Why I Feel Like Giving Up
May 18, 2021.
There’s an old saying, ‘Better to have tried and failed than not to have tried at all’. And it has much merit. It actually is better to give something a go, give it your best shot and if whatever it is doesn’t come off, well - so what? You tried.
The trouble with this is that one can – eventually – get a little tired of trying and getting nowhere. And if one adds to that a never-ending line of people that, at best are not very good, at worst completely undeserving of anything and yet who do succeed, it becomes even more tiresome (my view obviously). There are significant numbers of such people in every country, not just the UK, so it’s not confined to Britain.
I don’t claim to be special or to have any particular expertise in anything other than commercial aviation, politics and current affairs and then only as an observer and writer of matters concerning them. I’d like to think I write reasonably well and of the eight books I’ve penned I have had just one adverse comment about just one of those books - the rest all quite complimentary. That of course is itself quite nice and I’ve also been complimented on many of my magazine articles, with just one ‘pulled’. Most writers will have material not used, or scheduled to be used and then withdrawn by the publication’s editor, for any number of reasons. Its par for the course and if one doesn’t like it, one shouldn’t take up writing. But I’ve been quite lucky – just that single article. The rest have all been used and with very little changes made during the editing process.
One of the lesser-known aspects to writing for a living is that one’s original book manuscript or article copy submitted to publishers will be edited by that publisher and sometimes quite savagely. Again though, it’s not been much of a problem for me, at least so far. So either I’m lucky or I’m not too bad at it.
I can’t be ‘that’ lucky however, as I’ve yet to have a best-seller that gets transferred into a movie blockbuster, or an article syndicated nationwide so everybody gets to read it. I just about get by, and sometimes (yes, I admit it) do struggle just as many others do, to balance out the bill payments. But at least most of what I write is really me and not a sub-editor placing his or her own interpretation on my words and changing the spirit and meaning of what I wrote to start with. Most writers will have this happen and to the point where what ends up in print bears little resemblance to their original. It’s an occupational hazard, so people like me have to live with it. But that doesn’t mean meekly accepting it.
What one does can vary but polite yet firm protest can work. It can also be ignored so more robust action could be needed. Meek acceptance however, is not a good choice – coming back to those who may not be entirely deserving of some success, high among them are today’s politicians. I’ve been around the block enough times to know a good one from a bad one and I’m old enough to remember when things were different. Keeping that in mind, I should probably change the picture used at the top of my column – actually it’s only just over ten years ago that was taken and I have weathered the years quite well, but spring chicken I’m not.
So I’ve seen a few of our so-called leaders come and go. Most of those I recall from my much younger days seemed to be figures of substance, with some background to them; they had done things, seen something of life and done so before they went into politics. That could be the naivety of my youth but today’s versions on the other hand are polar opposites. Most (not all, just most) are flimsy, shallow people with nothing behind them except an artificial upbringing far removed from those of the people they purport to serve.
They exist – have apparently always existed – in a life so detached from reality they simply cannot comprehend the effects of their decisions on ordinary people. They seem to come from a parallel universe where the answers to everything are theoretical but will always apply regardless of what actually happens. This is because none have the experience of their predecessors, some of whom fought for their country in actual wars, where people used real guns that went ‘bang’ very loudly and spat real bullets that could maim and kill.
That’s why Tony Blair was so eager to send our troops into armed conflict. Blair had no understanding at all of what a bullet ripping its way through flesh could do. Or what a body looks like after being blown up, with legs and other parts torn away in a blood-soaked mess (and before anybody comments, yes I do, yes I have handled the dead and yes I have been in the immediate vicinity of bombs going off). David Cameron and his mate George Osborne were even worse, compounding their bandwagon-jumping with slicing the British Armed Forces to the bone.
Who selects these people as Members of Parliament (MPs) to begin with? And how do they fool enough people to actually get elected? This is why I founded Accountable Commons, a web-based organisation that is dedicated to showing the inadequacy of so many MPs (see below...right at the bottom of this article). It’s been going for two months now and even though it is still very early days, I haven’t been overwhelmed by support.
On Twitter for example there are hundreds of ‘tweets’ every day moaning about Boris Johnson, the Tories, Labour and the rest. Plenty of very justifiable gripes about the response to the COVID-19 pandemic too, with most complaining about their lack of means to do something about it and how impotent people feel. The numbers of such comments must be in the high hundreds at least. So I reply, saying yes, you can do something, you aren’t impotent – come and join me at Accountable Commons; let’s make a start. The silence is deafening.
Twitter of course is not representative of the UK as a whole but it makes me wonder; is it worth my while? Am I wasting my time; the limited amount of money I can put into it and my efforts? Are we now so conditioned to do nothing about anything that, collectively speaking, we have lost our mojo? Can we, as a nation - as four united nations - repeat the feat of the Falklands conflict? Could we withstand the battering so many took in the early part of World War II? Somehow I doubt it.
Like many (more I suspect than would admit) I would love a massive lottery win. However, I don’t want to win millions so I can retire to a big house in the country and live a life of luxuriant indolence – as attractive as the prospect might be. I lean rather heavily towards a nice little house somewhere quiet though, with a bit of land, where I could retire to and, metaphorically at least, stick two fingers up at everybody and say, “You meekly accept what you are spoon-fed by inadequate leadership if you wish; just whinge and whine on social media but do nothing else if you want to. I’m done with you and I give up. I had a go at trying to do something. I failed. But at least I tried – what did you do?”
Image - rubbish-strewn streets seems to be an accepted part of life in the UK today.
Photograph and text © Kevan James, 2021
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Comments of a Common Man Edition 3
First published in 2017, updated in 2018 and again in 2019, this book is Kevan James’ assessment of life in the UK up to just before the onset of Covid-19
A blunt look at many aspects of daily living, including the NHS, Law & Order,
how UK society developed over recent years, the EU and of course, UK politics
Still available from Amazon £9.99
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