9 May 2021

It’s been an “interesting” week – very cold for the time of year, the weather people keep telling me. I know! There’ve been a couple of fairly sunny days accompanied by a chill wind which makes stopping indoors and huddling in front of the fire probably the best idea. Still, I did get out on the road for a couple of rides, one in the delightful company of our Nick.

Thankfully, the Garden Club have been scrutinising the weather reports carefully and eventually decided, reluctantly, to postpone yesterday’s Garden Club Sale and Café until later today. Good job too! The weather on Saturday was simply dreadful and, of course, due to Covid this all has to be outdoors with appropriate social distancing. Today’s looking better so it was a wise decision.

Nick came over on Thursday and he and I had a quick cycle around the neighbourhood. It was threatening rain the whole way round but thankfully we dodged the showers. Fortunately, our route took us within striking distance of The Forge in Culworth and so we had to stop for a coffee and brownie, along with about a dozen other cyclists who similarly were enroute from somewhere to somewhere else. Lovely.

As it happens, with the mileage I have been racking up on the exercise bike and out on the road, yesterday morning I cruised into Santa Cruz on my virtual Pacific Coast ride. I wish I had their weather!

Depressing batch of local election results on Thursday, including in our own constituency. The Tories have been in power in Northamptonshire forever and their “achievements” therefore are clear for all to see. They bankrupted the County Council a few years ago through a series of dodgy and corrupt property deals. This resulted in the County Council being abolished and two new unitary authorities created in an expensive reorganisation. And, you guessed it, the same old tired Tory faces have been elected to the new councils. Someone in the village did say to me at some point in the past, “If they put a monkey up for election wearing a blue rosette, it would romp home in a landslide.”

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

It is astonishing to me how so many people are prepared to cast their votes for a party led by an inveterate liar, a corrupt and incompetent misogynistic racist. I guess I just have to accept that’s now the world in which we live.

I’ve been enjoying the work of Cold War Steve on Twitter (@Coldwar_Steve) – a very clever chap.

And speaking of great “cartoonists” I was sorry to read that Steve Bell is retiring his IF political cartoon for the Guardian. Apparently, they did not renew his contract so he will be doing freelance stuff instead. (Thank goodness he’s not disappearing altogether).

There have been a scattering of articles which caught my eye this week. Firstly, Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator during the Brexit fiasco, has published his account of the negotiations with the British. Barnier is a very courteous diplomat (in contrast with the various truth-twisters he had to deal with on the British side) and his account is measured and polite. There is no disguising, however, his withering assessment of the British negotiators.

Brexit was brought about by Conservative party infighting, and by the end it had become “political piracy … They will go to any length. The current team in Downing St is not up to the challenges of Brexit nor to the responsibility that is theirs for having wanted Brexit. Simply, I no longer trust them.”

Michel Barnier, My Secret Brexit Diary

And Andrew Rawnsley’s column in last Sunday’s Guardian listed the ever-expanding allegations of corruption levelled at the Prime Minister. He suggests that the mounting accusations are becoming increasingly menacing for the PM.

It will be interesting to see (a) how long he can survive now that a number of “independent” enquiries have been launched and/or (b) whether he really cares at all about anything other than himself. It’s clear that he never really wanted to “do” the job of being Prime Minister – he just wanted to be PM. Now that it’s clear that the job actually requires some hard work, he is increasingly uninterested.

And, apparently, he can’t get by on an income of a measly £150,000 per year (with free accommodation and a redecorating budget of £30,000 per year). I suspect he will quit, possibly before the year is out, having “delivered Brexit” and the vaccination rollout but before the enquiries into his incompetence in the early stages of the pandemic and his chumocracy and cronyism are laid bare for all to see.

And while we are on the PM’s shortcomings, there was an excellent summary of the “charge sheet” against Boris Johnson by Jonathon Freedland in last Saturday’s Guardian. He lists a litany of mistakes, breaches of the ministerial code and other charges – by the end of the piece one is astonished that Johnson is still in power.

And speaking of the success that is Brexit, who could possibly have predicted that restaurants and pubs would be facing a staffing crisis as a consequence? Well, just about everyone with any brains.

I ran across two wonderful “new” words (i.e., new to me) which are particularly apt in our current climate:

Philodox (17th century): one who is entirely in love with their own opinion.
Mumpsimus (16th century): one who insists that they’re right, despite clear evidence that they are not.

Susie Dent, Twitter

And finally, did you see the article about the opening of the world’s longest pedestrian suspension bridge in Portugal? I know some folks who would not be overly keen on walking across.

And finally, finally, Happy Birthday to our Ben tomorrow and to my sister Sallie on Tuesday. Many, many happy returns!

And finally, finally, finally, finally – Happy Mother’s Day to all of those of you living somewhere where such things are celebrated today.

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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