in this blog last year

Rampant Capitalism is a super vampire; smart/i phones are its fangs. CMos – the Lucy Westenra of this analogy -  are inured to the tech monster. The seemingly unquenchable desire to spend is its blood-feast. Everything else about us is obsolete. Soon humans will be blood sacks in the back seat of a motorised wheelchair capsule able only to swipe a screen. The vein through which it sucks out your life is your phone.

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For a list of all the other ‘essential’ technology I don’t have - T.V (since last century), car (since 2005) – or have never owned - dishwasher, microwave - check out blog 53. I Suffer from PANTS

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NB this week my dystopian Sci-fi novella Zero One Zero Two – which imagines a world where our current behaviour has come to fruition is on offer along with my young reader’s trilogy and my little readers picture book and my epic environmental story/poem and my sort-of-autobiography and one of my adult novels are all under half price (in their e-book versions). Just till Friday
Check out –

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

259. Sundays could actually save us…


Large swathes of the celebrity-stupefied and T.V. anaesthetised population hanker for the good-old-days. What they mean is a Utopia where white people could be racist without fear of criticism and it was ok to grab a woman’s bottom in the office or openly discriminate. As we are learning, many of these things never went away but they were mercifully regarded as unacceptable. However, one thing does not appear on the wish list.

Yup – while some of us feel the gains made in Britain and other parts of Europe since WWII are fragile and fast disappearing like free higher education, social conscience, decent working conditions etc, others don’t see it that way. Fear of globalisation has left some yearning for a sepia tinted faux 1950s era where – apparently – ‘political correctness’ had not “gone mad” and we were not all at the mercy of the dreaded Health and Safety brigade. Yes. Who wants to be protected from dangerous practices and exploitation in the work place?

But there is one thing that should come back. There is one thing that could positively affect social cohesion, mental health, air quality, debt, stress levels, road deaths - and that is the shop-free Sunday. Re-establish a ban on Sunday trading in the real world.

Initially when Sunday trading laws were altered to make Sunday just one more cacophony of commercial consumer hell, many resisted the pull. Folk carried on planning to avoid diving to the shop AGAIN on Sunday and tried to go for walks, avoid traffic and find somewhere quiet. Well – now – unless you go right out of town – and sometimes not even then – it is not possible.

Look at any shopping centre or roadway and there is no discernible difference from a week day. IN fact some places are busier. Some shopping centres are more clogged with miserable grey faces and children being dragged round malls or restrained in buggies – whey faced and dead behind the eyes as adults search for more ways to heat up their credit cards.

Maybe – like the introduction of seatbelt legislation – we now need saving from our own consumerism. Because society is going through the windscreen at 90mph right now while the government blindly swims around in its own slurry.

Debt and obesity are two of the main causes of unhappiness and severe illness in the UK. While shocking statistics in 2017 showed that many folk don’t walk or do any exercise for even half an hour a week – equally people never STOP buying crap they don’t need.

Yes folk can still shop online but they are doing that anyway.

Seven-day trading is one of the biggest signposts that we are consumer slaves; dumb cogs in a monstrous consumer machine.

Shop working is often exploitative and unrewarding. Initially when Sunday trading was legalised we were told that workers would be able to ‘choose’ whether or not to work on that day. What a load of bollocks that turned out to be.

It used to be the case that with the exception of essential staff such as the emergency services – everyone could rely on at least one day a week where they weren’t strapped in to the clanking, headache-inducing, speeding out of control commercial merry-go-round.

Perhaps – if the malls and supermarkets and superstores were closed SOME families might stay home and TALK to each other or go to the park and WALK together. Some people might take the time to cook a real meal rather than microwaving some processed supermarket shit.

Just think – a whole day without the air being so thick with diesel fumes you could slice it.

Sundays could save our health, improve our relationships, reduce domestic debt, improve the quality of the air we breathe and help us keep our sanity.

One of the biggest distractions during the debate about whether to allow Sunday trading (back in the 1990s) was consigning it to a religious argument. At a time when church attendance was waning that was worse than spurious – but we know the media loves a binary fight and the voices of those who wanted a one day break from the zombie march of consumerism were drowned out.

I just don’t get why – when folk are being nostalgic – they don’t think to bring back things that were actually GOOD.
WE don’t even have to call it Sunday, we could rename it Walk and Talk and Breathe and Don’t Buy Shit day!
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NB In light of the New Year news that Carillion - the contractor that runs (ran) Britain – has imploded despite the billions it has mopped up in government contracts over the years, do check out the blog I wrote before Christmas.
And if you caught the ‘news’ re the deeply entrenched discriminatory practices of the BBC, review some of the comments I made many months ago re the unrepresentative and elitist/racist make-up of this public funded broadcaster
Or check out my letter from July last year published in national newspapers including The Guardian

As well as informing the UK public that in 2017 only a third of top earners at the BBC are women, would Tony Hall (director of the BBC) also do a breakdown on how many non-white, non-privileged persons are in the top percentage of wage earners there?
Amanda Baker
Edinburgh

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

258. BREXIT is Corbyn’s Iraq and massively outweighs Haringey’s flirtation with democracy.

As Theresa May’s government is involved in one political car crash after another the big question has to be why the Labour opposition vehicle is not in better shape.

Will 2018 be the year the Labour party gives British politics some much needed Opposition? Might Labour find a leader who - a. can lead b. is not soiled by Iraq c. is not scared of Brexit or tainted by not campaigning to Remain in Europe?

Jeremy Corbyn does not realise that his catastrophic dithering over Brexit is already his legacy just as Iraq (plus global terrorism, private sector infiltration of schools and hospitals and generation-obliterating tuition debt) is Blair’s.

NOT actively campaigning for (or even declaring a sentient position on) Brexit, left the Remain campaign with no engine. Brexit was not won. No one was paying attention so the conmen were able to yell into the electorate’s bad ear as EU membership slipped out of Britain's arthritic fingers.

As I’ve written many times on this little blog and in letters published by newspapers including The Guardian, The Independent, The National and others - everything from 23rd June 2016 onwards has been about damage limitation. Britain is fighting over which bits of the socio-economic corpse can be used in political organ donation.

Even Corbyn’s blanking of Brexit at the 2017 Labour Party Conference mattered little although it showed he was capable of being politically grubby. It showed he had one skill; despite his faux revolutionary, misguided out-of-touch social sentiment and his snail pace intellect, Corbyn can look the other way when the big issues of the day are screaming for attention. You have to envy him the ability to calmly and genuinely – for example – flag wave for the NHS having done nothing to keep EU workers, on whom the institution now relies, IN BRITAIN. That is a sort of skill. Like being able to make fart noises with your armpit… mesmerising and useless.

Experiencing Corbyn’s end-of-2017 announcement it occurred to me he must be the only ‘leader’ in history who could say “We are a government in waiting” and sound as if he just said ‘does anyone want that last digestive biscuit’.

And for those getting exorcised about the recent activities in Haringey, the London borough where sitting councillors have complained about being replaced by others who intend to campaign against an unpopular local development – chill - that is actually how democracy is supposed to work. The irony is that any benefit gained by Momentum – the group that formed to support Corbyn’s leadership – will be so outweighed by the harm to the British working class by Brexit that they may as well have handed Haringey council to G4S.

For people whose memory lasts longer than an episode of a soap opera – Blair will forever be the little shit who went against overwhelming public opinion, common sense, intelligence and history and illegally invaded Iraq. Corbyn will be the knacker who failed to go in, political guns blazing, righteous indignation to the fore and fight to prevent a plainly foreseeable catastrophe; a catastrophe driven purely and simply by Cameron’s inability to deal with the dough-boy fascists in the ‘nastier party’. Cameron played Russian roulette with Britain’s future with all the chambers full, the barrel pointing at Britain’s foot. Corbyn was unable to make political capital because he was still pointing his blunderbuss at Thatcher’s ghost.

While Farage (with his EU pension) and Boris Johnson (rewarded with a front bench position in government) and Gove (who derided ‘experts’ during the EU referendum and is now Secretary of state for the Environment) all lied and lied and lied and lied and were not challenged – Corbyn hunkered down and did a big grey nothing.

Yes I know it’s becoming increasingly unpopular to say all this. Shut up and get on with it, is the popular mantra. Discombobulated MPs have taken refuge behind the British public, bleating on about respecting Democracy as if the referendum – won on prattle and xenophobia – had anything at all to do with real democracy. History will point to the EU referendum not just as the tipping point when Britain lost its seat at the top table in the world,  it will also be the focus of much debate concerning the end of real democracy in the so-called oldest democracy.

Currently MPs are enjoying some welcome relief from blame, pointing the finger at Google, facebook and other online social media platforms over issues of ‘fake news’ and information manipulation. However, there is a deafening silence regarding the older media whose favour they slavishly court. The BBC, infamously unrepresentative of ethnic minorities or the working class majority who pay its licence fee, continually platformed Farage. The tabloid newspapers fed a celebrity-T.V.-anaesthetised public a diet of bigotry and jingoism and anti-EU nonsense for DECADES – from the plague of straight bananas to the idea that we are all being oppressed by Health and Safety legislation from Brussels – well – tell that to the victims of Grenfell Tower.


Iraq was Blair’s Vietnam – except the effects are global not national. Corbyn’s dull, dull mediocre, grey, pathetic, didn’t-need-to-happen ‘Iraq’ is Brexit…