Brexit breakdown continues

So Theresa May survives a vote of no confidence after her historic defeat last night in the Commons over her deal for leaving the EU. In short, the worst, most incompetent Westminster government in my lifetime remains because the worst, most incompetent official opposition has only started taking the fight to the Tories, and the DUP keep May afloat by scooping up large sums of budget while ensuring the Northern Irish government remains disassembled.

Where we stand now is that May will meet with Corbyn, Blackford and other party leaders in an attempt to hammer out a compromise. I feel it is my duty to remind people that the Scottish Government presented a compromise, and indeed, the basics of a plan back in December 2016 which was rejected sight unseen by the Tories.  There is also the fact that unless the UK drops some of its red lines the deal which was rejected is the best deal we’re getting, and we’re heading towards a no deal unless enough MP’s in the Tories and Labour join the fairly unanimous support for a second EU referendum from the other parties. However May won’t budge and Corbyn has a history of not once changing his mind politically so in short; we’re fucked.

Which is another good time to remind people of this.

So, just over two months til we leave. Good luck everyone and remember to stock up on tinned goods…

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The Passenger

There was an interesting piece the other day in the Leicester Mercury about punks in the city in the late 70’s at a Damned gig at the De Montfort Hall. Now I wasn’t living in Leicester then, I wasn’t even a teenager back in Glasgow, and didn’t got a gig til Blondie at the Apollo in the early 80’s then I was off banging round the city seeing gigs in places like Rooftops, The Mayfair (where I first saw The Fall) and of course Strathclyde and Glasgow Uni not to mention the Barrowlands which has barely changed in the decades.

But in 1988 I moved to Leicester, experienced the joys the De Montfort Hall, the Princess Charlotte (still one of the best pub venues I’ve ever been in and now sadly gone as a venue) and of course the bus trips to Nottingham for whatever was on at Rock City. Leicester’s close location to London meant that I’d often vanish into the gaudy neon lit streets of London, specifically Camden and Kentish Town, though it’d not be unrealistic to end up in a pub or club in Soho to bide the time before waking up the next day in bed/on the floor depending on how lucky one got.

Then Bristol became somewhere I’d go to and again I’d experience the nitelife there, so my teenage and formative years up to my mid 20’s was scattered across the UK like precious  Infinity Stones as I didn’t just belong in one place, but many but at the same time I didn’t really centre myself in one scene but many.

Now, the point of all this nostalgia is this. Since my stroke and cancer, and in particular, since moving to Glasgow I’ve essentially become rooted in one place considering what I’m actually going to do for however many years I’ve got left but I’ve been doing my best to avoid making any actual decision by getting a job that vaguely pays or generally devolving any serious thought as much as possible. Well, tomorrow I go to the hospital for my 6-month cancer checkup and should, barring incident, be told only to come see the hospital once a year which means I can’t put off decisions or hide much longer. See I don’t want all my futures to be sitting wallowing in nostalgia, fun though that may be, but I want to create new moments and fashion new gems of memory to collect as time goes on that is beyond just existing and doing alright.

Tomorrow I may have to finally move on from the holding pattern I’m in and finally grasp the steering wheel of my life to guide myself to whatever is next. We shall see what happens…

A word of appreciation for Absolute Beginners

Back in 1986 the director Julien Temple directed the film adaptation of Absolute Beginners; originally a book about life in London one summer in 1958.  It helped bankrupt one British studio, Goldcrest, and was instantly declared such a bomb that it’s rarely spoken about apart from ‘5 worst films ever’ type clickbait articles online., however the theme song by David Bowie is the only thing to really survive.

Part of the hate the film produced was the decision to turn the book into a musical, not to mention the charisma-free relationship between the two miscast leads (Patsy Kensit and Eddie O’Connell) and the fact the book was toned down. The film also has little sense of pace & the tone flits from weird British comedy to intense racial politics on a penny, plus those musical numbers stop the film dead even if some (like the Ray Davis one) are actually superb.

In short it deserves the reputation for being a mess and in places it is pretty awful, but, there’s one of the best opening shots you’ll see in a film as Temple guides the camera in one shot giving us a guided tour of the recreation of 50’s Soho.  There’s the production design which stands up as being part faithful, part idealised and of course some of the musical numbers are great. When the film clicks, I get what the filmmakers were trying to do and sure, the sometimes clunking acting, or the black hole of the central relationship comes back to punch you in the face in regards the bad side but something comes along shortly after to make you pine as to what it could have been, especially at the end during the Notting Hill race riots.

As a film it doesn’t deserve the hate its built up as there’s clearly far, far worse out there, but certain films become punching bags and Absolute Beginners is one of them. The film’s one big positive legacy though remains the theme song which is one of the greatest themes a film could have, which seeing as it came at a time in the 80’s when David Bowie wasn’t exactly at the top of his game (to say the least) for him to pull out a song which seriously gets better every time it’s heard is nothing short of genius.

When I saw Bowie perform the song at Glastonbury in 2000, it was nothing short of perfect. Standing there in a crowd of people transfixed hearing and seeing people moved by a song from a film that’s a third shit, a third weird genius and third all over the place and is now mainly forgotten is not an experience ever to be forgot.

So give the film another chance, or if you’ve never seen it watch it for what it is which is an ambitious, weird oddity with a brilliant opening, some great moments and one of the best songs of all time.

Have a look…

Ron Smith RIP

If you throw out names of 2000AD artists over the year, specifically Judge Dredd, you can’t avoid the name of Ron Smith who has sadly passed away.

Other names like Brian Bolland, MIke McMahon or Carlos Esquerra over the years got the critical and fan love, but Smith never got the credit he deserved from certain parts of fandom. Fans loved his work though, and for me his finest Dredd stories are the Otto Sump ones where he indulges himself in drawing some glorious grotesques in one of the best storylines of the 80’s.

Personally I loved the Satanus story just because it looked great, and Judge Dredd always works when you throw him against a fantastic monster, and Satanus was a great monster.

With Smith’s passing another of the grand old greats of British comics goes with him along with a style of his own. He can’t be replaced and will be greatly missed.

Do we live in a terrible future dystopia?

The short answer is ‘yes’.  Works like Children of Men were meant to be fiction, not a roadmap for the future.

I think we can say recent government policy shows the UK is heading for a viciously anti-immigrant/asylum seeker policy dripping with racism, but this latest phase of British institutionalised racism goes back further and is even ingrained in British culture. This latest phase was riled up over a decade ago by the Tories when Michael Howard’s Tory Party ran an amazingly racist campaign in 2005, which was also thoroughly rejected by the electorate.

It didn’t help things that post-2005 politicians were less inclined to defend immigration and multiculturalism, so we end up with the Tories and Labour both chasing UKIP votes by swinging more and more right, which in doing so swung the political compass in England especially waaaay to the right.

And we come to Brexit which places the UK on the verge of a genuine dystopia where people will suffer because people hate the idea of immigrants. Also the idea that this is the fault of the working class (a line peddled by many on the right and left) is arguably, bollocks. Academic research shows in fact the white middle class were the midwives of Brexit. It does however suit the narrative of the far right, and left, to paint the working class as the culprit and the victim here.

So with less than 90 days we’re facing a no deal. Forget any fantasy bullshit from Tory or Labour the harsh legal reality is coming home to roost and the result of that is we’re on the verge of finishing the roadmap which started in the mid 2000s and enter this fucked up dystopia we’ve been building up to since then.

Brexit will kill people

I’ve said before as to how Brexit will kill you, and as he enter the last weeks before the UK leaves the UK, it becomes clearer that any form of Brexit is going to cause disruption. It already is, and people are losing jobs as companies scale back, or worse, go out of business. That isn’t even including those companies or even countries, that have scrapped plans to invest in the UK because of Brexit. Then there’s the fact immigrants no longer want to stay or come so the UK’s working population grows older, and we lose not just skilled staff & the taxes these people paid, but we lose friends, partners, lovers and fellow human beings chased out of a country which no longer welcomes them.

Which brings us to today. Brexit is becoming a hard reality for people now as this thread outlines.

There’s a young woman terrified of what may happen to her, and the chances of people quite seriously dying, or seeing their condition worsen to the level where they’re made invalid for example.  If you read the comments under the Tweets you’ll find Brexiters, from the right and the left, calling this ‘Project Fear’, or airily waving their hands saying they’ll be fine of course.

Truth is, unless you’ve managed to score yourself your own supply of drugs nobody is safe. Disrupt the ‘just in time’ supply chain with no plans to replace it and you’ll have shortages, plus the practical thing of actually getting drugs into a country which can’t process vehicles into its borders because Kent’s turned into a giant car park.

Of course all of this is still avoidable but neither Tory or Labour leadership have any intention of changing path from Brexit so unless by some shocking surprise May’s deal passes, we’re leaving theEU with no deal and the shit will hit the UK over the month of April, probably longer as it’ll take months, realistically years to even try to repair the damage. People are losing jobs now, and come leaving, lives will be lost.

So every single MP who voted for Article 50 to be invoked when the UK had no plan or idea of what it wanted out of an exit deal except it rejected the EU’s four freedoms, specifically freedom of movement.We’ve got to face the reality that at that moment the only deal available to us would have been an awful one, but we had no give in these negotiations. We weren’t prepared to compromise and with the EU making it very clear there’s no renegotiation of this, we’ve got to deal with the no deal that’s coming. And that’s why every MP who voted for Article 50 to be invoked, and every commentator cheering that on is going to have not just the wreckage of people’s lives on their hands, but blood. Fuck ‘the will of the people’ or ‘we were whipped’ or any other of the cowards answers. People voted for that knowing well it was an awful decision but abdicated their duty to protect their constituents

Remember, all of this is avoidable.All of this is insane. All of this is being forced upon people in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Gibraltar who all voted against Brexit. All of this born in xenophobia and a weird form of British exceptionallism that sees England or a mythical form of Britain, ruling the world or being a major figure but there’s no empire left to ravage Seeing as we’ve shown we can’t be trusted, we’re not going to be ‘forging a new and special relationship’ with the world that especially benefits us.

With less than three months to go, we’re increasingly fucked. Things may change, but I doubt it so be prepared and be ready for what’s coming, and remember when the smoke clears to hold those people responsible to account for the damage they’ve done.