Britain and the European Union now have a Brexit deal, so instead of complete chaos on January 1, we can only expect moderate chaos.
Moderate chaos looks good these days.
Like 99.4% of the country–and quite possibly like the Members of Parliament who are expected to approve all 1,246 pages of it before their tea’s had time to cool down (some sources say it’s 2,000 pages; does it really matter)–I have only the more general idea of what the deal says or what it will mean for any of us, although the papers are starting to fill us in.
Before the agreement was reached, a poll asked people first whether they thought we were wrong to leave the EU and then how they’d vote in a referendum to rejoin: 49% said we were wrong to leave and 39% said we were right. Then they took one chair away, restarted the music, and asked the next question. (Presumably that same) 49% said we should apply to rejoin while 51% said we shouldn’t.
So 10% had no opinion on leaving or staying but did on rejoining. I have no idea what that means.
Britain’s Channel Four showed a fake queen’s Christmas speech, timed to follow the real one on Christmas afternoon.
The queen’s speech? It’s a British institution, and everywhere but here it gets capital letters. Every Christmas day, she addresses the nation and says something. I don’t know what because even during the brief moments when I haven’t been able to avoid listening all I heard was a faint buzz.
People take it very seriously, though. At various times, I’ve been asked if I was going to listen to the queen’s speech, if I did listen to the queen’s speech, if I do in general listen to the queen’s speech. It’s a measure of something, although I don’t know what. When I answer, I try to avoid expressions of horror and I try to avoid making jokes. A fair number of my fellow citizens–and even of my friends–take her seriously. And I’m an outsider here. It’s best not to walk into someone’s house and rearrange the furniture, although I might whisper quietly to a few thousand of my closest readers that I find the whole queen thing–not to mention the queen’s speech–odd.
So, yes, this Christmas we doubled down on oddity and had a real queen’s speech followed by a fake queen’s speech. Officially, the fake one was to send a “stark warning” about deep fakes and the possibility of fake news. Unofficially, I’m pretty sure lockdown was responsible. A bored mind is a dangerous thing.
The fake speech has been criticized as not a very good fake, and it’s true that the queen looks rigid, but I watched a (very short) snippet of the real speech and the real queen was also rigid.
The fake includes a TikvTok dance and the queen saying about Harry and Megan that it’s hurtful when someone tells you “they prefer the company of Canadians.”
That was entirely realistic.
Yeah, go on and watch it.
Speaking of the queen, England and Wales are fighting the history of colonialism all over again.
To brush up on our British history: England’s bigger than Wales. England conquered Wales and did all the unpleasant things that conquerors do. That started centuries ago. It lasted until–
Um, yeah. We could argue about the end point, and also about whether there’s been one. But even if we agree that it’s all in the past (we won’t, but never mind that), I doubt anyone in Wales has forgotten the history.
That takes us up to the present day, when a few politicians on the English side of the Severn Bridge, which links England and Wales, proposed renaming it to mark the queen’s platinum jubilee.
No, I don’t know how many years you have to put behind you to get a platinum jubilee and I don’t care enough to look it up. A lot. It’s not the point.
The proposal woke both residents and politicians on the Welsh side of the bridge, and they all sat up in bed to said–in unison, mind you–that if the bridge gets renamed it should be named after either the Welsh rugby hero Gareth Edwards or the Welsh politician Aneurin Bevan, who led the establishment of Britain’s National Health Service. That last idea is guaranteed to annoy the Conservative politicians who want to rename the bridge (and quite possibly the health service and also your back teeth) after the queen.
The bridge is made up of several parts, and one of them both starts and ends on English soil, which is why the English politicians think they can pull this off, but the collection of bridge part-lets are maintained as a unit and up to now seem to have been named as a unit.
In addition to offending the Welsh, the renaming would cost money–probably a lot of it, although no one’s mentioned a figure yet. It’s maintained by Highways England, which was itself renamed recently at a cost of £7 million after having been called–apparently quite happily–the Highways Agency.
Chilly weather and a chance of falling ignuanas
On December 23, the south Florida weather forecast included cold weather and the possibility of falling iguanas.
I know. Florida’s not in Britain. I cheat. It’s your own fault for not keeping an eye on me.
Iguanas are cold blooded. At around 45 F., they go dormant and look like they’re dead. They’re not. Or at least the ones who don’t die aren’t. The larger they are, the more likely they are to be alive but dormant.
The problem is that they like to sleep in trees and if they go dormant up there they have a habit of falling out. Which doesn’t do them any good and can also be a problem for humans underneath. Iguanas can measure up to 5 feet long and weigh as much as 20 pounds.
If you need to know the impact of a 20-pound iguana falling out of a tree–and who doesn’t?–the formula is W=PE=Fd=mgh⟹F=d [over–sorry, my computer skills aren’t up the finding the right symbols and this is too important to leave out] mgh
I have no idea what any of that means, but I do know that at some point you’ll need the height of the tree before it does you any good. After that it gets complicated–there’s a second step, where you have to plug in the results of the first step. You’ll be happier going to the website for the second formula without me.
Iguanas aren’t native to Florida, but they have adapted. Some dig deep burrows to stay warm. Some live near water, where the air temperature’s higher. Some sleep in trees and fall out if it gets too cold. And some cry weee, weee, wee, all the way home.
It’s a brutal kind of personality test.
Or maybe which way they face the cold doesn’t depend on their personalities but on what they find to work with–cement, water, tree, diggable dirt. We are all, to some extent, creatures of our environment.