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It's People's Vote Time Again!

It can't be the People's Vote March time again, can it? Surely we just had one . . . I distinctly remember. It was sunny, we took a sandwich, we spent ages kettled (not in an aggressive way, all very friendly) outside the Army and Navy club . . . Oh, so it isn't going to be an annual event? It just feels that way? It just feels as if the awful BREXIT ROULETTE wheel can keep on rolling and the ball rattling around and around, up she goes, down they go, up they go, down she goes, and never come to rest on the red or the black, while Labour keeps on hoping for the worst (because the worst coming to the worst will be Jeremy's opportunity, he's convinced of that) while the Greens and the Lib Dems and the Good Tories jump up and down gamely on the sidelines, repeating You're all mad! Completely vicious, selfish, reckless and mad! (true, but is it useful?).

And hardly anyone in parliament seems to even know where the Northern Irish Border actually is, let alone that it was a bloody battlefield, town by town, street by street, house by house, before the GFA . . . . And this staggering, blind-drunk squabble between Tory and Tory will just go on. Forever. Because not even the best of them has the courage to remember the oath (I think it's an oath) they took (which I phone-snapped on somebody's placard): and put country before Party . . .

But anyway . . . We were there, and I can tell you two things about this event. First, there really were A LOT of people. If there were 100,000 the first time, I think 700,000 is a conservative (sorry . . . ) estimate for Saturday 20th. Where's it all going to end? Second is that nobody we talked to (and we were volunteering, so we talked to a lot of people) believed the march, whether seven hundred thousand or seven million strong, would make any difference. Not a hope. Not the slightest bit of difference!, they all said, grimly cheerful. The health service will collapse, the lorries will be backed up in squalid holding pens to the Midlands. Stockpiles of food and essential medicines must be gathered for this disaster, but it's "the will of the people", and though we ARE the people, and we strongly suspect ruthless personal profiteering (and also cowardice), is what's really keeping BREXIT on its rattling track, we're here without any hope. Because we had to be able to say we tried.

The sky was an eerie cobalt blue, the October sunlight was glaring. The march was just as good-humoured but more gruelling, from the sheer press of bodies; the police were wonderful. We shared a tortilla sandwich as before, on a different kerbstone, and we had early satsumas this time, not late Valencias, but still Spanish; not so sweet, but juicy, with a lovely mellow yellow coloured skin . . . (old soldiers march on their stomachs). Parliament Square was impossible, so we abandoned the speeches, cut our losses and had a pint at the Greencoat Boy.

very nice pint, but pricely.

Alastair Campbell's March

Mixed Media

Killing Eve? Blood-soaked bit of fluff. Oh, did I just liken that that cool, kinky "Look! Female Leads!" thriller to a used tampon? Shame on me, because I certainly watched it, and enjoyed it, and was charmed by both the leads, and besides I thought it was (also) totally inane, & tampons (though they may not be the greatest solution to monthly bleeds), are not.

The Wire Just as gripping, & more amazing visually second time round. Better with the English subtitles on, because then you can (if you are English, that is), look around you and stuff. Entirely male viewpoint, w. good female police and legal characters, who don't get the awful, awful Jane Tennison/Helen Mirren treatment (and therefore not true to life, of course!). Getting near the end now, and the darkness deepens. There's no such thing as "special dead". Last time Omar was my favourite (isn't he everyone's?) Like the coolest of the 7 Samurai, Omar don't scare. This time I'm in love with Kima Greggs (Sonja Sohn).

Black Honey/PINS At the Concorde, on Dinah's birthday. Down on Brighton seafront, in spectacular black torrential rain, was a good place to be last Sunday week, for old sake's sake. I was feeling like death, bad cold or flu, but even so. However I liked the support best. I thought PINS were great. Black Honey a bit ordinary, but competent. Pins means legs, I should explain.

Dreams of Maryam Tair: Blue Boots and Orange Blossom. Mhani Alaoui I don't really like magical realism. It's Mystification: it's decorative, but it changes nothing, and in fact ends up reinforcing the status quo (as indeed happens here), despite its "literary radicals" rep. But Dreams of Maryam Tair is pretty hard to resist. All about Morocco, ancient and modern, both at the same time: set mainly in Casablanca, and curated by and ageless but certainly ancient Scherazade herself, the story of a young girl, child of rape (her mother got raped a lot, reading between the stuff about demons, when she and her young husband were picked up for being generally "progressive" in the early eighties), who grows up to be, with her beloved bicycle . . . well, say no more, it's just an enchanting read.

Oh No!, Roland Barthes has been murdered by a laundry van! And he was carrying on his person the dreadful secret of The Seventh Function Of Language. Mon Dieu!, if that awful formula were to get into the wrong hands!!!! Hilarious. Sexy, The name dropping is relentless, everybody and everything involved, however tangentially, in the soi-disant "linguistic turn" gets dragged into the plot, (including the Bologna station bombing, but who cares about good taste). The feminists are there, of course, as Bitch Goddesses; of course (there is no other role a woman can play in the power games of academia). Fear not. You don't have to know a single thing about semiotics, or post-structuralism, or anything. Just relax and enjoy the caper.

9 Million Litres Of Water

The Traveller's Joy (a rescue plant from the pavement cracks outside our front door, two years ago) that tangles all over the holly and the Bonsai Pine, has flowered for the first time, and is already fading. The scaffolding has finally gone . . . just when I was getting used to having a climbing gym outside my high window, and a (fragmentary) sea view from the top of it. We are solar-paneled, we are double-glazed, the garden is restored to its usual level of untidiness, thank god. In theory I love the summer, but this love is based on the romance of childhood, the end of the educational year, when you down-tools, walk away and abandon your desk as if forever, which I never lost, because my mother was a teacher (until Peter retired). Not so keen on the programme of works idea.

The Consultations

To business. There are two UKGov "Consultations" you need to respond to, before 25 October, if you are at all interested in stopping the Tory Party driven, corrupt, fracking industry's assault on democracy; and poisonous industrialization of the countryside. Not to mention the dire reality of climate change. (No point in mentioning that, because Tories just think "I'm rich, I hate foreigners and and I hate my children, so why should i care?)

One consultation asks you to agree that the construction, drilling and operation of a fracking well, (or any number of fracking wells) for exploration and production of oil or gas should be treated as a "permitted development" (like a small garden shed, for instance) that doesn't require planning permission, so that local government and local communities will have no say in the decision, and the plans to frack can come later, with no further inconvenience! Should "stimulation" be necessary!.

The other asks you to agree that the construction, drilling and operation of a fracking well, (or any number of fracking wells) should be treated as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project, (like a new railway or motorway network; or a nuclear power station); so that local government and local communities will have no say in the decision.

You can see why these two very different and on the face of it contradictory approaches have equal appeal to UKgov.

Unfortunately, since the wording of the questions is very confusing, the gov doesn't offer any hand-holding, but Frack Free United has useful walkthroughs here:

Meanwhile, at Balcombe, at Horse Hill, and at Brockham, oil production in the Weald Basin slips by, under the radar. Still industrialising the countryside, still corrupting our local democracy, still blighting clean energy development, but it's not fracking, just a few unauthorised donkeys nodding in the woods; it's not new bad news and though you just keep on saying no, there has to be triage.


Only 13 pretty little newt infants raised in captivity this year, but more fun, owing to the fact that our wildlife pond had become such a murky puddle, in the weeks of semi-drought, we decided to keep them in a tank until they were almost grown (they leave the water at the end of August or so), and discovered the delights of feeding them. They certainly knew what to do with a cloud of brine shrimp! Only two nights sleeping out in Sussex, and only 10 in Brittany, but we got to Ouessant (Ushant) on the last day trip of the year, which we've never managed before, and the sea voyages there and back; very fine too. Starry nights which I'd been missing badly . . . except for Mars, always managing to be visible even in the thick rainless cloud of this summer in England, baleful red-orange dot, like the Eye of Sauron peering above the horizon at the bottom of our garden.

Mixed Media

The Labour Conference was good value; the Tories promising, but dull so far, after that early amusing data breach. I'm reading the Bible again (which I do, periodically, always the King James, because it's full of quotations), and discovering again how the famous, marvellous, life-changing OT (as we call it) is largely boring bits, lists, unaccountable repetition of huge chunks of sartorial instruction, nit-picking and misplaced attention. Look at Joseph in Egypt, so famous for those clever prophetic dreams. Ha! What about that Pharoah, (whoever he was)? A CEO, PM, Great Dictator, king, chief, president, whatever . . . who actually listened to the commonsense advice, and actually acted on it. Unheard of. This does not happen. That's the real wonder tale. But maybe it gets better. Of course I haven't got to Psalms yet. Did you know that Sarah (Abraham's chief wife, remember) seems to have also been his sister? Did you know women like Rachel had property of their own?

I've also decided to read Virginia Woolf again (=the Joanna Russ connection) & thanks to the modern miracle of epub, I can embark on The Lot, from The Voyage Out to Early Journals (pub1990). The Voyage Out conjures up my own youth (because that's when I last read it), in its lovely, wavering, acutely observed Impressionist style, but then a pall descends on everything, because I know someone's going to die, and there's going to be nothing else to say. Night and Day is where I am now, and it goes on a bit. On and on and on. What strikes me most is the vital, unthinking, ritual shibboleth of meal times; especially tea. The religion that outlasted religion. I suppose it comes of having servants. The servants dictate the household routine, and it's built around meals, so that's the law everybody has to obey. Ah, well. Ever onward.

Farewell and adieu to you fair Spanish ladies
Farewell and adieu to you ladies of Spain
For we're under orders to set sail for old England
And we may never see you fair Spanish Ladies again

We'll rant and we'll roar like true British sailors
We'll rant and we'll roar all across the salt seas
Until we strike soundings in the Channel of Old England
From Ushant to Scilly is thirty-five leagues

9 million litres? That's how much water is used for one frack. The contaminated waste water can then, in the US, be used to irrigate crops. Not over here: not yet. But it's not a good idea to drink it!