“You’re sharp!” said my local shopkeeper, font of all human knowledge, when I dropped in to pick up my newspapers. “To the bottom of the glass.”
Bottom of the glass? Ah! “Harp!” I said. “Stays sharp, to the bottom of the glass.” These ancient advertising jingles stay with you for a lifetime. It’s a measure of how successful the ad-men were. The chocolates that melt in your mouth, not in the hand; the sweet you can eat between meals, without ruining your appetite; the chocolates with the less fattening centre; amarsadayhelpsyouworkrestandplaythemilkybarkidistoughandstrongdontforgetthefruitgumsmum…
Actually I was sharp. Up with the lark, still on British Summer Time, in denial. I hate it when the clocks go back. I wish they wouldn’t monkey with the time. This is my least favourite time of year, compounded by these two ghastly medieval festivals, Halloween and Guy Fawkes. I see that the Big Ben bongs are back, or will be on Armistice Day, chiming out in Greenwich Mean Time for the first time since 2017. I would prefer to stay on summer time, and have a shorter working day, so that children can walk to school (if they still do) in daylight. But that would never do, for “productivity” would decline. And that would adversely affect “growth growth growth”. Apparently Ms Truss’s heart was in the right place. I wonder if growth growth growth is an eternal feature of political utopia. Should we have a 2% increase in Gross Domestic Product every year for perpetuity? How would that look after another millennium?
I suspect it would look like hell on earth.
Anyway, what’s in the paper, for which I was so sharp? I’m in the paper! I was surprised. I wrote to them, a truncated version of last week’s blog (Daft Wednesday), and when the letter didn’t appear on Thursday, I just shrugged and echoed the words of Mr Johnson, “Them’s the breaks.” But lo and behold, I was merely on back-burner, today to be produced, oven-ready. Now I must hold myself in readiness for ripostes, enjoinders, animadversions, and diktats to wake up and smell the coffee. So good to chuck one’s hat into the ring.
All news is bad news; or so it would appear. What a litany of disaster across the world. It occurs to me that most of it is mad-made. The Four Horsemen, War, Famine, Pestilence, and Death these days would appear largely to be products of our own lust for growth growth growth. The war in Ukraine was not inevitable, so neither was the disruption of energy supplies and grain exports. Neither was the hike in fuel prices, nor therefore the £8 billion (plus) profits in the last quarter for Shell. It’s a mystery. Meanwhile some people have to choose between eating and heating. Yet the rest of the world is in such dire straits that people would risk getting into flimsy dinghies that are less than seaworthy, to risk being deported to Rwanda by Ms Braverman (whose coat remains on a shoogly peg).
Talking, obliquely, of migrants, I came across, in my German class, Griechischer Wein, an Udo Jürgens song (if I have interpreted it correctly) about Greek migrants getting maudlin about home over a glass or two in the pub. It is a classic example of Schlager, a style of German language pop-folk music. Jürgens won Eurovision; in that context it may be said some people find Schlager rather kitsch. You can see and hear on U-tube a great exponent of Schlager, Helene Fischer, sing Merci, Chérie to an older Udo Jürgens, evidently much moved by her rendition. I rather like it. In the Goethe Institute our teacher caught me humming Griechischer Wein at coffee break and said, “It is a musical worm. You cannot forget it.” Griechischer Wein reminds me of Schubert’s Das Wirtshaus in Winterreise. Maybe the greatest Schlager exponent is Schubert. But I digress. Back to the papers.
Mr Musk has bought Twitter for $44 billion. He is to be chief twit. I wonder how that figure was arrived at. How can you put a price on something that is merely ethereal and has no material existence? Another mystery. It’s a cliché to state that social media constitute the town square, or the agora of ancient Greece. I never visit.
But I mustn’t affect this disillusionment with the world. I’m beginning to sound like the last of the Mahler Rückert Songs. Ich bin der Welt abhandengekommen. I am lost to the world. I might flatter myself that I am like late Schubert, circulating his manuscripts amongst a few friends. But no. I scribble away. I hope yet to do some damage. Hat still in the ring. Oh yes. I have a readership. I have twenty followers! I’ve had a like!