Me and Her

Here’s a piece from my before translation Swedish column in the Goteborgs-Posten in the early spring.

It’s spring again. I know that because the frogs are furiously at it in the pond and the faintest of greens is appearing on the birch tree. There’s even a hint of sun after the Cambridge morning mist has passed. Why am I sunk in gloom, barely able to get out of bed? Certainly not before morning has almost passed into afternoon. Why am I dreading the passing of the week because it means there’s another one in store? Waking in the morning with a concrete block of dread inside my chest weighing me down? Looking forward only to the moment in the evening, much too early, when I turn off the light and that brief startling relief that I am in the dark and can let myself, with chemical assistance, fall asleep – until I wake every couple of hours during the night?

Well, chemistry might answer those questions. I’ve been here often enough before, both with and without real life events to trigger the condition. It’s my character, my type, my destiny, the way the molecules fell and the cookie crumbled at the fertilization of the egg that became me. The blackness falls over me regularly, although, in the last twenty years during which I’ve been medicated, usually better controlled and for shorter periods than at present. It lurks in the ingredients of my brain recipe. There’s also what they call environmental factors. A weird childhood that caused one psychiatrist to say I was lucky I haven’t turned out psychotic. I’d be crazy not to be a depressive, another said to me. In addition, there’s the death of four people, three who I’d known since my teenage years, one my oldest friend, two of them and the arrangement of their funerals within the last four months. And still the deaths continue and the past is chipped away.

You can mix and match the chemical and environmental reasons every which way, or take just the one or the other. It doesn’t matter, there are very few choices in the management of this thing, even if you include alternative therapies, whatever the cause. I’m too self-aware and armoured, apparently, for talk therapy to be much use. CBT, even if I had the energy for list-making, box-ticking, and contract writing, doesn’t inspire me with any confidence. So only sitting through it and medication remain. I’ve gone for medication – new and different anti-depressants – because I know that sitting through it is not only agony, but dangerous, as well as very difficult for other people to deal with. Actually, the medication option includes sitting through it, because of the way that antidepressants famously don’t start to work for a month or so, and often make you feel worse, with mind numbing side effects. And then, of course, it might turn out that they are not the right pills for you. So start again, another month of sitting through it. At some point, one is too old for the wait to seem worth it.

Another question is how does it come about that I am writing this, and have written a couple of long articles since the dark settled over me? That’s two questions really. First, I seem to have a ‘writing head’ that clicks on when I set my hands on a keyboard. Writing has nothing to do with the daily living me, even if it uses the daily living me as a conduit. It’s a mystery to me, really strange as I watch myself do it, but the psychiatrist I saw said that she thought I’d probably always been ‘disassociated’ and wasn’t surprised that I could write while I could hardly talk or move. I didn’t go into it any deeper than that. It rang true to me, but I don’t want to think about it too much. I don’t like mystery and magic about writing and ignorance easily settles for mysterious.

The second part of the question is why on earth would I write such intimate stuff about myself when I could be writing about the state of the world, the latest must-see US TV series or whether street fashion echoes the fractured structure of the government coalition. Why take such an unwarrented interest in myself? And why expose myself? One answer is simple narcissism. People who write, especially people who write novels and memoiristic non-fiction must by definition be narcissistic. Another answer, which might be the same one, is that everything I write is writing about me. The state of the world as I write it, is happening through my eyes, inevitably; filtered by my mind, turned into opinion and sentences by my fingers. I don’t have a sense of me in here and it out there as a writer. The writer and the state of the world are both in here and out there together. For the non-writer me, part of the darkness is a refusal to turn on the TV news. To refuse to acknowledge the world. Yet at the same time I’m unable to stop myself reading intently online about mean and vicious world events, which are as bleak and warlike as myself at the moment. The world perhaps always reflects one’s state of mind, although it’s hard for me to imagine observing the events in the Ukraine and Crimea in a happy, cheerful mood and coming away optimistic. The world always looks bleak to me, and always has. I understand that this is not the case with everyone, although I can’t imagine it. It might be that my lurking darkness exists in that way all the time, even when I’m perfectly ‘well’. Most importantly, if writing matters, it matters that writers write about the world, and that there is always and only their view that you are at any given time reading. My writing for publication of any sort, is not the beginning of a dialogue. The round-up piece of everyone’s views is useful, but it’s not writing as I mean it and do it. In whatever mood, (though unfortunately I don’t have many so my work is hardly kaleidoscopic) I reject the idea that I should not be included and include myself in whatever I write about. How could I uninclude myself?

But what about privacy? Don’t I mind about exposing my inner state to anonymous readers anywhere in the world, whom I don’t know and who don’t know me? The answer is, I’m not. I’m sitting here in bed writing this on my screen in silence in an empty house (the Poet is having a break, giving a paper in Oxford). No one is reading this except me. That I know some people will read this (those that don’t turn to other less narcissistic matters) doesn’t matter. Forgive me, I know you are each an individual with a live mind and a beating heart, but to me as I write you simply don’t exist. I am talking to myself. The ‘you’ I address right now is me-as-reader. Nothing gets beyond these four walls. Sometimes, to my surprise, I get messages from readers talking about a piece I’ve written or books of mine they’ve read, and it really does shock me, for all that I understand the reality. Someone read that, and is talking to me! Or they think they are. They are, of course, really talking to the me that goes about in the world. The one who reads the emails. The writer-me isn’t available, all she does is write. Sometimes though she hears the faint sound of world out there, and it’s a shock when the fraction of the world that reads me makes itself known. When I started writing and people came up to me to say they’d read something of mine, I had to stop myself reacting as if they’d stolen my private diary and remember that I sent the writing out into the world. Very inconsistent. But there it is. I don’t mind being that. We are, all of us, difficult, inconsistent creatures.

I’ve chosen not to look up ‘dissociation’ in the psychiatric diagnostic books, but the word does make some sense to me. As a handhold on reality, I think I should be grateful for it. There have certainly been times when I’ve been in this condition, when I have been silent and unmoving for months on end, taking most of the day to get the energy even to have a pee. As black and bleak as I can ever imagine it being. But since I’ve been ‘a writer’, I’ve been able for short periods to keep my hands moving on the keyboard and focus through some small hole in my mind on the words appearing on the screen. Dissociation works for me. I wonder if integration is the opposite of dissociation. I imagine so. I also imagine that an integrated me would be silent. In writerly terms it would be an absence of words, a full stop. I think the silence of an integrated self must be akin to the perfection of the terminal point without a word before or after it.

 

The Time of the Comedians

This was published in Swedish by the Goteborgs-Posten in November.

 

It is the time of the comedians. Western politics as it is perceived by populations and portrayed by the media of every kind is in such a parlous state, that it is not a metaphor but a reality developing before our eyes. The comedians in this country are arguing amongst themselves, but in full public view, about the state of the nation and what is to be done to resolve and redeem its moribund condition. It has already happened in Italy where the comedian Beppe Grillo launched his Five Star Party several years ago, and in the general election of 2013 it received 25.5% of the vote, coming second to the Democratic Party. Nobody has sent for the clowns, they arrived already on stage when the people understood that clowns disguised as responsible politicians have been running the country all along. Italian politics has often been seen as a joke. Now the joke has taken hold and become a political reality. Why wouldn’t the clowns do as good a job as the present day parliamentarians, bankers, civil servants, shady hedge fund managers and directors of multinational corporations who can be seen to be carving up national economics, justice and welfare according to their own need and greed? Miles and miles of print articles in serious papers throughout the world and online comment have been devoted to the meaning of Beppe Grillo’s rise in Italian national politics. He is a king-maker holding the balance of power, a populist, a rabble rouser, a demagogue, far right, far left, the voice of the people demanding direct democracy in which politicians are responsible only to the electorate. It caused perhaps only a little fright to those who know that they control the world, whatever speeches are made in parliament. But he is taken as a sign. And, over here, a few funny men have sat up and taken notice.

Now England’s clown time has arrived. We have a scrawny, ragged stand-up comedian called Russell Brand. He hits the headlines from time to time with practised pranks in the media that cause outrage or amusement. He specialises in going over the top and then apologising with as little grace as possible. He is more interesting that most fame chasers and youngish (he is 38) comedians, because although he has had a minimal education, he is highly articulate, decidedly over-wordy, and has an ability to cut through the cant of politicians and TV journalists who find it difficult to deal with his directness. He isn’t afraid and doesn’t care about doing things the right way. He freely acknowledges all the things that he thinks he could be accused of: he’s open about having been a drug addict, an alcoholic and suffered bulimia. With all this, he has brought himself to the nation’s attention and has become the grubby, long-haired loud-mouth the tabloids love to hate.

He hit the news most recently by being guest editor for an edition of the New Statesman. In a hideously long (4500 words) and apparently unedited Forward to his edition, he gave an overview of the state of the nation, berating politicians and those who pull their strings, for corruption, greed and self-interest. He said that he has never voted, because to vote is to collude with the fantasy that those in power are spreading while continuing their corrupt, self-serving ways. Democracy is a con, it is a lie that anyone in power cares about what people think. None of the parties are better than any other in this regard. Finally, he called for people to stand with him and refuse to vote as a positive political act in order to show that we were no longer going to allow ourselves to be fooled into quiescence.

This resulted in another stand-up comedian, Robert Webb, writing a response to Russell Brand, not quietly in a private letter or conversation, but in an open letter that appeared on the front page of The Guardian. Webb said that Brand was wrong about non-voting and encouraging others not to vote. It was our democratic birthright to vote and to participate in politics to change it if we didn’t like the way it was going. As a direct result of Brand’s suggestions, Webb joined the Labour Party. The Labour Party didn’t say whether it was delighted by this or not.

Political commentators and academics were very sniffy about the upstart, naive Brand and his childish view of government and politics. Many of us looked on unimpressed as famous people took up column inches and gained publicity for themselves, their only qualification for pontificating seeming to be that people knew their names and paid money to attend their gigs around the country. But the ball kept rolling. Jeremy Paxman, TV political interviewer in chief, had a long discussion with Brand on BBC’s Newsnight, berating Brand for decrying democratic politics before himself getting on to the front pages of the national press to announce that actually, he hadn’t voted in the last election because he thought it was pointless.

Then Brand wrote another 3 or 4 thousand words in The Guardian to respond to all this.

‘I fervently believe that we deserve more from our democratic system than the few derisory tit-bits tossed from the carousel of the mighty, when they hop a few inches left or right. The lazily duplicitous servants of The City expect us to gratefully participate in what amounts to little more than a political hokey cokey where every four years we get to choose what colour tie the liar who leads us wears.’

Over-stuffed as his language might be, I pretty much agree with Brand. He is certainly saying things that I have felt for a long time. A lot of people feel the same way. There is a cynicism and angry apathy among all of us as we watch the games being played. I haven’t voted since Tony Blair stood for re-election, there being no one and no party I believed or whose promises I trusted. The years since, culminating in the Tory-Lib Dem coalition have confirmed to me the simple truths that Brand speaks. The idea that there should be a nation effort not to vote, or to spoil ballot papers en masse strikes me as being a pretty effective message to all the parties that the electorate is no longer prepared to be fooled or to play along and pretend it is acting out some holy freedom when we put our cross by a candidate’s name. The puppets are in revolt. More importantly, it would mean that no party and no coalition could claim, as they all have, no matter how small the percentage vote, that they have a mandate from the people for running the country or putting their policies into law. 

I feel the pull of Brand’s populist anger and call to act quite strongly. He speaks of wanting a fairer society. Of giving higher wages to nurses, teachers and those who clean up our messes, than to those who sit in boardrooms selling oil or arms or surveillance equipment. All he wants, he says, is change for the better and if we collaborate in refusing power to those who think they are entitled to it, we can effect change. 

The rhetoric is appealing as the rhetoric of the new broom demagogue sweeping the corrupt past away has always appealed. I don’t think that Brand is insincere or has, at least a conscious, desire for personal power. But I read his final words and tremble, not just at them, but at my own attraction to the popular words of a cheeky, honest stand-up comedian:

Even the outlet that printed this will tomorrow print a couple of columns saying what a naïve wanker I am, or try to find ways that I’ve fucked up. Well I am naïve and I have fucked up but I tell you something else. I believe in change. I don’t mind getting my hands dirty because my hands are dirty already. I don’t mind giving my life to this because I’m only alive because of the compassion and love of others. Men and women strong enough to defy this system and live according to higher laws. This is a journey we can all go on together, all of us. We can include everyone and fear no one. A system that serves the planet and the people. I’d vote for that.

While the comedian tells us honestly what we know about the world, there are always the others, the ones who do consciously want power and wealth, and they know very well how to manipulate populist feeling in a power vacuum. What is more, one of the worst things about Tony Blair, when he forcibly, with deceit, took us into the Iraq war that was to cause the death of hundreds of thousands of people, was that he was sincere. He claimed his sincerity as the bedrock of his right to act, as if only belief in what you were doing was required to act against a population’s wishes. And then I also worry about the population, that not only knows how corrupt the rich and powerful are, but, according to the polls, want to bring back hanging as a punishment for murder, and believe the country is being overrun by immigrants, and that the majority of those on welfare benefits for the low paid and unemployed are skivers and scroungers. And so I return to anger and apathy, and worry about a popular revolution led by comedians as well as no revolution, and the misery in the world getting ever more miserable.

Happy Last New Year

I wrote this for my first column of 2013 in the Swedish Goteborgs-Posten. I think it makes interesting reading for the end of 2013. I really do wish everyone and all of us a better New Year.

I’m writing this in the first week of the new year. Don’t worry, I don’t have any resolutions – or none that I haven’t always and already had and failed to keep most of my life. I’m not going to start and maintain a diary, or set a daily word target and keep to it, or join a gym and give them my money without using their facilities until I finally admit that I could give the money away to more deserving causes than my conscience*. I know the January 1st date doesn’t matter, and it has been many years since I saw in the New Year (or rather locked myself in the loo while others rejoiced in the joys they believed the New Year would bring) Still, we clearly need to keep track of before and after, and to have a sense of the relative distance between then, now and to come.  January 1st is an arbitrary way to divide up our lives, but what isn’t? In England the tax year starts in April, and it is the last remnant of an old ecclesiastical calendar (itself, I suppose, loosely imposed on top of an agrarian calendar) when Spring and new growth, reasonably enough, was deemed to be the proper beginning of the year. The academic year of schools and universities begins in September and October. If nothing else it means that calendar manufacturers can make more money by producing separate academic diaries for students and teachers. And everyone has a birthday which is their very own personalised new year. However they are calculated, calendars are metaphors for renewal and age and useful conveniences for creatures (very possibly only us on this particular planet) that are burdened with a vivid sense of time.

This year America was due to fall off a fiscal cliff at a symbolically satisfying midnight on 31st December, although no one with any sense would have lost money by betting that it would be more or less sorted out in time. It was more or less sorted out, and the strict deadline served as a way of concentrating minds. There is very little else that occurs regularly, apart from birth and Spring, that has the dramatic grace of the new year to allow us to indulge in our fantasy of new beginnings. The newspapers year after year prove resolute in looking back and forward as if journalists believe that world affairs are affected by the change from number 12 to 13. Millions of people cheer in the chimes of midnight no matter what their troubles at 11.45pm, with the help of alcohol and a truly marvellous capacity for optimism. People wish each other a happy and better new year as if the imaginary cliff of 12am will work its liminal magic on more than US economics.

Things do and don’t alter over time, though not so much by calendar years. 2012 brought us the collapse of hope for the Arab Spring of 2010 and 2011 as the world helplessly witnessing the terrible attempts of the Assad regime in Syria to maintain power. In the UK in 2012, the Church of England proved its ancient alliance with the sexism of much of our society by rejecting the idea of women bishops, while all over the world women have marched, organised, and, in India, died, in an attempt to live their lives without fear of rape and discrimination. In England we have had floods, murders, vastly long and expensive inquiries into the behaviour of the press, the police, the government, the banks. Each seemed momentous for a few weeks, and then another momentous event occurred. Time passed, and interest waned or was diverted. We are only human, there is only so much we can keep in our heads and continue genuinely to feel pity, anger, determination about. In the UK we discovered that paedophilia has been a part of our normality for decades, that the care of the elderly and the vulnerable young is not good enough by a very long way. In the wider world many people in many countries sighed their relief, if not joy, that Barack Obama beat Mitt Romney in the US election. New laws will be enacted, new leaves turned, new lessons learned, we are assured, with each and every revelation. And then there’s that fade as whatever it is drops to page six or seven of the newspapers and disappears from the TV and radio news, and occasionally you wonder what happened about this or that, in the midst of whatever is happening now. Or it simply repeats itself. It’s one damn thing after another, and one damn year after another doesn’t really make very much difference to our poor easily distracted minds or the incorrible affairs of human beings.

So in this fresh moment of 2013, what remains of that brief optimism in the middle of the night that something will change tomorrow? Soon Obama will be sworn in, and I hope that, without another election to win, he will make the kind of social and economic changes that were promised and which won him the presidency in the first place. Then I will remember that one man really can’t effect radical change in a system designed to prevent just that. It will be the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President Kennedy, and, if we don’t fall for hopeless nostalgia,  we will remember how it was only his early death that left us with the last sense of promise that might have been fulfilled. Here there will be a new royal baby, and that will be a useful screen for politicians and newspapers who want the nation to forget about the continuing cuts to the welfare system, schools, universities and the NHS -  those real promises of the United Kingdom.

I’m sure that in the next twelve months lots of very good things will happen, some of them to me, some to you. We will take pleasure in things read, seen and done, that will enhance our lives, give us courage and delight, make us grateful to be alive. I think of those good things as being done by individuals, for themselves and for others, appreciated by individuals and passed on to individuals, in spite of, rather than because of, institutions and bureaucracy. After 65 years of living, I can only find the potential goodness in the small, personal, the often inconsequential, the difficult, the less popular and the overlooked. The trust in community that I had when I was young remains little more than a hopeless fantasy, as I’ve observed the way that organised political and belief systems overwhelm and weary people with good ideas and novel ways of putting them into action. I don’t trust group emotion, crowd approval, or mass sentiment: those orchestrated displays of good feeling on the national scale seem to me to be the tools of the establishment. I am moved by those prepared to stand up against greed and power grabbing, especially if they have the wit and originally to make ridiculous what they despise. I doubt very much that 2013 will be very different, or very much less tragic than 2012, no matter what anyone does, but I think it magnificent that there are still people who will keep furiously mocking the tragic and corrupt, and hold up a mirror for anyone who chooses to see. 

2.1.2013

* This was a big, fat lie. I did join a gym and I’ve been paying monthly without going for about 6 months.

Clown Time, Again. And again and again…

This is another article from my column in the Swedish paper, Göteborgs-Posten.

It is the time of the comedians. Western politics as it is perceived by populations and portrayed by the media of every kind is in such a parlous state, that it is not a metaphor but a reality developing before our eyes. The comedians in this country are arguing amongst themselves, but in full public view, about the state of the nation and what is to be done to resolve and redeem its moribund condition. It has already happened in Italy where the comedian Beppe Grillo launched his Five Star Party several years ago, and in the general election of 2013 it received 25.5% of the vote, coming second to the Democratic Party. Nobody has sent for the clowns, they arrived already on stage when the people understood that clowns disguised as responsible politicians have been running the country all along. Italian politics has often been seen as a joke. Now the joke has taken hold and become a political reality. Why wouldn’t the clowns do as good a job as the present day parliamentarians, bankers, civil servants, shady hedge fund managers and directors of multinational corporations who can be seen to be carving up national economics, justice and welfare according to their own need and greed? Miles and miles of print articles in serious papers throughout the world and online comment have been devoted to the meaning of Beppe Grillo’s rise in Italian national politics. He is a king-maker holding the balance of power, a populist, a rabble rouser, a demagogue, far right, far left, the voice of the people demanding direct democracy in which politicians are responsible only to the electorate. It caused perhaps only a little fright to those who know that they control the world, whatever speeches are made in parliament. But he is taken as a sign. And, over here, a few funny men have sat up and taken notice.

Now England’s clown time has arrived. We have a scrawny, ragged stand-up comedian called Russell Brand. He hits the headlines from time to time with practised pranks in the media that cause outrage or amusement. He specialises in going over the top and then apologising with as little grace as possible. He is more interesting that most fame chasers and youngish (he is 38) comedians, because although he has had a minimal education, he is highly articulate, decidedly over-wordy, and has an ability to cut through the cant of politicians and TV journalists who find it difficult to deal with his directness. He isn’t afraid and doesn’t care about doing things the right way. He freely acknowledges all the things that he thinks he could be accused of: he’s open about having been a drug addict, an alcoholic and suffered bulimia. With all this, he has brought himself to the nation’s attention and has become the grubby, long-haired loud-mouth the tabloids love to hate.

He hit the news most recently by being guest editor for an edition of the New Statesman. In a hideously long (4500 words) and apparently unedited Forward to his edition, he gave an overview of the state of the nation, berating politicians and those who pull their strings, for corruption, greed and self-interest. He said that he has never voted, because to vote is to collude with the fantasy that those in power are spreading while continuing their corrupt, self-serving ways. Democracy is a con, it is a lie that anyone in power cares about what people think. None of the parties are better than any other in this regard. Finally, he called for people to stand with him and refuse to vote as a positive political act in order to show that we were no longer going to allow ourselves to be fooled into quiescence.

This resulted in another stand-up comedian, Robert Webb, writing a response to Russell Brand, not quietly in a private letter or conversation, but in an open letter that appeared on the front page of The Guardian. Webb said that Brand was wrong about non-voting and encouraging others not to vote. It was our democratic birthright to vote and to participate in politics to change it if we didn’t like the way it was going. As a direct result of Brand’s suggestions, Webb joined the Labour Party. The Labour Party didn’t say whether it was delighted by this or not.

Political commentators and academics were very sniffy about the upstart, naive Brand and his childish view of government and politics. Many of us looked on unimpressed as famous people took up column inches and gained publicity for themselves, their only qualification for pontificating seeming to be that people knew their names and paid money to attend their gigs around the country. But the ball kept rolling. Jeremy Paxman, TV political interviewer in chief, had a long discussion with Brand on BBC’s Newsnight, berating Brand for decrying democratic politics before himself getting on to the front pages of the national press to announce that actually, he hadn’t voted in the last election because he thought it was pointless.

Then Brand wrote another 3 or 4 thousand words in The Guardian to respond to all this.

‘I fervently believe that we deserve more from our democratic system than the few derisory tit-bits tossed from the carousel of the mighty, when they hop a few inches left or right. The lazily duplicitous servants of The City expect us to gratefully participate in what amounts to little more than a political hokey cokey where every four years we get to choose what colour tie the liar who leads us wears.’

Over-stuffed as his language might be, the truth is that I pretty much agree with Brand. He is certainly saying things that I have felt for a long time. A lot of people feel the same way. There is a cynicism and angry apathy among all of us as we watch the games being played. I haven’t voted since Tony Blair stood for re-election, there being no one and no party I believed or whose promises I trusted. The years since, culminating in the Tory-Lib Dem coalition have confirmed to me the simple truths that Brand speaks. The idea that there should be a nation effort not to vote, or to spoil ballot papers en masse strikes me as being a pretty effective message to all the parties that the electorate is no longer prepared to be fooled or to play along and pretend it is acting out some holy freedom when we put our cross by a candidate’s name. The puppets are in revolt. More importantly, it would mean that no party and no coalition could claim, as they all have, no matter how small the percentage vote, that they have a mandate from the people for running the country or putting their policies into law.

I feel the pull of Brand’s populist anger and call to act quite strongly. He speaks of wanting a fairer society. Of giving higher wages to nurses, teachers and those who clean up our messes, than to those who sit in boardrooms selling oil or arms or surveillance equipment. All he wants, he says, is change for the better and if we collaborate in refusing power to those who think they are entitled to it, we can effect change.

The rhetoric is appealing as the rhetoric of the new broom demagogue sweeping the corrupt past away has always appealed. I don’t think that Brand is insincere or has, at least a conscious, desire for personal power. But I read his final words and tremble, not just at them, but at my own attraction to the popular words of a cheeky, honest stand-up comedian:

Even the outlet that printed this will tomorrow print a couple of columns saying what a naïve wanker I am, or try to find ways that I’ve fucked up. Well I am naïve and I have fucked up but I tell you something else. I believe in change. I don’t mind getting my hands dirty because my hands are dirty already. I don’t mind giving my life to this because I’m only alive because of the compassion and love of others. Men and women strong enough to defy this system and live according to higher laws. This is a journey we can all go on together, all of us. We can include everyone and fear no one. A system that serves the planet and the people. I’d vote for that.

While the comedian tells us honestly what we know about the world, there are always the others, the ones who do consciously want power and wealth, and they know very well how to manipulate populist feeling in a power vacuum. What is more, one of the worst things about Tony Blair, when he forcibly, with deceit, took us into the Iraq war that was to cause the death of hundreds of thousands of people, was that he was sincere. He claimed his sincerity as the bedrock of his right to act, as if only belief in what you were doing was required to act against a population’s wishes. And then I also worry about the population, that not only knows how corrupt the rich and powerful are, but, according to the polls, want to bring back hanging as a punishment for murder, and believe the country is being overrun by immigrants, and that the majority of those on welfare benefits for the low paid and unemployed are skivers and scroungers. And so I return to anger and apathy, and worry about a popular revolution led by comedians as well as no revolution, and the misery in the world getting ever more miserable.