Grenfell Tower: Lifting the curtain on modern Britain

22 May

via Grenfell Tower: Lifting the curtain on modern Britain

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The Life and Death Nature of Friendship

30 Apr

13887129_1135036899902365_362524235846397439_nI’ve found this to be the most difficult piece to write to date. The thoughts and feelings that have taken me most of a year to adjust to, have introduced me to some strange, uncomfortable and depressing places that I had no idea were waiting to shake my complacency in what I’ve assumed to be a relatively stable existence. In the end, I decided to delay finishing and posting until I could find a positive ending that wasn’t simply a concoction of platitudes or hippy-shit.

Every stage of life has its own special definition of friendship. What we hope for, want, give to, expect from – and how we define – the people we find as friends along our journey changes with age and (hopefully!) our increasing understanding of others’ weaknesses and strengths, and how they interlock with our own.

In our earliest years, our parents chose for us; the kids we played with were our cousins, the children of our parents’ friends, and maybe other kindergarten inmates. Our expectations were mostly that they should be good to dribble on, giggle and cry with. And to pull on each side of the same toy so that one could drive both sets of parents mad with angry screaming (usually leading to crying)…..

Most of us started to learn about friendship at Primary School, between the ages of five and eleven. For the first time, we began to make friends by and for ourselves. Sharing each others’ food. Picking each other for your team during games lessons. Shyly asking your mum if you can invite **** over after school to have tea and play. Inventing fantasy worlds together using your toys (which you proudly show your mate) as the catalyst for play-adventures. Sleepovers. Weekend expeditions; disappearing on your bicycles after breakfast with sandwiches and a drink for a picnic, and not getting back until tea-time, having fought dragons, rescued John Wayne at The Alamo on your metal steeds, and built a secret den in the woods. Believing that you’ll be friends for ever – especially after your first ‘fights’ and finding a way to make-up afterwards.

The transition to Secondary School, onset of puberty, and a growing understanding that you are metamorphosing from a developing caterpillar in a chrysalis into an emergent butterfly, became a watershed moment in relating to (and valuing) those around us. Our priorities changed from playing, to having trusted confidantes one could share anxieties, magical, bewildering and scary discoveries about emerging sexuality with, and be able to explore a suddenly complicated world of natural disasters, war, politics and a seemingly black-and-white contrast between perceived right and wrong in the world around us. When these friends proved their loyalty to you (and you to them, of course), the feeling of relief that you weren’t standing alone was profound; but when they betrayed you, the devastation was equally overwhelming. Maybe this was also the moment when you had a first-hand interaction with the death of a friend your own age; not an ‘old’ person (anyone over 30!) – but someone you’d grown up with. It was for me – her name was Gina; her best friend (Hilary) was my first girlfriend, and my best friend (Paul) was her first boyfriend. We all spent a lot of time together when I was 14; she died aged 13. It was shocking – and very scary. She died of a ‘Thing’ – not an accident, which may have been easier to deal with. An accident can happen to anyone unlucky enough to be in the wrong place at the wrong time: Dying of leukaemia within two weeks of being hospitalised confronted the three of us still left with our own mortality in a way we hadn’t considered ever being relevant to happy, healthy, immortal teenagers, was the most fearful and anxious experience of our lives – as well as the saddest. I think that it was probably also the most important life-lesson we’d had up to then. How all of our (and Gina’s) parents explained what had happened, calmed our fears that it would be our fate too, and extinguished the nightmares that we were all having, I’m ashamed to say I can’t remember; except that their sensitivity, sympathy and empathy for our feelings was incredible given that our parents all knew each other, and were suffering too. But impermanence had entered our lives forever. Even if we were eventually able to understand and accept that this sad episode was a rare tragedy that our tight-knit group had been at the epicenter of.

I left this piece alone for the last week, because the long-forgotten memories it was recalling weren’t improving my mood…….

So: I’m going to continue for a minute in note form…….

Leave home – into your forties: Make probably your best friends, whose lives you’ll likely be a part of for the rest of your lives. Lose a few along the way – but to accidents or rare conditions. Still terrible – but in a non-personally threatening context. Watch those around you get together in loving relationships, go to weddings, have children. All part of the joy of growing with your friends.

Forties to fifties: Life goes on; not much change. Some friendships deepen, some fade…

……..

Then…. And then – without even realising it during the transition – everything changed (for me). I suppose that I was subliminally becoming aware…… of something not being quite as it was, without knowledge of what or why. A foreboding? An unease? Most certainly a creeping sadness, but without definition.

This time last year (29th April 2017, to be exact), a good friend of mine died. From a well-lived life – not from an accident or shocking bad luck, but because – given the way he’d chosen to embrace life – it was his time to go. It was a terribly sad time, especially for his many children (both by blood and gathered into his protective arms through other committed relationships); also for his many friends of all ages, from all walks of life. His last gift to us was that his passing had the effect of drawing-back together many folk who’d once been close, but – for many reasons – had drifted apart, and strengthening (for some of us) already established good friendships into areas of surprisingly sincere and wholehearted love and support. Which I’ve found to be both wonderful, and the catalyst for an almost consuming depression that became a significant feature of the last twelve months.

I looked around myself, and understood that I’d reached that point in life when I would have to stop expecting to hear about my friends’ new babies, marriages, six month treks to the Himalayas or South America, and exciting new career openings; instead, I’d be hearing about illness, and the book being closed on the lives of people who I’ve grown close to and loved over many years. However young in heart and spirit we know ourselves to be. For only the second time in my life (and the first since childhood), I was forced to confront my friends’ and my own mortality. And even though I’ve had good reason to feel like the age my mind tells me I still am, it became impossible to avoid the fact that time moves on for all of us. Including me. Not helped by a close friend pointing this out to me in an unwittingly hurtful context. When I saw many of these friends at an event we’re involved in last July, I was at a loss how to ‘be’ with them for the first time since we’d met. Not consciously – because I hadn’t yet worked out what affected me. Which was an irrational fear and sadness of eventual loss. To anyone reading this who wondered why I was possibly a little weird or ‘different’ with them at the time, this is about the best explanation I have to offer. My apologies.

Before Generation X arrived, most people – at every level of society – had either seen a loved-one die, or in death; it wasn’t something to be feared or that we had to be protected from; certainly something to be desperately sad about; but it was accepted as a part of the natural cycle of existence, to be (in most societies – NOT religions) memorialised, and possibly celebrated. Which is what my friend’s children – principally his daughters – organised for him last year.

I wish I’d been more viscerally aware of the Wheel of Life, and my place on it at that time. It would have saved a lot of turmoil….

My final blog message?

Death is sometimes to be welcomed as a blessing for both the departed and the loved ones. It should almost always be celebrated as a natural part of the wonderful and extraordinary miracle of our existence.

Those of us left after these events have an obligation to that person to make the best of ourselves and each other; not be dragged down; view the future without fear; and not to squander what is inevitably a finite time we have with our loved-ones.

Goodbye from Geoff’s Bitterometer. Thank you for having had a read, and hopefully the occasional laugh over the years. xx

Geoff Blindt  30/04/2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thoughts On Remembrance

11 Nov

A few years ago, I wrote a blog post giving my views on the importance and relevance of remembering the sacrifices ordinary men, women and children made in the defence of their perception of morality, humanity, country, friends and family during the World Wars of the last century (you can find that post here, if you’re interested, or want reminding https://wordpress.com/post/geoffsbitterometer.wordpress.com/105). It has nothing to do with a celebration of war, and everything to do with respect for people who had enough of a direct connection with their community (both intimate and wide) to be prepared to fight in defence and protection of them.

The world has changed, though. With access to the sum of the world’s knowledge at our fingertips, it seems to me that instead of becoming wiser, more empathetic and humane, our direction is towards ignorance, cynicism and disassociation from most of those who surround us.

We are encouraged by the Uber-cynics who successfully and relentlessly extract profit in this Brave New World to be self-absorbed and obsessed, selfish and shallow. Aldous Huxley’s insight into his future (and our present) was grossly prescient in a manner that Orwell’s 1984 totally missed as a world-view: Orwell’s Earth relied on a restriction of information; Huxley’s in trivialising it to a place of unimportance in the pursuit of hedonistic pleasure and gratification.

My sadness, anger and disgust at what humanity has either become, or is actively striving for is probably best summed-up by the tagline that the McCann Erickson agency came up with as long ago as 1971 for L’Oreal: “Because I’m worth it.” When these four words are linked in this hateful phrase as validation that aspiring to own a container of a f**king beauty product confirms one’s value as a human-being, and outraged humanity doesn’t march on the agency’s New York headquarters, and the client’s chic Parisian brothel in order to dismantle them brick by brick, I get tempted to throw North Korea money and encouragement to hurry-up and start raining missiles on ‘civilisation’.

Reviewing the last couple of paragraphs, it looks like I’ve strayed a fair old way from the point of this article – but I haven’t really.

Remembrance Sunday ‘works’ because it provides a formal context and day of reflection to acknowledge with gratitude and humility the debt that those of us who’ve never had to fight for our values, freedoms and relative affluence owe to people prepared to suffer horrendous injuries or death for something they surely would have hoped would be worthier than what we’ve become. All races and classes fought together for what was obviously a moral imperative to act for humanity; with our currently fractured, dysfunctional and alienated relationships, I doubt that another coalescence of community is possible – except perhaps through extreme fear (which is merely a transient emotion). We’ve diminished their courage with our social regression.

I believe we need another formal National Day Of Remembrance that all of us can identify with on a personal level. A day to recognise and celebrate the people we know or have known who’ve shaped us as human-beings; who enriched our joyful life-experience with their love, compassion, protection, wisdom, care, loyalty, friendship, bravery, inspiration, steadfastness, humour, teaching, dignity, warmth, excitement, advice, objectivity, empathy, encouragement: Parents, siblings, children, grandparents, cousins, uncles, aunts, nieces, nephews, husbands, wives, lovers, friends, teachers and everyone else whose actions at the critical times in our lives help or have helped to dispel the loneliness, sadness, heartache and fear of death and separation that are the natural and unavoidable passages and chapters of the Book of Life.

I’d like to think that this would be a small step on the journey to re-discovering a wider humanity and perspective for all of us.

Geoff xx         11/11/2017

Grenfell Tower: Lifting the curtain on modern Britain

17 Jun

At the end of the first day of the enquiry into the Grenfell Tower disaster, I’ve re-posted the blog I wrote on June 17th, 2017 – four days after the fire.

I’d been up late that night, and followed the news from about 0200hrs; because I work approximately a mile away, I decided to head for work at about 0430hrs. The smoke was blotting out the rising sun from Junction 5 of the M1; the flames visible from Junction 2. I’ve never felt life weigh so heavily as I did that day; the combination of foreboding, shock, sadness, pity and anger was almost overwhelming.

Seeing – and smelling – the blackened shell (which I now pass daily) for the first time was a physically as well as emotionally sickening experience: It has taken nearly a year for that to fade. This piece was written a day after I first passed the still-smouldering wreckage; in my opinion a memorial to cynical corruption.”

Some thoughts about the fire at Grenfell Tower: What I believe it says about the corruption of the ruling class in Britain today, and why a Public – or any other – Enquiry is a cynical waste of time.

Certainly be angry. Definitely try to have your say in a forum that will be noticed by those who have real power to change things. Attempt to empathise with the sadness, agony, wasted lives, future emptiness, tears and rage of those who’ve died, and the victims who have survived in their name.

But DO NOT expect prison, sanctions, confiscation of assets, or even aggressively-pursued prosecutions when the history and causes of this outrage are revealed.

I say that because what this tragedy uncovers in the most stark manner is the ‘soft’ corruption that has infiltrated politics and business in Britain, leaving the outer shell looking deceptively healthy, while below the skin a writhing mess of parasites has destroyed all the aspects that keep a society honest and just.

After a period in which many lawyers are going to make a fortune representing all the special interests involved in the story – parable? – of Grenfell Tower (they will be the only REAL winners in the examination of the history of what used to be a council-block), ‘lessons will be learned’; people will be paid-off with blood-money; and if we aren’t careful, the underlying cynicism will remain untouched and unchallenged except for a few days after what will be an Enquiry equivalent of a Narrative Verdict. And you’d better believe that those responsible will be employing the best legal and media minds in the country and beyond to try to distract us from the wider issues that this fire has revealed by trying to focus us on emotive details only.

I’ll save the Public Purse tens of millions of pounds by giving you the primary conclusion right now:

“In all meaningful respects, the owners, builders (renovators), inspectors and management company have scrupulously followed the requirements and recommendations of current building and planning law with regard to materials, method, Health & Safety, environmental protection and responsibility as are required by the legislation in place today.”

And that is the heart of the matter. As with so much of the Tsunami of new laws that have hit the Statute Book since New Labour took power in 1997, the legal system has been undermined by the qualification and equivocation of old statutes to ‘bring them up-to-date, and fit-for-purpose in the 21st Century’, usually with the selflessly and generously donated advice of secondees into Departments of State from the worst and most cynical offenders when wearing their alternative (but usual) wardrobe as poachers, rather than the game-keepers we’re meant to now view them as. This is the case across government (and their Opposition shadows), with assets from Deloitte, PwC, Accenture, KPMG, GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer, Balfour Beatty, Laing O’Rourke and so-on, and so-on advising ministries on framing legislation that affects the industries who employ (and own) them.

It’s a Perfect Storm.

They can’t lose.

The new laws they help to enact either explicitly permit behaviour that at best enriches, or at worst allows a breadth of (mis)interpretation that will always keep the principals of these industries out of jail; or it implicitly shies away from tackling important and very costly issues that only a major disaster will highlight.

They’ve cynically decided to play the odds with other peoples’ (POOR other peoples’) lives that they would NEVER allow to be the statistics their own family’s and friends’ safety relied on.

And the reward to the national and local politicians who tacitly wave through what they must know is bad legislation (because whatever we may like to think of them, these people are some of the sharpest – and most flawed – minds in the country)?

It’s no longer as crude as the brown envelope; the payment into a secret Swiss account. In fact it doesn’t even have to be talked about or around amongst those involved.

It’s the Revolving Door between politics and business; the Seat on the Board or position as Eminence Grise when they leave public life – so long as whatever blowharding one does remains solely that; at worst doesn’t adversely affect the dividends of these FT100 companies, and if possible helps to enrich them, or legalise their more dubious practices in the name of efficiency.

Without stamping hard and swiftly on this central cancer within the system, you can be as angry as you like – BUT NOTHING WILL CHANGE.

DO NOT BE SUCKERED INTO THE AGENDA THEY WILL TRY TO FOCUS ON – IT WILL CERTAINLY AVOID THE TRUE ISSUES THAT NEED TACKLING.

Politics, People and Other Nonsense…

5 May

This post is a re-written and modified update from one that I penned a number of years ago.

The ‘real world’ isn’t nice! It is never going to be nice! The vast majority of the world would have to scrape a living out of the dust if it were nice! It’s a hateful place of realpolitik, schemers, cruelty, ambition, power-crazed narcissists, Prius drivers, iPhone factories, Kanye West, and many, many other things. And it doesn’t matter one tiny fuck whether you start off on the political left or right; the end result is always completely unacceptable shit. Always. No exceptions anywhere or ever.

And it was ever thus. The choice is usually between the ‘uncomfortable to face’, or the ‘unacceptable to countenance’. Sometimes there’s no choice; it’s a combination of both. I’ll give you one of the starkest pair of mutually-exclusive demands – often made by the same people.

Demand number 1: Radically reduce child mortality in the Third World by improving healthcare, education, nutrition; save the lives of millions of children each year!

Demand number 2: Reduce the world’s population! This planet can’t support the huge number of people who need feeding, fuel, clothing, jobs, healthcare; the world will use up all its resources and die!

So make a choice; leave them to die, or destroy the planet. Slogans are easy when you wear your eco-political heart on your sleeve; it becomes a little harder when you try to puzzle an acceptable way through impossible alternatives. How about we just save a few kids? Or only sacrifice Borneo’s rain-forest? And while you try to figure that one out, you’d had better add to the mix the fact that emerging economies (poor, high populations, religious through ignorance / ignorant through religion, under-educated) are the ones demanding a free hand to pollute the planet at a higher level than the established modern economies. So the more you help their health and welfare, the faster we all reach our planet’s end. But we’re all carey, sharey, nicey, utopian believers that everything has a fairy-tale ending, where the prince marries the transgendered cleaning-lady with mental-health issues, and they live happily ever after with her step-mum who’s an Anglican bishop, in a council house that has the right number of bedrooms, while a benevolent government works in our narrow and wider interests to improve the world for us all! Don’t make us face reality! That’s not fair! I’m going to start a petition! If you make me think logically, I’ll need professional counselling!  How about us getting some scientists to develop a special medicine for poor countries that allows babies to survive, but only need oxygen for food, and have them DNA-programmed to force them to solely have moderate and private spiritual beliefs, and aspirations to do things with reeds and dirt and woven stuff, not ruin the planet by wanting jihad, industrialisation and wealth!

Are you beginning to see how stupid and immature such ill-thought-out teenage twaddle as this is? How it’s OK to think like this while your skull is still soft, and being as right-on as your mates is obsessionally important, but to grow-up and still think like this is an occasion for pity?

For most of us, life is a series of choices. Reality or delusion. Never-to-be-met aspirational goals, or a more modest pragmatism? Delusion and impossible dreams are the safe option. They make us seem very brave, idealistic, righteous, and humanistic. But they aren’t: They are the safe bunker where the naïve, insecure, cowardly world-avoiders congregate to convince each other that they aren’t. They never have to achieve anything, can rail against the cruelty and heartlessness of society, and console each other that they represent the future ‘good’ of mankind. It’s rather like the nett beneficiaries of EEC largesse complaining how unreasonable those countries supporting them are. Blinkered, self-obsessed wankers.

One has to be a lot braver to deal with the world as it is, and as it affects you. Because the choices that you make will have a true bearing on reality; your family, your well-being, your community. Once you’ve brought a level of harmony to your immediate surroundings, you have a tiny bit greater claim on trying to solve a slightly bigger issue. And after a lifetime of incremental steps, each taking you one small step closer to enlightenment, you might have gained the right to invite ‘us’ to listen to your belief-system without derision. But given that there’s no way you’ll have the patience for this, would you mind awfully keeping your asinine fucking opinions to yourself, or go and impress a fifteen-year old with them!

Because you certainly aren’t impressing me. And I find myself thinking you’re ‘quaint’ – but not in a good way.

I’ll let you in on a little secret; ALL politicians who have REAL power are disgusting examples of the human race. Every single one, from every single ideological viewpoint. They all want to impose their vision of the world on the rest of us. Whether we want it or whether we disagree with them. For our own good. Anyone who thinks like this deserves to be beaten to death with a polling-booth tied to a sharpened stick. And I’ll happily do the beating (but I’m a ‘capitalist’, so I’ll expect a fee per victim, a travel allowance, per diem subsistence, and a bonus for doing the job I was contracted to do for my salary in the first place). Democracy is a propagandist lie that simply propagates the current unacceptable system. I’ve got to be honest here; I don’t even trust my neighbours to make an acceptable choice of telly viewing, fashion-buying or convenience food; why the fuck should I respect their opinion when it comes to choosing who governs us? The majority view is usually the equivalent of the lowest common denominator, defined by media agendas and hidden manipulators who’ll benefit directly from the outcome of our stupidity in playing their game. I used to think that one had to vote to have the right to comment on the way society is run, or how one would like to change it. Even if one’s involvement was to go into the booth, write ‘None of the above’, and spoil a ballot. But I was wrong. This is as pathetic a method of contributing as voting for one bunch of venal wankers, or another. And you can bet your house on the probability that within one parliament, there would be an organised None Of The Above party telling everyone they represent your views. Participating acknowledges the system’s right to exist. And this is anathema to me. What I want is for the system to leave me the fuck alone! Not to meddle with my life! Not to tell me what’s morally right or wrong! Not to tell me who I can or cannot marry! It’s none of their fucking business! Obviously this can’t happen; as soon as you need to know how to spend taxes – roads, education, health, defence, welfare, etc. – you are having to fit this into a political or economic theory of best returns for the investment; whichever side of the divide you sit on, this is the bottom-line that’s trying to be reconciled. But I’d rather appreciate them keeping their philosophy anchored to a brutalist economic narrative, and leave morals to individuals. And reduce the law-book to a few of the 10 commandments plus a couple of other basic bleedin’ obvious rights and wrongs that we can all agree to. (Take away that cow one, though; I really enjoy coveting my neighbour’s ox……..)

I’ve been struggling with this issue of involvement for years; so – have I found any acceptable answer that isn’t simply a cynical response and reaction? For me, maybe; but it may well not be right for you. My (interim) solution is to try to merge into the background. Disappear. Or – as an old friend called Clive Leach put it – adopt ‘Urban Camouflage’. If the bastards who want to mess with your life can’t see you, they leave you alone. In concrete terms, this means: Pay your taxes (or what will be acceptable as a contribution, without bringing an investigation). Count this as membership fees of the club ‘Great Britain’ that you’re a default member of until you leave. If the fees become too high, go and join a different club. Accept that someone has to pay for schools, roads, etc. – rather like maintenance of the club-house roof or changing-rooms. Make sure any official forms you must fill in are done thoroughly, and with all answers agreeing with each other. Officialdom jumps on inconsistencies, not that which easily slips through the system’s cogs. Don’t stand out in any way that puts the spotlight on you, unless you’re among trusted friends. When I was in my early twenties, had long hair and ‘wilder’ clothes, I’d be stopped in my car (at night) on average three times a fortnight. First, they’d say I was wandering across the white line in the centre of the road (a lie), so believed I’d been drinking; this was to allow what followed to happen under the ‘SUS’ law. Then they’d kick the tires, exhaust, and check road tax in the window. Then they’d breathalyse me, and eventually get to where they wanted, and tell me to empty my pockets on the bonnet, and search the car for drugs (never found, in case you’re interested). From the week that I cut my hair and dressed more ‘normally’, I’ve never been stopped for anything I haven’t actually done. So stick your wish for everyone to ‘Look at ME!’ into the nearest dust-bin, and carry-on as before. Unless you do something to attract attention, the weight of the State will stay off your back. Try to look after and take care of your family and friends as best you can, and be prepared to rely on each other as your mutual-aid network; it’s a lot more charitable, understanding and knowledgeable to and about you than the State will ever be. Look on government as your implacable enemy, whichever political fashion is posturing on the Speaker’s right hand side; at best, they neither know nor care that you exist, at worst they despise you, and mean you harm. Either way, don’t ally yourself with any of the offal that should be feeding pigs – on any side of the house. Make them irrelevant to you! Don’t focus on anything they say or do; accept that you’ll never influence their thinking in any way that affects your day-to-day existence.

So, take your life out of the line-of-fire. Live it as honestly and uprightly as you can. Try to take a truly anarchic stance; behave to those around you as you’d like to be dealt with, and expect no more than you’ve earned or deserve. I don’t really believe this will work in wider society – but it might just improve things for you and yours.

I don’t want Great Ideas! They have brought us: Christianity (cruelty, slavery, and millions of deaths); Islam (cruelty, slavery, and millions of deaths); Communism (cruelty, slavery, and millions of deaths); Fascism (cruelty, slavery, and millions of deaths). And you can bet your life that the next one will be just as evil as these. In case you haven’t realised it yet, the meek WILL NEVER inherit the earth; a ‘political class’ will always emerge that aims to protect and serve its sponsors and own self-interest; when you take overt capitalism out of the equation, political influence and corruption replaces it as your method of getting the spacious flat in Moscow, a dacha in the woods outside the city, the Black Sea holiday villa and the Zil limousine with a private lane on the road.

It is probably worth reminding ourselves that neither historically or presently has there ever been a truly egalitarian society beyond village size. Certainly none that survived over time. And that when some hippy tries to tell you about a prehistoric society that was big on having a talking stick or listening to whoever was holding the drum, they conveniently forget about the amazing cruelty and violence of these cultures. They would maim, torture, kill or expel to enforce stability. So we’d had better open our eyes and understand that for good or ill, we are going to have ambitious people who arrogantly believe that we should be governed by their prejudices. But can we make our (by which I mean the socially-empathic, fair-minded, moderately ambitious US) wishes coincide with theirs? I have to say that I doubt it. Certainly unlikely with what passes for the Tories, these days; but how about Labour? Not a chance. The seal was put on that possibility with Jeremy (the embarrassing, limp, inept, back-stabbing non-entity) Corbyn trying to follow his party’s line for once, and campaign for a Remain victory. As a previously outspoken Leaver (along with Tony Benn and others in the Labour Party), he paid token lip-service to the campaign, with no fire and minimum input. You can squarely blame that fool for a Brexit victory; if he’d campaigned with any vigour or passion at all, he’d almost certainly have swung that 4% behind the Remain camp. Thus he’s also responsible for Teresa May, and the current General Election. What a right-on class act……..

Who would I vote for, then? Possibly an individual or party who was prepared to do the majority or all the following:

A party that recognised this disasterous election as an opportunity to stand the Europe issue on its head. The EU is gagging for a chance to sort the Brexit situation out so long as the compromises they make ARE NOT with a nation that’s turning its back and leaving. So a party standing on a ticket that included halting Brexit, but only if the EU get a grip on reality, and concede the majority of reforms that are what most Leavers wanted, rather than a total cutting of ties, would get a huge boost in chances nationally, and give a vast escape route for an incredibly acrimonious and expensive number of years ahead. Everybody wins, and concessions can be sold as victories by the EU, and pushed as a Thatcherite negotiating coup for the British party proposing it.

Sack all their advisors, and refuse contributions from, the four big accountancy firms (PwC, KPMG, Deloitte, Ernst & Young). They are the enemy; treat them as such.

Cancel all ongoing PFI (Public Finance Initiative) and PPP (Public Private Partnership) projects with no penalties paid from the public purse.

Cancel all existing PFI & PPP projects, with the option for them to turn into non-profit making organisations, or be re-nationalised at COST prices. (This should destroy the secondary and tertiary markets in health-care, I.T. projects, schools, rail, and power generation).

Close all the loop-holes for large-scale tax evasion from the likes of Vodafone, Barclays, Starbucks, Google, Apple, and many others. These are the bastards who are using us as fodder, with no concern for this country at all. They are truly sociopathic organisations, and should also be dealt with as enemies. If they threaten to leave and go abroad, call their bluff, and tell them to go; they contribute nothing that can’t be replaced by companies with greater social responsibility. And back-date all their sweetheart deals with HMRC to at least 2005 as illegal, and payable in full, with interest.

Rip-up the lunacy that is multiculturalism and replace it with integration. This has been the most socially destructive policy of the last fifty years.

Remove any public funding for Free Schools. If dubious figures, religious nutters or anyone else wants to open an educational establishment that restricts thought or bangs an iconoclastic drum, then they should be private schools. We should not as a country be financing any school that insists the girls sit at the back of the class-room, and get fed after the boys at lunch-time. If you want to send your kid to an ideologically-run ‘fundamentalist’ institution, then do so entirely at your own expense. And don’t insist that my kid goes there, because it is one my closest schools.

Stop pussy-footing around; call a spade a spade! If a community, religion, class, or anything else is causing a problem, confront it head-on and deal with it honestly. Political correctness has destroyed an awful lot of honesty, given a cloak to offending groups, and allowed much to remain unsaid that should be a matter of record.

And so on.  Modern politics have changed from the days when the concepts of left and right were philosophical poles apart. Many on the left bemoan the fact there hasn’t been a truly socialist government since Wilson in the 1970s; they’re wrong. Britain only ever had ONE socialist government – that of Clement Attlee between 1945 and 1951. In that time, he nationalised a fifth of the economy and introduced the Welfare State. Every Labour government afterwards had to grapple with the reality that they were now some of the biggest employers in Britain, and had turned into the enemy of their own employees in ship-building, steel, car manufacturing and the mines. But they weren’t very good at it, and allowed themselves to be bullied into the wrong deals by the organisations who were their sponsors and pay-masters. Sound familiar?

If you want my vote, you’ll have to earn it! What’s more, if you can convince a faded idealist that there’s still a banner worth marching behind, I’ll be very grateful.

Penned from: The campaign headquarters of ‘Geoff Blindt for First Kosher Pope’.

Buy Churchill Car Insurance?

24 Mar

I’m so angry, I’m not even going to use rude words.

Don’t (do not / refrain from / I suggest avoiding) Churchill Car Insurance. They’ve increased my premium from £370.00 – including breakdown cover, and protected no claims (currently 9 years) – to £860.00.

About 4 weeks ago, I had a gentle knock at 5mph into another vehicle; it was definitely my fault, so I treated it as such. I went into an old cheap hatchback and damaged his bumper. I also damaged my bumper. The repair cost on my Vauxhall Insignia (a mid-range newish saloon) was £775.00, of which I had to swallow £500.00 as my excess, leaving Churchill liable for £275.00. I don’t yet know the cost of the other repair, but there is absolutely no way it exceeded £1,000.00; my damage was worse, on a newer, more expensive vehicle.

So the maximum this will have cost the insurer is approximately £1,200.00.

What has made me incandescently angry, is that I’d been informed by them that my policy was increasing to £650.00 on the automatic renewal: Because I couldn’t remember what I’d paid last year, I let this slide through. And today I opened a letter from Churchill saying – and I quote: “However, in the interim our records show that a claim has been reported. Consequently, the renewal premium has been recalculated resulting in an additional amount of £275.94 being due, which will be added to your remaining installments.”

Funny that it reflects the exact figure over my excess that my repair has cost. So to be clear, Churchill have not paid a penny towards my own vehicle, but have insisted I take it to their authorised (read VERY expensive) repairer to pay for it myself.

I was under the impression that the way insurance works has a close similarity to the relationship between a bookie and punter; they make a bet on you not making a claim, and 80% of the time they win. When they don’t, they have to hope you didn’t end up as the last car in a five car pile-up involving Ferraris, Lamborghinis and Bugattis.

But their behaviour is the equivalent of not honouring a bet they’ve lost – whatever mealie-mouthed explanation and rationalisation they make to pretend this isn’t the case. I might as well have had third-party cover; I’d have got a cheaper repair by probably £200.00, and could probably have had the other car fixed for £350.00, which would still have left me in pocket.

I don’t mind pretending to be an idiot with my mates, but to have this sort of cynical nonsense from a company whose business model might have been drawn up by a Ponzi scheme mechanic, sold to me as a fair and rational insurance method has left me deeply, murderously miffed. If I find that cuddly dog-thing they use to represent themselves as nice and British, I’ll feed it to a German as tasteless sausages.

Please don’t give your money to these people, or their sister company, which is Direct Line. They both make Ryanair look like the most reasonable, customer-focused company on the planet; and I HATE Ryanair.

Copies of this post are being forwarded to mainstream consumer programmes, publications, websites and groups; I AM NOT going to let this go.

Fuming – like a combustible thing on fire……..

This Isn’t My Country, Anymore.

25 Nov

 To be slightly more precise, the town I live in isn’t my town, and the cities I work in aren’t my cities. They’ve become something I don’t like, understand or feel any sense of loyalty or connection to. I’m alienated, suspicious and resentful of the people around me, and – though I can intellectually grasp how it’s happened – on an emotional level, I’m dazed and confused.

And scared.

Mostly by the way what I see around me has changed me into a different, less pleasant, less tolerant individual who the ‘old’ me doesn’t like very much. Although I understand him perfectly.

Bitter, too.

Because various friends will read what I’m about to write, and jump to the lazy (but completely erroneous) conclusion that I’ve turned into some kind of racist. Which is the default position of so many who consider themselves to be so bloody reasonable, welcoming and right-on, that there simply isn’t any room for another point of view. Especially if it challenges them on a central position that they’ve built their whole self-righteous world on. I dislike the fact that if I have my house window open, I will hear almost no English spoken by those passing outside. I probably will hear Polish, Romanian, Ghanaian, Hausa, Igbo, Urdu, Hindi, Bengali, Tamil, Gujarati, Lithuanian and Latvian. If I go to my local shops (for local people), it is now becoming difficult to even read the shop signs. I need only one Polish delicatessen to make me feel all warm and inclusive, not six in a row. But if the community is becoming majority Polish, then maybe those are local shops, for local people, and I should just leave. I braced myself the other day, and out of curiosity re-read Enoch Powell’s Birmingham Speech. It was quite difficult to get past the ‘acceptable’ language of 1968, but the truly uncomfortable aspect was how prescient the man’s words were. I say that with huge sorrow. I wanted to be able to close the document disagreeing with everything in it. I couldn’t.

Being reasonable.

Is no longer an option. The two most reasonable and welcoming countries in Europe have been Britain and France. And it has changed the face of our cities and towns for ever. I hope that I never see put into action the only way that this can ever be changed. Even though I’d dearly love to see it so. Reasonableness is a dangerous gamble undertaken by the very brave, the idealist, the intellectual; also by the fatalist, the ignorant, the complacent and the appeaser. Very soon, we too will inherit the wind which has already blown its frozen-hearted way through Paris.

J’accuse!

Every. Fucking. Pious. Person. All of you. Each individual, group, sect, orthodoxy that takes pride in a piety that is anti-intellectual, closed-minded, superstitious, literalistic, unquestioning, arrogant, clannish, and – though often masked – hate-fuelled and filled. Wearing one’s stupidity and ignorance as a badge of honour shows a breath-taking lack of self-awareness and intelligence. When you ‘ultras’ are only a tiny part of your overall communities, you aren’t much of a problem; an occasional cause of embarrassment, certainly, but not culturally dangerous. This can be said of the nutter Jewish sects; the primitive animist and other ‘colourful’ churches busy exorcising children, and finding witches; and though I know almost nothing of the more extreme sides of Hinduism and Sikhism, the fact that they haven’t registered even a ripple on my radar suggests they aren’t a problem, either. As a whole, their broader faiths have managed to adapt themselves to a modern world by interpreting the concepts of the belief system they follow as a series of pointers to good behaviour, and warnings of the fruits of the opposite. Exactly like Aesop’s Fables. Or New Testament Parables. The Haftorah in Judaism. Nothing more. Do you hear me?

NOTHING MORE!

By all means use your chosen nonsense as an excuse to go on a nominated day-off for a good sing-song, a bit of networking and nepotism among similar folk to you, and a chance to marry your daughter to someone you might approve of. Think of it as The Rotary, the Golf Club, The Conservative Association. Wear a silly costume while you’re playing with your friends. Have silly rules. And when you’ve finished your mutual masturbation, wash your hands, put normal street-wear back on, and re-join the 21st Century. Meanwhile, my apologist mates will reassure me that you’re entitled to believe that god’s a Smurf, if you want to, and – when the balance is 2% nutter to 98% social-club member – I’ll wholeheartedly agree with them.

Superstitious ignorance.

However, when you seem intent on rolling back The Enlightenment to suit your current immaturity, and bring the ignorance and primitivism – let alone wilful cruelty – of another continent, to a place prepared to welcome and accept you, don’t abuse the offered hospitality by trying to re-model your hosts’ house. Don’t lock yourselves into the dining-room, and only talk with each other in another language. Looking back at those last two sentences, I’d like to amend that slightly by adding “at least not after the first immigrant generation makes all the mistakes for their children and grand-children”. Although that relies on not forever perpetuating the first generation mentality, clothing and insularity. When the proportion of ‘true believers’ who are convinced that their holy book is the literal word of god, is still greater than 50%, every alarm bell we own should be ringing fit to get our urgent attention. We should at the very least be recruiting battalions of those experts who try to turn people who’ve been brain-washed by cults back into normal members of society. Their most important single goal is to bring the concept of another point-of-view as having potential validity into these automatons’ minds, and thus open a door into a world of plurality, debate, inclusiveness and tone. Britain and Europe struggled with these concepts for over a hundred years between the late 17th and mid 19th centuries; it was called The Enlightenment, because it brought us out of the dogmatic, superstitious, cleric-controlled darkness, and into the light. For a certain mainstream religion to still be preaching in their Friday sermons that a cleric-advised and controlled darkness is preferable, is an insult to every single thing that made Britain what it was. I see nothing to suggest that there is any will at all to change that from within. There are plenty of voices in Islam saying ‘Not in my name!’, but none of them are seemingly prepared to recognise that it’s the general literalness of belief that is the incubator for the small proportion of madmen and women who wear the homicide belts. Pre-Enlightenment, it wasn’t the majority of Christians who actively burned the witches, hanged people for sheep theft, cut off the hands of criminals, judged that women were the chattels of their men-folk; it was the fanatic minority who felt themselves to be purer than others, and so worthy to be the up-holders and enablers of the law. The majority simply tried not to be noticed, and accepted this behaviour as part of the price of faith. I reject any apologist argument telling me that what we are being forced to live through is any different.

What’s left?

Moving abroad isn’t the answer. Our system is screwed, but I can’t think of anywhere that’s realistic to go to that is any better. Better weather almost everywhere, and if you’re prepared to ignore others’ flawed political and legal systems, you’ll likely find something. If, however, you want to be actively engaged in the host country, then Britain is hard to beat. I think that if I’m to ever live in ‘England’ again, I’ll have to move to a smallish village somewhere in the south or south-west. Which is coincidentally where all the unaffected right-on idealists live who think that multiculturalism is a good thing.

Well at least we’ll have animated evenings in the local pub.

Bonne nuit de Watford.