Fear and Fables…horror at Christmas

Back in the autumn, the bijou but lovely team at Stormy Island Publishing kindly accepted my flash story Mirror at Midnight for their upcoming Halloween anthology. Then fate intervened, via toddler’s orange juice poured into the editor’s laptop, and Halloween went by uncelebrated (by me). Continue reading “Fear and Fables…horror at Christmas”

Whither the Land of Hope and Glory?

Campaigners for Remain and LibDems united in Great Malvern

So here we are, two days before the Election of 2019. Totally lost.

On the one hand, we have Boris Johnson refusing to look at a photo of a small child, seriously ill with pneumonia, who’s forced to lie on a pile of coats in A& E. Continue reading “Whither the Land of Hope and Glory?”

Book Review: The Wall

The Wall by John Lanchester

by John Lanchester. Published by Faber and Faber, 2019.

We’re in Britain, in the near future – perhaps nearer than we think. And something has gone horribly wrong.

Continue reading “Book Review: The Wall”

A Saturday in Brexitland

A Saturday in Brexitland

I’m tired. You’re tired. We’re all tired. Sick and tired of the three years and counting of Brexit. Fed up. Almost screaming to escape from backstops, blame games, borders (hard or otherwise), Boris, and Brussels.

Brexit sucks. Continue reading “A Saturday in Brexitland”

Is this Kansas, Toto – or just near-Brexit UK?

Is this Kansas, Toto – or just near-Brexit UK?

Several times in the past week I’ve tried to write this post. Each time, events have roared past me. For a week I’ve been waiting for the dust to settle.

On Wednesday last week I met my fellow committee members of Malvern4Europe. We decided on wording for a new leaflet campaign, and resolved to crank up the frequency of our popular street stalls to every Saturday. That night I went home to hear the news that the new Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, had announced he was proroguing Parliament, to deaden debate and force through a No Deal Brexit on 31 October. Our leaflet went on hold, while we prioritised more urgent action to protest this undemocratic and unconstitutional diktat.

So then I wanted to share with you the noise and camaraderie of the flash #StopTheCoup march in

Malvern on Thursday evening, when hundreds of local people turned out on word-of-mouth notice to protest the Government’s actions. This whole thing was now bigger than Brexit – nothing less than a fight to the death for our Parliamentary democracy.

On Saturday there was our wonderfully successful street stall outside the Great Malvern post office, when over 95% of the people we polled rejected Johnson’s right to prorogue, and demanded a second referendum. Blog time.

But before I could settle to write that post, word began to filter through that a widening group of Remain parties and Conservative MPs – the Rebel Alliance – were working together to table a motion preventing prorogation on Tuesday, to be followed if successful by another on Wednesday to rule out No Deal Brexit at the end of October. The PM would be obliged to request a further extension to Article 50, unless he could pull of the legerdemain of negotiating an acceptable deal. This seemed very unlikely, given no-one was actually negotiating with Europe anyway.

No point in blogging, I thought, till I knew what would happen in Parliament on Tuesday. I then spent the entire afternoon and evening doing something totally unprecedented: glued to BBC Parliament TV coverage, wine glass in one hand, order paper in the other. We screamed and shouted and groaned, and by the end we knew Parliament had finally taken back control. We watched, fascinated, as Boris Johnson popped up and down at the dispatch box like a manic Tweedledee, aided by the arrogant sleeping Caterpillar, Jacob Rees-Mogg.

Since then, the dizzying avalanche of news has continued: Boris Johnson reeling as he loses three votes in the Commons; Jacob Rees-Mogg revealing how literally laid-back and reptilian he is; Dr Philip Lee, Tory MP, crossing the floor in the most dramatic way

to join the LibDems; Johnson sacking 21 senior Tory rebels, including two former Chancellors and the grandson of his hero Winston Churchill, thereby smashing his own majority into splinters; and today maybe the biggest shock of all – Johnson’s own brother Jo resigning from Government and party.

Add into the mix, somehow, the news that Theresa May’s much-hated deal has apparently been resurrected, and like the ghost of Banquo has materialised to join in the feast of delights that Parliament has become.

And now the prospect of a snap election draws closer.

So the right time for a considered reflective blog won’t happen anytime soon, and this is all I can offer for now. The dust cloud hasn’t settled, but instead risen into a raging hurricane. I sincerely hope it will be less damaging than Dorian; but right now we’re all up in the air, being whirled around by the tempest that is British politics.

All I can say for sure at the moment is: we’re not in Kansas anymore.

Book Review: Death and the Dreadnought

Book Review: Death and the Dreadnought

Death and the Dreadnought, by Robert Wilton. Published Sharpe Books, Feb 2019.

The year is 1910. Britain and Germany are racing for naval armaments superiority. The Dreadnoughts – possessors of large gun turrets providing uniform and overwhelming firepower – are the new British answer to the German threat. The Germans are desperate to catch up, and will cavil at nothing to turn the tables in this superpower conflict. Continue reading “Book Review: Death and the Dreadnought”

Leaving Europe: we’ve done that before

Leaving Europe: we’ve done that before

In 225AD a tall fair-haired woman called Julia Aurelianus lives in a pretty townhouse in Aquae Sulis (modern Bath). Julia is an independent woman of means, a cultured high-status aristocrat and a healer who works at the clinic attached to the temple of Sulis Minerva. She is an educated, sophisticated citizen of the Roman Empire, living nearly two hundred years after the Roman invasion of Britain. She believes the Roman Empire will last for ever. But at the same time, she is a proud Durotrigian, with deep roots in a British identity, and a leading role as a tribal noble. Continue reading “Leaving Europe: we’ve done that before”

Walking with a million friends

Walking with a million friends

After three years of Brexit, it’s easy to feel jaded, worn out and helpless. Whichever way you voted in the referendum of June 2016, I’ll bet my Grandma’s best black hat you didn’t think you were voting for the mess we’re all in now. It would be so easy to give up, to throw our hands in the air and join the many who are saying, ‘I want it all to go away. Just get on with it.’

Continue reading “Walking with a million friends”