The Despair Cycle and the Sunset of a Friend

People talk fondly of a ‘news cycle’ but in reality there is no cycle, it’s just an endless stream. Keep checking back with any website and you’ll find every hour or so, sometimes every ten minutes, there’s a new item – especially with unfolding stories such as the vaccine or the US election. But there are other cycles, like the cycle of hope and despair – at least with me there are. When something good happens like Joe Biden winning the election, I feel hopeful. Here’s a chance for good things to happen; Trump is out, a major cause for optimism, and the US will now start properly tackling the virus as well as being serious about climate change and the Good Friday Agreement. One of Biden’s allies has called Johnson a ‘shape-shifting creep’ and he himself has said he will not forget Johnson’s racist comments about Obama. Then again there are Johnson’s remarks on devolution for Scotland being a ‘disaster’, comments which can only help the cause of independence. Marina Hyde calls Johnson ‘his own saboteur’ – check out this highly amusing article.

But the positivity doesn’t last. Given the negative nature of the news media, it can’t last – but in any case a slew of horrible events have overtaken the good stuff. Trump has shown that he will quite literally stop at nothing in order to stay in power; he’s risked trashing the Iran agreement, derailing Biden’s attempts to get the virus under control and is threatening the very fabric of US democracy by a combination of threat, bluster and outright lies. Johnson lives to fight another day but the Tories are ruthless in getting rid of their leaders and will oust him as soon as he outlives his usefulness. Meanwhile the Labour Party, to my utter despair, seem incapable of uniting over anything at all. The anti-semitism crisis ought to have been dealt with from day one – the fact that there is as much or more anti-semitism in the Tory Party (not to mention Islamophobia and outright racism) does not make it OK. I wish Corbyn had not spoken up when the report came out; he could have stayed silent or better still, apologised. I wish Starmer hadn’t expelled him but when he did so I wish Corbyn had apologised for his remarks instead of expressing regret and I wish Starmer had not both readmitted him AND refused to reinstate the whip, thus pleasing no-one at all. There seem to be people on both wings of the party who would rather be right than unite and get elected, and I don’t know what we do about that.

So all in all I’m rather despondent this morning, what with the news about climate change and species extinction getting worse and worse. Sometimes I think there’s only one species that should become extinct and that’s homo sapiens.

On the plus side, if you want to see it that way, last night we remembered our friend Stuart. I was quite dubious when they said there would be no funeral but when I heard what they were doing instead it seemed entirely appropriate: he wanted people at the time of his cremation – sunset yesterday – to watch the sun go down and remember him. So we sat at the window, shared a glass of grape juice and talked over our memories. I watched the shape-shifting clouds drift slowly away as the sun sank – and then I played this song:

Kirk out