Thursday, 13 August 2015
I let off a bit of a rant yesterday at stuff I have no power to prevent and only limited scope to influence... and even then ‘influence’ is a tad optimistic. Let’s say I stood on the side-lines of a topic of the day and bellowed forth my displeasure. It felt good to vent, but was I angry? Actually no, not really; I stopped being angry many moons ago once I realised, a) it was fuck-all to do with me, and b) it was fuck-all to do with me. See? Thirty years ago, I used to regularly travel a stretch of the M6. When traffic conditions turned it into a car park there was nothing you could do about it; No satnav, no internet, no mobile phones. I would see angry drivers all around me, inching forward and shouting furiously in their vehicular bubbles; and yet progress came there none. Me? I shifted into neutral, turned up the radio and relaxed. It was liberating.
I simply adapted to the situation; it's a special skill we humans possess. In fact it’s one of the big reasons we are still here, on preternaturally and eternally unsatisfactory planet Earth. We can’t outrun wolves and tigers, we can’t wrestle a bear, we aren’t swift enough to capture rabbits and we are so insecure in our grasp of the meaning or purpose of life that we invent fictions to keep away the nightmares of being... and then we confect more complicated nightmares to justify the arms race of our imaginary good-versus-evil narrative. We’re a queer bunch, folk.
Human beings are capable of great stupidity, singly or en masse and yet also capable of great feats of genius/enterprise/humanity, again, singly or en masse. We are both cruel and philanthropic, often in the same corpus, generous yet tight as arseholes, greedy yet magnanimous. We are nothing if not adaptable; and the curse of self-awareness and inquisitive thought is also the gift that really does keep on giving. We can’t always outcompete nature physically, as mishaps by the million reveal, but we can outwit her and we come through often enough and survive extremes often enough to suggest that on balance we are winning.
What other animal can survive in the arctic and on the equator, in the rain-drenched tropical forests or the parched deserts? Everybody’s Talking, said Harry Nilsson “Going where the weather suits my clothes.” See? When the heat is on we open a window, or strip off a layer. So when Britain changes too much for comfort, we can always abandon it to its fate; or at least I can, and up-sticks for greener, cooler, cheaper pastures. When it comes down to it I figure that Britain needs me more than I need it. I can survive anywhere; a Britain without its curmudgeons is no Britain at all.
Bear attack? Improvise, adapt, cuddle...
So when you read my shoddily-assembled words and feel the teeth of my invective through to your bones and you wonder why I seem so angry, I have to inform you that I’m not angry at all. I’m British, so what I feel about the state we find ourselves in is much, much worse than that. No, I’m not angry at all. I’m just a bit disappointed.