LETTERS FROM LONDON
REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL
20 January 2018
The French Bearing Gifts

It’s the French bearing the Bayeux gift. Mon dieu! Merci Monsieur President!  
Merci! No irony here. 70 metres depicting the Norman aristocrats having just
slaughtered the British ruling classes. Thousands were slain. Ouch. The end of
Anglo-Saxon rule in Britain. Ah, Macron the conqueror.

Theresa then handed over – gift wrapped? - an extra £45million up front. Now is
that proper gift-giving? Giving to get? Mai non. This to ‘improve’ border security
at the French port.

More irony you asked for: it was embroidered by English seamstresses,
possibly in Canterbury. Let’s do more. Macron has been very busy begging
London financial services to move to Paris. Clearly Macron gives to get.

All right, still more irony here. Let the battle begin. The British Museum, favoured
by bookmaker Ladbrokes, Westminster Abbey, Canterbury, Coventry, York,
Leicester and naturally Hastings want to display it. Narrowing down, it’s said to
be the British Museum vs Hastings. David and Goliath possibly? The tapestry is
now exhibited at the Musée de la Tapisserie de Bayeux in Bayeux, Normandy. It
hasn’t left France for 950 years.

OK, the last of the irony. Harold wasn’t killed by an arrow to the eye as depicted
on the tapestry; historians think he was hacked to death by four Norman
soldiers. Whew. Quel soulagement.

Hang on – I know, sorry - Macron hasn’t indicated for how long. It won’t arrive
on British shores until 2020. To avoid queuing for hours with rowdy, annoying
school children, there’s a major replica in Reading Museum.

Back to Theresa, who treated Macron to a pub lunch, selfies at the V&A and
announced: their “entente chaleureus – “warm agreement”. Macron announced:
“If you want access to the single market, including the financial services, be my
guest. But it means that you need to contribute to the budget and acknowledge
European justification.” C'est choquant (it’s shocking)!

The next day, Macron met with Merkel at the Élysée Palace for a private meeting
on the future of the EU and their shared ideas. “Angela, best if we decide now
how to divide up London’s financial services between Paris and Frankfurt don’t
you think?” And Theresa? Not invited to the party? Do you reckon she sent an
appeasement present?


REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL – or not


Lording Over

So contain your surprise if you can. Theresa could create 200 new Tory peers
to force Brexit legislation through the House of Lords. Ah, the enviable ethics of
the Tories. Taking bets? Hmmm. With the government already suffering one
defeat during the passage of the EU Withdrawal Bill in the Commons, it faces
even tougher battles when the legislation enters the Lords. Uh oh.

And then there’s Jacob Rees-Mogg. Losing the will to live even at the mention of
his name. So, what is the hard-Brexit-or-death proponent threatening? The
House of Lords don’t you know. Oh. How radical, R-M. He warned the Lords with
"fundamental reform" if they try to hamper Brexit. Goodness gracious me! He
said even the prospect of a second referendum would mean the tower. Who
knew R-M was that powerful? Be afraid, be very afraid.  


A Clean Bill of Health

Oh not Jeremy again. Yes, Jeremy again and it will always be Jeremy again,
won’t it? So, what has JH been doing, other than irritating us with that permanent
smug smile? Oh, just the usual scandalous reform of the NHS by stealth.

Now this involves Carillion. Argh. Must we go there? Sorry, we do. Carillion
already has a raft of NHS Private Finance Initiative (PFI) and Local Improvement
Finance Trust (LIFT) contracts in the NHS, including owning and operating
11,000 hospital beds in a dozen NHS hospitals in England and Scotland as well
as several GP surgeries and community services. Now you can see why.

Here’s the best bit. The public haven’t yet been told that soon almost all NHS
services could be delivered under a similar structure, tens of billions of pounds
worth of NHS and social care budgets farmed out with neither parliamentary
scrutiny or vote, nor public consent. So much for ‘our NHS’.

Jeremy’s plan is Accountable Care Organisations. ACOs are an American
import. Oh quelle surprise! And we know how their pathetically inefficient,
ineffectual, expensive, appallingly unjust system in the world operates. The
ACOs are going to be given long-term commercial contracts of 10 and 15 years
and it could be instituted by April 1st. Ah, health by stealth. If action isn’t taken
ASAP, it will clearly be ‘their NHS’. Someone do something!


Bad Hair Day

Front page news: Wills has a haircut. A shaved head for £180. Couldn’t Ex-
Waity have simply used an electric razor – or have her stylist do it – the one
who spends hours a day on hers? Wait. It has been revealed that Ex-Waity’s
hairdresser, Richard Ward did the deed. Wait. Not him personally, but one of
his ‘deputies’. One of his ‘deputies’ for £180?

Hmmm. An attempt to look ‘current’, ‘cool’ – several meanings intended – cutting-
edge? Keep your hair on, it’s hair splitting, it’s hair-raising, let your hair down,
hair of the dog, help me here…I can’t stop. I’m tearing my hair out…joking.

“Kate made me do it. She said only one of us is allowed to have ‘look-at-me,
look-at-me’ hair. She wants me to look more like her uncle Maison de Bang
Bang Gary. Such a fun guy. Shaved head, drunk, disorderly and he pees in
public. What’s not to like? Well, I am hair to the throne. Ha ha ha. I’m more
amusing than Harry.”


A Bridge Too Far

Boris Island Airport, Boris Routemaster buses, Boris bikes, Boris cable car over
the Thames, Boris London Garden Bridge and now 22-mile Boris bridge over the
English Channel. Clue: Boris follies. Such a busy bore, that Boris. Having
missed being the centre of attention for an hour and a half, Boris raised his
latest bridge proposal with Macron. Macron thought it a good idea. Assuming we
would pay for it naturally, obviously. It’s ‘our’ idea after all.


One’s Moment in the Sun

All right, I’ve only watched two episodes of Hard Sun; two episodes of
undisputed torture. Really. A pre-apocalyptic crime drama set in contemporary
London. In five years, all life on earth will be over – for ever. What to do, what to
do. Well, the two main characters, detectives Elaine Renko and Robert Hicks,
Agyness Deyn and Jim Sturgess, beat each other to a bloody pulp, as you do
when threatened with total annihilation, although she seems to perform most of
the violence, I could be imagining that and it’s all a dream – all right, nightmare.

I find myself talking to the TV, asking why the plot holes are big enough to drive
a lorry through. I know, I know, how cliched, nevertheless, I do ask who is
paying the reviewers to fall all over themselves to give a collective standing
ovation – to the genius that is Agyness Deyn. ‘Why’ will simply not do here.

It’s excruciating watching her try to act. OK. I’ll give you she has successful
captured the American school of acting. If you need reminding: stare straight
ahead and look confused, concerned for at least two minutes of the close-up.
Well, feels as if it is two hours. Trust me, it does. Rather reminiscent of fellow
head Scientologist Tom Cruise, and we know he can’t act – at all.

Luther creator, that brilliant Luther, Neil Cross, brought us this curiously crap
programme. How is that possible? If you simply view it as homage to comics,
you might think it is: “It is bold, ambitious, relevant and dark but it's also very
moving and told through complex extraordinary characters. It's brilliantly written
and very exciting.” Quoting Polly Hill, Controller, BBC Drama Commissioning.
But she would say that wouldn’t she…. Neil Cross wants to make five series of
the drama starring Deyn and Sturgess. Oh no. Within the next five years?
Assuming we’re all still alive and displaying the worst of humanity. Just saying….


Bus, Stop

“Please hold on, the bus is about to move. Please hold on, the bus is about to
move. Please hold on, the bus is about to move”, repeated at every single stop.
There are no words to adequately express the response to this new Transport for
London announcement. But I will try: infuriating, irritating, annoying. See. There
are no words to describe the rush of emotional exasperation that results in this
announcement every two minutes. Perhaps ARGGGGGHHHH! will suffice.

The bus is already moving when the voice reminds us of how incredibly stupid
the TfL really is. I literally wanted to throw myself down the stairs while
screaming:” I’m not listening! I’m not holding on!”

We have a four-week trial to endure this test of endurance.  One London rider
said: “They are so annoying, they shouldn’t go off at every single stop. People
know that the bus is going to move – that’s the point of buses.” Evidently, the TfL
is unaware of this phenomenon.  
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