Lockdown Life

Or ‘How I learned to stop worrying and (not quite) love the corona virus’

Chances are that you are reading this from lockdown somewhere in the world (I have little clue about how the internet works but most people who read what I write, read it on the day it was written) and no matter where you are I appreciate the fact that you are reading it at all.
Social distancing old style
Of course, it meant more back in the olden days, when we were allowed to do things and go places but hey, I’ll take it. You might be berating the fact that all you have available to you currently is this crummy blog and I feel your pain, as they say. All I have available is to sit here and write the thing.
Life is… different now. It is constricted, oppressive… limited.
I should probably tidy up a bit… but…nah.
Or is it? If you look at my google activity map for March you will find a marked difference to any other period in my life. I drove for a total of 7.2 miles in the whole month and that was one trip. So I have become limited in my travel but… I have also become freer to do other things. This lockdown has not been uniformly negative for me.
Make no mistake. I wish it had never happened. As an asthmatic with poor lungs I am fully aware of what it is like to be struggling for breath inside in an oxygen mask and you don’t get to my age without experiencing grief. Although I cannot possibly conceive of the agony suffered by those families who have lost young people. 13 year old boys… five year olds. This is a horror.
For those who are self-employed or struggling financially I totally get it – this is a disaster and don’t imagine for a second that I won’t be harangueing all and sundry when this is over. Equally there are some people who can’t stop working because they are fighting the damn virus – and life has changed for them only in bad ways. I won’t be forgetting Priti Patel’s non-apology either.
It is easy to highlight the things that we have lost and easier still to blame the people in charge for their failures – that is what the press is for. But I didn’t want to write about what I thought and felt right away because my first thoughts were Fuck! Shit! and my first feeling was terror. Which is no good to anyone.
And even weeks into this thing, that feeling has not entirely gone away. It’s like a fairground ride or a pendulum. It’s like trying to stand up in a small boat as the waves toss you up and down. Just when you reach some kind of equilibrium another piece of news appears either at home or abroad; or another wave of deaths is broadcast, so you lurch into a nauseous spin as your mind tries to grapple with both the existential terror and the sunshine in the garden at the same time.
Yeah, I’ll pass on that ride thanks.
If there were sirens going off and drone strikes then perhaps we would become acclimatised, but there aren’t. There are stereos playing in the back garden and the sound of lawnmowers. It feels like a long weekend, where there’s not enough time to go anywhere but no work to do. Until you remember there is work to do and, oh yeah, your chances of survival if intubated are about fifty percent – the toss of a coin.
That confusion you feel is the combination of fight-or-flight adrenaline mixed with boredom. And what we are living through is the most intense and mundane thing that will likely ever happen to any of us. For those of us not suffering the immediate trauma of loss, or the exhaustion of the battle in the hospitals this is a lens through which we can see our lives a little differently – and like all lenses, it tends to change your focus.
For me, this is bringing great clarity in certain areas. If, for example, you focus that lens on …

The Big Stuff

Arghh!
Margaret Thatcher once said ‘There is no such thing as society’ and that turns out to be about as right as you think it is. Her idea was that although there were things like family units there was no underlying structure or greater altruism. People didn’t really care about the big picture, they cared only about themselves. Turns out that was a pile of shite.
And it sucks to be poor, or worse, poor and in an ethnic minority. Both groups being disproportionately hit by this pandemic. I’m going to check my privilege right here and leave that subject to people better qualified/justified in their protests. The corona lens also brings into the spotlight things like the importance of normal working folk – nurses, yes, but also the delivery drivers, the supermarket workers and the tradesmen like plumbers and electricians. Turns out everyone is important – guess that’ll get forgotten immediately when this is all over.

The Little Things

And just as it is the ‘little’ people who turn out to be vital so it is the little things that are teaching us the greatest lessons. Some things we thought were vital turn out not to be. For example… I can’t go to the shops.
No shit? I live seven or eight miles from the nearest real shopping centre place and guess what? I’m lucky if I can find the time to get up there four times a year. Sure, I have the weekends but between ferrying the kids to lessons and clubs and getting the grocery shopping done I can easily go three months without hitting the mall in search of something I don’t need. If I actually do need a new pair of Adidas that can be a six month project. I don’t like shopping and I won’t miss it.
I can’t get out and exercise
That’s enough of that
I’ll leave those who know me in the flesh to fill in the punchline of that particular joke. Although I am trying to do some press-ups, squats and the like.
I can’t have friends to the house for a BBQ
Okay, I’ll give you that one. Not being able to see friends has actually been really painful. I only have about two BBQs a year because we live in Scotland but the (in)ability to see friends has been a big effect.
The other day we took our daily family walk and just went to people’s houses to play the dumbest game of chap-door-run ever. We knocked on the door and then stood a good fifteen feet away so that we could talk to them across the width of their garden. We went to my sister’s house just so we could see her and clap the dog (The spaniel knows nothing about anything and less than that about the corona virus).
Did we talk about anything important? Hell no. How can you when you are standing on the street and nearly shouting across the lawn?
It didn’t matter though. I called my father the other day because I was standing within eyesight of a petrol station and the price of petrol is ridiculously low and I thought I would share that information. We got 5 minutes chat out of that. It genuinely feels like being thrown back in time. When someone comes to visit the whole fucking family has to come down and see what all the fuss is about. We’re the 21st century equivalent of those kids at the beginning of the 20th century who would run after cars because who knows when you’ll ever see another one?
I now have an appreciation of small talk. I used to hate it (and likely will again) but for now I understand why it exists and I need it just as much as anyone. The sheer joy I get in seeing other people’s faces and knowing that they are there… it’s a big change from a small thing.
But not the biggest.
No. It’s work that has seen the biggest effects. And I’m not just talking about financially. Of course, everyone is different…
I know people who work for large corporations and they are reporting actual financial benefits in some cases – there is no travel to pay for, fuel costs have all but vanished and hotel bills are non-existent.
Perhaps you work in London and now find that the morning commute was not really necessary – only to discover that you do miss leaving your house each morning and going to a place that has people in it. Even if two months ago you would happily have gone postal on most of them.
It’s the going to work that has changed and that’s why I am not sure life has been made measurably worse for us. For me the difference really lies in how defined I had become by my work. I spend a lot of time in classrooms, or in meetings. If you look at me as an educator or a film maker or even as a writer then my job is a people job. Take that aspect away and… what is left?
I now have to work remotely. There are fewer meetings and exactly no trips to London (which I had been looking forward to) for useless film industry encounters that, actually, mean the whole world to me.
I should be moaning. And those who know me could tell you how much I love a good moan. But I ain’t. Not because this isn’t going to hurt financially – it will – but because the corona lens has shown me what is important in my life and I am (a little) grateful for that.
I am terrified of this thing. Not just because it could kill me but because it could leave my children without a father. I realised quite quickly that there are things I have to do that I have not yet done. I have stories that lie unfinished, including my own.
So thank you corona. I wish I had never heard of you but in the last three weeks I have done more work not less -whilst at the same time (hopefully) retaining a sense of perspective on what is important. Whilst a great many of you might be out there and hating every second of this unfair incarceration (and rightly so) I have listened to (and appreciated) more music than I normally would in a year; I’ve retreated into reading… and research… and writing.
So, I have run to my favourite place – a world of my own creation where I move the characters around and summon events at will. This pandemic has only really shown me that I should have been doing this more all along. It has focused me… like any good lens would.
Perhaps this is just me but I suspect not. I suspect that the corona lens has had a similar effect on other people and brought into pinpoint sharpness what is most important to all of us.
All of us.

Lockdown

INT. BEDROOM – DAY
MARILYN (A mother of 40)is in bed with her husband, wide awake and staring at the ceiling. The husband is snoring. Marilyn gives him a nudge and he stops. Then, after a second, he starts again. She looks at him in despair and then gets up.
INT. KITCHEN – DAY
Marilyn walks into the kitchen and sets her phone to broadcast from a small portable speaker. Radio news fills the room as she starts to put on the kettle and empty the dishwasher.
NEWSCASTER
Well that was the weather. Not that it matters because we’ll all be staying inside for the foreseeable future. The government lockdown continues into its fourth day and it looks like we have weeks to go. We’ll have Ramsay Graham our favourite chef on the line later to talk about how we can vary our diets and how the lockdown is an opportunity to really get into that healthy eating habit. That’s later. But for now we want to hear from you. What are you doing to keep from going stir crazy? Lines are open… (music fades in)
INT. LIVING ROOM – DAY
As the radio plays quietly in the kitchen Marilyn wanders into her living room where she peruses book shelves filled with books and DVDs. She is starting to get excited about the idea of finally reading these books and watching these films (some of which are still wrapped).
MARILYN
Lockdown you say?

She puts her tea to one side and starts to take selected books and DVDs from the shelves. She doesn’t get too far though as her husband comes in behind her.
HUSBAND
You up already love? Excellent. I’ll just have a shower while you’re doing the breakfast.
Marilyn smiles sarcastically and puts down the book she is holding.
INT. HOUSE – DAY
Marilyn cleaning the floor of the kitchen, a book on the table, unopened.
Marilyn hoovering.
EXT. STREET – DAY
The empty street. Nothing moving.
A sequence of events that involve Marilyn getting no peace to read or watch her movies or anything.
INT. BEDROOM – NIGHT
Marilyn lying in bed with her husband beside her. It is dark. He snores. Marilyn lets out a little scream and puts a pillow over her face.
FADE OUT.
FADE IN:
INT. HOUSE – DAY
More events like the previous day. Interspersed with radio saying an ever increasing number of Lockdown days. Marilyn cleaning, Marilyn cooking and tidying up the detritus of unseen children. She watches her slob husband eat. She tries to watch a movie…
INT. LIVING ROOM – EVENING
Marilyn approaches the DVD player with a classic film in her hand. The sounds of a football match coming from the TV
HUSBAND
Woah there love. Watcha doin’?
MARILYN
Let’s watch a film.
HUSBAND
But I’m watching the game.
MARILYN
I thought they cancelled all the football?
HUSBAND
This is a classic. Come and watch it with me. They score a beauty in a minute.
Marilyn just puts down her DVD and wanders off.
INT. BEDROOM – NIGHT
Marilyn is lying in bed. Wide awake again, but this time the husband is not snoring – he is coughing. Marilyn puts a pillow over her face. He keeps coughing and eventually Marilyn just gets out of bed.
EXT. STREET – NIGHT
Marilyn steps out onto the deserted street and memories come to her. The husband snoring, the husband coughing, the endless washing and picking up of clothes. The never-ending lockdown on TV and radio. Blitz spirit.
INT. KITCHEN – DAY
Marilyn in front of empty cupboards. Taking out mismatching tins that can make nothing at all together.
EXT. STREET – DAY
Marilyn struggling across an empty supermarket car park carrying bags.
INT. BEDROOM – NIGHT
Husband is coughing. He sounds a lot worse. Marilyn sits up this time and looks at him.
FADE TO BLACK.
INT. BEDROOM – NIGHT
Sounds of grunting and pushing. Marilyn on top of her husband rocking back and forth – putting real effort into it, breathing heavily. She looks near to climax. Eventually she rolls off.
After a while she looks at him again. There is a pillow over his face. Her pillow. She takes it and puts it under her head. Husband is stone dead. She goes to sleep.
DISSOLVE TO:
INT. PRISON CELL – MORNING
Marilyn is sleeping in her cell. It is time to get up.
INT. PRISON – DAY
Marilyn mopping, Marilyn reading a book. Marilyn cleaning her cell.
INT. PRISON – NIGHT
Marilyn is lying in her bunk. The cell mate starts to snore. Marilyn picks up her pillow…
FADE OUT.

Merry(ish) Christmas and Happy New Year

I never know whether to tell this story or not.
There was a Christmas or two when I was in kinship care. If you don’t know what that is then it is when you are being looked after by a relative or some other friend of the family that isn’t your parents. It could be a Grandmother or an aunt or whatever. It never used to have a name – it was just a situation – but now they recognise it as being somewhat less than ideal.
My strongest memory of Christmas comes from that time. And, strangely, it isn’t a bad memory.
I lived in my aunt’s house. We had a lot of kids in that house. Five kids. Two bedrooms. All in single beds that took up so much space there was no seeing the floor. And we did it all on rotation. You changed bed so that you were near the door at least once a week… Or you were near the window. By chance that year I had drawn the short straw (so everyone thought) by being near the window on Christmas Eve. Yes, it was single-glazed and so the chances of there being ice on the inside of the window come morning were actually quite high but I didn’t care about that. It was even further to go to get to the toilet as well: Over everyone else, round the corner, down the stairs (all in the dark) and then back again without putting a light on or stubbing your toe or getting a row for being up… it was not, theoretically, the best bed.
But I liked it.
Because I got to look out the window.
And it was snowing. At that time Christmas was always a bitter/sweet affair. Yes there were presents. Maybe not the best presents. Maybe not as good as the presents sitting next to it under the tree that my cousins got. But there were presents. And I appreciated that. Although it wasn’t the best bit.
It also meant there was a fair chance of seeing at least one parent the next day and possibly two. Which I appreciated even more.
You would expect that to be the best bit. It wasn’t.
The best bit was the looking out the window: The endless soft silence of snow falling in the night as I sat, undisturbed and wrapped in a duvet, looking at a pristine world. There was no wind and so the large snowflakes fell straight downwards and disappeared into the separate blankets of the back gardens. The peace of that moment became all encompassing. The future held nice things, yes, but I didn’t even want the future to come – all I wanted to do was remain in that stasis and watch snow fall forever.
I tried to stay awake so that I could. I had no interest in seeing Santa – all I wanted to do was watch that scene: The falling snow acted, somehow, like a cold cloth on a fevered brow – a cooling calm. Snow brought ease and contentment. Snow removed worry and anxiety.
And how wise I was at that tender age. I wasn’t really bothered about the extra stuff I would get. All I really needed was a removal of anxiety and room to simply… be.
That’s still all that I want. The world is so noisy now. The anxiety levels are through the roof on all fronts and I don’t get the time any more to just look at the window and soak up the scene in silence.
Although it looks like the world is gearing up to provide a new level of horror and dismay I hope you all had a fine festive period. I hope this New Year brings you all that you would wish for.
Me? I’ll be hoping for peace but I’ll settle for snow and silence – at least once in a while.

London 2019

Having been to Rome lately I thought I might continue the travel tales whilst mixing that with a bit of film industry nonsense. Names changed to protect… well, me really.
Readers who follow this page (I know you all, I am sure) will be aware (maybe) that we re-wrote our feature script a while back and we have been progressing that project as and when we can. And to anyone outside the film industry that sounds like a half-assed affair. Being brutally honest I used to roll my eyes whenever anyone said things along the lines of “Well, this year I’ve been developing a feature about…”

This year? It’s December! What the hell have you been doing every day? How long are you spending in the shower?
Of course you aren’t working on it all day every day. This is a well developed script in its late stages and now it is a case of putting a film together. Which is fine if you are making a student film with your pals but not so easy when you are asking people to jump on board to the tune of £3m – £5m at a minimum.
And who exactly is it that you are asking to jump on board? Well, there’s loads of them. They all have very nebulous titles and work in buildings that remind you of sci-fi sets. The 1st picture below is located in central London and the offices of a major studio are on the 3 – 5th floors. If you make it through the barriers then you reach the lifts.
Not a homeless person in sight
God knows what happens to you if you just jump over the little security gate. I imagine those big white balloons from the Prisoner come after you and deposit you outside Byron Burger.
The lifts are also very amusing. There are a dozen of them and to prevent people just pressing ‘UP’ then standing around guessing at which lift might arrive first there is a single hi-tech panel. You choose a number and then it tells you which lift to get on.
This is a moment of absolute faith because, you see, there are no buttons in the lifts themselves. Nor are there any indicators as to which floor they are going to or, indeed, which floor they are currently on/passing. So everyone has to look out the door whenever it stops to see if they have arrived where they wanted to be. When we got in our guide asked if the lift was going to the third floor only to be met with shrugs and ‘no idea’.
We got in anyway and it stopped at the first floor because it wanted to. No one got in and no one got out. Then it went to the third floor. We still have no idea why.
Then we waited 25 mins to go into a meeting that had been confirmed only the day before. Which isn’t unheard of in the film industry but it is very rare when you are expected. I would love to blame the machines for this as well but I can’t. The floor we got off on had three receptionists who sat at raised plinths with massive screens in front of them. No desks, just a podium with a great big Dell on it. Feck knows where they put their handbags. Anyway they took our names and the name of our meeting and sat us down with water.
Then nothing. For 15 mins. Then they checked the names and the name of the meeting. Then nothing for another 10 mins. And then it became quite clear that something was not right.
Our intended collocutor had started a search party via email just as the receptionist asked …
Who are you meeting again?
Ginny Smithson (Name changed)
Ah, good. I have emailed him already.
Have you now? Given that (unless we missed an email of some import) we’ve met the gal before… you might not be…
But she had already gone back to her ivory plinth.
Ginny turned up a few moments later and when she discovered that we had been waiting for that long left us at the lifts and went back into the room to shout at some people. We got in the lift and went to the fifth floor (eventually). Turns out that there is supposed to be an intern called Heerah or something. Who was supposed to meet us and tell her we were there. Only no one knows where he is.
Personally? I think he’s stuck in one of the other lifts.
The main offices are filled with very young people with very big, curved screens. Aside from random film toys and posters dotted about the place. (We saw an ET spaceship that was very tempting) it looks like a high end call centre. They have desks and places to put a handbag but only the execs get offices. Which is where the true London returns. The vast chambers at the front and on the ground floor are merely there to give you the illusion of space. Upstairs everyone is crammed in. Yes, execs get offices but they aren’t big. They have a single glass wall and a sliding door. Unless the office is not twice the width of a door – then they get normal doors with hinges. Floor space is power.
Has anyone seen the agenda?

The Meeting

Then you have the meeting. Which is now of so standard a format that there are books and blogs and articles and interviews detailing the separate phases and what you should be doing in each phase. I will leave that for others to detail. We tend to play it as standard but being comedy writers the initial icebreaker phase is important to us since we’re supposed to be funny in a professional way.
Pleasantries complete you start to talk business. Not your business, not necessarily… at least not right away. A bit of chat about the state of the business in general is always good. How hard it has become lately. How no one is making any money. How that one film should have made more and the other made less and how much did it make?
Phones are checked. $95 million!??! Well I never.
Then it comes to the crunch.
“So, what’s going on with you guys?” And that’s the signal. You don’t want to be in there too long but you can’t be out in 25 mins either (not counting the 25 mins we were all looking for Heerah). Anywhere between 40 mins and an hour is good as far as I can tell but I’m not exactly a veteran. Everyone is always positive and there will be chat about international rights, domestic rights, things being packaged and so on. This is where information a normal person would regard as shallow and meaningless comes to the fore. Lists of actors between the age of 20 and 32. Directors of comedy who are vaguely famous but not to anyone you might meet out on the street. Names are thrown hither and yon with little regard for the actual owners of the names since right now they are no more than possible ingredients for a dish you might not make and even if you do no one might ever eat it.
And all you want, your entire goal, is to get the next meeting. You are unlikely to win the game in this particular meeting you see, but you sure can lose it.
It’s in rooms like this where another little world is created. A place of magic where reality is suspended somehow and it seems perfectly reasonable to talk about creating something at a cost of £5 million that might or might not work. It’s insane when you think about it. If your mate came along and said
“I’ve got an idea for a pop-up shop/t-shirt/toy/car. What say we get £5 million and a couple of hundred other people involved and see if we can make any money?”
You’d surely just advise him to go and get a job. But no. Everyone buys into the illusion that just by asking if we have someone involved who can drive a car or draw a t-shirt we might guess how many we could sell. Who was that guy who drew that shirt? That was a great shirt let’s get him.
Yeah, but he designs black t-shirts mainly. Not sure he’s the right fella for the white t-shirt I have in mind.
You’re right, you’re absolutely right. Let’s get someone else to design it and then we’ll get someone else to check that and then we’ll get someone to run a few off and we can always copy a bit of that other t-shirt… what we want is a really good and original t-shirt that no -one has ever seen before but that (somehow) we know everyone already likes.
Original Sequel?
We could put Che Guevara on the front?
In truth it is utter madness to even consider that some people you have never ever met will have enough faith in you and your t-shirt vision to give you millions of pounds. And people still wonder why it takes so long to make films. At the moment we make little films and I find it miraculous when we can scrape up a few grand to make a short. Of course, we don’t get paid often.
Then it’s back out into the real world. The other London. Which looks nothing like this…
Where do I plug in my MacBook?
The thing about futurology is that people always assume rationality will prevail without taking into account human nature. The picture above is from 2001: A Space Odyssey and I thought of it when I was in London this time. And how utterly, utterly unrealistic it is. The truth of the matter is that were we to really build this spaceship it would need a lot more in the way of signage. Film Studio offices aside I never saw a space in London that size that didn’t have advertising in it. Actually, a space that size would have a Starbucks in it.
London is cramped. Every cafe has the maximum number of seats. The little supermarkets are designed to within a millimetre or so. When we arrived I had a wheelie case of medium size but I might as well have been driving an artic and heaven help me if I entered the Tesco Express at the same time as a mum with a pram. That particular manouevre required a banksman and some temporary traffic lights.
London used to feel big and bustling and exciting and now it just seems busy and stressed and expensive and loud. We have the benefit of staying at a friend’s place when we go to London – it’s in Hampstead. It is not big in Hampstead but in Hampstead it doesn’t matter. Passing by an estate agent’s window a cursory glance will find properties in nearby Swiss Cottage renting at just under £4,000 per week.
Per week.
Which is fine I guess. I mean, it’s approaching £200,000 a year and apart from Jose Mourinho I don’t know anyone who needs to rent a house at that price but if it works for them…
4 grand a week? I’ll take two…
But what is it buying them? The ability to sit in a cramped cafe drinking cappuccino whilst three feet away the owner grinds beans at a volume close to that of a Heathrow runway? The pleasure of everyone having to get up when someone wants to leave?
I love London – it’s got it all going on. I went for dinner, had an accident with a steak taco and bought a replacement shirt before the offending sauce had dried. It’s amazing. But they all seem very busy and I can fully understand if they don’t really have time to look up.
But… if you can’t look up then you can’t help but look down and when you do what you will see is people lying around. One of our meetings was with a comedy writer friend. He is well known in the writing game and very good at it so he has to live near London, but he doesn’t live in the centre. Even he, a veteran of the place, was shocked at the homelessness. He’d seen nine in a two hundred yard walk from Angel Underground to the bank across the street and I had had a similar experience the night before at Charing Cross.
To be clear, I’m not talking about begging here. I walked out of a tube station and found people sleeping where they fell. One of them in his work clothes. No one asked me for money. No one even looked at me. I would have taken a photo but that seemed wrong somehow. Like the zoo scene in La Haine it would just have made it worse.
London is bigger than Rome and more cosmopolitan than anywhere I have ever seen outside of New York. We nearly crashed into Alastair Campbell as he raced off a tube. Then we went back to Hampstead and sat in this little pub (which was packed to bursting on a Tuesday night) where the walls are covered in black and white pictures of famous people to the extent that there is no more room on the walls. Bowie, Einstein, Olivier… we even saw a picture of Nick Mason from Pink Floyd which would be an unremarkable thing in and of itself except that we left to go home and he was sitting in a restaurant around the corner.
If Rome is organised chaos then London is poverty-stricken wealth. Fur coat and no knickers.
After the madness of a film meeting I went to dinner with an old friend who works in the justice system. She told me a story about a person she encountered in her job who had a tendency to eat things. He’d eat ceiling tiles like toast so they threw him out of the office. At which point he ate the buttons on their keypad entry system.
He would starve to death in the film industry of course.
The lifts don’t have any buttons.

Here we go again?

It’s election time – again.
When I think back it seems that we’ve had a few of late. And when not having elections then we have a referendum.
2014 – Indy Ref 1
2015 – General Election UK
2016 – Scottish Election
2016 – European Referendum
2017 – General Election UK
2018 – Year off (presumably for the World Cup)
2019 – General Election UK
We have now moved in to the political equivalent of perpetual war where conflict continues endlessly and upheaval is the new norm. It is the ‘forever election’ cycle. Boris Johnson, hang on until I get my standard picture of Boris…
Boris (and it more likely to be Dominic Cummings) is merely adopting the standard political techniques of the day – constant chaos – to achieve his aims. By creating mayhem and then posing as the only possible answer to that mayhem.

Let’s Get Brexit Done

Followed or preceded by the words. “People are tired of this constant wrangling over Brexit” which is the same as saying “People are tired because of the thing I did, so let me do this other thing”.
Should Johnson win do we imagine that any of the sunny policies he is espousing will actually come to pass in the form that he describes? No, they won’t because the policies are not an end in themselves. There is no end beyond the continuation of Tory (Boris and Dom) power. And when that has been achieved the policies will warp, or vanish…

We’ll build 40 hospitals!

No they won’t. They’ll say they will and then, when it turns out that 40 hospitals costs more than £10.50, they will change it. It will be a more staggered roll out but they are still building 40. Then it will be 30 but they are more efficient and 2 of them are bigger. Eventually, after causing so much chaos no-one can remember they were ever going to build a hospital at all they will announce…

We’ll build 50 hospitals!

And when someone digs out the last manifesto they’ll basically point to some chaos that they can vaguely claim was not their fault and say “People are tired of these poor services (thing we did) so we need to get on with fixing the economy (other thing) and so we’re cutting corporation tax and increasing national insurance”.

Johnson is often described as Trumpian. But the truth is that Trump isn’t even the original. He models himself on Putin and the fact is that even Putin isn’t the original. The Russian power is maintained by Vladislav Surkov who may well come to be seen as the inspiration for Cummings, Steven Miller, Bannon and the like. Follow the link and have a read if you have the time but if you don’t then perhaps this single quote sums it up.
…the stage is constantly changing: the country is a dictatorship in the morning, a democracy at lunch, an oligarchy by suppertime, while, backstage, oil companies are expropriated, journalists killed, billions siphoned away. Surkov is at the centre of the show, sponsoring nationalist skinheads one moment, backing human rights groups the next. It’s a strategy of power based on keeping any opposition there may be constantly confused, a ceaseless shape-shifting that is unstoppable because it’s indefinable.

Peter Pomerantsev – Putin’s Rasputin – London Review of Books
In a state of bedlam it can be difficult to know where to focus and what to believe – This is the very state they want you to be in and I don’t mind saying that it is difficult to handle. As a person I simply cannot see a problem unsolved or an injustice unaddressed. Which, as you can imagine, my partner loves when I am supposed to be ‘listening’ and I am actually just trying to come up with answers.
Note: This is not a good idea. Partner wants to be heard not helped.
I struggle every day not to over-react. My partner, my doctors and my friends tell me to chill. It’s not my job to solve everything. And I really, really wish that I could do that but if I know one thing I know that complacency and assuming it will be all right is not the answer. And how do I know that? Because of this photo.
The Last Jew in Vinnitsa
This photo haunts me. For reasons too numerous to mention here. I keep it on the desktop of my computer and I look at it occasionally. not for macabre, ghoulish reasons but more as a lode star. A reference point for navigation. If anything is proposed or reported I compare it to this photo. Any step, in any direction, that leads towards this photo is to be resisted with all the power at my disposal.
At this point you might be thinking ‘Here he goes. Comparing everyone to the nazis, why does everyone have to be compared to the nazis all the time?’.
I’m not saying people are Nazis. I’m just saying that if you take enough steps along the road then that is where you end up and the price we have to pay for not having that, is vigilance. Have another look at the photo and then have a look at the photos below. Then ask yourself – ‘In what direction are we moving? Away from, or towards, Vinnitsa?
Hostile Environment
American cages for children
So, here we go again. More marches, more protests, more chaos. Another referendum perhaps and another election on the way. This time in winter. You’re tired, I get it but do me a favour. Have a look at these photos one more time.

And then go vote.

Holiday Romanvs

Air BnB not as advertised.
Rome. A bucket list item finally chalked off said list after all these years. I won’t bore you with all the photos (there are hundreds) as they mostly contain my family standing next to a useless pile of old rubble. There are a few I am not in however.
Why Rome? Well that goes back over 30 years to my school days where, in my wisdom, I was the only pupil in a school of hundreds who actually chose to do Higher Latin. Chose to. I wasn’t very good at it but in our school when it came to second year you got to choose another language to study or you got to keep going to PE. Given that our PE teacher was a rugby fanatic and I weighed less than your carry on baggage allowance (seriously, I would have had no trouble fitting into the overhead compartment or under the seat in front) then it seemed only logical to take Latin instead. And I loved Latin – it was, at least, madly different from all the other subjects. I’d far rather be learning the best way to the forum instead of trying to figure out what Leiselotte and the rest of Die Familie Rheinhagen were up to. I also had a crazy teacher. Mr Clark aka Blinky. A man for whom the modern world (1983) was deeply unsatisfactory and whose response was just to keep his eyes closed most of the time even when he was talking to you. Seriously, unless he had to move around or write something he just kept his eyes closed and I tested whether they were fully closed or not one time in class. There were only the two of us and he was giving me pelters about how I had completely misunderstood a certain passage – Aeneas was not making a phone call apparently – when he closed his eyes to go off on a rant and I switched seats.
When he opened his eyes again I had ‘blinked’ two seats down. He wasn’t happy. Anyway, I digress. He was a lovely chap really and his enthusiasm for Ancient Rome kinda rubbed off on me. Everyone else remembers Gladiator and the Colosseum but for me it was the forum and the Palatine Hill that I wanted to see.
This is where the Caesars ruled. Where Julius and Augustus and Tiberius and, my favourite, Claudius reigned. If you have not read I, Claudius by Robert Graves incidentally then you should remedy that at once.
I couldn’t wait to wander through their world.
So, of course, we went everywhere else first. That’s the thing about Rome. It’s a nicely sized city. You can walk just about anywhere if you are feeling fit or if you have the time. The entire Metro system has about 20 stops in total and you are usually only about three stops from where you want to be in any case, but despite the small size it is absolutely packed with stuff. You can’t be the eternal city without accumulating some baggage along the way so there are countless museums, monuments, statues and piazzas to be seen in your immediate vicinity without traipsing all the way across town.
Our apartment looked onto the dome of St Peter’s a few hundred metres away. We had left the house at four o’clock in the morning and so we were wandering around St Peter’s square a little before lunch. We’d already paid for a tour the next day and took a half a day just familiarising ourselves with the atmosphere of modern Rome.
And what is there to say that has not been said before? Yes, it’s a modern European place – it has the obligatory statuary and monuments alongside the graffiti and the homelessness. The place is to cry for.
I had already been in Rome for a couple of days when we took the compulsory hop-on hop-off bus tour. I don’t mind saying I cursed when we turned the corner and I saw the ‘wedding cake’ for the first time. The thing is enormous and to give you some idea of scale the guy on the horse in the middle is so big that his hat is taller than I am. And then that night I saw a guy in a wheel chair begging outside the Spagna metro station who had clearly suffered incredible burn damage to his face and body. He should have been in some kind of accommodation but he wasn’t, he was begging to live in a life that had treated him just about as badly as life can. I cursed again. Rome is the city of opposites. Based on an empire that almost invented the concept of being organised it is utterly chaotic. Yes, there are rules and systems but you get the feeling they made them up because they had to and then never bothered with them again. Crossing the road is a matter of trust when you step onto the black and white pedestrian crossing and hope that the cars will stop, but a matter of mistrust when you use an actual crossing. Sure, the countdown might say that you have 3 seconds left to get across the road, but the scooters bearing down on you can’t see the countdown and don’t care anyway. Move.
In a city where space is at a premium and everyone lives on top of each other they have seemingly random areas of wide open space and splendour. And sometimes just wide open spaces…
This thing you cannot see the end of is the Circus Maximus (you’ll remember Charlton Heston charging around here every Easter on BBC2) home of chariot racing and at its height a stadium that could accommodate 250,000 spectators. In Rome it is just left to be.

City Life

There are tiny streets and alleys where the shops are all crammed together as well. They have enormous boulevards that they then make tiny by parking thousands of cars there until they become small and cramped. Speaking of cars. This is Italy, the home of Ferrari, Bugatti, Maserati and Lamborghini (other super car makes are available) but they all drive tiny little smart cars because they have made the place unusable for anything else. If you turned up here in a Ford Mondeo they’d just assume you were mad. Or it was part of a funeral or something.
Actually I did see a woman driving a big Range Rover thing so I can only imagine she is living in it or the boot folds out and the back turns into a mobile trattoria where delicious pizza is served by her and her family.

Food

The Italians pride themselves on their food but unlike the French they aren’t actually that good with it. Yes the pizzas are delicious and they make a tomato sauce to die for. But that’s it. Italian ingredients are excellent – Italian cuisine is somewhat limited. I found myself wandering around Rome and in all the time I walked I saw one Chinese restaurant and one Kebab shop. This is a world capital – you’re telling me there’s no demand for an Indian curry? Or a caribbean place or… well, anything except pizza and pasta? I’m not saying a deep fried haggis is the answer but would it kill you to offer a goulash? A german sausage? Perhaps the answer lies in the people. We went out shopping and amidst the shoe shops we found a place selling masques. We love a masque so in we went.
Where we were accosted by a charming Syrian fellow who endeared himself to my French wife in short order. We’ll leave aside the fact that he tried to sell us some catwoman type masque as being good for the ‘sexual attraction’ when our kids were stood right next to us. The rest of it was very illuminating. This chap speaks perfect English and French and Italian and Syrian and heaven knows what else. Why is he in Rome? Well, the war obviously – he had to get out about a year ago and ended up here.
“And do you like it here? Do you feel at home here?”
“Not really. The Italians aren’t anti Syrian particularly but…”
“Yes?”
“Well, they just hate everybody equally”.
Which sums it up to be honest. The place is all smiles for the tourist and that’s just great but you are there to spend money. Every bridge and street has someone happy to see you because you are there to spend money. We ended up with a lot of worthless jewellery (my fault) and some worthless stamps (his fault, money back please) but we still had a totally marvellous time. The scale of the grandeur and the weight of the history are overpowering.

The Other Empire

As stated we were living near St Peter’s and the Vatican City. There are endless photos and videos that I will cut together somewhere else and then drop in a folder so that I can easily access them when my wife moans that we never go anywhere or do anything.
I simply wasn’t ready for the scale of the wealth that the church has. I wasn’t ready for the extent of the art or the reach of the church as an organisation, As we walked towards St Peter’s square for the first time I said.
“This is nun soup here” And my daughter – brought up atheist -promptly asked me why they didn’t have any soup. So we had to start explaining nuns and the church and all that. It isn’t easy. We did the tour of the Vatican museums which is a sprint past centuries of art. You could spend weeks in there and never come close to seeing half of it. The place was so busy we had to detour through the Etruscan wing and they have probably lost more priceless art by just forgetting than we ever owned in the first place. The Vatican is a microcosm of Rome – it is just too much. Here’s a random corridor on the route to the Sistine chapel…
See what I mean? This isn’t the Sistine chapel, this is just going to the Sistine chapel. If I had to sum up Rome that’s how I would do it.
Rome?
It’s just too much. And as a result I am sure that the Romans themselves have become inured to it. They don’t even see it any more.
Daughter’s playground
We were only there a few days and for my youngest daughter this place wasn’t a global icon at all. It was just the place she ran around in after our evening walk and gelato. Truly a city of opposites. I got the perfect visual representation on our last day there…

I need to go on a diet.

It’s lucky that my wife never reads any of my stuff because she would be waving this in front of me for the next 5 years. I don’t actually mean that kind of diet – the Slimming World, Keto, Caveman, Avocado toast kind of diet. Which is lucky, because I am useless at resisting temptation. I know, for example, that crisps are bad for me and I was honest enough (dumb enough) to tell my doctor that.
Doctor: How many crisps do you eat?
Me: All the crisps.
You know you want to.
Doctor: Ha Ha. You are funny. Seriously though, how many packets?
Me: Ha ha. You know those six packs of Salt & Vinegar?
Doctor: Yes.
Me: They’re all mine. You’re not getting any.
No. I need to go on a news diet. You know how you hear about people who are mostly friends of friends of friends (hardly ever just a person you know directly) who have gone on diets and now they look wonderful? You know what I mean, they used to have a BMI score that would be a decent break in snooker but now they hardly exist at all and have qualified for the olympics?
Well I know people who have done that – only with news. They aren’t reading the paper, they aren’t catching up with the TV bulletins either online or off. They don’t do Facebook and they don’t do Twitter. They are also smugly happy about it and live lives so much less stressful than mine it just isn’t even funny.
So for someone like me it just makes perfect sense to cut this out of my life. You ever just get overwhelmed? You wake up in the morning and there is just so much to do and think about and worry over that it seems like you would be better off just pulling the duvet over your head again and not even bothering?
Tuesday? How can it only be tuesday?
Tuesday? How can it only be Tuesday?
I wrote down my current to-do list the other day – just the major headings, not the little bits, there was no DIY on the list for example. Then, when I had finished writing it down, I softly closed the notebook, gently picked it up and then gingerly placed it down as far away on my desk as I could manage without it exploding or somehow spilling a load of letters and numbers everywhere.
Things are hectic enough without having the entire concept of undone (not even started) tax returns bouncing all over the house.
There’s the production planning and re-write of Neighbours-A Parable, the edits from the last six weeks on set with young people up and down the country, the admin work for the Scottish Youth Film Festival this year and the prep work for the next set of outreach projects in Clackmannanshire. Then there’s the need to go out and scare up work for later in the year and then start writing the next thing whilst at the same time promoting the re-make of Electric Man and trying to find an agent… it goes on. Notice the lack of family and friends mentioned thus far. Time must be made for them I am told.
Even using major headings I was at number six on the list before I even got to one that was something for the future, something that I actually wanted to do and was looking forward to instead of having to do it. Yeah, there’s just too much on the slate to be making Learn Gaelic the top priority.
I count myself as blessed. Not everyone has such nice problems to deal with. I can’t even conceive of doing a job I don’t enjoy and then adding everything on top of that. Or having a sick relative to care for before even getting to start the list.
It should be the easiest thing in the world therefore to stop consuming news. You’d think I would enjoy the peace and quiet – but that doesn’t seem to be the case at all. For example, this Autumn I could have had an easy go of it. Finish off the summer edits and start work on the admin for the winter projects at a leisurely pace whilst taking some time to look for future work (life as a freelancer) and get back to the Gaelic or the Archery or whatever. But instead….
Write a short film and attempt to get it made without getting paid for it as I try to set the world to rights. Which is just stupid. And all because I refuse to put down the news. I read an article in the Observer a few weeks ago about Greta Thunberg and Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez and it had this in it…
I know so many people who feel hopeless, and they ask me, “What should I do?” And I say: “Act. Do something.” Because that is the best medicine against sadness and depression.

Greta Thunberg, Guardian, 29th June 2019
I’ll just have one segment…
Well, you might as well be waving a Terry’s Chocolate Orange in front of a five year old. I’m not just addicted to reading the news I’m addicted to reacting as well. It seems impossible for me to not try and fix the unfixable and so my question is this. Is there any hope? I need the media equivalent of a bar man cutting off a drunk near the end of the night.
Me: “Just The Guardian please, Oh actually can I have a copy of The Economist as well? Oh and since it’s the weekend I’ll take 2 hours of MSNBC or CNN whichever you happen to have”
Media Gatekeeper: “Don’t you think you’ve had enough sir? Shouldn’t you be getting home to the wife and family?”
I need attractive people who see me reading my phone in public to walk past me with the same outward breath of disgust and quick look away that posh supermodels use when they walk by someone eating chicken from a bucket. In short, society needs to find a way to shame me for my uncontrolled desires. Until that happens though I guess I shall just have to be content with my wife giving me pelters for my crisp habit. Speaking of which, I have resolved to stop them as well…

Five Minutes Later…

Shopkeeper: Ah hah! Back again. Mister Salt and Vinegar. What will it be today. Walkers or Golden Wonder?
Me: Don’t be ridiculous. What lunatic prefers Walkers Salt and Vinegar?

Once upon a time…

Stories are the new battleground

History is but a fable agreed upon.

M. de Fontenelle, 1724, The origin of fables
What goes around comes around I guess. Because what the old French geezer was talking about was the fact that the Greek myths were exactly that… myths. There were stories aplenty but no actual history of any sort.
GM food spokesman denies side effects story
In effect all the news from the ancient Greeks was fake news. All the news from anywhere was fake news until we started inventing things like the telegraph system, telephones and television – so that it was possible to see the truth.
Girl band in wardrobe malfunctions scandal
Possible. Not inevitable. The quote at the start of this article is the basis for the adage ‘History is written by the winners’. In essence it is those who win who get to tell the story and create the truth. Back in the days of Napoleon (who also used this adage) that was about the people who prevailed on a battlefield being able to justify their actions afterwards.
Only now we have the internet and the obfuscations, misdirections and outright fabrications that were once possible (inevitable) because of a lack of information have returned ten fold due to a rampant surplus of information. It is not surprising that we are breaking down into ‘tribes‘ again and that those tribes are spouting very simple ideologies. The confusion is driving people back to the basic human method for survival in my opinion. Learn the rules of the tribe and then stick with them. As a strategy for getting through life this is pound-for-pound your most efficient method of survival from birth to death.
Your parents teach you basic things – don’t eat that, don’t go there… and you get by on that. The unfortunate thing for humans is that a great many people never really get beyond that level of analysis. And I don’t blame them. If this Brexit/Populist/climate change denying catastrophe has taught me anything it is that thinking about big, shitty stuff is hard. I’d rather be writing stories, or reading them, or… doing anything else really.

But now we fight through stories themselves.

Remember Momo?
Me before the morning coffee.
Momo scared the freaking shit out of me. I found the image in itself scary enough but then there was the whole story that the meme was going around telling kids to hurt themselves and as a father I was even more terrified. I am fairly good at telling bullshit from nutella usually but (confession) I had a chat to my daughters on the back of this. How could I not. A powerful image that had the possibility to hurt my children. I’m going to react and react quickly aren’t I?
And now there are even scarier stories being told by another grotesque… BOJO!
No deal will be brilliant!
We’re getting drug death stories which are distorted, we’re being promised the shipping work for the navy again because we fell for that last time.
Why? Because a story is a powerful thing. Ever since the Indy Ref in 2014 we have been besieged by one particular type of story and it goes along the same lines every time.

Scotland you are weak, you are in danger. Don’t do anything stupid.

And every story that follows the ‘Too wee, too poor, too stupid” framework is designed to do the same thing – affect how we vote. The onslaught is fairly constant and it is now coming through every channel. The BBC are terrible for it but they are joined by other TV channels and a great deal of the internet. The battleground of stories is constant. 24 hours a day and 7 days a week.
Which is why I write blogs and make movies.
Our latest effort is our first step into the fray. Alongside my creative partner David Barras we are putting a story out there to help the cause of sanity. But we are being guided by what we have seen. Shouting isn’t helping – what it needs are stories, told simply and well that show the truth of what we are saying. For the moment we want to concentrate on Independence as a first step (for reasons outlined here) and that means telling the story of Scotland’s current relationship in a way that might just get through to people listening to other sources. We might, possibly, be able to change a few minds by changing how we tell the tale.

Winners are those with the best stories these days

To that end there is now a script that we hope to make this August/September. There is a facebook page where we are showing the type of approach we think will work. If you are pro-indy at all you should check it out because it might just be your best step in helping that idea along. If you think like we do. If you think our story deserves to be told, we would be honoured if you will stand alongside us in creating it. Contributions are closing but can still be made via our indiegogo page. Thank you for listening.

Flags and Heart Attacks

I have a European family and all of my friends know this and know how much I love them. So I would be against Brexit no matter what happens because no one on this earth gets to tell me that my family is worth less than someone else’s family. That they are somehow inferior to someone or have fewer rights because their mother is French.
But even if that were not true, even if I had married someone from Scotland and I had two ginger-haired Scottish girls instead then I would still be against Brexit.

Why? I am glad you asked. It is a tale of medium length and although it starts far, far away it takes place not long from now.
In August of 2023 the research vessel Sir David Attenborough carrying the autonomous vehicle Boaty McBoatface is somewhere near Antarctica when a puzzled look comes across the Captain’s face.
“Number one?”
“Ma’am?
“What day is it?
“Friday Ma’am”
“Really? It feels like Tuesday already. Tell me, that promontory there, have we not seen it before?”
“Yes Ma’am. We were here last Wednesday Ma’am”
“So we have, in fact, circumnavigated Antarctica?”
“Yes Ma’am”
“And have we seen any ice in that time”
We’re gonna need a bigger boat.
“I saw some in the fridge in the galley Ma’am”
“Bugger”
Because the Captain knew that that was it. All over. Sure, it had been a mild winter but mild enough to produce no ice? There was now nothing to prevent the seas warming around the southern pole? Nothing to defend at all?
Near the Govan shipyards in 2023
A world away in Scotland it is 39 degrees and I am struggling up the hill from the main street to my home. Bad luck for me really that I chose to live at the top and not the bottom because this means that once I have queued for the standpipe and got my regulation 20 litres of water for the family I have to drag the bloody stuff all the way up to the house and that’s a mile away.
It would be fine if I was this skinny but I ain’t.
Only today I don’t make it. The air is thick with pollen and my anti-histamines ran out yesterday. I’m sweating and I put that down to it being just a degree or two hotter today. But it isn’t that at all. Stopping halfway up the brae I am out of breath and try to take a shot from my inhaler – it’s nearly empty and there won’t be any more inhalers in the chemist for a week or so. They do still make them but they make them in Germany and there is currently a six-week backlog for German imports I am told. This is due to the usual customs and trade problems – exacerbated by the migrant riots in Berlin and Paris – plus the sanctions from China and the French lorry drivers blockading the ports are also partly to blame. But just knowing all of that isn’t helping me today. I could walk down the hill and try the chemist but I decide against it since I know they won’t have any and in any case I would just have to drag my sorry carcass up the hill again with this water.
Lanarkshire 2023
Then I feel a kick in my chest and my vision narrows to only what is immediately in front of me. Damn it’s hot… and these water canisters are heavy. I resolve to put them down but when I look I see that they are already on the ground. It isn’t the water that’s heavy, it’s my hands that feel like they are made of stone – I’m having a heart attack.
As I hit the ground I can’t help thinking that my wife will be disappointed when I don’t come back with water. The pain is more than I can bear and it goes on forever. Which is, coincidentally, about how long it takes for the ambulance to get there.
I don’t know what happened to the water but once they got me in the back of the ambulance I started to feel a little better (ambulances have legal A/C) and as they wheel me into the hospital at speed I notice a flag fluttering outside in the sunlight. It’s a Boris flag; A union jack made mandatory on all public buildings when the blonde buffoon became prime minister. So, there might not be any medicine in this hospital but at least it has a flag – which must make someone somewhere feel better I am sure.
Eva, as I imagine her.
A lovely nurse called Eva is soon ministering to me and telling me it is all going to be all right. She’s asking me questions and looking into my swivelling blue eyes with her lovely brown ones. She injects me with something ( I hope to hell the medical insurance covers it) and I even start to breathe a little better with the oxygen despite the fact that the hospital is awful hot… seems I won’t be dying today.
And that one good thing means I have two bad things to look forward to. One, my wife giving me a row for not coming back with the water and…
Two, if I ever get out of this place I’m going to have to go past that damn flag again.
All of which is very interesting but, I hear you cry, why the feck is this anything to do with Brexit and me being against it.
Eva the nurse? She’s Polish. I bloody love Europeans
Yep. immigrant.
PS – I don’t die that day. But a week later I have a bit of a reaction to some chlorinated chicken and that’s the end of that.
Killed by chicken
https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/neighbours-a-parable#/

First things first

Where do you even start? The world has gone insane and there are no limits to the number of problems and no end to the number of maniacs determined to make it worse – or at least make it no better.
Yes there is Brexit. And populism generally, not to mention the austerity, the impending global financial crash and the need for new anti-biotics but for sheer jaw-dropping, brain-freezing, pants-shitting terror then nothing beats the climate crisis. The only people who shouldn’t be worried about the climate crisis are people in hospices. Although, perversely, they are likely the most concerned because nothing focuses the mind and brings clarity to life quite like the imminent end of it. Yep. It doesn’t really matter what your beliefs are. You can take the view of reality held by Republican politicians – ‘We make our own reality’ but sooner or later the climate crisis will just crush you.
Likely sooner. As I write Europe is bracing itself for an early summer heatwave that is some 2C above anything ever recorded at any time of the year. The picture above is from the Guardian and even though the problem is in Europe it is big enough for them to mention it. What is harder to find is news about the trouble where brown people live.
Chennai is big. 4.6 million people. That’s nearly the population of Scotland – in one city – and they are running out of water. Can I ask you what you think will happen when they do? What anyone would do when they run out of water?
Why, they’ll probably just sit there and say ‘That’s that then. Nothing to be done about it.’
Or they’ll go looking for water.
Yeah, just like that.
I’ve written humorous pieces on here in the past about immigrants. I’ve written serious pieces about immigration and how these people are treated. In 2017, 26,547 asylum claims were filed in the U.K. and according to wikipedia the number of people trying to cross the channel in boats was a staggering 539.
Maybe I haven’t written the numbers out so you can see properly. That’s 539. Three digits. Remember, the population of Chennai is 4,600,000. The numbers of people trying to reach somewhere better were touted by Farage and the like as utterly unbearable already. Can you imagine what it is going to be like when hundreds of millions of people start to move?
Detestable man
You can sit there and say things like ‘Well, it’s not up to us to make sure they’ve got water’ and whilst that might be technically correct you’re going to discover very quickly that it isn’t going to make a bit of difference. What would you do to save your family? If they were dying of hunger, disease and thirst? Would the English channel stop you? Of course it wouldn’t. So let’s just accept that the climate crisis is for everyone to solve and the quicker the better. And it’s at that point you discover that your biggest problem isn’t the one you have to solve first. Because whenever there is a job to do you must first gather together the tools, fixings and other equipment that will let you get the job done. It’s only then that you realise you haven’t been investing in your toolbox. You’ve been buying cheap rubbish. Tools like…
This spanner.
No wonder all the screws are loose when this is what you are working with.
The truth is that your first job is going to be to change the toolkit. And it has to be a complete overhaul. Why? Because you’ve been buying the same brand for years.
The article this picture comes from details quite simply how 7% of the population (those educated in independent schools) manage to make up 65% of the senior judges and a majority of civil servants. Whilst there have been slight improvements over the last five years the Old Boys Network is alive and well.
65%.
That means that even if you have the requisite intelligence and the wherewithal to do the courses and attend the universities then, unless you are a member of that 7%, you only have 35% of the jobs to aim at. If you are a woman or a member of a minority then your outlook is even worse.
The system defends its own and is self-perpetuating. But why is there no outcry? I don’t understand it. I really, really don’t understand why the current wave of populism is this racist bollocks; this anti-immigrant, anti-EU nonsense when it should just be ‘Let’s eat the fucking rich. Seriously, let’s get the guillotines out’.
Sure, the media plays it’s part – 44% of newspaper columnists are part of the 7% and no numbers are given for editors but it is likely even higher. When your boss is a member of the system you are unlikely to buck that system or you find yourself out of it. The media is controlled by the elite, sure, but as the report shows -it’s not that hard to find out. It’s not that hard to see that Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage, et al are just wankers out for themselves.
But that’s not the worst bit.
No, the worst bit is that it doesn’t even work. You could understand it if the system actually functioned and people could say ‘Aye, well, it might not be pretty or fair but it works’.
It doesn’t bloody work! These tools have brought us to the brink of disaster. It’s going to get hot soon and for some of us up here in Scotland that might take a little longer to have an effect. We’ve been mitigating the worst of these idiots for a while and unlike England we have an easier out. We can declare independence. For those south of the border I can only suggest a radical and complete overhaul of the toolbox. First things first – get rid of the problem – then get your actually talented people to set about fixing it.
You might not like it when the droughts start to kick in and then you look to Scotland for water only to hear
‘Well, it’s not up to us to make sure they’ve got water’
So, say it after me. ‘Eat The Rich! Eat The Rich!’