Welcome one and all to the latest Meerkat Muse!
What’s been happening to this meerkat these past couple of weeks? Well, I’ve continued to rejoice at the return of Formula 1, football has continued to provide frustrations (more on that below), we’re up and running at work, we’ve had family time, and the weather couldn’t be more erratic. Let’s start with one of the biggest stories from the past couple of weeks…
The Duke of Edinburgh
Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, husband of Queen Elizabeth II, passed away on the 9th of April. I am fairly ambivalent about the Royal Family, but I feel a lot of sympathy for the Queen, who has lost the love of her life. They were married for almost 74 years, so naturally they were a big part of one another’s lives, and then suddenly the Duke is gone. I cannot begin to imagine how that must feel.
Prince Philip was a popular figure to the British public. He served in WWII, set up institutions such as the Duke of Edinburgh Awards and was a patron of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). He also made a number of high-profile gaffes that were decidedly off-colour – and in many cases openly racist. These gaffes have been laughed off as those from a man who grew up in a different era – but we moved away from that era and that mode of thinking for a reason.
The country’s reaction has been… passionate, at least in some quarters. The BBC has run wall-to-wall programming mourning the Duke’s passing, in moves likened to the behaviour of the North Korean press when a Supreme Leader dies. I do understand the symbolism, but is it going too far? Yes, Prince Philip was deeply loved by many, but he was also 99 years old, frail and recently out of hospital. This can’t be seen as a shock; indeed, plans have been in place for this for a while.
We had eight days of mourning. What is that supposed to mean? I don’t delight in Prince Philip’s death but I can’t mourn him. I felt sadder when Murray Walker died. Walker tied into one of my passions; the Royal Family doesn’t.
The 12th of April arrived and the doors to the showroom opened – well, they metaphorically opened, as it was still cold outside (with snow still trying to all, as ridiculous as that seemed). The first day brought a lot of customers through the door and it even produced a sale (for me no less!). It was a busy day and it flew by, unlike the looooooooong days of solo working that my manager and I had to endure whilst our colleagues were furloughed. As the week went by we continued to have a steady train of customers coming in, which in some ways is exhausting (for when customers are in the showroom we have to wear masks, which means we’re always in masks), but it’s better than the alternative.
It’s meant some late finishes for me. Site visits for me a slog, for I don’t drive, but the two I had I deemed to be within walking distance. I’m not sure if I’ll agree to do anymore (it’s currently at the discretion of the sales staff as to whether we carry them out), but it was good to get the practice in, and I believe at least one of them will become a sale.
The Easter Weekend saw a belated exchange of Christmas gifts (yes I know) between my parents and myself, wife and daughter. It was the first opportunity we’d had to see each other since the winter lockdown, and thankfully the weather held up nicely for it. I received from my brother something I’d previously possessed as a child… something that I drove my parents mad with.
This is a Galoob die-cast model of the Enterprise-D, designed to perform the saucer separation as seen in The Next Generation. Because it is seen as a collector’s item these days, my wife won’t let me open it… grrr.
Lately I’ve done a bit more work on The Awakening. It’s taken some effort, but I’m continuing to nudge forward with this project, turning the original story into something meatier, and hopefully better. I’d love for this to truly take off, but will it? I have no idea. I still push the original version on Twitter, but it hasn’t sold much, nor am I truly expecting it to.
I am a huge Liverpool football club fan, but their plan to join a breakway European super league is an affront to what the city and club normally stand for.
On one level, I can understand that football clubs are also businesses, and these days they are big businesses. The sport in general has become thoroughly commercialised over the last few decades, involving huge TV rights deals on both domestic and European levels. Clubs want to protect their interests, but some clubs are prepared to do at the expense of the game itself. Every club should have the same opportunities, something that will cease to be true if this super league goes ahead. Liverpool, Manchester United, Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea and Arsenal are all rich clubs, clubs that are currently motivated only by greed, and by a belief that they have a divine right to compete in a closed-off competition every single year, just because. This is an affront to the game.
The clubs will inevitably face consequences. Bans from domestic competitions are not out of the question and players at these clubs might be barred from representing their countries. An exodus from these clubs seems highly likely if these plans proceed. After all, how can these clubs be allowed to compete in the Premier League if they suddenly have a source of revenue well beyond what any other club can ever hope to reach?
I hate to agree with Gary Neville of all people, but he’s spot on. When you see him and Jamie Carragher in agreement, you know this is a bad idea.
This whole situation is making a mockery of football.
Over on the social/political blog that I run, I’ve been having quite a few discussions about guns, gun control and gun violence. I will not pretend to understand everything on this polarising subject, but I know one thing – I can send my daughter to school and not worry about a shooter. My wife can head into town with me worrying about a gunman going on a spree. I can head to work knowing there aren’t people plotting to spray my workplace with bullets. I know that the UK is, for all its flaws, fundamentally safer than the USA. I know Japan, a country with virtually no guns whatsoever, is among the safest countries on earth. Yes, there’s more to it than access to firearms, but do people not stop to wonder if making it easier to get hold of weapons designed to kill might be contributing to gun crime?
I occasionally find myself looking up Star Trek Micro Machines on Ebay. I used to have quite a vast collection of these models, but for one reason or another sold them years ago, something I now regret. I also had some Star Wars and Babylon 5 Micro Machines too – they are all available to buy, but they are absurdly expensive now!
Would one of those gigantic inflatable dinosaur costumes look weird for Halloween (assuming we get to go trick-or-treating this year)?
Somehow, two big UK retailers are coming to blows over… a caterpillar cake. Yes, that’s right, a caterpillar cake. Marks & Spencer (historically an expensive, upmarket retailer) have sold Colin since 1990. The cake is reasonable enough if you enjoy chocolate sponge with chocolate cream and a chocolate shell. It’s also somewhat pricey in M&S. Cuthbert, Aldi’s alternative, admittedly looks suspiciously similar to Colin, but then, so do the Asda, Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Morrison’s varieties – not all to the same degree, but they’re all copycat… erpillars. Sorry, couldn’t resist.
It seems to me that M&S don’t want their luxurious erm, chocolate sponge, to be associated with the cheap rabble-rouser that is Cuthbert. Is there just a hint of classism about all this? Or do M&S merely have themselves in a flutter because Cuthbert is equally as tasty as Colin yet nearly half the price? At any rate, the #FreeCuthbert campaign on Twitter shows little sign of stopping.
That’s it for this Meerkat Muse. What will the world look like in another two weeks?!