Would a second EU referendum be undemocratic?

For those of you following the EU / Brexit saga, this is a concise post about the constitutional issues regarding the rumoured “Second Referendum.” Well worth a read.

UK Human Rights Blog

It is only four days since the UK public narrowly voted to leave the European Union. A lot of people are now arguing for a second referendum. But would that be democratic? 

Like many people who voted to remain, I have been feeling down about the result. My social media feeds have been full of many of the states of grief, but mostly anger and denial. It is denial which, I think, is motiving the calls for a second referendum. I am therefore wary, as someone who would love for this all magically to go away, of the allure of those arguments. But, we are in uncharted waters. Millions are calling for a second referendum on the original question, and now likely Conservative leadership candidate Jeremy Hunt has called for a second referendum to decide whether the country would accept an exit deal.

Hunt’s argument is enticing, at first glance anyway. He begins by saying…

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Define Paradise



For some, Hell is other people: for others, Hell

Awaits for me. Perhaps in all I do

You see aberrance. I hope I wear it well,

And spare it from you.


We keep our dreams of heavens. Keep yours true,

Live for your hope, I pray, your truth divine.

Tell me of your paradise, by all means, too:

But let me keep mine.



It seems as though, in the wake of the recent horrors in Orlando, many voices are competing to declare their own divine truth. Some are defending the absolutist right to bear arms in the US Constitution; some are even lauding the murders as an act of just religious retribution. If these are the paths to paradise, it does not surprise me that so many gladly wander from them. 

I do not intend to make absolutist statements online, recorded forever, on the subject. I will only say, very narrowly in scope, that the borders of any absolute paradise definitionally end where a hell begins. So do not glorify your perfect truth, planting your flag proudly on the bodies of other people, and cite the divine. 


More Etymologies


As some of you may have gathered, I am fascinated by the history of words. Each noun, verb and adjective we use on a daily basis has its own story, its own reasons for being, its own secret purposes. Here, I have gathered another lexicon of some of my favourite words, and provided a fantasy etymology for each of them based on my own love of that word, its usage and sounds. 



Abate – from German “Baden,” to leave to soak.


Adopt – from “Adore,” itself derived from the Fr. “D’Or,” gold.


Climate – found upon an ascent. See also “Climb.”


Deft – unlike a newt. See “Eft.” Dry of limb.


Demonstrate – to remove the monster from; to make tangible. See “Monster.”


Devastate – to make a person, somehow, smaller.


Educate – from “Ducal”; to make into a nobleman.


Emergency – a revelation, an unexpected path. See “Emerge,” rise again.


Etymology – to appreciate the development of butterflies. See “Entomology.”


Facetious – from “Facile.” See also “Fallacy.”


Feline – charmingly devious, from “Felon.”


Flirt – to float clumsily. Of uncertain origin.


Floral – flowing, rolling; rejoicing naturally.


Fountain – confusion of “Phantom” and also “Fantasy.”


Ignite – from Agni, the Hindu goddess of fire.


Inform – to place into structure; and so, to inspire.


Iridescence – a quality not to be removed. From “Ir,” privative, “Rid,” to remove, and “Essence.”


Lustre – love-inducing quality, irresistibility. See “Lust,” and also “Glistens.”


Poetry – to put into place. From “Pose.”


Precious – from “Pre,” and “Us,” before all else.


Retail – going around in circles. See “Re,” again, and “Tail.”


Reveal – to cloak again in the same gesture. See “Veil.”


Scribble – from German, “Schreiben.” See also “Subtle” and “Semblance.”


Sumptuous – elision of “a summer’s touch.”


Value – of a person, to find valour in them.


Wonder – from “Wind.” See also “Wander” and “Wend.”


Malta, June 2016



The weight lulls: the heat stretches long.

Young men prowling in cats’ alleyways,

Waiting for shadows to span under the sun,

Watching the women. A cigarette seethes.

One man – lazily feline, exquisite –

Turns. Overhead the evening murmurs,

Rises and swells in the waves. From this balcony

It seems the street melts down to a sleeping sea,

The expectation salty in the air.



Scribbled hastily, and potentially under the influence of local wines, under the Maltese sun. 

Uncertainty of Magpies




Iridescence, grief with rainbow-sheen,

The colour of doubt. You count our brief tomorrows

Out with cackle-cries at the woes you’ve seen:

Black, one golden joy; white, two silver sorrows…”


Prophesier: scrying through the carcass,

Augur of our own prey’s flights, alas.

Black haruspex of carrion, carapace;

White witch of precious things, your alias.


For Blair, my very own magpie. Beautiful, ominous and glint-eyed; a soothsayer, dandy and wonder.



These ghost owls gaze upon us




These ghost owls gaze upon us, ghastly patient:

They see enough to wait, and not to stir.

You suppose their ways are so serenely ancient

They are hardly there.


But the omen often lacks its howl at night,

And stares out silences on waiting branches:

At the moment of attack, all owls mid-flight

Are death’s own dancers.



There is a common Western anthropomorphic adage that owls are wise, doddery, gentlemanly old duffers. But there are few sights more balletic and deathly than an owl mid-hunt, its talons poised, wings aloft.


Smoking Room


Smoking glass


A flick of ash. The taste of jealousy

Across your lips. Between your fingertip,

And your fingertip, is poised a gesture

Of silence. Intimate, no more besotted: still,

The sofa, an afternoon, an hour to kill.

Plates left later to clean and a cigarette

Between any motion. There is nothing stranger

Than when you look away. I almost see

It too, stare back at you, casting your eyes

Like a net through ever-unforgetting air.


The best conversations are often had through smoke. As are some of the most difficult silences.