Saynotoeu? Saynotoshamevents!

The Say No to Eu Tour came to Kessingland. And I went to it – along with three friends. I am definitely pro-European – I am married to one and I want this nation to stay in the European Union. I booked tickets and went along to the event because it was billed as a fair and open debate. I thought it would be interesting and anyway it’s profitable to learn how the other side thinks.

It wasn’t a fair and open debate. This was Ukip staging a show designed to promote them as the good and sensible guys. There were two speakers for each side – all fair and equitable so far. But on the ‘leave the E.U.’ side the speakers were two men, one of them intelligent and articulate – the Ukip Member of Parliament for the East of England Patrick O’Flynn and the other was Ukip Waveney Chairman Simon Tobin, who appealed because he just spoke of local issues (the bridge!!).

On the opposing side – ‘remain in the E.U.’ – was a woman. Enough said. There was never a chance of her getting a platform from which she could expect a listening, respectful audience. This audience, predominantly elderly male, are set in their ways; their wives are at home preparing the cocoa. The speaker, Laura Sandys is Chair of the European Movement UK. She left before the evening was properly finished because – well, what is the point?

Backing her up, on her team, was a local guy. I don’t want to mention his name because all I’m going to do is malign him. He is a Lib Dem local activist. I wanted him to do well; in fact he, for me, was one of the draws of the evening. He is an underdog and traditionally we all want the underdog to win. He came across as an alien doing work experience on planet earth. I tried to listen but if the manner of the speaker obfuscates the message that’s not the listeners’ fault is it?

Politics is dirty. This was a staged event – possibly staged here because of the latent anger over fishing quotas. Patrick O’Flynn did a good job of getting people’s blood up – he made good use of his eyebrows to orchestrate the crowd, whilst seeming to be polite and respectful during the opponents’ speeches.

I saw that the ‘leave’ voters (over 80 % of the crowd) were like an angry, jubilant mob who wanted to be proved right – and they think that they have done that. At one point they shouted and jeered about the Syrian refugees – to further their point that this country is for ‘us’ and we need to keep ‘them’ out – whoever they are. I theorise that many people, when it comes to a debate, choose which side they are on according to their own temperament; they then find reasons to back their choice.

I am looking forward to properly weighted debates. Either that or ghettos could be set up so the voters who don’t want to mix with the rest of the world can happily stay inside them.


Do you know when the mountain goats give birth?

I seem to draw trouble towards me like a magnet attracts iron filings.

I’m talking about work. I have been in this job for about 18 months and I love what I do. But over the past few months tensions have been mounting. It’s not important which organisation I work for or what my job actually is. I have been here before and I am here again.

I was thinking ‘Something has to change’. Things cannot just get more and more tense – something has to give. I want to enjoy work and it was like going to hell every day.

Well, something did give. Like a volcano erupting my department at work has exploded.

Amazement, consternation, shock.

Then I started to understand events I hadn’t understood before. I was getting insight into why my job had become infernal. Then came euphoria. I felt that I welcomed the eruption because it gave clarity.

There is to be a full and formal investigation. I, and others, will be interviewed. I am still feeling that I welcome this as I have nothing to hide. But I have felt dreadful. It’s the not knowing how it’s going to go. The euphoria was short lived and was replaced by angst.

I am reading through the Bible systematically (I should have read it through completely in 3 years). Currently I’m reading Job. It’s a lovely book, not just because of the story but the prose is some of the most beautiful I have ever read. It is a literary masterpiece. I love reading it out loud.

In a nutshell Job is an upright and more than decent fellow but God allows Satan to strip him of everything he has. Satan thinks this will induce Job to curse God. It doesn’t. Job argues and pleads with God but keeps on believing in a loving Father and bringing everything to him. Job’s friends are famous for their misguided, homespun wisdom. They waffle on for days and Job pleads with them to shut up.

Towards the end of the book, just after one of Job’s friends has said that the Almighty is beyond our reach, God speaks. He starts with ‘Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge?’ He goes on, now talking directly to Job – well he explodes. Basically he asks Job ‘Who do you think you are?’ With many examples from the world around us he lets Job know that he doesn’t need anyone’s assistance in running the whole operation.

‘Do you know when the mountain goats give birth?’

Well, no I don’t. Neither does Job – or anyone.

I cried through this and similar verses. And I kept on reading, and crying. It was good crying.

I don’t know what the outcome of the investigation is going to be. But God knows when the mountain goats give birth.

Kim Kardashian doesn’t influence me.

I was listening to a Radio 4 programme the other day. It was about influential women. Those women who have had more influence than most over the way we live – good or bad influence. The names that cropped up were Theresa May, Margaret Thatcher, Victoria Beckham and numerous others.

For women under 23 the most influential woman to colour their lives is Kim Kardashian. Now I have only vaguely heard of her. That’s not surprising, given that people of same or previous generations tend to make us sit up and take note.

I think I know she has a big bottom and a little waist and I don’t want either of those. But, thinking of my granddaughters, I really hope they will aspire to things more important or more fun. I hope they will not spend more than miniscule amounts of time wondering about the circumference of their body parts.

This programme did get me asking myself who has influenced me, female or male. Off the top of my head this is my list:

Mr Boor, Mr Badcock, Jesus Christ, Levi Strauss, my Auntie Audrey, Joan Gowing, Mary Rand, Anita Roddick, Edith Piaf, Rob Clarke, David Bowie, Trish Kirby, my son Angelo, James Taylor, Margaret Mead, Suzan Collins (not that one – the other one), Fyodor Dostoevsky, Iris Murdoch, ┬ámy friend Ann, Yottam Ottolenghi, Maria Montessori, Simon and Garfunkel, Carole Gomez Cornejo and my sister Kay.

Of course a list like this brings to mind all the people I’ve not included. Where’s Mahatma Ghandi? I’ve put my friend Ann so why not my friend Val? She was always ‘Auntie Val’ for my boys – a really good auntie. Because there is an opposite – I had a really bad Auntie Val in my early life. She’s the reason behind my idiosyncrasies of course; why I always bite the corners of sandwiches first and never the middle.

Influences can be good or bad. What’s your list?