As I wrote here yesterday, I haven’t been having many absences recently. I’m pretty sure at least part of the reason for that is the fact I take a daily vitamin pill. They have been a part of my daily routine for ages, accompanying my breakfast just as much as my morning coffee. That isn’t to say that my diet might otherwise be low on vitamins, but I think it’s good to make sure I’m topped up in that department. Of course, a result of that is that I feel fit and perky in general: I feel strong and well, and seem to stave off bugs and colds fairly quickly. That, of course, makes me wonder whether this could have had an effect on my reaction to Coronavirus: here I am living in an epic metropolis during a global pandemic, with infection rates rising to worrying levels, but so far, touch wood, I seem to have fought it off. Naturally that’s just speculation, but nonetheless it’s all the more reason to keep taking my vitamins.
Mind you, another consequence of those pills is that they cause my beard to grow. That isn’t much of a problem until you have a few days worth of itchy stubble, your PA is about to give you a much-needed shave, and you realise that you have forgotten to buy shaving foam.
It’s not really worth noting here, but I just checked the log I keep of my absences, and I just had ten in the whole of 2020. The vast majority of them were mild, and I often had long periods when I didn’t have any. I’m quite pleased with that – they currently seem to be behaving their selves. I know it’s not much to blog about, but at least I have something good to say about last year.
I just came across this rather sad news that ”Irish Eurovision singer and frontman of the rock band Bagatelle, Liam Reilly, has died aged 65” and was pondering making some sort of crude joke about elves being mortal after all – an obscure reference to a pronouncement my dad made one Eurovision night over twenty years ago, having had one too many rums. However, I decided to look up Reilly’s entry into the contest, and what I found was oddly pertinent: Somewhere in Europe is a rousing anthem of European unity. Containing the lyrics:
It’s been a long time since we were together I’m back in Ireland and I miss you more than ever In early spring we parted and I’ve been here since then But if I could only see you once again
It’s obviously about Ireland, but I daresay it could easily be adapted into a theme for the UK Remain/Return movement. With lines like ”Meet me in Paris on a Champs Élysées night / We could be in Rome again, ‘neath the Trevi fountain light” it would remind us us of the glories of Europe, and what we have so foolishly lost.
Open any history book and you will probably find it full of narratives about one group of people fighting another: of disputes between countries or cultures so profound that they go to war with one another. Wars in which thousands if not millions of people died. I have believed for a long time that the only way to avoid such conflicts is for humanity to come together and work as one. We need to stop seeing ourselves as members of different groups and see ourselves as human: hugely, fantastically varied, but all equal. That is the only way to end the tribalist, nationalist disputes of the past. The European Union is a body which worked towards that goal: an organisation which spanned a continent, bringing people together, guaranteeing them their rights, and making sure the conflicts of the past were not repeated.
For the United Kingdom to have left that body is nothing but an act of historic vandalism. Brexit is nothing but a crime perpetrated by liars and charlatans, voted for and backed by nationalist halfwits too stupid to see the big picture. It was always about stripping us of our human and consumer rights, safeguarded by the EU, so we can be exploited by capitalists more easily. Things will now get far harder and nastier. Brexit turns the UK into an inward-looking, nationalistic irrelevance refusing to cooperate with it’s neighbours, like a spoiled brat in a playground refusing to play with the other, more mature, children.
I find the fact I am now forced to live in such a society sickening. I want to live in an open, tolerant, multicultural world, working together with our neighbours, but that dream has been stolen from me by bigots too stupid to see past petty national divisions. To them, the human rights the EU safeguarded got in their way; they can now be done away with, opening the door to the cruelty and persecution of the most sickening form of capitalism. That such selfish, arrogant embarrassments to human civilisation now have their way makes my blood boil with rage. The stupidity that is Brexit must not, can not, be allowed to stand.
At about this point every year or so, I often like to post a summary of everything that happened in a particular year, just to round it off. Years like 2012, 2014 and 2017 were particularly awesome and needed recapping. This year, though, I find myself struggling to find even one positive thing to say. It has been a downright miserable year for everyone, to be honest: I haven’t done anything or been anywhere nice; it was mostly spent either here at home, or trundling around South-East London. And as I’ve said before, Lyn’s death in April was a blow I doubt I’ll ever get over.
I suppose the only good thing about this otherwise wretched year was having Serkan around. When he moved in in February it was only supposed to be temporary, but as the year wore on and the pandemic grew worse, it made more and more covid sense for him to stay. I frankly don’t know what I would have done without his company or support: being here alone most of the time would have been unbearable. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank him from the bottom of my heart.
I think I need to thank my parents too. Of course I haven’t physically met mum and dad in months, but we now chat every morning over the web. They’re usually just brief, simple calls just to check up on each other – I think they just want to make sure I’m still alive and haven’t done anything too stupid – but it’s reassuring to know they’re looking out for me.
I suppose it just goes to show that, even in the bleakest of years, you can still find positive things to say. I’d like to end this entry on a high note, and assure everyone that 2021 will be much better than 2020. But I don’t think I can: it looks like the pandemic isn’t going anywhere, and Brexit is going to make things even harder and nastier. The truth is I don’t feel very optimistic at the moment. Then again, if life has taught me anything, it is never to rule anything out: something incredible could be just around the next corner.
As incandescently furious and exasperated as I am at what is happening politically today – and the Brexit battle isn’t over, not by a long shot – I think, just for perspective, I’ll just direct everyone here. Sometimes we just need to chill out a bit, and be reminded of our place in this amazing and expanding universe.
Whenever life gets you down, Mrs.Brown And things seem hard or tough And people are stupid, obnoxious or daft And you feel that you’ve had quite enough
Just remember that you’re standing on a planet that’s evolving And revolving at nine hundred miles an hour That’s orbiting at nineteen miles a second, so it’s reckoned A sun that is the source of all our power.
I won’t go into much detail about it here, but I rolled home this lunchtime to discover that I have been blocked from posting anything on Facebook for three days. Basically I posted the meme I made yesterday onto an anti-Brexit Facebook group, and needless to say it caused quite a stir. Most of the responses were favourable it must be said, but a few people took offence. One particularly stupid blonde woman demanded the post be deleted, and when I defended myself things became increasingly shirty and she reported me. Needless to say I’m not happy, and have lodged an appeal with Facebook. That she had the gall to accuse me of bullying her when she was the one completely out of line only adds insult to injury.
I realise that the comparison I drew yesterday might not be to everyone’s taste, and for some it might go too far. Yet I think it’s time for the gloves to come off; we need to make people realise the potential consequences of what is now happening in the uk. All our rights now stand to be eroded. Yesterday I attempted to show people the potential destination of our country’s current course, albeit in a particularly emotive way, but it seems some people can’t accept that.
I put this together this afternoon. I know it may be a bit emotive and controversial, but to be honest I think that was the point. Of course I know nobody’s lives are under direct threat as a consequence of brexit, but the rights of people, especially people with disabilities, now stand to be eroded as British society becomes far more self-centred and neoliberal. I’m now genuinely concerned for my ability to, say, use public transport or even live independently. Sometimes you need to be provocative to make people think.
Maggie Simpson was a baby when I first watched the Simpsons in the mid nineties. I hadn’t watched an episode in years, until earlier today when I decided to try out the subscription to Disney plus Luke got me for Christmas (thanks bro!) by watching the first episode of the latest season. The program was as amusing as I remembered it being, packed with all the contemporary cultural references it has always had. Yet what struck me as strange was the fact that Maggie was still a baby, and none of the characters had aged at all from when I first encountered them, despite the program still feeling very contemporary. This is obviously only possible because program is a cartoon; the cast would have visibly aged had The Simpsons been live action. Yet it is odd to see characters we have known for about thirty years seemingly occupying the perpetual present. In the episode I watched earlier, for instance, there were references to YouTube, a website which didn’t exist when the show first aired; yet the characters speaking about it were the same age they were thirty years ago when they were referencing things like Bill Clinton being president. To put that another way, I find it strange to think that, were the Simpsons a real family, Maggie would have grown up, graduated from university and got her own family by now; yet she still sucks the same red dummy that she did when we first ‘met’ her. Only a program like The Simpsons can constantly comment on the contemporary world, using the same set of unageing characters.
My Christmas day was rather quiet yesterday. It was very different to any I have spent before. I’m glad Serkan was here, or it would have been very lonely indeed. We enjoyed each other’s company, and I think he liked the fluorescent cycle jacket I gave him. I took a roll over to Charlton in the afternoon, just to pay my respects to Lyn’s place. There’s currently no grave I can visit, so passing by the old bungalow every now and again seems a good way to keep my memories alive. The highlight of my day, though, were the group chats I had with my family and extended family over webcam: it was great to speak to everyone all over the world. As pleasant as that was, needless to say I’m already really looking forward to one of my mum’s Christmas dinners next year.