We are all pretty insignificant really, unless you happen to be the one in so many million that gets a chance to make some positive, lasting change, we don’t really influence much in the great scheme of things.
That’s not really a problem, only a few of us kill for fame, some of us sit in the metaphorical bathtub of baked beans, in some deranged attempt to gain a legacy or some fleeting illusion of fame, but for most of us, it is irrelevant.
We mostly just want a reasonable life, pay the rent, have a nice steak once in a while, love and be loved and be compos mentis at the end of it all, or at least aware enough to still be able to recognise some of it all in old, faded photographs.
That was a lovely house, we really struggled with the mortgage at one point but our kids all grew up there. Do you remember that cataplana we had in Portimao and the Spanish at the next table smoked throughout their entire meal? Your mother’s face in the wedding photos, guess she realised what you were letting yourself in for?
We were small but it didn’t matter, we didn’t set out to change the world. As long as everything ticked along it was fine. You got a promotion at work, you got the wife the Golf she had always wanted, the kids did well at school, Kate got the lead part in the school play, she was brilliant, we just sat on that beach in Bermuda and there was no one in sight for miles, it was mostly just good times, the mundane daily routine faded by comparison, the good memories remained.
Just little landmarks and good memories, that’s enough for most of us. The rest we can’t do much about, vote this, vote that, new boss, same as the old boss, the government always gets in, ha ha. What can you do?
It all appeared fine, fine for a very long time, there seemed to be a pact with the system, you do what we asked for, keep us safe and we’ll keep turning up for work, don’t do anything stupid and we won’t, Mexican stand-off.
Whilst all this goes on around you, you don’t pay much attention, the unions decimate industry in this country, the Russians did it. Wilson goes to the Gnomes to borrow money, probably the Russians or the bankers caused it. Heath signs us up for closer trade with Europe, that will keep us safe from the Russians and the bankers. Maggie destroys the unions, we’re back on track, we’re going to be OK and so it goes.
You see some placards and protests on the news from time to time, CND nutters in sandals and duffle coats, strikers and rubbish bags in the street, Greenham Common fruit loops, some black guys rioting in Notting Hill. Jobs lost, factories closing, still I can’t do anything about that, I’m too small but the government will take care of it.
I’ve got to get Claire to her guitar lesson after school, we’re almost out of milk, can you get some after work? Get the car in for an MOT, it ran out yesterday! We could go to York for the weekend if your mum will have the girls? I’m too small but the government will take care of the big stuff.
If you don’t want to know what happens next, look away now, some of us have been looking away for most of our lives. Quite a few however have realised the truth, the government didn’t take care of the big stuff, more importantly, they didn’t even take care of the small stuff that would have prevented the big stuff happening.
You wake up one morning and you realise you are in some Ray Bradbury nightmare, it’s not fiction though, it’s real, is it your fault or theirs? You were always small, usually happy but always small, what could you do? Could you have done more?
Is it too late to apportion blame, will that change anything? In truth the majority of us did what we had to do to survive and trusted those we appointed to take care of other business. Meanwhile the integrity that once existed in politics, if indeed there was any, has gone the way of Python’s Norwegian Blue.
All is not lost yet though, we may be small but now there are many of us, will we stand and fight, possibly but not probably. It seems to me that, instead the next battle is that of words and ideas, of making others aware that they are sleeping. It is a long and painful process, fighting Big Brother, standing up to the Fahrenheit 451 advocates, facing those who would erase our memories, our faded photographs.
It is never a battle that is won or lost, it is continuous but we will never be so trusting again, that part is over. It’s not a matter of life and death, it’s far more important than that.
© Viciousbutfair 2019
The Goodnight Vienna Audio file