A few months ago I somehow - I can’t remember how or even why - found myself watching a German TV drama doc about the 30 years war between almost everyone in northern Europe. During that time life was for almost everyone in the war zone bloody horrific. And the war zone was very large and it all went on for 30 years. Tonight I heard about the Republic of Congo where a similar state of affairs exists: there is no actual war, but the widespread lawlessness in a very, very large part of Africa means that rape and death are daily dangers most everyone faces.
So here’s a thought for folk reading this in France, the US, Germany, Spain, Greece and even, surprisingly, Russia, Ukraine, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand and China: count your bloody blessings. We all have problems, but compared to those who might be raped tomorrow or even killed, they are comparatively minor. In a great many parts of the civilised world - make that ‘civilised’ world - a ‘tragedy’ is when the TV repairman doesn’t show after you stayed in all day!
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One reason, I suspect, that I haven’t blogged as regularly as I once did over this past month or two is because I passed 65 and didn’t want anyone reading this to say ‘well, he would say that, wouldn’t he, because he’s just another old fart’ (or as my son - 15 - put it so gracelessly when I texted him a Happy New Year, ‘happy new year you old twat’. What surprised me most was that he knew the word ‘twat’, though he most probably doesn’t know what it means.)
You see it’s like this. As you get older - and as those among you who are ‘older’ will confirm - you get to see and get to get very sick of rather too many repeats: rather too many politicians promising ‘a better tomorrow; rather too many occasions when Britain grinds to a halt after a flurry of snow despite there having been a flurry of snow ‘since records’ began; rather too much conspicuous outrage of widespread paedophilia among the British establishment and rather too little being done to find out what went wrong despite the outrage.
It’s the same in music: too many ‘fabulously original artists’ playing the same old shitty chord sequences you have known for at least 40 years. In short: you’ve seen it all before one too many times. So you get jaundiced and rancid. But which ‘young one’ wants to hear the complaints of - to quote my darling teenage son - and old twat? I certainly didn’t when I was the same age as young Wesley is now and why should he be expected to be any different?
But that hackneyed old phrase ‘plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose’ is distressingly true: the establishment - any establishment - will always look after its own whether in Europe, Africa, Asia or America, whether black, white, yellow or brown. The odd thing is that I who as a young shaver fresh out of an English public school knew fuck all about everything and thought ‘socialism’ was all idealistic stuff and nonsense would now, if not in his dotage a damn sight closer than he was then, dearly like to take up a Kalashnikov and man the barricades. (The only reason he doesn’t is because he knows just how futile it would be: ever wondered what makes a cynic? Being alive.) But do you really want to hear all that? If you are young, you most certainly don’t.
So I am stymied in writing this ‘ere blog. How often do you hear me pointing out the sheer hypocrisy of the West cheering on the fucking ‘Arab spring’ when all the fucking ‘Arab spring’ has done in Egypt is to replace one set of repressive army dictators with another set of repressive army dictators? How often to you try to tread the fine line between swallowing Western bullshit about Ukraine and Russian bullshit about Ukraine and trying to swallow no bullshit?
Finally, there is the sheer despair at the limits of one’s own intellect. I wrote above ‘ever wondered what makes a cynic? Being alive’: but I don’t want to settle for being an increasingly grouchy, boring, dispomaniac cynic. The most attractive thing about young folk is their idealism. OK, when we are really dyspeptic we might thing they are pissing in the wind and then some. But I don’t want to leave it at that: I want them to be more right and I am. I want the to prove me wrong. I want them to show me up for a sad old cynical fuck who can’t be arsed to have faith in anything anymore. So bloody do it!
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Along similar lines I have - I think - realised why I find it difficult to let go when I write, why I stick to pastiche and satire and keep everything at arm’s length: I can’t let go. So that is this year’s project: fucking let go a little, show a little passion
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One of our former prime ministers, John Major, once insisted he wanted to build a Britain in which the British were ‘at ease with themselves’. This took me a bit by surprise because I’ve always thought the British are at ease with themselves, although most usually once they’ve had a sherbet or five. Below are four pics which show several Brits completely at ease with themselves.
We might not lead the world in many ways, but we are world beaters when it comes to losing our dignity. The excuse was that they were celebrating the New Year. Actually, the Brits never need an excuse to get rat-arsed (U.S readers: ‘rat-arsed’ is a quaint piece of slang for ‘bladdered’, ‘completely pissed’, ‘out of your head’, ‘arseholed’, ‘loaded’, ‘shitfaced’, ‘sloshed’. Only elderly middle-class folk get ’squiffy’, usually around 1955).