Protempore – Issue 121

Posted by in February's Magazine

It’s Saturday the 13th of January and apart from the words I’m typing now, this page is blank. Our seldom seen but loveable editor has been in touch and has asked me, in his sweet but slightly threatening way, to write a piece about what kind of year it’s been and what we might look forward to in the not too distant future. And to be perfectly honest, I don’t really want to burden you with my thoughts about what’s been going on. I don’t know about you but I’m tired. Physically and mentally I feel shattered. And I’m sad. There seems to have been a never-ending catalogue of disasters and tragedies which have been played and replayed on every 24-hour news channel as if to bludgeon us into submission and surrender ourselves to the fact that the world is going to hell in a handcart which is being dragged there by a racist megalomaniac in the White House. But something needs to be said.

On 16 June this year, the veteran BBC journalist John Simpson, tweeted: It’s a year since Jo Cox was murdered: the worst year for Britain in my lifetime. We badly need a return to Jo’s concept of moderation now. When the Labour politician Jo Cox was murdered, her assailant shouted “Britain first” before killing her. In November this year, Donald Trump re-tweeted anti-Islamic tweets from the fascist Britain First group claiming that “every side of an issue” needs to be shown. In December, Nigel Farage defended Trump.


The week after Jo Cox was murdered, the UK voted to leave the European Union. Many leave voters voted to leave because they had been promised that the money which would be saved from our EU contributions would be used in part to give the NHS £350 million a week. Many commentators have stated that this was the pledge which swung the referendum. We now know that it was a lie and for the privilege of ‘taking back control’, it now appears that we will have to pay the EU upwards of £35 billion. The NHS, far from being saved, is now in real danger of being dismantled which is perhaps what the Tory Brexiteers wanted all along. The agonising irony of this is that a large number of the communities which voted to leave the EU will be the ones to suffer the most.

In March 2017, a terrorist attack in Westminster left five people dead and 49 injured. In May, a suicide bomber attacked concert-goers in Manchester which left twenty-three dead and 119 injured; the youngest victim was 8 years old. In June a terrorist attack on London Bridge left eight people dead and 48 injured. Also in June, Grenfell Tower in West London burned down killing seventy-one people and leaving hundreds homeless.

All of this and all of the world’s disasters could render you incapable of leaving the house at times. But I’m lucky. I have a close family; a kind and understanding partner and a daughter and two healthy, happy grandchildren. And I have my pals. I can honestly say that if it wasn’t for my pals and the fact that they take me as I am; that we laugh and drink together often; and that we take the weight off each other constantly; I don’t think I could cope. But for some reason, this shitty year has managed to invade and ravage even that simple solace.

Gary and Grant were my pals. They both got cancer. They were both young. Neither of them complained. They didn’t want or look for sympathy. Before they got weak, they both laughed and drank like the rest of us. They never let the disease running through their veins take precedence over our petty troubles or our gripes about life not being fair. And this shitty year has decided to deny us their company forever.

In the immediate aftermath of tragedy, the easy thing to do is to retreat and begin a long, slow journey into the depths of despair and no-one could be blamed for doing so. But that’s what terrorists and fascists and tragedies and disasters and racists want you to do. To give up. To surrender. To leave the way open for them to pollute the world.

We can’t hold nature back and we can’t avoid the fact that one day we’ll all have to give up our space on the planet for someone else, but if my pals’ leaving has taught me anything, it’s that life is short and precious and we should fight to make it the best that we can for everyone. 

I may be tired but I’m not fucking giving up. Not for anyone. My pals would never forgive me. ν


One response to “Protempore – Issue 121”

  1. Thank you for sharing the post and tell the story.

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