Poking the bear I

Sometimes horrible things come along, then they seem to disappear for a while and you forget. You think it’s over. Then someone pokes the bear, and it all rises up again and it seems even worse than you remembered.

I am talking about Brexit.

In case you don’t know or don’t remember, let me remind you. A couple of years ago the people of the UK were asked to decided: stay in the European Union (EU) or leave. As simple as that.

The expectation was that Remain (stay in the EU) would win, but it might be close. PM Cameron said that whatever the result, the Government would follow the wishes of the country. He too expected Remain to win. The, he hoped, it would all go away.

As it happened, Leave won, not by much, but by enough. Then there was lots of nonsense. It wasn’t fair, because places like London and Scotland had clearly wanted to remain. But that’s how a referendum works. The overall vote mattered, and that was what had to happen.

Confusion followed.

The prominent leave spokespeople had said all sorts, I suspect because they too¬† expected remain to win. Farage was associated with promises of millions of pounds every week for the health service. Others involved included Boris Johnson, Jacob Rees-Mogg and Tim Martin. They said all kinds of unbelievable things, much as Trump did before he was elected President, again, if you’re expected to lose, you have no promises to fulfill.

Of course, the actual vote was flawed from the start. In the end, no-one knew what it all meant. What did ‘leave’ actually mean? Just how much?

The question had been phrased in a simple way. It didn’t say “Should we leave this” or “If X happens, should we leave Y” because the British public are thick or don’t care or don’t understand how all the mechanics work.

Some believed we should stay, but voted to leave to give the government a bloody nose and not be so complacent, then regretted it. There were calls for a second vote.

Others voted leave simply to stop immigration. A friend of mine rang me from her home in northern Essex. Of course she had voted ‘Leave’. Why? ‘Too many blacks in her town’. I asked how many was ‘too many’. She said ‘well, any actually’.

Others, it seems, just wanted the blue passport back and, presumably, isolation from the world and a return of the Commonwealth. Who knows?

So now we are in June 2018, and the deadline is March next year, so 8 months or so. Negotiations continue. We don’t get told of the progress being made, and why should we? Well, because it is all so chaotic and a shambles that any progress of any kind would be a big score for Mrs May and her team, so they would be very keen to tell us.

So, still no progress.

YouTube etc

I do sometimes watch YouTube and similar sites. I look for videos that are instructional or informational mostly, or mathematical puzzles.

I immediately switch off (actually I ‘dislike’) if there are glaring spelling errors. You may think that’s harsh as I know people can have problems with spellings, but it seems to me that if you are setting yourself up as an ‘expert’ in some field, and know that you have word issues, it wouldn’t be that hard to spend an extra five minutes checking, or getting someone else to check, that the captions you include make sense.

I also hate when you pick a video that sounds helpful, like “How to do X”. You get through lots of crappy adverts and the person telling you to click subscribe and hit the bell, and lots of waffle about ‘sorry I haven’t done a video in a while because the cat had fleas’ and then you get to the substance. The first thing the presenter then says is “well, I’m not really an expert in this field…” by which time I am gone.

Even worse is when they contradict themselves.

There is a woman who does videos about Americans in London. I am not going to put a link, but you can find her easily enough if you really care.

One is about things not to do if you are having a short trip to London. It includes going up The Shard, and going on the London Eye (The Shard is the tallest building and the Eye is the big wheel, both giving you lovely views over the city and beyond).

Two reasons given are: expensive, but cheaper if you book in advance, and, weather may not be great and you may not see much.

Well, I could argue about those straight off. They are lots of money, but not as much as, say, the Empire State Building, which makes them look good value.

But there’s another video by the same person, about essential things to do while on holiday in London. The London skyline is “iconic” she says, so why not try the London Eye or The Shard.



London is not a big place, in the sense that it is not an urban sprawl, especially for the places you may want to sightsee on your first visit, but it’s also not walking distance between all the major attractions. Well no, that’s not really true, you could do it, but if you are here for a limited time, you want to make the best of the time you have and interminable walking is not the thing to be doing.

It’s best to have a plan, and to be realistic in that, you’re not going to see everything. Listen, on and off I have lived here for 40 years and I haven’t seen everything (whatever that means). There are always hidden gems, and things changing (and also stuff to avoid like the plague).

So, do your research and have a plan. Make a list of must see places, and then see what other things there are in the same area.

For example, if Tower of London is on your list, see also Tower Bridge, the river, the Bank of England, St Paul’s, the Monument… thie list is endless. Be prepared to queue, and allow time to just amble around to look at the world and soak up the atmosphere. A holiday where you dash from one place to another, tiring yourself out and barely remembering what you saw, is not, in my opinion at least, a holiday, certainly not restful.

I know people who visited London a few years ago and top of their list was the Natural History Museum. They spent their first day there. The next day they went back. The next day, the Science Museum, and so on. And they absolutely loved it. It was something they did not have at home, it was free (actually) and they had a great time.