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Posts Tagged ‘Europe’

Coffee

Why is it so difficult for me to be served with a coffee I like, the way that I like it? Especially in the U.K. (I have no such problems when travelling elsewhere in Europe).

IMG_6411I gave up on the big chains many years ago, their flavours are often thin and bitter; their portion sizes – too large.

Yet, many of the boutique, independent coffee shops springing up around my locality also often fail to please.

A few years back, one of the apprentices I looked after, worked in one such independent coffee shop and during one of my visits, the owner ‘treat’ me to the ‘best’ coffee he imported from Italy. 

To me, the flavour was bitter and had a sharp, petrol taste to it. He however, was delighted with it and said that his customers enjoyed it very much.

Me?  Not so much, and sadly, this sort of flavour is what I am served in most places – in the U.K.

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There are some local cafes that serve strong, well flavoured, but smooth coffees, but not so many.  And, why do the ‘baristas’ always fail to hear what I ask for?  I used to ask for exactly what I want (“small Americano, slightly less water than normal, with hot milk“), but often noted an inability to remember (an inability to listen!).  So now, I ask for a small Americano with hot milk on the side. It seems to work well in most cases – but today I had to ask three times; each of the first two times I got increasingly larger portions of cold milk!

Is it me?

European Coffees:

  • In Spain I ask for “Cortado“, which is a rich, dark coffee topped off with just a tiny bit of hot milk.
  • In France I ask for “un grand café“, then wait until that has registered before adding “avec un petit pichet du lait chaud, a coté” (although Google Translate suggests that I try “avec un petit pichet de lait chaid sur le côté)

 

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I feel disenfranchised.

I really do. And so, I have to get this off my chest and put it somewhere to reflect on some years down the line.

I lost the 2010 election, because the Liberal party I voted for decided to aid and abet the Tory party I especially didn’t (and would never) vote for. I lost the 2015 election because the Labour party I voted for on this occasion, were, after five years in opposition, so weak and namby pamby that they didn’t have a chance!  Well, they sort of had a chance but were seen for what they are in Scotland and lost all their historic seats to an emergent Scottish national party – leaving the Tory ‘winners’ with a clear majority (on a 66% turnout) and free to wreak havoc on the NHS and our position in Europe.

The labour party; the one I voted for in 2015, were and are still in turmoil. The liberal party (the one I had traditionally voted for and whose social policies most closely matched my own views) were almost completely obliterated; their decision to back a vicious evil-banker-supporting, common-people-hating Tory party for five years – coupled with the fact that they dropped the most important policies they had campaigned for, made them factio non grata (or something like that).

Because Scotland had returned so many Scottish Nationalists (SNP) in 2015, it would seem that Labour have no chance of forming any government, at any time in the future, without the support of various Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish nationalist parties. Fair enough, that’s politics.

However, I even lost the IN v OUT referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union (EU).

[A referendum on such an important matter should NEVER have been put to the populace. Never. Unlike a general election – where once we’ve cast our votes the successful party has five years to prove itself. Then at least, whether they like it or not, we get another chance to tell them what we think – this referendum result however, is permanent.]

Just less than 52% of my UK compatriots voted for OUT (on a 73% turnout). I was one of the just more than 48% to vote REMAIN. The fallout since that historic vote on June 23rd 2016 has been astonishing. Despite all of the information and (mostly) misinformation, from both sides, we are faced with a new regime, as the prime minister (who backed REMAIN) immediately resigned and left the celebrants to sort out the mess they had created.

AND what a mess!!!!

Just over one week later, leaders of the OUT campaign had failed to agree on a way forward and many had resigned (Boris Johnson, Nigel Farage). Some were even heard to retract the lies they had spouted during the long and windy campaign. Really? They hadn’t a clue what to do now!

So, the time between then and now (late July 2016) has been spent choosing (anointing) a new Tory Prime Minister, with vicious in-fighting in the labour party and with what to do with Article 50 (and when).

But events and decisions around those three issues are just too stagering to comment on, so just a few highlights:

  • Teresa May is P.M.
    • She appointed Boris Johnson as foreign secretary (!!!!!)
    • She sacked Michael Gove (yeah!)
    • She scares me
  • Jeremy Corbyn is labour leader (just)
    • He was balmed by media for the ‘out’ vote despite campaigning against his personal beliefs for ‘in’
    • There is a leadership battle within the labour party which seems to falling into Parliamentary Labour Party versus Members, and everything possible is being done by the PLP to prevent members voting for Corbyn. [I have thoughts on that too but not here and now]
  • Scotland, Gibraltar, London and Northern Ireland are all looking for ways to stay in Europe when/if (and ‘if’ is just as likely) Britain leaves.
  • Article 50 is a hot potato no one wants to be invoke or be responsible for.

REMAIN

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/brexit-news-second-eu-referendum-leave-voters-regret-bregret-choice-in-millions-a7113336.html

 

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Come what may

Come what may; within 36-40 hours we will know whether or not the United Kingdom has taken a giant leap into the unknown or voted to stay in the European Union. As I said in my previous post, I will be voting to ‘REMAIN’ – but that last poll I saw showed the vote at 44% to leave and 44% to remain.

It will be (have been?) tight then.

Either way, I’m sure that life will go on – although at what cost remains to be seen.  Neither result will be seen as a good thing and the wrangling will go on for months, or even years. I’ve even read this week (something I vaguely remember from when we first referendum’d in 1975) that the government is not obliged to ratify the decision and could, if it so wished, go on as if nothing had happened.

Well – WHY THEN have the bloody referendum in the first place!

It will not silence the Tory ‘Euro-haters’, it will not lead to a general election (oh if all general elections could generate this much interest….) and it will not be good for the country – or Europe as a whole.

I despair of it all now and just hope for the best. Whatever that might be.

 

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I decided several years ago that my opinions counted for nothing when it comes to politics. After all, I only voted Liberal in the 2010 election because they (the Liberals) had promised electoral reform AND to see that student fees would not be increased. Both promises were reneged on once they were given the chance to share a harsh Tory-led coalition, which saw poor and working class folks bear the brunt of re-paying evil bankers for their unforgiven thievery.

I have survived, one way or another, all of the political crap thrown at me (and mine) over almost forty years of working life.  I’ve been lucky. Yet, after six years of an uncaring, banker-loving Tory government many others have been less lucky. However ….

however, after those many years of ups and downs, fuel crises, recessions and occasional years of plenty I’m now being asked to vote on something so inconceivably important that it amazes me we have (need?) a government at all. I am still not clear WHY David Cameron decided to make the EU referendum a manifesto promise (which less than 37% of those bothered to vote (66% turnout), voted for) but here it is – we go to the polls on 23d June. See http://www.parliament.uk/eu-referendum

The question we’re asked is ‘Europe: in or out?’.  We are never asked questions like:

  1. a) ‘Syria, Libya, Iraq: bomb or not bomb?’,
  2. b) ‘Bankers: give them all our money or let them sink?’ or
  3. c) ‘NHS: kill it or not kill it?’ – but yet we’re being asked whether we should remain part of the EU or not.

This is the most horrendous plebiscite you could imagine. The populace is ill-informed and lied to by self serving politicians, who are similarly ill-informed about a future outside Europe.

And yet, this would appear to me to be the most important issue – if we vote ‘out’, what will change? No one knows!

So, because no one really knows what would happen should we vote to leave, issues have revolved around the current state of immigration and the economy, both of which seem to have become ‘European’ matters, rather than ‘all-world’ problems – which they are.

This country was on its knees when we joined the common market, or whatever it was called back then; we’d just had a three-day week and Jim Callaghan was about to face a Winter of Discontent – only working together with partners and some sound Euro-management by Margaret Thatcher (hate her legacy as I do, I cannot deny that she knew how to deal with the EU) did we become the economic power we now seem to be.

For whatever reason, our economy is currently as good as if not better than most in Europe, but I don’t see that as a reason to leave the club we have nurtured and been nurtured by over the last forty years.

I’m staying in.

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