Get Real, Idiots

Once more unto the breach, dear friends!

Okay, so I’m about done with politics. Here, though, is how Remain should have won the campaign – facts followed by the soundbite ‘Get Real, Idiots’. Example:

“We can negotiate trade deals with other countries outside the EU, Take Back Control!” “With 20 trade negotiators, at best estimate because that shit was dealt with by the EU, and with countries far bigger, occasionally richer, and often envious of our economy? I’m sure they would do us a real good deal! Get Real, Idiots.”

“Leave the EU bureacraxy behind, Take Back Control!” “Oh yeah, 40 years of EU involvement in our law-making, with a different legal system in Scotland and the rUK, will take one guy a week to undo? You guys sure know how to make new jobs! For bureaucrats and lawyers. Get Real, Idiots.”

“We will reduce immigration to reasonable levels, Take Back Control!” “Oh yeah, when France ends border control cooperation? Maybe if you sink the value of the pound, nobody will want to migrate! Great solutions, guys. Get Real, Idiots.”

“Get rid of a bunch of unelected officials in Brussels, Take Back Control!” “Replace them with the hundreds of unelected civil servants required to rework every law and the hundreds of trade negotiators we’ll need, all of them junior and walked all over by diplomats around the world? You guys are great at symmetry! Get Real, Idiots.”

“Regain sovereignty for Westminster, more money for the NHS, a BRITISH Bill of Human Rights, Take Back Control!” “Oh, so you want guys who want to privatise everything, gut the NHS, spy on you and your neighbours legally, destroy the BBC and all public services, and feather their family and their mate’s nests with whatever cash they can get away with, full control of your life? You guys are brilliant. Get Real, Idiots.”

Frankly, I think it’s flawless. I’d find this whole thing utterly hilarious if it didn’t have such an impact on people I love. They are going to end up with less employment protection, an uncertain economy for years, rising food prices, more hate crimes reported across the UK, and, in a supreme irony of a democratic referendum, an unelected Prime Minister come October.

Does my refrain sound any clearer?

 

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Cutting Off One’s Nose

Lot of the title going around. So let’s look at this in the short, medium, and long term.

Loser One: Davey C. David Cameron, or Hameron (remember that hilaire gibe?), has resigned as PM of the U.K. Now, can’t say what the figures are for sure at this point, but it isn’t unreasonable to think his personal popularity may have been a factor. To anyone who voted on the basis of Cameron’s belief – I have a dirty secret for you. It feels wrong to even say it.

He isn’t even the worst Tory.

Not defending his legacy as I think it speaks for itself, shattering two unions in 6 years, one of which is 300+ and the other which has brought unparalleled peace in one of the most violent continents is no mean feat, but all things considered, is the guy who argued for cutting the deficit, no matter the hamfisted way he went about it, really as bad as the axemen who made the cuts? Is he worse than the bastards who wrote books where they explicitly state they want to tear apart one of the few good things remaining in the UK? Yes and no. He authorised the axemen. He knew what they were.

He also gave himself some neat plastic surgery. In order to not lose an election, he promised the referendum in the first place. He wrote his own demise. His enemies, however, have also now written the ascendancy of some right proper bastards.

Loser 2 – Scotland. This one is difficult to describe, it may bounce back. But can we just remember that the Scottish people voted to remain with the U.K. to stay in EU but now may be cast out of the EU by that same UK? There’s an irony which is pretty delightful and crushing at the same time. I’ll bet many who voted no 2 years ago are revaluating that choice right now. This may be a positive thing, but it will take a long time to surface – at least as long as the negotiations that the Tories want to prolong.

There is one certain way the EU can salvage Scotland even if Wales and England leave. If they can promise an automatic entry to the EU for an independent Scotland, unprecedented perhaps but we live in unprecedented times, then independence would walk it. It’d be a great negotiating tactic, too, on their part. No country would think about leaving the EU if it meant they might lose parts of themselves on the way out.

Loser 3 – Middle England. Have you ever known a person who everyone seems to tiptoe around and do everything to please, but who makes clearly bad decisions when it comes to choosing anything? That is Middle England.

Even though they tend to win elections, they always lose them. They vote in governments who cut child tax benefit, governments who hurt their economy, and now they have voted to leave a profitable Union on the basis of fake stats. They should know better. Since they call elections generally, they should be able to see that their actions have consequences.

It wasn’t all of them who ruined it yesterday, but I feel like some of them are that guy who only voted Leave because he didn’t think his vote mattered. In referenda, every vote matters. They are like the people who pushed ‘what is the EU?’ to number one on Google Trends yesterday, after the vote. They are the flappy headed claquers who always seem so keen to respond to their masters’ voice. It’s almost an art form how effectively they have voted for something they did not intend this time.

This time they have really done a number on themselves. They have gotten rid of Europeans’ urge to immigrate for jobs, by making the pound worthless and sucking all the energy out of the U.K. economy. They voted to take back control, which actually means to give the power to a slightly different bunch of privately educated millionaires than before, who will almost definitely go after the NHS. They voted to make their borders ‘more secure’ from refugees but, actually, unless we can have some pretty quick discussions with the French, they have probably just gutted the vetting process.

This is even not getting started on everything else they have done wrong. They have somehow managed to unite Irish Protestants and Irish Catholics, Scotland and the City of London, old enmities, together in a new, mutual hatred of the rest of the U.K. Several years down the line, a far less secure rump English state will probably enjoy a diminished position on the world stage, a land border with the EU via Scotland and the Republic of Ireland, and the possibility of their capital city going it alone as some kind of city state.

If there is one good thing to come of this, it is that middle England may be soon forced to confront their awful choices and I hope they are better for it.

In the meantime, maybe they better stop cutting things for spite as they only have so many removable appendages left.

Thomas Gray, Eat Your Heart Out

Now, generally, as a person, I have been accused of being easily pleased. As if I am happy at anything, find everything interesting, and will say that I prefer anything which is currently the situation. Perhaps. Perhaps I quite easily bear the tumultuous world we find ourselves in. Perhaps I do occasionally say I like soft or hard vegetables depending what is on the end of my fork. Perhaps I can live in shared accommodations or in friends’ flats for a month and say it’s great, and two months later say I really enjoy living alone. Maybe I am easily pleased. But let me tell you right now that I feel, it is my impression and all my senses tell me, that I am having the time of my life.

image

The. Time. Of. My. Life.

There are several reasons for this. There is a supreme balance to my universe right now: between friends, and work, my flatmate being awesome, and my girlfriend staying with me as well while she prepares to move into a new flat. It is primarily to her that I write this. Consider this a Very Public Display of Affection, my love.

It is a renaissance. My mind is more active and awake than it has been in years. Every day, I am learning and growing. Every hour is a joyful experience. Every minute feels stretched out, and the pleasure expands and I feel thoroughly good.

We visited the small town of Kutna Hora recently. In this town, there is an ossuary of tremendous size. 40 to 70 thousand human bodies have been taken to pieces and rearranged into a place of art and worship. It is an aching reminder of mortality and the fact that every day we are working towards the end, though, in most cases, fewer people will see our bones and think about the potential lives we experienced, fewer people will take pictures of the remnants of our lives to share them around the world, and, fortunately, fewer people will leave coins in our eyes for luck or for superstition.

 

After we we had seen and appreciated the scene, we decided to stop for lunch. We went for ribs.

Snapshots from an Unloved Part of Prague

Without question, it is easy to see why nobody talks big of Hostivar or the area around Skalka. Where it is not industrial it is residential, with simple 2 story houses or single floor bungalows. Here are a few reasons to be happy.


Taking the 125 back from my last morning class. The sun high, blazing hot on my back and arms. I had tasted tobacco which slipped out the end of my cigarette, as I have recently been smoking them sans filter due to laziness in buying more. It tasted bitter, but it had been a great morning.

On the bus, I positioned myself on a chair then moved closer to the window to catch the rays – greenhouse style. I will be tanned soon.

My movement, stretch, and the silly face I pulled caught the attention of an old lady sitting opposite.

That’s how I made a friend.

She said something in Czech and I responded in as much as I knew to explain that I did not, in fact, understand Czech. I can at least apologise for the fact.

At every turn of the bus, I stretched so as to reach the sun, and he old lady smiled at my efforts. She gave me a sweet. It was a hard boiled liquorice and I thanked her.

A tale of the universal language of smiles and a love of hard boiled but sweet things.


It is morning and I am heading into my first class. On the bus, a mother is feeding her son pieces of banana. His little blonde head and excited face pleased me greatly.

I too am excited at the prospect of bananas.


Something I have learned teaching English is that everyone has their own particular topic that you can ask them about and they will talk for minutes at a time with no prompting. For some, it is their work. For some it is international development. For some, it is ethics. For mothers, their favourite topic is often their children.

One-to-one class. Revising vocabulary from previous lessons and checking how well she has remembered it. We read an article and have a bit of a discussion. She has less to say on he subject than in previous weeks.

I ask her about her weekend plans and her face lights up. She talks about her children and a competition they are in. She explains the competitions history, and it’s logistics, and why her children play that sport. She is happy and is producing great English.

Sometimes, you just need to know what people want to talk about.


When I get off my last bus, I rush down the stairs of metro station, frequently pulling up my trousers as I appear to have lost an inch or two in waist while here, probably all that rushing, and I jump onto the metro with a good deal of time to spare and nothing to do.

Something more special happened last I was in that station. The doors were closing, I abandoned hope, but the guy in front of me, denim-clad, big hair, bigger beard, jams himself in the middle of the doors. The doors reluctantly open. I thank him. We share a laugh.

And we go on with our days.

I wonder if these people know how much better they made mine?