Saturday, 28 February 2009
A bad day for thinking or writing anything. Mind like a clothesline thrashed by the wind. Yesterday night one of the panel lights in the car started flashing on our way home from town where we had gone for a quick birthday drink with a friend. The engine sounded a little odd too, but we might have fancied that. We got home all right, but this morning I rang the AA, for C was due to go down to see her mother, a round trip of some 200 miles in all. Best not take the chance without some reassurance.
The AA man came out, did a computer test and concluded that it was either the fuel pump seizing up, or some loose electrics, or the computer unit, or some completely minor fault that would disappear and never return, but he couldn't quite say which. So despite the fact that the panel light was no longer flashing, C got the train, and I set to work at home.
But then came the fuss about the blog post below. Then more fuss about complications arising. So here I am, supposed to be writing the introduction to the NYRB edition of Tibor Déry's Niki, the Story of a Dog - a rather marvellous book about the early days of Stalinism in Hungary - and though I know pretty exactly what I want to be talking about and in what order, the sentences are coming out strangled as though their pyjama cords were caught around the necks. This won't do. It sometimes happens, but it won't do. My eyes are blinking like panel lights. It could be my fuel pump.
I follow -as who doesn't - the developing press profile of Barack Obama in his first months, the so-called honeymoon period of the first hundred days. It is not a case of flashing panel lights yet, but it is not exactly cruising either.
I rather suspect that the hope invested in him was of two different sorts.
The first hope - unrealistic, grossly sentimental - was that he was bound to be a great and indeed lucky man who would sort out all the world's problems very quickly. Well, it's not impossible that he might yet be a great and lucky man - we shall have to wait and see - but there is no particular reason to suppose that he will or must be.
The other hope, the true hope in my opinion, was really a surge of optimism occasioned by the simple fact of his election. That he could be elected. That he had been elected. It was an enormous, unlikely fact of life that gave one hope. That was the exhilarating thing. It still is. It will remain exhilarating even if he makes mistakes or fails to deal with this or that issue.
And this or that issue is likely to prove a swine.