a lovely, relaxed afternoon in the park

The thing is, there isn’t much to record about yesterday, now that I come to it. Don’t get me wrong: it wasn’t a bad day – apart, that is, from the fact that the left drivewheel on my wheelchair broke on my way out, so I had to be pushed everywhere for the rest of the day. It just wasn’t the bells-and-whistles sort of day I was kind of anticipating. It was a lovely, relaxed afternoon in the park, spent sipping coffee talking to friends. Matt joined us. He’s currently working on what sounds like quite a large film shoot, and it was fascinating to hear him tell us all about it (of course, you’ll understand that I can’t go into detail on here). Cricket was also being played on the pitch next to us, and it was great to bear witness to the first few balls being bowled of the season. That also enabled me to say Hi to James and my cricketing friends during their tea break. Thus, party or not, broken powerchair or not, it was still a really good afternoon. If the rest of the summer is up to that standard, I think I’m in for a good one.

an awesome afternoon ahead

I am really looking forward to this afternoon. As I mentioned a couple of days ago, Lyn has a gig in the park. It is to celebrate the launch of her new album, so it will be quite a big event. On top of that, though, Mike, who runs the cafe in the park, celebrates his birthday today; it’s also the first cricket match of the season. All in all, then, I suspect I have an awesome afternoon ahead of me. Aside from the clouds, it feels like summer is finally here. Expect a full report about it on here soon.

I refuse to be mocked by kids

Yesterday was quite a good day. I was pleased with the blog entry I wrote in the morning – the longest I’ve written for quite a while. The afternoon was spent out and about, mostly with Lyn at the cafe, where we enjoyed some delicious cake. Then, after dinner in the evening, I went to a film festival organisation meeting: preparations for September’s event are going really well, and, while I still have a few things to organise, I’m really looking forward to it.

After the meeting, though, something happened which got me down. We finished at about nine, and everyone was leaving Charlton House. Gavin and the others were heading for the White Swan for a drink. In times passed I’d have eagerly joined them, but I haven’t had a drink in almost a year and didn’t want to be tempted, so I crossed the road and started to head home.

All of a sudden, two boys on bikes started to insult me as I went past the take away. I was shocked: at the meeting I was respected; my input is valued, and I’m treated as any other member of the group. As we had left, we had been talking about my blog, with one guy saying how impressed he was with my entry yesterday. Suddenly these kids were trying to make fun of me simply for being disabled, saying things about my dribbling. They seemed to think it made them look big and hard.

The way in which I had suddenly been taken from respected member of a committee to object of mockery was too much for me to bear. I told a woman standing nearby who seemed to know these children that if she didn’t discipline them I would contact the police. She said she would, and at first I thought about hanging around to ensure she did, but it was getting late so I just sighed and continued my journey home. Frankly I would be surprised if she did anything.

This really is getting to me; it’s happening more and more. The same group of little twits think it’s fun to try to provoke and upset me. It just seems unfair – why should I have to tolerate it? I want to do something about it, but I don’t know what. Frankly, part of me wants to knock their blocks off, which I suppose is part of the problem: when I get agitated, I try to shout back, which they think is funny. That’s why they do it. I should therefore just ignore it, but I don’t see why I should have to put up with it. I’ve worked very hard to get to where I am today; to be trivialised, to be the object of mockery by some little shit who probably won’t achieve half of what I have, just infuriates me.

The referendum gave a green light to illiberal attitudes

I once wrote, some time ago now, that I believed that to be liberal is to think. While I realise that that is quite a generalisation, I stand by it. Liberalism is the realisation that there are other ways of thinking and living just as valid as one’s own; it is the acceptance and appreciation of human variety. Liberals don’t judge people simply on the basis of who they are; they try not to make assumptions or generalisations. To take such a stance requires thought: it necessitates intellectual engagement; one tries to see things from other points of view. To a liberal, for example, crime is committed not because people are bad, deviant or evil, but because they are driven to do so by their socioeconomic circumstances.

Conversely, it follows that I believe anti liberals do not think. They seem to refuse to do so. To them, only their way of life is valid, and everyone else is in the wrong.

They seem not to want to consider other perspectives. They find comfort and strength in the belief that they are right and superior, everyone else wrong and inferior. To engage with other ways of thinking would threaten that comfortable notion, so they refuse to do so. Theirs is a stance based on arrogance and ignorance.

The problem is, such attitudes are on the rise. People are refusing to think things through, rejecting the advice of experts and thinking only their viewpoint is valid. A type of thuggery is on the rise: people increasingly think they have a right to discriminate, and that intolerance should have a place in society. Of course, this was all set in motion by the referendum last year: the victory of bigots like Farage lent legitimacy to the puerile hate which had been subdued, yet which some thugs still harboured. Farage, in his attempt to make xenophobia seem reasonable and acceptable, caused such scumbags to believe that their views were valid, their arrogance was founded in real superiority, and they had a right to air their prejudices.

We are currently seeing a shocking rise in hate crime; UKIP are openly advocating a burkha ban; old prejudices are starting to become commonplace. This has arisen from certain people’s refusal to see the broader picture and engage with other points of view. That, after all, requires thought. It is far easier, for some, simply to believe a sharp-dressed man who tells them they don’t need to tolerate others, that he can make Britain great again and that we need to ‘take back control’. People accept such simplistic fantasies because they reduce everything to binaries such as ‘us and them’, ‘good and bad’ and ‘black and white’ which means they do not have to engage with the complexities and uncertainties of the world. Remaining part of Europe meant entertaining the idea that we could live happily alongside people who are different yet equal to us; in turn that means accepting we are not superior or exceptional, but just one member of a community. That is a far more subtle, less clear-cut reality some people refused to deal with.

In turn this has lead to the legitimisation of thuggery. The outists won, so people now think they have a right to see the world in the simplest terms. They now think they have a right to air their hatreds and prejudices. They think it means that they were right all along, us liberals were defeated, so they can ignore us ‘snowflakes’ and do as they please – our opinions no longer matter. I fear we are now going to see this rise and rise: the referendum last year unleashed a monster; it gave a green light to people’s most basic, simplistic, thuggish thoughts. It told every racist drunkard or xenophobic taxi driver that they were right all along, and that they didn’t have to listen to us snooty, university educated liberal elites. They dismiss the idea of being politically correct as some kind of oppressive thought control, not realising how vital it is to guaranteeing rights and equalities. Simplistic, binary nationalism won the day, and suddenly the views of those who proposed a more complex, subtle, ambiguous and colourful reality have become utterly irrelevant.

Whether this was the intended result when CaMoron first announced the referendum is uncertain, yet nonetheless it is what is happening, and I suspect it will get far worse before it gets better. People, many of whom as I wrote here were disenfranchised by the education system, take the referendum result to mean they have the green light to air their most puerile, childish prejudices. To them, the views of those who say such discrimination is a bad thing are now irrelevant; they won the referendum, and so can victimise any minority they please. They think they have been shown to be right all along, that the country somehow agrees with them, so they can now air their idiotic, reductionist views freely. It’s a very worrying, quite sickening state of affairs.

Album launch party this Saturday

Lyn is currently in the process of trying to promote her new album. As with all art these days, creating something is only half the story; the other half is getting it seen, read or listened to. To that end, L has arranged to have a launch party in the park on Saturday. Conveniently for me, that coincides with the first Mighty Eights cricket match of the season, so hopefully I’ll get to party, promote and watch cricket, all at the same time.

Seriously though, I’m really looking forward to Saturday: Lyn has worked so hard on this collection of songs, for over two years. She often works late into the night, long after I go to bed. Composition for her is a long, meticulous, painstaking process. To have that work celebrated, as it absolutely deserves to be, will be awesome. If you are anywhere near Charlton Park this Saturday afternoon, please join us. I have a feeling it will be a great afternoon.

Empire of the Tsars

I just finished watching Empire of the Tsars, a history of Romanov Russia from the BBC, and I must say it wasn’t that bad. I’ve been interested in Russian history since I was introduced to it at A-Level: it just seems so vibrant, so dramatic, so vicious and sad. It all boils down to a set of bloody-minded autocrats who, one after another, refuse to relinquish power. The Tsars themselves were bad enough, especially Nicolas II, but I can’t help thinking that what followed them – the Red Tsars was even worse. I also can’t help thinking that it is the same, even now; Russia never seems to change. Isn’t Putin a despotic autocrat, a strong man desperate to impose his will, in his own way? Poor old Russia: no matter how many revolutions it has, it never seems to change.

I could really do with news of something great right now

I just read the incredible news that Bananarama are going to reunite. How awesome…not!

I could really do with news of something great right now. The bit of news you get from time to time, which cheers you up and gives you something to look forward to, such as when I got wind that James Bond was going to be used in the 2012 olympics, or that Monty Python were doing a reunion. Such bits of news really perk me up and get me excited, giving me something cool to think about and fixate upon. It feels like ages since I had such a glimmer of hope; I think we could all do with one right now. Every day I check the Entertainment pages for something – anything – for such a nugget of news, but there hasn’t been one for quite some time. The only thing I’m mildly looking forward to these days is Star Trek Discovery, and even that’s cautiously. I want to find something I can get excited about; something which would remind me that there is still fun to be had in the world, and take my mind off politics for a while.

Brexit might be a moot point by tomorrow morning

I suspect all this recent sound and fury might soon be moot. Today, our eyes should be on our southern neighbour: if, as many predict, Marine Le Penn gets elected in France, then I think the European Union will be over as a project. It’s days will be numbered, at least. La Penn will want to withdraw; with two of it’s key members gone, it’ll loose all structural integrity and just collapse. What would be the point of it? Why try to hold it together with people across europe reverting to nationalism? This noble project will fade and die.

Even more worryingly, if La Penn is elected, it will be another step down the path the western world began last year. Between brexit, Trump’s election and the possible election of La Penn, it is now clear that we are heading in a very dark direction. Tolerance and respect for others are being supplanted by greed and arrogance; people are becoming more greedy, caring only about themselves. Nationalism – the infantile urge to keep societies and cultures separate – is on the rise. Things are becoming like they were in the thirties. We are heading somewhere very dark: brexit was one step down that road, the election of trump was another; tomorrow we might take yet another.

London Clown Festival

According to this, an international clown festival will shortly be coming to London. The London Clown Festival will take place in Crouch End from the eleventh to twentieth of May. While there are, of course, plenty of clowns around already with a general election coming up, something like this might be just what we need at the moment. Everything has become so serious and doom-laiden; there is so much anger flying around. I really think a good laugh is just what we need, so I’m seriously thinking about going to watch the guys in oversized suits and red faces – and I don’t mean those in Westminster.

Young boy with autism arrested in Florida

I think I need to note how deeply, deeply disturbing I find this video report from The Young Turks up. I came across it last night and was utterly bewildered by it’s savagery. It shows a young boy with fairly severe autism being arrested by cops in Florida. The boy was apparently misbehaving at school. When I first saw it, I didn’t know what to think, and still don’t. Surely the adults concerned – teachers and police – realise that a child on the autistic spectrum doesn’t know what he is doing is wrong. He does not understand his behaviour as others do. I’ve been working with kids on the spectrum at Charlton Park Academy for seven years; to see a child like that treated in such a way is horrifying. Frankly, this is not the type of behaviour one expects to see in a modern, western democracy. I really hope this is not symptomatic of the times in which we now live.