18 August 2019
We live in a sad country at the moment. Jeremy Corbyn, who has split his own party, has suggested that he acts as interim prime minister while things get sorted out and refuses to step aside in favour of Ken Clarke, a man with a lot of experience who is widely respected even by many opposition members. And Toby Jones, a young journalist, has been targeted and beaten up by four racist, homophobic thugs.
Meanwhile, Donald Trump is possibly going to make Denmark an offer for Greenland, a self-governing territory of Denmark. Let’s hope Boris Johnson doesn’t get to hear about this because, with all the giveaways he’s been promising while refusing to fund them by increasing taxes, he’s going to have to borrow trillions more. How long before he thinks of selling Trump one of our self-governing territories, like Wales?
Or is Boris betting that Denmark’s Jyske Bank has already found the solution by introducing negative interest rates, so the more you borrow, the less you owe*? On the other hand, we know that Boris’s promises aren’t worth the buses they’re written on.
(Had you thought that, if the referendum had said ‘remain’, we wouldn’t now be having to suffer Johnson as prime minister?)
Since Trump came to power, America has disenfranchised a further 17m people by removing their right to vote; the federal court for North Dakota even upheld a law requiring voters to have a residential street address, rejecting a complaint by a Native American group that the law amounted to voter suppression because many of its members had no such address. Who got there first eh?
I’m not the first to spot this racism – there’s a thingy circulating on the internet showing a photograph of Donald MacRonald pointing and saying “Go back where you came from” alongside a photograph of a Native American saying something like “I have, when are you going?”.
There were also some interesting anecdotes about Trump in the Guardian this week from celebrities who’d met him. They didn’t make him sound like a person you’d trust to clear a blocked drain, let alone play golf with unless you too have a pocket full of spare golf balls and tee off first. For more, see
Arron Banks is another charmer, tweeting that “freak yachting accidents do happen in August” as Greta Thunberg boarded a solar-powered yacht on a zero-carbon two-week voyage to America. Banks attracted a lot of criticism, to which he replied “Obviously I don’t hope she encounters a freak yachting accident!” and “It was a joke …”
What an interesting choice of words: “I don’t hope” she has an accident, rather than “I hope she doesn’t” have an accident… Obviously not a great intellectual, Banks; I wouldn’t trust him to clear a blocked drain.
The choice of language is particularly important when considering mental health and the use of particular words can have a profound effect on people’s lives. ‘Psychosis’ is a good example. Psychosis is not considered an illness in its own right but describes the loss of contact with reality that is symptomatic of some mental health problems and is a typical feature of most forms of dementia.
Many of us will experience pyschosis at some point in our lives and some of us may even choose to seek it out. As Nathan Filer says in ‘The Heartland: Finding and Losing Schizophrenia’, if you try LSD and it doesn’t radically distort your experience of reality, you need to change your dealer.
(I once tried LSD and found it mind-opening, one of the most significant and formative experiences I’ve had.)
As a carer, I now worry more about dementia than psychosis, and about what would happen to my wife if I could no longer take care of her. This means that small things can get out of proportion, like when I realised this morning as I was shaving that I couldn’t remember the French for ‘monk’ though it came back to me 10 minutes later as I was out emptying the dogs (moine since you ask).
What might be more worrying is why I suddenly wanted to know the French for ‘monk’. (Cue an antique joke about monks: a visitor to an abbey on a Friday goes to the kitchen and sees a monk chopping up potatoes. “Are you the chief friar?” he asks. “No,” replied the monk, “the chief friar’s over there, I’m the chipmunk.”)
Also this week, a 15-year-old known only as “Dorothy” managed to tweet by talking to her fridge after her mother confiscated her phone and other electronic equipment. What’ll happen next? Machines talking to each other I suppose: “Good morning fridge, this is the TV, how are you today?” / “Cold, but thank you for asking.”
* This slightly oversimplifies how it works …