Surfers, Black Lives Matter, and the Star Count: It’s the news roundup from Britain

Let’s start with the star count: Back in the winter sometime, I posted information about an effort to study light pollution by asking people to count the stars they could see inside the constellation Orion. If you’d like to see the map that compiled from that study, here’s the link.


I know I said the news was from Britain, but what the hell, I’m sitting in Britain and I’m typing this, so this comes from Britain, even if the news is from the U.S. It’s too good to miss: Someone from Nebraska is suing every gay person on the planet. In federal court.

She’s not claiming gay people have broken any laws. In fact, her hand-written, seven-page statement doesn’t talk about law. She quotes the Bible and she quotes a dictionary.

Now, I’ll admit to having misspelled a word or two in my time–possibly more than two. And ignorance of the law is no defense, so I might be worth suing, although first we should establish that a lawsuit is the appropriate remedy.

But the Bible–. Folks, it’s time we all sat down and had a serious discussion about whether people have to follow the rules of religions they don’t belong to. And if the answer turns out to be yes, we need to talk about which religion’s rules to follow. Because the world’s full of religions, and they have different rules. We’ll find a few areas of overlap, but that’s not going to be enough.

I predict a messy, uncomfortable discussion.

It probably won’t surprise you to learn that the woman bringing the lawsuit is representing herself in court.


Relevant photo (it happens sometimes): A Black Lives Matter demonstration in Camelford, Cornwall.

Enough of that. Let’s go back to Britain:

After a slave trader’s statue was toppled into the Bristol harbor, British conversations about black lives matter have focused heavily on the symbolic. In other words, on statues. So a group of white, far-right activists felt called upon to gather in London so they could protect its historic statues.

To avoid violence, Black Lives Matter called off the protest it had scheduled for that day, although other groups didn’t.

The far-right activists drank; threw bottles, smoke grenades, and flares at the cops,; gave the Nazi salute: took off their shirts; and pissed on statues, possibly on the theory that they need liquid to grow.

To be fair, not all of them did all those things. That’s a collective portrait.

A hundred people were arrested.

They made a point of claiming Winston Churchill as one of their own, possibly because someone had painted, “Was a racist” below his statue. I’ll let a tweet from @dannywallace sum the situation up:

“-  Police are protecting a statue from people who want to protect it from people who don’t seem to be there.

“- Meanwhile the man who stopped us all from having to salute like a Nazi is celebrated by men doing Nazi salutes.”

A group called the Football Lads Alliance took part. It’s a British thing, going to a football game in order to get in a fight. Not everyone who likes the game does that, but for some people it’s the whole point. And it does seem to be linked to racism.

I’m not even going to try to explain it. I don’t think it’s anything an outsider is likely to understand..


At a point where a group of far right demonstrators (let’s call them FRs) clashed with a group of Black Lives Matter demonstrators (let’s call them BLMs), one FR was left by his friends and was curled on the ground, surrounded by the group of BLMs they’d been fighting with. Patrick Hutchinson, a personal trainer who’d come with some friends in order to de-escalate clashes, waded in, heaved the FR over his shoulder, and with his friends in formation around him, carried him out.

The photo–a black guy carrying a white FR demonstrator to safety–went viral.

“If the other three police officers who were standing around when George Floyd was murdered had thought about intervening like what we did, George Floyd would be alive today,” he said.


Near where I live, in mostly white, very rural Cornwall, thirty people held a one-hour Black Lives Matter demonstration in the small market town of Camelford. We were masked and distanced and it took some of us most of the hour to work out that we already knew half of the people we were standing with.

I’d posted the event on our village Facebook page (having a village Facebook page is a tradition that dates back to the middle ages), and the response was a long argument about statues and whether responding to black lives matter by saying “all lives matter” is like saying responding to someone saying, “Save the Amazon,” by saying “all trees matter.”

The argument went on for over 200 comments.


Further down west (as people say around here), in Porthleven, surfers paddled into the harbor in support of black lives matter.


On a totally different note, in Italy, a group of drug dealers knew they were being watched by the police and wanted someplace safe to stash their stash until the cops got bored, so they did what any sensible, adult drug dealer would do: They hid $22,000 worth of cocaine in the forest. Where a pack of wild boars found it, tore open the packaging, and spread it all over the forest floor.

It’s not at all clear whether the boars inhaled.

The article I got this from called the boars a horde, which made me realize that I don’t know what you call a group of wild boars. I’ve (arbitrarily–it’s the privilege of the chair to be arbitrary) called them a pack, ruling horde out of order, along with mob, herd, and flock. I haven’t ruled out committee.

A committee of cocaine-fueled wild boars . . .

If you’re a fan of short story prompts, you’re welcome to use that as an opening line. In the story I won’t bother to write, they end up running the country.

It may or may not be fiction.

93 thoughts on “Surfers, Black Lives Matter, and the Star Count: It’s the news roundup from Britain

      • You’re just being lazy, not wanting to address his issue. All computers are compatible. How else could a computer created on Earth be used to create a virus that infected a computer on an alien ship to save the world (ref: movie Independence Day). Everyone know that movies, like the internet, cannot portray things that are not true.

        Liked by 2 people

        • Well, I didn’t see the movie, that’s how. But really, I shouldn’t have said the computer. The problem is the operating system. They gradually go further and further out of sync. I have a manuscript stored on mine that’s been through endless operating systems. The page headings now appear in the Greek alphabet. So multiply that by all the decades that’ve passed since the middle ages and you can see where the problem comes from.

          I’m glad to see you’re still around after we butted heads.

          Liked by 2 people

              • BLM is just a hot topic for me. I applaud when they are trying to do, but am bothered by their limitations. I don’t know what things are like in England, 6-months just isn’t enough time to get a real feel for a country, but here they only protest when a black life it taken by a cop, right or wrong.

                Every day (literally) on the news from the city there is a shooting where a black life is taken, mostly as collateral damage in a gang shooting. Last year a young black was shot during a party (don’t remember graduation or birthday), even though 911 (emergency) was called immediately no one saw anything, even the color of the car. The parents and relatives cried, but no one protested, It reminds me of Chicago in the 20’s and 30’s, just switch Italians for blacks.

                Then we had the era of cop-killer music, all the rage in the black community. It spurred actual hits by blacks on cops who were just sitting in their cars taking a break or having lunch. I’m not sure all cops have recovered from that, hard not to have your cockles raised every time you pull up to a situation in a black community after that. Now those musicians are Hollywood TV and movie stars. How’d you like to be a cop and see that?

                My point here is that it’s not an all-one-sided issue. I heard a TED Talk last week where they gathered four prominent groups for two days to record their solutions to the issue. Not one police group was invited to help create solutions. That’s like trying to solve climate change without including the polluters (ex: auto and energy industries) in on the conversation, just saying, “hey, cut emissions by 50% in 2 years, don’t care if it can be done or not, just do it.”

                Liked by 1 person

              • I don’t want to go far down this rabbit hole with you, but I will ask how it is that every time someone talks about cops killing a black person, someone–and it’s almost always someone white–will derail the conversation and say, Yes, but what about…? Gang issues need to be addressed, and the cops will find they get more cooperation–and possibly a seat at the table during discussions–when they no longer act like an occupying army. You’re bothered by the limitations of the movement? My friend, you and I can at best be supporters, but we can’t dictate its terms. We haven’t had the lived experience of being black.

                Liked by 4 people

              • I agree with you. But it’s like a war, and that’s what this is, when both sides are shooting at each other you have to bring them together to talk. You can’t address just one side of the issue and hope the other side will resolve.


              • Until now, the one side has had all the power, all the connections, all the strings to pull. If the other side gets some uninterrupted air time, it barely begins to even the balance. In any case, I’m not sure your war analogy’s the right one. I think the idea of building alternative police departments is what’s going to have to happen. The structures have been so corrupted in most cities that they can’t be salvaged.

                Liked by 2 people

    • I’d ask our Facebook page, but it might be too controversial. We’ll all still recovering from our last set-to.

      You’ll be interested in James’s comment (above? below? one of the two) about his in-depth research on the topic.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I thought I’d be clever and look up the collective noun for boars but it’s a ‘Google rabbit-hole’ I’ve yet to emerge from. So far I’ve learned that the plural for boar can be boar, but it is acceptable to say boars too. My ‘research’ would also indicate that the collective noun could be ‘herd’, but it could also be ‘sounder’ and bizarrely I’ve also come across ‘singular’. But, from what I can tell, you were absolutely correct to cast aside ‘horde’. I’m not sure if that’s helped to clear anything up, but I’ve commited too much time and effort (a whole five minutes at this point) not to share my findings…

    Liked by 1 person

    • It cleared up nothing, but I consider the mess an art form, so you’ve improved my day immeasurably with your five minutes of research. Even the faint possibility that a multiple of boar is a singular of boar(s)–I mean, who can fail to love that?

      Liked by 2 people

    • Having invested an additional minute to the task at hand, Wonkypedia suggests that the collective noun for boars (as for pigs) is a drift or a drove. Considering the cocaine intake of the boars in question, I think ‘drift’ might fit the best in this context.

      Liked by 3 people

      • If those are our choices, then I’d go for drift. It’s interesting that everyone who’s looked finds something completely different. (I should look but I’m enjoying the confusion too much. Not that I’d be likely to resolve it–even if I could.)

        Liked by 2 people

    • Better eyesight, less perversity, and maybe a nifty, localized bit of darkness. I know light pollution affects areas some distance from the source, but I do think local conditions make a difference. Or maybe I only think that because I live in the one area around here that has street lights.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. A committee of cocaine-fueled wild boars . . .seems an apt description of CLP – Constituency Labour Party – meetings I attended during the period of infiltration by supporters of the Gang of Four. Points of order sharper than any tusk, crazed bellowings, furniture in disarray…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ah, don’t you just love organizational life? A hundred years ago, I was in a meeting where everyone was fighting about I honestly can’t remember what, and a woman on the other side and I more or less stumbled into each other–one of us lost her balance, although I can’t remember who–and someone thought we’d started fighting. If we hadn’t both sworn we’d stumbled, it would’ve erupted into a riot.

      Which would have made a better story, I admit, although neither of us had tusks. Or cocaine.

      Liked by 1 person

      • i thought those happy days were behind me…until moving here. Somewhere I have a video clip of a local council meeting I attended which was open to the public. From the mayor sneaking off to top up his liquor intake to the council lawyer bawling at top voice, interventions from the floor, a vote to take over proceedings and the police called to calm the situation it brought back memories….
        Neither tusks nor cocaine, though I suspect that a fiery local liquid figured largely.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Your posts are becoming weirder by the day. I don’t mean it as criticism of any kind, I see it as a reflection of our world and news becoming weirder by the day. .. By the way, I am indeed thinking of starting on a book…

    Liked by 1 person

    • No, I think it’s just not going to let you in until I wave my magic feather over it, which I’ll do asap. Spam was all porn, religious nuts, and stuff in the Cyrillic alphabet (which may be porn or religious nut stuff but my Russian’s not good enough for me to tell). And one genuine comment, but not yours, so thanks for sending me to dig it out.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. These local Facebook groups are great for getting who to know you wouldn’t want to know locally that you wouldn’t otherwise have known you didn’t want to know. I think.

    Liked by 4 people

  5. One of my favorite posts – I admit to loving the relevant photo of the Black Lives Matter demonstration in Camelford, Cornwall! Amazing to see this movement have impact across the globe while the pandemic precautions prevail in this picture. Thank you so much for posting.
    On another US topic this morning – the Supremes ruled 6 – 3 that LGBTQ folks in this country have equal protection from discrimination from employers in the workplace. Huge.
    Gorsuch (Agent Orange appointee) and Chief Justice Roberts voted with the majority. Gorsuch wrote the opinion.
    I exhaled before I burst into tears.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I hadn’t seen the breakdown of who was on what side. That is truly amazing. Trump’s going to be trying to fire them. I wouldn’t want to be the person who has to explain that he can’t.

      Or maybe I would. I could see it being kind of fun.

      Yes, the impact of the Black Lives Matter movement has been amazing. Here in Cornwall, we’re a sideshow, making the small gestures that we can, but it’s blown the lid off things here. The statues, I suspect, as also a sideshow, but I don’t know where it will all go. I do know it’s important.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I think the wild boars were culinaries. They were seasoning the truffles. Now as for the person in Nebraska suing every gay person on the planet. Why stop there when you can sue the universe. And if she was using the bible there is a fair chance it was a King James version. So indirectly the news is from Britain. Or the middle east. The moral of the story is don’t fall off a turnip cart in Nebraska. You might hurt your head. Should I be setting up a GoFundMe to sue turnip cart manufacturers ?

    Liked by 2 people

  7. One of the delights of my life is laughing at the ridiculous way in which uncaring, intolerant people hide behind their interpretation of a religion – not just in the US, but they do provide many examples. Thank you for adding another story to that – this one is priceless. Do you know if she’s suing them for being gay, or maybe for their recklessness in not taking gay conversion therapy? I bet she’s a Trump voter.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. It would appear that the ‘bovver boys’ have re-surfaced as the plinths of darkness. But moving right along, as a fan of story prompts (yes, I know but it beats stamp collecting), I was about to leap to the keyboard only to realise that someone had beaten me to it. “The news soon leaked out that every pig was now receiving a ration of a pint of beer daily, with half a gallon for Napoleon himself, which was always served to him in the Crown Derby soup tureen.”

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Well, I was going to suggest that a group of cocaine-fueled wild boars would be called a Senate, but I see those ahead of me have done more research.

    The story of one protester saving one from the opposite side was uplifting. Had it taken place in the Former Colonies, I’m afraid the rescuer might have been shot by police. Probably for kidnaping.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I wish I could laugh about your second comment, but I can’t quite. Too close to the truth. But a senate of boars sounds convincing to me. I don’t see why we should be limited by reality on that issue.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I clearly mis-read the piece earlier, for I had a mental image of mellow boars, which I don’t see happening on cocaine – inhaled, snorted or otherwise.

    And yes, I was avoiding the main thrust of your piece – that of the links between violence, racism and football for while I know there are genuine fans of the beautiful game who are neither violent nor racist, it is a serious problem and a blight.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sometimes we need to take a minute out to contemplate cocaine-fueled boars before we return to the real world of hate-fueled football fans who think they’re more impressive with their shirts off.


  11. Those poor boars. What to do once you got hooked? These stories always remind me of the crack squirrels of Central Park, NYC. Rumors go, they got so used to steeling some guys bags, they can get pretty aggro when no new stach appears … And it is nice to read about something that is not Covid. Your blog is one of my happy places!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks–it makes me happy to hear that.

      I’d take those squirrel stories with a grain of salt. Or a bag of crack. Or whatever’s available. When I was a kid (I grew up in New York) we all told each other that white alligators lived in the sewers. The circus, back then, sold baby alligators, and the theory was that parents would flush them down the toilet when the kids got bored with them. And they grew to be six feet long and never saw the sun, and I’m telling you, there may not have been a kid in New York who sat both cheeks on the toilet seats…

      Liked by 1 person

  12. My big complaint about the news these days is that they ignore what must be other important things in favor of either the pandemic, the protests or political crap. You, on the other hand, bring us a nice mix. Cocaine boars…wild indeed.

    Liked by 1 person

    • They are indeed, but I’m not so sure about the boars. They’re wild. Herding them will be worse than herding cats. After resisting the impulse to look it up myself, I found contradictory answers (a sounder; a singular), which is what other comments have led me to think. I didn’t find a herd.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. An excellent post Ellen. Here the boars would simply be, les sangliers. The vignerons keep their numbers down to protect the vineyards. They don’t waste anything and most homes around here will find them on their dinner table. As for myself, I’m vegan.
    As for Religion, that is something best discussed over a few bottles of excellent red… I’m somewhere to the left of the late Christopher Hitchens so that tells you quite a bit about my views there…

    Liked by 1 person

    • I haven’t gone all the way to vegan–I’m just not ready to give up eggs and dairy–although I’d agree that I should. And I think we’d agree on religion too, even without the wine.

      English has this bizarre tradition of having names for groups of certain things, but most of them aren’t in common use and haven’t been within living memory. For all I know, they never really were. English is like that. But word hounds–and I’m one, whether I like it or not–take an odd pleasure in collecting them. I once stopped by the offices of a magazine I did some freelance editing for (a hunting and fishing magazine, ironically), and a staff member was running around looking for a source to confirm that a murder was the right collective noun for crows.

      “I’ll never get another chance to use it,” he said.

      Liked by 1 person

      • You’ll do it when you are ready. As for the wine, this is France and I live in the largest wine producing region…

        I know all too well about the English having one British parent and the other one Swedish. I grew up bilingual (English and Americanese) and I began making Swedish pastries and breads by my teens… I knew I belonged in Europe. C’est la vie.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Mmmm. Let’s skip the wine and go straight for the bread and pastry. I’ll bring a few of mine.

          Given your English, I assumed that it was either your first language or that you’re a linguistic genius. I just couldn’t keep myself from going into a short lecture on the subject of collective nouns. Apologies.

          Liked by 1 person

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