As Heraclitus said, ‘Everything Changes’

One of the most powerful images that has ever entered my mind has been recurring more and more during the past couple of weeks. It occurred during the time I lived in the United States.

I actually lived in New York City at what was the ‘big city’ office of a vast clothing and footwear organisation based in Nashville, Tennessee – not the most liberal and forward-thinking of the Southern States, especially where ‘social advancement’ was concerned.

On one occasion when I flew down to Nashville for an interview with my boss’s boss

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well as my Yorkshire accent) there was an election in progress. It wasn’t a Presidential election so I suspect it was something to do with the Tennessee State Legislature, an entity always portrayed in Hollywood movies with short, overweight Charles Laughton lookalikes who wore large panama hats and spoke very slowly.

What I was suddenly drawn to was a wild jamboree of singing and dancing by those, male and female, who had recently won the

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right to vote as they celebrated via some sort of ‘standing in line’ to undertake the amazing task which had been entrusted to them. As a result of Federal legislation they had now been given the power to put a mark on a slip of paper and become a part of history.

I was so moved by what I was witnessing that my eyes began to fill with what I knew would become tears if I didn’t take immediate steps to stem them. This was very necessary as I was with my immediate boss (who’d also received a bollocking from our superiors). Plus, needing to take a leak a couple of hours earlier in the centre of Nashville, I’d entered the local piss palace through the ‘wrong’ entrance.

Actually ‘entrance’ is somewhat straining the description of what was more like a hole-in-the-wall, it being the entry point for the local population with their notoriously large black knobs …. whereas my knob, being smaller and white, was required to enter through a door at the other end of the building in the style expected of my superior status as a civilised human being. (Having entered, we all pissed together.)

As you might have suspected, I’ve been comparing this wonderful party occasion with the voting for the European Parliament and Halifax Town Hall – the local antics of which have irritated me with their pamphlets, mailings and phone calls. Their level of annoyance has been at such a pitch that I was suddenly brought to a halt.

Afterall, they were only ‘putting their point across’ or ‘telling it like it is’ and how they intend to ‘fix it’, at least from their perspective. Wasn’t that commendable? Wasn’t that Democracy?

Well, in theory yes …. but my youthful innocence has by now transformed itself via the absolving of myself from the process to something closer to cynicism. I no longer see Gary Cooper in ‘High Noon’, the One Man standing alone against the vested interests of the ungodly others.

At this point in time I’m no longer sure who I despise the most; the local politicians with their empty promises or myself, the former idealist who has lost the power to either believe or to trust.

And I wonder what happens in Nashville, Tennessee nowadays when the people are called out to pass judgment. Is it still ‘party-time’, a communal occasion of ‘Liberté, Egalité and Fraternité’ which goes on long into the night?

And if not, why not?

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