I confess to having missed the news that Elvis Costello had been awarded an OBE a few days ago. Things that were unthinkable a few years ago seem to have become commonplace these days. The award was given for ‘services to music’. He reacted to it by saying “… it confirms my long held suspicion nobody really listens to the words in songs or the outcome might have been somewhat different.” It would certainly seem that the marketeers at Ford have never listened to (or understood) “Pump it Up”, for example. I doubt that Theresa May has “Tramp the Dirt Down” on her playlist, otherwise I’m sure there would be outraged puffs of blue smoke coming from number 10.
The first time I saw Elvis Costello perform live was a few weeks after the release of “Trust”. I still have the ticket stub from his 1981 performance at Derby Assembly rooms. My “Tour to Trust” programme and badge are probably stashed away somewhere in the house as well. “Trust” was an album that didn’t do well commercially, at least not compared with the four earlier ones. The first single, “Clubland”, reached number 60. The follow-up, “From a Whisper to a Scream” (sung with Glenn Tilbrook), sank without trace. But it’s an album that has some great moments. “New Lace Sleeves” is brilliant, with a performance wrung out of a seemingly exhausted sounding singer and band, perfectly matching the song’s mood.
Anyway, congratulations to Elvis Costello are due for being awarded this honour – and for making his mother proud by accepting it.
I’m sure there’s going to be loads of erudite analysis pieces written about the results of the European Parliament elections. This isn’t one of them. However, listening to the results come in last night, I was reminded of the Monty Python Election Night Special sketch. Here’s part of it.
Palin: And this one is from Harpenden Southeast. A very interesting constituency this. In addition to the official Silly candidate there is an unofficial Very Silly candidate, in the slab of concrete, and he could well split the Silly vote here at Harpenden Southeast.
Jones: Mrs Elsie Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…
Jones: 26,317 (applause). Jeanette Walker…
Cleese: Very close!
Jones: Malcolm Peter Brian Telescope Adrian Blackpool Rock Stoatgobbler John Raw Vegetable Brrroooo Norman Michael (rings bell)(blows whistle) Edward (sounds car horn)(does train impersonation)(sounds buzzer) Thomas Moo… (sings) ‘We’ll keep a welcome in the…’ (fires gun) William (makes silly noise) ‘Raindrops keep falling on my’ (weird noise) ‘Don’t sleep in the subway’ (cuckoo cuckoo) Naaoooo… Smith.
Cleese: Very Silly
Cleese: Well there you have it, a Sensible gain at Harpenden with the Silly vote being split.
The new left and right in British politics appears to be silly and sensible parties. Insanity is represented by UKIP and Nigel Farage Ltd. Sanity is obviously represented by the Liberal Democrats, Greens, SNP, Plaid Cymru and a small party whose name I’ve forgotten.
I trust that this analysis provides a convincing explanation of why the Conservative and Labour parties fared so badly. You simply can’t put together an appealing political platform while claiming to be sensible and silly at the same time. The electorate clearly respects obviously sane and insane politicians. But politicians who claim to be both at the same time? That’s just mad.
Over time, if we left the EU, it seems likely that we would mostly eliminate manufacturing, leaving mainly industries such as design, marketing and hi-tech. But this shouldn’t scare us.
Transitional arrangements should be made, lasting around 10 years, to help industries such as car manufacturing adjust.
Mid-Derbyshire MP Pauline Latham, writing in the Derby Telegraph, explains why she wants to leave the EU:
At the weekend I made up my mind that Britain will be better off leaving the European Union. It is a decision that I have not arrived at easily, having been genuinely undecided since the referendum was announced.
Our manufacturing sector ranks number eight worldwide. The language we speak, English, is the international business language. Our judicial system is consistently rated as one of the least corrupt anywhere and our contract law is regarded across the world as the best for business. We have a long history of innovation, especially here in Derbyshire from even before the industrial revolution.
… Britain has a proud history and we want our children and grandchildren to enjoy the chances and opportunities we have had. I think this is possible outside of the EU and we should be confident that Britain can once again can stand by itself.
(This article has been removed since it was published, but fortunately I kept a copy).
Johan van Zyl, head of Toyota’s European operations, speaking at the Geneva Motor Show to the BBC:
Mr van Zyl said it was vital that there was frictionless trade with the European Union.
He said Toyota would overcome any short-term problems at its Burnaston car plant near Derby, such as logistics, caused by leaving without a deal. But preparation for no-deal has been costly, he said, and in the long-term things could be “very difficult”.
Could work at Burnaston dry up after the current production cycle comes to an end? “The long-term effect could be that if it [Brexit] is very negative, that outcome is possible.”
Constantly improving competitiveness is vital, he said, adding: “But if the hurdles are becoming so high that you cannot achieve it then of course you can’t avoid it [hitting investment].”
Many people probably remember Minford’s comment about exiting the EU “mostly eliminating manufacturing”. It’s easier to forget that he was also arguing for a 10 year transition period prior to the referendum. One presumes he must be horrified by the negative consequences of a no-deal Brexit with no transition period. If so, he seems to be keeping very quiet about it.
As for my MP, Pauline Latham, she clearly forgot about a key reason why UK manufacturing was performing so well in 2016. The frictionless trade provided by the EU single market and customs union and required by Toyota to make sense of their investment here. Had that fact not slipped her mind, I’m sure she wouldn’t have advised her constituents to vote to leave. Surely? It wouldn’t have been rational, given the difficulty she found in making her decision.
We may be at the eleventh hour and 58th minute before Brexit, but if Latham is a genuine champion of manufacturing in Derby, she needs to take Minford’s advice. Rather than the no-deal desired by her ERG colleagues, she must vote for an extension to Article 50. That way, her government may stand an outside chance of obtaining Minford’s 10 year transition period.
Alternatively, she could recognise that she was poorly advised in June 2016 by the Brexiter elite. It would be the mark of a principled politician to acknowledge that, after all, EU membership provides the best chance of giving our children and grandchildren the opportunities we’ve enjoyed since 1973. Voting to revoke Article 50 would be a start to repairing the damage of the last two years.
I’m not necessarily known for the accuracy of my predictions. But having watched the coverage from Downing Street this morning while trying not to utter too many expletives, here’s my latest hostage to fortune.
I expect Theresa May to win the confidence vote tonight, with around 75-80 of her colleagues voting against her.
Not that it changes anything if she does win. It is all a self-indulgent side-show while the country burns – taking Derby with it. I hope that every member of the Conservative party is feeling a deep sense of shame.
A conversation I had earlier on today reminded me that I have a photograph of the Spondon Home Guard. It was taken during World War II, outside the gatehouse lodge at Locko Park. I don’t have a key to the people in the picture, although my assumption is that there must be at least one Holyoake present. I can see a couple of possible candidates.
If anyone does recognise any of the volunteers, I’d love to hear from you in the comments.
I missed Channel 4’s “Brexit: What the Nation Really Thinks” last night. However, the headline was that by an eight percentage point margin, Britain would now prefer to remain in the EU. Jonathan Calder noted yesterday evening that a number of areas in the East Midlands would now vote to remain. My home city of Derby is one of them.
In the June 2016 referendum, 57.22% of those voting in Derby said that they wanted to leave the EU. Survation’s data for Channel 4 now suggests that only a minority – 49.8% – are comfortable with that choice. This represents a 7.42 percentage point change in favour of remaining in the EU – the equivalent of around 1 in 8 voters switching from leave to remain.
The other cities in the East Midlands have seen even larger movements in opinion. Leicester is ever more firmly in the remain camp by 10.59 percentage points. Nottingham (10.77% change) and Lincoln (9.41% change), like Derby, have switched from leave to remain.
Of course, this is all moot unless our MPs choose to act on new information about the public mood. You can politely encourage your MP to do so by writing to them at the House of Commons. Alternatively, you may want to customise Open Britain’s latest email template.
Since I last wrote on T+30 I’ve continued to make progress. I’m still tired much of the time and if sleeping was an Olympic sport I’d be a certainty for the gold medal. However, it feels as if some kind of normality might not be that far away.
This is the easiest to measure. Since T+30:
I no longer need my walking stick.
I’ve managed to drive both the Alfa and the 7 a couple of times, although not very far.
I’ve walked around the woods on Oakwood (several times), Kedleston Hall and yesterday spent some time walking around the gardens at Chatsworth (when I wasn’t eating cake, naturally). My daily step count has gone up from around 1,500 to averaging 5,000 or so. Yesterday I exceeded 8,000 for the first time in two months. My resting pulse has continued to come down (73 today), although it’s still a little above my mid-sixties norm.
This is a little harder to measure, but since T+30:
I’ve built a surveillance camera for the driveway. This was motivated by the possibly paranoid belief I hold that an intruder tried to get into the house the first night I was home from hospital. It consists of a Raspberry Pi 3B+ inside a custom case, running MotionEye on Raspbian. (I originally tried MotionEyeOS, but it proved to be unstable). So far the only intruder its spotted is a spider.
I’ve been thinking about what it might be sensible to stockpile ahead of what looks like is going to be an increasingly difficult Brexit. I’ve not gone “full prepper” – yet – as my list currently consists only of tinned tuna.
Since I started publishing my father’s photographs of bygone Spondon, I’ve been delighted by the interest that they’ve attracted. I was recently contacted by Kaff at Cherrytree Picture Framers in Spondon who asked if she could create display prints from four of them.
Yesterday I saw the results of her efforts – and they’re truly stunning.
The blemishes which scarred the original slides and negatives have been skillfully removed. High resolution scans (rather than scaled-down images from this blog) were used, producing great quality prints.
The photographs are currently on display at 3 Moor Street, Spondon. Prints can be purchased in different sizes and frames.
The best way to appreciate the pictures is to go in person. However, if you’re unable to visit and want to take a closer look, the colour photographs are blemish-free versions of the first two in this post. The black and white photographs are featured here.