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Putting My Money Where My Mouth Is

I realised after yesterday’s post about Corbyn and Brexit that I’ve said similar things before. So today I’ve put talk into action. I’ve cancelled my direct debit for my party membership, and written to my constituency party secretary tendering my resignation.

I also did this:

IMG 2319

Perhaps most significantly, at least symbolically: look up there. ⬆️ This blog has been called “A Labourer At the Bitface” more or less since it started, partly as a reference to my political stance, as I explained in this post.1 It’s now called “Tales From The Bitface,” which was the name of my Livejournal version. That’s still there, but it, along with the whole site, pretty much, is moribund.

I still support the principles of the Labour party, and I’m sure I’ll vote for them again. But not until they sort themselves out about Brexit.


  1. Even then, I note, I was “consider[ing] my future in said party.” 

Some Labour MPs are thinking along similar lines to me.

Wes Streeting:

“Labour cannot sit by and allow the choice to be between the economic ruin of a hard Brexit or the loss of sovereignty under Theresa May’s deal, with Britain subjected to EU rules but with no say over them,” he said. “As with any fork in the road, there is always the option of turning back home.

“We know this is a mess made by the Tories, but the Labour party can’t just sit back and watch. It’s time for all of us in the Labour party to make the full-throated case for a people’s vote with the option of remaining in the European Union.

“That leadership must now come from the top, or our party may never be forgiven for the consequences that follow.”

Chris Leslie:

“With even Tory ministers recognising Brexit threatens the poorest in society, our public services and Britain’s place in the world, to have a Labour leader just shrug about it, then go awol, is nothing short of a dereliction of duty.”

OK, they’re maybe not planning to leave the party, but still.

Ex-Corbyn Fan

You know what? I’m done with Jeremy Corbyn. This interview in Der Spiegel, in which he says “Brexit can’t be stopped,” is the clincher.

As always, literally everything else he says is on the good side of politics — the side I tend to agree with, to be less judgmental. But he refuses to resist — even, really, to engage with1 — the thing that is the most important political issue and biggest political mistake of our lifetime (setting aside for the moment climate change, which is not just a political issue, and is global in scope, not just European). Look at this:

DER SPIEGEL: Not just Labour, but the whole country is extremely divided at the moment — not least because of Brexit. If you could stop Brexit, would you?

Corbyn: We can’t stop it. The referendum took place. Article 50 has been triggered. What we can do is recognize the reasons why people voted Leave.

This is that “will of the people” nonsense, the idea that it would be undemocratic to ask again. The will of the people can change, and almost certainly has. And you don’t agree to a deal with going back and checking that it’s still OK. Having a confirmatory referendum would be considerably more democratic than not having one.2 And we can stop it. Parliament, which is, and always was, sovereign, could revoke Article 50.

Back to the interview:

I’ve been critical of the competitions policy in Europe and the move towards free market, and obviously critical in the past of their treatment of Greece, although that was mostly the eurozone that did that. My idea is of a social Europe with inclusive societies that work for everyone and not just for a few.

You don’t build a “social Europe with inclusive societies that work for everyone and not just for a few” by leaving the EU! You build it by staying in, and working to build that society! God, it’s infuriating.

I voted for him as leader, I respect and believe in most of his policies, but he needs to go. Labour won three general elections under Tony Blair, and was able to do a lot of good. They could have done more, they could have been better, and Blair destroyed his legacy by throwing his lot in with George W Bush and the Iraq War. But those were times when things were improving in the country and we looked to the future with positivity. It can be like that again.

But it won’t — for decades at least — if we destroy our economy, hobble worker’s rights, and undercut food-safety regulations, by leaving the EU.


  1. Note, for example, his complete absence from the country on the day of the People’s Vote march
  2. “Measure twice, cut once,” as the old saying goes. Or in this case, better not to cut at all. But at least measure twice so you’re sure a cut is what’s wanted. 

Only Forward by Michael Marshall Smith (Books 2018, 28)

I think I’ve read this twice before, but as ever, my memories of it are not strong enough to support that thought. Doesn’t really matter. I read it years back and loved it. When I started it this time, at first I wasn’t so sure. It felt like it wasn’t living up to my memories. Maybe I was reading it for the wrong reasons.

But there can be no wrong reason to read a book. Just sometimes you’ve got to be in the right mood for a particular one; or it needs to be the right book for you at that time.

Luckily reading changes us. So we might be in the wrong mood at first, but the book brings us around. That’s what happened this time.

I wish MMS would go back to writing SF. I suppose his crime/horror fiction as Michael Marshall (the second-most transparent pseudonym in literary history) is more lucrative — and to be fair, maybe he enjoys it more, or just as much. But god, it feels like a loss to SF.

Anyway, this was a mighty debut, but thinking about it now, it’s actually more like magical realism than SF. There’s no attempt to explain Jeamland or how the narrator and others get to it.

“I can send you a postcard, but you can’t come to stay.”

“Everything you’ve done, everything you’ve seen, everything you’ve become, remains. You never can go back, only forward, and if you don’t bring the whole of yourself with you, you’ll never see the sun again.”

March in October

Numbers

After the Trump thing earlier in the year, another walk through London on Saturday just past. This time with over half a million people — 770,000, by some estimates. That’s a hugely impressive number, and a measure of the strength of feeling in the country against Brexit. Or at least against the idea of the government pushing it through without us having another say on the matter.

You’d imagine it might be enough to make them at least consider enquiring as to the will of the people. But I highly doubt it.

The March

Arriving at Green Park Station

A group of us from Hackney joined at Green Park. There’s an exit from Green Park station that comes out in the park itself, which I don’t think I knew before.Then it took us an age to get out of the park, because of the crush a t the gate. Quite a lot of people were trying to get in at the same time, which didn’t help.

We milled around on Piccadilly for a while. The main march started on Park Lane, so we were ahead of it, and it wasn’t clear to us whether the head of it had already passed us, or if not, then when it actually reached us. It looked like nothing was moving ahead of us. My assumption was that they hadn’t yet closed all the roads between us and Parliament Square, but there was no way to know for sure. Eventually we started moving.

These noisy bastards were around all day

The mood was universally peaceful and cheerful. There were hardly any police to be seen.

I tried to post a couple of photos, but inevitably the network was swamped and nothing would work. I guess even if people weren’t trying to post, just that many phones trying to register with a cell tower would slow things down dramatically.

An idea of the numbers

The Rally

By the time we got to Whitehall Parliament Square was full, and we couldn’t get in. The organisers had set up some big screen-and-speaker systems, so we could hear the speeches (at least when the hovering helicopters weren’t too close).

Wee Nicola on screen

Conclusion

There isn’t one, really. Like I say, the Mayhemic leadership of the country won’t pay any attention. But if nothing else it helps to keep our spirits up in these dark days.

rafalgar Square in the aftermath

Chile Trip, Part 2: Santiago, Street Art, and More

As you’ll recall if you’ve been paying attention, I started what appeared to be a series of posts on our trip to Chile. But then stopped. Well, not exactly, because here we are again. It just takes me a long time to sort out all the photographs.

We spent three days in Santiago (and another one at the end, just before we flew back).

You can click on any of the photos or galleries below for a bigger view.

[aesop_chapter title=”Santiago Street Art” bgtype=”img” full=”off” img=”https://devilgate.org/blog/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/SantiagoStreetArt5.jpg” video_autoplay=”on” bgcolor=”#888888” revealfx=”off” overlay_revealfx=”off”]

There’s a lot of street art, much of it showing some of the artists, musicians, and writers who have come from Chile or had an impact on it.

[aesop_gallery id=”5106” revealfx=”off” overlay_revealfx=”off”]

There are plenty of other subjects, though.

[aesop_gallery id=”5111” revealfx=”off” overlay_revealfx=”off”]

As well as oddities like this gym which is supporting the most popular Linux distribution:

[aesop_image img=”https://devilgate.org/blog/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/SantiagoStreetArt9.jpg” panorama=”off” align=”center” lightbox=”on” captionposition=”left” revealfx=”off” overlay_revealfx=”off” align=”right”]

And there is more formal public art, too.

[aesop_gallery id=”5113” revealfx=”off” overlay_revealfx=”off”]

[aesop_chapter title=”Up Hill, Down Cable” bgtype=”img” full=”off” img=”https://devilgate.org/blog/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/FunicularCastle.jpg” video_autoplay=”off” bgcolor=”#888888” revealfx=”on” overlay_revealfx=”on”]

Santiago is in the foothills of the Andes, at 500m above sea level, so mountains are all around it:

[aesop_gallery id=”5117” revealfx=”off” overlay_revealfx=”off”]

Though it’s hard to tell the mountains from the clouds in that first one.

But there’s a hill in the city itself, big enough to have both a funicular and a cable car. We went up one and down the other.

[aesop_gallery id=”5130” revealfx=”off” overlay_revealfx=”off”]

Apart from the ride, you get great views, of course, but the main attraction is the giant statue at the top: Our Lady of the Radio Masts:

[aesop_image img=”https://devilgate.org/blog/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/SantiagoRadioBVM.jpg” panorama=”off” align=”center” lightbox=”on” captionposition=”left” revealfx=”off” overlay_revealfx=”off”]

Also known as the Ladderback Virgin:

[aesop_image img=”https://devilgate.org/blog/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/SantiagoLadderbackBVM.jpg” panorama=”off” align=”center” lightbox=”on” captionposition=”left” revealfx=”off” overlay_revealfx=”off”]

(OK, those are just my names for her.)

This is the kind of thing you really go up for, though:

[aesop_gallery id=”5132” revealfx=”off” overlay_revealfx=”off”]

[aesop_chapter title=”Flags and Padlocks” bgtype=”img” full=”off” img=”https://devilgate.org/blog/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/SantiagoPadlocks2.jpg” video_autoplay=”on” bgcolor=”#888888” revealfx=”off” overlay_revealfx=”off”]

La Moneda is the President’s official residence. Outside it we find the biggest flag I’ve ever seen. It wasn’t windy enough to really get the effect, unfortunately.

[aesop_gallery id=”5134” revealfx=”off” overlay_revealfx=”off”]

And then there’s this lovely bridge:

[aesop_image img=”https://devilgate.org/blog/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/SantiagoBridge.jpg” panorama=”off” align=”left” lightbox=”on” captionposition=”left” revealfx=”off” overlay_revealfx=”off”]

Which demonstrates that “love locks” get everywhere (and they didn’t originate in Paris, as I have just learned):

[aesop_image img=”https://devilgate.org/blog/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/SantiagoPadlocks1.jpg” panorama=”off” align=”center” lightbox=”on” captionposition=”left” revealfx=”off” overlay_revealfx=”off”]

More later.

Promethea by Alan Moore, JH Williams III, Mick Gray & Todd Klein (Books 2018, 27)

This is five volumes of graphic novel that I read over a period of about a month or so, and — OK, you know how we all thought that Watchmen is Moore’s magnum opus, at least in comic terms?1

We were wrong. Promethea is the best thing Moore has done, by some margin.

In my humble opinion, of course.

The character Promethea is sort of a personification of the human imagination. She has manifested through various women in history, called from the immateria into the “real” world by an artist — usually unknowingly, at least at first — when she is needed.

There are, of course, forces ranged against her, from demons to the FBI. The Earthbound part of the action takes place in a sort of alternative comic-book New York, where there are “science heroes” like the Five Swell Guys.2

University student Sophie Bangs is writing a term paper on the recurrence of the character of Promethea through myth and literature and comics, when she is attacked by a mysterious shadowy entity. A version of Promethea turns up to help her, and… well, read it and see.

And as well as the storytelling, the art is incredible, with some wildly challenging layouts; but it never gets in the way of the story. It is magnificent, spanning all of fiction and myth and religion and magic, and reminding us that those are all the same thing. Looked at one way, anyhow.


  1. Jerusalem is even more magnum, obviously. 

  2. There aren’t four of them, and they aren’t fantastic, but you get the idea. 

Musical Malady

This morning I saw a poster for Heathers: The Musical. Err, What?

I rewatched Heathers fairly recently and I thought, this could never get made today. I figured teenage suicide is too high-profile, and the facts of people being driven to it, and the fear of copycatting — these would put a treatment of it like the one in Heathers off the table today.

Yet there’s a musical version playing in the West End, apparently.

Not that you can’t make a musical about serious subjects. I’ve just been to see one about the founding of the USA, after all. But Heathers is not what you’d call sensitive about the subject. It could have been changed significantly for the musical, of course, but to remove that aspect would be to take out an important part of the story, so I don’t know where they’d go with it.

Turns out that it’s been around since 2014; and that there’s a even a “High-School Edition,” made more suitable for kids.

Furthermore, it seems there’s a TV series based on the film as well, so what do I know? But it makes me wonder if I’m remembering a different film.

Oh, yes, that will most certainly do. A very strong start for both Chris Chibnall and Jodie Whittaker. And, indeed the whole team.

And a cliffhanger ending! What!?