And The Bells Weren’t Ringing Out For Brexit Time

James Proclaims (4)

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In the ‘real world’ there is a man called James who looks a lot like me and who some people might describe as reasonably intelligent. He even has a real job and some very real responsibilities.

And that man can create the impression that he knows about stuff like politics. He can hold conversations with other reasonably intelligent people about current affairs and no-one would imagine that he is mostly regurgitating soundbites that he heard on Radio 4 on his drive into work. And few would deduce that he only listens to Radio 4 to paper over the cracks of his ever-depleting understanding of just what is going on in the world.

To be fair, he did once have a solid enough grasp on things. He had a worldview that was underpinned by a moderate level of education, an occasional glance at the more left-wing broadsheets and a circle of pseudo intellectual friends who spouted the same kind of well-meaning liberal postulations that he did.

In his younger days you might even have described him as an idealist. Driven by a misplaced righteous anger, he wanted to make the world a better place. But to be fair, he also wanted to get drunk so beyond a few inebriated debates in the pub, he never really did anything to actually make the world a better place. But he meant to get around to it one day.

As he grew older, he became more moderate in his views. He was still fairly left-wing in principle, but more pragmatic and certainly less angry.

Then Brexit happened and he realised that actually he was both quite annoyed and worried about that.

But then it just went on and on and on and on and actually, even though he was still quite irritated by the whole thing, he was also a bit bored by it.

Then he became a father for the first time and forgot there was actually anything else happening in the world beyond his daughter.

But Brexit was sort of still happening. But it also wasn’t happening. And people seemed to still be getting excited about it and angry about it, often at the same time. And some people thought it could still be stopped, and maybe it could be, but the people who tried to stop it were quite bad at convincing people that it needed to be stopped. And the people who wanted it to happen were also quite bad at making it happen because none of them could agree on what it actually was. The only thing they agreed on was that it was the will of the people. And they were wrong about that too, because it was really only ever the will of some people.

And then there was an election. But that was nothing new because there had been a lot of those. But this election meant that the people who really wanted Brexit to happen could actually claim to have some kind of mandate. But really, they only got that mandate because the people who didn’t want Brexit to happen were largely incompetent and couldn’t get anyone to vote for them. Not even the people who mostly agreed with them.

And so, this week Brexit will finally happen. And the people who really don’t want it to happen will all sigh and feel a bit sad but know there’s really nothing that they can do to prevent it.

And those that want it to happen will moan because they think everyone should be celebrating and will be annoyed that some people won’t be. And they’ll be especially annoyed that Big Ben won’t be bonging, even though, due to ongoing repairs it was always logistically unlikely to happen.

And even though people are claiming that Brexit is now done it obviously isn’t. So, it will still be in the news all the time and people will still be talking about it and the division that it has caused will continue and no-one is really going to be happy.

And although the UK will cease to be part of the EU officially this week, nothing much is actually going to change until the end of the year.

And though January is nearly over it is still really the beginning of the year. So the year ahead seems like it will be quite an unpleasant affair all around.

And even at the end of the year there’s no guarantee that anything will really have been sorted out.

And as James ponders this all with a grim resignation but also a kind of pathetic apathy, his eye turns to his 18-month old daughter who is currently sifting through an old photo album in which there are numerous pictures of him from back in the days when he could still afford to go on holiday.

And as she gleefully points out, time and again in her newly acquired vernacular, “that’s my daddy!” he ponders the irony that she is ignoring the very real presence of her daddy in the room in favour of these 2D images of his younger self.

But, he reflects, though the politics of today might mean that the tomorrow his daughter will know might have tougher challenges than perhaps it should, her very existence means that, in his own way, he has contributed to making the world a better place after all.

Definitively Depressing Democracy

James Proclaims (4)

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Today is Blue Monday. Apparently, this is what the cool kids now call the third Monday in January.

It’s supposedly the most depressing day of the year.

And it’s absolutely a real thing and not just some concept originally made up by a travel agent in 2005 to sell more holidays.

So, if you’re feeling depressed today, that’s absolutely fine and you don’t need to seek medical help.

Conversely if you woke up this morning in a relatively chipper mood, there is definitely something wrong with you and you should absolutely seek help at the first opportunity.

One would imagine that the premise of Blue Monday is that Christmas is now a relatively distant memory but we’re still all paying for it in terms of trying to shift excess weight gained during the festive period, with the added problem of having no money thanks to pay day still being over a week away.

And it’s Monday.

Which is always a bad thing.

But this January seems to have given some of us even more reasons to not be cheerful.

I’m vaguely aware of something called a Government Shutdown happening in the US, which is seemingly attributable to the normally even-handed and flexible Mr Trump.

It doesn’t seem like a good thing, but it hasn’t really been headline news over here.

This is not because we Brits like to mind our own business and don’t care about the comings and going of the POTUS. Indeed, such is the coverage normally that you’d be forgiven for thinking that he is actually president of here too.

Fortunately, he’s been largely kept out of our news because our own behemoth of badness has been rather dominating the headlines of late.

That behemoth is, of course, Brexit. If you don’t know what Brexit is, then I’ll refer you to an explanation offered by a number of its proponents:

“Brexit means Brexit.”

Hope that’s cleared that up for you.

The same people also regularly offer a definition for the word ‘leave’.

Which is:

“Leave means Leave”.

Indeed, if the exponents of exiting Europe ever release their own dictionary it will be quite a slim volume, bereft as it will be of any actual definitions of any of the words therein.

Which isn’t to say that it won’t sell well.

Because you can’t argue that Brexiteers don’t know how to market their crap pretty well.

I, of course, am a certified remoaner. I’d rather we hadn’t voted for Brexit. But don’t mistake me for something I’m not. I’m not especially a fan of the European Union.

To be a fan I’d have to understand how it all works.

And I don’t understand at all.

I think, on balance, I’d rather live in a world where we’re all a bit more connected and I think the EU probably represents that.

But I’m hardly an idealist.

If someone could have persuaded me that I, personally, would be significantly better off with Britain leaving the EU, I’d have gladly ignored my principles and voted wholeheartedly for Brexit.

But no-one could.

It was all a bit vague really.

And two and half years on, as we hurtle towards the definitive date when we cease to be part of Europe in an economical and political sense (although remain very much part of it in a geographical sense) it seems no-one has any idea what is going to happen.

Perhaps I’m being a little idealistic, but it kind of feels like we should have known what we were voting for (or against) back when we actually voted on it.

Some people are suggesting that, now we do know a bit more, we should maybe have another referendum.

Other people seem to be of the view that to have another referendum, which could potentially undermine the first vote, would be undemocratic.

I’m not sure another vote would solve anything, because I think we’re all still as clueless now as we were back in 2016, but I really would like someone to explain to me how another referendum would be undemocratic.

Because I’d have thought having another vote would be the very definition of democratic.

Then again, I’m probably using the wrong kind of dictionary.

 

 

 

 

A Second Referendum?

 

James Proclaims (4)

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Since the UK voted to leave the European Union in June 2016, it’s barely been out of the media. The election of a racist misogynist billionaire to the White House has provided some light relief on occasion, but you can’t turn on a TV, listen to the radio or open a newspaper in the UK without encountering some kind of Brexit debate.

Ok, that isn’t strictly true, obviously there are myriad TV channels which don’t feature any kind of political debate, I can’t recall ‘Heart Radio’ featuring too much in the way of topical news shows, and who on Earth reads newspapers anymore?

But my point is that Brexit is kind of a big deal.

It’s a big deal because, it actually is, legitimately, quite a big deal – the economic, legal and security ramifications of Britain leaving the EU are confusing and will almost certainly mean significant change and long periods of uncertainty.

It’s also a big deal because not everyone voted for it. It was a pretty good turn out at the polls and 52% of voters were in favour of Brexit, meaning that 48% were not. That’s a pretty close call, and those of us who voted  to remain are rightly irritated by claims that Brexit is ‘the will of the people’. At best it is ‘the will of some people’.

But I’m ok with losing a democratic vote because obviously the proponents of the ‘Vote Leave’ campaign had a plan. I might not want Brexit, but handled correctly I suppose, in the longer term, it might not be that bad. There may even be aspects of it that are quite good. Because they absolutely had a plan.

Except that , apparently, they didn’t.

And this is really why Brexit remains a big deal. Because, just over a year and half on from that fateful vote, no-one has the slightest idea what Brexit actually means.

Our beloved Prime Minister did coin a phrase when she first came to office, which was, if I recall, that ‘Brexit means Brexit.’

And I’m sure that is true but, and maybe I’m missing something obvious, it doesn’t actually tell us what Brexit means at all.

Some ‘Remain’ campaigners (hilariously dubbed ‘Remoaners’ by the right wing press) have suggested that there should be a second referendum.

Others have suggested that a second referendum flies in the face of democracy.

And I can see their point.

Because obviously giving people an opportunity to vote on the future of Britain’s relationship with Europe is all well and good, but giving the public two opportunities is completely undemocratic because…

…er…

…nope can’t see how that is undemocratic actually.

Having said that, I can’t see that a second referendum would go any differently to the first one. Indeed, such is the regular anti-EU fervour stoked by sections of the British media that I wouldn’t even be surprised to see a second referendum produce a result that was more emphatically in favour of leaving the EU than the first vote was.

But the problem remains that we still have no idea what it is that people did actually vote for back in the golden summer of 2016.

So perhaps a second referendum would be useful just to drill down into what it is that the British people actually want. Perhaps a referendum with a range of choices rather than the straight dichotomy of Remain or Leave.

Here are my suggestions:

Option 1: No Brexit – or ‘this all seems a bit too complicated and it’s better just to keep things the same as they are now’.

Option 2: Soft Brexit –  or ‘leave but don’t actually leave. Like say we’ve left so we can stick two fingers up to Europe, but actually stay part of the Single Market and Customs Union because actually leaving properly seems a bit scary.’

Option 3: Hard Brexit – or leave and cut all remaining ties. We’re British and we’re awesome. Even if it looks like economical suicide it definitely won’t be. After all a stiff upper lip and traditional family values will see us through any problems.’

Option 4: War – or ‘this has always been about hating foreigners and we’ve always been pretty good at wars. That’ll definitely show those European bastards who’s boss. Plus war time is brilliant – remember the good old days of the Second World War when everything was black and white and Britain was great? Let’s go to war again!’

There we go, a referendum to reunite Britain.

You’re welcome.

 

James Explains Giraffes Amongst Other Things

James Explains

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Welcome back to that bit of my blog where I pretend I’m going to explain stuff but then don’t explain anything much at all. This week, as ever, I’ll be answering the questions of other people.

People like Haylee who previously asked about lions and bears and hot dogs and jaffa cakes and is still from the UK but somewhere different in the UK to me. Haylee asks:

Do giraffes make a sound? And would they be the rudest animal if they could speak ‘human’?

Now this does seem like an obvious opportunity to promote the ‘Magic Penguin’ bit of my blog which features a character called Fat Giraffe, who speaks ‘human’ and has been known to be rude, but I’m really not into that kind of self-promotion.

Although you should totally check out the ‘Magic Penguin’ stories now.

But back to the question and whether giraffes make a sound. The answer is yes, yes they do. And I doubt they’re anything like as rude as a vole. I once met a vole who was just the rudest creature.

Ok that isn’t entirely true – I’ve never met a vole of any temperament but I can’t imagine a giraffe would be all that rude. They seem like they’d be quite polite as animals go.

Want to hear what a giraffe sounds like?

Then watch this video in which a giraffe makes a noise.

Jay from the USA asks:

Which is better, Godfather Part I or Godfather Part II? Follow up, why is there so much hatred for Godfather Part III?

Now it would genuinely help if I had seen any of the Godfather films and I haven’t. I should have done, I know I’d enjoy them, but I never seem to have got around to it.

Still, it does seem to be widely accepted that both of the first two Godfather films are pretty good – although according to Wikipedia (the place I go to learn everything), the first one was marginally more successful both critically and commercially. But in the end it’s all just a matter of opinion and as I’ve never seen either I’m not really entitled to have an opinion on this topic..

And why is there so much hatred for part III? Well I haven’t seen that either, but I’d imagine it’s because it isn’t a very good film, a fact which is made all the worse because the other two are supposedly very good.

But I haven’t seen any of them, so what do I know?

I was going to watch them in preparation for this, but frankly, they do seem to be a bit long.

gigglingfattie who previously asked about rubber duckies and is still from Canada asks:

Why, when challenging yourself to post 10 songs from your iTunes, will the most embarrassing ones always be played?!

I think anything that is likely to cause embarrassment is almost inevitable.

So the trick  is not to be embarrassed by anything.

I know that when I’m putting together playlists for my own amusement at home or in the car, they tend to be a mix of nineties and noughties indie classics.

But give me one too many tequilas on a night out and I’ll happily bounce around the dance floor to some ‘interesting’ choices.

Like the one below:

 

FInally, Pete, who previously asked about my name and ‘the point’ and is still from the UK but somewhere different in the UK to me and Haylee asks:

Will we all be rich after Brexit?

I think the answer to that is clearly no Pete. While I’m pretty sure that Brexit will neither be as bad as some of us fear nor anywhere near as good as some people would have us believe,  most of us will be as rich or as poor as we ever were.

But we will have our blue passports back so whatever the other consequences, it will all have been worth it.

And that’s it for another week of explaining stuff.

I expect I’ll do it all again next week if anyone posts a question or two in the comments section below.

The Infallible Power Of Bovril

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I like a cup of coffee
I enjoy a mug of tea
But a thermos filled with Bovril
Is really not for me

It’s not that I’m picky
But I can’t help but think
That salty extract of beef
Probably shouldn’t be a drink

I’m really not that fussy
About what I choose to eat
But I can’t get on board
With the idea of drinking meat

I suppose I’m less opposed
To Bovril as a spread
But if I have the option
I’d choose Marmite instead

Still in these times of Brexit
And negotiations going wrong
The UK should come together
And join in stoic song

For we may lose our household staples
If we can’t strike a deal
But we’ll have Bovril forever
(No matter how that makes us feel)

 

An Actual Advert For Bovril

Here We Go Again

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So apparently it’s on
Time for Corbyn versus May
Though I’m fairly sure that Farron
Will want to have his say

But will anybody listen
To Lib Dems this time around?
Have recent landscape changes caused
A resurgence newly found?

Will they reclaim their moral high ground?
Will they break the UKIP curse?
Now Farage has got his Brexit
Or will Nuttall make things worse?

Or is it Scottish nationals
Who will now reign supreme?
The most vocal opposition
To the hard Brexit regime

But they only fight in Scotland
So they can’t rule the rest
And it seems there’s no-one else
To put Theresa to the test

She’s called a snap election
To reinforce her strong position
As she leads us out of Europe
Against feeble opposition

But perhaps she’s got it wrong
And now cometh the hour
Jeremy will also cometh
And sweep Labour into power

It might seem unlikely
But if we learned anything last year
It’s that outcomes just might be
Both what we hope or what we fear

And does it really matter
Which leader we applaud
Since we said ‘f*** off’ to Europe
And bet our future on a fraud?

A Momentous Day

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If the motto of the Brexiteers
Is ‘All For Us and None For You’
Then today they’ll tone it down
As we begin to say adieu

For though we complain about officials
Who were appointed, not elected
We’ll ignore that our Theresa
Was unopposed when then selected

To move to Number Ten
And be the preeminent figure
To guide us through this mess
And today to pull the trigger

For if all hope now seems lost
And we think things can’t get better
Theresa begs to differ
And today she sent a letter

The letter went to a Donald
But not the one called Trump
(Though he’ll no doubt have his say
As we prepare to make the jump)

To become once more an island
An isolated nation
No longer able to blame
Everything on immigration

We’re told things will improve
But they might be getting bleaker
As the prices all go up
And the pound is getting weaker

But fear not my fellow Brits
In the short-term we’ll be thrifty
But soon we’ll be in ‘dreamland’
Through article number fifty

The Future Is Bright

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The realities of a ‘post-truth’ world
Are hard to distinguish from those
Of the pre-truth world
Worlds where we are bombarded by images
Of things we neither want nor need
Although
On reflection
Maybe we might need them
And we do quite want them
In fact, we can’t live without them

But iThink iKnow what iNeed
Though Apples are not the only fruit
Just look in the Amazon
For a Galaxy of alternatives
An Xperiance like no other
Knock here to use the Windows
If you want to escape the Androids

What do you think Alexa?
Or should we ask Siri?
Maybe Cortana?
But no-one asks Cortana.
Any more than anyone ever asked Jeeves

WikiLeaks will show us the way
To the whole truth
Or at least to aspects of the truth
Or an interpretation of the truth
The truth that will sell the most papers Continue reading The Future Is Bright

The Will Of The People

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Who is this ‘Will Of The People’
He that cannot be denied
And must be honoured, revered and obeyed?
I can think of many Wills
But none that strike me
As being ‘Of The People’

Not the Conqueror I’d wager
Or the one who liked Orange
And certainly neither Pitt Junior
Nor indeed Senior
And it really doesn’t seem
Like it was  Wilberforce’s thing

I doubt very much it’s
Shakespeare or Wordsworth
Popular in their own way
But less influential to modern ears
Than perhaps they were in days gone by Continue reading The Will Of The People

James Complains About Quite A Lot Of Things

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Although I tend to mock the whole idea of New Year’s Resolutions, January 2017 seems to have coincided with me ‘upping my game’ in blogging terms. I’ve been posting pretty regularly, a minimum of three times a week and on occasion four. Furthermore, although many of my blog posts have been in the form of bad poetry or bad art, Mondays have tended to be for a more considered, longer piece of writing.

That, people of the blogosphere, takes planning and effort.

Seriously.

It might not seem like it but those meandering Monday posts, with questionable grammar and no particular point, do actually take me a bit of time to produce. I generally take the whole weekend to ‘craft’ them. Continue reading James Complains About Quite A Lot Of Things