|LETTERS FROM LONDON
|REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL
23 September 2017
|Till Death Do Us Part
Oh must we? Theresa’s rhetorical divorce speech in Florence? Really? Suffice
to quote from POLITICO Brussels: The diplomat said: “She talks about EU and
UK as if we are equal...That’s fundamentally getting it wrong. They are leaving
the EU. They are 60 million. We are 450 million.”
‘Another diplomat described hopes of a generous bespoke deal as “an illusion.”
Peter Mandelson, the former European commissioner, complained “there was
not a single specific proposal about what the government wants to achieve in the
‘The EU’s reaction in one phrase: Proposals not soundbites, please.’ Enough?
Ask for the Moon
Our favourite Brexit Secretary David Davis equates Brexit with JFK’s famous
speech about going to the moon. Huh?
His tweet: “Brexit is Britain’s moonshot moment, and yet we have no John F
Kennedy at the helm, no visionary who can galvanise our nation and government
to reach the seemingly unreachable. We can, at least, still find solace and
motivation in his words, delivered at the height of the Cold War, imploring
Americans to back his vision for space exploration: they should by now have
been adopted as the Brexiteers’ unofficial motto… Brexit is in 18 months’ time,
so we need to get cracking.”
Space exploration – the unofficial Brexit motto? Unofficial? Motto? We thought
the £350 a week for the NHS was the motto. Clearly not. It needs to be about
space. What the hell is he talking about? Oh right. Nothing.
No more Uber for you. Transport for London made that decision for you. TfL
decided not to renew Uber’s licence. Full stop. Taxi drivers were overjoyed to get
their customers back.
Ignoring Uber’s sleazy reputation – yes, we know about those rapes - more than
600,000 people have signed a petition urging its reversal. Here’s the clever bit.
The petition was started by Uber London and warns: “If this decision stands, it
will put more than 40,000 licensed drivers out of work and deprive millions of
Londoners of a convenient and affordable form of transport." Really.
It also accuses London of being “closed to innovative companies,” saying the
TfL ban “shows the world that London is far from being open.” Oh it definitely
does that. Really. And we thought that was the responsibility of Brexit.
TfL said Uber was not deemed “fit and proper to hold a private hire operator
license due to its ‘approach and conduct’ which demonstrates a lack of
corporate responsibility in relation to a number of issues which have potential
public safety and security implications.” Translation: there are no background
checks on drivers and no reporting of crimes as well as rape, sexism, scandals,
bullying, unfavourable working conditions for the drivers just to name a few. Uber
has 21 days to appeal the decision. Good luck.
I am Not a Robot
We know Christmas is coming. We’ve known since July when Selfridges
opened their Christmas shop earlier than ever to get us to part with our cash.
John Lewis is following their greed lead. So it must be time to consider the most
sought after toy that will be sold out before Halloween.
Yes, it’s a bloody robot. What else? Powered by AI it will learn your child’s face,
name, will play games and sing songs. At this point, you should be scared. Your
It’s called Cozmo. Not exactly original. Harry or Hilary would have been more
child-friendly. But actually, we don’t really want that do we? Wait. Why is it given
a gender? Robots can’t be referred to as ‘she’ then?
The US (no surprise there) company tells us: ‘Say hello to Cozmo, a gifted little
guy with a mind of his own. He’s a real-life robot like you’ve only seen in movies,
with a one-of-a-kind personality that evolves the more you hang out. He’ll nudge
you to play and keep you constantly surprised. Cozmo’s your accomplice in a
crazy amount of fun.’ A real-life robot. An oxymoron in real life?
It’s small – said to be the size of a fist – clearly the adult’s and not the child’s we
can assume. It’s been given ‘a mischievous personality’. Oh dear. It demands –
huh? human interaction to unlock new abilities. And then what? It bullies? It has
temper tantrums? It punches?
Well, differing from all those déclassé toy robots you bought last year, its facial
expression and actions are purposeful; they are determined by its environment.
Need more details? You are accountable for its mood. Oh dear. What a
responsibility. ‘Be mindful how it’s fed - that will make it ‘gleeful’, shaking it will
make it ‘grumpy’ and it gets really annoyed if you ignore it.’
Your attention is required here. Once a face is logged in, it will search for you
and call your name, and your child’s. Crikey! It will be trained to carry out
specific actions – oh say, such as interacting with your pets. Barking for
example. I know. You immediately picture Cozmo barking at your partner – just
for a laugh of course. And the price? £199.99. It sold out in the US last October.
Been thinking about how you want to be remembered when you die? Possibly
not, but that hasn’t stopped Avalon Funeral Plans from asking 2,000 Brits how
they wanted to be remembered when they can no longer be asked
directly…clearly mediums irrelevant.
You must be giving it a guess, creating a list, feeling a little less than immortal
now. So, some 60% of Britons place trustworthiness as the most important
characteristic remembered at their own funeral service. Clearly politicians weren’
t part of the survey.
Kindness came in second at 58%, being a good parent followed at 45% and lest
we forget a rather crucial choice, intelligence at 42%. Again, politicians exempt
on the last one. Clearly lying wasn’t a choice.
But what about all the media’s obsession with beauty and youth? Only one in ten
admits that being remembered as good-looking is the most important, while 6%
want to be thought of as sophisticated. Now that is interesting. Sophisticated. A
combination of good-looking and sophisticated surely counts for something
when you lie in your coffin – and if you had chosen these, your coffin could be
open as you lie there proud and smug. Inviting your friends and loved ones to
40% already know exactly what music they wish they could hear. 61% want their
funeral to be a celebration with lots of laughter being essential. Suggestions:
laugh, revel, do high-fives (oh don’t ever), have a party, drink to excess,
remember nothing. Only 9% want the mourners to weep and wail. Jokes beat
emotionally-driven hand wringing and tissue sharing.
But oh dear. What to wear? Only 30% wanted the traditional black attire, while
39% want their loved ones to show up in colourful outfits. I hope we’re not
picturing shocking turquoise and pink – together. But the best bit was 3% of
Brits said they wanted people to turn up in fancy dress. Seriously. What’s not to
Oops. Forget the wake, what about cremation? Well, 52% have chosen ashes
over a corpse. Hmmm. Surprised? That leaves only 21% preferring all eternity in
the ground. Lest we forget those deluded 3% who want to be cryogenically
frozen. No statistics on whether they chose to have just their head frozen. OK
they are dead, but nevertheless - ew. 26% want everybody to lift a glass – or
hopefully many, surely the departed deserve that - at their local pub.
Inspired? Will you now spend more time paying attention to EastEnders when
Billy plans Stephen’s funeral?