After treating world leaders to a dinner of Kilkeel crab, Kettyle beef and apple crumble with Bushmills whiskey custard at the G8 summit in Northern Ireland, David Cameron is beginning to look more secure in his job.
Moreover, the strong possibility of a Europe/US free-trade area is not doing him much harm either. When the man gets going he’s hard to stop. Let’s hope he doesn’t revert to Lassitude Central when back in No 10.
There is one alarm bell ringing over the free trade deal, though. It will be used remorselessly as an effective battering ram to keep Britain inside the EU in the run up to 2017.
It shouldn’t. If the UK were to leave the European proto-state, a trade agreement would be part of the settlement and, as we would already be a signatory to the transatlantic trade arrangement, it would be in nobody’s interest to kick us out.
However, expect the usual suspects to try twisting the truth in their favour. It would be useful for Dave to insert a clause in the new trade treaty that if Britain votes to leave the EU in the 2017 referendum, it would not affect the country’s status in the broader trade area.
Radio 4, the BBC’s ever-interesting talk channel, brought me a “blast from the past” yesterday. It was a programme about Derek Tangye, author of the Minack Chronicles series of books set in deepest Cornwall.
I went to Minack in 1997, just after Derek’s death, to investigate the agricultural lease to the main property. The house and 21 acres was available to the right person. The owner, Viscount Falmouth, was determined to maintain the Minack legend as created by Tangye and his wife, Jeannie (pictured).
It seemed to me then a wonderful opportunity to make a new start after seven years living in Spain. But it soon became clear that this was Derek and Jeannie’s dream, not mine. Their imprint and their legend was all over the place. Any newcomer would inevitably feel out of place and out of time.
I took the scenic route along the cliffs from Lamorna, which is not as easy as it sounds in the Chronicles, and found myself walking beside a lengthy metal fence which skirted the cliff path. Totally lost, I eventually took a gamble and climbed over an old gate into what seemed a deserted farmyard. It was Minack.
There was the much-described cottage — so small. How could they have lived in it all those years? The famous “bridge” (a vantage point) was bijou in the extreme; and “Monty’s Leap”, that giants’ causeway of the imagination, was a little trickling stream across the lane.
From such small and and simple features came a whole world that resonated in the minds of jaded urbanites in every corner of the planet. Gilbert White did it for Selborne, and Derek Tangye made a mighty edifice out of his beloved molehill at Minack.
Small really is beautiful when there’s no one else around.
We’re currently going through an extended period of what I call “whether weather”. Nobody quite knows what’s going on or what will come next. The Jetstream is frequently cited and seems to be further south than is good for us.
However, uncertainty has always been a staple of the British climate. Here’s what I wrote on the 1st of November, 2005:
As I look out of my study window here in southern England I can see girls going to work and college in T-shirts. Nobody’s wearing winter, or for that matter, autumn clothing. The temperature here is an almost balmy 67F (19C). So Global Warming is upon us?
Hah! All is never what it seems in this life. Summer has been particularly warm, though never hot. And it’s certainly nipped a whole month off winter … so far.
But, the long-range weather forecast predicts the bitterest winter since 1962/63 when the UK froze under 20ft snow drifts for three months from Christmas Day till March.
The word “predict” is relevant here. How different is this forecast from the racing tips in the tabloid newspapers? Well, it’s based on readings from scores of special submarine buoys out in the north Atlantic, apparently. Computer models show that the peculiar nature of this year’s data is only matched by those of 1962.
Except for one fact, the forecasters didn’t have the remarkable submarine buoys back then. So do the figures match as well as the meteorologists suppose? And, what if there are other factors not being looked at, and missed 40 years ago?
Humans make huge judgements based on narrow data and scattergun information. The wonderful intrusion of paradox is never taken into account by our boffins.
Syntagma predicts a remarkably warm and balmy winter here in northern Europe, and especially in southern England, where the girls will continue for some time to go to work and college in T-shirts. And an early spring will take us all by surprise. You heard it here first.
From memory, I was not far out, and the Met Office has been forecasting cold winters ever since — mostly wrong.
The old yun is at it again. Ken Clarke — yeay, for it is he — is sounding off against anyone who wants to leave the EU as if it is a mortal sin.
He, and Peter Mandelson are the two most fanatical supporters of this unworkable, artificial creation which has all but destroyed half the Continent’s economies and hard-won powers of self-government. Both lack judgement and proportionality.
Mandelson recently admitted that the last Labour government, of which he was a prominent member, “sent out search parties” looking for immigrants — presumably those who could be relied upon to vote Labour. In the process they imported millions of angry people, many of whom are intent on turning Britain into an Islamic caliphate.
Clarke is a lazy-minded lawyer who sees the world as a treaty construct, built by politicians in their own image.
It’s hard to know which of them has done the most damage to our much-diminished island home.
Profundity of the Week
It is a sickness of the mid-twentieth century that the basic virtues are publicised as dull. The arbiters of this age, finding it profitable to destroy, decree from the heights that trust, love and loyalty are suspect qualities.
Derek Tangye, from A Donkey in the Meadow. See picture.
Coming up: Mystology: A different way of looking at the world. Also a website, mystology.com.