Thursday, December 20, 2018

The Idler Wwednesday, December 19, 2018

THE Brexit fiasco has made it on to America's Saturday Night Live satirical show – Prime Minister Theresa May dancing with four London bobbies.

"What a dreadful week it's been," she says. "My Brexit deal is falling apart, I almost got voted out and no one in the world likes me at all. But it's still Christmas, so let's try to have some cheer tonight, shall we?"

Also there is her predecessor, David Cameron, "the man who called for the Brexit vote – then, when it passed, he bounced and left me to clean up his mess."

"You know what's funny?" Cameron says. "People hate me, but they really hate you. Even though I did Brexit. I mean, you've got to laugh."

It's not quite hilarious. In fact it captures the sadness The Brits now sit with a deal that relegates them to the permanent status of something like a colony of the EU, with no role in formulating the rules (and which parliament will almost certainly reject); alternatively the crash-out option, which would be ruinous; or, second alternative, the humble pie option – scrapping the whole thing.

The solution might seem obvious but rationality has flown out the window. How did the thing get on the road in the first place?

Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad.


THERE'S also talk of a second referendum. Hoo boy! Wasn't it a referendum that caused the whole vortex?

The referendum (also known as a plebiscite) is not truly part of the traditional British system of government (from which our own derives). The plebiscite is used by generalissimos and other populists to whip the plebs into a frenzy of support for one cause or another.

The Brit-style tradition leaves it to representatives of the people – parliament – to decide such things. These representatives are most of them familiar with the issues. It's their job to be.

So now in Britain it's tradition (parliament) against the plebiscite. Which prevails? As the political scientists so succinctly put it – a total gemors.

HEY, this is progress. At my local Spar shop the other day, the lass at check-out asked me: "Plastic bag or paper bag?"

I opted for the paper bag, of course, a stoutly built thing with handles that will last for months – maybe even years – and, when it eventually becomes too tattered and torn for use, will be thrown aside to decompose into its wholesome natural elements with no damage whatever to the environment.

The plastic bag, by contrast, is around virtually forever unless it is recycled into another plastic bag. It's likely ultimately to end up in the ocean, stifling life there, breaking down into pellets that enter the food chain. It could even end up part of one of those vast floating islands of plastic that have formed in the Pacific and elsewhere.

We once did very well without plastics. Paper, cardboard and glass were perfectly adequate. It seems the shops are waking up to the need to get back to environment-friendly wrappings. More strength to their elbow.

Next step: what about the packages that go into the large paper n bag? Many of them are still wrapped in plastic. There's still a way to go.


HOW does a Russian commit suicide? He smells his armpits.

How does an American commit suicide? He tells the joke to a Russian.

Last word

Competence, like truth, beauty and contact lenses, is in the eye of the beholder. - Laurence J Peter


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