Brexit, Santa, and bad sex: it’s the news from Britain

As I write, Brexit talks are continuing. Competing headlines say that a deal is possible; that the European Union isn’t optimistic about reaching one; that a no-deal Brexit is likely, is very likely, is more than likely, is likelier than Santa Claus coming down Boris Johnson’s chimney; that even if Britain and the EU reach a deal there may not be time to approve it; and that the Scandinavian gods will descend from Mount Olympus (yes, the Greek gods did use to live there but they found it drafty and moved on. The Scandinavian gods, being from, you know, Scandinavia, think the weather’s great and following the example of the Czars use it as a winter palace.

That didn’t end well for the Czars, but you know what gods are like. They always know best. Won’t listen to anyone–

Where were we? That the Scandinavian gods will descend from Mount Olympus and whack a few heads, dictate a deal, and that’ll settle things. No one will be happy, but that’s the sign of a workable compromise.


The Scandinavian gods scenario is generally considered the least likely, but just in case I’m making a list of heads I think would be worth whacking. In case anyone asks.

I don’t want to give you multiple links for all the various scenarios, especially since the last one’s embarrassingly hard to document, so we’ll settle for this one.  

We’ve had days of news stories about what’s going to happen to shipping and production and supply lines and prices. The government’s sunk lots of money into building black holes for trucks to wait in while their paperwork–and everyone else’s paperwork–gets sorted out. And ports are already backed up, for reasons I don’t really understand although as a rule bad political decisions are a fair bet. Empty containers are sitting where they full ones need to be. Ships are landing on the continent because they can’t land in Britain.

And this is all before Brexit hits.

As for us, we’ve stocked up on dog and cat food; on bread flour, sunflower seeds, and tea; on laundry soap; on a few other random items. We have no idea what’s about to happen or what we should have stocked up on instead. And really, we have only the vaguest idea what we need for life to be manageable. If we continue to have electricity and water, and I’m reasonably sure we will, we’ll eat something and we’ll wash. 

No, I’m not really expecting a complete breakdown. It’s just that I feel like minor-league maniac stocking up this way. Making jokes seems to counterbalance that.

Sleep well, Minnie. The dog food stash has been topped up.

If anyone tells you they do know what’s about to happen, they’re (a) kidding you, (b) kidding themselves, (c) pretending to govern the country.


Let’s change moods and countries.

A couple of guys moved into an apartment on New York’s 22nd Street and discovered that it came with  a seasonal delivery of letters to Santa Claus. They seemed like an annoyance at first, but after a while one of the men, Jim Glaub, got into the spirit. He picked a letter writer that he could be Santa to and found other people who’d do the same with others. 

The most moving ones were from kids whose parents were broke. One kid wanted a bed so he wouldn’t have to sleep on the couch. Another wanted a blanket “for my mom to sleep warm this winter and gloves for my dad to work.” Also shoes for her brother and some art supplies and glitter for herself.

I hope someone gave her lots of glitter.

At some point, mysteriously, what had been a few dozen letters became hundreds–more than an informal network could handle–and Glaub started a charity, along with a webpage to match kids to people able to give. 

No one’s been able to explain why the letters come to that particular apartment. In the early stages, when they were still an annoyance, the men talked to the post office.

“Can’t help you,” it said. 

Yes, at Christmas inanimate objects can talk. Surprisingly coherently, even if not helpfully.


Britain’s National Accounting Office reports that £50 billion pounds in cash is–


–well, it’s somewhere but they don’t know where. I guess you could say it’s missing, although no one expects to know where the nation’s cash is at any given moment, so missing isn’t quite the right word. Where it’s not, though, is in circulation.

This isn’t money that’s gone missing from the budget or that disappeared due to any sort of creative accounting. People are holding onto cash–a lot of it, as it happens. And this isn’t just happening in Britain. It’s happening in the U.S. and Europe as well. 

What does it all mean? It’s hard to say, but speculation tends to involve criminal activity. The three currencies all have high denomination bills (or notes if you speak British) that make it easy to smuggle–or even just carry–large amounts of untraceable cash. 

In case you need to know that at some point in your life, you heard it here first.


In deference to how bad 2020’s been already, the Literary Review canceled the contest it sponsors, the Bad Sex in Fiction awards. The judges felt “the public had been subjected to too many bad things this year to justify exposing it to bad sex as well.” But they warned the writing world not to take that as a “license to write bad sex.”

Not that the writing world needs a license.

I often argue with myself over which paper to link these snippets to. For this, though, the decision was simple: The Guardian’s article comes with a photo of the Reverend Richard Coles, in full reverent suit, reading at last year’s awards ceremony. Someone had fun picking that out of the archives.

40 thoughts on “Brexit, Santa, and bad sex: it’s the news from Britain

  1. There must still be some people who don’t trust banks and keep money under the bed, but possibly not high denomination notes. My grandma used to keep some cash in an old hatbox in case she suddenly had to do a runner. I’ve no idea why she thought she might have to do a runner, but people of her generation tended to be suspicious about anything official!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Every time I hear Scandinavia, I think about sth that we were made to believe in though it diesn’t really exist, like Santa.
    The other day I watched M.Moore’s documentary ‘Which country to invade next’ where he playfully invades different countries to see what they have to offer, comparing them to the States, and when he goes up north, you’re like, noooooo, this can’t be.

    I know you’re not a big movie fan but I’m sure you’d love him. Did you watch some of his movies?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The Electoral College votes today. Can you spare the Scandinavian Gods for a bit just- you know – insurance ?
    Apparently Postmaster DeJoy-less had seen “Miracle on 34th St” and decided to get rid of the letters to Santa THAT way. HAHA – he never expected JOY to actually result !

    Glad to know Minnie is set. Presumably Fast Eddie is too (and is there another dog ?) And you and Ida have enough tp

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fast Eddie’s stocked up. We even have a stash of cat treats, although he’s trying to go through them all at once. Every time we head for the kitchen. Want a glass of water? Cat treat. Washing the dishes? Cat treat.

      We’ve discussed the wisdom of this, or the lack thereof. He’s not impressed.

      There is another dog: Moose. Or if we’re being formal, Moose Fizziwig.

      The Scandinavian gods are on standby.

      Liked by 1 person

    • It wasn’t, sadly. Mostly what we find in our yard is rock, along with the occasional small plastic toy left by the kids who used to live here. Thanks for the link, though. I’ll keep looking. (Back in the US, I though metal detectors were nuts. They may be here too, but they do find some amazing things.)

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I think you’ve stocked up on the most important items – Minnie appears quite content. I hope Fast Eddie is equally pleased.
    I also hope the Brexit exit is as smooth as the bad sex in fiction during the Texas secession which someone should write about. Hm. I’ve always wanted to write fiction – the sex scenes would be bad, I’m sure. Perhaps I should write a letter to Santa for story line suggestions?
    Loved this post.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Money came flooding out of the mattresses when France adopted the euro…but at least then you could launder your francs by buying a new car or tractor and then flogging it after the changeover.
    I don’t like governments – or banks – knowing what I do with my money, or having any control over it, given their track record of incompetence and rapaciousness.

    Liked by 1 person

    • In Britain, they’ve changed from whatever the old bills were made of to new, horrible plastic ones that stick together and won’t fold and are generally a pain in the wallet. And at some point the old ones became things you couldn’t spend in stores, although banks will still accept them. Whether there was a flood of them coming out from under mattresses I don’t know. But that’s a less drastic shift than from the franc to the euro.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I can relate to your recent stockpiling. Before the election, here in the U.S., I bought lots of rice, beans, and toilet paper, just in case Trump incited an armed revolt after the votes were in. The Santa letter story is so sweet. It reminds me that when my kids were quite young, they wrote letters to Santa and we put them in the mail. My son and one of my daughters were keen enough to realize they needed to put a stamp and return address label on their letters. My other daughter did not. A week later, the two resourceful ones received a letter from Santa saying he’d make sure they’d get some of the presents they’d asked for. My third, never got a letter. I never realized that someone at the post office actually replies to these things. It was an early lesson for number 3 to not put faith in mystical figures, I guess.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Interesting tale. I didn’t know anyone answered those letters either. It must be overwhelming–and disillusioning for the kids who don’t get some of what they asked for. What odd things–when you back away and think about it–we teach our kids.


  7. I’m late to the game here. I have a story about a child’s letter although it wasn’t at Christmas. The year of our divorce was hard on my daughter so I pulled enough money together to send her to a figure skating camp. I received an envelope in the mail with a Post Office return address and addressed to “Mom”. Inside the envelope was another envelope (addressed to “Mom”) that was extremely small and did not fit the minimum size requirements. Instead of returning it to her, or tossing it, someone took the time to put it in a larger envelope, address it, put a stamp on it, and mail it. Ever since I have forgiven any mistakes the United States Post Office makes.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That really is sweet–especially your daughter addressing a letter to “Mom,” but yes, some Post Office worker taking the time to make sure it reached you. I’m sure they went home smiling that day.


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