I am now up in Doune for the Doune The Rabbit Hole Festival, so for the next few days posts are likely to be distinctly more esoteric than usual. Long trek up here yesterday (Ramsgate to Doune is not much different from Ramsgate to Vienna in distance) which is why no post.
But when I turned on Breakfast TV as I pulled myself together for the journey, the hideous features of Tony Blair appeared on screen. What is more, he was propounding the notion that Europe needs a single leader to maintain its status in the world – and I don’t think he had Gordon Brown in mind. The man plainly is bonkers – the idea that the massive historic and economic forces propelling China, Brazil and India to prominence can be arrested if we put Tony the Messiah in charge of Europe, is one that could not occur to a sane brain.
The idea that Europe may be a much nicer place to live if we can get away from centralist control structures and a desire for world dominance, not only would never occur to Blair, it would never occur to anyone who would be allowed to speak on the BBC.
I have noted before that when Rowan Williams speaks in public, I almost always agree with him. I have mostly been thinking about his opposition to our wars abroad. But he is now under attack for writing probably the only useful article the New Statesman will publish this decade, pointing out that the coalition policies in Health and Education were voted for by nobody.
The rush to introduce more private profit into the provision of state services is obscene. But the fact that the Tories concealed their right radicalism in the party manifesto, while these policies are the opposite of the Lib Dem manifesto, must be added to. The policies being pursued by the coalition bear no relationship to the coalition agreement, on which basis the Lib Dems as a party (including me) agreed to the coalition. And what is happening in education is directlly opposed to the policy the Lib Dems voted through at their Assembly in Liverpool last Autumn. I was at that debate, and Sarah Teather and the entire party leadership argued strongly against the condemnation of the Academies programme. The party defeated them. They ignored the party. The truth is that Clegg cares far more for his ministerial limousine than for his party or any notion of liberalism.
It is good to be in rural Scotland. We went into a local hostelry for dinner last night, and were told that we couldn’t order food as the kitchen closed at 8.00pm. It was 8.02! So we went to the only other place for six miles, where we were told that we had to order quickly as the kitchen closed at 8.30. But the food was simply wonderful – the English have no idea what meat is. When we finished we asked for a number for a taxi back to our B and B – about two miles. The barmaid told us not to be silly, asked another customer to look after the bar, got out her car and gave us a lift back.
I had already been rethinking my frustration at nowhere serving food late. We have become so used to instant gratification that it is worth reminding us of the values of life before rampant consumerism, when the contract between supplier and consumer was based on more equal respect. We will cook you a most delicious meal of local produce, but only at a reasonable time that enables us to finish work and enjoy the rest of our evening. This is a world away from modern society where you can get anything 24 hours a day, but entirely due to the exploited immigrant labour in the kitchen, and the food is rubbish, with thousands of frozen air mils to it.
Now where did I put that kaftan?