Greg's Occasional News & Views

23 July 2017

It’s been a half decent week, I guess. A bit of warm sunshine, a bit of drizzle and misty rain, as well as a bit of windy wind. And while it’s been a half decent week on the weather front, it’s been another disastrous week in the unfolding drama of what a nightmare Brexit will bring. There’s been a new warning from one think tank or another almost every day. When it all does go belly-up I guess those responsible will at least have to concede that they were warned.

One of the tasks I achieved this week was to trim the Leylandi hedge we have in the back garden. Personally, I would never plant a Leylandi hedge – those of you who are familiar with them will know that it is essential to keep on top of them. Otherwise, they will rapidly overwhelm your garden (and often your neighbour’s). The one in our garden was planted by the previous owners and must be twenty to thirty years old. They kept it well trimmed but it is still an overwhelming edifice – about ten feet high and fifty feet long. To reach the top requires the erection of a scaffolding tower and to reach the middle of the top requires intricately dangerous balancing on one foot, extending the hedge trimmer as far as one can reach.

Trimming the Leylandi, though, is one of those jobs that is barely noticeable once it’s been done. Indeed, I told Pen I was going to be trimming the hedge as she went out for the afternoon. I completed the first part of the task – trimming the edge as far as I could reach, i.e., almost to the top – and then, as it was coming up to dog walking time, I had a shower. Meanwhile, Penny returned from her outing and wandered up the garden to inspect my handiwork. She came back to query what I had been doing all day as the hedge seemingly hadn’t been touched. She hadn’t even noticed the billiard table smoothness of the Leylandi and in fact was looking at our other hedge which does, indeed, still need trimming.

My work is never done, it seems!

We went on Thursday evening to the Banbury Fleapit to see the NT Live showing of Angels in America, Part One. We were absolutely blown away.

I remember watching the television series in the early 2000s and I remember how powerful it was. Live it is even more powerful, if that is possible. In the midst of the AIDS crisis and a conservative Reagan administration, New Yorkers grapple with life and death, love and sex, heaven and hell. The production was stunning with three revolving stages moving the action from the various discrete storylines seamlessly from one to the other. And, the performances were outstanding with many of the actors playing multiple parts.

Part Two is next week and I can hardly wait.

And so to the almost daily announcements of the impending doom that is Brexit. There are too many links to handle!

Firstly, experts predict widespread, damaging and pervasive effects on Britain if no agreement is reached before planned EU exit in 2019. This was published on the same day that one of the more mental Brexiteers, Liam Fox, proclaimed that no deal would be fine. He is the International Trade Secretary and he said on the radio, in response to the publication of the report, that “we can of course survive with no deal.” Of course, the Brexiteers famously claimed during the referendum that “the people” were fed up with experts who knew what they were talking about. Instead, they would rather trust the opinion of someone with no economic or trade experience to pontificate on world economics. They all seem to be suffering delusions of competence.

Next up, an academic report suggesting that the UK is ‘sleepwalking’ into food insecurity after Brexit.

The government is “sleepwalking” into a post-Brexit future of insecure, unsafe and increasingly expensive food supplies, and has little idea how it will replace decades of EU regulation on the issue.

Who cares as long as we take back control!

Perhaps one of the best lines of the week – “in David Davis [the minister responsible for exiting the EU and who is ‘in charge’ of the negotiations for the UK], Britain has a schoolboy in charge of the moon landings.”

Not all the early signs point to the Brexit secretary being a reckless bluffer who is wildly out of his depth. But most of them do.

It’s the same old story – the UK government continues to persist in a fantasy of what they expect to achieve, free trade with the EU but without all those nasty foreigners. Since that expectation is farcical, the EU negotiators are beginning to get a bit fed up. The UK government is unable to clarify its position because no one knows what it is.

British “position papers” . . . are vague summaries of problems without solutions, as if the authors are only now beginning to grasp the challenges, through the act of writing them down for the first time.

This photo sums it all up – the Europeans on the left side of the photo with all their briefing notes, position papers, legal documentation, etc. David Davies and the poor sods who actually have to do the nitty-gritty of the negotiations with no notes, no position papers, no grasp of what they’re involved in.

The Apollo 11 mission is a better metaphor than the Brexit secretary realised. It took the best part of a decade to plan. It cost billions. It was delivered by forensic expertise, not cocksure improvisation. Besides, getting to the moon was only half of the job: Nasa would not have initiated the countdown without a plan to get everyone back to Earth unharmed. Yet Davis is at the controls, already firing us out of Europe’s orbit on an undefined trajectory, with a shaky grasp of the laws of political gravity.

As I said last time, if it weren’t so serious it would be hilarious.

Finally, this from my New Yorker desk calendar this week. Apparently Penny had been looking through the calendar peeking at the upcoming cartoons. For some reason she wanted me to scan the following and let her have a copy to post on her noticeboard.

Love to you all,



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