The Times We Live In
And so I had finished my theatrical touring contract in Vermont a week ago. The following day I was driven to New York where myself and my fellow Actors hugged, cried and departed to where ever home was. New York, France, London etc. Twelve hours later I was in England wrapping my teeth tastefully around an egg and sausage muffin. Mmm, Heaven!
Breakfast is indeed the most important meal of the day. Novelist Ian Fleming loathed New York City but he was at least grateful to have discovered the very best scrambled eggs thanks to the Big Apple. And so from that day until his sad and early death he feasted every morning on eggs beaten well and cooked in lashings of butter. Now of course we have to dig deep into our pockets to be able to afford simply just the packaging of a miserable tub of porridge oats care of Starbucks or Costa Coffee or a five pound Sterling bowl of cornflakes care of the latest trendy breakfast bar in London’s Brick Lane.
And so it was that I found myself tucking into a breakfast bagel in Parliament Square the other day enjoying a quick pit stop underneath the glorious statue of Sir Winston Churchill when I had either the luck or misfortune to witness the horror of someone driving along Westminster Bridge at high speed, knocking down as many tourists as possible and then smashing their hired car into the wall outside the Houses of Parliament.
Now, one might have thought that I would be horrified at this spectacle but this is not the first time that I have been in the wrong place at the wrong time. There have been (I am sad to say) a few occasions in my life when I have observed a bank robbery in the US, joy riders in Manchester and a street stabbing in London.
Little did I know that at that precise moment when I saw the car hit the Westminster wall and the driver run into the grounds of the UK Parliament I was observing another sad but typical terrorist attack.
Typical I might add because as ISIS loses more and more ground on the battle field in Iraq and Syria they are none the less committing more and more atrocities on so called ‘soft targets’ around the world. And Europe is indeed a soft target, Britain too though I might add that England does also possess a rather stubborn and hard attitude about most things that fail to revere either Football, ale or a full English Breakfast. I have lost count the amount of times that I have heard my fellow English Man mutter ‘the times that we live in.’ Indeed it appears that the times (whatever TIMES means) has always been with us and long shall it remain so.
If it was not Hitler bombing the London docklands and the neighbourhoods of the old East End then it was the IRA with their Christmas and Easter bombing campaigns year in year out. Indeed my father used to say that he enjoyed setting his watch by them. I couldn’t help thinking that it was rather bizarre that the day before this one man terror attack (or panic attack) the world had both mourned and celebrated the death of the former Northern Irish Education Minister Martin McGuinness. I say mourned because he had been a crucial supporter and instigator of the Irish peace process that had seen for the first time in decades no terrorist bombings, shootings or knee cappings. And I say celebrated because before Mr McGuinness became a politician he was the Commander of the notorious ‘Derry Brigade’ of the Irish republican Army which had murdered countless men, women and children on both British and Irish soil.
And so as one terrorist organization closed its doors and put away its weapons another one (and a rather sloppy one) decided to fill the void. Terrorism has always been with us Brits, indeed to be British is to be hated and hated by anyone and everyone from the IRA, INLA Al-Qaeda, ISIS and even the Animal Liberation Movement. I can remember touring in the UK and Europe for a two year theatrical tour of the worlds most popular musical, Les Miserables. My favourite memory has always been reserved for when the show was in Dublin. I love Dublin and I have an enormous amount of respect for the Irish People. They fought the British to a stand still, embraced their Republic and then fought a very uncivil civil war.
In Dublin there still exists the old Post Office where the 1916 Easter Uprising took place and you can still see the bullet holes in the walls and pictures of the martyrs who fought the ‘Bloody British’ that day. But I digress, I can remember the opening night of Les Miserables at the Point Theatre (now the 02) and it was that night that I met IRA/ Sinn Fein advocates both Gerry Adams and Martin McGuiness who had come to see the show. At the after show party I couldn’t resist asking Mr McGuiness why he refused to swear allegiance to the Crown considering that he always stood in every N Irish election and won a seat. He of course refused to answer me but never the less patted me on my shoulder and told me that he enjoyed the show, he thought of it as representative of the struggle that he had fought against the Bloody British for the good part of 40 years.
What was obvious of course was that as he was creeping into his fifties it was becoming harder and harder to operate as a so called freedom fighter and easier to sit behind a desk. Also, he knew that he was far too valuable to both the British and Irish governments as a peace operative and negotiator than a terrorist with a long criminal record. The fact is (and I am happy to say it) at that time when I was giving my all on stage in Dublin the UK and Irish governments had managed to find common ground where the terrorist war against the British state could now respectfully end. Thanks to people like Tony Blair and Martin McGuinness that vile, cruel and ugly war is now respectfully over. The cost might have been too high and for many people who suffered doing the so called ‘Troubles’ the price was far too high but at least it is now at an end.
That said the world is now experiencing another long conflict, a conflict that might very well come to dominate our times just like the Cold War dominated the fifties, sixties, seventies and eighties. This of course is a battle inflicted upon us by individuals who consider anyone who isn’t a Muslim to be an infidel. As an Actor I have been called many things and indeed both my ex-wives used to regularly tell me that I had no reverence for anything.
But while I have no reverence for either Islam or the Catholic Church I do most certainly revere Democracy, Civil Society and of course The Stage.
As I write now I am happy to see that the institution of American Democracy is functioning well by restraining its idiot of a President.
Thanks to Congress and the Supreme Court President Trump has not been able to ban or deport anyone who just so happens to be an Arab and also thanks to both sides of the House in the Senate DT hasalso not been able to destroy the very first Affordable Health Bill that President Obama introduced years ago. Who knows if American politicians and judges continue to frustrate dear Donald he might even throw his hands up and resign. We live in hope and as I keep saying. We also live in interesting times.
Also by Lincoln Hudson:
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