A frank exchange of views

One of the things I really enjoy about the Club, aside from the excellent food and extensive wine cellar, is that one never knows who is going to be there and which way conversations will go. There is such a variety of views that discussions are never boring, and can at times become quite heated. However, there is one thing that unites almost all of the members, and that is our concern over the terrible state our country is in at the moment. What we cannot agree on is the cause of the problem and how to fix it.

Quite a few of the chaps, and I include myself in this, are getting just a little impatient with the government over the whole Brexit thing. I will be the first to admit that I am not always the sharpest knife in the drawer when it comes to politics and finance, but even I can see that things aren’t going so well. The media is constantly referring to it as a divorce, which I suppose in a way it is, with both sides fighting over the family silver. My worry is that whilst the Union chappies seem fairly united in their approach, we are still fighting amongst ourselves over what we want to get out of the process. We can all see that despite what the Prime Minister says there is very little unanimity even in her own government.

What some of the chaps are saying is that they are more worried about the uncertainty and bickering than they are about Brexit itself. Like any divorce, each side wants to get the best it can for itself. Even the most amicable of separations will inevitably result in some conflict of interests; not that I have much experience of this kind of thing. What most people seem to want is certainty. I know one or two of my friends have business interests in the City and they are the ones most concerned about all the dithering and in-fighting. Apparently, the uncertainty about what is going to happen after Brexit is having an impact on investments and trade. I suppose I am in the same boat having investments of my own in City properties. Which reminds me that I really must talk to Aunt Murdock about this when I see her next.

There is still some disagreement amongst the chaps about how best to go about the Brexit negotiations. On one hand, there are those who want Mrs May to take a very firm stand and refuse any kind of compromise. On the other, and these are mainly the same people who supported the remain argument, there are those who want us to take what they refer to as a more pragmatic and open approach. I am not entirely sure which will be best for the country, but I suspect that it is somewhere in the middle. Even I know that there is never going to be a deal that satisfies the demands of both sides completely so we will have to accept some form of compromise. I am sure the debate will rumble on at the bar and, if the past week is anything to go by, it will only get more heated.

It is not just at the Club that the subject of Brexit rears it’s ugly head from time to time. Dorothy and Angela have been very vociferous in their support of remaining in the EU and are still very angry at the result. Angela has even spoken about getting herself a German passport. It seems that her mother’s family are from Germany so she can claim dual nationality if she wishes. I know that a number of people have done this recently, but to me, it seems a little futile unless one is actually planning to move there. I am not sure Dorothy would be too happy about that, but I am not going to interfere with their relationship or plans. What Dorothy has said on more than one occasion is that she is embarrassed by the whole thing. She has a lot of foreign friends and says that they can’t understand why we would want to leave the European club. I have tried to explain about sovereignty and the British standing in the world, but for some reason, she just can’t seem to understand it. I know that some people have implied it is some form of nostalgia for the days of the old Empire, but, at least as far as I am concerned, it isn’t that. It is just about being in control of our own destiny and our own laws. We should not be dictated to by other people. The rules and regulations we have to accept from Brussels are scandalous. For me, it is all about being able to decide things for ourselves. No one likes to be dictated to by outsiders who don’t understand our history or our customs. The French, Spanish and Germans have all tried to defeat us in war and failed; we can’t let them succeed by the back door.

Another subject that seems to have been creating something of a buzz at the bar this week is that of the Prime Minister’s position. I didn’t follow the events of the Party conferences – far too boring and narcissistic for my liking, all that self-congratulation and pompous self-righteousness does nothing for me – but those who do were very critical of Mrs May’s performance and the way she has been treated by the Party. I have to admit to having a great deal of respect for Mrs May, but even I am beginning to think that maybe she isn’t up to the job of leading us through our current troubles. Not that there seems to be a great deal of choice for replacement at the moment. With the Party so divided over Europe I don’t honestly think that there is anyone else capable of uniting all sides, and as far as I am concerned, unity is far more important than anything else right now.

There is only one subject at the moment that seems to have almost unanimous agreement with the chaps at the bar, and that is our mutual distrust of the American President, Donald Trump. Whilst he may be successful as a businessman – and there seems to be a little disagreement even over that – as a politician and diplomat he is very much out of his depth. The man seems to have absolutely no idea of how the world actually works. Several of the regulars at the Club have financial interests in the aircraft industry and are very angry over Trump’s recent announcements over the imposition of tariffs on Bombardier aircraft. One gets the feeling that he makes these announcements without thinking them through first. I certainly get the feeling that he doesn’t discuss things with his staff before taking to social media to make is pronouncements. I suppose that he is used to having complete control of his businesses and can’t seem to grasp the idea that his decisions have to me about more than just making money. America is not a business, it is a country, and it cannot be run in quite the same way. Having said that, Americans can be a little odd that way, putting financial gain ahead of everything else. I have said it before, they are a nation with no history and no idea of social etiquette. It is unfortunate that they have so much power and influence or we could just ignore them and let them get on with playing their silly games.

Mind you, we do have to be careful when discussing the Americans, and their President in particular, if my old chum Dorchester is around. Apparently, his American girlfriend is a Trump supporter (a Trump-et!) and he is very defensive of her views. According to Annabelle, the President can do no wrong. She fully supports his positions on immigration, North Korea and protecting American businesses. And whilst I can sort of see her point and some of his decisions, I cannot support her misguided view that Donald Trump is the saviour of the western world. The man’s a fruitcake I would hesitate to leave in control of a Sunday School, let alone a country.

Changing the subject completely, I had a call yesterday from Hope about some event or other she is holding at her gallery in a couple of weeks time. Apparently, it is one of those evenings when new artists get to display their work and she has asked me to go along. Of course, I have accepted the invitation, but I am not sure it is really my kind of thing. I have seen some of the work she has on display and it is all far too modern for me. My taste is more conservative I suppose, but she has been kind enough to ask me, so I will definitely have to go. I had thought of inviting Dorothy to join me, but she will be in Edinburgh by then.

 

What a week!

I may have only been away for a week watching Wimbledon, but it is starting to feel so much longer. Apparently, last week the chaps at the Club persuaded old Neighsmith to see a doctor, and it seems that his only problem is his hearing. Otherwise he is as sound as a bell – a rather rusty and battered old bell – but you get my meaning.

It was a relief to get the news that he will be with us for a while yet, all-be-it sporting a fine pair of hearing aids. The chaps had an impromptu collection at the bar and raised enough to afford him a pair of these new-fangled digital aids that you can hide inside your ear. It is truly amazing what they can do these days. Indeed, during our chat I discovered that a number of the members were also wearing similar devices, and I had never noticed! And everyone knows how observant I am.

With one thing and another it has been quite a busy couple of weeks for me. First, we had Ascot, then Wimbledon, and tomorrow I am off to Southport for the Open Golf. I am beginning to feel that I am spending too much time away from home and my friends. Not that I don’t see people at these events, but I have never been comfortable being outside of my own environment for too long. One the other hand, last week I spent a great deal of time in the company of Dorchester and his lady friend. I saw a lot more of that young lady than I would have liked. Dorchester himself has always been great company, taking part in all our japes, but with Annabel in tow, he was quite a different chap. It is enough to put a gentleman off relationships. Not that I have that much experience of these things myself, but from what I have seen of my friends, I am best avoiding it until I really must.

But I am not the only one who has had problems with their friends recently. I was devastated to read in the newspapers about Mrs May’s problems with her friends in the Cabinet. Now I really do like our Prime Minister. She is one of us, and deserves more support from her colleagues. It is just a shame that she doesn’t seem to command the same respect amongst her peers as the late Lady Thatcher did. What a wonderful woman she was; she knew she was right and would not let anyone divert her from her vision. She changed this country for the better. I only wish I had been around to see her at her best, but alas, I was born a little too late.

As for Theresa May, she has the right ideas, but just can’t seem to keep those beneath her under control. I had always thought than men like Michael Gove and Boris Johnson were men of vision and integrity, but their actions since the European vote had been somewhat below the standard I would expect from men of integrity. And just when I believed that everything was running smoothly, last weekend saw various members of the Cabinet rocking the boat, with the question of Mrs May’s leadership raising its ugly head once again. I do wish that these people would stop playing silly games and focus on doing what we elected them to do, put an end to that left-wing troublemaker Corbyn.

Anyway, tomorrow I am off to “sunny” Southport to catch the Open. Last time I was there I stayed with friends, but this year I have a small apartment in a promenade hotel. It will be a pleasant change to have a little time to myself. I am rather fond of a round or two of golf and enjoy watching the Open when it’s at Royal Birkdale. It is a lovely course and I do like Southport itself. I will be back on Sunday and I am not planning any further excursions for the time being.