British Independence – Part Three

It could be quite exciting. I mean the idea of an independent Great Britain. A new experiment for the British people. Something they have never tried before.

Oh, they’ve been a sovereign nation before…and they’ve wielded sovereignty over many other nations quite cheerfully. Taking food and fibre, oils and minerals, gold, silver, iron and timber from them to supply the things that the British isles cannot grow or mine. They’ve used them as sources of slaves, when that was fashionable…and indentured labourers when the fashion changed. They’ve used them as receptacles for the unwanted poor or religiously inconvenient. Other nations have been jolly useful – even when you have to been forced to trade with them instead of looting them.

But that doesn’t make you independent. Quite the opposite – like Japan, Singapore, the various Arabies, and any number of quasi colonies…if Great Britain cannot do without those other outlying sources of goods and food, they are in a position of strategic dependency. That’s the most frightening one of all, as Japan discovered when the submarine campaign against them ramped up in the mid-forties. Isolated and independent is fine when you are stocked up but you go hungry and cold pretty quick as the pantry clears out.

Still, the British have been hungry before – the Second World War comes to mind. They got thinner and had less tooth decay, so maybe a period of austerity will be good for the people as a whole. Give them three decades and they might well have balanced their population with their arable land ( Mind you, you can only increase the latter by so much before you have to trim the former. The withdrawal of the National Health Scheme should do that. ).

I think they can do themselves a lot of good by trimming the overseas fat off their budget. Not just the EU contributions but the money that is put out to maintain the show of overseas political rule. Haul down the Union Jack from the places where it is a symbol of the 18th century…Canada, New Zealand, Australia, etc. and sell off the residences of the various governors that prance and prate therein. Stop pretending to be Queen or King of Someplace Else and concentrate on being Q. or K. of the UK. Let the former colonies elect or appoint their own parasites as heads of state. Then they’ll have to entertain the Q. or K. of the UK when they visit at thethe expense of their own nation.

Or do they do that now…?

 

The British And Independence – Part One

I am starting to think that the British have a problem with independence…in all its many forms. And I suspect that they have had the trouble for a long time.

This has been in my mind as I watch the reports on the BREXIT business – reports that have been coming in from them and their erstwhile EU colleagues for the last two years.

They’re in a mess. They seem to want to be an independent nation – they say ‘ once more ‘ – but have not figured out how to implement it. They seem reluctant to even declare it clearly. But I think that this is a hangover from their history of dealing with other people who wanted to be independent.

The case presenting most clearly is the United States of America. They wanted to be independent in 1774 and made the effort of fighting a successful revolutionary war to achieve it. The fact that they won this against Great Britain told heavily in the UK and its echo still is there in the minds of the British people.

The French revolted against themselves  – again successfully  – a few years later and this also tells in modern Great Britain’s mind.

And finally, some former colonies of Great Britain – their overseas empire of resources  – also declared themselves independent after Great Britain spent itself poor in half a century of modern war. And the UK could do nothing but pretend that they agreed…being powerless to prevent it. This is the latest and most acid memory.

Perhaps there is more…tomorrow.

Go To SIngaporeans

Eh? Shouldn’t that be  ” Go To Singapore “?

Well, yes…the first time. Go to see the gardens and the Raffles and the Zoo. Go to the Bird Park and Chinatown and the temples. Go to the casino, if you must. Go and have a safe, good time. Spend some money and don’t make a goose of yourself.

But go the second time to see the people.

Singaporeans are a heady mixture of cultures, races, classes, sexes, ages, and religions. Each person has a great many things different from their neighbours, but they have one great commonality; they get on together. That might be because the government of Singapore demands that they do, but I suspect it is also because they want to. They are people of good will.

When you go the second time you can fill in the lines on the tourist card that you missed the first time. I need to tick the Botanical Gardens, the Chinese Gardens, and the Japanese Gardens. All do-able on the MRT. I need to see the Battle Box. I need to go to the building you see in the heading image and find out all about it – it is the most fascinating structure i have seen in three decades.

Then I want to sit in the malls and drift through the shops and eat in the open air to observe the Singaporeans living their lives. I would love to see them at home but they may be private people. In any case I would get enough joy from just seeing them to keep me cheerful for years.

Imported Beer

Australians run on beer.

From the little toddlers clasping their cans of Fosters with the rubber nipple on the top to the octogenarians sitting at the bus stop with their yards of ale and matchlock pistols, the whole nation is permanently on the grog. Morning recess at the primary school means collecting a bin full of empty cans and even the WCTU Prawn and Piss Night is renowned for the spectacular fist fights after 10:00 o’clock.

This has been made possible by the establishment in every town and city of some sort of a brewery. Many large cities have multiple breweries and there is a constant trade across state lines of container trucks and trainloads of beer. But one part of the trade has become a puzzle in the last few years – the imported beer market. I cannot figure out why it has arisen.

Oh, I realise that there are different tastes in beer from different traditions. And some people genuinely like one thing over another. But that may also have been the case in the 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s…and no-one died of beer drought when there was no import trade. People drank what was brewed locally – and the growers of the ingredients prospered along with the bottlers. Now I cannot see that they might – if everything that is bottled comes in on a container ship and the trade is conducted to enrich only the middle man and the shipper.

How much cheaper might we get our beer, in spite of local taxes,  if the cost of the importation and all the overseas transportation were to be removed from the brewery’s balance sheet? Trust me – the beer would be just as cold and just as tasty if it were all made here by Australian firms.

 

Piracy On The High Seas

I love pirates. From Johny Depp as Jack Sparrow to Errol Flynn as Captain Blood they have swashed buckles and shivered timbers from Tortuga to Tahiti. Even Aardman had wonderful pirates as animated characters.

I’m even more impressed with the ones off the Horn of Africa who try to zoom aboard passing merchant ships and rob the crews. And I just loooove the way the US, Britain, France, and the Russians treat them – from opening up on their tin can boats with autocannon to boarding them and blowing them up with satchel charges.

I note that the Iranian floating terrorists are now entering the game and stepping up the pace with ship captures and mines.

Please, let us return to the days of the Caribbean and the Royal Navy sinking pirates on sight. And Wapping Stairs, please. In chains.

Rules of engagement for countering pirates: There’s one, open fire.

PS: Let the air squadrons play too. If they can’t get a Warthog that far out from the coast, surely someone has a spare gun pack in the stores they could clap onto a Hornet.

Pirates are ALWAYS freie Vögel…whether they have a mullah or a mad king at their back. And eventually you get to storm their pirate nest and burn it to the ground. It took care of Port Royal and Cartagena…and Bandar-e Abbas is no different.

The Screech Of The We’re-Idiot

The Irish used to fear the screech of the banshee. So did the landing crews of the HMCS BONAVENTURE, but that was a slightly different matter. The wailing and unearthly sounds in both cases portended doom and disaster, but in the case of the Canadian aircraft carrier it was their jet squadrons landing back aboard…

Now we have a new fear to chill us in the night – the we’re-idiot who uses Facebook as a sounding board for their political and religious opinions. You may not hear them, but you see them, and the sight of yet another Anti-Trump rant or Millenial Moan is enough to drop the social temperature a good ten degrees.

We’re -idiot? Derived from the expression ” We’re outraged “.

It will only get worse – though I’m happy to say that the very worst of it will echo overseas. The American election will occupy the net for months and while our local were-idiots will foam and snarl, it will be as nothing to the exchanges in the USA. We’ll get the occasional echo here as the locals try to develop adequate outrage, but by and large it will be small stuff directed at a Prime Minister who is made of beige in a parliament that is painted taupe. We lack really savage causes, even though we do have some pretty classic savages.

The best we seem to be able to do lately is to foam about a football player who is a fundamentalist. Many of us do not care for his opinion nor for his attempts to collect sympathiser’s money, but then many of us do not care for the witch-hunt that has prompted this, either. We would be happy if he, his detractors, and his supporters were to take their money and their memes and go away. We will not pursue them.

 

Visiting The Old Country From The New Country

How many migrants to and from Europe, Canada, the USA, Australia, and New Zealand have had this experience:

They’ve migrated and worked and saved and succeeded in the new country but always hold a dear memory of the old land. This homesickness has been acute in the first couple of years but worn off somewhat after that – what with new careers, families, and homes. But it starts again at about 15 years and they decide to go back and see the old place.

They plan to make a big trip and see everywhere they used to live – and possibly everyone they used to know. The get on the plane or ship and float on water or air to the old home country. And are horrified to find that it is not there.

Oh, the dirt is still there, and in the case of a lot of places it has crawled halfway up the buildings…but the society and people and nation has so changed from what it was that they are strangers in a wasteland. Worse – if there has been a war go through the place – or a spate of developers – even the buildings they knew do not exist.

Their old friends are dead, or older, and do not have the last 15 years of shared memories to talk over. Only the past – and that can be as dead as the dust. They run out of conversation in 5 minutes. Even if the old language is the same, the speakers are not talking to them.

This is the thought that I took back to the UK when I visited in 1995 – from having once lived in the place in 1973. It was just that way, though there were plenty of tourist activities in which to immerse myself. Would I get any benefit from another visit? Yes, if my current interests could be pursued – the UK is a nice place.

Canada or the USA for me? After 52 years? There’s a big question. An expensive one to answer, too – especially with the fear that seeing my youth gone would age me more. I can do that right now at local prices and wearing comfortable clothes.