Pestilence

We’ve just watched the Box Tree Moth Caterpillar ravage and lay waste to our prized box hedges nurtured over the past fifteen years.

I immediately thought of those whose whole livelihood and survival is dependent on their land and the crops it yields.

We’ve lost nothing but an ornamental shrubbery; others must look on as plagues of locusts and mice devour a harvest meant to last a year, or as rains fail and the scorching sun turns their tilth to dust.

Be grateful for opportunities many others can only dream of.

Talk Radio

Ah, talk-radio politics. In summary: “I demand the right to insult you and what you hold dear: that is freedom of speech. However, stop insulting me with your gestures and protests: these have gone on for long enough now. Stop it.”

Elegy

Revisiting an old manuscript, momentarily I dream of being a writer once more, his words in print. For a day or two, I imagine the draft to have potential, to be considered by an agent or publisher, if only I could just add the spit and polish it demands. Ah, but no, it returns a pipe dream. How could I compete with the brilliant authors whose works are celebrated far and wide? Cowed, I skulk away, back to the salaried role, a cog in the machine, bored and ignored.

Build back better

There is no “build back better”. The coffers are empty. Just more of the same. Another decade of austerity and cutbacks, public services disintegrating before our eyes. The cuts will be sold as a necessary evil, sold to us by billionaire newspaper editors. We will accept whatever we are told, until the next disaster turns into a catastrophe to be staved off with multibillion pound investments in newly created shell companies who will pretend to provide services no money could apparently afford. And once more the coffers will be empty. But we will not care, for men make suitable populist noises. “Build back better” will be the slogan fifty years from now, as men decide to recycle policies tried and tested for five hundred years. Brace yourself for a bumpy ride.

Summer flight

The swallows and swifts weave above us, chasing flies and potential mates. Every year they arrive like clockwork, riding the slipstream from north Africa to grace our skies with their delightful whistling songs. Only humans have made migration illegal, condemning undesirables to dank gaols, to be returned by force to barren lands of suffocating heat and scarcity. Modern man has forgotten his history, trekking once from the Indus plains and Caucus mountains into the fertile crescent and beyond. For millennia we were like the birds, free to roam. But modern man has restrained himself, limiting his potential. Modern man thinks nothing of the swallows and swifts that descend year after year without fail.

Extraordinary rendition

How dare the Belarus government hijack a Ryanair flight to kidnap opposition journalist Roman Protasevich. The West condemns this piracy in the strongest possible terms. This is an outrage! This is behaviour unacceptable in the civilised West. This is just not how Western countries behave.

Such is the amnesia which afflicts us. Nobody now recalls the thousands of men kidnapped by the CIA from the streets of Western cities, who were flown on to detention centres in Afghanistan, Egypt, Jordan and Syria to face degrading and inhuman interrogation techniques at the hands of intelligence agents from multiple Western countries.

Nor does anyone remember that the United States forced the Bolivian President’s plane to land in Vienna in 2013, because they believed he was transiting asylum-seeking Edward Snowden to Russia. He wasn’t.

Thank goodness for the asphyxia which perpetually numbs our intellects, or else we might be forced to confront our own hypocrisy. Thank goodness for our comatose bewilderment which leaves us unable to comprehend anything that happens in the world.

Thank goodness we civilised folk are so much more enlightened than those dreadful, kidnapping pirates over there. Ah, to be Western and pure.

Devout nationalism

Stop being hoodwinked by the pieties of politicians. These righteous men are hyper-capitalists, preoccupied with mega projects and real estate deals, while the common man drowns in poverty. Yes, the airports, bridges and tunnels are truly impressive, and new motorways, ports and railways will certainly improve the wealth of the nation in the long term. But the quality of primary and secondary education is risible. Whither the educated generation that will take the nation to starry new heights? The people need more than mere platitudes. If only there was as much investment in education as there is in reinforced concrete and quarried stone. Families drowning in debt will eventually look past devout nationalism to ask: “Why is the system just not working for me?”