Archive | January, 2017

Me, not Us..

18 Jan

I don’t want to add to the general misery but…What struck me about Theresa Maybe’s speech was the plethora of ironies which smacked my face whichever way I turned. in her baggy tartan suit she chose to set out her Brexit vision in the very place, Lancaster House, that Mrs Thatcher famously praised the single market. Mother Theresa, a Remainer just a few short months ago, warmed to her ‘hard’ Brexit theme. Along with the other Brexit charlatans (Boris the Spider, Pouty Gove, Liam ‘sly’ Fox, Ian Drunken Smurf  and, of course, Farridge) she has convinced herself that 48% of the nation are now on her side and that the Europeans whom we are stabbing in the back, front and everywhere else we can think of, should lie down and purr as we stroke them with our terribly reasonable demands.

That disentanglement from the EU is dreadfully complicated, is clear. The implications have never been properly thought through and, certainly, many of the marginal majority who voted for Brexit, have not the remotest idea as to where Mother Theresa is taking us. How she has embraced Brexit, though! It has enabled her to get the top job and, as she sees it, enjoy a mandate for shoving our liberal-minded, centralist, outward-looking nation into a right-wing, protectionist, small-island haven for bigots.

The ironies just go on and on. Many of the laws emanating from Europe have protected or enhanced: jobs, conditions of employment, consumer rights, environmental issues,  health and safety…the list is endless. Our finance sector is far better regulated than once it was. Watch what happens when we cut ourselves adrift. The rich will get richer and the man and woman in the street will, slowly, have a number of rugs pulled from under their feet. The 20% fall in the pound, the escalation in petrol and grocery costs…just the start. And the money, the economics is far less important than the culture of inclusion, cooperation, open borders and open minds.

I notice that Pouty Gove has reinvented himself as the interviewing mate of the Donald and the Times is paying him £160,000 to write a few articles. Along with Boris the Spider, who still has the Gove dagger sticking out of his back, he hasn’t done too badly out of political opportunism. Nor has Farridge, of course, who will be quaffing the Trumpmeister’s champers on Friday. These guys are self-seeking, self-publicising opportunists. For them, it’s all ME,ME,ME.

The lack of credible voices of opposition using cogent, liberal, centre-ground moral rationality is distressing. JC, our erstwhile Marxist Captain Birdseye, has failed to offer any sane, articulate alternative voice for the UK to rally behind. Tim Dim Farron can’t do for the Lib. Dems what Cleggy once did. The good people of politics – those for whom US is a far better pronoun than ME – have fled. Cameron, Clegg, Milliband (x 2), Hague, Hunt (Tristram, not rhyming-slang-boy) Balls etc etc. There is a lengthening list of those who have cut and run to after-dinner speechifying, book deals, directorships and dancing. Guys and girls who were in politics ‘to make a difference’ leave the stage at an early age to pursue burgeoning bank accounts. And we can’t really blame them when the man on the street wants Polish brickies to fuck off, along with the rest of a (mostly) nonsensical wishlist. Banging your political head against a brick wall can only go on for so long.

The extraordinary inauguration of the Donald is a must-see event on Friday. Whatever teeth we pinko, mild centre-lefties are gnashing in the UK, it must be a dentist’s dream over the pond. A man and a family who reek of ME, ME, ME  have persuaded Yankee Doodles that they are really an US clan. I wonder if the man and his nation can live up to the pronoun? Theatre has become reality. Are lunatics running our asylums or am I just a Remoaner in a Coma?

You cannot be serious – or are you being literal?

4 Jan

We remember John McEnroe’s outburst at Wimbledon in 1981. Long forgotten is the umpire (Edward James), the opponent that day (Tom Gullickson), the winner that day (McEnroe of course).

The media love-in with another ballsy Yank – the Donald –  is well under way in this new year. They (we?) are loving his tweets which have shaken Ford, Mexican car workers, China and most other aspects of Obama’s foreign policy. And that’s just the last few days. The luvvie-networks (BBC being one) are revelling in the twitter-titter-feed from Trump Tower. The latest Wildeian quote to please the masses is: The people take Trump seriously but not literally; the political and media elites take him literally but not seriously. Evan Davis enjoyed pursuing this epigrammatic analysis on Newsnight with a bunch of worthies from both sides of the pond. Worthies might be stretching it but there was an articulate tree-hugger, Tamsin Omond,  who banged on, amongst many other things, about the cataclysmic danger of Trump reneging on the Paris Climate Agreement. A business prof. called Ted Malloch who might become one of Trump’s senior advisers chillingly countered: Trump plays chess two moves ahead of everyone else both home and overseas. He’s wise, no idiot. Take him seriously.

The chatter bounced around for a while before I began to resent Evan Davis’s revelling in the salacious speculation. My mind had to park the Donald for a little while as I worried about education, education, education. The secondary school where I used to teach has recently made several teachers and others redundant. Subjects such as music have been cut from the curriculum. Morale is low. This is not an isolated story. Budget cuts, which have been savage since the financial crisis of nearly a decade ago, along with successive Tory education ministers wanting to squeeze more blood from the stone, have landed most schools in some sort of financial trouble. My knowledge is of secondary education where politicians and their civil servants have long-sought funding models which prove that more can be got for less. With a protracted period of Tory government most social and educational funding will be savaged. The academies programme – a case of pointless rebranding if ever there was one – fell into the more-for-less agenda.

The effects of constant change and poorly prioritised targets have cost the taxpayer vast sums this last decade. Young primary teachers are leaving the profession in droves. Assessments and targets so often seem unrelated to any context other than the Whitehall ruminations of failed teachers and civil servants who went to the barking mad school for the over-privileged. Secondary teachers are just being sacked – ensuring that ill-equipped young teachers gain posts of responsibility well beyond their competence and acceptable stress levels. Education on the cheap. Literally, seriously.

When McEnroe felt hard done-by, he shouted about it. But it was only a game. Wimbledon is important but it’s not Aleppo. Now Mr Trump tells us that we shouldn’t believe his campaigning vitriol but we must take his presidency seriously. This isn’t a game. Nor is the education of 93% of the UK (the others being much-better funded in private schools).

McEnroe went on to win Wimbledon that year. Ronald Reagan had just become President. Seriously.


2 Jan

Hope features in our late-year vocabulary. Hope you have a nice Christmas; hope for good things in 2017. Much that went on in 2016 gave Hope a kick in the goolies. The fragile ceasefire in Aleppo; Putin cuddling up to the Turks; the Israelis pushing their luck; the madness of North Korea; the implacable Saudis; the scattergun terrorism across the world; Brexit and Trump.

Making sense of it all may be a futile exercise. Democracy seems to have failed a fundamental test. The Brexit vote was predicated on tabloid intolerance and racism backed up by inglorious campaigns of fear and lies. Over the pond a misogynist, racist, lying bigot won the race for the White House on the basis that the American people couldn’t find a better candidate. Politics is truly fucked.

On the brighter side I find that my interests have contracted to trivia that is closer to home. Half the world seems war-torn, terrorist-blighted, environmentally beleaguered, refugee-flooded, disease-ridden and starving. Responsibility lies with the rich and powerful on the one hand and religion on the other. Much safer to hunker down and think small in the hope that the big things will get better or at least hope that my village in Kent won’t become a war-zone any time soon.

On this basis my first blog of the new year concerns shoes, money Vs value and Sat Navs. We are in the midst of an international crisis. We have become obsessed with taking footwear off. Almost every house I enter has  a pile of shoes at the door, the welcoming hosts be-socked and padding about, expecting me to unclamp my Timberlands and reveal the big-toe holes in my socks. Mats are no longer used for the cursory brushing of excess dirt but a repository for guest booties. I shall return to footwear shortly.

Today I purchased a Gillet (GeeLay) so that I could pronounce it with an exaggerated French accent. It was £13.49 from Sports Direct. That is well short of the four drinks I bought in the pub on New Year’s Eve. Now I know that wearing a Lee Cooper GeeeLay won’t propel me on to the front cover of Vogue, nor will it placate the leftie right-on mafia who want to hang, draw and quarter Mike Ashley for his sweat-shop, zero hoursing approach to business…but bloody hell, £13.49!! When we know the price of everything and the value of nothing (thanks Oscar), we chuck important things away.

On the way to my sister’s new house over Christmas, I plugged her postcode into my shiny new TomTom. New postcodes send it potty and we were hurtling in the opposite direction before commonsense kicked in. Then we realised that we knew where Horsham was and the verbal directions from Sis would get us there with greater alacrity than the Sat Nav. The world is losing its sense of direction as we all rely on iphones, Sat Navs and the bloody Daily Mail to mangle our joint path to truth.

Back to Hope. It’s a nice name and when I look at my Grandchildren and think of the many brilliant young people I have the privilege to know, I manage a flicker of hope for 2017 and beyond. You may say I’m a dreamer but I’m not the only one.


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