Ping Pong and Table Politics

Source: from Theresa May’s speech at a Maidenhead GSK factory, 21st April, 2017:

Doing the right thing for ordinary working people across the country, who are

doing their best

working hard

just getting by

What drives me in politics – the passion that I have in politics – is to make the United Kingdom a country that works for everyone and not just the privileged few. But to do that you do need a strong and stable government…

Ping Pong and Table Politics

strong and stable

doing their best
working hard
just getting by

strong and stable

just getting by
working hard
doing their best

strong and stable

not getting

not getting

strong and stable



getting by

bye bye

they lose

A Pig of Political Thinking

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Flying back from Manchester yesterday in the dark of night and somewhere over Bristol, I was naturally surprised to see quite clearly out of the window on the right hand side of the airplane where I was sitting, an easily visible, though not externally illuminated, flying pig.

It was at that precise point the stranger sitting next to me began to speak. That was equally unexpected as previously it was my friend sitting there, but this unfamiliar face and voice began to address me on the subject of the forthcoming UK general election in June.

He claimed in a calm and assured tone that for humane and caring voters the only sensible priority upon which to focus was getting rid of the Tories. He said – I think obviously and correctly – that no one Party at the moment could achieve this. He suggested there would necessarily need to be a coalition of opposition.

His idea, if I can quickly summarise, was how at the very least the Green Party, Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Scottish National Party should agree to not oppose one another in marginal seats where it was likely any one of these [or other similar] Party candidates could be elected at the expense of the Conservative standing for election.

His further calculation was how statistically this would inevitably prove a successful means of reducing the Tory majority on the one hand, and on the other, if further factors additionally supported this, could possibly even displace them from leading the next government. Whilst acknowledging how that expedient coalition might well prove itself a problematic leadership, it would still be inherently preferential to a self-serving and mean-minded Conservative government holding power.

It was a longish conversation but this is the gist and it was very soon after the stranger had finished speaking that we landed at our destination.

The Choreography of the Neck

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No necklace today, but plenty of brass neck.

It is calculated and perhaps even cynical, but it is certainly an obvious decision. With Labour lagging, and with the reminder that she was never actually elected to be Prime Minister, Theresa May’s decision to call a snap general election is no real surprise.

So, little to say on this at the moment, but the major calculation that was even put into her not wearing a requisite necklace as she made the announcement today demonstrates how savvy political presentation currently is [is Labour watching?]. With her recent luxurious posing for Vogue magazine, and the previous expensive leather trousers debacle, the PR machine will have already been addressing how she is made to appear more in tune with the everyperson of the British electorate [assuming she already has the privileged in the designer handbag].

Jim Burns – Confessions of an Old Believer


I have read Jim Burns’ fine 1996 poetry collection Confessions of an Old Believer this afternoon, sitting in the occasional sun, which when out was rather hot, and always genuinely warmed whatever the sky situation by the common sense of Burns’ poems where insight and honesty are so casually walked, without pretense, through ordinary streets of experience and memory.

These are largely reflections on writing poetry, a love of his parents [debunking in two poems Larkin’s famous negative aphorism on this], communism/Marxism and the working class, his growing up in the North, a disdain for lofty intellectualism, his travels to the USA and a few on Paris, and the world of the 90s [so just before too] where social inequality and other aspects of daily impoverishment in mind and body would seem to be as they are today.

He can be wry, teasing, always honest and candidly so at times, affectionate and knowing. Above all, there is such humanity in these poems, and their apparent simplicity – what I have called ‘common sense’ above – make them all the more resonant as you encounter their accessibility and then ponder the wisdom.

I suspect Burns would also debunk such observations with a healthy dose of genuine humility, so I’ll leave readers to experience his personal qualities for themselves when reading this collection – and I do encourage you to do so. Poems like Philosophy with George and Democracy both demonstrate how little has changed, these droll observations as pertinent today:


A number of Burns’ poems are lovingly reflective of his mother and father, the first here fondly conferring a philosopher’s gown to his mum; the second is another that reminds how little has changed in the UK’s social milieu:


I am closing with a fond reminiscence of his father, and I trust these extracts exemplify the appeal in their accessible wit, wisdom and warmth:


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Easter Monday [excerpt] – Poem by Ted Berrigan

Chicago Morning

To Philip Guston

Under a red face, black velvet shyness
Milking an emaciated gaffer. God lies down
Here. Rattling of a shot, heard
From the first row. The president of the United States
And the Director of the FBI stand over
a dead mule. ‘Yes, it is nice to hear the fountain
With the green trees around it, as well as
People who need me.’ Quote Lovers of speech unquote. It’s
a nice thought
& typical of a rat. And, it is far more elaborate
Than expected. And the thing is, we don’t need
that much money.
Sunday morning; blues, blacks, red & yellow wander
In the soup. Gray in the windows’ frames. The angular
Explosion in the hips. A huge camel rests
in a massive hand
Casts clouds a smoggish white out & up over the Loop, while
Two factories (bricks) & a fortress of an oven (kiln)
Rise, barely visible inside a grey metallic gust.
‘The Fop’s Tunic.’
She gets down, off of the table, breaking a few more plates.
Natives paint their insides crystal white here (rooms)
Outside is more bricks, off-white. Europe at Night.

Hey Justine, Just Saying….

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Justine Greening today stated that grammar schools would be available to:

work for everyone

In no particular order, these are current definitions of grammar schools and their innate, adamant, fundamental, irrefutable selection process precisely so they cannot be for everyone:

(in the UK) a state secondary school to which pupils are admitted on the basis of ability

originally a school teaching Latin, but more recently an academically-oriented secondary school, differentiated in recent years from less academic Secondary Modern Schools

in the UK, a school for children aged between eleven and 18 who have passed an examination that shows they are good at studying

A grammar school is a school in Britain for children aged between eleven and eighteen who have a high academic ability

(esp formerly) a state-maintained secondary school providing an education with an academic bias for children who are selected by the eleven-plus examination, teachers’ reports, or other means

a school in the UK for children between the ages of 11 and 18 who have passed a special examination to be allowed to go there


Goalposts and Arrogance

With the Education Secretary Justine Greening soon to make an announcement that the government is proceeding with its intentions to increase the provision of grammar school education, one can only assume that this reflects both the absolute arrogance of ideology as well as pursuing a domestic policy to in some way deflect from greater and more problematic issues like Brexit at home and the diminution of the UK’s foreign policy within the worldwide context.

That virtually all commentators of all hues have observed either negatively or with apathy to the grammar school drive would seem to generate its own ongoing indifference to such an overwhelming lack of support from this government and the personal myopia of Theresa May. Even the fundamental yet flawed initial intention that rolling out more grammar school provision was to assist the social mobility of the poorest families – the just managing – has now been dismissed with the leaked news that Greening will announce this drive is to target households with an income up to £33,000.

Goalposts and arrogance – one moves as if sliding aimlessly down a lean, the other is as intransigent as grey concrete walls.

Standing Ovation for Our Days Out

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There’s a line from Dawson that could have us all laughing
on our days out, not that we needed another’s humour to keep us amused:

George and Lennie leading the way – that’s a joke – or Gogo climbing
the hill for his dear friend Didi to have a look onwards and try and find

where we were going. Friendships extend to unknown places, and the
unexpected, where he and I found so much more each year and on those

excursions. We had to travel all this way to see one another, put the world
to rights for that year when at work we’d become strangers – our days and

days in the different out-of-focus of routine. But when out, it might be
getting lost yet again along that landmark canal or ending up in the sewers

where the gag is on us as it was so much fun, camaraderie in the dark and
lavatorial, laughter however we make it and without a cautious pause,

and as said, Les could have told us at Blackpool: She was the flabbiest stripper
I’ve ever seen. When she ran off the stage she started her own applause.