Monday, 3 October 2016


No, yesterday wasn’t so good if you actually think back.

This week Libby Purves wrote a great piece in the Times counting our current blessings. She’s so good that a friend said to me “I’d make her PM - tomorrow” - he’s right Libby’s a liberal voice of joyful sanity - Libby for leader of the Happy Party. Why not? In the insane post-reason and enlightenment world of Brexit, Corbyn and Trump anything could happen.

Her basic thesis - well-worn and endorsed in various blogs of mine and others but not so well written as hers - is that across the board everything, yes everything, is getting better. Health, medical discoveries, food and drink, restaurants, shops, manners, sport, wealth, housing, welfare - yes, everything….Yet despair is fashionable, she says, and only 5% of Britons think the world is getting better. So of the other 95%...
Are you blind? Are you deaf? Are you mad?

In the relatively recent past we hanged, beat and abused people with some relish. When Winston Churchill rebuked some Admirals for talking affectionately about the traditions of the Royal Navy he said:
 “And what are they? They are rum, sodomy and the lash'.

In this better world, global literacy is up from 21% a century ago to 86% now. Johan Norberg,
whose book “Progress” Libby cites at some length, praises globalism, industrialisation, science and the liberal heart. And it’s this liberal heart that interests me and inspires me the most.

Overall we, and especially the young and better-educated, are repelled by any concept like the old-school smack of firm government. And to those lamenting our rapid progress and who advocate the return to the rose tinted past and good honest coal mining, well I despair of them.

Our new world is actually (and potentially even more) bright, shiny and brainy. It’s liberal, cosmopolitan, speaks English and likes the same great movies. It’s young, energetic, fit and funny. We learned to laugh intelligently in the 1960’s and 70’s and now again we are seeing better and sharper satire. This is as good as it’s got.

Over the past two weeks I’ve eaten splendidly at newish restaurants - 64 Degrees in Brighton and at 45 Jermyn Street and Eneko in London. I’ve felt as though I were in the centre of the world walking with a mix of different nationalities and seeing people enjoying the warmth of a long drawn out summer.

I read Saturday’s Times and it was upbeat as I wanted it to be, Caitlin Moran and Robert Crampton as ever cheerful, funny and big hearted. Happy stories like Gertie the dog swimming out to sea to recover a German holiday maker’s false leg that had been washed away in a freak wave.

All too often we get what we expect. As the Victor Meldrews discover things go wrong when
we anticipate them doing so. So cheer up. Expect the best. And start laughing at our extraordinary good fortune.

1 comment:

Nick Fitzherbert said...

I was in Bulgaria last week and they all think we've gone completely mad over Brexit. My taxi driver was grilling me on the subject before we had even got out of the airport. Others were saying: "but surely you are going to end up with a WORSE deal?"