Friday Night in Dublin
Hello reader. I feel as though I should apologise for neglecting my blog. There you must be, preparing the party hats, having ordered the cake, sure only that I have quit by blog croft, and like the sod beneath your feet, I am back.
Well, not quite. I am in a four star hotel in Dublin having been asked to do some business for a friend. I am very conscious that I am in a free and sovereign state, and a smaller somewhat happier one than London. As I left the airport tonight, passengers chatted with the cockney driver, helped each other out with directions and swapped jokes. The hotel I am in, and indeed the airport where I landed was neither obsessed with security nor with extracting money from me; and the shops are not as far as I can tell, a monoculture of franchises.
People are neither broken nor forced to hear the honeyed and recorded or read-out language of consultants and managers, which is a feature of English buses and trains these days. They all pretend to be aeroplanes and give pointless hectoring safety lectures as standard to a journey. The only reason that anyone lifted their heads from their books and papers on the plane tonight when that silly safety lecture was given was to watch the balletic way the attendant pointed out the doors and oxygen masks. I didn't think that could be done with any grace. One phrase you will never hear, or read beyond this blog, for example, is 'the velcro snapped seductively'. But her long arm did point to the emergency lights with a lovely elan, even if in real life she was tired. She had pride in her work.
One of the nicest things I saw was a silly one; Scotsmen in kilts and Irishmen in rugby tops chatting outside the pubs over the games in which they are in competition.
Reader, I seem to be in some dreamland. I know that Dublin has its problems. I have no illusions about the Liberties or anything around them. Perhaps my sight of things was conditioned by the hour of the night. A little later, a little of the violence and drunkenness that are now (from the historical point of view I should say once again) standard in England.
Yet it should not be impossible for England to have a little of this, a little easy democracy and control of business. Small countries do things by a sort of networked nepotism, of course. Bigger ones, though, like Germany, can develop the sort of state that allows people to be relaxed and to be people.
There is an epidemic of drinking and unhappiness in England. Middle-class busybodies often put it down to a lack of education in schools, and want more money for their interventionist lobbies. They are wrong; what is necessary is that education be for life, not for business, and that it take people out of themselves and not patronise them. Of course, this requires that capital is not proud and that everyone is not deep in debt and forced to work for people who have been bullied into thinking that their country is to be forced into the nonsense of Private Finance Initiatives and the purposes of short term money.
This has always been a difficult proposition in England.
But it is possible to imagine a different country. I've a been thinking a great deal about the lines of force laid down in 1979. There is such a palpable yearning for change in England, for decent utilities responsible to the public, for businesses that are for the convenience of the people, and for politics that is more than simply some global front for the non-domiciled and the moneyed fantasists who have dominated the social circles of New Labour.
There is an awful lot to say about all that, and tomorrow I will try and write a few blogs about it. But tonight, I will sleep here in euro-city, with a moon like Earl Strafford and Wolfe Tone and a thousand drunks and desperate people must have looked at over the years above me, and be glad that I am in a free republic, amongst a people free of everything except the flaws of their own humanity.
Here's a cup of tea and a cheese sandwich to the memory of my grandfather, who rebuilt a little of all this in his little house in England for so many years before he died.