Saturday, 28 June 2014

How To Select The Commission President

With the choice now having been made, I have given some thought as to how the President of the European Commission should be chosen for 2019 onwards.

The key thing to keep in mind is that there needs to be a balance between the centre (the directly-elected European Parliament) and the member states (represented in the European Council).

What I think is also needed is a third leg to this - bringing the member states in via their national Parliaments. I have already outlined how the European Parliament should have a bicameral structure with Senators drawn from Members of National Parliaments (MNPs). And maybe it is time for MNPs, as well as Heads of Government, to have a say.

With this in mind, I note the One Member One Vote reforms of the mid-nineties in electing the Labour party leader and deputy leader. This is done using the Alternative Vote, with there being three equal sections in the Electoral College - the parliamentary party, trade unions & socialist societies, and constituency parties.

The first thing to do is to look at the number of Members of the European Parliament that each nation has, and its voting strength in the European Council and Council of Ministers:

Country MEPs Council
Germany 96 29
France 74 29
Italy 73 29
United Kingdom 73 29
Spain 54 27
Poland 51 27
Romania 32 14
Netherlands 26 13
Belgium 21 12
Czech Republic 21 12
Greece 21 12
Hungary 21 12
Portugal 21 12
Sweden 20 10
Austria 18 10
Bulgaria 17 10
Denmark 13 7
Finland 13 7
Slovakia 13 7
Croatia 11 7
Ireland 11 7
Lithuania 11 7
Latvia 8 4
Slovenia 8 4
Cyrpus 6 4
Estonia 6 4
Luxembourg 6 4
Malta 6 3
Total 751 352

One country to look at is Ireland, and the method for nominating its President, who can be nominated one of three ways:

  • At least 20 members of the Oireachtas (which is comprised of 166 members of the Dáil Éireann and 60 of the Seanad Éireann)
  • At least 4 councils
  • Self-nomination in the case of a President who has served once

At the moment, the European Council can only nominate one candidate at a time, by Qualified Majority Voting. One change could be for there to be a genuine election, with member nations nominating. If we look at the Irish example, then with there being 352 votes in the European Council, 20/226 of this is 31 votes.

Now, no country can muster 31 votes on its own - the Big Four would all need the support of just 1 other country. Allowing a candidate to be nominated by 31 Council votes would mean that the European People's Party and the Party of European Socialists would cross that hurdle. The Alliance of Liberals & Democrats for Europe tend to lead Governments in small nations, and both they and the Alliance of European Conservatives & Reformists would not pass the threshhold on their own. Remember, though, that there are wildcard members of the Council, who could throw their weight behind a minor party, or maybe a coalition Government could use its Council votes to nominate a candidate from the junior partner.

Note that I said nomination should come from the member nations. In Ireland, there will be party political councillors who nonetheless, help give their council's nomination to an Independent candidate. They are not saying they support that person - they are just saying they think that person should be on the ballot.

In addition, it seems normal for Commission Presidents to serve 2 terms.

With this in mind, I suggest the nomination requirements should be:

  • 31 or more votes in the European Council
  • Resolutions from 4 or more national Parliaments
  • Self-nomination from the sitting Commission President if he or she is in their first term

Note that in this nomination process, there is no role for MEPs.

When it comes to the actual voting, then there should be a weighting of votes. MEPs, MNPs and the European Council each have one-third of the votes.

To see how this would work in practice, consider the United Kingdom. The European Parliament as a whole would have 1/3 of the vote. As 3 x 751 is 2,253, each MEP's vote would be worth 1/2,253 of the whole in the Electoral College. Between them, the United Kingdom MEPs would have 73/2,253 of the total Electoral College vote - equivalent to 3.24% of the whole.

Between them, our MPs would also have 73/2,253 of the whole vote. With 650 MPs, this works out as each MP's vote having a weight of 73/1,464,450. That is just under a twenty-thousandths of the total vote in the Electoral College.

Finally, we look at the Prime Minister. As we have 29 votes in the European Council, his vote would have a weight of 29/(3 x 352) = 29/1,056 of the whole Electoral College. This would be equivalent to 62 MEPs or 551 MPs.

One complaint from Eurosceptics is that MEPs are "federalist" and would support candidates with a "federalist" agenda. As this system would give national Parliaments equal weighting with the European Parliament, MNPs can form a natural counterbalance to MEPs (and indeed, two-thirds of the votes in the Electoral College would be exercised by national politicians). For the more enthusiastic Europhiles, this would give a Commission President with a stronger mandate, elected in a process involving more than one candidate, drawn from national Parliaments, national Governments and the European Parliament.

You Started The War - How The Present Informs The Past

I remember a conversation I had with my then boss, who knew of my interest in astronomy. He had been asked by one of his children whether aliens existed. I outlined why I didn't think so, but added that if we ever found aliens - or they found us - it wouldn't be something we knew in advance. You're not going to get up one morning thinking that by evening humanity will know it's not alone.

Consider the big news stories - the death of Diana, Princess of Wales; the World Trade Center being destroyed; the London Tube bombings etc. - and you'll notice a common thread. Namely that they happen out the blue. We all went to bed on 30 August 1997, 10 September 2001 and 6 July 2005 not expecting that the following day was going to be anything out of the ordinary. Some events we know in advance - we know when the Scottish independence referendum, the general election, the American Presidential election are going to be.

But the big events that dominate the years that follow them are a combination. On one hand we can have 20/20 hindsight and see a progression of events that led up to them. But on the other hand they are genuinely unexpected.

Today sees the centenary of Franz Ferdinand being assassinated and this led to the First World War weeks later.

I remember one exercise we did in A-level History when we were examining the many causes for the War. And that was to split into 6 groups - I think we were the UK, Serbia, Germany, Russia, France and Austria-Hungary - and debate whose fault the war was, using our knowledge of history. One thing we were all agreed one was that poor Serbia was the innocent party.

A couple of years later I popped back and caught up with my former teachers. I asked my History teacher whether she still did that session. Yes, she did. And I wanted to know whether - given this was the midst of the Yugoslav Civil War and we saw reports of Serbian aggression - her students were as keen as we had been to see Serbia as the blameless country.

She replied that she found her students were more willing to put some of the blame for the War onto Serbia.

The facts of what happened in 1914 hadn't changed. Perception had changed as we view history through our own perspectives.

In sci-fi there is retconning - retrospective continuity. And we all do it.

Retconning isn't when a fresh understanding is put on events based on evidence that has come to light later. One year we think that a celebrity is doing a lot for charity as he's a genuinely charitable man. When we reinterpret that as him using charitable causes to get close to children to sexually abuse, we are not retconning.

Retconning is where we take what someone later did and reinterpret their past through that lens, without evidence. For example, anyone interested in political history will know that in August 1931, Labour Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald ditched most of his Cabinet and formed a Government with the Conservatives and Liberals. For some on the left, MacDonald must have been planning that for a very long time.

MacDonald first became an MP by winning Leicester in the January/February 1906 general election. By "winning Leicester" I mean becoming one of its MPs (it was a 2-seater), unseating the Conservatives' John Rolleston - who had been elected at the Khaki election of October 1900, the final general election of the nineteenth century and the last held in the reign of Queen Victoria. Rolleston had ended the tradition of Leicester returning 2 Liberal MPs which dated back to the July 1865 general election. In 1900 MacDonald had stood, but come fourth.

In 1906, due to the Lib-Lab pact, Leicester's Liberals only put up one candidate. But just suppose MacDonald had been craving high office. Labour's position after 1906 was as the fourth largest party in the House of Commons. Sure, in the following elections (January/February 1910, December 1910, December 1918) they slowly increased in size, but a reasonable comparison is the slow growth of the Liberal Democrats from April 1992 onwards (May 1997, June 2001 and May 2005 all saw the Liberal Democrats increase in number of MPs).

But no-one could have expected that by 1924 there would be a Labour Government - with MacDonald leading it - and the Liberals would have collapsed. That is equivalent to the Liberal Democrats going from 20 MPs in 1992 to not just being junior coalition partners after the May 2010 general election, but forming a Government on their own with one of the 1992 intake as Prime Minister.

If MacDonald had craved office, surely the logical thing would have been to ask the Liberals to run 2 candidates in Leicester in 1906 - with him as the second one - so he could then develop a career beginning as a backbench Liberal MP. This was the Liberal party at its height, unaware of the collapse to come.

Whenever dealing with people, countries or organisations, always avoid retconning their past based on what they did later on.

Go On Dave, Be More Maggie On Europe

I saw a very recent article on the Conservative Home website, headed Cameron chooses to be the heir to Thatcher not the heir to Wilson.

I know some of my readers may be too young to remember former Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher. So here is a picture:

Thatcher is the lady on the right.

She is, of course, campaigning in the June 1975 referendum on the United Kingdom remaining in the European Communities following re-negotiations by the then Labour Prime Minister, Harold Wilson. If there was a "Wilsonian pretence", then Thatcher is clearly going along with it.

Now, of course, you could argue that Thatcher would not have agreed to ideas such as "ever closer union". This phrase did not originate in Lisbon, or even in Maastricht. The opening paragraph of the Treaty of Rome states:

DETERMINED to lay the foundations of an ever-closer union among the peoples of Europe,

It's not buried away in the small print, or in a paragraph laden with Eurojargon. Even someone with the attention span of a goldfish would have no difficulty reading that far.

If we turn to the actions of the Thatcher Government, then there is a major piece of legislation known as the European Communities (Amendment) Act 1986, which brings the Single European Act into law.

This includes:

2. In Article 7, second paragraph of the EEC Treaty the terms after consulting the Assembly shall be replaced by in co-operation with the European Parliament.

3. In Article 49 of the EEC Treaty the terms the Council shall, acting on a proposal from the Commission and after consulting the Economic and Social Committee shall be replaced by the Council shall acting by a qualified majority on a proposal from the Commission, in co-operation with the European Parliament and after consulting the Economic and Social Committee.

These were significant changes. The era of all votes in the European Council and the Council of Ministers being unanimous had gone, to be replaced by Qualified Majority Voting. A quid pro quo was the enhancement of the European Parliament's powers.

It was the Thatcher Government that signed away the national veto, accepting that from then on, European law could be imposed on us against our will. But that meant neither could other countries veto. Sometimes there are those who consider themselves Thatcherites who argue that she didn't understand what she was agreeing to, or that faceless mandarins in the Foreign & Commonwealth Office misled her. This is Thatcher, the scholarship girl who always ensured she was on top of her homework, we are talking about.

As Peter Riddell notes on the Institute for Government website, one thing to learn from Thatcher is:

Pick your fights. Lady Thatcher never lacked courage but she could be cautious. She deferred a battle over pit closures in early 1981 when coal stocks were low but was far better prepared in 1984 when the NUM triggered a strike without a ballot, which not only divided their own members but occurred when the Government was in a stronger position.

Remember, this is a Prime Minister who resigned when she knew that being re-elected as Conservative leader was a battle she could not win. She would compromise rather than fight a losing battle.

I really have to question whether - if she had been Prime Minister yesterday - she would have fought the losing battle to prevent Jean-Claude Juncker becoming Commission President-Nominate. Having established a reputation for toughness, she never took the approach of "Coo-ey! It's me, over here, being tough. Look at how tough I'm being" that certain later politicians feel the need for. Would her approach yesterday have been more "Now, Jean-Claude, you'll need to appoint a Commissioner for the Internal Market...."?

Yesterday was no victory for the United Kingdom. All Prime Minister David Cameron got was keeping the Bone-Carswell section of the Conservative parliamentary party on his side for a few more weeks. It was the triumph of teenage politics - self-destructive, and an eagerness not to lose face in front of mates who are egging you on. I think we can forget about a British politician taking a senior post in the 2014-19 European Commission.

Friday, 20 June 2014

Does Jean-Claude Juncker Have A Mandate?

It seems quite likely now that Luxembourg's former Prime Minister, Jean-Claude Juncker, will be the next President of the European Commission, despite attempts by Prime Minister, David Cameron, to get enough support in the European Council to block his nomination. And hence the now familiar situation of a British Government treating the European Union as a zero-sum game.

This situation has its roots in a little clause in the Treaty of Lisbon:

Taking into account the elections to the European Parliament and after having held the appropriate consultations, the European Council, acting by a qualified majority, shall propose to the European Parliament a candidate for President of the Commission. This candidate shall be elected by the European Parliament by a majority of its component members. If he does not obtain the required majority, the European Council, acting by a qualified majority, shall within one month propose a new candidate who shall be elected by the European Parliament following the same procedure.

Right back from its roots as the Parliamentary Assembly of the European Coal & Steel Community over six decades ago the European Parliament has been imaginative in how it exercises its powers. Back then, instead of sitting as national delegations, the Assembly members decided to sit as cross-national groups - the Socialists, Christian Democrats and Liberals. While I'm sure some would see this as reshuffling the deckchairs on the Titanic, this sent out a message that the Assembly members saw themselves as part of political groups first and foremost.

The Treaty is clear - the European Council proposes a Commission President, and the Parliament approves or rejects. So far, so familiar. There is nothing novel in this. What is novel is "Taking into account the elections to the European Parliament..." The main Europarties interpret this as them selecting candidates for the Council to decide on, taking into account who "won" the election.

In some ways, the structures of the European Union draw on the German ones. The European Council and the Council of Ministers are obviously based on the Bundesrat. And one feature of the German system is that in the run-up to federal elections, the two main parties announce their candidates for Chancellor.

In Germany, technically, the President proposes a Chancellor to the Bundestag, taking into account the election result (after all, it has to be someone who can form a Government), who can only take office after being elected by an absolute majority (in other words, "a majority of its component members").

Replace "President" with "European Council", "Chancellor" with "President of the European Commission" and "Bundestag" with "European Parliament" and see what you get.

The leading German parties are under no obligation to announce - or even select - candidates for Chancellor, but it just becomes part of the tradition.

There is one objection to Juncker you will hear - that his party, the European People's Party, didn't win the elections. True, and not true. In the United Kingdom we have become used to one party winning over half the seats in the House of Commons and forming a Government on its own. May 2010 was different - no party "won" the election and we were left with a House of Commons where the only realistic majority grouping was one comprised of the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats.

Across most of the rest of the EU, they are used to hung Parliaments and coalitions. Winning involves being able to form a majority with the support of smaller parties.

A second objection is that across Europe, people voted for anti-establishment parties. Well, yes, up to a point. If you take the two anti-establishment groupings, the European United Left-Nordic Green Left (which includes Sinn Féin) and the Europe of Freedom & Democracy (which includes the UK Independence Party), along with the group that Marine le Pen of France's National Front and Geert Wilders of the Netherlands' Freedom Party are trying to make, you still only have around one-fifth of the total membership of the European Union. We are looking at around two-thirds of Members of the European Parliament belonging to "federalist" groups.

One question you hear sometimes is "How do you vote out the European Commission?" There we have it - an Executive that we, the people, cannot remove. Proof that this is not democracy in action.

To which I can respond - "How do you vote out the Northern Ireland Executive?" Elections to the Northern Ireland Assembly can simply change the composition. There are rules on how the First Minister, Deputy First Minister and other members of the Executive are chosen in the Northern Ireland (St Andrews Agreement) Act 2006. The only anti-establishment party to gain representation is Traditional Unionist Voice, with just a single member of the Northern Ireland Assembly, namely their leader, Jim Allister, in Antrim North.

Of course, in the Assembly's inaugural election of June 1998, the Democratic Unionist Party were the anti-establishment party, the only main party opposed to the Good Friday Agreement, and while they took the two ministerial posts (Social Development and Regional Development) they were entitled to, they chose not to attend Executive meetings in protest at Sinn Féin being there. Less than a decade later, Northern Ireland had a DUP First Minister with a Sinn Féin Deputy First Minister - just goes to prove that when it comes to Northern Irish politics, never say "never, never, never".

Like the Northern Ireland Executive, the European Commission is an Executive which has changes in membership, but the basic structure - dominated by the European People's Party, the Party of European Socialists and the Alliance of Liberals & Democrats for Europe - remains the same. If you look at the Northern Ireland Executive, the reason for it being the way it is boils down to the sectarian divide, with it being important to ensure that Unionists and Nationalists/Republicans are represented.

And when it comes to the European Commission, it is the way it is so it ensures every EU nation is represented. This is not building a nation called Europe. If it were, then it would be an Executive formed the way it is across single-nation democracies. Juncker would be looking to form a centre-right coalition and hence be looking for support from the Alliance of Liberals & Democrats for Europe and the Alliance of European Conservatives & Reformists for a parliamentary majority. He would be unveiling an EPP/ALDE/AECR Commission (or maybe just an EPP/ALDE one with a confidence-and-supply deal with European Conservative & Reformist MEPs). The Progressive Alliance of Socialists & Democrats would be forming the Official Opposition. No doubt, for some more enthusiastic federalists, such a "normal" democratic structure would be welcome, but I prefer the way it is. The way the President of the Commission is nominated by the European Council and the fact that Commissioners are chosen by their national governments emphasises that the EU is ultimately a union of nations.

So, does Juncker have a mandate? Yes - and no. The Council is under no obligation to nominate him, but it is likely that any other candidate would be rejected by the Parliament. The Parliament has effectively bounced the Council into choosing him.

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Considering Sian Williams' Comments On "Oh My God"

One article of interest this week is Sian Williams commenting on how she doesn't like swearing on TV before the watershed (remember the idea of The Watershed at 9pm?). And in particular, the use of "Oh My God".

If I'm ever asked whether I'm offended by hearing the f-word, I reply that I am more offended by hearing the G-word, the J-word and the C-word.

If we go back to the Ten Commandments, then it is quite crystal clear:

You shall not take the Name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes His Name in vain. (Exodus 20:7)

But this is more than just using God, or Jesus, or Christ as swear words. In Ephesus there is the incident involving the sons of Sceva:

Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists undertook to invoke the Name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul proclaims.” Seven sons of a Jewish high priest named Sceva were doing this. But the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I recognise, but who are you?” And the man in whom was the evil spirit leaped on them, mastered all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. And this became known to all the residents of Ephesus, both Jews and Greeks. And fear fell upon them all, and the Name of the Lord Jesus was extolled. Also many of those who were now believers came, confessing and divulging their practices. And a number of those who had practiced magic arts brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted the value of them and found it came to fifty thousand pieces of silver. So the word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily. (Acts 19:13-19)

For the sons of Sceva, invoking the name of Jesus was just another magic spell. No doubt if they had been further east, they would have been invoking Kali, Vishnu and Shiva as well.

When churches baptise, they use the Trinitarian format that Jesus commanded:

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matt. 28:18-20).

Is Jesus giving them a set of commands? Do this, make sure you also do that, and, oh, while you're at it, don't forget...?

Or is He giving them something inter-related? That baptising in His Name is more than just mentioning Him above the waters of baptism, but involves, among other things, choosing to live a life following His teachings, and the assurance of His presence with us.

In the Bible, names are important. Jesus means "The LORD saves". Christ means "The Anointed One". Abram becomes Abraham. Jacob becomes Israel. Saul becomes Paul. They signify something about the person. This isn't true in the modern world (after all, my name is an anagram of "Right Paranoid Charmer").

Taking the Lord's Name in vain is more than just going "Oh. My. God." It is ignoring His character. It is living as if He isn't there.

Sometimes a non-Christian will say "Oh my God" or "Jesus Christ!" in a response to something we have done that dishonours God. Who has taken the Lord's Name in vain there? They at least have the excuse of not knowing.

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Would Prime Minister Boris Be Unconstitutional?

I have noticed something when you look at the list of Government ministers. If you look at the Whips' Office, you come across:

You'll notice that several of the Whips have the title Rt. Hon. in front of them. This is short of Right Honourable and indicates that they are a member of the Privy Council, having sworn:

You do swear by Almighty God to be a true and faithful Servant unto The Queen's Majesty as one of Her Majesty's Privy Council. You will not know or understand of any manner of thing to be attempted, done or spoken against Her Majesty's Person, Honour, Crown or Dignity Royal, but you will lett and withstand the same to the uttermost of your power, and either cause it to be revealed to Her Majesty Herself, or to such of Her Privy Council as shall advertise Her Majesty of the same. You will in all things to be moved, treated and debated in Council, faithfully and truly declare your Mind and Opinion, according to your Heart and Conscience; and will keep secret all matters committed and revealed unto you, or that shall be treated of secretly in Council. And if any of the said Treaties or Counsels shall touch any of the Counsellors you will not reveal it unto him but will keep the same until such time as, by the consent of Her Majesty or of the Council, Publication shall be made thereof. You will to your uttermost bear Faith and Allegiance to the Queen's Majesty; and will assist and defend all civil and temporal Jurisdictions, Pre-eminences, and Authorities, granted to Her Majesty and annexed to the Crown by Acts of Parliament, or otherwise, against all Foreign Princes, Persons, Prelates, States, or Potentates. And generally in all things you will do as a faithful and true Servant ought to do to Her Majesty so help you God

When you look at the list again, you note that the senior Whips are all Privy Councillors - except for Deputy Chief Whip and Comptroller of Her Majesty's Household, Greg Hands.

I have wondered about this, but note that Hands - like the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson - was born in New York City, and therefore is an American citizen.

If we look at the American Constitution, then Article 1, Section 9, states inter alia:

No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State

This has got me thinking - would becoming a Privy Councillor count as accepting an "Emolument, Office, or Title" from a foreign State? Is this why Hands is not a Privy Councillor? And, if so, would this rule out Johnson taking any position - such as a member of the Cabinet - that would involve becoming a Privy Councillor?

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

The Surprising Core British Value In The Torygraph

With Education Secretary Michael Gove calling on schools to promote British values, the Daily Telegraph had a go at defining these.

The one that struck me was:

Second is the sovereignty of the Crown in Parliament. The Lords, the Commons and the monarch constitute the supreme authority in the land. In recent years this has been extended to the Supreme Court.

Go back into the murky mists of time, to an era when there was no Supreme Court. In other words, go back 5 years (a strange time when - and this will shock you - one party would win over half the seats in the House of Commons and form a Government on its own). Yes, the Constitutional Reform Act 2005, which created the Supreme Court, was already law, although the Court itself did not replace the Law Lords until October 2009.

I recall one thing about the passage of that Act, which was the criticisms from those who did not want a Supreme Court. I was always amused how some would criticise it as being "American-style", others as being "European-style", which says a lot about their view of the world.

Before its fifth birthday, the Supreme Court has become something that even the Telegraph can see as part of our British values.

But this itself is part of Britishness. When we had the referendum on changing the voting system for the House of Commons from Single Member Plurality (aka First Past The Post) to the Alternative Vote, it sounded sometimes from the NO2AV lobby as if in 1066 William the Conqueror had gone up Mt Sinai and come down with tablets of stone with the current voting system inscribed on them.

Even as late as the July 1945 general election, there were two-member constituencies (such as Southampton). Yet in two-thirds of a century, all MPs being elected by SMP in single-member constituencies has been accepted as how we've always done it. Yet, if in 1918 the House of Lords and House of Commons had come to an agreement, we would just accept a patchwork of single-member rural constituencies using AV and multi-member urban constituencies using the Single Transferable Vote as how we've always done it. That would be part of our Britishness.

In May 2015 we have a general election. This time, it won't be the Prime Minister, David Cameron, going to Buckingham Palace to ask the Queen to dissolve Parliament, but an automatic dissolution under the terms of the Fixed Term Parliaments Act 2011. This is now part of our constitutional framework.

Go back 15 years and, amid controversy, the Scottish Parliament had been elected, and was waiting to take over legislative powers as prescribed by the Scotland Act 1998. Even more controversially, the House of Lords Act 1999, was making its way through Parliament. Yet no main party is calling for Holyrood's powers to be transferred back to Westminster, or for the hereditary peers to return. Things which were once The End Of Civilisation As We Know It are now accepted as how we do things in this country.

No doubt, if we ever became a republic, within a few years the Telegraph would see the Presidency as an essential part of our Britishness.

One key aspect of Britishness is that it is ever-evolving. The United Kingdom has become quite a different country to the one I was born in.

Monday, 2 June 2014

Knock On Wood - My Wake Up Call

Knock, knock, knock came the loud noise waking me up this morning. Pressing the top of my alarm clock to bring its light on, I saw it was 5 to 3.

Who would be knocking on my front door that time? Well, I know the family upstairs are a bit, how shall I put it, unconventional, but I wouldn't expect this from them.

The curious coincidence was that on Friday I had been woken up by a knocking on my front door - at 5 to 3.

Now, to be blunt, no living thing is going to be that regular. I am wondering whether it's my boiler - I have it on overnight as the electricity is cheaper then, and it is close to my bedroom (it is in a hall cupboard, with its door right next to my bedroom door and I sleep with my bedroom door and windows open to get a flow of air). I sleep with earplugs in, so when the noise wakes me, I instinctively think it's further away and some process in my mind rationalises it as someone knocking on the door.

But why wasn't I woken Saturday and Sunday? Maybe as I don't work those days, so there was no part of my brain listening out for the noise of an alarm to wake me up.