Even the Americans are taking the Mickey out of Brexit

You know things are going badly politically when the Americans start taking the piss out of you on Saturday Night Live. I know it’s already a couple of weeks old, and the impressions are fairly cringeworthy,  but   it goes to show just how risible the rest of the world is finding the Brexit debacle when the Americans, whose own political situation is fairly ludicrous, decide we’re fair game for a pisstake. It really is getting embarrassing; let’s just hope things start to right theirselves in the new year.

Arise, Sir Micheal….Ni!

Last night I read that one of my all-time favourite film and tv personalities, Michael Palin, is to get a knighthood in the new year’s honours. Call me silly, but I’m frankly over the moon for him; he really has earned it. Mind you, as he himself points out, he has been a knight  before, but I wonder if he’ll say ‘Ni’ this time.

Cuba after the Castros

Ever since I first heard about  Cuba in relation to Hemingway, I’ve been quite curious about it. Cuba looks  very exotic from the pictures, but you don’t hear much about what life is like there. I just came across this quite fascinating bbc  report on it though, and I’m more intrigued than ever. I won’t say much about it, other than it seems fairly thorough and balanced. You have to wonder, with the Castro period now at an end and the fuckwit the Americans now call their president having undone Obama’s good work in restoring relations, what the future holds for the island. Either way, it’s  definitely a place I want to visit soon.

London should have another exhibition

I was just doing a bit of reading to follow up my entry on the Crystal Palace. It was, of course, built in Hyde Park for the famous Great Exhibition of 1851. When  I read that, I naturally looked  up exhibitions, wondering what they were and what became of them. I’d assumed they’d stopped, but they’re still going. That strikes me as odd, I must say: they appear to be quite  regular, so why don’t we hear anything about them? Why doesn’t the media make as much of a song and dance about them  as they do over the Olympics? Surely they are the cultural equivalent of the olympics, in that they both  draw the world’s attention to one specific city. And, more to the point, why hasn’t London hosted a world exhibition since 1862? Surely putting one on would mean the world’s greatest metropolis can show what it can do once more.

Elfis

Moment of the day: two   people with unclear speech trying to explain to a Polish guy with English as a second language why Elfis would be the best singer at the north pole. Ahh, the joy of Christmas cracker jokes. Merry Christmas everyone!

On the potential for awesomeness

I don’t want to go into detail on here, but yesterday I received a bit of news concerning a family member which, while not innately bad, was sufficiently ominous to make me worry. Between that and a couple of other unpleasant things recently, it’s safe to say I’m not in a very good place right now. Yet, the way I look at it, there are plenty of worse places to be. I think I’ve written on here before how I grew up with three lads with muscular dystrophy, who, despite knowing their condition would slowly sap away their strength, never once complained about their condition. Lyn has the same fortitude. It’s just a case of keeping your head held high and refusing to give in.

Moreover, I know that every day has the potential for something awesome to happen. I have done so many incredible things over the last few years, from meeting Patrick Stewart and Danny Boyle to watching Monty Python Live, The Cat Empire and Greenday. All those events arose completely by chance: for example, when I wheeled up to the park cafe that day last summer to discover a film crew at work up at Charlton House, I had no idea I would end up meeting Danny Boyle, one of my all-time filmic heroes. You never know what each day will bring; each day has the potential for something incredible to happen.

Mind you, I think another bit of awesomeness is long overdue, not just for me but for the whole country. The uk is torn in two right now; it’s getting worrying. I know I probably don’t help with my accusations of fascism and ’embarrassments to human civilisation’. Half the country loathes the other half. But I keep thinking about the summer of 2012, and how united we were: the country was behind London, cheering us on; and we felt proud to be British, and what we, together, were capable of. I’ll always feel proud of being a Londoner that summer.

That summer now seems a very distant memory. Where we were once united, we are now utterly divided. Putting the politics of Brexit aside for now – and I still think it’s totally, totally moronic – the fact we are all constantly arguing over it, online and off, isn’t good for anyone. We desperately need another huge public event we can all get behind to bring us back together again; something awesome to lift us all out of this quagmire. What that could be I’m not sure, but I think Theresa May was talking about something similar when she suggested a ‘Festival of Britain’ – although I haven’t heard anything more about that.

Both personally and in general, history has taught me that, no matter how crappy things might get, there is always potential for something awesome to happen. At any moment, you can receive news of a new event or new idea, or you could meet a new person, which could lead on eventually to something you’ll never forget. Right now, part of me thinks that it’s high time I had another moment like that. Yet, at the same time, these incredible moments can only happen if you look out for them: when you’re feeling low it’s all too easy to shy away from life. The 2012 olympics only happened because London was brave enough to apply for them, just as I only met Danny Boyle because I had the cheek to wander up to Charlton House and ask.

To do that meant leaving the house and going out into the world. Life can be incredible, but only if you do not shy away from it. You cannot let all the dire, bleak things happening in the world beat you into submission, because then you stop looking for all the special, incredible things which make life so wonderful. After all, who knows what tomorrow may bring: just as I may meet another of my heroes or find another of my favourite bands is doing a gig nearby, the country might be awarded another international event which we’ll all end up uniting behind. While I now have a feeling that my next few years may not be as easy as the last few, experience tells me to never rule out the potential for awesomeness.

Corbyn and the cliff

Given that Corbyn just committed himself to  pursuing full brexit (thereby relinquishing any right whatsoever to claim to be a socialist), this seems very apt.

corbyn cliff

The vast majority of the labour party aren’t stupid; they know how   utterly foolish Brexit is. So why is their leader refusing to listen to them? Doesn’t corbyn realise brexit is a plot to set the most  perverse form of neoliberalism loose in the UK?

Liverpool and spoons

This entry finds me and John on the train south again, back to London, another journey at an end. We have just left a remarkable city; what a place Liverpool is. It had been well over a decade since I was last there and it was completely different to how I remembered. There are many outstanding museums, including the rather humbling museum of slavery.

As I mentioned yesterday, what struck me was how vibrant Liverpool is: it’s a highly musical place, with people busking on every street corner; and you can barely escape the place without encouraging a reference to the Beatles. Yet the greatest moment happened last night when we were out looking for somewhere to eat. Turning the corner from one street into another, sheltering in a doorway we found two guys busking. One was playing a ukulele and the other a pair of spoons. They were playing American southern rock, but they had such skill that I was instantly drawn. We stopped to listen; I had never heard spoons played like that before. The skill and the energy of the music made it one of those fabulous little moments which make travel and exploration so great. Museums and great buildings are fabulous, but what really gives places their character are the people who live there.

Liverpool

Samual Pepys once famously wrote that to be titled of London was to be tired of life, yet after almost a decade of living in the metropolis I find myself wondering about finding somewhere new. As much as I love the capital, I think I have noted here before that it’s simply too big. I want somewhere more compact and homely, but no less vibrant. Today, in Liverpool, I think I have found it.

We got here late yesterday afternoon, and having spent an evening and a day exploring the city, Liverpool strikes me as just as vibrant as London, but without the sprawl. There is a homeliness and humanity here London lacks. It can be explored easily on foot (or by powerchair). The city centre is modern and new; you can tell how much work was done due to its status as Capital of Culture. The city centre is full of shiny new buildings and a great new roof. Yet whereas London has many suburbs each with a different centre, the centre of Liverpool is the centre of Liverpool, so to speak. It has vibrancy, yet no mind blowing sprawl. Great culture, but all within walking distance.  Where the capital is a multi volume tome, Liverpool is a hundred page novella.
Pepys was wrong: to tire of London is not to tire of life, for life in modern London can be tiring, and sometimes one starts to yearn for somewhere new. Somewhere with the same vibrancy, but less dehumanising sprawl. In Liverpool I think I’ve found it.