By TheOttawacker

Did you fart?

The days are getting longer and it is not just the onset of spring that is responsible for this. Indeed, spring has hardly set on, we are still in the awkward beginning of the season – the part that isn’t winter but feels like a crappy day out at Morecambe.
Ottawacker Jr. finally brought his own version of hell to a close this morning by submitting the university-level assignment he had to do for first grade. This is, briefly, his task:
His teacher read him a story in French – in this case, Rapunzel (or rather Raiponce). He had to understand it, re-tell it orally, re-tell it in writing, and for an extension part, had to design some part of the story for his teacher. All of this while using a new five-stage approach to storytelling that he had not seen before.
Actually, when I say it was hell, it wasn’t. In the end, with coaching and support, and rehearsals &c., he was able to do it exceptionally well. The lesson he took out of it was that anything is doable if you break it down into small enough chunks. No, hang on, that was the lesson I took out of it.
He was actually very proud of himself when he submitted his work; I hope that can be carried forward into other activities. I didn’t have that as a child. I was pretty much left to my own devices when I was a kid – my grandmother helped me early on, but it was self-directed work from thereon in. I could’ve been a contender…
Among the other noticeable and exciting events today in the Château Ottawacker was a visit from my new best friend, the man from Dial-a-Bottle who delivers alcohol to my doorstep. There was a CBC poll on Twitter the other day asking who, when all of this over, the first person you would hug would be. My answer was the Dial-a-Bottle guy. I may be developing a problem.
Anyway, back to reality. It is becoming increasingly apparent that outside these four walls, all is not as it should be. The Guardian reported yesterday that there had been 148,000 new infections in the United Kingdom in the past two weeks. In the past two weeks. Is it just me, or does that seem insane? Let me put that into perspective a little bit. We have had 72,000 infections in Canada since the virus was reported. Meanwhile, the UK is loosening lockdown restrictions because it cannot trust its citizens to comply with the ones already in place.
What sort of society is that? It’s the same in the US: people literally do not understand (a) why lockdown is in place; (b) what the consequences of not having a lockdown are; and (c) that they are part of a wider community in which they have a responsible and significant role to play. So whose fault is that? Obviously, the government’s – or a succession of governments. In the UK, they have cut education and made teaching about reaching standards or targets rather than educating children and helping them develop critical learning and questioning skills. They have cut policing – especially at the community level – so there are not enough police to support communities: the police has to enforce rules and regulations and is not seen as anything other than bullies. They have cut the NHS so there are not enough doctors and nurses and cleaners, not enough equipment, not enough beds, not enough buildings. They have cut support for research and development, for pandemic response, for the arts, for welfare, for … you name it.
Every single one of these cuts has weakened the fabric of society.
Then Brexit was mooted to mollify the hard right of the Conservative party and an “us against them” siege mentality was introduced. British society isn’t crumbling, it has crumbled. It is an empty shell, a chalk cliff being battered by ocean tides and collapsing into the sea with increasing regularity and rapidity. I keep on thinking back to the words of Mike Scott in his song “Old England”: “Old England is dying / Still he sings an empire song / Still he keeps his navy strong / And he sticks his flag where it ill belongs.”
This vision England maintains of itself has been its undoing. It will be the death of hundreds of thousands of its citizens. And I still blame Julian Fellowes for all of it.
Old England
Man looks up on a yellow sky
And the rain turns to rust in his eye
Rumors of his health are lies
Old England is dying
His clothes are a dirty shade of blue
And his ancient shoes worn through
He steals from me and he lies to you
Old England is dying
Still he sings an empire song
Still he keeps his navy strong
And he sticks his flag where it ill belongs
Old England is dying
You're asking what makes me sigh now
What it is makes me shudder so well
I just freeze in the wind and I'm
Numb from the pummelin' of the snow
That falls from high in yellow skies
Down on where the well-loved flag of England flies
Where homes are warm and mothers sigh
Where comedians laugh and babies cry
Where criminals are televised politicians fraternize
Journalists are dignified and everyone is civilized
And children stare with Heroin eyes
Old England!
Evening has fallen
The swans are singing
The last of Sunday's bells is ringing
The wind in the trees is sighing
And old England is dying

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