Ray Stuart is a self-confessed 'middle class anarchist' ...an oxymoron all right, and a term that many may sniff or sneer at, but one I can relate to. He lives on an island somewhere off the top of Scotland, so going by geography lives about as far away from me as is possible whilst still remaining in the UK, but in terms of how we both feel about recent/current situations, the likemindeness makes us practically roommates.
This is a post-Covid series of short personal commentaries on various areas of chaos that have befallen our crumbling nation over the past couple of years. And Oh ! what a time he picked to embark on a journey like that ! You can almost imagine the sense of relief at the end of each night's work, thinking the book was pretty much done, then the exasperated cry when picking up the paper each morning and discovering he had another full chapter's worth of material. Day in, day out, week after week, month after month, prime minister after prime minister...
Yes, but did you enjoy it, Phil ?
Ray isn't trying to be funny, which is just as well as I all but stopped laughing at political satire in 2016, when the USA decided it wanted a racist, sociopathic billionaire as it's supreme leader. Humour does permeate these pages, but you can sense the constant underlying restraint - holding back the urge to scream, digging knuckles into his forehead, fighting the urge to baseball bat the TV screen.
An unholy alliance of the self-serving super-rich and a badly informed significant minority have conspired to drag us into a seemingly endless downward spiral of political failure, economic corruption, and social mistrust. Energy companies raking in billions in profit every month while millions struggle with energy bills, the deliberately corrupt mismanagement of Covid, a government taking pride in designing laws that make it illegal to save drowning people if they aren't from the correct country, widespread gaslighting tactics being used in popular media, the insistence that a good a dose of clapping will suffice for our most important workers...it's difficult to know where to start.
There are no answers here and there doesn't profess to be, but Stuart attempts to join up the dots on individual events. He reminds us not only about what has happened/is happening, but - crucially - about what powers we may have to try and reverse the deluge of sewage, metaphorical and otherwise, that is quite tangibly sweeping through the rivers of our increasingly ungreen and unpleasant land.
FFS Phil. Answer the bloody question. Did.You.Enjoy. The BOOK !!?
It's a tough one, because how can you really enjoy being reminded about the cummings inspired tory hellstorm that this country has endured over the past decade ? The damage is ongoing and will be lasting, and that's inherently unenjoyable reading.
But despite that, I really did enjoy this. Stuart is on my side. And yours as well. It felt cathartic, him doing my literarily enabled ranting for me. It's open, honest, human, sometimes contentious, but this is also something you want in political discourse. Talking politics is good. Not talking about politics is exactly what 'Politics' wants. It wants you be subordinate, meek and silent. The social IS the political. Politics will invades your life anyhows, whether you think it does or not, whether you like or not. We need more books like this, more people involved, more awareness, a higher standard of constructive thought, better representatives, and imperatively we need ideas for how society - both nationally and internationally - can proceed unified through the uncertainty of the coming decade.