Tag Archives: england

Here is a strange and bitter crop.

Dear friends,

Many of you wrote posts, linked to campaigns and wrote to your MPs and so on recently about the shoddy way the Digital Economy Bill, or what is now the Digital Economy Act 2010, was being handled. I read your thoughts, watched the video, had a look around on the ORG website, and was interested and impressed to see the depth of feeling and analysis that was going on about the various issues, and agree that it was a pretty bad example of what passes for a democratic process, and that it’s without exception creepy and disturbing for any state to assert or seek greater control over people’s means of communications (I do have reservations about certain things that arose on ‘our’ side of the debate as well, like the repetition of Brown’s claim that ‘the internet is as vital as water and gas’; I do know what he was saying in context but don’t really think that stands up to much scrutiny from a global standpoint, and – taken out of context, as it was when I first saw it – it strikes me as being in questionable taste given that one billion people worldwide are living without access to clean water).

But anyway, what I wanted to say here was, while you are all thinking about human rights (yeah yeah, so I meant to write this earlier, whatever) and also about politics and getting ready to vote and so on, I would like to draw your attention to immigration and the treatment of immigrants and asylum seekers in the UK. These are people, please bear in mind, who have come to Britain knowing that it’s a country wealthy enough, democratic enough, and with enough of a tradition of understanding and respect for upholding human rights, that when something like the DEBill is rushed through our parliament, there is an uproar and backlash such as we saw this month.

  • On February 4th 2010, a hunger strike (ongoing at the time of writing) began at Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre, with over 70 women protesting their poor conditions, separation from their children, poor health and legal provisions and long periods of detainment. They have also demanded better legal representation in their asylum cases, as a report conducted by Legal Action for Women in 2006 found that 57% of women detained at Yarl’s Wood had no one representing them. While officials have claimed that detention is only used as a short-term measure, one of the women on hunger strike has been held for over two years. The response of the Serco staff to the hunger strike has been extremely heavy-handed. Many injuries have been reported and some of the women involved have been transferred to police stations. The women, many of whom are survivors of rape and torture, have reported racist abuse and beatings at the hands of guards, as well as being locked in isolation in a windowless corridor for eight hours without access to water or toilet facilities. Many of the detainees need medication which they have been denied during the protest.
    Serco and the UK Border Agency refused to confirm the number, nationality and status of the hunger strikers.
  • In April 2009, the Children’s Commissioner for England published a report which stated that children held in the detention centre are denied urgent medical treatment, handled violently and left at risk of serious harm. The report detailed how children are transported in caged vans and watched by opposite sex staff as they dress.
  • In March 2010, the Chief Inspector of Prisons published a report which confirmed that a baby had been detained for 100 days at Yarl’s Wood, and that force had been used against children twice in the last year to separate them from their families: “What was particularly troubling was that decisions to detain, and to maintain detention of, children and families did not appear to be fully informed by considerations of the welfare of children, nor could their detention be said to be either exceptional or necessary.”
  • In 2009, Felista Peters, a trainee radiologist, was jailed for 19 months and will be deported on completion of this term. Felista had successfully completed her BSC in radiology at the University of the West of England in Bristol and was days away from graduating when she was arrested. Her ‘crime’ was gaining British citizenship by claiming to have been born in London.
  • In 2002-03, Yurdugal Ay and her four children aged 7 to 14 were held in Dungavel Immigration Removal Centre for over a year, living like prisoners in a single room inside a razor wire surrounded compound, with the children allowed just 2 hours exercise each day. The Ay family eventually gained asylum in Germany. In March 2010, two five-year-old boys and their mother, who had fled from domestic violence in Nigeria in 2006, were taken to Dungavel. The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland have “expressed their abhorrence at the practice of detaining young children and have asked the Scottish government to end this brutal and inhumane regime.”
  • Also in March 2010, a family of three people committed suicide at the Red Road flats in Glasgow.
    While Saeed, an Afghan asylum seeker, attended a candlelit vigil for the family, his belongings, including identity papers, were cleared out of his room in YMCA Glasgow and he was told without notice that he could not return to his flat. YMCA staff advised him that his belongings were ‘probably in the bin’.
    Meanwhile, the Home Office challenged a judge’s decision that a mourning couple should not have to exhume the body of their dead baby son and rebury him in Pakistan.
  • In February 2010 (thanks to my dearest dad for pointing this out to me), Gordon Brown issued an apology for Britain’s role in the Child Migrants Program, which shipped thousands of children to former colonies such as Australia and Canada.
    “We are sorry that the voices of these children were not always heard, their cries for help not always heeded.”… Mr Brown said the participants in the scheme were “robbed” of their childhood. “The pain of a lost childhood can last a lifetime.”

    The scheme began in 1869 and was ended in the 1960s.
    Gordon Brown was born in 1951, and is apparently fond of making meaningless, hollow gestures.

Support No One Is Illegal and the No Borders Network

Support the Refugee Council, Yarl’s Wood Befrienders and Scottish Detainee Visitors

Write to women inside Yarl’s Wood. Contact the All African Women’s Group (AAWG) at aawg02@gmail.com for more information on writing to women who want to receive letters. Help ensure the guards and the government know that these women are not forgotten.

Write to Minister of State Phil Woolas MP: woolasp@parliament.uk or Privateoffice.external@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk

Don’t let anyone tell you you’re not worth the earth – these streets are your streets, this turf is your turf.

There are so very many things that I could write about Climate Camp 2009, and other experiences I’ve had in the last couple of weeks. None of it would be very coherent or cohesive, though, I would find it difficult to get points across, I would argue with myself, I would struggle as I always do.  This statement addresses some of my concerns about it, and this article voices some of my hopes and happinesses.

And what about me? I am well and happy. My head is full of ideas, hopes, fears, half-formed analyses. A lot of things are wrong in the world. Some things are right and good. Some things are ugly. Some things are beautiful. I had some time to think and a lot to think about. I value opportunities to meet and spend time with interesting and kind people. My brother is one of the most interesting and kind people I know. I value time spent with him, above much else. I met several new interesting and interested and kind people, too. I like being heard and respected for who I am. I enjoy pubs, pretty girls, Thai food, sunshine, laughter, foxes, freedom and fire. All of the above were features of my week away. I missed my lover, and my bike. My sister is sixteen years old. I got to Newcastle to see her a few hours before her birthday began.

This weekend just gone was Rosh Hashanah, Jewish New Year – it started at sunset on Friday. I guess that means I started it by tipsily cycling home from the pub where my newish boss had treated me and a colleague to drinkies following an unexpected, but pleasant, ‘it’s 5pm on a Friday and this bottle of wine has been in the fridge for ages!’ one in the office. I had a ‘credit crunch date’ at home, as the boy and I need all the spare dolla we can muster for paying the deposit on, and buying stuff to go in, our new flat next week. We had a nice meal and watched The Proposition – I’d seen it before, in the cinema with K, but he hadn’t, and it is still as bleak yet brilliant as I remembered. Then we sat and talked about stuff and I ended up crying about EDL and/or UAF until I felt very very sick, and not sleeping well at all, wakefully Thinking about Things until after 4am.

I got up on Saturday morning with puffy eyes, had some tea, and baked some really nice cinnamon biscuits. Then had some more tea, then went out on my bike to meet my good buddy P, who I hadn’t seen in four weeks, due to our busy lives. We met at the start of the canal, rode down the Union canal path (nice and flat, and mostly wide with just a couple of slightly scary bits where you’re supposed to get off and walk, but of course we don’t), over aqueducts and under viaducts, talking about stuff – what we’d both been doing over the month, his 30th birthday being in a few days, bikes – to where it meets the Water of Leith path somewhere around Wester Hailes and so we switched on to that (pretty good, scenic, but a lot more bumpy – rather him than me on that roady bike he has borrowed from his brother while the latter is in New Zealand. Leon can handle all the rocks, sticks and mud just fine) and took it all the way to Balerno, where it somewhat abruptly ends. It had been pretty grey and drizzly all day and a proper downpour commenced just as we stood there wondering what to do, so we went to the shop and bought some milk to have with our biscuits, then went a little way back along the path looking for shelter. I always find it sort of awesome how much cover the trees can offer from even this torrential rain – we quickly found a really nice dry spot with a big rock to sit on.

Then P decided that if we scrambled down a horribly steep bit to the river’s edge, it would be a perfect place for a little fire, but upon investigating my handbag it turned out we had no means of making the fire (a mirror, yes, but not enough sunlight for that) so, as the rain wore off, he went back to the shop and bought a lighter, the cheapest newspaper he could find (Daily Express – ugh ugh ugh!), and a fruit loaf, while I ate an apple and collected firewood. We locked our bikes together just off the path. He leapt fearlessly down the slope to his proposed fireplace and I crept gingerly behind him, which took about twenty times as long, but didn’t fall. He crumpled up paper, mysteriously found a huge, comfortable plank and by means of balancing it across rocks, assembled it into a handy bench upwind so we’d be out of the way of any smoke. I built the sticks into the little pyramid over the crumpled paper, gathered some more wood, and lit the fire. He got a rock and bashed the protruding ends of some ‘deadly’ nails back into his lumber bench, convinced me it was now safe to sit on, and flapped the remaining paper at the base of the fire as a makeshift bellows, to get the flames going. Then we just sat and toasted pieces of fruit loaf on a stick and had them and the cookies with milk and talked and stared at the beautiful fire for a couple of hours. When it was time to go home, we let the fire burn itself out and then doused the embers using water from the river in the empty milk bottle. The sun had come out while we were sitting there and it was finally a really beautiful, crisply sunny late afternoon, and clearly the last day of summer, and the start of something new. The ride back was easy because it was all very slightly downhill, and we had a laugh, and talked about autumn and time and light, places, politics, plants and plans.
I went home and hung out with D without crying about UAF, and made some totally delicious vegetarian chilli. That was Rosh Hashanah. When I was younger I used to go to shul.

I talked to my dad on the phone. My mum’s got swine flu but he said she’s not feeling too bad. He’d been to the first day of his teacher training course at uni, so he hadn’t been to shul either, which is more ground-breaking – and had spent the week working in the school where he’s been volunteering part-time for a while now. He told me that it had been the most enjoyable working week of his life and I wasn’t surprised, but was very happy for him. I told him about my three-month review and how happy I was at work too, and about my plans for my career, and about K’s success in Catalunya, and about my bike ride. He told me about reading a story to the children (And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street) and how he was impressed and amused by some of their own creative writing, and described the way that he cycles to the school and to uni now – it has been a very long time since he hasn’t had to drive to work, as he used to work a long way out of town in Consett and Blyth. And he told me that my sister had been at a surprise party for her (belatedly) and one or two of her friends’ birthdays.
Obviously I’m gutted for my mum being ill, and I don’t really know what my brother did, but for the rest of us I kind of love that we each celebrated the New Year in our own, very meaningful ways. I think God would like it, if there was one.

In summary, then, same as almost always I suppose: small things good, big things… not so good. Or thereabouts. I am not mentioning the footy. My hopes and plans for 5770 are pretty shiny and exciting. They include

  • not filling in one single job application form
  • Barcelona
  • A garden
  • Saving up for this, yeeeah booooi!

Happy new year to you too.

It’s been a long, long time coming, but I know a change is gonna come.

I don’t do this often, but this is important:

Please, please, please go to the cinema and watch this film this weekend.

The Age of Stupid

If you’re in Edinburgh, it’s showing at the Filmhouse for a week from this Friday, with a bunch of events around the screenings in association with the lovely people of Take One: Action, and on this page you can find local screenings throughout the UK. I watched the premiere on Sunday night, and apart from anything else, it’s bloody brilliant – it really is the most thought-provoking, outlook-changing, unmissable, oddly life-affirming £6 you’ll spend in a good while.

There are terrifying, horrifying moments – as stomach-lurching and spine-shivering as anything from War of the Worlds or 28 Days Later – but this isn’t science fiction. Instead, you find yourself shuddering at things like the realisation that about 40% of natural gas is still being burned off at source across Nigeria‘s 1000 onshore oil wells. Yes, that’s the same natural gas that we use to cook and heat our homes: according to the World Bank, over 100 billion cubic metres of it – that’s the combined annual gas consumption of Germany and France – are ‘flared’, uselessly spewing filthy, toxic smoke into the air, every year, apparently because it’s not easy enough for oil companies to make a profit storing and exporting the fuel. In Nigeria, the practice continues despite the new law prohibiting it from 1 January 2009. Much like the High Court ruling that prohibited it from 2005, then.

It’s difficult not to feel appalled at moments like this – but that’s not the whole story. The Age of Stupid, like our world itself, is beautifully put together, inspiring and frightening by turns; part-disaster movie, part-cautionary tale. There’s no knight in shining armour, no fairy godmother, and no straightforward way to a happy ending, but for me, some of the most thought-provoking moments are genuinely uplifting. Watch the excellently named Alvin DuVernay III – the Shell employee who lost his home and everything he owned, but saved the lives of more than 100 of his neighbours in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina – sitting in a jazz bar and reflecting on what he’s learned from the experience about materialism and the way Americans use energy, the way we all live, and tell me you’ve seen a more – good GOD I hate this word and can’t believe I’m about to use it – heartwarming scene in a film this year.

Incidentally, from filmmaker Franny Armstrong’s fascinating backstage diary: [Alvin] is haunted by all the people he didn’t save. He said he “lost his humanity” that day – because he was so focused on getting as many people as possible that sometimes he snapped when people asked if they could bring lots of luggage or go back for something they forgot. Now he says he wants to find all those people and apologise for being short with them.

If that dude has lost his humanity, there’s a lot of us could really do with finding some of it.

Anyway, got distracted there, my point is: it’s pretty easy to feel tiny in the face of climate change. It’s easy to feel terrified, to feel there’s nothing you can do to help avert the forthcoming catastrophe – in short, to freak out. Easy, but certainly not logical – this is our world, our generation, and this is real change that’s happening now, to us. This is why Age of Stupid media producer, brilliant animator and all-round mensch Leo Murray wants you to

Wake Up, Freak Out – then Get a Grip

Very seriously, if you don’t see The Age of Stupid (which would be, well, stupid), if you don’t even read this whole post, then please, please DO take 10 minutes to watch Wake Up, Freak Out – then Get a Grip. It’s short, it’s easy, it’s free, it’s got some ace artwork, and it might just change your life. On peut le voir en français ici, and it’s also available in Deutsch, Español, Nederlands, Türkçe and English with subtitles.

Another of the most resonant moments in The Age of Stupid, for me, was a quiet reflection from an Englishman. Piers Guy, a windfarm developer who’s struggling to achieve positive change against the disturbingly blinkered ‘not in my back yard’-ism of a snobbish, Home Counties tweed-wearing set, stands in Airfield Farm, near Bedfordshire, and is reminded of the war and how the land got its name: “You only have to look at the terrible things in our history, which everyone regrets now”, he muses, “massacres, the Holocaust, and a lot of that was just going along with what was the predominant thinking at the time.”

And this is it, this is what I needed: the reminder that yes, massive social, economic and political changes for the better can happen. More than that, they do happen, must happen, and will happen, and relatively fast.24.358

A hundred years ago, I wouldn’t have been able to vote, and it’d be massively unlikely for me to go to university – but as early as the 70s the UK had a female Prime Minister (granted, she was a shit one, but that’s beside the point here). Sixty years ago, black children in the USA were segregated into ‘Negro’ schools, and couldn’t ride buses or trains, use drinking fountains, or play sports with their white peers; today the President is black. These changes have happened within living memory, and there’s more – the film goes into the (rather exciting) possibilities for going forward into a cleaner, greener future and working to achieve a position of global energy equality, which will unsurprisingly involve the US and Europe seriously (though gradually) downsizing our fossil fuel consumption. (Al Gore: ‘They’re seeing the writing on every wall’).

My grandparents, probably some of your parents, remember life during wartime – living in fear through Blitzkrieg over London, and worse in Poland and the former USSR; losing brothers to the fighting, watching children die from treatable diseases. And they remember dealing with serious shortages – they remember the rationing of clothes, petrol, soap, sugar, meat, fat, then bread, then potatoes. Nobody’s asking our generation to give up our lives for our freedom and principles, and we’re not even talking about rationing bread, more like rationing the time we spend with big-screen TVs, XBoxes, cheap flights. Unquestionably we can face this fight. It’s started in the Maldives, it’s coming to Copenhagen this year.

We can do this, we can survive – and more than that, we can and we will live low impact.


Newsflash: Bikes are still amazing!

Who’s with me (pictured)?

Pete Postlethwaite is with me.

And finally, bonus fun, whimsical and actually rather beautiful link by way of a reward for having read this far: check out Leo and Bill’s creation of the universe with milk and a fishbowl.

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You could either be successful or be us with our winning smiles

One from my notebook: Bryn.

in the kitchen

BRYN

is a boy who could be any age between about 17 and 28. He is pale with pretty jade-green eyes and a dreadhawk which is dun at the roots and then dyed to a subtle, denim blue tending toward slate; I want to say it matches his eyes, but his eyes are really quite different, greener; I think what I mean is it matches somebody’s eyes. It does match his hoody, well-worn, soft like a faded photograph. He has a piercing on the right-hand side of his lip and wears a little ring in it which perhaps lends the impression of a half-smile even when he is not half-smiling (which he is quite often), and he has a slightly unusual face with a prominent nose and mild chin, a little as though when somebody made him, they started by pinching a little pinch of the Bryn-clay and pulled it forward to make a nose, then added everything else around it as an afterthought.

He reminds me of my brother immediately I see him, which is in the kitchen on the first day extolling the virtues of drinking cups of hot water to avoid caffeine. Someone shouts “Bryn, you’re taking this vegan thing too far!” and so I assume he’s straight edge, but then later it turns out he isn’t at all. I say “drinking hot water, eh? It’s really good for you, isn’t it?” (having not regained my Lahndan ‘innit’, definitely not at this stage, I don’t think I did at all really, or maybe self-parodyingly a bit.) and Bryn says “nah it’s not good for you, it just tastes really nice! Nicer than cold water. You should try it”. And this exchange sums up something of what little I’ve gathered about the nature of Bryn: he is unconventionally affable, he is serious but never earnest, or he is light-hearted but never free-wheeling. Something like that. Also he seems, unusually, to be absolutely as happy and comfortable chatting in a group of people or sitting in silence alone somewhere with his thoughts and the sky and the faraway sea in his eyes. If you find him doing the latter, and talk to him, he responds as though he’d just been waiting for you to come along (and ask him what he got up to last night, or whatever – “folk rave!” he might enthusiastically say), rather than as though you’re interrupting. He is quietly confident and never brash; his style is demonstrated when I shyly ask if I can take his photograph and he keenly agrees, smiles, but then doesn’t quite meet the camera’s gaze. It is quite delightful really.

On the last day, when we are in a terrible rush due to leaving the site an hour later than we’d planned (I blame F), we stagger, loaded with bags, past Bryn on our way out. I drop some of mine to hug him and kiss him on the cheek, though because a light rain is falling again, he has his hood up and it gets in the way and so the kiss lands far over toward his lips, perhaps touching them at one side, and I’m a bit embarrassed. Again, that feeling that I want to say something meaningful, or I want to tell him something but I don’t know what. I think I say “it was really good to meet you”, and then he says something about flickr and I say “I will!”

She’s so high.

rule

So I have just returned from The Camp for Climate Action, which was an incredible experience on very many levels. I’m so enthused, so excited and so horrified by various things I’ve seen and heard – I was absolutely cream crackered last night as we got no sleep the night before and travelled all day, but then I just woke up at 8.30 now with my head spinning and churning, with this feeling of momentum, wanting to get up and run and shout like when I was a kid. I guess this is what they mean about being ‘energised’ by taking part in action; it’s quite odd and honestly, even in my most optimistic moments I didn’t imagine it would be this good for me on a personal level. That just seems weird to say now, my life is so very… microcosmic?, it’s hard to get everything in the picture.
I’m trying to summarise, to say something that’ll make sense of it all: Six days in a wet, muddy field being a vegan changed my life? No. Listen to this and see if you feel the same way, if this lump rises up in your throat and your eyes water and – no… I don’t think it will be quite the same, but you should listen to it anyway. I’ve become part of a movement that’s involved the High Court, injuncted men, buckets and buckets of tea, Swampy, Richard and Judy, the Boy Scouts and so much more, sat in a little English village pub (called The Red Lion, for heaven’s sake) and listened to a ‘local’ defending Fergus’ right to look the way he does – he has a few feet of golden hair and a matching beard and is wearing a t-shirt proclaiming that Jesus was a Gay Black Hippy Jew? By the way, it was amazing to hang out with F so much (how often do you spend pretty much 7 x 24 hours straight with one of your mates?!) and I met so many other awesome people, which is part of why I’m so buzzing now, (I even got my London accent back a bit, it’s so funny!) and we did also have a wicked party (plus went to Camden and got pissed up on digestive-biscuit-vodka among other things so that was nice) just in case you’re worrying that I’m too earnest? Also while I was away I got offered a job and an interview for another which just goes to show? I don’t know.
And just noticed I’m (sort of) in the Waily Heil! Hahaha! I remember this woman, she did indeed do the washing up on the first day (she said “I really like washing up! I clearly don’t get enough sex”) and she did seem nice and Jewish I thought and a bit mumsy, I wondered what had happened to her. So that you don’t have to actually read that nonsense here is my 1 minute of fame:
A lot of dirty looks are thrown and the police retreat beyond the perimeter. Camp Climate [why does she keep calling it that, even if you are scrawling in the Faily Fail is it that difficult to get two words in the right order?!] has won the pushing competition.
“Hello,” says the woman next to me. “I’m Alice.”
“I’m Tanya,” I reply. “Pleased to meet you,” she says and we shake hands.
We are so English – even when we are evicting the police, we are polite.

Think of it, a ‘journalist’ from the Daily Hate Mail has done my washing up. That’s wicked, I don’t know whether to laugh or wash the hand that shook hers with caustic soda… Eat my lentils, bitch! My radical socialist queer Jewish intellectual lentils! You LOVE IT. Not sure if she actually did eat my lentils, of course, she’d probably wussed out by Thursday which is when we cooked lunch for ‘the whole of London’ (about 200 people).

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Hot in the city.

This weekend, I have mostly been drunk. It’s too hot here, and alcohol makes you dehydrated. I feel dried up, like a raisin. In fact, more like a paper flower: when I was little, once or twice I remember my mum bringing me these beautiful, tightly folded, brightly coloured tiny paper flowers, and we’d fill a bowl or the bathroom sink with water and then float them on top and they’d bloom. Open out gently and gradually, just like real petals, but faster and more surprising and you felt like you’d made it happen yourself. (Like with my begonia – latest news on that: still alive!) That’s what I feel like today – hot and hard and dry and tight. I want to blossom, I want someone to float me and open me up.

I’m dreaming of cool water every night recently – I dream of rivers, of deep dark mirrored lakes and the endless ever-changing sea. Of stillness and storms, silence and susurrus, and thunder and the roar of waves. I want to do away with the space and layers between me and the elements (well maybe not fire). I dream of submergence, of swimming, of running through fountains, but mostly of floating alone with nothing but blue – water and sky – for miles around.

In my family (I don’t know if it’s idiosyncratic or normal), we have two Hebrew/Yiddish names, just as most people have a first name and a middle name. My brother got given both of his around the time that my mum converted, when he was a baby – his regular name (Samuel) has a direct Hebrew equivalent (Shmuel) so that had to be first, and his second one is Yitzhak, Isaac, which means ‘laughs’. Because that’s what he did, and still does; apparently he was an unusually happy baby. I wasn’t. But my sister and I, I don’t know if it’s because our regular names aren’t Hebrew ones, we each got given one by our parents and then chose the second when we reached 11 or 12 and started preparing for being bat mitzvah. Mine from my dad is Adel (Adele? Edel? Aydel? I don’t really know how you spell it), which is Yiddish and was his grandmother’s name. Because it’s Germanic I don’t know if it means anything. The one I chose is Ahuva, meaning beloved, so I never forget.
Anyway, that’s background: the name my sister chose, she told me in March just before her bat mitzvah, is Mayim – water. I never even knew that was a name (although apparently it is, just not a common one), and I thought it sounded slightly silly, like River Phoenix and whatever his crazy siblings were called apart from Joaquin (Summer, right? And Rain??) But then after the service my mum gave a little speech about her and talked about her choice of name and how appropriate she (Mum) thought it was: water is both beautiful and necessary, it’s life and it’s inspiring as well. It’s flexible and changing, it’s rivers and mist and ice – it’s soft and hard and it’s quietly much stronger than it seems. It smooths rocks and wood and sharp edges, makes those pretty sea-glass pebbles you find on the beach. It gently, gently, slowly, slowly wears down everything in its way, even the hardest stone. Then I understood. Thanks Mum. Incase you’re bored at work and nosing around again.


Someone else’s picture.

Mint and tea tree shower gel is good, though.

I suppose you’ll be expecting me to say something about this.


The End of the World. Cup.

Er… I cried a bit. John Terry set me off though. And Robinson (see? not a thug.)* I hate it when men cry. So how was I supposed to cope with supermen crying?
I’m less disappointed that we’re out, more disappointed that England can’t really say “we was robbed” this time – disappointed that we didn’t even begin to try to live up to the hype, that there was no beautiful football, it was all ridiculous and no sublime. Let down and hanging aroundovers all round. Oh well, next league season starts next month, yay! Seems like I’ll mostly be cheering Spurs (obv) and Hertha BSC Berlin. Ho hum.


In a way, I think his story is the saddest of all. Look at him there: “Hooray! I’m going to Germany… on holiday!” To sit on a bench for another month. Thinking “I could’ve put that in”, “I could’ve got that cross”, “I could’ve been a wee bit more subtle about stomping on that guy’s spuds”.
THE NEXT PELE? screamed the headlines. Well, I guess we’ll never know. No World Cup fun till you’re 21, son (you have to read that bit in a sort of Sir Mix-a-lot style, kay?)

*AND BY THE WAY: It’s totally true what I’m always telling anyone who’ll listen about Albert Camus being a goalkeeper. He played for his university’s team (Algiers) but had to give it up in 1930 when he contracted tuberculosis. He was serious about it, too – there’s lots of lovely stuff in La Peste where he has one of the characters reminiscing about t’beautiful game and going around scoring ‘goals’ by kicking pebbles down the street into the drains. And apparently he once said ‘All that I know most surely about morality and obligations, I owe to football’. I read somewhere that he said he was keeper because the other positions made your shoes wear out faster and he was poor as owt. But I think it’s really because it allows – no, demands – lots of thinking time. So they’re all, like, cerebral and that. Vladimir Nabokov was a numero uno, too:


‘The goalkeeper is the lone eagle, the man of mystery, the last defender.’

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SWEET! THUNDERSTORM!!