IMPASSE, logjam, paralysis, gridlock, standstill, stalemate, deadend. Call it what you will, we are stuck fast.

One newspaper yesterday condemned the MPs’ “shambolic” series of indicative votes; another said Mrs May’s government was an “utter shambles”.

A shambles, of course, is a market – not a common market, but a meat market. The word seems to come from Latin “scamellum”, which meant a small bench. Anglo-Saxons turned it into “shammel”, which were the shelves from which goods were sold in open shop fronts.

The most famous shambles is in York, mentioned in the Doomsday Book, which was created before the refrigerator. Apparently, the timber-framed houses in the Shambles have overhanging upper storeys which deliberately cast shadow onto the meat on the shammels below so that it didn’t cook in the hot York sun.

By the 16th Century, the word had evolved from “meat market” to “slaughterhouse”, a place of carnage. Over more centuries, it evolved further so that by the start of the 20th Century, it had come to mean “a place of devastation, a scene of total disorder”.

So “shambles” is a very accurate description of the total disorder of our Parliamentary system.

Today, the Prime Minister is trying once again to blast part of her deal through the shambles, but if she is to succeed, she will need to win over the extreme group of 20 or 30 Brexiteers whom the Daily Telegraph says call themselves “the Spartans”.

At the Battle of Thermopylae in 480BC, the hugely out-numbered Greek army held up the invading Persian army by blockading a narrow pass. But the Greeks were betrayed by a Boris Johnson type figure who showed the Persians a secret footpath around the blockade.

To enable the Greek army to retreat, 300 Spartans remained at the pass to hold up the 150,000 Persians. Theirs was a heroic but doomed rearguard action, patriotically fighting to certain death for their countrymen in a courageous attempt to keep out an alien culture.

The Spartans were all killed – how many will die on the Conservative backbenches in the name of a proper Brexit?

LAST weekend, I went to Peterlee to see the Apollo Pavilion lit up by the people behind Durham’s Lumiere festival. It was a commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the pavilion which is a beautifully brutal collection of concrete cubes acting as a bridge across a water feature.

There was a steady trickle of visitors from afar wandering through the alleyways to find the pavilion, and there was a sprinkling of residents on benches overlooking the pavilion.

I’m still not sure I like the pavilion by day, but the night lightshow was great, beautiful colours, exciting shapes and clever effects – the pavilion somehow crashed down and broke up, like a grand piano falling down a mineshaft.

Me and my son liked wandering through the structure while the lights played upon it – you could really engage, unlike in Durham where you get swept along by the crowds.

The pavilion is just off Oakerside Drive, and I am enormously indebted to reader Geoff Gregg of Tursdale for informing me that Irish comedian Roy Walker lived here for seven years, honing his comedic skills at Horden club before he triumphed on New Faces in 1977.

With the lights playing on the concrete rectangles, it was hard not to try and think of a catchphrase. Perhaps: "Peterlee – proud of its pavilion"?