Bees for Berwick Advertiser: Graham White
Young Stranger: Joselyn Duffy Morton
Cover photo: Roger Morton
It was 24 degrees today, but evidently it is going to rain tomorrow. Never mind, it was a faultless gift. We are off to the UK on Thursday, so between now and then the weather doesn’t matter too much as we have so much to do (although there are a couple of patches of weeds in our top garden that I would like to blitz before we head off. It’s hard to do that in the rain.) A darling old friend (who I can trust not to mind my pre-packing mess) came to lunch today and my boeuf bourguignon was delicious. (Sorry to all my vegetarian friends but you must already know what a weak-willed woman I am when it comes to food.) I now totally trust my SuperU butcher. We had dessert and coffee outside in the sun; today is the first day for months I haven’t worn woolly tights and socks under my thick trousers. It felt like heaven to feel the sun on my skin again. This winter has been too long.
The sun is not the only thing to celebrate, UK folk are madly celebrating Maggie Thatcher’s death (I am now going to piss off the other half of my friends.) French folk not so much – she didn’t have such a disastrous effect on their lives (although Jacques Chirac was evidently heard to say to Maggie Thatcher during negotiations in Brussels (when he thought the mic was off) something along the lines of ‘Qu’est-ce que vous voulez - mes coquilles sur un plateau?’ ie ‘what do you want, my balls on a plate?’
If you think I am being extreme, read Lucy Mangan’s weekend column in the Guardian this week. Both her parents (her mother a doctor in deprived areas and her father at the National Theatre) loathed Maggie Thatcher.
Balancing the legacy of misery she imposed and left behind are the surge of jokes that have emerged this week: ‘She’s only been in hell 20 minutes and already she’s closed down three furnaces’; there were typos from the BBC and the Irish website The Journal – both reported that ‘Maggie Thatcher dies following a strike’ and ‘Maggie Thatcher died from a strike’. Somewhere I read ‘Iron Lady rust in peace’.
One aspect that still makes me mad is since her ‘right to buy’ strategy, state council houses (on controlled rents) got sold off and there is now a great lack of affordable houses for people in need to rent. Step in ‘private enterprise’- people on housing benefits now pay their state benefit to private landlords ie state benefits go straight into the pockets of private individuals - the state is providing profit for private landlords (whereas pre-Thatcher, the state owned the houses that Council tenants rented. That seems like a better way of using taxpayers’ money!).
To conclude on this hard-assed woman – my dictionary describes society as 1. The totality of social relationships among organised groups of human beings or animals. 2. A system of human organisations generating distinctive cultural patterns and institutions and usually providing protection, security, continuity and a national identity for its members.
Thatcher was famously quoted as saying, ‘There is no such thing as Society. There are only individual men and women and their families’. She did her best to turn the powerbrokers of British society into hard profit-making self-seekers. Can a caring British society ever emerge again – or is it on a continuous callous course of every man and woman for him or herself?
The words selfish and selfless sound so similar and yet they are worlds apart.
A good start is the campaign for End Ecocide in Europe. They want to make ecocide a crime – this would mean that individuals in positions of superior responsibility (whose business actions caused damage to the earth) could be made accountable by law for their crime and punished (not pay fines which their company had the contingency funds with which to pay the fines) but by the individuals actually going to prison; something which those top dogs with wonderful life-styles might not actually be prepared to stomach. Therefore, they might bail; they might think twice about the damage they were causing and modify or change the policies of their companies so that they were no longer having an adverse effect on our eco-systems (air, water, oceans etc). End Ecocide in Europe needs signatures so that the European Commission and the European Parliament will fully consider opening up the legislative process to end ‘Ecocide’ (the extensive damage and destruction to ecosystems in the EU.) I believe – they need something like 1 million signatures by January 2014. Check out their website www.endecocide.eu– this might be a cause that could have great benefits for you, everyone you know and for future generations that you don’t know.
Sleep tight, Joselyn Morton (editor)