Saturday 25 June 2016

I came home angry and drunk and wrote a thing about Brexit (sorry for saying Brexit)

Vimes had once discussed the Ephebian idea of ‘democracy’ with Carrot, and had been rather interested in the idea that everyone had a vote until he found out that while he, Vimes, would have a vote, there was no way in the rules that anyone could prevent Nobby Nobbs from having one as well. Vimes could see the flaw there straight away.” 

Terry Pratchett,The Fifth Elephant

If you are a fan of the Discworld novels, then this quote will probably come to mind every time you go to vote in an election. It certainly rattled round my head a lot on Thursday and Friday during the referendum. However much I disagree with the Leave campaign, they have won, and I have to find a way to make a positive out of that. It has been a bitter, divisive and awful campaign that has torn apart friends and families; I know of at least 4 people who have unfriended each other on facebook (oh my god! The horror!) and will probably never talk to each other again.

Of course, the low point of all this was the assassination of Jo Cox. However anybody tries to spin it, this was an act of political terrorism, just because Tommy Mair wasn't part of any formal organisation, he claimed allegiance to the leave campaign and called Mrs Cox a traitor. That makes him as much a terrorist as Omar Mateen, the Orlando shooter. And yet still, even after this awfulness, people were calling anybody wanting to vote remain a traitor (including the guy I had this infamous argument with once), while those on the other side were calling anyone wanting to leave, for whatever reason, racists and fascists and bigots. I am just glad it's all over now, and I hope we can heal the fractures running through society.

Even the Leave campaign didn't expect to win. I realise that that sounds insane, but it is the only thing that makes sense. Farage came out apologetically, and all those Tory MPs wrote that letter saying they wanted Cameron to stay. He didn't and their bet was safe anyway. I have spent the day trying to come to terms with the result. I can live with the leave vote, I can accept that we will leave the EU. I have a problem with what happens next.

My problem is that nothing will change. My problem is that the angry people who have voted against the unequal, fucking dreadful status quo have been lied to, and short changed. My problem is that the people who woke up this morning happy that their children's future was brighter and better, and filled with a well funded NHS, houses for all, and jobs with living wages for anyone willing to put in a day's graft will be thoroughly disappointed. I was told that 'no fucking Europeans' would be telling us what to do now, despite the fact that, as far as I am aware, none were anyway. And then when I suggested that the bastards would always win, that 'at least they were our bastards'. Hoorah for the brits, yay Jingoism. What the fuck does it matter where a cunt comes from, he is still a cunt. I meant Rupert Murdoch when I mentioned the bastards anyway, and he's definitely not one of 'ours', whatever 'ours' means.

I have never wanted to be wrong more in my life, and I would like you to send me this piece in five years time and tell me how wrong I was, and that Brexit (which is not a biscuit) was the best thing ever to happen in the history of England. (For surely, the United Kingdom is now utterly fucked, Scotland will get their second referendum, they will leave, and wonderfully, the IRA seem to be making vague mutterings about a United Ireland again, I can only apologise to Wales for dragging them down with us, but we are England again, have no doubt about that. I hope the woman shouting 'this is our England!' on the news is happy now.)

The call for a second referendum is utterly futile as well. I laughed when Nigel Farage suggested that in the event of a 52/48 split against him then he would push for another referendum. It would be utterly disingenuous of me to suggest that it's ok for my side to do it.

I have heard from left-leaning friends of mine how they see our new, bright future, and I love what my friend Steve Carter said :-

On a deep level, the universe is about change and in change lies potential; potential for good or bad but change is what we have chosen and we now have a real and palpable opportunity for change. I think this is the first step in a long process of seeing good change to our democracy. We have just said no to unelected bodies that govern us so I now see the writing on the wall for the Lords in it's current form - that has to change but it will take time. We also remove the umph of the UK flag wavers - of course, the Scottish will be flag waving. I expect the forces within the Labour party to mobilise a real offence on the Tories but fear they may end up back stabbing internally for a while. We are now blessed with a global communication system and a much more liberal social outlook. People are conscious of the environment and our place within a global society so I do not see a swing to the right. I think we will see a knee jerk to the left and I hope we have a GE soon. However maybe we need some stability for the next couple of years. We have laws in place for rights and the environment and I see nothing changing any time soon in that regard. It is up to us to write to our MPs, go demonstrating and make our voices heard. Only apathy we lead us to nothing positive and there are 48% who have woken up fuming today so hopefully they will be vocal. Today is a good day for democracy. The EU, for all it's good points, is far from a shining light for democracy.”

and if we were exiting under a different administration, I might have his hope, I certainly don't disagree with him fundamentally, but I'm a pragmatist and we have done this under a government who are a fair bit right of Thatcher. I don't think we're doing Progrexit.

I am also once again proper cross with the BBC. I am certain that there are decent, well-educated, sensible people voting leave. The statistics bear that out if nothing else. But all the coverage shows angry people shouting 'immigrants' and waving flags with no coherent argument to back them up. Equally, there must be incoherent fuckwits voting remain, but the media's 'story' is only showing the middle class, lentil weaving graduates arguing some philosophical point or another. Never before have I felt so much like we were being deliberately manipulated in a 'divide and rule' kind of way. Fuck your story, this is real life, don't pit whole communities against each other. Now, more than ever, we need to be united in our intent. Angry sink estates need to work with the intellectual wankers (I have never felt more like an overgrown Adrian Mole in my life than writing this paragraph) and overcome your prejudice. Inequality is everyone's problem, and somebody somewhere is using it to keep us distracted and fighting each other when we should be having a proper fucking revolution.

I am no expert, and I am still fairly sure that sovereignty is an abstract concept unless you want to be in North Korea or Russia, but I can't see how it makes any difference in the real world. It's not often I agree with Alastair Campbell, but when he says that we elect other people to understand the complicated stuff and make decisions for us, I think he's right. I don't pretend to know how to write a budget, or run a government department anymore than Tony Blair could write a really funny song about a cat leaving headless bodies all over the house, or some lengthy pointless bollocks about looking at naked pictures of Prince. Referendums are largely a bad idea.

Nobody is actually going to stop immigration. We need it to keep the country going. Wages are not going to go up even if all the immigrant labour goes back home tomorrow. Austerity will carry on, rich wankers will continue to own more property than they can live in and homes will continue to be for profit, not living in. Look at all the big empty towers of London. Company profits will continue to go towards dividends while the people doing the work are told they can't be paid more because of the Romanians willing to do it for less. Outside of the EU, or inside the EU, the people in charge are the same people, and there are less other people watching them now. It will be bitter to watch the same people still suffering even when the cheap foreign labour has been deported, after they have been given false hope today, and I will take no joy in telling them I told them so (I will still tell them I told you so though).

You have been sold a scapegoat, it will take you years to realise it, and I hope to god that I am wrong and you get to tell me to my face. Capitalism is your enemy, and a lack of investment. EU regulations do not stop nationalisation, which would solve a huge amount of problems in at least a couple of industries. Thatcher sold us all a lie along the lines of the 'american dream', Blair and Cameron have run with it, and now we are all accepting of the Capitalist nightmare, and that the laws of economics are the same as the laws of physics. When the blinkers come off, I will be at the barricades with you, and I will stay your hand at the guillotine. I would like a truly bloodless revolution, (the less said about Farage's tasteless bullet comments the better) and a truly fairer society.

As an anarchist, and no respecter of borders, laws or conventions, today should have been water off a duck's back to me. But I do not like to see people duped, and I do not like to think of where they will throw the blame in five years time when things are no better for them. Also, I have ducks, and they hate the fucking rain like everybody else. Like Jo Cox (who I knew little about before her assassination, and cried over for a whole day) said “we are far more united and have far more in common with each other than things that divide us.” Just like me and my ducks.
 Don't listen to the bullshit, look with your eyes.

Sunday 19 June 2016

Stand up, say it loud, I'm a terrible dancer and I'm proud

This year began with the unexpected death of my beloved dog, Rizla. David Bowie died the next day and cemented the theme for the rest of the year. Sitting drinking scrumpy alone in the rain on my thirty ninth birthday this week really brought the full awfulness of 2016 in general (not personally, I'm ok, things are good, don't worry) home to me. Never in my life have I spent as much time crying over people I have never met (and in the most recent and dreadful instance, barely knew anything about, but I have never felt so sad and powerless as I did on Thursday night after hearing about the needless murder of Jo Cox. All day Friday – and I apologise for the slightly clichéd simile here - I felt like there was a grey mist about me that would never lift.) as I have done this year.

I have to confess, when I'm on holiday, I consciously avoid the news. I even avoid social media, since a quick facebook scroll is no longer uplifting and life-affirming, it is utterly dreadful and leaves me even more depressed. I realise this is supposedly childish, but children tend to be happy, unless given a reason not to be (I am aware just how ridiculous some of those reasons can be). And this week, if you want a reason not to be, then watch the news. I'm not going to go into all this week's awful here, but I'd be surprised if you hadn't noticed it.

Of course, very quickly after being a child, you become a teenager, and then you are presented with a million new reasons not to be happy, most of which revolve around what other people think of you, none of which actually matter. Unfortunately, you won't realise this for another twenty years or so, and there will be a surprising amount of people who are still hung up on it when you get there.

At the moment, like everybody else, I am devoting much more time than I would like to trying to work out if I actually give a shit if we are part of the European Union or not (spoilers, I do care, but I am not telling anybody which side I am on, in case I have to argue about it, which is now officially the thing I am most bored of in the world). I was talking to someone the other day – who shall remain nameless, I am not interested in petty point scoring – who told me that people don't understand the EU thing. I agreed, and then they explained to me that people thought we were voting to leave Europe, but we were only voting to leave the EU. As if we could hack away at a tectonic plate and float ourselves off on a wave of magma were it a different vote. This is just one reason among many that I have stopped arguing about the EU. This same person was also asking if I was as right wing as they felt, as I stood there with my Jesus-features, in my eco-friendly sandals, recycled brazilian tarpaulin hat and army surplus coat, ordering the vegetarian option and the locally produced organic cider.

But this is not about the EU. This is about getting older, and not giving a shit anymore. Which I don't think I do, in or out, we are still all being fucked over by global corporations and having to be grateful that they pay us just a bit less than it takes to live on. But again, this is not about the EU, apologies for the brief tangent.

Those teenage hangups will always haunt us. Being laughed at for whatever reason sticks with you. I touched on it briefly in my last blog about music snobbery, but that was only the tip of the iceberg. I love to dance, I think secretly everybody loves to dance, and that awful maxim 'dance like no-one's watching' only goes so far. Somebody is always watching, even if it's just you. And you are the meanest, snarkiest critic you will ever have. So no, don't dance like no-one's watching, dance like everyone is looking at you and you don't give a shit. I have been recently, and it's been brilliant. I worry about writing anything too positive in case some wanker writes it in quotes on a picture of a sunset, but I'm willing to take the risk this time.

For bank holiday weekend, me and Netty went to Brighton, and danced ourselves stupid at the Fortune of War on the seafront. They were playing Prince, Prince related songs, and possibly some other dirty funk that wasn't Prince, but I think it was all Prince, right on the beach and righteously funky. It reminded me that back when I was at school, I loved Prince, I had seen the cover of Lovesexy and thought that Prince might be the coolest person I had ever seen. I saw him writhing all over the stage in Purple Rain, and was as jealous as a teenage boy can be of his trousers, his devil-may-care-telecaster-across-the-back-on-a-motorbike attitude and everything about him.

However, I was worried that I would be called gay.

I know, but it was a different time, and I am also aware that I was most worried at the reactions from the school rugby team, who I played second row for - a role which requires you to fondle the testicles of the man in front while sticking your head between two bottoms. Yet I was worried that my love of Prince would make them think I was gay.

To clarify, I am not gay, I have checked, and I don't fancy men. I don't even fancy Prince (though I think I could be forgiven for that one if I did). In the same way as other, more stereotypical teenage boys saw James Bond movies and wanted to wear a tux, shoot guns and drive Aston Martins, I saw Prince and wanted to lie about naked looking this fuck-off-cool -

- or wear womens underwear and wank off a telecaster neck.

I know that this does not make me gay, and I also know now that I wouldn't care, and it wouldn't make any difference to me if it did, I am mistaken for a homosexual so often now I have stopped bothering to deny it.

I am not sure which makes me sadder now, the fact that I denied myself so much awesome music in case I was accused of being gay, or the fact that I thought being gay such a bad thing to be accused of. I'd like to think that in these more enlightened times, kids at school are out and proud, and when accused of being gay they answer in the same way as you would when asked where you live, what's your name, what's your sign etc. etc. I realise that we are not there yet, but surely it can't be much longer now before we stop using Gay as a casual insult forever. Homophobia and Misogyny are so rife in our culture at the moment that it can even affect (albeit in a tiny, ultimately trivial way) that great bastion of Great Britain, a public school educated straight white male like myself. It is this ingrained fear of being gay that (possibly, if early reports are to be believed) were the actual root cause of the terrible and heartbreaking scenes in Orlando last week (YMMV IMHO and so on).

After the Fortune of War, we went on to Legends, a marvellous gay club on Brighton seafront. I went down to the cellar dancefloor, and got my funky thing on. A lovely man offered to 'shiver me timbers' for me (we were dressed full pirate, which turned out to be a good idea, as we were invited in to all the clubs along the seafront for nothing, ahead of the massive queues ahead of us, and with the prospect of free cocktails inside. Two middle-aged pirates dancing all the way along the beach, ahead of a long line of young, conventionally-beautiful people who had to pay. There's a lesson for you if you like free drinks.) and instead of offering a horrified 'I'm straight! I'm straight!' - whatever that means - I merely smiled and told him I was married. Thankfully we now live in a country where I can tell anybody I like that I am married without revealing my sexuality. He probably figured out that I was married to the other Pirate who was right behind me, and a woman, but hey, baby steps, and I am a product of a society that made me afraid to admit I liked a popular black American singer because he was naked on the front of his record.

Anyway, Prince makes me think I can dance like this

Seriously, don't start me on my Michael Jackson Fanboi hangups either

When I actually dance like this

thanks to my friend Marcus for catching us dancing in the square to the marvellous Anthem playing Bon Jovi last weekend. I accept that I (like most musicians who aren't Prince) am a terrible dancer, but I am enjoying myself, and you can all fuck off. In my head I believe I look like Louis the 14th in Versailles (if you're watching) when in fact, I look like the old grey grizzled buggers in it instead, and am rapidly approaching full-Gandalf.

Nobody on their death bed regrets not spending enough time sat at the side of the dance floor making snarky comments about the people out there having a better time than they are, so get on up, get on the good foot, and do the bad thing while you still can. Stand up, say it loud, I'm a terrible dancer and I'm proud.