She Doesn’t Speak For Me

Thursday 30th March

Theresa May today informed parliament that she had written the letter triggering Article 50.  She said that she was negotiating for every single person in the United Kingdom, and for all the devolved Governments.  A rather strange thing to say, as a few minutes earlier she said that we would be definitely leaving the Single Market, as we had to be able to control our borders and could not therefore accept free movement of people.  Well, I, along with 15 million other people voted to remain in the EU and in the single market and implicitly accepting that free movement of people was part of that.  So she certainly isn’t speaking for me, and she is negotiating for something I fundamentally disagree with.

This is exactly the argument that Nicola Sturgeon is using; Scotland overwhelmingly, and by a far larger margin than those voting to leave did in England. Voted to remain in both the EU and the Single Market.  And Theresa May has refused to compromise or even answer the various proposals the Scottish Government gave her, so she definitely isn’t speaking for them.  Considering what a divisive referendum we had and the fact that there was not an overwhelming majority (quite a slim one actually) to leave there is no way that Theresa May can please everyone, and it is insulting to our intelligence to suggest that she is trying to do so.  If she were really trying to satisfy us all, Leavers and Remainers alike, she should have had further discussions with the EU, holding the referendum result above their heads, and negotiating for them to amend the single market; maybe so that there should be free movement of people only if they had a job to go to, and that benefits, if any, should be paid by the immigrants home country.  It may have transpired that given the sudden seriousness of the situation and the knowledge that if they refused we would be leaving, there may have been some room for compromise.  By choosing the current path, there is no going back.  We are leaving, no matter what deal we may either be offered or eventually settle for.  Now there is no chance to try to amend the free movement of people element of the single market, I doubt very much that we will get a trade deal anything like as advantageous as the one we are throwing away.

But Theresa May’s sole ambition is to be re-elected.  She thinks that if she goes along with the Leavers most of those 52% will vote her in in 2020, when whatever deal we end up with will not be in force yet.  No doubt she is right and the Tories may well win, but this was not the only way.  A brave Prime Minister would have told the British Public to wait a year or two to see if she could negotiate a different EU membership.  But bravery is not the name of the game, or even, despite the words, to unite the country.  Winning the next election is all Brexit is about.  Well. She doesn’t speak for me…

Why do they hate Europe so much?

Okay, so today our be-sainted Prime Minister will formally trigger Article 50, which will pave the way for our departure from the European Union.  I accept defeat.  I was a staunch European but we lost and the inevitable is about to start.  Just an aside – we have been told all along that we must not give away our negotiating position, so why have we already discarded the idea that we might remain in the Single Market, and yet we cannot bring ourselves to guarantee the residency of EU citizens living now in the UK – it is as if the government doesn’t actually like immigrants at all, heaven forfend that that might be the case.

What I find a bit more difficult to understand is exactly why the Farages and Carswells, the Redwoods and the Rees-Moggs and all the other backwoodsmen in the Tory party hate Europe so much. Because at every opportunity they denigrate and argue that nothing is good about Europe at all.  Now I, even as a remainer, am aware that there are many aspects of the EU which are not perfect and could be improved; why is it that these Brexiteers can find nothing good to say about Europe at all.  And why, oh why do they hate it so much.

Possible reasons; The war.  There is a popular conception that even though we won the war (all of seventy-two years ago) it was Germany that actually won, at least economically. It is the same attitude that pervaded after the First World War, that somehow Germany must be punished, and never allowed to prosper again; the defeated should remain defeated.

Sovereignty; and yes, we have pooled some of our decision-making to a larger group.  But so have Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales in the U.K.  I am sure that many living in Aberdeen or Swansea think that all the decisions are made miles away in Westminster, just as those in Westminster think that Brussels is all powerful.  The reality is that many decisions benefit from a wider concensus.  Just look at all the time that has been wasted in Britain with countless re-organisations of the NHS by different Governments.

Lack of Democracy.  Well, our democracy is hardly democratic either – the first past the post system means we have Governments elected by less than 40% of those even bothering to vote.  At least the EU parliament is elected on PR.

Immigration – or more precisely, free movement of people.  And I think that despite all the other arguments rapidly run up the flagpole, it is this that rankles most with Brexiteers.  Strange when you think that most of them hark back to days of Empire, which has actually resulted in far more immigration from former colonies than have ever come from Europe.  I think it is wonderful that we can travel all over Europe freely; that if I decide to work in France there is no problem, and if I want to live in Spain or Italy I am welcomed without question.  And of course, we all know that the economy relies on these immigrants coming in and working and paying taxes and claiming, despite reports in the Daily Mail, very few benefits.

I can only conclude that the hatred of the EU we see so openly on display is down to a hatred of foreigners, that they believe that Brits are far superior to all others, that we know how to run our country far better than Johnny Foreigner….etc, etc.  As Trump might have said, “sad and bad people, folks.”


Tuesday 28th March

And once June’s mother was dead she found that she really was on her own, which is strange because she had never felt that close to her while she was alive.  She almost didn’t have any relatives, well, older relatives left at all, just her sister – and between her sister and her loomed the great problem of Ted; who would end up with him, and the bitterness that would inevitably cause.  June’s father had a sister who lived up North somewhere, and they had last seen her at his funeral when June must only have been about thirteen.  They sent a letter to the last address they had for her telling her about mother’s funeral, but they didn’t receive a reply, maybe she had moved.  It was such a quiet little funeral, Phil and June. and Julie and Ted and a couple of neighbours from before their mother went into the home, it was driving rain and bitterly cold, and no-one wanted to hang about.  Phil suggested they go for a drink, but they had no idea where they might find a pub, so they all got back in the Bentley and drove around for a bit and with no-one actually suggesting it they drove back to Stowmarket and had tea at June’s house.  Phil drove Julie and Ted home, but not before Ted had managed to speak to June alone, on the pretext of helping her bring the tea in. He said that he thought they should lie low for a bit, take a sort of break for a couple of months or so.  June felt sick inside, was he saying that this was the end.

He saw the look on her face, and quickly put his hand on her forearm and said, ‘Only for a bit love, I think Julie might suspect something, that’s all.  She’s been very moody lately and keeps saying her life is in a rut.  I just keep worrying she might be watching me, so best to lie low for a bit.  But I promise you this June, you are the thing I loves best in the whole world, and nothing will ever change that.  Now, you take the milk and sugar and I’ll take the teapot and cups.’

*  * *

And all too soon they were laying Phil’s father to rest and he was blubbing like a baby.  He was amazed to see so many people there, but he had been such a popular doctor and the church was filled to over-brimming with Consultants and Sisters and even the nurses turned out in their smart white and blue uniforms.  Phil was meant to say a few words after the vicar had finished, but although he had promised his mother, in the end he had to bow his head and wave no at the vicar as he was suddenly overcome with nerves and a great big wave of grief mixed with self-pity came over him.  June gripped his hand and tried to steady him, but he just couldn’t stop sobbing.  It was because he felt that he had let the old man down, he died thinking Phil had turned out well, but neither he nor anyone else knew what a failure Phil really considered himself.  Here he was, this successful solicitor, with a big house and looked up to by all and sundry, but when you looked closer it was all mortgaged to the hilt, not only the house but his life.  He was in debt up to his eyeballs, loans everywhere and no real hope of getting clear, he could barely make the repayments most months, let alone start repaying the capital.  Everything he seemed to touch fell apart, nothing was working out and his own Dad had never owed a penny in his life, he would have been horrified if he had found out.

So would everyone, of course, Jones at work, and June and the girls, what would they say if they had any idea of the mess he was in.  And mixed up with his own self-pity were all these confused feelings about his Dad.  He had so dominated Phil’s early years, and even when he was away at University Phil felt he was doing it all for him, as if his wishes meant more than his own.  And so he just stood there useless and blubbing, when he should have been telling the congregation what a marvelous man his father had been.  He just stood there trying to stifle his sobbing; even here he knew he was letting his father down.  June next to him rubbed his arm and whispered, ‘It’s alright Phil.’  He looked over to his mother, but she had her hankie to her eyes and didn’t seem to notice.  Thank goodness the girls weren’t there to see him crying.

*  * *

All of a sudden Jane’s grandparents were dying all around her, first Nana, and then her Granddad from Norwich.  They weren’t allowed to go to the funerals; children weren’t encouraged to in those days she supposed.  Jane really missed them though, she knew they hadn’t seen them in ages, but they were still her family, and they used to always visit at Christmas and Birthdays.  Jane couldn’t stop crying when Dad told the girls, especially Granddad, but maybe that was because she hadn’t known he was ill at all; Nana had been in a home for a couple of years, and Mummy used to visit her, and tell them how poorly she was.  But Jane hadn’t been expecting her Granddad to be ill, it was all so quick and only a couple of months after Nana, it just got to her badly and she couldn’t stop crying for days.  Jane used to love spending Christmas at Norwich with her other Nana and Granddad, it was very old-fashioned, their house, stuck in the nineteen forties with big table lamps and old threadbare sofa and chairs, and a big wooden radio and no television at all.  Jane’s house was much bigger but never felt so cosy somehow, always a bit too untidy and uncared for.  Harriet said she was silly to cry for them, that she was just crying for myself really.  And maybe that was a little bit true, but she didn’t have to say it; Jane thought Harriet could be really cruel sometimes.

*  * *

Jane cried when Granddad died, ‘but then she cried at anything’ thought Harriet.  She used to catch her crying at plays on the television.  ‘Didn’t she realise it was all make-believe; it wasn’t real life for goodness sake.’ reasoned the older girl.  ‘And Granddad was old when he died, and so was Mum’s Mum, they were both really old.  I mean did she expect people to live forever, the place would be a bit crowded if they did, don’t you think Jane?’  They didn’t really know them that well either, they only used to go there at Christmas when Dad dragged them there in the Bentley for another boring day.  So she really didn’t know what Jane was thinking about with all that crying stuff, maybe she was just looking for a bit of attention herself.  Harriet told her to buck herself up a bit, she would have to get used to people dying as she got older, it would be Mum and Dad’s turn next.

‘How can you say that?  Harriet, you are so horrid, I hate you.’

‘And I love you too, Janey dear.  Don’t worry it won’t be for ages.  You’ll have to live most of your life first, before they die.  You know; get married, have a load of kids, wipe their bums for them and send them off into the world, and then your job will be done, and you can get ready to bury Mum and Dad.’

Things Equal Out

Monday 27th March

We are fond of predicting disaster; none more so then your author.  But often the things we are most concerned about turn out to be not quite so bad as we may have imagined.  We were devastated, at least I was, when Donald Trump became President of America.  He had proved himself to be impulsive and aggressive; he speaks without thinking, he tweets his own impressions, he doesn’t appear to consult.  And here he was, the most powerful man in the World, and his finger hovering just above the nuclear button….oh, my God, what could possibly go wrong – or more likely, what could possibly go right.

And the Donald certainly hit the ground running, signing executive orders as if paper were about to run out.  But, as Obama found out before him, the powers of the President are indeed limited.  Obama had almost always a Republican House and Senate, both of whom opposed almost everything he tried to do.  But he did succeed, or partially so with his Affordable Care Act, known colloquially as Obamacare.  Actually that in itself is a bit of a joke; health is almost completely un-affordable in America.  Part of Obama’s solution, watered down by both houses so that it could at least start to rectify the problem of Private Health, was that premiums have risen for almost everyone.  Insurance companies were forced to insure poorer people at more reasonable rates and so increased the cost for others.

Trump promised to repeal Obamacare, and then when focus groups were alarmed, he said he would replace Obamacare with a cheaper and better system.  However it seems he had no plans and no idea of what this new system would look like.  And neither did the Republican Party, at least there were too many competing ideas.  The Tea-Party ultra conservatives wanted to make things even harder for poorer people and the more centrist members were pulling in the opposite direction, and realized that most of their voters actually quite liked Obamacare.  And Donald’s impatience and lack of consultation meant that despite trying to force through his changes there was no consensus in his own party for change and Obamacare survived.   The ultimate deal maker couldn’t even cut a deal with his own party….hahaha

We tend to forget that the President’s power is balanced by both houses and also by the judiciary, which has successfully stopped his travel bans.  In fact in the U.K. the Prime Minister actually has far more power as he or she is also the leader of the largest party which usually has a majority.  In a funny way in America things have a habit of equaling out.

Martin Amis – Money

Saturday 25th March

There was a time I used to look forward to the new Martin Amis, but he has fallen out of favour of late.  Somehow I missed this one though it was published in 1984.  The thing about Martin Amis’ books is that there are never two alike, in fact his whole style changes with each book – which I suspect must put some readers off, but quite interests me.  Who wants to write the same book twice (most successful authors actually)?

So, this book is about Money; the title is actually Money, a suicide note (in suitable lower case).  It is written by a very un-likable character; an overweight heavy drinking, heavy eating, pill popping, aggressive woman abuser and pornography addict, who seems to delight in his various expensive addictions.  He also has money, plenty of it and constantly extols the virtues of having ready money to burn. And burn it he does. The language is wonderful, colourful and inventive, and the narrative simply rolls along.  There are several jumps in location and time, and he keeps leaving you hanging on with only bits of the story told, ‘more of that later…’the narrator John Self often says, then leaps to America or London again and another thread of the complex and interwoven plot.  At times you are simply lost, adrift in incoherent thoughts and you wonder where you are, only to be rescued by some comic comment or absurd recollection.

Somewhere too Martin Amis appears and joins the plot, but seems to be waving knowingly from the sidelines; Martin is also a pretty unsympathetic creature.  But slowly you begin to like John Self and sympathise with him, only to be jolted back as he describes hitting women or even attempting to rape his girlfriend – appalling as these things are, you are swept along by the racy narrative and the usual comic consequences.

Martin must have had a ball writing this, hanging it all together and bringing it to some sort of a conclusion.  A really enjoyable read, and one truly reflecting the vulgar greed and money madness of the early Eighties, but not for the faint-hearted.  Maybe there should have been a warning on the inner cover…proceed with caution.

Westminster – coming to terms with chaos

Saturday 25th March

We are all appalled by the events at Westminster on Wednesday; how could we not be.  But being appalled, and a succession of Politicians condemning the terrorists doesn’t solve a thing.  We are told (but not told the details) that the authorities have foiled many terrorist plots, and maybe they have, but they didn’t stop this one, or even have any knowledge of it.  And this is because more and more it seems that these outrages are not even terrorist plots in the conventional sense; more and more these are lone wolves, inspired by what we term as terrorism maybe, but probably not part of some terrorist organization at all.  And look at the ‘weapons’ this guy used – a hired car and a knife, everyday objects, and yet what carnage he caused.  We have to understand that no matter how sophisticated our intelligence services are, no matter how they may eavesdrop on our communications, there is no stopping a lone wolf.  Arrests have been made, family and friends I expect, in the attempt to see if he was part of a wider network, or if any of them had prior knowledge of the attack.  I expect that after questioning they will be released – we will have to wait and see.

But how do we deal with this chaos in our lives.  We who are so careful, who look both ways before crossing the road, who have regular health checks, who eat our five a day.  How do we cope with this element of chaos in our lives?  There is no answer to that.  I lived through the IRA bombing of London in the Seventies; you just had to get on with your life and hope it wasn’t your turn to be bombed. And that is all we can do today.  The only difference being that we all had the secret hope that the IRA would stop one day and Peace would return; with this new form of terrorism there is no end in sight, even if we militarily defeat ISIS we will not kill the idea, the crazed maybe mentality that drives people to die for a religious or political creed, and to take many other innocents with them.

Our generation is lucky, we have not lived through World Wars, we haven’t had mass unemployment, we have sanitation and most of us a place to live.  But life is always uncertain, any day we may be diagnosed with a terminal illness, any day we might die in a car-crash, any day our plane might explode in mid-air.  We cannot avoid an unexpected death – simply because it is unexpected.  But every day that we are alive we must carry on and hope that these outrages become less and less, and keep looking both ways when crossing the road…


Friday 24th March

“Adolescence – what’s it like?
It’s a psychedelic motorbike
You smash it up ten times a day
Then walk away”

These are the brilliant lyrics of the song Adolescence by Prefab Sprout, which these days is simply Paddy MacAloon playing and singing everything. The album is his latest ‘Scarlet Red’; Prefab Sprout albums are now few and far between but this one came out a couple of years ago and is his latest – it might even be his best.  Sometimes a song just gets under my skin, and it is usually the lyrics which get to me.  I can’t stop playing this song, it absolutely nails that mad and dangerous but exciting moment of adolescence.  I have long believed that it is the duty of the young to teach us oldies how to live.  And how…

“It’s moonlight on the balcony
It’s pure hormonal agony
Bad poetry its greeting card
– Will the Bard”

And continues…

“Adolescence – why is it so?
Ask someone else, how should I know?
It’s a song I sang and then forgot
Too long ago”

Now, if only I could write with such abandon, such recklessness and such honesty.  The rest of the album is pretty damn good too; a song about a jewel thief, another about the Taj Mahal and one about an old conjurer…

“The old magician takes the stage
His act has not improved with age
Observe the shabby hat and gloves
The tired act that no-one loves
There was a time he produced doves”

Anyway, I am currently in love with these songs…give the record a listen – it’s on youtube…

Prefab Sprout were famous in the mid-eighties and Paddy MacAloon is about my age now, he has severe hearing problems brought about by playing live too close to the speakers.  He is by all accounts a cantankerous old bugger – who cares, if he can still write and sing songs as superb as this he is one of the greats.

Image result for images of Paddy mcAloon

S – is for Rod Stewart – Atlantic Crossing and beyond

Thursday 23rd March

In 1975 Rod decamped to America, Los Angeles and the world of glamour and real ‘fame’ with his then famous girlfriend, Britt Eckland.  They were the sexiest couple around.  Rod recorded the album ‘Atlantic Crossing’ with the Muscle Shoals rhythm section; it was a different sound, more rounded, more professional, less rock and roll and more soulful.  It was a huge hit, as was the single ‘Sailing’. Rod has always been clever in his song selection, including numbers by Dylan and a few old standards as well as his self-penned efforts, but he took a nice song by the Sutherland Brothers and made it into his own, a great triumph.  He followed this up with albums ‘A Night on the Town’ and ‘Footloose and Fancy Free’; both contained some great songs ‘Tonight’s the Night’ and ‘The Killing of Georgie’, and ‘You’re in my Heart’.  But slowly Rod was turning into a parody of himself with self-referencing songs such as ‘Hot Legs’ and ‘Do Ya Think I’m Sexy’.  Huge hits – but his audience was changing; he was no longer the young Mod rebel but the international Superstar.  I became less interested in his records, but I still bought them, hoping against hope for the old Rod to return.  There were some good songs along the way, ‘Young Turks’, ‘Baby Jane’, ‘Every Beat of my Heart’, ‘Motown Records’ and ‘Rhythm of my Heart’.   But then he started on the American Songbook albums and I lost all interest.

There have been a few half-decent albums of late, but half decent isn’t quite as good as Rod can be.  Still, he has the money and the women and the fame – but nowadays I no longer want to be Rod Stewart.

Image result for images of rod stewart


Wednesday 22nd March

Phil’s thought at first that his father, the Doctor, was a bit of a coward at the end.  Or maybe he wasn’t so much a coward but a realist.  He had cancer, and of course being a Doctor, he knew early on that that was what he had.  He also knew the procedures, the radio-therapy, the poisonous drugs and the invasive surgery he might have to endure.  He also knew the likely chances of his survival, and what sort of a life he might have left if he survived at all.  And he decided not to tell anyone but to suffer in silence until it was far too late to do anything about it; the very thing he would have complained about from one of his own patients.   But he was on the other side of the fence now, on the side of the fence where there was no clambering back from either; he knew now that he had a short and painful journey to the end of his life.  Actually Phil was wrong, as he had been so often about him, his father was no coward, but a very brave man, to have known the pain he would suffer, and to have chosen to suffer it alone without telling anyone; his beloved wife, Phil’s mother, and of course Phil, his son.   Well, even the brave Doctor had to seek help near the end, when his condition got so bad that he couldn’t hide it anymore.  He was admitted to hospital, Ipswich General, the very hospital he had recently retired from, just three weeks before he died.

Phil’s mother phoned him, and as usual tried to protect her boy, saying that ‘Dad was in hospital, but not to worry, he was looking better than he had lately.’   Phil hadn’t seen him since Christmas, and it was July now, so he hadn’t even known he was getting ill.  He had been so busy wheeling and dealing and being so wrapped up in his own life he hadn’t given him a second thought in months.  But he saw through his mother’s words straight away, and told her he would be at the hospital that night. He told June that evening that he thought it was serious, and she asked if she should come with him.  He said no, he would go tonight and see how bad he was, she should stay at home with the girls.


But Phil was quite shocked when he saw him.  He seemed so wizened and so old and shrunken into himself.  He had always been on the slim side, probably all those cigarettes he had smoked, but now he was pitifully thin, the bones and veins in his hands and arm almost protruding, the skin stretched and parched and mottled and a dull yellow.  You know how it is with your Mum and Dad; you are so used to seeing them every day that they never look any different, and even when you are so busy that you only manage three or four visits a year they never seem any different.  But suddenly his Dad looked thirty or forty years older; all of a sudden he had become a very old man, a real shadow of the man Phil had known.  He couldn’t stop the tears from streaming down his face.  His mother put her hand on his arm to comfort him.

“I’ll be alright in a minute, just let me sit here for a moment.” he said trying desperately to stem the tears.

After a few minutes, she said “Phillip, I’ve been here all day, I’ll just leave you two alone for a bit.  I haven’t eaten all day, so I’ll try to find somewhere to get a bite.  I’ll be back in an hour, don’t get up.”  And as she left Phil saw his father give her a slight nod, as if to say, ‘Well done my dear; that was just as we planned.’

He was alone with his father and was lost for words.  What do you say to a father who is so ill that both of you know it is the end?  And they had never really spoken, this father and son – not about anything that mattered; they had lived together all those years when Phil was growing up and he couldn’t ever remember really talking to his father at all. They sat in silence for a couple of minutes then his Dad broke the silence by reaching out his skeletal arm and Phil took his poor thin hand in his and stroked the back of his hand.  It was the first time they had actually touched each other since that perfunctory handshake when Phil had got married, years ago.  His hand was like a child’s in Phil’s, but not like his own children’s hands either.  This was a hand that was past being a hand; his Dad had no strength left at all, even in his hand.  As Phil stroked it, it barely responded, but he looked at his face, and his father was looking at him.  The same face as he had seen in his dreams, the same face he had imagined looking over him when he had been studying Law all those years ago, the same face that Phil had been running away from all his life.  That face, so familiar to him, that used to scare him as a child, that used to quell his childish excitement with one glance, that same face that he had wanted to slap so many times when as a feckless teenager he had tried in his own quiet way to rebel from his authority.  And now that face, was looking at him, weary and at the end of its life, looking for a response, for some compassion, for a flicker of love that might show that all his efforts had not been for nothing.  He was trying to speak; he hadn’t said a word since Phil had arrived, just a mumbled ‘hello’ when he first sat down.

“Don’t speak Dad. It’s alright, I understand.”

And then suddenly he found the strength to say in a thin croak, a ghost of his own voice, “I hope so Phillip.  I really hope you do.”  Phil was crying again now, crying for the poor shell that was all that was left of his father, but crying for himself too, for the way he had let him down, for the fact that he saw him as a success, when Phil felt it was all such a charade. He would never be half the man his father was.  “Don’t cry Phillip, this is meant to be, we have no choice in life.  We all have to die.  I just hope I have the bravery to get through it.”

“Oh I am sure you do have Dad.”  Phil said, still holding his hand.  “You know I have always admired your strength.  Your inner strength I mean, your quiet way of dealing with the world, no histrionics, no shouting. You know, you never ever smacked me as a child.  You know why that was, don’t you?  It was because you never had to.  You only had to look at me and I would stop being naughty, and even when I was at school I always had that look at the back of my mind to stop me from doing anything stupid, no matter how Grice or those other idiots tried to goad me on.” Phil paused, then continued, “You were always my rock Dad; I couldn’t have done it without you.  I would have flunked my exams without you there standing behind me.  You kept me going when I was desperate to give up.  And even now, you are my inspiration Dad. You know that, don’t you?”  He just looked at Phil, with almost a smile hovering behind his eyes.  “I’ve never told you, because, well because we weren’t that sort of a family, were we?  But I always felt it Dad, I always loved you, even though it would have seemed foolish to have said it, but I am saying it now Dad.” And Phil was crying as he said again “I am saying it now.”  And all the while Phil was stroking the back of his hand, and he hadn’t notice that his father’s eyes had closed, so he wasn’t sure if he had heard him.

The nurse came over and pulled the bedclothes up a bit higher and felt his forehead.  “He is sleeping now Mr. Wilkinson; the painkillers help him sleep.  Would you like a cup of tea, you weren’t here earlier when tea was served.”

“Yes, that would be lovely.”  And he still held this bony thin child’s hand in his, and squeezed it occasionally and kept stroking the back of it.  He was not sure if it comforted him, but it meant more to Phil than he could say.  This reversal of roles, Phil now the father stroking his Dad’s child hand gave him such a feeling of peace; it was as if at last they were beginning to understand each other, at last they were talking to each other – talking without words.

Phil saw him every day until he died peacefully in his sleep three weeks later. His mother never left them alone again, and besides by that time the old man could hardly talk, or barely open his eyes to see if anyone was still there.  But every time Phil went he held his hand and stroked the back of it.  He stroked his father’s hand as their roles were reversed and this little child whose hand he held in his own large father’s hand grew younger and younger and lighter and lighter before his very eyes until he ceased to exist at all.

There’s Nothing We Can Do About It

Tuesday 21st March

We have lots of discussions in the Café, often about Brexit or Trump or Marine Le Pen or the terrorist threat or the price of houses in London or whatever.  And after we have put the world to rights we shake our heads and say “There is nothing we can do about it”.  Which in a funny way is both quite consoling and a bit worrying.  This abnegation of our responsibility for the state we are in absolves us of all guilt – it was all our leaders fault, or those idiots who voted for Trump or Brexit.  But it doesn’t help solve the problem, washing our hands of it all simply plays into the hands of those who we rail against.  But it is this feeling of impotence, of everything out of our control which is a driving force for those who would take us deeper into the morass.  The forces of Globalisation love it when we elect the Trumps of this world; Big Business is rubbing its’s grubby little paws as layers of protection for the environment are stripped out, or overseas aid programmes abandoned.

So, what can the concerned citizen of today do about it…..hahaha

Well apart from writing to one’s M.P. or indeed voting for and electing the right M.P. not very much.  But you can talk to people, encourage others to voice their grievances, try to make people realise that we don’t just have to accept whatever our leaders dump on us.  We are living in a Democracy, a very poor and limited one agreed, but we even have the power to change that.  Social Media is a good place to start.  Post or share posts you agree with; when you read something in the Guardian or the Independent which strike a chord, share them on Facebook.  I really don’t know just what effect any of this, or indeed this blog has, but it is better than doing nothing and shrugging one’s shoulders and saying “But there is nothing we can do about it”