Idlewild’s new album, Interview Music

While I wasn’t an early adopter and didn’t hear of them until their second or third album (can’t remember exactly) I’ve been listening to Idlewild for many years. Even saw them playing in Oxford 12 years ago (and I don’t go to many rock concerts any more). But that’s not the topic of this post. They have (after several years) released a new album today (which I’m listening to while writing this post). Here’s a taster from their YouTube channel:

Listen to a taster of Idlewild’s album Interview Music

I’ve played it may be 3-4 times now and my first verdict is positive. While I don’t think there are any instant radio hits on it (which isn’t a bad thing) there are plenty of nice tunes which open up after listening a couple of times. Some are mellower, some are noisier. Roddy has written up how the album came about. I think it was worth the wait.

Just read: Ivan Rogers’ 9 Lessons in Brexit

With Brexit having just been postponed this small book (more a booklet than a book actually) is probably a good read to help understanding how we got to where we are now. It also complements my earlier post that Brexit hasn’t really started yet.

In case you haven’t heard of him, Ivan Rogers is a former UK ambassador to the EU, so he knows rather well what he’s talking about. He resigned in January 2017 as he couldn’t support the governments negotiation strategy and his since then been giving lectures and speeches about the Brexit negotiations. This book is an edited version of one of the best received lectures he has given.

Focus is on strategy, not so much tactics/detail, as you would expect from a comparably short lecture/booklet. It highlights the mistakes and misinterpretations by the government in the preparations and negotiations which instantly put in on the back foot. It also highlights how many of the difficult decisions and trade offs haven’t been made yet but will have to be made as many of the promises made by some campaigners simply can’t be met.

An interesting (and for some eye opening, if only they were to read it) essay, well worth the time. Published in 2019, so very current even after the latest developments.

A few thoughts/warnings on “I just want Brexit to be done and over with”

I haven’t blogged/written much about politics here, mostly keeping it to G+ (which is now closing down). With Brexit going into overdrive at the moment and the final days before the deadline stumbling from crisis to crisis I’ve decided to start sharing the occasional thought on this blog as well. While many other EU citizens (incl several of my friends) have decided to leave the UK I have no plans to leave even though I’m very worried about Brexit and its impact on the economy and more. And while I haven’t made as much progress as I had hoped I’m still planning to obtain British citizenship. More about these two topics in another post, for this post I’d like to focus on a sentiment I’ve heard from both politicians and the general population increasingly often over the last few weeks: “I just want Brexit to be done and over with and get on with my life”:

I’m afraid you’re in for a very very rude awakening. Brexit hasn’t even started yet. Yes, you read that correctly. All we’ve had so far was the warming up phase.

Despite all the talk about a “deal/no deal Brexit” no deal has been negotiated yet. What is currently being discussed is the “Withdrawal Agreement (WA)” to agree the terms under which the UK leaves the EU (originally scheduled for 29/Mar/2019, but depending on developments that might be pushed out). We’ve all seen how difficult that has turned out to be with the various parties and fractions within the parties in the UK hugely divided about what they want, what is acceptable to them, what isn’t acceptable to them, who they could blame for not getting what they want, you name it. But all that was pretty much just about the WA (yes, there was some talk about red lines and the future relationship as well as declarations about intentions, but nothing legally binding in regards to the future relationship).

Negotiations about the future relationship with the EU, the trade deal with the EU, haven’t even started yet. And this future relationship will be even more difficult, even more controversial than the WA. Some want a quite close relationship with the EU, some as little as possible to do with the EU and others various shades inbetween. And none of them will be willing to compromise, same as now with the WA. Oh, and those kind of negotiations usually take many years. While the transition phase following the WA is set for 2 years (ish) it’s much more likely that negotiating a UK/EU trade deal will take a minimum of 5 years, quite possibly closer to 10 years.

Then there are all the other trade deals the UK will have to negotiate as it won’t be able to benefit from the dozens and dozens of trade deals it currently benefits from through EU membership. While some might be temporarily rolled over the majority will need to be renegotiated. And that will be tough, very tough. To start with the UK will have a significantly reduced negotiation power, for the simple reason that the UK is quite small compared to the still huge EU. Meaning the countries the UK will be negotiating with will demand much bigger concessions than what they were able to demand from the EU. And another important point: The whole world was able to watch how the UK was behaving during the WA negotiations with the EU, including public discussions/statements by UK politicians how the UK could escape (or better wiggle out of) the agreements the UK had just made with the EU. Having watched this no country negotiating with the UK will have much trust in anything the UK agrees to and they will be very wary about any promises made by the UK. Oh, and of course similar to the negotiations with the EU these negotiations will take many years.

There will also be a rude awakening for anyone believing into the “Taking back control of our laws” claims and slogans. The UK will turn from a rule maker and influencer (as a large member of the EU) into a rule taker. How? Simple: There are three large trading areas in the world (China, the US and the EU), as a smaller player (which the UK will be) you either follow their rules or you don’t trade. Your products and services either follow their rules or you can’t sell them. Neither to the big three or to almost all other countries as they will have mostly modelled their rules on the big three. The UK could of course have lower standards (in order to reduce bureaucracy/red tape), but that won’t help the UK exporters. Now the UK could of course introduce higher standards, but that would be the exact opposite of what the Brexiteers were promising, reducing restrictions (remember their outrage about the EU restricting the wattage of vacuum cleaners?) and removing “red tape”. Discussions about this topic will rage for many years.

Should there be a Crash Brexit (formerly known as cuddly “No Deal Brexit”) the impact will be even bigger and almost certainly felt even longer. Companies will implement their contingency plans (if they haven’t already done so) and a lot of business (and likely with it jobs) will leave the UK, some sooner, some later. There’s a very good chance there will be shortages in certain foods, medicines and possibly other things.

Not to mention the blame game depending on how badly Brexit goes wrong. That will run for probably the next decade. At least.

Or to summarise all the above, if you think Brexit will disappear from the news any time soon once the dirty deed is done you are dead wrong. On the contrary, it will only get worse.

Ducks and other birds at Titchfield Haven Nature Reserve

A few weeks ago I booked a ticket for a concert by Ross & Ali in Emsworth in the south of Hampshire. That’s about an hour and 15 minutes drive from where I live in West Berkshire. As the concert took place on a Saturday I thought I should combine the long drive with something else. And decided it was time for another visit (there third if I counted correctly) of Titchfield Haven nature reserve.

A variety of birds was around, in particular quite a few ducks. Some of the pictures I took in this gallery:

Unfortunately didn’t see a Kingfisher this time, hope to see one again next time. A lot of the waders kept quite a distance, not sure if that was seasonal or just coincidence. The Marsh Harriers did’t come as close as I had hoped, but were still nice to watch in the distance. Quite a few Magpies around, hopping in the marsh outside one of the hides. Also saw a Fox brazenly making its way through the reserve, I think at one point it made a half-hearted attempt to get a bird (either a Goose or a Cormorant, can’t remember), but wasn’t successful. Unfortunately didn’t manage to get any decent pictures of it, at the time I was more focused on watching it through my binoculars (it was quite far away and better to see through the binoculars).

Before leaving for Emsworth for the concert I had a nice meal at The Osborne View (of course a burger). It being March it was too cold to sit outside, but I managed to get a table with a nice view over the Solent. I hope I can sit outside again for one of my next visits.

Nothing but the truth…