Keep Calm And Carry On
Mark Seddon is the former United Nations Correspondent and New York Bureau Chief for Al-Jazeera English TV. He reported from eighteen countries during that time, including North Korea, China, Haiti, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of Congo. He has interviewed, amongst others, Ban Ki-Moon, Lech Walesa, Tony Blair, Hans Blix, Michael Foot, Mia Farrow, and George Clooney. In a journalistic career spanning over twenty years, he has been Editor of Tribune and an elected member of the UK Labour Party's National Executive Committee. He has written for most British newspapers and many magazines, including The Guardian, The Independent, The Daily Mail, The Times, The Spectator, New Statesman, Private Eye, British Journalism Review and Country Life Magazine. For a number of years he was a Diarist at the London Evening Standard, and has also reported for, amongst others, the BBC and Sky TV. He lives in Buckingham, England.
We are but two days away from Friday 13th August, which for all of those who are superstitious about black cats or walking under ladders, threatens to be something of a problematic day. However, here in England, the Sun is shining, and from where I am sitting, hardly a breath of wind stirs the leaves and above the skies are bright blue without a cloud in sight. If it remains like this for Friday 13th, the old superstition that the 13th – especially a Friday, brings bad luck, might be dispelled.
But all too frequently, it is almost impossible to wake up turn the radio or television on, and not be assailed by some story of unremitting gloom and doom, whether it’s the 13th of the month or not. Spend any time actually thinking about these stories, and a creeping lethargy takes over. I attribute much of the renowned British pessimism not only to the way stories are reported, but those that are picked over incessantly for any further gloom to be extracted. The weather also has a lot to do with it. For much of the year, Western Europe, resides under a thick, all encompassing cover of grey cloud.
Take this morning. Not only do I read that a new super resistant bacteria from India has entered some British hospitals, but it is resistant to penicillin. Do I even bother to go out and risk injury, just in case I may just end up in a hospital, which risks becoming a mortuary?
And then there is the unremitting economic gloom. Surprise, surprise, Britain is not far from entering a double dip recession, as Government expenditure cuts squeeze any prospect of growth out of the economy. House prices, predicted to rise barely a week ago, are now set to dip. Younger people are finding it more and more difficult to find jobs, and those who have them worry about losing them. The Department of Justice yesterday announced that a third of its employees faced redundancy.
I have above my desk a poster which summons up the war time spirit of this country, when for a while it stood alone against the might of Nazi Germany. It has a red background, with the English Crown, and reads “Keep Calm and Carry On”.
I think I will try to do just that.
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