Respectable society

Do you know what really bugs me? (Goodness, there are so many possible correct answers to that question, even if you hazard the wildest guess, you should probably get it right.)

I’ll tell you what I’m thinking of. Superficiality.

I’ve usually got several thoughts whizzing around inside my skull, bumping into one another, jostling for space, meandering into what looks like a nice place at first but turns out to be a maze from which nothing will ever return and all that; some of them border on the outrageous, others have troubled mankind for aeons and baffled the sharpest minds, so it’s no small wonder that I’m often clueless and confused. One that’s played on my mind this week is: how much better it is watching England games with the sound turned off because then you don’t have to endure the unashamedly biased commentary from television employees paid by a British company, you would expect, to be mindful of this fact and retain some degree of professionalism and at least attempt to feign impartiality so as not to aggravate the non-English listener with every nauseating, blubbery “we” and “us” when many listeners want England to lose when did respectable society evaporate?

Now, you could be clever and question that we ever had a respectable society. Indeed, there has always been gambling and boozing, blasphemy, adultery and assorted villainy. Men who would trade their wives for some pigs, that sort of thing.

I’ve decided, anyway, that it’s when Princess Diana died in August 1997. All that outpouring of sentimentality and synthetic grief for someone we didn’t know, didn’t always care much for in truth. Surely some respectability got washed away with the simulated tears shed for the beautiful, hard-done-by princess who Tony Blair then claimed was the “Queen of Hearts” which made us sob even more.

Since then, in the UK, we have worshipped the victim instead of the hero. There aren’t many heroes left, it has to be said. After all, heroism isn’t nearly as profitable or as easy to come by as celebrity, and for all of Diana’s championing of very noble causes, she was in essence a tabloid creation. And so we have those in the not always respectable professions of law and the media peddling the myth that everyone likes a victim, because being a victim means not only compensatory reward but sympathy, and the ever-increasing displays of pity and condolence supposedly make us all feel better about ourselves in this absurd artificial reality we have deceived ourselves into believing is authentic, modern living.

We’re a bit behind the USA in Britain, I know. You’ve had this for years.

If you’re not wailing loudly, the supposition is that you don’t care very much. The one that cries the most must be hurting the most. It is inauthentic, fabricated grief put on for the public’s attention and I, for one, am offended by it. We’ll see plenty of it as the anniversary of the terrorist atrocities, in New York particularly, is marked for the tenth time this weekend. I hope those with more cause to feel offended than I have don’t find that the indulgence for tragedy detracts from what should be personal and private grieving, at least to my mind. Across much of the world people will be mourning, and though I like to believe that they will do so in memory of the needless loss of life and out of sadness and regret at a decade of raining bombs destroying the lives of untold millions, I think much of it will be fickle and patriotic.

As a recent study that told us something we already knew showed, being a victim is the way to escape blame. It doesn’t always work, but there’s no harm in trying.

Or is there? Aren’t we all victims of something now?

The event of 9/11 changed the world forever, but it created more victims than heroes. The firefighters caked with toxic dust, the strongest image superimposed on every memory from that fateful day, are now more likely to develop cancer to go with their respiratory diseases. Soldiers have always been valiant yet unknowing dupes in senseless wars and what of them when they are no longer able to fight? Alex Stringer lost three limbs in a bomb blast in Afghanistan yet is now struggling to get about in his sixth-floor flat. Take the Chilean miners trapped underground for more than two months as another example. For bravery and selflessness, the firefighter, soldier and miner would be everyone’s choice for recognition of their heroism, yet all are victims whether or not they wish to be perceived as such.

As a few of us have decided, I think, that we are all bourgeois now, so too are we all victims. I don’t know which is more depressing, but I do know that it sure as hell doesn’t make for a more respectable society.

As the Chilean miners, New York firefighters and the likes of young Alex Stringer are finding out, society doesn’t care for long whether you are a hero or a victim once it has had its pound of flesh and shed crocodile tears over your misfortune.

The chatroom will be open to depressives everywhere from 3pm (UK) today. If you’d like two hours of moaning about the state of the world, do pop in.

Author: FEd

Features Editor of David Gilmour’s official blog, The Blog (‘Features’ previously being its rather naff title), affectionately – or lazily – shortened to ‘FEd’.

61 thoughts on “Respectable society”

  1. Not meaning to be flip, simply an observation before I think more deeply about this.

    Ignorance truly is bliss.

    ash

  2. There may not be that many depressives left after reading your witty intro.

    You may be often clueless and confused but you sure know how to write about the thoughts that whizz inside you (also referring to the recent articles of the blog).

  3. It’s an absolute gem, Fed. Sadly my thoughts don’t fly fast enough in time to make your chat sessions! :v

    I do have a slightly different take on things, perhaps because of the cultural differences, perhaps because of my unique experience with the upcoming date, for which I do not enjoy a flippant outpouring of patriotic chaff, but lately my email box has become full of. I do love this country, but that does not mean that I do not question this country when on the brink of, say, fighting unnecessary wars in the name of heroism.

    My grandmother was 98 when she passed days before 9/11. I went to the funeral because she was a remarkable heroic TX pioneer teacher and I couldn’t wait to celebrate her memory. I was robbed of that pleasure. Her funeral date, 9/11/01 is seared into my memory. It seems like it happened just a year or two ago, when I went to the airport on 9/12 and was denied a return ticket to fly cross-country back to my then-home in Wisconsin for several days. I booked a train ticket and the trip back was both incredible and horrifying, as I heard firsthand stories from New Yorkers who had survived the attacks or were still waiting to hear from loved ones.

    The best part was a Jimi Hendrix live performance of the Star Spangled Banner and staying with my saint and saviour, a cousin of a friend during a hellish layover in Chicago. The worst and best part was hearing from the survivors on the train. One person donated their Chinese takeout to a NYer.

  4. This rant rings home to me. I have to say in my naivety, I thought when Diana died it could stop people buying the $%^ awful tabloid crap and we’d see a new dawn reign in and Murdoch would be gone… banished … wishful thinking. :v

    Superficiality is right. Why did we all mourn if we were not going to see the error of our ways and change into a respectable society? Maybe a good name for the next song David? Maybe we can get Dick van Dyke to sing along?

    I notice you mention America or USA being way ahead. I agree the surge of pooh seems to take a few years to migrate east. In their defence I’d say at least they have some decent newspapers.

    9/11 … Gosh, I’m dreading the flag waving 9/11 patriotism in the next few days. I dream it can be done in good taste but I suspect it will have the pomp and circumstance that makes me want to throw up. I may just have to dig a hole and hibernate till it’s all over.

    Well I’m glad that I got that off my chest.

  5. Great blog entry.

    Let me put the case of Mexico (as is where I live in).

    Victimisation has always been a constant in almost every social aspect of the country, it is embedded in the culture, in television, in politics, in our history.

    We were a conquered nation and the suffering of the masses has always been a way to control them. Take for example soap operas or millions of people supporting football teams or people hoping the next president will be the real change the country needs. Always looking for heroes and enjoying being victims.

    If we aim for respectful societies we should get rid of (or look away from) sensationalism and superficiality.

  6. Dear David,

    Listening to “Remember That Night” and googling a bit I came across this blog.

    I’m 53 and from the age of 19 I’ve been a pilot; first airforce F-16, now Capt B 747. Half a year ago I started taking guitar lessons, a desire I finally found time for to put into practise. Always been a music lover and Pink Floyd has been with me since I was 12 but the only thing that bugs me recently in a regretful kind of way is the fact that I don’t have a clue what happened to your aviation enthusiasm. My musical aspirations are to be able to express my flying sensation through a guitar and I have a feeling you already did that even before you started flying. Any which way, I think that if you can get back into the state of mind I’m in now (as described above) you may loose a lot of bugs… Darn is it ever hard to get a grip of fretboard-navigation! It’ll take a lot of effort to make me feel as comfortable on my guitar as I am in the air… but there’s nothing that can top this combination I think.

    Kind regards from Holland,

    Filip Appeldorn

  7. I kinda don’t know what to say right now as I read this and today there was the tragedy in Russia where an entire KHL hockey team perished in a plane crash. 43 people died. They were on the way to the first game of the season.

    I realize this is a little different than what you are talking about above.

    This is all just very depressing.

    Thanks.

    Andrew

  8. David Bowie said it best. “We can be Heroes, just for one day.” Love that song.

    Imagine, if John Lennon were still around.

    What would the world be today if JFK wasn’t assassinated?

    If their wasn’t WW1, WW2, the Korean War and others, there wouldn’t be a need for Remembrance Day.

    Keep up the journalism Fed!

  9. “Got thirteen channels of shit on the T.V. to choose from”

    Oh, for the good old days when that’s all there was. I think a lot of this mass hysteria/mourning stuff is just to do with filling air time/column inches in an ever more intrusive media. When you see the crap they resort to reporting when there’s no big focus you can see why they’d milk a half interesting story for all it’s worth (fascinating as Suri Cruise’s choice of footwear is).

    Which is not to say there aren’t real news issues out there but I’d imagine the advertising revenues would drop if people had to watch starving African children while eating their cornflakes. Besides they tend not to use twitter.

  10. An interesting theme F’ed which will allow us to stretch our amateur legs in the field of psychology. (Apologies to any professional Psychologists who intend to post … I look forward to your illuminating thoughts.)

    I’m not sure that the thrust of your piece actually deals with what I think of as Respectable Society … although I can see that the sort of self-indulgent emotional wallowing of which the Diana phenomenon is an example demonstrates a certain lack of self respect.

    My very respectable Concise Oxford English Dictionary (I would rather prefer a concise Cambridge version but you can’t have everything in this World) defines respectable as “of fair social standing; honest and decent; of some merit or importance; primly conventional” (editing out some off the point bits).

    Lack of respectability would therefore imply some dishonesty in the wallowing. Let’s face it, a good honest wallow could be one of life’s great treats, but dishonest wallowing just spoils it for the rest of us. Ask any Hippopotamus.

    I think this misses the fact that a lot of the Diana tears were shed by nice, honest people who seemed to get carried away on a tide of public feeling or mass hysteria. I’m not sure I find this to be lacking in respectability (is there a word for the opposite of respectable?). What it seems to signal to me is that people form real attachments to people they think they know through the media – celebrities, sportsmen, royalty or indeed wider groups.

    Taking an example close to heart, is the Diana thing significantly different from the widespread mourning and sorrow over the Munich Air disaster in 1958? (No parochial comments on that one please.) Coverage was a great deal less intense, due to the evolution of media, but most were distant and somewhat detached from the people and event. For Manchester United fans, however, it continues to resonate, as does Hillsborough with Liverpool supporters.

    We do therefore tend to associate ourselves with and “share” fellings about, certain people who attract us through their glamour, achievement or circumstance, with which we empathise. I am a typically reserved sort of an English chap and not given to public shows of emotion (i.e. confess to grinning when Man U beat Arsenal 8-2 but you won’t find me stripped off and dancing in a fountain over it …. perhaps there is a God) and rarely shed a tear except when our cat decides to sit on someone else’s lap, but I still find myself drawn in to certain examples … does the fact that I don’t shed tears make me more respectable?

    The 9/11 thing is an example. I’ve always felt a little closer to that because we were due to travel to Manhattan on the 14th September and, as well as having to cancel our plans, could more easily see ourselves caught up in the whole thing. We felt a great deal of solidarity with New York and made a point of travelling there six months later, not least to show that we would not be deterred from doing so.

    1. We made a point of visiting Ground Zero, have done so again since and look forward to visiting the completed “Freedom Tower” and memorial in due course. Does this make us mawkish? I hope not because it feels very genuine to me. It’s not the only thing worth remembering in this way, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t.

      Victim status is a psychological phenomena noted (amongst other places I’m sure) in the “drama triangle” – Perpetrator / Victim / Rescuer. Quoting Claude Steiner from Wiki “… the Victim is not really as helpless as he feels, the Rescuer is not really helping, and the Persecutor does not really have a valid complaint”. We often show a tendency to play victim when, as you say, we seek sympathy or to shirk responsibility for our own actions, or more likely lack of action. I don’t think that starts with Diana either (unless the 1968 article was written in a time machine) but I do recognise that we seem to do more of it. Is this because we feel more powerless in an alienating modern world (the theme of OK Computer of course)? Or perhaps that we expect to be in control whilst previous generations were more accepting of their “place” in society, driven by convention, religious teaching or social codes? If the latter, the “respectability” that we have lost seems more like a suppression and not perhaps something to hark back to.

      I don’t think that we are in fact all victims, other than in the sense that we all face obstacles and circumstances which make life more difficult. This goes right back to the time our ancestors dropped out of a tree and found a really nice fruit bush on the other side of a swamp. As long as we keep our eyes on what we are trying to do and take steps towards it, we are the heroes of our own little lives and should take some comfort from that.

      Sorry folks, I’ve burned the 1500 word limit to a cinder. I must find a less stimulating site to wallow on. 😀

    2. Tim, thank you for your story. Hug your wife for me please. I’m sending BIG hugs to you both!

      Coming to terms with such an overwhelming moment requires a place to reflect the past. So many loved ones didn’t have a casket to mourn or family to come home to like I did.

      Would I call myself a victim or a hero? :)) Neither! From a historic lens, points of view change all the time. I met many Pearl Harbor survivors from that fateful day in ’41 who were asked that same question. They were seemingly ordinary people who were suddenly placed into some horrific and extraordinary circumstances. From my point of view, they survived and were heroes. But heroic acts are relative to the times, the culture, literary, social and familial upbringing and so on. Stories of survival do continue to fascinate me.

      I went to the ‘Bearing Witness to History’ exhibit in DC in Sept, 2002 when we still lived in Wisconsin… that experience was so cathartic and emotional, providing some closure to the moment, and it was wonderful sharing the experience with the present and writing it down for the future. Because my experience didn’t include being in NY, it was quite powerful and deeply emotional to touch those steel remains, saying goodbye to the thousands who I’ll never know, and saying goodbye once again to my grandmother through that steel.

      I have plans to use the day to remember my grandmother as I would have liked along with my family.

      Fed, my experiences have made me a bit of a relativist. Including shades of grey where respectability is concerned. There are lines that must be drawn, but huge ranges of tolerance also need to be put into practice. The important legwork is finding what’s important to you and creating or enforcing those boundaries whenever you feel strongly about them. And your theory concerning Princess Diana’s death is fascinating! But perhaps that’s just one part of the equation. I’ve seen an interesting article somewhere concerning the internet’s erosion of manners through the age of instant communication that rang true for me.

    3. Taking an example close to heart, is the Diana thing significantly different from the widespread mourning and sorrow over the Munich Air disaster in 1958? (No parochial comments on that one please.)

      I don’t know what sort of comments you were anticipating, Tim, but I do hope you weren’t implying that, as a Liverpool fan, my feelings about the Munich tragedy are not of sadness and regret. Just as the moronic minority of Manchester United fans making fun of Hillsborough twice a season sicken me, so too does anyone putting petty club loyalties above compassion and respect.

  11. I’ve never thought of the Chilean miners as heroes. I certainly see them as the personification of the human spirit, but let’s face it, everything they did was to save their own lives. And most people if given half a chance will do what it takes to save their own lives. I say this not to insult them or diminish their ordeal, but to me a hero is someone who takes great risks to do selfless extraordinary acts.

    I’ve said the same of Elizabeth Smart. She is a brave and strong young woman, but she is not a hero simply because she got on with her life. And let’s face it, she is not the only person to go through such an ordeal, she just happens to be one of the more beautiful girls to have had been kidnapped and raped, so the media made her the face of all girls who have been kidnapped and raped.

  12. There are villains, so there are victims. Full stop. (And sometimes it’s not even clear to our society if people are villains or victims – chavs, illegal immigrants, paedophiles abusing your child, but maybe abused themselves in their youth, DSK-Nafissa Diallo…)

    But heroes?

    I think they just are the ‘Gods’ of our modern, atheistic, materialistic society (weren’t heroes already half gods in Greek mythology?), created by people in need of references, aspirations, ideals. Heroes make us dream, they are symbols for us of all the qualities we would like to possess and all the ambitions we would like to satisfy. Of course all that depends on what our aspirations are. Some people will choose Martin Luther King as their hero, some, Paris Hilton 😉 , some, David (isn’t he the Guitar Hero, the Guitar God, even?)…

    The problem, I think, is that the media understood that, of course, and, since we are living in a consumerist society ruled by money, chose to make money by constantly creating heroes (for example, Diana). People need heroes, the media offers them new heroes every day… Que demande le peuple?

    I was wondering what you mean by ‘Respectable society’. If it’s a society where everyone shows respect to everyone, then I think it doesn’t exist, never did and will never do.

    1. I was wondering what you mean by ‘Respectable society’. If it’s a society where everyone shows respect to everyone, then I think it doesn’t exist, never did and will never do.

      I meant a society where we behave honourably and adhere to a sensible code of respectability: honesty, loyalty, politeness, responsibility, etc. Socially acceptable, then.

    2. About Paris Hilton, it happened to me to watch some minutes of this show on MTV, some days ago and I’m still shocked.

      By the way, it just seems she’s another victim, as everyone always wants her money and no one actually cares about her friendship…

    3. How can we respect anyone who carries their dog around in a handbag?

      It just seems there could be something worse than a handbag. For example this (look to the picture).

      I read in the article that Paris Hilton made the toy dogs “the most wanted accessory for impressionable teens”. Isn’t it strange? I had always thought she was the accessory, not her dog.

  13. This world has always thrived on chaos and confusion, death and destruction. The news is always bad news, TV shows are always about murder or someone’s misery. But we do get pleasure from music, our loved ones, clear blue skies make me smile usually attended with a gentle summer breeze. Of late I have been unhappy but then I think of other people’s misfortunes and I snap out of it.

    I suppose what I’m trying to say is, enjoy the good moments because life does have a habit of sneaking up and biting your arse when you least expect it. I think we are all on the look out for heroes or someone to look up too and they are closer to home than we think. Kat’s my hero, she’s my rock. I don’t know David personally, but his music has provided me with a lot of pleasure and I admire him and the rest of Floyd immensely for that, and to you too Fed for keeping this site interesting and still running some five years after its initial reason for being set up.

    That’s my little rant.

    Kind regards as ever
    Damian

  14. Don’t know about you Fed and all fellow Brits but those friggin’ bingo adverts boil my piss. 😡

    Damian

    1. :)) Thank you Damian, I’ve never heard that one before!

      Which bingo adverts?

      Tell you the one that drives me bonkers (still can’t get over your boiling piss :)) ). . . Go Compare and that bloody annoying singer with the moustache. I have to mute the TV or change the channel.

      ash

  15. After an entire week spent fighting against my municipality’s bureaucracy to have the place I am due in a list which might give me the chance to get an eight-month job, I just find it easier to divide the world in victims and persecutors, than to think that we are all victims of something.

    Apart from my personal angry victim attitude, this is a very interesting topic and I especially agree with you on this point:

    It is inauthentic, fabricated grief put on for the public’s attention and I, for one, am offended by it.

    As pain and feelings in general weren’t so often made public some years ago, I agree with Lorraine about the role the mass media played in promoting this fake emotions fashion. Here is something I found about the UK.

    If I think about the reasons why many people seem so interested in sharing (but always from a distance) the others’ pain, I can only find these answers: if sincere, they might do that because they’re constantly looking for emotions to escape from their dull reality. This could be especially true now that “there aren’t many heroes left”, as you say, and it has become harder (but not impossible, if one has the will to look for them) to find ideals to believe in, or a honest group spirit.

    If not sincere, I think they might be interested in the others’ sorrow because of a sick curiosity and for the love of gossip, which is what shows like Big Brother have been promoting for years now.

    I could maybe seem exaggerated, but I just think reality shows, in particular, have actually given a big contribution to make our societies less respectable, proposing vulgarity and bad taste as they were the normality and gradually getting the people used to them.

    Then, speaking about my country, so many present and past politicians have been busy for years destroying any kind of respectability and decency, but it’s better if I stop here.

  16. Although I am passionate on this particular subject, I really cannot articulate myself as well as I wish. But, I have said it more than once, out loud, in my own house.

    Please shut up, let us make up our own minds, stop talking, you are idiots. The end.

  17. Me again. I remember when Diana died. I was at home alone, a rare event. I felt like I knew her. But I did not. The press made me feel like I had lost a loved one. I have since lost several loved ones, without any pomp and circumstance. The press does not impress me.

  18. About Princess Diana, there is something I’ve always wondered: would the mass media have had the same extraordinary attention for her, if she hadn’t been a beautiful woman?

    It might seem a silly thought, but every time I hear or read something about her, I also find a comment about her beauty.

    Of course, mass media prefer beautiful heroes/victims.

    1. I thought Princess Diana’s beauty was also beyond her physical beauty.

      I remember seeing her interact with children, none of your snooty, “keep that germy kid away from me” attitude. She got down on her hunkers to the child’s eye level with a genuine smile on her face. That was beautiful to see.

      She took her own children out to a theme park and they queued just like everyone else! How normal, how lovely that she probably insisted they do that for the emotional and social well being of her boys. Don’t they look like her too?

      I hated all the mass hysteria too. I felt very sorry for her sons and was completely amazed at their strength on the day of her funeral, right out there, in full view of all the world, they held their composure.

      ash

  19. Hello FEd and you all,

    Fourth month in Houston. We are few hours before the 11/9 memorial day.

    Italian press, the day after, titled WE ALL ARE AMERICANS. So the day after Princess Diana passed away Italian press titled KILLED BY PAPARAZZI.

    Everyone everyday in the life is victim and hero but it’s the media power that makes the difference.

    On my mind there is a problem of culture, education, respect and sense of responsibility so the quality of life will be simply better with these four ingredients.

    More than in Europe, in America there is a sense of “proud to be American”: did you read President Obama’s Memorial Speech?

    I don’t know really if this “sense” is the truth, maybe it is an alibi to be heroes and victims at the same time.

    A hug
    diana

  20. Now, you could be clever and question that we ever had a respectable society. Indeed, there has always been gambling and boozing, blasphemy, adultery and assorted villainy. Men who would trade their wives for some pigs, that sort of thing.

    :))

    I’ve thought too hard about all this and don’t know any more what respectable is. I remember being respectable, and my family and the people we mixed with. We wore Sunday best, a hat and gloves for church, manners were paramount even if others forgot theirs, the description of respectable you gave to Michele seems about right. When did people lose it?

    I lost it with the boozing, the blasphemy. . . err. . . that’s all really. Oh, and rock and roll!

    I really, really, really wish I’d done adultery when I had the chance.

    I don’t fancy gambling unless it’s for matches or items of clothing or drinks (totally lost all respectability now, I hope).

    Don’t fancy villainy. . . but tell me more, what have you in mind?

    Pigs. 8|

    ash

  21. Yet another masterful tome FEd. I’m still convinced there’s a thesis of sorts lurking 😉 and actually, I would wish for The Blog, in its entirety, to someday become a bound volume for future reading (I can wish, can’t I?) – even if only for archival purposes and/or to give context to a minuscule segment of life.

    I ponder whether our fabricated ‘need’ or obsession for/with celebrity has to do with our sub conscious feelings of inadequacy – is it possible that we cannot even contemplate the concept that we are indeed an amazing species, so awe-struck that we even exist, that we have to create icons, heroes, gods, demi-gods and the like in order to feed our own feelings of inferiority so we don’t have to think too deeply, to ‘soul’ search. I’m ‘reaching’, I know.

    Or, perhaps we have an innate need to feel a connectedness of sorts – that we’re not in this alone, bound by a common thread? Could it be for this reason that the collective we tether ourselves to our gods and goddesses whether it be a Princess Diana, John F. Kennedy, John Lennon, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, the hero-worshipping of the ancient Greeks or ancient Egypt?

    In the case of Princess Diana, I suppose many of us got to ‘know’ her as an innocent, see-through skirt wearing young woman with flushed cheeks. Most girls could identify with that and most young men ‘loved’ that doe-eyed look (and the mystery of what that might have represented).

    So she does become, in essence, someone us ‘common folk’ can relate to … she was ‘one of us’ (despite the fact that her lineage was more ‘blue blooded’). Then in a matter of some 20 years, she goes from heroine to victim and we are shocked into grief no matter how superficial. Of course the media fed us but there was a willing audience, right?

    Our heroes ‘speak’ to us through their musical expression, their painted works, their written volumes, their acts of altruism. We put them on pedestals and follow their every more. We hold them in the highest regard and elevate them beyond measure. And we don’t even know them – that’s pretty superficial! We forget that they too are part of the collective ‘we’ and are ‘victims’ of their circumstances (recording company executives, publishers, etc.) and likely have heroes of their own who are, in turn victims of their circumstances. Gosh, my head is spinning!

    While I do agree with Sharon for the most part about the ‘huge ranges of tolerance’, surely there are some fundamental human truths, some guiding principles, and a code of conduct that we ought to live by. I have a secret ‘hero’ (one of a handful or two) who, in 1957, identified his guiding principles as: honesty, propriety, courtesy, service, mutual support and belief. Happily his legacy lives on in all those whose lives he touched.

    I believe we’re all victims or heroes in someone else’s (or our own) view depending on the particular circumstance/s one finds oneself in. At some point though, one must put on the ‘big girl panties’ [gents, choose your own gear] ‘and get on with it’ … in a civil way! 😉

    1. Pavlov, you really are too kind.

      I think you’re right about there being a willing audience to digest the crap that the ‘powers that be’ want us to swallow. I think many of us quite enjoy it, actually.

  22. Fed provided us with a link to a story about Alex Stringer. It’s an absolute disgrace that a disabled person should have to live on the sixth floor. It’s even worse that this young man is a hero, he continues to be a hero because he has chosen to continue to struggle on, to live in the face of such adversity. His life is barely started, he’s 20 and he will have to live another 60 years like this. Disgraceful.

    It got me thinking about all the wars we are or have been involved in in recent years. There have been loads of complaints about the costs and what else the money could have been used for, that these wars are over oil.

    Why on earth are we fighting over a finite, dwindling fuel? We are squandering its wealth by fighting over it. Why on earth are we not using all the war budgets on financing renewable energy projects? All the weapons and tanks manufacturers could swap to production of solar energy cells and every home could have them. They could be manufacturing wind turbines. There are probably other technologies. We would then need less oil, no need to fight. Oh, and all the plastics that come from oil could be replaced with glass and recycled paper.

    Is it just me? Am I mad? Is the human race still tribal or are we respectable? There’s a bit too much “It’s somebody else’s problem” mentality.

    Oh, and firefighters are heroes, every day they go to work to put their lives on the line for us. I love them.

    ash

  23. No crocodile tears today, just a big hug to Andrew, Dan, Pavlov, Sharon, Gabrielle, Bruce and all our American blogger friends.

    A special thought to the ‘faceless heroes’ (and their families) of the United Airlines Flight 93, whose attempt to resist the hijackers and regain control of the aircraft, prevented the aircraft from hitting maybe the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C. or the White House. I think there has not been a big media coverage of their bravery.

    Also, exactly 6 months ago today, there was the Japan earthquake and tsunami disaster. The ‘Fukushima Fifty’, “Heroes or victims”?

    1. A special thought to the ‘faceless heroes’ (and their families) of the United Airlines Flight 93, whose attempt to resist the hijackers and regain control of the aircraft, prevented the aircraft from hitting maybe the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C. or the White House. I think there has not been a big media coverage of their bravery.

      I think that’s very true.

      As for the ‘Fukushima Fifty’, they’re both heroes and victims, I suppose.

      “…a highly paid suicide mission.”

    2. Michèle,

      Thanks much for your hugs. As I’ve told you in the past during chats, it was a difficult day to get through and one that will always be remembered.

      Thanks.

      Andrew

  24. On this day in 2001 I was at my job as an insurance company customer service rep. I was on the line with a customer when she started saying “Oh my God!” over and over. The line went dead. About 20 minutes later came news of the attacks. My customer had been in her office at the World Trade Center. I have thought about her quite a lot over the years, wondering if she got out okay.

    1. I grew up in the neighborhood of the World Trade Center. Always thought they were ugly buildings, but still, that’s half the old neighborhood. I went through there regularly to shop in the concourse or to use the transit hub. My high school prom was held at Windows on the World, top floor of the North Tower. So there are very fond memories for me.

  25. Thinking again about it, I guess respectability as a code of behaviour already began losing importance a couple of decades ago (in the 80s, I mean), when a considerable number of people had the chance to make some money and started believing the phase of economic growth and the comfort they were living in would have lasted forever. That was the industrial society myth, after all, even if we later realised it was just an illusion.

    From then on, some of these people (who had some power and the chance to have an influence on the public opinion, but also the so-called “nouveaux riches”) started behaving as if their money could buy anything, other people’s respect included. They became arrogant and claimed more than they deserved, in spite of all those values you were mentioning above: politeness, responsibility and, so often, honesty.

    I don’t know if what I tried to explain happened everywhere, but it is certainly what happened here.

  26. Hi again.

    We’re talking about heroes. I just wondered if that’s OK. My grandad passed away in the early hours of Sunday morning, he was 91 and he was my hero. WW2 vet, he fought in the Battle of Britain, he was probably one of the best trumpet players in the world as he was asked by his friend John Williams to join his musicians. I think they were known as The Five. He played in Nat King Cole’s orchestra, and many others, and he was great friends with Tommy Cooper.

    A brilliant golfer, grandad and great grandad. I and all my family will miss him very much.

    Damian

  27. Water came pouring through my ceiling from the flat above mine in the early morning after Diana died.

    I love this blog.

    I can see a link between DG’s guitar solos and flying. I get blown away by the guitar on ‘Take and Breath’. I can feel it right in the top of my head. As many others have probably said – its amazing. I also can’t get the words of ‘Take A Breath’ out of my mind. Is this someone who has made these dependant people into such inhuman monsters that they have to be drowned or is it the thoughts of a bored psychopath thinking of another victim? Probably neither. Rather different sentiments to ‘Hey You’.

    DG, however, is in my head too much and I dislike myself for always trying to please and get attention from my my guitar hero. I’m sure I’ll get mawkish when DG dies. That is if he dies before me. I felt very sad for ages when John Peel, Rick Wright and Syd Barrett died.

    Also I now get the feeling that Amazon and Google can read my thoughts and know all my desires because they keep sending me enticing messages to purchase the immersion set of The Wall. The marketing strategies really seem to work on me.

    I felt uncomfortable about the picture of DG on top of the Wall and RW at the bottom with outstretched arms at the O2. Too biblical. Too Humpty Dumpty.

  28. Another fine challenging blog FEd which has prompted some excellent responses from your swarm of intellectual Irregulars.

    Respectable society, where did it go? A sadly unattainable Utopian ideal, I fear.

    Why is it that superficiality has enveloped such a large section of society? The Paparazzi? Political Correctness? These and more… If we knew all the answers the world would be a lot better place than it is.

    I guess we’re all guilty, in varying degrees, of succumbing to the propaganda perpetuated through the media, misguidedly portrayed as ‘News’. All this manufactured social massaging seems to have eroded so many basic human values. Good manners cost nothing, yet sadly so many people seem to have lost them, along with any common decency or dignity. Or perhaps, they just never had them in the first place.

    The human race has indeed, Amused Itself To Death. 🙁

  29. Hey Fed,

    The problem with 9/11 is that it represents what the US Government loves with events like these..constant anniversary naval gazing and the using of the victims and relatives for their own agenda. While the events of that day are horrific in scope may we be reminded that during the past two World Wars many areas of Europe including England were completely leveled with hundreds of thousands in casualties. There is no comparison in scope between the events. My parents lived in London during the Blitz and saw many friends and homes bombed and destroyed. They never felt the urge to commemorate anniversaries of these events… they just wanted to move on and rebuild their lives like many after the war.

    America has been very lucky with wars. They always escape widespread damage and hardship to the homeland. They have lived in a fairy land where nothing can ever happen to them. In the scope of things, 9/11 is just a blip on the horizon but they make it out to be a catastrophe of the highest level. What they need to do is LEARN from it and try and understand why other people and cultures hate them so much.

    Cheers, Howard

    1. I have to agree in part, Howard, at the risk of upsetting some very dear American friends. It was a startling wake-up call, not just to the USA but to all who try to be like the USA.

    2. Absolutely no risk of offense (at least from my view). To some extent I have to agree with the US Government using these horrific events and the plight of human beings as a tool to move forward their own agenda — whatever that may be.

      On the flip side, there is something good and honorable to be said about my adopted country and I will defend her for her strengths and acknowledge her faults. The US is ALWAYS there with a hand-out whenever another country needs it – be it natural- or man made- disaster … at the expense of its own citizens in many cases. WWII might have had a completely different outcome had it not been for US involvement. The US is still number one in terms of immigration and presumably there are ideals here that hold value to many foreigners since they keep coming (of course there are shadier motives as well).

      September 11, 2001 may have been a “blip” in the great scheme of things but what is interesting to note is that even though it occurred on US soil, many of the people that died on that day were from the far reaches of the world and many of the rescue workers were third and fourth generation immigrants.

      I don’t know whether it was a wake-up call or not and while I might be ‘safer’, I certainly feel very unsettled.

      1. I agree with that, too. There is much that is good and honourable; the fact that countries aspire to follow the US model says it all. There’s lots about the US that I wish the UK would adopt (better manners and service, for starters). Anti-Americanism has become fashionable, sadly, and some of the loudest critics usually wear American clothes, watch American films, etc. It’s quite funny.

        I don’t think any of us are safer now, though. 9/11 was a wake-up call only in as much, I believe (and what do I know?), that the US seriously started asking itself why anyone could do such a terrible thing to an inspirational and influential democratic nation and loyal ally. I think that’s been a positive thing, but what a heavy price to pay for it.

    3. I’m glad you had the opportunity to clarify that F’ed. I felt uncomfortable with the idea that a “wake-up call” somehow implied the USA “had it coming”. Learning lessons from acts of terrorism or provocation is difficult for any Nation State … it took a long time for the UK to reflect on all aspects of the IRA campaign … but it’s a sign of a healthy society that, to some extent at least, there is a willingness to reflect on and debate the issues. How far it gets driven into the mainstream and therefore drives political action is, as with almost all the issues we’ve been looking at lately, the big question.

    4. …do such a terrible thing to an inspirational and influential democratic nation and loyal ally. I think that’s been a positive thing, but what a heavy price to pay for it.

      And FEd, I think therein lies the key. The majority of us (both in the US and the world) think of the US as a Democracy when, in fact, it is a Constitutional Republic which is a “democratic type” of government. There are enormous differences and this misunderstanding causes untold political mayhem. If we all understood that and our kids weren’t being fed crap in their history books, some gaps could be bridged.

  30. I’ve always loved this blog for non-being superficial. I’ve been learning a lot of things from it and I’m seriously grateful for that.

    Well, I guess that nowadays people try to find happiness and love only in material things. It’s sad to say, but except for the few friends of mine and my family I can find something pure ONLY in my beloved music, not in the society that surrounds me. “Now life devalues day by day”, that’s the truth. Almost every time I try to be pure and true I get disappointed by people. You might say I’m out of luck, but I’m not. There’s a bad feeling that flows beneath our feet and until the day we realize that our lives shouldn’t be made up by money but by love, friendship and respect we won’t reach the top of our souls. Maybe I got a little off-topic but that’s what I think.

    Have a nice day everybody.

    P.S. Last week I’d been searching for a copy of MOJO here in Italy, and it was great to read all the things Mr Gilmour and Mason told about The Dark Side Of The Moon and Wish You Were Here (my favourite album of all time)!

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