Pragmatism Is Boring

Wednesday 28th February

There is no doubt that being sensible, being pragmatic, doing Realpolitik – is boring.  And the alternative – going it alone, following some idealogical ideal, sailing the high seas looking for land to trade with – may sound attractive, brave and appealing.  But dry your eyes, wipe away the schmaltz and drink the cold bitter coffee of reality.  The days of Colonialism are long over.  Every country in the World, with the possible exceptions of Yemen and Syria and Somalia, all know about trade.  We can no longer sell them whisky and baubles for cheap raw materials.  All we could possibly offer would be to stolen launder money more effectively (one more possible reason that the Brexiteers hate Europe, as it is busy tightening up this murky trade).  It is true that countries like China and India are rapidly growing, and at some point, may overtake the West.  And we can and do trade with them, up to a point.  But they, like America, will put their own countries first – and we will have little choice (on our own) in standing up against them.  That is just one more reason why we stand a much better chance of increasing our trade with them as a part of the EU than on our own.

The reality, if we do go it alone, and leave lboth the Single Market and the Customs Union, is that in the immediate aftermath we will take a massive hit to our manufacturing, our service and even our financial industries.  We may sign a new deal with America, but don’t expect it to be either soon or in our interest.  They have much lower standards than we do, and their industrial food producers (hardly farmers anymore) will flood our markets with cheap and unreliable food.  Yes, it may be cheaper – but there is a good reason for that.  And our own farmers will go out of business pretty quickly.  Can you imagine any Car Manufacturers (which are all multi-country Corporations now) wanting to make cars just in Britain.  They will head for the hills.

So, we must be pragmatic.  Just because people voted to leave, they did not vote for chaos.  They did not vote for huge job losses.  They did not vote for poorer hygiene standards.  We must be pragmatic.  Just as Jeremy has started to be.  It may be that at some point in the future we are capable of leaving the Customs Union and striking out on our own.  Nothing stays the same forever.  But for now, and for the foreseeable future we are far wiser to stay as close as possible to the EU as possible, while actually leaving the institution.  It will not be perfect, but that is the nature of Pragmatism.  It is boring, and imperfect.  But it is better than complete chaos, and idealogical Nationalism.


My Record Collection 4

Tuesday 27th February

A – Tori Amos   I have always loved girl singers, from Joni and Joan Baez onwards, and read the music papers looking for the next really fantastic female singer.  I was NOT impressed by Madonna (never really got her at all), there have been a few decent and a handful of superb ones along the way.  Tori Amos arrived in 1992 with her debut album “Little Earthquakes”.  She caused quite a sensation, partly because of the confessional content of the songs and the image of her fellating a gun and the priapic mushrooms on the back cover. I bought the record anyway…hahaha.  It was really quite good, though her voice and piano playing can be a bit wearing.  The best songs are ‘Silent All These Years’ and ‘China’ and ‘Me and a Gun’.  I was never quite sure of her, if she really was, as some of the music critics hailed her, the successor to Joni.  I don’t think she is anywhere in Joni’s league.  Her songs are just too obvious; where Joni obscures and blurs with startling poetry Tori is just that bit too honest.  But on the whole not a bad debut at all.

She has been pretty prolific over the years, releasing about 15 records already.  Maybe too many.  I only have a few but will pick one up if I see it in second-hand shop.  There is always something pulling me back to her, hoping maybe for that brilliance that is just over the horizon.  Her third record ‘Boys for Pele’ I now find almost unlistenable.  Dense lyrics and the piano playing seems discordant and un-melodic.  ‘Strange Little Girls’ is much better; this is Tori’s ‘covers’ album.  A personal selection where she highlights the differences between men and women – ‘Real Men’, ‘I’m Not In Love’ ‘I Don’t Like Monday’s and many more.  Her interpretations are often stark and sad, but her voice has never been better.  A real find this, in a charity shop a few months ago.  I bought another of hers ‘The Beekeepr’ at the same time.  Another excellent album; in fact my favourite of hers.  This is also the most recent I have of her rather prolific output so I will keep an eye out for her.  The songs are far more melodic, more rounded, more welcoming, more conventional.  I especially like ‘the power of orange knickers’.  I have no idea what the lyrics really mean, or how they all hang together (which they apparently do, according to the sleeve notes) but it doesn’t matter.

Anthony and the Johnsons I only have the debut, which came out in 1998.  I think the music magazines were raving about it.  Anthony Hegarty who later became the transgender Anohni is the singer.  And what a remarkable voice.  This record is really quite good, and I don’t know why I didn’t buy the far more successful follow up ‘I am a bird now’ – but there you go.  Truth to tell, I have far too many CDs waiting to even be played, a whole rack of them.  My buying choices these days are more whimsical, except for the very few artists I feel I must have every single release available of.  This record is really quite pleasant, but maybe it isn’t quite my style of music.  Despite my repeated forays into this Century’s music I am always drawn back to the music of my teens and twenties.  There is a resonance there, and a relevance too.  But my mantra has always been ‘There is no such thing as bad music, just some I am less familiar with.’  Mind you I don’t think I will ever become familiar with rap.


America the Brave?

Monday 26th February

Another month, another school shooting.  But this time it may just be different.

We do have to wonder though just why there seem to be so many Americans, some young and some older, who are prepared to massacre innocents.  Is it just the availability of guns?  If it were just that, then there would surely be school massacres by people with knives or machetes in other countries.   Or, is there something else going on in America?  Leonard Cohen once described America as ‘the cradle of the best and the worst, it’s here they’ve got the range, the machinery for change, and it’s here they got the spiritual thirst.’  And maybe it is just that last fact – the spiritual thirst, which defines just why America is the way it is.

And Leonard was, as usual, spot on about the best and the worst.  America has given us many wonderful things, and many individual Americans are inspiring and amazing people.  But what is it about America that is so violent.  There seems to be a strange dichotomy in American attitudes to ‘life’.  I cannot imagine ever killing someone; I think It would be the worst thing I could ever do.  America is the home of the most vociferous anti-Abortion movement in the world.  Pro-life groups often picket Family Planning clinics, screaming abuse at women, who, for whatever reason choose to have an abortion.  If only their ‘concern’ for the sanctity and preciousness of life for the unborn child could include all people.  But amazingly it is often the very same people who still believe in Capital Punishment and hate the very idea of any form of gun control.

For America is an extremely violent society.  And I believe it is mostly down to Religion.  America is maybe the most religious country in the World; definitely in the West as a whole.  Europe has pockets of Religion, but generally this is a private matter, people quietly go about their lives and do not particularly advertise their beliefs.  Not so in America.  Being seen to be Religious, and that is almost exclusively Judeo-Christian, is far more important.  Politicians usually end their speeches with “God Bless America”.  It is unthinkable for an Atheist, or even a non-practising Christian to be elected to Congress or the Senate or the Presidency.

But if they are so religious, why are they so violent?  Because the versions of Christianity in America are mostly based on the ‘Old Testament’ with a vengeful God, an ‘eye for an eye’, and even in Donald Trumps preferred belief – that God rewards good people by making them rich.   America has the largest prison population, both by size and by ‘per thousand’ in the world; many serving life sentences, where they will never be released – some with sentences exceeding 100 years.  How the judges can keep a serious face handing down this nonsense is beyond me.  But the whole point of prison in America is punishment, not correction – forget entirely the idea of redemption.

And the American love of weaponry is symptomatic of a deeper malaise.  Many Hollywood films are full of gratuitous violence, death is everywhere.  America is the only country to have exploded an Atomic weapon – not once, but twice.  And if the Japanese had not surrendered I am pretty sure they would have continued dropping these awful bombs until the Japanese were completely annihilated.

Americans grow up with guns and death as commonplace occurrences, along with the belief that poverty is largely self-inflicted; that gaining wealth is the path to happiness.

And yet….and yet there is a growing revulsion, led largely by women and children to stop the carnage, to try to slowly turn back the tide of killing.  I really hope that this is the best side of America, of America the brave, and that things are beginning to change.  And they will have to be brave to face down all the American cowards brandishing guns

My Record Collection 3

Sunday 25th February

A – ALT Well, this is a strange one.  A real one-off too.  Tim Finn of Split Enz (see S) and Crowded House (see C), a singer songwriter from Ulster, Andy White (see W), and Liam O’Mainloai from the Irish band ‘Hothouse Flowers’.  Apparently, they shared a flat in Dublin for a while and decided to record a record together.  The band’s name is the first letters of their first names.  The record Altitude came out in 1994.  I really like it.  It has a raw unfinished sound; definitely not overproduced.  The songs are very good though, especially ‘We’re All Men” and “The Refuge Tree”.  I wish they had done more, but one album and a bootleg almost impossible to find, of a live concert are all we have.  Tim soon rejoined (for one album) Crowded House, and Andy and Liam continued on their course of relative obscurity.  So, this record remains a gem, and a reminder of what might have been.

A – Amen Corner Well, they were huge for about 6 months in late ’68 and early ’69.  They hailed form Wales, but for a couple of years no-one was listening.  They were just another struggling band, playing mostly soul and blues.  They had a top twenty hit with ‘Gin House’ in 1967 and then a huge one in 1968 – ‘Bend Me, Shape Me’.  This was largely due to the great vocals from Andy Fairweather Low, who I think was the songwriter in the band (although he didn’t write the two big hits).  A number 1 single hit followed the next year with ‘(If Paradise Is) Half As Nice’  And then they flopped…

The band split that year.  Andy went on to a successful solo career (see F) and became a virtuoso guitarist (though he only sang in Amen Corner) and has played and toured with Eric Clapton, George Harrison and lately Roger Waters.

The only record I have of theirs is ‘The National Welsh Coast Live Explosion Company’.  It is a live record – and it is awful.  The band are all over the place and the sound quality is poor.  Too much screaming from their adolescent girl fanbase spoil most of the few songs the band were able to play.  I copied it onto CD from a second-hand album I bought, and the scratches add an ambience to it in a strange way.  It is like a blast from a non-digital past.  I keep it in the collection purely for nostalgic reasons…

Sticks and Stones

Saturday 24th February

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”.  This was one of those mantras we learnt as children.  And when insults were hurled we would chant it back and run away.  Well, I can tell you sticks didn’t quite break my bones – but it wasn’t for the sake of trying.  Stones were rarely thrown, but words were.  And words, despite the brave mantra did hurt me.  Words have always hurt me. From the dread word ‘Adopted’ to it’s just as nasty epithet ‘Bastard’, these two really did hurt – because I was both.  Later, as girls called me ugly and I stared into the mirror and spent far too long combing my hair and squeezing spots – to little visible improvement, those words hurt me too.

And then the inevitable “But I don’t love you anymore” as another relationship faltered and fell apart.  Those words never went away.  I would lie in bed, trying to lose myself in delirious sleep, but those words would revolve over and over in my head.  I would, and still do, relive every slight and insult, every bitter word shouted in anger ringing in my brain like finality’s bell.  And I too, am often guilty of using words to hurt.

Why we do it, I do not know.  Does it really make us feel any better?  I doubt it, but words are a form of violence we deploy with little thought.  We rarely resort to sticks and stones, but words we carelessly hurl, can really hurt you.  And why is it always our loved ones we hurt with words.  We may justify them as ‘only telling the truth’, or ‘well, they started it’, but we may well have ended it.

I am one of those unfortunate people who cannot simply shrug them off, they stick to me like super glue and are just as hard to wash off.  Words.  I live by words, lyrics of songs mean so much to me.  Books I read are full of words which I find comfort in.  I absorb the news, which is mostly spoken, and the papers full of written words.  Yes, words mean a lot to me.  And many times, I have wished that sticks and stones had been deployed rather than the sharpest stones and hardest sticks that words carry.  I am reminded of a couplet in a poem I once wrote..

“and the sharpest stone in your armoury store, the one that cut me to the core, was soft at the edges, rounded and smooth, a net to bathe my deepest wounds.”

So, just think before letting out those hurtful words, because yes, they really do hurt, just as much as sticks and stones.”

One More Cup Of Coffee

Thursday 22nd February

This was a minor song on one of Bob Dylan’s best albums – ‘Desire’.  It is about wanting to stay a bit longer with a woman.  A great song, and a great lyric and sentiment.

It is cold as I am writing this.  It is just after 7 in the morning.  I have walked the dogs and opened the Café and boy, is it cold.  About minus 3 or 4.  Again, we have the cold mornings – but at least it is sunny.  I much prefer this to those wet and drizzly days we have had for almost two months now.  I have a slight buzzy head from last night; a quiz night, only two glasses of wine (I swear), but a late night (we did quite badly, actually – somehow, I can shout out the answers on Mastermind, and even some on University Challenge, but my mind goes blank when I am at a quiz night.  Saying that I did get one or two obscure answers) and up early.  I always sleep badly when I have to get up extra early, waking too often to grope for the light switch and check the clock only to find just another half an hour has passed.  Why don’t I simply set the alarm?  Who knows – gross stupidity, most probably.

Anyway, I am in the Café, descaling one machine and have just made my third milky coffee as I serve the few market stall holders brave enough to set up their stalls in this icy weather..  How comforting a cup of latte is.  Maybe it is a distant reminder of warm milk coming from Mummy’s breast – a memory we maybe never forget and are searching for the rest of our life?  Strange thought to be having, but it is early in the morning.

So, let’s have another cup of coffee and get this cold day started.  I raise a cup to all my fellow coffee lovers…

Image result for images of cup of coffee

What Are Universities Actually For?

Wednesday 21st February

Theresa May has announced a year-long review (nicely into the long grass) of University Funding, because she says that the present system, which she and her Cabinet Colleagues helped to create (and certainly exacerbated by the tripling of fees) is not working.  Well, we all know that.  But I suspect that her announcement has far more to do with a feeble attempt to divert attention away from Brexit, and her fear of the popularity of Labour’s Policy of scrapping fees entirely, than any real concern.

The question of funding certainly needs to be addressed. How could we have allowed such a crazy system to have emerged.  In England, the Student Loan Company (an arms-length branch of Government) borrows money from the Bank of England and lends it to students at 6% a year; they don’t begin to repay this until they achieve a certain salary (around 30k).  But the debt keeps on growing.  On average students will be leaving Uni with a £57,000 debt – which will either be repaid at about 9p in the pound or written off after 30 years.  At present about 45% of this money is lost and the taxpayer picks up the tab.  Mrs. May says that almost everyone agrees that those who benefit from a University Education should have to pay for it.  Oh yes, just like she, and the vast majority of M.P.s, have paid for theirs.

But all of that is almost a side issue.  The real question should be “What are Universities Really For?”

In my day, the late Sixties, a University Education was far more about broadening one’s horizon, expanding one’s life experience, following an intellectual pursuit.  We assumed that on the whole this might give us a better career, although hovering in the background was the advice of my Careers Officer at the sole 15 minute interview I had with her. “Well, if you go to University – you can always become a teacher.”  And actually. many of my classmates did just that.  Not that being a teacher is anything poor or second-rate, but I am not sure that simply passing exams and going to Uni, or Teacher training college is necessarily the best way of choosing good teachers.  In my school all the teachers were graduates, and half of them had the communication skills of a gnat.

Now unfortunately, Universities seem to exist mostly to inflate the salaries of the Senior staff and administrators.  Employers are now, because of the hugely increased numbers of graduates, asking for degrees for many quite low-skilled jobs.  Graduates are being forced to work as waitresses or shop assistants because of the high level of degrees among candidates for the jobs they really would like to be doing.  In my mind, far too many people are going to University, and consequently the value of a degree has fallen.  There are too many Universities and Colleges which simply churn out degrees of little value in the real world.

I do accept that many Universities do valuable research work, but can we afford under any system to send so many kids to University?

There is also quite a stigma, in certain circles, attached to those who did not go to University.   I have received this several times.  I was destined for Uni, but flunked it and had a different further education.  I had to teach myself about computers, and Accounts (never been on a course in my life).  And I have met quite a few graduates with shiny degrees who know nothing about how business really works, or the slightest understanding of Accounts.  But that is another story.

I just wonder why we spend, one way or another, ten times as much on sending kids to University, as we do on Apprenticeships or vocational training.  Maybe it comes down to the simple fact that most M.P.s are University educated (mostly at no cost to themselves) and they assume that this is essential for the continued success of the country; a sort of elitism that still pervades our Establishment.  Intelligence has little to do with passing exams, and we are maybe placing far too much importance on a University education.

Let The Whole Nation Rejoice !!!!

Tuesday 20th February

Football is a funny game; which is probably why it is the most popular in the World. A game can be boring, often very boring – especially if it is anticipated, with two very good well-matched sides; it often dribbles out into a goalless draw.  And then, the unexpected happens and you get a see-saw of a high-scoring game with goals-a-plenty.  It is also a funny game, in that predictions are not easy.  Now, in rugby, it is rare for a weaker side to beat a stronger one.  In cricket we see the same thing.  (American football – don’t even go there).  But in football there is a big element of luck. Accidental hand-balls and penalties; back-passes that the goalkeeper doesn’t see coming; weird headers; miss-kicked crosses that somehow float into the net.  There are games where a poor side gets a lucky deflection and wins.  There are games where a side plays brilliantly but just cannot get the ball in the net…and so it goes.  I think that this unpredictability is one of the reasons for the games success.

Also, we have especially recently seen the money.  Ridiculous amounts of money being pumped into the game.  Teams like Chelsea, who a few years ago rarely troubled the top spots, get a new rich owner, and year after year buy, buy, buy; both players and managers and begin to win…well, nearly everything.  But money cannot guarantee success. Chelsea are struggling this year, with much the same side and coach that won the league easily last year….three cheers please.

And, most wonderful of all – Manchester City, who have similarly been boosted recently by a millionaire owner, and are a zillion points clear at the top of the Premier league, were facing lowly Wigan ( a team fallen on hard times of late) in the FA Cup last night.  It was on BBC 1.  I didn’t watch it; who wants to see lambs ritually slaughtered?  I awoke this morning and as usual checked the soccer results.  Oh, my goodness.  Wigan had won.  They beat the mighty Man. City, just as they did almost 5 years ago in the Wembley final.

So let us raise a glass….the mighty have been beaten by the humble….

My Record Collection 2

Monday 19th February

A – Adele   She burst onto the scene in 2008 with her debut album 19 (her age when the songs were recorded).   The record sold in the millions; it seemed to strike a chord with young people, and many older ones too, especially women.  Her songs are almost all about love, lost or unrequited or desired.  Most of her songs she has written,, but the best song on 19 was undoubtedly her superb interpretation of Dylan’s ‘Make You Feel My Love’ – but maybe I am biased.  She has a wonderful voice, but maybe it is just me – I find it slightly grating at record’s end.  I quite like her, and yet, she doesn’t really do it for me.  Ah well, maybe I am just getting old.

Her second album 21 was an even bigger hit, and is surprisingly, the fourth biggest selling record ever in the UK.  Some achievement, or maybe it is just that the competition (whatever else was available for the listening public) was not that fantastic.  Also the vast majority of these sales would have been digital.  I almost never download music, and maybe people nowadays download on other’s recommendations and then don’t really play the record that much. In some ways this is a better record, a few very good songs – but again, to my ears her voice tends to grate a bit.

Her third record 25 was just as massive – I haven’t felt inspired to buy it yet.

A – Air   French duo from France consisting of Nicolas Godin and Jean-Benoit Duckel.  I know, French artists barely get a look-in over here, but in the field of electronica they are at the forefront.  And I have always been interested in this genre, ever since seeing Tangerine Dream back in the late Sixties.  Talking about the Sixties, most of you will, I am sure, think that I only love that old stuff.  Actually most of my music is from the Seventies and the Eighties.  Note, the first few entries in this record are all from well after the Sixties.

Anyway, the band Air.  They make dreamy floaty music, almost filmic and mostly quite moody and instrumental – and when voices do come in they are mooted and subtle.  Their first release was an EP, but at 33 minutes long it is almost an album.  Gentle and smooth, almost late night dance music the tracks blend into one another beautifully.  At this point I have to thank my daughter Laura who has introduced me to lots of ‘Modern Music’, especially trip hop and electronica, which would have passed me by otherwise.

The duo’s first album proper was 1998’s ‘Moon Safari’, which became quite a minor hit for them.  Single ‘Sexy Boy’ was played a lot on the radio; my favourite song is ‘All I Need’ with the vocals sung by Beth Hirsch.  Talking of which, I can remember when The Beatles first started using ‘guest artists’ like Eric Clapton, there was quite some controversy.  But then it became quite okay to use other musicians.  I am not sure who the first were to use completely different vocalists on their records, but I remember buying Steve Hackett’s second record ‘Please Don’t Touch’ (see H) and discovering at least three different singers on the record (because Steve, a wonderful guitarist, thought his own voice was too weak).  But then in the Nineties there were lots of records “featuring” some other artist.  And now it is quite common to have ‘guest vocalists’ on your records.  Anyway, ‘Moon Safari’ is a lovely record; again smooth and melodic and almost segueing from one track to another.  Next up is ‘50,000 Hertz Legend’, a strange title but a great record, maybe their best.  More varied, better songs and great vocals – they really got into their stride with this one. Best songs are ‘How does it make you feel’ and ‘Don’t be light’.  But not a poor tune on the record.

Air were also quite prolific, writing a few soundtracks for movies and different mixes.  Their next record was ‘Everybody hertz’ – a mash-up of 50,000 Hertz.  I am not sure I really like these mix-albums.  They can be more than a bit repetitive, and anyway – isn’t it a bit cheap to keep remixing old stuff?  Anyway, one or two of the versions maybe add something to the original, but it doesn’t really hang together as an album.  (Although on a second listen, it is actually quite good – so what do I know).  Next up is 2004’s ‘Talkie Walkie’; again quite a pleasant record, but I was beginning to think they really had nothing new to offer.  I suppose I am still hankering after the progression in music we had in the Sixties and Seventies, when each new record was different and exciting.  But then again, if you have found a niche, a style which is successful, and people keep buying your music – what incentive is there to explore new ideas?   The last Air album I have is 2007’s ‘Pocket Symphony’ – this is a bit more upbeat, a bit more varied and a few more vocals.  Quite a nice little record.  And that is almost it from this surprisingly good French duo.  I have ordered their next record ‘Love 2’ but I haven’t heard it yet – it was cheap on ebay – on the strength of this re-listen.

Our Party’s Policy On Brexit

Sunday 18th February

The Conservatives – Our policy on Brexit is crystal clear.  The people have spoken, and even though it was crass stupidity of Cameron to have allowed the referendum in the first place, those wretched Ukippers were stealing our votes – and it seemed a good idea at the time.  Even though we were devastated by the result – or some of us were at least, we immediately embraced the idea.  Our problem is that we do have some Brexit nutters in our party and they could, at any moment topple Saint Theresa.  So, we must continue to obfuscate and confuse and refuse to commit to anything definite.  In this way we not only keep our own party in check, but the dastardly Europeans have no idea what we want either.  In the end, no matter what compromises we are forced to make, in order to get any sort of a trade deal at all, we, and our friends in the Press will laud it as a great triumph.  Winning the next election is our only priority.  So, you see, our policy is crystal clear.

Labour – Our policy on Brexit is crystal clear.  Even though our Leader was always highly sceptical about the EU he campaigned ‘vigorously’ for Remain.  Despite his best efforts the electorate chose to Leave.  And we respect that decision, more in fear of them voting Tory than anything else.  We know that leaving the EU will be a disaster economically, but it will have been the Tories who negotiated it, so we will blame them for everything.  As soon as we know just what Mrs. May has negotiated we will, of course, oppose it.  There are many, even some within our own party, who want us to declare now that we want to remain in the Single Market, or at least the Customs Union – but even though this is eminently sensible, that would be a mistake.  Just think what the Sun and the Mail would make of that.  No, our policy on Brexit is crystal clear.

The LibDems   Our policy on Brexit is crystal clear.  We wish it had never happened.  In fact – we don’t really believe that the public actually voted to leave – they may have ticked that box, but they had no idea what they were doing, there was a collective lapse of common-sense, and It is obvious that in that case we must re-run the referendum (and continue to re-run it until the right decision is achieved).  However, as we will never gain power on our own, who cares.  We can say whatever we like and be complacent in the knowledge that we are always right.  If there should be a hung parliament we will not go into Coalition (not after last time) but will simply sit on the fence – that is, if Mr. Corbyn can share the fence with us.  So, you see, our p0licy on Brexit is crystal clear.

UKIP – Of all the parties, no-one can deny that our policy is crystal clear.  We have always and will always hate Europe.  We will fight them on the beaches.  However we will be furious if when we actually leave Europe, our MEP salaries will cease.  What a cheek, and a very EU thing to do.  When we finally elect a leader with the slightest shred of credibility and win the next election we will build a wall along the Channel and repel all boarders.  Long Live the Empire. Our policy on Brexit is the only policy we have, and it is crystal clear.

Author’s note – I hope that this has cleared up any misunderstandings which you the general public may have had.