Showing posts with label politics. Show all posts
Showing posts with label politics. Show all posts

Thursday, May 11, 2023

Said Alice (2)

So, yes, I went to the Cathedral to watch Charles ascending the throne on a big screen. 

It seemed the thing to do.

Grown-ups have talked about the Coronation all my life. There is a soap opera and a kind of chicken named after it. It is connected in my head with the Millennium and the Blue Peter time capsule. A thing I knew when I was little would happen when I was old. I could have watched it on my I-Pad, but I would have been tempted to make a cup of tea or check Twitter. I would have liked to go to the Abbey, but like Meghan and President Biden, I somehow got left off the guest list. I wanted to have a specific memory of the Coronation as a thing I did; not a thing I half watched on TV. I suppose I will be around for William's but definitely not for George's.  

And so the burning question is: did I or did I not pledge my true allegiance to his majesty and to his heirs and successors according to law?

Church services often involve public responses. May the Force be with you, and also with you. Do you renounce Francis Ford Coppola and all his works? The congregation even have to say "I do" during a Christening ceremony, even if they don't particularly know the Mum and Dad whose baby is being dipped in the font. There may even be a "Will you help and support the happy couple?" in the marriage service. 

A lot of people pretended to be very shocked that the coronation service was going to involve a public declaration of loyalty to the new King, and then a lot of other people pretended to be even more shocked that the first lot were shocked. One side were Orwellian and the other side were Traitors. 

What had actually happened was that Charles thought it would be a wheeze if the traditional Homage of the Peers (where members of the House of Lords say that the new incumbent is quite definitely king) could be replaced by a Homage of the People in which ordinary folk get to say so as well. In a last minute Anglican compromise, the good Archbishop decided to invite everyone to swear allegiance, instead of actually calling on them to do so. They were also allowed to say God Save King Charles if they didn't have the full script in front of them. I don't know why the BBC couldn't have scrolled it across the screen with a little bouncy ball. 

Yes, of course, I mumbled along with the rest of the congregation, as I would have done at any other service. 

Shall I tell you a secret? I have seen avowed atheists mouthing "I believe in God the Father Almighty" when they've found themselves attending church for some social reason. I don't actually see much wrong with that. Paris is worth a Mass. 

When the King of England started pushing Yankees around
We taught him a lesson down in Boston town
A very brave negro, Crispus Attucks was the man
The first to fall when the fighting began

I found it all rather beautiful and moving and impressive. 

I am sorry, but I did. 

I was particularly impressed, for some reason, by the choir singing "Vivat Regina Camilla!" Last year I was particularly struck by the simplicity of the Palace's announcement: "the Queen died peacefully at Balmoral" and without a pause "The King will remain here until tomorrow." Not even "the new King" or "King Charles": just "the King". 

Camilla looked utterly terrified throughout; Charles maintained the correct sense of dignity and bemusement and managed to refrain from swearing at his fountain pen. The reason he read the vows off the cards is that they are the part of the service with constitutional force and he has to get them exactly right. I enjoyed the Gospel Choir and the Greek Orthodox band and Sir Bryn doing his thing in Welsh. I nominate the curly haired lad with the freckles who enunciated just slightly too much as the Best Chorister, but the row of young chaps with big spectacles are very highly commended. Some of the barking mad pageantry is undoubtedly fascinating: I enjoyed Penny Mordaunt giving the sword to the king and the king giving it to the Archbishop and the King buying it back and returining it to Penny. 

It is strange to think that there is someone whose job it is to know all these stuff: the Royal College of Heralds, I suppose. I believe that part of the fun of being a Freemason is learning the ins and outs of a deliberately obscure rite. That's also part of the fun of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. It is strange to think that there is still such a thing as the Royal College of Heralds. 

I don't think anyone could fail to be impressed by the theatre of the old man taking off his cloak and his tunic in order to be anointed (behind a screen). You can use words like "cos-play" or "dress-up" all you want: I like the theatricality and artifice. The actual King is dressing up as a King; the real King is role-playing being a King, with props and costumes which are the kinds of things we imagine a pretend-king ought to have. Orbs and coaches and robes and rings and gauntlets. If you don't go to church and aren't used to people wearing cassocks and robes and mitres and standing up and sitting down and kneeling I can see why it might all look a bit silly. If I were visiting, say, Oklahoma and had the opportunity to see, say, the investiture of a knew Shawnee leader I would most certainly go and I expect I would find it interesting and impressive. Finding it silly and quaint would be cultural appropriation, I shouldn't wonder.

Joseph got a royal pardon and a host of splendid things
A chariot of gold, a cloak, a medal and some signet rings.

C.S Lewis (we were bound to get to him eventually) thought that the Book of Common Prayer would, sooner or later, have to be revised: it was four hundred years old and words change their meaning. 

But he didn't think the church was ready for a new prayer book quite yet. He said that two things would indicate that the time was right. First, the Church of England would have to be going through a period of comparative theological unanimity; and secondly, there would have to be an obvious Anglican poet who was good at writing liturgy. You'd need to be at point when the Church was pretty clear what it wanted to say and had someone on hand who could pick the right words in which to say it. This seems admirable good sense. I think we can probably agree that neither condition was conspicuously met in either 1980 or 2000. 

I think something similar applies to the British constitution. Is there a broad consensus about what an English British Republic, or a reformed English British Constitutional Monarchy, ought to look like? Is there someone other than Olly Murs on hand to compose a new National Anthem and someone better than Pan Ayers to write a Presidential oath of office?

The King was in the counting house, counting out his money
The Queen was in the parlour, eating bread and honey
The maid was in the garden, hanging out the clothes
When down came a blackbird and pecked off her nose

The great Scottish Folk Singer Dick Gaughan once remarked that he couldn't make up his mind about Johnny Cash. "Sometimes I think he's great. But sometimes I think he's a wee redneck shite." I agree. But I am actually not un-fond of the Redneck Shite genre. The one about all the Texans getting slaughtered by the Mexicans in a fort, for example. The Johnny Cash monologue about the American flag somehow crosses the "so bad it's good" line and comes out the other side. On second thoughts, I do like to brag, I feel mighty proud of that ragged old flag. 

Of course, the Ragged Old Flag isn't about a piece of cloth, any more than the Old Rugged Cross is about a piece of wood. It's a metaphor, or possibly a symbol. I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States and the republic for which it stands.  

I understand that situation comedies have given British viewers the impression that the Pledge of Allegiance is more ubiquitous in modern American schools than is actually the case: but I was never as horrified by the idea as some of my fellow Corbynites seem to have been. I suppose if you want to go the whole way and imagine that there are no countries (which isn't hard to do) then we shouldn't be pledging allegiance to anything at all. But as long as we are allowed to have nations then I think we can probably have national symbols, and symbolic shows of loyalty to those symbols are somewhere between perfectly harmless and quite nice. People have put the Union Jack to bad use, but then the have done the same with the Hammer and Sickle and the Christian Cross. 

I do have a problem when devotion to a flag imbues the flag itself with magical properties. It's one thing to say that you bring her down slow every night, don't let her touch the ground and fold her up tight. That's a matter of form and etiquette. It's another to say that if you don't handle the flag correctly you are guilty of literal treason. Most of us understand the difference between The Flag as a symbol and the flag as a piece of cloth, although some of us sometimes pretend not to. Most of us understand that when we talk about loyalty to the Crown we aren't talking about being loyal to the thing on Charles' head, pretty as it unquestionably was.

William, William, Henry, Stephen
Henry, Richard, John, oi!
Henry, Ed, Ed, Ed, Rich two
Then three more Henrys join our song
Edward, Edward, Rich the third
Henry, Henry, Ed again
Mary one, good Queen Bess
Jimmy, Charles and Charles and then
Jim, Will, Mary, Anna Gloria
George, George, George, George
Will, Victoria
Edward, George, Edward, George six
And Queen Liz two completes the mix

We used to be told that the point of the Monarchy was that it stood above party politics. I used to partly believe it. I don't say that Prince Phillip was apolitical. Nothing is apolitical, not even David Attenborough or Rice Krispies. But the Silver Jubilee didn't feel like a Labour Thing or a Tory Thing -- it was just a Thing. There were actual Communists who pretended it wasn't happening, and young men with safety pins who were very rude about it, but most people were no more For or Against the Jubilee than they were For or Against the sky. Even the Punks were relatively amusing and quite cool; green hair and safety pins rapidly found their way onto postcards alongside beefeaters and fish and chips. The dissent was part of the festivities. In 1977 I pointedly didn't like pop music and would have thought that the Sex Pistols didn't play proper tunes. That's how sophisticated I was at the age of 13. Only since I started going to folk music have I been able to appreciate the punk's poetry of rage. 

Lee Anderson is odious, of course, and it's his job to be odious, but surely even he can see that "If you don't like the monarchy, your should emigrate" is a bit of cliche, a Viz level parody of what Mr Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells would have written, probably in green ink? 

But is it not rather counter productive? If the point of Charles is that he stands above politics, then why would a Monarchist work so hard to rebrand him as a Tory symbol, to spend so much time saying that Labour don't love our King? If you repeat over and over again that things are "as Republican as Apple Pie" then haven't you spoiled Apple Pie as a symbol of wholesome patriotism?

We're the flowers in the dustbin
We're the poison in your human machine

I read Roger Lancelyn Green's Tales of King Arthur when I was maybe nine or ten; off the same library shelf where I found Chris Godfrey and in the same year I discovered Spider-Man and the Wombles. 

I read TH White's Once and Future King in the fifth form and washed it down with some Idyls of the King. The same people who did Children of the Stones did a TV show about a juvenile delinquent who turned out to be the One True King of England. His probation officer was Merlin. I was given both volumes of the Penguin Malory for my eighteenth birthday and read them all the way through, even the Tristan sections. My whole long Arthurian infatuation culminated in a multi year game of Pendragon . 

But even without round tables and swords in stones, the Kings and Queens of England the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and of Their other Realms and Territories have always been there. Victoria was not amused; King John was not a good man; one Henry inadvertently ordered his men to kill the archbishop and another one beheaded several of his wives. George the third went mad and Richard the third lost his horse and another Henry found the crown hanging on a gorse bush. Upon this charge cry God, for England, Harry and St George. Five bad kings and two genuine dates. I don't believe in the mystic Albion or that the king and the land are one. I am not sure I believe the King is the head of the Church; in fact I am not complete sure how the Anglican doctrine of succession works. 

There is much to be said of Rob Young's notion of Electric Eden. Folk music as the music of an imaginary England: the songs create the past. A mythology for England: who said that? 

If you want to be cynical about them, Coronations are historical cos-plays or expensive dressing up games. If you want to be less cynical, they are adding new chapters to a story which goes on an on forever. The beginning of the story might not quite stretch back to Lear and Cymbeline or even Ethelston and Cnut but it certainly goes back to Charles II and the Prince Regent. 

Can you enjoy the story, the holy oil, the ancient book, even if in these enlightened times, no-one believes a word of it? Or does that put you in the category of one of those clergyman who sings Jesus Christ Is Risen Today on Easter Sunday and then writes a learned article in the Observer about how it's all a load of bollocks? Do Charles and Camilla and Justin Welby and Rishi Sunak believe that God chooses Kings of England? Do they believe that King Charles is connected to a spiritual power-grid that draws power from Henry VIII and Saint Augustine and Saint Peter and ultimately Jesus? If they don't, then wouldn't we have to say that the whole operation is not so much a charade as a blatant lie? The Church of England carries on because one or two of the clergy and several of the laity really do genuinely believe in God. I doubt if one single person, in that sense, believes in Charles.

A dying race, numbly rehearsing the ancient ways in a blur of forgetfulness. But today, the ritual gives no comfort. 

By tea-time tomorrow, all this will feel very irrelevant. Sacred role-play will have given way to a silly Command performance and lots of cream teas, and by the end of next week, there will be nothing left but Duchy Original Shortbreads and equestrian march pasts. How long will it be -- days? weeks? -- before the Daily Mail forgets the loyal toast and denounces the King as a woke commie? Some people want to keep the King but lose the pageantry; I rather wish we could keep the pageantry but lose the king. The republicans want to scrub the illuminated capitals off the constitution and have a country that conducts itself in black typescript, rubber stamps and filing cabinets. And that would certainly be much more sensible. But I wouldn't march for it and I don't know if I could bring myself to vote for it. 

Do you think the king knows all about me?
Sure to dear, but it's time for tea.


I'm Andrew.

I am trying very hard to be a semi-professional writer and have taken the leap of faith of down-sizing my day job.

If you have enjoyed this essay, please consider backing me on Patreon (pledging £1 each time I publish an article.) 

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Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Said Alice (1)

There are six protestors standing in the rain outside Bristol Cathedral. They are at a respectful distance; I think it is possible that one of the copious clergy has taken pity and brought them cups of tea. No-one seems particularly interested in arresting them. Perhaps they have made a conscious decision to have their demo after the ceremony is over; so they can't be accused of intimidation; or because they want to make their point without spoiling anyone's day. Or maybe anarchists just don't get up early in the morning. I take one of their "not my king" leaflets and said "jolly good arguments on both sides." 

You won't have read about this in the paper. Polite, good natured protests don't count as news. If one of them had got inside the cathedral and thrown an egg at the giant TV screen... we would probably have said "Where on earth did you get that egg from? Don't waste it. Lidl have completely sold out and I wanted to make a Coronation Quiche." 

They are singing to the tune of Coming Round The Mountain": You can stick your coronation up your arse; you can stick your coronation up your arse; you can stick your coronation, stick your coronation, stick your coronation up your arse. 

It is not the best constitutional argument I will hear over the weekend. But neither is it the worst. 

I know thee not old man; fall to thy prayers. 
I have long dreamt of such a kind of man
....but being awaked, I do despise my dream.

If Diana had survived the car crash, she would currently occupy a similar status to the Duchess of Windsor (nee Mrs Simpson); a posh old lady living in more or less contented exile in France or Florida, occasionally giving interviews; sometimes photographed from a distance like Marlene Dietrich.

If Diana had not separated from Prince Charles, she would be the very elderly king's very elderly wife; looking rather ridiculous in coronet and ermine. The Daily Mail would be writing nasty articles about how she had Let Herself Go. Beautiful women often age less gracefully than good-looking men. I am always slightly surprised to see photos of the young Princess Elizabeth and the young Prince Phillip and to be reminded how glamorous they once were. If she were still alive, a substantial number of people would be accusing Queen Diana of Treason because of long-standing rumours about the colour of Prince Harry's hair. Camilla would be a long forgotten scandal. Or just possibly, she would be sitting in the background, with some polite title like the King's Sister. 

If Diana had never married Prince Charles then no-one would have heard of her. 

On no possible time line could the beautiful shy young icon in those postage stamp photos have been crowned Queen yesterday, and it is slightly unhinged to suggest that she could have been.

But while the King was looking down, t
the Jester stole his thorny crown...

Two people at the screening were literally wrapped in the Union Jack (wearing plastic flags as capes). Alarmingly there was an elderly man with a trumpet and a dog dressed as a Chelsea pensioner, but he didn't do anything weird; nothing weirder than bringing a dog and a trumpet to a church service, anyway. The man behind me kept pointedly saying Ay-Men in a way that no Anglican has ever said Ay-Men before. When the procession got under way and a band struck up God Save The King a lady at the front not only stood up but gestured that everybody else should stand up. It became apparent that someone was going to play God Save The King every hundred yards or so, but mercifully she didn't insist on any more patriotic gestures. The Dean got up in the pulpit and led a prayer of her own and said that everyone was invited to join in the televised service as much or as little as they wanted to. So people stood up and murmured with exactly the same level of enthusiasm you would get in any other Church of England service. She double-checked that there were no deaf people in the audience and then switched off the BSL interpreter; which was a relief. I've seen Children of a Lessor God and Four Weddings And a Funeral and totally grok that it's a proper language but it's very hard not to find some of the gestures unintentionally comical. 


Too late to be known as John the First, 
he's sure to be known as John the worst: 
a pox upon that phoney king of England.

I would have been very much more impressed with Malcolm Muggeridge and the Bishop of Oxford if they had said that Monty Python's Life Of Brian was a very clever and funny film, but that nevertheless they felt that it was wrong to make fun of Jesus. I would have been very much more impressed if some of the Muslims had been prepared to say that the Satanic Verses was a very fine novel but they nevertheless believed it contained a grievous blasphemy against their Prophet. I wish more people were prepared to say (like the young actors who appeared in her movie) that JK Rowling is completely wrong about gender despite having written some wonderful books which have given joy to literally dozens of children. (As an admirer of Dave Sim, Richard Wagner and John Lennon I get quite a bit of practice at this kind of thing.) But the impulse to say that Life of Brian is tenth rate adolescent comedy, that the Satanic Verses is meaningless, illiterate, unreadable verbiage; and to refer to the Potter series only as Those Shitty Wizard Books is very strong. 

You might also think that Rushdie writes a load of rubbish but ought to be allowed to carry on writing a load of rubbish without being murdered. Even Dilbert was quite funny until it wasn't.

Tony Benn used to deprecate republicans who said nasty things about the Queen. (He always spoke in terms of letting her retire with a generous pension and possibly even remaining in Buck House until she passed away.) I wish that more Republicans were prepared to say that the Coronation was a magnificent and moving service, replete with meaning and significance, brilliantly enacted; a good example of one of the things which our country has always been terribly good at, but that they nevertheless thought that now would be a good time to move towards an elected head of state. Or no head of state at all. 

Perhaps some Monarchists could say that they approved of the hereditary principle and a head of state who was not a politician, but that nevertheless the Coronation was archaic, expensive and a bit silly. 

I have a kneejerk reaction against cynicism and flippancy. Smartarses on Twitter and in the Guardian saying "Charles who?" and "What's so interesting about an old man in a funny hat?" make me all the more likely to go and watch it. As a matter of fact, he is your king. The argument that he ought not to be is one I am eminently prepared to listen to. 

Is the argument a purely aesthetic one? Are we talking about a difference in taste between people who like big ceremonies and people who don't? Would an elaborate investiture ceremony for President Attenborough or President Farage be just as bad as the coronation? Would republicans be basically fine with the monarchy if William IV were sworn in at a quiet ceremony in the church hall of St John the Baptist's Windsor, with quiche and sandwiches afterwards at the Horse and Groom? 

It's a bit like quitting the EU. You can whip up support for a single negative proposition, but unless you have some idea about what happens next a lot of us will stick with the status quo. I don't want to have an in/out abolish/retain referendum and then spend a decade arguing about whether what the people voted for was a Soft Republic or a Hard Republic or possibly the Australian model; and decades after that of both sides saying that this isn't the republic I voted for. 

We could have an elected president who rides around in a golden coach and is given magic gloves by Lord Singh. We could even have an elected King if that was what we really wanted: wasn't there a scheme at one point for George Washington to be called King of America? We could decide we didn't need a head of state at all: Kier Starmer could perfectly well become Prime Minister without kissing anyone's hands and we could take it for granted that Parliament was open when the new term starts. There's no particular reason why Charles and William and George couldn't carry on calling themselves Kings if some people wanted them to. Unless and until Kier Starmer abolishes inherited wealth, they would still be immensely rich. "Kings of England" could be allowed to exist, but with no more legal or constitutional standing than than the Pearly King Of Lambeth. I am not quite sure who owns the Crown Jewels, and I expect the Guardian would want them smashed up and used to make amends for the slave trade, but there is no particular reason that they couldn't be taken out of the museum and lent to the former royal family on solemn occasions. Is there a proposition on the table or are we still at the "republicanism Means Republicanism stage?"

You can say the same thing about Scottish Independence. 

When Helen Mirren appeared insufficiently sad about Diana it looked as if public opinion might finally turn against the monarchy. Fortunately Michael Sheen phoned her up in the kitchen and it all blew over. The day after tomorrow some dreadful scandal might erupt -- say if it turned out that the Royal family were more deeply implicated in the Duke of York's little peccadillos than they have been admitting -- and the country could turn republican over night. It is widely thought that Mr Rupert Murdoch dislikes the monarchy but feels it sells newspapers: that could change. But in any referendum, all the monarchists would go out and vote; and the six or seven republicans would go out and vote; and the apathetic majority would apathetically stay at home. No party is ever going to put abolition or reform in its manifesto, because if they did they would be crucified by the right wing press. And anyone within shouting distance of Ten Downing Street loves the reflected glory of a real live king. We briefly had a chance of a reforming Prime Minister but, we blew that because of beards and jumpers and murals, and, admittedly, because of the national anthem. It's like PR in the UK and gun control in the United States. A nice idea but it's just not going to happen.  

Louis was the king of France before the revolution
But then he got his head cut off which spoiled his constitution

On May 1st, a group of Morris Dancers (no, really) gathered in a green hill near Park Street in Bristol to watch the the sun come up and celebrate the fact that summer was a coming in and winter had gone away, oh. Mr Rumberlow got very jolly about it. I plan to go every year, but when it comes to the crunch, 4AM is a bit on the early side. It's an ancient tradition that goes right back to the 1960s; Morris Dancing is a pagan fertility rite that was dreamed up in Shakespeare's time and reinvented by some eccentric Victorian scholars. (Probably.) Everyone joining in the ceremony knows this perfectly well. Doing country dances on the first day of spring feels appropriate: and it says something about what you think about England and nature and music and sticks and handkerchiefs and bells. There's not that much difference between doing the kind of thing you think an ancient tradition ought to look like and keeping up a genuinely ancient tradition. And genuinely ancient traditions also evolve and mutate. Do the ceremonies still performed by American and Canadian First People's have historical continuity with their pre-colonial forebears, or are they partly revivals and reenactments? Highland games and the Gaelic languages are mainly inventions by the nationalist groups, but that doesn't mean they aren't important, and indeed, fun. 

The traditions associated with the coronation of a new King aren't nearly as old as most people think. Nothing is. But some of them are clearly pretty old: William the Conquerer is definitely depicted with an orb and sceptre in the Bayeux Tapestry. I don't imagine they played Zadok the Priest at Solomon's coronation in 1000 BCE, but anointing was definitely a thing they did to kings in the Very Olden Days. (Wasn't Zadok the villain in a dreadful Sean Connery sci-fi movie?) There will always be people who insist that these are exactly the same cakes that Alfred the Great burned, and will fight anyone who denies it. And there will always be people who think that if you can show that any part of the tradition is a later invention, the whole affair is debunked. But most of us can see that that there is a ludic element to religion and monarchy and folk music and don't have a problem with it. Evangelical Christians like to pretend that they are doing baptisms in exactly the same way that the primitive church did baptisms in the catacombs before being thrown to the lions, with very much the same guitars and very much the same overhead projectors. They also know in their hearts of hearts that that's nonsense: but it doesn't make the service less holy for them. Quite a lot of Jews admit that the Exodus, as an historical event, probably didn't happen, but they still do Passover. (David Baddiel is very good on this.) 

I do not, in fact, find it funny that an MP holding a ceremonial position had to perform a ceremonial duty involving a ceremonial object during what was undeniably a ceremony. I don't think that the fact that Monty Python made a joke about ceremonial swords in a comedy film about a legendary king makes it absurd that we use ceremonial swords in ceremonies involving real ones. (That was another good  argument against Life of Brian: if you ridicule religion or kingship in a big film, then ignorant people will come to find religion and kingship intrinsically ridiculous. That was also a good argument in favour of it.) And I certainly don't think "It's not really a feudal sword: it was made for Charles II in the seventeenth century" is a particularly devastating argument. A ceremonial item made in 1678 is still quite old. Older than the Conservative Party and Morris Dancing and America. Doing the same thing we did when the Queen was crowned, long before most of you were even born, still counts as tradition. 



I'm Andrew.

I am trying very hard to be a semi-professional writer and have taken the leap of faith of down-sizing my day job.

If you have enjoyed this essay, please consider backing me on Patreon (pledging £1 each time I publish an article.) 

 Pledge £1 for each essay.

Saturday, December 21, 2019

I had a weird dream last night.

I dreamed I went into a 24 hour shop on Stokes Croft. 

I dreamed it was mostly selling booze, but had some bread and milk and chocolate and polish cakes.

I dreamed there was a shiny electronic machine which said "Instantly By And Sell Crypto". 

I don't know what Crypto was: a drug? A friendly alien dog? But you could buy it and sell it instantly.

In my dream, I turned around, having bought some bread and some milk and some cheese (but no Cryptos) and saw a pile of tomorrow's papers. 

In my dream, the Prime Minister was a man named Boris. And the newspaper headline was "Boris Promises New Golden Age." 

I dreamed a dream my life would be so different from this hell I'm living. I see the English living in my houses and the the Spanish fishing in my seas. Bring me my amazing coloured coat.

Friday, December 13, 2019

You Told Me So

A few minutes ago I cancelled my Labour Party membership. 

I have at no point in the last four years been an active member of the Labour Party and I do not want a vote in the forthcoming leadership election. I am still a member of a Trade Union. I forget if my membership of Unison allows me to vote for Jeremy's successor, but if it does I will not exercise it. 

If I had a vote I would vote for the socialist candidate. But if Corbyn is succeeded by another socialist, there will be a further decade of sectarian strife between the right-wing (or "moderate") parliamentary party and the socialist (or "hard left") leadership. This would not, in fact deliver a future socialist government. The person who defeats Johnson or his successor in 2029 will be a Centrist -- someone very far to the right of Blair or even Obama, but still slightly to the left of Johnson and Trump. I could not possibly vote for such a person to be leader of the Labour Party, although he is the kind of leader the Labour Party clearly needs. So the honourable thing to do is to waive my right to cast a vote. 

I urge other socialists and Momentum supporters to do the same; we have done enough damage already. I think that we are rather in the position of evangelicals in the Church of England: we are, as a matter of fact, in the right, but it makes more sense to go away and be in the right in our own church rather than spend the next hundred years fighting for control of an institution which is working perfectly well on its own terms. 

I voted for Thangam in Bristol on Thursday and she was deservedly returned with a massive, albeit reduced, majority. She occasionally holds her surgeries in my place of work, and she shows every sign of being a charming and empathic person who relates well to her constituents. Her open letter during the last leadership campaign was one of the few honest and honourable criticisms of Jeremy Corbyn I read during the whole sorry episode. 

However, I wish to be free to vote tactically against Johnson's far-right English nationalists in any future election and tactical voting is incompatible with party membership. I would be strongly in favour of Momentum breaking away from the Centrist Labour party and offering a socialist alternative but I would not personally wish to become a member of such a party.

People are going to come up with a lot of reasons for last night's extreme English nationalist landslide. Hardly any of them will be right. 

Corbyn might have been a better leader and he might have been worse. Some of us found his understated well-meaning geography-teacher what-you-see-is-what-you-get personality refreshing after the fake sincerity of t.c Blair. Some people found it weak and uninspiring. Some of the same people who found him uninspiring accused his followers of being in thrall to his personal charisma; some of those who found him weak also said he was dangerously authoritarian. Nigel Farage should never have been allowed to manipulate David Cameron into calling a referendum; but once the referendum had been lost, Corbyn's policy of a second vote with a straight choice between a known deal and cancelling the whole show seemed to me to be the best way of playing a very poor hand. 

A lot of people said that a strong anti-Brexit position would have won Corbyn the election, yet the Liberals fought an election on a fantasy Revoke platform and were annihilated. Obviously a Lib-Lab coalition could have kept Johnson out of Downing street, but the Liberal party hates the Labour party and the Labour party hates coalitions and everyone hates the Greens. 

Corbyn's reluctance to explain to Ken Livingstone why you don't put the words "Hitler" and "Zionist" in the same sentence even if it's true was clearly an example of weak leadership. Anyone who takes seriously the idea that a Corbyn government would have threatened the existence of British Judaism or would have ushered in a second Holocaust is simply in thrall to myth-making by an over mighty billionaire press. We discovered, late in the election, just how far the Sun is prepared to go in spinning conspiracy theories. The imaginary lines from The Political Correctness Brigade and the Liberal Media and the Social Justice Warriors lead directly back to the Frankfurt Group, a covert organisation of Jewish intellectuals who are secretly working for the downfall of civilization as we now know it. But that obviously isn't even a little bit anti-Semitic. Ed Miliband -- then a dangerous Red, now the greatest Prime Minister we never had -- was vilified by those same papers for a disagreement with a rasher of bacon. 

Corbyn's weak leadership and Corbyn's anti-Semitism are excuses. So, in fact, is the Parliamentary Labour Party's relentless under mining of him, although I am sure that didn't help. 

Jeremy Corbyn lost the election because Jeremy Corbyn is a socialist and the British People do not want a socialist party in government. 

There: I have said it. 

Put another way: Corbyn was unelectable. 

Not because of his jumpers or his jam or his bicycle. Because of his politics. 

I am not the kind of Marxist who is prepared to say "Those are my principles: if you don't like them, I have others." I don't think it is the job of politicians to find out what people believe in and then to pretend to believe what the people believe. I think it is the job of politicians to believe in the right things and persuade other people that those things are right. I agreed with Jeremy Corbyn's ideas yesterday and I still agree with them today. 

I believe in "from each according to his ability to each according to his need". But I am prepared to settle for "an honest day's pay for an honest day's work." My belief that people who have done the honest work ought to also get the honest pay is by today's standards monstrously radical. I think that everyone with a job ought to get paid enough to feed, clothe and house themselves and their family; to educate their children; to go to the doctor if they get sick; and to have a little bit left over for beer and comic books. I don't mind how we achieve that. We can make the beer so cheap that even the poor can afford it; or we can pay the poor a lot more so they can afford the expensive beer. We can set wages so high that everyone can afford books; or we can lower the price of books so everyone can afford them.  We can drop books on slum districts out of Zeppelins, or we can have free libraries on the ground. I think the best approach would be for the workers (by hand or by brain) to have a general strike and demand a living wage. I think the second best approach would be for the government to tax the rich and use the money to pay for hospitals and schools and libraries. 

Yesterday; I still thought that democratic socialism was on offer. Literally until 10 o'clock I honestly thought Johnson would get a very small majority and that a Corbyn led Liberal-Labour-Green coalition would form the government. This morning, I don't think that democratic socialism is a possibility: not in my lifetime. (I am not about to collapse due to advanced senility. but I'll be doing well if I cast 5 more votes.) The alternative then -- the only other way on offer of securing an honest day's pay for an honest days work -- is to kill all the rich people. This I put in the category of eating a whole box of Maltesers in one go or spending the entire weekend looking at certain very tasteful adult websites. It's in the category of things "one would like to do, but feels one mustn't". I would probably regret it in the morning. Neither democratic socialism nor revolutionary socialism are on the table. So I suppose I am not a socialist any more. 

So: you told me that Corbyn was unelectable; you were right. 

You told me that a party leader needed to be a handsome young guy in a smart suit; you were right about that as well. 

You told me that the people didn't want socialism; you were right about that too. 

You told me that we should concentrating on electing a leader marginally less wicked than Johnson. You are probably right about that. Like the entomologist trying to decide which bug to put in his collection, it is probably sensible to choose the lessor of two weevils. 

Probably the best we can hope for is that 2029 gives us a Prime Minister who is Slightly Less Evil Than Boris. I wish you good luck; I will very probably vote for you. But excuse me if my support is less than enthusiastic. 

I am sending my £5.99 a month to the Trussell Trust. There are probably all sorts of clever reasons why that is not the charity which most deserves my support, and I look forward to ignoring them. I will ask my accountant to work out how much of my champagne money would have gone in income tax had Jeremy been elected and add that to my standing order in due course. 

I have not looked at any news media since midnight last night and I don't envisage restarting any time soon. I am going to largely abstain from Facebook and Twitter for the next several weeks at least.

I will stay as far away from politics on this blog as I possibly can: but I have lots of interesting articles on other subjects up my sleeve. Come back on Monday and find out what euphemism Jesus Christ employed to refer to the lavatory, and why this is actually Quite Interesting from a religious point of view.

I'm Andrew. I write about folk music, God, comic books, Star Wars and Jeremy Corbyn. I have no political opinions of any kind.

Or consider supporting me on Patreon (by pledging $1 for each essay)

Thursday, December 12, 2019

The statistical likelihood is that other civilizations will arise. There will one day be lemon soaked paper napkins. Til then, there will be a short delay.

Monday, November 25, 2019

This is an entirely hypothetical philosophical question.

Imagine that there are three trains, all out of control and without drivers, careening out of control towards the edge of a cliff; you have to choose one of them.

For some reason.

The first train is a racist train; hitched to an even more racist train; and backed up by a big racist train in America.

The second train is, according to some people, a bit racist, or at any rate, a bit slow at dealing with racism in its own carriages.

The third train is not at all racist.

As signalman, do you vote for the slightly racist train, which has a very real chance of winning.

Or do you vote for the not at all racist train and thus maintain your ideological purity, even though, this makes it practically certain, due to the first past the post signalling system, that the very racist train will win the election?

Purely hypothetically.

Wednesday, October 02, 2019

A Black Day

Trying to work out how old I must have been at the time.

Primary school age. Before Star Wars but after Spider-Man.

Let us say that it was All Saints Day and that the Sunday School put on a pageant in which each child represented a real-life Saint.

Actually it was more elaborate than that. A full-length play in which both adults and children took part. Possibly it involved a man, possibly played by my Boys' Brigade captain, being questioned by Saint Peter at the Pearly Gates. Saint Peter had a big red book like Eamonn Andrews. I suppose he was played by the Minister. But it certainly involved children from the Sunday School proceeding around the church in the personas of various saints.

Someone recited The Son of God Goes Forth To War as we walked in. (*) I didn't know that "matron" just meant "an older woman" and "maid" simply "a younger woman". I took it that "the matron and the maid" meant "the woman in overall charge of a hospital, and also the woman who does the menial cleaning tasks." Childhood is full of those kinds of confusions.

"Which saint was Andrew selected to play?", you are all asking

I dressed up in a white shirt and a grown-up tie; and presumably some kind of jacket; and for reasons I do not quite understand, a false pair of glasses. This was before I had been prescribed glasses of my own. My "saint" was Martin Luther King, who I had never heard of. So naturally, I wore make-up on my face and my hands. Another girl in my class also wore make up. Of the same colour. I have literally no idea who she was pretending to be. Surely not Rosa Parkes? Mary Seacole was not much known-about in those days.

That narrows it down. I know that I did not wear glasses in Miss Beale's class and did wear them in Miss Griffiths's class. So I must have been eight years old, which takes us 1971 or 1972. Had it really only taken three years for M.L.K to become such a safe, uncontroversial figure that he could be represented in a children's Sunday School pageant? In England? A few years later the Minister mentioned in the course of a sermon that men like Martin Luther King and John F. Kennedy, however flawed as human beings, could, in a very real sense, be seen as pictures of Jesus in our own age. I remember my father blustering that if they hadn't had "the extreme good fortune to be assassinated" he would still regard them both as far too "political" to mention from the pulpit.

Fast forward a couple of decades.

It is the middle 1980s. I am at college doing my second degree and playing more Dungeons & Dragons than is good for me. This was the period when I single-handedly and without precedent created the genre of "theater style" live action role-playing games out of my head.

I read it on the internet so it must be true.

A LARP is a game where you dress up in costume and fight monsters with rubber swords. A free-form game is a LARP where you dress up in costume and mostly talk to other people dressed up in costumes. Game guru Paul Mason once said that he couldn't take free form games seriously because they called to mind an image of Andrew Rilstone dressed in a blanket.

One of the freeform LARPs we ran was pirate themed. I think it was set in a dockside tavern. There were people with hooks who said "arr" and other people with hooks who also said "arr" and ladies disguised as cabin boys and kings' custom men disguised as beggars and a treasure map and a black spot and a cannibal witch doctor.

Dressed in leopard skin.

With a plastic bone though his nose.

And black make up.

I believe photographs exist. I would be mortified if anyone saw them.

It is a mistake to say that a racist thing is a thing done by a racist person and that it is therefore impossible for a non-racist person to do a racist thing. This was the circle which the editor of Doctor Who Monthly got into last year when the conversation turned back to Talons of Weng Chiang. Some people thought that the story, which involved a white actor in yellow make up playing a villain who was to all intents and purposes Fu Manchu, was racist. If the story was racist, then Robert Holmes and Phillip Hinchcliff were racists. But the editor had met Bob and Phil and there was no one in the world less racist than they were. Therefore Talons of Weng Chiang cannot possibly have been racist. So it follows that anyone perceiving racism in a story about a Chinese villain who says things like "I understand we all rook arrike?" had been infected with porritical collectness.

I imagine that there were people in my church in 1972 who I would now consider to be racists. There were certainly no black people in the congregation, or indeed the town. We were four years out from "rivers of blood", in a parliamentary constituency which had not returned a Labour MP since 1945. From time to time we had a lady come to talk to us about Home Missions, which meant "children less well off than ourselves" and another to talk to us about Overseas Missions which meant "children in far away lands". There is nothing wrong with sending charity to foreign countries and I doubt if Methodist missionaries at that time were much given to marching into native villages and burning their religious shrines. But there was an undercurrent of grass huts and primitivism about the whole thing. Poor benighted heathens who needed our pennies if they were ever going to learn to read or write.

You can see it in Blue Peter as well: poor strange dark skinned children who won't have anything to eat unless we send them our old teddy bears. Do they know its Christmastime at all? People still told us without irony that we had to eat the burned scrambled egg because they were starving in Africa.

I do not think that there was the slightest racist intention in the first of my two forays into blackface, which is not the same as saying that it wasn't racist. No-one was consciously making fun of black people. Certainly no-one was consciously making fun of Martin Luther King. One little white boy in a collection of twenty little white boys had put black boot polish on his face. Others presumably had swords and dragon-heads and collections of injured animals. Someone's mum had to produce a John Wesley costume.

I would have to place it in exactly the same category as my much-loved and now disintegrating gollywog. The lady who made the toy and put into the sale-of-work was not a racist. My granny, who bought the thing and put it in my Christmas stocking was not a racist. My parents, who let me play with it, were not racists. I was certainly not a racist toddler. And yet there it was: my favourite toy, a Jim Crow caricature of a black man.

We couldn't see the wood for the trees. Which is to say we couldn't see the racism because of all the racism. Lenny Henry was a regular guest star on the Black and White Minstrels. Jim Davidson told Chalkie White jokes in front of the Queen. Robertson's Jam had a gollywog on the label. (He finally retired as recently as 2002.) "Maybe you could think of a contemporary Christian hero which didn't involve blacking up a nine-year-old?" was not a question which had occurred to anyone.

Once someone asked the question, everyone knew the right answer. Nearly everyone. The world split neatly into the majority who said "Dear God in heaven what were we thinking of?" and those who said "We didn't mean anything by it then we don't mean anything by it now so we are going to damn well buy MORE gollywogs to stick it to the liberals."

The live action role playing incident is completely inexcusable, although I hope everyone see the difference between "inexcusable" and "unforgivable". I can hardly believe it happened. The most I can say in my defense is that everyone did stupid things while they were students. A friend of mine immersed himself in a bath of green poster paint in order to play the role of a goblin, and found the next morning that the stuff was almost impossible to remove. Another friend found that he was the only boy who had signed on to a course about feminist literature. He attended the final seminar of term in full drag. And I am told that some of the more sporty students, who were not on speaking terms with us D&D nerds, would occasionally take the bet to run out of the changing room showers and do a lap of the sports center with nothing on.

We didn't think we were doing something awful. I don't think we even thought that we were doing something a little bit naughty, like the streakers and the drag. It was just the kind of thing that people did. RPGs deal in broad, over the top caricatures. There had to be pirates who said "Ahh, bejabbers, me hearties, belay and belike" and admirals who said "I say, blast the bally blighters, what?" and Frenchmen who said "Sacre bleu, oh la-la." So naturally there had to be witch doctor who said "Dis um some powerful magic man."

There are lots of things in my life which I am acutely embarrassed about. Embarrassing memories creep up on me in the street for no reason and make me literally cry out, or bite my own fingers to distract myself. They are nearly all examples of social gaffs and being a show-off. There was one Boys Brigade camp when a different boy was invited to lead prayers each night. This generally ran to "Thank you God for a lovely day, and thank you for the ladies who cooked the sausage stew." When it was my turn I took it upon myself to explain to the assembled multitudes, including the vicar, what I understood by the doctrine of the Trinity. I would like to say that I am acutely embarrassed about having blacked-up for a role-playing game; that I come out in a cold-sweat whenever I think about it. But I don't. I ought to, but I don't. In fact, the only feeling I have about that long-ago evening is a vague sense of pride because I improvised a passably decent one-liner on the spur of the moment.

Cannibal Witch Doctor: To work magic, put powder in mouth, go to bad man, and spit in face.
Governor's Beautiful Daughter: In his face, or in my own face?
Cannibal Witch Doctor: You know how spit in own face, you got more powerful magic than me!

I am offering this up as a piece of data. I ought to be embarrassed, but as a matter of fact, I am not.

In 1972, I didn't know any better. In 1985, I damn well should have done. But apparently I didn't. Neither did anyone else. Not the person who scripted the game (one of the most right-on guys I've ever met). Not the other players, at least one of whom I believe to have been a left-wing student union rep. Not the astonishingly humourless joke-shop man who sold me the plastic bone. ("I can also do you a bone through the neck, if you'd like one.")

"Would you have done it if there had been any black people in your RPG group?"

Of course not. But there weren't. Which is probably the point.

"What would you say if someone asked you do it now?"

I would say dear god have you entirely taken leave of your senses fucking hell of course not. And if Present Day me could walk in on Past Me, preferably before he put the damn make up on, I would say for goodness sake Rilstone what the hell are you thinking of?

I don't know if bad words or bad costumes or bad make up or bad jokes are less bad in some context than others. I don't know if "Yes, I did say the n-word, but I was rehearsing a play" is ever an excuse, or a partial excuse, or a mitigating factor. I am disinclined to believe that some words and concepts exist as free-floating signifiers, obscene or racist regardless of where you say them and who you say them to. Mrs Mary Whitehouse believed that merely pronouncing the f-word caused concrete social harm. Anne Widdicombe MEP claimed to be physically unable to watch even one minute of In The Thick of It, even after she had agreed to appear on a talk show in which people try out things they don't think they will like. I think they would both have struggled to see any difference between the rugby club prank and a pervert displaying himself to young children in the park.

Jonathan Miller thinks that theater is a special space where anything goes. Could I argue that a live-action role-playing game is a highly stylized piece of improvised theater, so what is permissable for the RSC to do at Stratford is acceptable for the SF&F Soc to do in meeting room L049? Is the stage so sacred so that words and actions which would be unacceptable anywhere else become magically sanctified? I suppose the arch represents an invisible barrier: you aren't in the same room as a naked dude or being sworn at by someone, you are looking at them or listening to them through a mirror or across a wall. I wouldn't take my clothes off on stage for any money. And some sort of subversive racism for a high artistic purpose is a lot different from me playing a stereotype in what was basically a pantomime.

I suppose that they still do Aladdin as panto, and I suppose that it is still set in China and I can't believe they cast exclusively Asian actors. Dear dear Sir Ian once played Widow Twanky, but he conceptualized her as an English lady who had once married a Chinese sailor. Has the D'Oyley Cart quietly dropped the Mikado from its repertoire?

The past is a foreign country. I was an asshole when I was in my twenties and when I am in my eighties I will think that I was an asshole when I was in my fifties. You shouldn't judge someone on the basis of one stupid thing they did a long time ago. I am not a racist: I once did a racist thing. I once did a racist thing: therefore I am a racist. If your society permits gollywogs and minstrel shows and Jim Davidson and what-not then even people who are not racists feel some how permitted to put bones through their noses. People who are racists feel permitted to do very much worse. White people can't see racism when it is literally painted on their faces. "Check your privilege" is not just a cliche. There is stuff which you and me and everyone else are doing now which twenty years down the time line is going to make everyone say "What the hell were we thinking?" So think about what you are doing before you do it. I never wanted to be president of Canada in the first place.

(*)A noble army, men and boys
The matron and the maid
Around the Saviour's throne rejoice
In robes of light arrayed
They climbed the steep ascent of heaven
Through peril, toil and pain
O God to use may grace be given
To follow in their train.

I'm Andrew. I write about folk music, God, comic books, Star Wars and Jeremy Corbyn.

Or consider supporting me on Patreon (by pledging $1 for each essay)

Friday, September 27, 2019

You have to remember that the alt-right truly and sincerely hate us.

They think that the only thing which "liberals" have in common is that they we lie about everything, all the time.

They sincerely believe that those of us who went to state schools are sub-human zombies.

They honestly believe that there is secret organization (the Cultural Marxists, the Political Correctness Brigade, the S.J.W) working towards the downfall of civilization, and they honestly believe that this organisation controls schools and media and universities and have invented lies about climate change and vaccination and media studies and evolution and the world being round.

The Daily Mail literally ran a headline: "How the BBC fell victim to a plot to destroy civilization as we know it."

For these people "goodness" and "decency" are not real.

The worst thing they can call someone is "do-gooder" and "goody-goody".

Anyone who wants to make the world nicer is "virtue signalling" or "politically correct", that is to say, insincere.

Instead of goodness, they have a vestigial belief in "purity" which some of them associate with the Christian church. But their purity rules, like their schools, only exist to separate the world into "us" and "them", people who know the rules and people who do not. The rules of sex and the rules of grammar are about equally important. Dudes can't marry dudes or wear frocks. Children have to use the subjunctive and fronted adverbials. Everyone has to salute the flag or sing the national anthem in exactly the right way. If those rules were ever broken -- if we let gay people get married and started ending sentences with "by", "with", or "from" -- it would mean the end of civilization. They literally say this.

These people are not shocked when Johnson speaks ill of Jo Cox. In their mind Jo Cox was an SJW and a traitor and a virtue signaler and a snowflake and a liar and a LIBERAL. They are not horrified when politicians seem to incite violence against remainer MPs, because in their minds remainers are consciously working against the common good; pretending to support the common market, insincere, traitors, virtue signalers, snowflakes -- LIBERALS.

The majority of the Conservative Party are not part of this alt-right apocalypse cult, but the architects of Brexit and the press barons clearly are -- or at any rate, they are prepared to dance to their tune.

Witness the odious Quentin Letts in today's Times sneering about all the "halos" on display in the Commons. The voices raised against Johnson were not merely mistaken: they were insincere; because liberals always lie about everything; because goodness does not exist.

Witness the odious  Farage's positioning of himself along side alt-right poster boy Donald Trump.

The alt-right fooled America, and game-played the constitution, and inserted their guy into the White House.

I do not think that it is a foregone conclusion that, if there is ever another election, the British would do the same thing. I don't think that the majority of Brits are socialists or liberals or Liberals, and I don't think that we are any wiser or cleverer than Americans, on the whole. But I think that we have been brought up to believe in Fair Play and Sportsmanship and to dislike Bullies and and be skeptical of Con-Men and to think that Lord Snooty and Bertie Wooster need to fall on their arses, spelt with an R, from time to time.

Also queuing and tea.

But there is no point in appealing to the decency of the alt-right. There ain't no such animal.

I'm Andrew. I write about folk music, God, comic books, Star Wars and Jeremy Corbyn.

Or consider supporting me on Patreon (by pledging $1 for each essay)

Thursday, September 19, 2019

You remember that old Bernard Manning gag?

"I know I tell off-colour jokes. But I don't mean it. Deep in my heart I want the Roman Catholics and the Church of Ireland  -- along with all the Jews and the Atheists, the Muslims and the Hindus and the Sikhs -- to come together in one great brotherhood...and beat up the bloody Methodists."

I think of that every time a politician talks about "delivering Brexit" and then "bringing the country together."


Is it at this point too late to consider all the benefits of a Conservative / Labour alliance? 

The Liberals want to Revoke Article 50, but stand no chance of forming a government on their own, and will not form an coalition with Labour under any circumstances. Even though Labour want a fresh referendum with Revoke Article 50 as one of the options. 

The Tories say they want to Leave with a Better Deal than they one we have already agreed, but aren't seriously trying to negotiate one. Labour really does want a Better Deal, although they would really prefer to Remain. 

So: the best solution is to send Boris and Jeremy to Brussels together, as PM and deputy PM and come back with a deal that all the parties will have to accept. So Boris doesn't get his beloved No Deal, but at least he avoids the humiliation of revocation. Jeremy doesn't get to Remain, but at least he avoids the disaster of No Deal. And the Liberals get to spend the next twenty years saying "I told you so" and "I blame Jeremy Corbyn". 

So as in all the best compromises, everyone is equally unhappy.

The time is right. It will work. And no-one will have to get nailed to anything.

Except the common people.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

A Little Bit of Bread And No Cheese

we are totally totally fucked

the liberals who want a second referendum with remain as one of the options and the labour party, who want a second referendum with remain as one of the option are going to spend the next election fighting each other

so whatever happens the next government will be a coalition between johnson's reimagined alt-right tories and farage's fascist tribute act 

the most likely ballot box result to the extent that ballots actually matter any more is still tories largest single party but unable to form a government with the liberals and labour having enough mps to form a working majority between them 

but it seems that any lib/lab coalition is ruled out from the start

so we are totally fucked

yellowhammer is the least of our worries 

some of us may die 

remember statistically it is not likely to be you 

but most of us will presumably not die 

there will be food shortages and medicine shortages and riots and martial law nation will rise again nation and there will be earthquakes and famines in various parts of the earth but  probably more fascists will get shot than non fascists and more old people will die than young people and it will all be over long before jodie whitaker regenerates 

assuming there is a still a BBC

is the whole point of the excercise to provide a pretext for martial law i wonder? the right love martial law. it's just like dad's army and the venture scouts 

but afterwards 

afterwards boris... 

aftewards the people operating boris will get what they have always wanted and the damage will take centuries to undo 

no more trades unions no more health and safety laws very low tax and therefore presumably no more of what we used to mean by state education and certainly no more free health care at the point of need

the NHS will continue to exist as a branding concept 

remember that pageant before the olympic games in twenty twelve? 

one of the tableaux insinuated that the national health service was something to be proud of and that nurses were quite a good thing and the right wing press said that this was propaganda and political correctness gone mad

buccaneering britain a northern singapore complete presumably with hanging and flogging but without noodles or cocktails

in that world there will be no place for people like me 

in fairness in that world there will be no place for people like boris johnson either but he is too stupid to see that 

no trendy colleges where we learn critical theory and play dungeons and dragons but no posh schools where we play rugger and learn about homer either just just grandgristic utilitarianism institutes preparing us to be buccaneering tiger sixteen hours a day flexible high skills low pay employment at will zero hours gourmet pork pie factory

that's assuming they don't really hang us from lampposts

i don't know if mine interlocutor is correct that boris is at heart in the american sense a liberal.

but i am quite sure that none of the sacred liberal cows like multiculturalism and hospitals will survive in buccaneering brexit boris britain 

liberal tears 

smash corbyn

still not tired of winning 

we are fucked

tony doesn't want labour to win if jeremy is in charge

tony doesn't want labour to win if jeremy is in charge even if that were possible 

tony thinks jeremy's ideas are wrong ideas

well tony doesn't put it in those terms because tony doesn't think in terms of right and wrong 

tony thinks in terms of new and old and he thinks that jeremy's ideas are old

workers rights and trades unions and trains which people can afford to ride on and hospitals which are not mortgaged to fast food companies are old fashioned ideas 

i get that 

tony doesn't like jeremy because jeremy is a socialist and tony never was 

i understand why my local MP who i have an awful lot of time for doesn't like jeremy

she doesn't like jeremy because she does't think he is a particularly good leader 

not in the sense of rah! rah! rah! leader! leader! leader! but in the sense of managing people and organizing stuff and running departments and running the country 

she doesn't think he is very good at that 

but so far as i can see the jeremy who jo has ruled out having an alliance with labour ever ever ever even though it means boris and the end of the world is the jeremy of faith 

the jeremy of the right wing papers the jeremy who was created by the people who operate boris 

it turned out to be anti-semitism it could just as well have turned out to be a bacon sandwiches or the national anthem 

it doesn't matter 

there cannot be an anti brexit alliance because jeremy 

therefore we are all fucked 

and yes maybe if the socialists had never voted for the socialist we wouldn't be in this mess 

and yet my own oath holds and thus we are all ensnared

what am i going to do

i have a bucket under the sink which catches water from a slightly dripping pipe. i have one in the corner of the bathroom with a mop in it. i think there is a metal bucket in the shed which was already there when I bought the flat, and somewhere I have one of those purple plastic buckets that I used to make sandcastles with when I was a kid 

i am going to do what i always said i would do in the face of the zombie apocalypse

call up old friends

listen to penguin eggs one last time. 

reread moby dick

set up a large and complex star wars role playing game for as long as the internet holds out 

if we are going to be destroyed by an atomic bomb let that bomb when it comes find us doing sensible and human things 

praying working, teaching reading listening to music bathing the children playing tennis chatting to our friends over a pint and a game of darts

not huddled together like frightened sheep and thinking about bombs 

i am going to live as much like a narnian as i can even though we are definitely leaving narnia come all hallows eve

we are totally fucked 

I'm Andrew. I write about folk music, God, comic books, Star Wars and Jeremy Corbyn.

Or consider supporting me on Patreon (by pledging $1 for each essay)