The Chinese nailed the concept of the backhanded wish many a year ago. While we were crudely, and smugly seeing off our nemesis with the wish ‘ See You Next Tuesday’, they were ingeniously wishing that dull times would not visit you, knowing full well that ‘interesting’ was a curse that seeped through the very fabric of your existence, while ‘dull’ would leave less than a greasy stain.
To live in interesting times is a cursed thing. I grew up in the time of power cuts, water-rationing, and clothes made from fibres that sparked if rubbed together. One of my first memories is 1976, aged three, being taken to a LAKE to be washed. A little later, I recall watching the Muppet Show on TV and the whole house suddenly sinking into darkness, kaput. My gran, ever resourceful, didn’t miss a beat, and employed her right hand as Kermit and her left as Fozzie Bear and managed the interruption with a skill I can only credit those who lived with black-out curtains and doodlebugs dropping out the sky to really ruin a night in.
The eighties, the decade where I suddenly realised the world was a great deal larger than the circuit round the estate I take my Raleigh Elf , gaped open with terrifying portents of doom. The realisation that nuclear bombs could rain down any minute if some politician fumbled a speech left me in a decade-long perpetual terror. I remember being in Beeston, with my aforementioned Gran, waiting for a bus to Stapleford to visit , in order, the chippy, the bingo hall, Hyper, and as we stood, I saw a plume of smoke on the horizon, mushroomed shape. This is it, I thought, and grabbed my gran and urged her to ‘duck and cover’. She, ever wise, saw my error, and pointed out that occasionally, certain weather conditions made the output of Radcliffe-on-Soar power station (a rather dominating apparition on the horizon as you crest the hill Toton is built on) made the steam look toadstool-esque. Nuclear annhiliation was in fact a litle bit of nice weather settling.
Ironically, that output is possibly more likely to kill us than any nuclear arsenal raining down, but that wouldn’t have cooled my paranoia. I made contingency plans to deal with the aftermath, digging bases in Bramcote Woods, which probably survive today. They’ll be dug up by a future archaelogist who will marvel at the price of Heinz Beans in 1985 and the hairiness of eightie’s porn. We had long figured that- and I can’t disagree that my thinking was slightly hormonally skewed- that if all the woman died we’d need some relief from symptoms even more pressing than radiation sickness. Looking back, we really should sue. That’s no way to be looking at life.
Then in 1989, the Berlin Wall failed, the USSR became the lot more cutesy Russia, then the idiot right-wing philospher Francis Fukuyama pronounced the end of history, and I walzted into adulthood and the nineties with a carefree attitude. September 11th happened, and stuff hotted up again, and once again Interesting Times descended, and once again, until Obama took the crown, an anxiety gripped, in common with the world, my wellbeing.
Now, after that tirade, the following cannot sound anything but glib. To mitigate, I dont write about global events, but they are useful to preface more local issues. And, by Jiminy, are we living in interesting times.
Beeston is so subject to change right I’ve had to relocate, albeit briefly, to Bristol to get a grip. Only from a distance can I settle my thoughts, and even with that distance I’m still so overwhelmed its all I can do to stop this post descending into pure gibberish as I let the landslide overwhelm me. Time for some bullets.
- Tesco. If you don’t know, check out my last article below. I’m bringing it up again however due to the positive responses since I published it: all anti, but many who can only say that off-record. The heart is about to be transpanted in Beeston, in a manner that would make Christiaan Barnard weep. I do not bear a grudge against Tesco per se: Sainsbury’s expansion is also a blot on those inhabitants of Derby Street who will endure even noisier dawn deliveries. But at least they are expanding on ugly areas, not on to the serendipitous nature reserve that has sprang up. Read below this post, and look further, cos I will spit my teeth out should I dwell longer on this issue.
- The Tram. I’m not going to voice my view here. To be honest, I’m a bit lost. Yes, I would love a clean, regular transport system to the city, but then again the inner conservative, and that’s with a small c, never the evil big C, is a little afraid of the route as it passes through a slice of lovely rural nothingness that cushions Chilwell from Stabbo. On the whole though, if it annoys BJ Mann, I’m game.
- The Crown closing down. Pubs have been dying as if hit by a new virus ever since the smoking ban and supermarkets-I’m not going to bring up Tesco here, dont worry-discounting to the extent that pubs have been deserted by the usual clientele who now drink at home, losing the sense of society that would exist standing by the bar, and as such retreating into insularity, selfish small-mindedness, killing a societal need in many. Its a shame, but hey, market forces must rule. Now the Crown isn’t closing, but its under a big brewery which has a habit of identifying its real-estate assets: and the Crown, Beeston’s oldest pub, is a damn fine handsome building, and thus at the mercy of a fresh-out-of-business-school spod who might see the short-term balance sheet as the means to a very juicy bonus, which he will then go and piss down a fucking Lloyd’s Number One bar. Watch this space.
- The Election 2010. Obviously, this is an issue concerning the whole of Broxtowe, maybe even nationwide, but Im not Michael Crick. I have always tried to keep this blog unaligned, mainly because any support I give is going to be rather tainted by the post below, which will be some glib/mawkish/nonsensical rantings that devalue any cause I try and big up. But our prospective Tory candidate, Ms Anne Soubrey, who with a bulging campaign donation by Lord Ashcroft, will try and return us to the Jim Lester days. Whilst I reserve the right to not express my choice at the ballot box, I am heartened by the burgeoning campaign to see our present, and very effective, incumbent in again, Why? Whatever your allegiances, he has proved to be a benefit to the community, and a nice chap to boot. Thus, an unheard of coalition of local activists have decided, under the most unlikely of names (‘Lib Dems for Palmer’ ‘Conservatives for Nick’) to show appreciation and support continuation. Is this a political watershed, the new-politics that we were all promised in the fall-out from the expenses furore? Time will tell.
These are indeed, and its not with optimism I type this, interesting times…