As a young child at home I was never subjected to politicians, or any external influence, because we didn’t have a television or even a telephone in the house. My sister and I would occasionally be allowed to visit the house next door, to watch an episode of Emergency Ward 10, because they were one of the few with a television set and my sister always wanted to be a nurse, but the idea that strangers could invade your home and influence your decisions or the way that you lived your life was anathema to us.
Not that we were especially poor or deprived, but for most in the mid-fifties the only outside influence or interference came from the wireless, and my parents ruled the on/off switch and tuning dial with a rod of iron. In other words; the gravelled voice of Walter Gabriel and the rest of the cast from The Archers everyday story of country folk constituted an acceptable intrusion, as did Mrs Dale’s Diary and a little light music from Bernard Herman and the BBC Northern Dance Orchestra, and we would avidly consume the national six-o-clock news from a staunchly pro-government BBC, but that was the sole extent of our external influences and intrusions.
Occasionally, when there was a general election or local election in the offing, we would hear a noise outside and rush to the open window to see a car with a large trumpet-shaped loudspeaker on the top, passing along the street and asking people to vote for Joe Blogs or Fred Smith, but that was just about the only political propaganda I was ever made aware of.
My parents would occasionally indulge this violation of our space and privacy, but not my gran. She would glare her displeasure at whoever was responsible for the racket and firmly shut the window, as she said “That’s quite enough of that.” And then, in response to our obvious looks of disappointment, she would add. . . “Empty vessels always make the most noise.”
When I once asked her what she meant by that she took my hand in hers and said, “You will soon learn in life, Michael, that the people who make the most noise are generally those with nothing to say worth listening to.”
It is an adage that I have never forgotten.
In truth I didn’t really understand the full extent of her wisdom at the time. Perhaps, because I was young and naive in those days and failed to see the darker motivations of mankind, but now I know that she was absolutely right. The world had only just emerged from a conflict that had claimed 44 million lives, and to have allowed our hard-won freedom of speech and thought to be influenced or overruled by such Machiavellian individuals as self-serving politicians and media moguls, would have been to somehow sully the incredible sacrifices of those so many who gave so much.
Well, sixty years on those incredible sacrifices have been all-but forgotten. I am reliably informed that the world has moved on from those simple and backward times. The great god of information technology has reared its ugly head, and people are apparently so much better informed than they were in those bygone days.
Do you really think so?
All I know is that, over the past few weeks and months, I have been listening to an awful lot of ‘empty vessels’ with very little to say of any worth, and at this moment, when I look at many of those same empty vessels, I ask myself just what were they all shouting about?
It cannot have been heartfelt belief in forging a better world, because as soon as each of them discovered that they couldn’t further their individual and selfish ambitions they quit and walked away, leaving our country in a rudderless state of economic chaos.
It can’t have been personal conviction, because after forty odd years of our belonging to the European Union, many of them had apparently changed their political viewpoint, from being supporters of the European Union to Brexiters, in the space of just a few short months.
The only conclusion I can come to is that it must have been for personal elevation and selfish gain, and to see a nation with such a proud heritage of sacrifice and achievement brought to its economic knees by such crass, empty and shallow individuals is heart-breaking.
Have a good one.