Tuesday 16 August 2011

Two-year-olds want it "right now" - and they're taking over the streets

I returned to my desk yesterday morning, after a two week “holiday”, and felt moved to kiss the furniture in the style made famous by the late Pope whenever he touched down on a new stretch of airport tarmac.

Of course, I have it easy. My “work” consists, by and large, of juggling letters about on a computer. I might feel differently if I had to spend my days breaking up big rocks with a sledgehammer. But frankly I doubt it. On the whole I reckon that deep-sea fishing, lion taming and cesspit emptying probably compare quite favourably with being stuck in the house with a bored two-year-old.

The low point was the Callaly riot, admittedly overshadowed in the media by events elsewhere. But when the friends we were visiting advised young Charlie that there was no apple juice in their fridge, he hurled his toy car across their antique-rich drawing room with as much venom as any hoodie stoving in the window of JD Sports.

The total meltdown that ensued when he was invited to play with his remaining car on the floor rather than the furniture still makes me wince with shame.

Obviously I am hoping that all this is merely a manifestation of what experienced parents describe as “the terrible twos” and that he will grow out of it. But the evidence of the recent outbreak of extreme shopping in our major cities is that many people never do. They want it and they want it right now (as Charlie likes to put it) without the inconvenience of having to work to earn money to pay for it.

We have heard much of the blame for this laid at the door of absentee fathers. Clearly it would be the height of hypocrisy for me to claim that I am or aspire to be a hands-on parent, but I do hope to be around often and long enough to give my son a realistic understanding of what he can reasonably expect from life, with special emphasis on his responsibilities as well as his “human rights”.

The great experiment of the last half-century has been to deride and tear down all the traditional building blocks of society: respect, patriarchy, marriage, the family, religion and traditional education. In their place has grown up, fungus-like, a diverse, materialistic and wholly inconsiderate anti-culture that looks up to stupidity and adores celebrity and fashion. All this was driven by the Left, but the Conservative Party was regrettably complacent and complicit throughout.

Civil disorder cannot be viewed as an accidental and regrettable side effect of this process. Like the entirely predictable economic crisis in the eurozone, it is almost certainly exactly what the designers hoped to achieve.

And where can we turn for leadership out of the mire, when so many of the MPs who expressed their horror in the recalled House of Commons last week were equally guilty of looting, albeit with civilised expenses forms rather than firebombs and baseball bats?

If we draw up a league table of the most impressive figures to emerge from the crisis, with Theresa May obviously at the bottom, surely the undisputed number one is the eloquent Tariq Jahan, father of one of those young men murdered in Birmingham for trying to do the job of the police in defending their community.

Like Colin Parry, another “ordinary” person whose son Tim was murdered by the IRA in Warrington in 1993, Mr Jahan speaks for every decent person in this country when he seeks forgiveness and peace.

There must be millions more like them out there, which should give us all hope for the future. But how sad that it takes a personal tragedy to project such people briefly into public life to shine a light on the inadequacy of our usual self-serving political elite.

Originally published in The Journal, Newcastle upon Tyne.

1 comment:

CC said...

Congratulations to all the Hann family on the imminent arrival of their tiny new member next February.

Though you may not get to your "retirement" any time soon, I believe your
delightful family will keep you alive, ticking, laughing, and crying for many more years than any boring old retirement. I just hope your kids inherit your wit, humor, intelligence and heart as
well as Mrs. H's fine qualities. ;~)