London celebrated the arrival of the New Year in what was under the circumstances rather too flamboyant style last night, with a firework display in, over and around the Wheel. The trouble with a firework display celebration at a time like this is that you can either do them, or cancel them. You cannot tone them down.
I have more photos of how this looked on my telly here.
Huge firework displays fit very snugly into the Way We Live Now, and in particular into the Way We Are Governed Now. More and more fireworks shows are now collectively staged, and collectively viewed, including on TV of course. Meanwhile, free enterprise firework enjoyment is discouraged, allegedly because of safety, but probably also simply because it is free enterprise.
I wonder if there is an EU dimension to this? There usually is, after all. The EU is all about centralised power and the suppression of freelance activity. It is also all mixed up with Roman Catholicism. As is November 5th, otherwise known as Bonfire Night or Guy Fawkes Night. Are our continental rulers now discouraging us from celebrating the burning of a Roman Catholic terrorist, who was, like them, hell bent on reversing the defeat of the Spanish Armada?
Whatever the reason, and however much I hate what the new arrangements may or may not symbolise, I prefer the new firework dispensation. I recall being in Germany over the New Year some time in the eighties, and seeing the entire sky of Germany lit up at midnight on the dot. I thought to myself, we should do that, instead of the sputtering, long -drawn-out, chaotic, dog-scaring mess that our November 5th celebrations have degenerated into. (This year’s, to my ears, were particularly feeble and pointless.) Having them all at one means that we can all enjoy them all at once, and then go back indoors and get stuck into the New Year. Which I hope is a happy one for all who read and write here.
None of which means that the inconsolable unhappinesses of many in the world just now, which for me have been most vividly and most gruesomely evoked by Amit Varma, should be ignored.
Who would have thought that the eastern coastal parts of India would, following the tsunami devastation, be afflicted by a shortage of kerosene, of all things and among many other things? Yet it is all perfectly logical. Burying the bodies is taking a long, long time, and by the time many are reached they have decayed and cannot be dragged. Grab hold of a leg, and you end up holding only a leg. Yet the bodies must be disposed of, to prevent disease. So, they must be burned. But for that you need… kerosene.
For the link to that piece I thank Instapundit, who I think has been outstanding in recent days, both with his abundant tsunami linkage ï¿½ what is happening, what needs to be done, how to help, etc. – and for his abundant postings about and linkings to other matters. Update: as Instapundit again notes, there is now more Amit Varma reportage.
So a very unhappy New Year for many. If any of those reading this are personally afflicted in any way by these terrible events, please know that you have the deepest sympathy of all of us here and of all the other readers of this.