Hope and Gingerbread

Politics and stuff is getting me down right about now. Chequers was an almost decent compromise (and therefore bound to be despised by all involved parties) is well and truly dead. A discussion with Mr Ros yesterday about safe seats yielded some disturbing information (not for the first time).

Thanks to our incredibly broken representational system it would take over ten thousand extra Labour voters per seat to get the same numbers in Westminster as the Tories. Alright, that’s not really how the maths works but it sounds pretty unfair, no? Why do left leaning sorts insist on packing themselves into cities the world over? The rural heartlands hold far too much sway over outmoded systems. Sure, more proportional representation is more likely to lead to hung parliaments but, well, we get those anyway.

So there are a hundred and one reasons to give up on the current state of politics in this country and elsewhere. When has one vote ever made a difference? Voter turnout is so low already, your civic contribution isn’t exactly going to be missed. And it’s hardly as if apathy is contagious or a dangerous thing to pass onto others.

But there are plenty of things in this world that are still good and worthwhile. Everyone can find something to have a little bit of hope in. For me, as if you couldn’t guess, it’s baked goods. Picture a tray of fresh gingerbread, steaming away in the oven. The glorious spicy smell emanates throughout the house with its promise of deliciousness.

There is absolutely no way this could disappoint you by the time you put it in your mouth. Gingerbread isn’t going to turn round and admit that it has historic allegations of sexual misconduct filed against it or engendered a hate culture with regards to an already oppressed minority.

Song choices courtesy of: Lord of the Rings and Buffering the Vampire Slayer

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Don’t Stop Believin’ Self Esteem

It would seem that the Republican party at large don’t really give a single solitary shit any more. Mainly because they don’t. Of course, various members of their party have done every and anything possible to game the system in their favour. Maybe they’ve stopped caring about public opinion altogether by this point.

In order to tip the scales towards them, voter suppression laws (by way of requiring ID and therefore impacting lower income and therefore left leaning voters) have been pushed through. The district lines have been redrawn to crack and/or pack areas so that the results come up red far more often than not. Republican votes literally count for more than Democrat ones these days.

The next step (well, not really next. You have to hand it to this lot, they’ve been surprisingly busy and industrious when it comes to power grabs) is securing the majority they long for on the courts. And so we come to Brett Kavanaugh and the sexual assault allegations that by all rights ought to derail his Supreme Court nomination entirely. Back in the 90s, Anita Hill’s complaints against Clarence Thomas were investigated by the FBI. It would seem that modern day Republicans would rather force their choices on the rest of the country rather than clearing this very low bar.

It would seem that the taint of the current President of the United States spreads absolutely everywhere. Of course the man with a string of sexual assault allegations to his name, historic mob connections and much worse who is currently under investigation would rather stymie efforts to attempt to bring the truth to light. There are those who bemoan the progress of the #metoo movement. Clearly, it’s not going far enough anything like fast enough. Christine Blasey Ford has been met with doubt, death threats and a whole host of other forms of disingenuous bullshit. Do better.

Song choices courtesy of: Journey and Garfunkel and Oates

Halloween Reveries

Yeah, I’m a little bit surprised too. I’m very much not the type of person who likes to wish months of the year away. Even in September, I’ve already done my first snarls of the season that Christmas is freaking ages away. Then again, given how this year seems to have whipped by, I can’t help but feel like if I don’t start making plans for certain events they’ll just pass me by without so much as a wave in my direction.

On the other other hand, why would I start worrying about Halloween? I’ve been a participant in such festivities less than a handful of times. Maybe I want to relive the glory days of wandering around pretending that I’d had an eye stabbed out (while accompanied by a gentleman in a purple T-shirt. Draw your own conclusions). Or that one time I did trick-or-treating even thought I was patently too old for it.

But perhaps it’s just that Halloween marks a turning point in the year. It’s a few weeks after my birthday (which I’m just casually mentioning so that you in turn have plenty of time to prepare your offerings for said event) and is the last thing that holds the tide against Christmas. Even I can’t find it in me to be too irritated by people’s preparations for the holiday season. We all know it’s the only thing getting them through the dark winter months.

So maybe I should just go with the pumpkin-spiced flow and lean all the way in. I’ve heard tell of Harry Potter-themed gatherings and… that’s it actually. I told you, I’m really not that into Halloween which would explain why I don’t get invited to that particular sort of soiree. Please don’t chime in with your alternative explanations for this phenomenon in my life.

Song choices courtesy of: Buffering the Vampire Slayer and Ramin Djiwadi

The Greatest Pretender

Somehow David Davis wasn’t quite as aggravating as the previous guests this week in the 8:10 interview spot. How dare he not generate material for me? It’s an outrage, I tell you. I am not using this as a delaying tactic. Of course, I remain convinced that any deal that can still be struck in the negotiating time we have left cannot be anything like as good as the arrangement we currently enjoy. It’s going to have been a painful journey by the time everyone comes round to my way of thinking.

Should we feel relieved that Theresa’s chosen a position and is sticking to it through thick and thin? She’s drawn a line in the sand and made it perfectly clear to anyone who’s paying attention that she’s not budging one inch. If they refuse to go for her plan then they’ll live to regret it like the naughty children the EU negotiators obviously will be.

Mrs May seems to be pretty much the least worst candidate we have to guide us through the messy aftermath of the Brexit vote. There are those who yearn for someone more swaggering, with a more effusive linguistic style and a less than close relationship with the truth. Not naming names, but this individual will kick their way into the deal making chamber and lie through their back teeth about what we’ve got to offer and what we want in return.

The thing is though, I’m given to understand that this sort of complex negotiating is actually nothing like poker. We don’t keep our cards close to our chests because there aren’t any cards. After the contract has been signed, it’s terribly bad form to let loose with a ‘ha, we’ve tricked you! All we had was a three of clubs and a Mr Bun the Baker card!’ It’s not a game after all.

Song choices courtesy of: Buffering the Vampire Slayer, Take That and the Foo Fighters

Heavy Brunch Tomorrow

The radio really needs to come with a health warning. Today I had the dubious privilege of screaming at Nigel Farage (the reason why that odious fleck of manhood keeps getting a platform is beyond me). I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it again until I’m blue in the face (even though no one’s paying attention): the result of the referendum wasn’t a clear instruction to do anything. People voted the way they did for a dizzying array of reasons and interpreting a razor-thin majority any way you please is dangerously disingenuous.

So let’s put the divisions aside and focus on something largely innocent that anyone can get excited about: brunch. Come on, you can take your very favourite foods from breakfast and lunch, smash them together on a plate and go back for seconds because it’s a hybrid meal and should therefore be that much more filling. What unhealthy relationship with food?

I’m not saying that brunch is a regular occurrence for me. I even had to do a quick delicious Google to make sure that I had the right ideas when it comes to the portmanteau of a dining experience. Seriously though, how can anyone be disparaging of a meal that could contain anything from pancakes to steak (apparently)?

We need to move on from partisan situations. We’re never going to get a consensus together with everyone teetering on their increasingly unsteady ground (I want to have faith in the left but the antisemitism issue isn’t going away. If a minority group tells you that they feel scared and oppressed, well, you can’t in good conscience sweep that sort of thing under the rug). But surely, from vegans to omnivores, we can find something wholesome and exciting about brunch? Although there is the whole thing about avocado toast being the main reason why millennials can’t afford property. Kedgeree then?

Song choices courtesy of: Rachel Bloom, Flo & Joan and Lifehouse

Your Orders Come From the Middle of Nowhere

I really loathe the will of the people. Yes, I’ve been swearing at the radio again. While I was sitting in traffic. It’s definitely a good look for me. Anyhow, Theresa May is still flogging her Chequers plan for all its worth. Sure, it seems to be marginally better than crashing out of the EU without any semblance of agreement but that’s an almost overwhelmingly low bar to clear. Additionally, her plan is still based on a towering fallacy.

Our perpetually nervous leader is dragging us out of the customs union and ending freedom of movement because she has a clear mandate to do so. Her instructions were made clear as crystal to her on the 24th of June 2016. Except that they bloody well weren’t.

There’s still absolutely no consensus when it comes to what the Brexit vote meant in policy terms. It’s almost as if they didn’t really works things out when they posed a purposefully vague question to a critically uninformed electorate (come on, you still can’t explain how the EU works, can you?). The referendum was based on a sprawling spectrum of lies and slightly more subtle mistruths. Some people will have been gleefully hoping for the harshest, hardest Brexit they could possibly find. These people are masochists. Or possibly anarchists who want to watch the world burn. Or even sadists who enjoy inflicting pain on others in curiously roundabout ways. Or *cough* Rees-Mogg *cough cough* those who have an independent financial stake in rampant deregulation.

The wider point I’m trying to make is that one binary choice just didn’t cover off all the options that the Prime Minister is trying to convince us that people were definitely voting for. It’s all well and good saying that her ramshackle cobbling together of half-measures is better than a no deal scenario. You know what would be better than either of those? Not bloody well doing it at all.

Song choices courtesy of: Murray Gold and Grace Petrie

The Easy Martyr

I’m not having a crack at anyone’s virtue here. Privacy between consenting adults and all that. Easy as in simple. Oh great, now it’s starting to look like I’m having a go at the mentally unendowed and I’ve gone and called attention to it. Easy as in it’s the easiest thing to do in a given set of circumstances rather than sticking it out. Now that we’ve clarified terms we can get into the proper meat.

Becoming a martyr is sometimes the easiest choice. Mainly because we don’t go in for the whole capital punishment things these days. It takes some pretty sad exceptional circumstances to end up dying for whatever cause you’ve pledged yourself to. That or a homicidal dictator. So if you don’t have to lay down your life then you’re probably going to get a halfway decent story out of the experience.

So perhaps martyr as a brand just isn’t applicable any more, especially when you’re the one sticking it on yourself. But being a victim isn’t terribly sexy. The world has done you wrong, you haven’t received your due when it comes to whatever it is you’re hacked off about. This isn’t a case of victimhood, although you do wear it very well if you say so yourself.

How can your tear off someone martyr badge then? If you ask them to provide details about the situation they’ll probably be only too happy to do so. It’s too tall an order to expect you to wade through the mind numbing endlessness of what they have to say in order to mine the nugget of information that will tear the whole argument apart. Is it too much to expect people to be honest and keep absolutely everything in proportion? Oh dear, you’re going to start a movement about all of this aren’t you?

Song choices courtesy of: The Piano Guys, Barenaked Ladies and Rusted Root