On Branches

Stripped trees glisten

Droplets swell then fall from twigs

Chirrups of blue tits

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n.b. Despite the buffeting gale that has persisted throughout the night and intensified with day-break, the blue tits https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/wildlife-guides/bird-a-z/blue-tit/carry on their busy lives regardless.

Without cover, due to the autumn leaf fall, these stop-start little birds whizz from tree to hedge and back again in short, nippy flights. The filthy weather, whose deep roar fills the space behind this gloomy sky, is cut by short, bright ribbons of the blue tits’ cheerful cheeping. Not a tuneful call, but bright and optimistic. Autumn allows us to be able to hear and see this small, quirky bird at its best.

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CLP 26/10/2019

On Empire

Eventually

Having taken what they want

British pay the price

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n.b. The extent to which the wealth of the UK was based on the trade in African slaves is now being more seriously considered and debated.

When Great Britain outlawed the slave trade, reinforced by the might of the Royal Navy, Parliament ensured that businesses affected by the abolition were paid compensation for the losses of revenue. The recent Prime Minister, David Cameron comes from a family whose family benefitted significantly from such a compensation settlement. Who can visit a Tate gallery without linking the name Tate with sugar, then sugar with slavery?

Now the question of compensation to countries exploited by the British Empire in ways, including slavery, is being formulated. It will be interesting to see how that develops in coming years.

Another aspect of colonial expansion and exploitation is that the UK has the highest proportion of expropriated plant species, which are now known to be less than complementary to the indigenous flora and fauna – an interesting unseen consequence of putting together collections of foreign plants.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/oct/25/citizen-army-needed-to-tackle-invasive-species-mps-suggest

CLP 25/10/2019

On Manners

Greased hinges open

No Where from? Nor How come so?

But You’re most welcome

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n.b. How would you spend your millions?

Discretion, courtesy, stability and security, all are important elements of polite society.

I once met a Swiss investment advisor, (let’s call him Eric) who explained to me that these are also the four characteristics of Switzerland that attract his clients from Russia, Malta, Turkey, South Africa and Israel to invest in his country.

He was most disparaging of the chaotic state of the United Kingdom and the disruptive elements in Parliament who might ask awkward questions about where wealth originates. These questions might challenge his clients to explain their sources of income. Such a naïve approach to inbound investment in the UK allows him to successfully promote the attractions of the Confederation Helvetica.

Little does Eric know about the UK. We are open for business!

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2019/oct/24/superyachts-and-private-jets-spending-of-corrupt-super-rich-revealed

The article names three well-known private schools in the UK that profit from criminal income sources. These schools still hold charitable status in the UK, despite being beneficiaries of corruption and crime. The report above states the sums involved amount to around £3m. They certainly are charitable when it comes to offering school places to global society’s waifs and strays.

I asked Eric where he spent his holidays. Modestly he told me that he only takes a few days each year, usually visiting friends in Moscow. His shirt was impossibly white, (I remember thinking at the time, who cleans his shirts?).

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n.n.b. Transparency International is based in Berlin and is doing invaluable work highlighting where dirty money goes to get laundered. There are offices of this organisation around the world, including in London https://www.transparency.org.uk

CLP 23/10/2019

On Silence

Quiet school week night

Traffic parked, empty pavements

Not even owls’ calls

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n.b. Tonight in Portsmouth the air is filled with nothing but sounds of sleep, while the countryside of Somerset will be alive to the hoots and shrieks of various night birds. This silence is unsettling; un-natural.

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CLP 23/10/2019

On Money

What is it you need?

A ajunge acasa

Here is your ticket

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n.b. Romanian for “To get home”

Yesterday a friend sought help from family and acquaintances to find out what ailed a young, homeless man.

He had travelled in hope of work to Switzerland, having paid an agent to get him there. He was stranded, hungry, cold and wet.

One of her friends spoke Romanian better than he spoke English. They spoke on the telephone.

When his needs were understood, my friend took him to a café for a meal, bought him a ticket home online and funded him to buy his own food for the journey (including some Swiss chocolate to take back to his wife).

Simply giving cash would have been quicker and easier, but does handing out coins and notes alone change anything?

Can we lift ourselves above personal day-to-day concerns and see, hear and help those with more urgent needs?

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CLP 22/10/2019