18 November 2018
I spent three days in London this week (well, two days plus 8 hours travelling). I’m a bit out of touch with the Big Smoke because I now only go up four times a year for trustees’ meetings, and three times to let a nice man spend five minutes injecting a tiny muscle in my larynx. Having got used to Devon, I realise every time I go to London how the busy bustling city of Exeter isn’t.
London’s always crowded but this time it was bedlam. I reckon I could have walked the 1½ miles from the hotel near the British Museum to the meeting near Charing Cross on the roofs of stationary cars, which would also have avoided my jinksing round all the other people on the pavements who are standing by something really beautiful and getting RSI on their phones. But in Russell Square, under the plane trees, I actually found a couple of molecules of oxygen and inhaled both of them.
Still, I was able to meet my younger son and his wife for supper one evening and my son again the following evening. I also managed to get time to go one of the very few British cinema screenings of the Coen brothers’ latest film (serendipitously showing on the Tuesday afternoon at a cinema close to my hotel) before it went straight to Netflix: ‘The Ballad of Buster Scruggs’. As quirky as all their films with some funny stories and some sad and/or dark stories and occasional outbursts of violence and surreality – definitely in their top ten.
I also discovered that my bus pass wouldn’t open my hotel room door and that, if you drag your case through the gates onto the tube too closely behind the person in front, you have to find somebody at the other end to credit your Oystercard with the difference between the proper fare and what it would have cost if you’d come from Epping.
I avoided the news because the whole Brexit thing is so unbelievable: never in the field of human endeavour has so little been achieved by so many, and taken so long to do it. I did hear that Michael Gove had refused the Brexit job after Dominic Raab had resigned, presumably because he wants the top job when Theresa May is replaced and he doesn’t want to be identified too closely as part of her gang and can’t afford any more cock-ups on his record. (“Do you really think so?” asked Judy, who follows the news assiduously but is a much nicer and less cynical person than I am.)
At one of the trustees’ meetings, I asked if anybody would vote differently if a third (if you count 1975) referendum were held, knowing what we now know about Ireland, international security, migrant workforces, the potential to fragment the United Kingdom as Scotland goes independent, trade barriers, border bureaucracy and controls and other petty details that Dave and Boris forgot to mention and, to my horror, nobody would have changed their vote.
I also heard that some scientist has said that the first person who will live to 200 has already been born. I just hope it isn’t me. Or Gove.
Politics seems to be swinging to the right all over the world and Brazil has recently elected a new president who’s so far out he thinks Genghis Khan was a cissy. Britain has Tommy Robinson (born Stephen Christopher Yaxley-Lennon, though he later disguised himself as Andrew McMaster, then Paul Harris) who has an impressive record of fraud and other criminal activities and has served a 12-month prison sentence for assaulting an off-duty police officer, but some people still think he’s a hero. Mind you, they’re the sort of people who’d carry placards saying ‘Free Tommy Robinson’ and not notice somebody else had added underneath ‘with every bag of manure’.
Which reminds me that, in the Grand Slam of Darts, Gary Anderson and Wesley Harms apparently each accused the other of intimidation by producing particularly noxious farts. There’s a limerick in there somewhere.