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A guide for the rest of us

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The For Dummies set of reference books/instruction manuals has for years been sold as a non-intimidating guide for ordinary mortals and in its early days used to feature the wording in the title as a reassuring means of gaining sales from Joe and Jane Soap (or John and Jane Doe for readers on the west cost of the Atlantic. Ed.).

The series’ follow the bouncing ball style of guidance has over the years been ridiculed and that ridicule in turn used to good advantage to mock those clearly out of their depths in their chosen profession or – heaven forbid – public office to which they have been elevated.

Which brings us to the alleged government’s current Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, one Elizabeth Mary Truss.

Liz, as she prefers to be called, has the reputation of not being very bright, but that is no obstacle to high public office in the kakistocracy presided over by party-time alleged prime minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson.

She is however, a fully paid-up member of the two clubs to which all government ministers and Tory Party loyalists are now supposed to belong, the Cult of Brexit and the Cult of the Adoration of the Boris.

And it is in relation to the first cult that this post is being penned.

In the mid-18th century a song was composed exhorting Britannia to rule the waves. Since Brexit one is more likely to see Britannia waiving the rules – as is currently being threatened by the British government in respect of the Northern Ireland Protocol, a treaty between the English Empire (which some still call the United Kingdom . Ed.) and the European Union, which has the status of international law.

Reading between the lines, it is obvious that Johnson and his government have no intention of honouring by the Protocol and are currently seeking to tear it up, with Truss making a statement to this effect yesterday in the House of Commons.

Which brings us once again the Dummies and the inspired piece of parody.

Parody book cover entitled International Law With Dummies

As regards the references in the image to pork markets and a limited and specific way, a search engine is your friend. 😀

Needless to say, the antics of Johnson and Truss have not been warmly received by the EU Commission.

Truss’ plans will also send a clear message to states with whom the government may seek to conclude a trade deal that the British government’s word is not to be trusted.

To hark back once again to another phrase coined in the 18th century, perfidious Albion is alive and well.

Common touch? Out of touch

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It has long been a source of amusement when high-ranking politicians try to show they have the common touch and end up making fools of themselves.

Such an instance happened yesterday when the death of actor Dennis Waterman was announced.

Step forward Nadhim ‘Stable Genius’ Zahawi, the Downright Dishonourable Member of Parliament for Stratford Upon Avon and current Secretary of State for Education, who clearly showed why education is not safe in his hands, taking to Twitter and expressing his condolences as follows with no style at all.

Tweet reads RIP Pete. A great actor, grew up watching minder

RIP Pete. A great actor, grew up watching minder.

Zahawi had clearly confused 2 Watermans in the public eye, namely Pete Waterman, purveyor of pop tunes for the likes of Kylie Minogue and the late Dennis.

Pete Waterman

Pete Waterman
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Dennis Waterman

Dennis Waterman
Image courtesy of Garry Knight

Zahawi’s foul-up did not go unnoticed and is being widely mocked on social media, of which the following is an example.

Tweet reads Pete Waterman and Harry Cole really made Minder the hit it was. Shame they're both dead now

Pete Waterman and Harry Cole really made Minder the hit it was. Shame they’re both dead now.

Some while later Zahawi noticed his mistake and tweeted the following.

Tweet reads Made a mistake, RIP Denis Waterman

Made a mistake, RIP Denis Waterman
Note finally Zahawi did not have to the good grace to include an apology for his earlier error as any normal mortal would have done.

Brexit – the gift that keeps on giving

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The departure of the English Empire (which some still call the United Kingdom. Ed.) from the European Union is the gift that keeps on giving, especially for anywhere located outside that backward country and in another member EU member state.

The latest news from the unlit uplands mired in unicorn manure comes from Computer Weekly which reports on research from analysts Forrester that London has dropped down the tech rankings post-Brexit due, inter alia, to immigration woes, no doubt exacerbated by the Home Office’s hostile environment.

Helsinki South Harbour

Helsinki – Europe’s leading IT skills cluster, according to Forrester

As regards digital skills, Forrester’s research reveals hat post-Brexit regulatory obstacles are preventing UK cities from being ranked as a leading skill cluster in Europe: the top 10 metropolitan areas with the best skills and talent clusters across Europe are Helsinki, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Berlin, Hamburg, Oslo, Munich, Vienna, Zurich, and Amsterdam, whilst London, which was often formerly recognised as Europe’s tech hub, was ranked 19th (the heyday of Silicon Roundabout seems so long ago. Ed.), whilst other British cities also slid down the rankings.

The Forrester report’s authors state that European businesses increasingly understand the need to attract individuals with specific sector expertise as well as soft skills, commenting: “Leading businesses place diversity, partner ecosystems and innovation centres at the heart of their talent management strategies.” Furthermore, IT and business need to understand where Europe’s top skill clusters are located before they can attract and retain the best talent and to source the right skills.

A short history of tractors in Tiverton & Honiton

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A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian is a humorous novel by Marina Lewycka, first published in 2005, which went on to win the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize at the Hay literary festival, the Waverton Good Read Award 2005/6 and was shortlisted for the 2005 Orange Prize for Fiction, Over one million copies of the novel have been sold in the UK.

Official portrait of Neil ParishOn the other hand, A short history of tractors in Tiverton and Honiton is a sordid, grubby little tale of unacceptable behaviour in the workplace, plus the lies proffered as explanations of such conduct, which first came to light in late April 2020.

The main protagonist of the more recent tale is the now disgraced former so-called Honourable Member of Parliament for the constituency of Tiverton and Honiton (up to now a safe Conservative seat. Ed.), one Neil Quentin Gordon Parish.

Our tale starts in the final week of April 2020 when the media reported that an unnamed Tory MP was accused of watching pornography in the chamber of the House of Commons.

The allegation was made at a meeting of Conservative MPs at which attendees shared stories of sexism and sexual harassment at Westminster, including the claim that one MP had watched sexually explicit material in the chamber and was spotted doing so by two female colleagues, one of whom is a government minister.

This prompted an investigation being launched by the Tory Chief Whip with the outcome of Parish being suspended from the party.

Before he was revealed as the guilty party, Parish even had the nerve to appear on right-wing “news” channel GB News (aka GBeebies, Ed.) to remark that when discovered, the accused MP should be “dealt with and dealt with seriously

As pressure mounted, Parish referred himself to parliament’s Standards Commissioner, who likewise initiated an investigation.

By this point any reasonable and rational human being would have realised that their position was untenable and written a resignation letter. Not Parish. He dug his heels in.

As reported by The Guardian, Parish gave the BBC’s Politics South West programme the following totally lame excuse:

The situation was that – funnily enough it was tractors I was looking at. I did get into another website that had a very similar name and I watched it for a bit which I shouldn’t have done.
But my crime – biggest crime – is that on another occasion I went in a second time.

It’s the kind of mistake any can make isn’t it: looking for tractors online when one encounters pr0n, especially with all those closely related domain names?

Well; actually, Mr Parish it is not.

Parish was rightly ridiculed for this pathetic excuse, including by Deputy Labour Party leader, Angela Rayner, a frequent target for Conservative sexism and misogyny.

Tweet reads He was looking for tractors but ended up with porn actors? Neil Parish must think you were all born yesterday. Boris Johnson’s Conservatives are a national embarrassment.

Yesterday, Parish resigned as an MP and the Liberal Democrats are once again looking to overturn a 20,000-plus parliamentary majority, as they did in December 2020 in North Shropshire (which had been a de facto Conservative one party state since 1832. Ed.) when the disgraced grifter Owen Paterson resigned after being caught breaching advocacy rules.

Time to get comfy with a big bowl of popcorn, politics fans… 😀

Humour and social media

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I’ve been on Twitter for 13 years now and there’s never a dull moment on the platform.

One of my old college friends told me earlier this week he’d left the platform, describing it as a bear pit.

Twitter can indeed by a rough and unforgiving place if one discusses politics and especially when one tries to debate with those with views diametrically opposed to one’s own. However, your ‘umble scribe has noticed over the decades that public discourse has become less respectful and courteous.

Nevertheless, the Twitter is not all ursine-baiting gloom and doom. There are those who post photos of nature, their gardens, pets and the like which leavens the gloom and doom.

Furthermore, there is a lot of humour on the platform too. Some of the best political quips I relate in other places have usually originated from Twitter.

However, the humour extends to other fields than politics and its practitioners and can be gentler in such areas, as per the example below, which will appeal to lovers of language and English in particular.

Tweet reads A truck loaded with thousands of copies of Roget's Thesaurus spilled its load leaving New York. Witnesses were stunned, startled, aghast, stupefied, confused, shocked, rattled, paralyzed, dazed, bewildered, surprised, dumbfounded, flabbergasted, confounded, astonished, and numbed.

Amid confusion

One recent development your ‘umble scribe has noticed in respect of the vocabulary used by members of the Fourth Estate is an unprecedented rise in the use of amid.

This preposition has the following definition:

in or into the middle of;surrounded by.

A useful synonym in this context is among.

Other definitions include during and with the accompaniment of.

Needless to say. these definitions are not always adhered to by the more illiterate members of the press and poor old amid is consequently used out of context, as per today’s example from the Powys County Times.

Headline reads Historic Newtown church struck by vandals amid appeal for witnesses

The confusion apparent in the headline was succinctly explained by the @KeepBristolTidy Twitter account, who helpfully stated the following.

Tweet reads So the church was struck by vandals on the middle of the appeal for information about the same vandals?

Patron saints and language

Today, 23rd April, is the saint’s day of the patron saint of England, St George.

<However, George is not just the patron saint of England. Other states and nations having this Cappadocian Greek who served as a Roman soldier and died in 303 CE include Ethiopia and Georgia, the Spanish regions of Catalonia and Aragon, along with the Russian capital Moscow.

Very little is known about George’s life, but he is believed to have been martyred in one of the waves of persecution that preceded the accession in 306 CE of the Roman emperor Constantine.

According to Wikipedia, the legend of St George and the dragon was first recorded in the 11th century in Georgia and arrived in Europe in the 12th.

In England specifically, St George had by the 14th century, been declared both the patron saint and the protector of the royal family. and thus replaced Edmund the Martyr (also known as St Edmund or Edmund of East Anglia. Ed.) as England’s patron saint. Edmund, who died on 20 November 869 had been king of East Anglia from about 855 until his death at the hands of Viking invaders.

George’s dragon-slaying efforts were ultimately worthwhile, not only for the the city of Silene, Libya, which the dragon was menacing, but ultimately for the English, as was pointed out yesterday on Twitter by some wit recalling WW2-style the benefits of the good saint’s deed.

Tweet reads If it wasn't for St George we would all be speaking Dragon

If you don’t feel like celebrating the life and work of George of Lydda, the 23rd April is also recorded as the day upon which playwright William Shakespeare was baptised.

Colston Four Road disappears

What a difference a couple of days make.

Just yesterday this blog reported on the unofficial renaming of Slaver’s Road in Easton, Bristol (posts passim).

Today your ‘umble scribe ambled past the end of the road and observed the following where the “Colston Four Road” unofficial street sign had recently been installed.

Here yesterday. Gone today. Note the screw holes where the unofficial sign was affixed.

Officially changing a street name is a long, involved process in which an overwhelming majority of the property owners have to agree to a proposed change.

Changes are much swifter in the unofficial world.

Toppled Road renamed

Nearly half a year ago, your ‘umble scribe reported that Colston Road in Easton, a road named after Bristol-born slave trader, insider share dealer, financier, religious bigot and former Tory MP for the city had been unofficially renamed as Toppled Road (posts passim).

On the other side of the road from the crudely painted Toppled Street on the side of a house, a new more official-looking street name sign has appeared in recent days.

Colston Four Road

The original street name sign is painted out as a token of the regard in which Eddie the Slaver is held locally.

The new unofficial sign commemorates the acquittal by a Bristol jury of the so-called Colston Four who were tried for criminal damage when Colston’s statue in the centre of the city was brought down and dumped in the city docks during the course of a Black Lives Matter protest on 7 June 2020.

Local residents have been uneasy for years about living in a street named after a so-called philanthropist who made his money from kidnapping, trafficking and exploiting to death thousands of unwilling Africans and have long campaigned for it to be changed, along with other reminders of the late Victorian Cult of Colston.

Speaking to Easton councillor Barry Parsons yesterday, your correspondent asked him for an update on how the name change was progressing.

He responded that the whole matter of street renamings was one of the topics handed over to the We Are Bristol History Commission, which has just recently issued its recommendations in respect of Colston’s statue, backing the general public view it belongs henceforth in a museum.

However, any words of wisdom from the Commission regarding the fate of Bristol’s street names commemorating Eddie the Slaver have yet to be uttered and it would appear the matter has been (so to say) kicked into the long grass.

In a final twist, the Bristol Post/Bristol Live is claiming that some of its less perceptive readers are “outraged at the change of name, with some actually believing the new sign has been erected by the city’s perfidious council, even though the sign’s design is clearly different to that used by the local authority, whose standard modern street name signs all include the first 3 characters of the road’s postcode

Another Downing Street resignation

In addition to the five 10 Downing Street advisers that resigned from the service of party-time alleged prime minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson last week, there was one additional departure resignation from the same address that went unnoticed last week by the mainstream media and was only seen by those those who pay close attention to Twitter.

Tweet alleged to come from Larry the Downing Street Cat announcing his resignation

I fully sympathise, Larry. I would not be able to stand the lies, philandering, laziness, sense of entitlement, egotism and general sense of entitlement either. 😀

The Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office has been in service since 2011. I wonder how many suitcases of booze the faithful feline has seen hauled over the threshold of that famous black door in 11 years?

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