Friday, 8 May 2015

My birthday - and a general election

Yesterday, the 7th, was my 77th birthday so, come what may, I have exceeded man’s allotted span by 7 years (although I have no idea who allotted that span nor on what data). Anyway, It’s a nice thought – makes one feel that to a certain extent one has beaten the system albeit in a minor and really most unimportant way.

We had had some pretty ferocious weather earlier in the week – gusts of wind well in excess of 50 mph and bursts (usually quite short) of torrential rain. It came as no surprise to be told by one of the men who deliver here that there were some trees down over the roads. Although there were no reports of structural damage, a poly-tunnel in a local garden was wrecked which was a terrible shame. It had been taken down over the winter and was reinstated only about ten days ago. In fact the gardener had worked really hard in there and everything was looking splendid with rows of healthy looking plants all straining for the off. Now all is destroyed: it is so demoralising.

Here are a few photos of the birds at Turtley Mill. They really do add a good measure of amusement to the mundane business of eating lunch.
Thus it was that when my birthday dawned bright and dry with a generally blue sky with only a few puffy white clouds in sight I was delighted. We had arranged to meet an old friend of ours at Turtley Mill which is between Avonwick and South Brent and one of our favourite rural meeting places where we have enjoyed some family gatherings over the years. When the weather is good, there are few better places to sit outside for here you can enjoy being among the exotic ducks, chicken and guinea fowl that are given the run of the place. Anyway, to my joy, the weather was just warm enough, the clouds did not obscure the sun and the wind fell to no more than a gentle breeze. Wonderful – and good to be with people who know the position but have the invaluable ability to simply accept the situation and to allow various aspects of it to come up in conversation as and when they arise but without making anything an issue. As my son put it, ‛everybody feels that they have to say something meaningful’. Well, from where I am sitting, the answer is that they don’t: a bit of light hearted banter does so much more good.

For the first time in the last 77 years (I’m fairly sure this is right but I may be wrong) the UK electorate went to the polls to determine who would represent us in Parliament – on my birthday.

As a general rule I have kept my political thoughts away from here and put them up on my political blog but yesterday was rather special for me and so I am allowing my hopes and fears for our country to intrude on what is meant to be Marcia’s space. If the thought horrifies you, please stop reading now.

Looking back over fifty years of politics, I feel there have been a number of profound changes which few in the west have given serious consideration. Then political leaders yielded a good deal more power than they do today. There are a number of reasons why the power they yield has diminished but the two most important are advances in technology (and especially that related to instant worldwide communication) and the rise and rise of giant multi-national corporations.

In broad terms, there are detailed arguments on my political blog for those interested in them, this shift in power towards the people – in large part thanks to smart phones which can flash a video world-wide within moments of events taking place – and the ability of huge commercial organisations to build up wealth in excess of that enjoyed by many nation states could well mean that the form of representative democracy we have here in the UK is no longer suited to society in the 21st century. I suspect this is also true in the US and all the other ‛democracies’ as well.

To me this was a very important election because of two fairly new parties: both nationalistic, both offering overly-simplistic answers to highly complex questions (including utterly unrealistic economic policies) and both likely to threaten the union of four nations known as the United Kingdom and/or the relations between the UK and the rest of the world. I refer to the Scottish National Party and the United Kingdom Independence Party.

You could say that the best birthday present was a vote that reduced these risks to a minimum.

Obviously the successes of the SNP will create tensions between the desires of the Scots and those of the people south of the border but with the Conservatives with a small but sufficient working majority, the relationships between the UK and its various component parts can be tackled in a measured and thoughtful way (which would have been impossible had we ended up with a Labour/SNP coalition).

The risk that UKIP would win enough seats to force the Conservatives into a coalition with them has also faded. Again this gives us time: time to address the problems highlighted by UKIP and to find out exactly what is causing those problems (I do not accept the causation theories put forward by UKIP) and to explore ways of putting them right in a calm and rational way.

This fellow arrived in my inbox this morning - all the way from the USA. Meet Gulliver (usually called Gully) who is the constant companion to one of my second cousins (and there are rather a lot) who inhabit various parts of the US. He arrive as an attachment from Sarah Lovelidge (said second cousin) which must have been a difficult one for her to write. Be assured, Sarah, I really did appreciate what you said and I still hope that you will be over here next summer and I shall be around to meet you again then.
All in all, not a bad birthday. Next week, Nancy and I will finish planting up the raised beds and I will post a couple of photos to show you what we have don.