Tag Archives: news

Coming to terms

It’s been two weeks since we woke to a slim vote to leave the EU. Since then, having been a remainer, I’ve been through the shock, grief and anger stages. It affected me badly, and is still affecting Best Beloved.

I am still very angry. Angry at the mendacity chiefly from the leave side, angry at the ignorance, angry at what the result has unleashed, anger at those having perpetrated things then decided to just point the finger at everyone else and leave the stage. Anger, too, allied with frustration that the entire political class seems intent on in-fighting rather than sorting out the mess we find ourselves in.

Anger, though, doesn’t change much. We are where we are.

There’s a slim chance the whole thing can be kicked into the long grass. The vote was only advisory, has no bearing in law. The government would be stupid to ignore the vote, but the longer they take to enact Article 50—the official starting pistol for the true leave negotiations with the EU—the more likely it could be some kind of deal to remain properly in the EU would happen.

The thing is, despite petitions and marches, grumbling on social media, and the more traditional hurling obscenities at the television news bulletins, the only people who can do anything about anything are currently embroiled in leadership contests. Until that mud slinging stops, and of course the summer recess and conference season has passed, nothing will happen. We remain in limbo until at least October this year, as our world unravels.

It’s almost as if the politicians don’t care about what’s actually happening out here, in the real world. In their little Westminster bubble, they play their silly games as if it’s all that really matters. It is almost as if there is no constitutional crisis, no urgency to sort the mess out, nothing to worry about at all. Crisis? What crisis?

What we must do, those of us still angry about being told to stop grumbling because we “lost”, is hold our so-called leaders to account. If we have to leave the European Union, we must make damned sure we get the best possible deal, and we must fight tooth and nail to make certain those likely to be hardest hit by leaving will be given as much aid and support as they currently get from the EU.

There’s also the small matter of rebuilding our society. Fourteen days seems to have opened the cracks that many of us had thought filled and lost for several decades. All that has been undone must be done again.

It’s not going to be easy. We must each learn to direct our anger, to channel it to make sure that whatever happens we get to build a great future from the ruins of the past.

Oh, what have you done?

There are times in your life when something momentous or calamitous occurs. Think declaring war with Germany in 1939, the assassination of JFK, the fall of the Berlin Wall, Mandela walking free—those kinds of things. We seem to be in one of those moments.

Perhaps, as a child playing rather too boisterously, you managed to damage or break something precious. There’s no way it could be mended, no matter how hard you screwed up your eyes and prayed that it might miraculously be put back together again. You have a certain feeling, deep in the pit of your stomach, that signifies there’s been a significant shift in circumstances, and not necessarily for the better. There’s no going back. That’s it, done and dusted.

That’s how I feel about the EU in or out referendum our benighted country held on 23 June 2016, a day that will go down in history as most definitely not one of Britain’s finest.

I voted to remain in the European Union. My reasons are not important right now, I just felt it was the least worst option. Taking a leap into the unknown, on the basis of blatant fabrications, falsehoods and downright lies, seemed a little, well, terminal. I believe it still to be better to try and fix things with a hand on the tiller, than be tied to the mast with no say in how the ship is run. If it doesn’t get better, then think about leaving some other time.

Inevitably, immigration came seething to the fore during the campaign, because the failure of western capitalism was all the fault of the foreigners, of course—even though it’s not and never has been. It dominated the discussion, even though it was plain there was no simple solution, and wouldn’t change much if we decided to leave anyway. Another fact that got swept away in the tide of xenophobia.

Although the result of the vote was close, it tipped to leaving. Just over half of those who bothered to vote decided we should take that leap into the unknown. As it turned out, the consequences have been exactly as predicted. Depending on who you believe, the economy is struggling, the pound is plummeting, the world’s stock markets have the jitters, Scotland wants out of the union, other EU member states are hoping they might be next to take the plunge and leave the gang, and we have no sensible government after the prime minister threw in the towel and the opposition decided to start a leadership battle. To cap it all, reports are that racist and xenophobic incidents have increased by over 50 per cent. It seems that some of those who wanted us “out” really wanted the “out” to mean everyone who wasn’t born here or was perceived as foreign purely by dint of their skin colour. Whether the Faragists expected this to happen, who knows? The fact is the dis-United Kingdom is now a grubbier, more violent and unhappy place than it was.

It’s not even been a week since the vote, and already it seems like the end of days! The worst is the feeling that there is no way out. There’s no escape. There’s nowhere to run and hide. We are stuck in this chaotic farce that needn’t have happened, and we’ve broken the country irrevocably. We can’t screw up our eyes and try to will it all back together again.

I find it unbelievable that it has come to this. Did the Powers That Be not foresee this might be the outcome? Were they so cock sure the remain side would win they didn’t consider what might happen if that didn’t come to pass? Indeed, did the leave side really not have any form of plan of what to do in case they won?

Alas, so it seems. No-one expected to lose or win or split almost evenly down the middle, so we’re left with chaos and anarchy and no idea of what to do from anywhere. There’s no reset button.

Forget Article 50 being kicked into the long grass, Scottish Parliament vetoes, rerunning referendums. It’s too late. The genie is out of the bottle. There’s no going back. We have crossed the Rubicon. We are in uncharted waters, with no-one steering the boat.

Everything that I took more or less for granted in my world is suddenly inverted. It’s broken, shattered. There is no stability any more. Everything is twisted, torn and shredded. We are so screwed. Hate, it seems, is winning. I find I am swinging wildly between grief, dread and profound and deepening anger. One moment I’m laughing at the absurdity of it all, the next I’m in tears of sheer desperation.

How dare we be plunged into this chaos for no apparent good reason. Yet, life goes on. The sun still rises in the east; birds sing; we have to eat, shop, pretend our world is not imploding in some calm British sort of way. I don’t think I can cope with pretending it’s all normal much longer. It wasn’t my fault, but I’m tangled up in it, and it’s not fair!

So I say again: what have YOU done‽

Facts, 360 B.C.-A.D. 2012 – chicagotribune.com

A quick review of the long and illustrious career of Facts reveals some of the world’s most cherished absolutes: Gravity makes things fall down; 2 + 2 = 4; the sky is blue.

But for many, Facts’ most memorable moments came in simple day-to-day realities, from a child’s certainty of its mother’s love to the comforting knowledge that a favorite television show would start promptly at 8 p.m.

Over the centuries, Facts became such a prevalent part of most people’s lives that Irish philosopher Edmund Burke once said: “Facts are to the mind what food is to the body.”

To the shock of most sentient beings, Facts died Wednesday, April 18, after a long battle for relevancy with the 24-hour news cycle, blogs and the Internet. Though few expected Facts to pull out of its years-long downward spiral, the official cause of death was from injuries suffered last week when Florida Republican Rep. Allen West steadfastly declared that as many as 81 of his fellow members of theU.S. House of Representatives are communists.

Facts held on for several days after that assault — brought on without a scrap of evidence or reason — before expiring peacefully at its home in a high school physics book. Facts was 2,372.

Well written, and right on the button. I’m actually rather surprised that Facts’ close relative, Reason, isn’t also on life support as I write.

Forgotten, but not gone

With the news the Cutty Sark restoration has been completed and the ship is to reopen to the public later this week, I wondered what had happened to another restoration project that has been ongoing since the 1980s. 

I mean the restoration of the Dunkirk “Little Ship” Medway Queen. Earlier this year, the project was in some doubt due to problems with the funding, as I linked and blogged about at the time. Happily, the problems have been resolved and work has resumed on the ship.

April 2012. 

It seems that the EU funding suspension for our project as at long last been lifted by the EU commission, not after causing many money worries re paying apprentices and their training staff. Hopefully all unpaid back payments as well as funds due will now be paid to the society!

In the time being work still carries on at Bristol, albeit rather slow of late, the bow section is basically complete, but the aft end seems to drag on, reluctance to rivet plate maybe because most will have to be done by old method by hand, as their “auto riveters” will possibly not reach most angles it seems!

http://www.medwayqueen.com/

The story of the rescue and restoration of this humble paddle steamer is one of tenacity and heartache. Reading through the captions accompanying the gallery on the Society’s unofficial web site, it really does beggar belief that it has taken so long and so much voluntary hard work to save part of the UK’s maritime heritage. 

Here’s a link to the official Medway Queen Preservation Society web site.

http://www.medwayqueen.co.uk/

BBC News – EU funding threatens Medway Queen restoration

The restoration of a paddle steamer which rescued Allied troops during the Dunkirk evacuations is under threat after European funding was suspended.

The Medway Queen took more than 7,000 men from beaches in Normandy in 1940.

Restoration work began last year with help from the Heritage Lottery Fund and the European Regional Development Fund.

The government said administrative errors had led to the suspension of EU funding and it was working to get payments released.

Restoration work on the ship’s hull began in Bristol last April with money from a £1.86m Heritage Lottery Grant.

For this project to founder would be an enormous shame, made worse by not being the fault of the project itself. I only hope some rich benefactor might step in to help if the funding problem isn’t sorted out in time.

Privatising our roads will be a terrible deal – just as it was for the telecoms and water industries

Einstein defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”. In which case, going by his speech yesterday on overhauling Britain’s roads and airports, David Cameron is mad.

I don’t usually do personal, or rude. But if the prime minister really, truly thinks he can do what his predecessors have done over the past couple of decades and not cop precisely the same woeful mess that they did, then he’s bonkers. Gaga. A few Pret sandwiches short of the full picnic.

Strip away the novelty of a prime ministerial speech devoted to, um, tarmac and what the Tory leader proposes is pretty much what we have heard over and over, from Thatcher onwards. Every British prime minister of recent memory has turned to private businesses and investors to build and run hospitals, schools and tube services. Now Cameron wants them to take over our motorways and trunk roads, too.

via Guardian.co.uk

I can find no words, so I won’t even begin to write any.

 

BBC News – Flag Fen archaeology idea brings in public to dig deep

Renowned Bronze Age archaeological site Flag Fen in Cambridgeshire will host a first-of-its-kind dig that makes the public integral to the project.

The idea combines both “crowdfunding” and “crowdsourcing”; for contributions starting at £125, donors can get their hands very dirty and dig for a day.

The venture’s website will also stream live video from the dig as well as host lectures and interviews with experts.

The aim is to fully explore the site before it dries out and is destroyed.

An interesting idea.

BBC News – Kent rail links “may become part of Boris’s empire”

A Kent MP is meeting London transport bosses over fears that the city may take over the running of some of the county’s train services.

Michael Fallon, who represents Sevenoaks, is concerned that his constituents could end up with a worse and more expensive service.

Boris Johnson believes routes to Dartford and Sevenoaks will improve if they are managed from London.

But Mr Fallon says many passengers cannot hold Mr Johnson to account.

BoJo’s at it again. He can’t keep his mitts off stuff that doesn’t concern him. He’ll have to go. Please, Londoners, vote for anyone else in the May election. Anyone but Boris, please.

Kodak files for bankruptcy | Business | guardian.co.uk

Kodak has filed for bankruptcy in a bid to survive a liquidity crisis after years of falling sales related to the decline of its namesake film business as digital cameras have taken over the market.

Eastman Kodak Co, the photographic film pioneer, which had tried to restructure to become a seller of consumer products like cameras, said it had also obtained a $950m, 18-month credit facility from Citigroup to keep it going.