the brilliantly leaping gazelle

An oddly reassuring thought…

I know its not exactly what one might call a ringing endorsement of Boris Johnson’s election as the new Conservative Party leader – and by dint of that, our next Prime Minister – the notion that because we’ll all be dead soon, it has only a relative importance. But I will be, and therefore it isRelative to not only how long I’m going to remain alive, relative to my potential to effect any meaningful change on whatever decisions he or other world leaders may make, but most of all, relative the lack of any effective action by humanity to reverse catastrophic climate change.

It literally dawned on me at 04.58 this morning as I watched the sun come up, that ultimately, nothing we say or do matters from here on in. I’m at the seaside at Cromer and enduring the heatwave, one that may or may not set records for the hottest UK temperature, but will be one of the hottest years globally on record. Most of these have occurred in the recent past and we not only know this but in trying to combat the heats effects we only make the problem worse. I am as guilty as the next man of this, unless of course, the next man happens to the President of China or America.

To cool off in the sun, my partner made some delicious homemade ice pops, using only watermelon juice and star fruit juice, whatever that is. Oh yes and the energy needed to freeze it, the petrol needed to drive to the supermarket and back to get the juice, the energy needed to keep it chilled until purchase. Oh, and then there’s the energy needed to transport it here, probably a combination of freight and air –freight, given that neither of these two fruits are grown in the UK. Then there’s the energy need to grow them, the sheer amount of water needed, the low wages producers need to pay their workers, so my partner, when she’s in Cromer Co-Op won’t think ‘How much?’ and choose something else. And I nearly forgot the packaging! I thought of all this as the ice-pop was melting, reflecting on if the sun could do that, what in Darwin’s name is it doing to the polar ice-sheets. Lots, I know, and none of it good.

Whilst we might imbue our own concerns with importance, that importance is only important to ourselves and is no of consequence not to the universe. This truism was borne out to me last week I visited the Turner Gallery in Margate, where there was an exhibition of seaside ‘photos, some of which were taken at the start of the last century. I was struck by the thought that all the people in those ‘photo’s, they were dead now, and all their hopes and dreams, which had seemed so important to them, had died with them.

This blog has always had a rather somewhat cynical view of humanity’s continued existence as beneficial for the planet, so therefore it would be a tad hypocritical to exempt myself from my own belief. And even if we ultimately pollute ourselves  out of existence, what will the universe care? Regardless of whatever deal or no deal we leave Europe with, the sun will still rise. How much longer humans will be around to witness it is another matter.

Other people befouling my eyes…

I know this is going to be a bit sexist and judgmental, but I am hugely judgmental and frequently withering in my appraisal of other people – well if they will befoul my eyes – so can I just observe that the ratio of good-looking men has demised markedly. I’m not exactly an Adonis myself- but then neither am I a John Merrick lookalike- but at least I make an effort. Some of the men here though, what with their curious facial furniture look like strategically shaved monkeys. If I wanted to better acquaint myself with the local hospitals A&E, I might ask if their knuckles hurt from being dragged along the floor. And as for what they wear, or rather, what they are not wearing, how much of this from decorum can be blamed on the weather, or where exactly do individuals bear some responsibility for baring nearly all is a moot point. But to me – and most right thinking people -men going topless and wearing flip-flops, whilst fine and appropriate on a beach, isn’t street attire. It seems however, that here in Cromer they’ve enthusiastically embraced what seems like anarchic clotheslessness.

And all too frequently, this abandon of propriety goes hand in hand with tattoo’s. Where did this obsession with body disfigurement come from? Most people have difficulty committing to gym membership, so why on earth they imagine they make the sort of commitment a tattoo requires is unfathomable. Things change. Plans Change. Times change. And bodies sag. What was once chiseled and buffed in former years becomes visual proof of the cruelty of ageing. There’s a lot of it in Cromer and yes, it befouls my eyes.

All that glitters isn’t gold…

I’ve just found out from the BBC that

 Boris Johnson has promised the “beginning of a new golden age”, as he made his first Commons statement as PM.

 And a large part of me thinks, is that such a good thing? At the moment I’m reading ‘The Watchers: A secret history of the reign of Elizabeth 1’ by Stephen Alford, and whatever thoughts I had about her reign being a ‘golden age’ is largely a creation of benevolent historians. From the outset, her legitimacy to be queen was questioned, England was isolated from Europe and the country was beset by plots, intrigues and treachery. Does any of this seem pertinent to now?

 Or we could call to mind Harriet Jones vaunted ‘golden age’ when she was Prime Minister. Admittedly she was a character in ‘ Doctor Who’ but as many others have pointed out, Boris Johnson is a creation of Boris Johnson. But whilst she was P.M of a Britain in a parallel world, who knows what planet Boris is on?


Puerile I know..

But the BBC is reporting this morning that:

Like she needed to, judging by the things he’s said and done!

What does this post say about me?

The news yesterday that Boris Jonson likes to make model trains and buses, and paints on to them happy, smiling passengers, made me think of a dark episode in human history when vans were similarly adorned with happy, smiling passengers to reassure those herded into them.

My mind made an instantaneous connection between them, so what does that say about me?

A real contest!

The problem in choosing the lesser of two evils is that either way, one chooses evil and thinking about this in relation to the Tory party leadership contest, the eventual winner will still be a Tory. It’s like a political ‘Stockholm Syndrome’, wherein you think that if befriend your kidnapper they’ll be nice to you. And conveniently overlook the fact that if the ransom isn’t paid, sooner or later their going to kill you.

And writing of death puts me in mind of a radically new way not only to run the Tory leadership contest, but also to increase public interest. Have a televised, fight to the death format. No weapons, no time limit and no rules. Then we’d see how much people wanted it. Just all the hopefuls, in an arena, until only one remained.

I’d watch that. They all say how much they want a real leadership contest, not a coronation don’t they?

Although if we applied it to the Labour Party, well, Jeremy Corbyn wouldn’t be odds on favourite. Now Tom Watson, he looks quite handy, although it’s a pity Dan Jarvis is no longer a Labour MP, seeing as he’s now Mayor of Sheffield. He was a Major in the Paratroop Regiment and he’s only 46!

We’re all a bit Saint Augustine

Remember those halcyon days a couple of months ago when parliament was on its Easter recess?  And because there was a void in the news agenda that needed to be filled, the media descended upon climate change to fill that gap. So that’s what climate change became; newsfill, this until normal service could be resumed and the media could instead focus on something less urgent, something less complex to understand, less impactful on every single aspect of life, returned. Something that could be endlessly discussed, with no opinion being as wrong as anyone else’s, and be constantly changing.
Something known, something almost reassuringly unpredictable.
Whilst the media presumes we are all transfixed by the current political turmoil and are discussing the merits or otherwise of various candidates for the conservative party leadership and what this will mean for the country’s relationship with Europe and itself, I can’t be alone in thinking that this isn’t the most pressing problem facing us today. That unless effective action is taken, and taken very soon, who becomes the next Prime Minister will be the political equivalent of re-arranging the deckchairs on the Titanic.
Catastrophic climate change is presents us with such an overwhelmingly far more complicated set of interrelated circumstances, – and largely circumstances of our own making – perhaps it is no surprise that we find it far easier, more comforting to speculate on what is happening in terms of our narrow parochial interests.  Because catastrophic climate change requires a degree of insight and forward thinking that doesn’t come easily to most people. By that I mean that most people can only contemplate something thirty or sixty years into the future, anything beyond that is more existential.  So it was with no surprise that the news that Extinction Rebellion are planning drone protests today to disrupt the workings of Heathrow airport was greeted with wholly predictable fulminations by those who both want the changes needed to halt catastrophic climate change, but want others to make the change. So airline flights are bad because aviation fuel is dispersed high in the atmosphere and thus causes more damage, but cheap flights, well we want those!
It reminds me of Saint Augustine’s plea “Please God, make me good, but not just yet”

I’m a bit Eddie Izzard now

One of the great things about technology is that when it works it works seamlessly, despite one not knowing how it works or the or beginning to complex instructions that happen instantaneously needed to enable it to work.  This means that user is saved masses amounts of time by the simplification of the user interface.  When it works it’s kind of like a swan, inasmuch as what you see is elegant and effortless movement through water, what you don’t see are its furious underwater exertions to make it so.
When it doesn’t you end up a bit like Eddie Izzard.
I am Eddie Izzard now.  Because I am unable to log into wordpress using my own computer.  Why this is the case I’ve no idea and equally I’ve no idea as to how to rectify it.  This blog entry has been typed on my own computer, then sent to my own email address, which I can then access on her computer and then I’ve copied and pasted it into the blog post you are now reading.  No doubt when you are reading these words I’ll be engaged in a live chat with what one of what wordpress ambitiously call their ‘happiness engineers’ !
One thinks of Sheldon Cooper’s scornful dismissal of people who work in the Apple Store as being ‘geniuses’!

The immoral minority.

In common with anyone with an I.Q larger than the radius of their kneecap, I was not in the least bit shocked by Michael Gove’s admission that, as reported in ‘The Guardian’

“I took drugs on several occasions at social events more than 20 years ago,” he told the Daily Mail. “At the time I was a young journalist. It was a mistake. I look back and I think, I wish I hadn’t done that.”

But it was his assertion that he did it ‘on several occasions at social events’ being both so wonderfully non-specific whilst being candidly honest, which causes me to consider if he has a non-exclusive relationship with the truth. It is loose enough to allow for other revelations to emerge. How many is ‘several’ exactly? And how social were these ‘social events’?

And this only further confirmed my opinion of him as a self-serving opportunist who’ll say anything in his quest for power, when the BBC ran a story under the headline

Michael Gove: Cocaine ‘mistake’ a ‘deep regret’

Just once, wouldn’t it make a refreshingly honest break from all this faux-regret if someone said “ Yeah I took drugs and it was great, my only regret looking back is that I didn’t do more. God I miss those times.”

Because do you honestly think that the same journalists and cathode ray moralists who’ll condemn him haven’t – or are – themselves guilty of the same behaviour he is? Dominic Raab, another Tory leadership contender, realized this contradiction when he very subtly appeared to support him but slipped the knife in anyway. As ‘The Guardian’ reported,

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Saturday, Gove’s leadership rival, Dominic Raab said he did not believe the admission would have an impact on Gove’s chances in the leadership race. He said: “I certainly don’t see it barring him from this race in any way. I rather admire his honesty.”

Raab, who has previously admitted taking cannabis as a student, added: “It was a long time ago and pretty few and far between. I have never taken cocaine or any class-A drugs.”

He said class-A drugs were “a bit different” but added: “I’m not going to cast any further aspersions on Michael or anyone else who is just honest about being human and doing the things that some young people do – not everyone, obviously – and holding their hand up and saying: ‘I got that wrong, move on.’”

As someone so pithily observed about Dominic Raab, ‘he looks like he should be a sympathetic hospital consultant, as opposed to what he is.’ A Conservative leadership candidate.

J.F.K. and ‘The Peterborough Effect.’

Many years ago now, in what today seems like a hopelessly optimistic endeavour, someone had to ambitious idea of promoting Peterborough as a thrusting and dynamic place to relocate one’s business. Under the tagline of ‘The Peterborough Effect’, the advert starred Roy Kinnear as a Roman Centurion, to emphasize the town’s long history, by the somewhat rash decision to have all the dialogue in Latin!

Had everyone involved been paid in Roman money, then fine. But I’m thinking they weren’t. Probably they trouser large amounts of cash that could be spent on buying the kinds of stylish clothes and equally stylish garden furniture featured in the advert.

But I digress. For earlier this morning we saw another ‘Peterborough Effect’ only this time it wasn’t so much an advert on what the town could do, it was more on what the town couldn’t do. Bother to vote. I mean a 48% turnout?

And it’s not as if voting here is in any way an onerous activity. It’s made as easy as it possibly could be for people. I mean they might have go to a church hall or school, be greeted by a bored election official who’ll hand them a ballot paper and direct them to a flimsy booth to cast their vote. Voters abroad who’ve long been denied democratic free and fair multi-party elections that don’t involve a long journey to vote, and a threat of violence if they do, can only sympathise.

I find it staggeringly pathetic of people not to vote. It was only comparatively recently that women got the vote, although this gave rise to the widespread belief that women would vote the way men in their life wanted them too. Some men still think they can do that. Because who one votes for is nowhere near as important as taking an active role in the democratic process, because if one doesn’t vote, not only is your vote not cast, but worse, the that the vote of the people who do bother is worth more, because it’s counted and yours is not.

48% turnout indicates a worrying lack of political engagement at precisely the time when political engagement is needed more than ever. People cannot claim that the political process is in crisis, when they themselves are fuelling it! I’m reminded of John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address as President and his challenge to every American to “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country,”