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Friday, March 31, 2017

Another new season

Summer has suddenly set in with a vengeance. Every day is hotter than the one before, and the air is still and muggy – just the kind of weather that makes me hate this country, at least until the next cloudburst. I wonder when the swimming pool will be warm enough to be comfortable again?

This is admission season, and the batches are filling up. I shall have a full hand from next week onwards, for the next nine months again. I sometimes feel I have lost count of how many times I have done it: even Pupu says this is the eleventh time she’s been helping me! It seems an odd kind of fun to see kids being admitted whose parents attended these classes years ago. Would I last long enough to see some of the grandchildren too?

My daughter will be a college graduate by the middle of next year. A full grown up, the way she has been brought up. After that, she will be more or less on her own, looking for a career that suits her. Daddy will be at her side, but only playing a petting, enabling and reassuring role, not breathing down her neck. I hope she still finds me interesting and useful for some time to come. Few grown up children do. That, in fact, is my only prayer today…

This is my fifty fourth year. I have been working since I was seventeen. I wasn’t given a very good hand to play by Providence (I have in mind kids who grow up into their mid-20s with their parents footing every bill, finding jobs for them and even carrying their luggage for them), and I have still insisted on being rather more willful than most people I have seen, so on the whole things haven’t turned out too badly, I’d say. Sixty is only a few summers away. I might pop off before that, of course – a lot of people do – but in case I don’t, it’s almost within reach now. I don’t have much respect for governments in this country, regardless of which political party is in power, because they have never done anything significant for the benefit of the vast number of people like me, the self-employed, either by way of tax relief, or cheap insurance, or subsidized loans, or special facilities for those who are ageing. All I want now is to be left alone to mind my own business. Therefore I shall not vote for any party which pursues policies that intrude into my private life, and conversely, I shall root for any that takes notice of the fact that the vast majority of people in this country still take care of themselves, but they need more attention as they get old and infirm, if only because they have been quiet, hardworking taxpayers lifelong. What else any party promises no longer carries much value for me. They can build temples or moon rockets or new mobile phone apps for damn all that I care. Nothing of that sort counts as ‘progress’ in my book.

It pleases me, however, to see that the local government seems at last to have woken up to the horrible menace of lawless traffic on the roads, as the news items on this page bear testimony. Stern policing – provided it’s not a flash in the pan – will go a long way to rein in the lawbreakers who kill and maim so many. I have said again and again that this is a far greater problem than terrorism or smoking, which seem to exercise the foolish people in power so much. Only, a few caveats: first, the hands of the police need to be strengthened (at present, their numbers and resources are pitiful, and the laws they can wield lack real teeth), secondly, they are cracking down on less important things, such as whether people are wearing helmets and seatbelts and carrying all the right papers, whereas the real focus should be on nabbing those who drive too fast, drive drunk, overtake on the wrong side, don’t bother about signals, switch lanes and turn around abruptly, overload vehicles, don’t get them regularly serviced… the kind of people who actually cause all the accidents. When can we expect good sense to prevail? How many more millions will have to be killed and crippled for life before that happens?

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