The reality of Brexit is beginning to dawn

I’m becoming a bit more hopeful when it comes to brexit. More and more people are starting to question whether it will actually happen. I get the sense that, behind the scenes, the political class is waking up to reality and realising that, if brexit continues, it will be a car crash of epic proportions. Last night I watched a bbc documentary on it. As usual it had me shouting at the screen, especially when the lying criminal Farage appeared – how that xenophobic scumbag can be allowed to express his baseless, moronic views on tv rather than rotting in a jail cell where he belongs really pisses me off.

Yet at the end of the program I was left feeling quite optimistic. May did not get the huge tory majority she called the election for; her master plan backfired, so basically they’re more up shit creek than ever when it comes to negotiating with the EU. It is a slick, well-oiled diplomatic machine reluctant to give away any concessions, and here we are demanding all the perks with none of the disadvantages, with a considerably weakened hand. It’s looking more and more absurd. The tories are insisting brexit will go ahead, but I would not be at all surprised if, behind the scenes, they are desperately trying to find a way out of this mess.

As the economics of all this begin to bite, I think more and more people will start to agree. Socially the country is still divided between those who voted to remain and those who voted to leave. There seems to still be a lot of animosity between the two camps. I think that is at least partly because, as reality begins to dawn, as the suffering becomes more and more visible, those who voted leave will feel increasingly guilty. But they won’t want to admit culpability, or that they were fooled into voting for something so patently stupid, so that guilt will turn into anger. They will feel they are being blamed by remain voters, rightly or wrongly, and they won’t like it. I fear this will lead to a lot of social friction; we are already seeing the beginning of it.

I just hope it doesn’t last. Part of me wishes we could all just forget last year ever happened, but I know that is not possible. Whatever happens now, these tensions will continue, this mess will continue. The wheels really are starting to come off brexit, and it’s only a matter of time before it is reversed and the country starts to pretend it never happened. Yet as optimistic as I try to be, for the time being at least, it really is a sorry state we find ourselves in.

What will Discovery say about contemporary america?

It is often noted that nothing ages quite as badly as science fiction. You can always tell when a science fiction film was made, not only from the ideas in the plot, but from the mise en scene. This is especially true of Star Trek. Each individual Trek series is a product of the period when it was made, and the characters within them can be shown to represent contemporary values. By and large, each crew reflects society when each show was made and first aired. The Original Series thus reflected cold war America: it had a strong, white male leading figure; around him there were a variety of figures from diverse backgrounds, trying to present a future where barriers of gender and race, so dominant in the sixties, were no longer such a social force. But the crew were nonetheless always subordinate to the white male, reflecting the racism and sexism of the time; the utopian vision of the future still held in check by the dominant values of the day. The dynamic between the impulsive captain and the cool, logical science officer reflected the tensions between head and heart in sixties america, allowing the show to enter into and comment on contemporary debates. The show thus reflected the concerns of the day, the crew playing out social tensions, with the domineering Klingons a constant menace.

The Next Generation likewise reflected the time when it was produced. It was very much a product of the eighties and early nineties: old enemies had become allies, but there was still a tension there. There was still a strong white male central figure, but he was less dominant and more likely to accept the opinions of others (although the occasional ‘Make it so!’ wasn’t out of the question). The crew reflected the social values of that period; women were in positions of authority; hell, they even had a counsellor on the bridge. There were still threats, but they were more prone to be overcome through diplomacy, reflecting an eighties optimism and belief in the power of negotiation.

Similar things can be said of the next three Trek series: Deep Space Nine was all about political intrigue, backstabbing, and not knowing who to trust. It was a lot more interested in political complications, the relations between peoples, and an america which was no longer quite as secure about it’s place in the world. Voyager, I feel, was less overtly political and less complex, yet still about re-finding one’s place. Both these series, it must be noted, had captains who were not white male. Sisco was a strong, complex leader, war-weary and grieving the loss of his wife; Janeway, I must admit, never really chimed with me, and frankly just struck me as inept.

I never really got down to watching Enterprise, so I don’t really think I can comment on it much. I was at university when it first aired. I have seen a few episodes so I know roughly what it is about, but I don’t know it as well as, say, TNG or DS9. However, I know that in one of the later seasons of Enterprise, earth was attacked unpovoked, and the rest of the series was largely a response to that attack. Obviously this arose out of a reaction to 9/11; earth is a stand-in for America and the conflicting urges and dilemmas it went through after the attack.

Thus we can broadly see how the various trek series reflect the times at which they were being made. This begs an obvious question: how will Discovery reflect our current epoch? It was recently announced that the new Trek series will start airing on Netflix in September. I would be fascinated to see how it mirrors our own time how will it handle Trump, for one? What will it say, if anything, about america’s diminished role in the world? How will it’s crew reflect contemporary America as it now sees itself? If Trek series do indeed reflect the times in which they were created, then it will be intriguing to see how america currently sees the future, especially it’s own future where it is trying to retain fading glories, trying to stay the world’s foremost superpower. How will reflect it’s current leader, and what will it say, if anything, about being lead by a buffoonish egomaniac? I suppose we just have to wait for it to come out, but it will be fascinating to see how Trek changes, once again, to reflect these modern times.

The view from the hill

A couple of days ago I wrote of the magnificent view one gets from Oxlea’s wood, up Shooters Hill road. Lyn and I went that way again this afternoon, where she took this awesome, awe-inspiring picture.

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You must be able to see for miles from there, far into Kent. It just goes to show that, even in the metropolis, you don’t have to go far to find staggering beauty.

Game design is starting to come alongside other artforms as a means of political expression

I came across this story late yesterday, and thought it worth flagging up. The gaming community, it seems, is starting to become politicised. Computer games are being made with definite political themes; they are starting to have motives and messages behind them. For instance, one game, called Cat in a Hijab, is ”a point-andclick mini-adventure that has you playing the role of a cat (in a hijab) who boards a subway train. You’re then faced with a barrage of comments. Some aggressive, others naively ignorant – and it’s up to you to defuse the situation (or not) with your response.” It’s fascinating to note how game design, as an art form, is starting to come alongside other artforms as a means of political expression.

Unexpected magnificence

There is something I want to flag up today, simply because it’s so stunning. Lyn and I were out and about in my powerchair yesterday, exploring near Shooters Hill and Oxlea’s Wood, when we came across this view. It’s a gap in the houses which lets you see all the way across London, and I found it magnificent. I was trundling along behind Lyn and it took my breath. Unfortunately you can’t really appreciate the full awe of it on Google Streetview, but I will be heading that way again soon to see if I can see more; you must be able to see at least fifteen kilometres from there. Oxlea’s wood itself struck me as having a mysteriousness and mystique to it which captivated me. I love the way the metropolis sometimes throws you these surprises: as I wrote here a couple of days ago, the magnificence of this city lies in it’s diversity, and while it’s a great pleasure to go up and explore it’s mighty centre, you can also find spots of wonderousness here in the suburbs.

Exactly the distraction the tories needed

Just a week ago, discussions like this one were all the rage. Pundits were speculating about how long May would last; people were saying she was ”a dead politician walking” and that she wouldn’t last ’til the new year. Such talk was everywhere you looked after the election. Now, you barely hear any of it: all the news talks about is the North Kensington catastrophe, as if they have forgotten all about politics. May’s position is secure, it seems, as she recasts herself as a great, decisive leader in a horrific crisis. Sorry to sound cynical, but does not that strike anyone else as odd? As I mused a couple of days ago, people seem to be using this situation for their own ends. Look at the tories and you can’t escape the feeling that something deeply wrong is afoot: they needed a distraction to take our minds of the flimsiness of their government and the dubiousness of the people they were forming a coalition with, and that’s exactly what they got.

A trip up to the South Bank

Yesterday was another cool day which made me reflect on just how awesome my adopted hometown (perhaps that should be ‘home metropolis’) is. I hadn’t been to the South Bank in ages and was wondering what was currently on up there, so the sun beating down, at about eleven I set off. I got as far as the dome, though, when Lyn messaged me to ask whether I’d signed Kirsty’s timesheet. I hadn’t, and, knowing such matters are too important to neglect, set off straight back home.

When I got in, I signed the sheet and then dashed off a quick blog entry, but the sun was still shining and the south bank was still there, so I set off back out. This time, I headed to woolwich, hoping to get the Thames Clipper there rather than at the dome. The problem was, once I got there I discovered that the clippers only sailed from woolwich in the evenings and at weekends.

At that I was about to give up. The south bank could wait; something obviously didn’t want me to visit it today. I headed back to charlton park for a coffee, thinking I would then head home. But then, something about the brew made me think again – why should I be defeated by such matters? After all, there was still plenty of time left in the day.

Soon after that I found myself sailing up the river from North Greenwich, the city looking magnificent before me. By boat you get a better idea of the geography of the metropolis: it ceases to be a labyrinth of roads and becomes more of a landscape, stretching endlessly out in all directions. Passing the Georgian townhouses and Elizabethan palaces, you also get the impression that this place has a history which goes back centuries. Never is that more so as when you sail past Shakespeare’s globe. It looked as grand as ever yesterday afternoon, and I promised myself I would pay it another visit soon.

Yesterday, however, I had another target in mind: I had decided it was high time I visited the British Film Institute. I had heard so much about the BFI southbank: that it was a kind of Mecca for british cinephiles. But, before yesterday, I had never been. Getting off the boat, then, I headed straight for it, and was instantly blown away.

Here at last was my church, my holy place where I could go to worship. I picked up a couple of leaflets, and they have so much cool stuff on in the coming two months that a few return visits were clearly essential. Speaking to a guy at the reception, I also managed to get a couple of emails addresses which could prove very useful for my own film making.

By then, though, it was getting late; more to the point I was getting hungry. I set off again, heading through the crowds on the southbank, by then just getting started on their Friday evening frivolities. It felt amazing to be among them, out and about in this great world maelstrom. In recent weeks it has suffered, as the country has. We are going through a rough patch at the moment: tensions are high and there is still a lot of devision. Today, the tv informed me last night, is something called the Great Get Together, a weekend of events where we celebrate that which unites us. It marks the anniversary of the murder of Jo Cox, the MP killed in the lead-up to the referendum. It’s a great idea, if you ask me – we need to calm down and come together again.

Yet last night I saw no sign of any such devision: people were out, together, having a good time. This is a great world city. It has a kind of spirit, a feeling to it. The world saw it in 2012, and I felt it again last night among the crowd, then on the tube home. This city is one – we are one people, one london, huge, sprawling, and magnificently diverse. And history shows that, no matter how bad things get, it always comes together.

Is Grenfell being used?

Not that I want to sound hard-hearted, but does anyone else sort of get the feeling that this Grenfell fire tragedy is being blown out of proportion? Don’t get me wrong: what happened there is utterly horrific. But it’s currently taking up the tv bulletins like world war three had broken out – it’s all they’re talking about, completely forgetting the current political chaos. And now that worm Simon Cowell has announced he’s making a charity single to ”help the victims”, I can’t help feeling the entire situation is being used by certain people for their own benefit.

Happy birthday mum!

Today I’d like to wish my mum a great sixty-first birthday. I think my parents returned from visiting their grandchildren in france yesterday, so I don’t know when I’ll be able to speak to them next, but I hope mum knows I think about them regularly. It’s great to see them getting into their new grandparent role: mum and dad seem to have taken to it like ducks to water, going to visit Oliver and Elise at every opportunity. Those kids are gonna be spoiled rotten! Hopefully I’ll get to speak to them later today, to catch up with all the family news and to wish my mum a very happy birthday.

The IOC cop-out

I know I haven’t mentioned it in a while, but in case anyone is interested, the IOC just decided that it will announce the host cities for the 2024 and 2028 games at the same time. This entire story has been quite intriguing, to me at least: basically the olympic bods have to chose who they wanted to host the 2024 games, LA or Paris. Both cities are important world cities, and they both had their eyes on 2024. To both, it was 2024 or nothing. Neither city would bear the ignominy of being rejected yet again; Paris especially is still licking it’s wounds from what happened to it in 2005. The risk was, reject either city and the IOC would have shunned an important world power, yet again.

The solution it has come up with, it would seem, is to award the 2024 and 2028 games at the same time. That way, it avoids the risk of being seen to reject either city, and nobody will be offended. No city gets shunned, and it avoids the risk that the loser will loose interest in hosting. More importantly for the IOC, it keeps the interest of both – reject either and a major world power would turn it’s back.

The thing is, this seems like a giant cop-out to me. Neither america nor france could bear to loose the competition, so the IOC pandered to them. Fearing either country would throw it’s toys out of the pram, it came up with a solution – pander to both, award both at once and you retain the interest of both states. The thing is, this sets a precedent; many cities will be asking why the committee didn’t do this before – why do Paris and LA get saved from losing, while other cities, such as rome are forced to endure rejection. If such cities had known this was an option, they would have stayed interested rather than dropping out of the bidding process. They therefore feel shunned – it’s as if the IOC does not feel they are as important as Paris or LA.

You can thus see why I find this so interesting: both countries want the prestige of having a city which has hosted the olympics three times, and the IOC can’t afford to upset either. You can thus read a lot of politics behind what is going on here; the interplay between nations, competing for the favour of an international body, stuck between a rock and a hard place, yet determined to retain its status as gatekeeper of the worlds foremost sporting and cultural event.

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