So here we are at last, all the way up a fiscal shit creek with raw sewage leaking into our boats. Only the uber-rich can afford to even shop at M&S and thereby avoid the taste of
poverty-flavoured faeces the rest of us have brimming under our collective nose.
All of us seem unable to stem the juggernaut about to devour our very souls,
blinking into the oncoming headlights like terrified bunny rabbits.
And yet, to date, bugger all has really happened. Each morning I continue to take the harrowing stroll of shame to the poorly-paid indignity of regular employment that I, like so many others, have no choice but to endure. And on my way I see no outward signs of the sudden collapse of civilisation.
The powers that be tell us we have reached recession, but not quite it’s arsehole. As we slide further down into that hairy crack, what outward signs can we use to predict whether life will prevail in the future? What kind of brave new world awaits us all? As a nation we have proved to be no more than economic and environmental simpletons, putting up with so much and asking for so little. Ben Okri (left) wrote a meaningful, if not particularly ecumenical, article in October’s Times where he dissected, with a certain amount of fervor, the nation’s moral bankruptcy. And now we find ourselves at a point where the tabloids are keenest to write about a couple of smart cunts instead, well past their shelf-life, doing puerile bitch slapping phone cranks on Manuel and his Satanic needs. This country, or, more to the point, those that think they hold the moral high ground over the rest of us, have decided heads should roll because of this. In particular, the head of lisping fop Ross and his crony in utterly unfunny crime. Joe Brand’s love child; Russell.
Perhaps we are about to take a step back into the dark ages, criminalising anyone who dares crack a joke, hilarious or otherwise. But we’ve failed to laugh at the least funny joke of all. No, not the obscene amount of money paid to Ross from our licence fee, or the apparent duality of a BBC that both caused this trivial prank and reported it in the tone of a disapproving boarding school headmaster. Ross does indeed need a put down; he was never talented enough to command such a high fee. But his rise and fall isn’t about this inability to be even remotely humorous, it’s all about greed.
Undermining greed has become the new altar at which we worship. Some feel they can claim back the
remnants of authority by spotting avarice and bringing down those who would chase money. In this
climate, Ross has become the victim of a witch-hunt, simply because he possesses a lot of money and
we don’t. Last year my bank decided to take one hundred and fifty of my hard earned pounds because
I was overdrawn by a paltry one pound and thirty-seven pence. How ironic then I can look forward to being charged an even more ridiculous amount for bailing them out of this mire of their own making. It will come through hiked income tax, and I won’t even have the satisfaction of making them beg for the privilege while kissing my freshly moralistic arse. The only up-side comes with thinking how the smug bastards in council tax collection offices can look forward to a future as bleak as the rest of us in their autumn years.
And so, as the fiscal shenanigans of the nation’s Shires are left burning longboat style, drifting into the horizon lit only by Kirk Douglas’s flaming arrows while Karen Millen is replaced by Primark as the fashion to wear, what can be left of the future? Mostly it will be more doom and gloom. Maybe even the end of civilisation as we know it. But the irony is in how rather than why.
While we stood staring open-mouthed at the prospect of having to shop at Lidl for the next million years, we
missed the opening gambit of the biggest catastrophe yet to unfold. Forget being hit by asteroids, or an
Alaskan hick pressing the nuke button thinking it was room service. This isn’t about financial meltdown, or
OPEC’s cartel, or even Brown and co’s fiscal world-leading circus. No, here the small things truly matter,
like the humble bee, about to shuffle off this mortal coil and take everything we value with it.
Bees are suddenly at risk of extinction and this is well know as a major harbinger of apocalypse. And yet their
problems are just one more symptom. We seem locked into a cycle, when things get tough, of inflicting moral retribution on those who have more filthy lucre than us, be they bankers or wankers. We concern ourselves with the erudition of minor domestic bickering, talk that has no real value or impact upon the world, serving as a diversion from what is really at stake.
Remember the last boom and bust? The dot-com bubble and hyped hysteria that the world would end in 1999 from a miasma of computer bugs and pre-millennial meltdowns? It didn’t. We went on spending, buying on credit, living a hedonistic, here-today fuck-tomorrow lifestyle. The money flowed like wine and we laughed like maniacal idiots at a medieval banquet, ignoring the sad outpourings of contemporary soothsayers who were predicting a downturn. After all, they were wrong when 1999 slipped as if KY’d into 2000. The only downside to that new century was a tasteless rehash of a nasty Prince ditty. Or Squiggle, or whatever-he-is.
Eight years on and now we have to pay the piper. The rise of the machines was a non-starter, but the cold war has an even chance. Global warming proved excellent for striking fear into our souls but it wasn’t enough. Now we are forced to accept the false promise that governments will see us through, their increased taxes designed to make a better, more caring, world. Total financial meltdown is not the only pandemic of fear about to grip us by the balls and twist, hurting enough to make us think that bailing out the rich is the best way forward, even when it means the likes of you and me will remain forever poor.
Whether it’s our own greed and gluttony in devouring the place we inhabit, or just nature’s way of striking a balance, the scales look as if they have already been tipped. Ben Okri wrote a stunning article indeed, but he forgot the rich man in his castle, the poor man at his gate. God made them, high or low, and ordered their estate.
Perhaps now is the time to leave judgments to the almighty.
Amen, Yet Again