It has been an interesting month. Little traffic on the roads because the schools are all shut, the UK Parliament in recess so the press are scratching around for stories and, of course, the weather in the UK has been awful–but then it is summer.
The Writing Life:
I’m a little behind with the third novella in the Barnikel and Fearnaught series. This isn’t due to idleness–although that has something to do with it–but is mainly due to my starting a marketing course, specifically aimed at how to let readers know that my books actually exist. And idleness, of course. Hence I’ve been incredibly lazy and not written any blog articles. I tell you what, why don’t we say that I decided to take August off and forgot to tell you that I was doing so?
Anyway, I’m back. Part of the reason for not finishing the third novella on schedule was I had an idea for a spin-off series of books. In the forthcoming third book, much of the mysterious background of Reverend Bahati Barnikel will be revealed, but there will be questions raised about exactly who Victor Fearnaught is–or was. All I will say at this point is that the third book will be published by mid-September and the first of a new series by the end of October. Originally I had planned a novella every six weeks, but life gets in the way! Oh, and to answer a question I was asked, yes I set the books in Hampshire, although place names have been slightly altered and the geography is not exactly the same. That might have been a mistake, or at least a bit of a waste of writing time, because I had to make a map of my own Hampshire–I could have stuck with the real geography and just doctored the place names a bit. Oh well, we live and learn by our mistakes–I’ve made so many I should be a genius by now.
August has mainly been about the Labour party preparing to fragment. I suppose I can understand a nostalgic yearning for the past–personally I would love to have been around during the pioneering days of aviation–and Jeremy Corbin obvious yearns for a time when the trade unions effectively dictated policy to the UK government of the day and Socialist economics had not yet been discredited. Yes, I know that capitalism has its faults and Society needs a safety blanket, but J Corbin esq is a spiritual successor to dear old Michael Foot–and would be about as successful if he is elected leader of the Labour Party. In the meantime, another iconic figure of Labour politics past– iconic in his own eyes that is–continues to try to intervene in the leadership election. Perhaps somebody ought to take Tony Blair quietly to one side and
shoot explain to him that not only does he have no following–or relevance– in today’s political landscape, there is a sizeable chunk of the electorate who think he should be behind bars and only just getting out.
In the meantime, Dave (UK Prime Minister Cameron) is having an easier time than he might have expected. Not only because Harriet (acting temporary leader of the Labour Party, Harriet Harman) has her hands full preventing ‘the comrades’ from publicly turning on each other like a pack of rabid dogs–I leave you to judge for yourselves how successful she’s been–but because he announced that he wouldn’t stand again as leader of the Conservatives and nobody wants to be seen the first to put the knife in. That and the fact that most of the EU–OK, Angela (Merkel) but does anybody else really matter?–is beginning to see a need for reform, so his attempts to renegotiate the UK’s terms and conditions of membership might actually bear some fruit.
Everybody–apart from the UK–thinks that the free movement of labour is an integral part of the EU and to change it would signal the end of the European dream. At least, they did think that until somebody–no doubt an obscure department of overpaid statisticians located somewhere in downtown Brussels– produced a set of figures showing how many migrants were crossing into the EU from North Africa and the Balkans. Even allowing for those poor souls who don’t survive the journey, there’s rather a lot of them. Germany, after seventy years still trying to prove themselves the good guys as far as ethnic minorities are concerned, is getting a bit fed up with taking most of them. Angela (is there a Herr Merkel, by the way? Dennis Thatcher had his moments and his fans, but Herr Merkel remains totally silent and anonymous) managed to strong arm the Greek bailout through the Bundestag, but allowing more migrants over the Rhine and into The Fatherland might prove to be a vote too far. To a loud chorus of criticism, Hungary has built a barbed wire fence to keep the unwanted out, but it’s gradually dawning on the rest of the EU that they need an idea, not an agenda for another seven urgent meetings on the subject. Europe is so unified that the migrant problem is all the fault of the Greeks and the Italians who are failing to keep them out. Somebody (possibly a Greek or Italian politician) did mention that perhaps the EU countries ought to work together–or at least cough up some money for stronger Greek and Italian border forces–but that idea was immediately pooh-poohed. Until Hungary built the fence. Then there was much hand-wringing–because somebody was going to actually have to do something and ‘they’ were running out of people to blame. An urgent meeting was convened, to take place somewhere in the EU sometime in September, but the question has already slipped out of the bag, along with the cat. What is the EU actually for? Angela could have a quiet word with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and explain that Germany has tried erecting fences to keep undesirables both in and out, and neither worked, but at the moment he’s not likely to listen. British Home Secretary Theresa May, an unlikely but still wannabe successor to Dave, has suggested that only EU migrants with jobs should be allowed freedom of travel in the EU–OK, make that the freedom to travel to the UK only if they have a job to come to in the UK–a suggestion that will play well with the readers of certain right-wing UK newspapers but doesn’t answer the real question and fails to mention what happens to the hordes of Brits who have retired in other EU countries. I mean, they don’t have jobs, so should they be sent home? And just one other thought, how are people going to get a job in the UK if they aren’t allowed to travel there to look for one? Far too difficult, but never mind, it reads well. Must stop Johnny (and Jane) Foreigner coming over here and taking our jobs. The fact that the sainted NHS, the transport industry and most coffee shops would immediately have to close if all non-UK citizens were sent home is entirely not the point.
Finally–notice the clever link, tying in with celebrating the seventieth anniversary of the end of the Second World War?– once again America and Britain saved France from danger. An attempted terrorist attack in a high speed train was foiled by three Yanks and a Limey punching a heavily armed git to the floor and tying him up. Fortunately there are still some standards, the Limey was wearing a tie and they used that to secure the would-be assassin. The French train staff retreated behind a metal door and secured the safety of the train, a feat which earned them the congratulations of their union and a slightly embarrassed silence throughout France. Now, in the interests of fairness, I should point out that apparently a French National was also involved in foiling the attack, but he or she didn’t want to be identified. You might suppose this is because he or she was thinking of possible reprisals against his or her family–or you might think that he or she didn’t want to appear to be letting the side down by not cowering behind a convenient metal door. I leave you to decide, as indeed, I leave you for the moment.