A few years ago, someone published a book called Is It Just Me, Or Is Everything Shit?. At the time I instinctively recoiled from such an ungenerous assessment, and I was pleased a short while later when in response someone else published a book called It Is Just You, Everything’s Not Shit.
(I have never read either book; I think this must all have happened during my bookshop years, which is how I knew about them. I am not wildly into novelty books, apart from One Hundred Great Books in Haiku, which is totally worth the £9.99 even though it only lasts eleven minutes.)
But I am generally in favour of being in favour of things. After all, everything’s not shit. There’s this, for example. And this. I called this blog Glad All Over not only because it’s the Palace anthem, but because I like the sentiment. I even used to have a rule about only posting cheerful things, though that went by the wayside some time ago. You have to be able to rant sometimes, after all.
But today is different. Today I don’t have anything to rant about, specifically. Today I’m just baffled and weary: at the rioters who swarmed and set fire to my city; at what seems to be wilful misunderstanding of the causes of the riots by members of the commentariat of all political persuasions; at the rage and hate that spilled out of Twitter over the ensuing days; at the undignified spat now bubbling away between the government and the Met police; at the sensibility that says we don’t force companies to pay their taxes but we should put a student in jail for six months for stealing a bottle of water; at the endorsement of genuine lunatic Michelle Bachman by the voters of Iowa; at the fact that my season ticket has stopped working for the second time in a week and the man at Charing Cross won’t replace it because it was issued by Southern and he works for Southeastern, and, today, at the fact that I used week-old ingredients to make the salad that I had for lunch, and it was exactly as horrible as you’d expect. It’s all just exhausting.
But there are spots of light in the darkness, even if lunch wasn’t one of them. For every closed-minded bigot railing against The Youth Of Today there was someone giving a thoughtful and balanced response. There was the father of one of the men killed in Birmingham last week, who has now spoken publicly twice and been extraordinarily measured, dignified and wise both times. There were the people who gave their time to clean up after the riots, and the companies who offered rebuilding and glazing services for free to people whose houses and shops had been damaged. There’s the campaign that raised £35,000 to help Aaron Biber, the 89-year-old whose Tottenham barber’s shop was wrecked on the first night of the riots, and the £22,000 that was donated to Ashraf Rossli, the student whose mugging was caught on camera. For all the horror and the violence of the riots and for all the ugliness of the political reaction, there have been some shining moments of humanity over the last week.
So there you go. It is just me, and everything’s not shit. But I’ll tell you what: I am treating myself to a proper lunch tomorrow.