“The society which has abolished every kind of adventure makes its own abolition the only possible adventure.” Paris, May 1968

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Scotland? Got a spot of bother up there have they?

Russia claims that the Scottish Independence Referendum failed to comply with international standards.
Meanwhile, according to Political Scrapbook, a referendum truther movement!!! is demanding a recount and claiming that the whole thing was rigged.  ISIS will probably declare Scotland kafir in the next day or two. That's the trouble with democracy - it does tend to get people worked up.

Friday, 19 September 2014

All over bar the shouting?

With a massive 80% to 90% turn out and a convincing 45% - 55% margin, the good folk of Scotland have, for the time being at least, rejected the idea of an independent state. Political pundits will now spend many hours casting bones and poring over entrails. It's what they do.
A few early morning thoughts: Does the YES vote in Glasgow and Dundee indicate a class split or something else? Is there a rural - city split?
Will all that political energy and involvement shown over the past weeks now just dissipate or remain as  a driving force behind a new grass roots movement?
Will things ever be the same again, not just for Scotland but for the UK as a whole?
Capital hates uncertainty. The  markets were twitchy but have settled down now. The pound is stronger. The project now will be a return to the status quo ASAP. All those pre-referendum NO dependant promises - just watch the back peddling start in the next few hours.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Getting free from Accrington.

I could weep for the unhappy, abused children of the world but I know that there is little that I can do about their lives. When they grow up a few are able earn money by unburdening themselves in an autobiography and good luck to them. But misery-lit as it's known in the book trade is not my cup of tea; there is a whiff of voyeurism about the genre. Having said that, I have just finished reading Jeanette Winterson's Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? and although it would be hard to describe the author's childhood as anything other than miserable to categorise the book as misery-lit would be to do it a grave injustice. Winterson writes compellingly about love, adoption, politics and mental illness but what really gripped me was her description of Accrington in the 1960's. She could just as easily have been writing about the 1930's, or the 1860's. In the 50's we too shared an outside toilet but there the similarity between Leyton and Accrington ended. Up north, grim or not, it truly was a different world.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Who knows what the future holds for Scotland.

One thing is for sure. I can never remember a political issue that has motivated people to such an extent. If Scots genuinely feel that they will be better off outside the UK but inside the EU then of course they should go for it. Vote YES. But it's what will happen after the referendum that will be really interesting.  A resounding YES vote will mean months (perhaps years) of negotiation before independence is finally declared. On the other hand a NO vote will mean months (almost certainly years ) of bitter recrimination. There is a third possibility and it's one that no doubt has been thought about in the corridors of power in both London and Edinburgh. Just suppose that there is a YES vote but that Westminster maintains that there is no constitutional right to secession. That the Act Of Union cannot be repealed. What then?

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Rowlocks to it all!

Writing recently about the smallholding advice given me by "Old Arthur" reminded me of an earlier incident in the rich pattern of what the pointy heads like to call "learning for life". In my experience there are few life forms as exasperating and of such little practical value as the teenage boy. Lovable they might be but when it comes to use value chocolate fireguards come to mind. I was no exception to this rule. I was sixteen years old and apprenticed to a boatbuilder on the Essex coast when I was inducted into the black art of bowline tieing. Much of our work was done afloat and that particular morning I had been doing something or other on a yacht moored in the middle of the creek. Come dinner time I had rowed back to the landing stage, tied up the dinghy and returned to the yard where I was told that the guvnor would be coming afloat with me in the afternoon and I was to prepare the boat, including the outboard motor normally denied me due to rowing being good for me apparently. Come two o clock and we arrived back at the landing stage. From this point onward things started to go rapidly downhill. I had secured the dinghy with a collection of hitches unknown to the art of seamanship and the natural fibre rope had swollen to an impenetrable tangle. I was spoken to quite sharply. The guvorner attempted to unpick the knot with a steel spike that slipped and pierced his hand. Again I was spoken to quite sharply. Eventually we got underway and I was told that on arrival at the yacht we were to work on I would learn to tie a bowline. This I did and by knocking off time was confident that I could tie a bowline in the most adverse of circumstances. We set off on the return journey only for the outboard to splutter and die after a few minutes. I had forgotten to fill the tank and once more was spoken to quite sharply. We would have to row back but this proved to be impossible as I had brought the wrong size rowlocks. We would have to use the oars to paddle back home. As the headwind strengthened I was not only spoken to sharply but described in some detail with much reference to the reproductive process. Eventually we got back to the landing stage and I took the painter in my hand, and yes you guessed it, such was my state of nerves that all knowledge of the bowline had flown from my mind like autumn leaves on the breeze. I was spoken to quite sharply.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Panic? No way.

Cameron, Clegg and Bernie Winters head north in an attempt, having failed with the purse strings, to tug at Scottish heart strings.  No doubt there will be much photo-op hesitant nibbling of stovies, mutton pies and haggis and chips. All washed town by tentative sips from pints of heavy. Pubs are offering YES or NO (Bitter Together) beer. A St Andrew's flag is hoisted over Number 10 only for the halyard to break and the whole shooting match flutter to the ground. John Major steps forward to fulfil his role as elder statesman and warn of the dire consequences of Jock Independence. Don't mention cricket, or Curry.
Alex Salmond has the look of a man who has lost a mickle and found a muckle. Only time will tell if the average Scot will be better served by an Edinburgh elite rather than a Westminster one but the question seems to be a live one all right. Unusually for politics - at least it's not boring.

Monday, 8 September 2014

True Grit and false dawns.

I watched the Coen Brothers re-make of the old John Wayne classic True Grit the other day. The 1969 John Wayne version was I suppose the point in cinema history when the Hollywood western finally became well and truly politically incorrect. There was no doubting the right-wing views of Wayne and no doubting either that to a very large extent the story of the Old West is one of exploitation of people and degradation of the environment. But the story is also one of rugged individualism and high adventure that has struck a cord with generations of film and pulp-fiction fans. I think that both versions of True Grit paint pretty much the picture of a brief moment in history that we want to believe in and a set of values that, despite the best efforts of the moral gatekeepers of the left, we all have a grudging respect for.

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