We did what we set out to do: punish the Lib-Dems and Scottish Labour for siding with the enemy. Democratically, of course. And we got exactly the worst possible outcome as a result: trounced Labour and handed a majority to the bloody Tories.
It's a pretty slim majority, and I understand that the Tories have a long tradition of backbench rebellion, so a coalition of the Left still has a chance to keep the bastards on their toes. For that to happen, the Lib Dems and Labour need to demonstrate that they've learned their lessons from last night.
I suppose we got exactly what we deserved: more work! It's the SNP's job just now to speak truth to power, as the largest effective voting block of human beings currently in Parliament. Labour have more seats than the SNP, but they'll be a complete waste of space until they decide what the point of them is—and that's assuming they even decide to be on the left. They certainly haven't been for the last twenty years. And the Lib Dems are dead for a generation.
Also—let's be honest—some of these new SNP MPs are going to suck, at least for the next while. Nearly all of them are brand new and most of them, when they were listed as candidates, were in seats where they didn't have a hope. That all changed and now they're in charge. Nicola will sort them out; I've met her and she's awesome.
Gotta say, I am amused at the huge amount of nothing that was eventually signified by all of Ukip's sound and fury. I am willing to put good money on the fact that not a single one of those 3,881,129 Kippers voted Yes in the AV referendum. One seat they managed under FPTP: no pasaran.
Yesterday was a 33-hour workday that started at 1pm on Wednesday and continued through until 10pm on the Thursday: the ninety minutes sleep I got in the middle doesn't really count I finally got off to sleep at 3am and then the bloody taxi driver rang the doorbell at 03:30. Got back to sleep at about fiveish and then was up again for work at six. At some point on Thursday, I got to see Jehane for a whole ten minutes and I managed to make it around the corner to vote. During that 33 hours,
$CHEF had made me a bacon sandwich. It wasn't a good day.
I'm still not keen on the SNP. They're too authoritarian for my liking, too nanny-statish, and I disagree with a hell of a lot of their policies. I don't like the way they cosy up to people like Murdoch and Souter and especially—euch—Trump. (Maybe they'll stop doing that so much now.) Ideologically I appear to be a Green— but only a Scottish Green because the party in England and Wales is still stuffed full of anti-science nutjobs. Yesterday, the SNP were the only left-leaning party with a hope in hell, so my vote was obvious. Also I did it to piss off everyone in England. I'd had enough of all the hysterical pearl-clutching anti-Jock media coverage. You're welcome, England. You brought this on yourselves.
So, having cast my vote for the SNP and finally able to tear myself away from the desk at 10pm, it was off down the chippy for a haggis supper, salt an' sauce, anna boatil ay the Bru. I had no particular political motivations for my order—sometimes a man just needs salt an'sauce—but it seemed appropriate. I think I might have gone native.
Yesterday was the first time I've ever voted when the result has actually gone my way. I suspect I shouldn't get accustomed to it.
The next five years are going to be bleak. Look after your loved ones.
Damn right I looked directly at it. This happens once inna generation, I'm not passing that up. The photos are here (updated with some new ones, if you saw them go by on the Twitters earlier).
I remember the last one, in August '99. I looked directly at that one too, through the net curtain in my then-girlfriend's flat. I still remember the sight of a crescent Sun in the twilight down at the end of Gorton Road. That girlfriend was the insane Christian youth leader who wanted to break into the church at midnight and do it on the altar. I was the one who chickened out. But seeing a crescent sun... that was something special.
But back to the present. I had constructed a cardboard-box pinhole camera obscura, and it actually worked—but I left that downstairs in case any of the guests tried to blind themselves. For me, it was up to the roof. I had a brand-new variable neutral-density filter and I wasn't afraid to use it.
Maximum occultation at my location was set for 09:36. It was a glorious clear day at 09:20, bright blue skies with occasional fluffy white clouds. By 09:30 it was coming over a bit grey. This is probably for the best, since a couple of cubic kilometres of water vapour between me and it probably shielded my delicate retinae from some of the horrifying UV radiation. Also it lent the photos an eerie, atmospheric quality. Moody. Dramatic. Ethereal. Outlander-ish.
I stood and clicked and I watched as the huge black globe of the Moon rolled lazily in front of the Sun's disc, like a slow-mo snooker ball. Just exactly like a snooker ball, except a ball of 7.35×1022kg in mass, a ball a quarter the size of earth. She felt round. I sensed her bulk, her incomprehensible mass, as she slid leisurely-like inbetween us and daylight itself.
The Moon has a 7% albedo, you know. She reflects about as much light as coal. Think about that the next time she's full. Above our heads, neatly slotted inbetween the squat block of Edinburgh Castle and the airy spires of St Mary's, the eternal celestial ballet executed a perfect adagio.
It got bloody freezing up on that rooftop, but that's probably rather more to do with standing onna rooftop in Scotland for an hour onna cloudy day. By about 09:39 the cloud coverage was total. Show's over. It's time to go home.
But I won't forget spending a few minutes watching Space happen right above me.
My retinas were a wee bit itchy for the rest of the day. I consider that a totally acceptable trade-off.
More eternal celestial ballet.
Oh yes, and the vernal equinox was at 22:45 tonight. Happy Spring, everybody!
It's been a while since the last one. Since the last one, I've become upper-middle-class, become a manager, spent some time hanging around socialists, attended two Radical Independence conferences and campaigned for a Yes in the referendum. And I've also seen how far all of that got us.
For reference, here are the current UK political parties as they stand:
Huh. Guess I'm a Green, then. Makes sense I suppose; I've always empathized with the underdog, that's why I voted Yes.
I'm slightly surprised at how libertarian it placed me. Maybe I'm having one of those days.
Previous compi go ( under the cut )
- 16 reasons behind the decline and fall of the Roman Empire
- The self-contradictory rule obeyed by these WW2 airmen will blow your mind!
- This French Marquis Locked Himself In A Castle For 120 Days. You Won't Believe What Happened Next
- POLL: RT for war, fav for peace
- Please Laboriously Click Through All Twenty-Seven Images In This Post, Each Of Which Incomprehensibly Deserves Its Own Page, Like You Had Nothing Better To Do, Because Of The Vague Promise In The Title That One Of Them Might Be Godot
The joke is that listicle and microblogging formats do not readily lend themselves to in-depth discussion of complex concepts.
What do you think? Let us know in the comments!
Funny. I don't recall being followed home by a hearse and gassed to sleep in my sitting room, but somehow I find myself in the Village.
What I do recall is an eleven-hour train journey with one (occasionally) functioning toilet and no wifi—although of course they only told me this after they'd allowed me to pay for it. Then a three-hour boat journey from Penzance during which I actually got seasick, which doesn't happen. We'd had to bolt breakfast and sprint for the ferry, and I found out later that I'd taken the wrong braindrugs the previous night, none of which can have helped... although I think the twelve-foot waves hitting the ship from random directions probably had something to do with it as well. Then there was a connecting ferry from the big island to one of the smaller ones, and now I'm on Tresco, the second-largest of the Scilly Isles.
It looks like this.( A set of photographs from ground-level of a holiday resort )
Actual photos of scenery and stuff will likely follow later on.
Back to the mainland tomorrow, weather permitting, and dependent on the performance of onmipresent surveillance and unorthodox security measures. Then, back and forth along the south coast for a few days. Lindsey Stirling has a concert in That London and with any luck we'll be getting in a pilgrimage to Maiden's Point.
So, there was a referendum. That happened. And we voted No. A trillion pounds' worth of international media descended on Scotland for a week—and the weather even stayed good while they were here!—and, as a nation, we had a chance to create a better world and we bottled it. I used to think that it would be embarrassing to be Canadian, but all the Canadians have as a national stereotype is that they are uniformly self-effacing and scrupulously polite. Since 19th September, on the world stage, Scots are craven directionless cowards. All of that William Wallace stuff that we've built up over the last eight hundred years, gone. We are lackeys.
I for one will not stand for it.
It takes time to build up a reputation like the Scots have—like the Scots had. Specifically, it takes eight hundred years. Down-to-earth pragmatists running the world with relentless efficiency in spite of their bewigged imperial masters. Hairy-arsed skirt-wearing maniacs perpetually game for a fight with ye, then a drink with ye, then another fight. The reason the claymore works as a weapon of war is that it's so damn big and heavy that, once you start running with it held out in front, you can't stop no matter how many English cavalrymen are in your way. We pissed all of that away in one night, and now, on the world stage, we are cowards.
I was there
at the dawn of the third age of mankind at the vote count for the Edinburgh region. It was a long day. The day before had been full of joyous, jubilant, exuberant marches in the Meadows, of hope and excitement, of impromptu mass choruses of Flower of Scotland. The tang of change was in the air. I could taste it. And then, on the great day itself, with history hanging in the balance, I had weighty duties to which I must attend. I'd set an alarm for six a.m. but was up at 5:30. One doesn't get to create a brand new nation every day. Out at 7 a.m. to witness the ballot boxen being sealed. Touring polling stations all day—technically in my organizational capacity as a polling agent for the Scottish Socialist Party, which is something that still confuses me. I'm not part of the Scottish Socialist Party. I only know one socialist and I'm on nodding terms with two or maybe three others. I'm still not quite sure how this happened, but I had an
ACCESS ALL POLLING PLACES pass and I wasn't afraid to use it. I may have spent slightly more of my day than would have been decorous waving the pass at people like Wayne and Garth at the Alice Cooper concert.
In the evening, it was off to the Highland Centre to observe the vote count. History was being made. At one stage, I was on the news. During a coffee break (I was on tea because I needed a sustained burn rather than the quick hit you get from coffee) I got to have a lovely conversation with Andrew Marr: I dislike his politics and I disapprove of his philandering but I bloody love his historical documentaries. I forgot to mention that my girlfriend's mother taught him English at Loretto.
The Yes and No campaign activists were given lounge areas on opposite sides of a big room, separated by a sort of concourse where there was a nice lady selling tea and coffee from a counter. I bought a bottle of water for £2.
Bloody hell, said I, aloud,
they told me the price of a pint might go up. The BBC and ITN news crews, on the other hand, were separated by fenced-off enclosures with scaffolding and big scary signage. I found this amusing: a physical paean to the civilized nature of the entire debate. Ultimately, we are all residents of these great British islands. Who needs barricades when there is a tea lady?
My role—still, apparently, on behalf of the SSP for reasons I still can't quite fathom—was to observe the count and ensure that no foul play was taking place. I can confirm that, as far as I can tell, the vote was scrupulously fair and above board. It was just that every bastard had put the cross in the wrong box for reasons that remain utterly incomprehensible to me.
It was obvious from early on that the Yes side were losing. As the postal ballots first came out, while I was still skittering around looking for a table to attend, one of my Yes colleagues turned to me and murmured:
we're gettin' hammered. Surely not, I said. It's early days. We were always going to lose on the postal votes. It's the regular ballots that will vindicate us. Half an hour later, it was obvious even to me. Tally marks on the clipboard in front of me, sampling a ballot box from somewhere in the southside: 202 No to 75 Yes. You bastards. You sold us out, because some fucker lied to you about your pensions to guarantee his own. Fuck the fucking southside, man.
Later: we were always going to lose in Edinburgh. It's the rest of Scotland that will vindicate us. Then Clackmannanshire voted No. Then Shetland voted No (fucking Shetland, of all places). Then Dundee voted Yes, but only by a baw-hair, where all of our polling had indicated a good seventy or eighty per cent. At that point, we knew all was lost. Facial expressions changed. The evening became a slog. I had been up since 5:30 and it was now 4am and everything left was a foregone conclusion.
I'd got chatting to a fairly well-known professor of events management with whom I'd already done some networking for work, and plan to do more in the future. He's also a stunningly nice bloke, and a Yes voter obvs. By the point it was clear that we'd lost, self-preservation took precedence over solidarity. This is the country we live in now, the country that Scotland has chosen: every man for himself. So in the immediate short term, I opted to promote my own career and come back to making the world a better place later, and when Professor Joe offered to chum me back in his taxi at 5am, I agreed.
So I was there—just getting ready to leave—when the announcement came through that Glasgow, fairly overwhelmingly, had voted Yes. It was a brief moment of levity in the midst of a long night of otherwise unmitigated despair. A chant started up in the campaigners' lounge area: Glas-gow, Glas-gow, Glas-gow. Someone shouted:
ya dancer! Someone else:
Ye cannae fool a weegie!, and then it was time to go. It was a glorious moment. It was the only one. It wasn't enough.
The next couple of days were numb and bleak. I've been clinically depressed before and I know exactly what was going on in my brain. I surfaced from bed every so often to read Twitter for five minutes or so before I couldn't take any more. And then on Monday it was back to work, to catch up on the paperwork I'd missed during the last week, in time to catch a train down south on Tuesday. The last place I wanted to go. As a deeply pathetic form of revenge, I made sure to take scotch whisky with me, and Irn Bru, and lots of Scottish fivers.
We had a chance and we bottled it. But it was a good fight, and it's not over.
And now I have a branded Yes clipboard, which I'm keeping. Spoils of war.
There is an epilogue to this post, but it's going under access lock.
I was amused to learn, now that it's all over, that Our Eck is a big ol' Star Trek fan, specifically of Wrath of Khan. I wish more had been made of this earlier in the campaign.
Full tax-raising power.
No, sir! You have devo-nano!
FULL POWERS, DAMN YOU!
Liking Eck more and more, now that it's all over. The last few days I've just wanted to give him a hug, because I think he needs one. Then there was his principled refusal of any seat in the Lords, and now I find he has impeccable taste in sci-fi. And he's right: if the promised powers are not delivered, we will chase Cameron 'round the moons of Nibia and 'round the Antares maelstrom and 'round Perdition's flames before we give him up. Personally I'm particularly looking forward to the flames bit. I suspect Dishface is so greasy that he would self-ignite.
Back in the day, when I was a unionist, Star Trek featured heavily in what passed for my reasoning—although I didn't understand this about myself until significantly later, after a good deal of introspection. Obviously, went my thinking, the logical end goal of civilization is the United Federation of Planets, and we get there by heading towards global unity not away. For one thing, I later realized, adopting, as a genuine political model, a fictional utopia created by a somewhat mediocre cop-show screenwriter might be seen as impractical; and for another thing, I was goal-seeking using a naive hill-climbing algorithm. For shame, pajh.
A utopia is also an eutopia, of course, but it's telling that Roddenberry's vision is the one that took root inside my head as the default position to aim for. Naive it may be, but goddamn I wouldn't mind living there. I'm not sure if it's the proto-post-scarcity economy or the implicit communism that attracts me so much. Or the green alien babes. No, it's the skants. Definitely the skants.
I love Star Trek to bits, of course, naive as it may be, but these days my politics are much more in line with Babylon 5. I am prepared if necessary to go as far as Blake's 7, but I hope it won't come to that.
Thinking about this as I type, I should probably make a more detailed inspection of Malcolm Hulke's Doctor Who stories before I fasten my colours to any particular allegory, here.
Obviously I'm deeply disappointed with last Thursday's result, but I've decided we may have been foolish to think we could win against the combined forces of ignorance and cowardice, backed by the full might of the British state. We were not foolish to fight. And we will not be foolish to do it all again in a couple of years, with lessons learned and a new generation of engaged citizens on our side. The future is coming, whether it's got green-skinned babes in it or not. That better world we wanted to create?... independence didn't quite work out, but it's still waiting to be created. We'll do it some other way.
The avalanche has already started. It is too late for the pebbles to vote.
Off down south tomorrow for a company meeting. I went to the bank today and withdrew £20 in Scottish fivers,
because I want to piss them off. The bank teller had never heard that one before—seriously? I honestly thought everyone did that—and told me I'd made his day.
All set for this goddamn nine-hour train journey tomorrow. Gots my sound-isolating earphones, emergency Irn Bru (can't buy it down there), emergency whisky (Islay Mist, won't react with the metal in the hunt flask), gots my vindictively pan-European sandwich, and my instructions for haxx0ring free train wifi. Spent some time with stormsearch perfecting my Scots accent.
Michael Mcintyre has this bit that he does about, every time someone wants to spend a Scottish banknote, some mad Scotsman pops up from nowhere and shouts
don't you know that's legal tender. It's funny because it's true, and not, I hasten to add, because Michael makes any effort to make it funny in any way. He crams this bit in to any set he can.
Heard a Scots accent on my way to the theatre tonight. Reminded me of that guy who says: . And off he goes again.
don't you know that's legal tender
stormsearch is not a qualified voice coach and her instructions have been sporadically helpful, but with her experience combined with my voice-talent nollij, we made headway. The word
£ is a particularly difficult word to say in Scots. There's an argument that it's pronounced
poouwnd and another, equally legitimate, argument that it should be pronounced
pnd, and both of these should be done simultaneously, while also pronouncing the
ou as an
ai except that it's really more of an
eh but do it with your face all scrunched up like this. I got there eventually. As is so often the case with learning experiences in my life, whisky helped.
Thus, I am now ready to have the following exchange, should it be necessary, with an unsuspecting southerner:
Good day to you, shopkeep, and what a marvellous day it is indeed. I would like to purchase this bottle of Coca-Cola® if you'd be so kind. What's that? You doubt the authenticity of my cash monies? Well, dear shopkeep, I do so regret that it must come to this, but I fear you leave me little option but to go Full Scotsman on you. Ahem. DON'T YOU KNOW THAT'S LEGAL TENDER, that's a five pooouwnd note ya wee numpty, huv ye no seen a five pnd note before ya great sassenach.
Interesting, perhaps, to note that, although I am a trained voiceover artist and a remarkably good one, it's only been since this week that I've been able to pronounce
sassenach with the appropriate amount of sass.
And I know there's no such thing as legal tender, but the unsuspecting southerner won't.
Those of you who grew up in the 90s will know already that perky elfin teen-pop princess and sometime Ozzie soap star, Natalie Imbruglia, in a dark and terrifying departure from her usual glittery milieu, once witnessed the terrifying Frankensteinian reanimation of a previously deceased human being. It's well-known that her popular song Torn is a postmodernist retelling of T'Pau's China in your Hand from the perspective of an affected observer descending into schizophrenia.
You all know what I'm talking about, but because I'm nice I shall provide the vid for context. Behold.( In which there are several embedded media )
Splains why I always liked the theme to Ski Sunday so much, but: how the FUCK did I not already know that about Ski Sunday? My musical recognition skills were hitherto frankly superhuman, but lately I've noticed that they've begun to diminish with age, or possibly with lack of practice. I'm now all out of faith in my own abilities. This is how I feel: I'm cold and I'm ashamed, but thankfully still fully dressed.
I've had a bloody awful day, started badly at 0730 (exactly) and got steadily worse from there, has only now started to wind down a bit at 2330. I had a manhattan or two when I finished work at 2100, but what I really needed was a sazerac, and I now finally have one. Well, sort of.
A proper sazerac requires orange peel and acquiring same would mean climbing two flights of stairs to pick up an orange. This is clearly work for chumps, so I have substituted the usual Peychaud's (which I have, of course, ready to hand in the kitchen) for Angostura orange bitters and dubbed the result the
ersatzzerac. The good-quality rye whiskey, cognac, gomme (home-made, natch) and absinthe mist I obviously had ready to hand in the kitchen. The orange was the tricky part.
Also this evening, unrelatedly, but possibly illustratively: I walked for ten minutes to buy cigarettes that I don't even smoke any more.
I am also using slightly the wrong sort of glass for a sazerac. This matters.
I may as well just buy a fedora and have done with it. Actually that's not true. I already own two fedoras: one vintage, one that actually fits my head, and both of them I owned before fedora shaming became a thing. They are currently in storage. I had them when fedoras were still classy. Yes I am 150 years old. Shut up.
(The sazerac is also 150 years old, and it is delicious, so shut up.)
And before any of you make the obvious jibe that the fedora was never cool: I'm just going to leave this here.
The 23rd century is going to suck, and this is why: all of those hot alien babes, green-skinned or otherwise, saying
what is this human emotion you call love, to which I am compelled to reply:
baby don't hurt me, don't hurt me, no more.
Buwuh? [Or alien equivalent.]
Honey, you wouldn't understand. It's an Earth thing.
DAMN YOU HADDAWAY, COCKBLOCKED FROM FOUR CENTURIES IN THE PAST AGAIN
My wall planner indicates the phase of the Moon with little moon icons (moonicons). Down at the bottom of the planner, to splain the different moonicons used for the different phases of the Moon, there is a legend, or key. It is (and it says so at the bottom of the planner) a moon key.
It is particularly good at the gibbers phase.
The security light outside my flat door has started strobing. This wouldn't be a major problem but that I'm now unable to pass it without throwing some shapes and singing
THE SYSTEM. IS DOWN.
We bought those security lights so that you could escape the building safely in the event of major power failure. Not so that you could throw light-switch raves.
I am in the process of developin a series of whisky-tasting evenings, themed, with narrative cohesion and everything. Partly this is for work use and partly so that I have something I can do if they ever fire me. The big practice session is tomorrow night. I bought all of the whiskies myself (and did so for the pre-practice session last week, and for the copious amount of targeted bar time it took to select the whiskies in the first place). Next time, I hope to be able to expense this shit.
Thinkin of a name for myself should I ever take the whisky-tastings freelance: I quite like
Six Nine Two Events, or possibly
692 Events, which is a tip of the hat to the 692 illicit distilleries closed down in 1834, eleven years after the Excise Act made it much easier to be a licit one. I like the idea of raisin a glass to those stubborn holdouts who kept to the old ways, as a tribute and a memento mori. Plus, it sounds trendy enough that nobody ever needs to know.
Other possible business name ideas included:
LASER SPLOSION WHISKIES,
DIAL-A-SPLOSION (because somebody needs to have a business called that and it's not my responsibility that dialling for splosions isn't exactly what I offer), and
Whiskypalooza, at which point I gave up.