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Nobbut laiking: Ross Brewster

Date: Tuesday 18th October 2016

“A REMAINER, eh! A bad loser, too, no doubt. No time for you lot, your day is done!”

David Cameron’s ill-judged referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU is history now. Most of us, including those, like me, who voted with a heavy heart to stay in Europe, have by now accepted we must get on and make the best of it.

But why is it that, if you are part of the not inconsiderable 48 per cent. that voted Remain, you are now looked upon as some sad, anti-British, friend of foreigners, loser? It’s just like being Nick Clegg.

The most amazing fact to emerge from Kenneth Clarke’s recently-published memoirs is that Cameron never discussed in cabinet his “startling and catastrophic” decision to call the referendum.

One can only surmise that his promise to hold a referendum was made at a time when he thought he had little chance of winning the general election.

Not only did Cameron win the election, he found himself having to keep the promise to Euro sceptics in his own party.

As we now know, he botched it, and frankly, were it not for what I believe will turn out to be a detrimental outcome for this country in the future, I can’t help thinking he deserved to lose the vote.

Goodness knows, I’m no supporter of the bureaucratic and oft-corrupt EU. But given the choice of staying and fighting to influence decisions from the inside, or becoming an isolationist country with lessening influence on the wider political front in a dangerous world, I voted Remain.

The “in” and “out” campaigns relied heavily on apocryphal stories of impending disaster and we were, to a large extent, led by the nose by “did he fall or was he pushed?” UKIP, which, since the referendum result, appears to have dissolved into chaos over its leadership to such a degree that two MEPs were involved in what has been described as a jackets off fracas outside the European parliament chamber.

So here we are, in splendid isolation. Or we will be once Theresa May, as Cameron’s successor, has attempted to negotiate the “hard Brexit” that many “in” campaigners have been calling for.

They seem to have a naive, unworldly view that, once we invoke Article 50, those pesky Europeans will back off and not only hand us our cake, but wait while we savour eating it in front of them.

A smooth transition? Are they really going to allow us to take complete control of immigration, to ditch the bits of the Human Rights Act and workers’ rights we don’t fancy, and welcome us like old friends into the single market?

It will take years to find out. Some of us will be dribbling in our bathchairs long before we know whether Britain has once again aspired to become “great” Britain, or, not just in footballing terms, the new Andorra. And Rooney will still be skipper.

HONESTY THE BEST POLICY

CUMBRIA’S police and crime commissioner, Peter McCall, recently joined that large swathe of motorists across the land who’ve been nabbed for speeding.

Now, I don’t want to minimise the offence he committed while on holiday in Somerset. Speed kills, as the road safety experts constantly keep reminding us.

But in the grand scale of things, Mr. McCall’s indiscretion at the wheel ranks as a minor one. The first he knew of it was when the dreaded official letter dropped through the letterbox. I am reassured that he decided to make the matter public when he could so easily have said nothing and in all probability folk would have been none the wiser.

Nobody can accuse the commissioner of making one law for himself and another for the rest of us. “I have done the crime. I’m human like everybody else,” he admitted.

As Mr. McCall heads off to do his speed awareness course, it reminds me of the seemingly endless hours I spent in magistrates’ courts as a young reporter, listening to cases involving drivers being caught by motor patrols for offences like speeding and crossing double white lines. Shap, being bang on the A6, was the court that always seemed to bear the brunt of these dull motoring cases.

No hi-tech camera vans in those days. Police drivers would give their evidence of spotting the miscreants in action, often the detail would be disputed by defendants, and mostly the outcome was “guilty” and a fine.

As for drinking and driving, that was all pretty subjective. No matter how much booze a driver might have consumed, if he could walk a white line in the police station there was every chance he or she would get off.

Mr. McCall’s honesty over what is, when all’s said and done, a trivial offence shows that these days anyone in a public office has to be more than careful. “Resign, resign” goes up the cry from political adversaries and sometimes the media, too. Often with justification, but sometimes with the effect of losing the services of good people through a marginal slip.

It takes me back a good 50 years to those early days when I was learning the role of the reporter as a Herald junior. We used to cover official functions and write up lengthy speeches by various worthies. Goodness knows who read the articles, other than the people who made the dreary speeches. If any of the speeches did turn out to be witty and engaging, they were usually far too rude for the sensitivities of our readers.

After one such dinner I remember seeing a prominent local magistrate being poured unsteadily into his car by friends after consuming a large quantity of beer. A police officer, standing nearby, observed his condition, saluted and advised him to “drive carefully, sir”, and take the quieter back roads home. Mind how you go, eh!

Today there would probably be a scandal followed by a resignation. As it was, the said beak was there on the Bench the following week, as per usual, looking as sober as a judge as he sentenced a sorry procession of driving offenders.

A FOOTIE BOGOF

IF you don’t like non-league football, the sort Penrith play for example, look away now.

However, if you are a fan, you can get two for the price of one these days thanks to a double blogging bogof. Well, actually it’s all free if you take the time to click a few keys on your laptop.

It came as a major surprise when the Northern League declined retiring chairman Mike’s Amos’s popular blogspot on its website and decided to incorporate a different blogger who, it must be said, watches and reports on a lot of football.

However, Amos has started his own blog, Grass Routes, a more eclectic collection of happenings ranging from football matches and adventures by public transport to personalities he meets along those routes.

Amos is also a huge fan of Cranstons’ meat and potato pies. Sadly, road work delays meant his 70th birthday gift from Penrith official Ian White did not arrive in time for the bash. It’s in the freezer.

Penrith’s opponents on Saturday, Marske United, left at 11-30am for the 90-mile run to Frenchfield. They arrived five hours later. The game kicked off at 5pm, possibly a record late start for the league.

Still not as unlucky as the bloke who ran up the hard shoulder begging to be let through to get his wedding, or the driver who took a short cut and finished up with his car trapped under a crane.

Cumbria’s surfeit of cones are a doddle by comparison with those A1 road works.

WHAT A FLIPPING CHEEK

FLIPPIN’ eck! So that’s the latest craze.

I was in a cafe at weekend sitting opposite two lads and their dad. They spent the whole time playing with a couple of water bottles, constantly flipping them in the air and trying to get them to land standing up.

At least one headmaster has banned the flipping challenge in class. Do kids actually think it’s OK, and respectful to their teachers, to play this stupid game — another so-called Internet sensation‚ while in lessons?

One mother wrote on Facebook: “This is the 21st Century where children have rights.” So don’t teachers have rights, too? The right to be listened to. What a crazy world.

They tell me the flipping craze — it has had more than eight million views on YouTube — has already prompted many kids to ditch their Xboxes in the quest for the perfect flip.

Meanwhile, if you’re unlucky enough to sit near flippers in a cafe, you have my sympathy. The noise is hideous and it’s quite possibly the most annoying game ever invented.


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