Monday, 15 July 2019

Mending the Roof

A stitch in time saves nine, they say and how wise they were. I have been spending my annual leave fixing up the house and as with all such projects you realise, too late, how a little regular maintenance can avoid wholesale refurbishment. As you strip back the layers of emergency patching you eventually reach the point where the rot began and belatedly begin to put the underlying structure straight. It takes far more effort than it should, costs way more than if the damage hadn’t been just concealed, but ultimately makes a home fit for the future.

During the week it has struck me what an apt metaphor for our country this is. When the great liberalisation of society began, the minority voices agitating for change were relatively small; a drip-drip-drip of barely acknowledged protest which was ignored for years. But as ‘people power’ grew and the ability to promulgate your grievances far and wide meant that more suggestible, recruitable people heard the calls, change gradually came about. The criminalised became legal, the marginalised mainstream. These were durable patches and they kept out the rain.

But underneath all of that, the foundations supporting the whole edifice were beginning to crumble. The rod was spared and the child spoiled rather more often than was just and necessary. The desire for government to represent the make-up of the people was accelerated and its champions were recklessly vindicated as brick after brick began to spall and was left to crumble, the cracks painted over and a fresh coat of bright, vibrant diversity applied. And as one house flouted the planning rules, others followed suit. The rainbow squat, held together by gaudy paint and the flimsy glue of peace and love, maaan, became the norm, rather than the mildly tolerated exception.

Uneasy at the rapid change the authorities pointed to neighbouring countries and implied that not to follow where they led was a mistake. In fact, they decided, we should go further. If gimcrack shanty towns were good enough for the French, they said, it would be xenophobic to demand we restricted the rate of change and insisted we lead the charge instead. And when the cracks appeared? Why, they papered over them as well, with whatever inferior materials they had to hand.

If you build a shed on uncertain footings and weatherproof it with wallpaper it will soon disappear into the mud when the rains come. But a shed is a simple and not too costly matter to replace, wholesale. You may have lost some of what you kept in it and you may have had to endure the ribbing from your wiser neighbours, but build it back, properly and harmony will return. But how do you set about rebuilding the whole street, town, city... country?

We're going to need more gaffer tape...

For those hard of comprehension this is, of course, an allegory, a somewhat tortured metaphor for the current and future state of our civilisation. While the Gilets Noirs run riot in Paris, while millions agitate for supranational control of our ability to keep our own house in order, while anti-democratic movements demand that borders be broken down and the rule of law be misapplied to allow it, some of us – hopefully more of us each day – see that it cannot continue. The rain is coming and we are far from ready.

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