We’re only here for the fear, beer and gear

LEP Columnist Barry Freeman
LEP Columnist Barry Freeman
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The only thing we had to fear was fear itself, a leader once told the led; but that was a long time ago, and in another world.

In any case, it so happened that said led would spend the next eight decades, and counting, afeared witless of one thing or other.

Hitler, Stalin, Mao, the prospect of imminent nuclear annihilation, Reds under the bed, Yellow Peril, Elvis, Rolling Stones, Sex Pistols, Scargill, Tebbit, cancer, AIDS, BSE, Swine Flu, Bird Flu , Tamiflu, brain drains, immigrants, Bin Laden, Bush Jnr, nutters, UKIP, extreme weather, inevitable meteorites (it’s only a question of time)...

Turns out that aforementioned leader was wrong. We had nothing whatsoever to fear from fear. Got used to it pretty quick, all things considered. Became the norm.

Yes, fear has proved a breeze – so long as the uppers and downers (in the UK prescriptions have doubled since 2003, more than 50m ‘scripts signed 2012-3 alone) keep coming, all the more after a few drinks, be those medicating bevvies be a glass or two or five of Simply The Best Merlot before, during and after a meal or gutful of white cider in a Housing Benefit funded flop-house.

Varying degrees of comfortably numb, then, million of citizens, advance popping, boozing, tooting, into an uncertain tomorrow.

Were Roosevelt still around, of course, it is possible this benign dictator would finger that very dwindling certainty as something else we’d be wise to fear.

‘Certainty’ is a founding feeling of all we know. Those who set about and have since fostered civilisation (us) made every advance, laid every brick, built every road, in the belief that tomorrow would be materially little different from today, or any day next year, or a decade hence.

A belief, possibly subliminal, that one has a defined stake in the future. A chosen role to inhabit.

A job for life, a home, a family, these and any number of other
‘certainties’ (or at least, we once cared to regard them as such) now compromised, swept away, gone.
Aspirations, if that, for millions.

The million zero hour contracts, million and half in part-time work who want full-time work (the most since records began, a fifth of the eight million working part-time, itself a historic high), 20 per cent youth unemployment, a fresh made housing boom powering privacy, shelter, security and dignity out of fiscal reach for half the country...

Fear the certain consequences.