Saturday, 12 December 2015


Purple wisteria and white flowered shrub
Back garden in May 2015
It's coming up to the end of the year, and I have so many treats to look forward to in the coming months. A walking holiday, a whisky tasting, the annual Lola II and Mr M Film Festival, a posh dinner that's already arranged, lots of badminton, maybe some running, the international badminton competition in Birmingham, skiing in France - and all of that in just the first three months of the new year.

The national and international news contrasts with my anticipated pleasures. The floods are terrible, but the international refugee situation and our 'interventions' are unbearable. It has reached the point where I can manage to listen to no more than half the news before I have to switch it off. I've always been somewhat of a pessimist - or a realist, as I tend to rationalise my outlook. Humanity in its individual form can be uplifting or depressing, but as a population seems to me to have little to recommend it. Looking beyond the small range of my personal contacts, towards those who wield 'power' either in politics or religion or business, reality looks bleak to me.

I may be wrong, but I think there might have been a golden age last century when integrity was a trait that was admired, if not rewarded. There was a sense of right and wrong. To be sure, people still suffered pain and poverty, but role models existed and there seemed to be something to aspire to. Now that I'm pondering the matter, it is possible that my upbringing sheltered me from some of the seedier aspects of society, but I believed that there was some depth to thought and behaviour, where now everything seems so shallow. I can't tolerate most broadcast and print media any more. The majority of politicians now seem to be overtly corrupt and self-serving, where they at least used to be ashamed when their misbehaviour was found out. The current government brings back vividly the strength of my loathing of the Thatcher government and its values of greed, rewarding of privilege, and disregard for anyone unlucky enough to be stupid or poor. You pay rich people more to get them to work harder, and you pay poor people less.

One thing I didn't understand at that time, the mid 1980's, was how society has to be political in order to function, The truth has little value; the end justifies the means. If your business is precariously balanced so that you might succeed or you might fail, the last thing to do is be truthful with your customers, suppliers and employees. Tell them about your predicament and suppliers and employees will fear they may not be paid; customers that they may not receive the goods. All will desert you and you will most definitely go under. No, you have to pretend to be successful, and then you stand a chance, but if you then fail you are blamed for not being honest with those people who would have made certain that you would have failed if you had been honest. This applies not only to businesses, but to societies, economies and markets.

The Labour party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, seems to me to be a man of principles. I agree with many of his views, and if his own party and the media supported him he could be Prime Minister. But they will not, his truths would be shouted down, his every move would be sabotaged by his own party as well as the opposition. And this certainty makes me sad: that human nature requires politicians to mislead and distort and 'spin' in order to prevent us destroying them. I do not like the human race very much as a population, although there are individuals that I like very much.

Sometimes I am glad that my life is time-limited, while at the same time wondering what will happen in a hundred, two hundred, a thousand, ten thousand years. Will we find a way to harness nuclear fusion to power our future? Will we self-destruct in a cataclysm of nuclear armaments? Will the population exceed the capacity of the Earth? What would the first Homo Sapiens have thought of how we live today? Or the people living at the time of the Roman Empire? Did they wonder how people would live in a thousand years?

So much for my existential musings. On Tuesday I went out to buy things from Halfords because I had been given a voucher for 25% off, and I managed to buy the things I wanted, which is very unusual. On the way I noticed that Clarks were having a sale and I found and bought a pair of shoes that were exceptionally comfortable (E width fitting) for a bargain price. Then I had a very sad telephone conversation sitting in the car in the carpark before going into Sainsburys for a few things and knocking a bottle of red wine off an end-of-aisle display where it spectacularly shattered on the floor. A very nice member of staff was on the scene in an instant, allowing me to apologise before making my getaway towards the bakery section where I bought myself a gratuitous cream cake as consolation. All this in the space of 60 minutes.

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