On Brexit

There’s that bit at the beginning of the old Mission Impossible TV series when Jim, the one before Ethan, chooses his perfect team for the impossible mission from a cardboard folder of resting B-list actors while Lalo Schifrin’s theme plays lusty and moody in 5/4. So, given that we’ve set up an excellent Mission Impossible story arc, let’s call our season finale episode “The Hunt for a Good Brexit”, who would be Jim’s ideal centre ground team to abseil into the European Parliament to negotiate, bargain, and make logical nation-building decisions for us citizens? That’s all of us. A few of our more high profile business leaders have, ahem, business abroad which keeps them tied up in Monaco or off the coast of Sark, and our Financial sector’s Behemoths seem bruised and bemused and too busy buying property and influence in Germany, Luxembourg, Brussels etc. The lawyers rub their hands in disbelief and keep Liam Fox and the Attorney General on speed dial. Our politicians are driven largely by ideas so toxic and divisive they can only have originated in the fevered fantasy imaginations of either the Socialist Workers Party or the Daily Mail; Nick Clegg fails to hold the centre together even on Have I for News for You, and Jim that leaves us with Nicola Sturgeon, Caroline Lucas, those right-leaning Labour people who haven’t gone Immigration crazy, and those liberal Tories who wear Hush Puppies and like jazz, remind me who they are; Robert Peston who’s running a very fine one-person real time political/economic commentary on every known platform bar the railways; Marina Hyde, the UK’s very own Karl Kraus, satirist of the New British Weimar, and – scarily enough – the Riot Club’s wee beastie, George Osborne, suddenly a cross between Malthus and Keynes – who’s writing a fired-up pro Europe manifesto, yay, while HSBC says that Sterling is the best opposition party right now, good job Sterling btw. Nevertheless, our country is full of ridiculously smart people of all ages, places of birth, religious and political orientations. We have always been at our best in the centre, tolerant, amusing, creative, outspoken or reserved. Only connecting, as that old Bloomsberrie E. M Forster almost used to say. So, pretty clearly, we’re not at our best right now. Social media is not the nodal space to save Britain from entropy, because its walled city echo-chambers cancel each other in the mutually assured destruction that is online “debate”, trolling, and just sheer hate. But neither I suspect are the streets the place to originate a new sense of shared island identity. And so, Jim, who are you going to choose to help steer us through Article 50 and beyond? Who are the great Brits to get us out of this mess, and inspire? Because it seems that, as William Goldman is always saying of Hollywood, nobody knows anything. FFS I haven’t even heard a protest song yet. I think all of us who value cosmopolitan decency and the importance of fairness and tolerance, and who like to think we’ve experienced Britain in times of hope as well as times of strife, recognise we need to act, not tweet, to find common ground, and to regain a sense of the possible. It’s Mission Possible, Jim, should you choose to accept it. As always, should you or any of your colleagues be caught or killed, the Home Secretary will disavow any knowledge of your actions. This tape/disc/Spotify playlist will self-destruct five seconds after Article 50 is enforced. Good luck, Jim. And don’t ring Ethan.


Photo by Portia Kamons, February 2016. Once a futurist…

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Must Do

Here’s a journey for 2019, and the 100th anniversary of the Bauhaus.

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Nine years ago I started walking the Betwixt Project in Calais, having taken the boat from Dover on the Kent coast. A flu flattened me on that first day.

Today looking over some of the first posts I made I do feel like I’m reading from another century; my walk as psychologically distant as the one made by Thomas Coryat in 1608.

In my down time from everything else happening post Brexit I’m going to revisit what made the site, look at the notebooks of stuff that didn’t, and – above all – continue to celebrate what connects us in Europe.Coryats_Crudities

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This looks great

Following fiction: even better. Riddle of the Sands

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Vanished Kingdoms: The History of Half-Forgotten Europe by Norman Davies – review | Books | The Guardian

“A list selected from the 15 chapters of this book will give you an idea: Tolosa, Alt Clud, Burgundia, Aragon, Litva, Byzantion, Borussia … these are names that linger on the fringes of memory and consciousness.” Nicholas Lezard


via Vanished Kingdoms: The History of Half-Forgotten Europe by Norman Davies – review | Books | The Guardian.

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Edge of town etc.

Edge of town etc.

Edge of town etc.

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