AL Kennedy Interview
Key figures in the arts, broadcasting and politics give us a snapshot of their lives and tell us what they think about Britain today. For the full article, including other interviews, see here.
AL Kennedy – writer and comedian
I live in London now. The air quality is very poor and I have allergies for the first time in my life. My specific neighbourhood has a ferocious community spirit and that’s great. Still, I would rather live in Glasgow, or Nairn.
Britain today is afflicted by a kind of perfect storm of problems. Our access to accurate and timely information is poor. This has allowed our political class to degrade almost completely. Pain, hardship and waste are more and more acceptable. Activities that don’t make a profit are presented as laughable indulgences. Caring for the sick, protecting children, ensuring we have breathable air and potable water, carrying out effective work for a fair charge – we are intended to find these things bizarre.
The state of things is worrying, but worry is a waste of my energy. It also allows those inadvertently and deliberately making my country miserable, punitive and ugly to dominate my interior state. I’d rather not give vandals and spivs power over my emotions, so I try to keep my mind clear.
I’m getting older and the savage environment we’ll create in the next decade or two will make that tough. The NHS has, in many areas, passed beyond the point where it can operate effectively. Like all enterprises that made our lives simpler, happier and cheaper, it has suffered from decades of attack. My NHS experiences have either been wonderful or deeply disappointing, depending on whether the individuals treating me were still fighting a broken system or had already burnt out.
I now have private health insurance – it disgusts me that such a thing should be necessary or that I should have sunk so low.
I hope that the energy and ingenuity of our newer and most harshly punished generations can break through and save us. In a way, we don’t deserve saving – we’ve been willing to forget every lesson history could have taught us about maintaining a functional, sustainable civil society. Then again, one of those forgotten lessons is that everyone is worth saving.