A Certain Jane Austen Thing Going On

Most of us lead small lives. Our consequence rarely extends much beyond our acquaintance. It’s easy to forget that. We’re the centres of our own universes, most of us anyway, the protagonists in our own narratives. What we say and do goes only as far as the people closest to us, even now that what Jane Austen called our connexion can be world-wide.

That’s not to say that we’re unimportant, or what we do lacks value and worth. Nor does it mean that our actions have no impact. What we say and we what we do has consequences in the lives of everyone we touch. It’s especially important now. Nerves are raw for all sorts of reasons and it’s really easy to make things worse, not better.

To limit the spread of Covid, we need to wear a face covering, keep apart, wash hands and open up enclosed spaces where we meet other people to winter. Not easy in this weather. All I want to do is huddle with chums by a roaring fire, glugging hot chocolate and eating slices of Victoria sponge wider than my face. That’s not something we can do under Tier 4 restrictions. I had a look at the data on both the BBC and Project Zoe’s websites and infections are rising round here really quite markedly so all the public health messages are not getting through.

Some of us lead more public lives and I really do wonder at how the people with the most influence over our lives are using that influence. I stopped watching the news years ago because when I wasn’t depressed after a broadcast, I was deeply, gammonly angry. Anne barred me first from listening to Any Questions and Any Answers on a Saturday lunchtime and then I stopped listening to live news broadcasts altogether. The stupid, it burns, dude. Anyway, as a result, I don’t really have much idea of an overall news narrative. I take my news in bites from various newspapers’ websites, the BBC and from NGOs and other organizations which interest me. I haven’t watched any of the government’s briefings live because I don’t need that stress in my life.

I don’t want to get all political because infectious disease doesn’t really give a stuff about radical approaches to societal problems. Between Brexshittery and Remoaning, or between Maomentum and Bliarites, whether you fell for a slogan on the side of a big, red bus or you keep your star safe, none of that matters to wee strands of RNA that only exist to replicate. Don’t even get me started on Bill Gates and injectable tracking devices. Nobody really wants to take unpopular decisions because who wants to be unpopular when your job security depends on your popularity?

(Sometimes I think we should replace our elected Parliament with a big jury that gets selected every couple of years. Once you’ve served, you can’t serve again. No more elections, just jury service.)

So, I wish that some people who have a big stage and fill it with amplified sound would either shut the fuck up, or tone down the nonsense when they do speak. I’d rather that notions of self-sacrifice and service were more evident in the behaviour of our leadership. I would be much more inclined to believe them if their actions matched their words more closely. Duty is a bit of a Jane Austen concept these days. Only the queen mentions the word with a straight face, I think. For everyone else who does so, it’s rather something to be encouraged in others than undertaken themselves.

Another rambling post. Sorry. I’ll end here with Mr Knightley in Emma. “There is one thing, Emma, which a man can always do, if he chuses, and that is, his duty; not by maneuvering and finessing, but by vigour and resolution.”

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