Stop the world – I want to get off.
It’s probably my fault. My wife and I returned to retire in Northumberland in 2010 after 35 years in South Africa, and the world seems to have been spinning off its axis ever since.
It all seemed fine at the time. Yes, the Afghan war had been going on for nine years and the “shock and awe” of Iraq had turned into the “shocking and awful”.
But as I watched the ‘Dave and Nick Show’ in the Downing Street Rose Garden telling us all the good things, apart from tuition fees, that were going to flow from the coalition, I thought that maybe things were not too bad.
On the other side of the pond Barack Obama, if not actually doing much, was good looking, eloquent, and seemed like a çool dude. Demitry Medvedvev was President of Russia, and Putin was quietly getting on with being Prime Minister.
Sarkozy was still strutting his stuff in France, Merkel was holding Europe together, and in Italy Berlusconi was doing what he’d always done.
And then the wheels fell off.
The next year, 2011, we had the so-called ‘Arab Spring’, which quickly turned into winter, and since then a new wave of “shock and awe” has hit the world, including a popular uprising in Syria. When the USA and UK did not react Putin and Iran filled the vacuum.
Yemen erupted into civil war. Yet another conflict broke out in Libya so we bombed the recognised government. Muammar Gaddafi was killed by his captors and the country descended into tribal conflict and chaos.
A lack of any form of proper authority encouraged people smugglers to send thousands of refugees and illegal immigrants in unsafe and overloaded boats to Europe, and many thousands perished on the way.
The conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq ground on, and from this melting pot we witnessed the resurgence of the Taliban, the emergence of so-called Islamic State (ISIS), and the subsequent terrorist attacks across Europe.
Putin annexed Crimea and tested his neighbour’s defences on his western border. Meanwhile, China started to flex her military muscle in the South China Sea.
Zuma brought South Africa to ‘junk bond’ status, and Kim Jong-un continued his nuclear development and missile tests and threatened America with a ballistic attack and an electromagnetic pulse strike! Me neither.
The world of politics was in chaos.
Ed Milliband became leader of the Labour Party and made the mistake of trying to eat a bacon sandwich on camera.
Following pressure from UKIP, a party that now seems to be heading towards oblivion, David Cameron promised a referendum on EU membership, which he lost, and resigned as Prime Minister. ‘Strong and stable’ ‘Mother Theresa’ emerged as the victor on the back of “Brexit means Brexit”.
The main opposition party elected Jeremy ‘Back to the Future’ Corbyn leader. The Labour Party Manifesto for the general election promised to take us back to the 70’s. Re-nationalise the railways, the Royal Mail and the energy companies; tax the rich and middle class; borrow another £250billion; create a nuclear free world. Warning – this may not happen.
Perhaps the biggest worry for us all is the erratic behaviour of the present incumbent of the White House, with the wherewithal to destabilise the entire world order.
Members of the Senate and Congress are looking at the options of impeachment (difficult), or removing him in terms of Article 25 of the American Constitution, (also difficult). This is not fake news!
Having cheered you all up, perhaps today is a good day to go out for lunch?