A team of not-third-raters dealing with a future which is not apocalyptic

How do you parody all this? How can you add mockery to the daily activities of those who rule over us? All you can do is report it, along with some of the comment and cartoons, so we can look back and remember how we got to wherever we are by then. Where will that be – don’t ask David Davis, Minister for Exiting the EU, who cheerfully admitted to the Brexit Committee that he hadn’t a clue about where we were going. He is, however, in a great hurry to get there.

Ingram Pinn in the FT

Boris Johnson, David Davis and Liam Fox, the three horsemen of the Brexitocalypse appointed by Theresa May to take us over the Brexit cliff-edge, turned out in force on Sunday ahead of the crucial Brexit showdown in the Commons. The context was twofold –  Theresa May’s assertion that no deal with the EU was better than a bad deal, and the right (or not) of Parliament to have a say in the negotiations, or at least in the end-result.

The gallant crew were not exactly singing from the same hymn-sheet on the “no deal” scenario. Johnson said “I don’t think that the consequences of no deal are by any means as apocalyptic as some people like to protest”. Fox said of a “no deal” result that “Of course it would be bad, not just for the UK but Europe as a whole”. Davis said “Parliament had better do as we tell it, or else” (I paraphrase, a little).

So the most positive thing from any of them is that a “no deal” Brexit would not be apocalyptic. Try applying that to any other decision-making in public or private life:

“I commend this budget to the House. Its results will not be apocalyptic”.

“Vote for me – I promise the outcome won’t be apocalyptic”

“Marry me….”

You get the point, as the Three Mountebanks apparently do not. Continue reading

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In some places it is not a bad thing if the camera lies

I went back to Felixstowe a few weeks ago. It is easy enough to take good pictures of a pretty place on a sunny day, but Felixstowe is as dull a place as ever spoiled a coastline. I came away thinking I had taken nothing worth keeping save as snapshots-of-record, those straight-up-and-down pictures which serve simply as a reminder, perhaps a reminder not to bother to go back.

There were two though, which warranted the trip and show that interesting views may lurk unsuspected in what appear to be routine snaps. In its days of prosperity, Felixstowe treated itself to some fine street lights which, when isolated from their shabby context and given some Photoshop love yielded this:

felixstowelights Continue reading

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Peter Skellern – co-performer of songs of gentle mockery

I was sorry to hear of Peter Skellern’s death. I knew of him only from his partnership with Richard Stilgoe. Together they wrote and performed wry, gently humorous songs with good tunes. This is not really about Skellern (there is an excellent Guardian obituary here for that) but an excuse to rummage through some of the Stilgoe and Skellern songs.

whodareswinsWe saw their show Who Plays Wins at the Vaudeville Theatre in the autumn of 1985. Perhaps my strongest memory of the show is not of the songs (that came from listening to them over and over again from the CD – they are on iTunes here and you can buy the CD from Amazon here) but of the pair of them sharing two pianos, sitting back to back on a bench between the pianos with one hand each on each piano, playing a rag.

Stilgoe and Skellern could be spiky, but no-one got hurt. I don’t suppose, however, that Clive Sinclair much appreciated their review of his electric car, the Sinclair C5:

All the girls will stand and stare
When you’re sitting in your Sinclair
Hey, hey, hey, look over there
Who’s the wally in the grey bathchair? Continue reading

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Here we go gathering Nuttall and May: the normalisation of political dishonesty

The purpose of these periodic posts is to collect the follies of those who rule over us as they flow past on Twitter and in the news, illustrated with some of the pictures which stand for a thousand words. If there is a theme to this one, it is that we in the UK have no right to criticise the antics of any other country, nor to claim that our devotion to justice and fairness is any greater than theirs. We have also normalised dishonesty in politics, and Tony Blair came back and showed us, like Matilda in Belloc’s poem, that no-one will take any notice of you, however right you are this time, once you are tainted with a history of dishonesty.

MATILDA told such Dreadful Lies,
It made one Gasp and Stretch one’s Eyes;

brexitandmayWe had three terms of gasping and stretching our eyes at Tony Blair. As someone said during his time as Prime Minister, if Blair told you the time, you would at once ring the Speaking Clock to check it. However right and eloquent Blair is now, he can’t stop Matilda May from playing with the matches. More on this below. [Cartoon by Brookes in The Times] Continue reading

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Rare RAF plane seen across a frozen Port Meadow

Shall I take the big camera on this quick evening walk? Nah – I must have hundreds of  pictures of sunsets across Port Meadow. So it was that I had only an old iPhone on me when this scene appeared before me:

pmplane_640 Continue reading

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We shall fight them on the cliff-edge. We shall fight them in the speeches. We shall never surrender our delusions

Part of the point of this fortnightly (or so) summary is to capture the follies of those who rule over us or who would like to do so. The tales of idiocy come so thick and fast that half of what I write early on gets dumped as fresh waves of stupidity crash in on us. Another purpose is to capture some of the inspired merriment in the cartoons and tweets which I come across in passing.

Something cheerful to begin wth (just to mislead you into thinking I am going all soft and optimistic). A bookshop owner in Hawes has been getting stick for being rude to customers. The parish council says he is “a discredit to the otherwise excellent reputation of the town” and nearly everyone seems to agree. One shop-keeper, however, had a different view:

“We are lucky living in Hawes. We don’t have to worry about the things most people worry about and perhaps it means that people are worrying about something that’s trivial instead”.

Applause for that, I say. Continue reading

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Castles in common

When I restarted this blog recently, I began with an article rejoicing in ‘serendipity’, which I found defined as the ‘faculty of making happy and unexpected discoveries by accident’.

I have no idea how I found out that The Sound of Music and Where Eagles Dare have a castle in common. The castle in the background of this well-known shot from The Sound of Music

soundofmusiccastle

…is the same as the one of this view of Schloss Adler in Where Eagles Dare

eagles Continue reading

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