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Spring comes

Everything is growing.

It won't be long now before we have more sense of what we are changing, if we are going to change anything.

Current arrangements are driving me mad; I have yet to find a sonic screwdriver, or make a cake, the vodka jelly etc. How did this get to be such a hassle?

Still, Spring is here.

A message from Tony

Tony Blair wrote to me today. I haven't heard from him in ages!

'Dear Smokingboot'

The Government’s policy is now Brexit At Any Cost, as those in the driving seat have always wanted. Our task must be to expose relentlessly the cost to the country of rushing over the cliff’s edge.

As proud citizens of our country we believe that in the 21st Century we should maintain our partnership with the biggest political union and largest commercial market right on our doorstep.

WATCH me make this case in a speech for Open Britain this morning:


The British people voted to leave Europe and the will of the people should prevail. But the people voted without knowledge of the terms of Brexit. As these terms become clear, it is their right to change their will.

Making the best of a bad job doesn't mean it is wise to put yourself in that position unless you have to.

Open Britain is leading the fight against hard Brexit. All groups must now come together, find ways of concerting strategy and tactics effectively, and build them into something stronger.

My new institute will create a policy platform which will go wider than the question about our future relationship with Europe. There is an urgent need to re-position the whole debate around globalisation and how we make it work for people. In this sense, the Brexit debate is part of something much bigger. You can sign up here to receive information about the work of the institute.

As I said in my speech: now is the time to get organised. The one incontrovertible aspect of politics today is that it can change. The will of the people can change. This is not the time for retreat, indifference of despair; but the time to rise up in defence of what we believe.

Thank you,
Tony Blair'

I wonder where he got my email address? Obviously not from data held by a party I have left, because that would be rather rude. So we must have met at Chequers or some place I've forgotten.I have written back, because clearly this letter has come from the hand of the ex-prime minister, who is even now awaiting my reply;

Dear Tony

While I agree with you about Brexit being a terrible mistake, I have some misgivings about the campaign.

The main one is that you are perhaps not the best person to lead this campaign. There is no doubt in my mind that you will be as eloquent and persuasive as ever, but the Iran issue will always be held against you, and Brexiters will use it to reproach those who support you. Unhappily there are those who, given the choice between being pro-Europe and anti-Blair, will choose the latter. Rightly or wrongly your presence creates at least an ambivalence and at worst a rift in the Remainer ranks.

You can be of immense benefit to the campaign, I can think of no-one better to manage it, but you are not the right choice for a figurehead.

With sincere respect


There now, I hope I haven't upset him too much. But if your mailing list friends can't be honest with you, who can?


Wrapped in some kind of blanket on the kerbside, people nearby saying nice reassuring things about me, but not noticing that there was a man at the other end of my body, and neither I nor they seemed to be able to make out what he was doing. Maybe he was doing it with their permission. I could not move. I started saying, 'Help me, help me!'And was woken by my partner.
I hate it when I talk in dreams. Even in my sleep, I often know it is happening. My voice sounds much lower and forced. It creeps me out.

A late summers day 1,500 years ago...

Someone buried eight copper-alloy pots of flowers and seeds down near Pewsey, on the boundaries between the Romans and Anglo-Saxon marauders from the East. 410 AD, the Emperor Honorios told the legions to leave; radiocarbon dating places the burial of this hoard somewhere between 380 and 550 AD. Because the pots were placed carefully facing upwards, with the seeds inside an inner pot facing downwards, the plant material survived, bracken and knapweed, buttercups and sedges and cowslips... They don't know if the pots were votive, or placed by members of a fleeing community who hoped to return if ever Roman rule was re-established. I like the latter story.*

The pots are going to the museum in Devizes. I've heard excellent things about the museum,though it was very unimpressive when I was a child. But now, apparently there are all sorts of things, including shamanic bits and pieces. I should go back and have a look, if only the town wasn't so bloody depressing!

Still... ancient flowers. Once upon a time, lovely folk lived nearby...

*Info courtesy of today's Times.

Measures against Embarrassment

As the photo in my last post reveals, the test dalek cake could not be deemed successful by any conventional standards. I may well make/ buy a victoria sponge and cover it with candles, and the dalek mould will be used for a vast vodka jelly. Of course, I have never made a vodka jelly in my life before, so there's always a possibility that it will be worse than the dalek banana bread, but I find that hard to believe - yesterday's attempt must surely be some kind of nadir in baking history.

Speaking of history and dubious tests, what with the US looking increasingly embarrassed about Russia and the UK looking increasingly embarrassed about the US, I think we look nicely set up for mortification all round. Trump's visit to the UK looks fabulous: London is set to be unreasonable, Brum seems ready to give the man a perfect storm of a welcome, and Scotland appears to be lining up along the border preparing to lift its collective kilt at the first sight of him. May has made a mistake with this. Even if Trump was not controversial, even if he turns out actually to be all right, jumping the gun and offering him this sort of very rare distinguishment looks like desperate flattery because that is exactly what it is. Nobody wants to play Uriah Heep. It has coloured reactions to the visit considerably.

Her best hope would be to offer him the hospitality of Rockall, which is not only bracing and hard for protesters to access, but home to more interesting invertebrates than Westminster.

Dr Who: His Part In My Downfall

Here's how it was meant to be: My brother's birthday was in late December. He was 50. He wasn't up for a party then, saying it seemed unfair to ask people at a time when everyone is traditionally broke or just revving up for new year. Larians' suggestion was to take him on the Eurostar to Paris, with a jaunt to a cafe specialising in geek activities, including Dr Who games, as my brother is a lifelong fan of the time traveller. There were a few problems with this idea, the first being that some could not afford a weekend in Paris, the second being that Bro is not quite the traveller I am - he'll do it for work, but it's not second nature to him. But by far the biggest pitfall was that his companion/boyfriend had an entirely different plan in mind. A much bigger plan.

His plan is to secretly turn my brother's garage into a tardis, which might have been present enough, but there's more. There's always more. He wanted scenes to occur as part of a story. Bro would have to gather 6 components for the central console, and to do that, he and his guests would be whisked away to different locations in time and space, including the local park, and be attacked by cybermen/daleks/whoever. The guests who 'died' would be got back to the house and dressed for the next scene, and the next, and the next... So basically we would be hosting an interactive improv/linear role playing event, with unsuspecting guests who turned up hoping for a party. And this often outdoor event would take place in February. And then there's the matter of props and food and costume...He even has some scripted gags in mind...

But, and here's the big thing, if it worked,my brother would love it. He would love it more than a dozen trips to Europe.He would be the happiest brother in the world. So like an idiot, I said I would help.
Here is a sample of the online conversation I have been having with my brother's friend.

Me: I think we need to rethink this. Metcheck suggests the 25th may be cold and is likely to be very wet.We don't have props and wardrobe,we have the guests, and they haven't signed up for anything beyond a party! Guests won't enjoy being outside for long,especially in party gear and Bro's fun will be spoiled if he thinks his guests are getting bored. So we need encounters that are simple and can be based indoors as we need. So:

1) Blindfolded he is led through the house to the dining room, where the crappy cake is revealed to him, and we all drink a toast to his birthday. Then we go with him into the tardis.

Encounter A) An Ood/dalek knocks on the door of the tardis and challenges Bro to a Dr Who trivia/drinking quiz. For every answer Bro gets right, all the guests must take a drink, and Bro gets a crystal/propcomponent to put in a compartment of the tardis console. For every answer he gets wrong, he has to drink a shot. This lasts up to three crystals, before the ood buggers off.

Encounter B ) The dalek pinata. R is going to try to make a dalek pinata, which we can stuff with sweets and three more crystals/components for the central console. Bro is shown it then blindfolded, and has to break it open. If the guests look restless, they can take turns too.


I understand that this may be a disappointment given your vision. But I think Bro will enjoy the magic of the tardis anyway, and though he pretends otherwise, he is very mindful of his guests. The above is a compromise we can actually produce given guests/weather/time. I am available for most of this week, my only real issue is that I must practice with the dalek cake mould. But if you want me to come around and do some work on the tardis, I will give it my best shot.

Him: That sounds like a good plan
We could limit the outdoor scene to just a quick cyberman battle. Nobody needs to go outside until it's time and then it's just deploying smoke machine and lasers, one dead soldier lying on the ground, one cyberman emerging from a bush and a bit of dying. I still like the seance idea which could be done in the living room. And the third scene could be done in the garage with strange characters coming in from the outside (toxic atmosphere?)

Three is fine because, I don't know if I mentioned but we're installing giant floor-to-ceiling mirrors in the garage and only building half a console so it becomes a full one when combined with its reflection. So there'll only be the panels to place artefacts in. So just having three scenes is good

Costumes wise, we'd only need Victorian dress for the seance and some futuristic battle clothes for the battle. And whatever the mysterious tardis guests from the toxic planet will be wearing
The pinata and quiz challenge could be in the same scene in the tardis. The pinata being one of the trials

That scene could involve a couple of quick stops at points in time where the guests run off into the wrong time period to be replaced with those from another. That way other people get to have a go in the tardis and we tick the "you've messed up the timeline and are hereby banned from further time travel" box

Me: Do we have smoke,lasers and cybermen costumes? What do we do with guests who don't want to get involved in the roleplaying? These are questions we need to be able to answer.so let's consider these first.

Him: Maplin do smoke and lasers. I think hss hire might also have smoke machines for hire as a cheaper option. I can't see these three scenes taking more than half an hour in total and even if people don't feel like acting they could tag along as themselves in the tardis. We only need one cyberman costume. Anyone else who wants to be in the futuristic scene can improvise future soldier / insurgent / bounty hunter costumes, even if that means just wrapping themselves in tinfoil.

It's not me is it? It isn't some macabre attempt at gaslighting me through Messenger. He is just not hearing me. He's really got the bit between his teeth, and to make it worse, he doesn't tell anyone else, and he dearly loves complexity.

If this all comes together, my brother will be made up for the rest of the year, possible the next 50 years. But the more complex the plan, the more likely to go wrong,and this is a bloody complex plan.

And I have to make this bastard dalek cake.

16.25 Edited to add:

Holy Jesus.

After the match

We celebrated,and though I am not hungover, my dreams were mainly alcohol inspired, so not worth recording as any kind of record of my psyche. But sometimes landscapes, routes or paths recur with a strong sense of being real places.One such turned up last night, very clearly, a pathway near Bermondsey or down Southwark way, which starts real enough with a bright cheap little cafe full of people, and then becomes a road near a cliff's edge.

Across from that edge was a kind of man-made edifice where apes sat rather bored; generic primates, larger than chimps,smaller than gorillas with few defining characteristics. They are not very interesting. But turning north, there were the most huge eagles/vultures/hawks I had ever seen. Some even had saddles. They were kept there by chains around neck or feet, but still could fly, though not away from the site. Alongside there was a path, and I knew, from other dreams,where it leads. It goes to a castle which,in my dreamland, folk equate with Arthur. The outside is carved of pale, almost yellow, stone with strange figures on it,covered with slick black soot. Many of the faces and details have been worn away by time and rain.

There is a recurring theme in my dreams, of a road with an old ruin/great building beside it into which I somehow never make my way. I used to have it about a cathedral under ground, a place slipping away down a sort of tunnel.

It would be interesting to use lucid dreaming techniques to get into the old castle. But that feels like cheating somehow.

Meanwhile, looks like a visit to Japan in 2019, provided the tickets aren't ridiculously expensive. Could be wonderful!

The trouble with shoes

...Is that new ones take forever to break in, by which time they don't look so great. My boots are now beloved and comfy, but they leak so thoroughly my socks are soaked through in the mildest damp. Today,with the snow steadily falling, they're a sad no-no. I should have bought new ones last week, but new shoes are so uncomfortable!

The snow's pretty enough. I love everything about snow except for being in it. Big cat is outside gazing with baleful mien at the flakes. She doesn't want to come in; she wants to sit under a table and blame the weather.

Today I think leaving the house will be a highly improbable activity.


It's not good: https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/feb/08/mps-reject-brexit-bill-amendment-to-protect-eu-citizens-in-uk#comments

While I am worried about the movement of the far right in the UK, at the moment I am thinking of my mum. She was born in Spain, married Dad so is a GB citizen,has gone back to Spain in retirement. I don't know if she has taken up Spanish citizenship again. Paperwork is not her thing, and she is quite ill so there's no way of telling.

What happens if she has to come back here? She's never going to get on a plane again if she can help it, I know that. What happens if they stop her pension out there? It's already buying her less food, because of the drop in the value of the pound.That may not be so bad for Mum because she eats like a bird anyway, but choice and necessity are very different. I actually feel a bit sick.

Maybe it will be all right. I know the thing to do is chill and wait, that it will somehow make sense, that the government is not mad yet, and some agreement will undoubtedly be reached. I cannot express how angry I am with Brexit and all this malarky. How dare anyone jeopardise my mother's rights, after she worked here so long and hard, healing people and faithfully paying her taxes?

But I must not get angry yet, I must stay calm and see what transpires. The best I can do is make contingency plans. Unfortunately my mind is a blank, and I have no idea what plans to make.

Somewhere not here

Struggling to find the key. What's the spec? Fantasy rather than Sci-fi (easier to sell) multi strand stories...something I burn about. What makes me burn? The desire to get away, finding another country. I want the Grand Tour: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?feature=5052 (It's awesome that these are downloadable and free)

This overwhelming need to fly away makes sense now much seems to be pushing us towards war. I say 'so much.' I probably mean Trump and Bannon and maybe even Putin. Bannon is reported to have this vision of a purging event; the 'Fourth Turning,' http://time.com/4659390/howe-strauss-steve-bannon/
Even Bannon cannot possibly think war is the way to rebirth America, unless he is actually mad ...But I can see how he and others might consider the fear of such a war very useful.

All this comes at a very interesting time. What's big on-screen now? Super-heroes saving the world from threats, from itself, Game of Thrones presents larger than life people who must and should unite against a greater menace even though their own world is a bit shit, the Star Wars franchise wakes up and is suddenly good again, after those bloody awful prequels. There's good drama too, but we really are seeing a fascinating emergence of what was once geek culture into the mainstream. In theatre we see new immersive forms arising, music seems to be in a deeply uninventive phase ... Cartoon commentary and satire are doing well, one-liners and pithy memes proliferate. There's lots of expression everywhere. Detailed worlds, everyone wants an escape so convincing it feels real. But despite the new and fascinating forms, there is a theme that repeats; Somewhere Not Here. And I should be able to plug into that because I have felt it most of my life, but there is a part of me that thinks escapism is for when life is dull, not for when life is dangerous.Flying away isn't always the answer.

Maybe I should just write and see where it takes me. Sometimes that works, sometimes it doesn't.

Pff. Thinking so hard,getting nowhere.Tests show great results, lungs, heart, all fine, but bloodwork indicates allergens,and I still can't breathe. So it's time for an ear, nose and throat specialist.



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