Notre-Dame

I watched Notre-Dame burn yesterday, I cried and I had to turn away from it – I couldn’t bear it. I read this by the always excellent Douglas Murray, it encapsulates everything I feel and think – he is much more eloquent that I could ever be. This is Douglas for The Spectator: link to the original article is here: https://blogs.spectator.co.uk/2019/04/notre-dames-loss-is-too-much-to-bear/amp/?__twitter_impression=true

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Civilisation only ever hangs by a thread. Today one of those threads seems to have frayed, perhaps snapped. It is impossible to watch the footage coming out of Paris. Like videos of pornographic violence, all that can be done is to groan and turn away. It is not possible to watch the spire of Notre Dame collapse. It is not possible to watch the great cathedral consumed by fire.

Evelyn Waugh once said that in the event of a fire in his house, if he was able only to save his children or his library, he would save his library because books were irreplaceable. Only at a moment such as this is it possible to concede the slightest truth in that remark. Almost anything could be borne rather than the loss of this building.

There will be recriminations, of course. There will be disputes about budgets, and overtime and safety standards and much more. It is worth reading this piece from two years ago about the funding problems that existed around the cathedral’s restoration. But if Notre Dame can burn then all this is as nothing, because it tells us something too deep to bear. As I said a couple of years ago in a book, in some way the future of civilisation in Europe will be decided on what our attitude is towards the great churches and other cultural buildings of our heritage standing in our midst. Do we contend with them, hate them, ignore them, engage with them or continue to revere them? Do we preserve them?

Though politicians may imagine that ages are judged on the minutiae of government policy, they are not. They are judged on what they leave behind: most of all on how they treat what the past has handed into their care. Even if today’s disaster was simply the most freakish of accidents, ours would still be the era that lost Notre Dame.

We would have to tell future generations what it was like, this treasure that we lost. At the start of this decade I was living part of each week in Paris, commuting back and forth to a little flat on the edge of Le Marais. Each time I headed out to the earliest Eurostar on a Monday morning I would see the great cathedral first as I turned into the street. One winter morning heavy snow was falling and as I headed to the station I stopped dead, alone in the street with the cathedral and just drinking in the sight of a building I had seen a hundred times before. When I got into London a friend could see I was just beaming still, radiating far too much joy for such a time of the week. He asked how I was and I remember simply saying, ‘This morning I saw Notre Dame in the snow’. It was like that.

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Thwart Democracy at your peril

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This is going to be one of those posts: an unpopular one on WordPress. I don’t care, I’m hungover but I have a few jumbled thoughts I want to put on my blog – because I’ve had enough. I’ve had it up to here with the insults, the slurs, the bullying – I’ve had it up to here with the utter contempt for democracy.

A lot of people still seem to be unable to differentiate between Europe and the European Union.

Those same people decided more than two and a half years ago that Leave voters were racists and bigots and they haven’t at all tried in all that time to listen to the actual reasons why some wanted to leave the EU. The short, easy and simple answer – by the way – is sovereignty. But nobody wants to hear that. 

Leave voters have been abused, demonised, they’ve been threatened, they’ve been bullied – yes, bullied – and dismissed as the scum of the earth. 

It has also been made abundantly clear they are crude, uneducated, stupid. 

For two and a half years, the enlightened middle classes, artists, creatives, academia, politicians, the media have looked down on the people who could get it so wrong. 

I saw this yesterday: “You can’t be an art lover and be pro-Brexit!”

It might as well be set in stone.

Well, I’m an art lover, (and most of the Leavers I know are too) and I find it astonishing I should have to explain why I love art and culture in many shapes and forms and why I’m also opposed to a centralised power and homogenised society—it’s incredible I should have to explain I can’t & won’t subscribe to a fabricated identity.

And why should I explain it? Because the ‘enlightened’ don’t believe it. They can’t, they refuse to see further than: pro-Brexit means ignorant, stupid and evil. 

Remainers hate nationalism so much they make a point of constantly stating they are ashamed of their own country. Which is quite something when you think about it. There is nothing wrong with patriotism. I love France, I also love England, my adoptive country – I am proud of their collective heritage and yes, I want to protect that. There is nothing wrong with any of this. What is wrong is not having any pride in your own country, what is wrong is looking back on its history and finding fault with every bit of it, what is wrong is attempting to re-write history, what is wrong is embracing some made-up identity which makes no sense whatsoever. 

Someone said yesterday: “Remainers who are EU devotees don’t realise that, draped in their flags and their insignia and blind faith to a political structure, they’re showing all the hallmarks of extreme nationalists. Just because it is supranational it doesn’t make it any different.”

I couldn’t have put it better. This devotion to the EU is also akin to religious fanaticism. 

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But the worse of it all is this self-righteousness: they will do everything to overturn the result of a democratic vote because they believe they are on the right side, and the good side of things. Apparently, leaving the EU would plunge the UK into chaos. We’ve had ‘project fear’ where nothing less than the apocalypse has been predicted if the UK actually leaves the EU. Of course there isn’t one shred of evidence this will happen but the propaganda has been relentless. The truth is: nobody knows for sure what the economic and political consequences of leaving the EU will be, how could they? Speculation is just that, but there is no actual reason to believe leaving will bring about Armageddon.

There is also the fact that leaving the EU apparently means turning your back on Europe – utter rot, of course. I don’t even want to keep addressing this “little Englanders” thing, the racism, etc… they keep talking about – it’s just too ridiculous. 

This self-righteousness which I find repellent has made people turn on their friends, sometimes even on their family. How does one even get to that point? To feel so utterly right, to be so incredibly sure you -are- and -know- better that you accuse and demonise and preach tolerance whilst displaying anything but?

Meanwhile, a government composed mainly of Remainers has sung to the EU’s tune and deliberately done everything it could to delay and stop the inevitable. 

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A petition to stop Brexit has just reached 5 million signatures – let’s be clear: this is a petition to cancel the result of a democratic vote – and Remainers rejoiced as if this was a success…in any way. I suggest they get back to us once they’ve reached 17 million…which they won’t, because rabid Remainers are part of the elite. And the elite by definition is small. Ah, but where the elite is, you find the power, obviously. Remainers are a small but very vocal minority because they are the academia, they are the media, they are the politicians. They are not the people and they despise the people – the great unwashed cannot be allowed to make decisions since they can’t be relied upon to know anything. How deliciously ironic that those who actually understand what the EU is, how it works and operates are ordinary people – they are also able to comprehend you can love Europe and loathe the EU. 

To be clear, I was a Remainer before the referendum, but I was of course also a believer in democracy. You lose a vote, you don’t get to vote again – that’s not how democracy works. I am convinced another vote would see Leave win by an even bigger margin but, I will erect barricades before I let this second vote happen as it would make a joke of the democratic process. People say: we need to stop Brexit because the government has made a total mess of negotiations and clearly can’t implement it. Well, that’s true, but only because it doesn’t want to implement it. Well, that’s tough because it has to. The consequences of not respecting a democratic vote will be much more dire for the UK than Brexit could ever be. 

Everything has been done to overturn a democratic vote and, yes, Democracy itself is at stake. You should never attempt to thwart democracy, there is no telling what chaos will ensue if you undermine it. I’m afraid this is something the ruling classes will learn the (very) hard way. 

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Happy New Year and thank you all.

Idle blogs of an idle fellow

“I stopped believing in Santa Claus when I was six. Mother took me to see him in a department store and he asked for my autograph.” – Shirley Temple

It must be Christmas because I’ve just spent half an hour trying to remove sellotape with forensic levels of care from the wrong part of the parcel I was wrapping without tearing the paper.

James Bond is on the TV and he’s already seduced a woman with nothing more than a one-liner and a ruffled hair do. I was caught up in the timelessness of it until I spotted one of Ken Livingstone’s hated bendy-buses crossing Westminster Bridge. The weather is mild and damp. The fridge is full of food that no one is allowed to touch, and the tree in the living room needs its own security force to keep inquisitive children away. It must be Christmas

I want to…

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The Absolutely Best Advice on the Internet is…

“Life advice is something people once went to pubs for, alongside flat beer and sticky carpet. Being regaled with ancient wisdom from bedraggled men escaping their wives at the bar was once a rite of passage for younger folk, who now deliberate whether to like pictures of restaurant food on social media with a thumbs up or an emoji instead…”

Idle blogs of an idle fellow

Remember this, folks – I am a Hillbilly, and I don’t always bet the same way I talk. Good advice is one thing, but smart gambling is quite another. 

Hunter. S. Thompson

Perhaps it’s because everyone is an expert these days, but people have an opinion on everything. The most liberating thing to say is, ‘I can’t comment because I don’t fully understand it.’ I’ve been supporting a football team for 20 years and still don’t understand the point of substitutions in the 90th minute. To be honest I’m beginning to wonder what the point of football is full stop, but that’s another blog. Advice is much the same, dished out like Sunday newspaper supplements without much thought as to where it all ends up.

Live every day like it’s your last‘ is the sort of advice that flies about like a flu bug: impossible to pin down…

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Book Plug

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I’ve just finished reading Pantheon by Eric Syrdal (his blog can be found Here )

I don’t do book reviews for a good reason: I’m no good at writing them. So you’ll just have to trust me when I say Pantheon is an epic, unforgettable read: it’s a novel told in free verse poetry and I could not put it down. Granted, I was already an Eric fan before picking up his book because he’s a master word weaver…but this blew me away. If you’re looking for a new book recommendation, you could do much, much worse.

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How Writers Survive Bad Reviews.

“If there is one thing that writing teaches an author, other than how easily the semi-colon might be misused and how gleefully people love to point it out to you, it is to prevail. Writing gives purpose to an aimless day and teaches resilience….”

Idle blogs of an idle fellow

“Every time I read ‘Pride and Prejudice’ I want to dig her up and beat her over the skull with her own shin-bone.” Mark Twain.

There is so much focus upon writing, on the magic tips and tricks that at times the real skill is neglected. And that is the art of disallowing poor feedback or bad reviews from ruining your day, and your ENTIRE BLOODY LIFE AND EVERYTHING THAT HAS LED TO THIS DISASTROUS MOMENT, which is pretty much what neighbours heard when I read my first 2-star review of the Life Assistance Agency on Amazon. Ironically writers chase these reviews because it helps with algorithms and sales, although no one has yet provided a coherent answer as the relationship between the two without ending up sounding like a conspiracy theorist. And what reviews don’t help with is your mental stability. Or do they?

(Yet) another great thing…

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How to beat the Winter Blues..?

It’s never too early for advice on how to beat the winter blues, right? And it’s definitely always a treat to read & share a blog by one of my favourite people who also happens to be a writer I’m totally in awe of.

Idle blogs of an idle fellow

Yes, it’s How to Beat the Blues season again. And I don’t mean Manchester City, although they are probably the least of Crystal Palace’s worries. It’s the time of year when weekend newspapers pack away features on 10 best bikinis, Get Fit Without Lifting a Finger, Top Ten things to do in Ibiza (and two to avoid) and How To Get a Beach Body by the Time you reach it From Your Hotel, and turn instead to life beneath the heavy skies. Winter is coming.

So, in the magnanimous spirit with which Scott Wildblood set up his speculative Life Assistance Agency, whilst failing to look up assistance in the dictionary, we idly consider how we might combat those seasonal blues.

Don’t look at the internet. The first birthday greeting I got was from a German company offering me a £5 voucher after I bought a record stylus from them…

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How to Avoid the Perils of Modern Shopping…

If the intro immediately sends you to YouTube like it did me, make sure you come back to read the blog – always worth it.

Idle blogs of an idle fellow

We’re S.H.O.P.P.I.N.G….we’re shopping. – Pet Shop Boys

Shopping used to be so easy. When I was a boy (oh, here we go Grandad), we went grocery shopping once a month and made it last 28 days. February was the only month in which we failed to run out of provisions. It was a day trip ending in playing with boxes on the lawn.  Anything lacking was grown on the allotment, which sadly didn’t grow chocolate biscuits, or Kellogg’s Frosties.  Shops were windows for pressing noses up against.

Despite this I thought I lived in the future, which is a strange prism through which to see the 1970s, but in light of my father’s wartime experiences it was Disneyland. But compared with today we lived in Eastern Europe, when towns would hang out bunting and hire a brass band to celebrate arrival of the first washing machine. Our local toy shop…

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Dark

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I have gone back to my roots, no more bottle blonde for me. Although the decision to go back to dark was kind of spontaneous, it had been at the back of my mind for a long time.

As the world turns away from reason in favour of emotion, the false prophets proliferate – it is more important than ever to be as authentic as one can possibly be. This blog that at one stage meant so much to me has taken a backseat, as some of you may have noticed.

People I thought I had an understanding with, people I interacted with on the basis we shared the same love for words, and literature, and art…those people who pride themselves on being tolerant have been anything but…and clearly unable to separate the ‘art’ from the ‘artist’ – an attitude that’s prevalent in today’s society.

I will never apologise for having an opinion, for the ability to criticise *everything*, for the fact my heart doesn’t rule over my brain. I do not believe it is a creative’s responsibility to pontificate and tell the masses what to think and what to like. I do not believe in demonising and ostracising based on political opinion alone. Unfortunately the majority of creatives feel differently. More’s the pity. But I won’t be bullied and I won’t be silenced. Without free speech, an individual  simply isn’t free. Deplatforming is an abomination, shutting down any kind of speech is abhorrent.

I can be dismissed and discarded by hundreds of people I have everything in common with – except for one seemingly crucial thing – and I still wouldn’t change the way I am and the way I speak.

If we share the same interests but you decide to pull the plug on our friendship because I don’t believe in open borders and uncontrolled immigration, because I believe ALL religions should be subjected to the same level of criticism, etc…then fair enough and so be it.  Your loss, your narrow-minded view of the world – contrary to what you preach. I won’t mourn you and I won’t miss you.

So I have been unfollowed on here by quite a few people, which is fine. Everyone is entitled to do as they please – what has massively pissed me off is that some of these people before unfollowing felt the need to tell me what a nasty human being I am. Obviously I’m going to object to that, especially when the stench of hypocrisy surrounds them. Nobody has the monopoly on kindness or pain – hence why identity politics is total bollocks and incredibly divisive. You can’t rewrite history and you shouldn’t want to. Virtue signalling is getting old, to be quite frank.

Progressives? Nah, regressive (s)

I’m a natural brunette and I’m back to dark. Some people will say it matches my soul – fuck them.

(The selfies… because I was in one of my exhibitionist moods – I could blame the new hair but…nah.)

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