The State Of My Nation
I’m at a crossroads in writing. I’ve delivered books for 2018 and have a clean slate for 2019. Usually I have three or four slowly gestating ideas in different stages of development. Everything I write reflects something of the times. I make sure there’s themes, parallels, touches of zeitgeist. But after the last couple of years of rollercoaster politics, both domestic and international, I’m left without inspiration.
‘Inspire’ comes from the Latin inspirare – ‘to breathe or blow into’ . The word was originally used of a divine or supernatural being imparting a truth or idea to someone. To become inspired you gather opinions and ideas, and create from them. You then apply the rules of your craft, because writing is about 60-40 craft/inspiration.
This time it’s harder. Thanks to social media, the last few years have seen people hiding their real personalities from view in order to gain consensus and peer approval. Nobody feels comfortable expressing strong opinions.
In my lifetime there have been the following Prime Ministers of Britain; Churchill, Eden, Macmillan, Douglas-Home, Wilson (2), Heath, Callaghan, Thatcher, Major, Blair, Brown, Cameron, and now May.
Only four of these, like them or not, offered any sort of social vision; Churchill, Wilson, Thatcher and Blair.
Three were unelected and fared badly; Callaghan, Brown and May.
Under another three, Wilson, Thatcher and Blair, there was considerable prosperity (although of course such seeds are often sown by predecessors).
With the exception of Tony Blair in his earliest, most idealistic days, none of the last five evinced any sort of personality at all. When you start checking a woman’s shoes for signs of character traits you’re in trouble. We expect political parties to have implementable ideas, but at the moment we have two leaders armed only with trace survival instincts.
The British have a habit of sending its unpopular governments messages that the populace will not simply be railroaded into decisions that affect all. Unfortunately protest votes usually leave countries internationally weakened. I believe in the young and I’m glad they’re finally finding a voice.
Books have gestation times of (for me, at least) around three years. I don’t have a crystal ball. This time all I can tell is that Theresa May will scrape the nation through a soft Brexit with the help of the backward-facing DUP, and that there will probably be a Labour government after her. Hopefully it will not be under the insipid Corbyn, who is both for and against Brexit, for and against strong security, and reduced the planks of his manifesto to low student fees and, bizarrely, renationalising the railways. Not very inspiring.
I have strong beliefs. I am an atheist pro-Europe Democrat, always happy to amend my viewpoint before a well-reasoned argument. I think Angela Merkel is leading the free world by example, not Donald Trump. I want to keep learning and absorb fresh ideas. I like my books smart, my meals spicy and my beer cold. I trust my readers more than my leaders.
And right now, the crossroads before me could lead anywhere. I wonder if that’s how others feel.