Dear Guillermo, Gonzalo and Elia
I hope you won’t think this is an indiscretion on my part. But, selfishly perhaps, I do need to be able to say something about what your elders are doing to this world. And I, as one of those elders, must share ultimate responsibility for what’s happening.
The world is a wonderful place as long as you learn how to ignore its underbelly. The underbelly is never far, of course: it’s tempting at first, too. I once almost collapsed because of its temptations. I survived, though; mainly because both you and your mother existed.
However, the problem we have right now is quite different. Whereas before it was a question of resisting at an individual level an underbelly which was not always apparent, it’s now all too clear that this underbelly has brazenly uncovered itself. We’re now in the grip of powerful men and women who operate without morals or qualms: the sacred liberal bond between rights and responsibilities has been finally hijacked and broken.
So it is that the rich appear to have all the rights; the poor all the responsibilities.
It’s no longer an individual battle of strength between personal conscience and private opportunity. Far more it’s become a case of vulture-like centres of power which operate in a bankrupting socioeconomic system – their actions becoming manifest and brazen; their shamelessness becoming apparent.
And their strategy is as follows: escape one’s own corporate ruin by identifying and ultimately pillaging those remaining resources of public-sector excellence. From health services to legal aid to social care and housing, the welfare system (once called more neutrally “social security”) is progressively falling apart; is progressively being deliberately detonated even.
Yet, in the meantime, these sad organisations look to their short-term survival above any other responsibility they might be encouraged to take onboard. Even education is not beyond their ability to reinvent a world in their image. Even our children are not beyond their grasping and selfishly focussed fingers.
What is so terrifying, what terrifies me as a member of the generation which is doing these frightening things, is that none of this was unavoidable. Inevitably, however, the corruption of liberal values I mentioned and described yesterday is passing its very capitalist invoice onto the next generation.
I don’t think our generation, those of us who despise what we are doing to the future, really has the energy, the necessary ingenuity, to re-engineer this catastrophe in time. But you, my dear children, if you ever understand these words, if you ever are able to bear accurate witness to the casual cruelty and injustice of our times, will be in a marvellous position to reconstruct a world from a war which has been waged just as permanently and persistently as any literal killing-field.
No blood-spattered walls. No genocidal gas chambers. No gut-wrenching trenches.
Just bedroom taxes, pension cuts, savings levies, bankers bonuses, trillion-dollar bailouts, disability crimes, government-induced prejudice, millionaire tax breaks – and everywhere you look, everywhere you watch, everywhere you observe and finally understand, the progressive and regressive monetisation of life itself.
Five things, then, I need to say to you before I finish this post:
- I love you, and your capacity for wonder even in these circumstances.
- What I’ve done, I’ve done for you – even as I’ve done it rather poorly.
- You deserve far more out of this life than the owners of societal narrative ever care to let on.
- I look forward to still being around when your beautifully educated abilities to fight for a better world bear the fruit we all deserve.
- And in last but not least important place, don’t forget the underbelly – which is now the body we all see – can be vanquished; can be beaten back; can be returned to the lair where it once sprang from.
So anyhow, I don’t really expect you to understand this letter right now. I’m not a very emotional person, and can often only see structure where I should see people and unintentionality. But if any of this letter does strike a chord one day, let it be the most harmonious chord you can play.
The world is a wonderful place.
And life is a wonderful thing.
I don’t know much more than the bare bones of this particular story. The BBC reports it rather sketchily at the moment as breaking news; even the My San Antonio website doesn’t make it all that clear whether criminal proceedings are attached to the $10 million payout by the LA archdiocese of the Roman Catholic Church, designed it would seem to settle four cases of child sex abuse. There is talk of further punitive claims against the Church, mind – but I don’t think I fully understand what this means either. Of course, $10 million can never serve to repair the abused childhood of any poor young person, but – at least in an English context – $10 million would I think be considered pretty punitive already.
I do – out of ignorance – wonder what’s happening here, though. Is the Church really not of this world? Are criminal laws not applicable for those who move in the grace-filled circles of godliness? We hear, as over time the details seep out, of reports having been sent to the Vatican time and time again. Someone with more money than sense then pulls out their temporal wallet and finds the means to settle what can surely never be settled. Confession is supposed to be good for the soul, but it would appear that the Church has a very cardinal side too – and the response to these very cardinal sins is not unlike, say, Mr Murdoch’s in the face of phone-hacking scandals various.
That is to say, get out the chequebook.
By now, you must be thinking me very naive. “Why not?” you may ask. “If the aggrieved are happy to achieve closure through a wad of promissory notes, who should be reserving for themselves the right to intervene?” Well, I may be naive, but I’m bloody well not stupid.
I was watching a TV interview last night with an Italian priest – a fairly young Italian priest. He was sat on a terrace outside a bar, a cup of coffee to hand I think; a brain as sharp as anyone’s might be. During the interview he cared to remind us of the example of St Francis of Assisi. No airs and graces there – though plenty of a very different kind of grace.
He asked, almost pleaded, for a different kind of Church: a Church of the lay people; a Church for the real people.
A Church, essentially, which was of this world.
If the Church is to lead its faithful out of the mire in which a wider society finds itself, both politically and economically, both democratically and socially, then it needs to understand this world. And it can only understand this world by understanding how to engage with its miseries. To distance itself, to separate itself, to see the hand and works of the Devil in everything bad that its representatives carry out, is to repudiate all sense of personal responsibility and liability: to excise, in fact, from the people who form the Church all possibility of a true redemption. You cannot be redeemed unless you want to be; unless you express true sadness at what you did, even as you shouldn’t have done. But to go down the path of saying the Church is capable of no evil – and where it is, it is the acts of extraneous forces or weak men or sheer greed – is to argue that the structures of the Church have no impact on how its flock, clergy and faithful end up behaving.
This is what they said at the start of the Germany that became the seedbed of Nazism. Structures do matter – terribly too. The environments we construct – or perpetuate from generation to generation – affect the behaviours we exhibit.
I’m not versed in the Bible; am not versed in the religion I was born to. But I do feel that if God existed … well, He would not choose structures for His work on earth which distanced that work from the earth He was looking to save.
In any case, it seems clear enough, with the examples I have linked to above, that such distancing from the grassroots has served no purpose whatsoever: to an outsider looking in, it would seem that there is now very little difference between a) those who, from the depths of Wapping, formerly ran the blessed News of the World; and b) those who, from the depths of the Vatican, currently evangelise the blessed Word of God.
Both, in a nasty and very ultimate place, understand the power of money to make problems go away.
I admit it. I’ve been naive all my life. I remember when it started. At the age of ten, I was elected head of my junior school house. I still remember its name. We were the Eagles – golden and proud. Then shortly after the election, I was struck with what was later diagnosed epilepsy. I was off school for a few weeks – maybe months. I was given barbiturates to prevent the attacks. But the barbiturates made me sleepy. So they proceeded to give me uppers as well. Even so, for quite a time, my GP thought I was faking it.
The proudest moment of my life – head of house – and I was struck down with an infirmity which prevented me from shining as I had long wished. I thought this was just the way of the world. I thought that’s how it had to be.
Life kind of repeated itself in my middle age as I had a nervous breakdown. I’m not stupid, not unintelligent – but I’ve never fulfilled what you might have cared to call my promise. I never liked playing the highly political game of career chess. The world doesn’t reward those who are not prepared to play that game. Favours people wanted to do me always seemed – to me – more like ambushes. Maybe I was right; maybe I was wrong. But in the end it meant I never fulfilled what you might have cared to call my promise.
I’m currently getting a bit of flak from people close to me: gentle flak to them but painful to me. They don’t appreciate what I do on these pages because these pages don’t interest them; and maybe because there’s little to appreciate in them too. I’d even be happy to take onboard their criticism if it was based on them having read what I write.
But it isn’t.
On the other hand, I can see what they mean. What is the point of registering a century for future generations who will almost certainly find what I write to be TLTR? The essence of the latterday web lies precisely in its ability to promiscuously choose what is valuable – and fiercely disregard the rest. Individual authorship isn’t what writing is all about these days. Skimming off the cream which has risen to the surface, whatever its origin, is what we’re up to now.
Anyhow. My naivete originated in that time I was struck down with epilepsy – just at that moment that I was beginning to flower as a human being. I had to suffer its unpredictability – falling down at the back of science labs and in school playgrounds as I strove to pretend nothing was happening – until about the age of sixteen when I was placed on different medication. That seemed to work. But the naivete was well entrenched by then.
There was a world for the healthy and there was another world for the unwell.
And my world was now the latter; the former always to be beyond me.
I am minded to write these words as a result of having read a long but hardly TLTR piece on the subject of ME. If you want to find out more, click here to the piece in question. If you do, and you take out the time you really should in order to read its sad litany of insulting behaviours, you’ll not only realise where I’m coming from today but will also have learnt what other people are going through.
And I ask myself if we were all so very naive. I ask myself if it wasn’t just me. I ask myself if our generation in particular, those of us who now find ourselves between the ages of forty and sixty, was especially predisposed to believing in honest society, honest politics and honest business. Especially at the mercy of those prepared to take advantage of the foolish.
Yesterday I posted a rather muddled and confused article on the subject of how the BBC public service ethos is being destroyed from within by commercial forces: forces which are targeting the global affluent at the expense of the British voter. I think it was so muddled because – for me as the naive kid I was – the BBC became a cornerstone of my life. Even more so than perhaps the NHS, the BBC was to me fundamental. Some of us follow football teams – I, meanwhile, used to read the credits on TV series. Every Wednesday, Wednesday I think it was, I’d scurry down to the newsagent’s to buy the latest copy of the Radio Times. I so did want to work for what I truly treasured, loved and valued.
I sent in a couple of scripts when I was older. I got some useful and generous feedback. I went on to university and studied Film & Literature – with a creative writing module thrown in for good luck in my final year.
And even when I was in Spain, the BBC was never too far away. During the disintegration of Yugoslavia, my wife’s short-band radio was always to hand. When Amazon started delivering to Spain, we’d buy videos of “Miss Marple” and “Fawlty Towers” and other oases of good programming. Even when it was “Inspector Morse” and “Poirot”, it seemed like the BBC was in some way responsible.
So when I read and begin to get the impression that the BBC is just one more brand to be cunningly sold off on the backs of the British voters, one more brand to be moulded and recreated in the image of a government which stands threateningly over it, one more brand – no longer that cornerstone – of a British society which must now operate entirely in terms of the money it can chase … well, how am I not to be confused by the cultural dissonance this process generates in what formed such a key part of my childhood?
I do have one question though – one question which needs an answer: were we all naive some time back to such an extent that – under our silly noses – our society, our politics and our businesses were always thus?
Or, alternatively, is this government – this generation we form a part of – now truly changing the ground rules of our whole existence?
Is what’s happening to you and me, this earthquake-like disorientated wandering around, actually a gear shift of a change in how society is organised – or simply a painful falling away of the veils of naivete we once held so close, quite despite our better judgement?
Is what’s happening to you and me something that every generation’s had to face? The ultimate loss of social hope? The acceptance of inevitable injustice? The inability to fight for anything but oneself any more?
Is what’s happening to you and me why we need so very much a new generation of young people?
For let’s face it, folks: those of us between the ages of forty and sixty have proceeded to mess up the world big time for everyone else. Out of malice or naivete – either way, we’re the generation that’s massively failed to fulfil its promise.
And maybe what’s missing right now from this world is humility: a generational humility, a humility people your age and mine have failed to express. An acceptance of the casual crimes committed against humanity in the name of complex civilisation.
An admittance, in fact, that we were wrong all along.
Time we all did a figurative Eli Scruggs perhaps?
We’re a household full of examination stress at the moment. My eldest is at uni, looking to pass his second-year exams in order to be able to visit and stay in China next year. My middle son, meanwhile, is taking his AS-levels – next week he has three exams: Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
But where I detect significant distress is in my daughter. She has only just turned fourteen and yet her school has decided for some incredibly bizarre reason to put her whole cohort through the stress of GCSEs. Just remember how you were at such an age: study skills barely developed, if at all; in the middle of adolescent angst, the terror of potential failure and ever-present panic getting ready to strike one down.
Now all credit to her Religious Studies’ teacher (for that is the GCSE which is being sat). He used to be a lawyer and has produced an excellently structured and logical set of revision notes. She truly appreciates his wisdoms and his intelligences – and in the evidenced and logical way that she has finds him quite the best teacher in the school. So it was that this morning, in the face of rising hysteria, he told the cohort not to worry about tomorrow’s exam: it really meant very little and should cause no preoccupation whatsoever.
Good job, my man: sensitive teaching. Ruffled feathers gently soothed. Could question the decision to put forward Year 9s for GCSEs in the first place – but would not question the sensibility with which this teacher has carried out his role.
So there was my daughter – slightly less anxious than before – as the morning progressed to Geography. Can you then guess what happened? The Geography teacher, whose subject was not being examined in any way, proceeded to truly put the fear of God up the cohort all over again. The admonition apparently went something along the following lines: “You really won’t want to fail this exam. The government doesn’t want to see you sitting and resitting exams all the time.”
WTF? I mean, WTF? WTF does my daughter’s taking of GCSEs at the tender age of barely fourteen have to do with the government, for Christ’s sake?
Yes. It’s clear that teachers are being extremely stressed out by the consequences of the government’s stupid cuts and idiotic economic policy. I am, as a person mildly interested in politics. My wife and I are, as parents of the above-mentioned children. But surely the job of such interested parties as ourselves is to strive whenever we can to put a protective firewall between callous government and our charges. Or should we tell it just as it is? As the Coalition government proceeds to punish and bully its subjects, should we transmit the message and process down the line and bully our subjects in turn?
To be honest, I am absolutely fed up of a couple of really bad eggs at my daughter’s school. Bullying of the casual kind that is taking place between teachers and students is utterly unacceptable even as hierarchies continue to accept it.
But the kind of treatment my daughter and her classmates had to suffer today, at the hands of a teacher who (at least today, for whatever reason) was anything but well-meaning, is completely intolerable.
As is the political class which kicks the man who kicks the woman who kicks the kid who kicks the dog which chases the cat which mauls the bird which was once able to eat the worms.
And that’s how the Coalition bullies our teachers into bullying our children.
Only the rest of us must surely manage to do a little better than that.
Marriage isn’t always easy. Staying together with the same person for decades may have its ups and downs for both parties. So far, so clichéd.
But a cliché doesn’t mean a falsehood.
I’m a very lapsed Catholic, whose Catholicism at the beginning of this blog’s life can be seen to be quite reverential. My world was a better world for going to Mass every Sunday. That I have to admit. But it wasn’t necessarily a more accurate world. If I hadn’t lapsed before the cases of child abuse came to light, I would have lapsed for sure as a result. But I had already begun to lapse before then. Something didn’t quite click for me as the person I was becoming.
My wife is a Catholic too – a Spanish Catholic. But her relationship with God has of late become very personal and private. Perhaps, if I still have a relationship with this deity, that may one day become my way forward.
If it ever happens as described above, I will surely come to realise that the cipher and filter that is the Roman Catholic Church is a gauze which impedes a clearer vision of what God might really mean.
If God does exist, then love is not defined by the sex of its participants but, rather, by the essence of its practice.
And if you are still finding this hard to believe and comprehend, tell me then who is best placed to bring up our youth? A man who has never given full expression to his love and passion for a woman, who has suffered for his beliefs and sense of self – and who only wants to support people in their real love for one another? Or a man who has never given full expression to his love and passion for a woman, who has suffered for his beliefs and sense of self – and who only wants to support people in their real love for one another?
For I’m inclined to believe that, in some things at least, Roman Catholic priests, gays and lesbians have far more in common the one with the other than any of the sides is prepared to contemplate. Drill down to their real experiences – and we may find on more than one occasion that the suffering each may have survived, in order to be the real individuals they were all along, is not all that dissimilar.
The question really is, which of the two sides is being more honest with itself as a result of those experiences – and is, therefore, better placed to participate sincerely and constructively in society?
Which of the two is exhibiting such a fearless attachment to the truth?
And who – for example – would you rather care for your children?
When it comes down to it, it’s the people who count. Not their sex – or their religious or political beliefs. You convince me you’re essentially good and can truly be trusted – and that’s all I’ll ever need in order to believe in you.
So the day a Roman Catholic priest is able to marry
his her boyfriend girlfriend in my local church is the day I shall once more darken the doors of that church – for that will be the day God and the Church coincide as one.
A day which shall make me forever happy and at peace.
A day which shall signpost a true humanity at large.
The recent revelations in Spain about the tens of thousands of babies who – at the hands of doctors and the Catholic Church – were stolen from their biological parents for both ideological and pecuniary reasons, and in a period that stretched from Franco’s ascendancy to power to as late as the 1990s, is still reverberating terribly in my self.
As we do in such moments, there is a tendency – almost a primeval impulse – to review one’s whole past. A veil does indeed drop away – and in its place we suffer from the darkest of shadows. This post will not, therefore, be a considered piece. For what I need, right now, is somewhere to register disorganised thoughts.
For example. I remember, shortly after my firstborn was born, how I decided to reduce my working-hours to only ten. In the light of the fact that my boss – an affable but occasionally dictatorial Frenchman – was a notable member of Opus Dei, lived in the flats which this Catholic religious order had in the city I was living in at the time, was well-known for his kindnesses to children in general and had himself a large family as befitted such a profile, I thought nothing of asking him if I could work fewer hours for a while – in order to take care of the new addition to our family and spend that precious time we could never regain.
This request was, of course, granted – I felt with grace and certain favour. And thus it was that I thought nothing more of it. Until, that is, a Spanish friend from my Russian class told me – in confidence – that she’d been told that someone had contracted a private investigator to follow me around. The alleged motive? To ensure, essentially, that I was actually looking after my son and not using the spare time to set up a company.
This was so laughable I simply did not believe it. Could not believe it. Refused to believe it. I was a humble English teacher with barely four years of experience; had only ever taught in a small night school which, essentially, was going nowhere.
It’s true I had only recently joined full-time the company I then began to work for. And having joined full-time, at that time in Spain’s history, a sudden request by a man to reduce hours to carry out childcare responsibilities was possibly going to be judged a little out of the normal. But enough to get involved in all this other stuff?
And yet if someone were capable of doing things like this, what else did they know, do and sanction?
Later, I heard stories of bags of cash crossing the Spanish-French frontier. All sorts of strange behaviours which my English upbringing simply didn’t prepare me for. I was driven to a nervous breakdown by the behaviour of the Frenchman’s Spanish successor, who weaved an oppressive and unhealthy friendship with myself to the point where all the reality which I perceived was denied – as he suggested I was going slowly mad and would shortly need to see a psychiatrist. The reality was, however, as I had seen and perceived it – for even one of his unwilling business partners once buttonholed me in the street, saying:
“I don’t know how he does it. I go into a meeting with him – ready to threaten him with a red card. He sits there, owing me payments which go back months; even years. And yet, twenty minutes later he’s told me a few sob stories – and, like twenty times before, I’ve gone and believed every word.”
And this Spanish successor, who fooled us all for so long, who claimed for so long to be my friend, who in a sense played the same oppressive role which my own English upbringing had – in part – apported my sensitive soul … well, it was a mantra of his that – almost proudly – he would repeat over and over again: how, as an ex-bank worker himself, he knew how to fool the banks into believing he was still solvent: how he moved money from here to there; oh, he knew how they never looked at the detail: just looked at the movement, the movement here and there.
He thought he was so clever as he built an empire on the sands of inside behaviours.
Which is why, as I think back over these unhappy and connected people I knew, I just can’t help beginning to think that if 300,000 babies were really stolen from their biological parents by the Spanish Catholic Church, by the doctors that is, by the very people we should expect to be able to trust, how then is it even conceivable that these people who once called themselves my colleagues and friends knew absolutely nothing about what was really going on?
As a footnote to this curate’s egg of a post, another random thought.
We took our firstborn to the nuns’ kindergarten pretty early on in his life – as, indeed, is still the Spanish custom. All through the first year, he cried when we left him and he cried when we picked him up.
Every time we picked him up, he carried with him a strong smell of cologne.
We never noticed this really; never wondered to ask.
Until late on in the year when one day we discovered he’d been placed in the naughty corner for not drinking his orange juice.
This was when we discovered he’d spent the whole year being forced to drink an orange juice he didn’t want – only to then sick it up as children do.
And so instead of telling us what was happening to this barely two-year-old child, the nuns spent the year covering up the evidence with judiciously applied cologne.
We took him out of the kindergarten the following year and placed him in an excellent one nearby – run by kind, professional and loving young women.
Two things you should know, before I finish today: the first, my eldest son has never – and I mean never – drunk orange juice since then.
And the second? If your child cries when he is out of your sight, and cries when he sees you on his return – don’t wait a year to see if it’s your fault. Your child needs your love – not the cologne of a nun.
The Roman Catholic Church has had a well-documented recent history of child abuse – as well as it would seem, at least according to some in the Irish Republic, a certain resistance to cooperating with the authorities in bringing those responsible to book:
“The rape and torture of children were downplayed or ‘managed’ to uphold instead, the primacy of the institution, its power, standing and ‘reputation’.”
Pretty poor stuff. Meanwhile, at a distance, via Spanish TV news, I am currently witnessing the conclusion to the so-called “Jornada Mundial de la Juventud” (JMJ) (in Spanish) – loosely translated this means World Youth Day. Around a million pilgrims have attended the event – and, if we dared to see it in purely political terms, this might be interpreted as a massive public relations’ victory for the aforementioned religious grouping in what is an evermore secular nation such as Spain.
Whilst in the light of what’s happened in relation to the “management” of institutionally unhappy news, we might go even further and describe this kind of event as spin.
If we were so inclined.
We are surrounded by stuff which reminds us how materially wealthy as a society we have become. Here, at least, it seems clear that trickle-down economics has done its business. Flat-screen TVs, microwave ovens, computers which are truly personal (as they become evermore the possessions of individuals) … all this home appliance stuff clearly drags us all out of other centuries in ways the socialism of yore could never achieve.
So as a society we have been getting richer – and whilst the brute force and blunt instruments of tax credits, free school meals, child benefit and a myriad of other financial instruments made the poor feel less poor (even as the rich, on their pockets, hardly noticed the impact of such polite and essentially respectful tweaks and transfers of income), no one in mainstream media really cared to question the lack of political will at the heart of what is now a fast encroaching dilemma: what’ll happen to our society when the poor begin to feel they are getting poorer?
For that is how I myself am beginning to feel. My children have often considered themselves poorer than their school friends. They compare their classmates’ material satisfactions to their own – mobile phone contracts, iPods, weekend clothes, spending money – and conclude that indeed we are poorer. But we, as parents, have always said we are on an upwards trend towards a better life. And we have most certainly inculcated in our offspring the importance of hard work and a good education as a pathway out of what one might be tempted to call relative poverty.
How we see ourselves, or how we are allowed to see ourselves, can, therefore, often affect us just as much as how we see the rest of the world.
At this point, I am reminded that statistics and evidence-based blogging are excellent measures when one wishes to rebut the arguments of the liars in government. But, as I mentioned recently on these pages, these two tools do not fully encompass the workings of economies and their corresponding peoples. They do not encompass the visceral side of life. They do not communicate the emotional undertows.
So I ask the question again to underline: what’ll happen to our society when the poor begin to feel they are getting poorer? That is the thought I have awoken to this morning. That is what I have realised will almost certainly be my near future. That is what I now fear for the future of my offspring. That is what will damage and destroy the initiative and forward-looking hopes of a generation, if we are not very careful – or, alternatively, if we are not very clever.
These emotions, these perceptions, are just as important as the macro-economic stuff. Yet who is out there to define, determine and delineate this?
We need another website, I think. A tactile website of emotions, where people can use a virtual community to express how they feel about this incompetent bundle of millionaire politicians – who really have no appreciation of what feeling poor can do to one.
What you might term, in fact, a virtual “Play for Today” for today. Only instead of professional writers serving to filter the pain, this time we could aim to crowdsource – through social media aficionados (more background here to one potential approach) – the job of telling and sharing the hard and bitter truths.
What do you think?
Footnote to this post: as a final observation, it’s clear that all that early communications business about benefit cheats is almost certainly beginning to pay off. Given the true range of benefit fraud compared to, say, the tax avoidance schemes some of the better-off take advantage of, it was surely more an objective of the messages pumped out early in the life of this Coalition government to shame deserving souls away from the very idea of applying for benefits they were eligible for, simply because it would be clear from the media spin given to the subject that such acts of societal support were – in future – going to be frowned upon. As an example closer to home, I find myself currently resisting the exhortations of our local school to apply for free meals for our children because I feel bad about diverting the ever-decreasing circles of state resources from the extremely poor to the relatively poor.
And thus empires of the rich are built upon the consciences of the poor.
Only these days, in our secular societies, we don’t even have that moral comfort which the Kingdom of Heaven used to bring to the browbeaten and poverty-stricken.
Instead, we just have George Osborne and his recipe for concentrating wealth.
One of the most positive memories I have of my childhood is waking up in the morning, feeling the condensation on the walls and smelling the smell of bacon grill on the mini gas cooker that normally sat, when not in use, neatly folded away under the front passenger seat.
I remember and hold this thought dearly.
I am, of course, talking about a Volkswagen Dormobile. (I do so love that logo.)
When I was little, my mother and father spent most of their money on driving across Europe every other summer or so, for summer holidays we generally enjoyed in my mother’s homeland of Croatia. In 1972 they bought this beautiful van, which – thirty-eight amazing years later – Stan, my brother, is most adroitly repairing.
I was reminded of this van as I stumbled across this Camperfest website today, advertising the aforesaid event to be held in Chester this Easter weekend. Lovely reminder of a time that has gone all too quickly.
My dream? To buy one of these. Now that really would be something, wouldn’t it? No air-cooled engine to nurse, mind you. But a lovely piece of industrial art all the same.