Tuesday, 15 December 2009

By Unpopular Demand.... An Apology

I would like to begin by apologising for my previous blog, an outburst owing to the mistaken belief that Mark Beaumont was an ambassador for a major multinational bank, when in actual fact he is not actually an ambassador for a major multinational bank at all, but only, in reality, an ambassador for a major multinational bank. This confusion of mine, all centred around a misunderstanding of the word 'ambassador', made a few people quite upset, and for this I can only apologise, it being wholly unforgivable of me to ever have dreamt of saying anything that might have upset anybody. 

Put simply, I was wrong. I believed that it would be some sort of symbol to "take on the big companies" (as one critic suggested I do) by making an attempt at the record of a man who had been sponsored by the big companies, displayed the logos of big companies throughout his ride, and rounded it off nicely by announcing that he was proud to be an ambassador of the biggest of his big companies. Again, I can only apologise for my old-fashioned misunderstanding that when someone takes money to serve as the ambassador of a certain entity or institution, they become - in some respects - embroiled in the undertakings of that body, and - to some extent - answerable to some of the criticisms that might be raised against that body.

But that's old ground already. I'm not denying that my last blog was unsophisticated and pretty artless, it was also not in the least bit cordial, but it was honest, and I felt that it was important to blurt it out when I did, when I was still fresh from the sort of experience that allows you to reflect on the world for what it is, and before returning to a modern society that is already more-than swamped with moderate thought, trivialities and the making of excuses. I'm not concerned if a little ire sets me apart from a gaggle of adventurers, I don't see myself as an adventurer anyway, just someone who enjoys travel and loves riding a bicycle. I'm not concerned if a lack of bonhomie is not in the mould of a Ranulph Fiennes, I've only in the last five minutes clarified that he was not the lead actor in The English Patient. I don't mind if someone thinks I give cyclists a bad name... the bicycle is an excellent mode of transport for reasons of environment, society, economy and health - the more its usage increases, the less realistic it is to think of cyclists as an identical group of matching people and ideas. One of the best things about the increase of cycling in London is the diversity of people now getting-about on bikes - I'm not a BMX-riding vegan or a tweed-wearing Tory Boy ... nor am I obliged to empathise with, or even to like, either one of these hypothetical individuals. They both ride bikes, I think that a good thing, and that's enough.

I get the feeling that a good many people didn't read my previous blog in its entirety, or that they didn't read it carefully. On both counts, this is my fault, as decent writing shouldn't turn people off in such a way. That said, we live in an age where 122 minutes in a cinema can transport people into heroic battles for the universe and the free world, all set to a nicely emotive score that floods the endocrine system with adrenaline and the head with thoughts of "that's what I'd do"... I can't compete with that kind of entertainment, and it's unfair to expect people to take time with 1000 words of social-political nonsense when such alternatives are just a few buttons away.

Finally, I want to stress that my feelings for Beaumont are in no-way based on chest-beating machismo; I genuinely respect his time of a 193-day circumnavigation. In terms of physical undertakings, it was a great ride... as for my own accomplishment, I'm still torn about whether the experience would have been better at 80miles- a-day, with a few tours of some Californian vineyards thrown in for recreation ... I'm not so competitive a person to believe that anyone's achievements are made lesser or greater on the basis of speed.

But what else... Just as I was confused about the word 'ambassador', so too am I now uncertain about the word 'cynical'. It would appear that mentioning the failings of our political system is nowadays regarded as cynicism, where it might once have been called realism or honesty. On the other hand, to speculate that someone holds his beliefs, not through conviction, but through resentment of another's monetary success, or to garner publicity, is actually not a cynical belief, rather, it is merely good hack-work and psychology. Has it really been so long since people encountered a person not overly motivated by money? Similarly, in the old vocabulary, to make a profit from adventure and human emotion might be regarded as a cynical piece of business... but that's the old vocabulary.

I've noticed also that there seems to be a good deal of disappointment that I did not grow up or learn anything whilst riding around the world... It's a shame that people think this, for I believe I learned many things... firstly, in a row of public toilets, you should always walk to the furthest cubicle, for there it is always the cleanest... over and above that, though far less important, I learned too that I believe in the strength of my convictions. In the deserts I felt at peace, I felt deeply touched by hospitalities I received all over the world, and in my own society I feel angry because there is all-too-much that betrays the beauty of humanity as I experienced it all over the world. I'm sorry if that disappoints anybody in their prefabricated, drip-fed, Lonely-Planet notions of what travelling ought constitute. It strikes me that Mark Beaumont is not held to account for failing to learn that some experiences should be respected as sacred, or at the very least not sold to each and every willing bidder. I suppose he came back with a nice grin though... Our society will criticise no action that minds its Ps and Qs and has a nice grin... Nice grins are the backbone of twenty-first century decency.

As for growing-up... It saddens and amuses me that as children we're encouraged to learn to share, to be nice to one another, to know that happiness is more important than money... all of these lovely moral trinkets get thrown around, and then the mark of becoming an adult is just how many you can throw off, and how quickly, in order to get on the property ladder... You're respected for making a packet, by just about any means, and you're painted as some quixotic fool if you actually think all that morality-schooling was supposed to mean anything. It's compounded by the idea that modern society either has to be the farce that it currently is, or something far worse. Somehow it's come to pass that a political creed essentially cowardly, selfish and paranoid represents right-thinking austerity... the whole fiasco is guarded, moreover, by an impressive and resilient vocabulary, so that no matter how long a government wants to lock people up without trial, and no matter how much money is given in subsidy to inept business models managed by the schoolfriends of politicians ... the system as a whole retains its title of a 'liberal-capitalist democracy'. All of which are very impressive and noble words, even if modern Britain has about as much in common with them as the most contrived of socialisms.

Charity... it's alarming how much difficulty people have in grasping the title of my ride, so here's a clear explanation. What I propose is this. Rather than a multitude of tiny organisations, each with their own administrative structures, funding requirements and the need for a sentimental handle on their targeted populations, we could have a single, larger and unified organisation, staffed by the most upstanding and able of the citizenry, and responsible for leading society in a responsible and mutually advantageous direction. For simplicity's sake, we could call this institution, I don't know, a Guveurnment ... But of course this Guveurnment will need funding, so we could take a little bit of money from across the entire population, with more perhaps taken from those that are getting a lip-smacking deal out of the whole society thing, and more taken from the most useless purchases that people are making... We could call this funding Tacks, and the able people in the Guveurnment, with all their good intentions, would ensure that the Tacks were being well-invested and not simply squandered. Trippy, isn't it?

So anyway... that's more than enough of all that... Sorry... I'm a politics student at heart... just like Mark Beaumont.

Congratulations to all those who made it to the end... all those who have just wasted still more of their time on my words, and are planning to waste even more in telling me that I'm a piece of talking genitalia, may I instead recommend that you visit www.bbc.co.uk/cbbc where Blue Peter have many excellent ideas on how you can make old toilet rolls into spaceships.

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