The only thing standing between me and arrest in the street is the number of police. One overcast morning recently, I smiled at an attractive woman my own age, good haircut on white shining hair, elegant clothes … and she looked at me as though I were poo on her shoe. I hooted with laughter. Apparently nothing is free, not even good nature.
I do quite often feel that I am living through the last days of the Roman Empire or in France just before the Revolution. Sadly revolution in England (I deliberately wrote England and excluded Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales) will be to the right: there is no other reason why I should be hearing about Nigel Farrage again, a man of whom it could truly be said that only a mother could love him.
There is an established journalist who has a column in the Sunday paper I take: I have wrinkled my nose at his writing over time, not because the writing is bad – it isn’t – but because of the content – though I find him less reactionary than I used to. Perhaps I have turned into my mother but in a snowflake woke world, he’s still on the money. There are reassuring elements of common sense and calling a spade a spade.
Last week, a friend who used to work in television told me about a news editor she knew, now working for a smaller company, who had rolled his eyes to heaven in desperation when telling her of his young colleagues. “You can’t brief them” he said. “You give them the outline of the story, you suggest -this is where we might go, talk to him/her about … and expect them to reach for the telephone. They send email or texts, they try to do it all like that. They don’t even speak to each other – and this isn’t a big office.” Telling me this story, my friend Pam and I were appalled: we grew up having to get on with potentially difficult superiors and co-workers, knowing that, if we needed them, doing the job properly would come before personal approval ie you had someone to turn to when out of your depth. Never mind telly, just as true in meat packing.
And – under the heading Unbolted Stable Door – we have yet another story about girls as young as 13 seeking Botox treatment in what is described as “a terrible loss of self confidence”. Measuring yourself against an unreality will do that to you. For years, there has been disquiet about the use of such things in non medical settings and for every person prepared to think about what these injections might mean, physically, in the longer term, or psychologically – there are many others who roll up their sleeves, wash their hands and take the money. Dare I mention the abdication of parental responsibility ? Why should the NHS which is overworked to collapse have to babysit unhappy children whose families still seem to think that social media is harmless ? I’ll tell you how harmless it is – a significant number of those working in it limit or ban their children’s participation in it. Have you noticed ? It’s always somebody else’s fault.
And if the police are asked to prioritise three of the most labour intensive social strands (terrorism, computer crime and child abuse ) side by side with every missing person/cat up a tree/stolen wedding ring – I don’t want them to waste their time on a complaint of “misgendering”. Please. Get over yourself.
Speaking as a member of the largest discriminated against group on the face of the earth (women) let me tell you – if you don’t expect to fight for yourself, don’t expect anybody else to fight for you. And there are different ways to fight. Keeping your temper in the pursuit of logic and dialogue is infinitely more effective than having a hissy fit when something displeases you. It’s called command as in the US phrase “command and control” – and with all its shortcomings – it leads forward more successfully than the endless posturing so reminiscent of reality television, whose contestants are all too often cannon fodder.
I love your writing, Anna, and thank you so much for yet another insightful piece. (No marks for manners to the baggage at the beginning of your piece. Handsome is as handsome does! That sort of casual interaction with people we encounter as we go about our business is so cheering.)