Tuesday, 28 June 2016

The Broken Heart Of A Nation

If you were surprised by the lack of Jeni reflection in the run-up to the E.U. referendum and maybe wondering why there was an unusual silence, it was because there were friends and family who felt strongly on both sides of the debate and knowing that my south coast manner of speech is often misinterpreted as dogmatism  - ok, sometimes it IS dogmatism but not always  - i made the decision that their love, friendship and goodwill mattered more than political point making so self imposed purdah was invoked.   

Also, as a grey-hair (when it's not pink) i wont be here much longer to reap whatever gifts or evils are the ramifications of the ultimate decision  - remember leaving isn't a forgone conclusion, the end-game is in the hands of our politicians, they CAN choose to ignore the vote.   it's the young who will bear the burden if this choice turns out to be a disaster, or the benefits  should it be a resounding success.   it's sad that the voice of the young was drowned out by a demographic who are inflexible, unthinking,  and  who, selfishly, simply want a return to the 1950's forgetting that it was a time of great hardship and poverty not the golden age their failing memories recall.   perhaps they prefer not to remember the signs in shop windows "no dogs, no blacks, no Irish", or more worryingly maybe that's what they would like to see replicated on our high streets today with Eastern Europeans replacing dogs in the equation.

The whole mishandled, sorry fiasco has saddened me beyond words.   the hatred that has been unleashed has revealed how shallow is the veneer of civility we claim to possess and how easily manipulated we are by clever orators peddling snake oil and empty promises.   did anyone truly believe that the same names who have previously  written and spoken about dismantling the NHS would go on to gift it with unproven millions?   or that our health and food services could survive if all overseas residents were blocked from crossing our borders?   or that the far right, National Front et al could resist jumping onto a tempting bandwagon with their vile vitriol?  

We will get through this whatever our political masters come up with.... but at what price?   one thing is certain.... those at the top wont pay !!! it will be those at the bottom of the pile who are forced to carry the cost, as always.   the finance, resources, time, focus, debate that should be going into improving services for the poor, sick and elderly will be siphoned off to the pockets of lawyers, advisers, diplomats and politicians as 28 nations bicker interminably amongst themselves.   the hard pressed police will see more cuts to their ranks just as disgruntled Brexiteers start venting their malcontent on immigrant neighbours.   the disabled and minorities will lose  decades worth of hard fought protections.   and the fabled "pound in your pocket" will suddenly feel very small.

Saturday, 18 June 2016

Heavenly Hygge

Have you discovered "hygge" yet?  No?  trust me, as you share the same universe as the rest of us western capitalist consumers you will.... and very soon, as it's going to be the new BIG THING by Christmas !!!   so says The Bookseller Magazine anyway.   tatty-bye Little Book Of Comfort - hello Little Book Of Hygge.   sayonara Mindfulness For Dummies - welcome How To Hygge.  adios Road Less Travelled - buenos dias The Art of Hygge.   

It might help if we knew how to pronounce it, i mean.... how can you recommend something you can't articulate? 

                                      HYGGE  =  hoo-ga.... sort of.   

it's Danish you see so our tongues become tangled if we try to be precise.   and while we are on the topic of non-preciseness, its definition in English loosely translates as "cosiness", very loosely as we don't have a word that encapsulates the concept and it doesn't have to involve heat.   hygge is about physical and emotional companionship, shared meals, socialising with family and friends, cocooning in a duvet with cocoa  and toast,  all things convivial.   a country that cowers beneath night skies 17 hours a day for six months of the  year deserves the right to conceptualise that heavenly feeling of being snug and safe against the dark don't you think?


It's the passivity of hygge that appeals to me.   when you think of the wellness fads marketeers have force-fed us in the past they tend to involve effort.   to be safely feng-shuied involves the moving of bed-heads and wardrobes.  easy peasy if it's the fur coat, lamp post, Narnia variety, blood, sweat and squashed fingers if you settled for IKEA last time the bedroom needed an upgrade.    meditation entails an emptying of the mind and a mind as busy and obscure as mine takes a lot of emptying, an exhausting  amount of shoving random epiphanies out through  doors of perception and shoulder leaning to prevent those pesky thoughts sneaking back in through the fire escape.   whoever knew concentration needed a bouncer?  

Successful hyggeing requires being comfortable with an element of guilt free hedonism, an ability to give oneself permission to step aside from the demands of life for a time and indulge the soul, surely stress is its antithesis.    when i consider my hygge buddies they all have the ability to kick off shoes, lean back and laugh long and hard at the absurdities of the world we find ourselves sharing.  being in each other's orbit justifies long coffee shop encounters, rambling, embellished tall tale telling and whispered confidences in the safety of each other's affection.   

I wish you all many happy hours of hygge between now and Christmas, before it becomes just another fad.