Archive for February, 2016

EU, UK, BREXIT and The Seven Dwarfs

Wednesday, February 24th, 2016



Bashful: Great, I’m spared 4 months of analysis and thinking. Nigel Farage, George Galloway, and Boris Johnson all think we should leave the EU. That’s me for staying in!!

Doc: IDS, Gove, etc, want to take us out, so they can rip away the rest of our human rights, make us all slaves, and kill off the rest of us who are ill, old and disabled. Fear politics all over again. Yet another reason to stay in.

Happy: Despite their policies in UK which I disagree with, I am afraid to say that I agree with them for not being part of EU. It may not necessarily be for the same reasons but ultimately I’m out!

Bashful: Why do you want to leave, Happy?

Sneezy: Why would you want to stay, Bashful?

Bashful: Ok. Very short answer.

Bashful: Original founders of EU were motivated by a desire to avoid a third world war starting in Europe. Coincidentally this is the 100th anniversary of the battle of Verdun which only involved the French and Germans. I think that motive is still a strong fundamental. Economy: It makes sense to me to stay in the biggest trading group in the world. There may be petty bureaucracies but that applies everywhere and there is a general acceptance that these can be improved.

Bashful: Wales has received some benefit from the EU financially but it is also encouraging to be part of a group that contains other small nations with minority languages who share some of our concerns rather than being dominated by our monoglot neighbor. This may be romantic but I emotionally like the idea and practice of travelling more freely through Europe – we took the train from Kings Cross to Barcelona via Paris. Fab! I’m Welsh, I’m British and I’m European. I’m an internationalist. Finally the problems that face Europe as a whole will be better dealt with if the UK remains a member.

Sneezy: World War maybe, but there are still wars going on all over the world. Not clear pulling out will change things. Biggest trading group? In decline! Also we will still be trading just as other non EU countries can. The EU also needs to trade with us. “Petty bureaucracies” – are you having a laugh calling the EU that??? Yes CAN be improved BUT hasn’t been in years and won’t be. Agree, Wales desperately needs to stay in. Had more than “some benefit”. Huge EU grants help to prop up a weak economy. You’re worried about being dominated by a monoglot neighbour but not a federational bunch of bureaucrats? Are the Swiss finding it difficult to move “freely” through Europe then?

Bashful: It’s a tough call, and I can see both sides but I think EUROPE is truly a greater vision than the alternative. And Visions don’t come easy!

Sneezy: Agree Bashful, but they need to go to Specsavers!

Happy: There are a few reasons Bashful for wanting to leave (too many to type with thumbs on a phone so I’m not going to go into detail on here but to try to offer an answer for you… I believe the system that is currently being used by the EU is not workable and the system that is needed to make it workable is not acceptable to the main established countries, including GB. Listening to DC when he announced deal, I could see nothing in what he said that actually made it beneficial to remain in EU with the changes being proposed, they are very superficial. We could have all of those things he announced if we left EU and have a greater say over all the issues the deal covers.

Happy: We will obviously still have a close relationship with the other main countries and will obviously continue to share info regarding terrorist groups/threats and national safety. There are several scaremongers saying it will be a complete break from everything but the reality is the relationship that currently exists will still remain. Also The EU obviously want us to stay as it strengthens the EU with GB in where as it weakens the EU if we leave. There are several countries such as Germany and France who would not have the current system that exists but are not able to exit due to the agreements they made. There you go, a few things to think about

Bashful: just pure speculation, Happy. No one knows what lies ahead if we leave.

Happy: You may say so Bashful! ? Anyway, to answer your ‘non-point’…when I left RBC I still kept in contact and relationship with certain folk. My relationship with some is naturally better than others but nonetheless my relationships remain. When I left Manchester for Cardiff the same thing applied. Now relationships may change for better or worse, grow closer with some and grows apart with others but the relationship remain. By leaving the EU we are not going to cut off all ties with Europe as if they don’t exist or as if there has been no history between us for the last 60yrs. That’s worse than a sudden case of amnesia. For the sake of national security we need to share intelligence with various agencies / governments but we don’t need to be part of the EU for that to continue. That relationship will remain whether we are in or out. You can take that as a given. If you think we will become hermits and lock ourselves away you are very wrong. There will be some changes regarding some funding and laws that Europe has introduced for our benefit over the years and there will possibly be some teething problems but these won’t be difficult to resolve. We are a sovereign land and have been established for centuries…your ‘pure speculation’ comment only plays on the fear element of the in campaign and doesn’t actually embrace the topic. You can pull that out with every question thus avoiding answering difficult questions and also avoids engaging in proper debate. It’s a cheap tactic that politicians will use far too often during this debate. I encourage you not to copy their lead but to consider the facts and reason wisely not just base your decision based on who stands for which side.

Sleepy: It wasn’t difficult to travel before, just the odd border check, which nowadays can only be a blessing. Blood pressure goes up every time they pass another stupid law. We are the second biggest contributor and they treated the re negotiation with such arrogance and disdain. I do not want our finances governed by Poland’s prime minister. I’m out.

Dopey: If corruption, greed and inefficiency are reasons to shut down the European project then we might as well shut down governments, corporations and humans in general across the entire planet.

Happy: For the record, I am happy to engage in the topic and willing for my mind to be changed, however, given my position as it stands is to vote out on the basis that what we have currently in EU has been built on broken foundations, it may be difficult for me to change my mind. These foundations are not going to be dealt with ever and the idea that the public has for voting ‘in’ on the idealistic notion that things can change is simply not accurate. That is not the deal being proposed by DC or Europe. It simply won’t happen. The best of both worlds idea that people like is not on the table and it is in my opinion currently dangerous to make this assumption.

Grumpy: One thing that does accrue from being part of the European is access to a greater spread of expertise in developing legislation. It’s true that the process can be time consuming but the vast majority doesn’t disadvantage the UK. What they do bring is some consistent standards across the community and agreed ways to deal with disputes.

Key to Abbreviations:

EU: European Union, formerly known as the Common Market

BREXIT: British Exit from the European Union

IDS: Ian Duncan-Smith, British Government Minister

Gove: Michael Gove, British Government Minister

UK: United Kingdom

Fab: Fabulous

GB: Great Britain

DC: David Cameron, British Prime Minister

RBC: Royal Bank of China



My Dilemma

Sunday, February 21st, 2016

Since childhood, I have supported two football teams; Tottenham Hotspur and my own town team Swansea City. Ironically the two teams have been intrinsically linked by players appearing for both teams at some point in their careers. Welsh international Ronnie Burgess captained Spurs to the League Championship in 1951, and a few years later was transferred to Swansea. He subsequently became manager of the club before moving onto Watford.
Swansea players Terry Medwin and Cliff Jones were transferred to Spurs in the late fifties, and Cliff Jones was an integral part of their double winning team in 1960-61. They became the first team in the 20th Century to win the League Championship and FA Cup in the same season. With apologies to Gento of Real Madrid, Cliff Jones was at the time rated the best left winger in the world.
In recent times, we’ve witnessed Gylfi Sigurdsson and Kyle Naughton moving to Swansea with Michael Vorm and Ben Davies going in the opposite direction.
Co-incidentally my interest in the two teams occurred in 1961. Tottenham were the most successful team in the land, but I only saw them once live on television when they defeated Leicester City 2-0 in the FA Cup Final. In those grey days, the only live football televised was the FA Cup Final and the European Cup Final. Tottenham’s Cup Final team was: Bill Brown, Peter Baker, Ron Henry, Danny Blanchflower, Maurice Norman, Dave Mackay, Cliff Jones, John White, Bobby Smith, Les Allen and Terry Dyson. No substitutes were allowed in those days.
I cajoled my dad into taking me down to the Vetch Field to watch Swansea Town play for the first time. They were in the middle of a sixteen unbeaten run which steered them clear of the relegation zone to finish in 7th place at the end of the season. How the current team could do with a current run as they hover ominously just above the relegation zone with twelve games remaining.
The Swansea Town X1 that appeared that day were: Johnny King, Alan Sanders, Harry Griffiths, Peter Davies, Mel Nurse, Roy Saunders, Len Allchurch, Reg Davies, Brayley Reynolds, Colin Webster and Graham “Flicka” Williams.
This is my dilemma. Tottenham has not won the League Title (now called the English Premier League) since 1960-61, fifty five years ago. They are currently lying second in the table, three points behind league leaders Leicester City, and producing great football.
Given a choice would I be happier for Spurs to win the Premier League, or for the Swans to avoid relegation? The rules state I can’t have both. It’s a tough call, but given the strength of Tottenham’s squad I believe they can win the Premiership next season if they miss out on the current campaign. However, if the Swans are relegated, it is unlikely I will see them play again in the top flight. They were the envy of other clubs on how to run a Premiership team on a modest budget, but for some unaccountable reason they have lost their way. Huw Jenkins, Chairman of Swansea City, has stated publically that whatever happens they need to regroup. I hope that process takes place in the annals of the Premiership.

Thanksgiving to New Year’s Eve

Sunday, February 7th, 2016

I know I should be writing something topical about the two teams playing for the Super Bowl in 3 days time, or commenting on the bile emitting from Donald Trump’s mouth, aided and abetted by another loon, Sarah Palin. But that’s the beauty of having one’s own blog, and I can make the rules as I wish. So allow me to take you back in time to last November.
We usually spend Thanksgiving in England visiting relatives because if you fly standby as we do, most Americans stay home for the big holiday which gives us a better chance of securing seats on the plane. We were indeed fortunate to board the plane since we competing with a hoard of standby passengers eager to sample the delights that London has to offer.
We stayed at the Holiday Inn, Farnborough which is lagging slightly behind the new century, but nevertheless provided a fabulous British cooked breakfast. It was probably the best cooked breakfast experience I’ve encountered in a hotel/bed & breakfast in the past twenty years.
We spent a day at Milestones in Basingstoke, Hampshire with my son and two grandchildren. Milestones is a unique concept. It’s a museum depicted the 1930s and upwards with several exhibits and artefacts reliving a bygone era.
We visited a pub in the evening, the Waverley Arms, which offered a pint of Bollocks. Unfortunately there was none available which may have been my good fortune. Not to worry, we late dined at a very good Indian restaurant in Farnham, and the absence of a pint of bollocks made the meal far more appetizing.
Our trip was a short one, and it wasn’t long before we were sitting at Heathrow Airport anxiously waiting for our names to be called from the standby list. Flying standby can be frustrating, stressful and irritating all rolled into one enigma, and this trip was no exception.
We tried two days running without success, and we were forced to retreat to The Heathrow Hilton. This was some consolation for not be able to board a plane home, and was only available because my wife travels on business around the world building up a cacophony of points. We had little enthusiasm for travelling up to London to visit tourist attractions we had seen countless times, so we decided to do our version of the “Yoko and John sit-in.”
An executive room at Heathrow Hilton provided a splendid shower and we dined on complimentary heavy hors d’oeuvres which softened the blow of being bumped twice off our plane home. Not much to watch on the TV except for Great Britain winning the Davis Cup for the first time since 1936. Three times through Airport security works a charm and we finally secured our flying wings home.
Christmas was rather uneventful, and in a blink of an eye we were tentatively driving in torrential rain with friends towards Savannah; making our annual New Year’s Eve pilgrimage. Savannah is an ideal city to welcome in the new year. It’s a walking city dripping in history with a friendly and hospitable Southern charm.
Molly Macpherson’s is a Scottish style pub which serves a wonderful bowl of mussels the flavor of which is further enhanced by a pint of Bellhaven ale. We reserved a table at the Boar’s Head for New Year’s Eve. My friend is always anxious to know the waiter or waitress’s name, and upon request she informed us her name was Brandy. That triggered the song in my head, and I made a feeble attempt at singing it. Thanks to my android I was reminded the song was a hit for “Looking Glass” in 1972. I know this sounds like meaningless trivia but wait for the payoff.
We left the restaurant and made our way to City Market where a live band “High Velocity” were helping party revelers to greet the New Year with a bang. No sooner had we joined the crowd at the Market the vocalist announced their next song: “We would like to take you back a few years and play a song that was a hit for Looking Glass in 1972: Brandy!!!” Had we entered the Twilight Zone?