Explanations

Here’s a scenario for you all to consider. I’ve criticised my current Audible read in a previous entry, but it does provoke some thought.

The woman, originally from the C20th, has been transported (somehow) to the C18th.
The man is, and always has been, of the C18th.
The tale is set in the C18th, when they are also married to each other. Bear with it – if you bought that she could get back to the 18th century in the first place, this other should be no problem!

They’re having a row. She snaps at him, “why d’you always want to behave like bloody John Wayne?” Obviously, the response is “who’s John Wayne?”

Think about it. To try to explain movie star, you first have to explain movie. You probably then need to go back to still photography, how an image can make its way onto a piece of film…

What a bloody nightmare! 🤣

Giving Up

A friend of mine happened to mention that her mother-in law was 87, was in a nursing home with dementia, and was diabetic. She likes chocolate cake, so my friend and her husband take some over to her when they visit.

I can fully go along with that. At that age, and with the other things going wrong, I too would place her pleasure ahead of her sugar levels.

I happened to mention that a few of the stroke survivors I’ve seen have been smokers. I just shrug my shoulders at this, for exactly the same reason. Whatever gets you through the night. Having a stroke is a shitty experience, more often than not you’re left disabled, so if you can derive some pleasure from smoking a cigarette, go for it.

Interestingly enough, my friend disagreed. I mention it because it made me think – exactly how did she see that giving somebody chocolate cake (known to be bad for them) was different to somebody smoking (also known to be bad)? It seems to me that you’re storing up long-term issues for a short-term gain.

I do like this friend but sometimes they say something which surprises me. None of us is immortal and I do think that there comes a time when it is appropriate to give up on life.

75 Years Ago

I must admit I can generally be quite immune to things like Poppy Day. There is a certain insincerity about a politician who, in one breath, says “we will remember the fallen” and who, in the next breath, is ordering troops to drop bombs on people. The single most important lesson we must take from conflicts is that we should avoid the failure of dialogue, where we can, to prevent this sacrifice from ever being required again, and frankly, I think some politicians have trouble with that “where we can” bit. They’re far too willing to give up on dialogue in favour of force, especially now that we (the western powers) have the means to fight wars remotely, such that the public don’t experience the horror of war.

Anyway, I saw this clip on social media – I’ll post the link to Facebook but I’ve managed to download a copy of the video and upload it to my blog, just in case. This is obviously as we are coming up to the 75th anniversary of the Normandy Landings. I used to visit the Normandy a lot and know the debarquement beaches very well, including the serenity of these cemeteries. Listen to the May birds singing in this video. The caption alongside the video reads:

Veteran Alan King, East Riding Yeomanry, at the grave of his friend Louis Wilkes, who he carried from his Tank after Louis had been hit in the head by a sniper. He could not save him. Never Forget.

This sums it all up for me. No politicians with crocodile tears, no cenotaph, no world leaders, no tv cameras, just a guy paying his respects to his comrade.

European Elections

Here in the UK we’re a bit skewed. You can take this weekend’s EU elections as simply a vote on Brexit or not. Either “it should never have happened” or “get on with it”.

But I see that the in the rest of Europe, there is also the fear of “right-wing nationalism”. Those are the BBC’s words, not mine.

I don’t know about right-wing. I’m certainly not right-wing. Nationalism, perhaps. To the extent that countries don’t wish to receive instructions from Brussels, but would rather decide their own course.

I do hope that the EU doesn’t see these numbers just as a protest, dismissed with a “fuck you”. That certainly seems to be how they’ve reacted to Brexit. Brexit happened for all sorts of reasons, including how the EU is run, so to simply dismiss that discontent…well, you’re just asking for trouble. I predict other countries following the UK, and concluding that their only way is outside of their club.

As for the UK, Cameron’s requested reforms would not have satisfied me – he was more concerned with his own popularity than in making the system fairer – but certainly the EU’s stance that “there is no appetite to re-open treaties” didn’t help.

I hope, therefore, that these elections lead to a period of introspection by the EU’s governors. At their next meeting, they might wish to ask why they are in 5* surroundings while some of their citizens are using food banks, why they have set themselves as the elite, at the expense of taxpayers.

It’s funny, because not long ago I finished reading Ken Clarke’s autobiography. It struck me that when he was at large departments like Health and Education, he concentrated a lot of value for money. I think he came along with the attitude of “concentrate just on what you’re good at”. Identifying a narrow purpose and concentrating on delivering it. I don’t necessarily agree with him that value for money is the main goal, in nationalised industries – the society as a whole has more dimensions than just the finances of a nationalised industry – but that is his view. It’s a shame therefore that nobody ever put the EU into the spotlight, and made it focus on perfecting its strengths. I’m not just

My own reservations are more along the lines of how well the EU represents me – I never had a say in Jean-Claude Junker being president, for example, or Donald Tusk or Michel Barnier. I have no way of recalling my MEP if they’re doing a bad job. Fine, I can vote them out next time around but that is five years away! What other employer would commit themselves to hiring an employee who turns out to be no good, and only having a five-year get-out clause? And Brexit has certainly had people highlighting how “democratic” the EU is – if this is the case, ask your local MEP to show to you some legislation they introduced. Ask your local commissioner how they got their job.

If yon want my support, show me a level playing field.

Audible (23 May 2019)

I mentioned the other week about my last Audible read, with some hope for the new one. A report so far…

This one is called Outlander, and I’m only about a third of the way through it. It starts just after WWII, when an English couple are on holiday in the Scottish highlands. She is miraculously transported back in time 200 years, with the highlands full of the old clans and the countryside interspersed with Redcoat forts.

She’s a fish out of water, very English in very Scotland, so regarded with suspicion by the Scots although taken to live with a clan. In the Forties, she’s meant to have been a war nurse, so has a smattering of French and some healing knowledge. That she has French makes her suspicious to the English too, but that she has nursing makes her a bit useful.

I mean, at that point, it was kind-of interesting. I thought there were a few ways in which the story could go, not least how to use her 20th-century knowledge to try and help people (whilst presumably managing not to be burned at the stake!), trying to explain how she’d got there in the first place. You can imagine that she might have wanted to get back home, but how on earth do you explain “home”? And so on.

But actually the direction that the book has taken is not so interesting, for me anyway. She’s taken in by some Scots but is wanted by the English. To try and protect her, she’s forced to marry a Scot, After just a month or so. Thereafter, there’s a lot of time spent describing the many and varied times they shag as newlyweds. I mean, I was a bit surprised because I tould assume that these sex scenes would titilate a man rather that a woman, and the book was written by a woman. Maybe it is written like that purely because men would appreciate it, and maybe buy the book?

I mean, all of that is harmless enough but it turns the book more into romance than sci-fi. I can obviously handle the sci-fi aspect – hence starting the book in the first place – but I’m not so much interested in the romance. We all have our own experiences of romance so, to me, other people’s are not something I’m particularly interested in.

It is a bit more sinister than that though. I don’t know whether this is just the story being faithful to the time, but I’ve picked up on this woman behaving very deferentially to the husband. In the scene I just read, this guy wallops her – that’d be enough for me to walk. I mean, you maybe don’t have a choice about the walloping, but you do have a choice about the dynamics of the ongoing relationship. In my world it is very simple – men and women are just 50:50, so I tend to notice when one partner becomes dominant. But as I say, that might just be the author’s portrayal of 18th-century Scotland.