We find ourselves on this day -Tuesday 16th April 2013 – once again drowning in public outpourings of sympathy, grief and – paradoxically – sending ‘our thoughts’ en masse to victims a heavily reported terrorist attack in a Western Country (or rather THE western country, the United States of America). I’ve no objection to sympathy and thoughtfulness when it is sincere and meaningful, but life hasn’t always been like this. To look at why, I will take you back over 15 years.
The Summer of 1997.
I was 23 years old, apolitical and quietly aspirational. I was working in my first full-time job after a period of mixing & matching as much full-time education and part-time work (full-time hours) as I could over the previous seven years. Personally speaking I was young, free and single, hard-working but only just beginning to realise the path I was on was not capable of delivering what I really wanted for my life. I had – and have – no affiliations to any particular political party or movement, but was starting to notice the recently elected Prime Minister Tony Blair was very ‘good’ at spouting empty political soundbites, and becoming rather irritating with it.
It was an enjoyable summer for me – much the same as the three or four previous summers. I was aware of being susceptible to seasonal mood disorder when Autumn sets in, but it was not something that dominated my life. I was still a little short on self-confidence but – aside from my own personal ambition to be ‘free’ – I was fairly content with my social standing, my future and what I could achieve. I wasn’t fearing the future and I wasn’t overly sentimental about the past. As an intelligent young man I felt life was what I made it and the future was in my hands. I was too busy ‘living’ to take much notice of the mainstream, but it wasn’t something I rejected out of hand. If there was a paper at work I would skim through it – but my primary interests then (as now) were music and classic cars, with a smattering of local history and other things. I wasn’t an ignoramus not was I indoctrinated, I was simply – as I guess my ancestors had been immediately before me – reasonably happy but with more of an eye on my future than they perhaps had.
I – along with the rest of the Country – awoke on Sunday morning of August 31st 1997 to the news that Diana, Princess of Wales has died in a car crash in Paris. At this point in my life I had (perhaps wisely) taken my ‘news’ mainly via Spitting Image. I neither cared for nor was ‘against’ Diana at all – from what I had seen she was adept at playing the media to her own benefit, so whilst I did not bear her any ill will nor did I shed any tears. It was a shock, a sad situation and I could understand some people being upset – and even a fairly large number of people being utterly distraught. It was a ‘big deal’ that I knew – but I had failed to reckon in what was going on behind the scenes.
That Sunday I personally managed to avoid the tidal wave of grief by visiting friends who, like myself, had other interests. I imagine it would be harder to do even that these days, such is the power of the media and the need of all and sundry to over-emote at the drop of a hat.
It was the following days leading up to her funeral when they realisation of what was really happening hit me. This new Prime Minister, Tony Blair, had come over all presidential. The ‘grief’ didn’t subside it grew like a endless tidal wave. By the afternoon of the Monday (September 1st) I was beginning to feel more than a little suffocated. It was fast becoming national hysteria, and it was impossible to escape unless one was to withdraw to a place away from other people and from any form of media. That afternoon I felt the sun retreat behind clouds, and I believe in hindsight this represents what was happening in society for real. Diana had meant very little to me, and I knew this was the same for many other people. Why, then, was the hysteria spreading? It is not that this was ‘un-British’ or any else other such balderdash – it’s that wasn’t real, didn’t feel real and people were behaving in a completely unnatural manner – as if practically the whole country had been brainwashed. The reality is it had. Things would never be the same again – not for what Diana symbolised or was, but due to what was really happening to society before my eyes. I knew it was wrong and the start of something bad.
That week was very difficult for me because I wasn’t ‘grieving’ – I felt as though something had changed, but couldn’t put my finger on what. I felt like a car travelling down the wrong side of a motorway carriageway, travelling against the direction of traffic but unable – and unwilling – to spin into their direction, a journey I knew was wrong. I think I knew this was the start of an irreversible slide. What I didn’t anticipate was how quickly this
In hindsight this was definitely the beginning of the end for the society I was born into and was comfortable with. The Great British Public would never recover from it’s ‘Diana Hysteria’ and the effects would be widespread and insidious. First and foremost, it is now evident Mr Blair colluded with the mainstream media he was so ‘au fait’ with, and their ‘Cult Of Diana’ gave them the astonishing ability to dictate to the Queen what ‘functions’ (funerals etc) she will and will not attend. Blair’s presidential cap was found to be a comfortable fit for him, and one he would don for every conceivable occasion from then on. He later admitted to having “managed the situation” and “directing public grief” – in fact what he did change Britain forever, and for the worst.
When the events of September 11th 2001 occurred the shock and hysteria all around was familiar, but I personally felt only resignation and cynicism. A conspiracy theorist would perhaps be excused for thinking Diana was slain by foul means as a ‘warm up’ for future ‘disasters’ such has been the choreography of public reaction ever since.
The poisonous legacy of this one moment in time is all around us almost 16 years later in 2013. Every ‘tragedy’ or ‘scandal’ is met with a tidal wave of ‘outpouring’ very little of which has any meaning. People seem to have lost grip of what ‘grief’, ‘sorrow’ and indeed ‘feelings’ are amidst a river of meaningless emoting and insincere tributes. Social networking has only made this worse – you cannot ‘feel’ loss for people you have never met or who have never impacted on your own life in any way. There is no need to state the obvious to all and sundry about how much you ‘love Baby Taylor. Ur my world xxx’ – loving your children is a natural state of being for all parents, not just the halfwits that state such on Facebook. There is no need to write to pay tributes to someone you never met who died in a tragic car accident hundreds of miles away. And you certainly do not need to write to 500 so-called ‘friends’ how much ‘you love Mummy’ at the age of 24.
Ever since President Blair picked his conductors baton up back in 1997, this has been the end product – a nation of emotional retards who look to the state and the media in order to determine what and how they should ‘feel’. Those too young to remember life before 1997 simply do not know any different, and this is made worse by those who do ‘going along with it’ as if their brains have been wiped like the hard-drive of an old computer. They talk and emote about love and about grief like very young children, but the reality is we are unable to love or grieve without explicit instruction. Of course, as everything happens for a reason and the ‘benefit’ to those running society now is that the every ‘disaster’ or ‘scandal’ doesn’t have to be ‘explained’ in logical terms. This is of no benefit to people like me who still possess ethics, morals and an ability to think clearly. After I had written the bulk of this article, reports flooded in to the UK news organisation, horrifying news of a bomb going off in Boston, Massachusetts at the scene of a marathon. Details of 3 dead and many injured came thick and fest – but out-motoring the reports were the “thoughts” of thousands of other Westerners – it didn’t take long for people in the UK to be calling for the ‘old faithful’, the ‘minute’s silence’. “One Minute Silence” used to be the preserve of Remembrance Day to signify the sacrifice of others that was directly responsible for our own liberty, in recent years it has been applied to many ‘tragic events’ – the irony being we are no longer ‘free’ in the sense that we once were prior to Blairism. That 37 Iraqi civilians had also been blown to bits by terrorist bombs on the same day whilst attempting to vote in the new America-endorsed “Democratic Iraq” barely figured in the UK news reports, so I was confused – should we have a minutes silence for Boston and five minutes silence for Iraq? Spend a day in bed? Divide up our “thoughts” and send a percentage across the Atlantic and a percentage to the Middle East? Maybe we could work out an ‘exchange rate’ on what a life is worth depending on nationality?
Although it took years for the bigger picture to become apparent, that afternoon on 1st September 1997 it was not just the sun disappearing behind the clouds, it was life as I knew it. It was also a sign of the struggle I would face in the future as someone clinging on to my very sense of self and ideals in a society that would disintegrate into a morass of artificial emotion and senseless idiocy. Sixteen years not only do we face empty vessels in terms of retarded young people (not just unwilling but unable to grow up) but in the ‘past’ I refer to – the time of considered intelligent opinion, of restrained and natural love and grief and of a better quality of life – being discredited by the forces that created the present status quo. What the future will bring people like myself I do not know – but I can’t see the artifice of the present being sustainable. Something has got to give, and along with the bombs of terrorism exploding on a daily basis around the globe, I feel the time-bomb of idiocy is not far off detonating. Do we have anything left to lose?