I came across something yesterday which I think could well be worth looking into. I hope he doesn’t mind me mentioning it here, but on my friend Matt/Switch’s Facebook page, he had written a type of blog/diary entry about what he and his young family had been up to recently. What interested me was that it was written in the style of a Star Trek captain’s log, so his wife Nicky was referred to as Commander Best-wife, and their young children became ensigns. What struck me was how well done the writing was: trips were away missions and places became planets, so that at the same time, it felt like you were reading a piece of science fiction while still being able to detect the underlying reality behind it. Not only did this help ensure the necessary animosity Switch, as a young dad, would want, but it also reflected the surreal quality of the times we are going through. Thus as a piece of prose I found it stylistically very interesting indeed. Reality was written about as fiction to produce something both playful and quite powerful.
I don’t know much about Hong Kong. I know it’s a former British colony, of course, handed back to China in an international agreement in 1997, but apart from that I’m not familiar with the politics of the city. In writing what I’m about to, I am afraid I’ll sound like a British imperialist, desperate for the revival of a long dead empire. Yet I must say how disturbing I’m finding China’s attitude towards the city; they seem to be acting with a type of arrogance I find infuriating.
As I understand it, after ’97, the UK signed a treaty with china which guaranteed Hong Kong a certain degree of independence and it’s citizens certain democratic rights. Yet now, according to the UK news at least, China has ripped up that treaty and seems to be acting as if it can do what it likes with Hong Kong, overtly trying to interfere with it’s elections in order that it can make it’s government entirely pro-Beijing. China obviously wants to take Hong Kong for it’s own, probably because it knows what an international economic powerhouse it is. And when the UK tries to object to what China is trying to do, China tells us to butt out of it’s internal affairs and accuses us of imperialism.
That leaves commentators like me in a delicate, although rather interesting, position: it boils down to a question of which type of imperialism you object to more. Do we, as the former colonial ruler, still have the right to interfere in the affairs of a now independent colony? On the other hand, it’s blatantly obvious that China is acting aggressively and arrogantly, and thinks it has a right to tear up a treaty and dominate a city and it’s people. Thus we have two manifestations of imperialism vying against one another.
I’m kind of embarrassed to admit that part of me thinks that the UK should reclaim Hong Kong: if china refuses to respect the treaty, why shouldn’t we reassert British rule? But then I realise how daft and right wing that sounds, and remember that the UK couldn’t possibly compete militarily with China. Yet letting Beijing just do what it wants seems equally wrong: Hong Kong is not Chinese just as it isn’t British.
The situation is therefore at a stalemate, but what concerns me is that that stalemate will cause greater and greater tensions between the UK and China, and we’re in enough trouble as it is. A severe economic recession, Brexit, Trump and the pandemic have converged to the point where international tensions are higher than they have been for decades; this dispute over Hong Kong will only add to them. With Trumps reelection and the realities of Brexit coming up, we are fast approaching an impasse. I do not know how it will all resolve itself, but I’m now very worried that it will not end well at all.
I wonder how many other people, upon reading this news that the new head of MI6 is a chap called Richard Moore, automatically thought ”I wonder if he’s related to sir Roger?” To be honest I’d be willing to bet that it’s quite a few.
All I can say today is how great it feels that Test Cricket is once again being played, and not only that, to get home from my daily stroll to the news that England have won their first test series of the summer, and by a good margin too. Amid all the doom and gloom this year, at least we have these little pleasures to cheer us up. I’ve always loved the long, slow, contemplative sport of Cricket, and news like this brings back happy memories of sitting in the sun on long, hot afternoons. Hopefully it won’t be too long until such afternoons are back.
You probably saw, a few days ago, Trump trying to demonstrate how intelligent he is by reciting five words he picked supposedly at random. (Leaving aside the fact that he mistakes memory for intelligence, which in itself demonstrates how little he understands of psychology). He obviously picked five things in front of him, and tried to claim that remembering the same list of words a few minutes later demonstrated how intelligent he was. Well, according to this, he is now being epically trolled by people on the web getting five year old children to recite the same list of five words. That is an owning if ever there was one.
Not that I’ve watched it in ages, but according to this, my all time favourite tv presenter and traveller Sir Michael Palin will be appearing on The Simpsons. ”The Monty Python star, 77, has already recorded his lines, according to Matt Selman, a writer and producer on the long-running animated show.” According to the article, the Simpsons producers tried to lure another member of Python to also appear on the show; it doesn’t give much detail about the role Palin will have, so make of that what you will. Nonetheless, I think this is something to keep an eye on. The mind boggles at what they could have Sir Michael doing, and whether it could be related to any of his comedy or travel programmes. Maybe Homer decides to quit his job at the nuclear plant and become a lumberjack.
Serkan cleaned my floor today meaning that it was a good idea for me to be out of the house for a bit. I decided to take a good long walk, over to my old stomping ground in charlton. The sky was grey and I wasn’t that optimistic about anything interesting happening, but as luck would have it I happened upon a sight I had almost given up on seeing this summer. Coming into Charlton park, passing the house, I began to catch glimpses of men in white on the field: there was a cricket match being played! At once, memories came flooding back of all the summers I had sat in that park watching the Blackheath Mighty Eights. It made me feel simultaneously happy and sad, as if normality had resumed after a long painful break.
I didn’t stay long before resuming my walk; I didn’t recognise either team playing. Yet for the two or three overs I sat at that boundary, it felt like all the darkness of the last few months had been suspended, and I remembered that there was joy and fun to be had in the world.
Who fancies yet another reboot of a once popular franchise which you assumed was over and done with thirty years ago? I take this trailer to be absolute proof that the American film industry really is stuck for new ideas. Why else would they keep going back to franchises most currently middle-aged viewers first encountered as children? And why else would they even attempt to coax Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves back into roles they both outgrew long ago? Post Matrix, to see Reeves even attempting to play Ted again just looks wrong, but I suppose it’s just a symptom of where Hollywood is at the moment.
With the question of Scottish independence once again topping the lunchtime news, I have to say I really do not know what to think about that. To be fed up with UK politics is quite understandable at the moment: anyone even vaguely aware of the political situation can see what a catastrophic mess the country is now in. But the Scottish nationalists think that Scotland’s route out of that mess would be to break it away from the rest of the UK. It could then rejoin the EU on it’s own.
I’m sorry, but I have to say that really strikes me as hypocritical, if not downright selfish. First, the SNP are obviously using Brexit as an excuse to further their own long-term goals; they can see how dire Brexit will be for the UK, but rather than assisting the campaign to get the whole country back into the EU, they just think in terms of their own plot of land. Membership of the European Union is founded upon the philosophy that everyone ought to work together, across national borders; so isn’t splitting from one union to join another hypocritical?
Second, if Scotland did become independent, Labour would lose all it’s voters north of the border, and the UK would probably be stuck with perpetual tory rule. The SNP know this, yet despite claiming to be left wing are willing to abandon anyone not in Scotland to suffering under the tories in order to achieve their own aims. True left wing politics is surely about seeing yourself as part of a society and caring about other people, not abandoning others to achieve your own personal goals. After all, Marx famously wrote about the workers of the world uniting. How can we unite with ever more borders being erected? The working class in Scotland might be ok, but they would have abandoned their counterparts in the rest of the UK, who have exactly the same grievances with the Tories as they do, to get there.
That’s why I still have a problem with the cause of Scottish nationalism. Obviously the whole country is up shit creek right now, but you don’t solve it’s problems by splitting one’s own small area off from the whole: that’s precisely the ‘logic’ (and I use that term loosely) which underpinned Brexit. Both are manifestations of nationalism, leading to humanity dividing itself into ever smaller, ever more adversarial blocks; and both are as bad as the other.
Dom sent this video to me earlier. I was a bit bemused at first. Why would he send me a video of a rap song about brushing one’s teeth? But then I noticed something interesting. The scenery in the background looked familiar, and I realised the video was filmed up at North Greenwich, just south of the O2.