Monday, 30 May 2022


Relax. This is just the beginning; but it’ll be all right in the end.

“Well, how do you feel? How’s your mental health?”

I worry that by asking that question too often, we can create morbid-introspectives. An easy thing to be, as with Party-gate, Putin-gate, Trump-gate and Recession-gate we’re being bombarded with torrents of ghastly news.

Carelessness and contempt are at the root of every Boris Johnson crisis |  Financial Times

But it’s been like this before. Try 1968.

I’d recently finished at University, cast into the world of work, in those days of very light work. It was a world of fried breakfasts, elevenses (cheese rolls or Danish pastries), a large canteen lunch and a snoozy afternoon.

Vietnam War | National Archives

But all was not well. We had war in Vietnam with the Americans, like the Russians now, losing ground and credibility; the Russian brutal take-over of Czechoslovakia; the assassination of Robert Kennedy; Student riots in Paris; UK inflation rising from 4% through to 16% a few years later; the devaluation of the £.

Whilst compared to the 1950s life was better with supermarkets, restaurants and great music, there were big problems. Apart from the film Bullitt the thing I most recall from 1968 was Demis Roussos and Aphrodite’s Child and “Rain and Tears.” It was more a dirge  than a song but it caught the mood of that strange year poignantly – more than Yellow Submarine.

Rain and tears

Both I shun

For in my heart there’ll never be a sun. 

Vangelis and Aphrodite's Child lyrics: Rain and tears, Don't try to catch a  river, Plastics nevermore, The other people lyrics

A lament to counterbalance the saccharine of some 60s songs about teenage love. 

54 years ago there was another difference to now. Political talent. Big beasts like Healey, Jenkins, Crosland, and Castle in government. And shadowing them Macleod, Hogg, Thatcher and Carrington.

These were very formidable thinkers – like them or not. We lack such breadth of thinking in today’s front benches.

But against this backcloth of me saying “we’ve been here before” what justifies me being so optimistic and believing  we’ll survive stronger and sunnier? 

There are four reasons:

1. Youth. Forget the talk about woke youth. In my own experience these are the brightest and most engaged generation I’ve ever seen. A majority of them want a better, kinder, more successful world. I love their brightness and ability to conquer obstacles. On a personal level:  at 13 one grandson strides on stage with dominant presence and charm. At 15 another does his homework diligently and as a wing back terrorises opposition footballers from his lofty 6 foot. Our 8 year old granddaughter has a wisdom and sense of observation that astounds me. Great nieces 16 and 13 are respectively, the elder, artistic and a comedian, the younger, hardworking, clever and  someone who will rule her world.

What the Statistics Say About Generation Z - The Annie E. Casey Foundation

2. Age. If we few survivors of 1968 do what we should, we’ll help Generation Z become a “Superstar Generation.” It’s my mission. 

3. We have the wealth and resources lacking and not dreamt about in 1968. Global GDP was $2.5 trillion then. Today it’s $85 trillion.

4.We are (Brexit apart) a global entity generally co-operating. Our Generation Z Superstars get that, talk to contemporaries worldwide and are daily discovering just how much they all have in common.

Think about it. There’s more to be optimistic about. David beats Goliath again, he always does. Politicians have feet of clay. And we have a new generation of impressive people who’ll show up in due course and then remove the deadwood.

Rainbow - Wikipedia

I think there’s a more appropriate song for 2022. Weeknd’s “Save your Tears”. But don’t despair. The sun will come out again. 

Just believe in our youth, our experience and our talent.

And ignore those politicians.

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