The Summer Olympics are over. Two weeks of magical make-believe has been dispelled by the ordinariness of a Monday morning. It always had to come to an end. There started to grow a sense of it, on Thursday I think. The commentators started to sound a little different as the final weekend neared, and then all of sudden tomorrow was the final day, that final day was here, and now it is yesterday. Endings are good things as well as (often) sad things. Without things ended, they would have no shape. Life is meaningful because of death. The Olympics only make sense because they are limited in time.
For that limited time we were able to forget some of the realities of the world in which we currently live. We celebrated, cheered, roared, as a nation – as a great gathering of people from all corners of this earth. A golden glamour was spun over us, and it was glorious, but now it is gone.
These are troubled times. The UK has serious economic challenges in its future. Those difficulties are not going to be made any easier by the increasing dysfunction in the coalition government – a form of government quite un-natural to the political culture of this country, alien even to those who profess policies that make them more likely in our future. Indeed, the future of our country is somewhat in doubt, given the forthcoming referendum in Scotland about independence. All this though is minor in comparison to the unfolding drama across the Channel that takes place in Paris and Berlin, Madrid and Rome, Brussels and Athens, and all the other places involved in the ongoing eurozone crisis. It is trite to say the next few months are crucial, especially given how often that has been said of late and yet still the tale unfolds, but they are. One gets a sense that, slowly, things are moving to a point of decision about the future of the eurozone and the EU as a whole. However, just at this time, the great power of the West – the United States – is withdrawing into itself in its four-year electoral civil war. Whatever happens on this side of the Atlantic will only be seen through the political prisms of the actors and commentators, who will be more interested in their own agendas and elections that actually trying to assist other nations navigate whatever treacherous waters they face. Do not look to the East for aid either, for China is also pre-occupied with its own handover of power from the old generation to the new.
Not that most people think much about all of this on this level – it is un-necessary. However, most people I think have a sense of this larger picture, on some level, even if they are unable to articulate it. This summer with the Olympics and the Diamond Jubilee we have been granted some marvellous opportunities to celebrate and ignore these lurking clouds about which we can, individually, do nothing but get our heads down. In more ways that one, this is a very British summer.
As I watched the Closing Ceremony last night I became acutely aware of all of this, and it kept me awake for hours after the party ended.
As someone fascinated by history I love reading about what is going in. Intellectually it is fascinating. Personally however I look at my daughter and naturally worry about the future into which she will grow up.
We live in interesting times.