August 18th, 2010

The First 100 Days

If I haven't written much about domestic politics since the Coalition took power it's because I'm non-plussed. I think most of us are. The political landscape changed completely at the last election and we've yet to get our bearings.

I voted Lib Dem only to discover I'd voted Conservative- which was the last thing I meant to do. And If that wasn't enough the Labour party immediately quit the stage to pursue a ridiculously protracted leadership election- with the consequence that all through the summer we've been without a parliamentary opposition. 

And then there's the business of the deficit. It's huge. Clearly we need to do something about it- and this makes it hard to oppose the measures the Coalition wants to bring in. You raise an eye at the severity of the cuts and they shrug and go, "Honest gov, we hate it as much as you, but there's really no alternative." I'm beginning to suspect this is a lie- and that there are in fact alternatives, but until we have a proper opposition in place there's nowhere to go to debate them, no-one to get behind.

Finally, credit where credit is due, David Cameron has made a good fist of being prime minister. He looks and sounds the part- and his foreign policy gaffes ( criticising Pakistan in India and Israel in Turkey) can also be spun as honest plain speaking. He's very hard to dislike- and after the national embarrassment that was Gordon Brown it's good to have someone out there representing the country who doesn't stink of bitterness and defeat.

Obviously, this charmed state of affairs- this phoney peace-  isn't going to last much longer...

Books I've Owned Since I was A Kid. Part 7.

I spent an awful lot of my early teens in secondhand bookshops. Most of what I bought has gone, and this is a rare survivor. I think it probably came from Hall's Bookshop in Tunbridge Wells (on the edge of the Pantiles). It cost me 6 shillings.

The author, John H. Ingram (1842-1916) describes the book as "a geography of ghostland". My copy is the 3rd edition, published in 1886. It once belonged to W.H. Smith's Lending Library at 186 the Strand.

"Had (the editor) ever entertained any belief whatever in supernatural manifestations"- writes Ingram- "the compilation of this work would have effectively cured him of such mental weakness." - a conclusion I find baffling, because it scared me silly.