Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Why I'll be voting Brexit

The debate is heating up and let's hope that everyone exercises their right to vote on June 23. No doubt the terminally ignorant will refuse to vote because they can't be bothered but I for one will not be missing the opportunity to have my say.
I always vote and especially for two reasons. One, my very good friend, Dee, who lived well into her nineties and had seen it all, reproached me for my blasé attitude towards voting (I couldn't be bothered either). Dee reminded me that women had given their lives in order that I should have the right to vote. From that moment on I hurried down to the ballot box in earnest. So please, be cynical by all means but don't be so apathetic that the democratic process means nothing to you.
The second reason I vote is because I've lived too long. Let me explain. There comes a time in everyone's life where a certain amount of clarity suddenly happens, like a light bulb being switched on. By age 50 one has generally seen and experienced every category of the good, bad and ugly on the planet. Very little is shocking but a lot is worrying. For example, the current problems with migrants, useless and self-serving politicians, the crazy ones intent on blowing things and people up, and the rampant corruption that has inveigled itself into the core of our society, those things worry me more than global warming. I might not live long enough to see the earth turn into a desert but I do pay tax. I'd rather have a say as to how my taxes are spent, thank you very much. And for that reason I'll be voting out as I don't think staying in the EU makes any sense at all. I would hasten to add that all those who want to stay probably have a personal stake such as a house in Tuscany or some other economic interest that they don't want affected or to lose.
For all intents and purposes, I estimate that not much will change with regards to Western Europeans currently residing in the UK and as was the case pre-EU, the UK will have treaties with wealthy countries to allow travel without needing a visa. Citizens of poorer parts of the world will probably have to pay exorbitant sums and jump through hoops in order to travel into the UK. This is how it used to be and it would make perfect sense to return to controlling our borders. As a frequent traveller to France, it worries me endlessly how no one even asks for my passport let alone my hound's.

The UK will also regain a level of independence. We currently have to pander to The European Court and judges sitting outside of the UK are making directives that impact our daily lives. Furthermore, the EU costs us a lot of money and in terms of value for money, I fail to see what that is apart from surrendering our sovereignty and our ability to decide when a Cornish pasty is not a Cornish pasty. Such earth-shattering revelations don't actually make my life more worth living. I would prefer to see potholes fixed, less illiterate feral youngsters, more jobs and a greater sense of patriotism.
The rot in our financial services- the tremendous breadth of corruption that enables the savvy to get obscenely rich on the back of someone else's paucity and to rig markets to suit their end game, none of that will change if we stay in the EU. (You can be sure that on June 24th someone will have made a killing hedging the euro against the pound). In response to the financial crisis of 2008, the EU proposed a Banking Union of member states to regulate the banking sector and protect deposits from disappearing altogether. When Greece defaulted on its loan repayments recently, Greeks automatically rushed to empty their accounts, so convinced were they that the Union would protect them.
The argument of losing jobs if we leave is also speculative. Our manufacturing is dying- see Tata Steel. We are not competitive because our costs are too high. In a world of sweatshops and it must be said, expectations which differ to ours, we cannot compete. In the Third World however measly the pay it puts food into hungry bellies. In the West we want to have it all. There is a fundamental difference in the way we expect to be compensated for the effort we put into our jobs. For example, I once advertised for an assistant, one young woman I interviewed balked at the annual salary on offer and exclaimed that she would get more per month if she ‘had a sprog for a footballer’. Is that person going to work sixteen hours a day or make sacrifices in order to succeed?
Our rising energy costs which are some of the most expensive in the world, force us to be less competitive. Food is ridiculously overpriced and how anyone on a meagre wage can actually eat properly is a minor miracle. To be fair and as a former avid vegetable grower, our climate is not conducive to food production except for seven or eight months of the year and therefore in order to satiate our expectations once again, we are forced to import food.
Politicians too easily absolve responsibility for all that is wrong in the UK by declaring their hands are tied (viz the migrant crisis where any policy has to toe the line with EU Diktat). Crucially, answer this: is the UK government fully engaged in EU policy development, after all, that was what was written in the ‘rule book’.
For all of the above reasons, I'm out. It’s adieu from me to the EU. Ignore the scaremongering that we would lose jobs: we might actually become more competitive because we will have to.

This is me. Photo copyright SvD.

Saturday, 16 April 2016

The Graceless Age

At the supermarket check out this week, standing at the till when the lady behind me in the queue stated in a very calm voice to the cashier: "You're too fucking slow. I haven't got all day, you know." Both the cashier and I looked at each other too startled to speak. The sort of look that an unexpected rectal examination would provoke. The lady in question then carried on chatting with her male companion repeating more of the same in an entirely matter of fact way. Sadly, the occurrence of gracelessness is all too common.

I walk my hound twice a day and deliberately seek out places where I won't encounter wild animals, aka other humans. If I see another dog walker I generally cringe if their dog is off the lead. Invariably as I attach the lead to my hound to ensure that chances of a confrontation decrease, and as I ask the person whose dog is charging towards mine: "Is your dog OK with other dogs?", the response is usually: "It wouldn't be off the lead if it wasn't." Naturally at this point their dog has a go at my dog. I then hear the usual asinine excuse: "He's never done that before." Of course, bloody not. Unless one is psychic it is difficult to gauge how dogs will react to each other. Some dogs can be very friendly like mine but then he might encounter another dog who is having a bad hair day. The best line of defence is to always put the dog on a lead. That is unless you're brain dead and ignorant. I have resorted to telling people that unless they can control their dogs they should shoot them dead or themselves in whichever order.

In France recently, as I returned from a long, divine walk away from the human race, I crossed the square in a quaint village and two dogs appeared out of nowhere and proceeded to attack my hound who was peacefully by my side and on a lead. The cafes were bustling and all of the tables in the square were filled with patrons, dining, drinking, smoking in that very French way. A perfect afternoon of meditation and communing with nature and the Gods was ruined in an instant. Where was the owner as my beloved hound was being attacked? Sitting at the cafe finishing her meal. I shouted out for all to hear: "Who is the owner of these dogs!" No response. I yelled the same question even louder. The square fell silent. All eyes were on my hound and the two little shits attacking him. Eventually a woman's voice was heard to call the dogs over to her. They ignored her completely. A long pause. She called again. The dogs continued to ignore her. I was beside myself with anger. Eventually the woman came over and tried to control her dogs which she was completely unable to. The animals would not obey her. After much screeching on her part and without success, two men from the cafe came over and succeeded in grabbing the dogs off mine. No prizes for guessing if the lady apologised. But she got an earful from me. Being French she clearly didn't give a rat's arse what I thought and obviously I had ruined her lunch.

Gracelessness has become so engrained in today's society that no one seems to be aware of how debilitating it is to the human spirit. When we detach ourselves from the effects of our actions on others, we become shamelessly egotistical where nothing matters apart from ourselves. The Kardashians are a good example of this: they don't care how debased and vulgar they appear, they're going to do it anyway because it makes them rich. They are inured to knowing how revolting they actually are.

Why not decide to regain our grace? The human spirit wants to soar and lays patiently in wait. But beware, a lifetime of indifference to our potential will snuff out all that we should and could be. Ironically, it takes the same amount of effort to be a graceless degenerate as it does to soar. How tragic that one chooses to be the former. Just a thought.

Photo copyright SvD.