England has become a backward-looking little country

Sun 19 – Sat 25 June

England, my England, what have you done?

England
This really has been one of the most disastrous weeks I can ever remember. As with many disasters, it started off OK and then deterioration came swiftly and sharply. Of course the key calamity was the Referendum result.

Empty flag-waving leads to racism, hatred and, stupidity

I was brought up to be very patriotic – England for ever, etc. Basically as one of my friends put it, I am white trash made good. I grew up in a single parent family on a crap inner-London estate. I’ve always believed in my country and defended it often getting into arguments that I am now ashamed of. Like when I argued that the Irish Famine wasn’t as bad as made out and wasn’t all England’s fault. I also toyed once intellectually with the idea that the British Empire happened because of some innate superiority that English people had over other races. But, today, now I feel ashamed of England. The problem is that English people are inculcated with an idea that their country is special and gifted – always better than anyone else.

‘Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel’ Samuel Johnson

Samuel Johnson How true those words are. By all means love your country for a proper reason like its humanitarianism, don’t just love it because it exists or what happened decades and centuries ago. That backward-looking has led England to disaster. Obsessed with past wars and one World Cup win, on Friday England (and Wales) committed political and economic suicide. We told our nearest neighbours that they can sod off for no particular – they can tell us to do the same, we deserve it. The disaster may not become apparent immediately but over the years it will bear fruit.

Farewell United Kingdom

End of the UK And England as a nation has screwed the United Kingdom it is supposedly so proud to be a part of. Scots were told at the last referendum, you will have to leave the EU if you vote for independence. Now England is going to drag them out against their wishes. Good luck to Scotland this time if it goes for independence. Similarly it is time to look at if Northern Ireland joins with the Republic as the majority of its people want to stay part of the EU and the Republic is a more progressive nation than England. Goodbye United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, hello little Kingdom of England and Wales. Plus of course with London and a few other cities whose open-mindedness thinking doesn’t chime with the ‘chip on their shoulder’ mentality of less modern places.

Sod the grandchildren

baby boomersSad as well that so many of the old people of England basically shafted the young people. We know the young people overwhelmingly voted to stay and this was a vote about their future. But many of the old took it upon themselves to enforce their version of old England (imperial measures and white people) knowing they won’t have to live the consequences. So many pensioners and baby-boomers are quite vile people. They had everything – low cost housing, free university education, good pensions, the NHS, the ability to live anywhere in Europe and basically instead of passing that on they’ve decided young people are collateral for their egos.

I feel genuinely sorry that my niece and nephew will not have the opportunities in life I have had largely because my elders screwed them over. I will explain to them later in their lives how their grandparents, aunts and uncles alongside their friends and other relatives did them in. I doubt if I can explain why – there is no logical reason apart from selfishness.

Figures of hate

Ghastly people on the TV – Farage, Steve Hilton, Boris, Gove, Patel, Ledsom, Whittingdale. Interesting how many of these Cameron thought were his friends and they shafted him. Indeed, I think Boris doesn’t really believe in leaving the EU – he certainly didn’t till a few weeks ago. I suspect he wants to negotiate something and do a second referendum for us to stay in. He might not get that chance, events may overtake. I just hope he has the balls to stand up againt Farage not giving him a peerage nor a cabinet seat. The similarities between Farage and Oswald Moseley are amazing (flag of the British Union of Fascists below). Boris himself is a great example of the stupidity of the pursuit of power for its own ends. Ultimately it achieves nothing as shown by his time as London Mayor he really didn’t do anything.
England's new flag?

The self-created stupidity of the underdog

Amazing the number of people who bought into the lies of the Brexiters. But then many of them ‘want their country back’. So much of this is simply racism – what they mean is a racially pure England with less foreigners. They want to be surrounded only by white people speaking English. Witness the rising number of racist incidents after Friday like the ‘Go Home’ painted on the Polish Cultural Centre near to me. A big part of the problem is that people don’t like being called out as racist but if the cap fits… Migration and travel are a positive, isolation and nationalism are a negative.

‘poor me, poor me, pour me another drink’

Jo Cox sadly died for nothng as everyone who voted for Brexit voted alongside Thomas Mair. And many of these voters were poor, some dirt poor. I have always fought for the underdog often in poor parts of England like the North and the Midlands. Why have I bothered when they have done this? Yes of course there are those who deserve help but there are also people who dabble in racism and lack ambition to change their lives. Someone accused me on Facebook of being anti- Brexit because I was a mason – seriously how stupid can you get? We all have the right to choices, what we don’t have is the right to screw up people’s lives by our choices. And ultimately we create our own future – many ‘disenfranchised’ are far too willing to apportion their problems against talented people because they are ‘foreign’. Oh well English people can now do all the jobs the foreigners do – wipe bums, clean toilets, pick vegetables, carry heavy loads, etc. Funny they didn’t want to do them previously. Plus, of course, we can also do without the ‘good’ foreigners – doctors, nurses, plumbers, etc. People are so short-sighted, addicts to hits of self-satisfaction no matter the long-term damage.

Action #1: Getting rid of the debris

I am angry but out of anger great things can come. I have realised that on social media and in life I have collected people whose views I don’t agree with. This is about quantity friendship rather than being based on quality. The referendum has frequently revealed people who are just racists basically hiding behind ‘concern about immigration’ and/or empty ultra-nationalists. So I’ve started a policy of unfriending and unfollowing various people. Life is too short and I haven’t got time to accommodate these people. Similarly I am going to cut down my social contact with a number of people I know who voted for racism, hatred, and small-minded nationalism – friends and family. Will cause problems turning down dinner invitations, family events, etc but will free up a whole new load of time.

Action #2: Giving up on empty nationalism ‘Come on Iceland’

And I am giving up on empty nationalism. London is more my country than England (don’t forget, the UK has gone). The fact I’m gay and HIV+ creates more fellowship than that I was born in England. I am a citizen of Europe and the world. I am more than just one little bit of an island on the periphery. No more cheering England just for the sake of it. In fact I will choose the countries I support on a case by case basis.

Interesting that the European championship has been taking place as the backdrop Iceland over England to the referendum but not engaged me. The referendum has always felt more important. Also England as a football team are serial under-achievers (and dramatically overpaid). There are far more attractive smaller nations including the other two UK nations and the Republic of Ireland as well as ‘plucky little outsiders’. In the light of the lesson I have learnt from this referendum of empty nationalism, I will be cheering for that wonderful little nation Iceland in the next game.

At least I did my bit

I am proud of the fact that I actively campaigned for Remain which is what I believe in. And the end result in my local borough of Hammersmith and Fulham is a vote 70-30 in favour of Remain. Over the last few weeks I have delivered about 2,000 INTogether leaflets. Last Monday I was out in the pouring rain to deliver on the West Kensington Estate. This is a typical inner-city estate that should solidly vote Labour though I suspect lot of properties have been bought to be lived in by the working class made good or rented out to young professionals. Some of the type of people who protest vote for Leave. I timed my leafleting so I did deliveries inside blocks during the heaviest rain. Then onto house-to-house street delivery when the rain got lighter.

Health and efficiency

Injury #1 – lower back

Lower back And last week was also crap because of injuries that arose from me trying to keep fit. Gym on Sunday, Thursday and Friday mornings. All good stuff. However, I did push the heaviness for weights being lifted on Thursday. All OK apart from during the deadlift where I felt my lower back go. Eased up and went easy for the rest of the workout and next day. But damage done and slowly recovering.

Injury #2 – right calf

Then on Saturday I did my jog-run. I was really looking forward to it after the nonsense and awfulness of Friday. Tried things a little differently. Up a bit later than expected so I pottered around the flat doing stuff rather than going out for my stroll and coffee. Thus perhaps I had not warmed up enough. Did my jog-run and noted a pull in my right calf. Now my problems up to now have been left achilles and right knee which were basically OK. Two thirds of the way through my course (I was aiming for 5.5 km) I felt the muscle go. Stretched, tried to carry on, no good. Throughout the rest of Saturday I rested up as my calf actually hurt to walk on. Annoyingly meant I had to miss the BBQ to say ‘goodbye’ to the Queen’s Young Leaders. Wonder if a week will be long enough for it to recover before trying my next jog-run?
Injury time

Weight

Only good thing health-wise in a shit week was that my weight went down another pound to 13-10.

Digital

Emails

The usual constant battle, weekends included, to keep on top of personal and work emails. I am determined not to get to a situation where I have just given up. I genuinely know people like this with inboxes numbering thousands of unread emails. Though to be honest emails really don’t help make for a better work-life. They are simply the automation of memos and letters gone into hyperdrive in terms of volume and speed. People are surprised if they do not get a response within a couple of hours after sending an email (weekends and evenings included).

The Apps for Good Awards

The Apps for Good Awards on Monday night at the Barbican were a true highlight of an awful week . I love these simply because of the energy and optimism of the young people involved. Yep, the same ones screwed over by many of their old folks later in the week. The market place is where all shortlisted schools and colleges present their app idea. Some of kids clearly have more of a career in marketing than coding as shown by the way they (literally) grab you and sell their product. A lot more primary school children than previously and some repeat schools (so they are obviously hooked). Although temperature-wise very hot. It was a pleasure to move down to one of the basement cinemas which we completely filled.

Apps for Good A great range of winners and perhaps more social awareness amongst the award winners than before. Though this in itself is pretty pointless if they create something that doesn’t create income to sustain itself. Nice winners like an app to help disabled people get employment and another to help people donate unwanted goods to charity. Good to see the Fellows up and running – the alumni of previous young people who engaged with Apps for Good. One of my grants to boost the number of girls as Fellows and women as Experts to be positive role-models. Though it was interesting to note for the vast majority of winning app that the idea groups were either all male or all female.

Other bits

Office days Tuesday and Wednesday. Wonderful to just be sat at my desk and able to deal with work that needs doing. Other stuff done including

  • 1:1 with my line manager
  • Getting sign up organisationally to be involved with Nominet Trust 100 this year
  • Arranging making a video about my Abstinence Based Recovery projects
  • Presenting to a senior committee about doing another Tech for Good grants programme
  • Continuing preparations to launch this new programme including talking with other funders
  • Attending a meeting about how we can do better digital story-telling
  • Discussing with a colleague about how best to help human rights projects engage with digital.

Mum and Dave

Saw mum Monday morning to do laundry before doing my leaflet delivery. Also with her on Tuesday and Wednesday evening. I persuaded her to vote Remain. I am glad because she (and Dave) are the only people I don’t want to fall out with on this. I know my brother didn’t vote which is good because he would have probably voted Leave. I suspect my Dad and mother-in-law voted Leave, oh well if that means I never talk to them again then so be it.

Feels like a week I haven’t seen much of Dave which has contributed to the general feeling of crapness. I stayed over at this on Thursday after attending my colleague Peter’s leaving do. He had been there for nearly 20 years. Going to miss his quiet persistence and dry humour. On Friday morning I had the dubious pleasure of waking Dave to tell him the bad news. The way some of the fools in many parts of England had voted pissed him off as much as me. Then he was off to the Far East for work on Friday and it was Billy home alone.

Books and reading

CeesMy main reading book was Lost Paradise by Cees Nooteboom. A short but intense book by an author I love. Cees is an older Dutch writer but with an internationalist outlook based on travelling around Europe and the wider world. He has a particular love of Spain which I can empathise with. A short book about two Brazilian women in Australia. This is then followed by a Dutch man at a health farm. The commonality is a woman who crosses both stories. Very much ‘literature’ that demands conversation but engaging taking one to another place. A nice example of good fiction writing. And the memories from it linger.

Dr Who audio-books

Four listened to last week. First The Axis of Insanity An adventure featuring the fifth Doctor, Peri and Erimem. Not a classic. The Doctor goes to a ‘magic’ place between dimensions and realities run by an important being called The Overseer. However, he’s been usurped by The Jester. Obviously Doc sorts it out but the intriguing things is whether The Jester is really the Master? Jester is both a female and male character at the same time – a forerunner of Missy in the TV series?

Arrangements for War with the sixth Doctor and Evelyn Smythe. Also Medicinal Purposes with the same Doctor and companion. The former is an adventure set on a planet where civil war is imminent (feels like real-life after the referendum) and must be averted to deal with an invasion from space that will happen. It’s all about the Doctor needing to ensure history keeps to its allotted course. An OK adventure but not a classic. We do find out that Evelyn is ill and dying.

Medicinal Purposes features the Doctor arriving in nineteenth century Edinburgh and coming into contact with Burke and Hare. But it’s not a simple historical drame aka the Hartnell period. There is also an alien involved in the body-snatching. Fun and slightly horror driven. .

The final audio book listened to was The Natural History of Fear This continues the series where the Paul McGann Doctor along with C’rizz and Charley are travelling through different areas to find the Tardis. In this one they land in a 1984 type world and are brainwashed into becoming part of it. Or that’s what I think it’s about, it’s complex. One of those lovely sci-fi stories where the characters live a new life rather than just play visitors.

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