Just an Observation

Late yesterday evening the sad news that Nelson Mandela had died began to filter through and I am sure I am not alone when I say that my initial reaction was of a deep sadness followed by warmth generated by the thoughts of hope that this great man-quite possibly the greatest- of our times had always generated.
As the inevitable tributes gush forward and at a time when our own country is in a deep crisis and separation it would be a good time to think back on the message of equality Mandela delivered and fought for against all the odds, even in his darkest moments of incarceration by an apartheid run state.
Mandela’s involvement with the ANC saw him being imprisoned in 1962 for striking out for racial equality at a time when such measures were considered revolutionary. Whilst I am aware the ANC’S tactics were not alawys routed in peace it would do well to remember the cotrruption and violence at the heart of the regime they were up against. During his imprisonment radical changes were taking place globally as far as racial inequality and by the nineteen eighties his once seemingly radical policies were gaining international recognition and support from the international community. Interestingly the British government were not among those imposing sanctions on South Africa with our not so beloved or lamented leader at the time, Margaret Thatcher, even going as far to label him and his party the ANC as Terrorists. Support came from another source however and in the days when pop music still meant something and had a message to convey the Special AKA released ‘Free Nelson Mandela’ and highlighted his plight to a new generation and galvanised them into political thought that may have otherwise lain dormant,.
Having spent twenty seven years in jail he was eventually released in February 1990 and a mere four years later was president of South Africa. Despite this amazingly swift turnaround of events it was not a journey without its own problems and the day of his election he realised exactly what a tough road lay ahead of him in uniting a nation built on separatism. He however, through hard work and vision, managed to pull this off and became one of the most loved leaders of our time and beyond. His is a death which will be mourned but at the same time it is also a life which needs to be celebrated. We all owe him something and especially for enabling us in seeing there is always hope.
It certainly puts into perspective other news this week that Olympic diver Tom Daley has come out as gay. My initial reaction to this was, so what? Followed by whose business is it anyway?
The media certainly tried to make a meal of it but somehow it never ignited into the scandal they seemed to want it to. This is a good thing and although suspicions linger that Daley was forced to come out-his initial statement came via the Daily Mirror who are not known for their relaxed approach to such matters- my initial cynicism gave way to a certain admiration. Whilst I hope we are getting closer to a society which recognises that an individual’s sexuality is their own business and should not be a topic of discussion and debate, the furore surrounding Daley proved this is not quite the case. Hopefully his admission-why does that make it sound as if he is doing something wrong when in fact he hasn’t?-will encourage others struggling with their sexuality to take this step also. In the long run he is a good role model for any young gays out there and the world of athletics need more people to take this stance.
Tragedy struck in the centre of Glasgow last Friday night and the whole of Scotland is still reeling from the shock news after a police helicopter crash landed into a ity centre pub and live music venue The Clutha. So far there are nine fatalities with many others injured. Whilst the reasons for the crash have yet to be deciphered and fully investigated it does not detract that this was a major tragedy which brought home the fact how devastating a fact human loss is and even more so when it is so close to home.
All this news makes that other media storm involving media whore and all round non-entity Katie Hopkins somewhat lacklustre. I wouldn’t normally give her a mention but her comments about Scottish people having an average age of 59.5 as a means of avoiding working until retirement was in bad taste-and racist- especially coming the day after the tragedy in Glasgow mentioned above. That her statements were unrelated was unfortunate in its timing but somehow fortuitous that it led to online petitions demanding her removal from our screens. ITV eventually capitulated midweek and dispensed with her services. Unfortunately it looks like she may return via Celebrity (?) Big Brother on channel 5 and if this is true I just hope that those who petitioned for her removal so vehemently actually stand by their principles and boycott the programme rather than tuning in and then complaining how annoying/obnoxious/outspoken she is. If the latter turns out to be the case then those very same people who campaigned against her have no-one to blame but themselves.
On a more positive note the Summerhall Christmas art event opens tonight and looks like being a promising affair. also taking place this weekend-yes the whole weekend- is the Villager on George IV Bridge. Always one of my favourite bars this looks like being a weekend worth celebrating in true Villager style.Trying hard to embrace the festive spirit the serving of free alcohol accompanied by –hopefully- good art my resolve and humbug spirit starts to weaken and I feel myself sucked into the vacuous void that is Christmas cheer. Not so much that I can’t find my way out and back into my Scrooge outfit though. At least until Christmas Eve.

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