A WORLD WITHOUT SUMMER

The Year Without Summer – that’s what they called 1816. Pre-Industrial Europe was in the middle of recovering from the long, lingering impact of the Napoleonic Wars and was then hit by an agricultural disaster, one that was mirrored across parts of North America and China. In Ireland, failed crops sparked famine; in Germany, they sparked riots. Switzerland slid into a deep-freeze whilst India was plunged into an outbreak of cholera as the period known retrospectively as ‘The Little Ice Age’ climaxed in catastrophic fashion. Most of the blame was laid at the door of Mount Tambora in the Dutch East Indies, a dormant volcano that had suddenly sprung into life after a thousand years with the largest observed eruption in recorded history. Lava continued to sport forth for more than eighteen months, dispersing ash into the atmosphere that caused severe climate change, reducing global temperatures and resulting in upwards of an estimated 10,000 deaths worldwide.

The distorted colours of the sulphuric skies that Tambora’s eruption caused are believed to have inspired the distinctive smudgy shades of JMW Turner’s paintings as well as creating the apocalyptic ambience that provoked 18-year-old Mary Shelley into penning ‘Frankenstein’ when holidaying with Percy Bysshe and Lord Byron on the gloomy fringes of Lake Geneva that non-summer. Whilst such a baleful location may have suited Gothic sensibilities, no doubt there were many who perceived the dramatic alteration in the climate as a sign of God’s displeasure with mankind. Mind you, God generally lets mankind get away with a hell of a lot before he can be arsed intervening.

200 years on from that remarkable climatic event, humble little me wrote a post called ‘Something in the Air’; take a look – it’s still there. In it, I commented on a pessimistic malaise that seemed to have settled upon the world, something that was manifested via a variety of dismal news stories, the impact of which was possibly exacerbated by the instant ping of social media. Coupled with very personal crises friends of mine were simultaneously undergoing at the time of writing, it felt as though the external and internal were bleeding into one overwhelming weight on the shoulders of numerous generations inhabiting the here and now. A year or so on from that particular post, it would be nice to come to the conclusion that this was a piece of reportage chronicling a moment of madness, a missive from the dark that preceded a dawn we happily reside in as 2017 careers towards its climax. Oops!

In a couple of days, this blog will have been in existence for two years. As a writer, I couldn’t have wished for more eventful times to have been documenting on a near-daily basis. Since the inaugural post on 6 December 2015, I’ve been able to comment upon the rise of Donald Trump and the Alt-Right as well as his loud opponents on the left and those in North Korea. When I began, we were barely six months into a Conservative Government released from the constricting shackles of Coalition, yet six months into the blog David Cameron had lost an ill-advised gamble (and his job) by leading the country into a chaotic state of uncertainty it has yet to recover from. One more indecisive General Election and one more ineffective Prime Minister later, Brexit remains the ultimate barometer of division as neither Remainer/Remoaner nor Brexiteer are happy with what Government is doing in their name. And this Whitehall farce seems set to run and run well into 2018.

Of course, it is the raison d’être of online news outlets to focus on the horrible with sensationalistic relish, just as it remains so for the traditional print and cathode-ray mediums that predate them, regardless of the ‘and finally’ solace at the end of the carnage. The public wants what the public gets, as Paul Weller said almost 40 years ago (I know; it’s scary); a YT video I produced in 2014 took that line as its title whilst a catalogue of contemporary images accompanied the theme tune from the distant childhood adventures of Teddy Edward.

One of these images was of a couple kissing, under which a caption announced ‘This is Rape’. Far be it from me to adopt the guise of a twenty-first century Nostradamus, but this particular statement is suddenly relevant courtesy of the Police Service of Northern Ireland, whose latest Tweet is as good a reason as any why law-enforcers should steer clear of social media and concentrate on solving genuine bloody crimes. According to a now-deleted Tweet that has nevertheless been posthumously seized upon by the Daily Telegraph, kissing a lady under the mistletoe (something that apparently still occurs) is classified as ‘rape’ unless consent is first acquired. Say no more, twenty-seven-f**king-teen.

I don’t know what’s going on any more than you do. It’s insane, and I don’t know how we got here, let alone how we get out of it. I poke fun at it with a sardonic eye, but I’m well aware I’m just pissing in the wind, satirically fiddling as our rotten Rome burns. Over a year on from ‘Something in the Air’, the fog hasn’t cleared and people who matter to me – good people who don’t deserve the shit they’re having to deal with – are even worse off now than they were then. I try to be a tower of strength to them, but I often feel a bit of a hypocrite ‘cause I know deep down I’m as f**ked-up as they are. I could be bold and declare I start most days struggling to come up with a reason to keep buggering on and end most days unconvinced that I found one; but my ego likes to think I make a difference, so I stick around.

Simon le Bon was once ripped to shreds for carelessly describing Duran Duran as the band to dance to when the bomb drops, but part of me knows what he meant. We may be almost four decades on from a throwaway comment made in the heat of early 80s Cold War paranoia; but if this is the blog that people read before they take a leap into the unknown from Beachy Head, so be it. As long as I’m here, I’ll KBO and I’ll love a select few as I do so because they make life worth living. And I’ll still be here when you switch on tomorrow, for good or ill.

© The Editor

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Mr-Yesterday-Johnny-Monroe/dp/154995718X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1510941083&sr=1-1

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15 thoughts on “A WORLD WITHOUT SUMMER

  1. ” Simon le Bon was once ripped to shreds for carelessly describing Duran Duran as the band to dance to when the bomb drops, but part of me knows what he meant. ”

    I don’t remember that specific quote from Simon le Bon, but, well, it was in the air back then. I always think pop is at its best when it’s addressing issues that we’re all thinking about.

    There was also of course OMD in the charts with “Enola Gay”.

    U2, assisted by Eno, wrote an entire concept album about nuclear war (“The Unforgettable Fire”) and before that, on the War album, at least one track (“Seconds”) ploughed a similar furlough (“takes a second to say goodbye”).

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Fingers crossed, we’ll all be here to switch on tomorrow – unless the ‘little fat rocket-man’ presses his switch first and the blunderingly bouffant Trumper responds. Sleep well.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This has been a tough year for me. Following an operation in July to remove a cancer tumour that had invaded a nerve branch in my face, which left a lovely big crater, I have had to undergo radiotherapy as follow up for that procedure to make sure there are no malingering malignant cells around, plus additional radiotherapy at exactly the same time to remove another tumour at the other end of my digestive tract. I am still experiencing the effects of that radiotherapy and “recovering”, although on many days that is not the word I would use. A doctor told me it could be a year before I am recognisably myself again. I miss having a sense of flavour and taste and food texture, energy…and yet…

    You start out thinking you can never deal with these and as the scale unfolds before you of what you have embarked upon, you baulk and wonder if you will ever get through it. At a certain point, it becomes normal and you realise these are just the circumstances with which you have to deal now. You hope they will improve and you will get better…. but you are never entirely convinced until that happens. All you have is hope and the support of those who love you.

    And as a result, Brexit and Trump and North Korea all seem like irrelevant chaff in the wind.

    So I hope for a much better 2018 for me and for us all. Sorry to have taken up space with a personal indulgence, but sometimes you just need to share.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. OK, let’s take this in stages. Not many people know that in the middle of the 18th century, a great stench and pestilence struck Britain, and indeed Europe. It seems to have been the outflow of some enormous volcanic event. I watched a documentary about it in Youtube once. Tens of thousands died.
    Today, we are living at the end of western civilisation. There is a theory that no civilization lasts for more than a couple of thousand years, or even 250 years. I don’t know. What I do know is this. I agree with Leftist feminist Camille Paglia that the behavior which I am witnessing is consistent with the end of civilization. Male children “identifying” as female. Females trying to be male. People “identifying” as unicorns.
    The Romans had an idea of civic virtue. What that meant was discipline, courage, sacrifice and honesty. All these qualities built the greatest civilization the world has ever seen; Western Europe. They have been undermined and ruined by Cultural Marxism, which hates civilisation. Marx, by the way, was a useless tosser who raped his maid and never did a good day’s work in his life. The Nazis were socialists; the “clue” is in the title; National SOCIALIST German Workers party. Death toll? Maybe 60 million. Stalin? Maybe 80 million. Mau? Maybe 60 million starved to death, maybe less or more. Pol Pot…Che Guavara..and on and on. This sickness only ends one way.

    Liked by 1 person

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