The very heavens weep! Well, now that summer has abandoned our isles, it can only be a matter of time before some wild-eyed prophet of doom manages to turn even the weather into a judgement on what is, apparently, our poor, benighted nation.
And it is for precisely this reason that the Round-Up has stayed Sphinx-like in its silence in recent times. The world is not short of opinions currently, so why drop another floater into the effluvia of analysis, reporting, commentary and speculation?
We have dipped a scientific ladle into that soup and what it reveals is a deeply unpleasant and highly toxic sludge of selectiveness, bias confirmation, thinly disguised agendas, wilful conflations, wishful thinking, misplaced schadenfreude, useful idiocy, damned lies and statistics.
There’s also the occasional gold ring dropped in there and we’ve fished one or two out for you.
But the petri dish we dipped into Twitter has gone. So corrosive was the flow that the glass dissolved. The active ingredients being jeery certainties and outright nastiness.
All of which media and political seethings are fortunately contained within a bubble. Those outside it largely carrying on heedless of the terrible screams, hideous mutations and unnameable solids contained therein.
The country still largely wants Brexit. And even among those that don’t, they’re decent enough sports to accept the result and that, despite what some might wish, the whistle has gone and the game is over. They’re not sure about the government though. But then again, they’re not really sure about any of the alternatives either. And while the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse stubbornly refuse to put in their long-predicted appearance, on they push with lives largely uninterrupted by events, dear boy.
The British population is a hard one to badger, as many both home and abroad might do well to remember. It is their reputation. And it is hard won. They, we, also have a sense of perspective. And in what has suddenly become a rainy summer, they go to cinemas and see films like Dunkirk and remind themselves of what real crisis looks like and how they tend to respond.
They also go on holiday too. Where they’ve always gone. To Spain and to Portugal, to Bergerac, Brittany and Biarritz. Get some sun, spend some money and know that the beneficiaries won’t give that up lightly. They might even drive there in their German cars.
But they’ll probably avoid British Airways, whose reputational stock has now sunk below that of Aeroflot and to whose decline the Sunday Times devotes several pages and the cover of its magazine. A tale as cautionary as Dunkirk is ultimately up-lifting. Reputations are best managed before events manage them for you. Rapid descent is rarely a good thing for countries or aeroplanes.
They might, though, catch up with the BBC. Programmes from home. All that. They won’t care too much who’s earning what and most aren’t daft enough to believe ‘nurse’s salary’ is a unit of currency any more than ‘skoolznospitals’ used to be. But they will question what those variously paid newsreaders tell them in way they haven’t before. And for an organisation whose reputation is founded on trust, that’s much more of a problem.
Above all, they’ll take a breather. It’s been a hell of a ride since we all climbed aboard at the polling booth in June last year. A drop of rosado and a chord or two of Asturias does wonders for the composure when mixed with sunshine. As Ronald Reagan once said; “Don’t just do something, stand there.” And he was surely right.
Have a good summer from all at RepComms.
BTW – it’s become de rigueur to do a summer reading list, we note. Here’s some of what the RepComms gang will be reading on the beaches and on the landing grounds;
The Man Who Watched the Trains Go By Georges Simenon. He’s a famous Belgian – so add him to your pub quiz list – and is best known for his Maigret detective novels. But he extends his mastery of low life into this sparse and rattle-along thriller about a respectable Dutch businessman turned rogue by an unfortunate turn of events. Oddly for a Belgian writing about a Dutchman, it’s a classic French pre-occupation; the outsider, the lone wolf and what he/we can do.
Moonraker by Ian Fleming. No, no, no, don’t be dismissive. Few crafted a story as well as Ian Fleming, not least about himself but the Bond franchise proves the adage that the film is rarely as good as the book. All the usual ingredients brilliantly blended into an attempt to hold the world to ransom from space. There’s nothing like seeing something done well and the Bond books are done very well. C’mon. You’re on holiday.
Homage to Catalonia by George Orwell. Well, you wanted something more serious. If you’re off to Spain, it’s the rules that you have to read either For Whom The Bell Tolls or this autobiographical account of Orwell’s experience of the Spanish Civil War. All his compelling economy brought to bear on a nasty little conflict that sucked in ideologues, adventurers, opportunists, dictators and the well-intentioned. It could never happen now, as we know.
The Unwomanly Face of War by Svetlana Alexievich – yes, we know, not your usual holiday read but it serves you right for laughing at Ian Fleming. Brits brought up on Virginia McKenna being jolly brave in Carve Her Name with Pride will be no strangers to female courage near the awful facts of war. But the Russian Front spared few very much in the way of sheer horror and Soviet women whether frontline soldiers, partisans, mechanics or nurses shared in the madness. Their viewpoint, movingly and revealingly told.
The Great Swindle by Pierre Le Maitre; this won the Prix Goncourt and comes very much from the school of ‘what a tangled web we weave when first we labour to deceive’. An overly ambitious junior officer commits a dreadful crime towards the end of World War One and sets in train a series of events binding two bruised individuals into the enactment of a vast revenge fantasy; swindling an entire nation.
Go on with ya now. We’ll see you in September.