half the world’s eating blueberries, the other is imploding…

Well..what a January, eh?

‘My summit is just out of reach’.  I cried the other night listening to ex-soldier and explorer Henry Worsley’s last words on his audio blog – the optimism of ‘I’m going to have a cup of tea and piece of cake’ – after 70 days alone struggling to cross the Antarctic.  Instead, poor man, he was airlifted to Chile where he later died – before his wife could even reach his bedside.

Was he a poor man though?  He died doing what he loved, I guess, AND trying to raise money to help ex-veterans.  Brave man…although driven by things that killed him in the end: and only 30 miles from his goal.

It makes me think: what drives us in our jobs and careers, if we’re lucky enough to have any choice?  In my case, in this current job – why do writers write?   Does anyone care anymore when half the world’s a writer these days, with social media booming and everyone a blogger?  I’ve also been studying psychology to be a counsellor & to try and understand what makes people tick…

I write to make sense of an increasingly confusing world where people want ‘selfies’ on beaches with dead whales.  I mean, really??  Why do you want a shot of you & poor dead whale?  “See my nice day out at the (January) beach with a rotting corpse behind me?”  Last year we shared a TRILLION images online.  I mean, can anyone’s poor little brain take that in?  I doubt it.

That’s not to say of course I think I can sort any of this –  despite paltry attempts to be a good citizen of the world..so I’m taking to words in what seems like an increasingly crazy world so far this year…this decade…this century…this millenia?!  WHAT’S GOING ON?



GOOGLE don’t have to pay 40% or even 25% of their earnings: they only have to pay 3% – despite having a turnover of billions each year.  No bugger questioned the ‘no UK base’ bit of their claim, despite flashy offices in Covent Garden, so they don’t have to pay more British tax?!  Meanwhile, in the real world, tiny self-employed minnows like me hire an accountant in good faith, who unfortunately turns out to be a criminal (Christopher Lunn) celebrity accountant Lunn jailed.  HRMC come after his 5000+ clients with alacrity – I had to pay stuff back I didn’t know I owed + interest on what I (innocently) didn’t pay, despite being a low earner (I usually make a loss !), despite hiring Lunn because he was – at the time – reputable, & indeed turned out to represent people as esteemed as Sadie Frost & Fiona Bruce: I mean you must be an upright citizen if you’re on Antiques Road Show, no?!  I’m not good with figures; believe me, if I was, I’d have done my own tax returns, and saved the fees.  But I’m easy to catch, a sitting duck – whereas Google & the like can hire high end lawyers/ tax accountants who advise & protect them from people like HMRC – who say, anyway, they were acting within the law.  If so, the law needs to be revised, no?

So.  The rich get richer – and the poor?  Well..whose poor?  Which poor exactly?  The migrants come to Europe from the Middle East seeking peace & refuge.  But it’s just not going to be that simple, as we can see.  People are panicking; culturally oceans apart.  Of course as a wise man said on the radio yesterday “No-one wants to leave home unless they have to.”  And they have to.  But it’s a mess, isn’t it?

ISIS are now reported by Europol to be recruiting in European refugee centres.  Radical groups grow not just because of religious beliefs but because – well, because our world is skewed this way and that.  Capitalism isn’t helping apparently: it’s created divides, injustice and resentment…meanwhile, we’re increasingly shoved in together in, disagreeing with each other – and in some areas, into increasingly small spaces: we can’t seem to rub along together living cheek by jowl.  But it’s hardly surprising really when there’s no space for people to breathe.

On Monday Newsnight had this feature:  London, where I was born and bred, is now inhabited by 40% of people not born here (that’s the correct terminology, according to Newsnight).  London has changed MASSIVELY in the past decade or two – but particularly the last one.  It’s pretty hideous now: it’s really just a giant building site full of fumes and sirens.  Traffic worsens, roadworks increase, trains & buses are packed, it’s over-crowded generally and basically, not nice.  It has amazing sights to see (if they’re not being built on), great culture to partake of – BUT fancy a gentle stroll along the Southbank or through a Royal park on Sunday? There’s little gentle strolling to be done anywhere much in London these days (unless it’s round the back of a dodgy housing estate at night) – you’ll be slamming into people.  Whoever says they’re not building housing is wrong.  They are.  I can see they are.  It’s just who they’re building it FOR that’s debatable.

A FAILING SYSTEM:  There won’t be many dodgy housing estates soon at all I fear though; they’ll all be torn down for new developments NOT affordable for the ‘lower’ stratas.  The tower block in Deptford my mate grew up in is now desirable penthouses – yes really. Residents in council estates in Westminster & Greenwich are slowly being shipped out of London, into neighbouring counties (Essex, Kent etc.)  They don’t want to leave their homes either, but they are ‘poor’ or dependent, or whatever the term is, so they can be put wherever.  They’re sitting on prime land: prime land can be sold to developers.  So the residents can fuck off. That’s the message, apparently.

State Schools are bulging – literally.  Playgrounds aren’t big enough.  There’s not enough resources to go round.  The health service is groaning (another awful story today about the failure of NHS health lines used to try and stop patients in A & E).  The queues in most NHS clinics are immense (& I know this first hand).

Truthfully, I am scared.  Those in power are not really powering on as we need them to . We try to do our bit in my house; composing and recycling and doing stuff for charity & donating money and buying clothes from ethical places and not eating meat (well I don’t) and trying to be liberal and understand the world and believe there will be a world worthy of our kids growing up in; a world we are decimating because there are too many of us and half of us are just struggling to stay alive.  People keep having big families, but we’re over populated already.  I wouldn’t be alive if it wasn’t for medical research but I yearn for quieter times gone by…nostalgic for something I barely remember…quiet shambolic back streets down by the Thames, not shiny high rises and no-one looking up anyway…

We need to stop and look UP from our screens and smart phones: take a good look around; to realise there is more to life than just US individually and that this is IT – this world: it’s ALL we have and we’re royally ******* it up.  We can’t keep having this many kids.  We can’t keep ignoring global warming for our kids, and their kids (or will there not be any?). We are a collective – but we are huge and there needs to be world answers before it all implodes.  The ideal would be help one another more.  How though?  Well, I guess doing something is better than doing nothing..

It’d be great to not be scared in my reasonably safe life – but I’m one of the lucky ones. It’s not good out there.  We can’t go to the MIddle East and wave a magic wand over nations tearing themselves apart.  We try and we fail.  Can we try to disperse wealth more fairly? Not whilst HMRC sit by and let the fat cats like Google get fatter and the Government strips benefits from the needy.  Not while the local libraries are being shut down, the parks unmanned, and all the industries I love, be it yoga or writing or whatever become increasingly commercialised and – Not when half the world’s homeless and the other half jetting into the sun in increasingly crowded skies…there’s a tipping point and I certainly feel myself nearing it…Some expert on the news also said this about Worsley.  “He might have survived in a team’ because someone else might have realised he’d pushed his limits too far.  We are pushing our limits and we need to work as a team …please 🙂

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