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Memory Tapes

Nostalgia, as a lot of people have said, is a hell of a drug.

This post could be about a number of things, it could be about the way we deal with memory, about how artefacts can bring moments back to us instantly and vividly. It could be about how I'm a lazy swine who never got round to binning stuff which should have been got rid of a long time ago, or it could be about how I, as a middle aged man, am in danger of spending too much time in the past when there's a perfectly good present to be getting on with. It could, viewed in a certain light, be about the power of music to transcend time and space.

It could be about a lot of things, it depends which end you're looking at it from, I suppose.

I'll explain: a few weeks ago, on something of a whim (though it's a thought that I instantly recognised as having been buzzing round the back of my head for a while), I bought a CD player (with, would you believe, a tape deck). I had known, of course, that I didn't have…
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Arrested development

I'll start by apologising sincerely. I've been consciously trying to avoid the political blog posts for a while, they weren't doing either my writing or mental health any good whatsoever. Plus, it does you good to have a bit of a think about other things. But, to paraphrase Michael Corleone: just when I think I got out, Michael Gove does something stupid and it pulls me back in.

You see, I've been trying to put my finger on what, beyond the obvious, has been aggravating me about the conduct of the Conservative and Unionist Party of Great Britain in this election so far. The general high-handedness, boorish sneering and pompous insincerity is pretty much par for the course. Yes, Rees-Mogg's cracking Grenfell zinger was a pretty spectacular example of staggering insensitivity, one for the ages but given that he was whisked swiftly away and hasn't been seen since it seemed that someone at CCHQ had their head screwed on, it's all been fairly muted, safety first…

The 5%

There is, as there so often is, a clip doing the rounds on social media, you may have seen it. It's from the BBC's irksome Question Time and in it a bearded chap berates Labour's Richard Burgon over the party's manifesto. Labour have promised a whole bunch of stuff, and they're proposing to pay for it, in part, by raising taxes for those in the top 5% of earners. They're not aiming at the taxing the top 5% he says, angrily and pointily, they're going to tax ordinary folk, like him, the man with the beard, he's not even in the top 50% he says. He's heard that they're increasing taxes for everyone earning over £80K. He earns over £80K and he's an ordinary working man. It's a disgrace.

He remains hilariously disbelieving when it's pointed out to him that a salary of £80K outs him firmly in the top 5% of wage earners. He can't be. Doctors earn more than him, Solicitors earn more than him. It's an outrage.

Now, leaving aside the f…

Late Autumn light

Walking back from work in the mid-afternoon, there's a filtered golden haze on the few leaves left.

I recently read Jun'Ichiro Tanazaki's essay In Praise of shadows, a thought-provoking, at times surprising study of aesthetics which was a lament for a lost world even when it first appeared in 1933. An amusing mix of the sacred and profane, Tanazaki circles obsessively round the subject of light. One central thesis is that one's appreciation of beauty is formed by circumstance, and as such the traditional Japanese homes of the time, with their paper walls and muted colours are to him more aesthetically pleasing than western ideas of beauty. As traditional homes admitted little light, he describes the beauty inherent in dim lighting, the flecks of gold in lacquerware bowls, the indistinct charm of traditional scrolls in unlit alcoves. He argues that the development of Japanese aesthetics springs from the low eaves of their houses, the interiors designed to make the most …

The pond at the end of the road

There's a pond at the end of my road which is on my way to work. It's not much of a pond, it started out as a depression in the corner of a field, and I'm not even entirely sure if it's supposed to be there, we've had a fair whack of rain over the last few years (the water table is currently higher than it's ever been) and I think it just sort of made itself; there's a stand of beech trees more or less permanently in it, which rather suggests that it wasn't always there. I've watched it change and grow with interest. I lamented last summer when a long dry spell dried it out, I was concerned when I saw piles of earth nearby, thinking the farmer meant to fill it in, relieved when these piles were left untouched and became a series of small islands in the pond, quickly colonised by a variety of plants. It's part of my morning routine, on my walk to work, look over, see how the pond's doing. One morning some fox cubs were playing on its muddy sh…

Surprise! Rees-Mogg's a callous bell-end!

It would be reasonable to say that yesterday was not a great day for the Conservative and Unionist Party of Great Britain. I mean, today's not been great so far, what with the Welsh secretary having to resign after lying about his aide sabotaging a rape trial, and the boy Johnson comparing Corbyn to a man responsible for 3 million murders, forcing poor old James Cleverly (God alone knows what he'd done to have to come out and try and defend this stuff) to do the interview round and get roundly trounced by everyone from Nicky Campbell to Kay Burley (who no-chaired him after he hid in a dressing room and refused to come out). But yesterday was a proper stinker, and not just because the Tories got found out doctoring a video of Keir Starmer.

In years to come, when the history of these strange and fractious times comes to be written at an appropriate distance, I have a hunch that the mystifying rise of Jacob Rees-Mogg will be a reasonably entertaining chapter all by itself. A man …

Happy Brexit day, everyone!

Have you put the bunting up? Have you baked the Brexit Cake? Well, I couldn't just let it slide past without comment, could I?

So, the thirty-first of October is here, When we would be out of the EU "do or die", the date when Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson would rather "die in a ditch" (bit obsessed with the old death, that lad. I can relate, as a fellow fat bloke I, too, am preoccupied with thoughts of mortality), and I can't help but note that we're still, um, in the EU.

But wait, what was it that everyone's favourite one-time Territorial globe impersonator, Mark Francois said, shortly after brushing fried egg off his tie. I'm pretty sure he said there would be riots, if we weren't out by now. I think.....I think he said the country would....explode? Something like that. Come to think of it, animatronic frog-corpse, Nigel Farage, said something pretty similar. We had to leave by now, or this nation was going to rise up in bloody revolu…