We have all, probably, at some time used the phrase ‘Let bygones be bygones’ in the desire to allow unpleasant things that have happened in the past to be forgotten and not sour future relationships. When I was a young man, much to my shame, I used to think that women had a harder time forgetting unpleasantries and getting on with matters at hand. I recall, in the world of publishing at least, that almost every top position was held by a male. Female executives were rare, and those who did make it to the top, dithered and dallied over decisions, invested in art-farty projects, and allowed personal likes and dislikes to influence their policies. Of course, I was wrong to think like that, but at the time it did seem that men could argue all day in the office and then have a drink after work, leaving their disputes behind to be dealt with the following day. Women bore grudges. You know, ‘Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned’, (which was first coined in 1697 by William Congreve in ‘The Mourning Bride’, you will be pleased to hear).
I was very young, and I suppose, in an attempt to defend the indefensible, women in top positions were a rarity. Women’s Lib was a novelty, as if the Suffragettes had never succeeded or even existed; it was still a man’s world. Even today, in many places, women still have a hard time making it to the top.
But back to letting bygones be bygones. Shakespeare used the term in The Winters Tale, written I believe in 1611, ‘The by-gone-day’. As time progressed, ‘bygones’ came to refer specifically to past events that had an unpleasant tinge to them, quarrels or even debts.
Talking of quarrels, debts and disagreements, how often do we let bygones be bygones? The country is in a mess, or so we are told, which should provide the best of all settings for bygones to become bygones, and for the various factions, in and out of power, to work together for the good of the country, but it’s simply not happening.
In all likelihood, those out of power, the interlopers, would promise anything to get a share of the decision-making process and then take credit for any improvements unity might bring. And those who already hold the reins of power, the incumbents, are probably horrified at the thought of appearing weak and unable to manage the situation themselves. I suspect that egos might be the problem; egos, that is, and a lack of genuine desire to put the country first. Just as it takes two hands to clap, or even four feet to tango, we need two sides, at least, that are willing to put aside petty squabbles and forget the childish playpen jostling for first place in the fickle affections of the electorate.
Kenny has to come out and admit that his policies have not worked. He thought they would, of that I have no doubt; no politicians worth their salt (A phrase, by the way that harps back to the time when Roman soldiers were partly paid in salt, a valuable commodity at the time. The word was ‘sal’, from which we get ‘salary’ – just thought you’d like to know.) would ever pursue policies doomed to failure unless they believed there was a fortune or two in it for them.
And Kenny’s opponents have to admit that they were, deep down, vastly relieved that they did not have to deal with the mess they left behind when they vacated office in 2011.
Then Kenny has to admit that he realizes that he was voted out of office in 2006 because the electorate was utterly sick and tired of his way of running the country; and the UWP has to admit that the country turned to John Compton not because he was an eighty-year-old whiz kid who could perform economic miracles, but because the voters, in desperation, believed that anything different was better than what they had. And King has to admit that he became leader, by default, of a rabble of rebellious rascals who had, apparently, very little respect for the health of the nation’s coffers. In fact, there were those who became quite affluent between 2006 and 2011, which was when the UWP was kicked out for almost exactly the same reasons as the SLP had been some 5 years earlier.
In fact, like addicts addicted to drugs, alcohol and power, our leaders have to reach rock bottom before they can begin to climb out of the morass they have got us into. Sadly, there appear to be few, if any, waiting in the political wings to take over and give us good governance, so all that is left to us is the wan hope that our leaders will face reality together and work for a better future, and let bygones be bygones. Perhaps, but only perhaps, some spark of decency will ignite a fire under our leaders to fuel the furnaces of renewed growth. It sounds trite but true: Adversity equals opportunity.