…and I cry.
Last weekend marked the 4th anniversary of my blog. This is also my 200th post, and I’m fast approaching 150,000 words of Reckons. I had hoped to write positive piece about blogging, the things I like writing about, the things that have happened and shaped my recent writing. But in all honesty that’s not coming easily. I had hoped to write it at the start of this week, but it wouldn’t come, I just couldn’t find it in me to write it. There’s a lot of stuff that’s getting me down at the moment, that sits heavily upon me and within me. I think I just need to get it out here, so I can move on and be positive.
Apologies, but this compendium of hassles has come from deep inside. I need to express them, but can’t face writing about them in more detail. I have tried, but it leaves me feeling frustrated, impotent and often angry. And that’s no place to be when in reality I have so much to be thankful for; like the delicious supper I’ve just enjoyed in rare evening sunshine on our patio.
Thanks for reading my blog. The occasional feedback and comments I get help keep me writing. I’m often touched by who reads my Reckons and how they respond. Consider this an exception to my usual rules of trying not to moan on too much. Thanks for bearing with me while I try and shake off some demons that sometimes drive me to despair.
I don’t think I’ve ever been as consistently and depressingly disappointed in my adult life as I have been with the current UK Government. It’s one thing for my initial naive hopes for the Coalition to vanish into thin air, quite another for apparently well-educated people to show such a lack of imagination, such stubborn resistance to even acknowledge the possible benefits of expert advice from outside their closest advisors, and such a misguided opinion that There Is No Alternative. At least when the late Margaret Thatcher claimed that, we all knew that she had some guiding ideology, some deeply-set principles. There don’t appear to be any in this administration, short of supporting their own narrow class interests.
The poor are repeatedly demonised and scapegoated. Big Sticks are held over the most vulnerable as benefits are capped, cut or withdrawn completely. All this in the name of weeding out the shirkers. So divorced families are penalised for keeping spare bedrooms so their children can sleep comfortably as they shuttle between households. Anyone who doesn’t work full-time is implied not to be ‘doing the right thing’, not ‘trying to get on’.
Meanwhile, as the poor face cuts and falling living standards, the rich are given tax cuts and incentives to stop them from fleeing the country. The Government seems willing and able to clamp down on fraudsters who are poor or rioters who stole bottles of water, but utterly impotent faced with corporate tax avoiders or indeed those with enough money to support a failing country.
The Leveson enquiry seems to have achieved nothing. The nation was outraged as tales of phone hacking and deeply disturbing relationships between so-called journalists and elements of the police were uncovered. Amorality doesn’t quite do it justice. And all those months of enquiry, millions of pounds and politicians’ promises to implement recommendations have evaporated under the self-interests of the media moguls. I’ve noticed nothing tangible in the behaviour of the press on a day-to-day basis. Churnalism is still rife, and innocents are still paraded in public as suspects with little or no recourse later. Speculation is reported as fact.
I’ve long been frustrated with the way politicians from all parties seem to use Education as a football for points-scoring; in a way they would never dream of with other professions, they openly attack teachers’ credibility, undermining them before parents and children, desecrating morale and achieving very little that’s positive. They crow about achievements when exams passes rise, then criticise the same reports as evidence of dumbing-down and not preparing young people for work. This in itself undermines the children who have just sat the interminable rounds of tests. Cameron promised less testing at the last election, but Michael Gove has introduced more rigid formulae at an earlier age.
It seems to me that Michael Gove doesn’t like the current cohort of UK children. They don’t read enough Middlemarch. They don’t, like, talk proper, like what he used to 40 years ago. He seems to want to beat the innate creativity and imagination out of them with tests, grammar and a one-size-fits-all approach that flies in the face of empirical evidence and even plain common sense.
You know what, there’s more; mostly the US Gun Lobby and the recent response of the UK media, the so-called patriots of the right and others to the brutal slaying of a soldier on the streets of Woolwich in London – another relentless and soul-sapping example of finding enemies aronud every corner. Just when Cameron’s Conservative Party were threatening to tear themselves apart over Equal Marriage legislation and Europe, a common foe emerged in the form of a deluded, radicalised killer wielding a bloody cleaver. And the loutish thugs of the EDL make swivel-eyed loons look almost sane and certainly nearly civilised.
But I’ve grown weary of this even as I’ve written it. The birdsong from the beech trees that overlook our back garden is an ambient source of calm. The evening sunlight is still glowing in the vivid green of the beech leaves, and although the temperature is beginning to drop, it’s still warmer than it has been for months. I have a week off ahead of me, visiting family and then camping with friends on the Dorset coast. I can’t wait.