Boomer or Doomer ?

The Interesting Times Gang here : https://www.facebook.com/groups/325588284852135

Last night i finished working my way through the excellent Niall Ferguson’s book titled ‘DoomThe Politics of Catastrophe‘ and i have to say that it was a damn good read and i’d thoroughy recommend it to anyone who enjoys reading history ; it’s relevant right now of course because we’re in the midst of a pandemic ….in case you hadn’t noticed.

I’m not here today to write a book review and far better writer/bloggers that i have already reviewed it anyway – rather that having been taught during my student nurse years , albeit briefly, about truly catastrophic world events such as the Plague/Black Death and the 1918 Influenza pandemic and having gone through that training when HIV/AIDS was merely mentioned in passing as a small problem among a few gay men in far off San Fransisco , that i take an interest in the history of health and disease.

Just a few short years later i met my first angry and embittered young man who was HIV positive – nothing to do with being gay he was simply a haemophiliac who had been given an infected blood transfusion because nobody then knew to check for it or even to do simple screening of donors.

Reading history has kind-of become the hobby of my adult years – a few short years ago for example we were on holiday and driving back north through central France , the previous night at our camp i’d been reading a small and highly specialised account of an event that took place during the liberation of that country…..a book about the refit and movement of the 2nd SS Panzer Division (Das Reich)…..and realised with a huge shock that we were driving close past the small village of Oradour Sur Glane where elements of that division massacred 642 villagers. Sadly we couldn’t take the time to stop because we were driving for our ferry – but as they say ‘shit got real’ even just seeing the signpost after having read the account of what happened there.

I have a huge sense of personal irony today when i think of the time i’m prepared to put into reading history today compared with my younger, school age, self – i am for example the only person i know of, period, to have got a ‘U’ (ungraded) for my history O level result : our GCE ‘O’ level subject was i think parliamentary reform and the Corn laws but when we came to take our exam there were 2 sections to the paper because there were 2 alternative O level syllabuses that year – the alternative one that we didn’t take being the Second World War ……so i simply answered those questions instead because i knew then that i’d never have to walk through the doors of that school ever again.

Ha, you might say (roll-eyes) – just another white, working class baby boomer who is still obsessed with the second world war ; and yes at the time i was because i obsessed with model making at the time and probably knew more of the specific military history of that period than any of my peers outside of a small group of fellow modellers and wargame nerds. Some of that obsession came from a strange friendship with my late mother’s then shop assistant who was a gunner in the Royal Artillery and actually fought and served a Howitzer at the battle of El Alamein – another side came from the fact that my father was a young London boy who was evacuated from his home in Canning Town because the Luftwaffe delivered a 500Kg care package onto it…..one result being that he didn’t get an education and even near the end of his life was barely literate.

So, by birth i’m a baby boomer – i was born in 1958, and yet by persuasion and temperament i’m more of a Doomer ; we lived in the near shadow of England’s nuclear bomber bases and for most of the 1960’s a total obliterating nuclear war seemed possible, even likely because it seemed that Nikita Krushchev wanted to ‘have it out’ with the west , once and for all time. I think i grew up, or at least gained years, with a kind of Nihilism although i wouldn’t have known what the term even meant, i always had jobs and worked because that was ordinary and expected and paid work did give me the freedom to do the kind of things that my schoolboy friends didn’t get to do – such as owning a motorbike, going rock climbing and ultimately ocean sailing.

Today i find that my natural Doomer nihilism and pessimism returns but with some acquired level of knowledge coupled with a little understanding. It’s maybe just me but today i would say that ‘the party’s over’, that we’ve lived through the best years of post war freedom and a youth culture that was vibrant and exciting ; that now we are once again on the slippery slope descent into a new technologically and ideologically driven feudal style dark age – that today the elite few own and control everything including the right to opinion, and the rest of us are just seen as an unwanted , and uninformed serf/peasant mass to be kept compliant and obedient for their benefit.

Not a lot of people know that but…..

I came across one report recent that compared the number of deaths during the ‘V’ (Vengance) weapon campaign against London during 1944-45 with the total number of recent deaths from Covid 19 – being a nerd of course i went and checked and i have to report that the numbers aren’t even close : the V weapon campaign accounted for some 9.000 civilian deaths and when i looked at the data deaths from (or with) Covid 19 in London hospitals was already 28,556 and rising.

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