New review of Where’s Sailor Jack? : ‘‘…romantic, poignant, and extremely funny, exactly what I want from a family saga.’ – Stephen Carver, Blot the Skrip and Jar It

Archives: bryan appleyard

Remainers or Brexiteers?

I’m working on a midquel to Where’s Sailor Jack, starting in 2015 and thus set in the years of the Brexit vote and its implementation, if indeed that actually happens. As such I can’t finish it until next year at the earliest, which is perhaps as well since progress in writing the book is proceeding no faster than the negotiations. I have introduced two new, female characters in the book; a mother, Lucy, in her forties and a daughter, Maddie, in her twenties. They are Brexiteer and Remainer respectively. Of course both Bob and Richard, the two heroes of the first book were both Remainers, having far too much to lose to wish to risk the opposite. Both also grew up in the aftermath of the second world war and hoped that the EU might have provided at least another generation of peace in Europe, even with the omission of Russia from its membership and the economic issues resulting from the folly of a single currency with Germany at the helm.
Maddie is a bisexual, seeing Europe as the future and its institutions as protection for her liberal values, despite the Eastern European countries being more socially conservative and the catholic traditions of the south. Lucy is a lapsed catholic, beginning to return to her former faith. The cultural changes from non-christian immigration still rankle with her. Bob, living in the Fylde, also hankers after a more homogeneous, although in his case an Anglican, past, without wishing to reverse any changes. Richard, in Hertfordshire, is more accepting of the multi-cultural society as it is a fact on the ground for him. They both blame the Tories and Cameron for imposing a referendum into a parliamentary system. And both have a dilemma now that the nation has voted to leave. Instinctively, their hackles rise when the remainers, BBC to the fore, hideously metropolitan in tone, describe the brexiteers as unknowledgeable and thick. They will never countenance any view that the metropolis is more progressive than the north-west. Also, since the vote, the devaluation of the pound has been good news for the north-west, the region growing faster than all others with a maufacturing recovery and housebuilding taking off. Bob had always argued that EU membership and a high value to the pound had mainly favoured the south-east and financial services. Richard had benefited more than most from that, but he is a Lancastrian to his core. As a result, both of them now feel that democracy demands that we leave. Bob actually wants that to be the case, Richard wouldn’t mind if we stuttered and stayed. One thing that unites them is agreeing with the recent group set up of intelligent people who now favour Brexit with a proper critique of the perplexing Treasury scenario analysis, brilliantly reported in The Sunday Times by Bryan Appleyard, another son of Lancashire. The negativity of the outcomes in these scenarios was guaranteed by the assumptions made. Bob and Richard, veterans of the business world, have seen many an analysis similarly skewed. They’ll make the most likely assumption, that those from the metropolitan élite are the the dickheads!

An elite provincial’s view of Brexit

I voted Remain. But apart from London, Brighton, a few university towns, and the very centres of Manchester and Liverpool, few others did in England and Wales. The young voters couldn’t even be arsed to vote. To try to revisit the vote now would patronise lower class provincials beyond belief and quite probably cause a hideous backlash. The big issues to cause this vote are how immigration and globalisation has hit the provincial lower class.
You don’t have to be a Marxist to see that for nearly forty years now, little surplus value has passed to the workers. Bryan Appleyard’s piece this week in the Sunday Times described how all the spirit has left his home town of what was a vibrant Bolton. And that’s while producing great comedians and actors. It was my Dad’s home town too, and Wanderers will always be my team. It’s a county borough stitched up in a metropolitan county it doesn’t want to be in. All devolution planned by Osborne is to the big Cities. What the referendum has shown writ very large is that is not the identity of most English. They don’t live in cities, villages, or market towns. They still live in county boroughs, impotent since that Philistine Heath abolished them.
I digress. Brexit will do nothing to stop globalisation. I’m not sure that anything can but an economy mixed between public and private sectors can help. A unionised public sector does give rise to comparators the private sector has to emulate.
Immigration is the other big reason for the Leave vote. I often check out the Bolton News web pages. Like many other parts of the country, the wall to wall complaint is the stretch to public services and the problems of education in a multicultural, multilingual town. I don’t doubt that many do hanker for the culture of the past, but you can’t change people’s memories.It appears that the Brexiteers’ plan is to replace European immigration with people from elsewhere in the world, not what the more racially motivated Brexiteers had in mind.
We now need to make the best of a bad job. The Tories shouldn’t elect Boris, who has shafted his colleagues, and knocked everyone else out of the way like he did that poor Japanese kid playing rugby.Labour has to ditch Jezza. I’d suggest Teresa May and Andy Burnham. If Jezza shows the perils of picking a Geography teacher to be a leader, and Roy Hodgson the kindly House Master, at least Teresa is Head Teacher material. And Burnham has a Leigh constituency down the road from Bolton and knows that the cities are not the people.
After that we can hope that other countries in the EU want to move to an associate level that would best suit us.

Justin Welby

Justin Welby has received well-deserved plaudits for the gracious way he had handled the news of his father’s identity. He has demonstrated how the Christian spirit is interpreted in the Church of England, indeed how the Holy Spirit is felt by Anglicans. But I have a problem. In the excellent interview he gave to Bryan Appleyard for the Sunday Times, his most theological comment was: “I know that I find who I am in Christ, not in genetics, and my identity in him never changes.” As a cradle Anglican who still attends Church, I do not nor never have felt that. I can’t rule out the genetics. I feel my father in me in many of the movements I make, and see them in my children. I hear my mother’s voice above the babble of today’s orthodoxy. I hear my ancestors in what I read. To this, I add the story of my life that I tell to myself, including time and place, the people I’ve known, the influences I’ve encountered, the good and bad events, and I try to miss nothing out. I don’t see Christianity as a reductive religion. I’m a Lancastrian, physicist, baby boomer Anglican, who’s had a rich life and who’s travelled through life with many people I have nothing but affection for. If there’s a eternity, I don’t see how I’ll recognise them if they’ve changed too much. In my novel, Bob Swarbrick wants to meet Jesus in a heavenly pub, have a game of dominoes with him, everybody get merry and JC himself join in with ‘What a friend we have in Jesus’, Mary Magdalene on the harmonium in a low-cut dress.
I think the theologians call that a low Christology, Jesus as wholly man who became God as the first fruits of the harvest that could include everyone.