I just finished watching Empire of the Tsars, a history of Romanov Russia from the BBC, and I must say it wasn't that bad. I've been interested in Russian history since I was introduced to it at A-Level: it just seems so vibrant, so dramatic, so vicious and sad. It all boils down to a set of bloody-minded autocrats who, one after another, refuse to relinquish power. The Tsars themselves were bad enough, especially Nicolas II, but I can't help thinking that what followed them - the Red Tsars - was even worse. I also can't help thinking that it is the same, even now; Russia never seems to change. Isn't Putin a despotic autocrat, a strong man desperate to impose his will, in his own way? Poor old Russia: no matter how many revolutions it has, it never seems to change.
I just read the incredible news that Bananarama are going to reunite. How awesome...not!
I could really do with news of something great right now. The bit of news you get from time to time, which cheers you up and gives you something to look forward to, such as when I got wind that James Bond was going to be used in the 2012 olympics, or that Monty Python were doing a reunion. Such bits of news really perk me up and get me excited, giving me something cool to think about and fixate upon. It feels like ages since I had such a glimmer of hope; I think we could all do with one right now. Every day I check the Entertainment pages for something - anything - for such a nugget of news, but there hasn't been one for quite some time. The only thing I'm mildly looking forward to these days is Star Trek Discovery, and even that's cautiously. I want to find something I can get excited about; something which would remind me that there is still fun to be had in the world, and take my mind off politics for a while.
I suspect all this recent sound and fury might soon be moot. Today, our eyes should be on our southern neighbour: if, as many predict, Marine Le Penn gets elected in France, then I think the European Union will be over as a project. It's days will be numbered, at least. La Penn will want to withdraw; with two of it's key members gone, it'll loose all structural integrity and just collapse. What would be the point of it? Why try to hold it together with people across europe reverting to nationalism? This noble project will fade and die.
Even more worryingly, if La Penn is elected, it will be another step down the path the western world began last year. Between brexit, Trump's election and the possible election of La Penn, it is now clear that we are heading in a very dark direction. Tolerance and respect for others are being supplanted by greed and arrogance; people are becoming more greedy, caring only about themselves. Nationalism - the infantile urge to keep societies and cultures separate - is on the rise. Things are becoming like they were in the thirties. We are heading somewhere very dark: brexit was one step down that road, the election of trump was another; tomorrow we might take yet another.
According to this, an international clown festival will shortly be coming to London. The London Clown Festival will take place in Crouch End from the eleventh to twentieth of May. While there are, of course, plenty of clowns around already with a general election coming up, something like this might be just what we need at the moment. Everything has become so serious and doom-laiden; there is so much anger flying around. I really think a good laugh is just what we need, so I'm seriously thinking about going to watch the guys in oversized suits and red faces - and I don't mean those in Westminster.
I think I need to note how deeply, deeply disturbing I find this video report from The Young Turks up. I came across it last night and was utterly bewildered by it's savagery. It shows a young boy with fairly severe autism being arrested by cops in Florida. The boy was apparently misbehaving at school. When I first saw it, I didn't know what to think, and still don't. Surely the adults concerned - teachers and police - realise that a child on the autistic spectrum doesn't know what he is doing is wrong. He does not understand his behaviour as others do. I've been working with kids on the spectrum at Charlton Park Academy for seven years; to see a child like that treated in such a way is horrifying. Frankly, this is not the type of behaviour one expects to see in a modern, western democracy. I really hope this is not symptomatic of the times in which we now live.