Bristling Brock speaks out...
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Bristling Brock often poses the same unanswerable question to himself over the passing years - “Is it a peculiar British thing to endure a certain hardship and then lash out with finger pointing and blame accusations against just about everyone but themselves ?”
There is, of course, no absolute answer to this and it is almost certainly not unique to the British. Yet here we are, at the turning point of a crisis (we think) where stolid support for the direction of government and its institutions has been largely followed with an equanimity and good intent by the populace. Now, at this perceived change in the nature of the threat, there is a tangible expression of rebellion afoot.
The media has long been in the vanguard of this trend, always eager to criticise and demand answers that, in truth, nobody could give, but this is now being followed by a cohort of other ‘vested interest party’s’ such as the TUC, the alter-academic community, public bodies, quango’s, charities, individual social interest groups and, above all, we the public.
On the cusp of change we see the ranks of the disgruntled, aggrieved and downright virtuous gathering with their bony fingers wagging in prepared disapproval should anything be mandated that they don’t feel comfortable with. Risk elimination to the ‘n’th’ degree is what they seek to start with followed by gargantuan investment in their own particular sphere of interest. In Utopia, fine, in a Britain with an economy that needs everyone to wilfully participate in its recovery following a global crisis it is a non-starter and a naive posture to even contemplate taking. Whatever the speed of economic turnaround, the process will not happen quickly despite the plantif urgings of special interest groups demanding this assurance or that guarantee. In short, whilst we may (emphasis on ‘may’) be beginning to emerge from one crisis we are, in reality going to enter a new era of challenge in rebuilding our economic position. And if all these special interests imagine that there’s a magic wand inventing money to invest in their cause then they are, indeed, living in cuckoo land. There is still a hill to climb - a solitary crisis seldom leaves in its wake a nicely prepared way forward for the future, that only happens in fictional tales - and this will still require a concerted will by the British across the board to be proactive in ensuring that the summit is reached and a stronger economic base for doing other things emerges. But it will take time.
We all need to be pragmatic. Whatever decisions and choices have been made over this current corona saga, some will have been poorly judged, some will have been mistaken and some will have been well founded, yet in a completely new and unprecedented challenge this is hardly surprising. It is doubtful that any government or leadership would have been able to act to the satisfaction of those that constantly seek to undermine and condemn for they are the breed that are the first to bleat when the tide rolls against them. The finger waggers, like Macbethian witches, are eager to voice disapproval and seek ‘someone’ to blame. Blame is not what we should be focusing upon, for blame is a historical event rather than a future, rebuilding event - and right now it is the future that is important. We can leave the blame allocation game to the chroniclers of our time which future generations can read about at their leisure. Today, it serves no purpose.
As a whimsical aside to this tale, Bristling Brock was amused to see the reports and images of the VE Day military parade in Minsk with the Belorussian president there in all his bling and finery. Not only did this bizarre character - you might call him a ‘COVID-19 non-believer’ - look extraordinarily comical in his garish uniform and king-sized hat but also the coterie of lackeys behind him looking po-faced and equally out of place. There is some basis for BB to be a little contrite here, for we have never experienced the phenomenal wartime losses that the Soviet and now assorted Russia’s endured on both a military and civilian level - perhaps justification for the po-faces. Yet their leaders do look like something from Chaplin’s ‘The Great Dictator’.....
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VE Day, 75 years on. A day of remembrance, deliverance and thanks to our forebears for having held their nerve and raised the enduring courage to overwhelm the evil miasma of fascism.
It is as unique an event as any other that signifies the triumph of a way of life over another. We use the words ‘the right side’ and ’the wrong side’ freely without thought these days, making the presumption that the struggle was a simplistic ‘good’ against ‘evil’ fight. And indeed it was, for once the simplistic description is wholly accurate - in part. For beyond the obvious struggle there were many other sub-plots - it is in the very nature of humanity to complicate its affairs. I was reminded of this by a young Finnish friend who was bemoaning that the little community we live in was not flying a Finnish flag in celebration. He overlooks the fact that his forebears fought enthusiastically for Nazi Germany between 1939-44 and then, seeing the way things were going, decided to throw their lot in with the Allies. It is not a condemnation of that fact, nor my young friends oversight, it is just an illustration of how the sub-plot often dictates the nature of the overall struggle - of how war is never simple, straightforward or comprehensible.
Today we should celebrate the lives that were given and lost to defeating fascism. There are many nationalities within this description and we should remember them all, and we should vow never to let this scale of international conflict happen again - though humanity is still displaying its innate capacity to rattle sabres and threaten war and destruction. We should also remember that the war continued in the Far East for a further three months, a conflict that was predicted to be as costly in human lives as anything that had happened in Europe, a conflict that may well have carried on bitterly for many more months but for the atomic bomb attacks upon Hiroshima and Nagasaki. A thankful, if awful conclusion.
But above all, let this be a day of celebration. A day when we remember with regret those that would never grow old, sacrificed on our behalf.
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As time passes by, the COVID-19 crisis is shifting its orientation. The time factor is making the crisis susceptible to pressures that would define exactly where the bigger threat lies - is it the protection of the population and the NHS or is it the threat to the economy that poses the more damaging scenario as we move along this bizarre and unprecedented trail ? It’s a significant that we are seeing many businesses downsizing in a variety of ways - British Airways is a good current example - and that they are doing so having taken a strategic, long-term view of their business in any post-corona environment. That view - in broad brushstroke terms - is that many businesses are seeing the need for major restructuring in the face of global markets either disappearing completely or suffering unprecedented reduced demand for products and services - falling to a level that prudence would advise huge capacity reductions.
There’s no question that the scales are delicately balanced between the human effects of corona and the economic damage that the mitigation measures are creating. It’s a dilemma that creates the most agonising governmental decisions. Yet there is mounting evidence that the economic damage is beginning to outweigh the public health concerns - as is widely commented by the media pundits, this is pushing the argument as to exactly which is the bigger of the two potential calamities. Achieving a balance that addresses both the polar extremes is a tall order for any administration and, quite possibly, almost impossible to pull off in a satisfactory manner. There is, in short, a crossroads looming ahead at which the decisive, strategic direction will have to be laid out, but we may as a nation have to accept that living with corona is the risk we must endure (until there is a workable vaccine available) and that a catastrophic collapse of the economy is something that cannot be ignored - something we cannot afford.
Trumpy is amazing, isn’t he ? One day he says, let’s try pumping disinfectant into American bodies to fight corona (which, regrettably, many naive Americans actually have tried) and the next day he casually dismisses he ever intended anyone to take him seriously. He should, by now, have fully recognised that his electoral base is not worldly wise and probably take him at his word. Given his striking inability to verbalise coherently, every utterance is open to question. Unfortunately for a very large number of the US citizenry, his obscure and outrageous utterances are gospel - but, America is America and we are not surprised, are we !
Elsewhere around the world, in places there are some appalling scenarios - sub-Saharan Africa dominant amongst them, with huge, truly huge numbers of displaced and desperate refugees coupled up in foul camps that spread from horizon to horizon and boast almost no facilities that we would recognise as essential. These tragic populations have little in the way of hope for they are the product of war, strife and economic mismanagement on gargantuan scales and tragic as these scenes are there seems little in the way of recovery ever happening. Vast sums of money have been pumped from all directions into these tragedy zones but much of that has failed, deliberately, to reach the camps. Money is not the solution whilst corrupt and venal governments and opposition groups dominate the environment these poor souls inhabit. Removing the corrupt has long been a Western strategy, but as human nature inevitably throws up, the corrupt are always replaced by the equally corrupt. Yet now, the West can not afford to continue pumping money into this bottomless pit, and that is likely to be a long-term condition. So what will happen to these wretched souls, mostly innocent but inevitably, amongst the cultures and social norms of these regions, as desperation, need and resource all fight in an ever declining spiral do ? There is no answer to this, it is a human phenomena that has exceeded the worlds ability to resolve, the moreso amidst the ravages of the coronavirus pandemic.
The world will be changed in many ways beyond our current recognition. Bristling Brock imagines that the ‘normal’ we aspire to returning to will not be within our grasp - globally. We will have to create a ‘new normal’ - an opportunity, perhaps...
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