Published on Monday, 06 January 2014 00:50 Written by Greg Goode
Today we kick off with a Diary column. Please send contributions and ideas to our Arts blog editor Daniel Jones.
1: Pilgrimage for Truth
I'm a capitalist, yank, damn baby boomer,
Labelled in the past as a zealot consumer,
But I will not pray in a church made of greed,
It's more like-minded people of which I have need.
Partisans, comrades, Searchlight's optioned my voice,
I hope you'll listen as I hunt for a choice.
Partisans, my name is Greg Goode and I am an evil capitalist billionaire recently moved to Britain from the US via central France. My first business was oil. My second art. On the continent I tried – and failed – to build an agrarian paradise in the grounds of my 18th century chateau. Now my wife Victoria and I are settled in London and life has never been better. Dual citizenship with this fine country and my own looms pleasantly in the distance and a number of people are telling me that I should be looking to slow down. But I can't. I find myself restless, unfulfilled and desperate to find some higher purpose.
So as you can imagine, I was extremely pleased when I managed to bumble my way into securing a meeting with the editorial staff at Searchlight. During our subsequent tête-à-tête in the V&A café I was able to engage them in some serious debate about the future. Now, although the team over here may not agree with all my viewpoints (and you may not either), they have kindly agreed to publish my pilgrimage for truth through these diary entries. I hope that, in the very least, you will find them interesting.
Since my move to Britain I have found myself in an unusual position. It is this which has spurred me into starting this little project. The thing is you see, wherever my wife and I have lived and worked, we have taken pride in being involved in a number of local and national issues ranging from the charitable to the political (In fact, Victoria's latest project has involved charging all over Somerset trying to stop people shooting badgers).
As a respected former businessman about town I have been inundated with a number of 'invitations' to donate large swathes of cash in exchange for both the good of the country... and of course, some hearty meals with high-powered people. I have been wooed by senior Tories, members of the Shadow Cabinet and a number of fringe organisations... and whilst I'm sure all of their cheese boards would be of the highest order - one has to be wary of the price you may end up paying for a particularly good Brie. Painstaking research has been in order.
I've dug into policies, manifestos and more self-serving viewpoints than I care to recall. And having done so, I have to confess to being at a loss. Nobody seems to fit me properly at all. Who on earth am I meant to align myself with, let alone vote for, once I am eligible?
For example, I observed the Police Commissioner elections with some interest. Now, I don't profess to fully understand what was actually going on (in America the Police Commissioner is a very important member of the crime fighting family, so I could only assume the same was true of the UK), but the election achieved just 15% voter turnout. Apparently, more people paid to vote in last year's X-Factor, than participate in a free and important democratic process.
So here I am, surrounded by an apathetic public, mainstream politicians who don't understand me, and a myriad of fringe parties that aren't making it easy for me to get to grips with them. Even when we get down to the crux of left, right and centre, I still can’t see any solutions that make sense. The extreme right tends to preach hatred and loathing; the mainstream flaps around the middle pandering to voters; and the left, dear Partisans, gets caught up in factionalism.
Over the coming weeks and months I intend to get actively involved with as many parties and organisations as I can find. I will attend meetings, network with activists and study the views of the underdog - and the mainstream - on both sides of the aisle. As an outsider looking in I feel I can help shine a light onto some of the things going on out there. Perhaps I will even be able to guide some of the people reading this very column towards a range of viewpoints that tallies with their own... or perhaps even draw their attention to a number of viewpoints they didn't even know they had.
In the face of all this apathy I feel that there's something I can be doing to try and make a difference. Don't think of me as any kind of grand campaigner though... I am but an ordinary man. In fact, I often feel I'd be far more at home living a much simpler life, perhaps tending to bees without a care in the world. Everything is so much more straightforward in the kingdom of the bee you see; the order, the structure, the beauty. A better example of honesty I am yet to discover, a better force for good I'll wager does not exist... even their deadly sting can act as powerful medicine. They possess virtue, a spirit of community and know a thing or two about democracy as well.
The bees could certainly teach our political parties a great deal about the way our species should be acting. I will certainly be taking this sort of thinking into consideration as I embark on my journey... and those displaying the virtues of the humble bumble will assuredly be catapulted to the front of the pack.
As I hunt for an answer I'll look to the bee,
So honest, so humble, virtuous and free,
Yes I'm a novice who's finding his way,
And I'm wary of factions who'll lead me astray,
So I'll keep on hunting and filing reports,
'Til I find a group that I want to support.