Before today, I had no less than 99 Cliscep performances under my belt. So, naturally enough, I’ve been racking my brains to come up with a suitably auspicious subject for my hundreth outing. Should I just fill it with references to my greatest hits, or can I come up with something new and original that will take the sceptic charts by storm? Shall I rap my way through this one or resort to the 20 minute guitar solo that has always served me so well? Or do I just have to face the reality that I’m already a washed up rock star who can’t even brag at having seen better days? Is it my destiny to die on the toilet without even having worn a single sequined jump suit?
Of course, when I first joined the band, at the invitation of Bradley Keyes, I had no idea I would still be here four years later – still plugging away, searching for that magical riff that would secure my place in the sceptics’ hall of fame. Sadly, I have come to the conclusion that I will never achieve such an accolade. In fact, if truth be known, I came to that conclusion 95 articles ago. And since I only ever got into this sceptics business because of the promise of fame, fortune and a future helping Yew Tree with their enquiries, you’ve got to believe that this was a matter of considerable disappointment. Since that epiphany, every single appearance on this blog has been my last. And, in accordance with the same logic of disillusionment and unrealistic expectation, this will also be my last.
Or will it? Because, you see, sometimes it’s not about the trappings of success, it really is all about the music. The reason why I have kept coming back onto the Cliscep stage, each time running the risk of experiencing that gig of your nightmares in which no one turns up, is because I enjoy the act of writing and I believe in the message contained within my lyrics. That’s not to say that I assume that everything I have to say is correct. Hell no! What it means is that I passionately believe that a world in which everyone is required to sing the same tune would be a dark and barren world in which to live. In fact, I would go further and say that it would be a dangerous world in which there would be no bounds to the extent that a bum note could be amplified. It is precisely because people like me are prepared to experiment with alternative harmonies, and thereby routinely risk failure, that we may hope to avoid that humungous collective gaffe that can only come with a badly conducted choir.
You can call this contrariness if you like, and you would be right. When it is done too often it can by quite annoying to people. But the intolerance shown nowadays to those who would challenge the authorised narrative goes way beyond annoying. Whether it be climate change, vaccination safety or any other hot topic, we seem to have arrived at a state of affairs where anyone not singing from the authorised book of psalms is automatically demonized. The presupposition is that such renegades are always peddling fake news and disinformation. Well, whilst this will often be the case, we are in danger of missing the point that the authorities didn’t get to be the authorities without knowing a thing or two about how to manipulate information. We mustn’t overlook that the reason why the world is full of conspiracy theorists nowadays might just be because there is an awful lot of conspiracy going on.
Getting the right balance between healthy scepticism and bone-headed denial can sometimes be difficult, I’ll grant you. It is very easy to get carried away and become consumed by one’s own cynicism. For example, having concentrated on the weaknesses in the thinking behind an accelerated rush for Net Zero, one can sometimes lose sight of the fact that human activity is very problematic when it comes to the environment, and that many people have genuine concerns that they can fully justify. Perhaps on the road not taken I would not be rocking the Kasbah but playing all that jazz. But the fact is that I have chosen my musical genre and it simply isn’t my job to draw attention to the strength of argument that lies behind the consensus — there are already plenty of other people singing the Hallelujah Chorus. So, if you don’t mind, I will just carry on here, in my relative obscurity, trying my best to tune my instruments and bashing out the occasional ditty that will get the odd person humming, if only for a fleeting moment. It isn’t going to pay for that villa and the Rolls Royce I’d willingly drive into its swimming pool, but it will keep me amused nevertheless. And it has given me the opportunity to play alongside some fine musicians.
I owe Bradley a lot.