Thursday 24th May
But what’s the point of changing horses in mid-stream. The wonderful words of Dylan keep swirling round in my head. What are they trying to tell me, to keep on keeping on – not to give up, not to seek the easy option, though times may seem tough. And what do we know about tough, here in the pampered twenty-first century. Compared to even our grandparents growing up maybe a hundred years ago. No television, no computers, no phones, no radio even; long, much longer hours of work, and hard manual labour, for men that was five and a half long days work, which was why the Saturday afternoon ritual of the football match evolved, a bit of drinking in the pub on Saturday night, then a day of rest on Sunday. Two weeks holiday at a boarding house by the coast somewhere, retired at sixty-five and dead by seventy – that was about it for most of them.
But maybe tough is always relative; there is always somewhere worse off than oneself, and the respective quality of suffering cannot be compared anyway. And just at the moment it seems as if a change in the weather may indeed be both extreme and permanent. The ascendency of the West may be drawing to a close. Just how slow and protracted that close may be is yet to be played out, but maybe the West, and by that I mean Europe and European thought, art and culture, may be heading for a long decline. And should we therefore be thinking about changing horses, mid-stream as it is. Should we leave this wonderful continent with all its history and variety or should we perhaps be thinking of ways to preserve the best of the past, and carry on into whatever uncertainty the future may hold with our European heads held high. Hold on tight, it may be a rough ride.