I’m closing comments for this post because I’m not sure I can be responsible for what I might say in response to recent actions by the UK Government. This kind of sums up where I’m at. Where Scotland is at. Where Wales is at. Where Northern Ireland is at. This is not a union. This is a takeover. An undermining of the principles of devolution and a power grab that will affect all constituent countries of the UK as well as every region. Power will be centralised, is already being centralised, to a cabal. Britain falls. By its own hand.
Rules, Britannia, Britannia waives the rules!
Fucks itself for pride and greed, thinks all are fools
World a-watching as Britain breathes its last
Death throes by its own right hand, draws final gasp
Rules, Britannia, Britannia waives the rules
Doughballs, flaccid phalluses, governance by tools
Plotting, planning, Bozo’s pals await
Watching, waiting vultures to consume the state
Rules, Britannia! Britannia waives the rules
Bye, NHS and human rights, while Tories drool
Right-wing ravers, deregulated power
Shall they have their moment, shall this be their hour
Rules, Britannia! Britannia waives the rules
One per cent of human race, but thinks it’s cool
An island, a landmass, believes it’s no small drink
Now, I haven’t seen the movie that’s previewed below but I’ve read about it and I love the idea of some wee guys from Scotland refusing to work on planes that would be instrumental in the suppression of a people. The title of the movie is ‘Nae Pasaran’.
And those guys made the difference by not doing their job. Queer, eh?
I tend to go searching for information when I don’t know what something’s about. So, when I first heard of this film – a couple of years ago – I had to do some research. And you all know how to read so https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nae_Pasaran.
East Kilbride is just up the road from me. I go shopping there. There’s a fab, country hotel where me and my best friend have spa breaks. It’s one of the so-called new towns, created post-war, and has successfully grown to be a thriving commercial and residential community. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/East_Kilbride
I’m in the Cambuslang bit that’s mentioned. Once the largest mining village in Scotland, according to my late father. And who am I to argue with him now that he’s long gone or https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cambuslang? And I’ve no intention of altering info on Wiki.
After reading about what the workers, at the Rolls Royce factory, had done to help the people of Chile and thwart the efforts of Pinochet, I felt all warm and proud that ordinary working men had played a significant part in altering the course of history.
If they could do it just by refusing to work on the planes, then why couldn’t we? What was to stop us – ordinary punters – from doing something similar when we encountered injustice?
For the most part, most of us tend to live quite ordinary lives. We rise and shine (sometimes not so much with the shining) and head about our daily responsibilities and, if we’re lucky, we get to relax and commend ourselves on another day well lived. We hope.
We fend for those we love; we feed and clothe them; we help educate them and form their characters. We’re busy. Busy loving and tending.
Then an opportunity comes along that we’re not looking for. Something we could do that might benefit someone else. Do we take it? Do we fit another thing into our busy lives? We’ve all been there. Sometimes we do it. What did it cost us, after all? A few minutes? A few pounds? Some hugs and a bit of extra love for someone not directly attached to our families?
Sometimes, we don’t.
And it’s the don’t part that bothers me. Or maybe it’s the don’t part that could make all the difference.
Over the period of time that we’ve been living this different life that the pandemic has forced on us, I guess a lot of people have had time to think about what constitutes a typical day. And how much of our time is taken up with repetition and grind.
We’ve all heard and read the urgings to return to work and get the wheels of the economy back on track. And, interestingly, those shouting loudest are those least likely to have to put themselves into any potential risk situation. But we do it anyway. What choice do we have? We have to eat, don’t we? We have to pay bills, for sure.
A helluva lot of huvtaes.
And, in the midst of it all, the world appears to be doing somersaults while we navigate the risks of the huvtaes.
In the space of a very short time, we’ve seen and read incredible things. The Black Lives Matter protests. The knock-on effects around the world. The fight for justice. I don’t know about elsewhere, but Scotland is having an ongoing argument that’s turning a bit nasty, at times, about gender recognition and the implications of it. The fight for equality.
Meanwhile, there are ‘leaders’ spouting forth on multiple subjects that they are not qualified to speak on while they ignore the advice from experts because, you know, what do experts know? The incessant lies from these so-called leaders have also given rise to a growing awareness of how little they are qualified for their roles and how much the decisions they take are based, not on the good of the people they profess to govern, but on the marketplace that so many of them are heavily involved in.
I, for one, am sick of being a cog in the machine. Fucking sick of it.
I’ve loved my job. I’ve done it, to the best of my ability, for over thirty years and, in the not too distant future, I’ll retire from it. I won’t entirely give up the role. I’ll do supply work when needed and I know I’ll miss it for so many reasons.
The main reason I’ll miss it though is because I’ve always worked. Since I was 13. Yes, 13. I had a job in a café when I was 13. Fifty pence an hour was what I earned. That’s about 25 cents, I think. Although exchange rates are a volatile business, at the best of times, so who knows?
Let me list the places I have worked.
After the café, I had a job in a small grocery shop, a stint in Woolworths – loved that job! – a pub-come-function suite that catered for special occasions. I wasn’t even legal to do so at the time, being under 18, but the owner didn’t ask and I never thought about it. My birthday was only a few months anyway, so who cares, eh?
I worked in a variety of other pubs, one I even worked in twice after I packed it in and returned a few months later. In between times, I had gone to work in a disco on a Greek island where I wasn’t paid if no customers came in. That happened one night. But my drinks were free so I figure I won that night. Dance floor to myself too. The moves! Helluva hangover the next morning though.
During my three years at college I spent each summer working on the same Greek island. I did some chambermaiding. Euch! Do you know what they did with used toilet paper back then? Those bins were not pleasant to empty. But, hey, I was living the dream. After I was robbed, by a fellow Scot – bastard – I also worked, during the day, in a restaurant, making souvlaki and Greek salads, peeling spuds and chipping them to later serve them to holidaymakers at night. Didn’t see so much sun at that point. Or people. Or places. Not quite living the dream.
I worked in a biscuit factory on the outskirts of Athens where, I, unfortunately, gummed up one of the conveyor belts with a tea towel. The biscuits were hot! Only stopped production briefly, so that was okay. Turned out I was going too fast. At least, that was what my developing Greek picked up. ‘Look at that wee Scots lassie go!’ would be the rough translation.
When I graduated college. I applied for a job in Athens and taught 5-18 year olds how to speak English. Most of them were lovely. Some of them were cheeky bastards. Same as here. The joy of not letting on that I could now understand what they were saying then answering them in Greek was precious. Works in Scottish schools too. Swearing in Greek is the best. Facing the board, obviously. I’m not stupid.
When my contract was up there, and while I was trying to decide whether or not to stay on, I had to find other work.
I looked after a Doberman Pinscher that mauled me. He was a bastard too. The woman that employed me was a bitch. American she was. Worked for Citibank. It was a live-in job and I had to shop to a budget – producing receipts, of course – cook and clean while, in between, walking the beast from hell. And sewing the trousers of random strangers it attacked on the beach.
I gave it three weeks. Enough time to gather money to pay my rent and utilities. Then I worked in a bar in Athens. I loved that job too. The craic was great. That was where I first heard Men At Work – ‘Do You Come From A Land Down Under?’ Gawd, I heard it recently and I was cast back in time in seconds.
Umm, what else?
Oh yeah. When I came back home, I started training to be a nurse because there were no teaching jobs to be had – one of the reasons I had gone to teach in Athens, in the first place. I went to college and did my first stint on a medical ward. The most tiring job I’ve ever had in my life. Used to fall asleep with my clothes on as soon as I got home.
Then I was offered a teaching job. Temporary one. What to do? I wanted to keep nursing but, word had it, that there was a shortage of nursing jobs upon graduation and I didn’t want that again. I took advice. ‘Get your foot in the door and there will be other teaching jobs’. So, I did.
Two years of temporary placements, between two separate schools, before being offered my first permanent teaching job. That was how they did it back then. Very different now. Very different.
I spent two years in that job, applied for a transfer the year I was getting married – 1987. Twenty-six and multiple jobs under my belt. And that’s without counting random waitressing jobs. I seem to remember working a restaurant shift at the greyhound racing one night. Transfers don’t happen now. Pity that. It was a great way of, essentially, moving between departments. Now, it’s all, annual interviews and promissory contracts, if successful, with the process repeated annually. Not interested.
Spent 14 years in that school. By the end, it felt a bit like I should get time off for good behaviour. I moved to another school and did only a year there because I was pregnant with my sixth child.
I figured this would be my last baby and I wanted to spend as much time as possible with her.
But, mainly, and I cannot stress this enough, I was heartbroken and couldn’t face returning. In my class, in that school, was a boy whose mother was a drug addict and prostitute. His father was in prison. He begged for food, with his two-year-old sister in tow, round the doors of the local area. I wanted to take him home. My husband thought I’d lost it. I had.
This kid was the original Harry Potter, at least in terms of where he slept. The first book had just come out and one of the kids had brought it to school and asked me to read it to the class. When I discovered that HP slept under the stairs and that, laterally, that’s where wee J was sleeping, at his aunt’s house, I was undone.
When no one appeared for him at a social work meeting that I had only found out about that day, I was finished. My mum was minding my kids while I was waiting for anyone – anyone – to show some interest in this one. Mobile phones weren’t a thing back then and the meeting started straight after school. I left my kids and my mum not knowing where the hell I was while I hoped for someone to show an interest in my wee waif.
He eventually went in to care which was probably for the best.
Three years later, after my then youngest started nursery, I applied to do supply work and figured occasional days would do. The Education Office had other ideas and asked me to go full-time doing what is called Area Cover. This involves going to whatever school, in a given area, needs cover, for whatever period of time necessary.
I’m still doing that thirteen years later.
Love it. The variety! The experience. The number of schools! I’ve lost count.
So, yeah, I think I’ve worked hard.
I think I’m due retirement.
I think that ‘leaders’ who cry, ‘Get back to work!’ know shit about the real world.
And I really think that, having had no experience of the real world, they should be banned from holding office until they know what the real world involves.
Experience and learning from it. Education and learning from it.
Not a background in how to make money from others’ efforts and a degree in how best to do that.
During lockdown, we haven’t stopped working. Technology is a wonderful thing. At times.
What it’s not so good for is giving these no-marks a platform to air their agendas.
Now, I’ve waffled on for ages here. Jeez, you should know me by now.
What I started to say – a long time ago – was that those guys in the factory in East Kilbride were guys just doing their jobs and they made a difference. By not doing them, as it turned out.
We have no idea of the impact we have on the lives of others and all we can do is do our best in whatever circumstances we find ourselves.
I have absolutely no interest in politics other than the fact that everything politicians do and say affects my life and the lives of those around us. Those we love.
Lockdown has been an education. An eye-opener. Things, already previously thought about, have crystallized.
The world is awaking to a new reality. And it’s not over yet. What do we do with that? What will be our part in the changing thoughts and feelings of those of us who have too long felt and recognised systemic injustices and party political manoeuvrings that exist to serve only those who may benefit from policies designed to keep us in our place?
Do we down tools like those Rolls Royce workers? Make a difference in the simple acts? The effective acts? Or do we do as we are told and suck it up?
I’m coming up on sixty. I’ve no idea how that happened. Really. I was 18 a wee while ago. I was full of hopes and dreams and doing whatever I could do live the dreams.
I’m still dreaming. Dreaming of what I can do after I retire.
For sure, hubs and I will explore more of this beautiful country we call home. For sure, we’ll be here, god willing, to continue to do what we can for the seven children we’ve been blessed with. Oh yeah, Anna appeared when I was 46. In between shifts.
Because life goes on. It goes on and on. And we have an impact on it. We do. Don’t let anyone tell you differently.
We can down tools.
I think an international strike may be in order.
A strike that says, ‘Fuck off! We’re not doing all this for you! We’re living for our families, for our neighbours, for our communities, for future generations, for all people – creed, colour, gender and religions, not an issue. We’re living. We’re dreaming. We’re here. And, so long as we’re the ones keeping the wheels of industry oiled, we demand better! We are not cogs in your machine to make you richer and more powerful. You are charlatans and thieves. You are liars and corrupt. You are what we are fighting against. Not each other. You!’
And then we change how the world works. We make it better. Fairer. Happier.
We look at outdated systems of governance. We redefine governance and we ensure that representation means just that. People. Real people. Experts. Ordinary folk. Workers. United.
We are one.
Nae fuckin’ pasaran tae would be fascists and dictators!
P.S. I started writing this tome because I read a post on Cole’s page about that arsehat in the US and a guy who, through personal experience, knows a cult when he sees one. We really need to be bigger and better than cultists and followers of whatever eejit happens to hold the reins of power because, as sure as fuck, very few of them are doing whatever they profess to do for us.
We can do anything we put our minds and backs to.
P.P.S. I went back to Youtube to check out the name of the band and noticed this comment underneath. The only comment.
My daughter lent me a book a year or so ago. I started it then put it down. It lay. She asked about its return and I said, ‘Oh, but I haven’t read it yet. Can I hang onto it a bit longer?’
She queried why I hadn’t finished it, given how quickly I can normally go through a book. It was hard to explain.
From what I had already read of it, I was going to enjoy it. It was going to be enlightening. She had already assured me of the fact that it had opened her eyes to a better understanding of the world. So, why the delay on my part?
Maybe I thought it was going to be heavy-going and I wasn’t in the mood for that.
Maybe I was already in the middle of another book or there was one enticing me more.
Maybe I was reading so many tweets and links and becoming lost in the maze of verification of links that I just didn’t have the time or inclination to delve into something that needed concentration and commitment to read.
And it certainly wasn’t going to be a book to become lost in just before sleeping, when you can’t put an exciting story down until you finally fall asleep with the book on your chest only to wake later, remove the book, extinguish lights and succumb to sleep.
It didn’t feel like it was that kind of book.
Then she asked me again. ‘Mum, I’d quite like to read that book again. Any chance you’ve finished it yet?’
I pleaded for a bit more time.
And began to read the book. From the beginning. So much time had elapsed since I had initially begun it that I’d lost the thread.
Lockdown seemed the ideal time to satisfy her urging to read the book so that we could discuss it.
And she was right.
It is an enlightening book. A perception-changing book.
I still have just under a hundred pages to go.
And, even now, I want to finish it then go back to the beginning to start again. To take in more of the information. To etch it into my mind and remember the history of mankind in a new way.
That, by the way, is the title of the book.
‘Sapiens. A Brief History of Mankind’, by Yuval Noah Harari.
Now, it might not sound like everyone’s cup of tea but I would urge you to invest in the book – you’ll want to keep it – and read it. Then read it again.
I am in awe at how much I did not know of the history of our own species. About how much of what I did know was half-baked or missing essential clarification.
Harari, a Doctor of History and university lecturer, has a talent for turning history into meaningful context. He uses anecdotes to enhance the information he delivers. I want to be in his class. I want him to bring history alive for me, in person, in exactly the way he does in his book. I want to ask him questions.
I want to know more.
He begins 13.5 billion years ago and brings us right up to the present. Yup, history with a bang.
The book is divided into four parts:- The Cognitive Revolution; The Agricultural revolution; The Unification of Humankind and The Scientific Revolution.
The book is further sub-divided into chapters, covering everything one could wish to know and understand about our evolution and why we believe the things we believe. He deconstructs the constructs we have created and opens our eyes to our living stories or the lies we have told ourselves to make it possible for societies to function.
He has studied and explored history and presented it in a way that delivers it to the reader in much the same way as the best teacher you’ve ever had.
Now, I can’t begin to go into all of what is covered.
Suffice to say that as soon as I have finished writing this I’ll read some more. Then I’ll put it down and think about what I’ve read, maybe phone my daughter to have a chat about it, discuss how it is so relevant for today amid all of the clamour that is asking for our attention.
And that brings me to why I decided to write about it at all.
I was checking through my emails and noticed that Beth had posted something. I read it and, as usual, thought, ‘Yup. Spot on.’
Then I got to thinking that I would love to have a chat with Beth about the book. She, like Harari, has a PhD in history, was a lecturer and thinks about the way history and constructs impact the way our world operates. Beth would expand on areas that I want to explore further.
Listening and learning from the experiences of people who are tired of asking and waiting for recognition as full members of the one and only race that exists upon this planet – the human race.
I retweeted a thread yesterday on Twitter about much the same thing. A white author, beseeching readers to educate themselves on what it means to be black in this world. Not to ignore what is going on. Not to patronise with platitudes of support but to listen and learn and, hopefully, understand.
I also retweeted this yesterday. The simple question had me close to tears. We owe it to our black brothers and sisters, our brethren of every nation, colour and creed, to answer the question. We owe it to ourselves. To our species. We owe.
White privilege exists. Do we answer the question? Do we educate ourselves and listen and learn? Do we find out why we believe the things we do? Or do we just go on as before and ignore history and the lessons it ought to teach us?
The final chapter of Harari’s book is entitled, ‘The End of Homo Sapiens’.
Now, I never peek at endings but I’m kind of filled with trepidation at how this book will finish.
There is sufficient evidence, within the book, of the impact Sapiens have had on each and every place we have explored; of our decimation of other life forms as we passed through or settled; of the exploitation, principally by perceived white superiority, of people of colour; of ethnic and religious divisions, cultivated to maintain power; of economic and social injustice within nations; of humankind losing its way, to cause me to fear the journey ahead.
There is sufficient evidence today, all over, of where the direction of travel for our race will lead us. And I don’t fancy our chances.
We need to ask the questions and take the actions that will allow for alternate ways, both in our dealings with our fellow Sapiens and the actions we take that affect our chances of survival.
You bet your bottom dollar that those in positions of power are thinking and planning for the journey ahead and investing and capitalising on human misery. That has always been the way.
It can’t be any different. Or can it?
One person at a time, one human being at a time, one Sapiens at a time, I believe it can. And I commit to doing what I can to help make it so.
By first challenging myself to listen more and learn more.
Pivotal times afford opportunities for change. We are in those times. We need to change. We need to challenge ourselves.
As one race, won’t we reset our moral compass and prepare for a new direction of travel?
On Saturday, 25th January, I’ll be heading off with my better half, to some friends in Ayr, to celebrate the annual homage to Rabbie Burns. Each of us has a part to play. This year I’ll be opening the singing and poems with a rendition of Ae Fond Kiss. Everyone will, thereafter, take turns at singing traditional Scottish songs or reciting poetry. The whisky will flow and, before we know it, even the shy folk will be clamouring to start another, with cries of, ‘Who knows this wan?’
My contribution will be this song I’ve written, about, possibly, my most favourite place on earth. I started singing the first verse last week while driving home from work then left it. Two successive 4.01a.m. rises, these last two mornings, insisted on the rest.
was becoming rather lengthy so I figured, make a post of it.
I reckon there are others who feel as I do.
Forgive me, Mark, please, for using a comment as a post. Haven’t quite mastered the art of brevity.
Hi Mark, the prodigal Scot is dipping her toes back in WP waters and you’re the first one I came across in my comments. I don’t even know if I’ll read anything else.
No, I’ll visit Beth at Colemining. You and she are two of strong connection. And that might be it.
Some of the lovely people I had met on here don’t figure in my thoughts when I’m away. That’s just life. Fleeting moments of remembrance and brief connection and we move on.
I hardly know why I’ve been away so long but your post has struck a chord.
It’s a bugger for me. Not only me. I was speaking to one of my sons recently and he was feeling emotionally and mentally drained to the point of …not depression…but similar… a hopelessness. He works with troubled young people while also studying at uni. He feels. He feels the world. It’s painful. I tried to explain what you are saying, in your post, but I don’t think I got it myself.
One of my daughters is the same. Mostly, the others of my crew practise a lot of sublimation. Or, maybe they just deal with the part of the world they have any control over and they’re better at separating the two than some of us are. Force them, and they’ll talk. They’ll give their opinions. They’ll tell you their beliefs. But, mostly, they get on with life. And I try to do the same.
But a few of us here struggle with the realities of what is happening all over and fluctuate between action and inaction, depending on how much energy we have left after dealing with life.
Empathy. The drain.
I’m struggling with the world. My own corner of it. What a mess is going on here. That’s kind of why I’ve been absent from WP. I decided to do something instead of writing and talking about it. But I’m not sure that what I’m doing is making any difference. Any more than words would.
Communication, for me, has always been key to dealing with people. Although, frankly, I don’t really relish being with people. It’s like I love humanity but I’m not so fond of it on an individual basis.
Someone once described an introvert as a person who can party hard with everyone else but needs a long time to recover. I rather liked that description. It fits who I am. I’m compelled to deal with people – kids, mostly – all day and, at the end of it, I just want to sit quietly in a corner. But I can’t, for the most part, because life demands and commands.
I began to take a more active role in politics last year, in the belief that actions speak louder than words. I still think that’s the case but those who have the time for action tend not to be holding down a full-time job and managing a household. Something always suffers. My writing has. It has become the last thing I do after everything else.
But it’s been bugging me. The same son I was speaking of earlier told me once, ‘Mum, writing’s a constant for you in your life. You always return to it.’
He gets me. The lass who feels the same also writes – in between living.
And that’s the shitty bit.
Something that constantly returns, but has to be put on hold, suffers neglect because arseholes are making a mess of doing the job they’re supposed to be doing.
I’d have been sacked for less.
And quite rightly.
They have all day, every day, to manipulate the world and I – we – are ants in the middle of it. Working till we drop.
I can’t stop seeing a bigger picture. It’s hazy. But not as hazy as I’d like it to be. All too clear, in lots of ways. And I’m bleeding energy for the state of the world.
What do I do about that, Mark?
How do I make empathy work for me? For the world? Because, right now, all it’s doing is draining me of the hope that has been as constant as the writing.
Thank god, right now, we have the September Weekend – a four-day break from work that’s a Scottish holiday. How I need it!
I had no intention of posting anything on WP. Hasn’t even figured in my mind at all in months. But, your post, Mark, speaks to me. I just don’t get it.
I don’t know how to separate what I think and feel from my energy source. When I think, I feel. When I feel, I’m exhausted.
I need a course on how not to let thinking and feeling drain me.
I need to retire, quite frankly!
But, I’m not going to do that until I see a world fit for my kids. This momma didn’t raise no cannon fodder!
Just tell me how to stop feeling everything and letting it bleed me dry.
If not, tell me a joke so’s I can laugh and move on.
And, I’m only half kidding.
I need a laugh to deal with the bull.
Thank god, I have a few comedians here who keep me smiling despite angst. Great leveller is humour. And so much truth in it too.
(There’s a slight glitch in the video but it only lasts seconds and it’s well worth hearing till the end)