Me, The Establishment and Politics.

By the age of fifteen I began to realise the future my school and family were guiding me towards. My parents wanted me to do well and have a good career. They thought I was going to be a high flying naturalist like David Attenborough. My school were guiding me towards qualifications – O Levels followed by A Levels then on to a degree, a career and a place in society.

I was allowed a few wild years (as long as they did not interfere too much with my future career) but then I was to settle down, get married, have kids and earn lots of money.

The key to success was to earn lots of money, buy a great house, have an expensive car and bask in the benefits that a good job brought.

I was fifteen. I was into girls, Rock Music, parties, gigs and hanging out with my friends playing loud music.

I saw this pursuit of a career and money as a trap.

At sixteen I started reading Kerouac and that opened up an alternative lifestyle. I realised that I had a choice. What sort of life did I want? It made me look at what was on offer.

The society I lived in was hierarchical. The establishment ran the show. They represented the wealthy and powerful. They lived in a different world – one of privilege and superiority. At the time I played rugby to a high level and was able to glimpse into their world from the rugby club. It was elitist, arrogant and exclusive. It had its rules, codes and ethics.

I was young, idealistic and headstrong. I believed in fairness and justice. I wanted a life of discovery, pleasure and substance.

All I saw in the establishment was a lust for wealth and power, an arrogant sense of privilege and a lot of hypocrisy towards religion, patriotism and the law. They bought or bribed their way and used religion and politics. They were racist, xenophobic, tribal and lacked morality. Wealth and power were all that was important. They thought they were entitled.

They disgusted me. The society they created was destructive, exploitative and extremely unfair.

I wanted something better – something fairer – but above all something more meaningful, something deeper.

At the time I developed a strong antiestablishment stance against the warmongering, environment trashing, racism of the machine.

The sixties were in full swing. It made sense to drop out. I did not want to be a cog in this immoral machine. At the time it appeared that we might be able to live outside of society and not be part of that obscenity. I did not want to be exploited or slotted into a convenient space.

I did not want to mow the grass and wash the car on Sunday, nip down the pub for a pint and have my wife cook the Sunday roast. (Ironically I have just finished mowing the grass).

At the time I was apolitical. I believed that all the political parties represented the Establishment and were as bad as each other – lying hypocrites.

Well the sixties dream rapidly disintegrated. The establishment were firmly in control. The world went on having wars, practicing its racism and xenophobia and relentlessly trashing the planet for profit. The unity and fairness that I dreamed of was a far cry.

The only way to drop out was to adopt a creative lifestyle or live off the land. Living off creativity is not easy. I tried my hand at painting, was useless at music and settled for writing. It was then I discovered that in the publishing world (run by the establishment) it was who you were or who you knew.

I had a number of years as a student, then working in a series of jobs. But when we had kids I knew I had to make a living. I had to opt in. It was a compromise. I took up teaching and thoroughly enjoyed it. But I was a cog in the machine being exploited by the establishment.

I discovered politics. They were not all the same. The Tory party was formed by the establishment to look after the interests of the rich and powerful. The Labour party was formed out of the trade union movement to look after the interests of working people, to fight for rights and produce a fairer society.

Other parties were not ever going to form a government. Voting for them was largely a wasted vote – but then the way democracy is run votes rarely count.

I wasn’t really working class but I discovered that the Labour party did represent me more than the Tories. When the Tories were in power public services (who they regarded as parasites) were starved of money and tax cuts were given to the wealthy. When Labour got in power public servants and the poor were better funded. There was a difference.

Now I find myself choosing between parties that both represent the establishment to a greater or lesser degree. If Labour becomes too antiestablishment the Tory propaganda machine tears it to pieces so it drifts to become watered-down Toryism in order to be electable.

The life I really want is apolitical, antiestablishment. I want a fair world where people are not exploited, the planet isn’t trashed, we don’t have wars and there is equality between genders and races. I want a life of creativity, travel, friendship and meaning.

I still dream. I am much more political and still hugely antiestablishment.

The question is how to change the world and make it better. I don’t hold with the idea of simply retreating and living my own life quietly and peacefully while the relentless appalling machine trashes everyone and everything.

I don’t see a way of altering it.

4 thoughts on “Me, The Establishment and Politics.

  1. To what level did you play rugby? Did you play for a club? Don’t recall your being a rugby player other than your saying you played socially on a college team. Sold my vinyl collection, bar 53 albums, in auction today. Good time to sell vinyl before it goes out of fashion again. Some of the remaining albums will be sold when I have checked if I have them on cd. Compromises have to be made when you share a home.

    1. I played for my school first team for three years (we had five teams) and was selected for Esher schoolboys. I was lucky enough to play against Wasps, London Irish, Saracens, Richmond and a few others. I played against the England hooker in one game. But I hated the elitism of Esher and left to join the University Vandals. I loved rugby. I hope you got a good price for those albums. I find them hard to part with. Relationships require compromise don’t they? I’m glad that you are settled. All the best.

  2. At our age we need to decide what we need for the remaining years of our life. Often possessions become a weight we carry and at some point someone will have the enormous task of dealing with their disposal At one point I had about 3,000 vinyl albums then some years back reduced the number to about 800. Now I have 54 (1 Roy Harper you will be pleased to hear!!). Most were bought cheaply during the period when cds were introduced and vinyl albums were shunted into bargain bins, charity shops and 2ndhand shops so I have made a healthy return, given that vinyl is undergoing a revival and I had sold the valuable albums on Ebay about 5 years ago. Obviously you can get more money by selling them individually but then you have to cost in the time and effort in disposing of them in that way. I have been there. Buying appropriate mailers, packaging them and then mailing them across the world is time-consuming. Then occasionally you get a complaint from someone who looks for a defect, surface noise etc. Some buyers expect a 40 year old well-played disc bought for £10 to sound like one bought new from the retailer. Is it worth it? It’s difficult to buy time. Almost all my chosen music is duplicated on cds (currently unfashionable and worth little). Cds take up less room. My girlfriend has the right approach. She downsized about 10+ years ago when she retired from teaching and moved on all but minimal possessions which has freed up more time for travelling, leisure and required fewer mundane tasks like housework. I am submerged with possessions. Frequently I open a box and am surprised to find something I had forgotten I possessed. I have far more clothes than I need so most will go to charity shops. My girlfriend washed some of my socks and underwear – 180 & 120 pairs respectively!! Those were just ones I had put aside to be washed. All it requires is a shift in mentality. If you decide to part with some of your albums, have a look at Halifax Mill Auction and the results of the last sale (4th July). The guy who runs it used to play in a band so knows about music.
    I played at Esher’s ground. It is/was a good ground. Think it may have been against the Metropolitan Police which was always a bust-up.

    1. Yes. It is a mentality. I am still attached to my collection. I guess I invested a lot of time, effort and fun into searching and collecting. One day soon I shall have to set about downsizing. I don’t really want to leave others with that task.
      It’s not about the money though is it? There’s memories and sentimentality.
      I think the London Irish were the rowdiest bunch I played against!

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