It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas…

img_7629…jingle, jingle [a cacophony of wrenching gears, screeching brakes, scratched vinyl and an untuned radio a la intro to Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here], Honk! Parp! …2016, eh? What a year!

For is it not the season when a retrospective comes to us all, whether in the shape of a round robin Xmas card or some sort of blog round up? I keep getting “Memories from Facebook”; mostly my own blog posts, so I get to relive our moments through the years. I have been blogging for quite a while now and I seem to have established some sort of a tradition of a year’s end blog post. I recently got one where I was saying “AJ seems to be having some sort of a problem with her head but it probably isn’t anything”, innocent days, innocent days.

So anyway, 2016… Well apart from Bowie making a strategic exit right at the start, us Brexiting into the void, Colombians voting against peace, yer man Trump getting elected to be President of the United Sates of America, oh for god’s sake, that still looks ludicrous, Leonard Cohen shuffling off, Prince! Prince!! [sad face] Aleppo… Aleppo… jesus christ, Aleppo, we have had a pretty crap year as a family. Mum had cancer, she made a complete recovery, but still… and my dearest, and last uncle, Nin, died. On the plus side, in the geopolitical arena, the Austrians didn’t elect a Nazi, they almost did, but they didn’t, so that’s great, yeh! While on the home front,  AJ can count to four in French apparently  (she hasn’t done it for me), and errr… she has just got some really nice red shoes. You win some, you lose some… and then you lose some more, it would appear.

I would love to be wrong but I really do think that we have just lived through a year that will echo through history, a kind of 1066, 1492, 1789, 1914, 1917, 1933 sort of a year, a year when things changed. Even when these changes might have had some benefits in the long run, they are very rarely much fun to live through at the time. A French Revolution may have ushered in many of our concepts of modern democracy but it did involve a lot of heads being chopped off at the time.

But my complete fear is that in the face of catastrophic climate change, which is a truly existential threat to us as a species, we will be dicking around with totally inconsequential issues. So in 1914 they all trooped off to what was a horrific slaughter on a global scale but by the end of the affair; female suffrage became inevitable and the process of decolonisation had begun, so that was all good, it did involve the deaths of millions of combatants and civilians but some good came of it (obvs, I am avoiding, the whole “…and the rise of Fascism/Nazism across Europe” angle). But at this time, the participants were not facing a separate threat that they needed to deal with together.

Let’s imagine the best possible scenarios that the 2016 clust*r fu*k (I hope my strategically placed asterisks avoid your blushes) leaves us with. Let’s imagine that the UK leaving the EU does not lead to the disintegration of the EU thanks to the rise of other anti-EU forces in European countries, and let’s imagine that this does not lead to war between France and Germany, which has been the historical norm across the centuries. And let’s imagine that having a US President whose campaign benefitted from Russian hacking and who has just appointed the CEO of Exxon and friend of Putin as Secretary of State does not mean the forced reintegration of states from the Ukraine to the Baltic into some reconstituted oligarchic Soviet empire.

Let’s imagine these things and let’s focus on how rosy it might all be, maybe Brexit will only mean years of negotiations with bureaucrats over the minutiae of trade laws and agreements. It might mean that, hooray, we get some sovereignty back and we get to decide just which immigrants we want. OK, in the end we will probably need roughly the same number of immigrants per year as we are getting at the mo but hey, we will be in charge of exactly which immigrants we get to allow in. And a Trump presidency might mean little more than US democracy being dragged further through the mire than it already is. My guess is that after Republicans having tried to invalidate the Democratic presidencies of Bill Clinton with the attempted impeachment for sexual peccadilloes and Obama with the whole Birther thing, the Democrats, with no control of either house, are going to fight dirty. They have little to lose. And frankly you are not going to have to dig awfully deep to find the dirt on The Donald. (a word in your ear Donald: you are far better off as a populist having the army behind you, vis The Gracchi brothers, Robspierre, Mussolini vs Augustus, Napoleon, Franco/Pinochet/Perón, the last lot tend to die in their beds)

So best case scenario… We avert global conflict but we expend all of our political resource on what I called, and I do apologise for my language, “dicking around”.

I don’t claim to be any sort of expert on any science but, and I know this is the age of the anti-expert, 97% of scientists involved in climate change think it is happening and it is caused by the actions of humans. Moreover, the people who know about this stuff think that the pace at which global warming is progressing will make this planet uninhabitable for humans within the lifespan of our grandchildren.

So, in reaction to what the experts think,  we essentially have two options:

  1. to say “Oh bollocks, what do those people who have spent their entire lives studying and questioning climate change know about climate change?”
  2. to go “aaaaaaahhhhhh, we are all going to die, fuck, what can we do about it? Let’s not waste too much time dicking around worrying about whether Russia should invade Latvia (they shouldn’t) or whether Trump is a misogynist pig who shouldn’t be allowed to walk free, let alone hold the highest elected position of the known universe, (he shouldn’t). Let’s park all of that for a moment and all get together and focus on “not destroying the only planet that we, as species, can currently inhabit.”

Oh, Ok, I do realise that my political solutions can be somewhat simplistic at times. I have always advocated a middle east peace plan that ran along the lines of “Just chill the fuck out, OK!? Both of you, give it a rest, alright?! OK, cool, so that’s settled then?”

And I really don’t have any idea of how we get ourselves out of the quagmire that we are currently in. Let’s think about Aleppo and by the time I post this post, it might be too late to think about Aleppo. We haven’t got involved in Aleppo because of the string of disastrous interventions “The West” have got involved in, in the area over recent years. And not only that, Aleppo is being wiped out not just by the local potentate, who “The West” could feasibly eradicate like a Saddam or a Gaddafi, Aleppo is being wiped out by Russia and that is a completely different ball game. And that’s the quagmire that the eastern portion of a middle eastern city that hasn’t had a global importance since the crusades presents us.

And how many more quagmires do we face? Obviously all of the below are completely inflected by my own bias:

  • Do we fight Brexit for all we are worth even though it is “The Will of the People”? Even if “the people” would feel utterly betrayed if a cabal of the liberal and political elite plot to stymie their “will”?
  • Does the apparatus of the US constitution clunk into gear to invalidate a Trump presidency through fair means or foul?
  • Do we impose what will be viewed as censorship on the internet in an attempt to combat the post-truth age? (fyi: we probably don’t have the tech to do this even if we wanted to)
  • Does the left need to get over the identity/political-correctness agenda in order to focus on the fundamentals?

So those are my biases, my worries, none of them have much to do about whether my car is electric (it isn’t) or how  much I recycle (I do my best… I try, I really do… But, you know, how much good will it really make…? I have a busy life… It was only a yoghurt carton… It was probably not even recyclable… That’s the corporates, that is, why can’t they make things recyclable…? …bastards!)

I probably shouldn’t but I am going to post all of the above as a post. On a personal level, I too have had a bit of crap year professionally.

…but this is a blog about Ava-Jane and in all of the above, I have hardly mentioned her at all, so if you have made it this far…

…she’s great. She is the funniest person I know and I know some fairly funny people.

If I have been working hard and feeling stressed, there is no better way to recharge the batteries than having a cuddle with AJ.

Ava-Jane really is progressing with her speech. She understands so much more than she used to and is vocalising a lot. Even when she is not quite getting it right, she at least knows she is, which is, I think, a big step in the right direction. For example, this evening, she kept saying “me, me” and tapping on her knee, which we all knew meant that she wanted to sit on someone’s knee. But we all insisted that she distinguish between the “m” and the ‘n” sound before we let her sit on anyone’s knee. And when she did finally, clearly enunciate “knee”, with a really good “n” and everything, I asked her “yeah but how do you spell it? You’re not sitting on anyone’s knee until you get that weird initial “k” right.” (just in case anyone is reading this who doesn’t really know me very well, I didn’t really do this, I did joke about it but only when I was cuddling AJ).

So yeah, I should be wrapping up at this stage, it is late and there is only so far that a bottle of your Mum’s Rioja can get you. 2016 is appalling vs Ava-Jane is great; I know which I would pick. Oh and Otto, look at the picture for this blog. AJ is obsessed with Father Christmas , she has a Father Christmas doll and bangs on about “Papa Chri” as she calls him. But when Christmas comes around and she gets to actually meet Father christmas, she always completely freaks out, which is kind of a good thing, after all our troubles with our childhood heroes, it is probably not a bad thing that one’s daughter raises an eyebrow to a bearded old man bearing gifts.  In the photo, you can see that Otto is with her, holding her up with Father Christmas. This was at our Down’s Syndrome party and Otto was beside AJ the whole way through the party. Because of all her extra difficulties, even at a DS party, AJ can feel like an outsider, luckily for her, she has her brother by her side. I hope one day you read this Otto and realise how much I appreciate what an amazing brother you are for Ava-Jane.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to one and all. Oh by the way, the Baxters are all off to Sri Lanka for Christmas, we’re OK!!