I'm troubled about being a miserablist. It's not because of the recent information from the latest psyche-soma study that cynics have a higher risk of heart attacks - that's clearly nonsense since everyone knows, and I can tell you for certain, that cynics don't have hearts. Obviously. Nor is it the result of the declaration of a young Christian woman who recently told me that 'more good things than bad things happen in the world.' I asked her to elaborate, for her evidence. 'Oh,' she said, blushing prettily. 'It would take me far longer than you have time for to go into such a complicated question.' I offered her all the time in the world. Silence. And I'm comfortable as a grouch - habit is everything. But still there are things to celebrate and they should be celebrated. And just as soon as I've done howling at the latest confirmation of the destruction of any sense of the importance of anything not totally material, I'm going to post about some really lovely things. About how happy I am to find myself in the post-Thatcher, please-god post-Blair world, and all the delights that somehow, miraculously, have survived. I'm sure I'll think of something.
In the meantime, here is a quote from Mark Steel in today's Independent.
In his book, Robin Cook recalled a conversation in which Tony Blair justified sending his son to a selective school, saying he didn't want his kids to end up like those of Harold Wilson. It was pointed out that Wilson's sons went to a comprehensive school, and one became a headmaster, the other a professor. To which Blair said: "Well, I certainly hope my children do better than that."
Actually, I'm not sure it's possible to be a cynic and so completely dismayed by reading that. It shouldn't be a surprise, what has happened to education and the arts can only be explained by having ten years of government by a man (and his sad power-corrupted crew) who feels that teaching is a loser's option.
In the 1970's there was a burst of excitement about education. Lots of us taught in comprehensive schools because we thought there wasn't anything more important to do, and that anyone could be made enthusiastic about learning with the right presentation and respect for them as persons. Some of us stopped teaching, the energy went (for this we are to blame) and others took to an easy version that involved equalising learning from the top down. That old terrible phrase 'too clever by half' was heard in staff rooms. The rest is GCSE and A level History, English literature, the current national curriculum, and university undergraduates and general readers who aren't expected to engage with anything excitingly difficult.
I will cheer up - but not today.