Monday, December 31, 2018

2018 is over...

Current mood: LUDWIG

Everyone is sending out their end-of-year messages of thanks, gratitude, invocation of blessings and marvels at the wonders around us, and I'd like to join in.

Only it's difficult, because I am mad as hell about what has happened to my home country during the course of 2018 and terrified out of any remaining wits about what will happen in 2019.

I haven't been blogging much, because to be interested in blogging you have to not mind 'sweating the small stuff' and currently I mind this very much indeed. Oooh, a mispronunciation on Radio 3! Oooh, clapping between movements! Ooooh-ahhh, a soloist in a short skirt. WOW!

I've been lucky to have some excellent guest posts this year. I've given the floor whenever possible to those who make the arguments best: Anna Lapwood on gender equality for choristers, Dame Sarah Connolly on the implications for the music world of Brexit, and more. It's not that I don't want to write. It's that I am feeling angry, depressed, knocked sideways and bloody scared.

Nobody talks about the knock-on effects of Brexit. It has opened the gates of hell. Its implications are far, far wider than just a country trying to leave a union of other countries. It has released fascism from under its foul rock. How do you get back from that?

Some see 'temporary disruption' in the event of 'no deal'. For those who lose their jobs or medications in that event, there is no such thing as 'temporary'. It's too late. When your job's gone, it's gone. How do you get back from that?

If freight flow is reduced by 80 per cent and the lorries can't get in and out, the whole place will collapse in one week. If you doubt that, just look what happens when a drone stops planes at Gatwick for a day or two.

I see: ruined lives. Hopes destroyed, futures wrecked, millions condemned to hand-to-mouth existence in old age, while young people leave in their hundreds and thousands to seek work in more sensible places.

I see stricken, impoverished people by the million, looking for someone to blame.

I see riots, destruction, a despotic crackdown, deportation, "ethnic cleansing". Already I sometimes wonder which of our pro-Brexit neighbours of 20 years will throw bricks through our windows when it all goes wrong for them.

I have been to Bosnia, where people used to live together quite happily and marry into each other's communities. Split countries on ethnic lines when the umbrella union is broken down and you have wars. Near Mostar after 25 years, there are still landmines to avoid.

I used to think Brexit was like the Poll Tax and would have to be rescinded because technically it simply cannot be done. Now I think they will do it anyway and hang the consequences. The government of a formerly healthyish and successful democratic country is hell-bent on destroying its own people just to save its own face. How do you get back from that?

And all the time we will remember: none of this had to happen. They could have suspended Article 50 or withdrawn it entirely, any time they like. The referendum was won by the use of illegal means and being 'advisory' should never have been accepted. It's a right-wing coup disguised as a proletarian revolution. And the whole thing is the conscious choice of our own government, and our prime minister in particular.

So I wish you a very happy new year and may all things wonderful come to you in sackfuls. If there are marches, let's march. If there are general strikes, let's strike. If there are riots, let's try to stay safe. There are good people around: let's be them. And let's be creative. Let's try to find new ways to combat this hideous turn of events and to keep the message of unity, transcendence, humanity and enlightenment shining out through our music, art, books, theatre and imagination, whatever form it takes.

Thank you for reading.

Here's some Beethoven.