Good Morning? If You Say So

I’m feeling rather gloomy and Eeyoreish this morning.  When I feel like this I’m unwilling to foist my Eeyoreishness onto others, because I know what that feels like and it ain’t pretty, so instead I thought, what better time to compose a cheerful blog post?  Because I know that being cheerful outwardly can lead to feeling cheerful inside.  However, before I begin smiling, this requires a caveat.  I think there’s something deeply wrong with enforced cheerfulness: as I said before in the post about Dismaland:

https://lizardyoga.wordpress.com/2018/10/26/exit-pursued-by-a-gift/

enforced ‘happiness’ can be terrible for your mental health because it’s not real.  Before you can begin to be happy you first have to acknowledge your sadness or depression or pain or gloom: otherwise that’s called denial.

But once you’ve done that; once you’ve acknowledged the pain and sadness, there is much to be said for a cheerfulness which is a considered choice: one which looks at the awfulness of a world where Brexit threatens to smash up just about everything; a world where Trump is still President and where Brazilians have just elected (albeit by a narrow margin) a possibly even more repellent leader than DT and where just about the nicest, most generous football club owner ever has just been killed in a helicopter crash:

https://www.leicestermercury.co.uk/news/leicester-news/aaib-investigators-give-update-leicester-2158815

Image result for mourning Leicester city logo

image removed on request

What sort of a world is this?  It’s a bloody awful one.  So give me my parachute because I want to bail out right now.  I don’t want to be here in this place where everywhere you turn there are more and more reasons for despair.  I want to leave, thank you very much.

So, having said all that (and taken cognisance of the fact that there’s nowhere else to go*) you can do one of two things: despair or hope.  And I choose hope.  ‘Strong men know not despair, Arjuna,’ says Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita (let’s be generous and take ‘men’ as including women) and so I choose hope, even in the midst of despair.  Even in the depths of Dante’s hell there is, as Dorothy L Sayers points out, a tra-la of happiness:

Per me si va ne la città dolente,
per me si va ne l’etterno dolore,
per me si va tra la perduta gente.

(Canto III)

Literature is full of such examples: in the land of the dead where there is no hope at all, Lyra refuses to accept the reality she is presented with, insisting instead on finding a way out:

https://www.waterstones.com/book/the-amber-spyglass/philip-pullman/chris-wormell/9781407186122

and, terrible though the Inferno is, Dante eventually finds a way through to Purgatory

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Purgatorio

As for me, when I feel despair I think of a river.  No matter what obstacles a river faces, whether rock or stone or earth or deep chasms, it will find a way through.  It may take time and persistence but the steady drip-drip, the insistent push of water will in the end break down the hardest rock.  Even dams need an outlet – and constant maintenance.

So be the river.  Find a way through, not a way out.

Kirk out

* without either committing suicide or trying to live on Mars, neither of which appeal

 

 

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Friday Room and the Futility Room

IMG_0685[1]It’s been an entire week since I posted but I’ve got a note to excuse me in the shape of the photo above, because I’ve been decorating a part of our house which a friend eloquently christened the Futility Room.  It’s a good name because the futility room houses the washing machine in which we wash clothes which then get dirty again faster than you can say Nicky Morgan (why Nicky Morgan?  I’ll get to that…)  Anyway, the futility room was horrid; covered in peeling and faded dusky pink paint with large blooms of black mould all over.  It was not a pleasure to go in there.  So over the previous weeks I’ve set about cleaning, unmoulding, stain blocking and painting.  And then as you can see I’ve been creative – so the futility room is a delightful shade of sunset yellow with some strategically placed orange suns.

So much for the futility room.  And then there’s Friday Room which on Friday was addressed by local MP Nicky Morgan on the subject of Brexit.  It was interesting on various levels, not least to observe her skill in working the room.  She charmed people with a mixture of genuine conviction and carefully placed suggestion and I was left with the thought that the two were woven together absolutely seamlessly.  You can’t help admiring that in a politician even as you deplore it: Morgan will be a formidable enemy and a hard person to dislodge in an election.  Otherwise it was an interesting, wide-ranging and, as is usual with Friday Room, respectful discussion, even if we didn’t learn much about Nicky Morgan’s views on the way forward.  She is a passionate remainer who believes the referendum result should stand though we ought to have a parliamentary vote on the final deal.  She thinks we should stay in EFTA (the European Free Trade Association) otherwise the discussion was mostly about the past; the mistake of not setting rules about referendums in general including a threshold for making major changes; the reasons which led to the vote being as it is and her desire to represent all her constituents (I have a certain amount of scepticism about her ability to represent me, as she keeps voting for public sector cuts and renewing Trident.)  

And that is a story of two rooms.

Kirk out

UKIP and Greer – The Second Tragedy

As Oscar Wilde once observed, there are two tragedies in life: one is not getting what you want – the other is getting it.  As an astute profiler of human nature, Wilde saw clearly that human beings can go off the rails just as often by getting what we want as we can when we don’t get it.  Sometimes we’re like a cat that asks to be let out, only to sit and stare at the open door and wonder what to do.  We pine for liberation, but when we get it we don’t know what to do with it.

http://newsthump.com/2016/06/21/cats-would-vote-to-leave-eu-and-then-refuse-to-go-out/

Such is the case with UKIP.  Though they had other campaigns under their umbrella, they were basically a single-issue party set up to push for exiting the EU (as the process was then called.)  And they won – and now they don’t know what to do with themselves.  Instead of disbanding – or staying around just long enough to supervise the terms of Brexit – they have begun an internecine squabble which has resulted in them electing four leaders in the space of one year:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_UK_Independence_Party_leaders

Basically they don’t know what they’re for any more.  They got what they wanted and now they don’t know what to do.

A similar thing happened with Left Unity, a party set up as a response to Ken Loach’s film ‘Spirit of ’45’ in despair of the (then) Labour Party ever doing anything to defend public services:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Left_Unity_(UK)

But when Jeremy Corbyn was elected leader most of us switched back to regular Labour (having found Labour Lite utterly unsatisfactory) and it was thought by many that Left Unity should disband and throw its weight behind a Corbyn-led Labour Party.  But once set up, things have their own momentum (pun not intended) and people are often reluctant to let them go.

It is in this light that I am struggling to understand the recent behaviour of Germaine Greer.  As one who was hugely influenced by ‘The Female Eunuch’ in the ’70’s, I cannot comprehend the person she seems to have become, making statements that seem to wholly contradict the stance she took back then.  OK so she wants women to be strong and to fight back, but to dismiss the #metoo movement as ‘whingeing’ is just plain wrong, as is her insistence that in the old days:

“there were movies – the Carry On comedies, for example – which always had a man leering after women. And the women always outwitted him – he was a fool.”

I have to say that’s not my recollection of the ‘Carry On’ genre at all.

There’s a lot to this debate and this article deconstructs it much better than I can right now:

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/germaine-greer-metoo-harvey-weinstein-spread-legs-reject-feminism-a8174211.html

Kirk out

Brexit: A Farce in Two Acts

Here’s a summary of my latest creative endeavour, a fifteen-minute radio play entitled ‘Brexit: a Farce in Two Acts’.

Act 1

Scene 1: The f*** up.

Dodgy Dave wants to screw Britannia, whom he fancies.  Urged on by his mate Nigel, manager of thrash metal band ‘The Kippers’, he asks her out and decides to sleep with her.  What’s the worst that could happen?

Scene 2: the consequences

Dave has had his fun and goes whistling back to No 10 for a good night’s sleep.  He’s so sure nothing can go wrong, he refuses even to consider advising Brit to take a morning-after pill.

Scene 3

Unfortunately, 52% of Dave’s sperm were fertile and Brit has a positive result to her test.  In one year she will give birth to a child who will be called Brexit.

Dave refuses to do the decent thing and support Brit: appalled at the news, he scarpers and is never seen again.

Act 2: Brexit

Brexit is born, but it is clear that she has multiple handicaps.  Misshapen, misbegotten and malformed, her mere presence divides the country in two: those who think she should be strangled and those who think she’ll be absolutely fine in spite of everything.

Brex is an unhappy child, forced at a very early age to go to Brussels and negotiate with the EU even though she doesn’t know what she wants apart from three words written on a piece of paper: strong, stable and hard.

Seeing the state her child is in, Brit is devastated.  She is diagnosed with acute schizophrenia and sent to lie down in a darkened room.  Brexit comes back from Brussels with another piece of paper, though what is written on it is not yet clear.

I’ve written this into a fifteen-minute play and will look for a suitable slot on which to perform it.

Kirk out

Ha Bumbug!

I have to say, this year I don’t feel much like revelling.  Not only has my body-clock changed to that of an eighty-year-old, meaning that I tend to wake with the lark and go to bed with a nice cup of cocoa (or in my case, chamomile) around ten – but this year has been frankly abysmal.  I can’t remember a twelvemonth in which more people died (people I grew up with and loved, that is) or in which more political horrors were perpetrated.  The news from Syria was awful to start with and it kept getting worse; terrorists ploughed vehicles into crowds, and after Brexit anyone who didn’t have two brain cells to rub together felt at liberty to abuse any Muslim they happened to come across and tell them to go back where they came from (Bradford, mostly).  And to think that next year what we have to look forward to is the inauguration of Mr T (I pity the fool who votes for me!  I pity the fool!) – well, it makes me want to stick my head under a pillow and keep it there for the whole of 2017.

So is all I can say is, thank god for Charlie Brooker: his ‘2016 Wipe’ did just what it said on the tin, wiping the floor with the entire annus horribilis and ending up with a lovely montage of Mr T sabotaging himself.  Fake news gets the Brooker treatment, as do the wilfully ignorant, in the person of Philomena Cunk and her ‘moments of wonder.’  Brian Cox guests, though that’s not specially a recommendation as he gets on my wick.  However, Coxes notwithstanding, a terrific programme:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b086khl3/charlie-brookers-2016-wipe

Go to minute 50 to watch the subtitled Mr T – a great improvement on the real one.

Kirk out

PS  Happy New Year.  I guess.

U-SKIP

It’s tempting to wonder if the phrase ‘a Pyrrhic victory’ will soon be replaced by the word ‘Ukippered’.  Pyrrhic, as you will recall, comes from Pyrrhus, the Roman general whose victory cost so many lives that he was heard to say, ‘One more such victory and we are done for.’

http://www.thefreedictionary.com/Pyrrhic+victory

The same could be said right now of UKIP.  Like the government when it started this ill-starred and ill-advised referendum, they don’t seem to have had a post-Brexit plan; and as a result they are now falling apart.  Farrage, far from enjoying his victory and crowing loud and long over the triumphant state of a Britain that has ‘taken back control’, has resigned and hopped across the pond to place his grinning face under the inexplicable hair of Donald Trump.  Trump and Farrage sounds like a firm of particularly dodgy lawyers, but nobody seems to care.  Meanwhile, the government struggles to come to terms with a nightmarish aftermath which nobody really wanted, where nobody knows what could or should happen and where even those who voted for it are starting to think they didn’t know what they were voting for.

This was not entirely their fault: they were misled shamefully by newspapers and leaders who never stopped plugging lies and half-truths about spending and immigrants.  At least Boris is still around to face the music – if not to actually conduct some of it – while his ally Farrage has skipped bail leaving the country and his party in a parlous state.

Meanwhile Corbyn seems to me to have the most coherent Brexit plan, trying to honour the democratic result of the referendum (which Owen Smith is proposing to disregard) while retaining some of the positive aspects of the European Union.  My heart sinks whenever I hear the word Brexit: I hate the result with a passion, but it’s no good saying we can’t honour it, because then you may as well tear up parliamentary democracy if you do that.  I hated the results of the last two elections but you can’t just hold another election if you don’t like the result of the first one; something Owen Smith would do well to bear in mind.

That’s it for today.  Very tired.  I hate moving house.

Kirk out

 

Honey I Left the EU

Last night I watched Panorama documentary about people in the West Midlands who voted for Brexit.  (Incidentally, I voted ‘shake it all about’ – where are my views represented?)  Anyway, it was a really interesting watch.  He interviewed a dozen or so people about why they voted for Out: they were all white and working-class and although not overtly racist there was a persistent perception that immigrants and refugees get houses and services ‘ahead of’ them.  So far, so predictable.  But there was a strain in their thinking which I hadn’t been aware of.  A lot of Brexiteers seem to want to turn the clock back to some kind of golden age; and whereas for many this is a time when Britain was ‘great’ – 1966, perhaps, or when we had an empire – others (and these were the ones represented in the documentary) simply want a time when there were jobs and an industrial base.  And I can’t blame them for that.  Where I obviously differ from them is in who’s responsible.  Whereas they tend to blame foreign workers for undercutting them I would point the finger at the system which fosters this ‘divide and rule’ mentality, ie global capitalism.  This probably highlights a difference in our thinking: I am happy dealing with abstract concepts whereas they see things in more concrete terms.

The thing is, though; the thing that really got to me, is that every one of these interviewees said, over and over ‘nobody’s listening to us.’  And you know what?  They’re probably right.  It’s too easy to categorise them as ill-informed racists or uneducated tabloid-fodder; it’s too easy to dismiss their views.  But they have a point; and the fact that they feel so ignored and sidelined made me feel sad.  And it made me feel a little guilty, too.

What’s good about it is that the referendum engaged people who were otherwise disengaged: many people had voted for the first time because for the first time they felt they had a voice, and that people would listen.  And that’s why – though I hate the thought more than I can say – we have to go through with it.  God knows I don’t want to: I think it’s a bloody disaster and I feel those who voted for it are in for a massive disappointment – but if I want the Labour party to respect Corbyn’s appointment (and I do) I have to want the government to respect this vote.  Otherwise those who voted for the first time will lapse back into anger, apathy and resentment.  Otherwise it’s a betrayal of democracy.  Otherwise we don’t deserve to be trusted.

Here’s the programme:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b07k7m4x/panorama-why-we-voted-to-leave-britain-speaks

Kirk out