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Blind Panic

It's been a funny few days for the seasoned Brexit watcher. The whole soap opera had become a bit moribund over the last few months, as the gripping Coronavirus plotline continued to preoccupy the writers. But now that everyone's pretending that everything's fine, even those who are aware that it isn't are finding their levels of background terror subsiding enough to start to worry about other things.
Top of the list, of course, is that the deadline for extending talks slipped by just yesterday. True to their word, the Government haven't asked to extend. Not only that, but they've decided that they can probably do without their chief negotiator, shunted back to Whitehall to fill the brogues of the recently defenestrated Sir Mark Sedwill. It's not as if we have to get a deal done before the end of the year or anything.
As to the purpose of this half-arsing of the negotiations, that's anybody's guess. The wilder shores of internet opinion are convinced …
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The Hopkins Parabola, or, how the far-right's on the way out.

It's been a rum old few weeks for what we used to laughingly call the alt-right in this country. First The Beeb's go-to "balance" for rationality, Nigel Farage, quite rightly got the boot from his LBC show, and lo there was much chortling. Then, even more entertainingly, Twitter finally decided it had had enough of the tedious Katie Hopkins, an unpleasant rentagob who'd been monetising her appalling opinions for far too long already.
This gradual realisation on the part of broadcast and social media that the opinions held by the likes of Mr Farage and Ms Hopkins is welcome, albeit overdue (It's interesting to note that this period has also seen Twitter flexing its muscles over the American President's somewhat elastic relationship with the truth, even the usually supine Facebook has pulled some ads from The Donald). A mainstream media presence gives the gloss of respectability to even the most objectionable opinions, and Lord knows they've plenty of th…

Epic trolling

Aside from a few gentle explanations on facebook about why parping "All Lives Matter!" and then expecting a biscuit is idiotic*, I've largely kept quiet on the BLM issue. This is due to a number of reasons, but chief amongst these was I thought that the last thing the situation needed was the opinions of yet another middle aged white man.
I may well be wrong about this, and I've seen plenty of arguments that suggest that if you're not vocally pro, then you're tacitly accepting the status quo. This has some merit, but I still rather felt that getting blogging about it would be jumping on the bandwagon to an extent (I also though that it would make for a fairly short blog. Black Lives Matter. Tearing down statues of racists and slavers is fine. Don't @ me).
Official inquiries into racism though? Now that's bang up my alley. Particularly when we've just had two in the last two years. There's little I enjoy more than the sight of a spot of brazen po…


There was a joke doing the rounds during the early part of the Covid crisis. At least, everyone said, we've stopped talking about Brexit. Ha ha.
Then, as the crisis rolled on longer than we'd feared, a few thoughtful souls pointed out that this was no time to be negotiating a trade deal. Perhaps, they said, it might be wise to postpone things a few months. Absolutely not, said the Government. This seemed odd. After all, even the more rabid elements of the Brexiteers saw the sense in this. We all had a lot on our plates.
Nope, said HMG, we're out by the end of the year, come what may. Now, this may strike you as a little odd. They had, after all, spent years harping on about the importance of a deal. The details of said deal had already brought down one Prime Minister, and forced two elections. Insisting that we're out by the end of December brings the dreadful prospect of no deal a lot closer.
Unless, of course, no deal was the goal all along.
Cards on the table, I voted R…

Mise-en-place (Chef shortcuts, part two)

Well, you can't say I didn't warn you. I threatened vaguely in the last cooking related piece that when I ran out of ideas I'd probably return to this one.
Well, here I am again, and whilst it's not that I'm out of ideas as such, it's more that the things worth commenting on at the moment are so rage-inducing that I doubt I'd manage anything coherent. And so I retreat back to the safety of my kitchen, to give you a few more nuggets of how I manage to navigate my professional day. I spoke last time of the building blocks: stock, butter, garlic, fat, onions. So I suppose now it behoves me to add a couple of frills to the structure.
Chefs talk a lot about "elevating the dish". A fairly poncy phrase which you would be well within your rights to mock to within an inch of its life. At its worst (anyone on MasterChef: the Professionals) this can come to mean "Taking a perfectly decent dish and fucking about with it to the extent that you can justify c…

Reframing the narrative

Watching the ongoing Dominic Cummings car-crash unfold has been an extended exercise in watching norms be subverted in real time. It'd be laughable if it wasn't so worrying. From the initial blush-free rebuttals of "fake news" right up to the flimsy excuses about test drives it has, from start to finish, been one of the least edifying displays of political re-positioning since the Iraq War and the dodgy dossier. Worse, perhaps, in that this is lying without shame, with a smile on its lips, with a nudge and a wink. Denial becomes admission becomes it doesn't matter though in the blink of an eye. Johnson produces glasses at a Press Conference, claiming that sight loss is a COVID-19 symptom. It's theatre, it's easily proven that he's long needed them, it doesn't matter. Cummings demonstrably breaks guidelines, he admits to it, it doesn't matter.
It is clear that Government strategy is the age old line-drawn-lets-move-on. And even if Cummings hasn&…

Gaslighting an entire country

Exciting times at Westminster, as the current crop of people who we, for form's sake, must loosely term the cabinet have been wheeled out to spectacularly poor effect to defend the actions of Kooky Misfit Genius Dom Cummings. 
A quick recap, fore those who have been doing something constructive with their day. The story broke this morning that the PM's chief adviser and third place winner at Butlin's Minehead Skeletor Lookylikey 1997, Dominic Cummings had, in contravention of all Gov guidelines, done a bunk to his parents on the off-chance he and his wife had coronavirus (they did, as it turns out, but that's not really the point).
This, it doesn't need spelling out, was pretty terrible news for HMG. During a time when the PM was saying "If you're thinking of visiting your Mother this Mother's Day - don't" DC was doing precisely that. At a time when people were not even allowed to say goodbye to their dying relatives, the DomMeister was pootling…