Midsummer madness: Brexit

Stop Exit Only

I posted this nearly three years ago and apart from Theresa May becoming (and now unbecoming) Prime Minister and foolishly triggering Article 50, aided and abetted by — we now see — a duplicitous Leader of the Opposition, nothing much has changed: Britain is still in a state of omnishambles.

My faith in Parliamentary democracy has been severely dented, and I can’t see that a General Election would solve anything nor that another referendum could be offered since there is no agreed deal to vote for or against.

All I can do is bleat “Revoke, revoke, revoke” in the hopes that somebody sane will listen and make that happen.

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Tragicomic

James O’Brien: How to be Right … in a World gone Wrong
WH Allen 2018

In Britain, as elsewhere, there is a sense of a great divide where once there was only a polite distance between different viewpoints. Undoubtedly exacerbated by social media — or at least, the manipulation and abuse of such media — the world seems to teeter between reason and irrationality, calm argument and blind rage, sense and insensitivity, even between stability and chaos.

James O’Brien is a British journalist and talk show host on LBC Radio (originally London Broadcasting Company, now flying with the slogan Leading Britain’s Conversation). He has developed a huge following, not just for his broadcasts but also for his viral YouTube clips and incisive tweets (@mrjameob). In a Britain where much broadcasting is, to say the least, conservative with a small ‘c’, O’Brien is refreshingly left of centre.

But he is more than just the leftie his critics love to deride: he is one of the few radio broadcasters trying to intelligently engage with listeners, many phoning in with extreme views about current affairs; and he doesn’t just engage politely and rationally, posing pertinent queries and interjecting statements of fact, but actually asks the challenging questions that other broadcast interviewers seem to shy away from in their irritating vox pops. And now he’s written a book about it all, and more.

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Armchair travelling

camelot
Camelot by Aubrey Beardsley, detail from How Queen Guenever rode on Maying

Neil Fairbairn
A Traveller’s Guide to the Kingdoms of Arthur
Evans Brothers Ltd 1983

Geoffrey Ashe
The Traveller’s Guide to Arthurian Britain
Gothic Image 1997

Neil Fairbairn’s 1983 Traveller’s Guide inevitably invited comparisons with Geoffrey Ashe’s A Guidebook to Arthurian Britain (1980 and 1983, confusingly reissued as The Traveller’s Guide to Arthurian Britain in 1997). This would be unfortunate as the two are different animals, each with its own particular strengths and weaknesses, though both include illustrations and maps.

The first obvious thing about Fairbairn’s Guide is Continue reading “Armchair travelling”

Cymbeline, Act V

The model for Belarius? Horatius Cocles (Wikipedia Commons)
The model for Belarius? Horatius Cocles (Wikipedia Commons)

William Shakespeare:
The Tragedie of Cymbeline
Act V in five scenes

Before we cut to the chase, Shakespeare presents us with a stupendous battle between the Britons and Romans. Unhistorical though it is, we may imagine this as happening in the 30s of the 1st century CE, when Cunobelinus was indeed a mighty king of Britain. The place isn’t specified, but it’s implied that this notional battle is near Milford Haven. Though it was well known as a deep-water harbour — George Owen, a local man, called it “the most famous port of Christendom” in 1603 — in choosing this port Shakespeare may have had in mind Henry Tudor: the future Henry VII, who landed here in 1485, mustering more troops on his way to Bosworth Field before taking the crown from Richard III. The outcome here, however, is rather different.

This is a complex plot, made more so because we have several individuals who are not as they seem. Shall I list them all?

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