My Dad Was a Good-Hearted Man Even Though He Was a Tory
By blinds-made-to-measure, Jun 4 2017 10:27AM
Our dad told us a joke many years ago, when we were children. It was about a man explaining to his wife how he’d survived being chased by a lion.
I suppose I must’ve had a sort of deja vu experience recently, when that story came to mind. I’d slipped in the bath and I was going about ouching and arghhhing like an old man with sciatica for about a fortnight.
Well, I had to explain to my customers why I was feeling so tender and careful about the way I moved. “I was being chased by a sabre-toothed tiger”, I said to one of my customers. “And I slipped on the ice.”
“Ha!” She said. “Sabre-tooth tigers have been extinct for thousands of years.”
“I know, it would’ve decomposed long ago if the ice hadn’t preserved it.” I replied with my too obviously preprepared riposte.
The thing is, I had to make up some story. There isn’t much kudos in having to admit that at 69 years old I’m still doing daft things like slipping in the bath and having to hobble around people’s homes fitting blinds like an 89 year old.
But, back to the punch line in my dad’s joke: The man was explaining to his wife why he was late back from the pub. (The pub must’ve been somewhere in India or in a zoo, maybe – you can tell kids anything at that age, and my dad often did just that.)
His wife asked how he’d survived the encounter and he said, “The lion slipped on something”.
“That was a lucky escape.” Said his sceptical wife. “It’s a wonder you didn’t poop yourself.”
He said, “I did. What do ya think the lion slipped on?”
My dad was a canny good-hearted man albeit he was a Tory. He was in two World Wars. He marched off to the first one at the tender age of sixteen like thousands of others. Like many others too, he would never talk about what he’d experienced.
The odd thing is, when I tell people that he wouldn’t talk about what happened to him, they immediately ask “What happened to him?” (After I’ve already said he wouldn’t talk about it).
“I don’t know.” I’ll reply. “He wouldn’t talk about it.”
“What battle did you fight in, in the First World War Dad?” We’d ask him.
“The Battle of Pea Soup.” He’d reply with wry inscrutability.
I’ve never yet heard that any such battle happened. Not in any history book, not on TV and now with the internet at my fingertips, I still can’t find any information about The Battle of Pea Soup. It had always seemed a bit suspicious – even to a five year old. I’ve often suspected it had something to do with the old expression for describing impenetrable fog.
That’s the thing about the ‘fog of war’ – and war in general: No one seems to have a clue what’s happening or why it’s happening. If we dig deeply enough we might glean that WWI had something to do with the assassination of an archduke and myriad alliances of which the hoi polloi needn’t concern itself other than to take up arms and defend Queen and country against “the evil ones” – who hate our freedom.
Others have suggested that it’s more to do with an imperial dick measuring contest; a bit like the mob’s inability to countenance disrespect for the eternal might-is-right principle. Then again, others might think that government is the mob. (I couldn’t possibly comment.)
I suspect that those who benefit from war (and I understand that there’s a small clique that does, massively) aren’t overly keen on clarity. To them, fog is good. They like to keep everyone else like mushrooms: in the dark and covered in manure. On the other hand, there’s the saying that ‘sunlight is the best disinfectant’ and far too much of what seriously affects our lives seems connived behind closed doors.
My dad’s contemporaries might seem naive in their lemming-like march to agonising and humiliating oblivion but I wonder if my baby-boomer generation has anything to feel smug about. We dutifully filled our fleetingly held ‘properties’ with chipboard and plastic while they destroyed our trade unions. We watched passively as they shipped our industry out to where labour is cheaper and easier to abuse. We voted for successive governments that privatised our erstwhile commonly owned assets. That seems hardly a compendium of collective resourcefulness. Now, I suspect, they’re coming back for these properties when we need care in our dotage.
“If we do not hang together we shall surely hang separately”, is the famous Benjamin Franklin quote. The world of fast-foods, TV reality shows and soaps seems more akin to the bread and circuses of degenerating Rome than revolutionary America.
Now it seems we’re about to reinstall a government that will most certainly put the last nail in the coffin of the NHS, for which our parents fought so hard. The Health and Social Care Act 2012 is already lurking in the wings, ready to rear it’s ugly head once the Tories lock down another five years for themselves and their friends.
I see no politician or mainstream pundit challenging the ‘Money Tree’ canard either, which relentlessly they portray as conventional wisdom. It’s as if we’re to take such nonsense for granted. Nothing else merits discussion, it seems.
An organisation called Positive Money in the UK will explain the shenanigans of the banks, but few people I meet seem alert to it. ‘Insouciance’, is the word Paul Craig Roberts uses to describe this trait in his American compatriots.
Even top bankers have admitted that banks create money (out of fresh air) when they issue loans. In other words we’re living under a Ponzi/pyramid scheme. 97% of money is the digital promissory notes from the world’s most consummate fraudsters – it seems.
Is it true that pyramid schemes always collapse? We’ll see. I doubt if it’ll be a happy experience for the majority who don’t have plush bunkers in which to ensconce themselves when the poop hits the fan.
As I’ve already said, my dad was a Tory. I still can’t imagine why. There seems no logic. But, when he was born, Queen Victoria was still on the throne, albeit not for long. There was still a British Empire. I don’t know whether his generation was more, or less, kept like mushrooms in the dark than our generation and future generations will doubtlessly be when the internet is eventually commandeered by a ‘one world neo-liberal government’ if it achieves its quest for ‘full spectrum dominance’ under the usual pretence of protecting the public – as opposed to protecting itself from an awakening public.
No doubt the lion and the gazelle will eternally evolve and compete for survival, if life on Earth is able to survive a nuclear holocaust. Until then, I’ll still remember my dad fondly and have a chuckle at his joke about the lion – even though he was a Tory.
I still get a twinge when I laugh or sneeze but that’ll be gone in a day or two. I like to work twinges off with a bit of home-made yoga and by generally keeping busy. Without an NHS in future – if the UK public don’t wake up soon – we’re all going to need to work better together or at least be more self reliant because, once these private corporations get their hands on what’s left of the NHS, things are going to change dramatically – I suspect.
But there’s another twinge I get that never goes away. Remembering long lost friends and family is a much more profound sort of twinge, which most humans experience regardless of our views. I still think of my mum when I drive past The Bountrees, where I was brought up, in Jedburgh. They were good honest people who tried to do the right things and teach me likewise. They hadn’t a clue what was really going on in the world. I know that for sure.
I often think too of Margaret Thatcher, Tony Benn and Eric Heffer. I used to listen to Tony Benn’s CDs. They’re a marvellous insight into these human beings we know as politicians. He faithfully kept a diary of his time as an MP and in one entry he described how Margaret Thatcher had turned up at Eric Heffer’s funeral and when Tony Benn thanked her for coming, she wept. (I have to say I get a twinge when I think of Tony Benn too.)
Eric Heffer was the political opposite of Margaret Thatcher. It’s hard to imagine that scene. That’s why I often wonder if she really understood what her policies were enabling and setting in place for our futures.
I’ll never understand the thinking of other people – not even my Dad. That’s not for me. We hear, if we want to, that many of those in high office are very flawed individuals. Although, we should avoid making assertions when we have no proof. I think it was President Johnson who said, “If you’ve got them by the balls, their brains will follow.” Apparently, he was a charming man. (The US seems to get its share of charmers.) Perhaps he was referring to what I call the three Bs: Blackmail, bribery and blacklisting.
Anyway, let’s just try to make each other aware of the dangers of the ‘insouciance’ of which Dr. Paul Craig Roberts’ warns his compatriots. At least let’s try to get young people involved in the democratic process. Let’s also fight to keep the internet in the hands of the many, not the few – regardless of the excuses we’ll see conjured up to lock it down and control the perceptions we have of our world.
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