Age has mellowed me, there can be no doubt about that.
I was an angry teenager, enraged at the very thought that we should even contemplate spending billions on nuclear weapons to then strategically point them at our foes as a deterrent. When Margaret Thatcher single-handedly destroyed our mining industry I was pretty much incandescent with fury. The mere notion that people could ridicule a brilliant man like Tony Benn was enough to tip me over the edge.
Oh yes. I was a restless and principled young woman.
Today those principles are still intact, but an air of resignation has come to pass. I don’t feel the need to argue a point to the bitter end with whoever is up for it any longer. These days I prefer to keep my own counsel, unless the wine is flowing; then the years just fall away and I’m flinging my arms in the air like some crazed revolutionary.
So it came as no surprise to me that the recent news of MPs fiddling everything and anything in the name of “the job” has left me, in the main, shrugging my shoulders and saying “well, what do you expect?” When you reach a certain age you will most probably have witnessed, read about and been told of numerous cases of power being abused. It’s commonplace.
It’s wrong, of course it is, but I’m not surprised any longer, and that saddens me more. My loss of faith.
Over the years I’ve come to realise that man is essentially a greedy, selfish and dishonest animal. Granted there are some exceptions to this sweeping generalisation, but not enough for the supposedly evolved species that we like to think we are.
Until the day arrives when …. I witness an abuse of power at a local level that I cannot ignore (again by an individual who is technically a government employee … local government, but that still counts, right?)
Picture the scene: I have to fill in an order form on a three-weekly basis and enclose a cheque for my boy’s school for his hot school lunches. This is an abiding wrangle for me as Ben (my boy) pleads on a disturblingly regular basis to take sandwiches so that he can sit with his pint-sized mates instead of being made to eat the well-cooked meal I’ve lined up for him. I’m told that the school try and encourage as many parents as possible to support the service in order to ensure that children get a good meal in the middle of the day. I understood that and I parted with approaching £50 per month in support of the service.
Until last week when I was less than twenty four hours late getting said form and cheque in. I slunk into the school office and in my best conciliatory voice asked if they could perhaps accept my order a little late on this one occasion …
Absolutely not. The rules are, by all accounts, there for a reason.
I was beside myself with a rage that, though contained to an extent, was enough to almost take the door off it’s hinges as I slammed it on my departure from the den of bureaucrats.
Ben is now to feast on a lunch of inappropriate fayre until the end of term as I take my plight to the European High Commission (after the head teacher, obviously). Sometimes people exercise their power to the wrong person at the wrong time.
Perspective, I have come to learn, is best kept on an even keel, but when it tips and a once-angry young woman is fired up ….. Well, then there’s just no saying where it will all end.