All posts by Graham Lithgow

Perpetually befuddled miserabilist.

The return of Farage and why we simply must make plans for Nigel.

While it’s been a rather mundane time in the weeks just gone by, what with the majority of Parliament swanning off to the very same sunlit uplands we’re on course to be diametrically opposed to this time next year, you may recently have noticed a rather disconcerting shift in the relatively calm political winds – suddenly tugging at your hat with irksome insistence as the nostalgic yet foul stench of jingoistic twattery begins to seep once more into your nostrils. What could it possibly mean?

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The worst comeback since leprosy, that’s what.

Yes, the repugnant pong of duplicity could only herald the arrival of one man – Nigel Farage. His much teased return to “front line politics” has only increased in terms of inevitability as public mood gradually shifts against Brexit, though many would justifiably argue that a seven time electoral loser deemed too toxic to have any involvement in the official Vote Leave campaign (trust me, this fact only gets more hilarious with hindsight) was only really ever on the periphery of the Westminster bubble. However that’s always struck me as somewhat of an irrelevance. While his eternal failure to get his hands on an glossy parliamentary seat all of his own is undeniably hilarious, I can’t help but suspect that firing snide potshots into the perpetual chaos of Parliament from the relative safety of the sidelines is exactly how he likes it.

Let’s face it, why wouldn’t he? Obviously there’s been some degree of scepticism as to whether he’s still the potently iconoclastic political saboteur he once was, a viewpoint entirely at odds with the joyous celebration amongst his hardcore base – dancing with the unbridled delight usually associated with Captain Scarlet joining you in the ongoing war of ideals.

The former, more grounded perspective is perhaps the more rational – after all, the public are arguably becoming more savvy to the tricks employed by Farage and his cronies is pursuit of the ultimate Brexit deception. What possible sophistry is there left that would penetrate the public’s collective fortifications of mistrust? Promise a second, even more elaborately ostentatious unicorn?

The truth however, is somewhat less idealistic. From the standpoint of an tragically naive optimist, the public would be sufficiently incredulous to recognise that the fabled unicorn will be little more than the exact same shabbily behorned pony from before – only this time coming equipped with a hastily scribbled go-faster strip across its back and the discarded motor from a derelict Ford Focus jammed up its rectum.

However in practice past deception is unlikely to hinder Farage as much as his opponents may have hoped. Sure, Nigel won’t be bringing anything new to the table. It’ll be the exact same untruths he belched out before and he certainly won’t be bringing a viable Brexit masterplan to proceedings anytime soon; but the reality as to why is simple – he doesn’t need to.

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Brexit’s rather simple when you’ve got no accountability whatsoever.

The reasoning behind this is twofold – firstly, despite being a considerable catalyst for Brexit sneaking the referendum amidst David Cameron’s disgraceful complacency, it isn’t really his problem. While true that it’s a damning indictment on his moral responsibilities as an alleged human being, in practical terms he’s holds no tangible sway in Westminster beyond that of an agent provocateur – leaving him free to sit back, light up a fag and gallivant across the globe endorsing suspected paedophiles.

There may well be a case that the public perception of Farage, already teetering on an incredibly dubious footing, could sour irrevocably, but that seems distinctly unlikely any time soon – at least in terms of him becoming a persona non grata for the entire universe. Ultimately, he’s not the one pulling the strings that yield significant consequence and there’s no reason for him to stick around as the shit inevitably torpedoes into the fan – with Nigel largely shielded from the ensuing splatter as cabinet ministers bear the overwhelming brunt of the proverbial faecal bullet. There’ll be damage, but Farage is used to playing the villain; a few newly formed patches of brown upon but one of his innumerable tweed jackets won’t cause him to lose much sleep. He’ll happily slither off in search of another previously tranquil pond to piss in, a preposterous cackle accompanying every splash of racid urine.

The second reason is considerably less obvious, though has unquestionably played a crucial role in maintaining Farage’s efficacy as a cultural antagonist – the mainstream media being unforgivably toothless.

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As hard as it might be to believe, finding a picture of Nigel Farage appearing on Question Time proved remarkably easy.

Despite proudly establishing himself as a man who holds the mainstream media with the same disdainful contempt you would a genital wart, they’re surprisingly keen to have him on. The word on the street is that he’s “box office” – chortle worthy perhaps, but they’ve definitely got a point. Farage does have a certain expertise when it comes to drawing your attention – much in the way you’d sit up and take notice if he suddenly sauntered into your house whistling a tune from the Hitler Youth back catalogue, before proceeding to burn down your living room and throw your dog out the window. He creates outrage – and there’s nothing that quite draws the crowds like a chance to add our voice to a screaming cacophony of collective disgust.

While never shy to champion their own sense of morality, the ratings game will take precedence every time – hence why television studios across the land continue to roll out their comfiest chairs and (seemingly) least inquisitive interrogators to lob soft-balls in perpetuity for Nigel to wallop towards a swarm of Romanian immigrants that only he can see; basking in their staggering hospitality like the anti-establishment folk hero he so obviously isn’t.

With the quest for viewers established firmly in your mind, it’s of little surprise to see Farage receive the kid glove treatment. He’s fully aware of the leverage he holds, it’s entirely within their mutual best interests to keep him relatively sweet – even if it’s an experience akin to chomping down on a vinegar soaked lemon.

As contemptuous as his apparent omnipresence is however, I’m not especially opposed to him being involved in the discussion – providing said discussion includes a thorough cross examination of Nigel’s spurious claims and distasteful rhetoric via the intellect of a well informed and incisive mind.

Yet that’s where our media fails us most of all.

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Honestly, watch the whole thing. It always cheers me up.

Have a listen to this. Or this. Or even this chucklesome number. Now compare and contrast Nigel’s lamentable performance with that of pretty much any one of his 68.7 billion Question Time appearances for the BBC. Quite the difference, isn’t there? Gone is the self assured smarm, drowning out all attempts at scrutiny with the odd toot of his trusty dog-whistle and allowing him to filibuster his way to a different question. Instead we see an anxious man, his ignorance and deceit laid bare by the smarts of a keen mind and a steely determination to prevent any desperate attempt at derailment. He stammers, he misdirects, he ends the call or requires his press officer to come in to bat for him – and it’s fucking hilarious.

So why don’t see more of this particular Nigel – his leathery hide shimmering with an anxious sweat as his poisonous artifice is ruthlessly castrated by a factually based argument?

Simple. It’d be of no benefit to the players involved – whether it be Nigel or the media. If Farage is torn a superfluous rectal cavity upon the second his original arse-chute comes into contact with the Sky News sofa, he wouldn’t show up. Nor would the many viewers his divisive presence brings. Sneers or cheers, the TV executive doesn’t much care – as long as you’re watching.

It’s often said that the best way to expose a charlatan is to let him speak and subsequently dig his own grave. There is indeed an element of truth in this but, without a vociferous and robust counterpoint to deliver the coup de grace and ultimately bury them, we’ll still end up duped – collectively standing in front of an empty grave wondering how the hell he got away with it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Impotent chest-beating, insidious tossery and the hopeless descent into the Brexit void

With Parliament pissing off on their summer jollies for 48 days, you could be forgiven for assuming that we’d be in for a period of respite from the usual deluge of disingenuous fuckwittery flooding the political discourse with empty promises and excruciating sloganeering. However, much to everyone’s dismay, it turned out that there is one, pus laden boil on the arsecheek of humanity still lingering in the shadows to exude that familiar smog of deceit into an already tempestuous atmosphere:

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Achieving the “easiest trade deal in history” is quite tricky when you’re impossibly inept.

Yes, that is the disgraced Liam Fox MP you’re witnessing above, advocating for an entirely different reality than the one of staggering complacency he attempted to portray just under a year ago. Naturally this is little more than brazen political gamesmanship designed to hoodwink the apparently unwashed into buying into an idea that will exclusively benefit Liam Fox and his cabal of independently wealthy bastards – and, on at least some perhaps superficial level, pretty much everyone is aware of this deceit. Sure, it’ll provoke howls of derision from the perpetual abyss of unbridled outrage known as social media – but it’ll soon be superseded by the next obnoxious meme or Boris Johnson accidentally poisoning an entire reservoir by way of his own rancid piss, leaving the previous beacon of contempt to inconspicuously vanish into the ether; forever escaping tangible accountability.

So far, so standard. Politicians being duplicitous scumfucks has been the case ever since they first slithered into our realm but, while our previous passivity may have led to us being played for saps on many an occasion, the hustle was nevertheless played out against a backdrop of stability. It always helps to have the safety net of economic and diplomatic security when you don’t know what the fuck you’re doing – that’s just logical.

However that’s all about to change. Not only is the aforementioned net about to be ripped away from underneath us, it’s being removed entirely at our own behest. An act of madness certainly though, rather disconcertingly, one of which the true consequences are yet to be fully understood and appreciated by the general public – myself included.

This is perfectly understandable. After all, how would we know any different? We’ve spent decades living a relatively cossetted existence which, while not exactly utopia, at least afforded us fully stocked supermarkets and a nationalised health system to stitch us back together. As a man ever hurtling towards the eternally dreaded thirty mark, it’s certainly all I’ve ever known. I can appreciate a crumbling society on a conceptual level, but it remains lost to me viscerally; a lack of experience I suspect shared by the majority.

This is probably why propagandist appeals to my elbow grease gland like the one below, have little to no effect on my ilk.

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I may be totally clueless with regards global economics, international diplomacy and basically as to how anything even works – but it’ll all be fine based on my not being alive to shoot down German fighter planes 70 odd years ago.

Yes, that’s right. Over two years on from the referendum and with the nation sliding ever towards the Brexit abyss, the level of pro-Leave debate still hasn’t evolved beyond the point of slapping an ostensibly reputable face alongside suspiciously shallow yet unmistakably cretinous platitudes.

While somewhat baffling, the reason behind this remains relatively simple – there just isn’t a logical argument for Brexit being a better path than the one we were previously treading. It would be nothing short of unrealistic to anticipate one, what with the prospect being terminally crippled through lack of supporting facts – creating a task akin to constructing an international high speed rail network spanning the entire globe exclusively out of bread. A tantalising concept for a hungry dreamer forever lost amidst the clouds perhaps, but not exactly compatible with any known reality.

So, ultimately, what other choice do the Brexit propagandists have? Those that have dared to stick their head above the parapet and present some form of reasonable argument found themselves eviscerated like shit in a blender – not the most dignified of positions to find yourself in, I’m sure you’ll agree.

Still, jingoistic tub-thumping and bizarre nostalgia for a thoroughly miserable past will only stave off those pesky, inquisitive questions for so long – so what else can you do? With another distraction needed, maybe a scandal will work? Something to anger the plebs to such a degree that their memories of concern will become lost amidst a haze of righteous outrage; but where could we find a toad so unscrupulous as to sacrifice what’s left of their soul to such a caper?

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Yes, that should do it.

Of course, it had to be Boris – it could only be Boris. Say what you like about the bulbous bumblefuck but he’s a master of creating a convenient disturbance – and when scrutiny looms Boris hurls a handful of shit at the nearest fan without so much as a moment’s hesitation. Sure, there’s bound to be some amount of splashback for old Boris; people will justifiably hound him for his intentionally inflammatory babblings, but they’re just words – empty yet wonderfully intangible words. That’s not to say they can be utilised without repercussion but, if you’re sufficiently weaselly, chances are you’ll be able to nudge your insidious agenda far enough over the boundary while still being within touching distance of cover – albeit a shoddily assembled picket fence made up of semantics and misdirection; but at least empty, political spiel is easier to defend than an absurdly risky diplomatic proposal.

In actuality, this is perhaps the gravest concern of all. That such ham-fisted filibustering nevertheless manages to succeed in averting the allegedly unremitting gaze of public scrutiny. It may be mocked, it may be derided but, effectively by way of omission, it’s accepted – and that’s really not good enough.

Time is running short, desperately so. Yet our understanding of what awaits us is demonstrably lacking – and that’s just the politicians attempting to steer the ship while drunk on their own hubris. On every cognitive level you can fathom, it should be drowning out your internal monologue with piercing alarm bells; but the alarms barely sound – as though the stench of detached disdain emanating from the bubble of Westminster has anaesthetised us to such an extent that we’re but helpless drones, ever sleepwalking into a void we can’t even begin to perceive.

 

 

Boris Johnson – A man of many faces, none of them Churchill

Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson –  a man of the people if you ever did see one. Or at least, that’s the characterisation he’s long since been desperate to convey. Sure, he may on the face of it come across as an especially ostentatious clod from a mercifully undiscovered Dickensian novel but don’t be fooled – “Bozza” is most definitely one of you.

Look. He plays football and everything:

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The Brexiteer approach to international diplomacy in five seconds.

As preposterous a scheme as it may indeed be, you can’t really blame Boris for indulging. The political class have always had an image problem amongst the great unwashed, with perceptions ranging from mere distrust to full blown disgust. Cut adrift in the impenetrable Westminster bubble, they couldn’t possibly understand the endless tribulations of the average Joe. I mean how could they? Joe’s life has been defined by endless toil and back breaking graft – a existence complete with worry, financial strife and a disconcerting sense of isolation; as if the prosperous spectrum of society isn’t just a world away, but an exclusive club he’s irrevocably cut adrift from.

Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson’s formative years however, looked somewhat like this:

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If you look really closely, you can just about make out the knife Boris used to stab Cameron right in the fucking back tucked away up his right sleeve.

With this in mind, the strategy for Boris was fairly simple – if he wished to elevate his standing with the British electorate beyond that of the average cynical careerist, the only recourse was to sell the fabrication that, despite his astonishing privilege, he’s really just your average salt of the Earth bloke. Unfortunately, convincing the plebs that a man born with a silver ladle lodged down his gullet is actually an easily relatable bundle of effervescent empathy is quite the challenge, which is perhaps why Bojo has always seen fit to ramp up the absurdity at every possible opportunity. Zip-wiring, clowning, writing a heartfelt sonnet about the Turkish Prime Minister penetrating a goat – you name it. If it plays with the shit munchers, then dignity is superfluous. Anything to maintain the image that Boris Johnson is a jovial figurehead for the proletariat, bursting with patriotic pride and a heartfelt desire to put a smile back on the faces of his subjects.

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Look at Boris. He’s just as stupid as the rest of us.

The trouble is, that’s not true is it? Not even fucking close. Of course, highlighting Boris’ duplicity now isn’t quite the newsflash it would have been pre-referendum. As he bumbled out of his residence the morning after the night before, he was met with a reception more befitting of a reviled criminal than the nation’s favourite buffoon – perhaps aptly. The mask of endearing chucklefuckery had been definitively ripped away and with the subsequent sight of Johnson delivering his “victory” speech with all the burgeoning triumph of a catatonic potato, many wondered what the future held for old Bozza.

To the surprise of nobody, it contained copious amounts of surreptitious skulduggery.

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Do the phrase “pyrrhic victory” mean anything to you?

It is indeed true that, in the wake of calling a close to his own leadership bid, Boris was rather conspicuously off the grid. Having fallen victim to an appropriately undignified ‘Boris-ing’ courtesy of alleged chum Michael Gove (who in turn managed to suitably ‘Gove’ up his own prime ministerial ambitions by failing miserably), whenever he did emerge from his lair into the public gaze, he cut a considerably castrated figure – the proverbial sad clown if you will.

Sadly, this self imposed media exile was not to be permanent and, with post-referendum disgruntlement having widened its reach across the entire, ever expanding swamp of deceit Brexit was fast becoming, Boris saw explicit opportunity in May’s failings to instil himself as a de facto figurehead of opposition within the minds of the Brexiteer horde – all the while being able to exploit Theresa’s hierarchical superiority to form an especially convenient shield as he fired potshots from the relative safety of the Foreign Office.

Boris was indeed back. Regrettable certainly, not least because it signalled the distressing rebirth of an especially sickly string to Boris’ bow – pseudo Churchillian wankery.

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Boris Johnson arranged a photo-shoot to commemorate the signing of his resignation letter. No really, he did.

Look at him. It’s like a little boy playing dress up, isn’t it? One expects him to have rehearsed that very pose throughout many long and lonely nights in the Foreign Office, as if in preparation to fulfil a self imposed sense of destiny.  The lofty reverence in which Boris regards Winston is clear as day – and his apparent desire to leech off the Churchill mythos to bolster his very own cult of personality is as laughable as it is cynical.

There’s a sense of grim predictability about all of this. Boris’ irrepressible desire to lead was universally confirmed the moment he shafted Etonian ally Cameron, effectively placing himself in direct opposition by leading the fight to leave. In practical terms, it’s proved entirely inconsequential that the man who drafted an essay in support of Remain the day before proclaiming himself a fervent Brexiteer is operating completely within his own self interest. The cynicism attached to his every move is, remarkably, met with begrudging acceptance rather than justified outrage; though perhaps the shock factor is significantly lessened when his infuriating solipsism is considered an open secret – just “one of those things”.

It is, of course, no surprise to bear witness to Boris’ latest not at all transparent attempts to slither into the Number 10. It’s merely part of the Boris Johnson cycle – and absolutely everyone knows exactly what’s going on. Though there is a troublesome irony to seeing him warble out his best Winston during a resignation speech to the House of Commons, the watching masses being acutely aware that the entire farce was overwhelmingly inspired by deep-seated instincts of profound cowardice; ever lingering in the murky depths of Boris’ lamentable being.

In truth, there’s only one phrase that adequately sums up Johnson’s game plan – chaos exploitation. Ever waiting in the wings, leering over a the carnage (which, quite likely, was of his own creation), eternally on the lookout for an opportune moment to swoop in and be heralded as a savoir – increasing his favour with the masses, edging a few more inches up that disgustingly greasy pole before fleeing into the shadows relatively unscathed, moments prior to the dysfunction levels reaching critical mass.

It’s often been said by an assortment of unpardonable cretins that “it would be a RIGHT laugh if Bozza was in charge!” and that may indeed be so – at least on the most superficial level imaginable. Laughter is widely considered to be a vaguely effective treatment to unrelenting misery and there’s most certainly a fairly receptive market to pompous buffoonery somewhere out there. But, as with laughter only serving to distract from considerably more tangible personal struggles, the inevitable Boris Cavalcade of Clownery will be nothing more than a mere sideshow to the clusterfuck originated by a man who most probably left the notion of integrity back in his mother’s womb.

Guffaw all you want the next time Boris becomes marooned on a zip-line or tumbles down a well. After all, Boris would most certainly approve. As every shyster knows, the sound of uproarious laughter is the perfect cover under which to hurriedly exit stage left. Boris won’t want anything to do with the mangled corpse of our nation once his master-plan of chaos exploitation has reached its natural conclusion.

Nor will you once the laughter dies down.

Donald Trump in the UK – The shit, the bad and the even worse.

Hear that? The sound of obsequious fuckwittery is in the air – and there’s no prizes for guessing as to the owner of the wretched orifice it’s spilling from:

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Lucky old Nigel won’t be needing the Viagra tonight.

Yes, the world’s foremost dayglo shitgibbon has finally come to visit – and eternally perplexing cretins nationwide couldn’t be happier. The Donald has arrived, bringing with him such a dominant aura of undeniable leadership that we Brits are set to be rendered catatonic with awe – simply bowled over by his magnificence.

Or at least, that’s what you’d think if you were to buy into the absurdist narrative being spun by the jokers over at Leave.EU. In fairness, the general coverage the mainstream news have put out there seems somewhat balanced – at least to my cursory glance – but the ever befuddling bumblefuck does indeed have some rather prominent cheerleaders polluting the ranks of UK media.

Perhaps none quite as prominent as one Piers Morgan.

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Fake news. He’s actually a cunt.

Regrettably, we all know who Piers Morgan is – eternally tedious, chronically unpleasant and perpetually resembling the most perplexed slab of mutton the world has ever seen. Basically, for the benefit of the somehow uninitiated, he’s a bit of a tit. Perhaps surprisingly however, he’s actually a tit with a rather sticky path awaiting him.

Owing to his inexplicable presence on a prominent morning show, Piers has to tread somewhat of a fine line. The inner thoughts of Donald J. Trump are such a cacophony of bile laced bullshit that something impossibly offensive is bound to eventually slip out and, given how Piers has rather tragically been attempting to sell himself as “Donald Trump’s British friend”, he finds himself trapped between two entirely incompatible desires. On one hand, he quite obviously doesn’t want to upset Trump – being a mindless lick-spittle to an idiot is clearly very important to him; but his level of fame (and indeed, infamy) is something he clearly relishes and his gig on Good Morning Britain is a key part of sustaining it. He can still be the impossibly obnoxious vat of rancid sputum we all know him to be but, when it becomes to toeing the Trump line which often strays beyond the pale, he’s left with no option but to be evasive and indirect – hence the infuriatingly constant misdirection he’s forced to employ here.

Still, a few cretinous ballbags aside, the prevailing mood towards Trump tends to be one of overwhelming negativity. This in of itself has led to a considerable headache for the British government. Severely weakened and alarmingly isolated having not yet kicked Brexit into the long grass, Theresa May and her cronies have a hell of a lot riding on being able to schmooze a vaguely respectable trade deal out of the United States and Trump’s pathetically fragile ego is understandably a cause for grave concern. Whether by way of self delusion or simply a nefarious yearning to irritate the fuck out of the entire planet, Donald effectively proclaims himself to be the single greatest human being to ever exist; a bubble of blissful ignorance which would run a significant risk of being resoundingly punctured by an especially irreverent stunt.

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Somehow, this absurd creation manages to look more real than Donald actually does.

Naturally, both the British establishment and Mr Trump’s handlers will currently be largely preoccupied with shielding him from anything which lay external to his own brain, in turn exposing the delicious irony of an allegedly fearless leader requiring protection from a balloon.

What awaits us over the next few days is anyone’s guess. We’ve already been treated to a masterclass of evasion by way of incoherence prior to his arrival, who knows what soul eroding nuggets of witless bloviation are in store? Perhaps fortunately, the general public won’t really have to deal with the bilious buffoon too much – at least beyond the indignity of temporarily sharing a landmass with him – but there’s an extremely high likelihood that Theresa May’s entire political future hinges on somehow gaining a result from the Donald. Given that Trump is apparently a man whose whims oscillate with each and every Fox and Friends story, this is indeed a high risk strategy with little chance of ultimate success but alas, the Brexit rod currently fused to her spine has left her with little in the way of alternatives.

Still, in the event of seemingly inevitable failure, at least she won’t be the only one left unhappy.

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Prominent cock finds himself cockblocked.

As for my perspective, I’m afraid it’s one of confusion. Not with regards my personal feelings towards Trump – I regard him as an irredeemable cuntbadger who thinks nothing of curling out a faecal mound of misery at a moment’s notice – but rather my perplexion is a result of his many sycophants.

Despite my staunch opposition to Brexit, I at least “get it”. I can see how, if exposed enough to the right narrative, you could find yourself thinking that perhaps escaping those nasty old bureaucrats in Brussels is a recommended move – but with Trump there is nothing; not a single, solitary foothold of understanding as to how anyone could legitimately admire him.

I accept that there’s almost certainly an element of being at least partially blinded by my own bias at play here, but it isn’t as though I’ve not tried to understand the appeal in being led by a blathering ideologue who apparently lacks even the faintest understanding as to how reality even functions. It’s just that the cult of Trump has remained entirely impenetrable to myself thus far.

Sadly, this has left me in a rather uncomfortable spot. Usually I like to at least attempt to draw some sort of conclusion whenever I cobble together a ramble, but in this case I’m left almost entirely empty handed – I simply cannot make sense of it. When presented with a man so unfathomably reprehensible, any chance of a morsel of empathy perhaps awakening within my brain is immediately and resoundingly shut down by disgust. While I accept that (as with pretty much all analysis) both sides of the debate are partial to hyperbole and bias, even when viewed through the most objective lens I can rustle up the evidence towards Trump being a deranged ignoramus is impossible to ignore.

Perhaps it’s just not meant to be understood. The adulation Trump receives from certain quarters might not make any sense to me but hey, nor does life itself and, unfortunately, I suspect this is the only conclusion I’m likely to ever muster.

That and the increasingly prominent yearning for a lobotomy of course.

Life, death and the tribulations of a total beginner.

Death is fortunately something I’ve not become particularly accustomed to over the years. For all my embittered grumblings, fate has at least smiled upon me to the extent where I’ve not had to cope with the sudden loss of a loved one – the sole exception to this being my grandmother passing when I was four years old.

As undoubtedly a traumatic time for the family as this was, having occurred entirely out of the blue as she was enjoying her mid fifties watching her young grandchildren grow, I myself was at such a tender age whereby somebody departing your life forever remained a concept my then infantile mind simply lacked the capacity to even consider, let alone grapple with. I could see the upset all around yet the gravity still eluded me. Some would perhaps say I was fortunate to have had my shield of childish ignorance but alas, twenty five years later it is with some regret that my memories of Grandma are painfully limited. All that remains are a few hazily recollections, a yearning for a family member I had little chance to know and a lingering memory of the moment I was informed her “batteries had run out”.

It’s fair to say this bubble of naivety remained intact for some time – just under two and a half decades in fact. Not to say heartache has entirely passed me by; I’ve had my fair share of angst, experiencing the many different flavours on offer, but I’d yet to consciously experience that most despairing of sensations – a much cherished loved one departing; suddenly and irrevocably.

That all changed this past weekend when my grandfather died.

I’ve since discovered the existence of a certain curiosity which occurs in the immediate aftermath of an elderly and frail relative finally succumbing to time. While the accompanying sadness is an obvious inevitability, you’d think the shock would be lessened by circumstance. Grandpa, already in hospital after a fall at home had left him with a broken hip, did regrettably bear the look of a man whose time here was drawing to a close. Severely hampered by the stroke he suffered nearly two decades ago and having soldiered on beyond the ninety mark, he’d been hanging on in there for a hell of a long time.  However my mental fortifications, with decades of preparation behind them for the eventuality of his death, were immediately and resoundingly breached the moment my mum uttered the words “Grandpa has passed away”. Irrespective of the objective likelihood indicating that such news was increasingly inevitable with each day that ticked by, the shock was none the less palpable – excruciatingly so.

Expected or otherwise, the reality of the situation had been set in stone – he was gone. Having awoken to an admittedly imperfect world, at least it was a world in which the people who meant the most to me were all present and correct; but now there’s a painfully notable absentee and, in the company of my parents, I was on the way to say my final goodbye to him.

It was a good forty minute drive to the hospital, though I find myself being unable to recall a single detail. To the passing observer I likely resembled a man struck dumb by catatonia yet my stupor, as outwardly tranquil as it may have appeared, wasn’t especially representative of the desperation in my mind; lurching from one suddenly bittersweet memory to the next, all the while attempting to scrape together a case for the current predicament somehow all being a figment of my own imagination.

Alas, it was in vain and the grave circumstances remained sadly unchanged; thus ensuring a fear I’d held for nearly twenty years had finally been realised.

It was perhaps unsurprising that I held such worries. His stroke way back in the year 2000 had somewhat fittingly coincided with my own cognitive realisation that, at eleven years old, life was more than just computer games and aimless bike rides. Seeing Grandpa suddenly struck down mid retirement grimly confirmed within my young mind that the onset of tragedy wasn’t just possible, but would inevitably befall people I know; people I cared about.

The change in him was stark and, ultimately, permanent. Gone were the days of him letting me win at cricket for hours on end, punctuating each session with an apparently inexhaustible supply of off the cuff tales detailing his days as England’s top spin bowler – every once in a while slipping in offhand remarks implying that he’d actually invented cricket during the war. This era had, sadly, come to an abrupt end.

As if as a thanks for the endless patience he had afforded myself, the sorest of sore losers, I was fortunately mature enough to adapt to Grandpa’s new needs. There was to be no pestering for him to indulge in the every ridiculous whim of my eternally distracted brain, though this perhaps more down to the lingering sense of heartache I felt whenever I bore witness to his condition than any wisdom beyond my years. Once the effortless raconteur, ready to unleash a hilarity inducing one liner at a moment’s notice, he now found himself confined largely to silence – with nearly all subsequent attempts at conversing tailing off after no more than a couple of strained words in a midst of tears and endless frustration. Severely restricted movement will have been a bitter enough pill to swallow for a man who loved nothing more than a long ramble in the countryside accompanied by his cherished dogs, but it was his inability to communicate that undoubtedly pained him the most. One of the sharpest minds I’d come across was now forever hindered, almost entirely hidden away with nothing but time to originate the most wonderful of zingers that he’d rarely be able to express.

It is this acknowledgement of suffering that mum immediately recognised and seized upon in a bid to soothe my grief:

“He’s at peace now. You know he’s not been happy for a long time, he wanted this.”

She was right, he did. As if the initial stroke hadn’t been crippling enough, a further one had followed – and age had only served to assist with the deterioration. While there was always happiness in his eyes whenever he saw family had come to visit, there was also a sadness present. Having once been the life and soul of each and every Christmas gathering, fate had consigned him to a role of increasing (and indeed, involuntary) passivity. It had gotten to the stage where even the yearly card game was beyond him. Granted he retired the champion, having sat proudly at the head of the table with a tea cosy on his head (a prize inexplicably awarded to the winner, as well as a garment I had little contact with), but as the years had rolled on it was yet another of his few remaining pleasures that time had regrettably taken away.

However, despite recognition that his torment was finally over, it did little to soften the blow of what I was about to witness. Having finally arrived at the hospital and rendezvoused with family already present in the adjoining Costa, it was now time to see Grandpa. For the last time. In any capacity.

I was pretty familiar with the hospital, both from having spent a week there myself some years back and the numerous visits to see my grandparents in recent weeks. You’ll note the plural and it’s not a typo, my grandmother had been in there at the same time with them both suffering separate falls within a day of each other. Accidents aside, her life had also become one of perpetual challenge in recent years, dementia reducing her memory capacity to little more than twenty seconds. Her perception as to where she actually was changed every few minutes, with the only constant line of questioning being to query the whereabouts of Grandpa. This inquiry was often answered with the news that she’d just been taken up to see him no more than ten minutes ago, prompting either dubious acknowledgement or further befuddlement before the scenario was triggered once more moments later. How she’d take the news of Grandpa’s death was beyond anyone, though there was a begrudging acceptance that any pain would be temporary – her memory banks being inadvertently wiped clean within minutes. Perhaps, in this case at least, ignorance would provide some small crumb of comfort.

However she wasn’t present at the hospital at this point. She’d since been moved onto a care home with the round the clock support our family, despite our best efforts, were unable to provide – and Grandpa had been all set to join her. In fact, I was anticipating my next encounter with him to be in somewhat homelier surroundings, albeit distinctly lacking in his favourite armchair. Bidding a final farewell to his lifeless remains wasn’t quite what I’d had in mind.

Yet there I was, stood with both my parents outside an open door desperately trying to maintain some degree of composure. The bed remained cloaked by a dark blue curtain, beyond which lay my grandfather – who I’d been assured was finally at peace. I’d never seen a dead body before and yet beyond that thin veil there was one waiting for me – and it was my Grandpa.

After what seemed like an eternity, a nurse stepped out and motioned for us to enter and say one last farewell.

My dad led the way – he was the son after all – and my mum followed. I was considerably more hesitant, finding myself almost dawdling by way of instinct as opposed to definite intent; though my stupor was immediately shattered by the sound of my father’s reaction. At that point it was now or never; time to say goodbye.

So in I walked, breaking down within seconds in an inevitable deluge of helpless blubbering. It was Grandpa alright, but at the same time it wasn’t. Oh so painfully thin and wrapped up tightly in an obligatory white sheet from the neck down, the brutal reality of what was now most definitely not a bad dream became acutely apparent. His face, while still instantly recognisable as the one which had brought so much joy to my formative years, was now lifeless and bore a complexion not dissimilar to that of a porcelain doll. For the longest time I couldn’t look, instead reduced to sitting in the chair beside his bed with my right hand clinging to his chillingly cold shoulder as the left was attempting in vain to plug the flood of tears.

The nurse had since returned:

“I know this is tough but you’ve got to remember – this isn’t your grandfather. He’s gone now, this is just an empty body. He’s gone to be at peace.”

Admirable intent certainly, but it didn’t especially help. I knew he was gone and that was exactly the problem – I wanted him back here. My dad meanwhile, was now sat in silence, hunched over his father and taking in every last possible moment.

At this moment mum said her goodbyes, thanking him for treating her like a daughter, and urged me to do the same – giving my dad a few moments of precious alone time with his old man.

So I did. Not that I especially knew what to say – anything at that point would have seemed insufficient. Regardless, I picked up whatever fragments of composure I could muster, planted a kiss atop his forehead and managed croaked out how much I’d miss him. All that was left at that juncture was to stumble out the room and slump onto the first chair I could find. That was it – goodbye forever.

The mood in Costa as we rejoined the rest of the family was unsurprisingly sombre. A few smiles were raised as we remembered the good times but these were quickly smothered by a reluctant acceptance of the days events. I don’t remember if I said much; I probably didn’t say anything. I just remained locked in a trance, almost entirely oblivious to the talk of funeral arrangements and how to break the news to my sister who was away with work. These concepts are relatively mundane and an inevitable part of life yet it still didn’t seem real. Perhaps I just didn’t want it to be.

In any event, we said our goodbyes and returned to our respective homes – albeit with one notable stop off along the way: a visit to my grandparents house.

It was only a brief visit. It was even suggested that I perhaps wait in the car for fear of inducing another breakdown, but no – there was one thing I absolutely had to get from that house.

Without word or pause, I made a beeline through the fully furnished yet now unpopulated home to my Grandpa’s study, immediately zeroing in on the object of my desire –  a simple photo of my infant self and Grandpa at my aunt’s wedding.

I knew where it was, it had been on that shelf for years and become somewhat faded by sunlight. There was no way I was going to allow it to become lost when the house is inevitably cleared out and sold off. Now it was safely within my possession, it seemed fitting to wait out the visit sat in the back garden, clutching the photo tightly as my gaze drifted across to the patch of grass upon which we’d played cricket all those years before.

My cousins are both considerably younger than me and, as a result, didn’t ever get chance to know Grandpa prior to his stroke. In fact, the oldest once inquired as to why Grandpa could only sit in his chair all day, physically unable to join in with his youthful shenanigans.

My answer to this was always the same and remains unchanged to this day. While he may have appeared quiet and distant through no fault of his own, it never changed what a wonderful grandfather he was to me. Whether it was time spent sat on his knee as I forced him to read me the same train book for the millionth time, or the impromptu tours of the house he’d treat me and my sister to (in which he’d try and pass off a tatty old vase as a priceless Chinese Ming), those memories with remain both forever unblemished and eternally cherished within my mind – and it is perhaps one of my most sincere regrets that neither of my cousins were granted to opportunity to create their own special memories with Grandpa.

I’m just glad I was so lucky.

Goodbye Grandpa, I’ll always miss you.

Capture

The People’s Vote, Brexit and two entire years of impotent fiddlefucking.

Remember the EU referendum? Sure you do, it was only two years ago. We all vividly recall the respective campaigns, it’s almost impossible not to given the vitriol and division it created. Remain had their tedious approval of the status quo, forever insistent that a failure to heed their message would be met with the most mundane torrent of doom imaginable – and we had Leave contingent, with their somewhat jingoistic proclamation that we should throw off the shackles of supposed EU tyranny and drive a suspiciously mendacious bus over the horizon, ever onward towards a previously untapped land of gumdrops and global prosperity.

As astonishing as it may seem, Remain’s cautionary screed detailing the perils and pitfalls of economic downturn didn’t quite have the same sex appeal as promises of previously unfathomable wealth and a magic unicorn on every driveway – perhaps signifying that Leave’s eventual triumph wasn’t quite the Earth shattering upset it was initially portrayed as.

Michael-Gove
If you consider this sex appeal, just wait until you get a load of Nigel.

Still, whether the apple cart was toppled over or not, Leave had won the PR war and victory was immediately seized upon as the inerrant “will of the people” – with anyone who dared express concern as to the feasibility of this master plan being simply dismissed off-hand as a sore loser, wallowing in their own sense of bitter incredulity.

With this in mind however, it does indeed beg the question as to why today, two years on from a supposedly infallible expression of unyielding intent, thousands of people are taking to the streets of London to decry that very notion, demanding they be afforded some semblance of control.

I’m far from infallible myself, but I suspect it may have something to do with this:

full
Boris can scoff all he wants, at least a bog roll Brexit will afford us the tools to clear up the shit it’ll inevitably leave in its wake.

Yes, that is a real headline; and not from the preposterously backward universe next door. Horrifyingly, it’s from our own.

You likely recall similarly tiresome platitudes polluting the discussion way back in the aftermath of Leave’s victory. While naturally concerning to see figures like Boris Johnson (who days prior had taken to the stage, beaten his chest and declared a national day of independence in the event of his triumph) seemingly at a loss as to what the fuck he was supposed to do, time at least remained just about on our side. Scepticism was obviously rife, not least from increasingly inquisitive Remainers, but joyous Brexiteers were insistent that it’d be figured out in due course.

Two years on however, Vote Leave figurehead Boris Johnson is still marooned in the ‘mindless platitudes’ stage:

bog roll boris
It seems fitting that such a prominent bullshitter would have an inexhaustible supply of toilet paper.

Oh Boris, you cretinous bumblefuck. You sure can craft a soundbite capable of warding off suspicion from the most suggestible of Brexit loyalists, but unfortunately empty rhetoric doesn’t have a morsel of economic value and, consequently, isn’t suitable fuel for what is undoubtedly Britain’s most drastic diplomatic move in decades. Jingoistic bluster may well have swung the referendum, but it’s of no use to the subsequent aftermath – a fact that has become increasingly apparent as the months drifted by without even an iota of tangible progress. Of course that doesn’t stop both leading parties from attempting to create the impression of success, conveniently ignoring that their respective flavours of Brexit have already been unceremoniously spat out by the EU, but they try nevertheless – though it’s little surprise that many haven’t been fooled.

It’s from that very sense of disenfranchisement that the People’s Vote was spawned.

proud

The merits of such a concept are something I’ve touched upon previously, so I’ll spare you an explanation. However, I would like to address the inevitable scorn that has already been doled out by the usual suspects of shitehawks.

shitehawk
Oh look, Julia’s got democracy confused with shopping again.

You can dismiss the marchers as nutters, you can disagree with their politics – but in no way can you claim that they’re enemies of democracy, fiendishly attempting to subvert the nation’s collective will. You may rightly point out that the EU referendum was democracy in action but, as inconvenient to your narrative as it may be, today’s march is too. If Brexit really was the golden ticket to utopia it was advertised as, then there’d be no need for this. People are pissed off and justifiably so. They were told Brexit would improve their lives, heralding a new dawn of democratic accountability and a properly funded NHS – yet after two fucking years we’ve received nothing more than a few risible slogans equating crashing our economy with the desire for a decent breakfast. Ludicrous doesn’t quite cover it.

Look – you can treat the People’s Vote march with as much derision as you please; that’s entirely your prerogative. Sure, the overwhelming majority of attendees likely did vote Remain, but they won’t be alone. A smaller yet no less significant demographic of regretful Leave voters, having borne witness to the rudderless shit-show that Brexit swiftly became, will also be joining the cause – and if “taking back control” really is important to you, I’d recommend you also join the party.

Unless that is, you’d rather listen to Boris Johnson bloviate endlessly about bog roll.

Your choice.

Nigel Farage and the Game of Blame

It’s not nice being lied to. Not only does it signal a distinct lack of respect, needling your self esteem with every word, it also creates a disconcerting sense of confusion – if that’s not the truth, then what is? Life’s already befuddling enough without a disingenuous dickcheese throwing deceit into the mix at the worst possible moment, why make things more difficult for everyone?

That said, despite inhabiting a world ridden with unbridled dishonesty, there is occasional respite. Some lies are easy to spot – lies like this one:

liar
Oh good. We can now add “Brexit dividend” to the list of promises that are never going to happen.

Yeah, that’s our Prime Minister lying to the entire country again. No biggie, right? It’s not as though it doesn’t happen every fucking week or anything. So why make the point of picking out this one in particular?

Well the answer to that one lies not such much in the deception itself, but the reaction to it – specifically what came from the myopic mind of Wormtongue Farage:

nigel
I’m not sure what voters had in mind when voters opted to make Nigel an MEP, but it likely wasn’t to have his own radio show.

No, your eyes are not deceiving you; the supposed “Brexit dividend” really is so ludicrous that even arch Brexiteer and Tsar of Bullshit Nigel Farage will call it out. But why? He’s never had any issue with smearing the discourse with disinformation previously, so why now? Just what is that slippery rascal up to?

It’s fair to say that Nigel’s behaviour has been somewhat curious of late. Previously the foremost proponent of the idea that Brexit would lead us to a glorious future of diplomatic dominance and a robot butler assigned to every home, it was perhaps then surprising to see Nigel shuffle onto a considerably more pessimistic tune.

youfuckinglyingshitrag
What is it they say about liars and being unable to maintain eye contact?

Quite the shift, huh? Certainly not quite the iron clad proclamation that we’d be better off no matter what flavour of Brexit we opt to choke down upon.

youutterliar

See?

But of course, as with every utterance that spills from Nigel’s face rectum, it has to be taken with a lethal dosage of salt. You know he doesn’t believe it, so you’re left with little choice but to look upon proceedings using the same lens as Nigel himself – one of total self interest.

Though, rather than reap the rewards of a utopia he promised, Nigel seems strangely preoccupied with getting himself as far away from Brexit as humanly possible.

farage4

Ah yes, starting the classics. “It’s not Brexit as an idea that’s the problem, they’re just doing it wrong” has been a staple strategy amongst the most cowardly of Brexiteers wishing to avoid accountability. Hell, preposterous chucklefuck Daniel Hannan has been at it for ages. Brexit is dying on its arse and everyone who had previously championed the presently rotting carcass is wasting no time in getting the fuck out of there before the flies swarm in. Gutless – but expected.

However, this yellow bellied act of revisionist trickery rather urgently shines a spotlight upon a considerable failing of today’s news media – a flaw entirely characterised by infuriating impotence.

Brexit is falling apart with each passing day. While yet to be halted dead in its tracks, the already laughable potential for it to be in any way a success is ever dwindling. You’d think that this would be a pressing concern for the nation’s journalists, not normally shy in ramming their fingers into whatever rancid pie they stumble across – yet this indigestion inducing dessert remains oddly untouched, apparently without even the slightest curiosity as to who served up the rather sorry soufflé.

The rationale behind this is both baffling and alarming in equal measure, though as a collective we don’t seem especially perturbed by this – and we really should be.

Nigel lied. Daniel lied. They all lied. Not just to you, but to everyone – without shame or concern. They saw a chance to further their political aspirations and ruthlessly seized upon it; the naive electorate they hoodwinked in order to achieve their aims are of little concern – you voted Leave and that’s all they needed. So what if the Rolls Royce you opted for back in 2016 doesn’t have an engine? Or wheels? Or even seats? Do you really think Nigel Farage is going to be waiting at used car dealership, clutching a cheque for reimbursement?

leave
Say no more.

There you have it, clear as fucking day. Not only is Nigel’s deception indisputable, it’s staggeringly brazen – further underlying a withering contempt for those he ushers down the garden path.

That’s not to say you were stupid for believing him; who wouldn’t sit up and listen when a supposed upgrade is offered up, complete with promises to propel us to global prosperity and beyond? But that’s no excuse to abandon all sense of inquisitive scepticism – especially as there’s precious little time to take the likes of Farage to task before he slithers off into the night.

Whether you agree with my own assessment of Brexit is ultimately an irrelevance here. I’m not asking for your political agreement; just that you at least call into question why the Brexit Rolls Royce you were sold is notably lacking in any sort of warranty before it’s too late.

Because let’s face it – Nigel’s not going to be around to help when you break down on the outskirts of Plymouth.