The appointment diary of a cat

Busy, Busy!

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Football Review: England 5- Kosovo 3: September 2019

In the annals of English football this will count as yet another victory in a qualifying match for the European championships. And it is. Unfortunately all it does is feed Scottish style delusions. In the two halves England won one, 5-1 and lost the other 0-2.

Kosovo is a tiny country created out of the old Yugoslavia. In the period 1998-9 Kosovo was subject to a brutal war, which replicated many atrocities that the Nazis would have been proud of,

Serbian military, paramilitary and police forces in Kosovo have committed a wide range of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and other violations of international humanitarian and human rights law: forced expulsion of Kosovars from their homes; burning and looting of homes, schools, religious sites and healthcare facilities; detention, particularly of military-age men; summary execution; rape; violations of medical neutrality; and identity cleansing.1

The period 1998-9 is important in this review of the England victory. All Kosovo’s players were children at the time.2 The entire infrastructure of life was smashed. As a tiny country with a population smaller than Birmingham’s with a shattered economy and trauma for every citizen to even have a football team is amazing. Their international standing is 120th..

From this havoc came a team that demonstrated England’s fragility at international level. Yes they won 5-3 but it was abysmal.


2 Arber Zeneli aged 24 was a refugee in Sweden before returning to Kosovo and becoming one of their players. He currently plays for Reims in France in Ligue One.


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My Balcony

From seven floors up
The view is spectacular
Just an ordinary day in autumn
The nearby trees still in full leaf.

Squirrels on their same crazy journey
Using branches, as if vertical stepping stones
Clearly convinced each leading step
As important to their future.

Further, beyond the nearby trees
The Park, serene in its beauty
Its lake lazily still shimmering
Decades, have past like this.

Swans, ducks, Canada geese
Foxes, tadpoles, sycamores and oaks
All resplendent in their seasonal cloaks
Even the grass will, for decades more, last.

Only last night, a cloudless sky
There in bright opalescence – the moon
Westerly shining, flooding my flowering balcony
Silently, still without a hint of wind.

As I look- over in the near distance
The “Isle of Dogs”, skyscrapers –
Obscene wealth, grossly ostentatious
“Canary Tower” with its diffused light roof.

The Shard, the HSBC towering – The Gherkin
So many other buildings, resplendent in opulence
Bragging statements of achievements
Those achievements, blinded to ordinary people.

Thousands of negotiations, limited triumphs
Deals, handshakes, nods of acquiesces
Millions, upon millions, committed to greed
What does it all mean, where will it all lead?

The future is obscure, opaque to dreamers
Those squirrels though, they don’t care
Billions of pounds, dollars even gemstones
Might rot, before they could object.

Life moves on, as it always does
Sometimes lying politicians – rogues of obscurity
Moving in arrogance, as if innocent
Only more time, will tell their future.


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The duck hunting Labrador

An enthusiastic duck hunter found a Labrador that walked on water when retrieving ducks. Shocked he wanted to show him off to all of his friends.

He decided to try to break the news to a cynical friend by inviting him to a duck hunt with his new Labrador. When a flock of ducks flew by they fired and hit one. The Labrador jumped towards the water and instead of swimming walked across the water to retrieve the bird. His friend saw everything but didn’t say a single word.

On the drive home the hunter asked his friend, “Did you notice anything unusual about my new Labrador?”

I sure did. Your Labrador can’t swim.”


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Boris Johnson’s Nightmare: Peterborough 2019

Prior to the 2016 referendum, Euro scepticism was a niche activity for a handful of Conservative MPs and Nigel Farage’s UKIP. David Cameron was spooked by him and called a referendum, which he lost. The period 2016-9 has been a disaster for the Conservative party. Fanatical Conservative MPs have taken control. Johnson is the third PM to suffer this shift to extremism.

Table One: the Peterborough election result 2017

The impact of turnout on results

Fiona Onasanyu, the 2017 victor in Peterborough, proved that democracy is about who turns up to vote. The Labour vote increased by 12.5% but the losing Conservative MP also increased his vote by 7.5% (see table above). The sitting Conservative MP was more popular in 2017 than he’d been in 2015 but it wasn’t enough. Fiona triumphed and was consumed by hubris.

She was disgraced, jailed and lost her seat. This caused a by-election in June 2019. The Conservatives were confident they’d regain the seat. They’d held Peterborough more or less continuously since 1929, losing in 2017 by a mere 607 votes. Peterborough had become an ultra marginal and, with the Labour party in disarray, success seemed certain. But the formation of the Brexit party in January 2019 shattered every calculation. Labour won a narrow victory leaving the Conservative party in tatters. The Conservatives were out-flanked to the right.

The Brexit candidate came within 683 votes of winning Peterborough from a standing start. He took votes from both major parties. The Conservatives lost 25.5% on their 2017 vote and Labour shed 17.2%. A huge loss, which in normal circumstances would have led to defeat, but in an extraordinary twist was just enough to give Labour victory. Labour’s Lisa Forbes won with just 30.9% of the vote (see table below).

Table Two: the Peterborough election result 2019

The impact of the Brexit party on the result.

The Brexit party is Boris Johnson’s nightmare. It’s turned elections into lotteries. The Brexit party is a single issue party with all the unambiguous certainty that that implies.If there is an election in 2019 Johnson will try to avoid framing it as a Brexit election because they have all the best lines.

Brexit has been transformed from a niche political obsession into an existential threat to the Conservative party. The 2019 Euro election left the Conservatives with no seats in London. Johnson’s quixotic strategy of shedding Conservative MPs opposed to a ‘No Deal’ exit from Europe cost Conservative seats in outer-London. Johnson appears to be motivated by a desire to march to the political right. He wants to purify the Conservative party, which is an extraordinary political objective. It risks turning the Conservatives into a cult with all the ‘holier than thou’ opportunities that throws up.

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John Maynard Keynes on the First World War

If the European Civil War is to end with France and Italy abusing their momentary victorious power to destroy Germany and Austria-Hungary now prostrate, they invite their own destruction also, being so deeply and inextricably intertwined with their victims by hidden psychic and economic bonds. (my emphasis)

John Maynard Keynes. The Economic Consequences of the Peace (Kindle Locations 58-60). This written in 1919.

Until I read this I had never considered the possibility that the first world war could be described as a ‘civil war’. Keynes said it was because of the European common heritage. It’s a fascinating insight and an excellent book.

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She’s just being playful

Black humour

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