Today's the day on which my radio told me that the prime minister is keen to teach Muslim women English. There was also something about students' unions at the Russell Group universities blocking speakers with whom they disagreed. Somebody was very cross with the prime minister, at six minutes to nine. Didn't catch why.
Oh, and we're bombing Syria. No, wait - that was last year. We're still doing it, but it's dropped out of the news. David Bowie died last week. We all grieved, and once or twice I thought of Diana. Alan Rickman also died, ditto, and earlier on this morning, a picture of Christopher Lee floated past on Facebook. I remember liking those Hammer vampire movies, a long time ago. The new Star Wars movie came and went. Over the weekend, British police dropped a year-long investigation into allegations that an old soldier, in his nineties, had molested a child some thirty-plus years ago. Because they couldn't find any evidence. After a year of looking.
Somewhere in all of this, there is the direction that change is taking. There's mass migration towards western Europe; there's the tendency of some "millennials" to take a firm view on freedom of speech. There's our ready access to emotion when our idols/heroes die, and no doubt there's a lot else that a historian would spot. All of these examples are available to be cited as causes of events and changes that haven't happened yet. Also on the radio this morning, later, I was switching it on while making the second coffee of the day, a novelist, possibly Egyptian, was asked to comment on his characters' visit to him before he started writing. They were complaining about something, if I heard correctly. "They had a point," I think he said. Must look that up.
We comment on events, and by doing so, we somehow smooth them down into the historical record. What gets lost is the sheer outrage. The outrageous unpredictability too, but mainly the shock element. Those 300 men. What the heck? We can talk about their coming from repressed societies; their attitudes to women; even their use of mobile phones to get together during the Arab Spring and now in Cologne. We can make the point, as somebody did, that it would have been a different outrage if 300 local men had just decided to ... but in explaining it, seeking to explain it, we risk losing the shock. Whatever world we think we live in, we actually live in this one. Being able to explain something isn't the same as dealing with it.
So no, I'm not going to write about it. I'm not going to add an opinion to the blur of opinions we have already. One day, quite soon enough, this will be the age of something-or-other, and the titles of the history textbooks will seem inevitable. People will write essays about austerity. These years will be covered in a few pages of a longer narrative. But if this obscure blog post is ever dug up by some over-zealous PhD student of the distant future, and not immediately censored, I'd like to pass on this message: none of us have the faintest idea what's going on.