This time two years ago we, and by we, I mean humankind, were teetering on the brink of a global pandemic, and we in the UK, were on the brink of first lockdown. A year later, still restricted, the new lockdown measures in the UK felt different to me, harder to swallow in the aftermath of the first year. Also, at that point, in our family, elderly relatives returned home from hospital totally dependent on us younger family members’ perpetual care, so the days of isolated writing and creating and being in cyberspace with likeminded minds was well and truly over. Today, a year after that, as the war in Ukraine descends into something that feels so much worse than any world event I’ve personally lived through or watched play out, I can’t believe I find myself looking back almost nostalgically to those first quiet, isolated days of lockdown when days yawned long and unchartered, but which now seem to have flashed by – like dreams between alarm reminders when you live a thousand lifetimes in five minutes.
These new times, this current crisis seems crueller and madder than the days of the virus. This senseless war feels that much worse because it feels so avoidable. Seems bleeding obvious to me at least that power corrupts the human consciousness – it’s happened so many times throughout history – men (and it nearly always is men because they nearly always hold the power) from Julius Caesar to the whole Kim clan in North Korea – morph in the grips of absolute power, start to think that they can do no wrong and that ordinary moral compasses don’t apply to them because they are the chosen ones on superhuman missions. Makes me seriously think that democracy is a must if humans are ever to get past wars. I’m not saying that democratic governments are the be-all and end-all, ours is flawed and often not really a democracy at all when the choices on offer are so piss poor and the electoral system so ridiculously adversarial – but at least democracy means that power and its corrupting nature is not super-concentrated in one pair of hands, and the machinery of democracy at least means that those with most power can have it removed even when they don’t want to let go of it.
Seems bonkers to me that what looks like one man’s war has been engineered by a single human consciousness. Humankind really needs to see this because it’s bonkers that one mind, a mind at terrible risk of delusion and grandiosity because of the toxicity of the concentrated power it holds, can bring death and destruction that no-one else genuinely seems to want, and without any system of breaks or balances to check the devastation. The older I get the more I reckon humans need to big up on balance. Too much of anything just doesn’t seem to work. It’s just as bad, if not worse, as too little. And surely, as a species, we need to move into a stage of learning how to live in peace and not replicate war in everything we do. The legal system, adversarial – why? Why can’t it be two sides both trying to get to the truth? Politics, adversarial – why? Why can’t politicians hold different ideas and work together to make things better for everyone? Counties and borders – there to keep the enemy out rather than to manage the entry of potential friends. This being the way I see things at the moment, going to try and balance up the negative energy in here, with only positive news for the rest of the blog. I haven’t written in here for ages for loads of reasons – been busy with the ever-dependent older family members, been mentally banjaxed by the awfulness of stuff and shit – repeat readers of this blog will know I write by way of therapy, to put overwhelming emotions on the page and not in me – which I have been doing even when things have been terrible, but loads and loads of really lovely stuff has happened too so here’s my list of lovely things:
List of Lovely Things
My sis, R Les, the one who put up with me writing about her in my memoir-in-flash, The Naming of Bones, bought me a forever birthday and Christmas pressie, and that pressie was Nolly the pup, who is bringing such fun and joy to the whole family. The housebound elders especially love her. She’s become their unofficial pat dog. Nolly (short for Enola) won’t ever replace my dear ole Boo, but already she is as much beloved.
On the writing front I wrote a feature for Lapidus – the writing for well-being community. They recently relaunched their membership magazine which includes my piece entitled The Long and Short of Flash Fiction, about writing my memoir and how doing so improved my mental health and wellbeing. Here’s a link to Lapidus if you fancy googling what they do. https://lapidus.org.uk/https://lapidus.org.uk/ I also had a piece of flash published in Retreat West’s tenth birthday anthology, Ten Ways the Animals will Save Us, which you can buy here. https://www.amazon.co.uk/Ten-Ways-Animals-Will-Save/dp/1919608745 I am so very grateful to Amanda and Gaynor at Retreat West and I felt very moved when I was asked to provide a story. Haven’t subbed to mags or zines at all recently and entered virtually nowt, but did manage to edit a wee micro for the National Flash Fiction Day comp…and it won! Here’s the link to all the winning micros which really are something. https://www.nationalflashfictionday.co.uk/index.php/competition/2022-microfiction-results/ I Was especially glad to share the podium with Sherry Morris my feedback buddy. Her micro is so, so brill. I wrote my micro in one of Matt Kenrick’s workshops on how to write lyrically. Here’s a link to his site in case you’d like to find out about doing one of his brill courses which I can highly recommend. https://www.mattkendrick.co.uk/
But as is traditional, I’ve saved the best till last. Clears throat and sounds a fanfare…my wonderful daughter-in-law Karolina and eldest son Bob welcomed their new daughter, Leyla, into the world on 18th February over in Reda, Poland. Cannot wait to meet her in May when I go over for a huge family celebration when I hope beyond hoping this war will be over. Here are a few pics of Layla’s absolute gorgeousness. I’ve been so heart-warmed to see how welcoming the Polish nation has been in these dark times, and feel very proud of my Polish family for so many reasons. Seeing people having to flee from their homes and lives, really drives home that being a refugee is not what you are, it’s something that happens to you, and in a world where potentates like Putin can make such mad bad decisions unchallenged and unchecked, it really does make me see, it could happen to anyone. I hope now the UK has opened its doors to Ukrainians escaping this madness that we will be as warm and welcoming as our European neighbours. In the meantime just going to stare at the version of the future that is my wonderful grand-daughter and thank all the moons and stars and seas and rivers that she’s safe and loved and healthy and here.