Monday 9 July 2018

The Party for The End of The World!

What is going on? Seriously? I feel as though I must have slipped into some sort of alternative and rather strange parallel Universe, where nothing is quite right. On the positive side, perhaps the least promising England side of my lifetime, devoid of stars and diva's, has found itself in the semi final of the World Cup, with a fantastic chance of winning the competition. Furthermore as a Manchester City FC fan, I suddenly find myself supporting the best team on the planet. A Belgium vs England final will see nearly half the City team on the pitch. Then there is the weather. What is not to like, barbeques every night, G&T's on the patio.  I went to the races on Saturday, for my good friend Keith's stag do. I backed the winner in the first two races, so the 12 pints, the pie and mash and the late night curry were all covered from my winnings.

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Furthermore, it was a glorious day. Sandown Park has a fine selection of real ales, so I didn't even have to drink horrible lagers. To top it all I play guitar in what I consider to be one of the worlds finest bands. We have been on a particularly fine run of form of late. When you are in a band and it is going well, you really feel like the world is good.

I should feel elated. Sadly, I actually feel like I'm on the edge of a precipice. Where to start. Well lets just look at the world. Seriously, WTF is going on. I have been trying to pretend it isn't happening, however yesterday I was shaken out of my complacent slumbers in the most jarring of ways. As a good Catholic boy, I attend mass every week. I figure the Lord has been good to me, so why take any risks. I know most of my readers sneer at such superstitious claptrap, but then I doubt most of my readers have my incredibly charmed life (just a small portion of which I documented above). As none of this is due to any great intelligence or charm on my part, I have to assume that there is divine intervention (on an almost daily basis) keeping me lucky. So there I was, sitting in the pews, listening to our elderly, rather nice Irish priest giving his homily and he said something which profoundly shocked me. He said "A lot of people will be going into central London on Friday to protest about the visit of Donald Trump. I may well be one of them, you can't just sit back and watch injustice happen".

If he'd punched me between the eyes, I would not have been more shocked. I was born and raised a Catholic and that is the first time ever, I've heard such a statement. As someone who has spent my life being politically active, it has never even occurred to me that our clergy would take such a stance. Generally in the UK, the Irish clergy are well disposed towards the USA, so when a priest makes such a statement, from the pulpit, it tells me there is something seriously wrong. Don't get me wrong, I've had many conversations with priests and nuns over the years about politics, but they never carry it over into mass. I spent the rest of the service think about the true implications of what I'd just heard.

When it comes down to it, he was right. We cannot stand by and tolerate injustice. I was ambivalent about the anti Trump protest. To be honest I think the screaming baby blimp is not the way to protest against Trump. It trivialises a situation that could not be more serious. There is nothing I read about Trump that inspires anything other than fear, disgust and loathing. When he was running for President, he told John McCain that he wasn't a war hero, because war heroes don't get shot down and caught. This coming from a draught dodger. As my Dad was a bomber pilot in WWII who was shot down and held POW, to me this was a personal slight against my father. Then there is his "grab 'em by the pussy" comments. I've got daughters, who I love. For such an oaf to say such things sickens me. I believe in respect. For such an uncouth oaf to be President is sickening. We have seen his treatment of migrant families. The sights we've seen have been horrible. Then there is his treatment of the environment. The list just goes on and on. The right wing press laud's him for having dinner with a North Korean tyrant. I seem to remember reading of the right wing press celebrating peace in our times between Chamberlain and a certain German dictator. I've no idea whether Trump is right or wrong to try and befriend the latest member of the Jong dynasty. I do know that until recently, appeasement of dictators was not viewed as clever. We hear Mr Trump wants to break up NATO. Is this a good time when it looks very much as if the actions of Russia have resulted in the first death from a nerve agent in the UK since WWII. As it seems clear that a Trump victory was a policy goal of Putin, it really is rather scary.

And what of Putin's other foreign policy goal? Brexit. I haven't listened to the radio for a couple of hours so I am not sure how many minister have quit today. What is becoming clearer by the minute is that the UK government is ceasing to be a functional entity. What on earth is going on. Brexit is the biggest challenge to face the UK since WWII and we have a cabinet that is literally imploding before our eyes. It is not just Brexit. There was another BRexit that happened in the mid 1990's that we are now also seeing unravel, the exit from British Rail to a private network. In Barnet, our local train provider, Thameslink is completely unable to run the service. I advise people to ignore the timetables, ignore the online information. Just turn up with a flask of tea, a bottle of water and some sandwiches (and 30p for the loo, if you get stuck at Blackfriars). The service is a lottery and all that the Thameslink website will do is build your hopes up, to be destroyed. Back in the Victorian era, when there was no technology and the whole thing was managed by blokes with pencil's, they ran trains from Mill Hill to London on time and without issue. Sure, stuff sometimes broke down, but the concept that the system would stuffed for months on end, simply would not have happened.

I could go on. Last week we saw the 70th anniversary of the NHS. By any measure, it is an amazing success. Any sane government would recognise just how brilliant it its, fund it properly and make sure that everyone knew that it is far cheaper and fairer to have an NHS than a piecemeal private system. They would know that the the NHS should buy in huge quantities that enable discounts that can be passed to the taxpayer. They should know that a healthy workforce is the best thing for productivity. But do they...

In short, the world seems to be spinning on a different axis to what it should be. George Orwell predicted this. We have a new language, where we can't really describe things. Bureaucrats speak in unintelligible jargon (Orwell called it Newspeak). We have television channels suppressing all manner of things, whilst giving a small number of not very intelligent people a massive platform (often in the name of balance).

We are entering a very dangerous period. What will do for us? Pollution, the bee's dying off, nuclear war, nerve gas, mad and bad leaders? I don't know. All I can say is that The False Dots are playing at The Midland Arms in Hendon on Friday Night as part of the launch of the Kick Out Capita Campaign and The Barnet Wall. It is starting to feel like the party at the End of the World to me. As I wrote the set list out, I felt strangely drawn to a couple of numbers we wrote in 1985, that for me summed up the spirit of the time. At the time, with Cruise missiles, Ronald Reagan and the Evil Empire things seemed very dangerous and I felt rather gloomy. I feel even more worried now, the difference is that i have children. Please come along. I was going to say "Eat, Drink and be Merry for Tomorrow we die" (did you know the quote has its origins in the book of Ecclesiastes 8:15, ‘Then I commended mirth, because a man hath no better thing under the sun, than to eat, and to drink, and to be merry’). I sincerely hope we don't die, but let us be merry. If you have ever wondered what the False Dots sound like, here is a small taster video, with a song we put together specifically for the Kick Out Capita campaign. We think it is our best work yet.

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