Puzzle

A wizard is giving his three pupils a final test.

He tells them he has five hats, two black and three white.

The pupils must close their eyes, then each will have a hat put on their head. The remaining two hats will be hidden. Then the pupils can open their eyes.

The first to deduce what colour hat they have will win.

So, they do that. The pupils are not allowed to ask questions, there are no mirrors and they cannot see their own hats.

There is a long pause, and the one says… what?

Brexit

It has been a fairly extraordinary day for British politics, and it’s only tea time!

Yesterday, the cabinet of UK Conservative government got together to discuss the draft EU withdrawal agreement. After a long and apparently heated discussion, all came out agreeing it was the way to go. At that time, few had seen the nearly 600 page report, let alone read it, but some members of the EU had and apparently agreed with it.

But, as the BBC and others said, and maybe you have been in such a meeting, you agree to things at the time, come out, think about what happened, actually look at the documents, and change your mind.

And so it was. During today, the Brexit secretary and others resigned their posts. Mrs May appeared in the House of Commons and had a hard time, from the opposition (to be expected) and from her own party. It’s a compromise, of course, not a piece of ideology. At the end of it, you have to have a country that still works.

Even before it had become available, Conservative politicians who are hard right Leavers (and also very rich and therefore relatively unaffected by what happens) were condemning the agreement and were talking of letters of no confidence, the PM to resign and leadership challenges, which would probably mean a new PM.

Mrs May has said several times she intends to see it through (Mr Cameron did that, then bailed out very quickly), ruled out a general election (but she did that before, then held a quick one and shot herself in the foot) and seems outwardly confident the proposals will go through parliament. This does seem unlikely. She has also said definitely no second national referendum – we voted to leave, and we will.

Personally, I blame Cameron. He said the nation would be asked stay or leave and the result would be binding, expecting a decent ‘stay’ result, but it wasn’t. The vote was simplistic (people didn’t understand the issues – so many thought it would mean the immigrants would simply vanish) and the propaganda, especially on the Leave side, was too easily believed (again, because I suspected they were bound to loose so could just say any od thing).

Personally, I would have some respect for Mrs May, and certainly wouldn’t blame her, if she just said “Pooh to you all, I’m off, got a good book deal.”

The Government, the country, we are in a mess. This would not have happened if Remain had won. So, we know who to blame – all those who voted ‘Leave’.

Mr Trump has yet to comment.

War

As ever at this time of year, it is Remembrance weekend. It is a time to wear your poppy with pride, and remember those who gave their lives in two world wars for our freedom. This year, of course, is the 100th anniversary of the end of WWII.

Well, this is what we are told. Other people, including myself, have different opinions, but cannot express them because the resultant threats and hate mail are just not wanted.

This year there is a white poppy. Rather than the red, which is, if you like, a celebration of war, it is a pacifist symbol, worn by people who are anti-war and yet still wish to remember those who gave their lives.

You can see more about it here: https://www.grimsbytelegraph.co.uk/news/local-news/people-wear-white-poppies-what-2202488

It has caused some controversy. People who appear on television are expected to wear red poppies. If they choose to not wear a poppy, they get abuse. I am told, but I can find no evidence of this, that white poppies are generally banned on tv and elsewhere. Wearers have been told that it is disrespectful.

The BBC has certainly banned presenters on the international news services from wearing poppies (https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1361358/BBC-defends-ban-on-TV-presenters-wearing-poppies.html). It is a UK thing and can be deeply offensive to other countries.

There are a lot of films that celebrate war. One film that certainly does not is Oh! What a Lovely War. Sadly, I have never seen the stage play on which is is based (but here is a version of it https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PCqEemad4gc). As far as I am aware, it shows more than any other film what happened during WWI, the futility of war and the conditions the troops lived in. It is a fantasy, but the events and the words of senior people are taken from true records.

I first saw this when it came out in the late 1960s, on a school O level History trip. Our History teacher hated it: “Too anti-war”, he said.

We know that politicians like war. A war unites a country. It distracts people from the other bad things in their lives. WWI estimates for deaths say 16 million.