December 2020



Christmas almost upon us.

I want to continue in the same positive vein as I did in November but there are a few things I need to get off my chest.

The lockdown is over and we are now back in Tier three arrangements, which don’t really seem any different to be honest. It’s getting very frustrating because no-one really knows if any of this is having an effect. There are plenty of statistics flying around but disentangling the relevant from the irrelevant is becoming increasingly difficult.

Plus, people are starting to get ideas and feelings with regard to what is and what is not a problem. It’s as though we’ve all been on the course now and can start to make our own decisions based on our own assumptions. That’s what the government seem to be doing as well. There are arguments about schools opening and universities and yet we can’t go into family member’s houses. I understand how frustrated people feel. No-one wants to cause a problem but problems are being tolerated for what are possibly the wrong reasons. Also, the idea that kids are losing out just because of the time missed in school is outrageous. No-one will be behind. To be honest, as long as they can all read and write by the time they leave then they’ll be fine. It’s not nearly as critical as everyone makes out. If kids are mentally or emotionally stretched one way or another then they will develop perfectly well. It might even be a positive in that some kids have the opportunity to spend time learning about things that they are naturally good at and enjoy like painting or music or dance or acting. Their brains will have been fired up in the way that a natural mathematician’s would be in a maths class. We don’t all have to learn the same things. That’s nonsense put about by those who want a convenient way of measuring kids and beating teachers with a stick. It’s the social aspect of school that is most critical for their personalities to develop. That’s what we should be working towards, not memorising useless facts about the fucking Zuider Zee.

But I said I was going to try and be more positive in the future. The emergence of at least three functional vaccines and more on the way has to be something to cheer for, despite the fact that there is a worrying number of people declaring that they have no intention of having the vaccine. Anti-vaxxers. Social media hysteria, nothing more, but it does make you wonder where all the conspiracy theories originate. From flat earth to Bill Gates and the Royal Family being child-eating lizards. The expression, ‘You couldn’t make it up,’ springs to mind but clearly someone did. And then someone else believed it. Chem-trails, Kennedy, Billy Shears, Area 51, Moon Landings, Obama’s birth certificate. I can see the appeal in the wacky narrative but how do you actually get to the point where you argue the case, sometimes even violently? In our modern age, one of the certainties that we have learned is that many, many people, millions, can be convinced of something so intangible, so unlikely, so utterly bonkers, that it’s hard to believe in anything anymore. From the certainty of the scientific fifties we are now drowning in fake news and crafty conflation (or, not so crafty). Most recently, ‘we have only managed to certify the vaccine early because we left the EU,’ which we actually hadn’t when that was claimed. And that we have the ‘best scientists and virologists in the world’ when the vaccine was produced by a couple of Turkish refugee scientists from Germany working for an American company that is based in Belgium. In fact, as corrected by Dr June Raines, the MHRA chief, it is a provision within EU law that, in the case of a medical emergency, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency are able to approve the vaccine separately from the European Medicines Agency (EMA). This provision will be in place until January 1st. But enough people will have heard the alternative facts to believe them. Maybe Gav was getting mixed up with the Oxford vaccine that they are hoping to be able to state is effective before the year’s end.

I guess some would accuse me of talking Britain down but, as John Grace pointed out in the Guardian regarding Man Child Gav’s flippant remarks, ‘It was much like saying that Britain was now in the lead in the space race because we have Tim Peake.’ Bragging about stuff that’s patently not true is definitely not talking Britain up. It’s making us look like idiots.

Of course, one major reason to feel good is that they have finally got rid of that orange twat across the pond. For a minute there, I thought things were going to go pear shaped (I suppose they still could) but at least now it has been confirmed that he lost. We have our own clown to get rid of here as well but that’s not going to happen soon. Although, reading between the lines, I don’t think there’s anyone in his own party who hold him in anything other than contempt. It must be quite lonely really. If he wasn’t such a misogynistic, racist, homophobic lying bastard then I might feel sorry for him. As it is, the more pain he suffers the better for me. Not since Maggie Thatcher…

And all that…

But the Americans are on the right road for some kind of recovery now. It’s true that you can’t uninvent something and it still surprises me that all those bigoted views and intolerance that we thought we’d left behind in the sixties and seventies are still with us. Not the least here in England. That’s a reason to be sad. I thought they’d actually gone, not just been repressed. But then I’ve never been on the receiving end of bigotry and intolerance so it would appear to have disappeared in my sheltered world.  The worst I’ve ever suffered was to be called a scruffy hippy and that’s a look I’ve put quite a lot of effort into.

The New Year is just around the corner and, hopefully, it will be a year of things steadily improving rather than getting slowly worse. We’re all a long way from safe and even farther away from happy but, even though time is an arbitrary human construct, we all seem to mark the New Year as an opportunity for change. Just a couple of nights before Christmas, the world turns and it starts to get lighter again; we will soon be seeing snowdrops and crocuses and the fat green shoots of daffodils pushing up through the earth. Christmas is going to be a struggle, especially for those living alone or feeling depressed but it is a struggle that should lead to better times. I’ve spent a year moaning about politics and people’s behaviour and every little thing that irritates me but really, we all have a lot to be grateful for. This year’s been tough on so many levels. I doubt that anyone has escaped the loss of a loved one or someone close and that has turned the the last ten months into dark times. But most of us are still here and most of us have plans that we hope will be possible. I’m eager to see Portugal or Spain again and desperately hopeful for a Cropredy Festival in August. We may get what we want, we may not, but we’ve all been through something quite extraordinary that will be talked about for decades to come. Just remember, there is always hope… like my little picture above shows.

So, I’ll see you all again next year. January 2021. I’m sure I used to have a science fiction magazine as a kid that was called 2021. Something like that. I guess that means that this is the future now.

Try and stay positive and well and look after yourselves and your loved ones.

Don’t forget to have a look at my Website for more nonsense and maybe even buy a paperback for someone as a last minute present.