Discreet

There is opposite us a funeral parlour that sold itself to the council on its operations being ‘discreet’ for the shipping of corpses in and out the back door into the back lane into their mini-morgue. Bollocks. Maybe in a coffin, or some kind of container, but not on a two-man stretcher with a black waxed tarpaulin over the corpse. Fuck off.

More notes on being an extra and the snobbishness towards it. JPM Extras apparently, once you’re on So-and-so’s books as an extra, so an extra you shall remain. She’s emphatic about that, I’m told, which is ridiculous (and she’ll break her own ‘rule’ if someone wants an extra for a speaking part). People do extra work to fill in the hours, be on set, get on-set shots, learn the ropes , make contacts – stand around for 10 hours bored and cold so the agent can get their 15% for having spent so much time answering a fucking phone call.

I told of being on the set of XXXX, an abandoned school up the road, an eerie place that should be full of children running around or singing or learning by making noise, but the corridors and classrooms are empty, the walls are so blank and vast for their absence of colourful collages, which is surprising because in your mind’s eye that’s how they should look, festooned and adorned with little projects, crepe paper, tissue paper, sprinkled with coloured stars, redundant drawing pins and blobs of blue tac… the courtyard is wholly overgrown, little tufts of grass poke through the cracked Tarmac in the car park – rather, playground as was, the tired paint lines of netball and five-a-side football courts rubbed away not by trainers but tyres.

There are children on site, but they’re strangely empowered. They’re the stars. Adults defer to them and their unbridled exuberance, if not aggressive attention-seeking.

I’m with the extras, shown into a room full of ourselves by a young lad in a Sunderland Uni hoody for what’ll be hours of chat. It’s the meal room so when the cast and crew come for their food – served first, natch – we’re ultimately herded into the main hall, that’s cold and unlit, and left to get on with it, we don’t meet the actors, no timetable given, the crew on set carry around trays of sandwiches that are pointedly not for us in the first instance, then when filming’s done we’re the last to go after the crew. Petty petty tedious shit…

And so I’m telling this to a new mate, Steve, who feeds me back info, then Gary says he’d been on an extra on a TV set, went for dinner, a sparky says to him, ‘cast or crew?’

‘Supporting artiste.’ 

‘Right. Then fuck off to the back of the queue and wait your turn.’ 

‘Would you talk to me like that on the street?’ 

He’s upset, I’m upset, I phone my agent, say, ‘fuck this,’ and I left. Never again. 

And this is what’s odd. The extras all have other jobs, real lives outside this extraordinary bubble of ego, and it’s so tiring a bubble, if you’re going to be arrogant have something to be arrogant about.

As Steve tells it, the problem with XXX is not that she’s that good, she isn’t, she’s just the first, she’s the biggest fish in this small pond and her ego’s inflated to fill the vacuum. She has the image of being the best, and all things feed off that. Everyone comes to her, she gets first choice of gigs, others are in awe of her, and she can dictate that if you’re with her you’re with her alone – yes, the abusive, possessive insecurity that comes with being ‘on top’. But if another agent came with work that XXX doesn’t have, why in the Hell couldn’t it be taken up, or the commission be split between the agents? Why are they all, ‘it’s me or no-one,’ this self-destructive possessiveness, fiefdoms really amid a barren wasteland through which we actors maraud. Something akin to being in the North itself.

There are many, many cooperative groups around the area of people keeping themselves going, working together, sharing info and ideas and things to follow up. We have to. … We have to …

Possibly the most destructive aspect is ourselves, our own minds. This is ironic, the point of being an actor is to become someone else, to escape one’s own mind, a fetid environment when left to languish, which is what a lot of actors get to do, too much of the time. Yet if they seek work as an extra, they’re seen to have debased themselves by an agent no less who won’t let them work for other agents.

A creative industry enmeshed in psychology, but psychologically afflicted by domineering egos. What could be more oppressive? And in the North, no less. With its own Game of Thrones version as Beowulf, providing the extras’ dream of regular work and money.

Actors are insecure as people, working in an insecure industry, run by insecure people – all so much more to be insecure by being up North, for being resource poor.

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Wake up

Wouldn’t it be amazing to wake up each day to the fanfare at 3:45? I feel like I did the other day, this great blast of energy, or reawakening, like when John Snow returns fromd death.

What weird and horrible times we live in, yet there’s so much stuff to do, good things to fill the days with.

And to write, to write, to write.

I have been battering the bags at Clive’s of late, trading private classes with ghost-writing his biography. There’s a tale of climbing out of poverty and making a real success of life, he has seen and done serious shit. I’m not him, nowhere near, I’ve not had to overcome what he’s endured and apply myself with the astounding tenacity he has.

But I have my own talents, morals, way of looking at things, way of doing things. And I can apply those things in ways to the benefit of all. I have to, it’d be the worst thing to squander them, and worst of all to be unable to write, to write, to write.

We were on a film-shoot yesterday, Vera, interminable, one 10-second shot of a girl falling out of a nightclub in distress, filmed five or six takes from seven or eights viewpoints, took four hours. How many fucking herbal cigarettes did I stupidly get through? It was set in 1995 and it was interesting to be reminded of the fashions, I was dressed like some sales bloke out of Brookside, and my ‘mate’, incidentally he who also donned a balaclava in a previous shoot to help abduct this very nice young man in a back alley in Hartlepool/Rome, was dressed the same. All sorts of lines of business were the others, a couple of pro actors, a PhD law student, driving instructor, marketing manager, some professional bouncers playing bouncers, who also do gigs like Scream City where you get doused in blood and lunge at people – what a line of work!  They did a good job on the set, too, recreating the outside of a 90s’ nightclub with a pink neon hand-writing sign ‘The Seagull’, blue light-sabre tubes stuck on the walls, a fairground merry-go-round and teacup ride at the top of the hill, and a red phone box poised at the top of the hill, a lot of kit and best part of 30 extras. There were even stunt chips, with a runner deploying the chips on the floor outside the club to make it all more authentically late night in club land.

But boy did it go on. I joked to my mate they’d even add a drone shot. Lo and fuck, they did, this red-lit UFO moving around with eerie jerky speed over the sea, its two red eyes like some Devil apparition a la Amityville.

Landed 90 quid for all that. This is an odd job.

 

Other People’s Hell

All those magenta-top magazines, Take a Break, Chat, Love it, Other People’s Hell.  Take a Break at least is published by Bauer, which makes sense to me now as in Berlin I was amazed at how many of these magenta-topped, OMG-stories and puzzle books there were, scores of them weighing down the shelves at REWE and Lidl. Germans are terrible gossips and love schadenfreude, which maybe says a lot about how things that happened in the past indeed came to pass.

Let’s not dwell. Point being I’ve reached out to these Brit mags to see if I can write for them, based on my success as a biographer for Story Terrace, so I can nip around to some woman’s house and have her and daughter or whatnot hunched over in disquiet on the sofa, with the caption, ‘she was so full of life’.

It is all other people’s Hell, and you’re supposed to get off on it, hence they can call a mag Pick Me Up, or You Think Your Life’s Shit, or even ‘Hahahaha!

Courts

Trump has got his way – Kavanaugh is in the Supreme Court. The message is, as widely noted by opponents to Kavanaugh, accusations of sexual assault, rape, impropriety, we don’t care, he’s the right man for the job, for us, he’s our SOB, and we’re going to ensure he gets in. And whatever further legal fall out befalls Trump, he is more confident now he has the Supreme Court nominally on-side. There may be a separation of powers in the US between the judiciary, the legislatures and the executive, but if the balance of power can be unbalanced, or aligned in favour of a party, then we’re in trouble. Rather, the party in power is truly in power. And just in time for Trump, if the mid-terms go against the GOP and Mueller finds there’s room to bring him down, the Don may have to rely on the Supreme Court as the ultimate recourse.

Trump has hitherto attacked the courts like Farage does because they’re con-men, and con-men fear the courts because they cannot be corrupted (except in special circumstances, see above) and they bring crooks to justice, to accountability. The press, you can mislead, or out-shout; the public, you can mislead through the press; the politicians, you can bribe, bring down, corrupt, if not outnumber, and mislead them too. Laws need to be enforced, there’s got to be the willing and the weaponry, and the weapons must be wielded. In the US we see this with Mueller. In the UK, despite so much about Brexit being suspect, we don’t see the same at all, the police, the NCA, the CPS, none seem to being brought to bare to hold the campaigners to account for some allegedly seriously dark deeds.

But courts are courts, where truth and justice will be brought out in their peculiar, stately way. One hopes. Naively. Con-men can con anyone and everyone, but not the courts.

Hence the hatred of the ECJ, why it is such a sticking point for the Brexiters, if nothign else they want out from its aegis and remit, for ‘sovereignty’ – but it’s because such a body exists that might hold them to account, bring sanction upon them, and that court cannot anything like as easily be corrupted.

Con-men like it lawless, because power rests with their confidence in their ability to deceive, to get enough voters, brokers, pundits and the like onto their side.

Farage says he’s a nationalist fighting to revive British law and sovereignty against globalists and the EU, but he’s an international speculator seeking to put his money beyond the reach of *any* law, in league with gangsters in the White House and Moscow.
True con-men like it lawless, the only law is their word. And this is the truth of fascism, in both Nazi Germany and North Korea, beneath the veneer of orderly authoritarianism both were/are seething networks of self-serving cliques, infighting, lies, lawless, the only law being the belief and fear they could carry on the day.

And their success breeds their own success. If the majority of people believe them, it’s because they’re there to be believed – others believing in you bears out you are the Truth. It’s a self-perpetuating delusion, whereupon the enemy are those who don’t believe, and they become terrifying because they cannot be fooled into joining you and they stand opposed, opponents of this alternative truth, which is now The Truth.

Alien people who choose to set themselves apart and aside from the Great Majority. The fact that they can exist, so confidently, so prepared just by being to defy the Greater Good … yes they are a threat. What else could they possibly be?

I’m in a ruck with the Red Cross about the way they behaved, the closed-ranks’ nature of it, that cover-ups and a ‘shhh!’ culture are the methods of closing down issues. Of course the issues aren’t dealt with so nor are the modes of behaviour that led to them, on the contrary, those behaviours become imbedded, the culture becomes more warped, the offenders become guilty offenders, corrupted, emboldened for more bad practice (they could start out all innocent of their incompetence but then become used to smothering it up … until this blank cheque-book of excuses become the norm and they have no need nor heed for curbing themselves, they become decadent and reckless).

Those are the rules, and they apply to a certain few. I used to work for a company called Heren Energy, where the rules were being with the boss, which depended on how much money you brought in, ultimately. It is money, it’s about showing your willing to get the money. That’s the ethos of the company, that’s the only rule. Other ‘rules’ like employment law, morals, ethics, get in the way of that. In fact, when applied forcefully, they curb precisely the kind of behaviour, and the presence of those willing to do it, of the ruthless sociopathic selfishness that makes money.

The free-marketeers way of dealing with the law is like anything, to leave it to the market, make it cost, and then only the rich can access it. The hideous irony is that the only people that can access the law then become those who’ve broken every law to get where they are.

People like Donald Trump.

Extremists only 30 miles apart

I’ve been trying to write up the three rallies I went to the weekend before last, before Birmingham. On Saturday, I went to two rallies in Bolton and Liverpool, one far-right, one far-left, both led by people who see Brexit as a macabre ‘opportunity’ – vulture capitalists and vulture socialists, pitching away, polar opposites politically who somehow agree Brexit – be it a roaring success or, more likely, a complete effing disaster – will benefit their extreme positions. Extremists only 30 miles apart. Then on Sunday, again in Liverpool, I went on a pro-Europe march.

It’s so confusing to write up, though. The whole fucking country is confused. Our government is delivering a clusterfuck Brexit that no-one voted for, to meet their own arbitrary deadline. May-hem is doing this at the goading of the far-right in and beyond the fringe of her own party – and in fear of the far-left leading the opposition, ‘back us or it’ll be Corbyn in No. 10’ bollocks – well, he leads a nominal opposition, albeit one that for all its raging differences to the Government is as Hell bent on supporting Brexit, no matter the cost.

All sides, Farage’s gammons, May’s berks, Corbyn’s lot, cite the ‘will of the people’, but a will in a referendum based on lies, on law-breaking campaigns, on data-mining by Facebook that Cambridge Analytica used to target the most pernicious lies at the fringes, and centrist swingers, a referendum led by lying businessmen backed by a fascist government in Moscow seeking to torpedo the EU, by lying politicians backed by a fascist government in Washington seeking to benefit from the firesale of a destroyed British economy, by those same politicians who hedged, used insider trading to profit from the collapse in the currency they’d whipped up so much symbolism of sovereignty in for our country, by newspapers owned by racist crooks who want their secret off-shore stashes of cash free of any tax. A plebiscite where ‘leave means leave’ or ‘Brexit means Brexit’ means total car-crash if anyone can define it at all.

We’re told over and over, by big business, by the IMF and others, by millions on the ground already seeing their business dry up, the millions of Europeans – our friends, our colleagues, our families, who came to liver and work here and make it great – be lied about, smeared, and left to rot for years to fret about their fate that stampedes towards us in only months. Our own British citizens in Europe, abandoned, ignored. Our partnership, our membership in this great European project upon which so much of our economy and our rights depend, chucked aside based on lies.

I rant and rave like us all.

Bolton first, at the wonderfully ironically named Macron Stadium, with another campaign bus ‘stop the Brexit betrayal’ parked as if to obscure a Macron sign. The queue was much longer than I’d thought, I’d expected a few score, but there was over a thousand, and while they were very nearly all white, male, grey-haired if not bald, displayers of sedentary diets, there were some young ones, a Brit-born lad of South Asian origin. Was I just as prejudiced as I think they are?

I chatted with people behind me, where they’d come from, where they were going, the heavy ratio of remainers over leavers in their hometown – theyr’e leavers, they won, but mentioning remainers made them sigh, grit their teeth, eyes dart left and right in frustration. I was going to ask them why they were there, but refrained, and they didn’t proffer. Was it those Remainers who had managed to quell their thoughts, even in the bosom of their own kind, they couldn’t say why they were there? much more likely, I realised, that, among their own, no-one need ask why. No-one would dare ask. They didn’t come here to justify themselves. They came here to be free to be told they were right without interruption. To ask why would only expose you – me – as an outsider. Only an inter-loper would ask why. A non-believer.

Because it felt already like a cult and I was getting a sense of nerves like I do on arrival in North Korea. Already, the stadium’s exterior structure reminded me of Pyongyang’s May Day stadium. North Korea, the land across the world where a violently cynical elite, strut patriotically as they talk of their deluded status as a global power, exorcising the impoverished masses with xenophobia and hatred of old enemies to keep the country in penurious isolation, talking of war while selling the paradise of a bright future, where the state will spend precious billions on nukes and rockets while the masses face food and medical supplies. The half of divided Korea where the long-dead Kim Il Sung is immortalised as the Eternal President atop the most bizarre personality cult.

So far so cheap. We enter the room, for which we must have tickets, security checks our bags, the seats are festooned with publications and little Union Jack flags. all the seats end up taken – but while the hall could really host another 500, the spare space is curtained off. Still, I really feel I’m in a room with a thousand seething fuckheads, and whatever leary question or heckle I’d planned, I swallow, and concentrate on recording, the camera shaking throughout with caffeine – and nerves.

The line-up is announced, Farage is announced as the man who ‘has survived plane crashes’ – yes, he is immortal. The irony of being at the Macron stadium is remarked on, it gets a laugh, while mention of the new battle bus gets a cheer. Eh? One of the greatest betrayals of the 2016 referendum was ‘We give £350 million a week to the EU – let’s give it to the NHS instead’ battle bus logo, a lie designed to appeal to those who’d never otherwise be drawn to Farage’s far-right brawling. The NHS already starved of funds by right-wingers pushing for a Brexit that’ll destroy the economy and the NHS, a Brexit that will deprive it of all the wonderful foreign workers that keep it going, a Brexit that right-wing think-tanks and their MPs placed in power, seek to smash up and sell to the US. That NHS. But the crowd in here look beyond that, if they see it at all, and cheer the new battle bus.

There’s around a 1,000 or more inside. The venue could take around 1,500 but a large wing section is curtained off to make the space look filled out, the aisles are wide, there is a lot of space at the front. Maybe to forestall a crowd surge towards Nige?

Levae Mean Leaves vice-chair Thrice talks: “Hello Bolton. Welcome Brexiteers to our Save Brexit tour” … “Ordinary working folk like you are. We want Brexit in the way that we voted for it!”.

“I’m Bolton born and bred,” he says, he went to school here, married in Bolton, had his first child in Bolton, spent half his working life in Bolton.

Niceties and connecting with the crowd besides, he quickly laments: “A lot of people in this country have forgotten the meaning of democracy.”

He welcomes Labour’s outcast MP, Kate Hoey. She is a rebel and she revels in this. This is a cross-party event, she’s been allied with Farage for years on this, even going fishing with him, and is now on a platform with him and David Davis – for sure, really, Leave Means Leave is an absolute fest of Conservatives.

Years before, she tells us, Barbara Castle warned of the EU as we have it today – its single currency, its plans for a single army, its vast central state. “I think that if these Labour party supporters could see the actively considering, actively considering a second referendum, they’d be turning in their graves.”

The crowd cheers.

“The EU has always wanted a second referendum. They do that. Work behind the scenes with losers in the UK to create an atmosphere of panic, this word the BBC’s picked up, ‘crash and burn (or crash out?). It’s the bully boys of Brussels.” We’ll hear that again. Look at Greece, look at Italy, she says, victims of Brussels and Berlin. All proof that we must get out as soon as possible.

Hoey warns of the resurgence of the Remain campaign and by that, its mysterious funding. “George Soros”, someone shouts, “if by that you mean the foreign man and his funding, yes!” she says, to a bitter laugh from the audience. She calls out the BBC, and the audience jeer at this supposedly rabidly left-wing propagator of lies – when so many on the Remain side lament the BBC for its fawning coverage of Brexit, that on the radio a ‘debate’ about Brexit is between hard Brexiters and not-quite-so hard Brexiters, that Jacob Rees-Mogg and Farage have reserved seats on the Today Program, the Politics Show, Question Time, for which the audience is vetted to include predominantly angry Leavers in areas that are either Remain or where once Leave are now in doubt. It seems on some points both Leave and Remain are in strange accord.

Then we come to the main event – Nigel Farage. One of the men next to me comments, “he’s in the room””. Thrice talks him up: “… a man of incredible energy, enormous courage, the abuse, the vilification he’s had off the Westminster elite, has been unbelievable. He’s survived plane crashes that would have killed most people.”

He is immortal.

He is the Messiah.

This “true patriot” is back.

Nigel is shown on screen talking about Brexit, evoking as ever the theme of “betrayal”, and warns: “I tell you what, if I have to do this again, no more Mr Nice Guy.”

Heavy metal music and drums, the crowd is on its feet, it erupts in a chant of Nigel! Nigel! Nigel!

And there is Nigel on stage. He dives straight in. “I didn’t think we’d have to do this again. See, I thought we’d won on 23 June 2016, in what was the greatest democratic exercise this country has ever seen, and I thought our politicians would deliver, but they haven’t! So do you know what, we’re back, and we’ll fight them again!” The audience erupt in cheers.

“I’m very pleased there’s been a name change. University of Bolton, last time it was called the Macron stadium,” laughter and booing, but he’s incensed:  “Just look at how they behaved at Salzburg, on Thursday, saying how all of us as part of the leave campaign, are a band of liars. If that wasn’t bad enough, look at Junker,” The audience boo, “and Barnier”, Boo! “and Tusk!” Boo! He batters out the names.

Unlike Hoey or Thrice before him and Davis afterwards, Nigel doesn’t use the rostrum, but strides up and down, pointing, swivelling, arms and hands aloft, like a far-right Michael Macintyre. And it is Nigel, we’re on first-name familiarity with him. Our Nige. He talks throughout without notes. This is his pitch, his sale, his spin. He is so practiced at it. This is the passion of the man, he gives it straight, from the cuff.

“I may not be Theresa May’s greatest ally, but I’ll be damned if we should allow foreign unelected bureaucrats, people who have power without accountability over us, to… ” The audience’s righteous cheers drown out his point. But it’s ironic – as vice-chair of Leave Means Leave, Farage is unaccountable, unelected, though he may, elected (and paid and pensioned) as an MEP, if not the MP he’s failed many times to become, he’s never at his job in Brussels – his attendance there is one of the worst of all its MEPs.

“Let’s just remind ourselves what actually happened. despite the big political parties, despite the big companies, despite the big banks, despite the big global politics,” he does this time and again, this repetitive bullet-point list delivery, cranking himself and the audience up, “including of course President Obama,” the audience boo, “coming to our country to tell us what we should do!”

Well, so did Trump just in August, but no-one’s complaining about that.

“Despite threats of disaster” –  someone shouts ‘WWIII!’ – “from Osborne, an emergency budget, 100,000s of jobs would be lost immediately, that we’d sink into being a third-world nation … They almost told us that if we dared to leave there’d be plagues of black locusts would descend on our land!”

Audience laugh at the ridiculousness of the suggestion – the irony is Farage’s own rhetoric, just replace locusts with refugees …

“Despite all the threats, despite 50 years of never being told the truth about the Euro project,” – if you say so, Nige! – “despite all of it we stood up, we voted to leave, we voted for our independence!”

Audience cheers.

“We didn’t vote for whatever negotiations may lead to, we didn’t vote for a series of deals, because of some ludicrous projections, about what may or may not happen about our gross domestic product. This was a vote about us taking back our country, about taking back the ability to make our own laws, about taking back control of our borders and…”

Again the audience drown him out in cheers. But projections were involved – leavers including him told us it was a world of opportunity out there. Farage would do the same this very day, as would Davis. Their dreams are exactly that, projections, but without the substance of figures or anything approaching close to a significant number of esteemed economists or forecasters that Brexit will be anything other than a disaster, let alone a bonanza. Ludicrous projections as part of the lies others told. However those same others apparently also told some truths, just to be clear:

“Every single major player on both the Leave and the Remain side said, if we vote to leave, we are leaving the EU, we are leaving the Single Market, we are leaving the Customs Union, we are leaving all aspects of that political club. It could not have been clearer. And yet today, they tell us, we didn’t know what we were voting for. Well to Hell with them!” he thunders, and the audience cheer. “We knew what we were voting for!”

Really? To name but one example, Farage for sure talked of Switzerland and Norway as alternative models to what the UK has now. There was never any coherence from the Leavers as to what they sought.

Further, I have on-the-ground evidence Brexitometers held up and down the country, one I did in Middlesbrough just the weekend before, and this is strong Leave country, where our vox-pop showed people thinking Brexit was a clusterfuck, and they sought another vote on the final deal (which is, correctly or not, tacitly inferred to mean ‘I’d [now] vote remain’), outnumbered the pro-Brexit lot by 4 to 1. And what was more shocking, if not saddening, was how many of those who came to us and said ‘I voted Leave, I regret it. If I’d known then what I know now,’ or, ‘my cousin voted Leave and she can’t stand to hear about Brexit any more, she feels terrible.’

It could be Project Fear doing its job, but by reading the Sun, the Mail, the Express, the Times, the Telegraph, by listening to Farage and Jacob Rees-Mogg on LBC, by the BBC which has been truly co-opted onto the Brexit side, the mainstream media in print, TV, online, is overwhelmingly pro-Brexit. So where are these people getting their views from? Not the same sources they got their lies from? It’s … something else to be answered.

“Yes, we voted for it once. The next year there was a general election, in which the labour leader Jeremy Corbyn made it clear we were leaving the EU, the Single Market, he couldn’t have been clearer.”

Farage’s tone towards Corbyn is less harsh than on May – but that makes sense, Corbyn seems to agree with Farage on Brexit and he’s not in office, May is in office, screwing it up, and the most vicious fights are between friends, not enemies. I look at a very nicely made Brexit brochure I’ve been given at Bolton, published by the Communist Party of Great Britain – Marxist Leninist, what is cover-to-cover a Leave Means Leave manifesto.

“Theresa May told us we were voting to leave the EU and the Single Market. We haven’t voted for the Brexit once, we’ve voted for the Brexit twice, and how are they, how dare they, try to make us vote all over again! How dare they!” The audience is stoked, and they cheer in rage.

What is going on is the express will of the people in that £9m leaflet that went through our door – I posted mine back through the door of No. 10, I enjoyed doing that,” audience laughs, “that leaflet told us, everybody told us that our vote would not just be respected, but that our vote would be final.

But the truth is folks,” – folks – this is the huckster speak of the salesman. Later he says “don’t’ we, shouldn’t we”, almost like a pantomime hero – “Our career path politicians, do not respect the Brexit vote. There are exceptions, you’ve just seen one. But there are in general, the vast majority of our elected politicians want to dilute it, to delay it, to suspend it, to overturn it!” bam-bam-bam repetition – “And they and their friends in the international community, plus one or two senior politicians like Tony Blair,” the audience boo, ‘war criminal!’ shouts one – “come back to the stage, they do not want to give us Brexit.” You too have come back to the stage, Nigel. Where did you go?

“On our present course, with TM’s Chequers, we would get Brexit in name only and that is not good enough is it!” Cheers.

“We may be on the brink of a great Labour betrayal if this conference votes to have a second referendum. But even without that and despite even the fact that the two leaders of the labour party have themselves been Brexiters throughout their careers, the fact is that the Parliamentary Labour Party is fanatically pro-EU and the Labour Party are taking us to a position of staying in the Customs Union and in the Single Market!”

Audience murmur non-plussed.

And I’m not even going to begin to into the endless media coverage about what is going on with the Conservative Party.”

Muttering.

“There is a greater betrayal to the country of the Single Market people who voted for Jeremy Corbyn and voted for Brexit in towns like Bolton.”

The audience boo. Therein the recording becomes unintelligible. I confess my hand was shaking as I recorded, partly caffeine, partly nerves. There are 1,000+ people in here being whipped up. If I heckle I’ll be stampeded to death.

“The remain camp has virtually every single day since the referendum, they’ ve put out a constant negative diet of news, they tell us jobs will be lost; they tell us if we go under WTO rules it’ll be a catastrophe. There is a constant negative diet of news to the British people.”

So where’s your upside?

“Now we on the leave side, OK, perhaps we can say we partly contributed to this, we on the leave side after we won went off and did our respective things.”

The day of victory, victory, Nigel did two things: 1) deny the policy of giving £350 million away from the EU to the NHS had any validity; 2) he quit. He quit and went to the US. Why did he quit? Because he didn’t have a plan for victory, for actually implementing Brexit in any workable form. Same as Cameron quit for getting it wrong, and having no plan for defeat, Farage quit – but he won. What kind of leader quits on the day of victory? The leader without a plan. So when he says “we can say we partly contributed to this … went off and did our things,” oh boy did he.

“We’ve not been campaigning in an organised fashion in any way at all.”

Apart from wall-to-wall pro-Brexit coverage, that’s right. Actually it’s complete bollocks seeing as Farage’s comeback was announced in the thick of the Johnson/Gove/Davis resignations and Trump’s attack on May in The Sun. A three-front assault. 

“… We will start to counter these endless negatives.”

At this point the recording again disintegrates, but picks up him tlakig of putting together “a genuine free trade deal, without any political link in, I think the German car industry would probably bite our arm off. I mean after all they called us Treasure Island, they [came to make] BMW here.”

“And if it comes to it, and if the bully boys of Brussels, they’re not bully boys, that’s the wrong word, they’re a bunch of gangsters,” audience cheers. This is indeed the image The Sun has just had on its front page. He goes into an anecdote about a speech he once gave to the European parliament … “and I said ‘you’re behaving like the mafia!’ and the chairman of the Parliament, who’s an Italian, said ‘for Italians that’s very offensive, politically insensitive,’ and for the first time I said ‘I apologise. I’m very sorry. I won’t call you the mafia in future, I’ll just call you gangsters!’”.

The crowd laughs and cheers.

“So number one, what we will do with Leave Means Leave is to put out a counter narrative. We will explain that a free-trade deal is possible, if that is what the gangsters in Brussels want, and if they don’t, that is fine. If they don’t, we will leave with no deal, and far from  being a cliff edge, no deal, no problem!”

That’s the extent of his plan, that’s the absolute breeziness of it all for him. A shaft of blind faith delivered in a vacuum of consequence, for which he’s drowned out by cheering.

He goes on to berate “our very out of touch political class, they think they can get away with this,” he says with a tone of suspicion, “they think that we won’t do anything about it.” Grrr. But we know better!

“I think it’s about time that our elected politicians began to feel the pressure. Began to feel the heat.”

Cheers, flag waving.  

You will find on your chairs, the names addresses emails phone numbers of all the MPs in the Bolton area,” as he exhorts them to lay siege to them with letters, phone calls, emails, outside their constituency offices, et al. He doesn’t remark on getting his khakis on and his rifle out, like he did before. Not this time, anyway.

I’ll digress a mo. Nigel’s event warranted people having tickets, in an enclosed space, with security, and bag searches, Nigel himself had bodyguards – although they’re a status symbol as much as anything. Bare that in mind while we remember it was righties that killed the left-wing MP Jo Cox, yet it’s Farage who feels under threat – while over in Liverpool, at an outdoor event in an open public space, anyone could come, and several thousand did. Compare who has threatened the violence, who has delivered the violence and yet who claims to be under threat for it. It’s Farage.

What’s it all about, Nigel?

“What today is about, it’s my first day back!”

Chants of Nigel, Nigel, Nigel!

“We now have to get them to change their minds. I want them to deliver a proper Brexit on June – sorry on March 29 next year. I’m sorry that June day is stuck in my head. Well should be a national holiday, shouldn’t it!”

Laughter and cheers.

“But what we’ve got to do, what we’ve absolutely got to do, and I’m back here today, with Leave Means Leave, I’m asking you to help us, to subscribe to us, to help us. Today is the relaunch. We’ll be ready for any eventuality that they throw at us. Today is the rebirth of the people’s army, that gave us Brexit, that…”

and he’s drowned out by the cheering audience.

………………..

David Davis is next, and he jokes, ‘remind me not to follow on from Farage’. Farage was the meat to the sandwich of Hoey and Davis.

Like Farage’s speech, Davis is full of irony, commenting: ‘when you disrespect our Prime Minister, you disrespect our country.’

He who as Brexit secretary for nearly two years achieved absolutely fuck all, before bailing out as part of the three-front assault coordinated assault on May.

Davis talks of migration and how they want it to end, bringing up the eastern Europeans, while someone in the audience shouts ‘Commonwealth!’. Is migration the problem? Or is it the wrong kind of migration? Commonwealth are ex-Empire, while all foreigners are scum on some level, are ex-Imperial subjects preferable because we had a few years of running their countries and time to instil our ways into them?

Those migrants are OK? Because they’re from what was the Empire, and the crowd remember the Empire, the good old days? Because so soon after the Empire finally evaporated, the UK entered the Common Market, and the jobs in ships, steel, British cars, glass making, heavy industries, specialised industries, began to die, as they did in coal, and then were decimated if not destroyed in the 80s. The reasons are complex, oil shocks, excessive trade unionism, then the Tories’ gamble with monetarism in the 80s. But that doesn’t matter. The simple answer is their sense of worth, their self-esteem suffered first with the end of Empire, when they stopped being in control, then died with the industries – all while control seemed to placed upon them from Europe, the continent they’d saved from the Nazis. And summed up by the neo-Piscean fantasies of UKIP …

I can’t heckle this lot. It’s all too much. I want to get out. not least to beat the queue out of the car park. I run to the car, call my friends, tell them I am at that point “fleeing Bolton” and am heading for Liverpool for the next day’s pro-EU march. Great, they tell me, there is in fact a rally with Jeremy Corbyn at Pier Head that very evening.

In Liverpool, in contrast to the 1,000 plus Brexiters indoors at Bolton, where upon a stage stood the galaxy of speakers before a black starry curtain, at Liverpool a line-up of Labour’s big guns, culminating in John McDonnell and Jeremy Corbyn, were five, six thousand people outside on the Pier Head, in the wind, in the rain, soon enough int eh dark but waiting to hang on every word, all genders, colours, ages, children among them. At Bolton the crowd waved the little Union Jacks left on their seats. At Liverpool the crowd carried massive flags, banners of causes and protestations as well as Union Jacks and EU flags.

But the speakers are pro-Brexit. I agree with a lot of what’s said but find myself shouting ‘Bollocks!’ when speaker after speaker cites the Will of the People, I and a clutch of EU supporters near the stage, shouting and waving their EU flags. I feel free to heckle here like I couldn’t in Bolton, but I’m still very much with a minority tonight, it seems.

John McDonnell was talking not of a People’s Vote but of following up Brexit, of opportunity, to revive the UK as a strong socialist state, of reviving the fortune of the working classes but strikingly by plans to renationalise the railways, water, energy – as if to revive the halcyon days of 1970. As if foreign investors will come in droves to this derelict country with its firmly revived unions. Unions against what? They’ll be nothing left.

Migrants never took our jobs, they took the jobs we didn’t want. Bus driving, fruit picking, working in Starbucks. If you want to talk about ‘real’ jobs, then that was automation, robots. That was British industry making shit products for far too long. That was Jim Slater’s asset strippers that took our jobs. That was militant unionists that stopped production and ruined contracts and reputations that took our jobs. That was the Tories’ gamble with monetarism that took our jobs, their war on the miners, their creation of high unemployment to achieve low inflation. The strong pound and cheaper foreign imports took our jobs – sometimes better quality, like Japanese cars, or worse, like Chinese steel.

And we saw under New Labour, and we saw so much more under their successors in power the Tories, that the extremists resurged in the face of excess migration without any means provided to cope with it, but also far further by austerity too. The foreigners were to blame, those her,e and those in Brussels, for the ills of the British working class, or so they were led to believe by those in power using the tried and tested methods of deflect and destroy, divide and rule.

Now we have the far-right mobilised and seeking to take away our ability to find jobs elsewhere. For the men of Bolton, it’s not about the immigrants, who’d come to do the jobs no-one else wants to do, its’ about getting back the real men’s jobs they lost in 70s and 80s, before the wicked Europeans destroyed it all. Yet it’s Corbyn promising them those jobs.

The far-left seems to want back its day, as a post-Brexit Britain will also mark their chance for revolution. Vulture capitalism vs. vulture socialism – Farage in Bolton and McDonnell in Liverpool talked of ‘opportunity’ post-Brexit. For Nige, it’s neo-imperialism and to asset-strip the remains of the UK economy; for John it’s to renationalise it. When the far-right meets with the far-left, when they are united far more than they may be so bitterly opposed.

Extremists united in their isolation in their dream worlds. Two extremes of men in their 50s and 60s harking back to glory days before Europe, as if to destroy the economy and both profit form the carnage that follows, as if to revive the street battles they fought or wanted to fight as youths, as toffs in top hats and tails versus the masses in duffle-coats. The age when they were young, when they felt most alive. Yet as if like Nazis and Communists seeking to take over the vacuum of power left by the collapsed Weimer government, their ranks fuelled by the angry and the famished of the Depression.

Farage, McDonnell, Corbyn, delusionists, denialists, cynics, dreamers, pedlars of nightmares. What divides us is what unites them.

 

But whether the leavers are or were ever left=-wing or right-wing, whatever the big name polls say, Brexitometer vox-pops in the streets, show time and again that overwhelmingly people are worried, they have doubts, they think Brexit is going very, very wrong. If they voted Leave they admit it, and admit further that they regret it, that ‘if we’d known then’, or they know others who voted Leave and who now can’t bear to hear of it. Although there’s nothing else being talked about. But it’s the young of today who’ll suffer most.

What united us on Sunday … three thousand or so joined a snaking march thorugh Liverpool’s streets, undeterred by rain, continuing on into the sunshine, colours of so many flags shining bright, flags of countries and counties and regions as well as the EU’s stars, diversity celebrated under its federal aegis. At Pier Head it was clear the crowd wasn’t the size it’d been the night before, maybe a third of the size, if that. but they came, representing the 16 million who voted Remain, our 3 million European friends here, our million co-patriots in Europe. The voiceless showed themselves and they number in the millions. And we always will.

Brum II.

It was a great day. The 11 of us, from Newcastle and Darlington, hoyed down by minibus to Birmingham for the pro-EU, anti-Brexit march and speeches by good people. At its height the march must have numbered over 2,000, wonderfully colourful, loud, vibrant procession through Birmingham from Victoria Place and back again. People from all over the country, and among them people from all over Europe and the world. This is what it’s about.

This followed on from Farage’s abbatoir at Bolton, then the great march through Liverpool. Next week there’s another meeting in Sunderland, which might prove tricky, it’s not only the heart of Leave country, the bellweather city no less, but it’s also far away for a lot of people to come. Still, the dedicated will be there for it, without a stage, and with road closures maybe happening or not (estimated costs from £2000 to £0, while the council added if they did it for the Remainers they’d have to do it for the far-right marchers …). But do it they will. Sense of doggedness and much from many about how they’ll never give up the fight for the EU, to remain the citizens of Europe  that is to be taken from them – stripped off them – as an outcome of a process of pure, unadulterated perfidy.

Just like our European friends, families and colleagues here, who came and settled and worked and lived and loved and made their lives here – all to be binned on the basis of far-right lies. The real victims of this, come what may. The saddest thing is the belief, a correct one too, that whatever the outcome, there’ll be riots. Even if by some weird fluke we got a great Brexit (that won’t happen on any level), the right would go round beating up foreigners and smashing things in celebration, in gloating violence.

And still the anecdotes pour forth from those in cities and towns across the country of falling out with neighbours, friends, family, parents, children, over it all. There are those that can’t bare to talk about what they voted for, and many who can’t bare to talk to those who voted how they did, and for many Europeans there is the horror of the indifference, the intransigence of those even they consider as friends and allies, who they live and work among and trust, so many of whom now for so long have taken to shrugging if they respond to the years’ long plight of limbo at all. A German woman and a Greek woman spoke on the stage, heart-rending stuff, angry stuff that summed up the Hell for the three million Europeans who have been left in limbo all these years, now, years. The most acknowledgement they get is abuse. The nightmares. The stress. The ‘fuck off home’ comments from strangers mixed with ‘it won’t be so bad, why not just go home?’ to people who came here 30 years ago in all good faith. Who even three years ago could never and would never suspect they’d be turned on in this way.

For a few hours they were among us, us all together, friends and allies from across the country. Few in boots on the Brummie ground but by the millions nationwide, we know it, we see it, the Brexitometers unfailingly show every time that what we’re told (and not told) on the MSM simply doesn’t match the mood on the ground. This is a clusterfuck, people know they were lied to, they don’t want it. Nobody in their right mind wants it. The rest of the world is torn between derision, bafflement and concern.

The sky was grey but the mood was buoyed, the march a riot of flags and colours, blue and gold, red white and blue, the language of the chants, blue. I shook hands with Lemi and Lord Adonis, while AC Grayling and EU Supergirl gave speeches. We slog on, it feels like we have the momentum for sure. Theresa May on Marr looked positively stooped, not least as at the start of the Tory conference Bojo has made another attack, wheeling out some execrable Canada +++ thing that he knows is unworkable and is designed to destabilise May  – but to make himself a credible alternative? No. Hunt compares the EU to the USSR. I mean, who the fuck are these people? We’re six months from clusterfuck Brexit. We’re mere weeks from having to agree something with the Europeans, but they’re engaged in full on civil war when not making the cheapest of jibes against the very people we’re seeking to negotiate with. Except we’re not … .

Nothing from the Tories adds up. Yet with broad smiles and the straight-backed confidence the sharp-suited delegates to the Tory conference filtered through our throng of EU supporters, floating past, floating through, floating atop, not even bothering with any wry acknowledgement – even though scores of Tories For Europe crowded the front of the crowd.

It’s all so up and down. No-one understands how we can be here, threatened with this, how we got to this, how we can be facing this, living in this climate, now, when the world has never been more connected, richer, nor facing dangers that above all else demand we all unite and act together as one humanity. Yet we are the most divided isle.

So … I seek relief in boxing. I’ve signed up for a fight on November 24. Jesus shat, the things I do …

Brum

Brum. What about it?

Am in Birmingham with the People’s Vote crew to protest at the Tory Party conference. The latter clusterfuckers have already shat themselves with their conference app that has given out the phone numbers and emails and more of all the MPs and journalists et al to do with the conference. Motherload data breach by the motherfuckers.

I’m here with 10 others from Newcastle and Darlington, a nice crew they seem, half male, female, from 19 years old to 50s. The young ‘un is doing a BTEC or the like in tourism – but Brexit hasn’t figured in the course, and she says she’s the only one in the room with any apparent awareness of its potential implications – everything from visa buggering about to a shot Pound (if not the ability to withdraw cash abroad) that’ll stop Brits going to Europe anyway – if they have a job, if there are planes flying – and so on. Even the tutors are like, ‘nah, let’s talk about something else.’

Holy clusterfucks, folks.

Our happy group, from Jesmond by minibus to here, are esconced in a bizarre, sprawling motel, my room is a double but it’s a maisonette, although there’s no window (it’s a large mirror in what was likely the window alcove) but there’s a window to the corridor. A TV with no remote. Creaky floorboards. A working fireplace … and yeah, the bathroom’s downstairs. I thought there was another room down there and some one would be sharing the room. The very chatty man in the Indian next door says it’s haunted, on top of being the shittest hotel in the UK. The camp chap at reception I suspect hears nothing else, all day, every day. I think it’s going to be one of those places that would normally get only 1 star on Tripadvisor but will be suspiciously bulked by 5 stars from stags and hens who don’t give a toss and just want a place to get shitfaced with impunity.

It was a very nice meal, though, bar the chap with no table manners – coughing without covering his mouth, eating with his mouth open, elbows high … the other thing is interesting, I’m obviously not drinking, but forget what it’s like being with folk who do, and it does become, you’re in the groove of the conversation, or not. They are lovely inclusive people! – but two or three beers in and I feel I’m somewhat in orbit.

Hey ho.