The Plastic Hippo

September 1, 2014

Grandma`s footsteps

Filed under: History,Media,Politics,Rights,Society — theplastichippo @ 12:59 am
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Napolean Crossing the Alps by Jacques-Louis David

Napolean Crossing the Alps by Jacques-Louis David

What`s the time Mr Wolf?

Suffused with a comforting aroma of lavender and loose leaf tea, my dear old and now long gone Grandma was as kind and loving and gentle and as reassuring as only Grandmas can be. She could also, when necessary, become absolutely bloody terrifying.

Like many women of her generation, having lost brothers in the First World War and watched sons march off to the Second World War, she was never likely to tolerate the random slapstick buffoonery of little five-year-old me. A genius at contradiction, her word was unbreakable law and she would defend her “own” against any threat real or imagined. It seems that of her many grandchildren, I was something of a favourite. I have no idea why I should be so blessed but it was always a treat to stay with Grandma as she made the best bread and butter pudding in the world and had a piano in the parlour. For years, I thought the phrase “you little buggeroo” was a term of affection that only applied to me and when Grandma said it was bedtime it was definitely bedtime.

One particular bedtime, however, with me full of bread and butter pudding and bouncing on the bed and bouncing off the walls, an exasperated Grandma called in the big guns. “Go to sleep” she said in an unusually stern voice, “or Old Boney will come and get you in the night”. I had only just started Primary School and having no knowledge of the Napoleonic Wars imagined that “Old Boney” was a malevolent skeleton with murderous intent to do me in. If she wanted me to be quiet, it worked; if she wanted me to go to sleep, it didn`t.

What dear old Grandma failed to understand is that empty threats and scare stories might achieve a short term result but there is a danger that imagined horror mutates into a self-fulfilling prophesy. Grandma knew that a frightened child is a compliant child and I realised much, much later that she was probably repeating a threat issued to her from her own Grandma in similar circumstances. It delights me to think of a direct line through blood and oral tradition from me to a woman who lived so long ago.

My Grandma and her Grandma were only doing what those that rule us have been doing for thousands of years. Look at them Romans, coming over here and raising our taxes. Don`t trust those Vikings, they`ll slit your throat as soon as look at you. Keep your eye on them Normans, Harold, they can`t be trusted. A frightened nation is a compliant nation. Over the centuries, governments have realised that fear is not just a control mechanism but also a powerful tool to change the way that people think. Magic up a fear of something and the people will grow to hate it and will support any government that promises to do something about the something we fear and hate.

Last night, the final item on the British state broadcaster`s news bulletin was a story about the panic-buying of vacuum cleaners prior to the introduction of an EU directive which, as the BBC seemed to suggest, will remove the rights of British people to buy the vacuum cleaner of their choice. The item before that explored the threat facing Europe as Russian hoards of about 1,000 soldiers bear down upon a city in Ukraine and so, therefore, approach us menacingly from the East. Before that we had the wonderful news that our glorious coalition of the willing had broken a siege in Iraq and routed the murderous and malevolent Islamic State terrorists who blatantly have beards and some of them have UK passports. This, of course, justifies rendering anyone with a beard and a UK passport stateless if they dare to go on a package holiday to Tunisia or Egypt. It also justifies greater surveillance and a clamp down on that dreadful internet thingy. A frightened nation is a compliant nation.

Top story from the BBC was a strange and disturbing tale of parents who removed their seriously ill child from a UK hospital and took him abroad to receive alternative private treatment. Arrest warrants were issued, a manhunt ensued and arrests were made in Spain. The parents will be extradited and the child remains in a Spanish hospital. It is difficult to know what is in the minds of the parents but one hint might be the constant, drip feed of negative and derogatory news stories from the BBC and the rest of government compliant media regarding the NHS prior to its extinction. The more you tell a lie, the more it will be believed.

My dear old Grandma died years and years ago but I know that she would have fought like a tigress if she thought that any of her “own” was in danger. She would have seen straight through a government crying Wolf every time they needed some distraction from failure, corruption and malicious self-interest. Sadly, there is no evidence that supports the existence of internet connection in heaven so Grandma is facing a wall with her eyes closed guessing how close the creeping game players are getting.

I hope I am one day blessed with grandchildren. I shall make inferior bread and butter pudding and when they are bouncing off the walls will threaten them with certain death at the hands of Boney Bonaparte. When we have laughed at the absurdity of invented history, I shall calm them with a bedtime story of freedom, human rights and democracy.

What`s the time Mr Wolf? Election time.

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