Here, I steer clear of rants. I have been known to rant about many things. It is why that very often I steer clear of the news. As I write, leaning to the middle of November, the news is full of crises. It always is but it is becoming ever harder to look at the news without feeling miserable at the state of the world. I used to yell, now I just want to crawl back into bed. I am looking at the news less often than normal and I am trying my best to cut down on social media, particularly Twitter, which rightly has come in for stick of late for its vague moral standards.
More and more lately, I have been delving into my WordPress Reader rather than following the news. I read considerably anyway and that won’t ever change. (For non-bloggers, WordPress is the software I use to blog and the Reader is a feed of blogs that I follow.) Instead of keeping up with the blogs every day or two, or relying on the weekly round-ups I get of the blogs I follow, it has become twice a day at least. I know some use Feedly for this purpose or other apps but WordPress does me, since I can do blog things with it too. I don’t follow many political blogs, thankfully, instead having the pleasure of, like today, reading about visits to the National Archives, walking near to Craigmillar Castle, a sheep dog promoting the Scottish Outdoor Access Code or an appreciation of the baseball player Roy Halladay of the Toronto Blue Jays and the Philadelphia Phillies, who died on 7th November. In recent days, the warden of the Isle of May has written daily updates, accompanied by loads of stunning photographs, of the changing of that island from being all about seabirds to assuming its mantle once more as a seal colony. These have been a particular tonic, taking me far from urban cares and into the middle of the Firth of Forth. Not always a bad thing, even in the wilds and colds of November.
I have also turned from falling asleep with the Shipping Forecast, and waking up with the Today programme, to podcasts. I’ve written here before about enjoying listening to podcasts, particularly The West Wing Weekly, Desert Island Discs and Scotland Outdoors. Recently I have added to this list Fighting Talk, a sports panel show from BBC Radio Five Live, the podcast version of the Scottish football magazine Nutmeg, and the recordings of various events at this year’s Edinburgh International Book Festival, including Ian Rankin, Harriet Harman, Daniel Gray and Juno Dawson. Falling asleep to podcasts is far better too for my sanity than the BBC World Service with its jaunty theme music and the news of the day, just as reading other words beyond the newspapers is better by day.
I have very few answers to the big problems in the world. I would rather folk pay their tax, all of it, rather than stashing money in havens far across the sea. I would rather Brexit wasn’t happening. I would rather nuclear weapons didn’t exist. I would rather anyone else on this planet was President of the United States than Donald Trump, just as I would rather see someone else as Prime Minister than Theresa May. Then again there doesn’t seem to be much choice for a successor given that two Cabinet ministers have gone in the last week. I would also rather that sexual harassment didn’t happen and all men and women treated each other with the utmost respect. The world is by no means perfect. There are times quite simply when escaping is best, through blogs, podcasts or whatever means are required to simply keep sane and to regain the strength to speak up against those many wrongs the news reports each and every day.