Notepad on Life

January 4, 2017

Integration’s untimely fall at the first fence?

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Pic courtesy of Jay Huang

It may be that there is another reason why New Year fireworks came in three different salvos on Saturday night. I certainly hope so.

But then why else would they light up the sky at 10pm and 11pm, before their traditional manifestation at midnight?

On the town forum, someone claimed to have the answer. Ten o’clock UK time is midnight in Latvia and Lithuania, he explained. When the sky lights up at 11pm, it will be the town’s Polish community striking the matches.

I must stress that I am yet to see this theory corroborated but should it be valid, what does it say about the mindset of many long-term visitors to our shores?

I always try to put myself in the other person’s shoes in  such circumstances, but it’s not helping in this instance. Were I living abroad and someone asked if I would calibrate my New Year’s celebration to my native land, I would look at him as if he were mad. I might ‘phone home’ when midnight struck in the UK, but it would seem the most logical thing in the world to hitch my principal celebration to the time zone in which I now lived. This is my home now, after all, would be my reasoning. These are my people. If I can’t integrate to the point of syncing my New Year with theirs, I might begin to wonder what I was even doing there in the first place.

So much for my view. It now appears, at least, that it might not have much traction elsewhere. If that is indeed the case, what a sad comparison it offers between America on the one hand, so many of whose fiercest patriots came from overseas to invest fully in the American Dream, and Britain on the other; apparently a dormitory town on a national scale. Just somewhere to hang your hat in between pay cheques.

Someone tell me there’s another explanation…

December 2, 2016

Sarah Olney – equally damned by word and silence

Filed under: politics,Uncategorized — - @ 6:47 pm
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I’m sure the new MP for Richmond Park will be among those who claim the Government lacks clarity on the terms of Brexit. Unfortunately, it would appear that she is not much better herself.

Even before Sarah Olney fell at the first hurdle of her political career, monstered into fleeing  an interview on Talk Radio (struggling MPs used to at least be capable of waffling for England when interrogated into a corner but nowadays even that seems beyond them) her comments in this piece by the Mirror pile one contradiction upon another.

My thoughts in bold…

Westminster’s newest MP has said she will vote to “override the referendum”

So no Brexit at all, then?

Lib Dem Sarah Olney said she would “absolutely” resist Brexit in its current form.

Ah, so it could still be on?

She made clear her opposition to ‘Hard Brexit’ in on the campaign trail, confirming she would vote against triggering Article 50

Er…vote against regardless, or vote against until the terms of departure are right?

She insisted she did not want a re-run of the referendum itself…

Right. So you respect the will of the majority?

According to the Press Association, Ms Olney told Sky News overnight: “It does look now as if we can have a vote in Parliament that might override the referendum.”

Override is a strong word. So you don’t respect the will of the majority?

Asked if she would actively resist Brexit as an MP, she said: “Absolutely. Now I’ve been given this mandate.”

Riiight. Sorry to be picky but is that resist absolutely absolutely, or just until the terms are palatable? And how does last night’s mandate stack up against the June 23rd mandate, incidentally?

“What we really want, once it’s clear what terms we are going to leave the EU under, what it means for free trade, what it means for freedom of movement; once we’re clear about all of those terms, to put that to the people in another vote so that they get a clear choice between the actual terms of leave and remain.”

Oh lordy…And this squares with ‘override’ how, exactly?

A sidebar to the Mirror article asks Who is Sarah Olney, how did she win the Richmond Park by-election and how did Zac Goldsmith lose? Two of those questions are probably taxing quite a few of us by now.

January 4, 2016

Back to work after Christmas

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Emphasised by living in a country town, maybe, the difference is unmistakable.

Three days ago, the dawn of a new year, waking up was like one of those sci-fi dramas where a man finds that he’s the last living soul on the planet. Take away the gently swaying tree-tops, visible through the gap in my bedroom curtains, and the occasional passing fleck of a bird on the wing, and nothing stirred. Just a leaden, comforting stillness; silent but for the breeze.

Opening my eyes this morning, on the other hand, and the difference assailed me before I’d even come fully to my senses. That low, relentless distant drone, hovering stubbornly in the air like morning mist.

Traffic.

The party’s over; it’s time to call it a day.

April 5, 2015

And the difference between this and grave-robbing is…?

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Gratified as I was to note how many people still hold this country’s history dear, when Richard III’s remains were re-interred at Leicester Cathedral last month, it didn’t take long for contemporary thought to add a disturbing footnote.

The most charitable thing I can say about Prof. Francis Thackeray, from South Africa’s University of the Witwatersrand, is that he appears to be a little giddy with the excitement of the moment. Now that Richard III has unexpectedly returned to the forefront of modern British consciousness, he suggests, wouldn’t it be grand if we could do likewise with another of our famous names; William Shakespeare?

Not by opening a museum dedicated to him or brushing up his plays with a modern twist and sending them out on tour. Oh no: Mr Thackeray would have us dig up his coffin and remove the lid.

“‘Given the extraordinary success of the study of the skeleton of Richard III, we recognise the potential of undertaking forensic analyses of the Bard,’ he said.

“Prof Thackeray believes analysis of his bones could reveal new information about how the playwright lived, what he ate and drank, whether rumours are that he smoked cannabis are to be believed, The Times reports.

“However, he acknowledged that the epitaph on Shakespeare’s grave might prove to be a stumbling block.

“The Bard is said to have lived in fear of exhumation and had an unusual obsession with burial and the mistreatment of corpses.”

Apparently, thank heaven, objections have already been raised to this notion.

.”..sceptics include Stuart Hampton-Reeves, the head of the British Shakespeare Association, who questioned the value of the proposed investigation.

“‘None of the big questions — how he worked, how he put the plays together, what it was like to be at a performance — are going to be solved by examining the bones. It would produce a lot of publicity, and not much research,’ he said.”

Despite the different opinions, you may notice a rather odd similarity. Neither man even hints at the considerations of morality or common decency that would persuade many of us not to touch this idea with a 10-foot pole. It is as if that aspect hadn’t even occurred to them.

Would Thackeray talk so glibly about the mortal remains of someone buried in 1985 or 1999, I wonder? Especially were it someone he knew. What year would represent his cut-off date, beyond which people cease to be people and become artefacts, fair game for ghouls in lab coats? I give him the benefit of the doubt here and assume that he actually has a cut-off date.

No doubt there are fine lines to be drawn between Man’s investigate spirit and respect for the dead but it would be comforting if people presumably not lacking in grey matter actually acknowledged that fact. The past may be a foreign country but its natives were flesh and blood human beings. They had a sense of right and wrong and no doubt a hope that the phrase ‘rest in peace’ would mean exactly that.

Give it another four hundred years and we shall have all emigrated to that land ourselves. Should our own coffins cross paths with archaeological endeavour, we can only hope the guys holding the trowels are a little more nuanced than Prof Thackeray seems to be.

October 16, 2014

Peter Hitchens on what design tells us about ourselves

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You thought the spartan, minimalist look was just a trend? Maybe not…

“I am fascinated by the assumption in so much modern design that people no longer know how to behave – the public loos of my youth were ornate affairs of porcelain, glass, brass and wood, now they are increasingly Spartan, armour-plated, unbreakable and unadorned. It’s the same trend that has led many pubs to serve drinks in plastic containers rather than glasses…

“We cannot be trusted to behave in a civilised fashion, so we must have our hands kept away from dangerous materials, we cannot be allowed to have breakable or delicate facilities in public places…” – Peter Hitchens, Mail Online

September 9, 2014

Referendum threat? Hell, even our unwritten constitution is up for grabs…

Filed under: politics,Royals,Uncategorized — - @ 10:57 pm
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So let me get this straight: Prince Charles voices concerns on any aspect of British society and is routinely slapped down by pompous Westminster windbags, who insist on strict observance of the British tradition that the Royal Family stays out of politics.

A referendum on Scottish independence threatens the powerbase of our political parties, on the other hand, and suddenly the Queen speaking out in support of the Union, “could make all the difference”, in the eyes of those same grandees.

Number One – that politicians believe the populace can be so easily swayed in opinions that they have had months to come to, shows yet again how little they really think of us.

Number Two – I can’t think of a better way for the Monarchy to assure its survival for at least another 50 years, than if a letter from the Palace to Parliament – “Her Majesty asks me to inform you that this proposal may be placed where the sun doesn’t shine” – were somehow leaked to the media.

July 25, 2014

Mitch Albom on anger and self-obsession

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“We seem so dissatisfied with our lives these days — despite having more than at any point in history — that big, assertive action attracts us, it elevates us, it lets us pound our chest and feel that we, at that moment, are in charge of things. As opposed to all the moments feeling that we are not.” – from Soccer referee’s death reflects our rage

 

June 8, 2014

A tweet to read (or, “If social media posts were always this good, Zuckerberg could have doubled his price…” )

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From Facebook:

‘Left work, put my earphones in and cranked up some banging tunes for my walk to Charing Cross. Sense a man walking quite close behind me. Speed up. Notice in the reflection in a window that he’s too close. Speed up even more. He speeds up too. He’s wearing a suit and it’s daylight. Surely he wouldn’t try anything? Keep walking. He touches my shoulder. I spin round, primed for a fight. He is holding a letter I dropped. He’s been trying to alert me but I couldn’t hear him. He looks a bit annoyed. I apologise sheepishly for my karate stance.’

June 3, 2014

I smell a double standard, officer…

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“The landlord hasn’t committed any offences with his ‘White family only’ sign, and when we went round and asked him to take it down, he said ‘fair enough’ and took it down.

“We spoke to him and gave him some advice, and were satisfied it was not intended with any sort of malice.

“It was, in his opinion, to have some nice residents in the area..

“But the reality of the situation is, it might be deemed to be distasteful or inappropriate, which it is my opinion.

“There was no criminal act committed, and we would have dealt with it seriously if there was.”

That ring true to you? No, me neither.

I’m visualising officers hammering at the offender’s door instead, giving him a thorough dressing-down – in front of cameras, of course, just in case their diversity credentials need buffing  up at a latter date – before leading him off for further questioning with the disgusted air of suburban householders removing a pubcrawler’s turd from their prize rose bed.

Yet when a ‘Just Pakistani Family’ sign went up in the window of a three-bedroom rental property in Nelson, Lancashire recently – rightly condemned by on all sides, it should be said – the police attitude towards it was as described above. A sort of chummy, arm-around-the-shoulder, “could we have a quiet word…?’ approach. The police officer as social worker.

I make just one point: if you want to de-stabilise any society, one of the best ways to start is to put the notion firmly in your population’s heads that there’s one law for some, and another law for others…

May 28, 2014

Multi-tasking is for people, not equipment…

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I do wish my wife would stop chopping garlic on the bread board. I’m not sure this is what’s meant by ‘French toast’.

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