There are days when the good ship _Paul_And_Land_ lies becalmed in the Sea of Dead Souls. The Sea of Dead Souls is, as any publicly educated type will happily inform anyone willing to prick up their ears, just to the right of the Slough of Despond (or the Grimpen Mire) and a short bus ride from many places beginning with “B”: Bracknell, Basingstoke, Basildon, etc, and more etc*. Clearly, back in the day, (yes, even before Gove) some people could not spell and so Macclesfield, Warrington, Runcorn escaped the misery of beginning with “B” but they should. As should Maidstone and Orpington but that’s another story. And Stoke.
“But why this heavy and sombre tone” asks a small voice from the back of the room, accompanied, Radio Four style, by much hollering, applause and the like. Indeed, we retort, as the voice of Nicholas “bloody” Parsons cuts in, selling allegedly cheap loans to people who really need something in their lives more permanent than an allegedly cheap loan flogged to them by Nicholas “bloody” Parsons. Or Carol “sodding” Vorderman. Or some stupid puppets. Or happy families eating happy breakfasts in IKEA kitchens with smiling, happy children bouncing around the room pepped up on Sunny Delight. What bollocks.
The world is not, repeat not, not, full of happy families eating happy breakfasts in IKEA kitchens with smiling, happy children bouncing around the room pepped up on Sunny Delight. No, it’s full of people struggling by, hand to mouth, on grey days in places like Rochdale, Hartlepool, Hull, Hell and Halifax. And y’know what, they can’t afford Sunny Delight. Or 77″ colour TVs. Or Game-Boys (whatever one of those is). It’s full of people eating ALDI Value bread and My Mum’s Baked Beans and anything else that gets donated to local foodbanks. And kids in hand-me-downs knocked up in Hyderabad or Sylhet or Quezon or any place that’s equally cheap for labour.
But still these nice, honest people like Mr Parsons, like Ms Vorderman, like our politicians, like our bobbies, like the BBC, like our banking executives, like our energy bosses, want us to trust them. Implicitly. Without question. Because they know what’s right for us. Rather like the urban planners of the 50s and 60s.
And in our daily lives, others, in whom we’re supposed to trust unquestioningly, also let us down. They destroy our souls. Massively. Think on, life is not a game-show with the promise of a microwave, speed-boat or Vauxhall Corsa at the end. It’s a Sea of Dead Souls.
* Not everywhere beginning with “B” is bad. Just a few.