The Ericle is by nature a positive thinker and I am not prepared to consign any year, let alone 2017, to the dustbin of history. Moreover, I am continually surprised how some/many/most people view their world in terms of a status quo and then project forward in a straight line, inevitably foreseeing doom – often of apocalyptic proportions. In reality this, surely, flies in the face of human experience from both the individual and collective perspectives. I have been on this pebble long enough to know that many predictions have not come to pass, certainly not in the form that many anticipated, and that many unexpected outcomes have occurred that have been scarcely predicted.


I am writing this as I sit here in London, on the first dawn of 2018, listening to the New Year’s Concert from Vienna’s marvellously ornate Musikverein. Barely 6 weeks ago, Mrs Ericle & moi-meme were enjoying a performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony in the very same concert-hall. Taking my beat from the name of the excellent Robert Peston book that I received for Xmas, this was my WTF moment of 2017. Never has The Ode Of Joy, the adopted anthem of the European Union, seemed so nuanced. It spoke to me of my personal political rejection of the European agenda and I would not be completely honest with you if I didn’t feel some sense of shame. But hang on a moment: “O Freunde, nicht diese Töne!” Oh Friends, not such tones, let us be together in a joyful and pleasant atmosphere. Indeed!



I cannot recall a political time in my lifetime that has been so divisive. In fact, ‘divisive’ does not do justice to it – it’s veritably schismatic. And it’s not just within Europe, it’s everywhere and seemingly on so many issues. What concerns me most is that the polarisation of opinions seems to have fault lines that can be defined in socio-economic, even geographical, terms. I have had occasion to remark in 2017 how as a Brexit Referendum voter in North London I have often felt like “the only gay in the village”. That’s fine by me. I am no stranger to standing my corner of an argument. What really worries me is that the debates have invariably been initiated by an assumptive remark, often derogatory and dismissive, that any sensible person within earshot must be like-minded. As a result, I have found myself far too often in situations where I either have to leave a remark be or to take issue with their initiator. It’s not just the failure to understand that an opinion is different from an unalienable truth that bothers me so; it’s the oh-so comfortable certainty that the assembled company of the moment will be supportive and appreciative of opinion expressed. I am sure that this is happening in reverse in other parts of the UK; also in parts of Spain on the matter of Catalonia and in parts of the USA on the matter of Trump. This Dear Reader is, IMHO, the biggest malaise of our time. We do indeed live in ‘interesting times’.


Many commentators have tried to explain why we are where we are today. Most astutely point out that the nominal issues which divide us, are in fact, cyphers for a more broadly-based alienation that one sector of society feels for another. I am exercised by the fact how often these divides are almost always proportionate to each other; giving credence to the Hegelian notion that ‘actions and reactions are equal and opposite.’ However, his dialectic also spoke of ‘synthesis’; for synthesis there will be one way or the other. Whether this synthesis is abrupt & brutal, or progressive & peaceful, is within our own hands. The music of our times can either be an ‘Ode To Joy’ or a ‘War Of The Worlds’. A good starting point to ensuring that we veer towards the former, not the latter, I suggest can be found in the following words of another poet-musician:

“There are no truths outside the Garden Of Eden” Bob Dylan

Prosit Neu Jahr!


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