Brexiteria, grownup politics, and the Plymouth Hoe

A few years ago, when Britain voted to leave the European Union, Scotland voted heavily to stay but got dragged away like a teenager whose parents show up just when the party’s getting going. That strengthened what was already a fairly strong inclination in Scotland to leave not the EU but the UK, or to put that another way, to disunite the United Kingdom. 

Yeah, it’s been interesting around here lately.

So what does our prime minister do? The other day he took his tousled head of blond hair up to Scotland to see if he couldn’t charm them out of their sulk. Even though he’d just extended the British lockdown and shouldn’t have let himself be caught going anywhere he didn’t absolutely, seriously need to go. Even though only essential travel between England and Scotland is allowed these days.

“If I do it,” Johnson didn’t say but looked like he wanted to, “it’s essential.” 

That’s not a real  quote, you understand, but he really did remind reporters that he’s the prime minister of the entire UK. 

When a prime minister has to remind people of that, he could well be in trouble. 

The Scottish National Party holds a majority in Scotland’s parliament and is likely to still hold one after the next election, and it’s talking about holding a second independence referendum, regardless of whether the prime minister of Wherever-he’s-the-prime-minister gives his approval. The polls at the moment say independence would win.

Did I mention how interesting it’s been around here lately?

Irrelevant photo: A camellia bud.

More Brexiteria

These next snippets deserve more space, but they won’t get it just now. At least not here. 

When the Brexit campaigners sold the country on leaving the EU, it was going to save us money, rejuvenate British business, and make palm trees grow from London rooftops. Although somehow they forgot to mention the palm trees. 

So what’s happened? British businesses that export to Europe are getting hit by extra charges, paperwork, and taxes. And what does our Brexit-boosting government recommend? The Department of International Trade tells them to set up separate companies inside the EU. 

Won’t that mean layoffs in Britain? Well, yeah, but the vote’s over, so who cares?

Consumers who buy stuff from Europe are getting hit by charges they didn’t expect. Customs duties, a value added tax, and to add insult to injury, a fee from the shipping company for handling the paperwork. And EU trucking companies are refusing to haul goods to Britain because they’re asked to come up with thousands of pounds to cover taxes and potential tariffs. For small- and medium-size companies, it’s not worth it.

Welcome to the Brexiteria. When we were looking in through the window, the food was more appealing than it is now that we’re inside. 


The Plymouth Hoe

Facebook is taking its role as a publisher seriously. 

That’s publisher as opposed to platform. A publisher’s responsible for what it pours into the world. A platform? It shrugs its shoulders and says, “Not my responsibility,” when someone advocates blowing up the planet and then manages to do it. It may be the end of the world, but at least the platform can’t be sued.

Will you get to the point, Ellen?

Of course. Facebook gave a good scolding to people who mentioned a Plymouth landmark, the hoe, and it took their posts down. And banned at least one of them. The posts sounded suspiciously like sexist bullying, and they could well have been except that hoe is an Anglo-Saxon word for a sloping ridge shaped like an inverted foot and heel. Which is a lot of highly specific description to wedge into three letters. If it can do all that in three letters, why aren’t we still speaking Anglo-Saxon.

Never mind. That’s a different post.

I haven’t been able to confirm the specifics of that definition, mind you. Ask Lord Google about hoe and as soon as you get past the line that says it’s a garden tool, the definitions go off in all those directions Facebook was trying to ban. Even when you add “Anglo-Saxon.”

The Plymouth Hoe genuinely is a sloping area, a grassy  one where the Pilgrims–the ones who settled in Massachusetts, not pilgrims in general–embarked. I have no idea if it’s shaped like an inverted foot and heel, but you might want to ask yourself if it would be shaped like a foot if it didn’t have a heel.

So has Facebook gotten its publisher act completely together? I doubt it. If you look, you can still find people on Facebook saying Covid’s no more of a threat than the flu (I just tried) and I have no idea what else because that’s as far as I went, but at least they’re not calling a landmark by a word properly belonging to a garden tool. 

Facebook has apologized to the people whose hands it slapped. 

I can’t wait to hear what happens next Christmas when some bully quotes Santa’s laugh.


The pharaoh’s passport

Back in prehistory–or to be specific, in 1974–a French doctor was studying the mummified remains of Ramesses II, because what doctor doesn’t poke around under a mummy’s wrappings when the chance comes his or her way? That led him to realize they were being taken over by a fungus. That’s they, since remains are plural, but maybe it should be he, since Ramesses may have been the second but he was still singular. Anyway, he or they needed treatment, which seems to have been available only in France. 

The articles I’ve found don’t explain why France. They take it as a given. Maybe the work could’ve been done anywhere but Ramsesses spoke better French than, say, German or Tagalog. Maybe it could’ve been done in Egypt but after all those years he was dying to travel.

Whatever. To get into France, he needed a passport. Just because you’re dead, that doesn’t mean you can go where you like. Even the dead need documents. So Ramesses became the only pharaoh (to the best of my limited knowledge) ever to be issued a passport by the Egyptian government. 


Playing politics the grownup way

In a classic moment of grownup politics, Jacob Rees-Mogg called Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister, Moanalot. 


And speaking of grownup politics, now that the UK’s left the European Union, Britain’s refused to grant the EU’s representative in Britain the privileges and immunity that go with diplomatic status under the Vienna Convention. And ditto the twenty-five people who came with him. It claims the EU is an international body, not a nation state, and if it treated it like a nation state every other international body in the world would want the same privileges.

Throughout the Brexit negotiations, the British negotiator referred to the EU as “your organization,” irritating the hell out of the EU’s chief negotiator.

A hundred and forty-three other countries around the world give the EU full diplomatic status and don’t seem to be having a problem with international organizations trying to pile into that same space. But you never do know. They might, and a nation-state can’t be too careful.


Human originality

New Zealand’s tourism agency launched a campaign against tourists “travelling under the social influence.” It takes aim at people traveling halfway across the world to take the same pictures everyone else takes. You know, the ones they’ve seen on social media. Same poses, same spots, same illusion that they’ve found bliss and their lives will be perfect forever after. Or at least, same message that they have enough money to get their asses halfway around the world and are therefore happier than their friends.

Human beings really can be idiots. Sorry. I know how likely it is that you, dear reader, are human. And you may be aware that I’m human as well. Still, the fact remains–

New Zealand’s invited us all to send creative travel shots to #DoSomethingNewNZ. You could win a NZ$500 voucher–which you won’t be able to spend until this whole Covid mess ends and New Zealand opens its borders. In the meantime, you can sit back and think of a few hundred ways to spend that money without ever silhouetting yourself against the sky on a mountain peak or pretending to meditate on a rock by the ocean. Or indulging in what the tourism agency calls the run-me-over shot, where someone walks down the middle of an apparently deserted highway.


The popularity of the TV series Bridgerton has had an unexpected side effect: viewers running to their computers looking for corsets. 

No, my computer doesn’t have a corset either. They’re using the computer to look on the internet. Searches went up 1,000%. 

Have we all lost our minds? Probably, but for whatever it’s worth, the Smithsonian Magazine says most of us misunderstand the Regency era corset. They were comfortable. Or at least comfortable in terms of what women learn to expect from their clothes, which take my word for it ain’t much. And a range of corsets would’ve infested–

Sorry. A range of corsets would’ve been available to the discerning buyer of the time, ranging from informal and comfortable to I’m-going-to-a-ball and I don’t care how uncomfortable it makes me. But in an era when women’s dresses were waistless, no one would’ve tightened her corset to the point of fainting. What would the point have been?

What people are buying, though, is anyone’s guess. 


61 thoughts on “Brexiteria, grownup politics, and the Plymouth Hoe

  1. Those Empire line dresses worn in Bridgerton times always look very comfortable to me, as well as being flattering to the “plumper” silhouette such as mine: I don’t know why people think it was Georgians rather than Victorians who wore corsets. I was going to say that you’d think people would remember the 1995 Pride and Prejudice adaptation, then rather depressingly remembered that anyone under 30, or even 35, wouldn’t …

    Liked by 2 people

    • I trust the Smithsonian’s correct in saying they did wear them, but they were very different from the Victorian things women imprisoned themselves in. But I think we got ourselves so thoroughly horrified by the Victorian version that we can’t get the image out of our collective heads and transpose it into any era where they wore corsets, regardless of accuracy.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Corsets were always comfortable, apparently. All those fashionable proportions that made Victorian women look as if their waists were tiny were achieved by padding other areas, not by lacing them into corsets so tight that they couldn’t breathe. I watch too many YouTube videos about historical clothing.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I don’t know, April. The Smithsonian is a reliable source. Here’s another snippet from the corset discussions: It does talk about them being laced tight enough in the Belle Epoque that you couldn’t draw a deep breath. It doesn’t give a start date for the style, unfortunately, and I’m not motivated enough to go chasing it much further quite yet.

      Liked by 2 people

      • The Smithsonian is reliable, but so are people who’ve studied the history of dress (it might have a fancier name) and make historical clothing for a living. Perhaps there was a particular fashion among rich women for a very short time to have very, very tight corsets, but, as these historians are constantly reminding me, every woman wore a corset and if they were too tight, working women would not have been able to work. Women went for walks, played tennis and rode bicycles and horses in corsets. They did everything in corsets every day except sleep, so having them so tight that they couldn’t breathe properly would have been daft.

        Now that I’m a bit more educated about corsets, I’m enjoying finding out about the ways in which they changed to allow wealthy women at least to have whichever silhouette was currently fashionable. It’s fascinating stuff.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Definitely–women couldn’t have worked if they couldn’t get a deep breath. And people do have a way of taking a driblet of information and expanding it into an entire cupful, so I expect you’re right, we’ve generalized a few situations into all of them.

          Liked by 1 person

  3. I saw the Plymouth Hoe story somewhere this week. It did give me a chuckle. Dur! Any fool knows that it’s so called because of Sir Francis Rake!

    ‘Even the dead need documents’ – great album title!

    Thanks, Ellen. Great post.
    Westward Ho! x

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s on my mind twice a day when I walk the dogs. We’re short of sidewalks around here, although even in lighter lockdown traffic I cling to the sides of the road. In the first lockdown, though, traffic was so light that we did meander down the middle.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I wonder if the ineffable Rees-Mogg might have been trying to cultivate his cultural throwback image, and referring to a character in the popular 1940s radio comedy show ITMA – Mona Lott (whose catchphrase was “It’s being so cheerful as keeps me going”. It would fit with his general inability to imagine how he comes across to anyone other than the average Tory Party member (average age about mine).

    Liked by 1 person

  5. From the way Moanalot acts and speaks, it isn’t always clear that she currently heads a minority government (61 seats out of 129). But Johnson’s grandstanding visit should annoy enough Scots to give her an outright majority in May – unless he calls off the elections by then. (I hope that doesn’t give him ideas)

    Liked by 1 person

      • She can usually rely on enough additional votes to get things passed in the Scottish Parliament – she’s only 4 votes short, after all. I suspect she will be returned with an outright majority in May, which is when the real IndyRef2 fun will begin.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Not only does she not have a majority, she is twisting in the wind at the moment after trying to frame Alec Salmond… facing an enquiry into the enquiry she set up to frame him – not too many worries there, though as the enquiry is not allowed to see all the documents… has an Advocate General in her government who has admitted to malpractice in the matter of Rangers F.C., which will cost the taxpayer oddles of dough…can’t explain the disappearance of monies supposedly ringfenced….and is currently subverting her own party’s procedural rules in seeking to impose a policy statement on transgenderism which will be made retroactive in order to wipe out a likely challenger to her leadership…and the statement re an indyref does’lt change the requirement for the consent of Westminster, if read carefully.
        The last thing she wants is independence….that would make a trainwreck of the current gravy train.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Politicians are the new royalty, they can do anything they want simply because there’s no one to stop them. Trump and Biden’s administrations both insisted on masks, social distancing, and self-quarantine before/after traveling…except when they were involved. Apparently that did not include when out campaigning for the presidency. Biden only wears a mask when he talks about the necessity of wearing masks, otherwise you see him without one. He has mandated masks anytime people are in the public, regardless of distance, and when traveling. Yet, he is constantly seen in the public without one. I’d love to see a photo of whether he wears them while on Air Force One.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Most of the photos I see of him, he’s wearing a mask. Like many public figures (and private individuals), he seems to take it off to speak. They seem to assume they can’t be understood otherwise, although I’ve listened to an assortment of speakers who speak through a mask and are perfectly understandable. It’s dangerous and unnecessary, but he’s not alone in that.

      Trump constantly disparaged mask wearing. I’ve read that in the White House, he insisted that other people wear masks but wouldn’t wear one himself.


  7. Ye Gods – my Mother wore those Godawful all-in-ones from Sears all her life. And until the advent of pantyhose I was all too familiar with garter belts (as a grade school teacher ,not a pole dancer) Of all the nutzoid you referenced in this post, that is the top.
    Compared to the names being called over here in our Congress Ms STurgeon got off easy. Jacob Rees-Mogg had better not run into Ted YoYo, who would probably stroke out at hyphenated last names.,
    So while Scotland is considering exiting the UK it needs to be careful where it is headed.

    Now if Facebook would act like a publisher in the US – maybe it is practicing in the UK.

    During the great period of fascination with Egypt in the 1800s mummies were imported for private collections. Some were taxed as “dried fish” to save a few pence.

    I googled “ITMA radio show” – it sounds great ! I wonder if episodes are available soemwhere like a lot of “classic” US radio shows are.

    Liked by 1 person

    • ITMA : I wouldn’t be surprised if you could find clips, at least (it ran for ten years), but in those days the BBC wasn’t in the business of box sets and didn’t archive everything. Also, the trouble is most of the jokes, apart from the catchphrases, would have been topical and would need no end of commentary/footnotes today. And somehow, catchphrases tend to outstay their welcome:.

      Liked by 1 person

      • A lot of British TV shows that everyone around me finds funny leave me blank, or if I’m trying to be nice, nodding vaguely as if I got it, so I don’t think I’ll go on a hunt. But thanks anyway.


  8. Hmmm…I think Facebook is run by illiterates and people who never took a history class. But even I know that instead of hoe, that would have been a Ho’ (Don’t ask where the W goes). Never been on Facebook, though, so can only go by reporting. I did not realize dead people would need passports. That is VERY interesting. I would have thought some sort of shipping manifest. I don’t envy you the Brexit BS. I read the blog of someone who works in a coin shop and ships…each shipment out of UK takes an EU piece of paperwork. Each one takes about ten minutes, apparently. As for corsets, well, that’s another reason to be grateful for having been born in the last half of the 20th Century.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Facebook’s run by algorithms and no human could predict where their logic, as they extend it, will take them. But as it turns out (I never know where research for this blog will take me) ho’ can also be spelled hoe. English spelling is nothing if not flexible. And absurd.

      The things you learn, eh?

      It’s good that we now know about dead people and passports. We’ll all die someday. Knowing that may turn out to be important.

      I’ll stop there, although that is interesting about the coins and the paperwork.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. So much to digest. Since you were interested in corsets, you might want to give the history of women’s pockets a look see.
    I know, right? Pockets?
    Sounds like some folks are missing their EU right about now.
    P.S. Got my first Covid vaccine yesterday. Hooray, of course.Pretty drove me to the national guard armory to join a line of cars filled with old people getting jabbed. Not too bad.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Oh the irony! I have written something similar but it is based in an alternative world where these people still exist but everything to do with Brexit went wrong and the virus. Like a Shakespearean play.

    I know, I could not help it! It took me a whole month to write it with a scoring rubic approach.
    Please let me know if I have nailed it.

    I just wrote a strange short story about England and Scotland. I am looking forward to writing part 2

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m not sure, given that you’re working in an alternate reality, when nailing it consists of, so I really want to duck out of saying yea or nay. The whole business about the separate banks printing money (which all amounts to the same money but with different pictures) is true, although I haven’t ever followed the details of that. The system of having four nations and one country’s complicated enough that I suspect I could spend a lifetime trying to follow it and still have details left to learn.

      Liked by 1 person

        • I’m of two minds about it. Scotland voted heavily to stay in the EU, and if it leaves Britain could–presumably–rejoin it. And Scotland’s always been the junior partner in the kingdom. Not quite a colony but never on equal footing with England. There’s a price to pay for that, and England may well be about to pay it.

          Liked by 1 person

        • I don’t find either possibility particularly shocking. I grew up in an America that drafted young men (I’m endlessly old), but even then Israel drafted women. I supported the end of the draft–I still do–but it’s brought some stuff with it that’s less than appealing. The military’s heavily made up of people whose lives offer them less–the poor; the almost-poor; the people without much to look forward to. It offers stability, a paycheck. When the country gets in a war, that’s who dies, and there’s less political pressure not to get into wars, or to end them, because they’re not people with political clout.

          Unexpected consequences.

          Liked by 1 person

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