I've been so occupied in the last week or so, I've hardly had time even to look in and say, 'hello'. So, hello!
But I have, with my usual diligence been monitoring life in Britain. And hasn't it all been going downhill! I have been getting a bit concerned about this judgement actually. When I was young and we had to choose whether we were mods or rockers and of course had to go down to Brighton seafront for mammoth punch-ups, I remember my parents saying that it was all terrible and the end of life as we know it. Every time from then on that fashion changed - long hair, flared trousers, promiscuous sex, biscuits with jam in them, etc, my parents would tut and shake their heads and tell me that the world had gone mad and society itself was in free-fall. I, on the other hand, would say, 'get with it, daddyo,' or some such catchy, up to date phrase, indicating that my aim was keep up with current trends when my parents didn't. So, here I am, however, decrying aspects of modern British society. I suspect I might have turned into my Mum.
Is that inevitable, I wonder. When we become older and wiser, do we realise that our parents spoke sense and thus do we eventually agree with them? Or do we just slow down gradually and fail to keep up with a rapidly changing world, as our parents failed to do before us? Can't be that, because I still keep up with all the latest fashions and dance crazes, like hustling and jacking and that other dance where you just jump up and down. Can it be that I'm just old - as old as my parents were then? But it can't be that, I expect to live twice as long as my parents did, so I'm only part way through my life, whereas they were in the twilight of their years. Weren't they? Of course it could be that Britain really is going down the drain and my parents were the first to spot it.
Earlier in the week, I took someone to the hospital down in Portsmouth. While I waited for their treatment, I bought myself a coffee in the waiting lounge. 'Don't bother to fix the plastic cap on the cup', I said. 'I'll drink it here'. 'Oh, we have to put the caps on,' the barista replied. There's another major change in Britain - she used to be a shop assistant, or if you were really lucky, a waitress. It's all self-service now though and the shop assistants call themselves fancy names and I pay twice as much for my coffee.
Where was I? Oh yes, caps on coffee cups. Actually it wasn't a cup either. Despite paying twice as much for the coffee, it was served in a paper cup and I had to stir it with a wooden stick. 'Yes, we have to put the caps on for health and safety reasons,' she said. Health and safety again! What do they think I am going to do with it?! The cup already has HOT written on the side of it anyway. Of course I had to take the cap off to put sugar in and in fact I threw the cap away before I took the cup to my table. But did I feel unsafe or unhealthy?
A day or two later, I read in the paper that a teenager had complained of panic attacks after taking a drug called Blue Cheese. She was complaining either about the sale of the drug or the shop she bought it from; it wasn't clear. Perhaps if she didn't take drugs, she would be more lucid. But apparently you can buy this drug legally over the counter without an ID. So now I really am feeling out of touch. And maybe old. Why did I not know before that it is now possible legally to buy and use drugs? In shock and disbelief, I looked up Blue Cheese on the internet and found myself in a chartroom where they were discussing the merits of various drugs and where to get the best Blue Cheese. I don't believe it! Oh no, now I'm turning into Victor Meldrew!! But, seriously, when did it become legal to buy drugs over the counter?
Today I was reading about the case of Lord Ahmed. He was arrested for driving his car into the back of a parked car and killing the driver, whilst sending a text on his mobile phone. My first thought at the time this happened was that this is a very modern crime. This could not have happened just a few years ago. Looking at a young lady on the side of the road, instead of at the road ahead, now that's what used to cause accidents. Of course Lord Ahmed should have been jailed. He could plead that killing someone was an accident, but hardly that he wasn't driving irresponsibly and making himself a danger to other road users - proven by what actually happened. Never the less he escaped a charge of causing death by dangerous driving and was given a minimum custodial sentence. A very modern judgement! THAT judgement was criminal in my view, but what do I know?
Anyway, Lord Ahmed was then subsequently released by another judge, who accepted his claim that prison would hinder the good work he was doing in the Muslim community. Ah, the Muslim community card! It now turns out that Lord Ahmed has been making anti-western broadcasts in Urdu to Pakistan and even claiming that his original driving arrest was somehow the work of a Jewish conspiracy. Not content with inciting Islamic extremism, in the pretence of fostering goodwill between religions, he actually promotes anti-Semitism. Well, there's a lot of it about these days. A very modern phenomenon! But how does the judiciary ignore the serious crime he has committed and then, adding insult to the injury of you and I, release him anyway? This is one of the trends in Britain today that I don't understand. Why does Lord Ahmed get special treatment? Because he only killed someone accidentally? Because he's a Lord? Because he's a Muslim? Chris Huhne, a Secretary of State in the present Government, was similarly arrested for a driving offence and told the Court a similar string of porkies, but he got 8 months in prison. And that was basically just for speeding. And what about all these Muslim clerics we're deporting for preaching extremism? Surely killing someone, preaching extremism AND anti-Semitism is worse than both those cases put together?