Boo boo in select company

Boo boo in select company
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Thursday, 24 December 2015

Presents and Packages


Yesterday, a largish package arrived.  I woke up to the insistent ring of the door-bell well before my normal nine o’ clock. When I came down bleary-eyed and crotchety, there he was. The delivery-man was more impatient than I was, so I reminded myself that he had to do a lot of this recently. I restrained myself from remarking about his lovely smile and 
grimaced instead.

  I weighed the carton in my hand; could it be the lap-top my son had been threatening to buy me?  I hoped not. We have five or six lap-tops in this house in various stages of distress – we even have a purple one because that’s Asha’s (my screen-addicted granddaughter who is ten years, going on sixteen) colour of the month. Thank God, the parcel was light, a plastic toy, I thought.

  Later my son opened it; it was a ‘computer on a stick’ for his use, not a gift. Marvel of marvels! It was the size of a large match-box with brown wrapping paper filling up the rest of the space. inside a box fit to hold a toaster. Which rain forest got the chop for this one? I wondered as I threw the paper and the carton into my garden-shed, which is groaning with a surfeit of cartons and paper. And the house is fast filling up with junk.

  Paper, mind you, is a vast improvement on those bubbles that have a mind of their own. They refuse to be marshalled into sheds – they break free and float. So you end up with a tsunami of recalcitrant shapes around wherever you walk.

  And then there is the Styrofoam, which crumbles and gets up my nose. I have to get rid of that before my puppy chokes on it. Another hour and I will be choking on it

  I recall, with nostalgia the Christmases when my boys were toddlers and got just one toy each. We adults went without; there was no habit of buying gifts for grown-ups. Christmas didn’t cost much, and in India, before I married my Sri-Lankan husband, gifts never happened. Christmas did not cost at all.

  In Kerala the big day of the year was Onam. The floor of each veranda would have a pookkalam, a design with flowers, collected by children from gardens and open ground. Onam meant new clothes for all and a big vegetarian meal. There would be payasam, rich, creamy and sugary for dessert. There were no packages to clean up after, then and now.

  When I look at the land-slide of coloured parcels piled under our Christmas tree, I wonder about the children who don’t get anything at all. This year there will be more than usual due to our Chancellor and his CUTS. I feel guilty about the casual profligacy in our house-hold.
And the new hillock of paper we will deal with tomorrow. And the junk which will fill up the breathing spaces in our home.


Friday, 4 December 2015

That Vote to Attack.

I remember an afternoon in the late seventies. We were travelling, my children and I, on a train from the Heathrow Terminal to London. Tony Benn was sitting in an aisle seat two rows behind us. My son, Raghu, had just bought a copy of Benn's biography and hero-worshipped the man. He walked up to Tony Benn shyly and asked for an autograph. Benn tore a piece of paper off a notebook and signed his name on it. We still have it. When Benn was defeated by one vote in the leadership election some time in that era, we were disappointed. I think it changed the direction of Labour politics forever, leading it off into detours and closed alley ways that it should never have traversed.

   Hilary Benn's spech. That speech. Applauded by the people he supported, mainly, but not only, the Conservatives. There were the Labour right as well, the Blairites who have still not woken up to reality. What a sell-out that speech was! 

   I used to be something of a speech-maker myself, wasn't too good at it. But I started at age eight, so I can recognise a good, well-thought out speech a mile away. Benn's speech was not one. It was emotional, unprofessional and did not make any points worth considering .It was all sound and fury, signifying nothing.

   So the IS hold us British in contempt. (Along with most of the rest of the world they also hold in contempt.) Are we to fight wars whenever someone shows us disrespect? If disrespect is what we are angry about, we need other strategies - like ignoring them completely. Writing a few decent articles about them. Getting our effete Media to think straight. Educating our children to respect the diversity, which is the richness of this country.

   Many things about the Syria vote confuse me. And the aftermath is even more confusing. Someone said Tony Benn must be turning in his grave after that speech by his son. I think that is a safe prediction. My father, the freedom-fighter of the Gandhi era turns in his grave, or blows at his ashes, whenever I exhibit symptoms of rabid consumerism. He is probably down to his last spoonful by now.

   And de-selection? I have always believed the local parliamentary party must choose its candidates, not some cultish group of Neanderthals who have established themselves in Westminster and haven't got a clue about how party members think and feel.

   More to the point - if you worked in a firm and found that you disagreed with the beliefs and actions of your CEO, you would consider resigning. Or get sacked. Those who do not go with the majority opinion within the parliamentary Labour Party should have the grace to LEAVE. Or, I could hope the local party members would see them off. Threats and abuse are bad behaviour and those who do this are not doing the Party or Mr Corbyn any favours. But now that the Conservatives have bulldozed the Country into war, maybe they could get Fallon and co. to do some discreet phone calls inviting some of the committed Blairites to join the Tories. They belong there.

   It is petrifying, the huge dissonance between the thinking of the Labour right and the local Party members. Why are these dinosaurs still with Labour? How do you define Labour with this motley bunch in it?