A note on Brexit and what you can do if you don’t like it.

Years ago, I only used to date large women. I don’t know why it was. It wasn’t a conscious choice. It was just that the people I drifted towards and got on with were larger in proportion than the average person. I was famous for it. If I found someone new my next door neighbours would always ask the same question “Is she big?” and I have absolutely no idea why it was. Now it is the same with foreign girls. I don’t know why. I wish I could tell you but I simply don’t know. My last British girlfriend wasn’t even English. She was Scottish but before her the last English girl I dated was five years ago. Since then I have, to put it diplomatically, “sampled the international buffet”.

My specific taste has, for some reason, been French. Most prominent in the litany of Hong Kongers and Hungarians, Greeks and Greenlanders, was a year long relationship that I had with a French woman. I lived in France, worked in France, spoke French, fluently (still do) and very much saw my French identity as a blank canvas on which the country would paint my experiences of it.

I even joked recently about “what am I going to do for girlfriends post Brexit?”

My present girlfriend is from Italy. I have obscured her face because I have yet to tell her about my blog and the crazy ramblings therein.

My most recent fancy is from Italy. I will say nothing of her other than she voted for a party in the recent Italian elections that supports Italy leaving the Eurozone and the European Union. I didn’t vote in the referendum. I find it deeply disturbing how many people are genuinely troubled at the prospect of us leaving the European Union. For those people I have a solution that I would like to offer.

Myself and mi amore were in the pub. I went to the toilet and when I came back, a blonde, young girl, in her early twenties had taken my place where I was stood next to my girlfriend at the bar. I cracked the joke that my girlfriend voted for Quittaly/Italeave. This was in a university pub, and the girl had recently graduated with a STEM degree, with a huge international component to it so there are no prizes for guessing what her opinion was.

I didn’t share my opinion with her, not that I have one. I did share one reflection with her that I would like to share with you. Brexit was, above everything else, about sovereignty, about “taking back control”. I think there are several different types of sovereignty. There is national sovereignty which we expressed our in opinion of in the referendum. There is bodily sovereignty which we all exercise when making choices related to what we do with our body. There is personal sovereignty which is basically the control that we have over our own lives and it is this one that I would point your attention to if you want to overcome Brexit.

If you feel that because of Brexit we would be losing the connection that we have with our European neighbours, exercise some personal sovereignty and build a connection that you have with our European neighbours. Learn another language. If you speak French you will meet more French people. If you speak Italian, like myself, you’ll meet more Italian people. Dutch, German, Catalan, whatever, learn another European language. We may be leaving the European Union but the little part of your brain that can speak Portuguese, well, no one can take that away from you. Nor can they take away from you the memories of the fascinating people you’ve met and been able to communicate with as a result of fostering and nurturing that part of your brain.

This would lead me on to my second suggestion. Cultivate friendships with people from other European countries. There’s no better way to maintain our connection to these other countries and cultures than to build and maintain a personal connection, just as I have done over the years.

The final thing I would suggest is that with your language skills and new friends is that you gorge on European Culture, food, traditions, customs. Develop that part of yourself. Build that connection personally.

If you take it upon yourself to do this then you will have that connection. It will be yours and you will have that whatever direction that we as a nation wish to take in years to come.

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The magic that was the Guinness book of records

I dug one of these out earlier.

Kids. This is how we settled disputes in the 50 years before smartphones. See this book was invented to settle disputes as to who the fastest this or the biggest that was. You’d look it up following an argument and there it was in black and white. You’d shake the other guys hand and get on with your life.

This is how it worked. You’d be in the pub and you’d say to your mate that the longest baked bean bath (which at one time was a “thing”) was over a hundred hours. Your mate would hype up and say that was untrue. Without a phone and Google to settle it, the only solution was either to have a punch up, or, put money on it and argue about it long into the night. Guinness (that’s right, the beer company) had a thought, that they would compile all these records in a book, to be kept by every bar, so the matter could be settled swiftly without having to resort to fisty cuffs and yes, usually you could just walk into a pub and ask to take a look at this book. At one time it was the second most printed book in the world, only behind the bible. So we’d look it up and bam, Barry Kirk from Port Talbot in Wales did indeed spend 100 hours in a bath of baked beans back in 1986.

Now though, despite the fact that we have far more information, things are actually far less clear than they used to be. Now, even if people are presented with a black and white fact, they can find information on their phone to disprove it. Y’know kids, you’d be lost without your phone whereas back in my day we had to stock up on “pub ammo” (I.e. Things to talk about in the pub) and much of said ammo was gleaned from this very book. No one could contest it, so because of that, conversations had a sense of conclusion.

I think it says a lot for the smarts we used to have where we remembered things like this. I think technology has made us lazy. We don’t remember stuff any more because we don’t think we need to.

Not just that but when we needed to “set the record straight” if you’ll excuse the pun, we had a central authoritative voice that could be relied upon and that nobody disputed. Now we have one fact viewed a dozen different ways to back up two dozen different viewpoints.

To be honest I yearn for the days when we would use this to check up on things and when the issue could cleanly be settled but I think that’s partly because I yearn for the days when the biggest dispute a person would have would be over the biggest bake bean bath.

A note on mental health

Following seeing the usual raft of anti-suicide and positive mental health posts, I decided to post the following status:-
With everyone talking about mental health, I wasn’t going to say this but a friend of mine expressed a similar sentiment so I felt I should. If you really want to promote positive mental health, posting a telephone number, or a meme, or support is pointless or directions as to how you should obsessively check on a friend you’re worried about. If someone is in that state of mind, more often than not it won’t do any good, not least because it seems a bit empty.

The best thing any of us can do is not be an arsehole. It really isn’t that difficult. After seeing an almost endless slew of memes about how we could tackle poor mental health, nine times out of ten from people who are generally quite vitriolic and horrible, I can’t help but think that not being nasty is the best way to tackle it as a problem.

Many years ago I read what is still my favourite play. It was “An Inspector Calls” by J.B. Priestley. The crux of it is that a family individually and independently comes it with a young girl. She ends topping herself and an inspector goes round to their house to explore the relationship that they all had with her. Had one of them shown her kindness, decency and a bit of respect, she might not have killed herself.

Some people are mentally ill and that just happens. It’s tragic, but it happens and has done throughout history. Why it is so prevalent today I feel is because of the way we treat each other. To be nice to each other really isn’t difficult. Even if you don’t like someone, it takes far less effort to be indifferent to them than it does to purposefully go out of your way wind them up, to be horrible, to try and stoke whatever underlying demons that they have. Of the last half a dozen people that have called on me when they’ve been close to the edge, what usually pushed it from manageable to the extreme was someone being nasty and bang out of line to them, and totally unnecessarily too. Game playing, flaking, or years of slurs and verbal abuse that turned that outside voice into an inside one that torments them.

Likewise, if you are the sort of person that has been treated badly, don’t hang around those that do treat you badly. I learnt this lesson a few years ago now. If someone mistreats you or is nasty to you, don’t hang around them. It really is that simple. Miss out on the pub if you’re going to be feeling down after spending an evening with them. Unfriend or unfollow them. Don’t get in touch with them. The vacuum that they will leave in your life will be filled with good, genuine, honest people that do treat you right.

As my nan used to say, if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.

A note on society since the referendum

Many, many years ago I used to blog politically. It manifested itself as an obsession with news, recycling stuff that I heard through the rumour mill (which I really shouldn’t have done), voicing an opinion on anything and everything and talking in very broad ways about things that I had yet to understand.

I let things slip away from me, pretty badly. I even neglected other parts of my life to tread down a path that I wish I hadn’t. I wrote things that I shouldn’t have and have always wish I’d redacted. I wished I’d apologised for them since and shown a modicum of tact and discretion. To this end, when I started this blog I swore it would just be about my musings, thoughts and philosophies. I would just write about whatever ideas fell out of my head from time to time, steering clear of the dark path that I once walked down and essentially share what limited wisdom I had with anyone bored enough to hear about it.

To that end I have stayed off the subject of politics. There is something that I have wanted to discuss for a while but given that it has been a political issue (or is at least perceived as a political issue) I have given it a wide berth. Brexit.

Now, let me be absolutely clear on this point. I do not want to discuss the merits, or lack thereof depending on your point of view, of leaving the European Union. It’s an argument that we’ve had in this country. The decision has been made and so I don’t think that any further discussion on it is needed or wanted. What I would like to comment on though, is what it appears to have done to society.

To give you a bit of background, I didn’t vote in the referendum, nor did I campaign for one side or another. I was, and still am, staunchly leave. I won’t go into my reasons why because, as stated previously, I don’t want to discuss politics on this blog but rather society instead.

The reason why I didn’t vote was because during the election campaign, I was living in the quaint Breton city of Rennes which is in North West France. Wednesday night in the bars and pubs around Place St Anne in Rennes was socialist night. When I was living there it was a hotbed of the far left. The then president, François Holland, was, on the advice of the EU and his economy minister (now President Emmanuel Macron),

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 A “quiet pint” on Socialist night at the “Artiste Assoiffé” in Place St Anne in Rennes – May 2016

trying to bring in things like zero hours contracts, extend the working week and generally trying to severely erode workers rights, which had been hard fought for in France, in a bid to lower the astronomical unemployment rate which is roughly double that of comparable countries such as the UK and Germany.

There was a fairly uniform view on the reforms or “Loi travail” or “Loi El-Khomri” as they were called and it led to strikes, protests, all sorts of shenanigans. As a hard left socialist, I stood in solidarity where I could. The only coverage that I saw of the referendum was on social networks such as Twitter and Facebook. It was interesting to see the people that I’d been on anti-globalisation marches advocating remaining in the European Union and all the ex-pats living in France advocating leaving. I remember being sat in having a few beers with my flatmate one evening and I was cycling through the channels. I’d drifted onto a news channel called BFM or it may have been France24, I forget which one exactly, but they were having a debate on the referendum in the UK. Very quickly it deteriorated into a shouting match between the five people on the panel. I turned to my flatmate and said “This is exhausting. I can imagine it is what everyone in the UK has been going through these past few months.”

Shortly after the result came in on July 10th I moved back to the UK. It felt like I’d returned to a different country. I think everyone has always noticed a gradual change in direction that occurred from roughly late 2015 but because I was in France, I only saw the hugely contrasted change. When I do discuss the referendum, I usually comment on a few specific pages. One of those is Chuka Umunna, a Labour MP vociferously arguing that we stay in the single market. I got into a discussion (linked here) and things got onto the subject of the tensions between the two major camps of the referendum, leave and remain. He was a “remainer” and was saying that he’d found the leave side to be very threatening. I suppose every thought I had on it since I first observed that contrast over a year ago came out as I retorted:

See, all I’ve seen is everything the other way. People who would describe themselves as both liberal or democrats or socialists coming out with the most horrendous slanders against those who hold a different opinion to them. Anyone who does is either elderly, uneducated, was lied to and is gullible, racist, xenophobic, a bigot or (and as a true socialist this grates me) is of a different social class or is in poverty.
 
They always have their reasons and if they ever try to debate or reason with the those who voted remain, they get shouted down, not with facts but with one of the above slanders. They get called fascists. Wouldn’t you start to feel angry/violent is someone called you racist or thick whenever you voiced you opinion? Collectively lowering the bar for all of us when reason and fact state that you were correct? Every man has their limit and they are the very emblem of tolerance and reservation because they’ve had to put up with this in the fifteen months since the referendum and intensely in the nine months that preceeded it.
 
For a lot of people, it’s thoroughly frustrating that they rejected what Peter Shore referred to in a 1975 Oxford Union debate as an absurdity. It’s nonsense. It’s deluded craziness and has been shown not just to be deluded craziness but also a ticking bomb primed to go off at some point within the next ten years. When someone won’t accept the base facts of the matter and then calls you names, in essence it shows them up to be the infantile, stupid ones, but true to Dunning-Kruger effect form, people who voted remain seem to think they have some sort of intellectual or moral superiority without any evidence to back up that being the case. Those who voted remain would describe themselves as open minded, accepting and non-judgemental but when someone says they voted leave, their idea is that only staying within the EU is a good thing for us (for reasons that I’ve stopped listening to, such is how whacked out they are) and far from listening to their reasons and entertain civilised effective debate, they realise they’ve got nothing so they just resort to name calling. It’s a sort of thinking that calls itself “progressive”, “liberal” and “left wing” but in fact is anything but. It is ripped directly from George Orwell’s 1984. “Anyone who disagrees with us is a thought criminal and is therefore fair game for ridicule and derogation.” It’s a mindset that says “I’ll do anything for the working class. Anything, apart from, y’know, mix with them and find out why they voted the way they did.
 
And what of those who were right? They don’t want to call remoaners stupid but merely to try and get through to them, to show them what we see, that the EU are not your friends, they weren’t looking out for you when they laughed David Cameron’s miniscule promises out of the room which caused this in the first place, they weren’t looking out for YOU when the campaign was going on and they offered nothing but vitriol and disgust at the notion that we would make our own choices and they’re not looking out for YOU now. It’s in a forlorn effort to try and take away the pain and discomfort that you feel as if to say “Don’t worry, we headed for a better place, just trust us on this one. It adds up for us. Try and see that this is what’s best.” but like a rejected, sociopathic, narcissistic spurned ex-girlfriend who has just realised that her ex-partner is now wise to her tricks, there go to place isn’t constructive rationale but rather aggressive contempt.
 
The reason I think detainment or detention is perhaps the only option and definitely a purge of some sort should happen is because there are people who are intent on spoiling this when they have no reason to. They haven’t changed their views and it’s almost as if they’re programmed in some way to disregard everything to achieve their objective of us staying in the EU or spoiling the country if we don’t. I think treason and sabotage are often thought of in quite antiquated ways. We tend to associate them with capital punishment but while they’re still criminal offences, they no longer carry that penalty. I would consider trying to subvert and insurrect what is now quite clearly the democratically expressed will of an overwhelming majority of the British public in favour of a foreign power, well, I don’t see that as anything but treason. Lock them up and shut them up to save our democratic system itself. The rights of the many are more important than those who try to redact their rights by choice. No one forces remoaners to act that way. They do so through choice. They don’t need to. They choose to. The autistic army would retreat off social media and finally leavers can get on with doing what they intended to do when they put that “x” in that box, making this country a better place.
Now I think if we look at the level of discourse we can see that it has changed from mild mannered discussions to something altogether more sinister and I suppose my question would be, when did this happen? When did it take place? What marked polarity or event happened in our society to polarise people in such a way and is there really any way to bring them back together?

I have no conclusions on this but it has certainly given me something to think about.

What I think causes climate change…

​In response to a post on the Reality Party’s Facebook page, I wrote a comment that was too long to post so I ported it into my blog instead:-

Weather can be controlled by the government. Again, action against climate change is mainly sponsored by the Rothschilds. I do believe the climate of the world is changing and I believe CO2 plays a part but that overlooks the real cause. The real cause is energy usage. The population density of Earth is about 14 people/km2 so imagine that. A square 1000m x 1000m with fourteen people living in it. The presence of humans already messes with nature’s cycles. Say they all have houses with working toilets. The nitrogen that their waste would ordinarily be putting into the soil doesn’t exist so the Nitrogen cycle is already out of sync. They all need to eat so let’s say they all plant vegetables on their little plot. The water the humans and plants absorb will be knock the Hydrogen cycle out of sync. Say they all need to heat their houses at night using carbon based fuels (wood, coal, natural gas, oil, what have you) and that is obviously going to knock the carbon cycle out of sync, especially if there aren’t any trees to soak it up. This is where the energy consumption comes into it. All of them having their heating on at the same time will raise the ambient night temperature of the by about two or three degrees. 14 fires burning, that instantly changes the climate. 
So we can see how it changes the climate in that way. Let’s factor in cities, cars, factories, and so on. Let’s look at Greater Manchester. Its population density is 2,100/km2. That’s about a person every 5 square metres. Evenly spaced, everyone would be just over two metres apart. They all need a fire at night so 2.7million fires. I’m guessing, aside from being suffocating, that would raise the temperature of Manchester exponentially. Obviously nothing like that is happening because we’re clever enough that several people can be around one fire. Think about it though. Cars. Essentially, a portable fire and how many of them are on Manchester’s Streets at any given time? Light bulbs, again, miniature fires. Anything with electricity running through it will generate heat. The tram might not produce fumes but I’d wager it produces a lot of heat. I like trams and think they’d solve a lot of the world’s problems, but you can see what I’m getting at. So what happens in winter. Snow doesn’t settle in Manchester, certainly not in the city centre. It used to. Not any more. It used to be down for six weeks (ask anyone of the generation that voted “leave”, they’ll tell you it was down for weeks back in the day) (side note: this isn’t the only thing they know about, they’re actually really clever and have a wealth of knowledge and experience to draw on when asked for their opinion) but Manchester simply doesn’t freeze in winter any more. Years ago that bus wasn’t driving down the road warming it up. Again, I like buses. They represent Marxist social egalitarianism at its absolute best. I’m just pointing out that it’s more heat. 
So when the BBC are doing their weather forecast they stress that the difference in temperature between the city and the country is about 5℃. Multiply that across the world. That’s quite a temperature difference.
Manchester, like every city of its size, has little/no nature to speak of. I’m sure there are a lot of parks, but I happen to know the lack of them in Manchester is something that the council is “on”, but even if there were huge parks, Manchester doesn’t have enough trees to soak up the Carbon, so it waits in the atmosphere to be processed. This messes with the Carbon cycle. For those of you who have forgotten GCSE biology/chemistry, Google it. Tracking aside, it has no natural carbon reserves and even if it, at the rate  Manchester uses it, it wouldn’t be renewable. The Carbon cycle would effectively stop changing our atmospheric make up and thus our climate.
Save a few people, most people in Manchester will use a toilet to defecate in. See this is how the soil gets its nitrogen to help plants grow. The fact that we don’t defecate outdoors removes that nitrogen from the cycle, preventing things from growing, sterilizing and reducing the fertility of the soil and adversely effecting the climate.
Then you have 2.7 million people in Manchester. Each one of those 2.7 million people has 32 trillion cells in their body and every single one of those cells needs water to function. The average human needs to drink two litres of water per day to function. Manchester, therefore requires 5.4 million litres, roughly 10 million pints, to function each day. That doesn’t take into account showering, or the water that goes into growing the plants or raising the animals that you need to eat three times a day, or the water that one would use to flush the Nitrogen out of its natural cycle. Where does all that water come from? Some of it will come from rain, some from reservoirs, some from rivers but to take that water out of the system halts the Hydrogen cycle. Ever wonder why the poles are melting but sea levels don’t seem to be getting any higher? It’s because that water is taken as soon as it is released. So when it restarts we see deluges. That never happened when I was a kid. It falls on the peaks and the lakes causing huge floods. This stopping and starting and interrupting the cycle is causing us to go from hosepipe bans to record breaking floods.

So, let’s say we cut all CO2 out of our lifestyles. All power stations, cars, cookers and so on went electric and we only used renewable sources to power them. That doesn’t eliminate the problem. They are still generating heat warming not just themselves but their immediate environs to. Multiply this to a planet of 7+billion and it’s easy to see where the problem is. Do I think CO2 is a problem? Yes. A big one, but no more of a problem than going to the toilet or even drinking a glass of water. While CO2 is the signature of the problem, the actual problem is the heat produced and that, without speculating why our polar friend there is skinny, is, in my opinion the real source of climate change. Getting rid of CO2 won’t change that and messing with Earth’s natural cycles certainly doesn’t help it.

TV competitions and how to spice them up a bit.

The French are terrible businessmen. There has just been a competition on French channel M6 for the Belgium vs Italy match saying “To win €100,000, answer this question, what is the nickname of the Belgian team?”

The answer is the Red Devils, like Manchester United. That’s not the issue for me. The issue is the question they are asking for the money they are giving away.

See, if they want to know the answer to that question, they don’t need to spend €100,000. They could just Google it.

They’d get a lot more for their money if they were to ask a more complicated question. For instance “For your chance to win €100,000, answer this question: How do we solve world hunger?” Or “What do you think will finish off the human race sooner? A supervolcano, bees, nuclear war or climate change? Text your answer to…”

Just a thought.

Sorry

Sorry. Far from being the hardest word, it’s actually one of the easiest. As an eighteen years old translator for BT, I was told “Don’t be afraid to say sorry.” Since then, coupled with an appreciation of what I may have done wrong, it has gotten me out of several scrapes.

Throwing one’s hands up and saying sorry is a huge strength. People see it as a weakness. I’ve never understood that. To have that ability to self reflect, acknowledge your wrongdoing and move on from it takes a lot of courage. Those who can’t simply don’t have that bravery.

It’s difficult for someone to stay angry at someone who has apologised. It’s difficult to continually castigate them for their actions if they already realise that their actions were wrong. It’s difficult to hold something against someone if they realised they made a mistake and will endeavour not to make it again.

However, on the flipside of that, an inability to apologise can lead to all sorts of problems. If someone doesn’t say sorry when they have done wrong, people will pursue it. It will follow them. It will haunt them. The aggrieved person will go after them until they hear that five letter word coupled with an appreciation of wrongdoing.

I see people damaging their life chances, isolating themselves from their friends and family, lowering themselves in other people’s estimation and all because of the inability to utter that five letter word. I couldn’t count on both hands the amount of people I no longer speak to simply because of their inability to acknowledge wrongdoing or say sorry.

To this end, I would share this one piece of advice: don’t be afraid to say sorry.