Greg's Occasional News & Views

25 March 2018

Good morning. It’s been a tolerably tolerable week. The temperatures are certainly higher than they were a week ago – indeed, we’ve reached double figures on a couple of occasions! No rain, sleet or snow to ruin our days but the wind is still streaming in with a vengeance which makes it feel as if it’s colder than it really is. Hey, ho. Now that Spring is officially here we’re looking forward to basking in warm sunshine any day now.

We’ve had a guest for much of the week – Bertie, the cocker spaniel (part springer spaniel) from two doors down has been to stay while his parents are off enjoying the sunshine in Spain. We’ve had him to stay once before and, like all canines who come to visit, he knows that Penny is the Alpha Human around here. He follows her around like a love-struck teenager – wherever she is that’s where he needs to be too. On Friday she departed early to swim and I was left to take him for his morning constitutional. As I arose to fix my morning toast and coffee and to say hello he was only vaguely interested. When I went back upstairs to check my mail he soon started howling in despair – where or where is my sweetheart (or at least the one which lives in this house)?

Good news, bad news in the Max the Magnificent saga. He has been doing very well – putting on weight and mastering the complicated procedures involved in suckling, breathing and swallowing, all at the same time! Ben and Brex-Anna were hoping that he would be able to come home at the beginning of last week but he has continued to have the occasional Bradycardia episode which is very common in premature babies. Before he can go home he has to be free of such incidents for, I think, five days. So, each time he has an episode the clock gets reset. I know Ben and Brex-Anna are very keen to have him home (he’s more than two months old now!) but equally they know that he’s in the right place for the time being. He is, at least, free of most of the tubes and wires which have been keeping track of him.

Brexit continues to sadden and, occasionally, amuse us. The New York Times had a decent summary of the UK’s position with the headline, “In Brexit Give-and-Take, Britain Gives and the E.U. Takes.”

And, apart from all the economic and social arguments in favour of remaining in the EU, the latest skirmish with Russia over the Salisbury poisoning illustrates the point in spades. Over the last few days we’ve had both Theresa May and Boris the Clown doing the rounds of EU ministers enlisting their support for a strong response to the Russians. While at the same time telling them that (a) we don’t want to be in their stupid little club any more and (b) we certainly don’t want any of their smelly citizens coming over here.

And, in an amusing side note, the new blue British passports are, apparently, going to be produced in France! In a symbolic gesture of the UK’s “taking back control” the government decided to cave in to the loony Brexiteer’s demands that the UK should ditch the burgundy EU passports and return to the dark blue passports of the Empire.

The sound and fury that accompanied the launch of the blue passport was farcical to start with – we would have been perfectly entitled to have them printed up in that colour under EU rules had we been so inclined. We could have had them in pink, yellow or green too.

So, in spite of the frantic shouting by the Brexiteers, the burgundy passports were never obligatory. Now though, having agreed to have blue ones instead, the cheapest tender for producing them comes from a publishing outfit in France! Sacre Bleu! While shouting that the UK needs to be free to negotiate free trade agreements with other countries, the Brexiteers haven’t quite worked out that this works both ways.

To ratchet up the irony, the firm which currently produces the British passports also produces passports and identity cards for other countries. Oh, and to make matters worse, they have a French-sounding name! Quelle Merde!

As well as British passports, De La Rue boasts of producing them for Malta, Cameroon and Sierra Leone. It supplies national identity documents to 25 countries, including Malta and Sierra Leone (again) along with Senegal and Trinidad and Tobago. Case studies highlight work it has done in Qatar, the Maldives, Kuwait, Rwanda, Afghanistan, Sudan, the Seychelles, Kenya, Haiti, Fiji, Kosovo, and Guyana. 

It’s OK for the UK to negotiate marvellous new free trade treaties with all these other countries throughout the world but don’t let’s catch any of them trying to enter a trade agreement with the UK! Sadly, the Leavers just don’t get what an insignificant player the UK is in a global economy. And somehow we’re going to be better off once we leave the largest free trade network in the world.

As well as being stunningly stupid, if any further proof were needed of the racist nature of the current government one need look no further than the case of the “immigrant” being denied radiotherapy treatment by the NHS. This guy came to the UK at the same time I did, 1973. He has lived here all his adult life, worked, paid his taxes and National Insurance. But now the NHS is refusing to provide radiotherapy treatment for his prostate cancer as they argue that he is not entitled, i.e., he is not a citizen. This is precisely the position I would have been in had I not taken out UK citizenship a few years ago. I’m not often right about much of anything but even I could see the writing on the wall when this government was elected in 2010 with their rabid anti-immigrant narrative.

It is disgraceful.

Finally, the way our weather has been the last couple of weeks I can sympathise with this suggestion:

Love to you all,



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March 2018
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