For the followers of Shakespearean quotations, the title is a well-known line from Richard III Act 1, Scene 1 - deliberately incomplete (and out of season!).
Judging by some recent comments that have drifted back to me, there are some out there who seem to think I Blog because I can't "let go" and still have a hankering to be in the limelight. For them, I have information. I Blog because I enjoy it, because there are apparently some folk who find it reasonably informative and at times entertaining, and because I have the freedom to say what I like. If I am in the news at all these days it is because I have been asked to be there - I have not sought it. And I am happy with that thank you. So, with that little bit of discontent off my chest - to the subject(s) on my mind at present.
The quotation as used in the title is often recited in its above incomplete form to indicate negative thoughts or emotions, but to appreciate the actual meaning of the words used by Shakespeare you have to read the whole stanza:
Now is the winter of our discontent
Made glorious summer by this son of York;
And all the clouds that low'r'd upon our house
In the deep bosom of the ocean buried.
In other words far from being miserable Richard, the future King, is actually happily welcoming a change in his fortunes following the installation of his brother Edward IV on the throne; they were both sons of the Duke of York. A gloomy period has, for him, been turned into summer.
So, am I saying that the gloomy predictions I was making earlier have now gone away, turned the corner perhaps, and that all is well with the world? Well ..... actually, no!
It is true that many parts of the world are reporting encouraging economic figures. Japan, France, Germany, Hong Kong all saying they have come out of, or staved off recession and let's be fair, that of itself is an achievement. And after the real winter of discontent we faced globally it is a much more glorious summer than many might have expected - if you still have a job, that is!!
The economists though, remain cautious or undecided and there seem to be few willing to predict that we are back to normal (whatever that is) - with most hedging their bets on the "well, the worst seems to be over, and some results are encouraging, but we've got a couple of years to go yet" scenario. And I am firmly with the "switherers". Honestly, nothing would give me greater pleasure than to be able to put my hand on my heart and say "Yes, I think we have come through this okay, under the circumstances, and there will be no more surprises" - but I cannot. I remain concerned, and will continue to be so until I see the job market improving, credit card debt being reduced, shareholder expectations being tempered, banks getting out from under the large gorilla of bad debts sitting on their backs and a return to a properly functioning market economy unhindered by politicians.
And while many of us live our lives and judge the world through the financial presses, just take a look at the world in which we are living.
The Middle East troubles continue. The war in Afghanistan (in which there are likely to be few winners) where the loss of life amongst the coalition forces (British Forces in particular) recently seems to have escalated, the difficulty with holding elections in that country, newer and bigger bombs in Baghdad, fraudulent elections in Iran ... the list goes on. It includes the potential release of the Lockerbie bomber perhaps today, even, on humane grounds because he wants to spend the last few weeks of his life with his loved ones. Not something that went through his mind when he was involved (even if he was not the actual bomber) in blowing up the Pan Am plane that was taking people back to see their own loved ones in America.
[I actually worry that the decision by the authorities in Scotland to release the man has something to do with taking exception to the protests being raised by US Secretary of State Clinton, and others - on a "don't tell us what to do" basis. I hope I am wrong].
Politically in Europe we have a sick British Government where, it seems, the Prime Minister is not allowed to govern while he is on holiday in Britain but it's okay for one of his colleagues to run the country from Corfu on his Blackberry. And as for the Italians - just what are they going to do with their philandering Prime Minister? Okay, private lives are just that - private, but Mr. Berlusconi's private life is very public and must bring into question just how much gravitas he brings to Government.
In America they are struggling with health care reform, having decided that they want something "uniquely American" to quote President Obama who meanwhile decides to ridicule the British NHS - not a perfect system by any means, but not the disaster it has been painted.
So, while we enjoy our "glorious summer", remember that winter is not too far around the corner (yes, I know, I am talking about the Northern Hemisphere - but that's where the main trouble spots seem to be). And perhaps, just perhaps, we might be back to seeing headlines that echo the opening line of Richard III - without the follow on.