3 January 2021

And a Happy New Year to you all! As usual, we were fast asleep long before midnight and therefore missed, apparently, a smattering of rockets and fireworks and someone playing the bagpipes in the village. That was a narrow escape then.

It’s been a decent enough week – cold to be sure and we even had some snow. A few flakes. Four, I think.

Now that the cold weather has arrived, Penelope has resurrected her bird feeders which she has hung in the hawthorne tree at the top of the path. My goodness! It didn’t take long for our freezing feathered friends to find them – the airspace surrounding the tree is busier than Heathrow and Luton airports combined. Dozens of small birds swarm the tree waiting their turn at the feeding station while dozens of larger birds, rooks and wood pigeons mainly, saunter around underneath the feeders waiting for the little birds to shake loose some seed for them.

It’s even more exciting when the resident grey squirrel arrives to climb the tree and hang upside-down underneath the feeder, shaking and scrabbling for all he/she is worth – manna from heaven for the larger birds on the ground. It’s nice to see them cooperating and sharing – there’s plenty for everyone and they all patiently wait their turn without any squabbling. We could learn a lot.

I am sure many of you celebrated the arrival of the New Year in grand style and I hope you had a great time. I was shocked, however, by the photo of Annabelle staggering about clutching a full glass of champagne! What were her parents thinking?

This is, of course, a particularly poignant New Year for those of us in the UK. On the one hand, we are delighted to see the back of 2020 having endured the disastrously shambolic incompetence of our government’s Covid response for the past nine months. Boris’s actions look good only when compared with the benchmark set by Trump.

Unfortunately, that world-beating incompetence is set to continue – our area has just been shunted into a “new and improved” Tier 4 which is, essentially, a full lockdown. Cases have gone through the roof – nearly a thousand deaths every day at the moment – and this is before we begin to see the marvellous effects of the “relaxed” Christmas guidelines. It’s always too little, too late with Boris.

Friday of course also brought our final, final, final exit from the European Union, an event many of us hoped never to witness. Never mind the lies told during and since the referendum, the government’s current swathe of lies is perhaps even more deceitful. Boris is even lying about his lies now.

I have always suspected that Boris knew Brexit would be a disaster for the country but that was the horse to which he hitched his wagon in his ruthless ambition to become Prime Minister and, in that sense, it worked for him. And, he’ll be gone in three or four years [I think even he is quietly realising that he’s not up to the job – certainly the papers and his party have more or less come to that view – and, in any case, the job isn’t much fun] and won’t have to deal with the fall out once people figure out how much worse off they’ve become.

People are struggling to sound enthusiastic about the “benefits” of Brexit, other than we have “taken back control.” One of the loonier Brexiteers, Mark Francois, suggested that the civil service should urgently be set the task of identifying all the changes we need to make to truly set ourselves free from the yoke of EU oppression. Hmm. They’ve had more than four years since the referendum – you would have thought they would have identified what “taking back control” meant by now.

Even the Daily Mail, one of the more vociferous cheerleaders for Brexit, is clearly struggling. This was their handy guide for their readers on what will change.

I am struggling to find anything “good” on this list.

As an antidote to the misery of Covid and Brexit, you might enjoy Death to 2020 on Netflix. We watched it the other evening and thought it was quite amusing. (If you don’t laugh, you’ll cry). It was put together by Charlie Booker and the Black Mirror team and, as a summary of the past year, it’s pretty good. As one character put it when asked to describe 2020: “I’d say it was a train wreck and a shit show but that would be unfair to trains and shit.” Some amusing performances from a galaxy of stars.

An article in the Guardian has a good summary of the view from Europe – the headline says it all: The UK has been taken over by gamblers, liars, clowns and their cheerleaders.         

[It is] wrong to believe peoples and states can permanently free themselves from each other, or take decisions without considering the consequences for their citizens and partners. ‘Take back control’ is a nationalist, populist slogan that ignores the reality of an interdependent world … Our maritime neighbour will be much weakened. – Jean-Dominique Giuliani

[Much of the British media] were complicit, constantly trampling on fairness and facts”, leaving Britain “captured by gambling liars, frivolous clowns and their paid cheerleaders. They have destroyed my Europe, to which the UK belonged as much as France or Germany. –  Nikolaus Blome, Der Spiegel

Interesting article in the Washington Post this week comparing Johnson to Henry VIII. Both pursued reckless, selfish policies – Henry divorcing Catherine of Aragon and subsequently breaking with Rome, Johnson backing Brexit as the easiest way to achieve his ambition of becoming Prime Minister without any concern for the after-effects. Henry VIII, at least, had the  “legitimate” desire to sire a male heir to avoid potential civil war after his death; Johnson has nothing but his own self-interests at heart.

So, 2021 brings hope along with sadness. Hope that our turn to be vaccinated will come before Boris and the government manage to kill us all and profound sadness at the loss of our European status. Sadness that my grandchildren won’t have the opportunity to travel freely, to work and live in other European countries, sadness that the racist, “gambling liars, frivolous clowns and their paid cheerleaders” persuaded so many people that we would be better off as an insignificant speck of an island drifting aimlessly across a vast turbulent ocean rather than in the warm embrace of our close neighbours.

You could not make it up.

Meanwhile, keep happy, keep smiling, keep isolating as much as you can, wear a facemask when you go out and keep your distance. And keep safe.

Lots of love to you all,

Greg  

 

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