Monday, July 18, 2011

Monday's Bucket of Reflections

1. Living in the attic flat, four storeys up, 100 metres from the sea, makes us a calling point for seagulls. We, these seagulls and I, share a weary fondness. They are humorous, intriguing. But when they off load, it is like a missile attack from above. They don't plop once; it's a whole string of white. And very annoying when you're running late for the morning train.

2. Two months ago, following a plan devised under slightly inebriated circumstances, some friends and I set out to walk from St Leonards, past Eastbourne, over Beachy Head and The Seven Sisters and back again. In one day. While I only made it to the turn around point, I had still managed to cover 25 miles (the last ten of which suffering on account of blisters) in nine hours. I took the bus and train back home. We set out at 4:15am and this is a picture of a friend Ralph at sun rise some 90 minutes later. I'm quite proud of that day.

St Swithin's Day, if it does rain

Full forty days, it will remain

St Swithin's Day, if it be fair

For forty days, t'will rain nae mair.

3. Last Friday was St Swithin's Day. According to the legend, if it rains on that day, then the following 40 days well be full of precipitation as well. The story goes that this fellow Swithin (or Swithun) became a bishop of some importance and built a few churches. Just before he died he asked to be buried outside so the rain could fall on him (the English eh?). But nine years after his wish was granted, some stuck up old monks moved his body and a dry summer was followed by 40 days of storm. There is some meteorological basis for this and the Met Office thinks it especially will ring true this year. School breaks up for summer in two and a half days.

4. School breaks up for summer in two and a half days.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

And it all came crumbling down.

"England's dancing days are done.
Another day, Bobby, for you to come home
& tell me indifference won."

PJ Harvey Let England Shake

It's the height of summer here in England, so as you'd expect I'm sitting inside watching the rain pour down outside as the festival market on the square outside heads steadily towards a washout. To be fair it's not typical, I went for a lovely swim in the sea in the calm evening last Monday.

However, the gloom seems to reflect the newspaper that all the newspapers are talking about- The News of the World. You would have to have been in a coma here to have missed hearing about this one. The suspicions many (including myself) had, that Rupert Murdoch's media corporation News International had phenomenal amounts of influence with the Police and the Government, can at last it seems, be proved. This clip probably best explains how it all started, and why I have a new found respect for Hugh Grant.

The actual article Hugh wrote is here.

The implications of this, that the Government really is just a puppet, are immense.

For me however, it adds to a growing sense I have had, ever since arriving in Britain, that I am living at the centre of a crumbling empire. One that has been shrinking for a while, admittedly, but even in the time that I have been here (a year next Tuesday) I have seen the value of my savings diminished every time I send money back to New Zealand, I have seen university fees go beyond reach of most citizens, and a significant number of social and educational services scraped.

The decline and decay of the British Empire has become a little bit of a fascination for me recently. I can't help feeling that I should get out, but I feel drawn to stay. A friend of mine worked in the London financial markets in the 1980s. Just before The Crash (without realising what was coming) he had sold up everything and taken off to India, only to hear about it all on the BBC World Service. I asked if he felt relief at escaping the downfall. His reply was actually no, he would have quite wanted to be there to see the chaos shatter everything to the floor.

And I think I understand what he means.