Desolation row by Trevor Plumbly

‘They’re selling postcards of the hanging’

We’re in the election war zone again, and the buggers have armed themselves to the teeth with righteousness in the hope of convincing us they actually care what we think!

Deep down, lots of us oldies feel it’s a wasted effort, but years of ‘don’t vote, don’t moan’ have brainwashed us to the extent that we now feel obliged to do it. It’s not that the essence of the process is wrong; it’s like religion really, it’d work fine if people didn’t tinker with it all the time. Voting used to be a private matter and thus pretty boring, but these days most of us are force-fed by the media to be politically aware, and can’t wait to chuck our own bit of wisdom in the pot. Time was when it was decided by a verbal scrap, followed by the casting of promises, and the final call to arms. Them was the days! Honest days! We knew full well that it didn’t matter a stuff who lived in the big house, the old fart only listened once every four years anyway, now it’s all intellectual stuff with great emphasis placed on the left or right of centre, wherever the hell that is.

‘They’re painting the passports brown’

It seems that the ‘centre’ is a sort of ‘no-man’s land’ that nobody wants to occupy; the bits that seem worth squabbling over are slightly to either side. Despite the newly acquired awareness, many feel the need for guidance beyond political sermons to help us in this.

Leaders tart themselves up physically and mentally to hold public debates. Debating was once an art form born of intellect and rhetoric; not any more mate! These days it’s a scrap based between insult and bullying, both of which it now seems are essential tools of ‘tough leadership qualities’. The result is pure pantomime and, like kids, we lap it up! The recent exchange between Trump and Biden was a classic example of this form of theatrical idiocy: two potential leaders of one of the world’s most powerful countries reduced informative discourse to kindergarten squabbling. Using the farce analogy, it was hard to decide which of the leaders was playing the front end or which the arse end of the pantomime horse. Whilst they were struggling to decide that, the moderator mooned between the two like a latter day Dick Whittington on the second lap hoping for a signpost or a fortune-telling cat.

‘The beauty parlour is filled with sailors’

We fared a little better down here; ours were more kitchen sink drama than Puss in Boots: some meaningful glaring, over talking and the odd sneer, but the show still left me wondering why I bothered to sit through it. Though like the song says ‘the circus is in town’, so I guess it’s compulsory if you like performers or want to be seen as politically aware. Personally, I reckon the old ‘pork barrel’ stuff was less time-consuming and just about as honest, at least in those days you got a deal, instead of three years of frustration for ticking off something you had sod all control of.

To add to that we have two other issues to vote on: legalising cannabis along with voluntary euthanasia. I don’t have any great feelings either way, but I think I’ll vote ‘yes’ to both. I might need one or the other in the post-war wasteland. There are only a couple of days to go, but the snake charmers keep tootling along, and, like the ever-wise Mr Dylan said….

“They all play on the penny whistle,

You can hear them blow

If you lean your head out far enough

From desolation row”.

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