queen’s baton goes to Congleton

I spoke to my parents on Skype earlier. They’re fine, of course. They mentioned, though, that the queen’s baton passes through my old home town, congleton, today. Proceedings can be monitored here. Of course, this is hardly worth mentioning, except for personal nostalgia purposes: it has been ages since I visited the old place, so it is good to see it flagged up. Mind you, I am a bit puzzled over why Congleton gets special mention; it isn’t that notable a town, yet the beeb headline is ‘Queen’s Baton Relay England: Manchester and Congleton’. Why not Crewe or Macclesfield. How curious.

wanting to show sir patrick

A considerable part of my master’s thesis focusses on a scene from Star Trek First contact: I write at some length about my relationship to this scene, my attraction to it, and about how I read my own emotions on the face of Patrick Stewart. Thus I’ve had this scene in my mind for quite some time, and I’ve grown incredibly attached to it. Now that my master’s is over, a small silly part of me would rather like Mr. Stewart to read my thesis. Of course, I”m not sure what it would achieve, and smeg knows why he would want to read it in the first place, but I think part of me wants his approval. I want to show him how much the scene matters to me, and, perhaps, to say thanks. If I’m going to act on this whim, the question is, how to contact the great man. Any ideas?

What will Clarkson say?

Assuming a wheelchair-accessible version is made, google’s idea of a car that drives itself may be just up mine and Lyn’s street. Conceivably, all we would need to do is tell it where to take us – perhaps via our ipads – and we’d be off. From what I have seen of it, the technology in this car is impressive, and I’m sure it would b fully tested to make sure it is safe, so it could be just the thing we need for full independence. No more busses! I can’t wait. Mind you, a small, childish part of me is itching to see what Jeremy Clarkson says about it.

the quiet knowing

The glorious thing about being me, Knowing I’m not what people see, knowing the irony of their presumption that there’s more to me than their assumption I’m not as dull as they take me to be that’s the irony of being me how I love quietly knowing that there’s more to me than might be showing.

Sleepwalking into somewhere dark.

It seems we now have to put up with the obnoxious, utterly objectionable sight of Nigel Farage hailing his ‘victory’ in the european elections. It is almost too much for me to stomach: I still contend that, if people actually thought about what he and his party advocate, they would not touch it with a barge pole. But then, the average ukip supporter seems unable to think for his or herself. Regardless, we now have a major problem: a xenophobic, homophobic party has now lied it’s way into mainstream british politics: one that seeks to abandon european cooperation; one that denies climate change; one that would abolish independent living for disabled people; one that thinks men should have the right to beat their wives. For goodness sake we have to do something. Farage and his band of morons must be countered. In Scotland they have the snp, whom I’m slowly warming to: should Scotland become independent,, I’m seriously considering suggesting to Lyn that we move north at least they’re leftist. Without Scottish support, Labour might never be elected again, leaving the u.k to permanent tory rule. Here in England things are drifting more and more to the right, and now have a pseudofascist free to espouse his hateful views. Surely we most act: with the three main parties doing nothing, we must fight together against this bigot, before he has us all sleepwalking into somewhere dark.

woolwich yesterday afternoon

I might have been assuming more than I should, but yesterday afternoon got a touch uncomfortable at times. I was out on one of my usual Saturday afternoon saunters: the local cricket match had been rained off, so I thought I would go see if anything was happening in Woolwich. There was…

On the way back from the shops, I thought I’d pop into the Kings Arms for a crafty pint. It is now run by an Afro-Caribbean fellow who seems to like me. When I go in there, the place is usually half empty, but yesterday it was packed. The brutal killing of Lee Rigby was commemorated yesterday, so the pub, just a stones throw from the scene, was serving as a convergence point for those attending. While I think any murder is sickening, I must admit I’m not that agitated about the subject; however, what both scared and interested me was the type of people in there. Without wanting to stereotype, the group struck me as largely male, fairly young to middle aged, and loud. Overhearing them talk, many were uttering the type of opinion I usually loath – they seemed like people who vote ukip or bnp. Frankly, some looked scary, and part of me wanted to speed home. Yet I was also intrigued: by staying, I might learn something.

It occurred to me, though, that this was evidence of something slightly worrying. Lee Rigby’s death is being used by the far right: he was killed by two angry, unbalanced men, but the fact that they were Muslims and cited the war on terror as their motive is fuel to the far right’s fire. Their savage actions last year have been seized upon, and have become totemic for the far right. That worries me very much indeed: on one level, yesterday’s events struck me as a rally for xenophobes, o that there had been an attempt by some to turn it into one.

In the end, however, I was never in much danger. The crowd was largely peaceful, and one guy even bought me a beer. An hour or so after I went into the pub, it suddenly emptied. I went on my way after finishing my drink, reflecting on what I had just seen. I may have been wrong about the crowd – after all, I may have bee making judgmental generalisations. Yet the bad taste in my mouth remained: the killing of Lee Rigby is being used to stir up intercultural hatred, as a totemic vent for the far right, and that seems very wrong indeed.

Absolute fear and dread

It seems to me that any sensible, thinking, educated person should be very worried indeed this morning. Granted, the Tories may have got the thwacking they deserve

– although no thwacking would be hard enough, in my opinion, given the pain they are inflicting on some of the most disadvantaged people in society – but it appears UKIP have made very real and substantial gains. This should send a shudder down our collective back: while you could comfort yourself by dismissing it as a protest vote, the fact remains that this pseudofascist group now has a real presence in this country. I mean what I say when I use that term: look at any ukip policy, from education to immigration, and it reveals a draconian, intolerant, outdated mindset; look at anything a ukip member says, and you will find racist, sexist views. Their protests that they are not against immigration, but just want the ability to chose ‘the right kinds of immigrant’ reeks of self-deception. Surely anyone can see through that placatory sham to the xenophobia beneath. And while their stance towards disability seems vague, and indeed keeps changing, their anti-inclusion, antiindependence attitude would reduce us crips third class citizens; one of their members apparently recently called for the automatic abortion of foetuses with Downs Syndrome.

The question, of course, is why: why are people voting for this party? Why are people listening to it’s outdated, draconian pronouncements? I look at their views, their arrogance, their intolerance, and wonder how anyone could still think like them. Some commentators put it down to a protest vote; others point to the appeal of Farage, presenting himself as a no-nonsense, everyday guy. I look at Farage and see a con-man, thirsty for power hateful of difference, greedy and arrogant. Ho can people fall for him? how can people blind themselves to the hatred at the core of ukip? How can they not realise ukip is the cause of, not the solution to, the growing xenophobia in the uk? How can people listen to his lies and fool themselves into thinking ukip stands for them, and is not the intolerant sham it is? I do not know, but the fact that they do, and have, fills me with absolute fear and dread.

HBD dad and lyn 2014

I forgot to wish my dad a happy birthday yesterday. I did intend o, but forgot, and now I feel bad about it. Truth be told, I realise I may not be the cooperative of sons. We argue sometimes. Yet whenever we do, it always feels like something is wrong with the world, as if something is amiss that needs urgently to be put right. My father is one of the kindest, most decent men I know, and I love him as much now as I always have.

Today is Lyn’s birthday. It has been a busy sort of day so far, so we have not had time to do much celebrating. Yet the evening is still young, and it won’t take long for Lyn to get one of her awesome mixes going. Time, then, to relax, put my fears and worries aside, Skype dad, and go chill out with the birthday girl.

There’s something about Paris

Lyn and I got back from paris late yesterday evening, my love for the city greater than ever, yet slightly tempered. We had a wonderful trip, which included quite an epic walk along the Seine on sunday afternoon, and, of course, meeting my nephew Oliver on saturday. I have never seen a cuter, happier baby; mark and kat obviously adore him. I am really looking forward to watching him grow up – judging from his parents, he’ll be very bright indeed. He was as good as gold on saturday night, when we all met in the hotel restaurant for a huge family meal. Looking around the table on saturday, I could not have felt happier. It was then, too, that Mum and Dad presented me with a bound hardback copy of my Master’s thesis, sleek and black – it made me feel very proud of myself.

Although it was a family occasion, Lyn and I had most of the weekend to ourselves, allowing us to explore the city. We had our PAs, Dominik and Paul with us; they were excellent this weekend, pushing us endlessly through the beautiful, winding streets. As with my last Parisienne adventure I’m not going to even try to give a full step by step account, as something essential would be lost in the rendition. I must note, though, that the people there struck me as slightly ruder this time: I’m not sure what it was, but they seemed very arrogant and abrasive, walking into your path as you were walking down the pavement, giving you dirty looks, pushing past you. Also, Paris didn’t strike me as very wheelchair friendly this time: now that I’ve lived in London for a while, I have something to compare it wit. London is far from perfect, but at last the public transport is over halfway accessible, and you can always find a drop-curb when you need to wheel off a pavement.

That aside, I still love the city: there is something about paris which is so evocative and romantic. I was thrilled to be there with Lyn, eating out with her, listening t live music with her. It has been a wonderful weekend, and it was over too quickly. Three days is not enough time to explore such a great city. It is not that hard to get to, though, so I definitely would like to go back soon, especially now I have my little nephew to visit there.

ParIs with the lady I adore

Back again from a lovely weekend,

Through the crowds to home we wend

Through the crowds as the sky goes black

Good to have gone, great to be back

To paris we went, to meet my nephew

It was lovely to be there, particularly with you.

There as a family, whole as one

Dad and brothers, baby and mum.

So as we push on, homeward bound

I think back to what I found

Getting to see Paris with the one I adore,

Meeting the nephew I’d not met before.