22 Days

This town (town) is coming like a ghost town

Jerry Dammers

 

Yesterday walking around Leicester city centre the Specials song kept repeating itself in my head.

As with many small and not so small cities Leicester has a massive shopping centre/mall that has sucked much of the life out of the rest of the centre.  The difference is so stark and if you are like me shocking because I am one of those people who mostly shops at the shopping centre.   Walk beyond this and it sometimes feels like you are stepping into a different world of cheap shops or boarded up properties.   If it wasn’t for the growth of coffee shops and other eating places the situation would be far worse.  However, these outlets are never going to be able to replace the large tent poll stores that once populated the main shopping areas of Leicester.

Of course with any such social problem there are many contributing factors and I am sure we can all come up with our own pet theory.  Nonetheless, the city centre is slowly dying and there doesn’t appear to be anything effective to reverse this.  I don’t think that Brexit is responsible for this either as I suspect this is a longer term trend.  However, I cannot see how Brexit will bring about an improvement either but perhaps it might help if the government devoted as much time and money trying to ameliorate a No Deal Brexit to solving these real problems instead.   Just a thought.

Whatever challenges no deal will cause in the short term 
- and they are significant

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster - 8th October 2019

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23 Days

In just over 3 weeks time the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland will leave the European Union.   3 Weeks.   Somehow for such a momentous occasion there doesn’t seem to be much activity in the form of preparedness other than the VMS on the motorways and even these are decidedly unclear other than suggesting that export documents might be required.   I have noticed no sense of impending doom or excitement (delete as applicable ) instead people have just got on with their lives and if they have a view on Brexit it is usually a curse on both their houses letting/not letting things come to this.

Nobody knows what is going to happen and most people just don’t seem to care anymore other than to wish the whole thing would end (whatever the outcome this unlikely to happen anytime soon).   No matter what the Brexiteers might wish Britain is located in the middle of the European Union and we are, you know, a European country.  What the European Union does will also have an effect on Britain and in every real sense we will be dealing with the fallout of Brexit forever.  Does this make me a ‘naysayer‘, surrender monkey or realist again depends on your point of view.

On a more interesting note I am continuing to learn how to make best use of the Adobe Lightroom app on the iPhone.   I have only  captured circa 300 images at the moment so things in the state of flux stage – it could go either way.   Remind you of anything?

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24 Days

Are you excited yet?  Are you?  Really?   Well I don’t blame you.  The one thing I am sick of is being lied to and it is quite clear by now that the only thing the Boris Johnson premiership is any good at is lying.   I say good at that is not fair because they are crap at it because each of their lies falls apart within seconds of coming into contact with the real world.   But that doesn’t stop them from lying constantly lying.

Of course we are supposed to believe that this is all part of some master plan so cunning it will only reveal itself once all the pieces have fallen into place.  Perhaps that is what will happen but as things stand at the moment that doesn’t seem to be the situation to me.   Instead we have a non-government running around in ever decreasing circles lying as they disappear into the hole they have dug for themselves – perhaps this is the ditch that Boris Johnson wants to die in rather than not leave the European Union on the 31st October.  I just want to scream!

So why the pumpkins?   Well I’m trying out the Adobe Lightroom cloud service, the results of which have been posting over the past few days.  It is still a bit of a steep learning curve at the moment – I spent most of the weekend looking under the hood of the software to see how I can improve things – not sure these pumpkin images are a food advertisement for all that effort.

So which do you prefer the slightly dodgy pumpkin photos or Boris Johnson’s lies?   Is there a contest?  I hope not.

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27 Days

Recently my son asked a question about where the north south divide is in England.  This is not a uniquely English question as many countries old and new have some form of catological/social divide:  In the latest incarnation of Germany there is both a North/South divide, similar to the England/Scotland divide as well as an East West divide;  In the United States they have a line on a map, the Mason/Dixon line but in England it is a lot more complex – just where does the North start?   The easiest answer is the River Trent – anything north of the Trent is in the north – quite simple really.  Another way of dividing the country is distance from London:   By train I can get to the centre of London in just over an hour – does this mean I live in the south?   If it does then there are many places in the commuter belt live in the north!   Academic papers have been written about this and one of the most recent placed Birmingham in the North.

Of course in this Brexit obsessed world another way of judging an area is whether they voted for Leave of Remain.  If this is applied then the north is all over the place.

So is Birmingham in the North?    I haven’t got the first clue but to me it certainly doesn’t feel as though it is.  What the city centre does feel like is one huge building site with massive new office block sprouting up all over the place as well as the HS2 railway station.  The 2022 Commonwealth games are being staged there too which no doubt is adding to the building mania.

Does this all matter?   Well in one real sense it does because of the huge gravitational pull of London.  If you are caught in that gravity well then you can expect to find the brightest young things being pulled towards the World City.  If not too close then you can resist it but for only so long.  Whether we or the EU like it or not it London, afterall, is the most dynamic and vibrant city in the whole of Europe.  Where that leaves Birmingham is anyone’s guess but they certainly appear to be trying to do their best to maintain whatever distance they can from London – for now.   Should HS2 ever get built then I am not sure that would continue.

As with all things Brexit there is that word again IF.

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And Now For Something….

I took my iPhone for a bit of a walk around Birmingham today.   This is the first batch I will post some more soon once I have worked on them.

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29 Days

An early and cold start…memories of the summer are fast fading  and we have to brace for the winter to come.   Only this isn’t the whole story here – this is the second large flooding episode in the past two months and in all the years I have lived here (more than I care to admit to) I cannot recall anything like this before.   Things are changing and we appear to be getting a lot more rain.

There are still people out there who do not believe that Global Warming is real or at least it isn’t part of the natural cycle.  This is just wrong and the science is just too strong to dismiss – it won’t stop people from doing just that though.

I am not a great Greta Thurnberg fan but she is right about one thing – her generation will be the one that will feel the full force of the changes that have been brought about by Global Warming and it is our generation’s responsibility to do as much as we can to ameliorate those changes.  The planet’s climate is going to change as a result of man’s activities and we are all going to have to get used to that.

Compared to this Brexit does seem to be a pointless exercise.

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30 Days

 

This morning, whilst walking by the newspaper stand in my local foodstore, I noticed one paper claiming that a government of national unity is in the process of being formed.  I have to say I think this is a bit of a long shot but given everything else that is going on at the moment you should never say never.  So if this were to happen what would happen?

First I think the current non-government government lead by Boris Johnson would try to hang on even if they lost a vote of no confidence.   However, I suspect as with everything else to do with the Boris Johnson lead non government this will fail and we will truly be through the looking glass  of minority governments that have to negotiate their way through every policy they try to come up with.  In short, I suspect it would lead to a government of small incremental changes rather than eye catching policies that never work out.  However, I suspect the first thing that the new government will agree on is a series of referenda:  The first to try and settle Brexit once and for all (fat chance of that but there we go); The second would be indyref two to take place sometime after the Brexit referendum and the third referendum would be the Border poll in Northern Ireland on whether Northern Ireland wants to become part of the republic.   I suspect to do this they will try and enact a Referendum Act that would set out how referenda would in future fit be run and how they would fit into the representative model of democracy that Britain has evolved into over several hundred years.   If this were the case I suspect they would ask the EU for a much long extension – perhaps 12 months to allow the formation of the legislation and the completion of the first referendum.   If this were granted then it certainly would be an interesting constitutional experiment for Britain as this would be a European style government for the first time in Britain.

Would this work?  In theory yes but in practice…well it is a long shot to say the least.   As for the Conservative party well I suspect should this scenario take place then they would collapse and slowly a new right would reform around a much more clear cut right wing agenda which would be much more to the right than the modern Conservative party up until now has been.  I welcome this because it would give the electorate a clear choice rather than the old broadchurch approach that probably David Cameron destroyed over Brexit.

In this scenario you would also have a significant rump of Brexit MPs who will feel that they were denied Brexit, assuming the second (Or third depending on how you count these things) referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union come out in favour of remaining, along with a significant chunk of the electorate.  How this combustible mix responds to this brave new world is anyone’s guess.

Would this government make it to the 8th June 2022?   I can’t see it but again never say never but it might suit they new right wing party, let’s call it the Rebirth Party to allow this to take place as it gives them time to reform and then come out fighting.

This all sounds like a fantasy to me but so did losing the Brexit referendum to David Cameron and look what happened there.

Perhaps Perhaps Perhaps.

 

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