The last straw

When I moved in with Lyn eight years ago, I began to drink through the thick, reusable plastic tubes she uses. I quickly found that I preferred them, and these days always carry a couple in my bumbag. Until then, however, I’d always used normal disposable straws, and still do when necessary, so I can easily see why so many disabled people are enraged that the p’tahk Gove wants to ban them. This is surely just a case of a tory trying to sound nice, modern and environmentally friendly, without actually having a clue about the real impact of his moronic pronouncements. Granted, normal drinking straws do have an environmental impact, but banning them would mean thousands of people with disabilities would be unable to drink.

Debbie’s wonderful present

On the wall above my computer now hangs something wonderful: a beautiful, remarkable image created just for me. In it, a figure of a boy with a staff stands on a rock, overlooking not the sea but the vastness of space, populated by stars and be-ringed planets. There’s a tall ship and a whale, half it’s tail forming a crescent moon. Thus it merges space and the ocean so that they become one, and the boy looks out into the vastness of both.

This incredible image was given to me yesterday by Debbie as a birthday present. She knew about my fascination with space, the sea and Moby Dick; we had spoken quite a bit at the cafe. When she told me she was making a picture for me, I was of course flattered, but I had no idea that it would be so wonderful, so perfect. It just makes me want to look at it – to stare into the vastness of the ocean, the infinity of space, and dream. How fantastic is it to have such incredible, talented friends.

debbies picture

Stuck on the path over the cliff-edge

In a way I’m feeling quite cheerful about Brexit this morning. It’s now undeniable, is it not, that carrying on with this utter embarrassment will only cause more and more damage. Surely after yesterday politicians of any party must now think the only logical thing to do would be to cancel it. As Rafael Behr writes in the Guardian ”There is no substantial problem facing Britain to which leaving the EU offers an effective remedy. Even on its own advertised terms, Brexit is a dud. There will still be immigration across porous borders. There will not be an immediate bonanza of free-trade agreements with other countries…” As much as I try to keep well clear of conspiracy theories, behind the scenes surely the tories must now be desperately looking for a way out of this mess.

Only, of course, they can never admit it. They must carry on the pretence, simply because of that stupid fucking referendum two years ago: ”The people’s will” and all that bullshit. The will therefore blunder on with something they know full well will severely damage the country, simply because they are reluctant to nullify the referendum result. I must admit, I would be too in their shoes: democracy must be respected, or at least be shown to be respected. Suddenly announcing that what happened in 2016 doesn’t count anymore would just enrage people who feel persecuted and belittled as it is.

In a way, stuck between a rock and a hard place, you have to feel sorry fo them. As loathsome as they are, the tories are educated, well-informed people; they know where this path leads and the damage Brexit will cause, but they have no choice but to follow it. While behr writes that Brexit cannot now simply be reversed and the clock magically set back to before June 2016, that must be exactly what the tories long to do. Yet the cat is out of the bag: people voted for Brexit in part through a (misguided) sense of catharsis; they wanted to strike back at what they saw – or were lead to see – as ‘the system’. If brexit was reversed, that powerful, controlling, incomprehensible system would be seen to be reasserting it’s power, and the tensions which lead people to vote Leave would amplify tenfold.

We really are up shit creek here, aren’t we? As much as davis and Johnson will try to paint what was agreed with the EU yesterday as a settlement, we have had to concede almost everything. The Outists snapped on virtually every promise they made – there is now no point carrying on. The only sensible thing to do now would be to stop Brexit, and if common sense is allowed a voice there can be now little doubt we’ll end up remaining. The problem is, this stupid affair has released tensions that mean that common sense cannot prevail. Reverse Brexit, and people will be up in arms; every shred of credibility the tories – and government as a whole, for that matter – ever had would be lost. People will feel even more ignored and sneered at by those they see as the cultural elites. The forces which lead people to vote leave will be compounded. Thus they have no choice but to keep up the pretence that they are campaigning to get the best possible deal for the UK, even though they know full well that they have no chance of doing anything other than ruining the country.

I now think the end of Brexit is inevitable and we’ll end up remaining a member of the EU, in one form or another. I should be happy. My worry is, the fury that might now generate from those who voted to leave. It’s far too late to turn the clock back and try to pretend this whole farce never happened, as much as the tories might wish they could. Oh, what a mess.

Monarch

A few days ago I came across a reference to a 1996 film made at Charlton House, called Monarch. Curious to find out more, and looking for potential subjects for my offering to this year’s local film festival, I ordered a copy of the DVD. It arrived yesterday and I just watched it. I must say I’m in two minds about it: the script is poor and the acting’s terrible, but at the same time I think there’s potential for a project about it. It’s shot entirely in and around Charlton House, so from a localist perspective, there is plenty to explore. I could, for instance, examine how the House was used in the film, and how both internal and external shots of the building were used to create an aesthetic of historicity. Watching the film just now I found it amusing trying to spot parts of the house I recognised. They actually filmed in the room where the festival has it’s meetings. At the festival, we could screen the film, then guide pundits around the house to see how much the building showed through. I may be able to weave a bit of theory in there too. I think I could have just started what may turn out to be a very interesting project.

Cats wishing me a happy birthday

While I have no idea who made it or how it came about, Dominik just sent me a link to this piece of epic weirdness. It’s a couple of years old, so it obviously wasn’t made for me today. Presumably someone somewhere has made a batch of similar short videos, each to suit a different name, ready for people to send their friends links on their birthdays; but the sight of some drugged up cats wishing me a happy birthday in a weird electronicised tone just seemed too apt for me not to flag up on here.

Danny Boyle to direct Bond 25

I just came across something which I’m very, very excited about, and it isn’t the snow. I’ve been seeing rumours about it for weeks, but it has finally been confirmed that Danny Boyle will direct the next Bond film. When I first read the rumour that Boyle might direct it I thought it too awesome to be true: one of my favourite directors, a guy I’ve actually met and who created what I still think is the greatest cultural moment ever, helming one of my favourite film franchises. How cool is that. I can’t wait to see what Boyle does with it; no doubt he will want to take it in an unusual direction, perhaps making it more gritty. Boyle is one of the best directors out there, so I think we bond fans are in for a treat this time. And how incredible would it be if they made some kind of sly allusion to 007 having ‘royal duties’? Mind you, we’ll have to wait ’till the end of next year to see what he comes up with.

Lyn’s Journey Radio app

Lyn is still relishing running her own online radio station Journey Radio. It’s going from strength to strength, getting more DJs quite regularly. I’m pleased to say it now has a new app, enabling everyone to listen to the musical stylings of Lyn wherever you go. Lyn is very proud of it, so I want everyone to go get it from the Istore now.

Reactions to Stephen Hawking’s death betrays ableist preconceptions

I really think I need to flag this Yahoo article up about how much of the reaction to Stephen Hawking’s death so far can be seen as ablest. The way it goes on ad nauseam about hawking being amazing ‘despite his disability’, and the vomit-worthy crap about him ‘being free now’ etc illustrates the anti-disability prejudices ingrained in society. As the article says, having a disability is seen automatically as an impediment or hinderance, rather than just something which makes you, you. There is the preconception that a disability is automatically something to be overcome, so, the article points out, the vast majority of the reaction to Hawking’s death has focussed on his disability rather than his work as a physicist and activist. As it says, ”There’s nothing wrong with celebrating Hawking’s life and incredible work but it’s possible to do that without fixating on his disability.”

Stephen Hawking dies, aged 76

I just got to my computer to find this very, very sad news on the BBC website: Stephen Hawking has passed away, aged 76. Hawking has always been one of my heroes, not only through his scientific work but as a communication aid user. As perhaps the most visible VOCA user around, he sort of came to represent all of us. I read his Brief History Of Time years ago, when I was still at school, but, for me, the moment I will always remember Hawking for is his awesome appearance at Monty Python Live, singing the Galaxy Song. Rest in peace Stephen Hawking, you will be greatly missed.

Mum and dad visit

My parents just paid us a visit. It was great to see them, just to catch up over a coffee. I speak to them quite regularly over Skype of course, but there’s something special about a good long chat over a coffee. We just caught up with each other’s news, and made a few plans. As much as I love my life as a chronicler in this vast, urban maelstrom, it’s good to be able to see my parents, and make plans to visit them on the old family house fairly soon.