Littler Britain

 

© BBC / From indy100.com

 

Well, that was edifying.

 

On one side, a succession of European Members of the European Parliament trying to be as gracious and magnanimous as possible on January 29th, whilst saying goodbye to the British MEPs who were departing the institution and whose country was departing the European Union generally – even bursting into a rendition of the venerable British (Scottish, actually) song Auld Lang Syne to wish the British farewell.

 

On the other side, Brexiteer-in-chief Nigel Farage telling the European Union that he and his party hate them and bragging that ‘the British are too big to bully’, before he and his acolytes whipped out a bunch of miniature union jacks and waved them at the European politicians across the chamber like a rabble of drunken English holidaymakers on the Costa del Sol trying to annoy the locals by whipping out and wiggling their booze-shrivelled willies.  His acolytes included Claire Fox, the former member of the Revolutionary Communist Party and IRA supporter who turned super-right-wing-British-patriot as soon as she realised what way the financial wind was blowing for political careerists; and former Tory minister Anne Widdecombe, who’s a grotesque combination of Lady Bracknell from Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest and Zelda from Gerry Anderson’s Terrahawks and who’s animated by enough toxic bile to fuel a knab of cane toads.

 

Two evenings later, at 11 PM (midnight Brussels time) on January 31st, Britain officially took its leave of the EU and the gravitas on display from jubilant British leavers was no more refined.  Hordes of ardent Brexiteers shambled into Parliament Square to hear speeches from the finest brains that their movement has to offer, such as Julia Hartley-Brewer and Tim Martin, owner of the world’s most rubbish pub chain™.  They also sang patriotic songs whose words they don’t know except for the bits that go ‘Rule Britannia! Rule Britannia!’ and ‘Land of hope and glory… er…’  And no doubt they emoted to one another about how this was the proudest day of their lives since World War II, back when they’d watched that Great Brit Clint Eastwood machine-gun lots of Germans in Where Eagles Dare (1968) and that equally Great Brit Steve McQueen escape the Nazis by flying his motorbike into Switzerland in The Great Escape (1963) on Christmas-time TV.

 

Meanwhile, hoping to waylay a few of the Brexiteers lurching off to celebrate in Tim Martin’s rubbish pub chain™, other pub owners up and down the land (England, actually) organised their own Brexit parties, where the only good British music was played – for example, music by Kylie Minogue, from Australia-shire, and an up-and-coming outfit I haven’t heard of till now called ‘The Beetles’.

 

From twitter.com

 

To return to Auld Lang Syne, mentioned a few paragraphs earlier – this was a poem written by celebrated Scottish poet Robert Burns and put to the tune of an old folk song.  Elsewhere, in the poem To a Louse, Burns penned some lines that are especially pertinent for the Brexit farrago (or Farage-o): “To see oursel’s as ithers see us / It wad frae mony a blunder free us…”

 

Prior to Brexit, I’m pretty sure – and my sureness is backed up by the fact that I’ve spent a good part of my working life employed in several Asian, African and European countries – that most of the world saw Britain in a reasonably positive light.  It was a middle-ranking power that admittedly dragged an unfortunate colonial history behind it; but in modern times it wasn’t one of the out-and-out bad guys and its reputation was immeasurably bulked up by its soft power: its universities and educational opportunities, its capable diplomats, its wealth of classical and popular culture, the BBC, the English language.  Well, that perception is gone, or at least is on its way out.

 

Britain has managed to reinvent itself in the world’s eyes as a hapless, cantankerous, xenophobic and self-harming misfit that’ll soon end up as handmaid and pet poodle to Donald Trump’s USA in its desperation to win that all-important American trade deal.  (Expect the country’s most cherished institution, the National Health Service, to be chucked under the bus soon.  Trump and American big pharma are eyeing it as hungrily as the vultures used to eye the hero during the bit in old western movies where the villains left him staked out in the desert to die.)

 

Come to think of it, the revellers on Brexit night shouldn’t have sung Rule Britannia or Land of Hope and Glory.  It would have been more appropriate if they’d sung the football chant beloved by supporters of Millwall Football Club, No One Likes Us, We Don’t Care.

 

One modicum of comfort in all this was that in Edinburgh the other day members of the Scottish Parliament voted to defy Brexit and keep the European flag flying above their building.  Well, the Scottish National Party and Scottish Green Party MSPs did – the Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat MSPs voted to pull it down.  And what a useless, craphole wee party the Scottish Liberal Democrats are.  For a party whose election slogan two months ago was ‘Bollocks to Brexit!’, they seem to have totally shed their cojones.

 

(Not to be outdone by Edinburgh, citizens of Glasgow showed solidarity with Europe by replacing the traditional traffic cone on the head of the Duke of Wellington statue outside the Gallery of Modern Art on Queen Street with one emblazoned in the blue and stars of the EU flag.)

 

From the BBC / © Mark McGillivray

 

I realise this doesn’t mean anything in the grand scheme of things – real power resides in Westminster, which is dominated by buffoon Boris Johnson and his right-wing anti-Europe Conservative Party – but at least it signals to the couple of hundred thousand EU nationals living in Scotland that their presence is still valued.  Meanwhile, the whole Brexit shitshow just makes me support the cause of an independent Scotland in the EU more than ever.

 

For those who rocked the Edinburgh Picture House, we salute you

 

 

A couple of weeks ago I was wandering along Edinburgh’s Lothian Road and I happened to pass the building formerly known as the Edinburgh Picture House.  Until the end of 2013 it’d served as the Scottish capital city’s only real medium-sized live-music venue – i.e. it was big enough to accommodate bands you’d actually heard of, but on the other hand the gig-going experience didn’t involve you having to position yourself in the middle of a crowd in some football or rugby stadium with the performers visible only as tiny homunculi on a far-distant stage.

 

However, a few months ago the forces of commerce dictated that the Picture House could no longer cut it as a place for live music and it’d be much more valuable to society as an outlet for the giant pub-chain Wetherspoons.  Because if there’s one thing we absolutely need in our lives at the moment, it’s another branch of Wetherspoons.

 

Anyway, it saddened me – choked me up a little, in fact – to see the above-pictured sign hanging next to those closed doors (behind which the interior of the Picture House is currently metamorphosing into yet another warehouse-sized clone-pub).  The sign listed the acts that’d performed in the building during its six-year incarnation as a music venue.  And viewed in its entirety, it was quite some list.

 

Jarvis Cocker, Isobel Campbell, Franz Ferdinand and Rodrigo Y Gabriela.  The Gang of Four, Chic with Nile Rodgers, the Cult and the Red Hot Chili Pipers – that’s the Pipers, not the Peppers.  Mudhoney, Neville Staples, Stiff Little Fingers and Seasick Steve.  Teenage Fanclub, John Cale, Killing Joke, the Damned and the Alabama 3.  Hawkwind, Magazine, John Cooper Clarke, Gil Scott Heron and the Black Rebel Motorcycle Club.  The Fall, Gogol Bordello, Basement Jaxx, Nick Cave, Tinariwen and the New York Dolls.

 

And many, many more – musicians, singers, artists and entertainers.

 

And One Direction.