Jane McCulloch

First of all an apology for the delay in writing my June blog. I have had many technical gremlins too boring to, go into except to say beware of 'Scams' - they are getting fiendishly clever and I nearly became a victim. The upshot of all this meant I was unable to use my laptop for three weeks, until now - when I am finally sorted! So, optimist or pessimist? Is your cup half full or half empty?. I have always happily been the former, an optimistic person - but just lately there have been so many dismal and depressing challenges and happenings, it has been hard not to fall into a more pessimistic way of thinking. Apart from the continuation of the reign of terrible Trump, with almost daily unsettling tweets and news items from the US - we have had many of our own catastrophes in the last month, plus an election with startling results and consequences. For the true pessimist this just feeds into a general depression and it would be easy to join in with the universal mood of stress and fear that invades us all at the moment. First there was the terrorist attack on Westminster Bridge followed closely by another terrorist atrocity in Manchester and the horrifying murder of those attending a concert, so many of them children. We were barely over this than terrorists attacked again on London Bridge and in the Borough Market. My grandson had a lucky escape, having left the Borough Market only thirty minutes earlier. Finally there was the attack on the Moslem Mosque in Finsbury Park. It matters little whether these attacks are committed by far right wing, or by demented Moslems - the acts are still committed by terrorists and are utterly evil and depraved. Perhaps the most horrifying incident of all to hit the battered British public was the Grenfell Tower fire. I heard about this on the news in the early hours as it happened, switched on my television and watched in horror the rapid speed with which the fire spread up the tower. One of the worst things I have ever witnessed. And then there was the Election with its shock result. A humbled Prime Minister and her Conservative Ministers are back, but weakened and desperately making deals with the DUP to keep them in power. The Brexit negotiations are a mess, the government is a mess and the future looks bleak indeed. So how on earth can one have any optimism given these terrible events and bleak outlook? Well, if you look hard enough, some good and great things have emerged during this time. The public response to the terrorist atrocities has been magnificent. Kindness has been shown from the most unexpected quarters, communities have rallied round and found new friendships, acting together to give support. Generous donations have been given and there has been a determination not to let any evil terrorist defeat our way of life. The Tower Block fire somehow exposed all the weaknesses of our society. The rich and grasping Kensington Council, showed themselves completely inadequate in the crisis and certainly not fit for purpose. Their actions were in complete contrast to the wonderful response of the ordinary people who rallied round in the most magnificent way when help from the proper quarters was not forthcoming. The aftermath of the Kensington fire made us all realise the depth of our problem in this country. We are now more aware than ever of the huge gap between the rich, the elite and the superior(personified by many right wing politicians including the terrible Jacob Rees Mogg) to that underclass who are struggling against all the odds just in order to survive. After years of neglecting their problem, those who have made profits from short cuts and ignoring the needs of the poor are now being made to act to put things right. It will take time but my optimism comes from the ground swell of opinion that will hopefully put the country on a more humane and a more compassionate course. As for the election - again the ground swell is there. The young have at last found a voice and that voice is going to get stronger. This gives me great hope for the future. The dinosaurs will be overthrown and the enlightened will replace them. Last year we tragically lost Jo Cox, one of the movers in a more humane political movement. I think she would be gratified to see that a majority in this country are coming round to her view of politics. There will be more about Brexit in future blogs I am sure - it is early days. One last note - my latest novel, THE BRINI BOY... a few of you have told me they found it sad and depressing because, yes, it deals with a true story of a terrible injustice. But I point out to the people who have this view that the great object of the story is to show that one thirteen year old boy managed, on his own, to fight bravely against that injustice and nothing the great and powerful could do made him give up or waver from the truth. That is why I continue to be an optimist.