Friday, 1 July 2016

First Thoughts On Waking

On Waking: Friday 24th June
This is the worst possible thing that could happen to my hangover.
So, now what, do we start burning heretics – drowning witches?
Anglo-Saxons: Fuck off back to Anglo-Saxony.
I know Brits can be bloody-minded and stubborn and all that, but...this is beyond a joke, no?
Fuck sakes.  Let's all move to Finland.
Thanks Grandad. Way to pull the ladder up after you, ya selfish cunt.
What a massive shower of shit the whole thing was from start to finish.  Tawdry, cynical populism coupled with preening ambition; a return to dark days we have forgotten at our peril.
Really hoping the chaos and anarchy some have been predicting leads to Boris Johnson being roasted and fed to pigs.
Texted my old mate Darren: “Paint covers all.  COVERS.  ALL.”  He knew exactly what it meant, as well.
With each passing moment it becomes increasingly unlikely that someone from the government will hold a press conference to say “Only joking!  Of course “Remain” won, by a large majority.  Had you going there!”
A Tory leadership election?  Oh Christ.  It's like a whirling carousel of horrible cunts, each passing face more shockingly ugly than the last, whizzing by, grinning like crazed murderers.  Who could win such a horror show?  Trump?  Thatcher’s re-animated corpse?
Farage has already reneged on a “promise” of the Leave campaign, the one about spending loads more money on the NHS.  (Did anyone really fall for that?  Our education system and/or news may be to blame.)   The point about that is that neither he nor the Leave campaign did promise, nor were in any position to promise that.  I can say “let’s spend more money on the NHS”, but that doesn’t make it happen, since I’m not in charge of spending on the NHS.  The Leave campaign isn’t/wasn’t either, and so it isn’t/wasn’t a promise, so much as a deliberately misleading suggestion for marketing purposes.  We could spend that money (if indeed it is ‘saved’ money, which seems unlikely, given that money went both ways in the EU-UK relationship) on the NHS.  We could spend it on a solid gold statue of a bulldog, or a water slide the length of the A38.  Or a nuclear submarine.
I just listened to In The Aeroplane Over The Sea.  It didn’t make me feel much better, but it is magnificent.  It is the best ever album about a series of recurring dreams in which Europe tears itself apart….
On Waking: Saturday 25th June – Monday 27th June
Many of us wanted more democracy; we may, in the future, choose to be more careful for what we wish.
Perhaps the ruling class underestimated the size of the constituency that would happily vote against anything they present.  Wouldn’t be the first time…
Perhaps now there will be no more alliterative tabloid articles about “Barmy Belgian Bureaucrats Banning Bendy Bananas” or that kind of thing.  #everysilverlininghasacloud.
People – and, indeed, this issue – are/is far more complex than any demographic breakdown of voting patterns; people often have conflicting beliefs/motivations/explanations for their behaviour, particularly with regard to choices this complicated and unpredictable.  So it makes no sense at all to blame one wing, age group, religious group, social demographic, political party, nationality or whatever.  But we do it because it’s briefly comforting, like eating food we know is bad for us.  So we all do it.  And now we are starting to understand why a poor person might see another poor person as a threat.  Are we?
Realised, while writing these down, that I feel exactly like I did as the general election results came in, but somehow even worse.  Just like everyone else on my facebook feed.  Maybe the infinite feedback loop of agreement and self-congratulation wasn’t so great after all….maybe it’s good and/or necessary to be exposed to opposing points of view.  Maybe that’s what newspapers were for all along.  Oh, yeah, I just remembered: newspapers.  God, I feel even worse.
I keep thinking about that WB Yeats line:
“Things fall apart, the centre cannot hold”
And thinking it really could go either way….
And then, inevitably, I think about Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe. 
And then, inevitably, I think about Things Fall Apart by The Roots.
Started writing a poem that ends by paraphrasing Neitschze:
“When you fight monsters, you might just become a monster too,
And when you stare into the abyss;
The abyss stares into YOU.”
Haven’t got a beginning for it yet.
Some of my European friends are worried.  I am worried for them.
Some of my friends who are not white are worried.  I am worried for them.
Some of my friends from other countries are worried.  I am worried for them.
Just for the record, I will express support for the above.  The fact that I feel I have to is perhaps the saddest part of it for me, but is also by far the least important part.  But maybe I should have done so earlier.  I have always tried to be welcoming and friendly, like most of us on this confused wee island. 
Bienvenido, Bienvenue, Willkommen, Tervetuloa.
Viva l'immigrazione! Viva Movimento! Tak ruchu! Prietenie! 
Namaste, Salaam, Solidarity.
We might all need to consider how little effect it had to keep saying “how could anyone think this is a good idea”, or writing about what a massive shower of shit the whole thing was from start to finish.
I may have been too complacent about all this; I’m regretting that now.  There is a lot of this about.
At this stage, nothing would be a surprise…
On Waking: Tuesday 28th June – Thursday 30th June
I know everyone has their own concerns, and I don’t like to judge too harshly, but….anyone complaining about needing a visa to go on holiday to Spain or not getting a good exchange rate on the Euro….have you noticed all the racist attacks?  Might be a bit more worthy of your ire.  Just a thought.  You selfish, small-minded twats.
There are still ducks in Eastville Park.  This is a relief, and a genuine source of comfort.
How come Farage is still the news favourite rent-a-gob?  Surely one of the few positives of the result is that his raison d’etre has been and gone and he can now, to use a popular phrase “fuck off back where he came from”?
Also, people (in the media) looking to Farage and Johnson for answers is proof that no one knows what the fuck is going on.  These dudes are, thankfully, in charge of FUCK ALL.  One is a former mayor, the other couldn’t get elected as an MP.  Both are reckless charlatans whose rise to fame is a cautionary tale.
Prejudices are like opinions: everyone’s got some.  And they feed into each other, more than most of us care to admit.
The sincere and fervent wish for Johnson, Gove, Farage, IDS and all them to have very short lives of excruciating pain, writhing miserably in front of their loved ones, and a baying crowd, makes me realise how easy it is to give in to the dark side, and that we are all susceptible to this, however we vote, however much we might love/claim to love humanity.
The only solution to this gloom might be to close the curtains and listen to In The Aeroplane Over The Sea again.  And then again.  It remains one of the best albums ever.
Europe is preparing to tear itself apart.  Britain, for some reason, looks like it might want to do the same.  The government is doing it, with some justification: losing a major referendum vote to their own supporters, and generally having no appetite to face up to the consequences, and the fact that this whole mess is a result of their petty squabbles.  Labour, because they are Labour, want to also tear apart, from the top down. 
The Parliamentary Labour Party, in fact, might be the most wretched, self-hating bunch of losers on this increasingly divided island.  They are so terrified of winning an election with a popular mandate to do the things they exist to do that they will hit the self-destruct button instead.  Because since 1994 they have been convinced that anything other than a tabloid-approved corporatist agenda led by a smug careerist is “unelectable”.  Their belief in this idea is unshakeable, even in the face of seismic shifts in the political landscape and a leader who is actually popular with party members.  (“Unelectable” is a euphemism for “any kind of effective challenge to neoliberalism and/or corporate dominance”.  “Credible”, their second-favourite buzzword, means a political leader whose agenda is set by the City of London, untroubled by what anyone else wants/thinks/needs.)
The Parliamentary Labour Party is like the England football team: rabbits in headlights who cannot cope with pressure, who seem fated to repeat the same old soap opera until the end of time, unsure of what they want or how to get it.  Every time they lose, there follows a long period of soul-searching which leads them back to the start of the whole sorry process.  Even their (small) victories are pyrrhic.  Even when they are popular and well-supported, they fail.   Even when they have good leadership, they fail.  Even when they have everything laid before them on a silver plate, they fail.   They are well-rewarded, but no one seems to understand that that doesn’t make them any better at their jobs, or make those jobs matter more or less.  They are consistently told that they should be doing better by a commentariat that has a vested interest in them not doing any better.  They are constantly talking about understanding the criticism and the anger at them and knowing they’re not doing well enough and then doing everything exactly the same as always and wondering why it doesn’t produce a different result. 
They usually beat themselves without even giving anyone else a chance.
If there is anyone reading this who voted for a “left exit”, you need to know such a thing doesn’t exist, and never has, and that believing in it shows a level of delusion many of us can’t relate to.  Which presumably even other Leave voters can’t relate to.  You must be feeling even more wretched, lonely and scared than the rest of us.  
If there is anyone reading this who felt that anything supported by 95% of the political and business class was worth opposing….well, I have considerable sympathy for the idea.  It makes sense.  In a lot of cases.  But maybe not in every case ever.
The EU, despite being a bastion of “free trade” (neoliberalism) and all the associated anti-democracy, also offers democratic opportunities to oppose those kinds of policies.  Politics is complex, parliaments are complex, large institutions are complex, people are complex.  Easily forgotten but worth bearing in mind.
Not many things will turn people against you quicker than snobbery; maybe some working class people voted Leave because the government/big business asked them to vote Remain.  I can’t fault that logic, even if I don’t like the outcome.  Maybe some people voted Leave because they really think “immigrants are to blame” for whatever is going wrong for them.  Either way, rhetoric about “chavs” or older people who have “fucked us over” is as unhelpful as it is unpleasant. 
If you are against the divisive campaigns of this referendum, maybe try being less divisive. 
Maybe voting for something that will cause economic chaos wouldn’t bother you if your whole life had been grinding poverty through a period of growth and low inflation with the news telling you how great things were.  With that being of no discernible benefit to you.  And then things went horribly wrong and you were the first to suffer from it, despite having no say in it and never experiencing the prosperity that the country had apparently enjoyed.  Maybe then you wouldn’t give a fuck if billions were wiped off the stock exchange.  Because it’s not your billions, is it? 
I understand the anger of some who voted differently to me, and I understand the anger at those who voted differently to me.  And I think neither is helpful, particularly if it’s blind rage that goes nowhere, is suppressed or misunderstood.  One reason I have waited all week to say anything about this in a public forum is because I know people are hurting and don’t want to try to belittle that.
(Also because almost no one gives a fuck what I think, but that’s a different story.)
It’s possible that the anger could be well-directed and have some positive outcomes.  Even if not, our anger is entirely explicable.
It’s time to get together*, because the forces who want increased corporate dominance, or a divided society, or an erosion of rights, some kind of race war, and/or less democracy have all been empowered by this result – and it’s important to remember that however we vote/d, and whatever we want/ed, the vast majority of us do not want these things and will have to work together to oppose them.
*(No, I don’t really have a strategic plan for this.  Sorry.)
On Waking: Friday 1st July
Feel alright today.  Not good, exactly, but….normal, sort of?
The world is less certain, but most things carry on much the same as they have been for some time…at least for now.  Your teenage children still think you are the most embarrassing person on the planet, psytrance is still shit, the England football team are still shit at big tournaments, Irish football fans are still a great laugh, The Day Today is still the best thing that’s ever been on TV, drinking can still make you hilarious until it makes you boring until it makes you horrible until it makes you hungover….but yeah, things might be really shit for a while.
The dust is settling and I still think that in some ways we are all worse off than we were.  But there are also opportunities in crisis.
EVERYTHING MATTERS.  Everything We Do.  I have always believed this, and it seems that events have proved me right, in the worst way.  Careful what you wish for innit.  Still, to me it’s always been a positive belief in the connections between us, not a fear that we will use those connections to hurt and dominate each other.  This is, in itself, completely up to us and hopefully proves the point rather neatly.
A friend posted something on facebook that I keep thinking about:
“A very drunk stranger bought my German girlfriend and I a bottle of prosecco because he didn’t want us to feel unwelcome in this country.  Maybe we will all be ok.  I hope.” 
A beacon of boozy light in darkening skies.
I hope too, friends.
Please, let’s not just scream and fall apart.

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