Category Archives: Locality

Do any of them have an idea?

They’re still at it. The latest Brexit development is that the UK government wants to tell Europe how it will leave the European Union, not just when it wants to. It wants it all its own way. Nobody else’s, no other European country’s view, will do.

I don’t know how government works – if this one works at all – so I won’t comment on that. It’s enough to say that the UK populace, and much of the rest of the world, seems to be thoroughly confused at every turn by whatever the government does next. Or says next.

Although it’s probably too late to say it, it would have been better if the whole ‘leaving the EU’ thing had been left to our civil servants. At least, they don’t have axes to grind, or egos to feed.

Not like our politicians. Only the other day, one of their number was denying that such a thing as islamophobia even existed. And he said that after Boris Johnson – the sometime Foreign Secretary no less – had written in the Daily Telegraph that women who wear the burqa look like “letter-boxes”.

How can even he think that, when his own head looks like a haystack stuck on top of someone wearing an ill-fitting suit? Surely, his brain can afford to do better than that? Especially it ought to do better for a man who has ambitions of becoming the next leader of the Conservative party.

But then again, maybe Johnson hasn’t got a brain. Maybe his head’s just full of classical references.

In which case, he’ll never have an idea about how to solve the UK’s housing crisis, or how to help the many poorly paid young people get a home of their own. He and his party seem to think that they all want to live in the greenbelts surrounding our cities. Has it ever occurred to him to think that some of the disused warehouses in our towns and cities could be converted into blocks of affordable flats? And that the young would quite like to live in them?

But that’s an idea.

It has to be said that I – and many others no doubt – despair of what the future holds for us. The rich will probably be OK. But the rest of us mortals, who don’t have vast funds and an old boy network to fall back on, will probably be as bewildered as we are now.

All we can hope is that the next group who have ambitions to run the country, whoever they may be, will also have an idea or two.

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Leaving it all behind

I never thought I’d do it, but here I am, writing my first blog from Devon.

Leaving London after living there for more than 50 years was a wrench.

Having said that, I don’t miss the dirt, the crowds or the noise (all of which have increased over the years). Of course, I miss having galleries on my doorstep (or being able to go to one on a whim) and being able to go to the cinema without making it a planned activity based on bus timetables and what’s on. I miss living at the centre of national and international politics and debate. Big BenAnd I miss being able to shop for anything I’ve forgotten when I feel like it. I also miss some of the individuals I got to know (although many of them live, or lived, far from the centre of the action).

But, much more than generally speaking, life down here in Devon is far better than life up there in London. For one thing, the air is cleaner and it’s a great deal better to be woken by the squawk of seagulls – even though they still look bad-tempered and sound as if they’re laughing at me – or by the trilling of other birds than it is by the wail of sirens. I could do without the sound of the sea washing the pebbles clean each time it rushes out, instead of the swoosh of tyres on one of London’s wet main roads. But I can’t say I’d swap one for the other.

If I were many years younger, I would no doubt think differently. I would want  something going on all the time; clubs or discos to go to nearby, more young people my age around and willing to do much the same things. But, as an older person, the quieter life down here is just what I want. Goodness me, I can even shop in peace and buy The Guardian!

Doing what they said

Of course, I’m not the only one leaving things behind.

Donald Trump promised much in his campaign, pedalling a brand of patriotic rhetoric that got him elected to the highest office in the so-called free world. But he’s dealing in international pragmatism nowadays. Hell (as they say over there), he’s even stopped talking about building a wall.

Theresa May sat so firmly on the fence during 2016’s European referendum debate, refusing to say which side she was on, she must’ve hurt herself. It must be the reason why, today, she wears an expression of permanent pain whenever she extols what’s become known as ‘a hard Brexit’. She even has to peddle the same line as those she was supposedly against.

No, I don’t miss any of what I left behind. I can pick and choose what I want to pay attention to. I can even follow the fortunes of my favourite top-of-the-pile football club! And I will, eventually, be able to live the life I want to, once all the material things to do with moving have been sorted out.

It was a good move. Maybe even one I should’ve made some time ago. But, ‘there is a tide in the affairs of men’.

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Raising the roof

Led Zeppelin. David Bowie. Pink Floyd. Bob Dylan. Genesis. Take That. Kylie Minogue. Even the BRIT Awards.

They’ve all done it at one time or another; metaphorically raised the roof at Earl’s Court.

Now the developers are doing it; quite literally. And they have the temerity to emblazon their hoardings with the slogan: EARLS COURT A new district for London”.

The cheek of it. Earl’s Court has been a London district for generations.

That isn’t all. They contend that they are going to create a new district, when all they are really doing is building a lot of housing for the super-rich and adding on a bit of stuff that will be of use to the local community. It’s a bit like making a luxurious fur coat and finishing it with cheap buttons. The body will keep someone warm, but the whole thing is likely to flap open at any moment, exposing the wearer to the chilliest of winds.

Living, as I do, locally, the whole business fills me with a degree of dread. I dread what will happen to the local community when its prime source of income is gone for good. I dread the noise and disruption once the ‘de-construction’ (Capital & County’s word, not mine) is complete and the new blocks start going up. I dread the style of the new stuff, for it will (no doubt) echo all that’s gone up in London in the last decade or so. And I dread the over-shadowing of what is still an attractive part – or district – of London.

Earl’s Court will never be the same again.

Roof, or no roof.

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