August 2018


Stormy skies. And that is an understatement.

Because, you know what? Storm clouds are gathering, aren’t they? There is a particular mood in the country… in fact, no, that’s wrong, there are two moods building in the country, maybe the world, but I’ll stick to the country. Two moods that are the binary opposite of each other: tolerance and intolerance. Naturally, I consider myself to be on the side of tolerance but that puts some of my friends distinctly and firmly into the camp of intolerance. I don’t actually believe that they fit there. I don’t believe that they truly belong there or even want to be there. But that’s where they are and they’re typing in CAPITAL LETTERS.

Anti-Muslim; anti-Europe; anti-immigration; anti-anything left wing; anti-democracy; anti-ethic minority; anti-other culture; anti-tolerant – intolerant. There are nice people DSC04467who hold these opinions and it just doesn’t feel right. They might well have been harbouring less than modern views and be a bit Daily Maily but they are now shouting about it. Shouting about it and threatening to cause trouble on the streets if they don’t get their own way. So, how the hell did reasonable people end up supporting views that their grandfathers and great-grandfathers sacrificed their lives for in the trenches and on the battlefields? The one bit of good that came out of those two diabolical events between 1914 and 1945 was peace in Europe and now, half our country want to trash that.

I can only presume that it’s because they have been told, repeatedly, that Europe is a bad thing. That Europe threatens them in some way. That it is unelected (it isn’t) that it is undemocratic (it isn’t) and that it only want to screw us over (it doesn’t). Those messages are perpetrated by people who don’t want rules in place because the rules make them pay their way like we ordinary people have to. Talk to anyone who has been involved in the EU and they will tell you that the Johnny Foreigner beaurocrats have been bending over backwards for their troublesome British neighbour for decades. Britain has always been a pain in the arse to Europe. They must secretly be quite pleased that they’ll soon be shut of us.

And yet, most of the European laws that some folks complain about were drawn up by us and then bent in such ways as to benefit us over the other nations. We spent all those years working on the project and tailoring it to fit us and then it is hijacked by a handful of greedy men. I am bewildered.

I’ve just returned from a weekend of peace, love and tolerance in a field in Oxford. The annual Fairport’s Cropredy Convention. Brian Wilson, from the Beach Boys, played, along with another original Beach Boy, Al Jardine. They did indeed DSC04491inject some Good Vibrations into the field (though I’m not certain that Brian actually knew where he was). Also, Al Stewart (Year of the Cat) was there. The most sedate set I’ve ever heard from The Levellers and a new discovery: The Bar-Steward Sons of Val Doonigan. These guys are from Barnsley and I have no idea how I managed to  never come across them before. They made twenty thousand people smile. Cregan & Co. played on Friday and the great Jim Cregan took us through over an hour of what seemed like all the best songs from the seventies and eighties. He wrote with and for Rod Stewart and, even if I was tempted, I never need to buy a ticket for Rod, I can just go and see these guys again.

Four days of blissful distraction from the mess that the country is dragging its weary arse through. Regardless of which side you happen to be on, it’s fairly clear now that leaving is a massive problem and that there will be zero benefit to the ordinary person or the country in general. This shouldn’t be a surprise, just look at who organised the debacle in the first place. The Tories have no idea about how the people think and feel. If they had thought for even a second that the leave side would win then there would never have been a referendum. And all those capital letter typers would be blissfully unaware. They weren’t shouting to leave before they were given the option. But the Tories never imagined that years and years of austerity and attacks on the benefit system would affect people’s views. That’s how stupid they were. The fact that it was a bunch of millionaires telling everyone to remain guaranteed that leave would win.

DSC04503And now we’re in a position where it’s clear (to me anyway) that they have to come up with a method of staying in. And the only way they’ll get away with that is if they agree a plan with the EU to pretend that our leave vote frightened the crap out of Brussels to the extent that they now give us all the things that Brexiters think they voted for (sovereignty, control of borders, our own laws) which we had anyway. Maybe that’s what all the negotiations are all about. Either that or just drinking gin. There’s an old saying about politicians and I think it might have been the great Billy Connolly that came up with it: ‘Don’t vote for the bastards, it just encourages them.’

Apropos of nothing in particular but maybe something very much in particular, can anybody explain the government’s argument that they should have access to the unencrypted data at the beginning or the end of a WhatsApp or Instagram conversation? I mean, I know all about the bad guys (who have always been here and who always will be) but I can’t ever remember a time when a government argued that they should have the right to open everyone’s mail. I mean: Royal Mail! There is no difference. Communication is communication (like Brexit is Bullshit) and if they gain access to our encrypted data then the bad guys will just start writing letters to each other – won’t they?

I know that when I started this blog back in the mists of time I said that it was going to be about writing, and so it will be at some point, or now and again, probably. The thing is, it’s my blog so I write whatever the hell I like on it. If you’re desperate to read something about writing then take a look at my Web Site, there’s plenty on there. So enjoy the rest of August (it’s looking good up to now with the distinct prospect of a sunny bank holiday) and I’ll see you all again in September. And I’m sorry about the lack of pictures this month but very little is appropriate to the content. I’ll take a chill pill before I start writing next time.


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