I suppose, this being the day when a new era in history has begun, I have to make a comment. I will always regret that the UK has left the EU, and when the opportunity arises I shall urge our return. Johnson talked of uniting the country – that is piffle, of which he speaks a lot. This country is more divided than it has ever been. The sickness of Brexit has caused many divisions: between England and the rest of the UK, between the English and people who have settled here, between those who consider themselves the majority and minorities. I believe that Brexit will have a detrimental effect. I say believe because I have no factual evidence to prove it so, but I make the following predictions:
1 There will be a steady decline in prosperity and employment and a rise in prices. It won’t be sudden and so it will never be proved to be a result of leaving the EU. No government will ever blame anything on leaving the EU.
2 There will be erosion of citizen’s rights, partly because unrest will increase due to increased poverty. Certain minorities will be targeted and the changes to the law will be justified as ensuring the “freedoms” and safety of the majority.
3 Even less will be done to alleviate climate change than has been achieved up to now.
There are other things that I fear will happen in the next 5 to 10 years of Tory government but I don’t want to spoil your day.
Earlier this week we visited London to go to the Mary Quant exhibition at the V&A. I’m not a follower of fashion in either male or female mode but it was a fascinating piece of social history. I knew, of course, that Mary Quant was one of the leading figures of 60s fashion but I hadn’t realised quite how innovative she had been as designer alongside her husband as marketing guru and the third member of the trio, their financial partner. When you look at the clothes she designed, had made and sold in the period from about 1955 to 1980 you get a multi-facetted view of the period; the growing freedom of women to live their own lives (up to a point); the rebellion against the staid norms of previous eras; the growing power of the young (with money in their pockets and freedom from parents); new ways of marketing fashion (TV and film, colour supplements in newspapers, pop music and youth magazines); new materials (synthetic fibres and plastics such as pvc); mass production (designs contracted out to factories, often overseas).
Many of Quant’s designs have been recycled over and over again – the mini-skirts and dresses and jump suits, in particular. Many have become everyday classics. Some items have almost disappeared such as the coat-dress, a thick, warm garment that functions like a coat but has the fit and features of a dress. I imagine they were popular for attending functions in large, poorly heated homes, halls and churches before central heating really caught on. She may not have been the first (I’m no fashion history expert) but she certainly saw the value of branding – her own name, names for clothing lines and trademarks such as the daisy logo which appeared on everything from jewellery to bags, and the Daisy doll which girls (and boys?) could clothe with miniature versions of Quant designs..
An interesting part of the exhibition was that it included comments from people who worked for Quant, commentators of the period, and women who purchased the goods. It was a fascinating couple of hours. The only problem was that as with all these special exhibitions, there were too many people (despite it being a “quiet” Monday lunchtime).
The photos of me this week are ones I have taken experimenting with a new camera tripod and the timer setting on the camera.
No writers’ group this week as I was elsewhere and I have had little time for writing. I have started a couple of short pieces and I have been planning (in my head mainly) how Jasmine 5 will progress, but I have nothing new to post. So here is something what I wrote earlier. I wrote it some years ago inspired by reports of boats abandoned on the almost dried up Aral Sea in central Asia.
There was a boat . . .
There was a boat that rested, listing, on a shore that had not experienced the kiss of waves for a generation. Yuri entered through the jagged hole made to remove the diesel engine and all the metal fittings. He stretched his young legs to clamber up the lopsided wooden ladder. Sunlight made jagged stripes on his face and body as it streamed through the gaps in the wind-shrunken timbers. The boat would no longer float if the sea returned, not that that was likely to occur. Yuri reached the narrow bridge, held himself upright by hanging on to the wheel and looked out of the dirt-covered, cracked window. The barren sea-bed stretched to meet the brown sky at the distant horizon. Yuri was alone with his boat. Alone with his thoughts and memories.
Yuri’s father had seen the approaching vehicles shrouded in their clouds of dust and exhaust fumes. He had sent Yuri to his hiding place above the ceiling of their shack. There Yuri peered through the gaps in the boards. He saw the battered four-by-four pickups draw up around their little house and the bearded men with the guns and blades get out. They crowded into the one room and demanded things of his father. Things he did not have. Yuri didn’t recognise the men but they had been before. Last time they had taken his mother in exchange for his father’s life, taken her Yuri did not know where. Now he lay on the boards listening to his father argue and plead. The men shouted and then his father had made one last sound; a brief shriek that cut off abruptly.
There was more noise as the men smashed up the hut with the butts of their guns, then they left, laughing and hailing a god Yuri did not know. Their vehicle engines spluttered into life and they were gone. Yuri waited just in case the men returned but after many minutes of silence except for the whispering wind, he crept from his hiding place.
Yuri’s father was sprawled on the floor, the blood from his almost severed neck soaking into the earth. His guts spread across floor, stinking, already attracting buzzing flies. Yuri took a single glance and left the home he had shared with his father, mother, baby sister and grandfather. They were all gone now. He was alone. He went to the only other place he knew – the boat.
The sun turned red and bloated and sank below the featureless horizon. Yuri remained standing watching. The sky darkened and the stars came out, so many stars that Yuri couldn’t comprehend their number. Though the long-dried out, wind-scoured bed of the former sea was as dark as dark could be, the sky was bright with the stars.
Yuri gripped the wheel and turned it to port and starboard. He was sailing, not the fish-filled waters that the boat had navigated with his grandfather at the wheel, but the heavens, like the cosmonaut who he was named for who had died decades before he was born. In his boat of dreams Yuri soared among the stars and planets, visiting places where there were foods and drinks he had heard about but never tasted, seeing animals and plants that he was told existed away from the poisoned shores of the dried-up sea, and meeting his father and mother and sister and relatives and friends that once had inhabited the shore which was home. Upon the starry main, he found peace and happiness.
The boat remained at its mooring. Its keel broken as it slumped into the dust. Its timbers crumbled and the atoms of the wood and of Yuri mingled and were sucked into the air. At last, Yuri sailed away on the wind that blew across the waterless sea.