This blog is my opinions, thoughts and ideas, plus some poems. Some posts are backed by extensively researched facts, and some aren’t. I write about whatever’s on my mind. My favourite post is a long one: Colour me racist, blame my genes – racism explained as a redundant instinct. My most-read post is Jackson Browne and Daryl Hannah, an investigation into the rumour of domestic violence.
I spend a lot of time – possibly too much – updating, re-reading, rewriting, editing and generally tweaking my posts. It’s great – you can ‘publish’ something, but keep rewriting it for ever! The posts I’ve updated most are the rolling posts Halo Goodbye, Suu – the Rohingya crisis and Brexit and the east European elephant.
Me, me, me
I’m Chris Hughes. I was born in Altrincham (well, Timperley, actually, then we moved to Bowdon), formerly in Cheshire, now in Greater Manchester. I left Altrincham to go to art college in Leicester, a small city in the UK midlands. I now live in the Clarendon Park area of Leicester, described, apparently, as a ‘a redbrick uni nirvana‘. I’m in my 70s, retired I suppose, busy denying impending Death.
– Now you’re retired, what are you going to do?
– I thought I’d try a spot of old age, sickness and death.
(© the Buddha)
I’m half-educated – six GCE O levels, left A levels halfway through, got kicked out of art college (a traumatic event and not as amusingly Bohemian as it might sound).
I’ve so far lived a somewhat drifting life. I’m enrolled in the University of Life, of course, but I keep missing the lectures. I’ve got a small chip on my shoulder about not getting a (real) university education or having had a proper job. I claim to disdain the question, ‘What do you do?‘ – but, secretly, I’d like to have had an answer.
In an adjacent parallel universe, I’m a semi-retired academic. In the next one, I’m a successful freelance journalist. In another one, I’m a homeless alcoholic junkie. And so it goes.
Not that I’d want to categorise myself, but (in this universe) I’m a cisgender, heterosexual (despite being the Soothfairy), neurotypical, ex-omnivore semi-lapsed-vegan organic-buying vegetarian, left-liberal-Green, antireligious agnostic lapsed Anglican Christian with pantheistic, panpsychist and antitheistic tendencies.
On an even more personal note – why not? – I’m in respite from depression. Having tried most available treatments, with varying success, I now occasionally self-medicate with cannabis. I’m currently hanging on to my precious marriage. (Counselling has – kind of – helped. The cannabis, probably less so.)
Having more or less stopped working, I like to linger over a coffee and read the complementary Guardian in a nearby café. (Edit: This pleasure was interrupted by the apocalyptic pandemic. Cafés are currently open again, but the complementary newsapers haven’t returned.)
Where I stand on the great issues of the day
(In case it matters)
I voted Remain in the UK’s 2016 EU referendum, but was actually undecided. Loved the noble internationalist idea, disliked the corrupt neo-liberal bureaucratic gravy-train reality. So it was OK with me that we were leaving*. I enjoyed the lively media discussion, dominated by remoaners upset that the ‘ignorant’ majority rejected their expert advice. After decades of being more or less ignored, the UK’s relationship with the EU suddenly became the subject of passionate debate! (*It was OK with me but I changed my mind.)
I sympathise with the anti-establishment mood of the times, but I wish the Democrats had read that mood correctly in 2016 and had selected Bernie Sanders. Voters would then have had a choice between two anti-establishment candidates, one covertly on the side of the super-rich and one honestly on the side of the people. I like to think they’d have chosen Sanders. After Trump’s election, Sanders was said to be by far the most popular US politician. Ahead of the 2020 election, he remained a contender. Radical rival and ex-Republican convert Elizabeth Warren (in the top five or thereabouts) had a good line on government corruption by corporate lobbyists. Sadly, they were both cravenly dumped for Boring Joe Biden, thought to have the best chance of beating Trump and uniting a divided nation. Biden, 78, won narrowly. Running mate Kamala Harris, 56, is also boring, but will be the first female, the first African American and the first Asian American to be vice president – and might well succeed Biden in 2024. Yay.
The controversial leftwing leader of the UK’s Labour Party, supported by most party members but opposed by most Labour MPs
I liked him. I voted for him. So his approval rating was -42%. So what? Following UK prime minister Theresa May’s disastrous – for her – snap June 2017 general election, Corbyn’s rating shot up to 4%! Then he lost the 2019 general election. He was ambivalent on Brexit – but so was I. Oh well …
Became UK prime minister when the Conservatives won the 2019 general election with a majority of 80 after promising to “Get Brexit done”. (The previous Conservative government under Theresa May was hampered by the hung parliament that followed May’s disastrous 2017 snap election.)
Jesus fucking Christ. Thanks, UK electorate. A Trump-like frontman for the super-rich disguised as a clown. God help us. Except there’s no God, so we’re basically fucked. The next general election’s due in 2024. The UK opposition Labour Party needs to win back its traditional Brexit-inclined voters to overturn the Tory majority, and there’s no sign of that from the metrocentric party. So, here’s to 2029.
Can whites be woke? If so, I like to think I am. Is my self-ascribed wokeness political correctness by another name? Maybe. Both terms attract disdain from gammon numpties, and the ‘anti-woke’ backlash is no joke.
Millions dying, lockdown and the tantalising mirage of a post-pandemic utopia slowly drove me mad. Global neocapitalism (along with its associated environmental destruction and austerity economics) temporarily retreated, but no doubt the evil empire was regrouping and getting ready to feast on the weakened poor.
Life, love, death
A double-choice test:
What’s the meaning of life?
A. Life is a mirror. Its meaning is to give individual form to universal consciousness in order to reflect it.
B. There’s none – life is a meaningless pile of poo.
A. What the heart wants
B. A hubristic illusion
What happens when you die?
A. After death, your individual soul is healed and lives on for a while. Then it’s reborn. After many rounds of reincarnation, your soul returns to universal consciousness.
B. A big fat nothing
(Answers given in the Book of Life)
Blog nuts and bolts
My blog’s only got one menu (top right): all my posts are in it. Recently viewed posts are at the top; the rest are in alphabetical order.
I’d like to have more readers and more feedback, but despite reading all the tips and trying many of them out, I still don’t know how to get more visitors – apart from emailing relevant people. For some of my more serious posts (about Islamaphobia, racism, Aung San Suu Kyi and the Rohingya, east European migration to the UK, the call for UK patriotism, and the implications of increasing automation) I’ve searched for experts, and emailed them an invitation to read the post and respond. I’ve had some responses, most of which I’ve summarised in the post.
I used to happily do everything on my phone, but a WordPress.com upgrade badly messed up my blog. It took weeks to sort out the messed-up HTML. After that disaster, I found that continued phone editing was highly unsafe. Now I only do it on the laptop. (Not so nice, WordPress.com!)
I don’t much like the look of the blog on my laptop; but I’ve tried to find a WordPress.com theme that looks OK on both. I’m currently using Colinear. I’ve finally figured out (more or less) how to have a ‘static home page’ (this one).
I try to to credit all the photos and images I use. Google’s reverse image search is good for finding image sources and higher resolution images (on phone: https://ctrlq.org/google/images in Chrome). The occasional speech and thought bubbles are mine – I use a nice little app called PicSay.
Why are some words and phrases in bold? Why not?
If, like me, you like to arrange your sock drawer just so, you’re not ‘a bit OCD‘. (There’s no such thing, and people with OCD can be offended by that term.) However, you can be ‘a bit autistic‘ – apparently we’re all on the autistic spectrum. Those of us at the lower end are ‘neurotypical‘: people without a defined neurological disorder. Another clue to my self-defined lower-end autism: I don’t listen to song lyrics.
For an insight into how autistic people see themselves portrayed by us allistics (non-autistics) there’s a fascinating review of the movie The Accountant, in which Ben Affleck plays an autistic assassin. I enjoyed the movie, but reading that review put it in a new light.