We are all different. Victims or benefactors of our own pasts or our own destinies.
My childhood was insecure and so I became fodder for the workplace. Striving to gain security like many others, I worked hard, year after year on meagre pay. This gives empathy for those who do not wish to be singled out. We become slaves to a system because we know no different, or do not have the wherewithal to do anything else.
I remember talking to a good man, who could quite easily talk to the likes of me as to any of his peers. He spoke of mentally challenged people who were thrown out of a big building to make way for offices. It was their home. He saw the pain of that change for them. They were put into the community. Of course one can be cynical. The system let them down. Who will judge or remember the layers of slavery or suffering? Who will be sensitive to the subtleties of freedom? Mental scars run deep.
Life is simple when you break down façade, cut through the veneer, and the complex sophisticated layers of deceit. I would rather be simple than live in one of those layers wherein politicians reside.
Now a gardener for a number of years, I enjoy the simple beauties of nature. It is hard but allows freedom of thought. Going home allows the body to consider and raise a complaint of physical abuse, duly judged and sentenced. We are in pain as the light fades. Then I see the orange, pink and light blue of the sky and hear the bedding blackbirds’ chirping, a sweet reminder of the ‘other’ world we live in.
Remission comes in a stiff whiskey before preparing food. Removing the dry outer skin from an onion I am presented with beautiful, shining, perfect vegetable. It reminds me of the promises of our politics, at first, before we knew better. ‘We will’ do everything you want us to. Cut taxes, look after the NHS, defend your rights, reduce immigration; ‘we will’ live in a wonderful country. We ‘can’ all be wealthy or we ‘can’ all be equal. No, we ‘can all’ be wealthy and equal. No university fees, greatly reduced waiting lists, schools of your choice, money for the arts, affordable housing for all. The list was long as the outer layers of the onion were bigger.
Peeling back the layers revealed more promises. But now promises that they were still working on the promises they made before. “Ah but, yes but”, “world developments did not allow it”, “we are doing this for the good of the country” and “taxes go up because we have to look after the environment”, so it goes on.
“Come on. We want that onion today, not next week.” I was jolted into the next layer with that call to action.
By now as my sharp knife cut through the layers my eyes had become more painful. Layers of deceit I thought. Perhaps I shouldn’t have had that tot? For now I was seeing small words in the onion tissue.
Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat were written and short explanations under each heading. But they were all saying the same thing. The first sentence of each description said: “This party loves the EU and wants to give the sovereignty of your country to this foreign power.” The second sentence: “This party will go back on its manifesto promises.” The third was: “This party will make decisions and laws on your behalf that you will not like, but are in your best interests.” The last sentence said that: “You will not hear from this party until they want your vote again.” It was getting very confusing. My eyes were streaming, so to be perfectly honest, I had not noticed that I had peeled away to the next layers of the onion.
Whilst rubbing my burning eyes the wording had changed. All I could see now was the word ‘socialism’ repeated many times. Alongside that word were various explanations. ‘Hate crime laws’, ‘violence is an illness’, ‘children can decide their gender’, ‘the size of meals will be smaller to deal with obesity’, even, ‘legislation to stop the use of petrol cars and log burners’. There were more words than onion. A deluge of minor dictums undermining our freedoms and our ownership and dismantling of our culture. I had almost reached the final layer and the words changed to just one word, in large letters, Totalitarianism. Each layer of the onion had taken me nearer to the truth and the truth was a painful revelation.
Then another call from ‘the chef’ made be jump. “Where’s the onion! Come on it needs to go in the pot!”
That was when I cut my finger. The blood dripped into the sink and swirled in dilution down the plughole. The sight of blood and that word, Totalitarianism, seemed quite appropriate. Under the circumstances one would expect the onion to have a bad centre but in the real world nature is often honest, it has no axe to grind, and is true to its promise. I kept my stinging eyes open.
The fortunes of men and women have changed over the centuries. There have been harder times when they couldn’t give up. We will strive to make things as they should be and our spirit will not flag. My simple words will not be a crude warning of the power coming from below but a positive bright future ahead a hope of better things to come. But we will remember and bear witness to what has happened.
As I said we are all different. But there is a common theme that flows through the layers of our make-up.
Someone once said, after I had picked myself up again: “Your trouble is, you are too strong.” We are all strong, those of us who insist on keeping our eyes open. We will die strong.