“No point in worrying, you can’t do anything about it” says my friend Dan, reasonable, grown up and low key. As said an elderly taxi driver years ago when I had asked him to take me an iffy journey in a hurry and he didn’t go as fast as I hoped. He looked at me in the mirror, shifting about and leaning forward, and said kindly “ Worrying about it won’t get you there any quicker. Sit back and let me get on with it.” O dear and sane and wonderful people. You could rephrase “neither a borrower nor a lender be” into “neither a fretter nor a worrier be” because it is as much in the nature of the beast and not likely to be changed.
I am sure it could be changed, if you set your mind to it, but we tend to have two reactions to our basic personal nature, acceptance or denial, and large numbers of people have no insight at all. They might be quite shrewd about all sorts of other aspects of work, life and the human condition but they do not see themselves. Perhaps they don’t want to.
It was several weeks ago that I became aware that some part of not sleeping/ feeling unable to settle/ a vaguely uneasy stomach – all of which I tend to rationalise as spring/who can advise me about the lease or shall I pursue the podiatrist – was more than being on the twitch which afflicts the elderly and those in cities more than many others. It was actually anxiety. And what was I anxious about ?
Bombs in the street aren’t new. Knife attacks one on one have never been away – their incidence goes up and down – but multiple knife attacks arrived back on the front page this weekend. Large numbers of people attending a concert or its aftermath or members of the public being mown down on bridges, sightseeing or on a night out, only vary in awfulness by multiples – whether it’s six or sixty, it’s horrid. Peace is a relative term. There was always a war somewhere and right now, it’s next door.
We thought the Good Life could be delivered through the realisation of the dreams of the West – health care, education, reliable water and heat, order and prosperity. And then we found that among those locked out from the ease of acquisition and what that meant, to themselves and others, were some who were resentful, angry, self righteous and whose dreams transmuted into death to anybody who didn’t side with them. What they can’t have, nobody else should want.
And I can’t help but see a connection between how the violent see the rest of us – as rubbish, human waste – and the waste in the street, the mess, the carelessness, the unwillingness to take any kind of social responsibility without it being pushed back at you, to compel you to do something about it. All my neighbours have work or an income from somewhere but I could teach a GCSE in rubbish wrapping, the importance of putting the lid on the bin and do tell me, what kind of idiot doesn’t know that standing water, even if it’s rainwater, stinks ? I think I would feel much better about the concert in Manchester if those attending took bin bags and cleared up after themselves, neither expecting somebody else to do it nor leaving the rubbish behind them.
The morning after six more people died and entirely too many were injured, wrong place wrong time on a summer Saturday, the election campaign will almost certainly be suspended again. Though possibly not for UKIP. And the vote is on Thursday unless you have already posted yours. It is an important election, most of them are, and it has been clouded by insubstantiality, confusion and gutlessness. However you would have gone with the referendum, we face a challenge, the working through of which will be long and hard. It’s enough to make anybody anxious.