Posted by Tania Kindersley.
Sometimes the sun really does come out on the May Bank Holiday. Even though I am not a bank, I am naughtily taking the day off in celebration.
Because it's not a usual Monday, the radio schedules are all over the shop. I turned on expecting to hear some cross discussion about poor David Laws, and the Coalition tottering (amazing how it has gone in official judgement from bold new step to hanging by a thread) and instead there was something about the sixties. Frank Sinatra sang a song, and then there was a piece about Kennedy and Churchill dying, and clips of ask what you can do for your country, and blood toil sweat and tears.
There was something about hearing old Winnie talk of our island nation which made me both thrilled and sad at the same time. There was no golden age when politicians were titans and the public held them in pristine regard. Britons, in particular, have always been quite unsentimental about their leaders. Churchill was beloved; then, when they had enough of him, the voters turfed him unceremoniously out, after the war. All the same, it feels now as if we have started to eat our young. There is a kind of savage glee with which politicians are brought down. Look, look - RIPPING off the taxpayer, GAY lover, FORTY thousand pounds. Let us dance piously on the grave of a political career. For good measure, let us discuss, endlessly, whether people should stay in or out of the closet, because the idea of a private life or an autonomous decision is so last season.
Laws claimed for some rent on his second home. He did not go out at night drowning kittens. His transgression depends on semantics: was the man with whom he lived his official partner, or not. It's not the most egregious crime in the history of crime, even if he should be proved to have broken the rules. But everyone should build bonfires and dance in delight as the amazingly self-regarding Telegraph claims another scalp. There, political class, take that, and that, and that. HA.
In America, there are perfectly reasonable commentators who are complaining that President Obama is not angry enough about the BP oil spill. They admit, almost grudgingly, that he cannot actually put on a wetsuit and go and staunch the flow himself, but goddammit, he should be madder. Apparently his job description includes Emoter in Chief, and he is failing perilously. The Telegraph, showing some more of its charming self-righteousness, claims that he has now 'lost all credibility'.
Of course our elected representatives should be held to account. The age of deference, should it ever have existed, did not do anyone much good. But I start to feel a little uncomfortable about this wholesale visceral hatred and distrust of the political class. The endless bitching and suspicion and giddy delight when an MP is brought low is entirely negative and destructive. I hold the unfashionable view that most people go into public life for honourable reasons. They could much more easily sidle off and work for a nice oil company that is raping the land and get fatly rich on the proceeds, without ever having their sexual preferences splattered all over the front pages. But no, no, they are all the same, they are all in it for what they can get, they hold the electorate in contempt. They are corrupt and self-serving and bloated with arrogance, every last one of them. I do not think this is true. I do not think that believing this is constructive. I do not think we should doff our hats every time a politicians walks by, but I wonder if we should not resurrect The Benefit of the Doubt. Just because the sun is shining.
Meanwhile, I contemplate the new life in my garden:
The lilac lilac.
The very first flower on the white lilac.
The first geraniums, coming out.
A fat, tightly furled peony. Last year, I found some peonies growing wild in the rough ground by my compost heap. I dug them up and transplanted them, more in hope than expectation. And now LOOK.
This is another miracle. In the wild part of my garden, there were some big Scottish ferns. The weeks and weeks of snow appeared to have killed them stone dead. They went quite brown and desiccated. Then, this morning, I wandered into the wilderness corner, and there was this curled leaf, green and alive, like a little sign of hope.
This is not some kind of exotic insect-munching plant, but an oriental poppy, in bud. I made this garden from scratch; it was originally just a rough patch of land, all nettles and high grass. An expert horticultural lady came in and dug the beds and did some of the early planting. She put in big blowsy poppies, which I did not like. I like delicate, shy plants, mostly in blue and white. I thought the huge scarlet poppies were vulgar and overblown. I kept digging them up and giving them away, but they would not be denied. Now I rather love them, after all that.
This is my very favourite plant in the whole garden, a tiny little purple geranium.
This baby euphorbia is my second favourite.
And talking of favourites:
Regard the elegance.
And the beauty.
Because a bank holiday is not a bank holiday without a dog picture.
I hope the sun is shining wherever you are.