Eleventh hour Okie Kokie


©  Relevant Magazine

Announced just after Eight this morning was the news that the European Court of Justice has ruled the UK can unilaterally change its mind over leaving the Union.

The political shenanigans are what they are and will lead whither they lead.

What puzzles though is that time and again, Brexiteers cite the 17.4 million votes the Leave campaign garnered which was 52% of the votes cast.

According to the Office of National Statistics, the number of people eligible to vote in 2016 was 46.1 million. I’m the first to admit my Maths is rubbish but it would seem that a majority of the population didn’t agree that leaving was a Good in itself.

Do you remember the confusing arguments each side put forward, none of which touched on the real sticking points and the inertia which seemed to settle over the countries of these isles in the Spring of 2016? And the conversations you had with those who assumed the Vote would be Remain and hence weren’t sufficiently bothered to vote?

I wonder if the 13 million who comprised the Can’t-be-arsed brigade would stay away from the be-pencilled, wooden booths were a second Referendum offered?

Are you hip to the notion of those who ask the question taking responsibility for the answer? Well, what has to be accepted is that if there is another Vote on EU participation, the answer may be the same … unless everyone makes their vote count by deploying it.


Any Dimbleboy unspaghetti’d


© Graham Monro/GM Photographics

For longer than the world has spun on its axis, the Dimbleby dynasty has cracked the whip and held reigns over British broadcasting.

Heard on the early evening news comes a cataclysm to traditionalists the universe over that Dimbleby Junior-cum-Senior (the specter of Pater Richard continues to loom) has, through a kind of sphincteric exchange, relinquished his grip at a cornerstone of political debate. Younger brother, Jonathan continues to moderate his own interpretation of Any Questions on BBC Radio 4.

The new appointment as convener of Question Time on BBC television is Fiona Bruce.

Not having a telly, I’m unable do anything other than celebrate evolution, big up elocution and wonder if this passing-of-the-baton was execution or elevation? Father of the paper-waving Chamberlain said All political careers end in failure.

It seems that for affable broadcasters, if you have the [18th century use of] bottom, it is possible to float out on a high cloud of affection and regard.

Emotional resilience in the cauldron of debate is a pre-requisite. We wish Ms Bruce cheerful fortune and success in advance: next week’s Question Time will be the last of the old guard. May the salutes hold standards to account and let progress unfurl.



Image                                                               North Atlantic King of Fish

Well, well. It seems an atmosphere of uncertainty infuses thinking at every level. Overheard while trying to pass a crocodile of bobbing heads the other day was ‘it might be because of brexit‘. “Will it stop at Christmas?” ‘Dad said it’ll never stop.‘ 

Atmos, Greek for vapour, coalesces as a notion to convey some ephemeral, lingerless possibility; its dispersal an ever-present threat. Which returns us to the protectionist policy of Brexit so troubling to those Year … 4’s(?).

At that age, I struggled in ceaseless confusion amid Cold War and Cod War. They melded in my mind and with hindsight one wonders how my contribution to dining table discussion didn’t highlight this lack in knowledge.

A troubling upshot of uncertainty is the seepage of alarm into the cracks of stability. Radio news & current affairs programmes are subsumed by the subject such that one’s deep fatigue is in danger of switching off the ability to care about the British departure from the Union.

It’s ironic: the only argument which ultimately might have tilted my pencil towards Leave was that suggesting determination of fishing policy and restoration of control over UK waters. [Tiens, eh ben dit donc or Nå må jeg sige as Danes might say: even after March, Poseidon will seemingly continue to answer to Copenhagen].

Emotional resilience, as we’ve been hearing in recent weeks, is increasingly recognized as a core constituent of balanced stability. A demand it makes is to recognize individual sovereignty to assume responsibility for our actions. Being answerable for all we do guides a kinder infusion into the atmosphere we generate.

Baker’s Dozen


© BBC                                                           Richard Baker in news reading days

The solemnly urbane Richard Baker died on Saturday. I heard this sad news first at Eleven o’clock and every subsequent bulletin caught throughout the day.

For a woman of my generation he was indeed a News Reader and a Proms man. More piquantly though, he – and this wasn’t mentioned at all – was the idiosyncratic choice for his steadiness to tell the thirteen stories of Mary, Mungo & Midge.

© Estate of John Ryan                                     Mungo and Midge returning

Children’s telly in the early Seventies mebbie lacked the in-ya-faceness which obtains today yet seemed to me to require viewer participation in the action, agreeing somehow to allow the spell to be cast.

Richard Baker’s delivery was essential in the conveyance to his wide-eyed audience of the weird reality of high-rise living. In virtue of his baritones, we sat clamped in wonder at the mysteries of the wider world.

The series was conjured up by Captain Pugwash creator, John Ryan and was oft repeated, thus having a life long after its natural end … and still able to surprise. I got real shock seeking out an illustration: the series was in colour. It was a different world.

A news reader to the last, it appears he informed, educated and entertained his fellow care-home residents with headline cuttings once the sun hove past the yard-arm each evening. This strikes one as joyous, benign and mirthful; a glorious rounding of a well-lived life.

God speed, Richard Baker.

If in doubt, do


© Peace Pledge Union

A maxim that guides my hand – always to good effect – is If in doubt, do. In other words, when no harm can result from doing a thing one might otherwise put off, it can’t hurt to try. Puzzling, then, that I’ve been squinting somewhat in perplexity.

The only political statement I make is to wear a white poppy at this somber time of year. It is in empathy with the brave souls who defend our freedoms and expression of dismay at the failure in dialogue that leads to war.

I’m hoping to attend the Cenotaph this Sunday. It seems meaningful and important to share this anniversary.

But, how will my white poppy be met? Recording vox pops for Abacus, my attempt to make things add up, broadcast on Resonance 104.4fm, I want to capture some off-the-cuff thoughts; reflections on the dreadful business it all was; musings on the intuitive connection one feels to the totality of suffering.

A rabbi on the radio the other day said what matters is how one’s words are understood, rather than their intended meaning. This brought me up short: how can any of us possibly determine how others think?

Perhaps by listening to what they say?

The signing of the Armistice – an agreement to halt physical conflict – did not bring an end to all war. And this Centenary since those guns fell silently away won’t deter further deafness to dialogue. In the pause for thought those Two Minutes offer, mebbie we can listen and learn to the weight of sorrow wrought by such frantic loss of humanity?



© National Maritime Museum                 Conspicuous Gallantry Medal 1848

There was an interesting confluence of news stories this morning. On one hand, the Health & Social Care Secretary, Matt Hancock suggested promoting health and preventing illness was a better use of resource than treating the symptoms* while on the other, Victoria Atkins, Minister for Crime suggested that drug-driven knife crime has achieved epidemic scale and a different strategy is needed.

Evolving how we view traditions and embrace fresh customs takes less time than one might think.

Take recycling or smoking or plastic bag use. Each could be shown as exemplum of a strategy with unexpectedly stellar success. There’s hope, therefore, that if an issue is presented simply to lay bare the thinking behind it, it stands a chance of being embraced as common sense.

Let’s give it a try.

Somewhere between then and now, self-discipline, courtesy and kindness fell out of fashion. As a result, a MeFirst approach took hold. Gone are good manners, vanished is the knowledge of how to behave in any setting, evaporated is the sense that self-control is more powerful a weapon than weaponizing professionalism.

The children who kill one another through knife crime have not been taught that self-confidence comes from strength of character. Their parents were not taught that hitting out is a weak retaliation. In short, we have two generations who really don’t understand the principles of right and wrong.

To address this, it needs to be emphatically declared that lack of self-discipline and poor manners are not acceptable. Poor behaviour in the grocery shop\bus\post office queue is to be calmly denounced as unacceptable behaviour. Babies left crying by exhausted young mums are to be comforted by more experienced women able to soothe rather than tutt. … You get the idea.

It’s never too late to act and benevolence is not weak.

Compassion means shared suffering. Taking back control means taking responsibility for our actions.

#YouFirst could be a start. If we remove this cultural and social malignancy asphyxiating the generosity of spirit that ventilates life, the sooner we might re-form accepted norms of behaviour. Equally, the sooner we might transform our own confidence to flourish our surroundings.

* scroll through this Blogos for posts on just this subject

Cutting off our face to spite our nose


© BBC                                                                              Cassandra O’Brien Δ.17 whose life was extended through a series of 708 plastic surgery operations, until she was nothing but a piece of skin stretched onto a frame with eyes and a mouth, connected to a brain in a jar.

This tragic figure from Dr Who: an exemplar of the aphorism I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. 

Twenty sixth October 2018. It’s the last summer-timed Friday of the United (sic) Kingdom’s place in the European project.

The manner of our departure isn’t helping: absence by a thousand cuts. We are living through history: and we shall be judged harshly for the transformation from nobly profiled figurehead to featureless irrelevance.

Rather than carp, how can we help? Concentrate on flourishing the country which appears in the grip of a lack of good manners.

Sound … irrelevant? Well, the better one behaves, the stronger one grows. Mebbie this is just the moment to add to campaigns of strengthening our behaviour with courtesy, kindness and consideration?

The deepening of humanity in each of us is a powerful weapon in the arsenal of life by virtue of the virtues it develops. If you want to be Great, be kind. If it wants to be Great Britain once more, it has to be kind to itself.

Granted, an empathic stretch of the imagination will be needed to grasp just how crucial a role temperate rationalism will play in long-term success. Yet if we are inert in commitment to flourish these isles, forget Britain after the Romans’ departure. It’ll be as though we’re erased from the future.

Cassandra O’Brien Δ.17 is an identification tag. A tag removes the humanity from the … object. What remains after removing humanity from humanity? Prisoners. Evolving prisons to focus on education may assist restoring self esteem. Moral decay is preceeded by emotional decay. We can, at least, prevent that.