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Reasons to be Cheerful (Part 2)

What with extreme tiredness truncating my previous list of personal reasons for failing to acknowledge that all is lost last year, I thought I'd better do a second post. I mean, four things doesn't seem like very much, doesn't even seem like a reason to get out of bed, not when faced with the utter shitstorm which comprised the vast majority of 2018. There surely must be more, I here you cry, and, gentle reader, you'd be right....

5) Not everyone's a bell-end

There were a few victories won by the forces of good in 2018. This was one of the first years where I started to feel that a majority of people were starting to get the point that we're heading rapidly towards disaster if we don't start to do something. Now, granted, this, for the vast majority, meant vaguely thinking that they might google some vegan recipes at some point immediately prior to heading out for a cheeky Nando's, or booking the flight for that edgy weekend break in Berlin but at least feeling a bit guilty about it. But everything's got to start somewhere, and at least people are thinking about it. At least it's on the radar. At least the BBC have acknowledged that when they're having a climate discussion, they don't need a change denier "for balance": there is no balance to be had, and we seem to be realising that at last, which is heartening.

6) No one gives a fuck about the far right.

Oh, I know they make a lot of noise, they're all over social media and if you were to believe Stephen Yaxley-Lennon then he's the leader of a huge working class movement against the "elite" (this would be the same Stephen Yaxley-Lennon who's indirectly bankrolled by US billionaire Robert Mercer, elitism fans), but there's nowhere near as many of them as they'd lead you to believe. When they actually have to emerge into the sunlight then there are handfuls. Have you seen their demos? Pitiful. And all six of them got chased straight out of Liverpool, never even made it out of the station. They're getting some traction on a local scale, where they exploit local tragedies to whip up anti Muslim / immigrant sentiment, but they've been allowed to do this as those areas have been left to rot, people are desperate for something to get angry about. This is appalling enough in and of itself, but is does point to them being marginal figures (and is also a damning indictment of the social policies of our last few governments, but that's another post altogether). The fact is, that even with Brexit exposing an ugly fault line in our society, and letting a few racists think more people agree with them than actually do, more people aren't bad racist knobheads than are. Most people are basically pretty decent. A thought to hold onto as we head into the choppy waters of 2019.

7) Empathy

2018 left it late, but it finally dropped a wonderful story in our collective laps just as the year reached last knockings when ex Conservative MP and Deputy Speaker, Nigel Evans, had a sudden attack of empathy. Now, Mr Evans had been subject to false allegations of sexual assault, which I agree is pretty awful. This self-same Nigel Evans then had to spend 130K of his own money defending himself. Why is this funny? Why does this please me? Because this Nigel Evans was one of the braying hoorays who voted through Cameron and Osborne's egregious slashing of legal aid, leaving people unable to defend themselves in court and costing the country far more in social damage than it saved in money. Nigel Evans has spent his life savings. Not many people have life savings of 130K. Nigel Evans now says he should have voted against it. Nigel Evan has learned empathy, the thing that so many Governments seem to lack. Now we just need the cabinet to get deported / have to spend a month on Universal Credit / wait months for an operation / watch their child's school be closed / watch a train-line or road pass right through the middle of their house and maybe, just maybe we'll have some people who understand the damage their party has done to the country since 2010.

8) Telly

Now, I don't watch a lot of it, but even I can see that there's more good telly on now than there's ever been. I thought the Bodyguard was bollocks, to be honest (I'm sorry guys, but it was awful). But any year that brings us A Very English Scandal, Black Earth Rising and Killing Eve has got to be worth the price of admission alone. And that's before we even get to a female Dr Who getting all the saddo fanboys in an hilarious froth ("Time Travel isn't for women" anyone?). Never believe anyone who tells you that it's not as good as some mythical golden age, from my (admittedly limited: I know there's a slew of good stuff I'm missing, and I'm aware that I've only mentioned dramas but who's got the time? I work nights, I watch about three hours of telly a week total) perspective now, it's better than it's ever been.

9) Other stuff

Due to the challenges alluded to in part one, I certainly feel that I was more a part of the world in many respects in 2018. I paid more attention to my surroundings, read more widely, saw a bit more of the country, just generally felt more that I was living rather than existing. This is not a state of affairs to be sneezed at. My thirties disappeared in a haze of work and exhaustion, with the business and kids combining to create a sort of fog through which little penetrated. Now, with my brilliant boys not keeping me up all night, and being fairly comfortable as a reasonably well-paid employee rather than perpetually fretful employer there is the opportunity to enjoy things a little more, or at the very least worry a little less. And amazingly, with that change in mindset the world becomes a somewhat more pleasant place. I blogged earlier in 2018 about noticing a family of yellowhammers which had probably been at the park for years, but I'd only seen them this year. I've not just been reading for escapism, but to engage with the work, to have my ideas questioned, to fire up long dormant parts of my brain. It's been like looking with fresh eyes, and it's been pretty wonderful, to be honest.

10) Giving up drinking

Just kidding, I bloody love wine. But, at the risk of sounding too worthy, I have cut down a lot in 2018, and all the stuff they bang on about is more or less true. Just not so true that I'm prepared to life a life which doesn't have St-Emilion in it. Still, it's nice to be able to fit into old clothes again, saves a fortune by not having to buy any new ones. So now all I have to worry about is looking fifteen years out date, but the great thing about getting older is that you suddenly realise that you don't care what people think. So here's to 2019, let's all get out there, be nice to people, try to make a positive difference, try to enjoy our lives, have the odd glass of wine and not give a flying fuck what anybody else thinks about how we live our lives. Keep your chin up, people, it's a grand old life if you let it be.


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