‘Today I’ll write a blog post, but first, I’ll just…’
So starts a normal day. ‘First, I’ll just iron, garden, pay bills, bake a cake, do some weeding, unpack another cardboard box, prune our filing system, go on a jolly jaunt…’ or whichever of these seems the most pressing priority of the moment.
And so goes another week, heavens no, it’s another three and a bit weeks, as John – my chief photographer, grammar-checker and photographer – informed me today.
To be fair, we have done a lot in those three and a bit weeks, and most of it, on a personal level, very happily. Exciting news of nephew Tom Hall’s engagement to Emily Pritchard, our own son Nick and daughter-in-law Sam expecting their first baby at the end of september, friends to stay, the Chatsworth Flower Show, a moving family funeral for Jane Whitlock in Wells-next-the-Sea followed by a very happy family reunion, a trip to London (for me, not John) including a brief tour of the Hokasai Exhibition at the British Museum, lunch with some very special friends and a St Hilda’s Graduates’ party as a guest of Ruthie in London, a couple of concerts and several Derby Literary Festival events, even a few games of bridge (fun, even though I get worse).
So, another blog post please.
Okay, but first, I’ll just dash off a little sermon.
Our personal lives may continue much as normal on the surface, it is a different story on the national and political and level. We seem to have had one terrible disaster after another: the Manchester bombing at a concert attended by young people, two terrorist atrocities in London and then the dreadful Grenfell Tower fire which killed so many and left so many people homeless, destitute and traumatised.
In light of these disasters it is tempting although probably overdramatic to call Theresa May’s snap election yet another disaster, but it has certainly left the country and a government already floundering and divided over Brexit, in a most uncertain and vulnerable situation.
Above all, most worryingly, it seems to have unleashed yet more destructive, unrestrained hate and unpleasantness, at a time when for the good of everyone, we ought all be pulling together this best we can. Things will never be perfect, but we might as well try to make the best of a bad job. Meanwhile, the self-appointed enemies of the western way of life we enjoy in Britain must be having a good laugh as we fight amongst ourselves and appear to be doing all we can to further their cause for them.
Where is the famous British sense of fair play, of tolerance, of agreeing to differ?
On a personal level, one still meets it everywhere.
There is not much sign of that among politicians, or the press, or on social media… (Three new authors at the 2017 Derby Book Festival, who had all recently achieved great success with their first novels, separately admitted to finding the vicious and often hurtfully personal reviews – in effect poison pen messages by people who had obviously not even read their books – very hard to understand, and even harder to manage.)
Sarah Perry, author of the Essex Serpent, writing in the Guardian of 28th January 2017 about the significant health difficulties she experienced after finishing her first novel, makes a plea for empathy. She includes a very moving quote which I want to include. It comes from Philip Larkin’s ‘The Mower’.
we should be careful
Of each other, we should be kind
While there is still time.
Indeed. Let us all be more kind and careful, before it’s too late.