Politics in a work of literature, Stendhal once opined, is like a pistol shot in the middle of a concert. Perhaps the same may be said of politics in a literary blog. Except, of course, I do not pretend this is a literary blog: I write about whatever comes to mind. But I do tend to keep away from politics: this is not out of fear of disturbing the cultured and refined proceedings of this blog with the violence of a pistol shot, nor because I lack interest in matters political, and certainly not because I lack opinions. Rather, it is because the offering of political views on a public platform – as opposed to the spouting of intemperate opinions over a few drinks with friends – ideally requires a thorough grasp of facts and of arguments as can only be achieved through long and focussed thought, and painstaking research. And while I appreciate that a great many political writers on the net are innocent of anything approaching either thought or research, I have no great wish to join their ranks: hence my reticence.
However, exceptions must always be made. And when an MP plays Candy Crush Saga while attending a meeting of a parliamentary committee – a parliamentary committee dealing with works and pensions, no less – some comment doesn’t, perhaps, go amiss, even on a blog as non-political as this. For I do not seek to make a party political point here: it is true that the Member of Parliament involved is of the Conservative Party – a party for which I never had any great love – but really, he could have been a member of any party at all: it is not his political affiliations that bother me. Neither am I, if I am to be honest, particularly bothered by his playing Candy Crush Saga during a committee meeting, reprehensible though that undoubtedly is. No – what bothers me most is that he plays Candy Crush Saga at all.
I am told that things could be even worse. In India, some two years ago, three MPs of the Bharatiya Janata Party – the nationalist party that was recently elected into power to restore to the Motherland the glorious pristine purity of the Hindu religion before it became so corrupted by foreign influences – were caught watching pornography on their smartphones during a parliamentary session. However, while approving neither of watching pornography during a parliamentary session, nor, indeed, of pornography itself, I can nonetheless understand the attraction of sexual arousal: more, I admit, than I can the attraction of Candy Crush Saga.
Candy Crush Saga! It is true that, in our cynical age, we no longer expect our democratically elected representatives to possess integrity, or even, for that matter, competence, but it is surely not unreasonable to expect from them a modicum of gravitas!
Nigel Mills, the Member of Parliament in question, has graciously said that he will “try not to do it in future”. Not that he promises never again to do it in future, ever, but that he will try not to do it. That even with the best of intentions, during those long committee meetings on matters as unimportant as pensions, the urge to turn to Candy Crush Saga may be too strong even for the most iron-willed of parliamentary committee members to resist.
We live, dear reader, in Godless times.