Saturday, 31 May 2008
Monday, 26 May 2008
I remember my first sensation of political distinction. It took place - as did so many formative episodes - at the bastion of enlightened liberalism that was my school (13-18 year olds).
It was during the run-up to Labour's landslide victory in 1997 (oh, the days) - and our splendidly waistcoated History teacher proposed a school mock-election.
With due solemnity, all were handed their ballot papers. Our choice: Conservative, Labour or Liberal Democrat. Hands trembling, I made my (momentous) decision - fearing all the while a Gestapo-like intervention.
It prides me to this day that my mock-vote for mock-Labour - canary in the coalmine of a deeply right-wing private school - was one of only 20 or so (in a school of six- to seven-hundred).
A little later, I was to distinguish myself similarly by professing enthusiasm for the nascent Euro. What a hero, eh? Early signs, dear reader, early signs ...
What was it, do you suppose, that prompted these bold adolescent gestures? A series of well-reasoned, analytically-based deductions? Months of agonised rumination and soul-searching?
No. Two overwhelming factors: a love of novelty and a desire to eschew the majority belief. Some might say perverse; I prefer pioneering.
These days, post-Crewe-and-Nantwich, the political climate is a mite different. Charlie Brooker, in the Guardian, writes with horror about the prospect of being "forced to question [his] cherished anti-Tory prejudice", on account of a mounting revulsion for Labour.
I know what he means. But, for me, it's less about revulsion and prejudice than (perhaps all the more shamefully) boredom and a desire for something a bit different. I'm not pro-Cameron, incidentally. But I'd definitely say I'm pro-change. The unfamiliar discomfort, though, arises with the fact that - while the prospect of political change is hugely appealing (a new set of faces and personalities, a bit o' drama, the ever-heartwarming spectacle of a lot of people getting into a flap) - the actual notion of a right-wing government is not.
Sunday, 25 May 2008
"Growing the right way for a bigger, better Peterborough"
Growing the Right Way!! A Bigger, Better 'Peterborough'!!
Saturday, 17 May 2008
Herewith, I begin an ongoing series.
(As opposed, of course, to a non-ongoing series - arguably the best kind of series for one such as myself to begin.)
As a (very clever) former tutor of mine once pointed out to me, our language is impoverished when it comes to scalpel-precise vocabulary with which to describe complex emotional states or sensations. Considering the breadth of human emotions - not to mention the fact that the entirety of our conscious experience is filtered through the gauzy web that is our state of mind - we have astonishingly few words with which to communicate emotion and sensation.
In a bold - dare I say audacious? - protest at this sorry fact, I propose to draw attention to the countless gaps in our collective abstract vocabulary. To whit ...
Tragically Nameless Sensation #1
Imagine yourself - dear WorldWideWebster - in a shiny, squeaky new shopping mall. On a Saturday afternoon. So quietude and personal space are, shall we say, at a premium. Elevators are like the conveyor belts of a well-stocked sushi-bar; crossing a public confluence requires the navigatory panache of a Marco Polo. And you're here because you're searching for - let's pretend - legwear: a nice new pair of trews. Stylish and restrained - to wear to work, perhaps.
You're not having much luck.
With a reduced capacity for higher-level mental activity (as typically induced by the heaving shopping mall environment), you find - all of a sudden - that you have wandered unwittingly into a secluded retail oasis. You have strayed, o mall-wanderer, into a "boutique" shop. Silence slams down around you. The Bell Jar phenomenon. Light glimmers disconcertingly on chrome/glass fittings. You are outnumbered by shop assistants. The only other shopper is wearing a suit.
With a false, nausea-tinged nonchalance, you leaf your way through a tastefully minimal rack of clothing.
You glimpse a price tag.
"May I help you, sir?"
This, dear reader, is the point at which you experience Tragically Nameless Sensation #1. A mixture of embarrassment ("sir"?), animalistic terror (fight or flight impulse), shock (the price tag) and pride (no, you may not help me. But I certainly do not wish you to know that.)
Is there a neat term with which to describe this sensation? Or - if not - are there any suggestions as to an elegant neologism? Use the comments, if you please, and give me your enlightened suggestions ...