mermaid wall (2016_04_04 15_16_25 UTC)
The Sirens of Brussels


A word from Divvin (that’s an English County next to Zummerzet and just down the road from Darsit, if you’m wonderin’).

Now, my Darlin’s, ‘tis like this.

Other wick we had a vote, see?  ‘Twas like ever’body got to ‘ave a say about how us felt ‘bout the immigrants an’ that, an’ we all turned out and we told ‘em, no uncertain fashion, like, what us thought we ought to do.  Leave that there Eurpoe Onion thing from the Brussels!   Yes!   An’ it turns out we didn’t want nothin’ more to do wi’ no Onions, and ‘ow we wanted to go out by ourselves.  Aye!

Well, turns out we were wrong, see?   ‘Cause all these ‘ere thinkin’ people says we should stay in, an’ ‘ow we faces certain ruin if we don’t.   An’ we says to ‘em, see, it was a Democratic Decishun, but they say that don’t count, ‘cause apparently they won’t get so much money if us makes ‘em leave, and they won’t be able to live in they there nice London apartments no more, or travel around this ‘ere Eurpoe to get better jobs, and stuff like that.   They says we bin lied ter, an’ un-screw-pew-lus people, they led us up the garden path, an’ that.  We jus’ voted ‘cause of the immigration, see?  Aye.

So they goin’ to change wha’ we want to what they want, and that’s o’y fair, ‘cause we’m jus’ ord’nary people, and not great and good like they are.

So, seems to me that all these ‘ere clever people, they on’y peddle that there Democracy to us when they want us to see things their way; and if we don’t, then they got to twist it about until we do.  Lawyers, and Ac’demics, and that, they knows what’s good for us, don’ they?  An’ learned people, they thinks we’re too thick to unnerstand ‘bout Eurpoe.

See, I voted ‘cause I didn’t think that there Onion was goin’ anywhere.  I thought that my country is what serves me a livin’ an’ not none of the Brussels.   They’m got strange money that they keeps printin’ with no vaalue behind un, they keeps poorer countries strugglin’ for a livin’ an’ it’s not long afore we becomes one of those, if we stays in, like.   They keeps takin’ our money and givin’ us less back than what they takes, they makes rules we can’t keep up with, and my sheep dip’s more ‘ficient at keepin’ out the nasties than their immigration pol’cy.  They destroyed our fishin’ ind’stry, they put the cost of livin’ up for all of us an’ they make us tax things we shouldn’t, don’t they?  And we can’t take so many people!    Now, that’s not racist, nor nothin’, but us got a dooty to house and keep the people we already got.  It makes sense, see?  If my neighbour, he don’t put no fence up,  his sheep gets all mixed up wi’ mine an’ they overstocks my land while I feeds ‘em for ‘im for free.  Seems simple sense to me.

But there.  I don’t know nothin’.  I may know the price of livestock an’ ow to run a business, but to you they ac’demics I’m jus’ the peasant who’s ‘pinions you thinks you can ignore – I’ll jus’ tug my forelock as I passes you by and you can try to forget it’s me who does all the work, who keeps your nicely feathered beds stuffed an’ makes your country run.

So, talk your way into believing you are doing the right thing in trying to overturn the will of the people with your contrived arguments and Machiavellian tactics.   Buy your politicians and your expensive lawyers; pay the media to find a case for you to make.  But if you do, and you succeed in contraverting the will of the people you will finally write the obituary of  British democracy, and prove the lie you have been trying to disguise for so many years.

And I, at least, will stand against you, tooth and claw.  And I will never, whatever ‘democratic’ compulsion you thrust upon me, mark a ballot paper again.


I can’t avoid it.

All talk in UK this week is concerned with a forthcoming referendum vote – a choice to ‘remain’ with the European Union, or ‘leave’.   Still, at this very late stage, there is a thirst for information from those who want the element of chance eliminated entirely from their decision, which suggests there are large numbers who want to vote to leave, bbanker 2ut daren’t.

This nervous indecisiveness is, of course, prime meat for the ‘remain’ campaigners, who wade in with dire warnings of financial Armageddon, forfeit of international influence and a variety of other terrors lurking in the black chasm that awaits a friendless UK, condemned to wandering in outer lands.

Why, they reasonably plead, take that chance?  Why leave the safe harbour of your European friends and brothers for the sake of an experiment;  why follow where the inexperienced shepherd leads?   Is it not safer, more prudent, to remain obediently within the fold, where nations may work together for a brighter future?  The EU will progress, will improve and prosper, with you or without you:  why sacrifice your part in that process?

It’s a challenge I can’t resist.

Let’s question the position if the ‘remain’ argument prevails in the vote.  If UK stays Brussels sees all 28 member nations coming under the umbrella of a federalist alliance which must, eventually, mean one government for all (presumably in Brussels, BTW) and one currency for all.  Otherwise any major step forward will be lost in a quagmire of conflicting interests.  28 separate governments, all with their own electorates to appease, already provide plenty of ready examples of this.

The UK is a major culprit.  The Westminster government has exemptions essential to its national interest in many matters, including that vital component, free movement.   The UK will not surrender the pound sterling, nor will it agree (it says) to the admission of further member nations.  Thus it is, in a sense, already halfway out.   It occupies precisely the ‘offshore island’ position Brussels has threatened it will have if the ‘leave’ vote holds sway.   And that is a position that would be untenable anyway, if the federalist plan comes to fruition.

But there is another pivotal question:  just how stable and secure is the EU?   Terrorist activity is on the rise, government response sluggish.  Growth within the EU is negative, decision-making is ponderous, its government unrepresentative of its people.  Greece, Italy and Portugal are treading close to the edge of liquidity, and the cost of living, especially in Greece and Italy, is prohibitive.  Unemployment, especially amongst the young, is outrageously high.  The immigration issue is seriously destabilising, with no prospect of diminishing in numbers in the immediate future.  To grasp the immigration issue the EU has to renege upon Schengen, to resolve its financial imbalances the Franco-German Alliance has to consent to a very much smaller slice of the cake.  Neither of these are feasible without the collapse of the EU.  So, how ‘safe’ is an offshore island tethered to this leaking hulk?  How long, indeed, will it stay afloat?

By contrast the UK scores highly in its ability to trade.  Unemployment is low, growth is positive, and where diplomacy and guile will secure a new market, or negotiate a lucrative deal, the British will succeed:  this is their history as one of the world’s great maritime trading nations.  Although the playing field may have changed, those innate abilities are never lost.  The UK also harbours one of the world’s great financial centres – liberated from EU constraints, its banking sector faces a profitable future.   So, fiscal chasm there is not: a process of levelling, maybe, a lot of sound and fury, maybe, but ultimately signifying nothing.

In making this case I have not emphasised the UK’s status as the EU’s largest trading partner, a market they will be unwilling to forgo.  Nor am I, despite your thoughts, a ‘Little Englander’.  I don’t harbour dreams of national glory, or seek to relive the days of Empire.  I do remember times before the EU, though, and I have some perspective upon all the UK has lost.   With others of my age (I, too, was young and optimistic once) I enthusiastically declared myself a ‘European’ when the clarion call came, and even absorbed gladly the sudden rise in the cost of living that came with it.   But now?  No.  For too many years I have watched various European interests – mainly French, German and Spanish, and more recently Eastern European – rape UK’s assets for their own advantage; and I have watched as the UK gave way, too many times.

The nation has a chance to begin to reclaim some of its own resources.  Maybe it can regain some of its plundered fishing industry by reasserting its territorial waters:  maybe it can subsidise and remodel its agricultural policy, begin to police its borders properly, deport the foreign criminals it is forced to detain here by EU law.

I am all for breaking down the insularity of nation states, all for the ideal of a united world.  I also see these are ambitions that can only succeed when component nation states refrain from using them as a tool for conquest, and show respect for the needs and views of people, rather than their own financial gain.

With regret I have to say of the European Union;  this has not happened – it will not happen – here.

Open Windows – and the bugs that fly through

designing my new nuclear-powered trash can. No, just a stock photo, really….

The more I gain – I hope – in years, the more life teaches me there are some deeper areas of the pool where swimming is unwise.  That even at my age I am naive enough to be caught by weeds.

For example, I should have learned by now that if I am offered something ‘for free’ it clearly isn’t.  The extremely helpful young person at the other end of the telephone is not giving his advice for the good of his soul or mine.  He is setting me up for a sale. 

I spent a few sleepless hours this week, like many of you I suspect, very unwillingly wiping off my beloved XP in favour of a more up-to-date operating system.   Why?  Because Microsoft is withdrawing support for XP in April.   Throwing us to the wolves, so to speak.   For every hacker, spoiler and troll out there, April is a red-letter month.  It’s a situation peculiar to our times, when you come to think of it, this sophistication of the delayed sentence – being given notice.  A bit like being suspended in a cage over a bear-pit, and being told the door will open in three month’s time.

Anyway, here I am with a new, less user-friendly operating system.  I will get used to it.  But I have lost a couple of functions due to outdated drivers, and I have to seek new ones.

Okay, I’m tired.  I have work mounting up so I don’t have time for endless searching.   I browse, but  I don’t scroll far enough down the page.  I cough up twenty quid, reluctantly.  I buy in.

I am told I must ‘validate’ my purchase with a unique code – by calling a toll-free number.   Warning bells!  Alarm!   Screeching cries from some rather odd-looking birds watching from a nearby branch.  I should leave this alone, right now, but I have spent twenty quid.   I take the bait.

Suddenly, I am going everywhere but towards the two drivers I wanted.  Mr. Helpful is inside my computer, moving my cursor around, even telling me off, mildly, when I try to move it for myself!  Any moment I expect to see his face grinning out at me from inside my screen! He tells me my computer is unstable, it is riddled with disease:  he shows me banks of red warnings for programmes he says are about to collapse.  But fear not, he assures me, his technical department can put all this right.  For $299.99.


I wanted two drivers! 

 I got twenty-first century rape!

Fortunately, I am just wise enough to have ducked out at that point.  Wise enough to reboot and do a full scan in case my helpful friend has left a little something for me to remember him by.  Many, though, may not be so circumspect.

Fear, whether we like it or not, is the sales tool of the century.  Predators are always there, ready to prey upon our ignorance whether we are buying a ‘healthy option’ in food, or a car, or a solution.

And is there some kind – any kind – of moral code?

The answer, it seems, is no.  I ran across a website the other day claiming to list symptoms for those anxious to know if they have cancer.  It was a pay site!

Once upon a time, I had no objection if third parties wanted a certain amount of information about me:  after all, if I had nothing to hide, why should I worry?  But then, I once believed that in human behaviour certain scruples were endemic.   Common manners.  Basic etiquette.   I was wrong.

A couple of days ago I heard a radio pundit declaring his appreciation of ticket touts.  If they were able to sell him a ticket he could not obtain by other means, then why shouldn’t they make a profit?  They were only trying to make a living.  They were in business, just like anybody else.

Business?  We might accept (because we are forced to) the commissions exacted by ticket agencies; but then to pay three or four times the original ticket price to someone who has deliberately squeezed the market  by buying up large blocks of seats?  That is not ‘business’.  That is predation. 

You rarely meet these guys in person, by the way:  in case you wondered, they only go out at night, and their canines are suspiciously long and pointed…..

So I’ve changed.  Now, I object to anyone knowing anything about me apart from those details willingly given in my bio.  Every time I am asked a question I tick off a little checklist before I answer:

Is this information necessary?

Why do you want to know?

How many people or businesses will share in this information?

How can you, or they, use it against me?

How many pestering, unnecessary, and inconvenient telephone pitches will I get?

In a world where touting is considered legitimate, where information about fatal illness has a price, and where invasion of privacy is an accepted sales tool, I am becoming a very private, reclusive man.