I’ve not posted here for ages. I’ve sporadically been writing The Dove is Dead, the novel that’s intended to be the last in my Unholy Trinity trilogy. Although it’s written in Amy’s voice, Richard Shackleton’s youngest daughter, who I’m trying to write as a woke young woman, it will also contain Richard’s reflections as told to her as he approaches his death. That doesn’t finally happen for another 13 years yet, not that I’m hoping to take that long writing the book! At the moment, Richard is struggling to fit in as a liberal lay reader in an Anglican Church whose only energy comes from its evangelical wing. The response to the plague and the scenes from Kabul are to him small tokens of the decline of the Western world. His friend Bob Swarbrick, still grieving while bringing up two young children alone, is an engineer with a penchant for modern Physics, but also is a traditional churchman. He sees the western decline of faith as wilful, believing the only conclusion to be drawn from quantum mechanics and indeed linguistics is actually that logic itself is the illusion. Both of them shared the culture of the late fifties and early sixties, the last Victorians and the first baby boomers as my strap line has it. They can now only read about it on the obituary page.
And how am I feeling about the world as I write? Forty-five years ago, I played football down in Sussex for a village called Ditchling. On the drive there, I’d pass a road sign which read World’s End 2 1/2, Burgess Hill 3. I never went down that road but it now feels like I just have without reaching Burgess Hill. The Western demi-millennium is over, flown out on an American military aircraft scuttling away from its legacy. We brought the world the renaissance, the enlightenment, the industrial revolution, the nation state, colonialism, catastrophic warfare and mutually assured destruction.
And I see even Dylan’s getting accusations thrown at him. Say it ain’t so, Bob. I can’t believe it is. But this is how it feels right now: “The carpet too is folding over you. And it’s all over now, Baby Blue.”