I’m giving my age away, but that’s not something that bothers me much these days.  I was a teenager in the sixties. Living in Aberdeen, being well brought up, and attending the High School for Girls, I somehow missed out on hallucinogenic drugs and the wilder shores of the permissive age, but I did know the world was changing.  The safe, austere monochrome world of the fifties vanished with Mrs Dale’s Diary on the Home Service and liberty bodices to keep you warm, no central heating, and the leftover sense of having just come out of war.  When I was little I had looked at faded black and white photographs of my mother as a child, in her pinafore and black stockings, and referred to that time as ‘the olden days’, and I went on thinking the second world war an age away.

Now, from this distance, it seems it wasn’t so long in the past so no wonder my parents were taken aback by the psychedelic sixties, the huge social changes sweeping the world.  For us, it was a time of hope.  We believed the dark ages had gone, that life was – of course – going to get better for everyone.  We were moving into a fairer, more equitable and prosperous world.

For a while at least, it did seem like that.  The sun shone. We wore bell bottom jeans and everyone grew their hair long.

The year I graduated, we had the three day week and were plunged into darkness again.  Still, that was only a blip, we were going to keep going forward.

I managed to keep that belief alive even through the worst of the Thatcher years.  The world would re-balance itself, right would prevail.  Now, for the first time, as this punitive, regressive, wicked government grinds on, I no longer believe in the inevitability of progress.  Or only of a kind – the kind you can’t deny, the progress of science, though even that, when you look at what happens within huge pharmaceutical companies for example, seems tainted.

They have managed to make that wonderful optimistic word ‘reform’ seem bleak: welfare ‘reform’ now means punishment; penal reform now means less hope, fewer opportunities for prisoners themselves to reform; education reform means every school and its values, every detail of the curriculum is at the mercy of an illiberal and small-minded Gradgrind of an Education Secretary.  Thank God I live in Scotland, I used to think, when I worked in Education myself, thank goodness for the Curriculum for Excellence, though I knew fine many teachers grumbled about it, not liking too much change at the best of times.  Well, this is no longer the best of times.

Right, that’s enough misery!  What can we do about it?  Il faut cultivier son jardin, certainly, love one another, fine, but perhaps that’s not enough.  Vote or not vote?  Of course we must vote, you might not like any of the parties, but you can vote for the Greens, or the Save the Vole Party, you can at least strike a protest out there without choosing racism and zenophobia.

I don’t quite know what else, but I’m open to suggestions, legal preferably, non-violent certainly. It seems to me that for the first time since the sixties blossomed (and they weren’t perfect, I do know that) we have global social media, we can communicate, we can change the world.

Shelfie below, now that I’ve worked out how to insert photographs!

By the way, I’ve solved the crow problem.  Very expensive squirrel proof feeders are keeping the wee birds happy and the crows come now and again and peck away at what’s fallen on the grass below.  Success!

 

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