The day after midsummer’s day
Every day seems to bring new evidence of the parlous state that we and the planet are in. Microplastics in the food we eat, in the air we breathe. The sudden death of coral reefs. Glaciers melting. Species extinctions. Climate extremes. Sabre-rattling by malevolent despots. Politicians proving to be the new Neros fiddling even as Rome burns, while mobs are bribed by bread and circuses.
As the hours of daylight start to shorten (for northerners at least) have we passed the tipping point in more ways than one?
My reading this year has, in some ways, paralleled these doomsday scenarios …
I began the year with The Dark is Rising, and have now completed Midnight is a Place. Have I unwittingly anticipated the way things are going? The Lorax was a warning about deforestation, The Coroner a hint of unnatural deaths, along with On Murder Considered as One of the Fine Arts; Wintersmith a parable about climate breakdown because of an intervention triggered by ignorance, conflict echoed by Carrie’s War and The War Hound and the World’s Pain. And the rise of populism globally perhaps anticipated by How to be Right.
And right now I’m reading a graphic novel, Alien: the Illustrated Story, based on the 1979 movie. I must stop reading about future apocalypses, dystopias and the Last Trump, so I’ve lined up a tale about tiny gnomes…
On a lighter note, I’m currently involved in a lot of music-making, which is a whole lot more creative and much less destructive. I accompanied some talented young musicians at a recent high school concert, an occupation with is always inspirational and so satisfying. I’m also busy rehearsing for three performances on three successive days at the end of the month: a recital by the local choral society of pieces by Gershwin, Tippett, Grainger and others, followed the next evening by playing the orchestral piano part for Shostakovich’s Fifth Symphony and the organ for Elgar’s Cockaigne Overture in Cardiff. Then I’ll be singing sacred music by William Byrd in a local church as part of an a capella ensemble.
Fiddling while Rome burns? I think not.