Sunday, 9 August 2020

Weekender 21: Britain is a shithole

 Year on year it's getting hotter. This year, aside from the fever, the world burns again. Hottest days coming thick and fast. Egregious weather everywhere. If you think that's going to prompt our useless leaders into action, you'd be mistaken.

They

Don't

Care.

And the media supports all of it.

There's a discussion to be had. No there isn't. That's a canard set by right wing thought leaders that want their disgraced discredit and disreputable ideas to bleed through into the public consciousness. They want a seat at the table, just so they can appear legitimate. What's the discussion? Well, at the minute, it's the deployment of the navy against a dingy full of desperate refugees. Is this what we've become? We demand France takes care of the problem after walking away from the EU structure that would have helped share the burden (so to speak).

That's not to say the EU is great on refugees with its fortress Europa mentality, btw. But for the British government to claim it's handling the situation, leaving makes no sense.

Of course nothing will be done. It's just a distraction; sabre rattling to impress the press. Make the knuckledraggers and the curtain twitchers feel good about their bigotry.

What a shitty little island we are. All set to sail alone in the world, desperate for deals with dictators. Selling arms to bomb those who then seek refuge in places like ours. Only to be treated callously. Does a dingy full of brown folk really constitute an existential threat? How fragile!

And politicians are on holiday. Really. You don't think maybe of all times that maybe  you ought to remain? Not a good look is it.

Meanwhile the clown car drives headlong to the cliff, the white cliffs of Itsallover, ready to fling our econmy over the edge and into the sea like a falling star. Goodbye to our futures.

Saturday, 8 August 2020

Weekender 21: Baccarat!

Or whatever that game is Bond plays when he gambles with taxpayers money against the representatives and underlings of world villains in order to gain access. 

Or is that our government?

And so immigrants are the talk of the tabloids. The perennial media scare story; the bogeyman that will never go away. It won't. Not while capitalism exists. The problem, as it were, is existential. It us used by the media to condition people into accepting a certain set of circumstances. A nationalistic, fearful mindset. Fear of the other. Work ye hard Britons for the yellow peril/the vandals/the darkies, etc, are coming to take that which you've striven for.

Meanwhile we'l be the ones actually taking what you've earned, because that's how we make our profits. 

Is anyone else tired of this crap? Even if you thought immigration was a problem, in some form, you must consider that it is a political football. The Tories have no intention of solving it, they haven't done so in ten long painful years. Now, the tides have come in again, and the latest home office fuhrer is nailing her colours to the mast. Send in the Navy! Torpedo a dingy full of desperate refugees. Is that really the solution?

What even is the problem? Fear of the other? Some people with funny ways and strange accents are moving next door. They are different. Except they aren't; they have the same basic values and just want to live a free life. Don't you? 

With nothing in power changing and nothing being done to affect the situation nothing will change. Thus, it's a political football. It is never taken seriously. If it were we'd address, as best we can, the root of the problem. We might, I hope, stop funding the wars and arming the tyrants that cause these people to be dispossessed. We might invest in building communities. 

These are things that are incompatible with capitalism. Therefore immigration will never be 'solved' as long as capitalism exists. People will be forced out of their homes and countries - wouldn't you want to flee a warzone? Obviously yes. So why should you enjoy that privilege and no one else?

Or have we become so callous we can no longer care about people artificially separated from us despite a common humanity. The difference is just a line on a map. It means nothing. It's artificial and arbitrary.

Eat In, Tories Out 5: It's Too Damn Hot!

 Heat like a weight on my chest. As if gravity had been turned up a notch. Can't do owt about it, celestial mechanics are not my thing. Carbon in the atmosphere energising weather's anger. When it gets it now, it gets hotter. When it gets wet, it gets wetter. When the storms come...

And again they all pile on to the beaches. The least surprising outcome ever. Did they shut the beaches in anticipation? Did they heck! 

I don't know if any of these people have the Covids. Maybe - hopefully - none of them do, nor will they. But we can't know that. Transmission outdoors is much less of a risk, but you just don't know. That's the reason for the social distancing policies, consequently they have to apply equally to everyone, or not at all.

Not at all it is then. Every single one of these people, thanks to Dominic Cummings, has a credible excuse. There is nothing the government can legitimately do as a result. Sure they have the power. That's all the state has; power without legitimate authority - and legitimate authority is not a product of power.

Same with all the tradesmen types I see wandering in to the local bakery to get their pasties and sarnies. None of them wear masks. Ever. The shop doesn't challenge them. I wish it would, but can't really blame them for not. Not wishing to stereotype people, but I calls it as I sees it. It''s not the mother with the pushchair, or the elderly couple, and it ain't me. 

It's also not much to ask surely. A bit like, perhaps, fiding a different destination on a hot summer's afternoon than the beach EVERYONE is going to.

But oh well. Oh hell.


Thursday, 6 August 2020

Eat In, Tories Out 4: Perambulate!

World beating. That's the name of the game. Our oaf in charge is simply saying things now. Just another vacuous statement. Get Brexit Done. Oven Ready. White Cliffs of Dover. Strawberries and Cream. It's just an appeal to some British nationalist construct. It has no intrinsic value. Just tell the plebs your system is "world beating". Clearly false. Again the gaslighting. Again the doublethink.

Actually I don't even think he cares. He just says this stuff like it was a bodily function. A thought fart. A reflex based on his self entitled aristocratic identity. The flexing of the ruling class' muscle. What they call a thought terminating cliche: a statement with no content that stops discussion. Intentional or otherwise.

They are not going to get a grip on this. They can't. They don't know how. All they know is capitalism: dodgy business as usual. We might as well put Delboy in charge, at least he was a working class lad, and we can get a cheap laugh from him falling through the bar.

I read today that Captain Colonel Major Tom, the old fella perambulating for the kind donations of the dewy eyed and the honourable but gullible, raised 30 odd million. I also read the government has pissed away three times that amount on contracts given to their mates. Crappy quality PPE produced by these companies. None of them have the capacity to meet the challenge the contract necessitates. It's just business as usual.

Money thrown down the drain. Raised by good hearted old veterans and wasted by a class of scoundrels happy to take that money in return for a clap. Let's all clap! That'll pay the wages of those facing this disease - you'd better join in! You'd better pay up. Poor old Major Colonel Captain Tom can enjoy an all too brief glimpse at the world of those in charge. A quick cuppa with the Queen, a pin on his chest, another war wound. Then it's back home and possibly into a care home. 

Keep clapping while he and others like him risk their lives in Corona infested care homes. Graves that await them while we forget them. But that's OK because we can salve our consciences and absolve ourselves of any responsibility to effect real change.

Just go for a walk around your garden.


Wednesday, 5 August 2020

Eat In, Tories Out 3: Are the Kids Alright?

Just went for a walk. Someone in the park, near by the swings, had dumped and proceeded to smash, the headstock of a bed frame. I have no idea why, nor why you would decide to bring such a thing to a park. I've no idea how long it's been there. Could have been dumped there today, or days earlier. I have no idea at all but I'm sensing it's the local youth.

I'm sensing a lot of misspent energy, or at least energy in need of direction, from the kids around here. I could be way off beam. When the days have been hot they have congregated at the local weir, jumping in the river off the bridge. Technically illegal, or so the signs say. I guess it's harmless enough and who can blame people for wanting a dip on a hot day during lockdown. Not sure how they'd feel about it if they learned what Lyme Disease was, but that's not my problem!

They don't seem to be cooling down though. I guess you're immortal when you're a kid. Immune to weather, foul water, and dangerous air. The younger kids, when they recovered their wits from the fear around them, probably thought this all a grand adventure. At least when they were allowed some contact with friends. I hope so, I've no wish to see them anxious. 

As I've said many times, something changed in the middle of summer. They broke the lockdown. It was organised at first; purposeful. Meaningful. That changed, I think we all know when and how. What we have at the moment is a backdrop of virus and a lot of confused people. Others are just tense, angry, even, at the mess. We all sense something isn't right (how could you not?) and we're having to deal with it independently. There is no guidance from government. How can rich millionaires, those who ignore their own rules, possibly understand? 

We have to get the schools open. That is a necessity. Not least of all because we don't want kids, especially those from the poorest communities, suffering. Unfortunately this reality is going to have to coexist with the equal reality that conditions in Britain, thanks to a mismanaged pandemic, may not allow this to happen. What a terrible choice we are left with: ruined education and tearaway kids, or virus percolating in schools and dead kids/teachers. Hopefully we won't end up like they have in Israel where, against a backdrop of flattened infection curve, they opened their schools and everything went to shit again. Perhaps there are specifics that explain why that happened to them, but given the lack of testing and tracing and the stubborn irresponsibility of government, I'm sure we'll do our best to emulate them.

Just a thought.

Tuesday, 4 August 2020

Eat In, Tories Out 2: Dilemma

Wednesdays used to be the night I visited with a couple of friends in a mutual domestic environment (IE a house). That is still against the rules as it comprises more than the 2 household limit. One friend invited a return to that normality. But i declined. Doing so has made me miserable. But I don't feel the time is right. However what is making me miserable is that I don't know when the time will be right. The virus is going to be in our society, somewhere lurking, for the foreseeable. I have to adapt, but that doesn't change the fact doing so is difficult and potentially hazardous.

It would be easy to throw caution to the poison winds, even against the rules. I don't want to be slavish about it, but rules are not intrinsically bad. In this case they are justified, coming from the scientific community. Not just the dreams of a ruling class oaf who wants us to doff our caps to our betters. However I live with a relative in the vulnerable category (though I suspect she won't mind). Our host has a wife that works in the care sector who also has health issues of her own. Again I assume she doesn't mind either otherwise the offer wouldn't have been made.

Everything now is suspect. Turning up in familiar surroundings has changed. The offer of a cup of tea is tense. I don't know when this ends and I am no more comfortable making that change now than I am sheltering indefinitely. There is no correct answer to this question, but for now I remain where I am. I just don't think the time is right. But I'm cautious that this, the late summer where things could turn, is as good as it gets. Who knows what will happen when the schools open or, heaven forbid, stadiums and arenas begin to fill. One thing though: I don't see pubs closing again.

This is a prison of my own making. No one can make this decision for me. I had thought about going into town. But that seems pointless. It isn't just my aforementioned trepidation, it's the nature of the shopping environment. No longer is it possible to just browse around town, mooching around, idling in the library, drinking in the ambience of the city centre. Consequently it's easier to order online, often it can be cheaper when you factor in bus costs. For that reason it's just not worth it. Even if I did, my journey would be perfunctory: get in, get out. More like a survival run in zombie apocalypse or a military exercise. Neither are appealing. 

This is the world that is. The anti lockdown contingent argue this is why we shouldn't lockdown and shouldn't have done so. But that is not the correct analysis. It is entirely possible for lockdown to be both debilitating and necessary - a bit like a vaccine. I agree, for example, schools must be open - especially to contain a growing tension in the youth enduring this crisis - but that fact doesn't make them safe.

This is the dilemma.

Monday, 3 August 2020

Eat In, Tories Out 1: Work Focused Interview

So I just had my latest Work Focused Interview (WFI). To be fair it was benign. It was the same guy I spoke to last time, the guy with PTSD (I infer) who served as a paramedic who has since, unfortunately, become institutionalised by the system he's delivering. I don't say that to be nasty; he means well. But that just makes his good-hearted ignorance of the system all the more dangerous.

That said, nothing coercive took place. Apparently they are contacting people just to make sure they are OK and that if they need help they can contact their local Jobcentre. As if! But that's the tragedy fo it all. I'm sure there are many good people or well meaning people at least within the system. However, it's the system that's the problem; it taints their efforts turning them into enemies not allies. They can't be trusted, and that's sad.

I asked him about the state of Work Capability Assessments. They are still going ahead, only not in person. The assessment centres are shut (apparently - though I'd put nothing past these people) so it's being conducted over the telephone. In some respects this is more beneficial: at least you are spared the trauma of visiting these places. However there are going to be many conditions for which distance will be an impediment. This foolishly assumes their goal is to conduct a proper assessment in the first place and we all know that doesn't happen.

I waited two years for my appointment. This is because, having presented with eye sight issues, I was told (upon sitting down in the centre with an assessor!) that a specific type of assessor had to see me. They didn't say what qualifications they required, other than "doctor". One assumes they meant a trained optician of some kind. For insurance reasons, presumably. 

How will that happen telephonically? How will I know that person is qualified? Of course how do I know the person that I finally saw were themselves appropriately qualified? I could have asked (I didn't, what was the point). At the very least I could have asked them who they were and have a face to go with the name. Over the phone I could be talking with the cleaner or the sandwich lady! You probably won't get very far querying it either. 

I guess we can only hope that, in this period, they are giving people the benefit of the doubt, but I'd say you'd have to be naive to really believe that. What else can we do though? Arguing the toss will just bring a halt to the interview, probably with a frazzled assessor, and the likelihood of your claim being closed with prejudice. But i have no idea how any kind of meaningful optical examination can be conducted over the phone; no one's eyesight is that good.

So here we are uncertainty reigns as usual. Today is the first day of the government's godawful "eat out to help out" scheme. This could only come from the mind of someone like Dominic Cummings. It's asinine and ignorant. It doesn't even cover a full meal either; half off up to a tenner. You're still paying something. But the idea is predicated on taking you out of your safe zone and into a social environment, with others. No matter how socially distant. That is antithetical to the curtailment of a virus, no matter how well intended (it isn't, it's just there to benefit Tory hospitality industry donors). Shovelling tax payer money into the pockets of people like Tim Martin. Don't mistake this for a boon. It's not. The whole thing is cynical. While it's unlikely you'll come away with corona you are more likely to do so than if you had eaten a meal at home. 

Finally the DWP secretary, Theresa Whoever (who is she?) has ruled out giving a commensurate increase to legacy benefit claimants after the DWP gave an extra few quid to Universal Credit claimants. There's no doubt that this was only given to assuage the deluge of new "customers" (hate.that.word) they knew would be claiming following the shutdown. So that at least tells me they know UC isn't fit for purpose. It's purely cynical. Like everything the Tories do.

Weekender 21: Britain is a shithole

 Year on year it's getting hotter. This year, aside from the fever, the world burns again. Hottest days coming thick and fast. Egregious...