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Posts Tagged ‘celebration’

fireworks

I was travelling the M61 south from Chorley in the predawn murk. I’m not sure if it qualifies as the worst stretch of motorway in the UK, but it’s certainly the worst I have to drive. The lane markings have almost gone and the cats eyes where they exist at all are dim, so these dark, misty, winter mornings have been terrible, with dangerously poor visibility.

What was particularly frightening this week is there was an incident on the hard shoulder and the highway men had shut the slow lane, pushing us all into the middle. Without that guiding line of the hard-shoulder, I felt I was hurtling into the unknown, unable to see further than the feeble cast of my headlights, and barely a whisper from disaster both left and right. Though I’ve been on the road for forty years, and I still drive that crumbling stretch of miserable tar most week-days, I was definitely afraid.

It’s perhaps the perfect metaphor for how I feel generally at the moment, that while I’m told half our citizens will be celebrating our leaving the EU on the 31st of January, it feels to me like we’ll be cheering our own headlong rush to slaughter. Some, of course, have every reason to be happy, like those who truly benefit from BREXIT. But let’s not go there. I’m weary of the argument and can barely raise a head of steam to repeat it.

I’ve moved on, I think, well beyond the crass jubilation, am now beginning to rough out a dystopian vision of mid twenty-first century England by extrapolating current trends to their inevitable conclusion. It’s not looking like a great place to be if you’ve no money, you’re old, or sick but I won’t bother describing it in any more detail than that. Indeed my advice to fellow remoaners is just to shut up and get on with it, and under no circumstances must we ever say we told you so. We live in a post-fact, post-truth world where the bad guy always wins, and where nothing means anything any more, except when it all goes wrong, and then it’s your fault.

Remainers voted to remain because they understood the EU. They knew what it was, had seen and experienced the benefits of membership, had worked with Continental colleagues, learned their languages, visited and admired their cities, the quality of their roads, their trains, their infrastructure. It wasn’t perfect – indeed far from it – but it was better being a little fish in a big shoal than a little fish on its own. I mean that’s why fish shoal up right?

Those who voted out, did so for many reasons, all of which perplex me. I can find no logic, no rationale to any of them, and it’s beyond insanity how even the claims of Brexiteer politicians and their Bond-villain backers – when revealed as pants-on-fire lies – can still be cheered on by the reliably demented wavers of the flag of Saint George.

Yes, it’s over and done now. But I won’t be celebrating.

You can always buy your EU citizenship back with one of those handy Maltese passports, as indeed many of those billionaires who championed BREXIT are now doing. I too have a route back, virtue of an Irish grandfather, which will at least save me having to queue up at the border with the rest of you with your patriotic blue passports, but that’s not going to benefit my children who now find themselves without a country. They’re not alone. There were riots in London on election night, not widely reported. What was trumpeted loud and clear though (and still is) is that the socialist, egalitarian evil of a Jeremy Corbyn led government was roundly thrashed. What’s been less explored though are the implications of being even more securely in the grip of those who sold us BREXIT in the first place. And they’re not saying anything.

It’s easy to lose heart when you witness the overwhelming power of lies and the ease with which people of bad character can tip us over into the void of tyranny. I’ve brought my children up to be decent, honourable young men, and must now witness their first steps in a world I don’t recognise, one I fear I have left them ill prepared to materially thrive in. Or maybe I should just relax, await the milk and honey we’ve all been so glibly promised, pretend everything’s fine.

And go shopping.

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malham tarn

Malham Tarn

It was a good day for a wedding on Saturday. I note the Capital was considerably taken up with it, streets lined with people waving their little Union Jacks at the happy couple. Celebrities from around the world descended in their finery. There was pomp and ceremony and tradition, as only the British can deliver it, and I’m informed a good day out was had by all.

I missed it. I was up around Malham, in company with most of the north of England, who’d had the same idea. Perhaps we each selfishly thought the roads would be quieter, that everyone else would be at home, glued to the telly, but I’ve never seen Malham as busy, and this before midmorning when I rolled up in the little blue car to find an atmosphere of celebration. I say this every time I go to Malham, that I’ve never seen it so busy. Best to go early, crack of dawnish, even midweek. But there was no big event, certainly no big screen coverage of the capital’s shenanigans. Everyone had simply gone up for a walk, or a picnic, or to sit outside the Buck with something cold and fizzy, and watch the world go by.

Malham sits at the foot of one of the classic walks in the British Isles, a circular route of limestone country that’s by turns fearsomely dramatic, and heart-stoppingly beautiful. It’s rightly popular, also a small wonder it can take this amount of foot traffic every weekend without wearing away.

I couldn’t park in the village itself and was reluctant to commit to the overflow field, so drove on up to the Tarn where I got the last spot on the little car park. But the as the area’s popularity soars exponentially, the driving is becoming dangerous. The road up is single track and steep. I can thread the little blue car along mostly anything and she’s plenty of guts for a climb, but it’s what you meet along the way that’s the problem. And you’re meeting more and more traffic these days, a lot of it inappropriate for the girth of the road. I met a Renault Kadjar. This is a huge vehicle. I wouldn’t take a bus up here, and I wouldn’t take a Kadjar for the same reasons. I managed to pull in, narrowly avoiding the drystone walls, to let it pass. It wasn’t for stopping and the driver didn’t seem able to manoeuvre it much anyway – just kept going sluggishly and expecting everyone else to move out of the way.

Then I met the cyclists, weaving about, doing one mile an hour crawling up this one in ten gradient ahead of me. The little blue car won’t do one mile an hour uphill, it judders and bucks on the clutch, but you can’t roar past because the road’s too narrow and you’re worried about meeting Kadjars around the blind bends. You have to wait for the straight bits, then floor it and hope for the best. I have the feeling recreational cyclists don’t fully appreciate the risks they take in places like this, nor the hazards they create for others, or they would stow their egos and their single-minded battle with the grade, get off their push-hogs and let us poor motorists pass on little roads like this.

The tarn is the northernmost checkpoint of the full circular walk, and I wondered about doing it in reverse, but this puts the steepest of climbs towards the end, besides it was a hot day and I couldn’t be bothered. I wanted to soak up the atmosphere of the Dales without soaking myself in sweat, so I took a stroll, by the tarn, which was impossibly blue under an equally impossibly blue sky. Then I headed down to Malham Cove, along the Trougate track. At the cove it was standing room only among the clints and grikes, and the cacophony was reminiscent of any mass social gathering in an echoey place.

I returned along the spectacular Watlowes dry valley. Three or four miles all told. Lazy I know, and such a short outing wouldn’t have satisfied my younger self much, but times change and I’m as excited these days by the sight of early flowering purple orchid as I am by the ascent of Goredale. Conditions were outstanding, but sadly walkers were too many, clogging the trails, either powering up behind, sucking impatiently on their Platipus Packs, or loitering in front for selfies along the narrow bits. But I was happy to be out in the sun, celebrating the season, celebrating the country, taking my turn on the steps, calling hello in passing to pleasant strangers. And no one here was waving a Union Jack.

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