Winter has come.
Or, summer has given way to rain, at least. In the two months since my last post we had the good weather, I walked a lot – mainly on public footpaths near Landskeria, also up Foel Cwmcerwyn with Keith once – and Sybil completed her first half-term at her new school. And Wales elected proven crook Neil Hamilton to the Senedd, and the UK voted to leave the EU.
But let’s start at the beginning:
Eurovision happened. This might not sound like an actual thing to you. It does happen every year after all. But here in Landskeria it’s an important annual event, and we hope one day to be accepted by the EBU as an honorary member. We have already been approached by one professional songwriter with a viable entry, but of course we would ideally aim to write and perform Landskeria’s entry ourselves. This year, in case you have forgotten or didn’t ever know, Ukraine won. Unremarkable, yes; they’ve won before. But this song was a weird trip-hop ballad about Stalinist purges of ethnic Tatars in 1944 Crimea. Arguably political, perhaps incongruously emotional, and impossible to really do justice to in 3 minutes – but I liked it, I voted for it, and I was glad it won. I took this as a good omen for the rest of the year’s democratic events. (Lol.)
Of course, that would prove to be dumb. Ukip, a party without any real policies apart from leaving the EU, continue to poll as well as Plaid Cymru in Wales, and areas with lots of poverty and high EMIGRATION continue to be convinced foreign people coming over here and taking their jobs is the cause of all woe. It is easy for us in Landkseria to consider ourselves wiser than this, because we have full employment, zero immigration, and access to the internet, where websites like Wikipedia and Full Fact allow us to investigate the truth behind such assertions, and find said assertions wanting. Nevertheless, I was sure the UK as a whole would vote REMAIN because the UK media as a whole kept telling us that was the likely outcome. Pictured above is our local MP Stephen Crabb canvassing opinion on Marloes Sands. Pixie, our Pomeranian, is Russian, so she voted Bexit, like all people who value sovereignty above world peace and economic stability.
V was in London a lot throughout May. Leonie and Rob and Peggy visited for a few days, which was nice, but we only got to all sit down together properly once – the rest of the time V was in London or I was camping with Sybil at Llys y Fran reservoir to mark the end of term and raise funds for Ysgol Maenclochog. The latter was fun though; Sybil ran around with glowsticks and ate marshmallows until about 11:30pm, by which time I was very grateful for her suddenly falling asleep in Fury’s sheep hat in our new four-person tent. And to think I’d brought a book in case I got bored AFTER she went to bed!
Samantha and Harry had been due to come and see us in Landskeria too, but Harry fell off a ladder and broke most bits of his body. Sounded absolutely awful, but encouragingly he seems to be on the mend now. We’ll see them when we go to Florida in August, when both Sybil and Harry have birthdays, by which point he’ll hopefully be well enough to enjoy his holiday and his birthday. S&H have been seeing plenty of Victoria anyway because she has been working in London so much. We saw Sally and Calvin for a short while in June, when Sybil’s first scheduled sports day date was unfortunately rained off. Oh, and the Euro Football Championship thing began. That was fun at the beginning, as it always is, and very gradually became less fun as all the teams I like got knocked out. Landskeria has no aspirations to enter this particular competition as we do not anticipate reaching the required numbers of adult males at any point in the near future.
Fury did a sponsored walk with her playgroup in late May or early June. And over half term we spent a few days in North Wales, glamping on Anglesey, where I saw uncle Michael for the first time since winter, and dad for the first time in over a year. He is in the process of moving up there for good, now he has retired from his position as a reluctant university administrator due to ill health. (And age, I suppose – although I’m sure I won’t be able to retire when I’m his age.)
Anglesey was a lot of fun. We went to the Sea Zoo and Newborough beach, and Beaumaris and Llanddona. We drove around a lot, but it was nice. Our yurt south of the A55 was in close proximity to some others so we met some other families, all of whom were from Lancashire, and Sybil and Fury got to play with their children. I attempted to speak Welsh to the woman who ran the campsite, and largely failed.
We visited Michael in his home at Peniel Chapel. It’s a beautiful building, and it’s quite sad to think that it (like so many churches) is probably in a slow decline. The carved wooden ceiling is unlike any other in the world, Mike claims, except one in Patagonia, which he has heard of but not seen. The services there are increasingly poorly attended. It briefly made me feel like I ought to go to our local church, if only for the sake of community and architecture; then, running my hand along an antique pew, I was stung by an unidentifiable animal (which I can only assume was some kind of bee) and I was given to understand that if there is a god, that god is angry with me, and does not want me to go to church – even when no service is happening.
I finished writing the first third of my new book (well, old book; rewriting) and sent it off to Dave to proofread. While taking a break, I proofread his new ghost stories from his upcoming second volume. They were good. Perhaps even darker than the first lot, though not a complete volume yet. It’ll be interesting to see how it takes shape over the next year or so.
Some time around mid-to-late June I also finished building the little raised bed for the Great Herb Garden of Landskeria, in the space left by the demolished wall on our front lawn. Other garden endeavours have been limited by time and the unpredictable weather. Preparations for the new floor, which is quite literally an inside job, took precedence this summer.
Wales did better than expected in the football, and England did worse than expected – which is to be expected. Mum had a birthday. I had a birthday. The UK voted, by a slim majority on a decent turnout, to leave the EU. Landskeria considered its position, and decided to seek EU membership independent of the state that claims (unrecognized) sovereignty over its dominion. The EU is not perfect. Indeed, I like it less than I thought I did before this campaign began. But it’s marginally more democratic than the UK state, and I still admire the ideology behind it. With the right micronation guiding its evolution, it could be a truly benevolent force in global politics.
In late June Restore-a-Floor came over to put in some parquet, so we left Landskeria and moved in with mum and Keith in their brand new home, just the other side of the border in Hebron, Carmarthenshire. This froze matters of state.
Other than listening to the radio news and marvelling at the unusually quick speed of politics in the wake of the Brexit vote, early July allowed us, as scattered Landskerians, the opportunity to chillax and consider our position in the world. I took Fury to Pizza Express in Carmarthen. Victoria and I got into our new roles at a new (London-based) agency we’re now working for. Theoretically this means no more freelance headaches like invoicing, collecting receipts, and managing crazy schedules; though, in practice, the change has not been as sudden or jarring as I feared/hoped. It’s been a gradual sort of transition. V is in London a lot more – indeed she was there for nearly a whole month from June to July – but the unusual mood conferred upon us by our status as economic migrants in the neighbouring county has made it hard to really get to grips with what this change means.
We both helped and hindered the moving process of mum and Keith. They’ve got a lot done in a short space of time; but probably not as much as they’d have got done if we weren’t having a new floor put in. I excavated the earth around a large capstone-shaped rock in their new garden, but alas found no trinkets thereabouts. A smaller excavation around a smaller rock in front of their house revealed numerous shards of pottery and crockery. Much of it, predictably, blue and white.
In UK politics, the Labour party seems to be very slowly trying to dismantle itself, while the Conservative party – over whose schizophrenic nature this entire EU referendum has been fought and won – has very quickly reformed and united (just as I predicted) in the manner of the T1000 melting robot from Terminator 2. As I write this Theresa May is in the process of becoming our new Prime Minister. A year ago she seemed like the greater of three evils (the other two likely candidates being Boris Johnson and… that chancellor guy we used to have… I forget his name…)
Now her media profile is such that she actually seems like a much more reliable and sensible choice for the job at this time than any of the other available people (if I put to the back of my mind the near-fascist rhetoric she’s spouted on immigration and state-surveillance). Weirdly, yesterday she made a PM-acceptance speech that sounded more akin to Ed Miliband than Nigel Farage. But there we go; that’s politics today in the UK. It’s mad. And you’re welcome to it!
Of course, this blog is supposed to log life in Landskeria, not life in the UK, but when your country is surrounded by another much bigger country, whose culture is unavoidably entangled with your own, it’s hard to maintain an isolationist policy on all such matters. Especially if you haven’t even been living in your own country for a fortnight.
We moved back in to Tynewydd just yesterday and V has gone back to London for the week. Whether the working arrangement will suit us long-term, we can’t be sure yet. It’s difficult for her, spending so much time on trains and sleeping on other people’s sofas. And she misses the little pickles, and they (we) miss her too. They are incredibly well-behaved when she’s away, oddly. And very sweet and helpful. Theoretically it should be more difficult, but I think they’re somehow aware of the labour division, so they become more compliant and less rowdy when parental resources are stretched. For my part I must try to make time to actually sit down with them now and again – to practice literacy and Welsh with Sybil; and to just play with Fury – in-between the life cycles of cooking, cleaning, driving, washing, walking the dogs and trying to find a spare moment to mow our expansive tracts of lawn. The kids have had their sports days now. The end of term approaches, and we’re going to Larmertree Festival at the weekend. At some point the house will be clean enough and my brain will be open enough that I can crack on with the writing again. But this is not that time. Right now it feels trivial and distant again. All of it.
The future is uncertain. Landskeria’s place in it is also uncertain. But Landskerians will strive to look after one another and to ensure that our weather does not get the better of us, that our economy thrives, and that our environment is cared for.
For now the weather is changeable, the environment is unruly, and the economy is uncertain.
But we have a nice new floor.
Joint First Minister, AV.