Category Archives: Communities

If it won’t last forever, then what

Coronavirus must have a lifespan. It can’t last forever.

However, its consequences could be far-reaching. We cannot go back to how things were,  with an endless fixation on economic growth in the Western World. The planet will not sustain it, and we shall all be plunged into catastrophe on a biblical scale.

Don’t just take my word for it. There are plenty of others who think the same way.

Thankfully, we have begun to rely less on fossil fuels, which must run out sometime, and we have seen that a sense of community – rather than the sense of ‘me’ – has taken hold, at least in the UK.

All this leads me to believe that we shall emerge from this so-called ‘crisis’ in better shape to deal with the future than we were before it emerged.

I hope so, anyway. But if the politicians in suits are left to their own pocket-lining devices, I doubt it. Their outlook and beliefs will last forever.

Tagged , , ,

A game that’s been rotting for ages

Footballers seem to be getting it in the neck during these coronavirus days. Some are prepared to take a wage cut; others aren’t.

When some of them earn (?get?) as much in a week as some people get in a lifetime, it’s hardly surprising there’s a difference of opinion.

But what does anyone say about the poor supporter? Nothing much. At least, nothing much that’s worth listening to.

There are 22 players on the pitch, trying to win a game between 11 and 11. And there’s a referee and at least two other ‘officials’. Yet there could be as many as 55,000 watching on from the stands, and no one seems to listen to them.

Footballers are both sportsmen and entertainers. But to be paid what they are to entertain as many as 55,000 is absurd. It’s out of all proportion. A man or boy on the terraces can only dream of the riches afforded to one of his favourite players. Yet he – or even she – gets no voice at all.

It has ever been thus, sadly. Footballers have always been heroes, doing something that the rest of us wish we could do.

But surely, in these straightened times, the players could remember what they are doing? Playing a game so that others can watch them, not taking home wads of cash for a comparatively easy week’s work. They should think about what it must be like to be a toolmaker, or to work on a production line doing the same thing hour after hour.

Then, perhaps, we might see something that hasn’t been rotted by money, and a game that is played for its own sake not for wads of cash.

Tagged , , , , ,

Who’s he like now?

The more I think about him, and the more I read about both men, the more I think Boris Johnson begins to resemble Henry VIII. The same bombast; the same: ‘Look at me. Nothing is important except me’; the same devil-may-care attitude – ‘What the hell, I’ll go and play this afternoon” – and the same lack of interest in the common people.

When was the last time Boris saw a boarded up shop front in a high street or a ‘For Sale’ sign outside some out-of-town business premises or another?

When, for example, was the last time he visited one of the country’s many flood-hit areas? Even Jeremy Corbyn has managed to do that and, despite still being the leader of Her Majesty’s opposition, he isn’t much of a ‘somebody’ these days. Once his time is truly up, and the Labour Party has a new leader, he really ought to go back to the back-benches where he could always snipe at something or another.

In the meantime, we’re stuck with someone akin to King Boris. The only thing that marks him out from Henry VIII is that he doesn’t wear a funny hat, a doublet and hose and doesn’t have a male heir – at least, not one that we know of. All he has is an unknown successor, from either wing of the Houses of Parliament. Thank goodness we can vote on that. I don’t think it matters much at this stage who it is, so long as they are able to restore Parliament to something it used to resemble; a debating chamber where the nature of our country could be discussed and decided upon.

As it is, we’re left in a kind of Boris Land, not knowing what the country will look like in a couple of year’s time.

Tagged , ,

What does he think he’s up to?

The Supreme Court seems to matter not a jot to Boris Johnson. Even as I write, he’s probably plotting how to wriggle out of whatever they may conclude.

To me, he has conspired to prorogue Parliament just so that he can call an election, which he probably thinks he will win. On the surface of it all, he may be right. He might just win – even with an outright majority.

Personally, I can no longer decide which side I’m on: in or out. Part of me wants to remain in the European Union, because we’re stronger in it by being part of a large market, and because we may be able to influence how it [the EU] should be reformed. And reformed it should be. The other part of me wants to be out of it all together, so that they [the other Europeans] can get on with it, whatever it may be.

Either way, I am utterly fed up with people talking about Brexit when they don’t even know what kind of Britain they want – or what they’re being offered. Those who want another referendum based on questions about a future Britain – and there are many – have my sympathy. Especially when they say they will abide by the result. I don’t feel strongly about any party, let alone one that says what it would do if it were in power.

What does bother me is that Johnson and his cronies don’t seem to understand anything about what’s happening in the country, outside the Westminster village.

I live in East Devon, which is – by turns – prosperous and down-at-heel. Goodness knows where the local farming and agricultural communities think their money will come from, once they’re no longer able to enjoy EU grants. That’s to say nothing of the retail sector, which is facing its own problems.

But, of course, Boris knows best! We shall leave the EU at the end of October, come what may. Or to use his own words, “do or die”.

I’d rather die than listen to any more of his blustering rhetoric.

What the people of this country want is to get on with it, or so he says. Get on with what, I ask? We live in a broken society and nothing, but nothing, he has ‘promised’ will fix things as they currently are.

He is, it seems, beyond predicting.

Tagged , , ,

What next, I wonder

I’ve just finished reading The World As It Is by Ben Rhodes, former speech-writer and latterly confidant to Barak Obama, and I can’t help thinking that we shall come to see something of Obama in Theresa May, now that they are both former world leaders.

Obama was dignified, principled, full of integrity and was succeeded by what some folks would recognise as (and others believe is) a charlatan.

Against my better judgement, I believe May was all those things – though she did lack some of Obama’s charm and principled behaviour and was equally stubborn, among other things – and has been followed by a charlatan.

Alexander ‘Boris’ Johnson [to give him his proper name] was never my choice of Prime Minister – not that I know who should have been – but he was the outright choice of the Conservative Party members.

What happens over the next few weeks, months and even years is anybody’s guess. We may all be glad he’s in charge and that, instead of mind-numbing inactivity, decisions are being acted on unthinkingly, if not swiftly. Or we could all be wringing our hands, wishing and hoping that he won’t, or even can’t, be around for very long.

What’s certain is that it will not be easy. Those in work will find themselves worse off; those looking for work will find it even more difficult to come by than it is now.

As someone who’s retired from work – and from looking for it – I am not hopeful; I anticipate taxes and the cost of living will rise; that I am likely to be worse off than I was before Donald Trump took charge in the US and Alexander Johnson did the same in the UK.

It doesn’t look good.

What if …

Big BenWhat if the British Government was competent enough to, and capable of, managing the economy and bringing an end to austerity?

What if the same government was capable to negotiating a smooth transition from European Union membership to political and economic independence from the EU?

What if the same government could manage the NHS and its care services without thinking that ‘NHS’ was just a set of letters and instead realising that it means ‘National Health Service’?

What if the same government could solve what is often called the ‘housing crisis’ and give young people a degree of independence  and a chance living away from their parents and grandparents?

What if the same government could do something about Britain’s infrastructure and fix the potholes in all the roads?

What if the same government knew about life outside the ‘Westminster village’?

What if the same British government could find a way of operating without fighting itself?

Fat chance.

 

Tagged , , , ,

If the cap fits, wear it

Years go – long before I was a boy – the Labour Movement was associated with cloth caps and handkerchiefs. One on your head and another round your neck was all you needed. That, and a coal-blackened face.

Nowadays, Labour represents a different kind of person. One who’s probably been to university, is well–educated and wouldn’t be seen dead in a cloth cap.

Yet the Tories don’t seem to have recognised this.

Only yesterday I saw a man – suited, scowling and briefcase in hand –  who looked as if he despised the world, because it wasn’t peopled by his ‘type’.

But his ‘type’ is – to coin an election phrase of years ago – yesterday’s man.

Once the Tories wake up to the idea that the composition of Labour has changed, and that many younger people who once voted Tory now see Labour as representing the establishment, we may get a government that reflects the majority of the people and their views.

Until then, we must put up with stereotypes. And, it seems, mediocrity.

Tagged , , , , , ,

Leaving it all behind

I never thought I’d do it, but here I am, writing my first blog from Devon.

Leaving London after living there for more than 50 years was a wrench.

Having said that, I don’t miss the dirt, the crowds or the noise (all of which have increased over the years). Of course, I miss having galleries on my doorstep (or being able to go to one on a whim) and being able to go to the cinema without making it a planned activity based on bus timetables and what’s on. I miss living at the centre of national and international politics and debate. Big BenAnd I miss being able to shop for anything I’ve forgotten when I feel like it. I also miss some of the individuals I got to know (although many of them live, or lived, far from the centre of the action).

But, much more than generally speaking, life down here in Devon is far better than life up there in London. For one thing, the air is cleaner and it’s a great deal better to be woken by the squawk of seagulls – even though they still look bad-tempered and sound as if they’re laughing at me – or by the trilling of other birds than it is by the wail of sirens. I could do without the sound of the sea washing the pebbles clean each time it rushes out, instead of the swoosh of tyres on one of London’s wet main roads. But I can’t say I’d swap one for the other.

If I were many years younger, I would no doubt think differently. I would want  something going on all the time; clubs or discos to go to nearby, more young people my age around and willing to do much the same things. But, as an older person, the quieter life down here is just what I want. Goodness me, I can even shop in peace and buy The Guardian!

Doing what they said

Of course, I’m not the only one leaving things behind.

Donald Trump promised much in his campaign, pedalling a brand of patriotic rhetoric that got him elected to the highest office in the so-called free world. But he’s dealing in international pragmatism nowadays. Hell (as they say over there), he’s even stopped talking about building a wall.

Theresa May sat so firmly on the fence during 2016’s European referendum debate, refusing to say which side she was on, she must’ve hurt herself. It must be the reason why, today, she wears an expression of permanent pain whenever she extols what’s become known as ‘a hard Brexit’. She even has to peddle the same line as those she was supposedly against.

No, I don’t miss any of what I left behind. I can pick and choose what I want to pay attention to. I can even follow the fortunes of my favourite top-of-the-pile football club! And I will, eventually, be able to live the life I want to, once all the material things to do with moving have been sorted out.

It was a good move. Maybe even one I should’ve made some time ago. But, ‘there is a tide in the affairs of men’.

Tagged , , , , , , ,

We still don’t know

Back in August I was worried we didn’t know what was going to happen to us, now that we’ve voted to leave the European Union.

Today, I still don’t know.

Like a lot of other people, I’m in the dark about what our relationship with Europe will be like. Will we be in the free trade zone, or out of it? Will just anyone be allowed to come into the UK from Europe, or will they have to prove they’re wanted? Will we have to pay to travel outside the UK?

There are so many unanswered questions, it’s as if we’re being deliberately blind-sided.

True, it would help to know who we are dealing with. So we’d better wait until after the Germans have decided on their future. Likewise the French. And anyone else who’s got an election coming up.

But should we wait until after the Americans have decided on their president? That would mean waiting until late November, at the earliest.

It seems a long way off. But then, Europe seemed a long way off at one time. It was a foreign place, the other side of a stretch of water. Now it’s only a tunnel away and we (us Brits) are part of it.

At least, I think we are.

I’d like to know, one way or the other.

Tagged , , ,

Revive the Arab League!

Britain’s David Cameron has expended a lot of energy during this past week trying persuade the House of Commons and the rest of the nation that we should instigate air strikes against ISL in Syria.

Why expend so much energy on such a waste of time, lives and money!

If he wants to see off ISL, he should be coercing the Arab League into doing something, instead of assuming that the ISL jihadis will listen to nothing more than a few explosions in their backyard. They’ve already heard a few of them, and still they seem to want more.

An organisation whose time has been barren for 70 years

Founded in 1945, the Arab League’s describes its own objective as to “draw closer the relationships between member States” and to “co-ordinate collaboration” in the region. At least, that’s what it says it does.

In truth, it does very little. It might be thought of as a footnote in David Lean’s ‘Lawrence of Arabia’. But, if my memory of that film is anything to go by, the League is best remembered as an opportunity lost.

If it had more teeth today, it would be doing something.

As it is, we in the West are left believing (or being led to believe) that the troubles in Syria are all our fault; that we should get stuck in there and sort it out, so they stop fighting with each other.

A generation or more lost

Who are we in the western world to tell them what to do?

We don’t have a handle on the truth. There’s more than one.

The one they hold is as valid as ours, which is based on the belief that there is one deity and one Holy Son of that deity, Jesus, who died on a cross so that the rest of us sinners could live in peace. End of. They (the jihadis and others) believe their man was the deity’s prophet: Muhammad, with a creed not a million miles away from that of Jesus’.

The trouble, as always, comes when family is involved. The Shia and Sunnis are part of the same family, but don’t see eye to eye on who’s the rightful heir to Muhammad. Traditionalist Sunnis believe they are the chosen successors. Shia muslims believe the others have no such right.

That’s their problem, not ours.

David Cameron should be promoting the idea that it’s up to them to sort out their own differences, not us. It’s not our role to be playground monitor. We should not interfere with how they play their games.

But we should promote fair play.

Which is why we ought to be putting our weight behind an Arab League that wants to bring about peace and harmony in a troubled region. That wants the playground to be level.

At least, that’s what their charter says they believe.

An end to ISL

If the League were to act, and act strongly and swiftly, there could be an end to ISL, and thus an end to the fighting in the Middle East.

As it is, ISL will only grow stronger and stronger as less and less is done.

And the more we talk about them, the more recruits they will attract.

Tagged , , , ,