Getting Done by Brexit

Today was the Day For Rejoin, with modest events held around the UK. It’s a start, but it’s going to be a long road back. I wouldn’t expect us back in the Single Market before the election after next, and the EU itself, who knows. But I can still remember getting a mad-looking flyer in the 2005 election from some bunch of no-hopers called UKIP, and look what they achieved.

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23 March 2024

State of the Artless

By now, the whole world has heard about Willy’s Chocolate Experience in Glasgow (archived), or as the page title has it, “Willy Choclate Experience”, which sounds like something quite different and not at all for the weans. That mangled English is in keeping with the AI-generated graphics promising “a pasadise of sweet teats”, “enigemic sounds” and “ukxepcted twits”, which is the usual xepctation in the uk these days.

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4 March 2024

Storm in a Teacup

My Australian family, on both sides, came from staunch tea-drinking traditions: Mum’s father was English and her mother umpteenth-generation Australian, and Dad’s mother was Manx and his father third-generation British colonial from Fiji (where Dad was born, and lived too until his teens). Tea-drinking places, all. Whenever our families would gather, endless cups and pots would be brewed throughout the afternoon as we sat and talked, and pretty early on I was drinking it too.

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25 January 2024 · 1 Comment

Cooling Off

I’ve been over to Glasgow four or five times since the summer and have taken a few more photos of parts of it I hadn’t seen, so here’s another gallery of the place to go with the last one.

River Clyde, Glasgow
The River Clyde in November.

27 December 2023

Fanfare for Cardinal Fang

Last week we once again caught the train to London to see our son perform with the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain for the 28th concert of this year’s Proms at the Royal Albert Hall. It was another great concert, with engrossing performances of works by Paul Hindemith, Richard Strauss and Aaron Copland, most of which I hadn’t heard before (apart from “Fanfare for the Common Man” incorporated into Copland’s third symphony); and rousing encores at the end of each half. We were sat above the orchestra, looking down on them and the rest of the audience—an excellent view, although it meant the sound was sometimes heading away from us. If you’re curious, the BBC Radio 3 broadcast is available online for the next two months, and the concert will be on BBC television and iPlayer in a week or so.

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9 August 2023

Murals and Museums

A few weekends ago I popped over to Glasgow on the train to catch up with my cousin, who was in town for a while. It was the first time I’d passed through Queen Street station since its revamp, thanks to the pandemic, although I drove my son to the outskirts of the city last year for a concert. It meant I was able to appreciate some of the new murals that have sprung up around Merchant City in recent years, as I walked to the Cathedral to meet my cousin. I’d never been inside the Cathedral, either; it’s impressively mediaeval for such a Victorian city.

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3 August 2023

Modern Life is Rubbish

Mortgage rates in Britain are rising in the face of all economic logic and contributing to inflation going through the roof. Experts are being cancelled for criticising the government on Twitter. Police can do what they want to us. And we can now see the physical impact of austerity on the next generation: British five-year-olds are shorter than their European peers.

Two days ago, the prime minister avoided the vote on the Privileges Committee report on whether Boris Johnson lied to Parliament about Partygate. (Let’s see how this poll tracker shifts next week.) On social media, Boris backers have been trying to distract from the central issue of his lying to the House by focussing on the party aspect and again minimizing it all as “a bit of cake”, but the leak of a video filmed at a Jingle and Mingle party on 14 December 2020 has blown up that defence; now it’s “they were just letting off a bit of steam”, despite the invitations actually calling it a party. The fury from people who lost loved ones or had gruelling shifts on Covid wards at the time isn’t going away. This heartbreaking clip from a BBC Radio 4 call-in last week should be played to every last one of the minimizers.

Oh, and the WHO didn’t say that the pandemic was over, despite the British press reporting that it did.

21 June 2023

The King’s Bling Thing

I hadn’t meant to watch the Coronation, but a few minutes before 11 a.m. yesterday idly looked up what was happening when and realised that the ceremony in the Abbey was about to start. So I switched on the TV out of curiosity, and we all marked the hour or two of history that otherwise would have passed us by.

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7 May 2023

London Sounds

London 2023

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30 April 2023

Don’t Camp Outdoors

The trip to Rose Cottage is Cal Flyn’s account of a trip to Swona, a remote Scottish island that was abandoned in 1974. A herd of cattle has been running wild there for decades. Videos of a visit to Swona in 2000 and a history of the island capture its peaceful desolation. If you’re ever sailing due west of Burwick in Orkney, why not stop by for a visit yersel’? A Metafilter post.

2 October 2022