Family of Nations

This is a telling insight into general levels of ignorance.

Though I’m not sure if you took to the streets of Edinburgh, Glasgow or Dundee you’d get many people knowing the name of the First Minister of the Welsh Assembly either?

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  1. bringiton says:

    I dare say,in the old Soviet Union,if you had asked people on the streets of Moscow who the party leaders in Kazakhstan or Turkmenistan
    were you would have received a similar response.
    Centralised political unions with power and media control at the centre are all pretty much the same.

  2. Indyman says:

    Video not available?

    1. Looks fine here ‘Indyman’ – anyone else not seeing it?

  3. Dougie Harrison says:

    I would much more readily READ (words on paper, or screen) the results of a representative poll, than a handful of people being embarrassed on a vid. Who chose them? Who do those interviewed represent? With vid, the temptation is always to produce the most interesting bit of film. NOT the facts. This simply condones our vid-obsessed lazy political world. It doesn’t tell me anything… except that the person who made it has an ego.

  4. Muiris says:

    By definition, those of us on this, or similar sites, are politically engaged. I suspect that most on here, would religiously vote, every opportunity, without any campaign to remind us. Most people are just not that interested. Edinburgh, Dundee Glasgow for sure, & everywhere else also.

  5. Welsh Sion says:

    Family of nations, y’say? My take.

    And, yes, there would quite a lot of Welshies unable to name Mark Drakeford, too. And that despite the recent hoo-ha over the naming of our Parliament.

    18. (of 60.)

    Meet the Brittens – A dysfunctional family like no other

    Once upon a time, there lived a rather big family called the Brittens in a small, detached house all to themselves. As the house was small and the family big, it was natural there would be some tensions within the household. This is to be expected of any family. But the Brittens were a special case. There was regular bickering with diverging attitudes and opinions held by the different members of the family.

    George Senior was the father of the family and so, inevitably the Head of the household. It was his job at home, not very successfully, one might add, to try and maintain discipline in the house. His sons, of whom more presently, often had conflicting needs and interests, and George Senior was not always best placed to respond to them. He did however have a favourite amongst them, George Junior, who he hoped, would one day, continue doing the same job as he did – he was a rather self-important paperclip clerk at YooKay Ltd. – and inherit his father’s expertise. George Senior was a firm believer in primogeniture. The idea of partible inheritance where all his sons would inherit equal shares in the property he owned was both alien and anathema to him.

    *****

    Helping him in trying to maintain control in the household was George Senior’s wife. She was a woman of mystery, and people knew very little about her – even her name was unknown. In the family, she was known simply as Mother, and revered for having some sort of mystical presence – at least by George Senior and George Junior. She pretended to herself, like her husband, that she managed the household well, but in reality, she often neglected her other sons, Jock, Dai, Piran and Mick/Mike and gave most of her love and affection to George Junior.

    *****

    George Junior was a strapping lad, a chip off the old block as far as his father was concerned and he tended to dominate his siblings. In fact, he resembled his father so much, in appearance, mannerisms and mentality, that strangers in town often mistook one for the other. George Senior and George Junior could almost have passed for identical twins! He was also his mother’s favourite and as previously mentioned, his father had high hopes of him inheriting the role of chief paperclip clerk at ‘Uncle’ Sam Washington’s subsidiary company, YooKay Ltd. George Junior – like all his brothers – paid rent to his parents for staying in their house, but he was convinced that he paid more rent than they did. They did not pay their way as much as he did. And it was they who would do most of the squabbling and bickering – not him, not cool, calm, phlegmatic George Junior. He had even taught this attitude to his own father, George Senior, when the latter had despaired at the latest outbreak of tantrums from Jock and Dai. George’s attitude towards his brothers however was ambivalent. On the one hand, when he heard that Jock wanted to leave, he was immediately distressed – but only in a selfish way. He thought he wouldn’t be able to plunder Jock’s stock of dirty magazines, nor play on his computer again if Jock left. At the same time, he knew that if Jock did leave the family home, he, George Junior, would receive more attention again and more preferential treatment from his parents.

    *****

    Jock, as may have been noted, was the most rebellious of the family. Not for him the staid, cramped little detached house. He wanted out. He wanted to see the world for himself. And he wanted to stand on his own two feet. As a result, he was the main catalyst of rows between himself and George Junior, and with his parents, George Senior and Mother. He believed he paid his way in rent as well as anyone else in the household and was annoyed when all his achievements were credited to George Junior instead.

    As a toddler, Jock had often spoken to himself in a form of gibberish that no one else understood. George Senior and Mother, however, were very pleased to see that with their disciplined approach – usually by delegating their maid, Mhairi Crochaid, to use a stick on the lad – that this gibberish was beaten out of Jock and that he grew out of it. They were less successful with Dai, as will be seen later. Jock also had a girlfriend/boyfriend of long-standing, Francis Farr.
    Francis Farr was born as a girl, under the name of Frances Near. She and Jock met at the local primary school and they instantly fell in love. Whether it was the mutual interest in wearing skirts that attracted them, I don’t know. All I do know is that they instantly showed an affinity for each other. Their love blossomed throughout the school period and they eventually became engaged.

    This position became intolerable to the older members of the Britten family. George Senior railed against their Alliance, Mother tut-tutted and George Junior was mad with envy. George Junior had even had designs on Frances himself and he couldn’t bear that he had been outwitted – and that by a member of his own family. He did his utmost to break Jock and Frances’s engagement, all to no avail.

    And then, something quite singular happened. Frances had a breakdown. As a result of this breakdown, she was never the same girl again. In fact, she was never a girl again. Convincing herself that her coy, soft, femininity was actually a disadvantage, Frances decided on a sex-change. The only way to succeed was to become more bullish, more mannish, more aggressive. So Frances Near turned into Francis Farr. (The change in surname too was to underline the distancing between Jock and her/himself). Francis, in order to prove his new masculinity soon decided to flex his muscles and started showing domineering signs of his own – just like the two Georges. He was particularly overbearing to his own family, notably his cousin, Britney.
    Jock was in shock initially from the double whammy – he had lost his girlfriend. And she had now become a he. Could Jock still love her/him as previously? Jock took a long time to think.

    Frances/Francis now lived on Europe Street, flanked on either side by Jerry Berlin and Diego Madrid. Jock knew that the situation in the Britten household was unbearable – George Junior was now mocking him regularly for losing his girlfriend. What was Jock to do? Did he have the courage of his convictions to stride out of the Britten household and set himself up, all by himself, on Europe Street, not too far away from his love? He did after all still maintain strong feelings for Frances/Francis and he didn’t want to lose her/his friendship at least – a source of strength when things got tough in the Britten household. Jock pondered the questions long and deep. He was unsure of what to do. “Should I leave or should I go?” the thought churned in his head incessantly.

    *****

    Now let us return to the other members of the Britten family. Below Jock in the pecking order came Dai. Dai was a strange boy. He was often very placid and quiet – but not in the same way as his father and George Junior. He admired the way that Jock stood up to their parents and answered George Junior back. Dai was also sure that he respected Jock for wanting to leave the detached house where they lived – but was not brave enough (or old enough, perhaps) to take that step himself. George Junior would find this – and many other things of Dai’s a great source of mirth: Dai was a coward or Dai interested himself in “girly, weedy pursuits” like poetry and folk dancing, George Junior would say. Dai then retreated into his shell and would say nothing.
    Dai could also be found as often or not, talking some fantastic gibberish to himself which nobody else in the family understood. George Senior and Mother, empowered by the success they had had in beating such gibberish out of Jock, decided on the same approach with Dai. In this however, they were less successful. Although Dai did eventually learn to speak English, he would continue to prattle these unintelligible words whenever he could.
    The teachers at Dai’s school also tried to beat it out of him – inflicting deep physical and psychological scars as a result – but Dai never fully gave up on his ‘secret language.’ It would be much later, upon entering secondary school, that more enlightened teachers would converse with Dai and that he felt more comfortable with them than he had at home. As a result, Dai’s examination marks also improved substantially and his self-confidence grew.

    *****

    Who else was a member of this dysfunctional family of Brittens?
    Well, there was baby Piran, who was only just learning to speak and crawl by himself. Being the youngest, Piran was subjected to all the teaching resources that George Senior and Mother could bring to bear – that is, their teaching methods and to educate him after their fashion. It was feared by some outsiders that such behaviour amounted to child abuse, and when Piran grew up, he would know nothing of Jock and Dai – he would be just another clone of George Senior and Mother; almost indistinguishable in fact from George Junior.

    *****

    Another sibling of the family was Mick/Mike. Now, if Jock and Dai were ‘problem children’ and George Junior a ‘spoilt brat’, then Mick/Mike was an exceedingly difficult case. First of all, Mick/Mike had special needs – this is a euphemism; Mick/Mike was actually schizophrenic. You see, Mick believed he should live with his half brother, Paddy, on Europe Street. Paddy would look after him, thought Mick, and look after him much better than anyone else in his family.
    Yet at other times, the Mike personality was more dominant. Mike couldn’t bear the idea of being cut loose from his Mother’s apron strings. These inner tensions between Mick and Mike caused deep periods of sickness in the boy, but nobody seemed very concerned. It was only when Mick (never Mike) attacked George Senior or Mother physically, that people took any notice. And even then, after some angry words had been exchanged between George Senior and Mick (never Mike), there would be a lull again. But this lull was quite phoney – the boy often had violent debates with himself in the privacy of his own room. What was worse, Mick/Mike was self-harming.

    *****

    Then we have George Junior’s, Jock’s, Dai’s, Piran’s and Mick/Mike’s half brother, Paddy. Paddy had left the Britten household some years ago. He was now living by himself on Europe Street and was friendly with Francis/Frances Farr, Jerry Berlin, Diego Madrid and many others. In fact, Europe Street was a vibrant, multicultural street, and Paddy definitely felt more at home there than he had ever been in the Britten household. He had been undernourished whilst he was there – now, on Europe Street, he would no longer go hungry. When he had left initially, there had been fireworks, tears and recriminations on all sides – but Paddy was a determined fellow and he wanted to be free of the bickering inside the Britten family home. He didn’t want to be associated with his dysfunctional family ever again, so when he left, he decided to change his name and henceforth called himself Paddy Ayre.

    So, taking his future in his own hands, Paddy had stormed out, and eventually found a home for himself on Europe Street, where he was very happy. His neighbours would sometimes help him out and he would reciprocate – but he never felt that he had compromised his position of maintaining his own individuality. Working together and pooling resources with mutual respect on all sides, working towards a common, mutually beneficial goal was the aim and it was a breath of fresh air to Paddy after the strife of living in the Britten household. Paddy felt really happy on Europe Street.

    *****

    A distant cousin of the family, Douglas Mann, lived independently of the Britten family, some two blocks away. He had nothing to do with Europe Street however, and tended to keep away from such places. However, he was not anti-social, and he often held parties for the well-to-do in his flat, all of whom assured their host that they were having a good time. Every year, Douglas would invite his friends to his country retreat where they could watch or take part in his motorcycling extravaganza. Lez Ayre was one such good friend of Douglas’s although she really liked girls. She was very much into the leather scene surrounding the bikers too, along with her girlfriend, Ella N. Vannin. She was also distantly related to Paddy Ayre (né Britten).

    *****

    Having touched upon some people having connections with the Britten household, often from a distance, such as Francis/Frances Farr, Jerry Berlin and Diego Madrid, we have yet to meet perhaps the most important individual in this town – and George Senior’s boss – ‘Uncle’ Sam Washington.
    ‘Uncle’ Sam Washington was probably the most powerful man in town. He had interests in many pies and watched over the other citizens like a hawk. He was not averse to controlling their lives either and making them think how he thought and to buy (whether they could afford to or not) the things that he bought. If they did not agree with ‘Uncle’ Sam Washington’s ideas, they were liable to be thrown out of the myriad properties that he owned and rented out to them in town and to be replaced by more acquiescent tenants.

    This was why George Senior and Mother made sure that they paid their rent regularly and on time to ‘Uncle’ Sam Washington. They also believed that because they did that, they had a ‘special relationship’ with ‘Uncle’ Sam Washington. For his part, ‘Uncle’ Sam Washington would give out little treats (essentially, sops to keep them quiet) to the Britten family and pay lip service to this ‘special relationship’ – and, as previously noted, he was George Senior’s employer at YooKay Ltd, a wholly-owned ‘Uncle’ Sam Washington subsidiary company.

    However, there was one area in particular where ‘Uncle’ Sam Washington could play on this ‘special relationship’ – if you will excuse the pun. It was a historical proven fact that one of ‘Uncle’ Sam Washington’s forebears had actually left the Britten family house some time ago in the past. This action had fired up the imagination of Paddy Ayre (né Britten) in a later generation as we have seen, and also to a lesser extent, Jock and Dai. It was with this idea in mind that he had adopted the name of ‘Uncle’ – a word that conjured up images of fun, easy-goingness, generosity and yes, family. In tipping a wink to his ancestors, ‘Uncle’ Sam Washington maintained the goodwill of the Brittens (well, at least the older generation and probably, George Junior too) in a way probably unique in town. Sadly for Jock and Dai, he barely recognised them – often mistaking them for George Junior, or if corrected, he would ask,

    “And who are you, again?”

    I hope you liked my introduction to the Britten family and to their associates. I can only speak for myself – What a bunch!
    _______

    Parables for the New Politics
    2012-2019

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