Saturday, December 15, 2018

Thoughts from Headingley, England: 15.12.18

Spanish life is not always likeable but it is compellingly loveable.
- Christopher Howse: A Pilgrim in Spain. 

If you've arrived here because of an interest in Galicia or Pontevedra, see my web page here. Garish but informative.

  • My younger daughter took her kids away from the play centre yesterday by car, and asked me to wheel the double buggy home. Which is how - after the supermarket - I came to walk a kilometre with a bottle of red wine in one seat and a bottle of white in the other. The odd thing is that no one commented, thus depriving me of the chance to give my witty pre-prepared impromptu response.
  • My daughters don't read my blog – serpent's teeth and all that – but I sent my (Madrid-based, pregnant) elder daughter the bit about her niece in yesterday's post. Cue outrage that I didn't include this comment she'd told me she'd had during a scan the previous day:- “And that’s the penis. And the testicles. It’s a boy, without a doubt.” I suspect she felt this was a very Spanish approach. Blunt. Sin pelos en la lengua.
The UK and Brexit
  • British politics is now so farcical, it’s like watching 'The Apprentice'.
  • One of the unique properties of the Brexit spectacle is its capacity to be boring and frightening at the same time. It is grindingly technical and predictable, which are characteristics of a dull thing. But watching something precious – the stability and prosperity of a nation – move on a slow conveyor belt into a grinding machine is also alarming. 
  • With so little time left, there are now three places to go:-
- Option one: exit with a deal almost exactly like the one May has negotiated. By deal here, I mean the withdrawal agreement – the legal text that serves as safe passage to a transition period from where other options for the long term can be developed. The withdrawal agreement can be ratified or not. Its many deficiencies, including the notorious backstop, are intrinsic to Brexit and would be the same for any party under any leader. Changing the prime minister doesn’t change EU law.
- Option two: membership of the EU – the best available outcome in strategic and economic terms, but one that incurs serious political cost by enraging already furious leavers. 
- Option three: exit with no deal. An appalling idea recommended only by fools, liars and vandals who relish chaos for perverse ideological reasons.
  • The Brexiteers’ best route to victory was closed off this week after months of dithering ended up handing the Prime Minister another year in office. Now, the Brexit faction is firmly out of the driving seat for the coming crucial months. They waited too long and strategised too little. At the other extreme . . . The diehard Remainers who will stop at nothing to reverse the referendum result. Their ranks are growing along with their confidence, but in their desperation to annul Brexit, they will overplay their hand. These MPs will hold out for nothing less than a re-staging of the vote with a “remain” option on the ballot paper, for which the EU would likely agree to an Article 50 extension. This could backfire spectacularly. Remainers are very likely to lose a second referendum. British voters will not like being asked the same question twice and the arrogance of the refusal to accept an authentic, democratic result will be deservedly punished. [Perhaps it's not only EU politicians who don't really understand British plebs.]
  • This battle over Brexit is showing the political class at its most un-British: doctrinaire, rigid, kamikaze. When the vast majority of voters — Leave or Remain — just long for a rapid and pragmatic end. I hope this Christmas will provide a firebreak in our political inferno. We should speak to — and actually try to understand — someone who voted a different way. Time to get off social media, whose harsh staccato arguments have degraded political discourse, and talk.
Life in the UK
  • A stand-up comedian has pulled out of a gig at London university after being presented with a list of subjects not to joke about. He was asked to sign a contract “agreeing to our no-tolerance policy with regards to racism, sexism, classism, ageism, homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, xenophobia and Islamophobia”. According to “student leaders”, this was to ensure the event was a “safe space” providing “joy, love and acceptance”. As someone has said, this was to completely and utterly misunderstand the whole basis of modern stand-up comedy. What a humourless generation will be in charge of the country in 20 years' time. Not exactly the Cambridge Footlights, is it?
  • So, it's not to be his son-in-law but his golf buddy. President Trump has named his next chief of staff as Mick Mulvaney, a hardline conservative now serving as his budget director, after a chaotic selection process during which several candidates ruled themselves out. Mulvaney is a regular golfing partner of the president and is known for his aggressive attempts to cut back the welfare state.
  • I wonder what the Essentials and Nice to Have elements of Fart's Perfect Bride Spec were. Apart from being a golf mate, I mean. I guess Willing/stupid enough to take on the job was high on the Essentials section.
© [David] Colin Davies

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