Sunday, 6 May 2012

Boris bounces Livingstone. No to cynical anti-Semitism

At least Ken Livingstone didn't get in. Boris did. Almost one million Londoners voted for Ken though, either by first or second choice. This means that almost one million Londoners have no qualms in voting for someone who is blatently anti-Semitic. Makes you wonder, doesn't it? What a choice we have in our politicians. You enter the voting booth and hold your nose and vote for the one who you think would do the least damage. This appears to be a worldwide problem. No one with any integrity goes into politics. It's all lies and graft and greed and power. The coalition in the UK is losing voters by the bucketload. Nick Clegg's party is almost emasculated. Perhaps if there was no coalition, then things would be better? Who knows.

It's still grim. Colder than any other May that I can remember. Our enduring grey skies appear full of remorse and we expect a 'spring' frost tonight. The winds are heading down from the arctic. Streams that were dried out last month are now plentiful and the reservoirs are refilling. But the hosepipe ban, we are informed by those powers-that-be, will remain until December. Sunshine and blue skies seem like a long time ago. I know that they still exist and that people somewhere are sitting out under parasols and sunshades and enjoying long, alcoholic cocktails and barbequed steaks but my imagination is stymied. I think that the gloom has permeated my neurons and the dopamine is depleted. I'm looking forward to the tropics. To wearing summer dresses and sandals and holding my face up to the sun to feel its rays. It may rain but it will be warm rain and a tiny umbrella to keep the drops off my head will suffice. The palms will blow in the breezes and the smell of plantain and sugar cane and every imaginable tropical fruit will make me heady.

So I'm whiling away the days, waiting for the plane west, and watching 'Homeland.' It's an addictive series. Brilliantly conceived from the original Israeli format, 'Prisoners of War'. What's interesting is that Claire Danes plays a CIA intelligence analyst with a 'mood disorder.'  She can't divulge her mental health problems to the CIA, otherwise she wouldn't have her job. It's not as if anyone else in the CIA has mental health issues! So far, and I have one programme to go, there's been no actual real evidence of her problems, other than her not being able to go to a registered psychiatrist in order to have her meds prescribed but I understand that she goes into full-blown melt down in the last episode.
By comparison, and in keeping with the gray theme, I'm reading 'The Man the Gray Flannel Suit,'  published in 1955 by Sloan Wilson. In this somewhat pedestrian book our protagonist is offered a job with the head of an advertising agency who, somewhat surprisingly to him, has been contacted by a group of forward thinking doctors who wanted to publicise the 'too little public understanding of the whole question of mental illness.' The agency boss wished to make a name for himself by taking on this cause and Tom Rath was to assist him in this. Then, as now, Sloan Wilson pointed out that more hospital beds were occupied by the mentally ill than by cancer and heart patients. Our hero, however, is at a loss. It is a tainted idea. No one in  the advertising agency is enthused or energised by the concept of publicising the plight of the mentally ill.
I ask myself then, have we moved on much since the 50s? We can make programmes in which a character suffers from depression or a mood disorder. Viewers will accept that but the general stigma, as evidenced above in 'Homeland',  still persists. Carrie can't divulge to her employers that those blue pills are not for headaches but for psychosis. Her colleague is shocked that she is working for a government organisation while in the throes of mental illness.  How do you explain to the uninformed what exactly is psychosis? One can assume that there are most certainly many explanations for the description. One of these can apply to London: Is it not somehow psychotic that almost one million people feel safe in voting for a man to carry out the office of mayor of a major city who is a proven tax dodger, a lover of terrorists and an anti-Semite?

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