I first read about the Songlines in the late Bruce Chatwyn’s eponymous book, and even then the concept fascinated me. The Songlines are massively complex, but essentially devolve to the creation mythology of the First Australians. In this, every animal had an anthropomorphic first ancestor—so there was Kangaroo-Man, Koala-Man, Lizard-Man and so on. Each human tribe is also derived from one of those ancestors. In the dawn of time, these ancestors walked through the world, literally singing it into existence.
The words they sang are the Songlines, handed down through the millennia of human life on the continent.
It’s a striking thought that civilisation evolved here on Earth only 7,000 years ago. Since then, humans have achieved many really incredible things. But even in terms of our own—mostly unwritten—history, 7,000 years is almost insignificant; it’s less than 4 % of the time Homo sapiens, the storytelling ape, has existed.
Well, it’s the Fifth of November; Samhain (that’s pronounced sow-en) is very much upon us and winter, that bane of my life, is on the way. I’m already lighting the stove in the evening now, and of course fire is important in these Celtic lands. It’s the season of the Fire Festival, that ancient Pagan ritual. (Cheerfully adopted by the Christians, of course.)
Samhain was the Celtic version; it has equivalents all over the world. The Celtic year was divided in two ways, one solar and the other lunar. The Celts weren’t daft (well, not as daft as some I can think of) and they knew damn fine that lunar calendars are not consistent; a twelve-month lunar year and the solar one are different in length, since a lunar month is 29.5 days. This adds up to only 354 days in a 12-month year, which means that relying on it is hopeless as far as the seasons are concerned. And for an agrarian people like the Celts, the seasons were really important.
Pork. It’s such a mainstay of French cuisine, that it’s frankly impossible to conceive of French food culture without it. Every thing from saucisson to saucisses, fried, grilled, cured, dried, you name it, the French have a way of eating pork like that.
The UK’s official Opposition is the Labour Party, though on present showing you might not guess that. On one hand it has at once been utterly and indefensibly useless at challenging the Government over the EU referendum. On the other, internecine fighting and political blood-letting over its own leadership has gone out of control. These pose serious questions about Labour’s moral authority and its fitness to govern.
First the party’s ruling body, the National Executive Committee, decided to prevent members who had joined within the last six months from voting. This was because the NEC is currently filled with Blairites. They want the elected leader, Jeremy Corbyn, out and think that all the new members are Corbyn supporters. That should speak volumes about how they regard democracy.
The Brexit mirror cracked from side to side under the weight of simple, sheer reality this week.
The fissure in the Brexit mirror began to appear when Norway’s Foreign Minister told the world that no, the UK could not re-enter the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) just because it fancied the idea. The UK was a founder member of EFTA but left as a condition of joining the then EEC in 1973. Re-entry, however, would require unanimous approval from the remaining members and Norway is agin the idea. It’s not the only one to show reluctance.
The first signs of widespread panic amongst the UK’s hard-right, swivelly-eyed Brexiteers have begun to appear. In our last Friday Politics we pointed out that Brexit, as promised by the triumvirate of swivelly-eyed-ness, Johnson, Gove and Farage, is dead. It can’t happen. Now that realisation has got through to those whose eyes are usually so swivelly they can’t read a Daily Mail headline.
The reality that Brexit could not be delivered became apparent even in the hours after the result. Why did David Cameron, the then Prime Minister, resign? He didn’t have to. He had fought a solid campaign and had been honourably beaten. He had said that he would not resign whatever the result.
Cameron probably realised that he could not deliver the result that had been asked for. His departure was the first indication that Brexit was already on life support. Continue reading “Brexit is dead.”
Who governs Britain is the question we must now answer.
One week ago, the British people voted in favour of leaving the European Union.
The voters gave their opinion. That is all they did. But by doing so they provoked a Constitutional crisis for the United Kingdom, which may yet turn into an existential one. The question is no longer about Europe; the question today is simply ‘Who governs Britain?’