Diary – Six Feet Under / Zadie Smith / May / Brexit / DIY

The weekend is over, just about, and I almost got through it without mentioning Trump. A four hour cycle today, in company, and somehow we avoided the issue. The truth is that I am actively seeking out the comfort of ignorance. The news has become a scarefest; this morning I opted to listen to the hymns being sung on Radio 4 rather than catch up with the Guardian’s daily list of WTF. Yesterday I probably irreversibly corrupted the structural integrity of the building I live in through DIY. Why is it that we in the west do harm even when we mean to do good? Why is the reverse not true of when we in the west try to do harm? For there is no doubt that Trump will achieve harm; whether it is the exact harm he set out to cause or not. But there will be time for that analysis in another life.

In culture this week I have removed myself to the happy days of the Blair era. It was 2001, men wore baggy jeans, Scotland was setting up a parliament, the month was not yet September, and everyone, me included, was watching Six Feet Under. And now I am watching it all again on DVD, out of an actual boxset. So far I am finding Nate annoying, Brenda annoying, Ruth hilarious, Claire I view positively although she is frustrating, David is a dick but he is complicated, and the dead dad is my favourite character. I like the opening vignettes (in which an as yet unknown character dies, often in an unlikely manner) although I can’t really see a great deal of artistic difference between them and the ominous openings to episodes of Casualty (although, truth to be told, I quite like those camp episodes too). In Casualty sometimes the patients survive, I suppose.

I have also been reading The Autograph man by Zadie Smith, which I am enjoying. The opening scene, in which Alex’s father takes him and his friends to see a wrestling match, was at first hard to persevere with. I thought: Oh shit, it’s a book about children. No offence to children, but I find you very boring. I do not doubt that you feel the same about me. Fortunately, after the opening we meet Alex again and I think he is about 30, a very acceptable age to be I feel, and I have the feeling there will be no more wrestling in the story, which is also a positive. Despite my misgivings, the opening did draw me in when the the father’s brain tumour was revealed. Whatever else I think about or will ultimately think about this book, I thought it was brave of her to write a book about a black jew and a Chinese jew. She also seems to know a lot about judaism, unlike me. I am just taking her word for it that its all a true representation (would it matter if it wasn’t?)

Back in the actual world as it is unfolding as I type, I note that one thing that seems to be resultant of Trump giving a rambling press conference punctuated with outright lies is that we are all so aghast we have almost lost the capacity to be shocked by the shit that Theresa May is getting away with in Westminster. We seem now to be on course for a hard brexit, and when Tony Blair had a go and saying why that wasn’t a good idea, he was roundly panned on account of the Iraq war. I am not suggesting that he should not be criticised for the Iraq war, but I will never understand what that has to do with his, I think very reasonable, view on Brexit.

But I would posit that this is only the beginning of our worries. What upsets me is the authoritarianism. We now have governments in the UK who have the barest of regards for questions of liberty – see the snoopers charter, a new official secrets act that could jail future journalists for publishing leaked documents (including information that could cause ‘economic harm’ to the nation), the legislation to require age verification to view ‘adult’ material online (is this blog adult? It is not for children and has swear words and strong sexual references within), and the fact that everything you have looked at online since the year turned has to be saved by your ISP for twelve months, even though you haven’t got a criminal record and your sexual preferences are profoundly vanilla.

Still Theresa rides high in the opinion polls, and has resoundingly positive approval ratings. I do not understand this. I admit Corbyn is not the strongest opposition, but at least he is empathetic. At least his incompetence in government is only assumed, unlike the evidenced incompetence of the Conservatives: a record deficit, despite unprecedented cuts; people dying in hospital corridors; brexit for fuck sake; increases in homelessness and a massive increase in reliance on food banks, and that’s just the first few things I could think of. I honestly do not understand the mentality of anyone who could even consider voting for them. They aren’t even good at managing the economy, which is the one thing they are meant to be good at.

To end on an optimistic note; I replaced several spokes on my bike wheels this week, and successfully adjusted them such that the wheel formed a circle, then transported myself 100 km around Inverclyde and Ayrshire on them without calamity. Now, if only my shelf would STAY ON THE WALL PLEASE then maybe I’m not so bad at DIY after all.

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I am an amateur novelist, an aspiring tax advisor, a cycle commuter, and a graduate of philosophy, politics and law

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Posted in diary, Literary criticism, Politics and philosophy, television, Uncategorized

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