In the meantime, here is some music …
Here’s one I did earlier – thought it deserved its moment in the sun before they shut the window of satirical opportunity and return us to our customary state of well-governed happiness and contentment.
On second thoughts, to misquote Captain Oates, we may be some time …
Plan A is lost – Plan B will cost
Plan C‘s just schemes – Plan D is dreams
Plan E‘s no fun – Plan F won’t come
Plan G‘s G Plan – Plan H they’ll ban
Plan I is pants – Plan J no chance
Plan K needs facts and counteracts
Plan L – Plans M and N are wool
Plan O is cock – Plan P is bull
Plan Q‘s half-baked – Plans R, S, T
Are shelved – Plan U is for the birds
Plans V and W – mostly random words
Plan X is feared – Plan Y‘s just weird
We’d better get Plan Z prepared
These five words – according to my dad, a conscripted soldier in WW2 – constituted the unspoken rule that helped prevent unproductive arguments in the officers’ mess. I can see why. Vital to get on with people you don’t really know when you have to work alongside them in hazardous conditions.
Perhaps blogging isn’t all that different. No point falling out with each other over minor cultural differences when we all face major threats – largely of our own making – such as gross inequality, environmental damage and international conflict. I don’t know about you but all my instincts cry out for cross-border cooperation, our only real defence against these common enemies. As the age-old saying goes: United we stand, divided we fall.
It’s eight whole days since my previous post and high time to publish again. I was planning something uplifting, even utopian, only to find there’s an elephant in the room. It’s a big one, maybe a bull, and the smell of dung is now overpowering. I sure in hell can’t step round it so will tread very carefully and call it … the ‘B’ word!
Not that I’ve anything original to say on the subject. Like many others – on both sides – I’m all talked out. But here are two items I’ve found in the vaults. No idea where they come from but each, in its own way, is rather striking.
The UK Referendum in June 2016 asked:
Leave the EU
or Remain in the EU.
Simple. Well, for the 16.1 million who said Remain it certainly was, as it meant no change. All 16.1 million who ticked remain knew exactly what they voted for.
But the 17.4 million who voted to Leave without any true facts, figures, analysis or research voted for a personal version of “leave” as they could not possibly know what the end result would be. Hence all the Remainers spoke with one voice but the Leavers presented the Tory government the absolutely impossible task of reconciling 17.4 million different versions of Brexit.
After two years we have now seen this for real. It was never possible to deliver an exit that would satisfy all the Leavers.
In other words, here is a complex issue reduced to a simplistic binary choice and Parliament – the authorised decision-maker in a parliamentary democracy – reduced to the lowly status of a rubber stamp. No wonder they’ve fallen asleep on the job.
Today’s cancelled MP vote means this unfunny farce is certain to rumble on through the so-called season of good cheer. Perhaps we ought to keep calm and turn the whole bally shooting-match into a Panto, along the following lines:
It was two years ago today that Bafflesby Borough Council – responding to the widespread perception that it was doing nothing much about anything at all – voted to hold a people’s plebiscite that posed a single, seemingly-simple question:
Are you in favour of change? Yes No (tick one only)
The result was famously close. After several recounts Bafflesby’s Returning Officer, a very weary Ida Clare, gave the victory to Yes by one vote.
In keeping with the Town Motto Better Late Than Never, Bafflesbytes then began a furious debate which – arguably – they should have conducted before the vote, about how much change they actually did want when push came to shove. Some thought lots, lots thought some and lots more thought none. The only area of agreement was that nobody trusted anybody else either to change anything or to keep it the same.
Ever happy to serve our fellow citizens, we at the Bafflesby Bugle are throwing open the pages of our publication for all and sundry to have their four-pennyworth! Not getting your point across in the pub or over the breakfast table? Bursting with big ideas? Well, friends and readers, here’s your chance to let rip!
Today’s precious print platform goes to Curio Corner proprietor and part-time local historian Luke Backwoods, who reckons we can learn a thing or two from the distant past:
My big idea is to rebuild the medieval walls that used to go right round Bafflesby. Can’t beat heritage, can you, when it comes to pulling in the tourists? You could vet them at the gate to keep out undesirables. Any of them turn up with foreign bugs you just keep them in the gatehouse till they get better.
Or say the police are looking for shoplifters in Bafflesby. Put the word out. Lockdown. Besides, building up the walls again means jobs for local people. And you could stop all these cheap memorabilia products flooding the market. Charge them tariffs when they come over the drawbridge. Plus you’d have a portcullis when things start to kick off with other places.
Improve morale no end. Peace of mind all round. Easy.
Image: Bluffton University
Reading some Alan Ginsberg poems, I was reminded of his memorable maxim: First thought, best thought. He was a huge fan of Walt Whitman, who also influenced DH Lawrence. Lawrence didn’t go in for rewriting, either, having a quasi-religious faith in the freshness of first inspirations.
So in the spirit of freewheeling abandon I’ll jump headfirst on a metaphorical trolley made of orange-boxes and old pram-wheels and head off steeply downhill … Holy smoke! Did I really do that when I was ten years old knowing full well there was a busy main road at the bottom of the hill – busy, that is, for 1959! – just to impress a few kids? Consequences were for cowards in those distant daredevil days – you could always use your trailing foot as a brake, even though your mum always complained about the terrible rate you got through shoes! One of her favourite words, that was, terrible …
I’m getting side-tracked already. That’s the trouble with metaphors, wheeled or otherwise, they can run away with you. This post is supposed to be about, er … well, my previous one was about nothing so perhaps I should continue down that unbeaten trail. My very first post on WordPress was about getting lost. Deliberately. Going off piste. That was the guiding spirit of A Nomad In Cyberspace. A kid heading off with no particular place to go …
Haha, cue song!
Now there’s a side-track for you, if ever there was one! We’re rushing ahead of ourselves. I haven’t even hit puberty yet. At least my youthful persona hasn’t and at this rate he never will, appearing only in extended metaphors which I’m trying to cut down for the sake of getting somewhere specific.
That’s better, Dave, you’re starting to sound more convincing … authoritative, even … eager eyes fixed on a worthwhile goal! Making sense. Nice work if you can get it. It pays to be serious these days. Perhaps I’m falling under the influence of my elders and betters … well, not elders, most of the British cabinet are younger than me … and as for betters, well, that’s a value-judgment beyond the remit of this post.
Remit? This post is remitless. New territory beckons. I’m continuing in the full knowledge that there’s now a wavy red line under the word remitless. Another. Ah, what the heck, let’s throw grammar to the winds and ride bareback into the wild and windy night like there’s no tomorrow!
Like there’s no tomorrow. Simile? Metaphor? Or ghastly reality?
The British cabinet in its venerable collective wisdom has just tried to heal present and future internal and external divisions with a phrase of incomparable genius – ambitious managed divergence. We are clearly not worthy nor ready – too young and inferior? – to comprehend such lofty concepts without help. Here’s Jonathan Freedland in today’s Guardian:
You’re not being fired. Heavens, no. You and the company are merely going through what we call an “ambitious managed divergence”. The torture Brexit inflicts on the English language escalates daily, the latest indignity being the euphemism coined after the tellingly named Brexit war cabinet had an eight-hour session among the whiteboards at Chequers on Thursday. “Ambitious managed divergence” was the agreed description for the planned future relationship between Britain and the EU, a phrase so blatantly designed to stitch together two clashing positions you could see the seams.
“Divergence” is there to satisfy the Johnson-Gove-Fox axis of Brexiteers, while “managed” is meant to placate the Hammond-Rudd rump of remain realists. “Ambitious” is the heroic attempt to dress up what is, in fact, a dollop of fudge chock-full of contradictions and likely to melt on first contact with the heat of trade talks in Brussels.
The phrase I like – nay envy! – is “an eight-hour session among the whiteboards“. Who hasn’t sat in a tedious meeting where a desperate team-leader eventually pleads for a summing up of deadlocked positions? ‘A form of words, that’s all we need, then we can all go!”
Go where? Home? Down the pub? To hell in a handcart? That’s the beauty of living in a free country, see, we get to choose? Mind you, according to the dramatist Pirandello – my latest minor obsession, see the previous post! – choice is an illusion. So is everything else, pretty well, including our notion of individual identity. How, he asks, can such a fragile construct survive …
” … the deceit of mutual understanding irremediably founded on the empty abstraction of words, the multiple personality of everyone corresponding to the possibilities of being found in each of us, and finally the inherent tragic conflict between life (which is always moving and changing) and form (which fixes it, immovable)”?
One hopeful note is found in the phrase “the possibilities of being”. Luke Rhinehart comes to mind, throwing dice to expand his range of life experiences. Couple that with the idea of life “always moving and changing” to discover the potential, at least, for continued human evolution. Technology may have stopped us evolving physically but it has multiplied our chances of cultural and social change.
Some people baulk at this, perhaps fearing the rise of a repressive society in lockstep to a prescribed beat. The following interview with Captain Beefheart, arguably the most creative and original performing artist in the colourful history of rock music, is a vivid reminder of both the dangers and delights of so-called popular culture.
I’ll leave it there for now. My next post will consider the value of originality at a time when unthinking conformity is, perhaps surprisingly, pushing us all further and further apart. Perhaps we do need to be ambitious if our divergence is to be, er, managed …
The glass is still murky, my dears, so while we wait for it to clear … here is my response to the Daily Prompt word Anticipation.
A fter the bombshell there was suddenly
N o one who said
T hey hadn’t seen
I (wise before the event) made
P rophesies galore to cover
T he possibilities
I n case the final
O utcome turned out to be something
N obody else had predicted.
You wanna know what’s wrong with the world? I’ll tell you what’s wrong with the world! What’s wrong with the world is that the world isn’t Bafflesby!
Take my word for it. I know all about this stuff. Bafflesby born and bred, that’s me, man and boy! Never set foot outside the sound of her ancient bell tower, as it happens, and never wanted to. You can’t get lost here, see? The streets tell their own story. Witchfinder Way, Gibbet Gardens, Bedlam Bridge. You can’t move for history.
I’m like a stick of rock, I am, Bafflesby through and through. I got traditions built in. That’s what these Outcomers can’t understand. They’re not like us, are they? Smell different, for a start.
Old Barry Cade says they look different, too, but I wouldn’t know. To be honest with you, I can’t bear the sight of them. Last thing I wanna see is them curling their lips at our old ways, sneering at our customs. Forever asking the rules of Bladderball when any fule no there ain’t none! You either get it or you don’t.
Same with the Festival of the Flaming Firkin. Spot a stranger a mile away by his singed whiskers, the Old’uns used to say. Used to. Not no more. Six foot under, most of them, and their wisdoms buried with them! The good old days is gone for good. Anyone says he can bring them back gets my vote, even if he is pissing into the wind.
See that mausoleum through the mullion window? That was our old Squire, that was, bless his brutal heart! Time was when every job in town was in his pocket. If you wasn’t true-blue Bafflesby, you never got a sniff. He knew we was born to it, you see, it was in our blood. Natural aptitude, he used to say, comes with the territory. We didn’t need telling what to do, all that nonsense! Nowadays it’s all, What do I have to do?
They tell them, too. Waste of money even if they are paying them less! Back in the day we never needed no training up. Hit the ground running and – Bob’s your Uncle! – you got a job for life. Not just your life, neither, the job were yours to pass on. Keep it in the family, they used to say, and the family will keep you.
Not no more. These days the thought police are everywhere. They got to have interviews. All these Outcomers talking stuff they don’t know. Asking things. We never had to ask nothing.
Same as the Facts of Life. No one said nothing. You kept one eye open and your ear to the ground in them days, then if something arose you jumped at the chance. You don’t have to go to college to cook a pie, they used to say, may they rest in peace …
Ha, fat chance of that, they’ll all be spinning in their graves! They wouldn’t recognise the place now. All these new estates, you get lost on them, with their Anyroad Avenues and Whatchamacallit Walks. Go to the end of your street and you don’t know where the hell you are. No point asking a constable because there aren’t any. And the ones in cars don’t like you flagging them down. It’s a war-zone out there.
Worst of it is, the enemy don’t wear different uniforms. Muggers, rapists, murderers … they look just like you. Once upon a time there was just the village idiot and the old witch who used to shout things at you. You knew who they were because their jobs ran in the family. They came from a long line of idiots and witches. They just knew what to do. Now they got to have interviews. Political correctness gone mad, I call it, taking a sledgehammer to crack a nut. And you can’t crack a joke without po-faced prudes breathing down your neck. Anyone who gets those creeps off my back can have my vote.
What’s wrong with the world is too many creeps. Anyone takes a sledgehammer to my back door has a surprise coming, I can tell you. Can’t tell you what it is, so don’t ask, but let’s say I’m good and ready. Fort Knox has nothing on me. Time was when you could leave your back door open in case Old Mother Hubbard came round for a cup of sugar. Now you don’t know who is outside your house trying to sell you exploding clothes-pegs and foreign encyclopaedias. And if Ma Hubbard gets both barrels, tough!
So anyone says he’ll Bring Bafflesby Back gets my vote, even if he just wants to turn it into a theme park. He doesn’t need to change anything much, as long as he shoots his big mouth off about people I don’t like so that I can too. Time was you could say whatever you wanted. Now it’s all, button your lip in case you upset every little waif and stray in the big cruel world.
Well, losers, get used to it! The candidate who gets my vote will shoot first and ask questions later. The candidate who gets my vote will always say the first thing that pops into their head just like I do. The candidate who gets my vote will promise me the moon without waiting to commission a boring old feasibility study. And after no consideration whatsoever, I have decided that the only person worthy of my vote is me. My election campaign begins here.
Image: Clipart Kid