Sun 26 June – Sat 2 July 2016: We deal with the aftermath of Brexit
So the nightmare happened but life must go on. The sad thing is that we may have lost some great things like our ability to live, travel, work and study anywhere in Europe. And our economy may never be as good as it could have been. Apart from the Brexit mess, it was also a strange week in other ways. At the European Championships ‘mighty’ England was beaten by little Iceland (hooray). Whilst Wales beat Belgium to go through to the Semis (hooray again). There was the whole farce of Boris bottling it and not standing for the Conservative party leadership. And to cap it all the tragic news of Caroline Aherne’s death. Put that alongside David Bowie with Victoria Wood and 2016 is rapidly turning into one of the shittiest of years.
The passing of the storm
The Tory leadership process swung into action following Cameron’s resignation. Complete with the farce of Boris being frit and Gove stepping in despite having said time and again that he wasn’t suitable. I suspect there is some dirt on Boris or his family someone has threatened to use. On Gove, I am reminded of a story told by David Nicholson when in charge of the NHS. He referred to the then Health Secretary Andrew Lansley as ‘mad’. To which Lansley replied, ‘If you think I’m mad then you should meet Gove!’ And Andrea Leadsom, described as ‘like Mrs Thatcher but without her sense of self-doubt’. Two words for Liam Fox – Adam Werritty (google it). Stephen Crabb – questionable on gay stuff / ‘religious freedome’. Best bet may be Theresa May, a slight shift from old, male and pale. Although some of her comments are concerning albeit in a contest of lies to get votes.
Finding economic normality again
Shares and the pound fell on Monday but then (shares) rose again. I think the economic damage from Brexit will come as years progress – invoking Article 50 could be the real trigger. Clearly it is all about the deal that is to be negotiated including whether free trade with the rest of Europe can be maintained or whether we trade with tariffs so putting prices up. The next Chancellor of the Exchequer is going to have a nightmare, as are we all. Also the issues of the EU citizens living here and Brits living in the EU will be paramount. Nothing is guaranteed. So we could swap hundreds of thousands of talented, economically active young Europeans for equal or greater numbers of old, embittered, sickly Brits being forced to return ‘home’.
They lied, lied and lied again
We’ve had plenty of Farage’s ugly mug on our screens along with those of other vile UKIP and Tory people. Though this has declined as the week passed. Could be linked to the need to constantly deny they ever promised £350m extra each week for the NHS. As well as the apparent non-promise to maintain any other EU funding such as subsidies for farmers and for scientific research. Nor that there would be any crisis after leaving. Welcome to the world Gove told us about with ‘bumps in the road’ whilst Leadsom talks of ‘headwinds’.
My big hope is that we don’t leave the EU. The referendum has no legal force, it was indicative. And invoking Article 50 to leave needs the approval of parliament where the majority of MPs are anti-Brexit. Let us not forget the vote was only 52-48 and many now regret their decision to leave. This is the biggest decision of our lifetime and it needs to be double-checked before implementation. I am proud that the Lib Dems, of whom I am a member, have committed to fight to keep us in the EU. One does wonder if there is a scenario in which Article 50 is left hanging thus leaving the UK permanently as neither in nor out of the EU?
The march to keep us in the EU took place on Saturday and I joined it for a bit. Great atmosphere – imagine the violent and threatening atmosphere on the Leave march if Remain had only won 52-48.
The disaster that is the Labour party
Meanwhile the civil war in the Labour party continues. I cannot stand Corbyn and his clique of Trotskyists. I used to be a member of Labour and one of the reasons to leave was the strange hard left people who idealise a working class that doesn’t exist and have sympathies for left-wing dictatorships such as the USSR, Cuba and now Venezuela. Corbyn has sat on a safe seat for nearly 30 years showing no loyalty to anybody. He would be a disaster as PM selling out to people like Putin and letting the economy tank by trying to take us back to seventies Britain run by the unions. It was a nightmare I grew up in with regular strikes. Perhaps time for a new centre-left party that isn’t in hock to unrepresentative trade union bosses?
CAST launch to celebrate Tech for Good
Couple of big events last week. First was the launch of CAST, the Centre for the Acceleration of Social Technology. This took place on Thursday and was a gathering of the Tech for Good community. Various projects presented showing what TfG can achieve. Real ‘wows’ such as Pavegen, a flooring system that generates energy by people treading on it. Or Sam Labs who create toys that teach kids about coding and electronics. There were also case studies from more traditional charities including Centrepoint, Oxfam UK, Age UK, and vInspired who are developing new digital products and services. Good that the digital minister Matt Hancock gave a speech. And important to see the linkages being formed between funders interested in promoting TfG.
On a negative side I do see some people challengning the Tech for Good vision. These are people within the charity sector who feel it is too ambitious. For me, this is the failing of the not-for-profit sector; it’s failure to have adequate leadership and vision. Yes we can concentrate on the sector’s weaknesses and pour millions into ‘capacity-building’ as we have done in the past with little effect. Or we can have a big bold vision that links charity and altruism to the great influences in modern society such as globalisation and digital. Personally I think the not-for-profit sector is about creating a new world vision rather than just doing things as they’ve always been done. Inertia leads to irrelevance.
The other big event last week was the staff conference. This happens every year and this year’s was one of the better ones. The line-up of speakers deliberately focused on projects being funded. Our celeb speaker was John Bishop. I’m not into stand-up comedy despite it (and festivals) being the two trendiest things at the moment. But he was funny and had a compelling serious side. It was fascinating to hear about his time as an ordinary drug sales rep (‘I needed a job with a car to pay off my debts’) and his sensible view of the need to use power and popularity to educate.
At the staff conference, I managed the presentation by the brilliant digital agency NeonTribe. And they have done great TfG work including Doc Ready, Mind of My Own MOMO, The Great British Toilet Map, and C-App. Unfortunatley they had the slot during lunch to speak to people whilst they were eating. Most people wanted to eat and chat so we ended up talking to a small group in a very noisy environment. A bit of a lost opportunity.
Other digital stuff that happened last week included:
- A meeting of funders to discuss some new research on international TfG.
- A consultation among funders facilitated via Loomio. This is a digital methodology for doing consultations and trying to find an agreeable way forward.
- A discussion with our social media manager.
- Further work on progressing our next UK TfG programme including its new ways of working.
Health and efficiency
The previous Saturday I managed to pull a muscle in my calf whilst doing my jog-run. I actually felt it go ping. I could hardly walk on Saturday and was laid up for the rest of the day. Went to the gym the next day to concentrate on less heavy weights and stretching. All went well. So overall I got to the gym three times last week on Sunday, Wednesday and Saturday mornings. Decided to leave my next jog-run for a week to allow the muscle to heal. My weight was back up to 13-12, oh well.
Back to the hospital to the ENT clinic to check on my sinus problem on Tuesday. The clinic was being housed in temporary accommodation whilst the main clinic was being renovated. Pretty awful crowded conditions poorly laid out with arsey staff. My sinuses do feel better with less headaches so the doctor recommended the steroid nasal sprays become a permanent med. Also my scan suggests a tooth may be causing an infection / sinus blockage. I think I know which tooth and will discuss it with my dentist.
Family and friends
Dave, my partner, was away for work in Kuala Lumpur until Thursday. Over the weekend I stayed at his flat and licked my wounds whilst venting anger via social media and last week’s blog England Has Become A Backward-Looking Little Country. I could have done with him around. The biggest thing I miss when he’s not here is simply the ability to have a laugh such as through taking the piss out of each other.
On Saturday night just gone we went to see the musical Funny Girl. This really was to make him happy but I also enjoyed it. Should have starred Sheridan Smith but instead we had the understudy who was great – Natasha Barnes. And I was surprised to see Darius in it (ex of Pop Idol). I’m not really into musicals but this is famous as one of the key things that launched Barbra Streisand’s career. It did do its job brilliantly of creating a whole little fantasy world and transporting the audience away from their everyday existence.
Mum’s laundry done on Monday morning. This is becoming a regular fixture. Then I spent Tuesday and Wednesday evening with her. She’s as good as can be expected but roll on her knee op. Might not turnout as good as we are hoping but it’s a chance that has to be taken as without it nothing will be better.
Jamie and Daisy
Saw a couple of close friends last week. First on Monday lunch-time was Jamie. His partner is on a month long holiday to celebrate becoming 50 – Sitges, Gran Canaria, Thailand. J is fine and we had a good catch-up. Always good to compare our fitness routines and plans for holidays. His play-writing continues and it was fun to hear about his drunken adventures at Pride on Saturday.
Then on Tuesday night I had a catch-up meal with my mate David (Daisy) who I have known for about 30 years. A wonderful build-up to this based on Brexit and misunderstanding. Basically Dave voted Remain but he thought I thought he was lying and it got nasty. Sorted eventually with a bit of humour. We went to Balans which is OK though I think I preferred before it was done up. I am sure it has increased in price post-refit. Nice to chew the cud particularly about where our country is going after this period of self-harm.
Books and reading
The genius of Sir Terry Pratchett
I needed a bit of light relief after a traumatic week (said the vicar to the choir boy LOL). So I turned back to faithful old Sir Terry Pratchett. I have been reading his Discworld books in the order they were written and so next on the list was Thud. Interesting how the hero of his books became Sam Vines the leader of the City Watch. This time the story centred on a racial dispute between trolls and dwarves. Good fun but slightly reminiscent of the racism conjured up by Brexit.
Dr Who audio-books
I listened to two ast week. Faith Stealer features the eighth Doctor (Paul McGann) with companions C’rizz and Charley as they travel through different zones to find the Tardis. They come to a zone where a range of religions live together and operate side by side. Then one becomes dominant. Not a great story and probably deserving of a second listen at some point.
I listened next to the following installment in the series. The Last is much better and actually a very good and clever story. The Doctor and his companions find themselves in a zone ravaged by nuclear war and the only real survivors are the deranged Queen and her ministers. It’s like a crazy version of the wonderful German film Downfall telling the story of Hitler’s last days in his bunker before the Soviets arrive and he commits suicide (probably quite similar to life in Corbyn bunker at the moment….). The story does have weirdness with ghosts of the dead also being present and a semi-mystical ending where the Doctor finds himself in an alternative time-line.
One year ago…
I have decided to add something new to my blog. I plan each week to go back and look at the blog that was written one year ago, comparing and contrasting then and now. This reinforces the view I have that my blog is about helping me make sense of life and also to help promote my own good mental health. However it would be stupid to assume year on year progression to an inevitable good head nirvana.
One year ago my blog was about coping with life after returning from the retreat in Calpe: Back To Earth – Life After The Calpe Retreat. For the good time I had in Calpe, it is best to read the blog I wrote in reflecting on my attendance: 15 Things I Loved About The Calpe Retreat. All quite timely as I was already thinking about whether to attend Calpe next year. Though very attractive I am not sure that periods of retreat do more than create artificial bubbles in the procession of life. Indeed I may appreciate it more by taking a break. However it does take place only once every two years.
My stumbling spirituality
My plan to start going to church regularly came to nothing not least as I love going to either the gym or doing a jog-run on Sunday mornings. I’m still struggling to work out where my spirituality is. My belief in Christianity took a big hit with the fact the majority of Christians voted to Leave the EU (missed that instruction in the Sermon on the Mount) and the viciousness of some of the Brexit (Nazi) Christians on social media.
It was a great week in Calpe
It was great to think back to the period of being with friends and spending time just lying on the beach in the sun. Particularly as the weather is so rubbish in London at the moment. A summer of grey skies, little sun and rain. The only big advantage to all this is that everywhere in London looks beautifully green as the trees, plants and grass are thriving. Interesting that I wrote about my wrist injury without knowing a few weeks later it would be in plaster followed by a cast.
Some things don’t change
A year ago mum had a bad knee, the Queen’s Young Leaders were in town, Dave was away for work, and Glastonbury + Pride were happening. Though who would have thought then that one year later we would have decided to leave Europe?