Here in El Parral retirement has now become a way of life rather than a strangely endless school holiday. Long hot days. Any outdoor activity after eleven a.m. and before six p.m. is quite impossible, so I spend a lot of time in the shade under my cool pergola.
But this has not been quality time. I am beginning to see a need for change. I have been listening to The World At One and reading the press online, and as the news from the UK becomes more bizarre by the minute, I even began watching the House of Commons live on Parliament TV, as I could not quite believe the news.
So I switched from hearing third person news about the exploits of the few extremists who are holding the country to ransom, and I began watching them live – delivering the Monty Python Brexit sketch – in their green leather upholstered benches in parliament, with their strange manners and their disconnected way of talking at each other. And I began to feel quite uncomfortable. I felt like some kind of voyeur looking into a mental hospital, watching the demented and the deranged. Like those Victorian spectators in London who would spend an hour or two in Bedlam lunatic asylum observing the antics of people who were out of their minds.
Then there was the news of the visit of the sneering narcissist from Washington. Once again that feeling of being quite uncomfortable watching the long expected visit of this unwelcome American relative impacting and testing the patience of the family in Europe and the UK.
As everyone breathed a great sigh of relief after he had flown away, and began picking up the pieces of broken crockery and ornaments, I once again felt a kind of embarrassment for watching the show. It was not entertaining. It was not enlightening. So why watch it? Was it simply another example of voyeuristic compulsion?
And so it went on and I saw my stress level going up. More than the normal everyday stress levels that I used to experience at work, and every teacher experiences in the daily encounter with classes of teenagers. Now, when you make a cup of tea in the morning and turn on the news, all it takes is the mention of one name in the headlines, with more unfathomable lies and madness, and the heart starts beating faster. A scream fights to be released. The numbed brain wants it all to finally (please, please!) stop.
Maybe people felt like this in the 1930s when Hitler was screaming at them on the radio every day. It is not fake news that is the problem, it is the fake representatives that a fake electorate has put in charge of fake institutions.
I read a Guardian opinion piece yesterday by Suzanne Moore (*link below) and she finishes like this: “Everyone feels like they are going a bit mad. Because that is what is feels like to be lied to all the time. We are being collectively gaslighted and it will only stop when enough of us insist that there is something called truth, that we hold it dear and that we will fight for it.”
I remember over forty years ago all this was foreseen in a film called Network starring Peter Finch. In the film a charismatic TV presenter encourages prime time audiences to shout, “I am mad as hell and I am not going to take it any more!” Then he finally turns on his own network and reveals the lies and the deception of the media game.
Yes, turn it all off, because as Noam Chomsky points out, the whole game is a deliberate distraction. While the mass audience looks at the latest distraction by these awful idiots in the USA and the UK, a wrecking ball is at work in the background, demolishing the institutions of a society we took for granted.
Yes, no news is good news. Turn it all off. If anything important happens, you will hear about it anyway, but not from the news.