Saturday, 8 June 2013

Can Somebody Please Let the Future In?

Sorry about the lack of blogging recently, but I've been weighed down under a novel. Normally I come on here every week and rant about stuff that's been annoying or perplexing me. Y'know, like over-expensive trains; pompous middle-aged novelists; incompetent politicians; shit, predictable TV; the implausibility of austerity economics; crappy, sexist advertising; dictators in the middle east - look, I have quite a lot of opinions, this list can go on for a while, ok? In case you think this is a list of right-wing things, I'd like to point out a good few left-wing things make me grit my teeth as well: creepy rape apologists who claim they're progressive, atheists who are basically snobs, patronising charity initiatives, self-interested liberals on large salaries, Guardian columnists that whine about how the world's gone to pieces and anyone who tells anyone to check their ******* privilege.

Normally, I decide which one of these is uppermost in my mind at any given point and come on here and have a little ramble around it. But seeing as how I hadn't ranted for a while, I'd thought of a few things I wanted to rant about, and then they kind of passed me by. I'd half made a mental note of them, but over the course of a few weeks they'd turned into some nightmare mush in my brain, like a version of BBC Question Time in which a bunch of faceless, smug idiots justified austerity, sexual harassment, and torturing people in the middle east, while a bunch of smug, whining journalists sat opposite going on about how things were different in the 70's, you can't do anything about anything, and how I really should like contemporary art. And then I woke up screaming.

After this, a thought occurred to me. Isn't it completely pointless me picking apart all these things - because after all, aren't they completely and exactly the same thing?

Now, I'm born, God help me, in the 70s. I do remember it. The world was different then. It was like lots of things were slowing to a halt, and nobody quite knew what was going to happen. What was happening was that lots of the old ideas were being thrown out, and there was a sort of space, and nobody was sure what the rules were, and you could get in and grab stuff while you can. Money, sex, property, free, cheap, or yours if you claimed, confidently enough, that you had a total and utter right to it, since everyone else was a bit confused about what was actually going on. This kind of accelerated into the 80s, and then the rules sort of hardened up again, so things started to calm down, except that lots of the stuff that'd been grabbed stayed gone. And because everyone knew that the no-rules situation and not knowing what was what had been a bit damaging to all and sundry, everyone took a deep breath and accepted it. Plus, some of the things that got grabbed, like the right to be with somebody of the same sex or a different race, were actually ok.

The thing is, all the grabbers are now the ones sat in my nightmare version of BBC Question Time, telling me how things should be. And yes, I know the people who run the government are scarcely older than me. But the ideas they've clung to in order to get their arses on the seats of power, are the ones that seemed to make sense in 1984, back when everything was a bit wobbly, and having a square Ford Escort meant that you were a force to be reckoned with in the world.

And they just keep on churning out the same stuff, don't they? The same old same old. They look like two sides, but really they're not. They're like two sets of in-laws that love to slag each other off, but really you don't want to spend the weekend with either of them. And underneath, the same thing is happening as did in the 70s. The old ideas, the old solutions just won't work, except nobody quite knows what the replacements might be. They only thing they're desperate for, is that they don't get discussed, as that would force us to admit that the old ones are dead, and stinking a bit, although they haven't yet been buried.

Sometimes, I think I see the future sticking its head up. Something sneaks by, and there it is for a moment. A world in which Brazil is as great as Britain, in which some shoddy new state suddenly does some bit of democracy better than the world's oldest one, in which technology throws up a mirror of us all in the darkness, and nobody cares which country it's from. People are full of ideas: they always are. It's not that we don't have the will or the capability to move forward from all these ghastly, complacent things, it's just like the fat arse of the past is sat on the skinny neck of the future, and demands that it carry it around. I'm a bit fed up of it, personally. Look, that's saved me 68 separate blogposts, ranting about 68 separate things.

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