I was watching Krishnan Guru-Murthy on Channel 4 news interviewing a woman in Syria who is sticking absolutely to one line. Krishan is polite but insistent when she claims that her side is suffering few casualties. He’s witnessed the fighting, the casualties cannot be as minimal as she suggests. It’s frustrating all round; for Krishnan who isn’t getting answers; for the interviewee who is not a fluent English speaker.
The gap between different sides is evident in so many of the arguments we see on the news. Brexit is once more grabbing headlines. I just heard that dread phrase ‘the will of the people’ again a few minutes ago. It’s a phrase that simultaneously makes me rage and makes me depressed. The will of the people is presumably all the people. So as the referendum result was so close, I cannot see any justification for a Hard Brexit regardless of what Jacob Rees-Mogg and his 61 cronies want; talk about the tail trying to wag the dog.
Across the pond there has been yet another school shooting, where a young man with evident mental health issues combined with a taste for guns and the politics of the far right killed seventeen of the students at the school from which he had been expelled. This is horrific on so many levels. It seems that concerns were raised about this youth; this massacre could have been avoided. We have seen composed and articulate survivors speaking out against the culture of guns in the US, we have seen less of survivors who have injuries that will scar their bodies as well as their minds for the rest of their lives.
The other night a teacher and a group of students from the school were interviewed by Kylie Morris, the Washington correspondent for Channel 4 News. It was instructive. Someone, maybe it was the teacher, but everyone agreed, said they did not want to remove people’s right to own guns as ‘everyone should have the right to protect their home’. On this side of the Atlantic that is a view I struggle to understand. If I knew my immediate and less immediate neighbours had guns in their homes ready to shoot potential intruders I should feel less safe, not more. Guns do not make me feel safe. Guns can go off, tempers can rise, people can act on impulse and those impulses can be deadly. I’d rather not risk it. The prospect of us sitting together in our communal garden oiling and cleaning our weapons of choice is a dystopian image.
After a brief burst of mild weather winter has staged a comeback. Today in London snow swirled. For a while it settled, then melted. It snowed on and off all day and the winds were bitter, as they have been for several days, but the ground remains snow free, for which I am glad. MasterB had a look outside the front door and retreated up the stairs. I made quantities of celery soup and got on with my paperwork, timing sorties for vegetables and tofu between snow showers. I did some writing, some of it work-related, some of it a short story I may or may not enter for a competition; made a start on some accounts as the end of the financial year approaches; made official phone calls. Tonight I’m preparing for time on the sofa in front of the television. It’s part three of Collateral by David Hare and I’m hooked. It’s quite tense stuff, but followed by the very wonderful Two Doors Down which should be available on prescription to those living in countries unlucky enough not to have the BBC. Gogglebox returned last Friday, minus Jean and Leon. Leon died in the weeks before Christmas, and Jean decided not to continue to be part of the programme without him. A new series of The Supervet begins on Wednesday, though confusingly The Dog Rescuers which started what I believed to be a new series last Tuesday doesn’t seem to be on. Graham Norton has gone on his holidays, so I have to accept his absence on Friday nights, albeit reluctantly; The News Quiz on Radio 4 came to the end of the current series last week, but Simon Schama begins five programmes calledCivilisations tomorrow on BBC2, interleaved with two programmes fronted by Mary Beard and two fronted by David Olusoga. Then there’s the new series of Mum.
So I think MasterB and I shall be enjoying some quality sofa time. Who knows, he may even learn to sit on my knee. And I shan’t be oiling a gun.
Here’s my current conclusion on the American gun obsession. People who live in urban areas, as you do, generally want restrictions because they are often the targets of the people who have weapons. People outside of urban areas use guns for sport and for the protection they perceive is increased by having weapons in the house. The most moving comment I’ve heard to date from the teenagers in Florida is that they are the mass killing in schools generation. It is part of their vocabulary, their reality. I support them, as a generation, standing up to the continued paralysis we have in this country brought about by those who see weapons as only a source of destruction and those for whom a weapon is the hallmark of their freedom and survival in the world.
For me it’s the acceptance on your side of the pond that everyone has the right to own guns that I find hard. Farmers over here often have guns, and the incidents of them threatening intruders and using the weapons to kill themselves are far from uncommon. There are some isolated areas in the fens where if I drive down the road I pray not to break down: the locals look onunsmiling as I pass, and the possibility of never being seen again usually passes through my mind. So it’s a no to guns from me, whether in town or countryside.