Probably not standing: Stephen Lloyd, Christine Jardine
Definitely standing: Vince Cable
... Oh arse.
Look, coronations are bad. The "candidate" does not get examined, does not get their feet held to whatever fire the membership is stoking, does not have to state any positions before the crown is lowered. Recent political leaders who have had a coronation rather than an election include TMay, Arlene Foster, and Gordon Brown. We do not want to be in that company.
But even if coronations were ok, the coronation of someone who's published views are 1, so often at odds with the membership and 2, so changeable depending on who he is talking to... Lads, this is really, really, REALLY not good. And given the article I linked to in the very first piece I wrote on potential leadership elections after the GE, this whole situation smells really fucking funny and I do not like it one bit.
I'm in conversation with a bunch of other
But if we can't do something about it... I don't know. The scissors are feeling very close to my membership card right now.
ETA: OfC given the legendary efficiency of the LDHQ membership department, if I were to cut up my membership card and send it back we'd probably have had another 2 general elections before they got round to processing my resignation...
Having cashflow problems, some of which are my fault, and some of which are other people's fault, and all of which are beyond my control and therefore incredibly frustrating.
Cashflow problems meaning I am having to cancel on commitments, which I hate doing.
Politics in general is full of arseholes who keep arsing.
Work is frustrating, because I can't do the things I need to do for various stupid reasons (also beyond my control).
Have had no sleep and lots of pointless arguments with members of household, which means I am dangerously low on spoons, grumpy and frazzled.
And to top it all, my right tit is a big scabby painful mess.
Here's hoping you lot are all a bit happier...
As is customary I did Flaneurs bus challenge I. (c) from the same stop as before with an unchanging n of 6.
In exciting news I managed to finally cross the river and in fact ended up at Tottenham Hale. I covered about 30 miles on buses on the hottest day of the year. The routemasters were hellish.
* Google Photos or Flick Photos depending on what you prefer. Includes lots of video.
* Twitter thread
I'm currently uploading the videos to youtube and may make a longer video of them.
Talking of which I often post videos of my bus journeys on my youtube channel
In the tiny house in Torquay in which he resided, the Great Beast 666, To Mega Therion, Frater Perdurabo, or, as he was known to most of the population, Aleister Crowley, was making breakfast – a single boiled egg, toast, and a cup of tea. He told himself that his meditative practices would make this a sensory feast as great as any orgy, the texture of the yolk on his tongue as exquisite as the finest opium, but he still faced it with a weariness born of age.
Crowley had, in the past, been an imposing figure, a great hulk of a man whose bald head and piercing eyes could intimidate the most fearless of men into submission. He had been a mountaineer of the top rank, and a practising yogi who could bend his body into asanas which would have caused agony for even the most flexible of non-adepts. Now, though, he was sallow, his angular cheekbones showing through sagging skin. His head, no longer shaved, was fringed by tufts of white hair stained yellow by tobacco smoke. His digestion was permanently destroyed by his herculean intake of opiates, coca leaf, and absinthe. While he railed against the privations rationing caused him, he knew that in reality his diet would not be much different even were he to dine at the Savoy every evening. He never had been much good at self-deception, though that would never stop him trying.
He placed his egg-cup, toast-rack, butter dish, cup, saucer, and teapot on the tray with an exacting precision, then picked up the tray and shuffled over to his dining table. He placed the tray on the table, pulled out a chair, and sat down. He buttered his toast slowly, treating the rhythm of the knife strokes as a yogic mantra.
There was a pile of post on the table, which he had collected earlier. He opened the envelopes with his butter knife, and flicked through the letters desultorily. There were the usual missives from admirers; one from Lady Frieda Harris talking about the stultifying details of an undoubtedly tedious, but potentially lucrative, exhibition of her art, would need his attention at some point. He put it to one side and looked through the rest.
There was little of interest there. He sipped at his tea and winced to himself. There had been a time, not so long ago, when he would have disdained utterly a cup of tea made from what tasted like dust sweepings and mouse droppings, but that time had passed. This was his life now; soft-boiled eggs and flavourless grey liquids. He sighed and picked up the next letter.
Bills. Bills from the Gas Board, bills from the grocer, bills from all sides. And nothing to pay them with except a meagre income which came from public speaking and the decreasing sales of his books. Crowley could remember a time when he could have his books printed in tasteful, unique, editions for initiates only. Now, they were a commercial proposition to be sold like jars of mustard, and to an audience that could not even tell that they were being insulted in every word. And yet they still didn’t sell enough.
He sliced his toast into soldiers, each strip as thin as possible in order to prolong the meal. He picked up one, dipped it in the egg yolk once, twice, three times, timing his breathing to match the dunks, and took a bite. At least the egg was good, even if the bread was the cheap, nasty, stuff that was all that could be obtained at present.
Let the yolk settle on the tongue. Feel the sticky, viscous, texture. Taste the sulphurous yellow liquid, and then let it slide down the throat along with the bread before the taste of the bread reaches the tongue. Maximise the pleasure, minimise the discomfort. Treat it as a yogic practice.
He continued looking through the letters. Quite a mountain of post he’d collected today – if not an Everest, then at least a…no, best not think of that particular mountain. Some things were best forgotten, and into that category he put most of his correspondence as well.
One letter, however, did have something of interest about it. It was from Naval Intelligence, addressed to “Mr. Aleister Crowley”, and he thought about casting it aside then and there without reading further, given the British Government’s stubborn refusal to use his proper title. He relented, though, and decided to show the usurper’s lackeys the grace and magnanimity they so obviously refused him. He glanced through it, and saw they were asking for his assistance in the matter of Rudolf Hess.
He chuckled to himself. In the last war, half the press had been convinced he was a German spy, but now he was being asked to perform a similar task for the usurper’s Government. How times had changed.
Only a few years ago, the same newspapers that had called him “the wickedest man in England” had been printing headlines like “Hurrah for the Blackshirts!” and praising Herr Hitler’s wise governance. He wondered if, should the German invasion succeed, Rothermere’s papers would once again become the arse-licking lackeys of the German Führer. He suspected so.
Crowley had no great love for the Government headed by the supposed King, and the chaos and disruption caused by war were distractions from his meditative practices. He composed his reply bearing these factors, and others, in mind:
If it is true that Herr Hess is much influenced by astrology and Magick, my services might be of use to the Department, in case he should not be willing to do what you wish.
Col. J. F. C. Carter …, Thomas N. Driberg …, Karl J. Germer …, could testify to my status and reputation in these matters.
I have the honour to be, Sir,
Your obedient servant Aleister Crowley.
After writing his response, he carefully burned the letter he had received, while chanting under his breath, before heading off to the post office.
This is an excerpt from my novel, Destroyer. If you like this chapter, please buy the book. It can be bought in hardback from Lulu. The Kindle and paperback editions are available from Amazon (UK) and (US). For non-Kindle ebook versions This Books2Read Universal Link will give you links for your preferred ebook retailer.
A year ago yesterday was the Brexit vote. Which means a year ago today I had a breakdown. A year ago today was also my last day working a day job, for that reason.
My wife is a disabled, bisexual, immigrant, and one reason we chose to live in the UK rather than the US is that the rights we have under the European Convention on Human Rights made this a much, much, safer place for her than the US. When I brought her here, I was protecting her.
So when the UK voted to leave the EU (and staying in the EU was the one reason that our current Prime Minister, then Home Secretary, Theresa “hostile environment for immigrants” May had for not leaving the ECHR, so we *will* be leaving that), that meant that I had failed to protect the person I love most in the world. This was a direct, personal, failure on the deepest level of my being — whatever else I thought of myself, I was someone who protected his wife. Now I wasn’t.
I’ve never had the best mental health in the world, but that plunged me into a depression unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before. I spent literally two months having suicidal thoughts every single day. I spent huge chunks of the first fortnight just screaming. For the first time in my adult life I was too ill to work — yet I also wasn’t provably ill enough to claim disability benefits. I had to become a freelance writer.
(If people think I’ve been too obsessed with Brexit on my Twitter in the year since, this is why — I essentially have PTSD (undiagnosed but I think real) which is triggered regularly by mentions of this ghastly decision).
And the intervening year has had two more giant disruptions which have affected my mental health — the Trump election, which did to Holly much the same as the Brexit vote did to me, and the neverending election (which started for those of us in Manchester Gorton in *February*). I am only now, a year on, recovering my stability — hence my recent spurt in productivity.
But I have managed to survive as a freelancer thanks to knowing good people. Just before my breakdown my friend Jennie pointed me to someone who would commission the occasional script for a YouTube video from me — those scripts have paid the mortgage and utility bills, just about.
But everything else — food for me, Holly, and our dog, any occasional luxuries, emergencies like replacing my computer when it broke — has been paid for by the readers of this blog, either through buying my books or backing me on Patreon.
So I’d like to thank all of you who’ve donated money, or bought books, or posted links to my posts on social media, or done anything else to make this blog the difference between me, my wife, and my dog eating and us starving. I’d especially like to thank Jennie for her getting me the freelance work. I’d also like to thank the person who knows who they are, but who I won’t name here because I don’t know if they want their act of generosity publicised, who increased their Patreon donation *massively* after my breakdown. That person was already someone I liked and admired, now they’re someone I will literally do *anything* for.
I’m aware that some of the kinds of posts that many of you most like — the complicated, idea-based, comics and Doctor Who ones in particular, have been lacking for the last year. Those require a kind of mental state from me that it’s been impossible for me to get into while I’ve been unwell. As I’m getting better, I plan to have them return to this blog over the next few months. I hope it’ll prove worth the wait.
I also have a lot of bits of work I’ve been doing piecemeal over the last year, all of which are nearing release. I hope that the deluge of stuff that’s coming up will be a big payoff for those of you who’ve been so generous.
So, one year into my life as a freelance writer, thank you all. You’ve literally saved my life. Thank you.
I think I felt like that because I did spend the morning in my pajamas wasting time on Twitter. But also, I was fielding comments on a Lib Dem Voice article introducing our new group, Lib Dem Immigrants (which I am super excited about). Unfortunately, anything about immigration attracts some trolls, even if it's as innocuous as "here's a new internal party body" (I did like that we also got a comment saying "we waste too much time on internal party shit!"). I found this set of comments dismaying for an interesting new kind of separating the wheat-from-the-chaff approach to immigration: even the people telling me they want to end freedom of movement and other such things tell me that they support me having rights, and right away, because I married a British citizen. Hm.
Anyway, I eventually made myself do a bit of tidying, sort out the room booking for Plus's AGM at Autumn Conference (which I don't know if I'll be able to go to because I can't afford accommodation, which is making me very sad), call up our soon-to-be-ex-home-insurance-company which gosh that phone call made me glad of because it was agonizing, get a Plus parcel ready to post and send it off, go to the shops to buy boring things like a light bulb, stand precariously on a too-short ladder to replace the light bulb, go see my friend Katie for a couple of hours, come back via a different shop to buy dog poo bags which we were suddenly out of, and watch Lego Batman with Andrew which we'd been trying to find time and energy for all week.
That is an okay day. I didn't do all the things I wanted to do, but I did a lot of good things.
Today I'm going to see fictive-nephew (who's almost eight already, how is that even possible) in some local am-dram production, and then Games Night has restarted so I get to see my Brighouse people twice in three days! This should be a good day too.
Currently working on finishing Beach Boys Book 3 (out next week with luck), the Basilisk novel (out in the next fortnight with luck) and a short story (off to a more-patient-than-I-deserve editor early next week), a bunch of freelance commissions, and editing Holly’s book. I tried to put together a linkblog, but frankly I haven’t even been looking at enough interesting links to fill one recently. Normal posting should resume soon.
I mean, what did you, yourself, actually do to influence where you were born or bred? Unless you were a particularly ambitious embryo, the answer is “nothing”. Sure, your parents might have made some kind of effort to select your place of birth. Maybe they strove to move to better housing in a neighbourhood with better services and schools. Maybe they’re even immigrants, like my dad, and they struggled long and hard to learn their fourth language in order to integrate into their adopted country. But you? You didn’t do anything. Why are you so proud of that? Think of the things you've accomplished in your life. Isn't it far more fitting and fulfilling to be proud of those?
And why the obsession with asserting the superiority of a single identity over the others? “I’m English first and then British.” Pro-tip: Most of the rest of the world considers both of those to be synonymous with “ex-colonialist imperialist arsehole” so it doesn’t really matter which one you choose. ^.^
Here is a list of the geographically-linked identities that I consider myself able to lay claim to. I’m proud of some and not others.
- San Diegan
- Brummie (this is a new one; still feels a little odd)
Today, I think I’m proudest of being European. I earned that identity and that passport, and I’m still very pissed off that some people want to take it away.
Today is also, weirdly, simultaneously:
- the anniversary of Brexit, aka the Colossal Waste of Time and Money Foisted Upon Us by a Generation That Tore Down Decades of Painstakingly Won Goodwill with Our Neighbours and Won’t Live to Experience the Disastrous Consequences, Thanks a Lot, Dickheads.
- International Women in Engineering Day
So, to close this post, here is a peaceful photo of a woman doing some engineering.
Probably not standing: Stephen Lloyd, Wera Hobhouse, Christine Jardine
Probably standing: Ed Davey
Definitely standing: Vince Cable
You'll note that Norman Lamb has moved from probably standing to definitely not standing. He announced this with rather petulant article in the Grauniad, in which (among other things) he proclaimed the Lib Dems' second referendum policy as toxic. Now I agree, it is toxic. "First we'll negotiate brexit, then we'll set up a referendum, then we'll campaign against the deal we ourselves negotiated!" is an utterly ridiculous policy. The problem is, it was only in the sodding manifesto due to the insistence of people on the rump brexity wing of the party, of which Norman Lamb is definitely one. This was as far as the rest of the party, who just wanted "we will stop brexit" to be the manifesto position, could be dragged. Policy making by committee often comes up with soggy centrist compromises, and often that's a good thing and satisfies most people, but sometimes it's patently rubbish. This time was the latter. What I don't get is Captain Brexit blaming the rest of the party for it. Well, I do. He'd like us to embrace brexit. And that is not going to happen.
Anyway, the rest of the article sticks the boot in to members in various other ways, and alludes to, but doesn't actually acknowledge, the problems autistic people have with the idea of Norman as a leader, and frankly, just makes me glad he's not standing. At least he has the self-knowledge to know he's not right to lead the party as it currently is, even if he declares it in a rather Skinnerian way.
So the only likely runner at this point undeclared is Ed Davey. And there will be siren
Don't stand, Ed. Leadership elections are expensive, Ed. They are divisive and set party members up against each other, ed. It'd be easier all round just to crown Vince, Ed. You don't want the hassle, Ed. The party doesn't want the hassle, Ed. Lets just have a coronation, Ed.To which I say, pish, tosh, bunkum, bollocks, and bullshit.
Yes, leadership elections are divisive, and do set members up against each other, and sometimes even cause resentments. Do you know what's even more divisive, and causes even more resentments? Not letting Lib Dems have democracy. Not letting us scrutinise each candidate and come to a decision on merit. Not having hustings at which we can put questions to candidates and examine their views and records and promises. Imposing a leader on us without us having a say. I can guarantee you that while a leadership election might be divisive, it's nowhere near as divisive as a coronation.
Now, Ed Davey told one of the BBC politics correspondents (I think Norman Smith) the other day that he would declare whether or not he was standing "on Thursday or Friday". He didn't declare yesterday. I'm hoping he declares he's standing today.
And if you'd told me last month I'd be crossing my fingers for Ed Davey to run in a leadership election, I'd have thought you insane in the membrane, crazy insane, got no brain. Just goes to show what a funny old world it is...
[Keiki with freshly dug potatoes in his fist, ready to deposit them in one of the two white bowls in front of him.]
We ate our first potato harvest tonight. Yum!
( +6 )