You Don’t Have To Be Mad To…

Trigger Warning: mental illness. Don’t read on if you’re having a bad day. This probably won’t help you today. It’s also a bit self-indulgent in comparison with everyone who is really struggling today.

A white mug with "you don't have to be mad to work here, but it helps" printed on it.

I’m sitting here on my sofa, arse gently aching from overuse, or underuse, or whatever. It’s sore, is what I’m saying. So, I’m sitting here tapping away at my keyboard while my cat sleeps beside me. She is not an ‘on’ cat. There are ‘on’ cats, who must always be on your lap or your legs when you’re sitting down. They are on your head when you wake up at three in the morning with a mouthful of cat fur. They are on your case All The Fucking Time. That’s ‘on’ cats for you. No, Tilly is a ‘beside’ cat. She sits quietly next to me, allowing whatever is happening inside my head to happen there and stays in her place, one part of her back or her leg touching my hip while my arse gently aches and my whatever it is that is currently living in my head stamps its feet and shouts and screams and.

And.

But.

There is a pair of robins nesting in the ivy by our kitchen window. The kitchen in this house is unusual in my experience. It’s at the front of the house so that when I’m standing at the sink, I can see the postie or delivery drivers coming up the path to leave whatever it is they’re leaving. The robins watch them come and go and one of them, I’m not sure which, was absolutely not put on Earth to give a fuck about you or your opinion. It’s the most in your face robin I have ever seen. There are drug lords or medieval kings who would back off from confronting this wee psychopath.

I am not about to take the fucker on.

The self-isolation is definitely beginning to affect me. I have imagined a robin has psychopathic tendencies and I don’t think avian psychopathy is a thing, not a real thing anyway. I have had insomnia since the lockdown started and it’s getting worse. I am remembering more of my dreams when I do manage to sleep and to be honest, I’d much rather I didn’t. I am saving up all the daytime anxiety and it percolates through my brain in the wee, soulless, terrifying hours when the bats, the owls, the rats and the slugs are doing their thing outside. Or mostly outside.

I woke myself up with my somniloquence last night, my mumbling in whatever freak show was running on the I-Max inside my eyelids gradually getting louder and louder until the point I roused myself and I lay there, confused and bereft. Anne was still asleep next to me, as reassuringly there in the night as Tilly is during the day. At least I hadn’t woken her. That was a relief.

There are all the places I cannot go, too. All the small joys of life have gone. The cafes along Mill Road where I would sit for half an hour for coffee and cake. Bumping into a chum and having a gas for a few minutes. I know self-isolation is necessary. I know why I’m shielding myself away. I get it, I really do. I’d be completely fucked if I were infected. I am concentrating on the positives, like the constant presence beside me of cat or wife but it’s not always enough.

I used to see that zany mug, the one that says you don’t have to be mad to work here, but it helps, you know, that one. I saw it everywhere and at first it was funny. Years go it was funny. Years ago, I didn’t really know anyone who was mentally ill. I’m not going to tell you about my first encounter with mental illness because it’s not my story to tell. It surprised me and upset me, just a bit anyway because when you’re that age just about everything that happens which isn’t about you doesn’t matter because it isn’t about you. Anyway, the mug thing and the mental illness thing. Do you remember when everything was absolutely mental! A night out, getting pissed and just about not getting into trouble was absolutely mental! Teachers were often absolutely mental! There was often someone in the group who was absolutely mental! It was just words and then I saw someone lose it and they were absolutely mental! And absolutely mental! wasn’t what I thought it was.

Maybe we’re back in the realms of the inadequacy of vocabulary rather than inappropriateness of response. Love is seldom what we thought it would be. It involves a lot less shagging and a lot more listening than I thought it would, for a start. That’s a really good thing, by the way. The language we use to describe emotions and values comes from a culturally limited pool. It’s like having to fix a problem with your plumbing when all you have is a cycle repair kit and half a dozen Ikea Allen keys. Only plumbers really have the toolkit to fix plumbing problems and only people who have dealt with emotional problems or mental illness have the language to express concepts which will make thing better.

I’m not really one of those people. I’m doing the basics. I work my way through the Headspace stuff to try to deal with my anxiety. To be honest, I’m not sure it’s working. I am aware of the negative thoughts and I am not falling into the old habits of not dealing with them but I’m not really going anywhere with it. I’m lazy and I’m not quite uncomfortable enough yet and there is always someone around for when things get bad.

It’s very quiet though. I can hear the blood running through my ears just under the now constant tinnitus. I’m going back in time again for a moment but do you remember when the test card came on television at night and they played music for a bit and then they started playing a tone, maybe because the music got a bit expensive? My ears are playing the tone from the test card.

There is nothing a long walk in the fresh air and plate of soup won’t sort for me now. I can have the soup, no problem. It’ll do for a start. In better but still indoor news, you can watch Alice Fraser’s absolutely brilliant show Savage on Amazon Prime and I wholeheartedly recommend that you do.

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Have You Lost Track Of Time?

To take account of our new reality, the days of the week are now to be known as Monday (because Mondays have always sucked and we see no reason for this ever to change), Tuednesday, Wedthursday, Kevin and/or Karen, TFIFday, Tomorrowday, Sitdownday, and That Day When We Don’t Feel Guilty About Not Going To Church Any More Day Day.

Months are also being renamed. We will now have Janruary, Febrarch, Marpril, Surprisingly Cold, Probably Won’t, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, Lies, Boris (in thanksgiving for His miraculous recovery), Remember What Schools Are, Octdumber, Newdumber, Monthy McMonthyface and Presents!

The numbers of days in the week or months in the year are liable to change, possibly at short notice, for operational or cost reasons.

There is an outside chance that 2020 will be extended by up to eleventy-seven months if Priti Patel has anything to do with it.

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Being Human

There are two seemingly contradictory tendencies in the very act of being human and acting them out leads to conflicts and dissonances that are almost impossible to avoid or to reconcile when or if they are ever acknowledged. The first is the urge to find out our origins and root ourselves in time and space. The second is the urge to explore, to go beyond what we have now and seek out the new. These two tendencies can drive the same person at the same time, or influence them at different times in their lives. They have political and cultural consequences and just one of them is Them And Us.

Some people really, really want to find out who they are. The family historians and the amateur genealogists. They can tell you what their ancestors were doing and who they were doing it to in some remote and rural part of the country when Jack Cade was having his rebellion. They’ve been through census records online, rocked up to local museums and record offices, taken photographs of church yards, caught obscure lung diseases from the dust on long-unread muniments, and all to find documentary proof that some distant ancestor once could have been ignored by Henry VI or something. I don’t know.

Others might want to prove a long-standing connection to a place or a thing. Some families have been in the same area for generations. Even now, when we have a very mobile population and your neighbour can come from the other side of the world, you can still find people living a handful of miles from where they were born and brought up. I don’t know whether people have a deep connection to a place like that. Some might, others just haven’t moved away because it never really occurred to them to do so. I know that we are supposed to be explorers but now we have settled just about everywhere where settlement is possible. Now we prefer to stay put, by and large, if only because there seem to be people everywhere else we might care to go.

The Out of Africa Hypothesis suggests that there were a number of small scale migrations out of Africa, across the Middle East and Asia and up into Europe by our ancestors from 70,000 years ago, give or take. They spread out by about 10 miles per generation along coasts and up rivers. Even when it was possible to go anywhere at all, people didn’t really stray very far from familiar territory, until they had to cross oceans to reach Australia.

(I really would like to know who thought that was a good idea, and even why they thought they should stay there given everything in Australia can bite, scratch, kick, poison or just swallow you whole. It wouldn’t surprise me if there were some fucking vampire butterfly down there waiting to be dredged out of my nightmares and into reality in suburban Perth.)

Anyway, nobody wanted to stray far is my point even if there weren’t many people elsewhere preventing them. I’m assuming that people were able to walk and carry what they needed with them even if they had no pack animals for the first 60,000 to 65,000 years. I am not at all certain that anyone would want to claim ancestry back that far but there have been studies in the UK which have shown descendants of people buried in medieval graveyards in an English village still living locally. You might remember Julian Richards’ BBC series Meet the Ancestors which covered this. I remember the series mostly for the anthropologist who did the facial reconstructions who kept coming back every time anyone on telly wanted a facial reconstruction and they methods she used changing from modelling clay to computer graphics.

Adam Rutherford in his book A Brief History of Everyone Who has Ever Lived said that we’re all related to one another anyway, at least everyone in Europe. I think that’s what he said anyway. It’s a while since I read it and I can’t find my copy to revise so I might have to issue a correction once I’ve had a chance to read the relevant chapters again. Since we all have two parents, four grandparents, eight great-grandparents, sixteen great-grandparents and so on, the number of ancestors doubling with every generation, it takes surprisingly little time before we find that any two people in the country have the same random ancestor. It’s not quite Six Degrees of Separation, or your Bacon Number or your Erdős number but somewhere in the past 600 years it’s very likely that the same person will crop up in the family trees of both me and my wife and we come from very different parts of the country.

Now this is a bit of a contradiction, given what I said earlier about people tending to stay in the same part of the world but even so, some people chose to move or were forced to move for work, or to avoid famine, imprisonment, oppression or just because they were a bit more restless than the norm. Whatever, it seems that if you come from one part of the country then you come from all parts of the country and if you go back further in time, then you come from all parts of Europe, Asia and the Middle East. Everybody essentially comes from everywhere. That’s not the same as saying that we are rootless and it’s the need to feel rooted to a place or to find our family’s place in the world that the amateur genealogist does their thing.

I’ve mentioned the urge to go beyond where we are geographically. Gene Roddenbury’s “Space, the final frontier” line is one with which nearly all of us have grown up. That urge to boldly go is not one with which I am personally familiar. I’m too comfortable where I am now, although I do like standing at the counter in a cafe in Venice with an espresso doppio hearing but not really understanding the conversations going on around me. Some of us are explorers and without them we wouldn’t have ever left Africa and ended up all over the world.

As well as the physical explorers, there are the people who have to explore the limits of our understanding of the world. The theorists who come up with new ideas and the experimentalists and engineers who then have come up with ways of testing those ideas, sifting facts and sticking them together. It’s not just scientists and engineers. There are artists and poets and philosophers and athletes and teachers and even priests continually pushing beyond what we know and what we have achieved and showing us that the limits are just a little further away than we had thought.

And in spite of the wonder of it all, the unceasing expansion of What We Know and What We Can Do there are still countless arseholes who can’t see the value in any of it. If you can’t stick a price tag on it then it’s worthless, they think. And if you can put a price tag on it, then it better be a small one unless they are setting the price, in which case add a couple of zeroes before you get to the decimal point. And the people from Over There can’t come Over Here because this is Ours and We don’t want Them because they look different, have funny ideas, smell odd, eat the wrong food and will use up all Our Stuff. It’s all bollocks.

If someone is telling you that a third party is not One of Us, have a look at that person with some criticality. Do we share the same values? How much do we really have in common? Do they express their values in actions you find acceptable? I don’t like the politics of class, really, but I understand why class politics has its place. I’m not a fan of nationalism, in spite of being very proudly Scottish. The history of nationalism is not a happy one, especially in the 20th century. Going back to the start of this paragraph, if someone is telling me that someone is not one of us based on their race, ethnicity, religious beliefs, cultural practices or anything else and yet I have more in common with that third party based on values, aspirations, fellow-feeling, economic status and physical proximity then fuck it, the Us is me and that third party not me and, just for a random example Vote Leave, Leave.EU and Jacob Rees-Sodding-Mogg.

There’s a book in this. There are several, in fact. There are political manifestos and campaigns and all sorts and if we ever find a new kind of normal when all the travel and social restrictions are lifted, I hope I’ll have some to sell. I’ve proven already that I lack the concentration and organizational skills to write more than random, ranting blog posts myself. There will be a life after Covid19 and it will be different. If we allow the politics of Them and Us to continue, it will be a narrower, sadder, much, much stupider life than it could be. This emergency has shown that wherever borders have been drawn, we need to co-operate across them. There really isn’t a Them. We need a more inclusive approach to everything.

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Twelve Angry Men*

So, how are you dealing with this unrelenting stream of shit? My Twitter stream has almost ceased to mention anything if it’s not related to coronavirus, social isolation, lots and lots of dead people, crap policing and clapping for the NHS. Last weekend, there was a brief break in the Twitter weather and there was a lot of silliness, #Caturday posts, hashtag games and all sorts of other nonsense but that seems to have passed and we’re now back to Angry Twitter and nothing does anger quite as unremittingly as Twitter after a couple of weeks of confinement.

Anger can be a useful emotion. It can be a driver for necessary change, and God knows we need that. The thing is I don’t have room for anger right now, I’m too busy dealing with fear and trying to avoid despair. I saw a couple of posts yesterday, this one from Siena Rodgers:

…and another from Carole Cadwallader:

…and to be honest, I don’t find either of them helpful right now. The former implies that anyone who doesn’t feel the same as she does just doesn’t understand what is going on or is somehow a moral failure. The latter thinks we’re just lazy.

We’re not. For the most part, we’re terrified, or we’re anxious for the safety of ourselves, our friends and family, or we’re confused or we’re just fed up because we’ve been stuck indoors for what feels like months when spring has finally decided to show up. It’s a really bad idea at the best of times to tell people how to feel, or to dismiss someone who doesn’t feel the same way as you do as lazy or inattentive.

It’s not that I’m content with the way our government has dealt with things, or with the way some of the media has held them to account on our behalf. I’m really not that impressed with the parliamentarians who haven’t done that much to do their job either. However, I just don’t have the bandwidth for it. I have been indoors shielding from this sodding virus for almost two weeks now. I can’t go for a run – which would be my usual mechanism for dealing with stress or distress – because even if social distancing measures were relaxed, I could still contract the virus and end up in Addie’s or Papworth.

There is nothing I can do to change our government’s woeful lack of preparedness for this emergency. I’m not going to get angry about that. There is nothing I can do to ensure that the NHS, the people working in social care, driving buses, delivering food, working in supermarkets, or fulfilling any of the hundred other vital roles in our society get the PPE they need right now and I’m not going to feel guilty about that. I am going to remain grateful that they are there. I will certainly make sure that I don’t forget the work they have done in extraordinarily difficult circumstances when I next come to vote.

And I need to remember not to allow my resentment at being told how to feel by people who don’t know me nor even know that I exist turn into anger at them. Life’s too fucking short as it is.

*Women can be angry too. I only borrowed the title for a blogpost.

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Pie And Chips

I know that as an athlete I really need to have a nutritious diet. It’s important to have the correct balance of carbohydrates, fats, proteins, salts and micronutrients to fuel performance during and sustain recovery between sessions. That’s all well and good but I am an afflete sometimes what I really, really want is a pie and chips.

The previous post about chocolate really should have been a clue to my attitude to food. Food isn’t just fuel. I’ve written before about the complex relationships some of us have with food. I enjoy it – cooking, thinking about it, preparing it, even peeling potatoes. Food for me is a celebration and how do you celebrate something as mundane as getting to the end of a Monday? Pie and chips.

It wasn’t even a good pie and chips. It was a dodgy chip shop pie and really ordinary chips but it hasn’t really been a very good Monday, as far as Mondays go. A better day would have meant I might have been more inclined to make some pastry, blind bake the bottom while I stewed some beef and onion before assembling the pie. Double- or even triple-cooking the chips so that the insides are fluffy and the outsides are crispy? A task for another day when I’m not knackered from work and then training.

And there’s the thing. If you’re serious about your training and performance (or you’re just not fit enough for what’s on the plan) then you’re going to be completely spannered at the end of the session. The last thing you can really cope with is putting together much at all. I had planned some grilled chicken accompanied by puy lentils and spinach tonight but leaving circuits with Mary I knew I was too tired to cook even that much. The chip shop would be open and they would sell me a sad pie and reasonable chips and I could at least fill my stomach with cheering food if not exactly good food. Sometimes that’s all you can do.

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Desert Island Discs

What’s the soundtrack of your life?

At school it was metal like Iron Maiden and AC/DC. There was quite a lot of hell invoked for a religious boy. It was probably part of the appeal for some of the people but not for me because first of all I didn’t really notice the lyrics so much, not when the guitar sounds and rhythms were far more exciting. Secondly, if you’ve hung around Christian people much, you soon realise that hell gets a lot more attention than heaven does. So, Hell’s Bells is my first track.

Afterwards, Leo introduced me to Talking Heads, especially Stop Making Sense. There is something that will always feel comforting about sitting in the near dark listening to that album over a pair of warmed headphones. Other people’s heads can be very warming.

I discovered The Grateful Dead at university. I would work through the night on a Thursday writing an essay due at 10:00am on a Friday morning with American Beauty playing quietly on a cassette radio so as not to disturb my flatmates. I had the room at the end of a corridor on the upper storey of our student house. Darren downstairs would either be sleeping the sleep of the dead or awake himself. The room next to mine was empty, I think. I would keep myself going by stopping every hour to light a menthol More and wait for the sun to come up before I headed in to town to hand the essay in. They weren’t good essays.

I bought two CDs before I ever bought a CD player. One was the soundtrack to Ally McBeal because… Well, I don’t really remember why except perhaps I really fancied her. The other was First of a Million Kisses. I mentioned this to Eddi Reader on Twitter once and she was kind enough to Tweet me back. She said that they’d explicitly intended it to be released on vinyl. I think she said that anyway. I was so astonished to have her reply to me at all that I may be misremembering what she’s said. Perfect is still one of my absolutely favourite songs.

I bought a CD of Kind of Blue not long after I moved in with Jane. I listened to it first one night over headphones like I did with Stop Making Sense in Leo’s bedroom 15 years before. It was late evening, dark outside and I was sitting at the dining table while my partner was watching television with her sister. I think my life changed because nothing else sounded the same after that. Nearly everything sounded too simple and not quite good enough. Thrust was all the right kind of funky though.

In order to find something interesting enough, I started to dig through J S Bach because that’s what you do. Once you’ve done the whole Toccata and Fugue in D Minor thing and got that out of your system, pretty quickly you fall into the Matthew Passion and you will never, ever climb out. You could be quite happy there for ever as well as long as someone tosses Thomas Tallis’ 40 part motet Spem in Alium in there after you.

I heard the Tallis Scholars sing that in Beverley Minster one night and I don’t think I have ever quite recovered. The moment all forty voices come in together hit me like an old girlfriend’s slap. The choristers were all around us hidden in galleries and spaces above our heads. If nobody tells you what to expect, if nobody’s there to nudge you and say, “Wait for it, wait for it, wait for it… NOW!” then you’re going to leave a changed person.

That’s a little out of sequence. It should have come after Perfect. 

My friend Alison threw parties in Oxford where as part of the evening’s entertainment she would sing Tom Lehrer’s Poisoning Pigeons in the Park with piano accompaniment by Ian. Some of the best fun I have ever had.

Last track is My Baby Just Cares For Me. Nina Simone’s song was what we played as we left the Registrar’s Office when Anne and I got married. It wasn’t strictly true that I didn’t care about cars and races but compared to Anne, even McLaren in their pomp were as mud to be scraped from the bottom of an icky, sticky shoe.

That’s nine but I’m having Nina Simone as my luxury only to play that one song and Anne’s Night’s Masque trilogy as my book. Another cheat because they are three single volumes but I’m getting a special single volume binding just for these cheating purposes. If that’s not allowed then I’ll have Vikram Seth’s A Suitable Boy so I can live with those characters for as long as I’m on the island.

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It’s About Nothing

How do you talk about nothing with nothing but words? A spot of floccinaucinihilipilification. I’m not talking about zero. That’s just a number in an integer series between -1 and 1. I’m talking about nothing. The noise of no hands clapping. A tree standing in the woods and not falling down. A bear not shitting in the woods. Theresa May’s chance of getting a Brexit bill passed. You know. Nothing.

I was listening to the podcast of In Our Time about Samuel Beckett on the way home tonight and one of Beckett’s concerns was to reduce the role of language to nothing. Apparently. Maybe I misunderstood that. I should probably go back and listen again and do more reading but I had a blog post to write and it was either going to be about this or about fantasy and I think we’re all much happier that it’s about this tonight.

I have tried that form of meditation called mindfulness recently. Sitting quietly, listening to my breath entering and leaving my body. It’s not an easy thing to do especially if you are used to having thoughts zipping around your head like flies round a summer lampshade. When I try to meditate and focus on my breathing I might begin to hear the high-frequency zizzle of a dried-up bogie about to fall free inside my nostril. It’s distracting. No wonder my thoughts begin to wander.

A good Catholic boy like me would have meditated many a time on the Five Joyful Mysteries, the Five Sorrowful Mysteries and the Five Glorious Mysteries. Maybe he would have just made the attempt anyway. A middle-aged former altar boy can’t remember what they all are and hasn’t even thought about them for more than 30 years.

Nothing is a pretty good description of how much I understand any of this as well as how much I remember from my religious education. I’m not afraid of nothing in the same way I am of infinity. When I was very young I could give myself wasp-terrors by simultaneously counting quickly and slowly. It’s easy to say “don’t do that then” but once you’ve done it you can’t stop doing it, like thinking about pink elephants when you’re supposed to be thinking about nothing.

I should go and find some time to rest now. Is the dark unconsciousness of sleep before dreams the closest thing we have to nothing? I’d think about that but I’m going to have to try not to think about anything at all.

And breathe.

*zizz*

Bugger.

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The Internet Is Full Of Trouble

Yet another statement of the bleedin’ obvious, I know but bear with me. Way back then, in the long ago, when the internet was all static pages of text about particle physics and Terry Pratchett, it seemed to be that it was all about having new and interesting experiences at 56 kilobytes per second, or thereabouts. One of the happiest sounds I knew was a modem handshaking with the world. I remember getting my first email account at St Andrews in about 1988 before the internet was even a thing. I know that I didn’t use it much. I saw everyone else I knew with an email account every day anyway.

I used to read stories in the Grauniad about how the internet – now it was invented – was going to change everything. We would all be able to talk to one another, there would be no more barriers to communication and it would all be simply marvellous. Well then, that turned out to be one of those wishes about which we really should have thought twice. We can now all talk at one another, there seem to be no barriers to any fucking communication and wouldn’t it be simply marvellous if some people just fucked the fuck off?

I don’t think anybody imagined that neo-Nazis would get an internet connection too. It was unanticipated as the superabundance cat pictures. Controlling the media is a basic totalitarian tactic. Our political masters would love to be able to do the same but they lack the commitment to do it in a thoroughgoing fashion. A cynic or conspiracy theorist would say either that they already do control both the media and the messages on it, or that the owners of the media already control the politicians to a greater or lesser extent.

We all know how important the internet has become. Our body politic is a cyborg now and we can’t be sure where some of the signals controlling it originate.

What prompted all of this wasn’t politics but personal relationships. I remember having an absolutely wonderful time when I was single on the internet. Looking back, I was using my privilege as a middle-class, white man but I hope I was always respectful when I went out on a date. My wife and I met on a dating site well over a decade ago, on the forums first and then in person. I don’t think we matched with one another but we got on very well when we met up so sometimes those algorithms must have been talking mince.

I don’t think things are as easy now for people. I hear horror stories from my friends on dating sites of shitty behaviour from shitty people. When I were a lad and Shep were a pup and it was all fields round here we used to view internet dating forums and the like as just an extension of the social sphere and the usual social norms would apply. There were always arseholes of course but they were small in number, easily identified and isolated and we could look after one another. No real man would ever have identified himself as “involuntarily celibate” for example. The most we would admit would be a bit of a dry spell but it was all going to be fine. We were on a dating site after all.

Now we have toxic masculinity. The things which were once private – the domestic violence, the gaslighting, the belittling, the objectification, the denigration, dehumanising – now have a public outlet. The small men doing huge damage to wives, sisters, mothers and children can share what they do with other small men.

I’m not sure what I wanted to achieve this evening. I seem to have spent the last hour or so remembering how wonderful things were in the good old days and how fucking awful things are now. The best thing about the internet now is that like minds can now connect across the world much more easily than they ever have in the past. The trouble is that that is also the worst thing about the internet.

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Whereof Thou Knowest Naught…

…thereof thou shouldst keep schtum.

I have kept this a Brexit-free zone of late. It’s all so shitty and unnecessary. If ever I met David Cameron and I got to the front of the queue of people wanting to give him a piece of their mind I’m not entirely sure I’d know where to start. Maybe he’d give me that look, you know the one that says, “Oh fuck, not again, not one more dead pig comment. Not one more of you fuckers. I’ve only just built up the courage to go for a pint of milk and a copy of The Beano. I just want my Beano. Please.” Well now, David, I just want my EU citizenship.

Had he been able to tell his back benchers to sod off and sell their constituents on the idea that the Conservative Party was a better bet for the future than the shit-stirring, shit-spraying, swivel-eyed loons of UKIP then we’d all now be able to tell funny stories about pig fucking instead of wondering at the destruction of a polity.

The trouble is that the lunatic fringe of the Tories had a comb-over and became the hair apparent.

That needs work. Sorry.

So David fucked off to his really nice shed and Teresa was given the impossible job of taking the country out of the EU while keeping our businesses, trading and security partners, froth-job politicians from all parties, the 33 or 34 million voters who actually bothered to vote on the subject, and half a dozen newspaper owners happy. It was never going to happen.

While the Conservative government has been doing whatever it’s been doing – screaming into bins, I don’t know – the Labour opposition has been screaming into different bins, some of them containing Jewish people. They haven’t actually done anything to change the course of events. I know that they would like to think of themselves as kings and queens of the political surf, hanging No 10 off the front of the board. The reality is that they’ve gone through one wipeout after another. They can’t maintain a significant poll lead against arguably the most inept government in post-war history.

So, the day after the government lost its Brexit vote catastrophically, Jeremy couldn’t get a majority in the Commons to agree that they have no confidence in the government. Labour supporters keep telling me that I don’t understand the overall strategy. I don’t think there is one. There certainly isn’t a sense of anyone reaching out to build the alliances they need to overturn the government’s policies. They can’t reach out to other strands in their own party.

We have the two biggest parties in Parliament more concerned about internal party matters than the good of the country and it’s all bollocks.

In the meantime, 29th March is getting closer. We don’t have a plan to leave we can even get close to agreeing amongst ourselves never mind put before our new partners in Europe and elsewhere. Arseholes are making money out of this. You know they are. While they are, they don’t give a fuck about the rest of us. That’s the real Brexit dividend.

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Saturday Night Before Sunday Morning

Blogging every day is leading me towards even more statements of the bleedin’ obvious. I’m really scraping around for subject matter today. Wimpole Estate parkrun’s 6th anniversary celebrations were this morning so that might be a good place to start.

I haven’t really had much to do with The Best parkrun in Cambridgeshire (as decided by me) for the last few months. I wouldn’t have wanted to miss the birthday run though. In addition to the usual huge turnout of marshals and finish line volunteers, there were pacers running even times from 20 minutes up to 40 minutes plus me running for 1:00 and walking for 1:00. I had two runners with me right to the end, one of whom posted a nine minute PB while the other managed a course PB. We ran, or ran-walked or walked and then we had cake. What can I say? It was a parkrun but with a few people in fancy dress and a couple of silly hats. A special shout out to the father and daughter in camo gear, Bergens and big boots. That was a rather strong performance.

Now it’s Saturday evening and I’m contemplating tomorrow’s long run along the Roman Road. I need to fuel it with a good meal tonight and breakfast tomorrow morning. One of those early nights I was talking about yesterday will help. It all feels a bit odd, like I’m waiting to go back to school or something. I’m not going to do my sodding homework though.

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