I have been quiet for a few weeks now, not because I have nothing to say or that there is nothing to talk about, because there certainly is. Being honest, as I suppose I must be, I have another project that has rather distracted me of late and taken up what little time and energy I have available.
Looking around at the moment you might be forgiven for thinking that you have entered some kind of twilight zone. As the great Neil Peart once wrote: “You have entered the Twilight Zone, beyond this world strange things are known.” Peart (drummer and lyricists with Rush) has always had a wonderful way with words, and in this 1976 song he was portraying a world beyond our own where anything can happen, based on the TV series of the same name. But here we are, 41 years later and those lines seem to sum up the world I find myself in.
And this is a slightly surreal world, though not too dissimilar from the world of 1976 when Rush recorded “Twilight Zone” for their career defining album “2112”. I had thought we had left the threat of nuclear war behind us, but then along comes Kim Jong-un and his counterpart Donald Trump. Two of the wackiest leaders the world has seen for some time. Whilst Korean madman Kim has nuclear weapons at the top of his birthday wish list, the tragedy that is Donald Trump is flexing his fingers, ready to push that proverbial button. And I am quite sure that if he thought he thought it would benefit him in any way, he would have pushed it by now. For once the Russians seem to be staying out of things. They have caused quite enough trouble in Ukraine and Syria without adding any further fuel to the fire.
So, other than the antagonists, no change there.
And what about things closer to home? Well, things aren’t all that rosy here either. I remember the political and economic mayhem of the 1970s only too well. The economy was going down the pan, labour relations were at an all-time low, unemployment was on the rise and the divide between the rich and poor was as deep as ever. After the struggles on the Margaret Thatcher era it seemed that all of this was behind us, but now I am not so sure.
Over the past few months we have seen acid attacks, terrorists striking our city centres and deaths due to negligence and penny pinching. We have a lame duck government that is struggling to put together anything remotely like a coherent plan for the future. Policy and direction seem to change with the wind, and with the current effects of climate change, that is a lot more frequent than it used to be. And with public sector pay being frozen and jobs slashed, things don’t seem to have moved too far from those troubled and insecure days that gave rise to punk rock and Margaret Thatcher.
Today the BBC published the salaries of its top stars. And linked to the recent pay increases for big bosses and politicians, it just rubs salt into the wounds of our health workers, police, teachers and other public-sector workers who have had to deal with real-term pay cuts for several years now. For someone like Theresa May, who along with her husband has great personal wealth, to condemn those at the lower end of the pay scale is hypocrisy on an almost bewildering scale.
Actually, much of what I see around me at the moment is somewhat bewildering. I have never been able to get my head around the thinking behind the actions of terrorists who target the innocent, or politicians who put personal gain above the needs of the public they are supposed to serve. Unfortunately that is the way of the world we live in.