It was the arrival of the parcel that jolted me today. My friemd in Skye is obviously a great deal more organised with her preparations for Christmas than I am. Though given the havoc the Desmond has been wreaking, I am quite surprised she’s been able to make it out of the door. Skye is a windy place at the best of times. And if it’s not a wind that stops you standing upright, it often still has a knife like power, meaning you can forget about elegance and instead dress for survival. This little video from my YouTube channel, a channel now strangely inaccessible for me to post, may give you some idea,
December is a week old. Cards have begun to arrive. I’ve not written one or wrapped a present yet. Despite all the festive decorations, the gorgeous trees and the plans for meals with friends, the sitting down with the address book, a book of stamps and a box of cards has not thus far featured in my plans. Maybe it’s because the pictures of robins perched on snowy branches, the icicle decorations in shop windows are in stark contrast with the mild weather we are having, which feels more like late October or March than December.
Howver, I feel I need to get those first cards into the post box to get me in the swing, so tomorrow I shall settle to the task, if not with zeal, at least with purpose.
Despite our increasing secularism, and determination to turn Christmas into something that is primarily a celebration of consumerism and over-indulgence, many cards will carry messages of peace on earth, goodwill to all men; will remind us that the Christmas story is about the birth of a child, a vulnerable and helpless child who will grow up to preach a message of love.
This is a story that runs entirely counter to the narrative being offered by our government. To the established targets of the sick, the poor, the unemployed has been added that of External Threat.
Our newspapers are full of stories about the likelihood and reality of terror attacks in the four corners of the globe, and the idiotic responses of people who should really know better. This story in today’s Independent is both striking and frightening.
Of course our government won a vote last week to join in with the bombing. Cameron seemed in an enormous hurry to begin. Minutes after the vote the fighter jets set off on their first mission. It was as though he felt if we didn’t hurry up we might miss out. Then he warned that it was going to be a long slow campaign with no guarantees of success.
The cartoonists and columnists had a field day; not funny cartoons,(why do people think cartoons have to be funny? surely the purpose of many cartoon is to make us think) but scathing ones, ridiculing the idea that “our” bombs would somehow not kill civilians. Twitter was pithily eloquent.
This from @iyad_elbaghdadi “It’s difficult to convince civilians on the receiving end of Western bombs that the West sees all human life as equally sacred.” Iyad El-Baghdadi has been tweeting about the dangers of Islamic fundamentalists and how the West responds for ages. Increasingly, his is the voice I look for on Twitter. He even took the time to point out and explain that DAESH is an acronym, rare in Arabic.
@ainnucci Armando Iannucci, famed for sharp humour that takes no prisoners, just sounded tired, “Still looking for compelling reasons for bombing. Disappointed many will be voting in favour despite not finding one either.”
Stephen Fry posted a link to a satirical piece in the Huffington Post
We have been warned an attack in the UK is highly likely. I think we could have worked that one out for ourselves. So far as I can see, no lessons have been learned from Libya or Iraq; there are no clear plans for what needs to be in place should the bombing destroy ISIS/ISOL/DAESH to avoid yet more bloodshed, yet more fundamentalism.
My own response on twitter? I joined in a hashtag game making silly connections between animal noises and songs. Shallow? probably. But I don’t think Daesh is great on humour. Name me one stand up comedian to emerge from Isol. Or the Conservative party. And if you are in the US, don’t think you can get away with suggesting Donald Trump. I have a horrible feeling he takes himself seriously.