Adventures in Chaos Land

Posted by in July's Magazine

All bets are off. Not that they were ever meaningfully on for me. My record at the local turf accountant is held aloft as a warning to others; fanciful flutters left swinging in the breeze like pirates at Wapping Dock. But hey, it’s my dosh and I shall lose it as I see fit. There is some authorship where this futility is concerned…unlike pretty much everything else.

Yes, I refer to the ongoing matter of the malfunctioning matrix we are now living in/through/amidst (it’s hard to know what relationship we have to this capricious matter. That’s matter in every sense by the way). I’ve wasted enough of your time boring on about it of late. So I’m going to call time out on bemoaning the unpredictably of our economy, politics, current affairs, global architecture, crisp varieties.


I have to ask because it’s starting to feel like anything that can go wrong will go wrong of late. Let’s not dwell on the human tragedies that have turned the news into one big wake over these past few weeks. But it is pertinent to consider the feeling of uncertainty it creates – and try to square that against the default position we all take for granted: that we live in a functioning stable democracy, free from internecine strife, famine and natural disasters. Crikey, we don’t even have particularly scary spiders.

Hang on, maybe that’s it, maybe the route through this shitshow – by which I mean the UK – is to accept the great fog of macro-uncertainty that we can’t control and take comfort in the micro- certainties that we can control. You know, like it’s a certainty lovelorn male house spiders will start shambling about your house around September looking for their girls, frightening the bejesus out of anyone who can’t listen to Ziggy Stardust without getting arachnophobic.

Here’s another prosaic certainty for us to seek refuge in: Scotland will snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in almost any sporting endeavour. Except tennis, bowls, or maybe even curling sometimes. There’s something wondrous in dependability, even if that does entail having your dreams being dipped in effluence. And then force-fed to you. While other people laugh, point and throw things.

Masochism? No, that’s never been up my street (or up my anything else for that matter). Besides, there’s punishment enough in just trying to keep up to dizzying events in the howling black vortex we diplomatically refer to as ‘the news headlines’. At which point, I must take a few clauses out to choke down some of Mrs Schadenfreude’s finest Humble Pie with a side order of pickled Homburg. Yes, I admit it; I didn’t see Corbyn coming in off the rails – ‘twas far from a certainty in my mind.

The thing is, unlike some, I’m delighted to be proved wrong. Here I need to deploy great grace and tact for I’m about to recall a conversation with someone way above me on the ladder at work. We got talking over a pint one evening and let’s just say it emerged that not surprisingly he’s no fan of Labour… especially in its current form. Fair dos,
I suppose, as a voter, that’s your right. But what he said next, was frankly a little frustrating.

A vote for Jezza’s Labour was going to take us back to the 1970s and, thus, economic ruin (with the potential renationalisation of the railways being emblematic of that folly, in his view). I paused for a sip of my cider before electing not to engage further, aside from seeking to remind my drinking companion that state-owned railways seem to do fine for the Germans, French and Dutch; so much so that they actually run our railways too and extract a handsome profit from us all for so doing.

But to return to the theme in the safety of this article perhaps that’s another form of certainty to take comfort in for some. The idea that whatever happens, whatever empirical evidence there is to suggest otherwise, whatever unintended consequences emerge from your determined belief in one way of doing things, you will not change your view.

In the interests of political balance, let’s flip the coin. Say the Tory strategy of pursuing austerity in tandem with an almost Wahhabist adherence to the free market at all costs had delivered a fairer society with opportunity for all, would I vote Tory? Hmmm. It’s quite a hypothesis. Which we needn’t entertain, because the evidence of how UK plc, and more importantly its citizens across the spectrum of race, class and gender has fared since 2008 snuffs that theory out in a heartbeat.

We are on a road to perdition. Maybe a tipping point is coming. Until then,in peculiar times, I take comfort in the little certainties of life. I’ll always go one penny over at the petrol pump. It will piss down during the festival. And yes, those big bastard spiders will be glaring at me from under a glass tumbler come September. Lads I can’t promise you a bride but I shall put on a fly buffet. Just for you.

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