I admit I thought long and hard before committing myself to writing another ‘as you go’ novel on this blog. I have serialized novels previously and I think they have been well received – I even believe the current serial, ‘Satan’s Rock’ has an heroic following who I hope will not be disappointed with the ending, which is at last in sight.
Yes, at last!
The thing is, I write entirely for my own pleasure. It is a ruthless self-indulgence. Oh, I had a go at selling a few books when the wondrous fields of Kindle opened up to me, back in two-thousand-and-frozen-to-death, but my heart was never really in the publishing side. I never considered authorship as a commercial venture.
Turning three thousand words a week wasn’t in the least onerous to me, back then. I enjoyed the challenges that represented, the research, the editing, the constant plot revisions that writing on the hoof present.
Now, I find it harder.
The Covid interlude and the old ‘advancing years’ thing have conspired together to urge me to move on, to sketch together short pieces like this and publish them, rather than commit a whole week’s writing to one piece of fiction. I have to recognize physical limitations both on my readers’ part (it takes time to read 3000 words) and my own, which might serve as a warning to anyone considering continuing a writing career into old age. Look into the history of any writer on record as still writing in their dotage and you will discover tales of loneliness, physical pain and the mortification of watching as horizons grow ever closer.
Not that I regard myself in such a tragic light; heavens no! At 75 I am a warm, pulsating male dynamo with the heart of a lion and the strength of an ox – although I do get a bit short of breath now and then. No, you see, the truth is, I was never fast – never a quick writer – and now I’m getting slower. There are so many things I see that need to be written about and I don’t have the time to write them. I have a different view of the world to many, and I need to get it out there.
Who knows, maybe someday someone will listen?
I’m planning a new page for this blog, ‘Fred Anderson; The Complan Years’. Watch out for it!
I say it in a non-political way, because I have previously been advised that I don’t know enough about American politics, and I have no wish to offend those who do, but can a man who apparently gets lost on his way to the end of a sentence be competent to conduct the orderly withdrawal of forces from a remote tribal hunting ground like Afghanistan?
President Biden was born in November 1942. In November this year he will be 79. Just in case you think I am making a political argument, can I also point out that his most likely rival in the last race for the Democratic nomination, Bernie Sanders, is also 79.
Donald Trump is 75.
Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House of Representatives (have I got that right?) is 81.
As a quick comparison, I offer Boris Johnson (UK Prime Minister) at 57, Emmanuel Macron (French President) at 43, Angela Merkel (Retiring German Chancellor) at 67, Vladimir Putin 68, and Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada, 49 (I know, he dyes his hair).
There are things I would like to know, as a small cog in this giant wheel of the ‘Free World’ and my reason for wanting this knowledge is vested interest: I want my children to stay alive.
In total, how many grams of statins, Bisoprolol, Irbesartan, Rivaroxiban, Fuorosimide or similar are required daily to keep these extravagantly senior politicians functioning?
Is there some controlled environment solution for their rest periods, those times when they are away from the public eye (I understand about three days is the average)? I think back to Michael Jackson, although he was much younger, of course.
Who really pulls the strings? You see, I can’t believe it is the will of the American people that they should be represented by geriatric wealth magnets who presumably accumulated their fortunes by leeching off them for generations. The job of President does not seem to be a sinecure, therefore unless you believe its incumbent is fully capable, somebody is doing the work. If I were the American voter, I would feel entitled to know who that is (or ‘they are’ – see how conspiracy theories can grow?).
It would be disappointing to discover that the cut and run from Afghanistan without regard for the lives it would waste or the pleas of allies it would ignore was truly at the centre of American thought. It would be preferable, and more plausible, to believe the shambles of withdrawal was at the behest of a congenial old man who, if you discovered him loitering and confused on your doorstep, the charity in you would demand you call the Nursing Home, at the very least. Will you extend that charity, though, when you have it in your power to reconcile him to a contented old age and keep him away from the nuclear button?
There are so many challenges to this generation – so many pivotal issues. The balance of superiority is poised to topple towards the East, and there are those of us who do not wish that to happen. Climate change, internal strife and ‘human rights’ in all their various guises are not restraints that inhibit the ambitions of the Chinese, the Iranians, the newly-emergent Russians. South America will spill over, not matter how hard or high we build the walls.
In this humble British view, America needs to rediscover the dynamism and vitality of those in middle years who have wisdom enough but also energy enough to recognise and manage change. Has the political class of whatever colour so fortified itself against the needs of its people that it can’t be questioned or allow its structure to be examined?
Ever since the inception of the nuclear solution it has been hanging there, increasingly accessible to more and more primitive people. No-one has yet introduced the final spark. Isolation and confrontation are the flints ready to strike, yet I tend to follow the notion that the trigger to the fatal conflagration will be more likely a tragic accident – a hand in panic, or a mind not fully engaged.
I’m a geriatic. I know the meaning of the word. So when I see a neo-octogenarian being sworn in as the ‘Leader of the Free World’ you’ll forgive me for feeling a little concerned, especially when the process requires the protection of an entire army.
In many less ‘free’ countries that would be considered a coup.
Joe Biden (78 – and I presume we have more than just his word for that?) now has his finger on the nuclear button. I hope he manages to stay awake through the special briefing from the military that accompanies that privilege, because it is quite critical, isn’t it? He seems to have trouble finding his way to the podium sometimes, and equal difficulty remembering what he came to say when he gets there. I can totally empathise.
Simple decisions, like what to have for breakfast, and little memory issues around the last encounter with the car keys become major concerns as our years advance. More attention needs to be given to plotting the geography of our working days, with particular reference to the availability of armchairs and bathrooms. Medical assistance needs to be…well, within reach, shall we say?
Should we ever meet, Joe and I, I would be pleased to swop experiences of our comparative medication programmes, because I feel certain there are a number of pitfalls there. Bisoprolol and Statins are deleterious to concentration, I’ve found. And one should never be afraid of taking a short nap in the afternoon. Or a long one…
Not that President Trump is much less scrawny an example of spring chickendom; and something other than heroic, in many respects; he cuts an unlikely Che Guevara figure as a potential revolutionary, yet the system has almost certainly reinvented him as such. There was always the fear that if politicians got their talons into the Internet they would use it to create a monster and that has certainly been a product of the last four years. The question is, if this is what they can achieve in one term, what will they spawn in the next?
For me, as an outsider, the politics themselves are of less concern than the collateral damage: ‘Democracy’ (and god, the futility with which we cling to that word) hinges upon the will of the majority being not just established, but accepted. Have we seen the last election process in which that can happen? If opinion can be shaped by fake news, and majorities won by fake counts, if fake issues can generate extreme solutions, what have we left?
Young opinion is shaped by young science, but in all that is new young opinion should be guided by, and not used by, those older and hopefully wiser in the ways of the world. The Media Freeway is a certain friend to those for whom the cynical exploitation of idealistic youth paves a road to success. Where have the wise heads gone? If they still exist, why are they too afraid to speak?
This leaves those of us who still care with some odious decisions on a personal level. It won’t rock the world if I close my Twitter account, though I may regret it because Twitter was fun, once. But can I go on contributing, in however small a way, to an organisation that exerts censorship and pursues policies of ‘no platforming’? Can I ever go to a polling booth again and vote, not wondering how my tiny ‘x’ will be cast? Is there any source of information, be it news, archive material or simple learned opinion I can still trust?
In a socialist autocracy, only the red message thrives. If we must persist in chasing the illusion of ‘Freedom’, we are faced with an ever-steeper climb. For those of us in the rest of the world, Joe Biden’s inauguration by force of arms is a sad occasion.