In lieu of attending either the People’s Vote March in London taking place tomorrow or the Anti-fracking Rally at Preston New Road, also tomorrow, hopefully this cartoon speaks for itself:





The name ‘Cassandra’ keeps coming to mind of late. So I looked her up on wikipedia and found this: ‘She grabbed an axe in one hand and a burning torch in the other, and ran towards the Trojan Horse, intent on destroying it herself to stop the Greeks from destroying Troy.’


cassandra 001

In case you can’t zoom in on the text, and with apologies for mixed metaphors and mangled mythology:

‘Do not accept this gift-horse,’ Cassandra cried. ‘Send it back, unopened, to the Tory Brexiteers whence it came. It is a hubristic folly and a gross misdirection; it distracts us from great thefts and greater catastrophes to come. If you look in its mouth, you’ll find the teeth of a wolf.

‘While we gaze, amazed, at its massive and cumbersome form, they are eating the heart of the state, making a meal of our common wealth and fanning the flames of ecological crisis.’

But her own torch and axe were puny, and the baying press-hounds and their trolls bellowed ‘fake news!’, and called her ‘mad woman!’, ‘traitor!’, ‘treehugger!’ and she was not believed.

What’s in a name?

I’m wondering how we Brits would view the world and our place in it if our country didn’t have ‘Great’ in its name. Lately we have been deluged with TV programmes called ‘The Great British …’, which seem to add to the impression that ‘Great’ is an evaluation rather than just a historical/geographical label to refer to a small bit of land off the coast of Europe. Would the Leave campaign have been able to persuade people that we’d be better off outwith the EU if there wasn’t a hint in every use of the name that we are ‘great’, a reminder that we used to have a vast pink empire on the map (pink – not for the colour of expats in the sun but because in the past pink was seen as suitably masculine and powerful – or maybe for some more practical reason like available ink?).

Let’s stop pretending we live in a ‘great’ country which should ‘punch above its weight’ in the world. Our history may have some bits to be proud of but our ‘greatness’ largely amounts to wealth acquired during a colonial past when pirates and thieves were euphemistically called ‘discoverers’ and bringers of ‘civilisation’ to benighted barbarians, and justified by a sense of entitlement based on self-interested racial constructions of difference. The British empire should be a subject of shame, not of nostalgia.

(And by the way other places have had empires too – Spain, Portugal, Holland, Austria-Hungary, Turkey, not to mention Rome.)

So, if we drop the ‘Great’, what should we call ourselves? The disunited kingdom?