Lull me a lullaby

Lull me a lullaby
Sand in my eyes
Buy me a mockingbird
Give me the sky

Betcha by golly
Wow, build me a folly
Bring me some Kool Aid
And fill up the trolley

Sprinkle the pixie dust
Set up a blind trust, go
Short of a picnic
And cut off the crusts

Pipe me a loony tune
Red, white and blue my shoes
Kansas is dying
Jump over the moon

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The binary choice is upon us

I did not need this referendum on the European Union. Not at this time. Not over the issues of immigration, the economy and red tape and not even over sovereignty and democracy, now that I’ve informed myself sufficiently.

I wouldn’t vote to join the EU now, of course, not least because of the compulsory Schengen and Euro elements but that is not the choice we are making. I do understand the desire in trying to regain absolute self-determination but it’s quite unrealistic. The only way I’d entertain really going it alone – enough to vote for it – is if I truly thought there was no alternative for our well-being or perhaps if the rest of the world were to do it, too. Albeit there’s been a rise in pro-secessionist regions, I don’t see all the world’s parts simply turning away from collective cooperation. I can’t see them deliberately choosing a self-ghettoising course and making a success of it. Such a disconnecting seems a bit late in the day to be even possible; like not being able to unknow something.

I think being forced into making such a simplistic in/out choice over a jumble of complexities is an unnecessary and reckless distraction. I resent it. It’s having to pre-empt and then try to control not only what Britain and the European Union will look like in the future but the entire globe. We’re a small world, irrevocably intertwined and we are all dancing on a rapidly shifting carpet. There are conflicts at every turn, vital resource scarcity, environmental challenges and great shifts in individual and collective consciousness. No one knows how anything will turn out, beyond that nothing happens in a vacuum and that there will be multi-dimensional consequences.

I know that Remain has played some aspects rather badly – many of my alignments have been coincidental and conditional and barely have my reasons been represented. But that Leave campaign: well, it’s all a bit much, really, isn’t it? To the Right we’ve got authoritarian Gove with his disdain for experts, IDS with his bulging hubris and record of contempt for the disabled and working poor and Boris who doesn’t give a fig for facts or accountability. Then we’ve got the likes of Gisela Stuart and Kate Hoey on the Left, who naively believe that everything will be alright because they are putting their trust in people voting sensibly and the possibility of a Labour government. And bridging the sides of Brexit, the hollow keystone that is Farage, with his shamelessly irresponsible propaganda and populist nostalgia. He started this reckless, ill-informed, pseudo-patriotic nonsense that has turned the country against itself.

Nearly every mess that Brexit wants to “take back control” over has been created by the socio-economic ignorance and injustice of our very own governments, not immigrants and the EU. They are our governments who have undermined good will, public services and vital infrastructure. And, just because a load of people are repeatedly proclaiming “take back control” doesn’t mean any of it will be given to the electorate, or that it even will be used in our interests. Just because they are promising to spend (the same) money on everyone’s pet projects while upholding, nay, increasing current funding levels in key services, doesn’t mean that they will be able to or always want to. Social justice? Simply look at the last few years.

Of course the EU and the Euro zone are both in need of reform. The Euro zone is in a sorry state but that’s because the same relentless, neoliberal, false economy nonsense has been meted out there as here and exacerbated by its currency union. But we’re not in the Euro. And we are not in Schengen. We have vetoes and protections; we have trading clout. We’re not even attached by land, except by way of the two Irelands on another island. No one in the EU is arguing against reform and neither are their minds solely and unanimously fixed on “ever closer union” as the solution. For Leave to say it is not reformable is disingenuous. Have our MPs ever seriously and earnestly tried to lead a proper, EU-wide campaign for reform of its institutions, structures and processes? I’ve witnessed decades of them mostly carping from the side or flapping over relative mundanities. We could easily make a much more effective fuss about what we want and decisions we don’t like. We could even just refuse to comply when our interests are compromised. What would happen? A court fine? A meeting to plan a meeting to talk about sanctioning us? We could leave at the drop of a hat if we thought we were in actual danger. Despite effort, I can’t find a risk in being in the EU that Brexit’s champions would properly solve. And anyway, if a credible risk does ever present, enough to invoke a Treaty mechanism or to warrant immediate escape, then, THEN a referendum might be justified – if not already rendered moot.

Given that we appear not to have enough actors with the experience and capacity, let alone the integrity and wisdom required, what confidence can we have in their ability to untangle the political, diplomatic, legal and technical knots involved in leaving? All that while simultaneously trying to create new deals and relationships? While simultaneously managing the day-to-running of a country? And an impatient electorate’s understandable frustration and much incited but unrealistic expectations? Personally, I can’t afford another lost decade, especially after the last six years which have seen enough time, money and opportunity wasted.

Demanding people make an unnecessary, ill-informed choice, based on neurotic sections of the Press and the hyperbole of political fools and charlatans, likely undermines our already fragile democracy. The BBC should have commissioned an Open University series that explained the EU’s structure and processes and broadcast them on BBC1 at peak viewing time. That would have cut through a great deal of rubbish and provided a commonly known foundation for much better questioning. What we’ve had, instead, are historical rhymes and speculation, non-issues and appeals to baser instincts, little-challenged opinion-by-rote and facts either given erratically and too late to make an impact or flimsy find-them-yourself signposting.

But it’s too late, now: the binary choice is upon us and I have to hope that the turnout is high and that the percentage of whichever side wins is great enough to be considered definitive, otherwise the nasty divisiveness that we have already endured in our communities; the tawdriness that has diminished our social fabric and reputation: they will be mere prologue.

What is amusing, perhaps, is that, regardless of which side prominent people declare for, they can vote the opposite, once at the polling station. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Boris Johnson stepped into the booth on Thursday and voted ‘Remain’ once he’d got his little pencil out in private. I shall vote to remain. I want to wrest control from Brexit. I, too, want my country back.

Tory Story

That time a minority of voters misplaced
their faith and saw chaos cross the line
to screw the country over – again

when the Cons went long
and the People went short
and few could walk a mile
in their own shoes,
never mind another’s

when the mother of party ideology
gripped the land to a snapping
cracking austerity’s whip

when reward was rationed by
the fashioning of division,
superstition and deservedness
and everything was weaponised

nuance and empathy nosedived
as all media took
and hooked the bait
and shaped a hollow prize

People forming enemy lines
behind there is no alternative and
every
single
thing disliked
is a lie

or was it the messenger..?

Hark! Fear and Favour by and buy
the power and will of undermining;
they whose goal on any other day
is to give it away, now chiming
”Take back control!”
with flesh-wounded pride that dreams
a never-setting sun’s return, whining
“we want our country back”
and wagging the body politic
with unpalatable joy and toy facts

Cor blimey high and mighty
bulldog Blighty save us
from the cuts you made
with promises on premises
“we just don’t know”
and a finite pot of money
Britain never wholly gave

Reason was rationed by
the fashioning of derision,
definition and false consciousness
and everything was scrutinised

But “they added it up and
added a bit more
and created something that’s daft”

drilled down into reality and gasped
and laughed and sighed for
foreign cheese and geezers
cars and nurses, wine and visas versus
NEETs and teachers
bankers, builders and baristas
bluntly played

the double blade
that Con men hold to their mirroring throats
as nasty fills the showboat to its brim
and every futile, flimsy, fragmentary whim
is a chicken coming home – again

Batten down the hatches!

Buccaneering Brexiteers
Jolly a-rodgering
Yo ho me yesteryears!

Kipper me hornpipe
’n blaggard me gobshite
Be swivel yer eyesight
‘n Pugwash yer ears!

Black spot to the bilge rats
Tack slack with some rum stats
Stitch up all the ex-pats
‘n crow’s nest the piers

Blistering barnacles!
Scuttle the Articles
Parley in particles
Arr privateers!

Hedge allegorical
Haven and glory call
Regulate less control
Wish ye be ‘ere!

Play me a pioneer
Pieces of hate
Rates fer me hearties
Thar’s eight fer the party arr
Nein to the state

Aye, coddle me cankers!
Our dory’s a tanker!
Weigh anchor
Ahoy!
To a fling in the wild frontier!

Yo ho me yesteryears!
Rodgering jolly
Buccaneer Brexiteers’
Lotus fruit folly

The Cons are done

The Tories are imploding
The con is really showing

Your spin has spun
You’ve come undone

The Tories are in turmoil
See their party mind boil

The time has come
You’re overdone

The Con men are exploding
With outbursts of unloading

Your Treasured One
Can’t do his sums

The spectacle they’re making
Is self-perpetuating

You’ve had your fun
Your time is done

For six long years you faked it
And now we see you naked

You should be gone
So just do one

But I have to cope, don’t I? It might be all the control I have.

I feel as though I can barely cope, at the moment. This is not a search for pity, though; more an attempt at catharsis and bearing witness by personal account – personal being something I normally avoid, here…

Last week I was hastily dispatched to my ‘local’ A&E with a suspected stroke, where a tired, pressured and rushing assortment of wonderful medical staff showed a high level of concern. Turns out it’s Bell’s Palsy, which is surely a relief, relatively speaking, though it didn’t seem to much diminish their concern and care for me.

Actually, Bell’s may not be life and death but, on top of my long-term underlying health condition, its subsequently increasing list of secondary problems, on top of the fatigue and chronic pain.. having a paralysed left side of my face and the high dose of steroid treatment they advised is exacerbating existing problems and adding many more. I am having to fight harder, with every minute, not to feel utterly and irrevocably miserable. I want to curl up and sleep until I’m better. But better hasn’t ever really shown itself and I’m not getting younger. Plus, I have never been very good at curling up. Likely more animal instinct for movement than a quality of good character, however…

Stress and vulnerability to more stress plus decreasing personal resources to cope with a rapid sequence of challenging physical, mental and emotional trauma is taking its toll. And I’m not even in the high stakes band of disability. It’s not a competition, I know but my heart breaks for them and my awe knows no bounds.

I am, though, in a greatly weakened state, after more than a decade of coping with the consequences of my physical condition; with getting by, far too much, on bloody-mindedness and adrenaline – and then with negotiating the Con DWP’s hoops. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve blamed myself for not being capable; for being more burden than use, to both loved ones and Society. How many times I’ve pushed myself beyond a safe, manageable pace, as if I still needed testing!

When I got home, from the hospital, a mere six hours later, my PIP appointment was on the kitchen mat.

At the doctor’s check-up, yesterday (for the Bell’s), my GP – he’s not mine, of course: a personal family doctor is the stuff of my childhood – well he was equally concerned with the stress and vulnerability and poorliness I was displaying. He asked me if I wanted to try antidepressants. Really, Reader, apart from the fact that they and other useless drugs were once prescribed to me for the purpose of physical pain relief, with quite disastrous consequences, the last thing I want to do is give the PIP assessor an excuse to herd me into a new category of tickboxes, with a whole other set of nasty and arbitrary assumptions, hoops and conditions attached. I’m just too frightened and suspicious, now… I tell the doctor that I may or may not be clinically depressed but that I’ve never sought diagnosis (neither has such been offered) because, all things considered and, when I am not so generally overwhelmed by feeling low and rather extra poorly, my natural state of mental and emotional well-being are probably as good as can reasonably be expected; that my responses to my personal life conditions are surely normal/natural and that any depression is more of a secondary complication, just as are the teeth I have literally killed by clenching as a constant brace against pain. “Yes,” he said, “all things considered”.

But I have to cope, don’t I? Keep carrying on. It might be all the control I have.

Boris, IDS and Gove

Behold the bellicose outflow
Of phisher wisp politicos

Boris, IDS and Gove
Gish and Guess and Adipose
With grandiose portfolios
Tomorrow’s whiff, today compose

Rebranders of the status quo
Twisting in their pantyhose
[More prick than patriotic rose]
Insisting what they must suppose
In polyphonic piffled prose
To show how much they cannot know