How many films can any man watch? We’re still four hours out from Dulles and I’ve already sat through Inside Out and Kingsmen. I was just about to put Mad Max on, but I was worried about the impact more gush (Inside Out was ok – a good ending) and violence (I loved Kingsmen) might have on my fading grey matter. There is only so much media feast that a late middle aged man can take before the top of his head blows off. Sorry, that vision was courtesy of Kingsmen. Seriously though, it did inspire me to get on and write the sequel to UH. My pen will deliver more realism I feel, but that’s not a bad thing.
Today (Monday) is our 30th wedding anniversary – that’s Pearl for those of you not in the know. We were up early and had the misfortune of being taxied to Terminal 5 by one of those cabbies whothinks we might be interested in his life story. At seven o’clock in the morning. When the traffic is bad and C is fretting like terrier with a big bone. We made it, though, and neither of us got round to telling the taxi driver what we really thought. The transition through check in and customs was straightforward and we had an anniversary breakfast of home-made sandwiches and a pork pie. I am, as ever, a romantic. And now, after back-to-back films, I am penning this. I feel some political comment coming on, so skip to the last couple of paragraphs now.
Yesterday we had an extremely civilised lunch with Simon and Rosemary in their London house. We couldn’t stop ourselves from discussing the refugee crisis and Jeremy Corbyn. Not that those two are necessarily related. On the latter my jury is out. Yes he is naive if he thinks we can do away with the nuclear deterrent, not deploy soldiers overseas and leave NATO, and then expect anyone (anywhere) to ever take us seriously again. Unfortunately we are globally recognised as a nation whose history and working liberal democracy allows us to offer a voice of reason, almost of temperance, when others think the answer to the problem is to shoot every terrorist with an M16. We are not Sweden, but nor are we the U.S….
…we are the middle ground, not jingoistic, xenophobic, nor arrogant enough to think we have all the answers. But we are solid, dependable and good at what we do. We have interests abroad, both human and economic, which will survive all of today’s political leaders (at 66, certainly Jeremy’s). And the only way we can protect them and meet our allies’ expectations of us is to be, well, British. Strong, dependable and generous. Leaving NATO, creating a home-based Army and dismantling our nuclear deterrent will remove a key player from the world stage. If that’s what Jeremy wants them he won’t get my vote.
But I do admire home for being, well, himself. Not someone else. And if he can engage the politically disaffected and get them to start taking some responsibility for their own country, bully for him. If he can do something that alleviates poverty, raises educational standards and makes everything a little bit fairer, then that can only be a good thing. First, of course, he has to get Labour, or whatever they’re going to call themselves, back as a coherent whole. Then, with a well painted narrative, he has a chance. Certainly I think David Cameron is more worried about Mr Corbyn than he was about any of the other three. We shall see.
Interesting times then. The refugee crisis is a so-and-so. You’re damned if you do (accept migrants in their thousands and thus encourage and create an autobahn sized conduit for tens of thousands upon tens of thousands more). And damned if you don’t (stop the migration, accept only those in the direst need at the point of exit of their country and support agencies looking after the camps in Jordan, Turkey and elsewhere; then be accused of being fat, uncaring capitalistic westerners who deserve the terrorism that the likes of the IS are chucking our way.)
It is, without doubt, the most challenging political potato Europe has had since, I would say, the Second World War. So who’s right? Merkel or Cameron? Let them all in, or take a tiny minority of the most desperate and hope the remainder will survive longer than the conflicts that plague their countries?
I’m on Angela Merkel’s side for two reasons. First, we are all the same people. The boundaries that divide us are drawn in crayon by men who did the best they could, mostly mopping up after a helluva fight. They are artificial and likely to be drawn again at some point in the future. Humanity is a mass. People may be defined by where they are born, but having met men and women from a wide range of nations my clear view is that we are all the same. And poverty begins at home. It’s just that my definition of home may be larger and wider than yours.
Second we have to agree that the world is a muddle at the moment. Islamic based terrorism is widespread and a danger to every country. As ‘Christian’ nations (and that’s a political statement, not a religious one) if we accept our global responsibilities and offer help to what are predominantly Muslim refugees, we are saying to all Islamic moderates that we are good people. We are prepared to offer solace to ‘their kind’. We are not all George Bush. Nor do we hold them responsible for 9/11, 7/7, Charlie Hebdo and…. I could go on. By opening our doors we are, in some way, combating extremism.
So that’s that then. Sorry for the crusade (should that be ‘tirade’?), but every so often if I get the time it’s good to get these things off one’s chest.
At the Jones’ lovely waterfront house now after an informative five-hour drive from Washington. Penning this at 5.30 am as my body clock has lost a couple of springs and is struggling to move the hands round. You would have thought by now I might have gone digital.
Have a good week. We intend to. Oh, and for the record, I watched Mad Max. Wow, what a film.