Category Archives: Talk Amongst Yourselves

Lord Adonis Has His Say

From the Guardian newspaper this morning comes this story, with a term I’ve never heard before:

Philip Hammond is being urged to earmark £7bn for new transport links in the “brain belt” spanning Oxford, Cambridge and Milton Keynes in next week’s budget, and persuade local authorities to build the first new towns in half a century.

Brain Belt, that sounds like something a neurosurgeon installs to knock back the intelligence of an overly smart fellow.  Donald Trump had one installed sometime in the mid-80s.

17 November — Commemorate The Velvet Revolution

In an ironically Big Brother-ish twist, this was the greeting I received from the local ISP when I tried to surf to the Washington Post this morning:

You have attempted to visit a foreign site!

Today, just one click, but before 1989 it was difficult to look beyond the border.
The arbitrary abandon of the Republic was punished freedom for up to five years. If you did not shoot a border guard right when you tried.

Freedom is not a matter of course.

That is why we November 17th commemorate Velvet’s anniversary Revolution, and we are glad that we can bring you free communication with the whole world in the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

Learn more about November 17

I want to continue freely

Yikes!  That last line contained a link to escape this freedom-loving portal page.

Okay then, commemorate I shall.  But first, some coffee!

Loving Korbáčiky

For those of you who’ve grown curious at the silence, I am now in Pargue, having arrived here Sunday evening via train from Berlin.

The train ride was lovely, mostly along the Elbe, and I have some out-the-window photos to post of that.

We got in late Sunday afternoon, greeted by a cold, spitting rain, but the flat is lovely & warm.  It’s in the Old Jewish Quarter, and both picturesque and convenient.  More on that to come, too.

I spent the last two days, Monday & Tuesday, locked up in training (the real reason for this trip) in hotel meeting rooms, virtually from dawn to dusk.  So, today, Wednesday, is really the first day I’ve had to enjoy Prague, and the weather cooperated with beautiful sunshine from about noon until 4pm.  A little bit of bright joy.  I took advantage of that and took a tram along the Vltava, walked about on the west bank for a while, had late lunch and then took a tram back up the east bank and back home.

Great food discoveries on this trip include Meda snacks, by Canto, which are light and airy and no doubt terrible for you, but so yummy and addictive.  Also, there’s that amazing smoked string cheese, korbáčiky. It’s thin as a whip and knotted into little bundles.

Yum!!

Many more photos and stories to follow.  Just wanted to get in touch from:

Pra|ha
Pra|gue
Pra|ga
Pra|g

Something Borrowed, Something New

One pleasure, in my book, one can glean traveling in a different country, is the sample of their culture one gets from their media.  These days that is primarily television, newspapers and print advertising.  Take my last post, for example, on Posters.  Posters are both ubiquitous and populist.  They are put up by bar bands (Bar Stool Preachers) and humongous, multi-national brands (Nike) but they provide a lens into the sensibilities of both the local district and larger culture in which they are erected.

Nearly every person, other than me, on the flight here from Frankfurt (45 minutes in the air) was reading a newspaper.  I having already consumed the International Herald Tribune at the airport, the only English language paper on offer.  These are true “broadsheet” papers here, other than the occasional tabloid (der Spiegle) so when all those in a “three across” row are reading, the leafs overlap and rustle.  Now this avid digestion of the news may be due to the fact that Lufthansa, which dominates FRA the way that few American airlines dominate a particular airport, has racks of free copies liberally sprinkled throughout the airport, but many American airlines either place piles at their gates, or have carts on the planes.  No, I think this is a cultural item, and it is encouraging.

But, as I don’t read German any better than I speak it, I didn’t delve into the papers much beyond an idle page-flip in the airport lounges.

So now we get to television.  The set in my flat, a Sony, is connected to some sort of Free Satellite service, as is common across Europe.  This one has no Internet component, however, which is also becoming common, so I have no access, for example, to YouTube, or Netflix.  There are precious few choices in English, which shouldn’t shock.  There’s a channel which airs BBC news for part of the day (not sure which, yet) and then reverts to scrambled MTV-HD other times (how one determines that MTV is scrambled is beyond me, but the telly assures me it knows).

So what does an American, with just a few memories of those four years “studying” German, watch on telly?  Well, there’s the ever-present Bloomberg mix of business and news “Intelligence,” which, in these fraught times, is both unnerving and strangely welcome.  Unnerving in how they smoothly and glibly finesse a question about tax avoidance (the Paradise Papers imbroglio) and yet pay attention to climate change (with Syria joining the Paris accord, only the US may be outside of it).

In this age when seemingly every institution of modern life, from the grocer on the corner to the websites we visit and the governments which surveil us, all want as much “Intelligence” about us as possible.  Bloomberg, then, to us average, non-dues-paying Joes, gives us that ephemeral sensation of parity.  Just for a moment, we know a thing or two about a Saudi crown prince that maybe he doesn’t know about us.

Or maybe that’s just me.

Then there’s the surfeit of wildlife shows, which are almost universal in that one needn’t, really, know what the narrator is saying to understand that that Tasmanian devil was trying to schtup that other devil (who seemed none too glad, and later, pregnant in the southern winter, just sulks in the cave dwelling).  Animals schtupping is universal, so we easily overcome the language barrier and settle in as the animal-world voyeurs we all have been since those early petting zoo days (or is that just me, too?).

Oddly, most of the wildlife shows here are dubbed British or American episodes, rebranded into some new travelogue-ish scheme, which have their own books and other assorted follow-on products available for order.  Given that the dubbing technique in the video is to mute the narrator, whom we can often see right on screen there, and slather the German language dialogue over the top, one is left to wonder; these books, is the original English-language text over-struck or Sharpie’d and then German text inserted?

In one particularly touching scene in an otherwise run-of-the-mill special on primates, the narrator, a casually dressed African-American gentleman, sits near the bush observing a mountain gorilla and its young, who are foraging and stripping some vegetation for a snack.  The pappa gorilla ambles past, making a big show of ignoring the human, but the juvenile just can’t seem to pass by without an exploratory move.  The young ape skitters over and, reaching out tentatively, grasps the man’s hand, as if to confirm the same-ness of these digital appendages.  The narrator, overcome, says (barely audible in English) “Well that was amazing.”  Over his voice, however, we hear a string of syllables which goes on so much longer that import martial arts films come to mind.

As with the wildlife shows, the plentiful bounty of police procedurals one finds on air here are most often poorly dubbed presentations of American, or more often British or French shows.  Prime Suspect, Life on Mars and others proliferate.  Every effort is made to completely erase the original dialogue and cover it with German.  This strikes me as odd.  In my experience it’s not at all unusual for European broadcasters to option each other’s programming, but it’s almost always subtitled, not dubbed.  When I watch Forbrydelsen — the Danish show which was remade by Fox, for AMC, as The Killing — or any of a number of other, brilliant European programmes on British telly, they are always presented in their original language and subtitled.  Not so here.

Last night, for example, while reading the New Yorker, I had on, in the background, a couple of episodes of the single-season British show Life On Mars, starring John Simms as a disoriented, time-traveling cop plopped down in a mid-’70s Manchester station house.  A success in the UK, this somehow failed in a US remake, a couple years later, on ABC.  In this German dubbed edition, in which evidence centred largely around team scarfs for Man United, the whole topic of team fealty seemed oddly detached.

So why is it that the Germans prefer dubbed to subtitled foreign programming?  One is left to ponder.  At first blush, it’s easy to assume that the length of German language words might preclude subtitling, without needing to skip text or fill the screen with it.  The tendency, in German, to compound words together certainly does make for longer and longer strings of text, that’s for sure, but let’s take the example of the Danish/Swedish co-production Broen|Bron (Bridge) from 2011.  The series opens with a body found on the Øresund bridge connecting Copenhagen to Malmö, right in the middle, so detectives from each city’s police forces, Danish inspector Martin Rohde (Rafael Patterson) and Swedish Saga Norén (Sofia Helin) must cooperate on the case.  The characters, he a gruff, slovenly womanizer and she an autistic, precise, exacting, clueless to social cues and oblivious to common sexual mores, are meant to reflect each country’s perception of the other.  Thus the entire show serves as a sort of split group social catharsis.

It’s a good show, as reflected by the fact that, after having shown it, subtitled, to warm reception, British and French networks Sky & Canal+ teamed up to produce their own version, The Tunnel, starring Stephen Dillane and Clémence Poésy in the British and French roles, as Karl Roebuck and Elise Wasserman, respectively, with similar cross-cultural stereotyping.

Likewise, FX remade the series as The Bridge, for American and Mexican audiences, with the American being the uptight one, casts Diane Kruger and Demián Bichir in the lead roles, again as stereotypes.

Interestingly, the original team wanted to set this on the bridge connecting Detroit to Toronto, rather than El Paso and Juarez, which leaves one wondering what the social contrast would be.  No doubt the American would have been the rude one, which would go against the grain of FX’s parent company’s politics..

The reason I mention all of these is that there are at least four versions (a Russian/Estonian version was made, too) the Germans could have chosen to remake, and they chose not the original Danish/Swedish, but the Anglo-French.  Why this one, one wonders?  Is it that the Germans prefer tunnels to bridges?  Or is it the ease of obliterating English and French dialogue (yes, in a first the original was bilingual) with German versus some difficulty doing the same vandalism to Danish and Swedish, or American English and Mexican Spanish?

Well, that’s the something borrowed, for sure.  Here’s the something new: Crusti Croc Flips:

Crusti Croc Flips

Crusti Croc Flips

These are like Cheetos or any other such extruded corn puff food, but what makes these stand out is the Erdnuss (peanut) variety.  Imagine a low-sweetness version of that peanut-flavoured breakfast serial that you’ve seen other people’s kids eating (Puffins or Gorilla puffs, or Cap’n Crunch).  They’re really quite good, but one feels there must be something wrong here.  Rather than turning orange, one’s fingers feel a little… smudgy?  Not sure how to describe it.

Well, I like them, so that’s what matters.

Poster Impressions — Berlin 2017

Here’s a few images of posters festooning the area around my flat:

Large wall painting, just past the Lidl shop

Astroturfing from Nike, on Bethaniendamm

Kind of want to see this show, based purely on the opening act, Barstool Preachers

More Nike astorturfing

Are these before and after illustrations?

Not a poster, granted, but street art along Melchoirstraße.

Need to know more about this one…

I’ve got no idea

Translates as “The Truth About Monte Verita”

I am trying to get to see The Truth About Monte Veritá, as it sounds right up my alley.  Here’s is how it’s described:

An interactive expressionistic silent movie installation and a live performance, inspired by dadaistic poetry and Rudolf von Labans eight efforts and movement theory, the piece focuses on the artist colony “Monte Verità”, one of the most significant sources of alternative movements in the 20th century and place of utopian escape.

And here’s a video trailer:

Update: I’ve heard back from Dorky Park, and there is a ticket with my name on it waiting for Saturday’s performance.  I can’t wait!! 🙂

Who wouldn’t love to see Pussy Riot?!? Can’t make it, however. Bummer.

The Mourning After

On 06/24/2016 03:13 PM, DB wrote:

You are really in the thick of it. Just reading a bit about it this a.m. Thanks for your blog posts. 


I’d love to hear your interpretation of what this means. Is it the most conservative faction that wanted independence. Is this about immigration as much as anything?

Anyway, enjoy. Looking forward to your next report.

D,
Yes, quite thick things are here.  I’ve just come from the Book Arts Book Shop.  When I got there all the talk was of the collective hangover people feel today about this.  One gentleman had spent the entire past week campaigning for Remain, and said he hadn’t slept yet.  Tanya, the proprietress, complained, “I talked with my neighbours, I talked with my friends.  Everyone I know voted Remain, so what more could we have done?”

She then announced that it was her birthday, and she did intend to celebrate, despite the long faces all around.  I do believe I helped in that undertaking, buying a pile of books.  “I feel like shutting the store and going to celebrate right now!” she exclaimed.  “You say that every time I’m here,” I replied. “That’s because you spend so much.”

My thoughts on this are still resolving.  I think, for the short term, there will be much upheaval.  The financial markets are a mess, and a recession is widely anticipated.  Some have suggested the pound sterling may ultimately lose as much as 30 – 40% of its value, although the BofE seeks to ensure it will not.  The FTSE will doubtless continue to suffer, although at present is up for the week, mostly on the strong pre-Brexit trading volume.

20160624_144543

Cameron’s resignation, pending until a vote can be organized — first within the Tory party, and then, perhaps, nationwide — sets up an epic power struggle.  Boris Johnson, former mayor of London, is widely expected to stand for PM, and just might win.  Meanwhile, in Labour, there is already a call for a vote of no confidence in Jeremy Corbyn, and challenges have been mounted.

This all in just the past few hours.

Scotland have threatened secession, again, but will no doubt succeed this time.  SNP, the standard bearers of Scottish independence, control over 70% of the Scottish parliament, and Scots voted overwhelmingly for Remain.  They feel more tightly bound to Europe than England lately.

Wales, while not asking to leave the UK, have demanded assurances on funding levels.  They feel England forced through this referendum, and even though they voted Leave by roughly 60%, they are now complaining about the effects of that.

And this all in just the past few hours.

See what I mean?  The dust has hardly settled, and already ever sharper lines are being drawn.  France, Holland, Greece, Denmark and more are queuing up to Leave now, too.  If that happens, the entire experiment is as god as over.  Marine le Pen has already called for a French exit, Frexit I guess it will be called, or perhaps Fraisser, to introduce a new, French, portmanteau.  Last country out, please douse the lights!

Similar nationalistic parties are surging all across Europe, and if their main economic and security apparatus crumble and fall away, what is to stop another march towards war?  We already see borders being closed against each other; crude characterizations of the other in the press and campaigns.  Waning religious majorities in France and elsewhere are waking up from decades-long slumbers to discover that in fact a significant portion of their fellow countrymen worship differently than they do.  Intolerance on one side is met with intransigence on the other, and vice-versa.

Then along comes Donald Trump to rub salt in the wounds.  Thank you The Donald.  May you choke on haggis.

UK leaders are variously calling for immediate invocation of Article 50, or a more deliberate course, leaving such actions for the next PM, who, in any event, wouldn’t take office until October, earliest.  The EU, meanwhile, are impatient, like a jilted lover.

A senior EU leader has confirmed the bloc wants Britain out as soon as possible, warning that David Cameron’s decision to delay the start of Brexit negotiations until his successor is in place may not be fast enough.

Martin Schulz, the president of the European parliament, told the Guardian that EU lawyers were studying whether it was possible to speed up the triggering of article 50 – the untested procedure for leaving the European Union.

“Uncertainty is the opposite of what we need,” Schulz said, adding that it was difficult to accept that “a whole continent is taken hostage because of an internal fight in the Tory party”.

“I doubt it is only in the hands of the government of the United Kingdom,” he said. “We have to take note of this unilateral declaration that they want to wait until October, but that must not be the last word.”

Sounds like the UK may come home some day soon to find their clothes dumped on the curb.

Okay, this started out as a note to you, but it seems to have grown into my next blog post.  I haven’t even taken time to enjoy my new artist books yet!  I’ll be sure to share them when I return.

Ciao!

Brexit and Breckage

What hath we wrought, indeed.

It is 8:26 in the morning, and David Cameron has just resigned.  That is not the first fallout from yesterday’s vote for the UK to leave the EU.

“A seismic moment for Britain.” “A crushing, crushing defeat for Britain and for Europe.”  That’s just two of the responses heard on the BBC.

“Shares in Barclays and Royal Bank of Scotland have both fallen by 25%.” shouts the Guardian.  “…the FTSE 100 is now ‘only’ down 400 points, or 6.4%.”

Things started off on a good foot for Remain, with Gibralter coming in at midnight with 19,000 Remain and 822 Leave.  But then came the narrow lead in Newcastle on Tyne, at just 51/49%, much lower than expected; then Sunderland, with a significant triumph for Leave.  With turnout numbers of 65 – 75% across the board.

By 01:00, the pound was in free fall.  After having been bid up to $1.50/£, it quickly fell to $1.34.  This has stabilized slightly, but still hovers near that 30 year low.  Not even during the financial crisis in 2008 did it suffer so.  Gold, on the other hand, and the dollar, are bolstered.

The shit storm here has only just begun.  I worry for my friends. A, Australian by birth, not seeing a future for herself in a non-European UK, talks of returning down under.  El & Is, the brilliant women behind Artellite — parent company of Degree Art and Contemporary Collection — have built a thriving business due in no small part to the open borders and markets of the EU.  Will they be able to continue to exhibit across the continent as they have?  Fraught times ahead.

For myself?  I will mourn the loss my EU citizenship.  I am proud of my UK passport’s banner heading, European Union.  It feels good to be a citizen of these two large democratic blocs, the US & EU. I have not exercised EU citizenship much — visits to the Czech Republic and Netherlands not withstanding — but this Sunday, as I disembark from the ferry in Holland, I will once again exercise the freedom of movement so central to the EU dream.  My UK passport expires April 2017.  Will its replacement contain that EU banner? This is not yet known.  British PM Cameron is expected to invoke a clause to grant a 2 year period during which the ties between UK & EU are fully severed, and my renewal comes during that window.

Enough for now.  “A new day has dawned, in Britain,” the BBC news reader, who has been up all night, just intoned.  Indeed, and that way monsters lay.

My next stop on this European tour is Holland, widely considered to be the next most likely to vote for EU exit.  Sigh…

 

Baby is Brexity


While there are other reasons for the current visit, one is the incipient vote in the UK on exit from the European Union. There’s a lot to unpack in that sentence, so let’s get parsing. And let’s just focus on that independent clause. It is early in the morning — about 2am — on 22 June, 2016. Tomorrow is election day for a single referendum, the wording of which is, “Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?”

First thing to note is that this refers to the United Kingdom, not Great Britain alone, and thus includes Northern Ireland. To remind our readers, Great Britain is the island itself, which contains England, Scotland and Wales. The UK is more completely written “The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.” So even the commonly used portmanteau Brexit (British Exit) is, itself, misleading.

An amusing, or tragic, result of this is that if the vote is Leave, then the border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland will become a 310 mile land border between the UK and the EU, a subject of much consternation amongst the populace on both sides of it (both border and vote).

So our two sides are Remain and Leave, so named due to the ballot choices presented, “Remain a member of the European Union” and “Leave the European Union.” For the record, Pawn comes down firmly on the side of Remain. However, in the interest of fair play and the free flow of information, he last night plopped down in front of the telly with A to watch The Great Debate on BBC|News. Pawn is a citizen by birth of the UK, by way of both his own birth on these shores, in outer London, and his father’s birth here. A is also a citizen by birth, by way of her father’s birth in Northern Ireland, but just as Pawn also enjoys US citizenship, she enjoys Australian. A complex little pot of nationalities were thus present before the LCD screen last night. She may vote as a current resident, I may not as I have not been registered to vote in the UK in the past 15 years (the cut-off term for this election).

While much has been made of Sadiq Khan facing off with Boris Johnson in The Great Debate — the current Mayor of London vs the immediate past Mayor of London; the first Muslim mayor of a European capital vs a WASP career politician of fluid stripes and naked personal ambition; the second generation immigrant product of a British comprehensive education vs. the white scion of the upper-middle class, product of public schools and Eton; Labour vs. Tory (although the Tory head, PM David Cameron, schoolmate of Johnson, is putative leader of Remain); the list goes on — there were actually three person sides in this debate, the other four all being women, and it was these others who really made it interesting.

They were, for Remain, Scottish Conservative party leader Ruth Davidson, and Frances O’Grady, general secretary of the Trades Union Congress; for Leave, Labour MP Gisela Stuart and [Conservative party] energy minister Andrea Leadsom. There was much reminding voters of mum-hood and grand-mum-hood, some of which lead to laughs, and there was much clammouring for the mantle of patriotism (brought flinch from A). Gisela Stuart was quick to remind voters that she herself is an immigrant, when it served her ends to do so, and Boris was quick to remind us of the same (her, not him) when it suited his ends, which were not always the same.

Part of what makes this whole thing so blasted difficult for the public is that it’s all just so ill-defined for so many people. The term Brexit, for example, that portmanteau I referred to above, confuses people who might be forgiven to think this involves just Great Britain, and not Northern Ireland, with the difficulties that introduces (see border, etc.). Brexit owes it’s existence as a term to predecessor Grexit, itself a mashup of Greece and Exit, but that had nothing to do with the EU, referring rather to the possibility of Greece being forced out of the Eurozone, and its Euro currency, governed by the European Central Bank. The UK is part of none of those institutions, having its own central bank (BoE) and currency (pound sterling).

Into the void of public understanding of just who is leaving what pour ready vats of misinformation, carefully (or not) fashioned by the two sides, their backers (bankers, unions, business, Russia, USA, Vladimir Putin, Barack Obama, etc.) and the press. There are so many articles, mentions, debunkings, exposés, exploitations, etc. of this misinformation, it can be hard for even a determined voter to get at the truth.

Boris Johnson and friends, for example, were quick to raise the very real spectre of all of southern Europe — meaning Italy & Greece, but really meaning the commonly referred to PIIGS countries of Portugal, Italy, Ireland Greece and Spain — being forced into the worst depression and recessions since the Great Wars, even though, as with Grexit, that has to do with the Eurozone, of which the UK has no part. It may be an effective scare tactic to point to youth unemployment rates as high as 50% in those countries, which is true, but that has no real relevance to the matter at hand, unless one is stoking fears of mass migration, which, Surprise!, is exactly what they’re doing.

The cause and effect of mass migration is very much at play here, as are its bedfellows, xenophobia, racism, hatred. Witness, for example, the image recently introduced by Nigel Farage‘s United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP):


Those are refugees fleeing war in Syria, by the way, which by International law are protected peoples, but Farage will gleefully use them as a harbinger of huddled brown people flooding the shores of England. And mind you, he’s talking just to England here. Scotland is all too happy to welcome more.

The influx of foreigners which has many here upset are those economic migrants coming from other EU countries, those taking advantage of Freedom of Movement, a central tenet of the EU itself. One can walk into a pub anywhere in this country, so it would seem, and be waited on by a Pole, or other EU migrant. But for maximum effect, Farage focuses not on those other white-skinned people, but on our darker brothers and sisters from less savoury places (remind you of someone, Mr. Trump?).

To be fair, there is plenty execrable behaviour on the side of Remain, too. Cameron has proven himself all too willing in this campaign and others, to resort to blanket statements of untruth and conjecture masquerading as fact, to the extent one wonders just how he ever manages to actually win elections. In spite of his own best efforts, it would seem.

Well, enough of this. It is now past 03:00 and time for my time-shifted brain to go back to sleep. Tomorrow waits on the doorstep, the final day of the campaign, and then comes the vote itself.

I would be remiss, however, were I not to mention the assassination of the late Labour MP Jo Cox, of Yorkshire (yes, that Yorkshire, you Downton Abbey fans) who was shot and stabbed by a crazy man, shouting Britain First! (coincidentally the name of a nationalist, racist party) in Birstall near Leeds. She had come for a “constituent surgery” (think “town hall” meeting) to be held in a library, in her district of Batley and Spen, Yorkshire.


A passionate campaigner for human rights, refugee rights, prevention of war crimes and other humanitarian causes, Cox was also a firm believer in the European experiment, and campaigned strongly in defence of Remain. Her death shook the country in ways large and small, and lead at least one Leave supporting Labour MP to switch her vote. Macabre as it is, in response to her death the financial markets rallied, believing the public revulsion at a political assassination (the first in over 40 years) would bring people back to their senses, as it were.

We shall see, the final vote tally should be in Friday morning…

Make Europe Grate Again

On 06/01/2016, A Friend wrote:

Make America Grate Again
Trump Makes America Grate

And he’ll apparently be making Europe Grate Again, too.

As fans of the London skyline well know, the Brits are fond of naming their skyscrapers, with monikers such as The Gherkin and The Salt Cellar for two distinct smudges on the sky.

30 St Mary Axe (The Gherkin)

The Shard, Southwark

Another recent entry is Leadenhall Building, otherwise known as the Cheese Grater:

Give it a fuzzy orange/pink doo, and we can call it Trump Tower Europe.

But enough of this urban history.  I am leaving in a couple of weeks for 15 days in Europe, starting 21 June in London.  This means I will be there when newly elected Mayor of London, Sadiq Kahn debates his predecessor Boris Johnson on the Beeb that evening, on the topic of whether or not the United Kingdom should remain within a United Europe.

Sadiq Kahn & Boris Johnson

Sadiq Kahn & Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson, so like Donald Trump in so many ways (but who once said, “The only reason I wouldn’t go to parts of New York is the very real risk of meeting Donald Trump” after Trump claimed that New York, London & Paris had areas so unsafe even the cops wouldn’t go there) is arguing the Leave side on the so-called Brexit issue.  Sadiq Kahn, the first Muslim mayor of a major European capital, and currently riding a crest of popularity, will argue the Stay side.

One might expect that PM David Cameron be tapped to stand for Stay, but he’s not as popular, and is especially ham fisted when it comes to persuading the public on his case.

Of course such a portentous topic has politicians coming out of the woodwork.  We have Labour stalwarts Blair (the war criminal) and Brown (who’s dudgeon has rarely been higher) on the side of Stay, and just recently we heard from the only living Tory ex-PM, John Major, who delivered this retort to claims by Johnson & team that they have only the UKs best interests at heart, in this case the National Health Service, which they’ve claimed could receive £100m/week in new funding on Brexit:

“The NHS is about as safe with them as a pet hamster would be with a hungry python,” Major said on BBC1’s The Andrew Marr Show.

He added Johnson was a “court jester” but not a serious politician and said that the Conservatives Johnson had divided would not be loyal to him after leaving the EU.

Hmm, doesn’t that last graph sound familiar?

Meanwhile Bertie Ahern, former EU president and three-time Northern Ireland PM says get ready for some Trump-style walls:

We are not talking about freedom of movement between the Irish and the British. If the UK leave the EU we are talking about both EU citizens and non-EU nations still seeking a way into Britain. And the only land border between a post-Brexit Britain and the EU is on this island.

If you follow the logic of the likes of Boris [Johnson] on the issue of immigration I cannot see any other way they can fulfil their promise to control the numbers coming into the UK unless they set up border controls between the north and south on this island. That would be a catastrophe in terms of business and the movement of people every single day north and south on the island.

There are for example 200 unapproved rural roads linking the north and the south. Are the out camp seriously suggesting migrants won’t use these roads to get into Northern Ireland and then try to reach Britain?

So I will get to London on 21 June, the debate is that evening and the vote follows two days hence, on 23rd.  Teeth will grind and nails will be bitten, until results are announced the next day.  What else happens the next day?  Well The Donald, the only man in politics with more ridiculous hair than Boris Johnson, will swoop down on Scotland to occupy his newly reopened resort there in an attempt to further buttress his foreign policy chops.

So before I leave for Europe I need to find a good anti-Trump pin or two.  I’ve already had the experience of being there back in 2000, during that terrible time between when the people finished electing Al Gore and the Supreme Court decided otherwise, when I was constantly being asked how my countrymen could have been so stupid.

By the way, after this stint in London, it’s off to Amsterdam and then, before my return, Brussels, home of the EU government, which should be a really interesting place to be following Brexit/16, no matter which way the vote goes.

And no, despite Pawn’s British birth and citizenship, I cannot vote in this referendum, as I haven’t lived there for the requisite 6 months prior to the vote.