Escape to [another] Country

On Monday we are to escape this troubled isle for a couple of weeks. For although the current political squabbles in the UK are akin to observing a satirical comedy there will be some relief to be away from it all for a while.

Underneath the farcical antics of our politicians, however there is a ghastly, seeping horror of gradual decline; while they continue to wrangle, argue, bluster, lie and boast, most of us are powerless to intervene, still less to mitigate.

We know what our closest neighbours think. The Dutch, especially are incredulous at the decision of [some of] us to leave the European family. The French have held up their hands: ‘Zut alors!’ and then washed them of us-and who can blame them?

And then there is the USA. Those who’ve squawked about ‘slavery’ in a ridiculous diatribe about the EU [the increasingly mad witch-like Anne Widecombe] seem to think nothing ironic or wrong about enslaving ourselves to America; accepting their disgusting bleached chicken in exchange for the NHS? Where is the so called ‘freedom’ in all of that?

I’m still waiting to hear ONE explanation or ONE benefit that will be gained from leaving the EU. Meanwhile the buffoon who is most likely to become our next prime minister continues to stutter, pretend and joke his way to success amidst an unwavering, simpering, ignorant band of supporters, in true Trumpesque fashion-an echo of US, dogged ignorance.

Now, because of the so-called ‘special relationship’ we are to be drawn in to the row with Iran- having to be allied with the US instead of Europe. Why must we have the ‘special relationship’ with the USA, when our closest neighbours are within shouting distance? Surely those on our doorstep are the best allies? We must tow the line with America because we have to beg for trade deals-where’s the ‘freedom from slavery’ in that, Anne Widecombe?

So despite the plummeting pound [again] we are off  to cycle our way into the relative peace of the French countryside, free of news, interviews and debate. And there is still time for a couple of trips before the [next] supposedly definitive date when the UK ex-communicates itself. After that-who knows what we’ll need to do to leave these beleaguered shores? Our wonderful, efficient E111 health cards may not apply. We may need special driving permits or visas. We may be compelled to join a special queue for outsiders going in or coming out.

Above all I’m hoping that within my lifetime we can return to some kind of rational, measured, cooperative political system that doesn’t pander to rich, white middle-class old Etonians and their fawning, job-hungry cronies. One that favours reason, fairness, empathy and basic humanity.

Will populism become wearisome? Will the drawbridge be cranked back down? Will human rights begin to matter again before I croak? What do you think?

Answers on a digital postcard [below in the comments box]. Au revoir!

 

 

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Keep it Local

What kind of environment would we like generations to come to inherit? Do we even care about the world that we will no longer inhabit?

In a week that has seen a brand, spanking new shopping centre opening amidst much celebration in large city in the North of the UK I cannot help but heave a weary sigh. This has all happened before. In the 80s there was an explosion of shopping centres, vaunted as exciting, innovative temples to consumerism and incorporating restaurants, cinemas-even an indoor theme park with fairground rides [at The Metro Centre, Gateshead].

The UK is entering an era of financial uncertainty. Many areas of trade, finance and employment are already showing signs of slowing and inflation is set to rise after a long, settled period. You have to wonder why anyone would view a large, new shopping centre as a good idea.

My own, subjective, personal view of shopping centres is that they do not represent [as one of the instigators of the Leeds structure suggested] an ‘experience’:

“You can’t just build the same environments you’ve done for the last 15 years,” he says, “you have to create places that people want to touch, want to feel, want to be in. The retail is almost secondary. Experience is everything.”

The retail is almost secondary? Why go then? And what does he mean by ‘spaces that people want to touch, want to feel’? I am imagining crowds of shoppers, bags in one hand, the other feeling along the walls outside the shops or perhaps bending to pat the shiny floors. I can think of more uplifting ways to ‘experience’. Why not visit an art gallery or a museum? Better still, go outside and walk-in a park or along a canal tow path, or across a field.

I can’t remember when I’ve ever spent an entire day at a shopping centre. These days I take the view that if I can’t find what I’m looking for in an hour I won’t bother. And when I shop I don’t want to run the gauntlet of endless traffic to be enclosed in an emporium consisting of malls, escalators and mile upon mile of over-lit, over-heated, stuffy shops. I may want to visit a couple of shops, but not to be stifled. I want to go outside between one shop and another. I don’t want to spend hours trundling up a multi-story carpark ramp attempting to find a space and then not be able to locate my car again afterwards [or even remember which storey it is on].

Not everyone is fortunate enough to live where they can walk to buy items they need and not everyone is willing to do so, but in these times of increasing traffic and pressure on our economy shouldn’t we be looking to work, shop and pursue leisure activities in our local areas?