New Year, and a Life in Captivity

So the New Year is striking off on a down-beat note.   Differences from the celebrations of other years could not be more marked, at least if we obeyed the conventional wisdom and kept our seasonal conviviality strictly to ourselves.

The which we did, self and memsahib, bingeing on Netflix and scarcely bothering to note the passing of the midnight hour, Or the hour before, the hour this sceptred isle finally thumbed its nose at the European Union.

On this particular day of the New Year’s birth (snow outside, temperature a stimulating 1⁰ C) it’s fashionable to review our past year, looking back on its highs and lows, and that’s so unutterably boring in my case I’ll go for ten years instead…

If the first ten years of this century are to be remembered as ‘The Noughties’, the second should be referred to as ‘The Wokies’.  This was the decade when I learned that ‘coloured persons’ were ‘persons of colour’, actresses were actors, and after expunging all the words that were no longer ‘appropriate’ from the Oxford English Dictionary it could be reprinted as a 35-page pamphlet.   On the ‘up’ side, I could ‘identify’ as any sex I wanted from a Sears Catalogue of around 250 different styles.  ‘News’ became the new Gospel, embellished by writers and presenters alike with ever more emotive language.  Of course there were days which lacked ‘news’. Like all good journalists on such days they wrote their own.  

Plaintive complaints of ‘no platforming’, terrified screams at ‘cliff edges’ and tombstone-voiced predictions of Armageddon assailed me so I spent my ‘Wokie’ days with loins permanently girded for a ten-year hurricane of wokeness – but was the journey worthwhile?  Well, personally I feel like Christian upon discovering the Slough of Despond is just a theme park and the real Vanity Fair looks an awful lot like Cambridge.  I dressed for a scourge when I could have got away with a lounge suit.  No drama!  Two General Elections, a referendum and the severance from a super-state all passed with not a hint of apocalypse.  No falls from cliff tops, no carbon monoxide seas wherein to drown, not even a pothole to interrupt the smoothness of the road.   The only consequences of the stultifying ‘Wokies’ for me are a complete loss of any sense of direction, and the inescapable conclusion that all signposts have been removed.  

So here I am, on the threshold of 2021, with no idea of where I’m going next!  But that doesn’t matter because I’m not supposed to go anywhere.

We’re told to stay in our houses.  Don’t travel, don’t socialise, don’t ask any more questions.  It’s a pandemic, gettit?  This is only temporary, until our Greaters and Gooders have made all the money they can extract from it, then you’ll be set free.  In the meantime, if you feel like suicide, or murdering your kids, or even learning Welsh, we have people you can talk to – they’re just a helpline away.

‘You’re call is important to us.  Continue to hold and one of our advisors will..’.

A bit like Joe Biden, I don’t really know where I go from here.  I don’t know what the next decade has in store. I joined the last one in expectation of great adventures, and in the event the adventures weren’t so great, but maybe the ’21s’ will be better. At any rate I must shake off this malaise.  I might go out and demonstrate against the slave trader guy whose statue dominates the town square. It isn’t a very good statue so I might help pull it down.  He won’t mind, he’s been dead for two hundred years.  While I’m in the mood for demonstrating I could join the movement for saving the planet, which apparently involves stopping traffic in City Centres and lying down on motorways.  It’s a little cold for that right now, though, so I’ll just write another post for this blog instead…Happy New Year, everyone!

NB: This was the decade in which I retired…I felt the world deserved a break, at the time.  Now I’m not so sure.

A Momentous Year

harpy-imagesA coke and a smile and it’s already 6th of January, most New Year’s resolutions are well on their way to being broken and a whole new seedbed of freshly sprouting tragedies are preparing to break the soil of 2017.    So, will this year be better than last?

No.

At least, not in the eyes of the media harpies who sit on the branches  of the ‘London Bubble’, glaring balefully at me through the window of my northern turret.   Now these are interesting birds:  for they are gifted in their description of impending misery.  The instant I venture to share their wavelength they bombard me with carefully measured doses of doom, interspersed with worthy advice concerning avoidance measures.

Brexit, they persist in wailing, will be a disaster as yet beyond human experience, one we cannot possibly calculate in terms of the millions who will starve, the race riots that will injure us and loot our properties, or the unmitigated fury of the spurned bankers, who will all leave for France.   Have we not already been swept up in a tide of hyper-inflation, with savage price rises, critical supply shortages and assaults by irritable German Federalists?

Well again, no.

In fact, virtually every prediction for Armageddon has so far proved false, apart from the one concerning the lowered value of our dear old dusty English Pound, which, as it turns out, is a boon to industry, because at 2.2 percent the British growth rate for the past year is the highest in the western world.   Meanwhile, across the Channel, the European economies are either languishing or in trouble, one way or another.  The euro is showing all the early signs of terminal disease.

Without indulging in lengthy (and very boring) discussion of comparative ills, the political right is hauling itself up several electoral ladders, notably in the big European players – France, Italy, and possibly even Germany, with electoral processes due to chart their success this year.  Right-wing political thinking is broadly anti-EU, but political science is a lot like theology: a subject with no substance in itself which is guided and reinterpreted by those who administer it.  Where it exists it is upon an ideal or a myth, and the problem for the ministry of a fashionable creed is their vulnerability to being swept aside when events disprove their ineffable vision.  There is no in between:   saints or heretics; the Vox Populae judges only by results.

Britain’s greatest enemy in the execution of Brexit lies within itself.  Pandering to instinctive British obsequiousness, and unconvinced of its negotiating power or the cards it holds, the government seems to be falling over itself in attempts to ‘achieve the best deal’, regardless of its record in that department when David Cameron was lashed to the helm, and without any acknowledgement to the bigger world that waits to trade and interrelate.

Hot news!   You cannot ‘negotiate’ with zealots.  They don’t listen.  Whether Federalist or Islamist they are convinced of their cause in the face of all reason, and their pursuit of it will be relentless.   The only way for the European ideal to break down is the way it must, whether in months or years: by collapse from within.

Complications, EU rules and agreements founded upon them, are really a distraction from what will be UKs final recourse, just to walk away and close the door.   The vast amount of money, and work for the Civil Service, though, that will be expended in reaching that conclusion, is not for the EU.  It is to gratify powerful influences within UK.

Make no mistake, the greatest obstacle to a smooth and effective severance is rampant self-interest.   I can understand it, in a way.  In the long term, as everyone knows, the Carney Bank of England interest rate, which has lingered at fractions of a percent for some years now, must rise.  In most of the country such changes are manageable, but if you live in a two-bedroom flat in London which cost your lenders the north side of £600K a half percent rise is tantamount to ruin, especially if the property starts to devalue as well…

On a personal level, this is the year (so my harpies, in concert with the British Brainwashing Corporation tell me) I am sure to contract a significant disease – diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer’s, Ebola, terminal flu.   All will be well, if I could only bring myself to take the wisest course the moment I experience early symptoms and consult my medical practitioner.  Okay, although due to the medical staff’s extensive holiday commitments the waiting list for appointments with my local General Practitioners’ exceeds one month.  By which time, of course, I will have expired.

Meaning, I suppose, I need not be too concerned that a piece one-quarter the size of Wales is about to break away from the Antarctic ice pack, or that due to billions of gallons of extra melt water filling up the oceans, the world is getting too fat in the middle and wobbling on its axis a bit.   This is no surprise to me.  Ever since acquiring extra weight in middle age my pirouettes are definitely more erratic.  A lesson for us all.

It will not be a bad year, 2017.   Whether we like or loathe Donald and his rug, the system will blunt his excesses I am sure, and all though the treatment may be painful, it will be beneficial, by and large, in the end.  If one thing, and one thing alone, could make 2017 a very good year it would be to see peace break out in Syria.  Those poor people have been bombed and shot at for too many years, and for once I find myself applauding Russia for its logical approach.  I hope that, at least, succeeds.

Happy New Year, everyone.

No – NO!   Put that drink down.  You promised!  God is watching!