Looking over the past month - exclusive for SCVO members
So… did you miss me?
Judging by the outraged reaction to the non-appearance of this column last month, the answer to that is a responding “miss who?”
Anyway, Reader (and I do mean that, somewhat hopefully, as a singular), I had Covid, so the last few weeks since my return have been about catching up, which put Past Tense at the back of the list.
So apologies. It would be remiss of me to skip the opportunity of catching a novel respiratory virus to indulge in a little “what I have learnt”, or at the very least to use it as a hook for what is to follow in this column.
So here goes: heading straight for Pseuds Corner with this one, but German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer had a rather nifty gag about genius and madness both being united by living in a world that is different from that which exists for everyone else.
I think this rather sums up the altered state I entered into as my temperature shot up, leading me to get up at 5am and watch – no, not just watch, but actively enjoy – three episodes of Lovejoy back-to-back on UK Forces TV.
However (here comes the learning), if the worst that was going to happen to me from my brush with Covid was a slightly hallucinogenic appreciation of 30 year old, gentle (but surprisingly racy - Lovejoy really puts himself about) antique trade roguery, then I am aware that the words “getting off lightly” are offensively inadequate.
This is a disease that has killed and maimed millions throughout the globe, and will continue to do so. That I, as one of the world’s lucky double-jabbed, was able experience a mild version of this murderous affliction, was a testament to a few things, none of them linked to my own, ahem, clean living.
First, a socialised a health care system and first class scientific research. Secondly, an accident of birth which has placed me in what used to be know as the ‘first world’, one of the planet’s richest and most developed nations, and therefore among the first in line for vaccination.
Of course, we are not all equal before Covid – even in the west. There are massive disparities in how this virus has affected communities here, based on wealth and all the complexities that flow from that.
But these divisions are replicated on a monstrous scale worldwide. And this is why I thought one of the most important stories TFN ran this month was the call for the forthcoming Cop26 summit in Glasgow to be postponed as participation by climate change’s primary victims – people from the ‘developing’ world and the global south – cannot be assured.
They face being excluded from Cop because of the impact the pandemic is having on them, with the cause of that impact being linked to the threat they face from an overheating planet - an out of control and insane economic system.
Of course, Cop won’t be cancelled (again). It will go ahead with, I suspect, limited outcomes.
This is why I don’t like thinking of it as “our best last chance”. A collection of heads of state who mostly represent the business interests of the mega-polluters. What can go wrong?
Of course, we need to keep the pressure up, and build a better world under their noses. But as for the conference itself? As Ian McShane’s be-mulletted Lalique lothario might say to Tinker Dill: “Do we have to bring mistrust and suspicion into this?”
Sorry to be a downer, but I think we do.
So - that's all a bit gloomy, sorry. But this will cheer you up. Here's The Fall doing Fit And Working Again from the mighty Slates 10".