We live in grim times. Those of us in the UK are faced with a government busy eating itself, unable to manage the competing demands of the negotiations that will sever us from Europe, the consequences of austerity that sees the NHS at breaking point and poverty spiralling out of control, and a blatantly racist discussion about who belongs here and who doesn’t. Our environment is drowning in plastic. Even our weather is non-compliant. (It’s not for me to comment on presidential difficulties in America).
One solution to this madness - distracting the electorate from things that really matter by bombing a country thousands of miles away.
People (by people I mean readers) need fiction more than ever. Fiction that not only addresses the deal and meaningful, but also provides some light relief, entertainment, brain-space away from all the guff that fills the newspapers and leaps at us from the internet.
What a responsibility for us writers! How wonderful it is to be able to provide a few minutes of cheer among all the wailing and gnashing of teeth!
If only I could. And here I speak only for myself. For all my efforts to cheer others - and myself - tend to end up in something of a diatribe, helping no one.
For instance, I love playing with parodies of poems. Someone else has done the hard work deciding on form and rhyme scheme - I just mess about with the words. Surely that would bring a little light relief? But ...
You are old, Boris Johnson, the young man said
And your hair has become very white
And yet you persistently lie through your teeth
Do you think at your age it is right?
It’s not lies, it is Latin, Boz Johnson replied
The fruit of my posh education.
It’s not my fault if you and the great British press
Are as thick as the rest of the nation.
But now you’re an MP, the young man said,
Your great words should carry authority.
Such piffle, said Boz, don’t speak like I care
For the so much less privileged majority.
But you should care, Boz Johnson, the young man said
For these are the crowds that elect you.
And they’re happy with twaddle, Boz Johnson replied
Or they’d never have been taken in by all that Brexit shit ...
You see what I mean? This began as a game, but yet again it leads me down a miserable road. (Unless anyone, possibly with better Latin than I have, can come up with something frivolous. I, for one, would be deeply grateful.)