As I write notes for my Blog, in my head as I run back home, after my daily jogging session around the park, I notice things which might provide inspiration. A few metres ahead of me, a tiny sparrow darts into a hole in a bush, avoiding this sweaty human. As I get nearer, the bush twitches nervously, but when I run past and glance into the hole, the sparrow has flown through and away; or it’s gone deeper, and is perched on a twig (do bushes have twigs or stems?), chuckling to itself at my large inability to fly or hide in very small spaces in bushes. This thought joins together with other birdy thoughts, as I run on; the rhythm of my running easing some of the lockdown tension in my shoulders and neck. I think about the thrush I saw this morning in the garden. I haven’t seen a thrush for ages. I’ve always liked how strong, alert and elegant they look. Ted Hughes caught it better, in the first line of his poem ‘Thrushes’, one of my favourites from school days:
‘Terrifying are the attent sleek thrushes on the lawn,
More coiled steel than living…’
And earlier in my run, when I was passing trees in the park, I looked up and saw a blue tit singing. It was dwarfed by the leaves around it, but it’s bright yellow and blue colours made it stand out and it’s song was bold and clear, with a sparkling flow to it, like a burn flowing fast down a mountainside.
As I ran along the pavement past non-twitching bushes, I glanced up at the sky. It was that kind of glowing pale blue with faint hints of darker blue within which gives it an appearance of it’s actual, vast depth. It makes you smile if you’re in the right mood. I was, so I smiled. Luckily, there was no one around to see me grinning like an idiot as I ran.
Back home, typing up a few ideas, I realised that things I see don’t always take my thoughts running down a path I expect them to. Like when I was looking up at that incredibly blue sky. It was criss-crossed with lots of thin, white clouds. It looked like a sky full of Scotland flags. I felt myself rise to the challenge of saying something about Scotland’s future. And I will. But there’s no flags in it.
I’m not a leader. Well, sometimes I have been. But here, I’m not leading anyone. Most of the time, like everyone else in Scotland, I’m just trying to get through these strange days. And, in that, all of us are no different from ordinary people in England or in other places in this locked-down world. We are all just trying to stay alive. But some of us are dying – through no fault of the people dying, but often through the fault of our governments who do not listen to us. Politics is the way humans deal with how the world is and how it should be. Birds, skies, clouds, and flags don’t know about politics. People do. Tragically, professional politicians have lied to the rest of us for so long and so many times that we all get weary and blasé about political debates and discussions. There’s a danger in that. The danger is we leave it to the Trumps and Boris-what’s-his name to get on with it. But it’s not their world, it’s ours. And we have to find ways to talk about the world and how it should be which gives us back control over our future.
My Gran was a Tory who later decided that Thatcher was a Nazi; my dad is a Scottish nationalist with radical and socialist sympathies; and I’m a socialist who supports Scottish Independence. Maybe, we all have families like that, with different political views. We may even avoid talking about politics (or religion) altogether in our families. I can understand that. Who wants to be stuck in lockdown in a no-holds barred political debate on bringing in the death-penalty for Bay City Rollers fans? (Sorry, Isobel and Susan, and possibly lots of other people I know, some of whom who will still have tartan breeks in their closets.)
But we have a strength that most professional politicians don’t have. We are far more interested in making a fairer and better world. Our friends and families are generally not hedge-fund billionaires, or arms-manufacturers. It’s much more likely that you will know or be one of the workers on the frontline of the coronavirus pandemic. When, at the end of a long shift in a hospital ward, a nurse gets ready to go home and rest, the last thing they will want to see on TV or on their phone is some political muppet telling lies about their day. So, let’s all keep telling the truth and if that means becoming more involved in changing the world for the better, fine. We will not always agree. But we should always discuss and debate in a better, more honest way than the liars who are temporarily running the world. It’s our world.