Welcome back ‘kats, to the latest edition of your favourite show, the Meerkat Muse!
We kick things off with a topic that’s been in the news a lot…
The Platinum Jubilee
On the 2nd of June, Queen Elizabeth II marked her Platinum Jubilee, celebrating 70 years as the UK’s monarch. Her reign officially began on the 6th of February 1952, and she was not coronated until 2nd June 1953 – so I am a little confused as to why the Platinum Jubilee is now. I’m sure there’s a reason, but I’m not that interested.
In many ways, I’m not interested full-stop. I bear no ill-will for the Queen, though I have a few concerns around the Royal family as a whole. The pageantry of the occasion has been impressive (to put it mildly), though I sometimes wonder if the expense of it all, at a time when we have children who are going hungry, and people forced to choose between heating their homes or food, is too much.
Then there’s the right-wing ‘patriot brigade’. The waving of flags and the elaborate ceremonies and parties are what they care about, and any criticism of this is enough for them to accuse people of not being patriotic. We’ve got crates – yes crates – of expensive booze, being delivered to Downing Street – whilst war veterans sleep on cardboard boxes in the streets. We’ve got a cost of living crisis and a complete lack of interest in solving it. Yet don’t wave a flag around or chant ‘God save the Queen’, and suddenly you’re not patriotic?! To use language I seldom use on this blog – fuck off.
The UK has lots of problems, but the resources and means are there to fix them – we lack only the will. Meanwhile, we are distracted by bunting and flags.
Speaking of perfunctory gestures and flags…
June is Pride Month, a celebration of the LGBT+ community, and as usual, a lot of businesses will dress up products in rainbow flags, and use rainbow colours in their advertising. They’ll make all the right noises, as they do for occasions such as Black History Month, and like Black History Month, when Pride is over, it will be forgotten. The demonization of this community (particularly, at this time, transgender individuals) seems to be never-ending, yet I believe (as with racism) that one day, it will come to an end.
We took ourselves out and about during the Jubilee Bank Holiday weekend. This little visit to a nearby park, was in the hope of seeing a Red Arrows flyby… which didn’t happen (or if it did, it was too distant for us to appreciate). Instead, we drank in the sunshine, and looked for ducks to feed. We ending up feeding murder swans (aka geese), some of whom chased us for the bread. They move as one deadly swarm.
The weather was good, and after around 45 minutes of waiting for the planes, we departed for the town centre, and feasted on Burger King (I do love me a bacon double cheeseburger). We gathered a few supplies in Asda and headed home, where I resumed battle with a free version of Beat Saber, and must have looked like a complete idiot.
I have been at sixes and sevens lately. I got to work for an 8am start the other day, as is normally the case during the week – but it was Saturday, which is a 9am start. I think the Jubilee Bank Holiday threw me – the hours change, the whole routine changes, and with a hay-fever-ruined brain, I had no chance.
Schisms and Uprisings
Those two words are the titles for books I’m working on. One is a sequel to The Awakening, one is something completely different. What I’m hoping for, is someone to co-author my ‘completely different’ project, and whilst I don’t have someone to do that, there is someone who has very kindly agreed to run her eyes over it. Getting some early feedback (this project is far from finished) could prove invaluable.
Time and Again
By now, you all know I have some strange dreams. The other night offered up one of the most fascinating nocturnal adventures I’ve ever had. I had the ability to travel in time, and I found myself back in 2004, when I first met my other half. I didn’t attempt to talk to her, though I did try to find her. We were at a… castle? There was a wedding taking place, and I remember exploring the grounds. I also found myself outside the church where we got married, but it was relocated, and surrounded by the town centre, which was also a blending of Stevenage (where I grew up) and Basildon (where I live).
I decided I’d pay a visit to a few places. I ventured to a couple of old workplaces, prior to when I’d actually joined them. I kept wanting to talk to my future colleagues and friends, but I didn’t. I settled for observing. I was observing some former bathroom showroom colleagues when I was set upon by some thugs, who dragged me into the sea. At this stage, I discovered new powers – such as levitation (I hurled my attackers into the sky), making one of them grow gills, and turning the hand of one into a unique living entity. Then I woke up.
How the dream ended was utterly surreal, even in the context of a time-travelling dream. Prior to that, I’d been walking along familiar-yet-different streets, places that had changed with time. One thing that’s abundantly clear, is that Basildon has changed a lot in the time I’ve lived here, but it hasn’t felt dramatic, for I’ve lived through it. On the other hand, the changes to Stevenage feel sharp and sudden, which is because I haven’t lived there for many years. Every return visit is met with alterations and updates. Either way, returning to that time felt weird. 2004 is when my live changed massively. The events of that time put me on the course to now. Watching the people that would become important to me, yet feeling like I had to remain hidden from them… I’m sure there’s a message in there somewhere.
Speaking of messages…
Confidence is Cracking
On Monday the 6th of June, Tory MPs cast their votes of confidence in the beleaguered Boris Johnson. 41% of those MPs declared they had no confidence in him, and yet, a lot of his supporters came out saying he’d won a decisive victory.
Decisive to whom? To borrow an analogy I’ve seen elsewhere, if 41% of the audience at a theatre or concert, got up and left, would this be seen as a great endorsement of the performance? It’s even emerged that Johnson traded votes for constituent funding! In other words, Johnson bribed MPs to get their support. Is that because he knows he does not hold the moral or ethical high ground?
Surely the writing is firmly on the wall? More than a third of Tory MPs think Johnson will cost them dearly at the next election, and based on current predictions, they’d be right. Last July, the Tories had an average of a ten-point lead over Labour in the polls. Even before Partygate, that lead was shrinking. Now, Labour has a six-point lead. Far from decisive, but it’s a mark of how much public belief in Johnson (as misguided as it was anyway) has eroded.
The Worst Hay-Fever Ever
The other day I experienced absolute agony, thanks to hay-fever. My pollen allergy seems to have gotten worse down the years, but on the 9th of June, it kicked into overdrive. I was awake at 5am, thanks to being bunged up, and took a covid test (just in case, it came back negative). I took a variety of hay-fever medication, used a copious number of wipes, and also used balms and sprays, in a bid to feel semi-human. None of it worked. In the evening I felt as bad as I did at in the morning. Still, the day wasn’t a total loss.
My parents came down to see me, and they brought some pizza and chicken for lunch. Being separated by many miles precludes impromptu visits, so this was arranged in advance, and it’s always good to see the folks, though it was disrupted by my daughter’s parent/teacher evening at her school, which I’d forgotten about. My wife and I spent the day with my parents, and the evening at the school, whereupon we were delighted with how our daughter is getting on.
Some subjects are the bane of her life, such as maths, and I can empathise, having never liked maths. I didn’t especially enjoy PE, and my daughter shares my disdain for that subject. She has her strengths and weaknesses across a range of lessons, but overall, the results are very encouraging, and I am very proud of her.
One of the persistent lies that we tell ourselves in the UK, is that immigration – especially illegal immigration – is out of control. A large – and misleading – part of the Brexit argument, was that we’d have more control of our borders, to tackle this imaginary problem. Now, in a bid to appeal to hardcore Brexiteers, the Tories are shipping refugees – yes, refugees – to Rwanda. This comes back to a point I’ve raised before. We have the means to help a lot of people. We have the resources to address gross discrepancies in income and quality of life. What we lack is the will. Instead we have Tories pandering to some of the worst elements of UK society, deporting vulnerable, desperate people, at a time when we should be extending the hand of friendship and compassion.
When did we become, as a nation, cold and cruel? Why are we sleep-walking into this process of dehumanising people, so we can ship them off elsewhere? This is a terrible stain upon Britain, and a mark of deep shame.
Let’s try to end this Muse on a high, or at least, on a unique note. Back in December, Facebook launched a new VR program, called Horizon Worlds. This was exclusive to North America, and beset with problems, not least of all harassment of women, and concerns that minors would not be protected (though in principle, only people aged 18 or over can use it). Nonetheless, there is an intriguing potential with this software. I see it as an opportunity to develop a virtual Meerkat Musings, and as a means to promote my book. That being said, currently you can only create a world whilst using VR, and I personally am not sure if I’ll enjoy that. I’ve only tried it once, and I should be patient, but I wish the option existed to create a world via PC, and then explore it via VR.
Needless to say, it will be some time before Meerkat Musings goes virtual! On that unusual note, take care everyone!