Another birthday has just rolled around with depressing inevitability. Hey, I ain’t knocking it, I’m just glad to have survived my 50th year with only (relatively) minor cuts, bruises, a shonky knee and a permanent limp.
With my track record as a complete klutz, it could have been so much worse…
I began my 50th year with the bright idea of having a list of 50 things to do that I’d never done before. Not only did I only manage to come up with around half that number, I never even got halfway to completing the list I did come up with (I did mention in a previous blog that I have an issue with starting stuff, then never finishing the job…)
Even the one thing that was No. 1 on my list, I never quite managed to achieve – that was to go to Iceland and see the Northern Lights.
I went to Iceland and it was fantastic, but the weather refused to play ball, so I saw lots of amazing lunar-like, snow-covered scenery, bathed in incredible hot springs and ate delicious fish but of extraordinary lights in the sky there were none.
However, my 50th year was not a waste of time. Oh no. I walked a lot of dogs. I fell over even more than I had done in the previous year. I did some thinking. I did some more thinking. Here’s some of what I’ve been thinking recently.
- My internal thermostat is clearly on the blink because – a bit like Iceland – I am producing a lot more heat than I can possibly use right now. The only upside is that I might never need to buy another jumper at this rate.
- Social media is both the greatest and the worst invention of the internet age. I love its immediacy, breaking news on my phone, the instant connection with folks around the world, dog memes, daft Facebook quizzes, seeing my nieces grow up from afar. I hate its baying nature, its public shaming, its bullying, its misogyny, its racism, its idiocy. To paraphrase Sir Alex Ferguson — people, bloody hell.
- There’s no such thing as the new, kinder, gentler politics. Politicians and those who hang around with politicians are a genuine breed apart. Left, right, centre and everywhere in between – they are all the same. And that’s actually ok. Because politics is about getting things done. And there are many ways to get things done but mostly it’s about cutting deals and compromising on issues that the voting public might not be so keen on. That’s not the same as corruption or introducing policies that you kept quiet about in an election manifesto or imposing ideologically-driven but ineffective and in the end costly changes on public services. So feel free to still get excised about the latter and keep holding elected representatives to account but do remember that the former is how the wheels of the state keep turning.
- But wouldn’t it be nice occasionally to be like Iceland – can you tell it’s my new favourite place? – where the public mood, freely and peacefully expressed, is enough to make an elected official accept they have betrayed the electorate’s trust and resign immediately?
- The Donald Trump presidential campaign is clearly an enormous joke being played on the world. I hope.
- Not everyone who is annoyed about tax avoidance and evasion and the current furore about the Panama Papers feels that way because they hate the rich or because they are envious. It’s possible to feel ok about folks who have made a lot of money or were born into wealth but to feel also that those folks should pay their fair share of tax without hiding vast sums offshore or indulge in monetary gymnastics to outwit the taxman. Taxation is the price a civilised society pays for, well, its civilisation. Like education and roads and police and doctors, from which we all benefit.
- For all its corruption, for all its bloated salaries and pampered prima donnas in flashy boots, football is still the greatest sport for producing genuine fairytale finishes. Step forward, Leicester City, who are only a couple of games away from becoming the most unlikely of English Premier League champions. Rainforests will no doubt be felled in chronicling the story of how Claudio Ranieri and last season’s relegation escapees humbled the big names of English football. For everyone who loves the game, Leicester City, champions, is the stuff of dreams.