2016 is Coming

New Year

My daughter announced that 2016 was going to be her best year – ever. I hope so. She’s had a tough life so far. As a distant father (OK, I’ll write a book about that one day) she has made me think, what can we do to ensure that’s the case?

Controversially, I suggest we start to take pride in ourselves. The controversy comes about as a result of propaganda. Let me explain before you start jumping up and down, shouting abusive comments.

We live at the end of Empire. Possibly at the end of the greatest Empire there has ever been. A small island with a chequered history, having been invaded several times in the past, we achieved a lot. One third of the world map coloured pink (the colour chosen by cartographers to represent the British Empire). We fought, bullied and conquered and grew rich and complacent upon the resources of our subservient dominions.

During the 20th Century that power was slowly eroded. We fought wars everywhere, and became embroiled in two major conflicts. Although we were on the winning side we lost power, burdened by debt, many of our best people blown to smithereens, we ceded our Empire. It’s easy enough to blame others, to believe in secret deals made by the political leaders of Russia, USA and Great Britain, which resulted in the UK agreeing to the gradual dismantling of our Empire. Whatever the causes we are left clinging on the crumbling vestiges of influence across the world.

In many ways we extricated ourselves quite well from the seat of power, but at great cost to the British people. Politicians are, by the nature of things, short-term opportunists. Ask them to look beyond the next election is to see them peering into the vacuous depths of their brains. They made one huge mistake, which showed their lack of vision. They gave 880 million people a British passport. Whether such a concession was really necessary is now largely irrelevant, they clearly did not consider that anyone but modern-day slaves would want to come. Although there may still be time to convert that to a Commonwealth passport, especially if we decide to leave the EU. Such a cooperative deal would spread the risk much better. The Empire became the Commonwealth but that is toothless, being no more that a convenient network of hotels and holiday destinations for our ruling elite, and has never made much progress.

Let’s look at our way forward. Let’s rebuild our pride. Let’s forget the subservient nature of our peasantry, hammered into submission by centuries of lack of influence. The English (in particular) have lost their will to succeed. Not to fight, we still have young people wiling to flex their muscles, but to take pride in our emerging new nation.

Immigrants have always added a great deal to our culture, to the progress of our endeavours. We need to remember geography. Ours is a crowded island, over 260 people live in each square kilometre; twice as many as in France, and the USA has loads of space, with just 34 in the same area.

The countries of European Union and (to a lesser extent) the USA have shown that cooperation is achievable. It will all take time to settle down. Poland is now complaining about its low birthrate and diminishing skill base while the UK is in danger of losing its skilled resident workforce and space from an influx of cheap labour. Give it time.

The USA will take longer. It has no history to boast about. Integration is still a sick joke and class divisions are more apparent there than elsewhere. It needs to realise it is but a juvenile in world terms, and stay at home for a while. Its Empire has never really started, and it will be ripped away by capitalism the moment it fails to conform.

During this current holiday there has been no coverage of Europe by the media. The hurricanes in USA took precedence, at one stage, over our own floods. There is too much comparison with the UK often playing second fiddle. Silly really, as our European market is much bigger than is to be found in USA, and that country’s accountants are ripping the guts out of our tax laws.

One small example of our diminished lack of pride is our Premier football Division. How many British players does it employ, how many managers and owners? It’s an indicator of our lack of pride.

We need to consider ourselves first. Insularity for a time will allow us to stand tall in the world again.

Live Theatre (in a cinema)

I went to the cinema yesterday evening. It was a new experience as I didn’t see a film (or movie) but a live performance from the Royal Opera House in London.

It was magical. My seat in our little Palace cinema was perfect. There was tea or coffee, the inevitable ice-creams and popcorn but, this is the exciting part of our cinema you could also order drinks, even hamburgers and chips, all of which are brought to your seat by an obliging waiter. All 120 seats were filled, mainly by grey-heads. The programme began – not with loud adverts but with announcements about future shows from the Royal Opera House.

Darcey-BussellThe scene was set by Darcy Bussell, stunningly charming retired principal ballerina, who incidentally went to Arts Educational School (as did my son) who also gave us enticing glimpses of life behind the stage.

The ballet was Nutcracker, a Christmas favourite and a great introduction to the world of dance. It’s a pity that there were just three young girls in the audience.

With an experienced video crew and sympathetic production going to the cinema to see a live stage show can equal being there. For poor provincials it’s a great to have such a cultural experience, one that we are unlikely to afford or find in the depths of the country.

We were not alone Darcy said this performance was being screened live in 852 cinemas in 24 countries. If we perfect this system the export income it derives could equal that of the lazy gamblers in the city, and even put Britain back on the world stage as a sophisticated rather than as warmongers.

December? Let’s bomb Syria

dead children in SyriaIt’s disturbing to be told that I’m ‘too literary’ when I announce that I’m off to see Anton Chekhov’s ‘Uncle Vanya’. There’s an ‘ooh err, look at him’ response from too many people. So many that I worry about the cultural landscape of this country. Let’s not not go there today.

The Open Space Theatre production of Uncle Vanya was enough to settle my soul. It’s encouraging to see small theatre companies, they should receive much more support.

So far it’s not been a good day. For a start I fell out of bed, smashing my top lip against the bedside cabinet, showering much-loved items all over the floor. Having spent decades in larger beds, doubles at least, I’ve been used to space. I ran out of it this morning. It wasn’t just the new, luxurious, single bed that was to blame. The real culprit was probably BBC Radio 4 and, to be fair, my increasing deafness. The radio is on the wrong side of the bed. My fault, I can blame no-one else. I have reasonable hearing in my left ear, but it all gets muffled when I am on my left side. That’s what must have happened this morning. It was a shock. Clearly I was asleep, no doubt dreaming of yesteryear or even a future delight. A woman was probably involved as I rolled over to put my arm across her. And fell out of bed!

More likely I was trying to hear the radio. This is an important day. Our foolish politicians are to vote tonight to allow the UK to enter the conflict in Syria. How that will be resolved is questionable, but children will die, and shareholders somewhere will be gratified to learn that their company made a good profit as a result of selling arms. Many of us will be close to tears. I suspect the majority will be disappointed.

How can we be so foolishly tolerant to allow our politicians to push us into yet another conflict on such spurious assertions? As worrying is the belief that ex-Blairite Labour politicians will use this opportunity not to oppose the government but to try to weaken the power of Jeremy Corbyn, the new Leader of Labour.

Syria has become a test-bed for weapons designers whilst the UK begins a fight for democracy.

Why are we involved? It’s suggested the whole fiasco revolves around oil and money. The USA were worried that Gadaffi and Hussein were intending to use the Euro and not the Dollar standard to sell their oil That could not be tolerated.

Incidentally the renminbi is the official currency of the People’s Republic of China, and it now holds Special Drawing Rights (SDR) alongside the dollar, euro, pound sterling and yen.

How long the pound Sterling will remain part of this club is a matter of conjecture, but it has something to do with our continuing support for the USA.

Beyond that we can anticipate the demise of the USA as a dominant world power. It now owes far too much money, and can’t really afford another war, except that conflict keeps that country going. It made a huge mistake in promoting globalisation, not realising that it would lose its manufacturing industries, just like the UK.

Here we have relied upon ‘inward investment’ a much-abused term that really means selling off the family silver. The banks may have collapsed (wasn’t that all conceived in the USA?) but we can no longer rely upon the income we derived from nationalised industries. No attempt was made to retain those profits here. Indeed British companies were severely restricted from applying for government contracts, which have often been passed to foreign competitors.

It’s time to stop. It has become an even worse day, and Parliament are now about to start the debate about bombing indeterminate targets in Syria, with the certainty that innocents will be slaughtered.

Don’t let stupidity stop you breathing just yet. I’d go back to bed if I knew it would be safe enough.