A thankful day off from walking. It isn’t too hard, walking 12 miles in a day. The complication and frustrations arise from finding the way across blocked paths and tracks that haven’t been used for years; and then there are sudden and unmarked divisions in the paths with an occasional and often indistinct indication as to which one is right.
Some years ago an intrepid lady walked from Edinburgh to London as the crow flies. She charged across motorways, though factories and then she swam straight across rivers. She remained undeterred by private houses by slamming through French windows and out from kitchens while families were at lunch! Amazingly, she lived to tell her tale. I rather envy her but I reckon my English reserve would betray me when faced with having to carve straight through the law courts still in session.
We visit Chartwell, Churchill’s country house. I wonder what he would have made of Brexit.
What a mess! His grandson, Sir Nicholas Soames, thinks WSC would have been a remainer. I am not convinced. His love of the Commonwealth and the USA convince me that he would have thought such a union right for Germany and France and the rest of the EU members, but that he would have refused continued membership if it meant the UK found itself subordinate to a superstate run from Brussels..
The main difficulty is that parliament knows what it doesn’t want but cannot agree on what it does. We can’t stay and daren’t leave. Unless we do, we run the real risk of making international fools of ourselves on an even grander scale than we already have. But even WSC would have known what to do without a majority.
It’s sad that the introduction of a dizzying number of childish rules and regulations is now the only way in which anti-social behaviour can be reduced in the UK. If people were taught to behave with reasonable consideration for others, these rules would not need to clog up our lives. But our culture of self-control and restraint has been so comprehensively eroded by social change since 1945 that there’s little point in appealing to people’s better nature: it no longer exists.
Of course, I am generalising: there are many decent people around still, but you have to work a bit harder to find them than hitherto.
Where to begin? Let’s start with the small stuff. When I was a boy, I was taught it was simply unacceptable to eat in a public place. Today many people seem unable to move more than a few yards without eating something. If you examine street litter, you will find that the majority of it derives from people eating anytime and anywhere. As a consequence, our streets, lanes, fields and parks are filthy, probably the worst in Europe, simply because people choose to use them as a stable.
You may think this is a trivial observation, but it’s all about self-expression: there are no accepted rules or manners anymore to control society. It would seem that a vast number of young people have never eaten round a table regularly at home with other people, but choose instead to graze, eating when they feel like it and where they want to. In other words, they have never learned to curb their appetite for the sake of the convenience or the happiness of others. They would regard the idea of no eating on the street as an offence against human rights. If you are hungry, so their drivel goes, why not eat at once wherever you may be?
The Mood of the Moment
How has this come about? For starters, unbridled self-expression and the comprehensive destruction of the family. Today, many people hook up and then they stagger off sated, irrespective of the wellbeing of any children they may have sired or society as a whole. The mood of the moment is all that matters.
Self-expression is regarded as an intrinsic good in itself. And because the state has made it financially possible for people to behave selfishly, it appears no longer to remember the crucial importance of the family to the welfare of children.
And instead of preaching the Ten Commandments, “Love your neighbour as yourself” or self-control, some (of course, not all) church leaders content themselves by banging on about Brexit, food banks and why doesn’t the government pour even more money into social security? The result of this catastrophic moral neglect can be seen in the rivers of misery that ooze daily through our divorce courts.
Anti-social behaviour is one of the fields in which Britain leads the world. Bad behaviour is today as much of a UK hallmark as fraud is in Nigeria. It’s no longer a tiny minority who offend by their violence, intimidation and degrading vulgarity, there is a substantial number – and this is a disgrace. Many of our younger fellow citizens do not “socialise” when they get together. They seem unable to enjoy themselves without getting screamingly drunk, vomiting in the street or creating an atmosphere of dark menace. Our holidaymakers compete in their vulgarity; our football crowds are a disgrace; and the centres of our cities at night resemble Gin Lane, glinting with knives and the dark glasses of drug dealers.
In the eighteenth century, philosopher Edmund Burke wrote, “Men (I am sure he would have included women as well, but PC wasn’t around then) are qualified for civil liberty in exact proportion to their disposition to put moral chains upon their own appetites… Society cannot exist unless a controlling power upon will and appetite be placed somewhere and the less of it there is within, the more there must be without. It is ordained in the eternal constitution of things that men of intemperate minds cannot be free…”
So now the state finds itself in the position of having to repress the very behaviour that has resulted from generations of woeful neglect. The fact we have lost control of ourselves is one of the reasons governments of all stripes feel obliged to pass vast numbers of nannyish rules designed to repress our grossness because we cannot be relied upon to control ourselves. Our loss of self-discipline has led directly to a need for state repression.
The question for our children is how can we return to self-regulation?
Some Light (Tax) Relief
The Inland Revenue recently returned a Norfolk-based man’s tax return to him after he apparently answered one of the questions incorrectly.
In response to the question, “Do you have anyone dependent on you?” he replied:
“2.1 million illegal immigrants, 1.1 million crackheads, 4.4 million unemployable scroungers, 700,000 criminals in 85 prisons, 650 idiots in Parliament, plus the bits of the European Commission we have been unable to leave behind.”
The Inland Revenue stated that his response was unacceptable.
“Who did I miss out!” the man responded.