I suspect we have all read or heard the lines about ‘spreading my dreams’ and ‘treading softly’? They come from the second part of the Irish poet WB Yeats’ poem “Aedh Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven” and are:
“I have spread my dreams under your feet; tread softly because you tread on my dreams.”
What I hadn’t understood was that the speaker was only able to imagine his dreams as “heavens’ embroidered cloths, enwrought with golden and silver light, the blue and the dim and the dark cloths of night and light and the half-light” were out of reach as they, he or she, were poor. Personally I think the symbolism of spreading dreams works better than spreading an actual article like a cloth.
…….. but then my little brain goes ‘ping’ and ‘What about Sir Walter Raleigh spreading his cloak over a puddle so that Queen Elizabeth 1 wouldn’t get her feet wet?’ The image is probably one from a child’s history book!! As with much of exhibitionists’ behaviour, truth sometimes gets bulldozed for the story (Note 1)
I was scribbling bits of this PC around teatime one afternoon this week and beside my laptop was a cup of tea, a couple of pieces of toast and an open jar of Fortnum & Mason’s Lemon Curd (Note 2) from the ‘fridge. You know how it is; you open a new jar of jam, or marmalade, or chutney or some other goody and read ‘consume within 4 weeks’ – so that forces you to have tea and toast until the jar’s contents are finished! But in this case, imagine my surprise when, inside the lid lying upturned on the table, it says ‘Spread Joy’ and I am writing a PC about spreading!!
Of course spreading in a confitural sense is more often associated with either Peanut Butter or Nutella – neither a favourite of mine but for some an essential daily ingestion. My habit of tea & toast had given me, naturally, Lockdown Spread (my waist measurement’s going up weekly!!)
Since the advent of the internet and development of social media, the pressure to ‘share’ one’s thoughts, one’s experiences, one’s photographs, one’s bling, one’s view about this or that, as that view’s the right view, for some is constant and addictive. Some years ago I suggestion to a friend over lunch she was addicted to Facebook. Wow! If I had put my hand in a wasp’s nest I might have got less of a reaction; observations can often be true no matter how unpalatable they are.
When you use the word ‘spread’ it’s a simple extrapolation to spreader and then the association with muck! And these days you might argue that a lot of disinformation is just that, muck. Today I read that Majorie Taylor Greene has been stripped of her committee appointments in the American House of Representatives after numerous posts about QAnon, the Pentagon 9/11 attack and for suggesting some school shootings were hoaxes. “I was allowed to believe things that weren’t true.” she said in an apology. Sadly muck sticks!
I thought I could share the following, printed in a serious newspaper, and quoting a 30-something PR Executive of ‘Caribbean heritage’: “Too little is known about the side effects of covid vaccines (for me) to take the risk?” So she’s happy to cross the road, having no idea of the mental or physical state of vehicles’ drivers but not happy to take a vaccine that statistically is safe? She went on: “Since the start of the pandemic we’ve seen the news that Covid is higher amongst black people but nothing was done about it.” I read this a number of times, this claim that ‘nothing was done about it’ and now could write a postcard particularly about what could and should have been done!
Observing the internal conflicts across the USA over the last three months, there were news stories, true or not, that one was able to share, often at the click of a mouse, without honestly wondering whether what you are sharing is real or not. A good example was ex-President Trump, who claimed that the election was stolen from him, spreading muck, without any attempt or need to explain or produce evidence.
The spreaders of misinformation have a lot to answer. These idiots claim that some of the Covid vaccines contain alcohol, or even porcine substances or beef, leaving those in South Asian or Islamic communities wary. (Note 3) Oh! And that the vaccine can change your DNA. Here in the UK there is a distrust of Government in BAME communities, exemplified by the comments about vaccine side effects above. As an oft-quoted recent example is the Grenfell Tower fire disaster of 2017, when 72 individuals, mainly BAME, died when fire swept through the 24 storey block of flats. ‘The Government’, in this case the London Fire Brigade, told residents to ‘stay put; we will rescue you’; they couldn’t! So now the NHS and its vaccine programme are tainted by association!
During the Second World War there was a growing awareness that talking too much or too freely, passing on gossip, was potentially dangerous ….. “Walls have ears!” Communications were very basic and radio traffic prone to interference and distortions. Often information was relayed; in one oft-quoted apocryphal example the original message “Send reinforcements! We’re going to advance.” was eventually received as “Send three and fourpence; we’re going to a dance.” (Three (shillings) and four pence 3s 4d)
The other day a doctor was ranting and raving on Facebook about some aspect of the current government’s policy that they thought had been a complete failure and for some reason tied the policy to the wealthy and privileged. For whatever reason they then asked for someone to develop a vaccine that would kill white, heterosexual wealthy males over 60. I said that I was almost in that category (define wealthy?!) so asked her whether she meant me. Oh! No! Just the politicians. But Mr Dimwitt or Ms Not-So-Bright would have taken it as gospel, particularly as a doctor was writing it and started banging the dustbin lids to encourage its development.
And there’s me writing the word ‘gospel’ as in ‘it must be true’ …….. ‘to believe something without doubting it at all’ …….. when we all know that the Christian gospels were written some forty years after Christ’s death and so aren’t necessarily true in their exact meaning!
Just needed to share these thoughts …….
Richard 5th February 2021
Note 1 Was it Sir Walter Raleigh, or Sir Francis Drake? Both seem to have made the gesture. For the latter, his ship The Golden Hind was moored on The Thames at Deptford so he could receive his knighthood in 1581from his queen. She arrived at the top of some steps where there were large puddles. Drake spread his cloak over the rainwater so Queen Elizabeth’s feet would remain dry; in doing so he marked his place in history as a gentleman. Those steps are now known as Drake’s Steps. ….. and not Raleigh Steps!!
Note 2 Fortnum & Mason on London’s Piccadilly is known as The Queen’s Grocer
Note 3 One of the quoted reasons for the 1857 Indian Mutiny was that the grease used for the cartridges in a new rifle was either of pork origin, offensive to Muslims, or tallow (cow fat), offensive to Hindus.