Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Something of a ramble, I’m afraid, and perhaps of little interest to anyone. I might even scrub it at some point, so read it while you can. And this odd ‘let’s biff the Ruskies’ – do our politicians actually think? Er, no, I really don’t believe they do

The problem, for me at least, running a blog such as this which, increasingly but oddly, is attracting comparatively more readers, is that it becomes less and less personal. I don’t put the increase in readers down to any particular brilliant insights I might have – and, to be candid, I have none – but merely because, over time, I have touched upon quite a bit: Egypt, my cars, Francois Holland’s affairs, my breaks abroad, music – classical, jazz, rock and more or less everything else – food, and I don’t know what else. But as it started out as more of an online diary/commonplace book of the kind I kept for about 15 years – and which crucially no one is ever liable to read – it has crept away from that original intention. And for some odd reason that annoys me. But let me be candid again: I am also, for the usual reasons of vanity and ego, encouraged that I get comparatively more readers.

On the other hand I am no Jeremy Kyle candidate, I feel no desire whatsever to let it all hand out, to pass on to anyone who might happen this way my every thought, sentiment and feeling. Every so often I come across other blogs, often because they are recommended by a friend, sometimes because I look at up at random what I come across. And I am not encouraged. None so far, or very few, but make that ‘none’ because there is none which I am enticed to return to for further delectation, has sparked my interest. It is, for example, quite instructive to look at how long a blog is sustained. Most, it seems, are started in a fit of enthusiasm, then slowly fade away as the writer loses interest.

Tonight after work I followed on of my usual patterns. I stopped off at a pub, in the case the ever so expensie Scarsdale in Kensington, for a drink and a cigar. And, as usual, as the alcohol hit my stomach, I got this thought and that and thought to myself ‘now that might be something to record’. There’s more of that on the short walk to my brother’s flat in Earls Court where I stay when I am up working in London. But invariably and inevitably each topic, each thought is forgotten – most usually – or discarded as of no interest to anyone. But there is one which might bear recording, although it will need a certain amount of discipline to record. It is no paritularly original observation that we are all king or queen of our own world.

We are at the centre of everything. It is fashionable to claim that we are all ‘unique’, although in sense we are not. Yet in another sense we are: you, who is reading this, will have a unique take on the world. No one will ever see it throught your eyes. Unfortunately, no one particularly wants to: they are far more fascinated with themselves and seeing the world through their eyes. Yet I wager none of us realises as much. I do every so often, as I suppose you do, but it is not a particular kind thought. After all, as the cliché is, we all die alone.

When I first came to work in London, at the beginning of June 1990, I was not, as the horrible phrase is, ‘in a good place’. I was in the midst of yet another of the bouts of depression which have plagued me for most of my life, I was in debt, I had turned 40, I was going nowhere and I was – quite apart from the depression – fed up. And I came to London and the sheer size of the place made me feel utterly insignificant. But let me point out that feeling ‘insignificant’ was and is not the same was feeling ‘worthless’. It was just that I became very, very aware of what I have pointed out above: that we are all the king or queen of our own world, but that given the huge number of folk who lived in London, there was what seemed like an infinitesimal number of different worlds, each with its own king or queen, each of whom not only took not the slightest interst in me but, crucially, was not in the slightest obliged to do so.

Another cliché is that the more people that surround you, the lonelier you can feel. But I was also quite aware that I wasn’t the only one feeling like that, and, oddly, that comforted me, though admittedly not a great deal. But it was a curious kind of comfort. These days I can walk through more or less the same streets I walked through then (by coincidence the first B&B in for several weeks when I worked my first shifts on the nationals is just around the corner) but I feel nothing of that insignificance.

Certainly, much has changed in my life. I am now married and have to children, and for that, however scratchy my married life might be on occasion (as, I should imagine, the married lives of others are) I am very grateful. But I can still feel an aspect of the insignificance: it is quite easy to call up a sensation that I – and you and he/she/it walking beside me, or laughing in the corner, or jumping on the bus over there, are as numerous as ants in one of the several million anthills around the world. It doesn’t bother me and it is more of an intellectual sensation than an emotional one.

To put it bluntly I am not in the slightest bit unhappy whereas in those years in the early 1990s I was just that. But I can’t ignore that fact that there are a great many people who are unhappy, and I feel both powerless to help them and irritated with myself that I take so much for granted. So far, so much of a ramble. Yet it is something I have wanted to write for a while (thought whether or not it is of any interest to you is another matter). One of the thoughts which occurred to me earlier on was when I was musing on idealism. Is it really such a waste of time? Most certainly as the world over children are born and grow up there will be an never-ending supply of idealists, and for that I thank God.

We need idealists, but just how many idealists are there in, say, Gaza, Syria, Northern Iraq, Libya, Nigeria, the sink estates of Britain and ‘affluent’ Europe, in New Orleans, in the favela of Brazil, in rural India and Pakistan, in Burma, in the Tamil parts of Sri Lanka, in Alaska, in the Aboriginal parts of Australia? Can we really blame the folk there for getting more cynical by the hour? Yet even in those parts and many others there will be young folk hoping – I daren’t same ‘dreaming’ for I eschew cliches, but I should like to – that life might, just might get better.

I have no idea where this entry came from and where it is heading. But what I shall say, and how I shall conclude it, is that the greatest treasure of all is our young. You who is reading this might be 18, 28, 48 or 78. Depending upon your age your reaction might be different. But if you are young, let me end by saying this: keep on dreaming. Aint’ nothing wrong with that. But also be practical. Don’t just dream, think how you might achieve those dreams. God bless. End of sermon.

. . .

Barack Obama is now in his second term as U.S. president and can’t stand again, but as sure as eggs is eggs he will want whoever stands for the Democrats to beat whoever stands for the Republicans in the coming elections. So he’s talking tough (and no one can’t talk quite as well as Barack). Thus we have his sanctions against Russia over its alleged – thought most certainly very likely – support for the Ukrainian separatists. And the EU, still struggling to be taken seriously as a ‘world player’, has today topped those sanctions with ‘hard-hitting sanctions of its own. But all I can do is wonder: who the hell is doing any thinking?

Do the U.S. and the EU really think that boxing Russia into a corner will ‘bring them to heel’? From where I sit and pontificate that’s about as likely as me winning Miss America 2015. I’ve just heard a former British ambassador to Moscow speaking on BBC 2’s Newsnight he thinks the latest action is a disaster. Sir Tony Brenton pointed out that Vladimir Putin has almost unprecedented support in Russia and is seen as a hero for defending his country agains the nasty West, and is thus politically stymied were he ever to appear ‘weak’ by caving into the sanctions.

Sir Tony counsels dialogue, and all I can say is amen to that. But I suspect that is not how Obama and the idiots running the EU see it. I also suspect that their actions are being clouded by agenda of their own, the successful re-elction of a Democrat as president in the U.S. and establishing the EU as a ‘world player’ in Brussels. Sir Tony believes that Putin must be given the opportunity to save face in Russia and be able to present whatever the outcome of this crisis is as a success. Boxing him into a corner will not do that. We here in the West also want to be seen as ‘coming out on top’, hence all this macho willy waving. Is there no end to the stupidity of our politicians? Do you know, I don’t think there is.

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