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Long division, and the day my trousers fell down

Personally, I don’t care to be ‘ruled’.  I don’t need to be ‘led’.  All I ask from government is competent administration.


from: Laura Facebook, Chief Political Editor, The Boglington Post. @laura’sweeplace

Hurrah! for me. In a May 2013 Post, I predicted that after a vote to Leave the EU, Chancellor George Osbogl would immediately slash corporation tax in order to attract more large US corporations to come in and, er, not pay any tax. He’s already announced a cut from 20% to 15%, although he’s not saying when. ‘By 2020’ is his best guess.

Meanwhile after ten days of shockwaves reverberating around the world, the pound is back down again at $1.31, where it fell to the morning after the vote, and the FTSE 250 is still down 2.5%.  The Bank of England has effectively pumped another £150 billion into the banks to forestall a lending crisis, while slides are already appearing in house-building, the property market, the food and services sectors….

Did we do the right thing, I wonder?

You tell me.


As of this morning, 6 July, the pound has fallen to $1.28.


Edel Voice

Interestingly, the Austrian supreme court has overturned the result of last month’s presidential election and there is to be a re-run.

So it is possible to ignore the will of the people.

Personally, if I were asked to vote for a bunch of politicians calling themselves The Freedom Party, I would throw a few things in a backpack and run several hundred miles in any direction, screaming in terror.

I mean, you just know, don’t you, that if you vote-in something calling itself The Freedom Party, missing children will be turning up on rubbish tips before breakfast.

The reason for re-running the election is that it was not won by The Freedom Party. But they lost by only a whisker, 30 thousand votes, and so reckoned they had a good chance of getting a re-run if they blamed foreigners who weren’t supposed to vote for abusing the postal system. And the supreme court fell for it.

Is any of this starting to remind you of anything?


Voting for change

And in Australia, not a spelling error, Down Under they’ve just run a General Election and, guess what? That’s right, the result was too close to call. Independents and minority parties increased their share of the vote to the point where neither of the main parties looks like getting a working majority. The outcome depends on recounts and votes not yet counted from remote cattle stations, places like Brisbane.

It’s the same the whole world over. People are sick and tired of living in peace, with falling crime, package holidays and a 50-inch 3D TV in the bedroom. The trouble is, they don’t know what comes next. What could replace Parliamentary democracies, other than brutal dictatorships or even more brutal anarchy? The answer is more fragmentation, splitting up the old duopolies, smashing their cosy relationships, the divvying up of ‘power’ (God, I hate that usage!) between increasingly indistinguishable centrist parties, until no-one is in charge.

It looks like the end of civilization as we know it.

It doesn’t seem to have occurred to the electorates of Britain, Australia, Germany, Austria – pretty much everywhere, and probably in November America – that it isn’t all the fault of politicians.

Not at least in the way they imagine. We expect far too much from politicians, and complain endlessly when they deliver.

Personally, I don’t care to be ‘ruled’. I don’t need to be ‘led’. There’s too much arrant nonsense talked in politics about ‘power’. All I ask from government is competent administration. And unfortunately, that’s just what we’re not getting.

Part of the reason is that Thatcher and subsequent budget cuts have fatally weakened the Civil Service. Where politicians formerly fronted policies, they are now expected to manage them. Part, too, is that we have a crisis of competence in all our institutions, both public and private.  And part is that no large-scale institution can be maintained, that is flexible enough to cope with the pace of social and technological, global…



(Concorde, Anglo-French development, 1976)…. “As they soared above the clouds … (the) aircraft offered gleaming proof that a new, more unified era had dawned in Europe.

“….Faced with new challenges and rapidly changing times, the nations of Europe turned toward one another for help, pooling their resources, talents and markets in new co-operative ventures. In 1973, the United Kingdom was admitted to the EEC. By the end of the decade, the European Monetary System was established, and the continent was well on the way toward achieving the unity that plays such an important role in our society today.”

-From an introduction to ‘100 Years of Popular Music’ – the ’70s. (International Music Publications Ltd, 2003)

How times have changed. From hope to nope in a generation.

Fucking cretins. I want my European citizenship back.


Buying a season ticket to Old Trafford is like voting to Leave the EU or joining the Church of England: placing absurd faith in something that nowadays exists in name only.

Field punishment

Our occasional sports correspondent and star Portugal midfield supremo, Boglinho writes:

Look, we expect a lot from premier league footballers too. In the clubs that pay tens of millions to acquire the best talent from all over the world, they rule the roost. The English Premier League is supposedly the richest, the most talent-studded of all the European premier leagues. Yet you take these cosseted, gilded young baboons and sort them into their own national teams, or ask them to beat Bayern Munich instead of Arsenal, and they can’t play for toffee. It’s a system based on over-expectation, on media hype, that works only in its own rarefied bubble. And then 5000-1 outsider, Leicester City goes and wins the Premiership.

Yet the desperate fans with their songs from the terraces, wrapped in their dad’s well-worn scarf, go on demonstrating their loyalty year after year to these ghostly, overpriced simulacra of the original teams, that have kept only the traditional names in common. Buying a season ticket to Old Trafford and new-edition £100 red shirts for the kids every season is like voting to Leave the EU or joining the Church of England: placing absurd faith in something that nowadays exists in name only.

Djokovic goes spinning out of Wimbledon in the second round, losing in four to an amiable, shambling, nine-foot-tall American whose greatest previous triumph was appearing on a TV dating show (she stood him up afterwards). The world’s number one, expected by the end of the tournament to become statistically the greatest player in the history of the game, a man who has won $100 million in prize money, played inexplicably poor, club-level tennis that was painful to watch. Had his family been kidnapped? Had his new restaurant poisoned all the diners? We shall probably never know. We just saw one of the world’s greatest athletes stumbling around with a glazed expression, muttering to himself and smashing the ball into the net, point after losing point.

And I’m not referring to Marcus Willis, a perfectly nice chap and competent club player – but only a ‘qualifier’ –  with the prettiest girlfriend in the history of ever. He was turned by the media into a national joke, like the unfancied Olympic ski-jumper from Cheltenham, Eddie the Eagle, because after a surprise knocking-out of a low-ranking seed he came up against Federer on Centre Court in the second round: every young player’s dream nightmare. A joke, but also a national symbol: the underdog’s underdog. So he took a couple of points off the Master, waved cheerfully to the crowd, and now he’s a celebrity. How’s Federer doing? Who cares, we’re British.

Djokovic’s female counterpart, Serena Williams too had a poor start, being fined $10 thousand for petulantly throwing away her racket after losing some unimportant points. It’s been a fractious week in SW19. Playing against a little-known qualifier in the second round, nevertheless the second greatest woman player in tennis history and number one seed was down a set, shouting at herself like a bag-lady, a haunted expression in her eyes as the terrible ghost of Serena managed somehow to dig in and claw her way back to win. The eventual scoreline did not reflect how close she had come to defeat. Meanwhile the second seed, Muguruza, the new kid on the block, with huge sponsorship deals lining up and a massive weight of expectation on her lovely Spanish shoulders, was already on her way home, beaten in the first round.

It’s been the triumph of expectation over hope.

These people are expected to win every time, but you can’t. No-one could. We ask too much of them. And we love to pull down our idols. They are like ageing gunslingers, knowing that every punk in town wants to make a name for themselves and that, one day, you’ll be a fraction of a second too slow on the draw, and out go the lights.

The EU referendum was supposed to decide whether Britain remained part of the great postwar unifying experiment in Europe, an undiscovered land 26 miles away, or – what? Nobody knew what, just imagining we were far too important to be part of anything so common as a Common Market. Imagining we would ‘rule’ ourselves at last, free from the shackles and the sight of foreigners doing well. And the underdogs won.

It was probably a category error. Individual economies find it a struggle to survive in the modern world. Trade barriers are going up everywhere. And we weren’t being ‘ruled’ by foreigners. It was a media myth. A meme. The marginal result left everyone stunned, even the people who voted to leave. It left the country unexpectedly leaderless, without government, without opposition and with a sinking currency. ‘Be careful what you wish for’ is an old Chinese proverb that warns us to think through the possible consequences of our actions. To do that, you have to have some idea what those could be.

Now the vultures are hovering over the carcass of 900 years of Parliamentary democracy.

A history of which far too many ‘voters’ seem blissfully ignorant.


Getting shirty

Is it something that happens to everyone, that as we age we find the medians have shifted behind us?

Why don’t the shoes I buy, the shirts I buy, the trousers ever seem to fit properly anymore? Have people changed their physical size and shape? Or is it just because the stuff is always made in Cambodia or somewhere and they can’t believe Westerners look like this?

I’ve bought three shirts this year. None of them fit. At Christmas, I spent £80 on an emergency shirt on sale in London, size L (I’m a 16.5 in collar size, which is, or was in my day, a size L), and couldn’t get my arms in the sleeves, let alone button around my chest. They called it a ‘slim fit’. How can you have a large-size ‘slim fit’ and still not expect even to get your skinny old arms in, let alone your Santa Claus?

I had to give it away to my son, who’s a couple of sizes younger. Then last month I bought a size 16.5 (L) shirt in a local store and you could of fitted two of us in it, or gone camping. I had to tuck the tails into my socks and rollup the cuffs. Yesterday I bought a going-away Hawaiian shirt, again a L, and it won’t do up round the middle. Yet the other size L stuff, T-shirts I bought in the same shop fit fine, so it can’t be me. Are they just getting careless with the labelling? In January I bought a pair of jeans in my size, 36 Regular, it says on the label, but they turned out a 38 and I had to spend £20 on a belt to hold them up. Size 36 is the new 38, for our new generation of overweights. No ‘slim fit’ there.

So yesterday I also acquired two pairs of shoes, that are too wide in the heel and too narrow in the toe, but it was all they had that fit at all, so I have to put up with sore little tootsies and heel blisters. You have to go on-line to find any half-sizes or width-fittings, then you don’t know what you might be getting for your money.  One online store had very nice-looking shoes in half-sizes that stopped at size 8 and refused to reply to my mild expression of surprise, as I’m a 10.5 and I don’t think I’m any sort of freak.  The jeans I bought yesterday fit beautifully in the fitting-room, until I’d worn them half an hour and the waistband expanded and they went strangely baggy in the knees and kept falling down, so that I had to improvise braces with the dog’s lead.

It’s no wonder old fogeys moan about everything not being the way it was.

It isn’t!


So farewell

I was about to comment on the fact that the Grim Celebrity Reaper seemed to have gone on holiday last week. No longer.

RIP this weekend British ‘Mrs Merton’ comedienne Caroline Ahearne, 52; ‘Deer Hunter’ director, Michael Cimino, 73; Elvis’ guitar player Scotty Moore, 74; no-longer living embodiment of the Jewish moral high-ground, Nobel prizewinner, Auschwitz-Birkenau survivor Elie Wiesel, 87; and award-winning Iranian director (Godard said film began with DW Griffith and ended with Kiarostami), Abbas Kiarostami, 76.

Can’t quite see the connections, but there you go. It’s all random, the knottiness of stringiness.

-UB (66)


To cheer you up, while listening to their classic 1977 duets on YouTube, I’ve just noticed that my tabs have compressed the names to ‘Bill Evans and Tony Benn’…

Now there’s an image to make your day!


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