Oh, for a Fat Controller!

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Rev Wilbert Awdry

Have you have read any of the Reverend Wilbert Awdry’s books about Thomas the Tank Engine and his rail-bound colleagues you will understand the allusion to the Fat Controller. It has nothing to do with weight loss and everything to do with our need for an overlord (or indeed an overlady).

In these stories the units of anthropomorphic rolling stock, with their personalities, their strengths and their weaknesses, often make a mess of things. But the Fat Controller (aka Sir Topham Hatt) always appears on the final page to praise the good, admonish the naughty and put things right. It’s the perfect way to end the day before snuggling beneath the bedclothes.

“Oh no!” I hear you say. “Not another post about Brexit!”

Sorry, but yes. The UK Government, Opposition and Parliament are in turmoil. The long-suffering people are dismayed. Many long to be dis-Mayed. They want a Fat Controller to step into the story and mend their fractured universe.

HM The Queen

The only candidates with sufficient moral authority are Joanna Lumley and the Queen. My preference would be the Queen. With an unwritten constitution, her power is limited only by what her people believe it to be and want it to be. I would love it if she turned up at Parliament one day, unannounced, and said something along the lines of “For God’s sake, you people, grow up! Isn’t it blindingly obvious that this whole Brexit thing isn’t working? What’s more it’s tearing my kingdom apart and it just won’t do. Stop it. Now. Tell those people in Brussels that you’re going to have another think about it and we’ll email them when we’re good and ready. OK? Good. Carry on.”

 

Brexit

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Today is the 193rd day since the Brexit Referendum. This being a prime number, and therefore indivisible, it seems an ironically appropriate day for a post about an event that exposed such deep and lamentable divisions among the people of the United Kingdom.

I didn’t have a vote, having emigrated from the Green and Pleasant Land 38 years ago, but if I had I would have voted Remain. I don’t know whether staying would be better in the long run for the British economy, but I’m pretty sure it would be better for Europe as a whole – economically, politically and in every other way in the short, medium and long run.

brexin brexout

But Joan Williams, a friend from way back whom I respect, voted for Brexit and I asked her why. Her answer had nothing to do with immigration or the NHS. I reproduce it here in full, with Joan’s permission:

“ If you really want to know why I voted leave, it’s basically because I’m afraid I do not think the EU is a good thing. I don’t think the world has outgrown the nation state yet, and that when it does it will not be through the likes of the EU. I love the individual European countries that I know (i.e. Germany, Italy and Spain), and value both our similarities and differences, and don’t see what is gained by trying artificially to weld us all together.

“ I don’t think any supranational institution is better than none, or that being semi-attached to an institution that is heading in the wrong direction is ‘the best of both worlds’. Most importantly, I revere the British constitution, and I don’t take our democratic freedom for granted; the more we compromise and dilute and sacrifice it, the more we are losing it.

“ We achieved our freedom and developed our democracy before anyone else, and it is still the best, and still an example to the world; whereas the EU, in its top-heavy unaccountable over-bureaucratic clumsiness, more resembles the old tired easily-corruptible19th century empires. One doesn’t need to invoke Napoleon: Nicholas II and Franz-Josef are bad enough! It is like choosing to be a dinosaur instead of a mammal. ”

Does anyone else out there feel the same way?