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Brexit, football, myth and legend

Much gentle amusement was to be derived today from the more Brexity arms of our illustrious press, as they reacted with horror to Michel Barnier suggesting that it's a chance to explain the benefits of the single market. Who does he think he is? thundered the Mail, the Sun and the Telegraph were equally unhappy, much chuntering along the lines how this PROVES leaving the EU is the right thing to do etc. I expect the Express was upset too but seriously, who reads the Express?

Naturally, because it never does to let actual quotes get in the way of a good bit of xenophobia, they chose to interpret his remarks as "Teaching the UK a lesson". Which is, of course, an outrage, because what could we possibly learn from foreigners? As any fule kno, Blighty is the pre-eminent global power, and lesser nations should be grateful that we deign to let them speak our mother tongue and sample our innovative jams. The very idea that we might actually learn someting by listening to people …
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Curious diversions

So I'm in a pub.

Not, admittedly, much of a shock. I've spent an unseemly proportion of my life since the age of fifteen in pubs. Mostly as a drinker but on various occasions as KP, chef, barman, manager, even a bouncer once or twice. I am well acquainted with pubs.

If, however, you had said to me at the start of the year that by this point of it I'd be cheffing in one, I'd have smiled politely and changed the subject (the days of bawling people out for imbecility are behind me as much as I thought cooking in pubs was). I had no intention of cooking professionally again once Source was done with. Let alone in a pub. A gastropub? No, a pub pub.

Now, before you go thinking that I've entirely lost my mind, I should explain that it is quite a nice pub, and, whilst not precisely pushing the boundaries of what's possible with gastronomy, it has a noble ambition. That of being a decent pub. Which is an ambition which I can fully get behind.

It's occurred to em a l…

Sister Act II: Back in the habit


It may have escaped your notice that this particular vent for my various effusions has grown a touch quieter of late. Of course, seasoned long-term Coastalblog watchers, all one of you, will know that these sorts of longeurs are par for the course and eventually I trip back like a penitent drunk; replete with promises to do better and piteous apologies for letting you down yet again. In my defence, this time I've had a fairly good reason.

To a heady mix of regret and relief, your correspondent has wound up his long-time ball and chain/broken dream/drain of time/reasonably successful business/creator of marital discord (delete as applicable) and re-entered the world of working for other people. Which I don't propose to discuss here, because that would be crashingly dull. But the whole psychodrama of unravelling ten years hard yakka and sauntering off in a manner casual enough to convince the unseasoned observer has somewhat preoccupied me.

On a happier note, this sudden …

This is not campaigning

A few days ago, I was speaking to a local Labour Party worker. He was shrugging at the Tory effort around our neck of the woods, wasn't too worried about retaining the seat at the election; the theory being that they weren't trying hard, because nobody major had turned up.

Then two days ago the Prime Minister turned up.

My first thoughts, when I found out, were of that functionary, his confidence in retaining the seat must have taken a dent from the news that the biggest gun of them all had come calling. The funny thing was, though, nobody knew. I found out on the Today programme the next morning.

The constituency in which I live, West Lancashire, is a place of contrasts. I live in Ormskirk, a reasonably (though increasingly less) prosperous mix of market and student town. We're surrounded by blandly pretty countryside, some reasonably picturesque agricultural land and some chocolate box villages. Down the road, however, is Skelmersdale, the main reason that West Lancash…

Strange bedfellows

These are increasingly strange times.

I'm not going to pass comment on the rights or wrongs of Trump's surprise airstrike in Syria, other than to note that it's a surprising volte-face from a man who was consistently opposed to any form of foreign intervention even prior to his ultimately successful tilt at the Presidency. There's a hefty word-count already devoted to that particular issue, and I'm sure you aready have your own opinion.

I'm not even sure that I'm going to pass much comment on Trump's motivation. It seems unlikely that he was moved to tears by the "beautiful babies" as he put it in his emotional speech justifying the attack. Beautiful babies have been dying in Syria since the war started. He currently won't allow any of those beautiful babies into the US, as refugees from Syria are barred. So that seems unlikely. Some have suggested a deliberate muddying of the waters regarding Russia, and it's true that, a few disgrunt…

The colour of passports

Is this what it was all about?

Andrew Rossindell M.P: "it's a matter of identity, having the pink European passports has been a matter of national humiliation"

Now, leaving aside that my passport is a fetching shade of maroon, rather than pink (and that Rossindell's recoiling from that colour, imagined as it is, speaks to lengthy and expensive analysis required), and leaving aside the observation that I really don't understand why it matters what colour a passport holder is, given that it's the information inside which is important, and leaving even further aside the fact that we were already free to choose the colour of our passports (EU member Croatia's is a perfectly pleasant blue) I am forced to ask:

National humiliation?

Going cap in hand in the seventies to the IMF was a national humiliation. Our spiralling rates of child child poverty are a national humiliation. The fact that cancer survival rates in the UK are lower than most other comparable coun…

Entitlement: the most destructive force in the universe

Well, it's been a day.

I'm not about to go into grindingly tedious hand-wringing about the reasons behind Brexit. Nor am I going to bewail its finally being set in motion. Doesn't seem a lot of point, anyhow I'm a bit too busy battening down the hatches for the shitstorm which will ineivitably ensue. Now is not the time for gnashing of teeth. Particularly because your dentist bills will go up once that nice Polish nurse is told to do one.

But I will reflect, grimly, on one of the aspects of the national character which has led us to this point; and it was illustrated rather beautifully today, for shortly after Theresa May breezily told a house full of braying white blokes that trade negotiations would happen in parallel with the exit talks, over on the continent Angela Merkel was smiling thinly and saying nein. And I thought yep, that about sums it up.

You see, just because you say something's going to happen, doesn't necessarily mean that it's going to. Th…