REBLOG: The Drunkard of Europe

June 15, 2020

Jason Michael McCann, a Scottish writer based in Dublin, tells the current, right-wing-dominated mess that is post-Thatcherite England some home truths.

IT WAS ONE OF THE WORST DAYS OF MY LIFE. I know for a fact it was the worst day in at least two people’s lives. In the early hours of the morning the phone rang. On the other end of the phone my friend was speaking to me in a stranger’s voice. Her husband was beside himself with shock and grief, and she was calmly explaining to me what had happened. I say ‘calmly,’ but this wasn’t calm. It was emotionless, a sort of thousand-yard stare of a voice, producing something that sounded for all the world like the person I knew while she was somewhere else. This voice was absent, it was hollow, and this voice woke me up. Their beautiful baby daughter had died in her sleep.

An hour later I was standing by this little angel’s cot, receiving her into my arms from her mother. I spoke to her gently. I spoke to her as though she was alive. I reminded her of what I first said to her, that she was so lucky she didn’t inherit her daddy’s looks. Now there was a calm, an awful island of peace in a world suddenly torn away and turned upside down, a moment of quiet and familiar normality before the painful journey to the grave began and before the years and years of agony and unsatisfiable longing started to work itself out in these two people’s lives. For the first time, not the last, I listened to a mother crying like a wounded animal. The darkest despair surrounded the room we were in. Soon we would open the door and let it in – but not yet.

Later that day, in a world entirely of my own, I took the tram into the city to meet a friend all three of us shared in common. It would be the first chance I had all day to sit down for a coffee and take a break from what was going on – if that doesn’t sound too insensitive. All I could concentrate on was not bursting into tears when I saw him, my friend. Funny the things that preoccupy us at such times. Hoping I wouldn’t cry, praying to God he wouldn’t give me a hug, I sat on the tram as the world went about its business. By the doors there was a bit of a commotion which didn’t register with me until a man started shouting. His sudden raised voice brought me back to reality with a jolt.

He was maybe in his 60s, drunk, and cradling a tin of what looked like cheap cider. Seated next to the doors were two Roma women trying desperately to pretend what was happening to them wasn’t happening to them. This man had taken exception to them, exception to them being on the same tram, exception to them being in his country, exception even, I’m sure, to their existence. By this point he was just letting it all out; all the failure and frustration of his own life, all the boiling rage he felt at his own inadequacies, and all the hate – all the stinking hate he could muster. The other passengers were looking away, he was only a drunk. Getting involved would only make it worse.

No, I thought, I’m not taking this. Shamefully, as I have come to think of it, my chief annoyance wasn’t his treatment of these two women, it was at him imposing his pathetic and noisy shit on me – on a day like this, didn’t he know other people have their own stuff to be dealing with? In a fit of rage, I stormed over to him, towered over him, and blasted a torrent of rage right back in his face. When the doors opened at the next stop, I manhandled him and introduced him to the platform outside. Pointing in his face, I roared that if he tried to get back on I would … you get the picture. It was the rudeness, a term – rude – that was defined for me in that moment as inflicting on others your petty, ignorant, and self-obsessed nonsense; something we encounter every day.

Make yourself comfortable, there are a few things I have to get off my chest.

What are these “things” for the people of Little, little, little England? Please go to Random Public Journal to find out, by clicking here.

Do I agree with all of this? Not entirely. I think Mr McCann is perhaps overlooking similar phenomena happening in many parts of Europe (including small pockets of it in his native Scotland), to say nothing of Donald Trump’s USA. It seems to be more a product of neliberal culture than of English non-culture. But yes, as a right wing sickness, England definitely seems to have contracted one of the worst cases of it, and it is certainly long past time Little England sobered up from its Eton-induced stupor.

4 Responses to “REBLOG: The Drunkard of Europe”

  1. Jeggit Says:

    Thank you for the re-post of my article, this is much appreciated. I am thinking here of your analysis of it at the end, and I would like to just comment on this. I do not think that what we are seeing in England is a product of the philosophies produced by modern economic modes of life. This is deeper. It does of course nourish modern modes of thought, but this is rooted in imperialism, and as such naturally causes or contributes to what is right now happening in the United States. I do not ignore what is happening also in my native Scotland. Resistance to independence in Scotland is located in the politics of unionism, a political ideology itself rooted in British imperialism and ideas of white racial supremacy. So no, these are not things I ignore. These make up the lion’s share of my wider analysis on the Random Public Journal blog. This article deals specifically with events in England as they are seen from the view point of its neighbours.

    • Martin Odoni Says:

      You’re welcome.

      RE: “nourish modern modes of thought” – two points to this. First, neoliberalism is not a modern mode of thought, it’s a rationalisation of very old modes of thought, to make them look as if they’re new and that they must be scientifically sound.

      Second, and following on from point 1, I think it’s the other way around i.e. because neoliberalism just re-encodes old ideas about entrenched class divisions being necessary and unavoidable (always put about by the people who benefit most from them of course), the pseudo-new philosophy has resuscitated Aristocracy. The imperialism problem in England is there somewhat thanks to the upper class education system, but doesn’t really fit with what happened on Saturday. Hardly any of the people involved in the riot were educated in that way at all – indeed after listening to Andrew Banks’ ludicrous remarks in court today, I question whether many of them have been educated in any way whatsoever. But their attitude to foreigners has less to do with thinking England has a “divine right” to rule over them, and more to do with just not wanting anything to do with foreigners at all.

      Neoliberalism and neoconservatism are two sides of the same coin, and neocon philosophy ALWAYS looks for enemies, even imaginary ones, to unite the population against and to distract from failed domestic Government. And xenophobia historically has been the easiest way of bringing an ‘imaginary enemy’ to life.

      • Jeggit Says:

        All ideas are derivative of older ideas, sure. But neoliberalism remains ‘new’ in the sense that it is a synthesis of pre-existing ideas which has become a new thing. On this rest of what you say, yes – a qualified yes, you are right.

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