Swastikas and Daisies

This blog has has looked wherever it can for hope, for beauty and for resolution of the many disharmonies in our individual lives and in the fragment of the wider world which touches on us. OK, I may sound like Fotherington-Thomas in the Molesworth books: ‘Hallo birds. Hallo sky.’ But this morning, as my garden’s daisies – ‘day’s eyes’ – opened fully to the bright sun, and the windflowers proliferated, and as the air from the hills stirred the scent of hyacinths, I drank in the loveliness of it all. And I knew that even as I looked, the season was moving on. And that these flowers would soon fade.

And then I read ‘The Daily Telegraph’. The wider world, with all its controversies and sadness, drew a dark curtain over my idyll. All the beauties of this Spring exist in a context which leads up to Good Friday. Maybe those radiant flowers point to the gold and white vestments of Easter Sunday. It is good to place one’s hope in them but here and now one cannot, may not, shut out the darkness. It’s not just a darkness of the individual spirit but of the wide world.

And then I went into our historic town centre to do some shopping in the Co-op… and I will be controversial here. I deal with a subject which it is almost impossible to discuss in any group without disagreement, which often leads to  enmity. The shop’s tobacco display was guarded by two black shutters. They were hostile, bullying, starkly labelled in white capitals ‘TOBACCO PRODUCTS.  The shutters slid open and in a millisecond crashed shut: at every purchase.

I make a further leap here. I know people will think me fanciful. But I did not grow up in an England of such  puritan terrorism,  a terrorism which is spreading continuously into other areas of individual choice. I wondered what the pilots who were refreshed during the 1939-45 war in the ancient pubs of the area would have made of it. Would they have felt welcome here today?

And, for a moment – it’s another vast leap of the imagination and people will mock here, including many of my friends but: for a moment my mind’s eye pictured a swastika flag hanging above the town hall entrance.

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4 Responses to Swastikas and Daisies

  1. churchmouse says:

    Hallo, Llew — You think the way I do about Spring flowers and the glory of Easter — which I much prefer to Christmas. Our flowering trees have had a magnificent season, no doubt thanks to a relatively mild winter. Yes, it’s a shame they don’t last longer, but what pleasure they do give lasts in my mind’s eye the rest of the year.

    Oh, this tobacco business. What was it like when you asked for yours? Can you see in there or do they just quickly listen to what you say, grab something and leave you hoping they chose the right product?

    Why are the drawers black? Surely, they would be a buff colour to blend in with the rest of the supermarket decor? And wouldn’t big black shutters call more attention to the LEGAL product behind them?

    I find all this painful. People smoke for a variety of reasons, not much different than having a cup of tea and a biscuit. It’s a small, short pleasurable break — calming and comforting. Sure it’s temporary — what isn’t?

    It is ironic that the children born during a time when we had the highest percentage of smokers ever would clamour for its prohibition. Yet, they are the healthiest children in the history of Western civilisation.

    It’s sad that smokers have to pay for their own persecution: ASH, NHS smoking surveys, constant depersonalisation by the government and government-paid ‘experts’.

    As you know, the 2012 budget increase is an average of 37p per pack of 20. How many more increases this year?

    • lleweton says:

      Thanks for your comment, Churchmouse. On my evening walk – if you can call it that- I thought of the playwright Denis Potter’s comment as his fatal illness progressed: ‘The blossom has never been blossomier.’ I won’t continue with this theme for now. New perspectives, new perceptions come with increasing age. BUT, the blossom is as Dennis Potter described it. I’ll stick with that.

      As to the supermarket, actually I was there to buy some beer. Had I wanted to buy tobacco in any form there was no way I could have known or seen what to ask for if I had been uncertain. The shutter flashed back and forth with the swiftness of a slicing machete. I wondered whether the young assistant – always friendly – had been instructed in capital letters NOT TO LEAVE THE SHUTTERS OPEN FOR ONE SECOND. This tiny taste of power could be corrupting for some people. Is this how pocket Hitlers are made?

      Yes the shutters were black. A white death’s head would not have been out of place.
      You mention a pleasurable break: calming and comforting. Peace of mind contributes to health. The kind of psychological terrorism I describe here does not.

  2. Pooka says:

    1984. A book I read recently.

  3. lleweton says:

    I agree Pooka; George Orwell’s insights were sadly prophetic.

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