Do you understand Syria? As in ‘Syria’. As in Assad is a corrupt and murderous bastard and ISIS are rip-roaring their way through every human atrocity under the sun and Putin is being characteristically unhelpful and IMMIGRATION? I mean, beyond that? Do you fully comprehend the genesis of the crisis?
What about Ireland? The Irish Question? Orange men and the Easter Uprising and Sunday Bloody Sunday? Can you fathom the facts beyond the atmosphere?
What does NATO stand for? Oh, Jesus Christ I have just realised I don’t know. This is not good. I went to Oxford by the way so, supposedly, I am no slouch. Except I am. Because I just had to google North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. So now I know the name. But I still don’t know what it does.
I should know this. I SHOULD KNOW THIS *howlsintothevoid*. The trouble is, if you miss the basic grammar of a global crisis or an intergovernmental military alliance happens to pass you by, or if you were passing notes about boys during History GCSE classes on the First World War, then how can you reclaim lost moronic ground? Because you cannot admit to this kind of ignorance. It doesn’t just sound stupid, it sounds kind of immoral.
Which is why I started listening to the Today programme aged 40. Yes, it can be a slightly shouty start to the morning, but 15 minutes a day, in the background, acts as a kind of secret Polyfilla. You at least absorb enough to develop an interest. Which means that you might develop enough engagement to be able to read something about, say, North Korea (is that the bad one?) without immediately zoning out. Now can anyone explain quantitative easing to me in one easy sentence? And I have an uncomfortable nagging feeling that Trident is something other that chewing gum…