Sunday, June 5, 2011

Sunday Reflections

Enjoying a calm Sunday after a breathless week. Business has quickened in the last couple of months. Suddenly I am not finding the time to blog, Tweet or follow the daily trail. Big proposal went in Friday. Should it come in I will feel the business really has legs.

One of the things I do to wind down is sort out the garden. Not planting or digging, just mowing and tidying. Then a trip to the tip. I love going there. Am I the only bloke who feels a strange purposefulness in filling my boot and heading down the dump? The one I use is a great place, one of the best in the country - managing to recycle 86% of what is left there. Which, when you look into the vast skips, is an achievement. All those settees, lawnmower, computers, fence-panels and rusty bikes.

Like a lot of us, I think a lot about the long-term future. All the stuff we produce and throw. One of my tasks today was to get rid of a knackered trampoline. All that metal and fabric - in the skip after two years. OK it'll get used again but this shaded my enjoyment of the trip. I look at my boy, three and half, in the front seat. Fresh, clean, beautiful. Then into the skip, Old, dirty ugly. I wonder, as I often do now, whether this is the best of it. What he'll be living in as a 41 year old? Will he be richer, poorer, healthier? Or will the world have changed beyond all recognition, as I fear it will? That's when I stop thinking.

I think what got me going this week was watching 'Megacities' by Andrew Marr. He goes to Dhaka, Shanghai, Mexico City, London. Half a million people enter Dhaka each year. Mexico City is several times the size of London. Nine billion people will be 15 billion within a generation. How's it all going to work with both oil and water running out, not to mention a warmer world? Will my boy be ok?

Yet our politics can't really cope with any of this. It's too big. And as individuals we seem only able to respond when the crisis is in the now, just like in WW2, where we faffed around as a nation until 1939 when it took the prospect of invasion to get ourselves organised. We could see tragedy in the middle distance but until it was right up to our eyes we did very little.

There's a point you get to in adult life, I think, where you've got to decide what you really believe and will build around. I know a lot people who are convinced greens. Their views are unconventional. Stop growth. Prevent population growth. Create a basic-income for all etc. All of my life, I have tended to rail against the utopians, whether green or red. Their lack of pragmatism has always seemed futile and to play into the hands of the enemy - witness Labour in the 80s. That was the crucible in which I grew up. Pure but Losing. Then seeing the place I grew up left to the dogs. For this reason, politically I always preferred people like Blair who accepted certain things - as not to would, as progressives have always done, hand power to the wrong people.

But I do have my moments of doubt. At heart I want a high trust society in which we are drawn closer together than we are in England in 2011. I am a big admirer of what Alex Salmond is achieving up in Scotland, an interesting combination of economic nationalism, green investment and a social ethic I find really appealing. It is positive, hopeful and interesting. It challenges the givens while working within the grain of Scottish identity and values.

Which brings me back to where I started - Sunday. Back from the tip, listening to Jarvis Cocker on 6 Music, kids out, looking out over the beloved greenery of Nowton Park feeling lucky to be alive.

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