The trouble with normal…

…is it always gets worse – Bruce Cockburn (1981)

ImageI won’t be the only one who is unfamiliar with the musical ouevres of the Canadian singer song-writer, Bruce Cockburn, but I like this quote lots*. 


Today (at the time of writing) is Monday 15 April, and for a whole variety of reasons at the start of our new school Summer term, I sense a feeling that ‘Business as usual’ is a most uncomfortable statement to make. 

The appalling bombing in Boston has reminded us that the ferocity of people’s actions knows no bounds; to target recreational spectators at such a large fund raising event is as despicable as any incident I can recall. It brings so starkly back to mind the London bombings almost 8 years ago, and the horror of these events reminds us just how vulnerable we all are.

Tomorrow I travel to London, to speak at a national computing event for junior schools at the BMA in Tavistock Square, the location of the double decker bus explosion in that series of bombings. I am aware of the big funeral event on at the same time, that being the funeral of Baroness Thatcher, the first female UK prime minister, and perhaps best known across the world since Churchill.  My fingers are of course crossed for us all, as such events so obviously provide an opportunity for target.

There has been considerable debate as to whether Thatcher’s legacy is a ‘good thing’ or not; it is interesting to note that that wider audience in the world seem to hold her memory in greater respect than those closer to hand, domicile under her governments.  Our A level History course now teaches this period of British political life, interesting now just how quickly current affairs becomes academic study of original sources! 

So my challenge to my students and of course you dear reader is to consider just how much of Thatcherite economics gave rise to the lyrics that open this blog. Cockburn’s Canadian roots have him looking more at the governments of Ronald Reagan and Pierre Trudeau; the economic woes of little Britain of 30 years ago were pretty similar across the pond too. I wonder though whether the lyrics of the song don’t actually still apply to this day, 31 years on.  That’s the thing about truths – they last the test of time! Normality as they say returned for us all to enjoy.

*Here’s the whole song from where it comes:

“Strikes across the frontier and strikes for higher wage
Planet lurches to the right as ideologies engage
Suddenly it’s repression, moratorium on rights
What did they think the politics of panic would invite?
Person in the street shrugs — “Security comes first”
But the trouble with normal is it always gets worse

Callous men in business costume speak computerese
Play pinball with the Third World trying to keep it on its knees
Their single crop starvation plans put sugar in your tea
And the local Third World’s kept on reservations you don’t see
“It’ll all go back to normal if we put our nation first”
But the trouble with normal is it always gets worse

Fashionable fascism dominates the scene
When ends don’t meet it’s easier to justify the means
Tenants get the dregs and landlords get the cream
As the grinding devolution of the democratic dream
Brings us men in gas masks dancing while the shells burst
The trouble with normal is it always gets worse.”



About jameswilding

Academic Principal Claires Court Schools Long term member & advocate of the Independent Schools Association
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