Day 2: Lechlade to Buckland Marsh

How stupid can you get!

Fancy being daft enough to go walking in the UK without a waterproof! The Princess Royal says wisely that there is no such thing as bad weather, merely inappropriate clothing and, boy, did we prove that true today! There have only been a couple of times in the walks when we have been caught in a downpour and today was one of them. We arrived home like dripping rats, and it served me right.

River all the way

I think I saw Ratty and Mole along the way, with several sightings of Toad Hall.

The Law of Unintended Consequences

The reason why we are out of the EU can fairly be placed at the door of the late Paddy Ashdown. How can this be accurate when he was such a Remain supporter? Surely it is Farage and Cameron who were responsible?

Pay attention, for this history is yet another example of the mysterious workings of the law of unintended consequences!

After the EU introduced a parliament, elections for membership in the UK used the “first past the post” system – the same system that is currently used in Westminster parliamentary elections. It makes it vastly hard for candidates of minority parties to get elected.

In 1999, the then Lib Dem leader, Paddy Ashdown, persuaded Tony Blair to allow a “list” system of proportional representation to be adopted for UK voters in the EU elections.

This system acted like rocket fuel for UKIP. Farage won a bridgehead, and then over the years – largely due to his relentless refusal to accept the role of patron saint of lost causes – UKIP won more and more seats, until it forged an unstoppable momentum. In 2016, its success threatened Cameron’s Tory heartland to such a degree, he decided to conclude the issue by holding a referendum he was confident he would win.

The rest, as they say, is history. If the “list” system of proportional representation had not been introduced by Blair (as a concession to Ashdown), we would never have heard of Nigel Farage, UKIP, the Brexit party, or roles for Dominic Cummings and Boris. There would never have been a referendum, Cameron would still be PM – and we would still be in the EU.

Come to think of it, Ashdown’s career was based on his passionate enthusiasm for the UK’s membership of the EU, and his desire for proportional representation to build up his beloved Lib Dem party.

Be careful what you wish for.

Pussy Galore

Kariba spoke to me yesterday. I know it sounds daft, but she really did. It was early in the morning, and she wasn’t best pleased. Her green eyes flashed with irritation and her purr grew into a growl.

“Listen Sunshine,” she warned, “I’m the boss here so please don’t forget it. You are darn fortunate to have me as your cat. But I’m putting you on notice – I’m considering leaving. I know you’ll be devastated if I go, and in many ways, I’d miss you too. But a cat must look after herself these days, and there’s no such thing as a free bowl of milk.

“If you really want to know, it’s about those darn dogs you bring into the house. Your own stupid Moses is bad enough, a mongrel with the fancy name of “cockapoo”. Of course, I marked his nose with a slash years ago, so he leaves me well alone. But your daughter Milly! She brings with her a dog spawned from the sweepings of Bulgaria. All the silly creature does is eat, fart, wee on the lawn and chase me! I am not as young as I used to be, and simply put, I’m fed up.

“Just thought you should know.”

Luckily Milly went… and Kariba stayed.

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