Friday, 30 December 2016
‘Tis supposed to be the season of goodwill but as I look around I see plenty of evidence that the underlying animosities are alive and well. On the one hand a pragmatic majority of positive thinkers is ready and up for the challenges that 2017 will bring, while on the other the self-destructive forces of leftism are determined that if they can’t spoil the party they will shut it down. As always, a failure to berate the optimists by ad hominem means has been augmented by recourse to the law – Gina Miller, we’re looking at you – and the constant background chatter of pet economists continually crying wolf.
The latest attempt at doing this is a hotchpotch of forecasts and projections – what used to be called ‘guesswork’ - by the Institute of Public Policy Research. This is debunked as the chatter it is by Ross Clark in The Spectator. But he is particularly right about one thing, which is that humans are very susceptible to repetitive messages, Goebbels, especially, was spectacularly successful in employing this methodology in socialism’s unkindest hour. (Finding examples of the misery wrought by socialism is a target-rich field for analysis; I find it encourages the most spirited responses to point to the one they deny the hardest.)
But whatever is going on at a highly visible, national level is often repeated at a familial scale as work colleagues, club members, parents, children and extended family bicker and snipe about the way ahead. If one thing has proven true about the pre-referendum threats, the phenomenon of division is a head that has reared higher than all the rest. If only both sides could actually agree on what it is they disagree on; the IPPR report does little to help, throwing as it does a few firecrackers onto the dance floor of debate.
On Boxing day an old, tired-looking old hound wandered into my back garden as I was sorting out the bins. Despite his literal hang-dog demeanour he looked in fine health and posed no threat. I thought he might be after the leftovers but he ignored any inviting smells and simply shuffled over to me for a pat. His coat was sleek, his belly nicely rounded and he was clean; obviously he came from a good home. After a few pats he calmly walked through my open back door, shuffled down the hallway, found the living room and curled up under the tree.
I didn’t have the heart to turn him out so I left him in peace. A couple of hours later he stood up, shook himself and then stood by the door, politely waiting to be let out. This little scenario was replayed every day this week, so when he left yesterday, I pinned a note to his collar, which read: “To whom it may concern, are you aware that your lovely old dog has been coming to my house every day for a week? He has been no trouble, but I thought you should know.”
Turn off the lights as you go, would you?
This morning he arrived as usual, right on time, bearing a different note. I took it off and read it. It said: “Hi, this is Bob. I’m a local Conservative councillor and I voted for Brexit. My wife is a school teacher, she voted for Remain. My eldest son is home from the Army and he voted with me. My youngest son is in the city and my daughter wants to work for the BBC. My dog? He’s trying to catch up on his sleep. Can I come with him tomorrow?