THE ENGLISH DISEASE / 1990"s AND THE END OF AN ERA
THE WORLD GOES ROUND
Entering the final decade of the 20th Century, saw the world in general in less turbulent mood than in many earlier decades. That does not imply that all was rosy in the world garden, far from it but iconoclastic events were less than in many previous periods. 1992 saw finally, the end of the Cold War and with it the rise of a newer form of domination in Russia as the Soviet Union disintegrated to change once more, the much changed map of Europe. Russia fell easily into the arms of Oligarchs and Mafia style operators as the ordinary man in the street celebrated a new found freedom. In Poland, the previous Freedom Leader , LECH WALENSA became President, a symbol of the change sweeping the Continent. In the Southern Hemisphere, great change came, at last ,to South Africa. NELSON MANDELA was first released from captivity,in time to see at first hand the collapse of Apartheid and eventually in 1994 became President of the country.His was probably the story of the decade and maybe even the century.
Although, as stated earlier, on a World scale, things were less explosive, there were still enough examples of mans inhumanity to man to cause significant concerns for this was the decade of Genocide in Rwanda, the bombing of the World Trade Centre and the Sarin gas attack in Tokyo being key examples. Less dramatic, but fundamentally important was the peaceful handing over by Britain of Gong Kong to the Chinese Peoples Republic.Capitalism taken over by Socialism in a nutshell. India joined the Nuclear Powers and perhaps more positively, saw economic expansion develop to help feed the masses better than previously.
Other events saw the Hubble Telescope success in 1990, and at the other end of the decade, the EURO was introduced in 1999. The jury is still out on whether it was, and is, a good way to establish currency. The UK, whilst a member of the Common Market, declined to enter, holding onto the Pound and the decimalised constituent parts introduced back in 1971. The Americans, always keen to upset their own politicians , and having successfully brought President Nixon to book in the 1970"s tried to impeach President Clinton in 1998 but despite overwhelming evidence, the clever Clinton escaped. This was a reminder to everyone of course that this was the country which had declared O J Simpson innocent of murder despite evidence to the contrary in 1994! No change there then. The world went round, no one ever said it was ever perfect!
BRITAIN SLUMBERS INTO OBESITY.
Throughout my adult life Politicians have messed with Education and especially my chief love, Physical Education. In the 1990"s I became even more aware than before of this as the results of lessening time for Physical Education in Schools added to the great rush to sell off playing fields began to take toll on the population which was by 1991 over 58 million. Too high a proportion of these, and many in the underclass just took the easy way to the pub, the increasing fast food outlets and the couch in front of the TV with predictable results. Too many became obese, clinically obese and we began to resemble America in the way so many were changed from walking to waddling. Still politicians took no heed and the cost to the NHS to treat self inflicted obese disease rocketed and continues to do so to this day. Along with alcohol and tobacco abuse obesity makes up the top three costs on out Health Service and still no one listens.
In the UK, the decade was calmer than many before but we still had to cope with the Spice Girls, Blur, Oasis etc etc on the popular music front as the country became obsessed with TV and Pop Concerts. Wide screen TV"s added to all this ,as did DVD"s. The arrival of smaller, cheaper and more reliable and available mobile phones meant the start of what in the next decade was to become an avalanche of sales. At least by now it was calculated all homes had washing machines, so in theory we were a cleaner nation.
The world wide web phenomenon also hustled along with 10 million companies and 130 million users estimated by 1998.A little earlier , the Channel Tunnel was completed in 1995 with the French for once, completing their side of the bargain. 2 years later an election saw a new force arrive in Downing Street as Anthony Blair was installed as Prime Minister. A man for his time, Blair was to hold office for 10 years, most of them characterised by a superb style moulded by excellent wordsmiths and TV coaches but which sadly for the people was only style. Of substance was there precious little if any at all and with America being lead by the superb intellect of George W Bush for much of his time, the alliance was also strong on style but weak on good decision making. More of that and Mr Blair next time.
However, for the British, perhaps the key moment came with the untimely death of the Princess Diana in a Parisian street tunnel. Diana, although born into High Society had rightly, many say, "THE PEOPLE"S PRINCESS". Even divorce from the heir to the throne did not affect this. In fact it did the opposite, with the people in large numbers siding with Diana, leaving the helpless and often hopeless, Charles, wondering what he had done wrong in behaving as heirs to the Throne had done all the way through history. Be that as it may, it was the human and common touch that came naturally to Diana that gave her such affection and which remains to this day, being now reserved for her son, William and his excellent wife, Katherine. It may yet turn out that Diana was the key to the retention of the Monarchy for the future and that may be her greatest legacy. Whilst not a Royalist naturally , I support the Monarchy, because as long as it is there, people like Mr Blair and his wife will not be. The Americans may wish they had thought along those lines as it would have protected them from further President"s like GWB.
A CALMER DECADE FOR ME.
THE 1990"S SAW ME STAY IN THE SAME WORK PLACE THROUGHOUT. IT WAS A TIME OF GOOD ACHIEVEMENT FOR US, THOUGH SPORT WILL ALWAYS HAVE THE DISAPPONTMENTS AND DISASTERS AND WE WERE NO EXCEPTION. EVEN SO ON BALANCE I WOULD HAVE HAD IT NO DIFFERENT AND IT WAS CERTAINLY NEVER BORING.
1993 became the big year for myself and Sandra when, on December 30th we married, having been together for 8 years by then. 3 years later Sandra found the house she wanted, at the price I wanted and we have lived their ever since. We saw her son, my stepson safely off to University towards the end of the decade. He was to Graduate with Honours in 2001 on a day the whole world will remember, but not for his Honours Degree sadly.
In 1995, I had had a return of the digestion problems that had hit me at various times in my life. Under stress, it seemed to take hold of me and I lost so much weight that most felt sure I had Cancer. Fortunately, an inspired Consultant, Mr Willis, put a camera down my throat and as a result diagnosed me as a COELLIAC,a person who cannot absorb GLUTEN. Put on a GLUTEN FREE DIET, within a fortnight I was fighting fit and remained so until my bowel perforated in 2010, some 15 years later. More on that in the next decade. So 1999 brought the decade to a close and I recalled riding past Huddersfield Parish Church at midnight on Dec 31ST 1960 and thinking that when 2000 arrived I would be 60! No imagination required here and now. My 60th year was arriving.