I know my kids have no filter when it comes to conversations. Our topics at dinner are often of their making and Frank and I are about choking some of the time. They are opinionated but their arguments are rational and backed up with evidence and strong feelings.
My niece and nephew came over with my sister the other night and, apparently, her two youngest are the same.
We all ended up chatting together and, by the gods, watch out for this generation. They are nobody’s fools and I welcome their vision and passion.
The song at the end is particularly for my Anna who just loves Marina and relates so much to her songs and themes. This is my favourite of Marina’s.
Ears inside the ceiling hear our anguish, hear our pleading
Eyes that are the windows see our shame
Space we think is fine with privacy entwined
Is a park of public traffic where we’re blamed
Monotonous tones of grey tell us what to press and say
While the minutes of a phone call turn to hours
Our data, so unique, while we type or save or speak
Is for sale to highest bidder for its power
Gaslight is fixed on high, set to boiling, we comply
While we go about the daily tasks and grind
Bit players in a scene, merely cogs in their machine
Insignificant in the roles we’ve been assigned
Trapped in ’84, not a novel anymore
Animal Farm is caging us with rats
Poverty and fear, tools of despots far and near
Ermine-clad ambitious think we’re prats
Too late for us, it seems, to fulfil all of our dreams
But the young are not as dumb as some would think
They will not be forgotten though the system stinks, is rotten,
They are hovering right now upon the brink
No subject is taboo, what we fear they will pursue
‘Mum, you be Ursula. Do the thing where she takes Ariel’s voice. I’ll be Ariel. Joe, you be Flounder. You do the things he does.’
And, at the behest of a three-year-old, her brother and I complied.
My sister and I used to play games like that, only we called it, ‘let’s say’.
‘Let’s say that that bit of the room is your house and this bit over here is mine. I’ll come and visit you.’
And no one had to suggest that we spoke differently. We just did.
‘Let’s say I’m a fairy and you’re a wee girl that discovers me and we become friends.’
And no one doubted that the fairy could fly or, indeed, that she could bestow the gift of flight on her new-found friend. It was a given.
When someone comes up with an idea that sounds as if it might be fun we tend to fall in with it. Suspension of disbelief is a kid’s playbook.
Watch kids play. Or, rather, listen to them. They are oblivious to observers, immerse themselves in their fantasy world and adopt accents and mannerisms, to enhance the game, without any sense of embarrassment. If they notice you watching, they either tell you to go away or carry on regardless.
Kids are amazing.
They carry all the potential of their lives, or any other life they choose to imagine, as easily as adults carry debilitating self-consciousness. We change at some point, or most of us do, to become less free in our play. Play becomes, for adults, either a hidden thing or manifests as a talent for acting or sports. We tend not to be as comfortable as children in the suspension of disbelief.
Except, perhaps, when we’re fantasising about winning the lottery or what it would be like to live in far-flung places or how life would be, if only, if only. ‘Let’s say we win the lottery, darling, what would you want to do?’
Perhaps we honour children in their unique capability to be all that we would wish. Perhaps we watch them and pity them, in the knowledge that their fantasy lives will prove to be just that. Adults tend to become jaded with life and, as if in resigned hopelessness, we let the kids, as a kindness, enjoy the world of imagination for the time that they may.
Santa gets to come every year, no questions asked, or, at least, are evaded until inevitable truth is revealed in some manner that always and forever is remembered. How old were you when you ‘discovered’ that Santa wasn’t who you thought he was? Bet you know. What about the tooth fairy? Fairies, per se?
How old were you when you realised that your parents did not have an infinite supply of money? How old, when you first had to do without something that you needed? Not wanted. Needed. If you were fortunate, money and need were supplied as required and your childhood belief of abundance remained intact for a long while. Perhaps you’ve never known what it is to go without. Lucky you.
For most of us, I would suspect, we know alright. We know that we have to work to earn the money to buy the things that we need. And, if we have the health and opportunities to do so, we get on with it. Lucky us.
It is becoming increasingly obvious that not all children or adults have either the means or resources to fend for themselves. There is a growing consensus that that’s just tough shit because those people probably brought that on themselves. At least, that seems to be the consensus among the Tory party. And, perhaps, large swathes of the public.
When did we get to be so heartless? When did we lose our empathy? Or even sympathy? Why do we not care that children go hungry? Here, there, everywhere. How is it possible, that on our doorsteps, families live without the security of a home, heating, food, basics?
Perhaps the government is playing games with the populace?
‘You be the poor people, right? We’ll be the rich overlords and we’ll do that thing that rich overlords do while you be all miserable and cry for mercy. Got that? Let’s say your kids are hungry, you beg for food and we’ll tell you that that is your responsibility. Let’s say you say that you have no work and no means of earning money to buy essentials and we say, is that our problem?
‘Let’s say you say, yes, actually, it is. You are supposed to make sure the economy functions for the benefit of the people you’re meant to serve. And we say, oh. Not part of the game.’
Let’s say that those who choose politics for self-interest have never really grown up. Let’s say that they are living in a fantasy world where the games they play suspend the reality of life on the ground.
Let’s say that we say, enough! Let’s say that we say, let’s find a better way. Let’s make believe that it is possible to do things in a different way, to make decisions that serve all the people rather than select people.
Our politicians seem to have forgotten that the word ‘politics’ derives from the Greek word for ‘people’ – polis.
It’s time the polis had a word with the Tories at Westminster and informed them of their right to remain silent but that their silence, in the face of mounting evidence, will be used to condemn them by every parent and child who too soon discovered that Santa doesn’t always come.
Anyone who wishes to cite irresponsible parenting as the source of family deprivation needs to look at the wider picture and the irresponsible governance that has allowed people to sink into an abyss of despair and hopelessness. Not without reason does mental health often focus on the hardships of life and coping.
No one really wants to depend on the government for handouts. Handouts have become synonymous with the failure of citizens as opposed to governance. We all should be able to depend on the government for policies that enable citizens.
Playing ‘you be, do, be, do’ is not service to the electorate nor society, at large. At best, it is infantile and, at worst, malicious.
Let’s say, we say, no, to more Tory incompetence, heartlessness, nepotism and greed.
Let’s say, we say, yes, to being a society that cares for all.
Let’s say, we say, yes, to compassion and mercy.
Let’s say, we say, yes, to a style of governance and policies that embrace society rather than fragment it.
Let’s say, we say, yes, to being humans of wonder and possibility.
Let’s, at least, imagine the possibilities.
We owe it to every child, including the vaguely remembered one within, to do and be whatever their needs require.
Tonight, my own MP made a statement about breaking Covid isolation rules. She apologised and owned her own stupidity. No, it does not excuse what she has done. It was, in her own words, ‘no excuse’ for her actions. Actions, compounded by further ‘stupidity, when she then travelled home, by train, knowing she was Covid positive.
We hold our elected representatives to a higher accountability than we hold ourselves. We always do. That’s why every representative of a political party, or any public figure, will have any and every piece of dirty washing hung out to dry as soon as it becomes available. For the most part. If the narrative suits.
Whether that be extra-marital affairs or financial irregularities or something that was said in or out of context. We expect better. We deserve better.
But, do you know what? They’re human. Not one single one of us could put our hand on our heart and declare that we would like our dirty washing exposed for all to comment upon.
And that’s one of the reasons why so few people – ordinary people – will ever become involved in politics. Or do anything that brings them to public notice. Most of us – if not all – could ever claim to be saints.
Am I excusing what @MargaretFerrier did? No, absolutely not. She was wrong. She knows it. We know it. And blood is being bayed for.
I want to speak of what I know of Margaret Ferrier. I have worked closely with her in campaigns and listened to her in meetings, discussed politics with her and I can tell you, hand on heart, I, personally, know of no other person who is so dedicated and hard-working in pursuit of a cause. For her, the cause is being a voice. A voice for the people she represents.
And I can almost hear her, rationalising to herself…’I feel fine. I’ll keep my distance. I have to do my job. I have to be where I’m meant to be. It’ll be fine.’
We’ve all be done the same, in other circumstances. Gone into work when we should have been at home. Smitten people with colds and flu because our presence was expected. Yes, Covid is no ordinary flu. Margaret knows that. We know that. But there is an invidious pressure, built into us, as the working task force, that we’ll be fine, that we need to do what is expected of us, be where we have to be. We call it being responsible. And, sometimes, as in this case, we’re wrong. Never done that? I know I have. But, usually, it turns out fine.
This time, it was not fine. It may never be fine for Margaret again. Both politically and personally. How does anyone come back from what, for many, is a betrayal of confidence?
Time and time again, over the course of the last few years – probably, most noticeably from 2006 and the recession that saw all of us suffer – some, certainly, more than others. Some, with their lives. Some, like the banks, suffered that bit less. But we helped them through it, didn’t we? Took one on the nose for capitalism. We stiffened our upper lip and got on with life as best as we could while foodbanks thrived and DWP claimants died.
We accepted suffering like a bad case of the flu and accepted policies, to save the economy, while those responsible did not. While those, in other countries, took a different course of action and did not penalise their citizens for the sins of corporate decisions.
While policies were implemented that traduced humanity, implemented by a Tory Government that Margaret Ferrier has fought against with every breath, on every doorstep.
It makes me sick to see the joy that people have in what may be the downfall of someone who cares.
She was wrong.
The wrongs that have been perpetuated by successive Tory Governments are wrong. Who decrees the actions that are more wrong?
The answer lies in who perceives and how things are perceived.
Where is the media when it comes to declaring the wrongness of hardship and deaths through sanctions, of regulations and laws broken by the very people who create them? Where is the baying for blood of the worst UK Government since Thatcher? How is it even possible that I can declare, having lived through the Thatcher years, that this UK Government is worse?
How is it even possible that the hypocrisy of the Thatcher years can be outmatched? How is it possible that the media – with notable exceptions – does not hound the living daylights out of the atrocities and law-breaking that have come to light via connections with Trump, Cambridge Analytica, Dark Money, Bannon, DUP bribes? Jeez, my mind is overflowing with anger at the free pass the media is giving those who flout the rules of democracy.
Democracy, today, as it stands, on both sides of the Atlantic, is most likely terminal. The Tory party, in power, with backseat drivers, is ensuring its death here while the USA fights to save what is left of its soul.
Margaret Ferrier was determined to fight that. She thought her voice in Westminster was pivotal. Perhaps that is a sin of vanity or a narcissistic belief that, without her voice, something will not be said that needs saying.
I, honestly, do not know. Is Margaret narcissistic? Is Margaret vain? I don’t know. Maybe. Evidence may suggest this to some. I can only speak of what I know, for I am no psychologist, although we all seem to proclaim knowledge of subjects we are not experts in.
I’ll mouth off about this and that. Bet you do too. We all do. We have demeaned the experts. We have declared that experts, in their chosen field, are somehow not to be listened to. Not to be believed. We have entered the Twilight Zone and nothing seems to be what it should be. And everyone is an expert on everything for five minutes. Everyone is shouting their mouths off about subjects that they have little or no knowledge of. And fewer of credentials.
We reap what we sow.
The UK is currently reaping what it has sown.
The UK, as it stands, is dead.
Dead. Dead. Dead.
May God have mercy on its soul.
I guarantee you, however, that there is no joy to be had in what may be the demise of Margater Ferrier’s political or personal endeavours. The cause of Independence for Scotland does not rest with the SNP or, indeed, any one representative or member. The cause of independence rests with the people of Scotland.
Bay for blood, whether you be anti or pro. Do not rejoice. The cause is not dead.
Unlike any belief in democracy currently existing in the UK.
That is deceased. It is the proverbial, dead parrot. Not coming back to life, no matter how any may sell it. Dead.
Margaret, you were wrong. Margaret, I may very well be expelled from the SNP for writing this. So be it.
The SNP is, for me, a vehicle to the rights and sovereignty of the people of Scotland.
Independence is imminent if we declare it so. And I, for one, declare it so.
Margaret, you were so foolish. But….
I think I know you well enough to know why you thought you’d somehow be okay and that, like myself, not so long ago, it would turn out to be a false positive and it was more important that you be where you thought you should be.
I would never have chosen to be in your shoes. I would never have had the confidence and temerity to speak up for and out for the people you represent in the way you do. I would never stand for election. I would never be the voice of a local community in such an outstanding way. It’s just not my personality. But you, Margaret, you have served us so well. You have been the voice we needed.
The whip has been removed from you. And, part of me, thinks, rightly so. We must uphold the standards we expect of others.
Another part of me, a massive part of me, thinks thank God that isn’t me.
If there is anyone who wishes to be in your shoes, right now, I declare them liars
You, Margaret, however, are no liar. You were wrong. But you declared it so. I hope, with all my heart, that no one suffers as a result of your actions. That, from what I know of you, would cause you untold grief.
Right now, you’re suffering. Wondering, oh my God, what have I done? Not just to yourself and your political career. But to anyone who may have come into contact with you, that may, as a result, contract this gawd-awful virus. To the party that you represent. To the people who look to you for a way forward. A better way.
I’m no priest but your penance must surely be how you are currently feeling and thinking about your own inexcusable actions.
Oh, that there were so many in politics who had your conscience.
Rail here, if you wish, I’m not listening. I’ll say it as I see it.
I may soon not be a member if what I have said offends, in some way.
But I cannot stand back and see someone so persecuted who, although being wrong and acknowledging it, will become the sacrificial lamb that none of us would wish to be.
We get what we vote for and I’m still glad I voted for you. The voice of a community. Someone who erred. Just like all of us. Just like so many other in positions of authority. You were wrong. Others have been wrong. Some have been answerable. Some, more prominent than yourself, remain, astonishingly, unanswerable. Has it ever been otherwise?
Margaret, again, for those here who may question my motives, I declare you were wrong in what you did. But I also declare my support of you as an outstanding voice for those you represent. Always there. Always active. Always willing to listen and act. Always going above and beyond what anyone could reasonably expect, both in effort and time dedicated to serving.
You have no idea how much I wish that you had not made the choices you made.
I recognise, as anyone who is honest must, that I make mistakes every single day. The consequences of mine rarely see the light of day because I am a coward when it comes to public exposure.
As wrong as you were, Margaret, I take my hat off to your willingness to be a voice and to your willingness to accept the consequences of your actions.
Whatever may, ultimately, result as a final consequence of your choices, I know that I, as one of those you represent, will be glad of the role you have played in seeing Scotland move forward as a country that recognises and works towards bettering ourselves and all our fellow citizens.
In the words of Michelle Obama ‘When they go low, we go high’.
Raise the cause by doing the right thing, as you have always been known to do. And rejoice, Margaret, that a cause does not die because of the actions of one.
The party, as always, as most parties, with notable, evident exceptions, hold representatives and delegates to a higher standard than the general public.
As a member of the Branch you represent, I am willing to be expelled for speaking out. But, I cannot stand by and watch you be held accountable to a higher standard than we hold ourselves.
I have broken rules and regulations, Covid notwithstanding, and will do so again because, sometimes, we do what we think we are expected to do, what we are obliged to do, even while better judgement tells us it is wrong.
‘Let he who is without sin, cast the first stone’.
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.