Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A sign that I am, indeed, getting older. Oh, and a perfect cliche finds its sneaky way into this blog

I assume I was weaned on vinegar because I don’t think there is a sentimental bone in my body and I loathe anything which is twee (which might account for the fact that as far as I am concerned in inordinate number of Hollywood films are total bollocks). But it has to be said that a certain sentimentality and tweeness is one of the stocks in trade of my industry and most certainly accounts for a substantial number of sales for the newspaper for which I have given the best minutes of my life. It is, for example, for the umpteenth time selling a collection of DVDs which extol Britain’s performance in World War II, and the bravery and courage not only of its enlisted men (mainly, it seems cheerful Cockneys, stoic Scotsman, lovable Scousers, dour Ulstermen and cheeky chappies from Lancashire) but of the ‘Home Front’, the women and children who stayed at home and kept alive by whistling Vera Lynn and George Formby numbers. Or, at least, that is the picture we are asked to accept (while whoever produces these DVDs makes a pile by cashing in on nostalgia).
In fact, as I have grown older, I appreciate ever more the sacrifice of several million servicemen and women who marched into battle in the certain knowledge that they might well be among those who would never come back. And as I have grown older, I get increasingly irritated by those who attack servicemen and women, often physically, as warmongers. No, dear hearts, it is the politicians back home who take the decision to go to war who we should be attacking, creatures such as Tony Blair and George W. Bush, not the poor saps who had enlisted and who had no choice but to to their bidding. But I have lost my thread.
As I say, I do rather loathe all things twee, and that would include four out of the five cartoon strips which appear daily in the paper for whom I work. And one of them is Garfield. But, it would seem, there is an exception to most things, and the cartoon below, which appeared last Monday, did make me laugh, especially the expression on the dog’s face. It is suitably very silly indeed.

© 2011 Paws Inc. All rights reserved

. . .

Years ago, the BBC screened The Great War, an in-depth, not to say interminable, documentary of the origins, causes, course and conclusion of the Great War. I am, perhaps, being a little unfair in calling ‘interminable’, but that was how is seemed to me, a lad of about 13. Oddly, the bit I remember most was footage from, I think Brighton beach (that’s Brighton in Sussex, England, not the Russian mafia hangout in Brooklyn, New York) taken in the late summer of 1914. Folk were out and about enjoying the sun and their free time and the mood was markedly lighthearted. Despite all the sabre-rattling around Europe, they obviously had no idea what they were in for. Well, how could they? And even when the war started, the public in Britain were assured that it ‘would all be over by Christmas’.
I have been thinking of that footage many times over these past few months and if our British summer in 2012 is in any way ‘glorious’, I shall fear the worst. I dislike clich├ęs – I am obliged to deal with too many in my professional life – but were I told to use one under threat of death, I think I would resort to a ‘perfect storm’. Because it all seems to be stacking up to one hell of a ‘perfect storm’.
The news overnight was that Iran ‘could’ be working towards developing a nuclear bomb. But don’t feel heartened by that ‘could’ which optimists will interpret as ‘ ‘could’ or ‘could not’. It is only there because when we are close to leaving the frying pan in the direction of the fire, those responsible for the kind of report which makes the warning like to be as circumspect as possible. Yes, it’s very serious indeed when the threat is consciously played down. And if Iran does produce it’s nuclear bomb, then, the fear is, everyone else in the Middle East with more than two pennies to rub together will decided to get some of its own. That would be great news for no one were it to happen. In the same neighbourhood is Syria which has not only fallen foul of the ‘international community’, but has now fallen foul of its nominal friends in the Arab League, who are not at all happy with what has been going on. Many of them might be a pretty unsavoury bunch, as it happens, but any pressure which can be exerted to stop Syria killing its own people can never be a bad thing.
Then there is, of course, the ongoing farce which is the Eurozone crisis. More bad news overnight is that bond yields on Italian bonds have breached 7 per cent which conventional wisdom claims is the limit beyond which the whole sorry house of cards will slowly implode. And when that happens – not ‘when’ not ‘if’ it will be bad news not only for countries in the Eurozone or for countries in the EU or for countries in Europe, but for any country which does business with Europe. And that is most of the world. Given all that, it would seem to me that one of the best places to live in right now is in one of the South American countries. So I’m off to learn a little Spanish.

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