BREXIT and who is hurting now?

I sit here now in my kitchen and I quietly curse David Cameroon. Why?

I don’t know him personally; we’ve never met yet his decision when in power in the UK to deal with his fears of a small band of BREXIT followers by offering the English people a referendum on whether to stay within the EU or leave has had massive ramifications for me and tens of millions of others, yet BREXIT has yet to occur and may never occur.

Go back a further ten years and you will find us in the financial crash of 2005 – 2010. That’s when our pillar banks turned to salt and Irelands government decided to introduce a new universal tax (USC) of c4% (which is still with us) and decided to raid only private pension pots stealing .6% of their values, three years on the trot.

The economy ground to a halt, millions lost their jobs and half-built ghost housing estates still litter the landscape of Ireland today. For many, the crash wiped out their entire portfolio of investments, properties and shares. All fell in value, sometimes to zero, some never to recover. People fell victims to stress, illness and even suicide as they struggled to keep businesses, doomed to fail, afloat. The crash itself just went on and on and on, year after year despite all the central banks printing money. In industry, no one had confidence in anyone else and the printing of money simply slashed the values of savings. You might as well have put the money in a bag under the bed for the return it got in a bank. It’s not much better even now.

However, we got through that, eventually, and then David Cameroon steps up to the plate in 2016. For purely political gain, he promises a referendum to the people of the UK and goes on to win a landslide re-election to power. When the date is set for the 23rd June 2016 the wording of his referendum is unambiguous, that much is true but the risks are underplayed and the people as sold a dream scenario if they voted leave.

Almost all the UK political parties support a Yes vote and it is left to UKIP and a few loners to campaign for the No vote. Right up to the day of the referendum itself, a Yes vote was anticipated by both the markets and the media. How wrong were they?

Having lived and worked in the UK for twenty years I thought I knew the UK’s mindset, but you see I had lived and worked in London for twenty years. London voted Yes but large swathes of the country outside London didn’t. London had always been a swirling vortex of immigrants from the rest of the world. Some came and stayed forever, some for a while but many came and went.

Outside London, in the rest of the UK, there was a simmering resentment of immigrants, even from migrants of only a few years previous.  I’ve spoken to many UK citizens since the vote and from all parts of the realm, outside London there was a tangible dislike of the “recent” wave of immigrants because many arrived without the ability to speak English, were housed in council housing before local children were and were perceived as responsible for an increase in crime in the areas they were settled in. At local schools, the pace of learning in classes slowed as a large element of newcomers hadn’t enough English language skills to keep up with the course so the class slowed down to accommodate them. These are broad sweeping generalities that I cast across immigrants but surprisingly the UK citizens I met maintained this was their own real experiences in their own localities.

It seemed to rural and industrial town and village occupants that the UK Government was just dropping hundreds of immigrants in their midst and wiping their hands of them.

Now, this may well have been happening but may not necessarily have been because of membership of the EU. Britain had an empire of its own of, at one time, 800 million people and until fairly recently all of them had the right to an English passport and to come and live in the UK. Few expected them to do so until the advent of cheap travel by plane and ship offered migrants easy access to the UK and they came in their droves, fed on tales of gold strewn pavements brought back by a previous generation.

Back in the 1950s and 1960’s the Irish, Indian, Pakistani and West Indian countries had been the source of inward flowing immigrants which feed a need for cheap labour to fuel the economy. In the following decades more Commonwealth immigrants arrived and no doubt more EU workers migrated inwards too.  When the crash of 2005 hit, many of these EU workers lost their jobs and hadn’t the infrastructure of family and friends to help them survive the crash. Many returned home but some didn’t and became a drain on the UK welfare system. Now the recovery has taken place these EU citizens are largely back at work and contributing to the UK economy.

But the expanding EU, with the UK sitting at the top table, did allow, in recent years, the addition of Eastern European states whose citizens after a waiting period, arrived illiterate and uneducated in the UK. Soon their like became as notorious in the UK countryside as the travelling tinkers who travelled in convoys and parked their caravans on parks, cricket pitches and any open ground that they could access.

Yes, there were well-educated migrants from those countries but they are not the reason why the UK voted to leave the EU.

The EU was also a soft target for the migration blame issue and was frequently used as such by the UK politicians but how the UK implemented the EU migration policy was largely left up to the UK government, not the EU. Also, the UK had opted out of the Schengen Area, an area comprising of 26 European states that have officially abolished passport and all other types of border control at their mutual borders. The UK controlled its own borders and had it within its own powers to tighten or loosen controls.

Unbelievably David Cameron and his fellow parliamentarians sailed towards the BREXIT iceberg unaware of the depth of feeling that swayed 52% of the populace to vote No on that fateful day in June 2016. Of course, he resigned but I feel he if he felt that strongly about the UK staying in the EU he should have stayed on and sorted out his mess.

Now almost three years later things are still in abeyance. It looks like the UK will leave but on what terms are far from clear. For the UK the freedom of negotiating, unfettered by an EU customs union, their own trade deals with the rest of the world may be won at the expense of losing free access the EU markets.

What is clear is that big business cannot sit on the fence any longer and the large supply chain manufacturers have run out of time and had to act to protect their businesses. So going out of the UK is Nissan’s manufacturing of their new X-trail and Honda’s entire manufacturing presence. Out is going all the EU bodies previously headquartered in the UK and the European headquarters of many global corporations that need access to the EU markets.

A fair number of EU citizens have called it a day in the UK and uprooted and headed elsewhere. A larger than normal, number of UK citizens have applied for EU citizenship, particularly Irish citizenship.

Finally, I’d like to say that the UK citizens I feel most strongly for are the UK pensioners living in the EU who have seen their pensions drop by 20% in real terms and seen their pension portfolio if they had one, decimated by the 2005-2010 crash and further devalued by the BREXIT fiasco. How they are coping is anyone’s guess but there must have been a very real tightening of belts since that fateful day, vote day +1, when sterling fell off that cliff.

Further uncertainty awaits them as a no-deal BREXIT means their pension sterling payments may devalue further, their access to reciprocal EU medical services and their ability to drive in Europe using UK licences are in the balance.

What a position to put the average 75-year-old retiree in? How would you like your grandparents to endure this uncertainty at their stage of life?

Politicians in the UK parliament should move across party lines and unite in the national interest to agree something, anything to bring certainty to this unwieldy lethal mess.












Forgot it was St. Valentines Day?

I woke with a start this morning and realised I’d completely forgotten St. Valentine Day. I prayed to the watch that it didn’t confirm the date. It did. Bugger. Without disturbing her and without washing I dressed and tiptoed downstairs. This day can still be rescued I thought as I wrapped up warm in my jogging hat, heavy coat and gloves.
The dog was an added complication but also my savour. Without him, I’d have slept on but his plaintive bark had roused me with minutes to spare. I gathered his leash and a black plastic bag and stuffed a wallet in my pocket.

I opened the door to the warmest February 14th in living memory. Too late to change gear we set off on his morning walk and I held myself back from dragging him onwards as time ticked bye for this walk was his one outing of the morning and every pole and patch of grass held untold secrets to his nose. Finally, we reached the turn and started the return leg that took us past his regular drop zone, a secondary school. Still, I was preoccupied with how to return with a suitably romantic present for my loved one. Then he did it. “Happy St Valentines day,” I said to myself as I collected the load which was squidgy and warm inside my bag. Next stop the garage forecourt and a waste bin I used for disposing of his offering.

This doggy event turned out also to be my savour. The smell was unmissable, coming from inside the garage building. Not pooh,  no far from it. Emminating was the sweet smell of a Subway cafe, the fresh bread, good coffee and the breakfast 6″ roll.

“Happy Valentines Day!” I announced as I pulled back the bedroom blinds and revealed the brilliant sun to a still slumbering woman. She rubbed her eyes, blinking and coming to terms with the new day. On her bedside table lay a mug of steaming coffee and a something wrapped in a white paper roll.

“Oh,” she said “You shouldn’t have” the words were blurted out before she saw properly the gift.

“NO REALLY, you shouldn’t have!” she repeated in a less loving manner! My last minute gamble appeared to have failed. However even as she spoke the aroma of coffee and freshly cooked sausages, egg and rashers on soft white bread were creeping into her nostrils. She was actually hungry and it did smell good.

“That’s another first my love, no one has ever bought me a Subway for a valentines gift,” she said softly. “Happy Valentines Day – now let’s get stuck in it – I’m starvin!”

It develops like this. Poetry from the pen of

Chris’s unique wordplay and thought process build bridges where none existed before and fires me to think and write more freely.

Today from the Man Shed

~The Poet’s Poet~

his stuff, on the wings of imagination

sets out his stall on writing his poem of the day

well clear of the computer

the grey matter to select the appropriate word formation

or shrimp words, either will do in his estimation

may not be the correct approach

who can deem what is the correct approach?

is like the old cliché – horses for courses

the commander lines up his troops

them free rein

sits back confident that the end result

be much more than satisfactory

the winning post is past.

Chris Black. February 2019

#amwriting #soundcloud #SpokenWord

to a spoken word version @ https://soundcloud /the-poets-poet-1

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“Murder On Board” by Agatha Christie and Mark Rice

Agatha Christie’s publishers released “Murder On Board”, a book of the same name, back in 1974 which was a compilation of three of Agatha Christie’s mystery novels, The Mystery of the Blue Train, Death in the Air and What Mrs McGillicuddy Saw!

In the “Mystery of The Blue Train” published in 1928 we find that if Hercule Poirot had not been on the luxury boat-train from London to the Riviera, the murder of a beautiful young woman would have gone un-avenged, the disappearance of the fabulous rubies would have remained unsolved, and one of the most diabolically clever conspiracies of the era would have succeeded.

“Death in the Air” published in 1935 twenty-one passengers were flying across the English Channel. In the rear of the cabin a woman, her head lolling forward, seemed to be asleep, but she was dead. Madame Giselle a money-lender, a blackmailer was a woman with a past and had been murdered. And the crime had been committed in Mr Poirot’s presence by one of the occupants of the aeroplane.

In “What Mrs McGillicuddy Saw” published in 1957 Mrs McGillicuddy insisted that she had seen a murder take place from her train window. Unlike “Girl On a Train”, written by Paula Hawkins, where the murder occurred in a house backing onto the rail line, in Agatha Christies novel the murderer is a man, standing in a compartment of a train running parallel with her train.

There is no “Murder On Board” mystery novel at all until now that is!

The novel Murder On Board is being published by Junction Publishing with a release date of May 2019 and the title is a perfect fit for what the book is about. Readers will join Luke and his wife on the cruise of a lifetime which is memorable for all the wrong reasons as passengers die and tensions rise. The cruise is a long one, 50 days and covers thousands of miles of ocean even venturing up the Amazon River. The passengers enjoy life on board and excursions ashore but are kept in the dark about certain, life-terminating events.

You can pre-order this new Irish crime fiction novel now for 99p!

“Murder On Board” goes on pre-order

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Murder On Board my new crime fiction thriller goes on pre-order today and at a special Pre-Order price of  99p/99c.  Please follow this link to avail of this price –

It is scheduled for release on 2nd May 2019 via Junction Publishing.

Holidays bring out the best and worst in people. Taking an adult only cruise holiday to the sunny Caribbean in mid-winter seemed a great idea.

What could go wrong?

Join Luke and his wife on the cruise of a lifetime which is memorable for all the wrong reasons as passengers die and tensions rise.

Maritime Crime Fiction Thriller

New release thriller book from Mark Rice