Well, it’s all over bar the shouting, as they say, by which we mean, of course, the interminable analysis. Yes, I listen to it, and yes it is halfway interesting, but what is the point? Only Labour and, I suppose, the Lib Dems will benefit from analysing just how they managed to fuck things up so comprehensively, but for the rest of us it is back to football and gossip.
Given that one or two folk abroad read this blog, I should add the Britain, the United Kingdom, call it what you will (and mere good manners stop me from adopting some of the choice language used by one Jean-Claude Juncker, head of the EU parish council, uses when he is in his cups) has just suffered another of its general elections, but I should imagine that there is not great interest abroad in our political comings and goings.
For the record while all the pundits – who like to pass themselves off as experts – predicted a very close-run race, with the Conservatives being neck and neck with Labour (i.e. Tweedledum being neck and neck with Tweedledee – or is it the other way around?), and neither would be in a position to command a majority in the House of Commons and would have to strike all kinds of sordid deals with a motley crew of wacky Greens, wacky little Englanders, and, in Labour’s case, rather frightening Scottish nationalists to do so, the outcome was a true surprise. Not only did the Conservatives (the True Patriots/Complete Bastards depending on your political prejudice) manage to get rather more seats than expected, they even managed to get enough seats to gain an overall majority in the Commons.
Well, from me just two cheers, and only because having reached the ripe old age of 97 and sooner or later having to depend on my pension, I trust the blue set of bastard deadbeats to be just a little more competent running the economy than the red set of bastard deadbeats (my brief 14-month flirtation of several years ago as a signed up member of the local Conservative Association notwithstanding).
Once the celebrations are over and the Conservative leader and once again our Prime Minister David Cameron wakes up to the day job, it will not be a bed of roses. For one thing he has promised us good people a referendum, after a period of negotiating with Mr Juncker as to changing the terms of Britain’s membership of the EU, a vote on whether we want to remain a member of that by now rather threadbare organisation. His position, and mine, is that the EU must be reformed and that many arrangement, not least the totally free movement of labour, should be amended as part of reform, but that EU membership – under newer arrangements – is a good thing rather than not.
But that will be a hard sell, and I’m not yet too convinced that David Cameron has the necessary political skills to pull it off. He’s good at some things, winning elections perhaps now being added to his skill set, but not quite as good at others.
But more than a fair amount of political nous will be necessary to satisfy both wings of his party, those who want to stay in the EU at all costs, and those who want to leave and bugger the costs. Being contrary, I subscribe to neither view.
The EU is a great idea on paper, but in practice is going wronger and wronger. But here and now are not the place and time for me to outline why I think that is the case.
The big sell for Labour was ‘far less austerity’: the Tories, faced with a huge hole in their bank account have taken to the ‘welfare budget’ with gusto, cutting this and chopping that. You might argue, as the Tories, of course, to, that the figures, the falling employment figures to name but one set, bear them out. Their opponents, Labour but now far more seriously the Scottish Nationalists who have – this is no exaggeration – destroyed Labour in Scotland, argue that the cuts the Tories have made in the welfare budget have lead to a great deal of misery among some.
The problem for Labour was, though, that they did not lead to a great deal of misery for a sufficiently large number to persuade them to ditch the Tories and vote them into power. For many, who took stock of their lives and financial position, it came down to the simple question: austerity? What austerity? If you like it came down to the fact that more folk than not were able to proclaim ‘I’m all right, Jack’.
I’m well aware how callous that attitude sounds and can be, but the majority were persuaded by the argument that if the books aren’t in order and if we are spending more than we are bringing in, you ain’t going to do very much good very anyone for very long.
So it’s another five years of Heaven On Earth/Tory Misrule. All of which will be of little to no interest to the good folk who flatter me by visiting and reading my blog living in Russia, China, Germany, France, South America and the United States. The U.S. has its own bunfight coming up, anyway, but I should imagine it will in essence be very like the rather tedious hell we her in Old Blighty have been through.
. . .
I am off to Spain in five days though it won’t be what has become my annual pilgrimage to visit Senor Seth Cardew in Alabdos (which will come later in the year). This time I just want a bit of time to be all on my own. And this time I am making it ten days rather than the usual seven, because I find you don’t really begin to chill until five or six days and usually by then you are on your way back home.
I am off to a place called Port d’Alcudia in the north of Mallorca, the north of the island, I’m assured being rather quieter than the south – Palma and Magaluf – and which experiences rather less volatile puking in the streets by adolescent Brits between the ages of 18 and 40. No, I hope, ‘all-day English breakfasts, no pubs run by retired crims showing football on Sky, and, I hope, quiet and peace. OK, I am no longer 40, 50 or 60, and all I want to do for the first few days is fuck all. Nothing. Get up, have a shower, have a light breakfast, them find a sunny corner somewhere and do fuck all.
I am taking with me Selina Hastings’s biography of Somerset Maugham and having now read several of his stories quite apart from reading up on him, I am intrigued by the man. He described himself as something like ‘foremost in the second rank of English writers’, but I don’t know whether that is quite true. As a rule we English tend to a certain insincere modesty, hoping though that others will disagree with our judgment and insist we are not doing ourselves justice. I know I do it.
Maugham’s writing style is straightforward and simple, and as far as I am concerned there is nothing wrong with that. It is far better than many I have read, though I must confess – and I am not being insincerely modest here, simply honest, that I really haven’t read enough, especially not enough of ‘modern’ writers to be in a position to make that call. And also bear in mind that I was, so to speak, brought up in journalism, particularly on the sub-editing side of it, so my judgment might well be limited by that.
I have previously read Selina Hastings’s biography of Evelyn Waugh, another who can write the pants off most, and know that she hits the right balance between being dryly academic – not for my, m’lud, I’m sorry – and superficially sensationalist. Yes, I want the dirt – and I understand there is a great deal of that in Maugham’s life, living as he did as predominantly homosexual man all his life at a time when all homosexual acts would most certainly result in imprisonment if you pissed off enough of your friends to warrant them denouncing you.
I am not homosexual, but I suspect that if I were, I would have been very, very unhappy to life in such an era. I can’t speak for what is it like these days to be gay, but I’m sure many more men and women who prefer to shag their own sex rather than the opposition are rather happier and more content. And amen to that.
. . .
Speaking of sex here might well be the occasion to mention that my sex life is probably well and truly over. Maugham and others might well have been able to carry on shagging well into their seventies and eighties, but age and a heart attack nine years ago, have all rather put paid to that, I’m sorry to say. I last had sex a month or two after my second child was conceived and he will be 16 on May 25. Work it out for yourselves.
I once, more as an exercise than anything else, counted up the number of women I had ‘known’. I most certainly couldn’t remember all their names, but at the time I could remember the occasion or where I was. That was in the mid-1980s and I am grateful that I was able to add to that tall in the years that followed. But at the time – and I shan’t give the number I arrived at – and hearing what number of lovers other men claimed to have had, I was rather surprised that is was higher. I was surprised because I didn’t and don’t’ regard myself as a swordsman of any kind. I suspect that in the bedroom I was rather more vanilla than some, but on the other hand I simply can’t get my head around that some men and women, for example, like to beat each other senseless before they feel their sex instinct has been gratified.
. . .
As I am speaking, rarely for this blog, rather personally, I should add that I have never got off on pure sex, a quick shag, that kind of thing. I really do – well, did – like to make a night of it, and that night would include, apart from the sex, of course, conversation and laughter. I like – make that liked – to make a personal connection, and the idea of going to a brothel or even picking up a prostitute had no appeal to me at all. So I never did it.
That isn’t to say that I haven’t shagged, then realised that the act once concluded I simply wanted to get away, that is, the woman was of very little other interest to me, but what once came as a surprise to me is that many women feel and felt exactly the same. For example, I can recall one woman I slept with a few times who, it quickly became apparent, thought of me as nothing more than a shag where not other was available. And I didn’t much like it, though I couldn’t deny it was true.
Enough of that here, but having finally admitted all that, I might revisit the topic in some future blog. I can’t even think why and how I have reached this point. Perhaps it was some primeval suspicion that all politicians want to do is shag the voter and leave it at that. But, of course, that isn’t true, either. Cynicism is easy, far, far too easy. What is far more difficult and thus far, far more worthwhile is trust and trusting someone.
But I am sitting outside in the garden writing this, it is almost 8.30 on an English May evening, it is getting rather chilly – it is almost 8.30 on an English May evening – and the laptop is running out of battery power, so I shall have to stop. Pip, pip.