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Falling Down

The twentieth anniversary of 9/11 felt more significant than in a while, probably because the fall of Kabul to the Taliban last month had already taken the world right back to 2001. I wouldn’t add much to my comments of those early years, but some of the articles that did the rounds were worth a look.

“The Falling Man” is still you and me.

My mother died on 9/11. Every year, her absence feels larger.

9/12, by Edward Snowden.

The wildest shit from ’01 to ’06.

I also watched 102 Minutes That Changed America, which because we didn’t have a TV in September 2001 was the first time I’d seen the footage at such length. A waking nightmare.

18 September 2021

Enemy State

The Brexit of small things.

Antiques no-show.

Have things improved?

“I can’t see any positives.”

Food exporters are having to cut ties with the EU.

Europe’s trust in Britain has gone.

Enemy state.

“After Calais it is the north pole.”

Why the UK isn’t winning Eurovision.

What will replace the United Kingdom?

9 June 2021

The Benefit of Hindsight

Nobody could have predicted the insurrection.

Nobody could have predicted the insurrection.

Nobody could have predicted the insurrection.

Nobody could have predicted the insurrection.

Among the insurrectionists that nobody could have predicted.

A Night at the Garden.

The American Abyss.

Russia cultivated Trump for 40 years.

I see no choice but to resign from this Death Star as it begins to explode.

20 March 2021

Mr Bun the Baker

Brexit is coming apart at the seams. Everything that they promised is coming unstitched.

It clawed at the seam where I felt connected to the country I called home.

The Conservatives have ripped us from our only possible home.

How did a man with no shame come to haunt our times?

I was completely and utterly horrified by what I felt was almost a coup.

We had to be complicit in the fallacy that these things could just work.

When something has gone wrong and you need to distract the audience, you send in the clowns.

Title from the greatest of all Brexit tweets.

20 March 2021

Blighty

A year ago today was my last day in the office before the first lockdown, with our university telling us all to work from home a week before the prime minister did. For almost three months we’ve been in Scotland’s second lockdown, which is only now starting to ease: older primary school kids (including ours) went back to physical school full-time yesterday, and younger high school kids (including ours) have started going back a day a week until Easter.

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16 March 2021

Frozen

This is no time to neglect the blog, with covid cases rising steeply in the UK, the first visible impacts of Johnson’s hard Brexit, Trump rallying his thugs to storm the Capitol on the sixth, and the prospect of worse in the next nine days. America is playing out all of my fears of four years and two months ago, and like much of the world I’m holding my breath.

But a new lockdown in Scotland has meant that the kids didn’t return to school on the sixth and probably won’t for another month and a half at least, and four of us are trying to make this a workplace and a school and a studio and a cinema and a home and a refuge and an escape under the same modest roof again. January is always a busy month, with new courses coinciding with marking last semester’s, and this year I have additional management duties and less time in the day to manage them, so I don’t have much hope of doing much here. But I’m posting this anyway, to put in place this month’s sidebar of this morning’s frosty window and leave the door ajar in case I feel compelled to vent about the state of the world.

12 January 2021 · 1 Comment

The Night Before

Christmas 2020

It’s the end of the bleakest lead-up to Christmas that I can remember. Boris Johnson is touting his just-agreed EU trade deal as if it’s the best Christmas present ever, when in reality it’s the hardest Brexit short of no deal and will set Britain back for years. Thousands of lorry drivers are stuck in queues at Dover after borders were closed because of covid, when they were already racking up because of increased delivery traffic ahead of the end of transition. A new strain of the disease is spreading across the UK, with Scotland just over 24 hours from a new lockdown and UK covid cases approaching the peak of the first one. The prospect of widespread vaccination still seems a long way off.

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24 December 2020

The Australian Option

After a hard-fought three-course meal with the president of the European Commission yesterday, Boris Johnson has this evening tweeted that “now is the time for the public and businesses to get ready for the Australian option on January 1st”, using that mealy-mouthed euphemism for No Deal guaranteed to make resident Australians laugh with bitter irony. “The Australian option.” Hope you enjoy your Dinki-Di Meat and Vegies.

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11 December 2020

Cracked Actor

On the day of Trump’s inauguration I posted a black flag here in mourning for American democracy, fearful for what would come: fears I elaborated in November 2016 and February 2017. In the four years since, I’ve posted occasional links and short pieces about the U.S., but have mostly written about the U.K.’s own slide into right-wing irrelevance. This, after all, is the polity I’m part of; analysing the details of Trump’s malfeasance seemed better left to Americans.

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8 November 2020

Trumpscrolling

I’d managed to go a couple of months without spending too much time dwelling on the current resident of the Oval Office—as opposed to the wider hellscape he’s created—to the point where I didn’t get around to posting a bunch of links I’d collected about U.S. politics last month. But now we’ve had a week where stories about Trump sabotaging the first debate with Biden, his tax records showing him paying $750 in income tax in 2017 and strongly suggesting money laundering, him testing positive for coronavirus, evidence that he knew about his diagnosis for days before announcing it, and now his risky and manic behaviour while on medication, have created a screaming video-wall of distraction when he’s the last person I want to think about.

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5 October 2020