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Index: Currente Calamo

From bikes to badgers.

Michael Blackburn: ‘A lot of green types would like the bicycle to be a solution, but having just spent four days in Amsterdam I can vouch for the fact that walking around a city where cyclists of all ages and sizes coming at you from every direction (and often at speed) is unnerving and downright dangerous. ‘

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Diversity unto death.

Michael Blackburn: ‘Yet the bigwigs are faffing about with this PC nonsense. How will we know if their efforts succeed? We won’t. There is no way of measuring the success or failure of such nonsense. ‘

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Unpopular populism.

Michael Blackburn: ‘The overwhelming fear emanating from these anti-populists is not just that of no longer being in control of the agenda but also of no longer being in control of the people. The power of the media to peddle their pacifying PC agenda has weakened. ‘

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The poet on holiday.

Michael Blackburn: ‘The poet’s holiday is supposed to be the same as a busman’s — that is, one in which despite putting on the appearance of an ordinary mortal he nevertheless practices his vocation by wandering along quayside, lakeside or seashore, or among the venerable stones of Venice, etc, gathering unusual metaphors for his poems. I’d supply a couple of strikingly ridiculous examples but my Muse has been on holiday…’

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An empire of scoffers.

Michael Blackburn: ‘Why do they regard any national success as a moral failure? Why are they so gullible that, despite their education, their degrees, their intellectual hauteur, they fall for media panics such as the surge in post-Brexit racist attacks or the nonsense about Brexiteers regretting their decision, or the patronising belief that people were too stupid to realise not everything they were being told by the campaigners was gospel truth? Why do they raise the ghost of the Empire when nobody even talks about it any more?’

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A series of misjudgements.

Michael Blackburn: ‘The unintended consequences of misjudgements can roll on for years years. In the case of Britain’s membership of the European Union, 43 years to be exact. That’s 43 years of deeper entanglement in the European project, increasing loss of control over whole areas of policy and a growing sense of alienation among the electorate. When Ted Heath took us in and signed away our sovereignty, knowing full well what he was doing, and prepared to lie to the British people as he did so, he couldn’t have foreseen that the electorate would eventually turn round and say we want out.’

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After the sky has fallen…

Michael Blackburn: ‘There’s no doubt that result has been a bigger shock to the political and media establishment than anyone else. Cameron obviously never expected to lose it. He’d pulled this referendum trick with Scotland and won it, so he no doubt thought he could win this one, too. The media, sure of their own invincible cleverness, laid the anti-leave propaganda on by the bucket load. The Remain campaign reached the lowest point when they took advantage of the murder of the Labour MP, Jo Cox, at the hands of a local man with mental problems. ‘

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The peasants’ revolt.

Michael Blackburn: ‘The passions aroused by the referendum, the divisions opened up by it, the fact that Cameron felt he had to give it the go-ahead as a means to lance the boil of discontent, are indicative of a sizable rejection of the political establishment. They are no longer trusted. They prove, day in, day out, that they deserve no trust.’

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An army by any other name.

Michael Blackburn: ‘There’s no reason to assume that the EU couldn’t create a unified military force from a selection of member states with others staying out completely or occasionally working in cooperation. They’ve accepted (for the moment) a situation with the euro, for example, in which some members do not participate.’

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The bureaucrat and the dictatorship.

Michael Blackburn: ‘inevitably, well supplied with bureaucrats and lawyers working away at one directive after another, one set of regulations after another, one set of proposals after another. Railways, bananas, toilets, light bulbs, driving licences, passports, road tolls, boilers, gas and electricity, television scheduling, fish quotas, postal services, immigration, defence, herbal medicines — you name it, there’s hardly a thing untouched by the EU prodnoses. ‘

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Justin vs Vladimir.

Michael Blackburn: ‘In the event of a scrap, therefore, my money would be on Vlad, despite the fact that he cedes the best part of twenty years to young Justin. Trudeau may have the extra height, and the quicker reflexes and energy of youth but Vlad has cunning and a finely-developed streak of viciousness in him. And he’s Russian. And he’s ex-KGB. Justin may land a few wallops on him but Vlad would bite his ears off and turn his model’s face into a moonscape before he knew what was happening. ‘

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The Matriarch and the Mirrors.

Michael Blackburn: ‘Brought together for this portrait the group forms a rough triangle whose longest line slopes down from the left to the right, replicating the mirrored mirrors behind them. The most noticeable object that stands in the reflections is a clock. It is there to one side above the Queen’s head. Time is there always, the moments passing irrevocably; but in a continuum, linking past, present and future. This is how the monarchy has survived: accepting the change of tradition, and the tradition of change, cardigans and all.’

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Nobody forgets Hitler.

Michael Blackburn: ‘You know when you talk about Solzhenitsyn, the Soviet Union and the Cold War, for instance, nobody under the age of fifty has any real understanding of what you’re talking about. If it’s anything to do with politics in general, forget it. The same with history unless it involves Hitler. He’s the one permanent fixture in history teaching these days, it seems. Not Stalin, not Lenin, not Mao. If it’s British history perhaps Churchill. But Pitt, Gladstone, Disraeli, Nelson, Wellington — blank. Hitler trumps all. He sticks as permanently as the words of that awful pop song…’

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More than enough x 29.

Michael Blackburn: ‘I’ve had enough of many other things, but you get my drift. I have the feeling I’m not alone.’

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Bombs, flowers, flags and tweets.

Michael Blackburn: ‘Each Islamic atrocity in Europe triggers a predictable avalanche of political posturing and journalistic slop. That has changed in some parts but remains posturing and slop nonetheless. Politicians don’t seem quite as keen to leap up and proclaim that Islam is a religion of peace as they used to be or to preach the message that the actions of the terrorists are the result of a deformed form of Islam. The rest remains the same, however.’

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