Theresa May, the ‘valiant pugilist’

One senior Conservative MP describes Mrs May’s method of government as “valiant pugilism”. Rapid decision-taking and parliamentary dealmaking are things to which she is particularly ill-suited.

— The Economist, in ‘Missing: the British government

“It’s a fantastic skill, her ability to do nothing,” says one of her former cabinet ministers, almost admiringly.

Battle for Britain (and its government model)

“The British constitution is a state of mind,” says Peter Hennessy, a historian who calls this the “good chap” theory of government. “It requires a sense of restraint all round to make it work.”

— The Economist, in ‘Britain’s good-chap model of government is coming apart

Plight of us lovely huggers amongst the aloof…

We love Thanksgiving. We cook everything. But we’re still learning many things about the American culture. Back home everyone likes to hug and kiss on the cheek. It communicates that you care about someone. But here it is different. My friend tried to give me a Thanksgiving handshake at the gym today. But I went in for a Thanksgiving hug. And he only gave me a Thanksgiving half-hug. A few months ago I was called into Human Resources, and they said: ‘Mr. Mauricio, no more hugging at the office. It is making people uncomfortable.’

— Mr. Mauricio, in ‘Humans of New York

P.S.: I’m a big time hugger. The British around me are definitely not. I’m available for hugs.

I hate referendums

Ultimately, the British people voted for a departure but not for a destination, which is why what really matters is allowing them to vote again on the final deal, giving them the chance to say no to an irresponsible hard Brexit that risks our economy and our jobs.

—Tim Farron, then leader of the Liberal Democrats, in 2016


Continue reading I hate referendums

TIL: SLS, aka the Shit Life Syndrome

In recent years, many of Britain’s coastal communities have slipped behind the rest of the country in measures of income, education, and health, giving rise to an over-all feeling of depression and ill health which is recognized informally by doctors as S.L.S., or Shit Life Syndrome.

—From the New Yorker

Welcome to the UK…

They were initially bemused by the complexity of bus timetables, bin collections and—most of all—by the changeable weather. “In our country, when it’s summer, it’s summer,” says Ziead Alsaouah, Mr Batak’s son-in-law.

—The Economist | After the exodus


I had a very similar reaction to the weather when I moved here 8 years ago.

North India, where I spent the first 24 years of my life, has a very predictable weather. When it’s summer, it’s hot and dry for months on end. When it’s the rain season, it’s raining almost every day for a month. And when winter arrives, it’s bitterly cold, mostly dry, and frequently foggy (recently smoggy) for months on end.

Contrast that to the weather here on the island – it’s common to have at least two seasons in a day. Three’s not uncommon either. We had two months of constant dry, warm summers this year, and it’s already caused a mild panic. If we get a week of snow in the winter, news bulletins are full of ‘snowcalypse’ references.

It’s unsettling, at least initially, for people coming from places with stable, ‘continental’ weather patterns. Where culture, life, traditions, activities are based on the season, what do we do when the seasons just aren’t anymore?

Continue reading Welcome to the UK…