Lying in our hearts

Tired, wannabe Cassandra delegates living, influential, paid voices like this one (Patrick Cockburn in The Independent) to persuade friends and countrymen to get over the referendum and move on to saving all the living inhabitants, and future generations, of this shrinking island.

Defying and rejecting the result of last year’s opinion poll, changing our minds, admitting we were wrong – except in protesting that the EU needs monitoring and reform, just like all states, institutions and individuals on the planet – would be morally courageous, a collective act of heroism to save our children and their children, so why don’t we do it?

Horse Frightened by a Storm, watercolour by Eugene Delacroix, 1824. Image source: WGA

Does the Voice of the People only respond to the owner’s call?

In any other species, the self-preservation instinct would prevail – horses wouldn’t jump the Brexit fence, cats would turn their noses – so why do we carry on pretending we want to do it?

Or do we want Theresa to do our dirty work, and die with BREXIT lying in her heart?

Mary Tudor, queen of England and Ireland, by Antonis Mor, 1554. Image: Wikipedia
Though it is disputed that she said
“When I am dead and opened, you shall find ‘Calais’ lying in my heart”,
the implication that “Bloody Mary”, her conscience clear about
burning people alive, was tormented by guilt about the loss of
English empire in France, is touching.
In her rational Renaissance mind, the part uninfected by fanaticism, this dutiful woman who believed she was carrying out the Will of God,
knew we were stronger staying in Europe.
She was as devoted to the national interest as her more successful and popular half-sister, Elizabeth I.

Neither the 16th Century’s Will of God nor the 21st Century’s Will of The People are infallible; they are not sanctified by reason or ethics, they are bombast, slogans to sell shoddy policies and shameful desires.

Theresa is easily bullied and derided, she’s neither an orator nor a charmer, she is neither spontaneous nor profound, she does not please Leavers or Remainers, can’t trust anyone around her because they want her job, so we need her to be brave, braver than any British politician since Churchill, we need her to carry on containing Brexit in the national interest, until it stops completely.

The battle is ruining her health, we can all see that saving Britain could kill her, but sacrifice, not self-interest, should be the measure of anyone who would rule.

 

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Catastrophe

Now in this island of Atlantis there was a great and wonderful empire which had rule over the whole island and several others, and over parts of the continent…..Plato

With Britain as the new Atlantis, contriving its own liquidation through the hubris of Brexit and Conservative Government, where can a girl go in pursuit of freedom and happiness?

Our European neighbours who we have so rudely shunned are already showing us what we will be missing in their civilized world.

Spain has given vindication to anyone who’s been harassed by manspreading on a train or a bus, or in a theatre or cinema. It’s the beginning of reclaiming personal space, the rebirth of the rights of woman and man, the recognition that arseholes can’t have it all their own way anymore.

It’s the only news to have cheered me up on a scary Election Day, tired out by the cat that’s not mine but won’t leave my house and keeps me awake all night.

In one leap she burst through the barely open bedroom window and the rolled down blind, directly on to the landing pad of our bed. We could only see her outline in the dark, no more than a sinuous body and bushy tail, and from our experience of another cat trying to break in a week ago, we knew that it’s impossible to verify feline identification without electric light.

A nano-moment after our besotted “hello, darling” cooings, my husband said, “Are you a fox?” Knowing by now that the worst usually happens, I screamed and hid under the bedclothes.

At 7am, after the cat had eaten breakfast and gone out again, there was another kerfuffle as something struggled through the letterbox. Was it her? we wondered – but, no, it was the sound of the poor Lib Dems leafleting at dawn.

I voted for them, nevertheless – because they are the only party to have been consistent over Europe. I don’t understand why Labour and the Liberal Democrats are being so snotty to the rational, valiant Greens about a progressive alliance.

I don’t understand anything, I haven’t slept for weeks, and while I stutter and splutter over the keyboard, the beautiful, free-loading, conscience-free cat burglar is sleeping peacefully in her bed behind the sofa.

cat occupier

Conquest Cat Portrait by Martin Hübscher Photography

I did one of those voter-party match-making tests yesterday and the big shock for me was that my views are closer to UKIP than the modern Tory party, whose social policies really must have strayed right of Attila the Hun.

Wake up, Britons! Avert this catastrophe! Don’t you hear Drake’s drum? There’s time to finish the game and beat the Spaniards too – reputed to have been said while he played bowls at Plymouth Hoe, it turns out he never said it, and it’s a soundbite invented over a century later. Our national myths had charm, once, before poetic inspiration for doing the right thing deviated into knee-jerk nationalistic slogans.

Now, the threat to the precious stone set in a silver sea is not from a foreign Armada, it’s from ourselves.

We’ve lost the blessed plot. We’re no longer the envy of less happy lands; we’re the butt of the rest of the world’s bemusement and pity.

And this same progeny of evils comes
From our debate, from our dissension

Brexit is the poison that will taint a nation, a fungus that grew in the ideological rifts of the Conservative party and infected purer minds.

J’accuse: the right-wing Brexit conspiracy, in which the public has colluded, is an act of vandalism, defacing our country’s history and laying waste to its future.

Nothing that was true is true any more, nothing makes sense, not in my catatonic state. One thing is certain: all cats are grey in the dark. The inconstant cat’s not ours. She must have at least one other home. The stupid human beings in their different dwellings think she’s dependent on them alone, and she’s playing all of us.

Sounding like a Millwall fan chanting “Noone likes us, we don’t care”, I don’t like blogging, I don’t like Brexit, I don’t care if you don’t Like me, and all it takes to go to hell nowadays is pressing Publish, or drawing X on a ballot paper.

…..and the island of Atlantis …. disappeared in the depths of the sea. Plato

DOING THE MACARENA TO CATASTROPHE

The fate of the United Kingdom after the EU Referendum, 2016

goyaGoya: Plate 1 from the series LOS DISPARETES (THE FOLLIES) or Los Proverbios, 1816-23. Image: WGA

HOW DO YOU SOLVE A PROBLEM LIKE DEMOCRACY?

You have to remember one thing about the will of the people: it wasn’t that long ago that we were swept away by the Macarena
Jon Stewart

The people never give up their liberties but under some delusion.
Edmund Burke

…the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.’
Isaac Asimov

Oh God, the terrible tyranny of the majority…
Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

Our great democracies still tend to think that a stupid man is more likely to be honest than a clever man, and our politicians take advantage of this prejudice by pretending to be even more stupid than nature made them.
Bertrand Russell, New Hopes for a Changing World

BlakeLittleBoylost

William Blake A Little Boy Lost from Songs of Experience, 1794. Image: Wikipedia.

 SUGGESTIONS FOR RESTORING UNITY & STABILITY TO THE NON-UNITED & UNSTABLE KINGDOM OF GREAT BRITAIN AND NORTHERN IRELAND ACCORDING TO CONSTITUTIONAL LAW:

1. Through parliamentary sovereignty
2. Agree that the advisory referendum result was a draw
3. Take personal action; march, write, talk.

DO NOT GIVE IN TO

 1. APATHY
The tyranny of a prince in an oligarchy is not so dangerous to the public welfare as the apathy of a citizen in a democracy.
Montesquieu

2. BIGOTRY
Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.
Martin Luther King

1826FitzwilliamMuseum
             William Blake The Little Boy Found from Songs of Innocence and Experience, 1826 Copy AA. Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge. Image: Wikipedia

THE DESTINY OF MAN IS TO UNITE, NOT TO DIVIDE. IF YOU KEEP ON DIVIDING  YOU END UP AS MONKEYS THROWING NUTS AT EACH OTHER
OUT OF SEPARATE TREES.
T.H. White, The Once and Future King

Save

Save

48 – 52

“It has been a damned nice thing – the nearest run thing you ever saw in your life”. The Duke of Wellington describing the Battle of Waterloo, 1815

Reactions to EU Referendum Result

BlakeJerusalem
William Blake, illustration to Jerusalem The Emanation of the Giant Albion Plate 51. Collection of National Gallery of Victoria.

“There are seasons in every country when noise and impudence pass current for worth; and in popular commotions especially, the clamors of interested and factious men are often mistaken for patriotism.” Alexander Hamilton (Founding Father and First Secretary of the Treasury, USA, 1789 / Mr Showbiz multi-award winner 2016)

“The destiny of man is not measured by material computations.” Winston Churchill

I am grieved at what you tell me,” said Pellinore, “but I believe that God can change destiny. I must have faith in that.”
John Steinbeck, The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights, 1976

“…the spells of Merlin and the prowess of Arthur, or the victorious career of Aurelius Ambrosius, although they delayed and in part avenged, yet could not prevent the downfall of their people.”
John Mitchell Kemble, The Saxons in England, 1849

ArthurtapestryThe Once and Future King, Arthur, now fast asleep, hasn’t woken up in time to save us from ourselves – yet. Christian Heroes Tapestry, c. 1385. Image: Wikipedia

The voice of the people has been said to be the voice of God; and, however generally this maxim has been quoted and believed, it is not true to fact. The people are turbulent and changing, they seldom judge or determine right.”
Alexander Hamilton

“There was a moment in the sixth century when something that is always trying to break through into this country nearly succeeded…Britain is always haunted by something we may call Logres [the kingdom of Arthur]. Haven’t you noticed that we are two countries? After every Arthur, a Mordred; behind every Milton, a Cromwell; a nation of poets, a nation of shopkeepers. Is it any wonder they call us hypocrites? But what they mistake for hypocrisy is really the struggle between Logres and Britain.”
C.S. Lewis, That Hideous Strength, 1946

Men often oppose a thing merely because they have had no agency in planning it, or because it may have been planned by those whom they dislike.”
Alexander Hamilton

The world is turned upside down” English Civil War ballad, 1646

….

“Calm down, dear”

NPG D31911; Catharine Macaulay (nÈe Sawbridge) in the character of a Roman matron lamenting the lost liberties of Rome by Williams, after  Katharine Read

Catharine Macaulay (née Sawbridge) line engraving by Williams, 1770, after a painting by Katharine Read © National Portrait Gallery, London.
A passionate democrat is lamenting the lost liberties of the Republic of Rome.

She was respected and celebrated in Britain, France and America, by politicians as diverse as Pitt the Elder, Mirabeau, Thomas Jefferson, Samuel Adams and George Washington, who wanted her to write the history of the American Revolution. As an historian and political theorist she was regarded as the adversary and equal of her male contemporaries David Hume, Edward Gibbon and Edmund Burke, and was more progressive, more recognizably modern to us, than any of them.

Now, most of us have never heard of her. I bumped into her for the first time a month ago when I was looking for more 18th century women with “a taste for books”, as she put it.

The process of shunting her out of his-story, started in her lifetime. As she got older, her extreme radicalism, particularly her support of the French Revolution, and unconventional private life shocked a lot of people, who cast her out of their polite society. She didn’t seem to miss it. Middle-aged women who refuse to conform, who continue to innovate and prefer dancing on the precipice to knitting grandchildren’s socks are still not taken seriously today: audiences love to see them fall.

She had been born into recently landed gentry whose wealth had come from banking, typical of early 18th century social and economic mobility. Her political theories were rooted in the ‘Roundhead’ tradition of John Hampden, the true hero of parliamentarianism, not the tyrant Oliver Cromwell, who became crypto-king.

She ranged far left of the Whig ideology in which she had been raised, far outside the accepted lines of class, sex and age. Personal liberty and equality, and the courage of personal conviction, mattered more to her than social approval. When she was forty-seven, having been a widow for twelve years, she overturned every kind of received idea by marrying a twenty-one year old ‘surgeon’s mate’, the younger brother of a celebrity quack doctor.

She was still a star of liberty in the new American Republic, and was welcomed, accompanied by her husband, to George Washington’s house for a visit which lasted ten days. She was the President’s first choice to write the history of the Revolution; by then in her late fifties, she felt too physically frail for the task; only a terminal illness would have stopped her.

After her death, her husband, William Graham, erected a monument commemorating her wisdom in All Saints’ Church, Binfield, in Berkshire. Most other English people buried her intellectual achievements along with her body, and her radical contribution to political theory and history was forgotten in the next century.

This was partly because monarchical systems of government and opposition to universal suffrage triumphed in post-Napoleonic Europe, partly because she was a woman, a very inconvenient woman, whose intellectual challenge to a man’s world could be dismissed as menopausal hysteria, her rational voice shouted down in a chorus of “Calm down, dear” (remark made by UK Prime Minister David Cameron to fellow MP Angela Eagle during a parliamentary debate in 2011, in a badly-judged parody of a popular TV advert featuring Michael Winner).

NPG D17066; Catharine Macaulay (nÈe Sawbridge) by James Basire, after  Giovanni Battista Cipriani

Catharine Macaulay (née Sawbridge) by James Basire, after Giovanni Battista Cipriani,
line engraving, published 1767. Image: © National Portrait Gallery, London

Now, when we see that liberty and equality are as fragile as ever, she is understood and relevant again.