Sunday, 9 May 2010

Indecision 2010

Well, I'm confused. By all accounts, the planet is still turning. The country has not sunk beneath the waves. We're all alive. But we should be in crisis mode, we're being told.

The media are doing their level best to paint this whole hung parliament malarkey as a Bit of a Thing. Apparently, the various politicians need to agree to be nice to each other, go round to each other's houses for dinner and return the borrowed lawnmowers as soon as possible. And we're all doomed if they don't. It will get biblical. Riots, breakdown of society, the collapse of all commerce, cats and dogs living together as man and wife. You know the drill.

The Guardian newspaper is, as I speak, liveblogging from outside the building where representatives from the Conservatives and LibDems are meeting. ("Breaking News! They've called out for Danish Pastries! And what's this I see...flipcharts?") Other news outlets have hardly been any less hysterical. One paper has demanded a working government by teatime. I'm normally happy enough with scones, myself.

And at all times the rest of us appear to be both keeping calm and carrying on.

I was in London on Friday when HungParliamentGate (for that is undoubtedly what some pillock will call it) started to emerge. And yet things seemed as normal. The tube still ran, people still studiously avoided eye contact as they read their free papers, iPodding their way to the office. Italian exchange students still stormed up and down the train, knocking bystanders to one side with their completely unnecessary backpacks.

The newspapers would have depicted us storming Parliament, flaming torches and pitchforks in hand. but it all looked rather normal to me. Besides, this is England. We're all rather too polite and a little middle-class for revolution. Imagine the shouts:

"What do we want? Single transferable votes! When do we want it? As soon as it is convenient, if that's not too much trouble...."
"They may take our lives, but they'll never take our Tesco Club Points!"

That evening we went for dinner at the Duke in Richmond. People sat and ate, talked and drank. No-one seemed terribly exercised that evening. The table of bright young things in one corner, the group of blokes on the next table swapping jokes. According to the media, we should all have been earnestly discussing proportional representation. I was too busy with my saddle of lamb on a bed of roasted fennel, to be honest.

We drove home yesterday through a rainstorm. Nope, that seemed normal, too.

Today I visited my ninety-something grandmother in hospital, where she's recovering after a chest infection. Once again, normality prevailed. We sat and looked at the spring sunshine through the window. An orderly cheerfully bustled along the ward, dispensing tea in NHS-branded cups together with digestive biscuits.

People are just quietly getting on with things. Heaven help us all if the politicians find out.

1 comment:

Tom said...

All of you there in Great Britain are going to need to do something incivil (is that a word?) or someone is bound to mistake you for Canadians with all that politeness. Or maybe that's the other way around... Either way, someone, somewhere is going to have to intentionally knock over a tea kettle.
You'd have to help clean up afterwards, of course. We can't have total anarchy!

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