Whilst the skies over Britain are once again open, and there has been no noticeable fall of volcanic ash, we are still enduring the substantial fall-out from the crisis. We may have stopped looking for falling cinders, but we have stepped up our search for someone to blame. This idea that someone must be to blame seems central to the 21st century persona : having mastered nature, mankind can only assume that any inconvenience is the result of someone else's deliberate mistake. And in the words of the famous Stanley Holloway monologue "The Lion and Albert", "someone's got to be summonsed". The airlines are launching multi-billion pound claims against the air traffic regulators, passengers are seeking to sue the undercarriages off airlines, and everyone is convinced that the government is to blame : any government.
I could go on at length about the shift from a society in which people took responsibility for each other to a society where someone else is always seen as responsible for negative events, but I won't because it would depress me and it would probably depress you as well (and then you could sue me for getting depressed after reading my blog). So instead I will stick with The Lion and Albert. As a philosophical work I reckon it ranks up there with Spinoza and John Stuart Mill. The monologue was written by the poet and comedian, Marriott Edgar who came from a family of theatrical performers embedded in the traditions of the music hall and the seaside pier shows. His half brother was the famous playwright and novelist, Edgar Wallace. It is thought that Marriott chose the name of the lion in the story - Wallace - as a tribute to his famous half-brother who he did not meet until they were both in middle age. The fact that they spent half a lifetime apart was just one of those things. As far as I know, they didn't try to sue anyone for it.