It was the Romans who coined the name for March by calling it Mars, (Martius in Latin) after the Roman God of War. Looking at what is ahead of us this month the naming of it this year could be quite apt. For the Romans it was the first month of the year. It seems to have slipped a little over time.

Spring has sprung

Daffodils

The 1st March is the meteorological beginning of spring which with beautiful timing will burst into your life. Days are getting longer, nights are getting shorter, weather is getting better-we hope- if a little windier, bringing forth the birth flower, the Daffodil pressed by the other following bulbs to break earth. Shrubs in bud, trees growing leaves and time to sharpen the blades of the lawn mower. A little early for breakfast on the terrace perhaps but it can happen. The sap is rising. Pigeons are getting very frisky about now, our regular residents, Bill and Coo, are clearly wanting to start a family.

Budget month

Coins

This year it is on the 8th March. Hold on to your wallet time, more like it. This is the day when one clever politician pulls off the greatest financial card trick of the year. A time when one member of the UK government, pompously called either the Chancellor of the Exchequer or the Second Lord of the Treasury, will stand in front of one third of a large ugly, interconnected old building (1682-40) comprising house address no 9, the Chief Whips office and home to the Chief Mouser, (presumably they do not share a desk), house no10, The Prime Ministers House and house no 11, the residence of the Chancellor of the Exchequer in Downing Street, London SW1. I am not sure where house numbers 1 to 8 are.

The Chancellor will start the day by holding aloft a shabby battered red box, come briefcase, most likely containing his sandwiches and a wee livener après speech, to a bunch of rabid journalists, most of whom already know what he is going to say to the nation during his speech to parliament. The journalists will, in turn, still try to make themselves look interested and excited at this great event. During which, in the House of Commons the Chancellor, he or she, (a lady Chancellor cannot be long coming can it?), will set out in detail, (as clear as mud or, as much as prudent politics will allow), his/her benefaction to the masses or, in layman’s speak, how they will answer for the mess they have created in the previous 12 months and how they intend to put it all back in order for the next 12 months.

A Chancellor spreading the impression of providing financial titbits to the poor and needy, (that’s you and me), but, in reality meaning the wealthy few, (that’s probably not you and me), will surreptitiously and gently alleviate from the deep internal regions of your pockets the few pence you may have left. How this one person, with just a little help from thousands of civil servants, various private institutions and sympathetic bag carriers , after spending many hours burning the midnight oil, sweating over and number crunching calculator buttons engineered in the far east, will then spell out the UK’s economic progress over the year. In truth, he, or the soon to be she, will be putting a positive spin on the fact that whilst every financial situation is clearly much worse than ever before, they are at least getting worse at a slower rate.

Big Ben

Everybody now knows that what this astute politician will say to the ‘Honourable’ (?) Members of Parliament is written purely for television and the newspaper headlines. The old saying that the ‘devil is in the detail,’ implying that what might look simple and clear in the first place is actually a lot more complicated and devious than it seems. What you thought you understood was to be handed to you is actually you doing the giving and them doing the taking. In modern politics the technical term is called ’ ‘expectable consequentialism’, (don’t bother to look it up, I did and am still none the wiser-which is the idea of course). In the old days they called it the old soft shoe shuffle.

If you happen to be one of those optimistic people hoping to gain from the March budget just bear in mind that our National Dept, what the country owes of course, is around £1.65 Trillion, that’s quite a lot of folding stuff which experts say equates to more than £25,000 for every Man, Woman and Child (and probably the dog too) in the United Kingdom.

As an aside, I would just like to mention that those other financial wizards at the Bank of England, who also look after the financial well being of the country, separately of course to Parliament, use a slightly different strategy for controlling national finance. When things start looking a little dodgy they apply the principle of ‘quantitative easing.’ This means they print more money. (why did I not think of doing that?) Now, the more they print the lower the value of our money and the higher costs of buying things abroad which, in turn, increases the National Debt even more! This means that the poor Man, Woman and Child, (not forgetting the dog), already owing some mysterious hidden person or institution out there lots of money now find the £25,000 they owed a few minutes before is probably more than £30,000 now and moving upwards every second of every day.

red wine

Have a happy Budget day!

Wake up! This is important

For those suffering from insomnia or have a great interest in European politics this period in March the 9th-10th holds the European Council Meetings at which the top European politicians will all attend except, that is, Teresa May, the English Prime Minister. As she is likely to be seeing quite a bit of the leaders of Europe over the next few years she has decided to let them get on with it without her. But, even if the UK are not represented at the senior level this time you will not be able to escape what goes on there. If you feel your ears burning on those days it will be because they are talking about us rotten Brits for wanting to leave the EU.

There is sure to be lots of huffing and puffing going on and quite a number of verbal salvos heading the UK’s way.
But it will also be interesting times for the EU hierarchy themselves as this year sees an awful lot of political upheaval and potential shenanigans between the major countries of Europe as, on the 15th March, The Netherlands kicks off a year of General Elections within Europe. A fair share of the Dutch people are not overly happy about the EU either, particularly a very right wing politician with a fair chance of winning the election. His name is Geert Wilders.

If that was not bad enough, in April and May voting for a new French President will be held. Frank Holland, (no relation to the Dutch), has already thrown the towel in and is not standing. It was not a big towel. One person on the ballot paper will be a feisty lady called Marine le Pen of the French National Front (Front Nationale). If she becomes President she wants France out of the EU. (France out of the EU, I thought France was the EU!). The bookies here in France are saying that it is quite possible that Marine will win the first ballot for President but lose it on the second ballot. With my thoughts drifting over to the other side of the Atlantic I would not want to bet my house on this. Strange things can sometimes ‘Trump’ the expected in politics.

Coins

Following up close behind in National Elections are the Czechs, Serbs, Italian, Portuguese, Rumanians and Angela Merkel’s Germany. All of these EU countries are fighting rearguard actions against strongly right wing and sometimes, quite extreme political movements to get out of European Union control. The backlash against Merkel’s huge intake of immigrants and recent terrorism has put a fourth election victory for her in severe jeopardy.

Revolt in the Highlands 17th -18th March

Scottish highland cow

Fighting this trend is Nicola Sturgeons Scottish National Party whose SNP conference is in March and who does not want to leave the EU. She is likely to call for Scottish Independence if/when Brexit happens. Again? I thought we had already had that vote? Just when you thought it was safe to venture into the Trossachs the Scots are up in arms again.

Treaty of Rome-celebrations

The European politicians and leaders will be booking their first class travel tickets and going to attend the Treaty of Rome celebrations on the 25th March, (The Treaty of Rome was the foundation agreement establishing the European Economic Community, the EEC, and forunner to the EU we have now). Could they be attending the last jolly up of this historic event? If their elections go wonky they might all decide to leave the EU and start something similar with yet another name.

Not really interested in Politics? By the end of 2017 you will be an expert on them!

Somewhat aptly the 10th March is World Sleep Day. (I am reliably informed)

USA flag

Don’t press Donald on this…

But 13th-17th March in National Poison Prevention week in USA.

It’s the beginning of Spring- again!

spring blossom

On March 20, 2017, at a little after midnight, the Sun will cross directly over the Earth’s equator. This moment is known as the vernal equinox in the Northern Hemisphere. For the Southern Hemisphere, this is the moment of the autumnal equinox. This means that day will be roughly the same length as night with the same happening in the southern hemisphere the other way around. For those not happy with the 1st of March start of spring you get a second choice. The Equinox is the ‘Astrological start of spring’. Which one will you go for?

Mum’s the Word

red roses

Now, this is something seriously important for your diary.

Mothers Day – 26th of March.

Notwithstanding all of the other commercially based celebrations of the year here is one not to forget. An opportunity to show Mum just how much you love her! And why not? Get out there; buy her a nice card and a big bunch of beautiful flowers. Take her out for lunch. Make her feel loved and wanted. Think about what she has done for you. You only get one MUM so treat her right.

New on the Horizon

Want something new for March? Well, how about a Moon?

white-super-moon

The 28th March is a new moon and also happens to be the start of European/British Summer time. It is a big time for French Farmers and gardeners as many use the lunar cycles to grow their fruit and vegetables.
Make sure you grow your five a day. (We know the photo above is a full moon but you will need the light it brings to grow your veggie)

Brexit- End the month with a bang!

fireworks

On, or before the 31st March, the UK will start the process of leaving the EU by triggering article 50 which covers the Voluntary Withdrawal of the European Union. Following which commences a fixed two year negotiation period on the terms of EU withdrawal and any arrangements of a formal working trade and relationship deal for the future. The 2 year schedule can be extended but only by a unanimous vote to do so by all EU member states. Even if a deal is arrived at it would still have to be voted on by the EU member to be accepted.

It seems a million years ago that the then UK Prime Minister David Cameron, under pressure from many brexiteers in his party, instigated the referendum on staying in or leaving the European Union. The referendum held on the 23rd June voted by a majority to leave the EU. The vote, which, probably Cameron and many others thought would be a majority to stay in the EU, cost Cameron his job. He was succeeded by Teresa May, the UK’s second female Prime Minister.
She has the unenviable task of preparing the UK for life outside the EU and all the messy baggage sure to come with it.

No country has ever left the EU before, although it became quite close with Greece, so no one knows how it will all work out this time.

London skyline

The referendum itself was preceded by campaigns on both sides of the argument which, as it went on, became quite unpleasant. Bordering, as it did, on vitriolic and insincere rhetoric between leaders fronting the respective positions.
It became less of a campaign for constructive argument than one for which group could bamboozle the public the most. A bombardment of ‘expert opinions,’ platitudes, incomprehensible figures in a torrid mix of horrendous implications from both sides. The amount of which became an instant switch off for many people. Our televisions ran hundreds of stories of what would happen in future, many unsullied by the truth.

Boris Johnson covered the country in a red battle bus displaying large painted slogans on how much we were paying the EU and how the UK would be flooded by immigrants. Whilst in the opposing camp, led by George Osborne and David Cameron, reams of extremely boring statistics combined with shock presentations were regularly put forward suggesting the impending financial meltdown for the UK and the disastrous personal loss of income which would affect everyone in the country. Towards the end of the campaigning these most vocal politicians lost credibility and belief.

In the end the flamboyance of Boris won the public vote. The referendum had a low turn out for what was the biggest issue in a lifetime. It may be that the argument was won less with the strength of the debate than the sheer force of character and plain bumptiousness by those involved.

Whatever people’s views are now, the decisions was made to leave by a majority and Parliament has supported the voters choice. We await the House of Lords debates on the decision to give notice of the leaving the EU. They will no doubt try to slip in the odd amendments if they can. From April onwards the talking starts in earnest. Whether it turns out to be a good thing or not will probably be in the hands of the next generation to analyse and decide.

Hold on to your hats!

woman holding hat