There will be no clichés. No morning light, no birds singing, no greening of the year. This is no bildungsroman. We learn nothing. We will repeat the same mistakes because we have the same hopes and the same fears and we continue to lack the facility to contend. We are compromised by ourselves and others but prefer not to think about it. We will not accept ourselves and our complicity. We accept feeling thwarted, but deny the true challenge. The roles of hunter and hunted are vainglorious, but we never let them go. We enjoy stasis. It is our alibi.
I do feel unhappy, yes, although it shouldn’t be unexpected.
Maybe the darker mornings. And television, maybe.
Hell, and it’s not even over yet, there’s next week. Tis the season.
Well they’re setting us back years. The general polemic across all of them just appals me. I don’t know what’s to be done.
Don’t start me. It’s not opting out. I’m a full participating citizen. I couldn’t escape them if I wanted to. And I do want to.
I haven’t done for years. Is it any wonder? You’ve seen them. They’re all the same.
Out of the city they ran, with great speed and intent, to where the harsh rule of the little Caesars could not shackle them; where usurious debts were not counted and where all trading was banned. Rejoicing, they joined hands and soon found themselves at the foot of a sacred mountain. Climbing it, they, in their multitude, looked down upon their patrician rulers and vowed to forbid their merciless powers. Councils sat, tribunes were created, laws were passed and a temple of concord was built. The city was empty. Money was useless. The gentry became redundant. The plebs were victorious.
Even as the children danced and eyes were filled with tears of joy; even as hearts swelled with pride; even as the crowds clapped and cheered; even as the plaudits flowed; even as the hyperbole swelled and the superlatives thundered and the fireworks lit up the sky; even as a nation rejoiced; even as the world watched: they were busy sneering; burying their hands in their pockets; turning a blind eye; out on a limb, not having the stomach; cutting back staff; pulling away beds; dismantling the letters N, H and S, plunging the needy into a long dark night.
“If in doubt… leave it out. That’s what they say. They mean, if in doubt… abandon. Resist. Take your leave. Disengage. Only fight the battles you can win. History only remembers a winner. These are the maxims of success. It’s a money, time, success thing – a ratio of sorts. If there was a policy of abandonment, rather than a policy of struggle, then the electorate would not see the party as struggling. A small success is better than a great failure. There’s nothing immoral about being modest. So let us abandon health, education, welfare, Europe, as we intended abandoning Liverpool.”
Eschewing the flamboyant (critics said “grotesque and overindulgent”) designs of the previous decade, the new couturier at the fashion house picked up his scissors and set to work. He had chosen a heavy material and was mulling over words: sackcloth? Too pious. Workwear? Blandly utilitarian. He sighed and snipped – and snipped until a small, minimalist dress was made. In at the waist (tight at the belt) and accentuating the bust, he thought. But not one of his models would wear it. All they saw was snippets of cloth lying across the floor – and the dress, a tiny, useless remnant of fabric.
There is a way to construct a speech – to put words together, to make people smile or clap or think you’ve said something new or important. You get taught it at management seminars. You just use the same words everyone uses. Swap them around a bit. Don’t worry. Look confident. Don’t take risks. It’s smoke and mirrors. The truth is a fuzzy outline, bent out of shape. Left becomes right.
Geoff Oborne laughed as he switched channels from the news to a nature programme on the courting rituals of Vipera berus, the common European viper. Now there was a creature!