I’ve had a fairly good run of success with the daily Wordle puzzles, so much so that I felt the need to fill the void between their appearance by completing the NYT Mini and the Guardian Quick crosswords. There’s an element of daily competition and mild bragging inherent in sharing the shortest number of tries at work; it’d be even better if I ‘won’ more. Heck, I even append the animal I think my block pattern most resembles to a shared tweet, with a so-far unique #WordleAnimal hashtag.
But Wordle is not why I started writing today. I’m here because, in common with every time I’ve thought of writing a blog post for the past couple of years, I’ve nothing to write about.
Well, ok, that’s obviously untrue; there’s far too much going on for me to pick a topic and do it justice. Far too much.
Not only has Brexit come and gone since I last blogged regularly, a victory of sorts accompanied by the rampant nationalism, casual and overt racism of those somehow certain they’re on the right side of history. Not only has a Conservative government been re-elected by people who believed the lies but who still don’t seem willing to realise the erosion of their rights started 10 years ago is accelerating.
Oh, and a worldwide pandemic. One during which some governments looked after their people by making sensible choices based on sound judgment, an appreciation of historic events, and a desire to be led by the science instead of pretending to be. But instead the UK government decided to prioritise keeping businesses open, keeping borders open, spending billions on projects designed ultimately to enrich their associates. Prior to Covid they’d assured us common folks that Austerity was a thing of the past.
Yes, I know it’s not over, neither Austerity nor the pandemic.
I got my first computer in 1981, forty-something years ago, and I got online in 1997, a quarter of a century ago. It didn’t take me long, heading towards a new millennium to realise, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that we were entering an unparalleled golden age of access to facts. An age in which it’d be trivial to debunk lies that no-one would try to fabricate or twist truth.
And here we are, twenty-something years into this millennium. Society – I’m not sure what other words to use here because ‘civilisation’ seems a bit strong – is on what seems to me to be an inevitable decline. And yet…
My girls’ school invited us to donate to an appeal set up to help the children of Ukraine. Easy, and they freely gave their own money. And yet…
Where have the appeals been for Chechnya, for Syria, for Afghanistan, Yemen, all the other countries war has touched? I’m not saying Ukrainians don’t deserve the help, but it got me thinking. I mean, I don’t have unlimited funds to divert to charities, but yes, I’m feeling guilt I haven’t done more, whatever more is.
And the previous night, watching a documentary highlighting the heroism of the ordinary people of Chornobyl/Chernobyl, the ones who volunteered to make safe the nuclear plant. And to hear of the Russians shelling a Ukrainian nuclear plant prior to taking it over… chilling, desperate stuff. And a wife, invited to Moscow to meet the Russian premier who showed the state’s appreciation for her husband’s bravery by stating they’d be given funerals of heroes – ur her husband wasn’t yet dead. I’m just hoping now that the Russian state isn’t too big to fail, that the uncaring nature of such governments breaks apart with such shockwaves it alters the minds of those who see it as a viable method to govern.
But such a thing is reliant on reception by open-minded institutions run by people unafraid of their electorate learning that an collective absence of ability should have precluded them from ever reaching any level of public office. (I’m not about to say level of public service, there’s no evidence selflessness in the UK Conservative party.)
I saw a tweet earlier today, a photo or a still frame of an obviously northern English town. It was captioned something like “Sheffield, 5th of March.” The detail is unimportant. What is important though, I eventually figured the link to an early nineteen eighties film about a nuclear war. One in which an unimaginably large number of nuclear weapons killed an unimaginably larger number of people. ‘Threads’ it’s called. The clips I’ve seen show the terror of ordinary people dying in the streets, the shops, their workplaces – and in their homes, thinking that piling furniture up to form the rudimentary refuges government propaganda said would protect them singularly failed against the fury of…
I can’t help thinking that whilst all this is going on, the UK government is trying to pass or actually passing legislation that parallels the chilling effects of the Russian Kremlin. You know, like the one that says if you’re convicted of alarming someone whilst protesting you could go to prison for 15 years. I wish I was making this up, and I wish it wasn’t just one of the most recent attempts to cling on to power.
I see striking parallels with Russia of old, before Communism and the Berlin Wall ostensibly fell. Striking parallels with Trump’s Russian-led, propaganda-driven populist sleep-waking into totalitarianism. And here we are in the UK with evidence emerging that a sizeable proportion of Conservative MPs and the party itself accepted Russian money and apparently didn’t care to ask the obvious question ‘why me?’
Yeah, it’s another unfocused rant isn’t it. Perhaps this is why I’ve not written anything recently. Damned if I’m going to proofread this, I thought it’d be a bit cathartic but all I’ve got now is a desire to get hold of some potassium iodide.
Maybe I’ll add a few extra things which have gained deserved resurgence in popularity in recent times. Such as the resistance to the seeming inevitability of climate change.