I’m on holiday again, as regular readers of this blog might have guessed. Just listened to “Bluebird” by Paul McCartney and Wings – now listening to “Blackbird” as performed by the same group. These are moments of severe pleasure, as you might imagine. For someone brought up in the multicoloured shadows of the Beatles, this is the next best thing. And with the summer heat piling in through the open windows, and my Internet connection working enough for me to be able to work, even when at half the promised speed, I can think of no better a place to find myself than right now.
Not that life is perfect. Life isn’t like that now, is it? You find a moment of sweet joy, only for something just round the corner to pull it away from you. But that really doesn’t matter. My mother always used to explain, after bitter, hurtful and unjust experience: “It’s not what life throws at you that’s important but how you react.”
From a faraway place, from a standpoint that does not bury me in the obfuscation and daily lies of our British Coalition government, I can see there is more to life than allowing it to throw shit at you.
Perhaps what I really mean to add is: “… and allowing it to stick!”
You have to find that standpoint, even when you are not faraway. You cannot permit the evil right-wingers, the monolithic left-wingers, the followers of easy political fortune to make of our existences the stuff of life’s misfortunes. Bearing witness to such overwhelming unkindness as the last five years have exhibited is important, necessary and justifiable – but not if it leads us to the despair we are currently headed for.
These people are looking to monetise our every step, move, instinct and action. If we fight them on their terms, they will win.
We will lose all autonomy, all memory of what it was like to love, embrace, hug and engage with our fellow human beings out of no more than a simple desire to share.
It’s time we changed tack. Petitions galore, thousands of retweets, hundreds of page impressions … none of the aforementioned achieves anything in the end: the people who manage to make us do these things only make us focus on the detail; they only make us reactive, on the back foot, responding but never initiating.
Perhaps not only reactive.
Perhaps also reactionary.
If we are to suffer life’s misfortunes, let they be worth suffering. Let they not be the trivia of unrepresentative democracy but, rather, the truthiness of universal suffering. Not the foolish impositions of small minds but the globalities of lives truly lived.
Get out from under the government’s horrific simulacrum of what life should be like.
Stick it up ‘em.
May they bugger off.
May the distant standpoint of faraway holiday be our perspective from now on in.
Even when such holidays are not within our reach; even when the time is not that of summer heat.
That’s what we need to create. Lives they cannot touch with their monetising brutalities. Lives which depend on listening, watching, speaking with, hearing, caring for, surviving, fighting with dignity, relating to, understanding … being – believing in! – better.
That is history. You cannot predict which bit of it will be your turn. Ours, suddenly, brutally, round the corner, has become something quite different from what we expected: the golden age of baby-booming pensioners has been replaced with the deliberate tools of austerity-inscribed control-freakery.
But we can at the very least maintain our belief in the kind of misfortunes life must bring us all. The natural ones. The inevitable ones. The ones that define our baselines as human beings.
Las desgracias de la vida.
Yep. I love Spain because, in life and death, death and life are so much nearer the surface than in England. And what’s more, no one expects anything honourable of anyone who claims allegiance to a higher morality. No illusions here of a better way of seeing or doing.
A culture perfectly fitted to our times.
The Spanish were right where we Anglo-Saxons were totally, utterly, absolutely out of our trolleys.
The Spanish were right to value family above all.
The Spanish were right to be forever distrusting of politicians and businesspeople.
The Spanish were right to count only on the eggs that day’s tortilla was to be made from.
Don’t believe anything they tell you.
Don’t believe anything – or anyone – at all.
Las desgracias de la vida.
(Or – in other words – only confide in life’s honest-to-good misfortunes.)