All Right, That’s Enough Now!

I think we’ve had enough cold, wet weather now. It’s nearly the end of May, for xxxs sake, and it’s nine degrees and raining. Nine! Temperatures will reach a high – if you can call it a high – of 13 degrees today and I am Not Happy. I mean, I can take a joke but this is ridiculous. I demand that something be done about the weather NOW!

Governments are a bit like the weather, in a way – just as it rains on the just and the unjust, so a government governs all, whether you voted for it or not. It’s only been 18 months and I’m already sick to death of this one; they go from bad to worse. The high spot of this government’s programme is – actually there isn’t one. It’s all rubbish and I demand that something be done about the government NOW!

And what’s going to happen in Scotland? The weather there may be worse but the political climate is loads better, and now they’ve got another stab at independence. Since the main trigger for this is Brexit, and since many pro-independence voters want to be allowed to rejoin the EU as a newly-independent state, this looks very hopeful. It also looks impossible; not because it won’t happen – it’s looking more favourable than at any time in recent years – but because of the border issue. If Scotland rejoins the EU there will have to be a ‘hard border’ between England and Scotland. It’s my guess that this government will stop at nothing to prevent it, otherwise Hadrian’s wall will have to be rebuilt – and they’ll make Scotland pay for it!

How much damage can one man do? This is all down to Cameron’s arrogant decision to throw a referendum to the discontented populace like lobbing a bone at a dog, saying he’d deal with the consequences only to flounce off the moment the result was announced leaving the rest of us to pick up the pieces. Of course many others, not least Johnson, have to answer for the mess we’re in but if it hadn’t been for Cameron it would likely never have happened. Meanwhile over the pond Trump continues to dodge bullets like some orange Rambo whilst lobbing more and more grenades at the democratic process, and in Belarus Lukashenko’s refusal to quit power has led to him hijacking a Ryan Air plane and kidnapping one of his rivals. And don’t even get me started on Bolsonaro. These are just the latest, democratically-watered-down versions of Stalin, Hitler and Pol Pot. What is the matter with these people? Why do they want power so much? Why don’t they see the consequences of what they’re doing? I don’t think I’ll ever understand it but I guess it comes down to the fact that power corrupts. In a small way, we’re seeing that with Keir Starmer too; they should have listened to me and voted for Emily Thornberry.


In the meantime, how will today pan out? Will I manage a bike ride in between the showers? Will I actually write anything? And what will OH be making for dinner? Find out in tomorrow’s thrilling instalment of…

… lizardyoga’s weblog!

Kirk out

To Ugh is Human

The day began with a protracted ugh this morning. My brain, in its infinite wisdom, has taken to keeping me awake in the wee small oors while it chunters away producing scraps of poetry and grand philosophical concepts and it will not let me sleep. I say wee small oors because last night we watched a programme about the Scots language. OH is very enthusiastic about this and has always wanted to go back and live in Scotland; what with being a McIntyre Ure and owning a spurtle and everything. Frankly, the thought of leaving England to its own devices and moving North grows more appealing by the day; every time I listen to Nicola Sturgeon I think how eminently sensible she sounds compared to Boris Johnson (yeah, I know most people fit into that category but still.) Independence looks closer by the day and there’s still a chance that an independent Scotland could rejoin the EU under its own steam. They’ve got a good case for it; Scotland never voted for Brexit and besides, they have a history of sovereign nationhood and forming alliances with other European countries – well, France anyway, which is more than England ever did. I’ve more and more sympathy with independence as time goes by; the only drawbacks would be for England as it’d be near impossible to get a Labour government again. Then again, who knows?

Ironically, some hard-line Brexiteers are also in favour of independence – for England. These people think England can float off and go it alone, make our own way in the world and give these johnny foreigners what for. It’s madness. But it’s a madness that informs current government ‘thinking’.

I’m ashamed to be English right now. We’re an embarrassment.

Kurk oot

Let Your Yea be Aye

It’s all getting a bit dramatic, isn’t it?  People are raging and storming, they are crying and shouting, threatening and cajoling.  So what’s it to be?  Will it be Aye?  Will it be Nay?  Will Scotland be a nation once again or will they stay together for better or worse?  David Cameron seems to have had a heart transplant, or possibly a lobotomy, as he is now sounding like an emotional teenager; and other English leaders aren’t much better.  It’s not very impressive to hare up North the moment your power-base is threatened, if you have ignored Scotland’s existence in the past.

Still, for one standing on the sidelines as I am, it’s an interesting situation; and the most interesting part of it, is the way the vote has turned, thanks seemingly to a previously silent slice of the electorate.  98% of the eligible population has now registered to vote, and that includes a substantial wodge of people who have never voted in a previous election.

Broadly speaking, I am sympathetic to Independence.  Scotland has a long history as a separate country: until a few hundred years ago it had its own parliament and laws and waged war on its own account.  It has its own language and culture and is well able to maintain an independent existence.  Moreover, under the current system it gets a raw deal: being so far from London, it is generally forgotten by MP’s except when they want a handy faraway place to locate some nuclear missiles.  So if I were there now I would vote yes.

Most of the ‘no’ arguments seem to be financial.  There has been some general muttering about how the two countries would be better off as one; but in the main, opposition has centred on the pound (ye cannae have it) and on the threats by certain institutions, such as Standard Life, to leave if there’s a Yes vote.  I think such behaviour is unconscionable: it is fine for individuals to express opinions but for large financial institutions to seek to influence the outcome of an election, looks like bullying.  I don’t like it.  Besides, nobody really knows how things will be after independence, either politically or financially, so they should wait and see – or else keep their own counsel.

So – in three days it will all be over and we will know the outcome.  Which way would you vote?

Kirk out

Yah, boo, sucks Andrew!

And again with knobs on to Andrew Neil; yes he of television and newspaper fame, he of the red braces and abrasive manner, he of the terrier-like interview wherein he tried to get our spokesperson Salman to admit that our conference would be ‘a shambles’ – well nyah, nyah, nyah! cos it wasn’t, so there!

Sure, there were heated debates and strong opinions; there were many disagreements – and of course there would be: we are all individuals and have individual views.  Well, almost all of us: to my left (in every sense) was a block of Communists who all voted in unison and spent most of the day muttering amongst themselves.  So that was annoying.   But apart from that we got through a hell of a lot of business, including policies on Europe, on austerity, on fracking and on Scotland.  It surprised me (though perhaps it shouldn’t have) that many people were against the break-up of the UK; not for the same reasons as the Tories but because it would ‘break up the unity of the working class.’  This is pure rhetoric as far as I’m concerned; to talk about ‘the working class’ in that way is meaningless and I wish people would stop banging on about it.  You don’t have to be working-class to be against austerity, and what does ‘working-class’ mean anyway?

The main achievement of the day, however, was that we got through all that business without a major row, without anyone throwing a hissy-fit or walking out or leaving the party or throwing all their toys out of the pram or anything.  I was standing by with an emergency poem just in case it all kicked off, but no need.  It was all remarkably civilised, and Sheila was an excellent chair.

So that was good.  The conference was held in Manchester at some great industrial museum on Deansgate.  I would have liked to explore it more but by the time I’d passed all those motions I was somewhat depleted.


There will be a video report available here shortly:

And so to bed… this morning I cycled to Quaker meeting, as did just about everyone else, and I spent the afternoon in the garden.  I have mown the lawn!

Kirk out

Vote for Your McP

Mark means well, but sometimes his efforts at complimenting me go a little awry, such as this morning when he commented that he’d written a lot of nice stuff about me in his diary.  ‘Oo, read it out!’ I said – so he did, and -well, most of it was great; stuff like how good it was to be with me, what an awesome person I am, how happy he is, etc: but in a long list of my amazing qualities he noted my ‘chubby cheeks, facial hair and massive boobs.’

Mmm… thanks, darling…

Moving swiftly on, let us consider today’s question: who is actually running things?  Who is in charge here?  The people of Scotland are about to get a vote on their future, ostensibly so that they can have more control over their own country.  I’ve got a lot of sympathy with this: Scotland is a nation with a long history and on the whole if the majority of people there want independence, I think they should have it.  Of course this has implications for the UK as a whole, for the role of the Queen, for Scotland’s role in Europe, and so on – but it is a question to be decided by the people of Scotland.  After all, that’s what democracy is about, isn’t it?  The voice of the majority decides what happens.  That’s what we all believe in, isn’t it?  Even Winston Churchill who, god knows, was a long way from me politically, had this to say about it: ‘Democracy is the worst system – apart from all the rest.’

Actually I have paraphrased a little: here’s the original quote –

Yes, the people of Scotland will decide.  But here’s the rub: today Standard Life, a big employer and investor in the country, have weighed in with the comment that they will leave and go to England if Scotland votes for independence.

To be honest I find this outrageous on several levels; but mainly because a financial institution with vested interests should not be publicly trying to influence a democratic vote.  The principle of democracy is one person, one vote – but this is being skewed by corporations and their vested interests.  I worry very deeply about where we are going with this.  I worry that the people in charge are not the government we voted for but the multinationals behind the scenes.  I worry that if we privatise many more of our institutions there will be no-one and nothing left whom we can trust.  The Royal Mail has gone, the NHS is being parcelled up – how much longer before your MP, like the speaking clock, is sponsored by Accurist?  Or McDonald’s?

Vote for your McP, anyone?

Kirk out

Ken’s Got the Cake but What Really Happened in 1684?

Well!  Yesterday was the founding conference for the establishment of Left Unity as a new political party, and we drove down to London at an unfeasibly early hour in order to get there in time.  The morning was taken up by voting on ‘platforms’ – basically, ideas of where the party should be and where we should be going.  Ken isn’t keen on the platforms but in our party Ken Loach, film director, is just a member like anyone else – and that is exactly how it should be.  I think it’s quite dangerous to have charismatic ‘figure-heads’ – whilst they can be inspirational, they can also ‘punch above their weight and wield excessive influence.

So what happened in the morning was that the broad-left platform was agreed and the others were thrown out.  This was a huge relief to most of us, as other groups who had been pushing a narrower version of left politics, coming from specifically Socialist or Communist perspectives.

So who are me and what do we believe?

Hang on, did I write ‘who are me’?  OK, moving on…

Who are WE?  We are a broad-left coalition of people from different perspectives who are not afraid to debate and thrash out the issues.  Sometimes I wish we were more afraid, but you can’t have everything.  Anyway, though specific policies remain to be thrashed out, we are broadly in favour of renationalising essential services (post, transport, health); we are against excessive greed and global capitalism, and we are exactly what it says on the tin, which is now officially ‘Left Unity’.

So there you have it – and here’s the national website:

My favourite platform, apart from the broad left one, was Platform 9 3/4, which voted to give Ken Loach a cake on his birthday every day of his life.  This was accepted and duly given.  Platform 9 3/4 was of course an attempt to introduce a little light relief, and was taken as such: what was unintentionally amusing was the bloke who spoke on Scotland.  Wearing a shirt saying ‘Another Scotland is Possible’, he started his talk by referring to events from 1684 (or thereabouts) and never really moved on.  Why?  Why, when everyone in Scotland is buzzing with excitement, when the country is in a ferment of change and decision; when there must be at least some anticipation of a different future (otherwise why wear the t-shirt?) – why, in god’s name, would you bang on about something that happened in 1684?  I switched off after a while, but not before I’d had a good laugh.

And blow me if I haven’t gone and left out the best bit!  Which was this: in Leicester we have been having meetings involving culture and the arts in the political debate.  Richard was due to propose a motion that the arts be recognised as an important part of politics, and I was to give a poem.  They told us there was no time: but ho! for Richard!  Richard! ho! – for he went and argued with them and we got our two minutes.  Even then they weren’t going to let me do my poem (‘one speaker only’) but Richard introduced me and I was on, doing the poem I’d performed at the Leicester meeting.

It went down really well and you can find it here:

It’s about 28 minutes in.

And I must away now for I said I would post the poem to someone.

Happy Sunday!

Kirk out

It’s a Crime not to Read This

So… on Thursday I went along to the inaugural meeting of the local Crime Reading group: this took place in the library and turned out to be an all-women affair, though the facilitator, an ex-librarian, was male.  He proved to be very knowledgeable about crime and got the discussion going; though people didn’t need much encouragement, being a very vocal group.  We began with our favourite authors: M C Beaton was the first to be mentioned, an author towards the cosy end of crime who was referred to throughout as Mrs Beaton, which amused me.  Ian Rankin featured heavily, of course, as did Patricia Cornwell – whom I have yet to read – Kathy Reichs and Val McDermid were also mentioned; many people liked Agatha Christie (which I don’t) and what was surprising in retrospect was how little Sherlock Holmes was mentioned.  A sign of the times perhaps?

There was a potential split between those who wanted to focus purely on books and saw TV adaptations as irrelevant (‘I have only books and radio 4 in my house’ said one) and those – one woman in particular – who seemed very focussed on TV programmes and admitted to reading only ‘short, easy books.’  I suspect most people are like me, wanting to focus on books but also interested in the dialogue between books and other forms – and in particular, whether future books are influenced by past adaptations.  Some people claimed that Ian Rankin’s books, for example, had been changed by TV interpretations of Rebus.  So that will be interesting.

For next month we have a book to read which is based in the Island of Lewis off the coast of Scotland, called Black House.  I’m finding it interesting so far and he evokes the setting well:

And so to the Ale Wagon, where Jan and I discussed Scottish independence and whether the vote would go through if they had it tomorrow.  She reckoned it might…

…and going back to yesterday’s theme, there’s an awful lot of talk about tennis injuries and why the courts are so slippery, but few people seem to mention the obvious: the utterly crappy summer we’ve been having.


Kirk out