Tuesday, 29 May 2018

The Last Refuge of a Scoundrel.

Patriotism, John Bull, Uncle Sam, all those figures we've created to shout about how great our nations are. They cling to our imaginations at a time when to all intents and purposes their reason for being, the nation state, seems to be losing it's grip on reality and becoming unnecessary. If anything, we seem to be undergoing a resurgence of patriotism, and nationalism, in the really real world.

Recently, I've been forced to reassess my belief that I'm not a patriot. Let me be clear, I don't think of myself in that way, patriotism in the UK often seems to either come in violent racism or '2 wars and one world cup' flavours. That, or lots of clinging to the Proms and the Royal Family because apparently that's all the nation is good for.

The problem is, I'm damn awkward at the best time. The things that everyone else gets excited about really don't do anything for me. I'm  more energised by the fact Punk and Goth were British creations than I am about the Beatles. The fact we have the Mother of all Parliaments impresses me more than the Queen. I don't care about street parties, royal weddings and all the rest of it. But I do care deeply about certain things that I consider to be uniquely British. I've started to value them more because they're 'home grown' so to speak. Recently, I've started to look and cherish British culture more, not just the obvious stuff but the things from our past, old songs and poems, our history and landscape. The things that shaped us before the Victorian age, which might be better said to reflect our character as an island people. Which is ironic, I guess, as what's happening with Brexit is very much part and parcel of that island story (but then, my reasons for wanting to Remain in the EU were more to do with the fear, yes fear, that nobody knew how to make things work in leaving and that in departing the EU we would see a bonfire of regulations across the board of the type that would screw up our environment. 

I'm probably just being silly there, aren't I? It's not like anyone in Parliament would lie about something this important, or as if the three silly boys we have conducting the negotiations aren't more interested in point scoring and feathering their own nests than in doing their actual jobs...  (Seriously I'm sure there used to be a thing called a 'Stateman', now I'm wondering if there ever actually were, or if it's a posthumous thing - nobody living is a statesman, only the people who have pegged out and who's memories have been cleansed of their mistakes and more hideous opinions).

This brings me back to my first point. I am not a patriot, not in any conventional sense. So why am I aggravated when Mr Trump says horrible things about my country? Why do I look at him and wonder if he even knows what he's talking about? If I'm not a patriot why should it matter what he says? Why should it matter to me when American people I know say 'the sun never sets on the British Empire? Of course, I'm not proud of the legacy of Empire, in many respects Britain cut a bloody swathe around the world and the globe, practiced a system that wasn't a million miles away from slavery and vastly enriched Britain by stealing the wealth and resources of other places. That's what empire does, whether we're talking about political, economic, or cultural empire. Denying such a thing is only sophistry and foolishness.

The problem with that, is that to the average Brit, it all seems a long time ago and not to matter very much anymore. We have two World Wars and, yes, a World Cup as well as a myriad of other things in between us and our Imperial past. I wouldn't have thought most people even give it a thought, to be honest. Part of that is how busy everyday life is, with jobs, children, commuting and so on. The past is only important to us, as animals, when it has to be. Otherwise, history is strictly a nerd's game and a tool of those forces that seek to shape countries by taking advantage of most people's disinterest. Hence, the rise of populist leaders, promising a disgruntled population a return to better times (while making sure nobody thinks about how much better life is now because that would undo their message).

Besides which, we've been lucky enough to cast ourselves as the 'goodies', in the same way that the Americans have. The fact that in part we can claim that we're on the right side of history because for most of the 20th Century there was another bloc that kept us in check seems to be beside the point.  Unfettered capitalism seems to be as much a way to destroy the things I hold dear as it does to devalue everything it touches. While Communism wasn't a good thing, I'm not sure that capitalism isn't as much an enemy to the values of Britain. It's only familiarity that makes us think that it's our bosom friend. But I don't see how anyone can call themselves a patriot and back the foreign ownership of rail franchises, power and water companies and so on. Doesn't the fact that we're virtually in hock to Russia and the Saudis for oil and gas cause anyone pause?

Perhaps I'm more of a patriot than I thought?  I don't know. There's plenty I hate about the UK, the way it's run, the crassness of a lot of our culture, the way it feels like we just roll over like a puppy everytime the USA offers us a tummy tickle. I wish we were driving forward new policies, aiming to legitimately make our economy the cleanest in the world, or becoming a world leader in tidal power. Instead, it feels as if both the main political parties want to take us back to the past, and as if our culture is diving back that way. I don't think that's healthy, even if I do love the Romantic Poets and Gothic novels. Perhaps that's the strongest evidence yet that I'm a secret patriot?

A Message from Google

So, I logged into Blogger today to do... something (I don't know what - I don't really know what to talk about at the moment). I found the notice below and I'm posting it so that you can see what's happening with EU law.  

European Union laws require you to give European Union visitors information about cookies used and data collected on your blog. In many cases, these laws also require you to obtain consent.

Out of courtesy, we have added a notice on your blog to explain Google's use of certain Blogger and Google cookies, including use of Google Analytics and AdSense cookies, and other data collected by Google.

You are responsible for confirming that this notice actually works for your blog, and that it displays. If you employ other cookies, for example by adding third-party features, this notice may not work for you. If you include functionality from other providers there may be extra information collected from your users.

Saturday, 19 May 2018

7 Songs

Last week was the rainbow... like you didn't get that straight away!

Now that I'm feeling a bit better, I thought I'd put up something happy so there's no link this week just songs that make me feel happy when I listen to them.

Mr B the Gentleman Rhymer: Songs for Acid Edward

I was never into rave but for some reason, this song makes me happy. I think it's partly because Mr B has been clever in fitting everything together, but also I just think 'Acid Ted' looks hilarious.

Queen: Breakthru

I don't know why this song makes me happy, but it does. The beat drives it on and there's just something fun about the song.

Neneh Cherry: Buffalo Stance

I love the 'character' Neneh Cherry plays here, and the track is quirky and fun.

Wicked: What is this Feeling

This is just so catchy and fun.

The Muppets: Bohemian Rhapsody

This is just fun, the Muppets are special anyway, and them covering one of the greatest rock songs ever is amazingly well thought out.

The Goons: Walking Backwards for Christmas

Again, this is silly, it just makes me smile.

The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band: The Urban Spaceman

The tune for this track just makes me smile, and the lyrics are sweet. The video is just bizarre, frankly.

Monday, 14 May 2018

Is There a Point?

My disintegration continues apace, it seems. I'm honestly wondering if there's a point to this living, this life, all this busyness that seems to add up to nothing but misery and more busyness. It all feels like a highly unsatisfying cycle where the best you can hope for is to make lemonade out of all the damn lemons life gives you.

Honestly, I'm starting to wonder if it's worth it, or if the best part of things would be to take a sharp exit to get off stage as quickly as possible.

I feel as if the best part of my adult life has been a waste of time, and as if I don't have anything to show for it apart from several failed projects and mental illness. Of course, it may be the mental illness that makes me feel this way but I don't know. In the same way, I know you're not meant to compare your life to anyone else's, but I look around and all I see is happy people, people who seem to know what their purpose in life is and to have found some sort of balance. I look at myself and I feel like I don't belong anywhere, like I kick up a fuss over stupid things, when everybody else seems happy with the same old same old. And I feel like I'm some sort of freak because of this.

It doesn't help that I feel most alone in a crowded room and that over time I've slowly lost most of my friends. This living doesn't seem to do me any good. I feel too caustic, like a stranger among my fellow countrymen, and I have days where I wonder if that's my fault. Should I have done things differently?

I'm so tired of the world, of the way there's no progress, the only changes seem to be bad and while it's heartening to see things like #metoo, they just make me feel guilty for being male. Especially as most of the time I look at my fellow men and I feel nothing that resembles a sense comradeship, looking at both genders, or sexes, or whatever, is like staring at alien species and feeling as if I'm eternally on the outside and wrong. Always, wrong. Eternally in the wrong. It's hard, to sum up, how sick I am of that. 

And again, though I don't mean to do anything hasty I must reassure you oh stalwart follower, I wonder if I'm meant to be among the living.

More and more I just want to be alone, to be far away from the rest of the species, free of the worries and anxieties of the modern world. I dream of houses in Highlands, of a place where I can just live in solitude and where it can just be me and a few animals. I'm getting to the point where I hate humanity and honestly, while I don't wish my fellow human beings any harm, I wish there were fewer of us. It might not help anything but it might. In the meantime, I suppose I'll have to settle for screaming, weeping and feeling like I don't have a place in the world. There's no rest for the wicked, after all, and no peace for the good.

Sunday, 13 May 2018

More Odd Questions

Image result for thinking head

Here, let me empty the contents of my head for you?

1)      Why do we still laud Richard the Lionheart as a great king when he bankrupted the country and barely spent any time here?

2)      Was William Rufus really killed by witches as a sacrifice to the Horned God?

3)      How many businesses were really run by women in the Medieval period?

4)      How much of modern morality derives on the Victorian age?

5)      Why do we laud the Greco-Roman world when it was so misogynistic?

6)      Was World War 2 the period that not only changed Britain but came to define it for the last 70 odd years?

7)      If we automated all work, what would humans do with themselves?

Saturday, 12 May 2018

Seven Song Saturday

Well, um, I missed yesterday (again) so I think I might just shift this to Saturday permanently and up the number of songs I post.

Last week's theme was Death, I have no idea if anyone got that, but yay if you did.

This week's is longer, harder, more power... oh wait, wrong blog... It's certainly longer because, as ya might have guessed from the title, we're going for 7 songs.

So let's get started.

Nena: 99 Luftballoons

Coldplay: Yellow

REM: Orange Crush

The B52s: The World's Green Laughter

Frank Sinatra: Blue Moon

Pete Murphy: Indigo Eyes

Hole: Violet

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Things I Wonder

This is a list of the things I wonder about at times.

1) If you have a chair but you don't use it to sit on... is it still a chair? (Which is a roundabout way, I guess, of asking if form trumps function).

2) Did soldiers after Agincourt, Hastings, and other battles in Medieval history (and Ancient history) suffer from PTSD? Would they be more or less likely to suffer from it? After all, most soldiers in the past weren't trained only to be soldiers, the idea of the professional soldier is relatively recent (apart from outliers like Rome where serving as a Legionary was just part of being a citizen for a long time).

3) Do humans exist in a state of eternal paradox?

4) Why did anyone buy into the idea of the world being flat when so many ancient cultures knew it was round? As I understand it the claim that Columbus was a genius because he realised the world round came from that famed historian, Washington Irving (you know the guy who wrote Sleepy Hollow and Rip Van Winkle) who was a Columbus fanboy, so chose to exaggerate his achievements. Why anyone took that as confirmation is beyond me.

5) Is history, as an academic discipline, mostly a case of patting ourselves on the back and saying 'haven't we done well'?

6) Has politics become mere theatre to satisfy people that democracy matters? I mean, obviously laws are passed and debates are held, but does the shuffling of governments really change anything? I'm not sure it does, anymore.

Saturday, 5 May 2018

Saturday Favourites

I did mean to post this yesterday, but it didn't happen, so sorry about that.

Once again, I'll post five songs and there'll be a link between them. Just let me know what you think the link is. I think it's pretty easy this week.

Last week's was that all the songs had been covered by Amanda Palmer.

The Men Who Will not be Blamed for Nothing: Mutiny in the Common Soldiery

New Model Army: Here Comes the War

New Model Army: The Charge

Kate Bush: Army Dreamers

Traditional British Folk Air: Over the Hills and Far Away