Monday, 11 June 2012
Marvellous Jubilee-evading break in south-west France over the half-term exploring the countryside and villages around Carcassonne with friends, venturing into Les Montagnes Noirs and the foothills of the Pyrennees. The landscapes are starkly dramatic, sparsely-populated, alive with birds and flowers: the weather was beautiful, hot yet breezy. Well-cooked, locally-grown food - accompanied by decent wine and the odd pastis or two - were never far away.
Deflating, then, to return to work today in chilly persistent rain and wonder what the hell I'm doing in this over-cramped, polluted, hate-infested looney-bin of a city within a country that has not so much gone to the dogs as to the wolves and hyenas, with an amoral blowhard at its helm who's too busy "chillaxing" to notice he's left his 8-year old child behind in the pub.
I was perversely cheered, after getting home wet and exhausted as though my holiday had never happened, to read this remorseless indictment of our pitiful "sinking island", suggesting that as well as being culturally and politically bankrupt, we are also in terminal decline in terms of power and status:
"In the hundred years from 1914 to 2014...the UK will have declined from pre-eminent global superpower to developing country, or "emerging market". The symptoms of this vertiginous plunge in the world's rankings are already starkly apparent: a chronic balance of payments deficit, a looming shortage of energy and food, a dysfunctional labour market, volatility in economic growth and a painful vulnerability to external events."
(from 'Little Britain' by Larry Elliott & Dan
Atkinson, The Guardian Weekend 09.06.12)