A Nice, Easy Haircut

I sometimes have difficulty communicating with people who don’t know me. If people are not used to the way I speak or communication aid users in general, it can take a bit of time to realise that what I’m typing into my Ipad is what I’m trying to tell them. Today, though, I needed a haircut. I hate haircuts, and had been putting it off for quite a while. Yet it had grown so long that this morning I decided it was time to bite the bullet and get it cut. Luckily there is a decent-looking barbers just down the road from me, so this afternoon I set off there.

I’d never met the guys in there before, let alone spoken to them, so I was feeling a bit apprehensive. When I reached the shop, I stopped my powerchair outside as there was a small lip in the doorway. I then waved to the two men in there to get their attention. Fortunately they weren’t busy, and soon came over. Before I turned my Ipad on to tell them what I needed, I pointed to my messy, overgrown hair, hoping that they would see the problem. And what d’ya know? They cottoned on almost immediately, helping me out of my chair, into the shop and into one of their barbershop chairs. I didn’t have to say – or type – a word. Pretty soon my hair was cut, no longer in my eyes or blocking my ears, and I was on my way again. The ability to communicate is a fine, fine thing, but some things are so obvious that sometimes you don’t need it.

Sturgeon is No Better than Farage

I really, really don’t like Nicola Sturgeon. I think that, for all her left wing pretences, she is just a power-hungry bitch no better than Farage. I have written on here before about how much I oppose the prospect of Scottish independence, and why: I don’t want to repeat myself too much today, but I passionately believe humanity should be coming together, not re-establishing ancient borders and dividing itself into smaller and smaller groups. Thus I oppose Scottish nationalism for exactly the same reason that I oppose Brexit; and I do so with equal vigour. Both boil down to the same simplistic, arrogant, tribalist mentality.

Sturgeon argues that Scotland voted to remain in the EU Referendum, and is therefore being taken out of the European Union against it’s will. Yet you can argue precisely the same about London: London also voted Remain, by an even bigger margin than Scotland and even has a bigger population. Should the metropolis declare independence from the rest of the UK?

Of course not. Even if we had that option, the only way through catastrophes like Brexit is to remain united. For one small group to break itself off from a larger whole in order to save their own skin, while abandoning the rest of the group to a fate which they too would like to escape but don’t have the option, is nothing but an act of betrayal. I therefore see nothing but treachery and vindictiveness in what Sturgeon wants Scotland to do: it’s as if, having failed to have been granted the power she clearly craves the first time, she now intends to ask for it again, and will obviously do so until she gets what she wants, wannabe despot that she is. In her we can see the same self-importance, the same vainglorious desire for power and authority, that we find in Farage, Trump and Johnson.

If that’s the case, two can play such games. I personally think that, if Scotland declares independence, all NHS infrastructure should automatically be moved out of Scotland south, back into the remaining parts of the UK. After all, the NHS is an institution of the United Kingdom, payed for by UK taxpayers. It should not be usurped or stolen by other, separate nations. Thus, if it is stupid enough to do so, as soon as Scotland divides itself from the rest of the UK, all NHS infrastructure, from ambulances to equipment to hospital beds, should be returned to the UK. And I don’t care how childish or petty that may sound: nationalism is nationalism, and aught to be outgrown. The Scots need us just as we need them, so re-erecting ancient borders in order to claim a right which they would deny the rest of us, is nothing but folly.

Lanes Indeed

Coming home from Greenwich on the bus today, having had to cut my trundle short due to a torrential downpour, I was struck by quite an interesting question.Back in Cheshire, I used to drive my powerchair down old, winding lanes heading off into the countryside. The one I remember best was called Giantswood Lane, which ran from Congleton to Swettenham. It was a quiet, pleasant road: the kind of road which comes to mind when you hear the word lane.

The odd thing is, these days I come across roads called lanes all the time; Greenwich seems especially fond of them: roads with names like Anchor And Hope Lane, Charlton Lane or Old Post Office Lane. None of them, though, is what I would call a lane. They are not very long and do not really meander. Yet I can’t help wondering if they once did. Did these so-called lanes now running between houses, shops and factories, once run between fields? And if any of them did, what might they once have looked like? What was this area like before it became a metropolis? I get the impression that the vast, urban landscape around me wasn’t so different to the landscape I knew as a child, not that long ago; and that you can perhaps glimpse that past like a palimpsest in the layout of the roads and the names of places. It’s as if, below this vast, sprawling, hectic maelstrom lies a quieter, more peaceful past which can still, just about, be glimpsed if you look hard enough.

Man Vs. Bee – Just Don’t Bother

I just watched the first episode of Man Vs. Bee on Netflix. I’d heard a bit about it recently, and thought I’d give it a go. I like Rowan Atkinson from his Blackadder days, and the notion of one long film-length narrative divided into ten minute segments sounded interesting. However, having just watched the first such segment, I only have one thing to say: No. Just No.

It astonishes me to contemplate why anything like Man Vs. Bee was ever made, let alone why anyone would want to watch it. It is utterly stupid. A man, played by Atkinson, is hired to housesit for a wealthy couple while they go on holiday. What follows is a series of totally cringeworthy yet completely predictable set of ‘accidents’ which we are meant to find funny but which see the house wrecked. There is no plot or character development, just awful accident after awful accident. I gave up after the first episode, but I could see it just becoming more and more contrived and inane as it went on. There is nothing funny about watching a man get himself into more and more trouble, and becoming more and more desperate. Frankly, I have better things to do with my time than watch such shyte.

The Turn of the Tide

Surprisingly perhaps, there isn’t that much I feel I want to say today. Obviously I’m very pleased with the local election results in both Tiverton and Honiton and Wakefield. When I got to my computer this morning and checked the headlines, I gave out a small whoop of joy. Perhaps the tide is at last turning against the Tories, and the country is waking up to the damage these arrogant charlatans are doing to the country. Yet we must remember that these were only bi-elections, and that it would be slightly dangerous to get too excited about these results. This could be the result of a protest vote, and things could swing the other way come the next election.

I hope with all my heart that they don’t though. I hope that the country has indeed woken up and is now seeing the Tories for what they are. Of course, Johnson and co. will try to deny that these results are a reflection of their government – they always do: we’re already seeing Johnson trying to frame these results as merely a message telling him to listen to people but carry on, rather than as a damning indictment of his entire administration. Yet it is blatantly obvious that the people in these small towns have spoken for us all overnight: we are sick to death of Johnson and the tories running roughshod over the law, and treating the UK like it is theirs to play with; we are sick to death of Brexit and the catastrophic damage it is now undeniably doing. The country is waking up, and the tide is turning against the Tories.

At last!

America Becomes Even Scarier

I’m afraid America just got even more scary. According to this BBC report, “The US Supreme Court has struck down a New York law restricting gun carrying rights. The law required residents who want a license to prove ‘proper cause’ to carry concealed weapons and that they faced ‘a special or unique’ danger.” After all the trouble they have there with guns, and with people going into schools and massacring students, you would think that American society would be desperate to tighten it’s firearms regulations. Surely the only logical way to curb gun violence is to severely limit who can own a gun. You can’t drive a car without passing a test, so why should people have the right to use a far more dangerous, lethal object such as a gun, totally unvetted and unregulated? Yet today, the American Supreme Court has loosened the restrictions on who can carry guns there, so you don’t even need to justify carrying one. I fear this will just lead to an even more murderous, violent society in America, where a human life can be extinguished upon a whim. I’m glad I don’t live there.

Northern Crossrail

I’ve forgotten who it was that suggested it, but yesterday I heard an idea which I think is worth repeating here. Now that, strikes aside, Crossrail is up and running, perhaps it’s time to move the country’s focus north and start work on a new railway between Liverpool, Manchester and Leeds. The new line would run overground between the cities, but go underground, Elisabeth Line-like, when it reaches the cities themselves. This way, trade between the three northern powerhouses would be boosted, and they could potentially start functioning like one large financial district.

I think this is an excellent idea. It’s becoming more and more obvious that colossal amounts of money are being spent on London’s redevelopment, but the rest of the country is just being forgotten about. Perhaps because it’s a famous world city and cultural hub, London gets all the attention to the detriment of anywhere else. Maybe beginning work on a new Northern Crossrail, the focus might shift north a bit, and parts of the country which have been relatively forgotten about compared to London might begin to boom.

To that end, I would like to add something to this idea: It has been a while since I wrote anything on here about the Olympics, but I’m still interested in it as the world’s biggest sporting and cultural event. If Liverpool, Manchester and Leeds become linked by a high-speed, high-capacity railway, why don’t they launch a joint Olympic bid, perhaps for the 2036 games? While I’m not completely sure how it would work logistically, it seems to me that it would be an awesome way to celebrate the new northern powerhouse. London got so much attention ten years ago in 2012; just think how much of the world’s attention and and esteem the three great northern cities could get, with athletes, spectators and media commentators whizzing between them on a brand new railway.

These are just ideas, of course: whether they actually have any legs or not is anybody’s guess. Having been born in Cheshire though, I’d love to see my old home area get the attention I now see London receiving. Whenever I ride on the tube or DLR, I wonder what things are like outside of the metropolis, especially for guys like me. Now that London has it’s fabulous new Elisabeth Line, it’s time for the so-called ‘levelling up’ to really begin.

The Right To Strike is Vital

As much a pain in the arse as rail strikes are, I support workers’ rights to take them. We need to stand up to the government as the cost of living rises higher and higher, while the tories lower tax rates for their rich friends. Without the right to strike, the proletariat is powerless. I doubt I’ll be going anywhere for most of the week, at least on the tube; but I stand wholeheartedly with those striking today. We are currently being bullied by a government of megalomaniacs, seemingly intent on taking British society back to the seventies, and treating the working class and public sector like shit. The tories must be reminded that society does, in fact, exist, and can stand up for itself.