Saturday, May 06, 2017

Be kind

Having lived in England for more than 30 years, I still remember how cold the winters could get in Scotland. There was onein the Seventies where our little council estate on the moors was effectively ice bound. The roads were hard packed snow, which made driving on them impossible in today's terms.
The village had a lot of elderly people who couldn't venture out beyond their doorstep. Even the bus that connected the village with the nearest town, Lanark, was not able to get to us.
I was young at the time, but I have a very clear memory of that particular winter. My dad, who worked shifts in a factory in another village, obviously had a sense that something had to be done. He knew that the old folk of the village needed a bit of looking after. He drove his Vauxhall Viva to the local shops and filled the boot with bread, driving round the village and looking in on the auld yins to see if they were alright and if they'd prefer a loaf of pan or plain.
It popped into my mind this evening.
It has not been a particularly good day for progressive parties with the Tories rampant in the local elections and looking to be similarly so in next month's general election.
I don't think there's much I can do about that. The die is cast. From my perspective it will be an awful result, but as a good democrat, I can do nothing more than accept the will of the people... the bastards!
To me, it doesn't seem like we're heading to a good place. Brexit doesn't look like a sunny uplands to me. As a country, I reckon that we'll end up a diminished, more insular, and more insignificant entity. We'll probably not even notice, like the frog being boiled.
But it doesn't matter what I think. The people have spoken and, knowing the pig-headed nature of the Brits, people aren't going to back down now and say that they've made a mistake. We're on a railroad that leads over a cliff/heading for
a prosperous future as a globally facing, strong and stable country (delete as appropriate).
I think we're on a road that will see a lot of people hurting, and there's no quick turnaround. The May Queen will have five years to do pretty much what she likes. Who will stop her? Ironically, the EU may yet be a partial saviour as the energy required to Brexit will distract the Tories from pulling the roof in (spoiler alert - the UK won't be able to do exactly as it wishes in globally connected economy. This isn't the 17th century. The future may not be so glorious).
I think that the May years will be seen as a time when many will feel that their dreams have been thwarted, when we all retrench a bit, and the world starts to feel a bit more scary.
I hope I'm wrong, but the past few years have seen people electing to go down roads that seems further and further away from an idea of community, whatever that means - all in it together, or pulling up the drawbridge.
My idea of community is quite old fashioned and simple. It's my dad with his boot of bread going round, knocking on doors and seeing if people are okay. Community minded action like that wasn't unusual, but it wasn't the be all and end all. The council provided our houses, the kids all went to the local school, and there was one NHS doctor in the village. People valued those services because their parents remembered the time when they didn't exist.
Maybe I'm catastrophising and all will be well. But I have no faith in Tess May's Tories, and I don't think that an alternative is around the corner. I think that Britain, England really, will stew in its juice for a good long time, and people will suffer.
We could agitate, educate, organise... and we must. But we must also be kind. That's what I'll be trying to do over the next five years. I would anyway. It's how I was brought up. Now it seems more essential than ever.