Last night, I had just sat down to watch the new BBC series SS:GB when I heard weeping from upstairs. Somehow, in the space of twenty minutes, my daughter had worked herself into a complete meltdown about all manner of 'what if' scenarios. Any of us dying or having accidents, grandparents dying, losing all our money, flooding, something happening to the dog. Failure at SATs (don' get me started). And Donald Trump starting World War Three.
Needless to say, I haven't yet managed to watch SS:GB. But I was struck by the irony of dealing with such a stream of nameless but very real worries when I was supposed to watching a dramatisation of one of the ultimate 'what if's' of recent history. What if the Germans had won World War Two? According to this series, the British lost the Battle of Britain and things go from there - that much I saw. Terrifying as we did come very close to this being the case.
Matt Haig, an amazing writer who I follow on Twitter, recently commented that his day now consisted of regular breaks to stop and worry about racism. And I know what he means. Despite the fact that in our day to day lives, we can do nothing to influence world politics, there is still a sense of worry hanging in the air. What hideous thing will happen next? What will the next newsflash bring?
I have been listening on Audible this week to The Romanovs by Simon Sebag-Montefiore (a history of the imperial family of Russia). I have just reached the last chapters - an assessment of Russia's part in the World War One . I did 'Causes of the First World War' at A Level. It is an unbelievably complicated subject for historians and it has been fascinating to hear it from a Russian point of view. But I have really had to stop myself from going into my own private meltdown. So much of it still resonates today. The machinations. The awful influence of strange and difficult personalities. The decades-long slide into war. The national aims of the countries.
We 'ordinaries' are deluged with more information than our counterparts had a hundred years ago. About people, organisations and possible outcomes. There is a lot we still don't know but we are definitely exposed to more.
We must try not to melt down in the face of this. Yes, it is important to live our lives as best we can and to enjoy every day. No, we don't know what will happen. But we do need to use the resources available to make our views known. All nations are still plagued with elites who wish to control our destinies. History has many examples of ordinaries being used as cannon fodder. Let's not let our generation or our children join that list.