Archives for the month of: July, 2016

In the past week, two African friends have made the same comment about Brexit : “Why doesn’t your Queen intervene to stop it?”

If only.

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An old, mad, blind, despised, and dying king,–
Princes, the dregs of their dull race, who flow
Through public scorn, mud from a muddy spring,–
Rulers who neither see, nor feel, nor know,
But leech-like to their fainting country cling,
Till they drop, blind in blood, without a blow,–

A people starved and stabbed in the untilled field,–
An army which liberticide and prey
Makes as a two-edged sword to all who wield,–
Golden and sanguine laws which tempt and slay;
Religion Christless, Godless, a book sealed,–
A Senate—Time’s worst statute unrepealed,–
Are graves from which a glorious Phantom may
Burst to illumine our tempestuous day.
 
Shelley wrote this sonnet at another low point in my country’s history, and some of the sentiments in it express how I feel following Brexit. Shelley was writing in response to the Peterloo massacre of 1819, where the British cavalry charged on citizens demonstrating peacefully for parliamentary reform. Fifteen people were killed including a two year old boy. The massacre was followed by a heavy-handed government crackdown on media and public gatherings. 
 
Let’s be thankful that, two centuries later, if nothing else, we have freedom of speech, and let’s cherish that gift.

Facebook feeds you news based on what you “like”. That’s fine when, for me, it concerns Baroque countertenors, rollerblading and the Cornish coastpath. But it ill-serves the democratic process, because the more I liked “Remain” posts, the more I got. And because I was not prepared to like a “Leave” post, Facebook never exposed me to the other viewpoint: I had to go elsewhere for that. Consequently, from my angle, it looked as if a massive majority was in favour of remaining in the run-up to the election. I’d be interested to here how other Facebook friends manage this imbalance.

Yesterday, traveling back from Lomé to Kara with Simon, there was a sudden, heavy rainstorm. Swerving to avoid a large lorry, the car skidded, did a graceful 360 degree pirouette, then rolled over into a deep muddy ditch and landed unceremoniously on its side. All that at speed.
It’s a curious moment when, as driver, you observe your passenger floating, as it were, above you. Somehow Simon managed dexterously to unfasten his seatbelt and climb out of the door above him without falling on me.
It’s an even curiouser moment when your first thought is “I would really prefer to stay in my upturned car, it’s bucketing down outside.”
I’m thankful that:
– neither of us were hurt, not the slightest scratch or whiplash.
– no other vehicles or pedestrians were in the line of the car.
– it was me driving, not Faustin, because it’s always easier to forgive oneself.
– the damage was limited to a couple of punctures, the side panelling and the side view mirror.
I’m also thankful that I was in Africa. In a matter of minutes, a crowd of 20 people emerged from nowhere including, of course, an experienced mechanic. He took the whole matter in hand, uprighted the car with great technical skill, instructed me how to drive out of the ditch without flipping the car again, and led us to his workshop, where he and an army of apprentices spent the best part of the afternoon making the car roadworthy again.
Back home safely now. Deo gratias.
PS: My connection speed isn’t fast enough right now to post photos of the accident here, but you can see them on my Facebook page.