It’s been a confusing week in politics. The Referendum and its European aftermath that I’ve already written about on here. Followed by the spectacle of our two main political parties choosing consecutive days to appear to tear themselves apart. No one I know was very surprised to see the Tories behaving so badly, but when the majority of the Parliamentary Labour Party decided to turn on their own recently elected leader I was, to put it mildly, disappointed.
But we’ll come back to that after a bus ride to town.
Today I was in town keeping an eye on the place. Nothing unusual in that you might think. For some self-appointed reason that’s the kind of thing I do. But today I was there looking for fascists and making sure, in so far as I could, that they did no harm.
All week a particualrly nasty bunch of the species, who I won’t dignify by naming, had been threatening all sorts if they weren’t allowed to do their march. Their ‘right’ they’d been calling it. ‘Free speech’ they’d been calling it. This bunch of racist, Islamophobic, holocaust denying, white supremacist totalitarians who’d apparently written to the City Council threatening “an action-packed weekend of ethnically-enriched chaos and mayhem” if they were denied their rights.
Lately and increasingly I have resumed writing in long hand when something really matters to me, when something needs working out. The slowness of it, the active thinking, from my heart directly down my left arm to the tip of my pen.
I’m writing in long hand now, sat on the wall of Sefton Park, the Sunday afternoon before the 2015 General election. Sefton Park where I have come for most of my adult life to walk, reflect and think about all the really big decisions. When to invite, when to leave? When to say yes, when to say no. Today I’m here to keep writing until I can decide who to vote for this Thursday.
As you can tell by the title above, several parties and candidates have already been eliminated by the thinking and experiences of my life up to now. I am a socialist and always have been since, I think, my first ever visit to a public library some time late in the 1950s:
“We’d moved to our new house on a new estate, just North of Liverpool. And in one of our early explorations of the new place, called Maghull, I remember my Dad taking me to the Library there and explaining how it worked. That I could pick the books I wanted and take them home. Then after we, or rather he, had read them to me, we’d bring them back. ‘It’s part of how we’ve decided to run the country. Books are important and this is a good way of making sure everyone can read the books they want,’ he said, gently educating his little son in the gently British version of socialism.”
During my walking around Liverpool as the year has turned I’ve been thinking a bit about what and how I write on here – and about the coming up GeneralElection. Here are a few of my thoughts.
First, about shouting and being opinionated.
This instant publishing on social media can easily lead to positions of self professed importance for us bloggers and tweeters, it seems to me. Unedited by others and not necessarily taking much time to reflect on what we’re saying, we find anyway that the stronger the views we express the more reaction we provoke. So we can get into the habit of never expressing a view mildly and certainly never appearing to have any doubts. Because doubts don’t get ‘likes’ do they? And mild opinions don’t provoke comments. So being strongly opinionated and shouting louder and louder about our opinions is the nature of the game around here, isn’t it?
I was upset when I got home one day last week to discover that a fascist had put a leaflet through our letter box. But before I took the front door off its hinges to have it fumigated I noticed all the other leaflets that had arrived too. Then I realised: ‘Oh, democracy is happening.’ And I felt better.
So, it’s like this. I’d been toying with the idea of doing a post about the wonderfulness of public libraries in general and Allerton Library in Liverpool in particular. Then the other day in Greendays I overheard somebody behind me braying ‘What do we need public libraries for anyway, now we’ve got the internet?’ And the ‘public libraries’ post became a necessity.
He was young. The culprit. Looked like we’ve all only recently finished contributing towards the costs of his education. And I’d been vaguely aware, in the corners of my ears, that he’s been doing an ‘I’m really right wing, me’ performance for some time. I’d heard mention of ‘insurance based private health care’ being ‘a good thing’. And he seemed to be trying rather too hard to impress the two young women he was with. But failing anyway, judging by their sneers and mocking laughter. And so foolishly and mysteriously, he’d then turned the attention of his fledgling neo-con brain muscles to the subject of public libraries.
We soon left. So that’s all the space his ‘opinions’ are getting on here. Because I want to return to the subject we haven’t really started yet. The glory that is the public library. And the glory that is books.