Twenty one years!
Well, doesn't time pass quickly? When I left the UK, S Club 7 were a thing, Sophie Ellis-Bextor was singing about murder, and Enrique Iglesias was trying to be a hero. There was only one Harry Potter film, the Euro had just become an official currency and The One True Queen celebrated her 50th year of wearing the crown. Dudley Moore and The Queen Mother died, while Gaten Matarazzo, Sadie Sink, Emma Myers and Jenna Ortega were born. People who aren't famous for being child actors...are probably not old enough to be famous yet... Traces of water was found on Mars (and a probe began mapping the planet), Apple released the iMac G4, and Microsoft finally succeeded in killing off Netscape Navigator (though it did soon come and bite them in the arse).
Meanwhile, I was cut off from my previous social life as there was no phone or internet. That would turn up around seven years later. Until then, precious moments using other people's modems or short visits to the library.
For a while I watched MTV and Viva (German) as those were the channels my old analogue receiver could pick up. There was also a lovely channel that broadcast footage from a camera mounted to the front of a train as it took slow and winding routes through some amazing German scenery (I later got a Sky Digibox for a few British channels, and soon after the main channels (BBC, ITV, etc) became free to air)).
Mom drove. Everywhere. I navigated. The old fashioned way, with a book that was only a few years out of date so was mostly correct. Mostly. ☺
It was a massive change of life from the UK. There are some things I miss, but by and large I don't regret leaving. I'm not nomadic like mom, so I don't plan on saying "okay, done this, where now?", but in terms of decisions, I think this was a good one.
More specifically, I read both The Guardian for sane news and The Daily Mail for the angry-little-Englander view, and also catch the hourly news on Love '80s and... really... WTF Britain?
I thought I'd try something different.
So, a cup and a half of rice (I'm just going to guess about 180g) along with four cups of water (about 600ml).
I set the Rice - More programme, left it at 15 minutes of steam, and added a half hour delayed start (for some presoaking).
And, of course, five minutes of cool-down at the end.
All in all, it took a little under an hour to cook so still (marginally) faster than the older rice maker.
The result? A wonderfully gloopy rice bursting with flavour. I mixed in a good gloop of Kikkoman Yakitori sauce (basically soy sauce, molasses, and a touch of vinegar - it's nice on rice and not too sharp like soy can be), along with air-fried chicken nuggets.
Breakfast/lunch-ish. And a pleasant location.
Brexit has failed
(you can skip the politics if you want)
Even Farage is saying it. The UK is poorer, major companies are questioning staying in the UK, and things are just all-round harder (exports, going on holiday, etc) with no benefit in sight. Even that "taking back control of our borders" has been a monumental failure (and, no, it's not France's fault).
However, Farage being Farage, he's unable to accept or understand that Brexit itself is the problem. You don't get to say "hasta la vista, baby" to your nearby partners for trade, security, education, and so on without suffering consequences.
For a while, it seemed that "other things" were what was dragging the UK down. Covid being the main one. But, alas, the other reasons have gone away and now there's only a butt-naked neon pink elephant pole dancing in the middle of the room. Time to properly acknowledge it. The G20 prediction is for the UK to perform worse than Russia. That's right, the UK's economy is in worse shape than the country that everybody is piling sanctions on.
Farage, predictably, blamed useless Tory politicians who mismanaged the departure from the bloc - quote "What Brexit has proved, I'm afraid, is that our politicians are about as useless as the commissioners in Brussels were".
While I do not disagree with the fact that the Tories are useless, the Brexiteers cannot point the finger at anybody else. They have to own this disaster, not blame "remoaner civil servants" or whatever other faceless spectres they can conjure up.
Pushed on by the ERG, which itself was pushed by a fear of Farage's mob eating into their seats, May went for harder and harder interpretations of Brexit, while people like Farage claimed that it was indeed "the democratic will of the people". In the early days, May and others had plenty of useless mantras ("Brexit means Brexit") because the advisory referendum stated only in or out, it didn't ask any question on what out actually meant. Dropping the EU part and becoming an EFTA country (like EU-lite) might have fulfilled that obligation to be close but not too close (though the EFTA countries would have vetoed a troublemaker such as the UK). As the years rolled on and the oven-ready deal that would make no real change to people's lives or rights was shown to be the bullshit anybody with a brain knew it was, Westminster skated dangerously close to taking the idea of crashing out as an actual way forward. May presented her identical plan to the Commons multiple times before being called on it by The Speaker.
Eventually she was ousted, and Brexiteer Johnson became the PM. The purge of pro-EU Tories began, and Johnson was the one who finally "delivered" Brexit. A hasty back-of-the-envelope agreement thrown together at the last minute (and very much not in the UK's favour) because the arch-leavers had spent the previous four years posturing how important the UK is (it isn't) and how the Europeans would give in to the mighty will of the British (they didn't).
Farage himself held a spectacularly crass "Independence Day" celebration as the transition period finally expired and the UK was out.
Meanwhile, anybody with a functioning brain would have cried over what was lost, and in terms of the deals that Thatcher had negotiated in the early days, what will never be regained, even if the UK decides to rejoin (assuming the EU is even remotely interested in having them back).
Brexit is an attempt to hammer a square peg into a round hole. As big superpowers rattle their weapons (Russia and China come to mind), and America... America can't be relied upon. The current President is very much on Ireland's side, but god only knows what the next will be like. Trump, for example, was big on talking about the UK's special relationship, but he wasn't at all keen on delivering anything. But, then, why should America even care? It's a country of some three hundred million that's largely self-sufficient and powerful enough to take on the role of world police (even if this is starting to fade a bit).
The UK, by comparison, has a population about the size of France in less space (the UK's land area is less than Michigan). There are probably ranches in Texas larger than Wales... And, of course, the UK barely has a manufacturing sector any more. So, remind me again, what exactly is the UK's "power" in any negotiation? The UK had power because it's voice was a part of the EU bloc, a population and GDP on par with the United States. But now, alone, isolated?
Nobody is interested in the Industrial Revolution, The Empire, or The War. Britain was Great. Was. Now it's a little island on the north west of Europe that thinks it is better than everybody else while literally having shit in the rivers, roads full of potholes, and salaried healthcare workers going to food banks, not to mention an utterly bizarre policy of letting primary age children choose their gender and getting social services to punish parents who try to talk sense into their children. You know, when I was that age I wasn't trying to work out if I was a girl, I was trying to work out if I was a human. And my best friend wanted to be a cat.
Britain is broken. Certainly, years and years of Tory mismanagement and a populace egged on by a foreign-owned media with a right wing agenda have not helped, but arguably the single biggest shock to the system is Brexit. While Brexit might provide a few scant benefits in particular isolated cases, by and large there is no way that it can work. The world people were hoping for (sometime in the fifties, I think) doesn't exist, and arguably never actually existed except as fondly remembered memories that glossed over the nasty bits. The UK's presence in the world has diminished. The ramifications of this are starting to be felt.
Farage is correct about one thing - Brexit has failed.
But, then, that was inevitable.
And then, I should have gone shopping. I considered Big Town but decided against it. Then I decided against Little Town, and even Tiny Town, and felt that it would be more productive to crank up the two-stroke and get the strimming strum.
A pile of buttercups.
That sorted, and the fences and edges looking tidy, it was hammock time, to absentmindedly watch the clouds for a couple of hours.
I meant to bake a cake today, but didn't really feel like it. I'm about to make dinner - maple syrup pancakes. Well, it's a sort of a cake...
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Last read at 13:26 on 2024/03/04.
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