A memorable post-exam run-down from a former student who was trying to find the words to explain just how badly it had gone, which culminated in him trying to express the idea of the slow-motion-ness and the sheer scale of the Titanic sinking, after having moved up through the gears of a car crash, a train wreck and so on.
I'm sure no one could possibly imagine what could have set me in the train of thought that led to me remembering that particular moment. Root has just about kept England in it, hasn't he? I suppose Sheffield United's season is on the same sort of scale, with both the slow-motion-ness and the epic scale fully represented in their pathetic (in its old-school sense) efforts so far.
Bereft of a chance to go and play music even for fun because of lockdown, as I've mentioned on here before, I've even taken the rather uncharacteristic decision to try to learn what it is that makes Jazz sound like Jazz, other than the obvious riposte of them intentionally playing the wrong notes in the most upsetting order they could think of. Music has proved to be a bit of a release here and there, but it's kind of not the same when it's such a solo, inward-looking pursuit. I'm left wondering how it is that anyone manages to make any kind of sense of the singer-songwriter approach to music when it is so lonely. Of course, I suck very hard when it comes to writing the sung tune and the lyrics, so perhaps that's worth bearing in mind. Much like when I watch Joe Root batting and he makes it look so easy, but I just can't map my mind (and my body, but that's another matter entirely) on to his such that I could understand what it would be like to be him.
So we're left wondering: are the government really as bad at this (governing - albeit in difficult circumstances) as they appear? The question as to whether they really think they're doing a job runs alongside, and I think the answer to both is revelatory. They really are making as much of a balls of it as they appear to be, and the thing that is now becoming clearer is that they honestly do think they are doing a good job. I had to look it up, but it's called the Dunning-Kruger effect, and this version of it combines two dangerous ingredients. The first is a desire for power, and that desire seems in many cases to be fuelled by the thought that power is an appropriate destination for one of 'my abilities', a kind of self-assessed merit that is then interpreted almost as a divine right to be in charge. The second is a sense that since I am in power, I must be capable of wielding it properly, and as such my decisions - however much they are sniped at by my political opponents - were the right ones. This one allows those in power to read those in opposition as scoring political points, rather than challenging what on the face of it seems to be dangerous incompetence and a total lack of moral principle, and to look - and again, if I read it right, to genuinely be - offended that the (political) opposition could be challenging the decisions of the government.
It's a big challenge, then, to bring politics back in the direction of actually being about governing in the country's best interests. Why do I put it that way? Because political parties and individuals of every stripe have to be seen in the light of the imperative to gain and keep power, and that seems to have overtaken any sense that they might represent people regardless of whether that leads to government. It's niche parties like the Greens who have always existed outside that sphere who seem to be able to propose the policies that look to be the ones inspired by humanity and care. In any case, the current cabinet appears to be composed of people who really do think they are the right people for the job, and who really aren't in the most robust way possible. Anyone who could convince themselves that the corrupt practices of awarding contracts or pushing through planning applications or ignoring serious workplace conduct issues or the utter shambles that was the first day back after Christmas and indeed whatever the next will turn out to be is not fit for power. But it seems that the imperative to be powerful has overtaken the need to be competent. The PM can't sack cabinet members for being incompetent, because the logical conclusion of that move is his own immediate resignation. That, I think, is the engine that moves this ship. Not for them the accountability of performance management, because what judge could possibly rule on the competence of someone who is in the role because they are simply meant to be in charge?
Ho hum. It seems that this current government has finally perfected the metaphorical teflon that others have aimed for, in that criticism doesn't really seem to have any effect. No matter how bad they are, they constantly surprise us by carrying on as if they were doing a fine job..
When to the sessions of sweet silent thought