Category Archives: History

Catatonic Catalunya

I have visited Catalunya three times. Each time I stayed in a big hotel in Malgrat for two weeks. I am not a club or beach tourist. I saw some of the tourist sites of course, Barcelona, La Rambla, Picasso’s place, Sagrada Familia, the architecture of Gaudi. I got pickpocketed, probably by one of the many Somalian pickpockets in the area. I liked the people apart from the thieves.

Now here’s a thing.

The Catalan people seem to want to be separate from Spain but Spain apparently does not want to let them go.

Last year poor young Catalans were demonstrating about not having jobs, and were blaming the Spanish government.

Now poor young Catalans are demonstrating against tourists because they say they don’t get the money but it goes to AirBnB owners, pushing up housing costs and all the jobs go to East Europeans.

The poor young Catalans have had no luck with protests against their government, so they are now scapegoating the tourists.

So here’s what I think. I am sad that I am no longer welcome in Spain/Catalunya, but I saw Spain/Catalunya before it became an unfriendly country. As usual, once again (as per history – civil wars, Basques etc etc) Spain is tearing itself apart. Fortunately I don’t need to go back there – I’m looking outside the EU for my holidays – maybe South Africa, China, Canada, Japan.

I think the people demonstrating in Spain are wrong, because the money the AirBnB owners get is spent mostly in the Spanish economy and pays Spanish taxes. I also think Spain is wrong because it lets Europe allow cheap labour to flood its market unlike Britain, that has said it will leave Europe so it can stop that problem and control the labour supply to the UK.

British tourists react very quickly – think of Tunisia. The IS attack in La Rambla has frightened some away. Spain’s attitude to the EU negotiations and Gibraltar is making more Brits think of boycotting Spain. The anti-tourist protests and attacks on tourists that are spoiling British, German and Dutch people’s holidays really are the last straw.

I think that maybe many British tourists, and maybe German and Dutch ones as well, might teach the foolish anti-tourists a deep hard lesson and very few at all will go to Spain as a tourist for many years. Then I think the East European cheap labour would go away from Spain as there would be no jobs in the empty hotels, bars and restaurants. There would be no income to all the AirBnB properties to be spent in Spain. There would be no taxes from the hotels, bars and restaurants and tourist shops. There would also be no subsidy from the EU to support Spain any more as the EU would be supporting all the extra jobless East Europeans that Spain would have created, and would be doing that without a third of the EU income – only Britain, Germany and France have any money, and Britain is taking it’s money away.

Perhaps the Spanish anti-tourist protesters would be left dirt-poor with no jobs to even compete for against the East Europeans, their rich class having no income from the AirBnB to pay tax for their welfare system, so their government would have no income to help the poor, the EU would not be able to help them and there would be not even jobs in fishing (because Britain is taking back its waters). These protesters would be left to share their country with their unwanted guests, the Somalian pick-pocket gangs. Maybe Germany could lend them some money then become hated as has happened in dirt-poor Greece. Meanwhile the drug dealers who lost their most valuable asset, lots of tourist customers for the clubs and bars, would probably be looking for the heads of whoever drove their customers away. Britain won’t even buy salad from Spain if the EU exit is not favorable. Britons can buy some nice salad from Africa and help to develop some nice new tourist places there, in the Commonwealth.

Catalunya could become a broken torn-apart land populated by poverty-stricken people, angry drug dealers and Somali pickpockets. Tourists would not want to visit, anti-tourist protesters would have got their wish.

So then it would be Hasta la vista Catalunya – oops I mean – a reveure Catalunya.

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Scotland trip 2017

The world may be your oyster, but Scotland is a pearl.

Inveraray, Oban, The Trossachs, Speyside, Loch Fyne, Loch Awe, Lock Tay, The Spey, The Tay, Loch Long, Dunbar…

Scotland is awesome.

All pictures in this blog article are Copyright 2017 by me, except two, which are Copyright 2017 by my Wife, which said exceptional photographs I use here with her permission. None of the images in this article/webpage/blog post may be used without our respective permissions. All Rights Reserved.

One picture is from Yorkshire, England (The 1930’s “No Parking” sign).

 

Protest

I am protesting against lazy use of English language.

I will not “Protest lazy English” because that phrase is an example of the lazy English language usage that I am protesting against.

The problem with using the verb “To protest” without any qualification, is that you don’t know whether it is a protest against, or a protest for the matter.

“People are protesting wages.” Does it mean people are protesting against low wages, against high wages, for higher wages, for lower wages, or simply for or against having wages at a all. The sentance is wholly inadequate.

Cut-down telegraphic intransitive twitter-squeeze-to-fit Americanese verb-use is deeply annoying to me. I should write someone about it. LOL (in Britain we write to someone – well at a least for now, until the laziness reaches us on that one).

Another linguistic laziness I really dislike is the contraction of “cause for concern” (which was the only way you could say it back in the day) to “concerning.”

“That is really concerning me” NO! This is ambiguous because it doesn’t tell me if it causes me worry or if it is a matter that is applicable to me, or both!

“That is a really giving me cause for concern” YES!

At the rate lazy language is spreading in the UK it will devolve back to grunts before you can say “Ug!” This was of course caused by the BBC letting non-public school educated people (Americans read private school) into broadcasting, so the inadequately educated became our role models. My English is not perfect, I was not privately educated, but at least I care, and I try to get it right.

I guess that makes me an elitist. Well I do prefer aspiration to exasperation.

lionreader

 

 

 

 

Looking outwards, forward, up.

Imagine a group of nations working together for the institution of world peace; promotion of representative democracy and individual liberty; the pursuit of equality and opposition to racism; the fight against poverty, ignorance, and disease; free speech; free trade; opposition to discrimination on the basis of gender; environmental sustainability; and freedom of movement between citizens of their countries.

Sounds familiar?

No, it is not the European Union.

Imagine something bigger than that, more diverse, bigger, more energetic and free of big brother technocracy. Firmly established for many decades, with 52 nations as members. With a flag and a real person with no power other than purely symbolic at it’s head. A group of nations that could have four times more trade with Britain than the European Union. A group covering 20 percent of the Earth’s surface, spanning all six inhabited continents with 2.3 billion citizens. With GDP of over 10 trillion USD accounting for 17 percent of the world’s economy.

You can stop imagining.

It exists.

Britain is a member.

Britain founded it.

The British Queen is its figurehead.

It is called the Commonwealth of Nations.

This is the flag. If you are a Brit like me it is your flag.

Embrace your citizenship and your bright future and rediscover the world full of friends you had almost forgotten you already have.

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Flag image fair use from Wikipedia see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Commonwealth_Flag_-_2013.svg
This blog article is a potted summary of some the most important facts about the Commonwealth, garnered from Wikipedia, which I consider to be a fairly authoritative source. No plagiarism is intended – fair use only (about 3 paragraphs of basic facts from about 50 paragraphs of detailed information in this case).

Here is a lovely radio station to listen to from one of our fellow commonwealth nations – Kaya FM from Gauteng, South Africa – website http://www.kayafm.co.za listen live at http://www.kayafm.co.za/listen-live-player/

Eltham Palace, London, England

Eltham Palace was a Royal Palace that fell out of use and into ruin. The very wealthy (and nice – I know as I happen to have met one of them) Courtauld family completely renovated it in the 1930’s. So here is what you could achieve if you were incredibly wealthy and had impeccable taste in the 1930’s. If you love 30’s style and are ever in London, England this house is a must see. You may feel that entrance charges to attractions are a bit expensive, and often I would agree. However in this case the interior is so wonderful I really think it is worth it. A visit here is an education for anyone who seriously loves architectural interiors. Take heed however it is NOT open on Saturdays. Link here http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/eltham-palace-and-gardens/

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Brexit

So where are we now?

Well, most of my Christian friends are very pleased that we have voted to leave the EU. Bear in mind that few of them are inclined to doctrines of end-times and new world order conspiracies, and nor, to be frank, are many of them deeply politically and economically knowledgeable about world affairs. Notwithstanding this, many have stated that by voting for Brexit we have had a close shave and have just escaped by the skin of our teeth from something terrible. Many mentioned the prospect that Europe was contemplating a European Army and that we would have been dragged into wars we did not want to be part of. A small few have mentioned immigration, but that was, at least among my Christian friends, very few and not a very loud complaint. They were far more concerned about the centralization of power in the EU and the taking away of power from individual governments to make decisions based what their people want. Several feel that the EU is deliberately secularizing and is suppressing Christianity under the guise of promoting equality. I agree with them. For a long while I was going to vote remain, but the day before the vote I was led to vote leave. I am glad I did.

Pessimists said our economy would suffer if we left. Well initially they are right, we have seen a huge drop in our currency which is at the moment making all our imported things much more expensive. But hey! We should be EXPORTING and doesn’t that mean stuff we sell abroad just got cheaper? Sure they might put up trade barriers, but we will be able to negotiate new trade deals with countries we haven’t been allowed to by the EU. More export money coming in could offset the currency fall.

There are cynics that say the EU was very keen to keep us in and under their rules because they fear our leaving would be the first domino in the fall of their empire, and to keep us in check as the second or third largest of the two dozen or so EU states, right on their doorstep, we would otherwise be a terrifying competitor if our wings were not kept clipped by EU rules. Well I have news for Europe – and its no news at all – yes your empire is falling we are not he only ones that want freedom, and yes we will be again the competitor you have to see to believe.

Optimists said we would become more outward looking. Yes I see it happening at an amazing rate. I work for a large company and we have just bought a company in East Africa because we see huge development opportunities there. The BBC has announced many new World Service Radio stations in 19 languages. On our TV news we are now seeing regularly Canadian, Australian, New Zealand and South African news and culture that we hadn’t until now.

America has also had enough of it’s old deal, and say what you like, their new force in politics likes our new force in politics – Trump likes Farage, and Trump likes the UK. Trump says Europe must pay its way in NATO. The UK already does of course. That sits with the European Army that the UK won’t have to pay for and prop up now of course.

So here’s an optimistic reminder of things the UK has done in the past and positions we hold that are a good indicator of why we need have no fear that we will not be a huge success out of the EU in the future, and why the EU was so scared we would leave.

Industry – the Industrial Revolution
Global Trade – the British Empire ruled 3/4 of the Earth
and many of the things that make these possible…
Satellites – Arthur C. Clarke
The World Wide Web – Tim Berners-Lee
Computers – Charles Babbage
Telephones – Alexander Graham Bell
Television – John Logie Baird
Railways and Trains – Richard Trevithick, George and Robert Stephenson
Maglev Trains – Charles Wheatstone and Eric Laithwaite
Hovercraft – Christopher Cockerell
Telegraph – Charles Wheatstone and Samuel Cooke
Undersea Communication Cables – a long list of British inventors
Jet Engine – Frank Whittle
London is biggest financial hub in world (Global Financial Centres Index)
Heathrow Airport – 2nd busiest in world by international passenger traffic
Pedal Bicycle – Kirkpatrick Macmillan
UK is 2nd in world league of Nobel Prizes
UK is 3rd in world league of Olympic Medals
UK is 5th biggest economy in world (IMF world economic outlook April 2016)
Military victories – Agincourt, Spanish Armada, Napoleonic Wars, WW1, WW2 (how many times has Britain saved Europe from itself? – maybe Brexit is preparing the way for us to save them again!)

And here’s some lovely things we gave the world:
The mini car
The mini skirt
The E-Type Jaguar car
The Flying Scotsman Train
The Mallard Train
William Shakespeare
Roll Royce cars and aero-engines
The Spitfire fighter plane
The Harrier Jump Jet
Concorde (with France)
The channel tunnel (with France)
The Millau Viaduct (for France!)
The Beatles
The Rolling Stones
W H Auden
Charles Dickens
Winston Churchill
Margaret Thatcher
Cambridge University
Oxford University
The King James Bible translation

So how do you think we are going to do, post-Brexit?

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Image By Michael Reeve – Transfered from en.wikipedia.org, Bpalacejack.700px.jpg, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=743428

Disappearing Cambridge

Mill Road is changing. We have lost the incredibly historic CB1 Internet Cafe with the very old computers on display, we have lost the atmospheric and odd Jaffa Net Cafe with its Hookah Pipe tent, and today I noticed the iconic Cambridge Resale is no more as a physical shop. They are, according to the notice on the old shop door, a website only now (their website needs updating as it says they have a shop, which apparently now, they don’t). At least they have kept their typeface, which they have had as long as I can remember.

I appreciate that change is inevitable, but what I miss is the informality that makes a place interesting. If property prices mean a place just becomes gentrified housing and clone chain coffeeshops, then have not all the things than made the area unique, interesting and desirable (and so property prices high) not been driven out? I don’t want run-down “interesting” slums, but nor do I want empty soul-less endless gated communities that separate people as that is deeply un-Christian, and unsurprisingly therefore, not nice. Does gentrification have within it the seeds of its own destruction? Signs of the (end) times maybe…

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Mining tango

Those who know tango’s history, dance, culture and music will know why this music IS utterly and completely tango in many ways despite it not sounding much like what most people think is a tango. Piazzolla is tango’s greatest classical orchestra list, the flute is one of tango’s earliest instruments now seldom used in tango, and the tango owes something to flamenco too. Just enjoy, and if you can dance this, whatever kind of tango you do, then do!

The next video has some tango flamenco crossover, but is more here to show some very well-danced classic tango because it is beautiful to do or just watch.