Wednesday, 26 February 2014

The Hegemony of Nanny

Hilaire Belloc penned a cautionary tale about Jim who ran away from nurse and was eaten by a lion. It ends like this:

When Nurse informed his Parents, they
Were more Concerned than I can say:--
His Mother, as She dried her eyes,
Said, ``Well--it gives me no surprise,
He would not do as he was told!''
His Father, who was self-controlled,
Bade all the children round attend
To James's miserable end,
And always keep a-hold of Nurse
For fear of finding something worse. 

A summation of our governments' current outlook. We are badly behaved children who are at risk from whole prides of terrible lions - lions clutching burgers, lions pushing cigarettes, lions in bars serving us gin slings with a smile and lions urging us to have a little flutter on the ponies. And, as uncontrolled, ignorant children we must be protected, must be made to hold tightly to nurse so as these dreadful things do not harm us.

The masters who command this attachment to nanny do so for our own good. And for the good of society. Those devilous lions are a temptation into ways of sin, of the worst two sins: disobeying the government and putting our health at risk (thereby causing the masters to expend money caring for us). The problem is that we do not learn the lesson of Jim and continue to shun nanny's apron strings for the will o' the wisp that is private pleasure. We will not behave. As John Keats put it:

There was a naughty boy,
A naughty boy was he,
He would not stop at home,
He could not quiet be-

Off we go, playing, singing, writing poems, drinking beer, smoking and sticking our tongue out at nanny. So nanny goes to government reminding them of Jim's sorry end and how we are not behaving as that government has ordered. So more rules are set, more fences built and stronger apron strings tied, to the point of choking us. We cannot be allowed to disobey, we cannot be permitted to cost the government money by damaging our health.

Nanny is happy, the new rules are in place. Those unruly children will be brought to heel, made to comply and to conform. But we know better, we know that we'll break the rules - the more there are the more we'll break. We know we will seek out fun, enjoy forbidden pleasures that children in past times enjoyed.

And we know that nanny will return again to the government asking for more - more rules for nanny to crush our spirits, more rules that create a virtue of rule-breaking, more about those two great sins - disobedience and indulgence. For now the power is with nanny but when every pleasure is a sin, when every indulgence forbidden - what then? Then there'll be a reckoning.

And a return to pleasure. As a great sage once said:

“Children aren't happy with nothing to ignore,
And that's what parents were created for.” 


1 comment:

Junican said...

Nice post, Mr Cooke. I particularly like the idea that the more complex and messy 'the rules' get, the easier they are to get around. For example, it seems that the EU Parliament has voted through the requirement that ecig liquid must be no more that 20mg/ml in nicotine strength. That requirement is so easy to get around it isn't true. All that is required is the evaporation of a little of the other ingredients.Expect instructions to appear on the internet as soon as the directive becomes effective.