Greg's Occasional News & Views

10 September 2017

Last Saturday was the Moreton Pinkney Gardening Club’s 75th Annual Horticultural Show. Everyone is encouraged to enter produce, flowers, baked goods, etc. into the competition which raises a bit of money for the village. Last year we were away in China when it took place although I did bake a moderately mediocre loaf of sourdough which I asked a couple of neighbours to enter on my behalf. They did but sadly it failed to win any awards although they said it was very tasty and they had thoroughly enjoyed its consumption.

This year, since we are “at home” we were able to participate more fully. This time Ms Playchute entered a variety of fruit and vegetables as well as a trio of caramelised onion and goat cheese tarts. Once again, I entered a loaf of my sourdough which was a bit better than last year’s effort.

You can imagine our surprise when we went over to see the results of the judging on Saturday afternoon.  Five First Place certificates, two second place awards and two thirds. Wow! I reckon Pen would have also won another First Prize for her onions if she had read the entry criteria more carefully, i.e., she needed four onions and she only displayed three. And one of the first price certificates was indeed for my sourdough which I will, from now on, refer to as my “Award-Winning Sourdough”!

After scooping up our fruit and vegetables, onion and goat cheese tarts and the Award Winning Sourdough loaf, we set off to Nick and Lucy’s for a barbeque which turned out to be absolutely splendid. It wasn’t exactly baking but the weather was fine and there was a plethora of tasty bites to eat. We were joined by their friends Boz and Vita who live across the road and their six year old Sophie who has been Annabelle’s best friend since the day they were born. The kids had a blast running around and we casually munched our way through a selection of finely barbequed bits and pieces. All topped off with Penelope’s Plum Frangipane and ice cream which was pretty damn fine. And you can be sure I was not shy about informing the assembled audience of the “award-winning sourdough” I produce from time to time.

This week’s episode is being prepared a bit earlier than usual as we shall be “entertaining” again this weekend – our favourite diplomat is back in the UK, this time attending a conference in Oxford. He clearly enjoyed himself so much the last time he stayed that he has re-booked the Guest Wing for the couple of days he is able to be with us. Unfortunately, the weather doesn’t look great but I’m sure we’ll find something to entertain and amuse us during his visit.

It’s becoming increasingly difficult to keep up with all the Brexit nonsense. As the negotiations continue and as the British position becomes increasingly far-fetched and fanciful, it’s only the most rabid of Brexiteers who continue to insist that it’s all going to be great as we journey towards the promised land of milk and honey.

Nick Cohen’s article in the Guardian last weekend was very good, highlighting perhaps the largest fantasy that the loony Brexiteers still cling to – that the Brexit negotiations would be easy mainly because of this perception that the UK is essential to the EU. Given the many concessions the UK has secured over the years over the terms of its membership, I can see how some folks would imagine that the EU would just roll over and give the UK everything it wants. Unfortunately, that doesn’t (surprise, surprise) seem to be the case.

Interesting (to me, at any rate) that two cartoonists this week used the same imagery to portray the fanciful aspirations of those promoting the wonderful world of post-Brexit Britain – unicorns and flying pigs.

There have been a number of Brexit “position” papers published (or leaked) this week. The one, not surprisingly, which is getting the most attention, is the position paper on what post-Brexit immigration might look like. It won’t surprise you to learn that the British position is that the UK must impose severe restrictions on any foreigners wishing to come to the UK for work or study or even to join other family members.

In the same breath, though, the government continues to promote the message that the UK wants frictionless trade with Europe and a frictionless border between the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland. I do wonder sometimes when the penny will finally drop – free trade with the EU is inexorably bound to free movement of labour. Since it seems the only thing the UK government is insistent upon is the need to restrict free movement the two positions are mutually exclusive. Yet still the government continues to promote its vision of this fantasy land where everything will be wonderful.

I’ve written before how this is a government based on prejudice and dogma rather than facts or evidence. Vince Cable, current leader of the Liberal Democrats, made the accusation the other day that Theresa May had “supressed” nine papers during the period of the Coalition government that “proved” migration did not impact on jobs or wages. Why Vince is only revealing this information now is a bit of a mystery – after all, he was a member of the cabinet during the coalition. All I can say is . . . quelle surprise!

And finally . . .

A friend posted the following on Facebook. For the non-Brits amongst our readership this sort of illustrates the numerous concessions the UK has secured from the EU over the years some of which date back to the period of Thatcher. The UK already has the most preferential membership with a rebate on fees, being outside the Euro zone and outside the Shengen borderless travel zone which applies throughout the rest of the EU.

You couldn’t make it up, I swear.

Love to you all,



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