We’ve finally made it to the day the world has been waiting for. Yep, it’s my 54th birthday. Not only that, but it’s also the US election. I’ve been a very good boy it this year, so I’m hoping I get what I asked for.
It’s my dad’s birthday today too, although sadly he’s no longer here to celebrate it. This year has a particular resonance because he died aged 53, and it makes me realise just how young that is. So I just want to give a shout out to Robert (Bob) Frank Greenwood (1932-1985), whose name doesn’t appear anywhere on the internet. Well, it does now.
Birthdays and elections aside, there’s only really one milestone I’m concentrating on, and that’s Christmas with my (very small) family. Throughout this year, with all of its losses, that’s what’s kept me going. But this week England goes into a second lockdown that nobody believes will end by the promised four weeks. A lockdown that scientists and half the country think should have happened weeks ago, and the rest of the country thinks shouldn’t happen at all. I’m not going to get political, other than to make a general point, because I’m seeing and feeling something I’ve never felt before in my lifetime. When the overwhelming majority have completely lost faith in the leadership, particularly during a crisis, it’s a scary prospect. When you realise just how thin that line is between civilisation and going full-on Lord Of The Flies and running round in your underpants covered in blood, well…it’s actually rather unsettling. I’m sure my friends in America are feeling something similar.
None of which has anything to do with these photos of course, other than to point out that our little trip to the beach last week may be the last outing for a while. As we wandered along the coast, I couldn’t help but think of that pivotal beach scene from John Wyndham’s 1951 post-apocalyptic classic, Day Of The Triffids. Josella and Bill stare out to sea, contemplating the future for what’s left of society:
‘Don’t you still feel sometimes that if you were to close your eyes for a bit you might open them again to find it all as it was, Bill? – I do.’
‘Not often now,’ I told her. ‘But I’ve had to see so much more of it than you have. All the same, sometimes…’
‘Do you think we really are finished with, Bill?’
‘I think,’ I amplified, ‘only think, mind you, that we have a narrow chance – so narrow that it is going to take a long long time to get back. If it weren’t for the triffids, I’d say there was a very good chance indeed – though still taking a longish time. But the triffids are a real factor. They are something that no rising civilization has had to fight before. Are they going to take the world off us, or are we going to be able to stop them?
‘The real problem is to find some simple way of dealing with them. We aren’t so badly off – we can hold them away. But our grandchildren – what are they going to do about them? Are they going to have to spend all their lives in human reservations only kept free of triffids by unending toil?’