Thursday, June 30, 2016

Keep calm and carry on!

Recent expressions of Brexit despair prompted a British (English) translator colleague (who, incidentally, has been married to a German lady for decades) to come up with this memorable recommendation:

"Keep calm and carry on!"  
(or, as one of our local Indian restaurants has it, keep calm and curry on).  

Of course, everyone knows that the "Keep calm" phrase originated in (don't mention) the war, but  did you know that, quoting Wikipedia, "the poster was hardly ever publicly displayed and was little known until a copy was rediscovered in 2000 at Barter Books, a bookshop in Alnwick".

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Wuthering Heights at Bradgate Park

Very enjoyable performance of Wuthering Heights at Bradgate Park this evening, preceded by sumptuous picnic. The increasingly heavy rain during the second half only added to the atmosphere.

Looking forward to Sherlock Holmes and the Hound of the Baskervilles in August, also with Chapterhouse Theatre Company.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

My kingdom for a... mask

Superb publicity stunt by Healthy Air Leicester and Leicestershire and Leicester Friends of the Earth, highlighting air quality issues in the City. The story made front page news and also triggered an editorial in the Leicester Mercury – see below.

Reminiscent of Leicester FoE's good old 'direct action' days.

If the print in the scans below is too small, you can read the online version here.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Jo Cox: an attack on humanity, idealism and democracy

Difficult to do 'business as usual' today, without reflecting on what happened here in the UK yesterday. Not easy to find one's own words to describe it. Today's Guardian editorial seems to sum up the situation pretty well. The subheading says: "The MP murdered on the street embodied decency and a commitment to all that humanity has in common. What a contrast with so much that is rotten in politics".

Meanwhile, tributes have been pouring in. According to the BBC, they were led by Jo Cox' husband, Brendan, who describes himself in his Twitter profile as a "campaigner, activist, boat dweller and dad", and said: "Jo believed in a better world and she fought for it everyday of her life with an energy, and a zest for life that would exhaust most people".

As a translator colleague said, straight after the news broke yesterday:
"Let’s hope some good comes of it".  

At 5:50 this morning, Dirk Kurbjuweit, deputy chief editor of the German magazine Der Spiegel, sent this pertinent comment in his Morning Briefing, under the heading "unendlich traurig" (infinitely sad):
Liebe Leserin, lieber Leser,

es ist unendlich traurig, das Jo Cox sterben musste. Ein Mann ermordete die Labour-Abgeordnete gestern auf offener Straße in Birstall. Bei Attentaten auf Politiker in Demokratien gibt es danach die Hoffnung, dass der Täter ein Irrer sein möge. Wäre der Täter bei halbwegs normalem Verstand und hätte Jo Cox ermordet, weil sie für den Verbleib ihres Landes in der EU war, hätte Großbritannien eine Staatskrise. Aus der harschen Auseinandersetzung um den Brexit hätte jemand die Schlussfolgerung gezogen, dass ein Mord seine Position stärkt. Dies würde die politische Kultur des Landes in Frage stellen und den an sich ja notwendigen Streit um den Brexit diffamieren. Kommt die Tat aus einer allgemeinen Verwirrung, wie bei Lafontaine oder Schäuble, fällt das weg. Ein Trost wäre das nicht, aber eine Erleichterung.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Did Germany react in a knee-jerk way to Chernobyl and Fukushima? Errm, no.

Prompted (once again) by the question: "Is there really a role for nuclear in the low-carbon energy transition?" on Rod Janssen's blog (to which the short answer is a resounding NO!), it is worth reflecting on the strong and deep-rooted nuclear resistance in Germany, and the closely related emergence of the Energiewende. Contrary to the unenlightened superficial and indeed quite ludicrous view that one hears and reads occasionally to the effect that it was a knee-jerk reaction to Chernobyl and/or Fukushima, not surprisingly the story is much more complex.

Stand by for further elaboration in due course.

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Leave Hinkley to the hedgehogs

Excellent illustration in the Guardian/Observer on the ongoing Hinkley C debacle. Conclusion:

We can do better – much better – than Hinkley.

When will Britain wake up and put a stop to this crazy project once and for all? 

 Decision expected imminently. Illustration: David Simonds

Two fingers to the world: is that your message, Brexiteers?

Excellent opinion piece by Chris Patten in the Guardian.
The European Union is an extraordinary creation in which countries that believe in pluralism, democracy, welfare economics and the rule of law gain extra leverage in the pursuit of their national interests by sharing sovereignty. So what is Brexit’s message to the world: two fingers? Or maybe as Ferdinand Mount, the former head of Thatcher’s policy unit, says, we’ll catch the Brexiteers belting out that Millwall chant, “No one likes us, we don’t care.” Like the football team, they’ll sing it all the way to the third division.
See also plea for a little more positivity here.

Monday, June 06, 2016

King Power

When the name of the home of Leicester City Football Club was changed from Walkers Stadium to King Power Stadium some years ago, it took some time to sink in, especially in view of the fact that the new owners weren't exactly local (unlike Walkers).

Still, after the amazing events surrounding King Richard III, and now that LCFC are football kings of England, it certainly all makes sense!

See photo collection below. Note that even Leicester Cathedral was flying the LCFC flag! Wouldn't have happened in the old days, would it? Note also the special Walkers Crisp package at the end.

Brocks Hill Garden Party

Very enjoyable Garden Party yesterday afternoon at the superb Brocks Hill Centre, run by Oadby & Wigston Council.

Saturday, June 04, 2016

Muhammad Ali RIP

BBC Breaking News Alert just in under the heading "Boxing legend Muhammad Ali dies aged 74". See BBC report here.

I have relatively vivid memories of my father watching boxing matches in the middle of the night, probably not long after we had our first TV, i.e. from circa 1964 onwards.

Muhammad Ali NYWTS

Update 5 June
The Guardian reports that Barack Obama led tributes to the incandescent athlete, activist, humanitarian, poet and showman with a statement that caught the mood of many. It said: 
“Muhammad Ali was the Greatest. Period. If you just asked him, he’d tell you. He’d tell you he was the double greatest; that he’d ‘handcuffed lightning, thrown thunder into jail’. But what made the Champ the greatest – what truly separated him from everyone else – is that everyone else would tell you pretty much the same thing.”

Pavarotti in Market Harborough

Superb entertainment by Fingers 'n' Fumbs at Ian Joule's 80th birthday party at Joules Yard!

Friday, June 03, 2016

EU Leicester Rally - Leading NOT Leaving

Uplifting pro-EU rally/meeting under the motto "Leading NOT Leaving" in Leicester yesterday, organised by the European Movement (of which Charles Kennedy was president from 2004 until his death exactly one year ago), with:
  • Sir Vince Cable - Former Deputy Leader of the Lib Dems and former Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills
  • Liz Kendall - Labour MP for Leicester West
  • Caroline Lucas - Green Party MP and former Green Party Leader
  • Anuja Prashar - Executive (Treasurer) European Movement UK and Lib Dem former parliamentary candidate
The speakers were in good form and admirably managed to leave party-politically differences behind, (almost) entirely. The speakers were in agreement about the need for EU reform. Caroline Lucas quite rightly pointed out that the same applies to Westminster [applause]. On that note, see previous reflections on PR here. Advance preparation for the discussion session after the motivational speeches enabled me to get the following points across:
  • Andrew Rawnsley's description of Boris Johnson as an "incorrigible attention-seeker", and  Guardian columnist Matthew d'Ancona's reference to the situation as an "Eton mess", including his memorable statement: A battle between two Etonians is a poor way to decide what kind of country we want Britain to be.
  • 'Sound bite statement' from my blog entry of 3 March: After the madness of WWI and WWII, it would be fundamentally crazy to undermine the foundations of the 'unity' achieved since then, not to mention environmental aspects.
  • Paraphrasing from a recent 30-minute interview* with Joschka Fischer, who is described in Wikipedia as a leading figure in the West German Greens since the 1970s and was German Foreign Secretary (Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs) from 1998 to 2005 (cf. reflections on PR referred to above) and President of the Council of the European Union for six months in 1999 (see here for speech), in which he reflected on his experience in Council meetings: God, how tedious and boring these meetings often were, at times verging on the absurd... But then I thought: hang on a minute, there were times during my father's and grandfather's era, when this kind of debate was carried out on battlegrounds. Wouldn't you rather put up with tedium?
    *Political correspondent Florian Eders described the interview (in German) in yesterday's edition of his Politico Morgen Europa briefing – see here.

Joschka Fischer's reflections attracted a round of applause and were picked up by the event chair in his closing remarks, in which he referred to his own father and grandfather and the respective wars.

A Leicester Mercury report on the event can be found here.