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Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Blog 137 “I hope the Russians love their children too.”

(Sting 1985)

Of course they do and that is the point of the song. And so too do Afghan, Inuit and Philippine parents love their children. But the notion of ‘otherness’ stalks humanity like a deadly virus; the idea that we can treat some human beings differently to how we would want to be treated is in the ascendency. It’s worth reminding ourselves that this was the mindset that justified both the Holocaust and African slavery.

The idea that parental love may differ across the world is an insidious fallacy that nevertheless worms its way into normalisation. We are encouraged to see ‘other’ at every turn – whether it’s demonising immigrants or the callous refusal to help ‘foreigners’ floating to their deaths in the med. Surely Union Carbide (of Dow Chemicals) could not have left untold thousands dead and suffering down generations in Bhopal, India - 1984 - if they did not assume those families were less important than their profits. Certainly less important than themselves.

Whether its tacit acceptance that millions are trapped in modern day slavery or the mistreatment closer to home of young people in asylum seeker detention centres, we surely would be less sanguine if we actually acknowledged that those suffering are human beings just like us.

All democratic governments and major religions espouse the idea that we are equal. But across the globe a human hierarchy of worth is sharply, shamefully evident.

Last Thursday I found myself in another school hall; the third senior school I’ve experienced with my three daughters. The current one is a city school here in Edinburgh and it is the most diverse in every way of any school I have had the opportunity to send a child to. Just one of the advantages of living in a vibrant city.

Looking down the list of names of those receiving awards there seemed to be  family names from every continent and looking out on the bright, beaming faces of the pupils there certainly were representatives of most countries I could think of. Around me parents, from so many cultures I couldn’t list them, babbled in proud anticipation. Black, white or brown – Scottish, Polish, African, English, Chinese or Spanish – we were all happy to sit there waiting for the 2 seconds when our child would be handed a little bit of paper to say they had done well in this or that subject. I realised it wasn’t multiculturalism on display it was simply humanity.

The wonderful thing about a school like this one is that its Babel reversed. Babel is, remember, a tale of a curse or sorts; an Old Testament story of folk cast into confusion with one another for something like arrogance. Doesn’t it stand to reason that to be different but genuinely together as human beings is a massive blessing?

And like every school I’ve been in on such an occasion – prior to the parade of slouching or bouncing or nervously giggling or striding youngsters being conveyor-belted onto the stage - there was the hum and buzz and a certain something in the air. It’s like soft electricity. It’s almost tangible. It’s fragile and powerful. It’s like a cocktail of slightly unstable ingredients that when mixed create a mesmeric magical effervescence. But last Thursday I realised what at least two of those elements were; the pulsating potential of youth and the surge of parental love. And no parent in that room felt differently about their child because their background or country of origin was different.

If, as science tells us, our dissimilarities to other species are so few (in genetic terms at least) then imagine how few differences there are in reality between one human and another. Often those differences come down to opportunities and the way we are treated – so isn’t it time to treat others the way we would wish to be treated ourselves?

More importantly – if rich countries would stop plundering and pissing in poor countries, the planet would not be awash with  vulnerable people risking life and limb to escape poverty, war, disease, anarchy, exploitation and disaster. We can’t have it both ways.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Blog 136 ‘Catastrophic Consequences’

Catastrophic Consequences’

This was the phrase that jarred me awake as my radio clicked on last Thursday morning. Clearly it was the end of a sentence I will never know the start of. But it is a global sentence for sure. 

In the post election fug – what better than to speculate about what may have preceded the declaration of calamitous cataclysmic ruin (I do like tautologies).

Had there been another earthquake or had a ‘fashion icon’ gone for the wrong hairstyle / dress / shade of nail varnish.

Was it a general statement about the West’s failure to step up to its global responsibilities, had there been an outbreak of another virus that might affect white people (see blog 105 Ebola – What’s really gruesome).

Maybe a celebrity had shown her boobs at a celebrity event in front of other celebrities and was now pictured in celebrity magazines being gawped at by people who give a shit about celebrities.

Had another cover-up of child abuse / tax evasion / political corruption been uncovered.

Had a famous couple had another baby / tattoo / row/wedding/divorce.

Perhaps the queen had a nightmare about the country being run by someone NOT from Eton?

Are the icecaps melting faster than ever – sea-life struggling to survive in warming, polluted oceans, are people dying in their thousands on open waters in un-seaworthy boats having been taken advantage of by people traffickers or did some guy, being paid more per week than the economy of a small town, fail to kick a bit of leather into a net.

Did the press forget to spend pages and air hours ‘breaking’ stories that were on the internet three days ago.

Or did someone who is in magazines a lot kiss ‘n tell.

The real irony is that we are living a Cataclysmic Catastrophe and the Consequences are starting to show. (see bog 12 Armageddon will not be televised) No hyperbole required.

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Blog 135 Kim Kardashian & UK elections – I TOLD you...

I wanted to write about the RIDICULOUS parade known as the Met Gala after a friend emailed me some pics. But then I thought – as I blogged about this result months ago – it’s only polite to tip a nod to the UK election.

But I can have my cake and eat it, which is always good. There is a parallel. There were, at the US freak show, women without proper clothes on and here in our general election were a whole bunch of people who wouldn't acknowledge that the emperor was wearing no clothes. (OK it’s tenuous.)

Lots of non-pollsters including yours truly saw it coming. See – for example - blogs
50. Ed Miliband – Political Semolina
88. Off with their Eds
107. Labour’s gift to the Tories (with BGOTR equations for the avoidance of doubt)

But everyone in the media was surprised.

So – to the Met. Usually I am spared these flesh fests as I don’t have TV don’t buy magazines and don’t follow celebrity ‘news’ but in the interests of humour and feminist despair a friend sent images. Wohooow. And there before me – grown women dressed like Christmas trees in outfits that looked as if they were designed by demented three-year-olds gone crazy with a glitter pen and the contents of the bottom of the craft drawer.

And somehow there seemed to be lots of glitz and gauze and spangle and dazzle but without, in some cases, leaving much flesh actually covered. Some feat.

Put some flippin clothes on for heaven’s sake. From one brown girl to another –have some self respect.

Ok – I get that Kim is just there to be gawped at but Beyonce honey you can SING. WHY?

I don’t see the guys parading about in gold lame jock straps.

And that is what we get with politics. Lots of flashy statement and nothing to hide the desperation underneath. Sound bites while having no core, no principles no backbone is like having the sequins and gauze without the tits the arse or the voice.

OK – politically – what I am saying is we want the tits and arse not just the sequins... So that analogy fell apart spectacularly. Hey ho.

Clegg got what he deserved. Hopefully his party, as well as the electorate, now despise him. The Labour party got what they were always going to get but in the process let the British people down so badly. Farage not getting elected was way less than he deserved but hey – pushing someone in a pile of dog crap and letting the flies at him is possibly illegal?

But re the election results I have to say (and it is never elegant to do so) -
 I told you so.
I TOLD YOU so several times on this blog. And I don’t get what was so difficult to work out.

So if you want my advice (and why would you), Kim and Beyonce PUT SOME CLOTHES ON. Labour party – if ever there was a time to stop trying to dance to the media tune its now. Let Harriet give everyone milk and cookies and don’t play into the hands of sensationalist journalism by holding a leadership contest immediately. Let folk have their time of mea culpa and set a date for a leadership ‘event’ in 18 months time. Some surprising options may occur. Who knows, Chuka Umunna may grow a personality, the membership may come up with some good ideas. Chill.

And would someone PLEASE shut Mandelson up or hit him with a large, wet, slightly warm, dead, rancid, mackerel.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Blog 134. When Royals Have Sex...

When royals have sex we pay
In deference to the constitution
What an ingenious genteel form
Of privilege prostitution

This poem is by me – just in case you thought it was by Andrew Motion or Carol Ann Duffy.

In honour of the Baby News - see last week’s blog - I am reviving this piece. It was originally posted on 25:09:12 (Amanda’s Royal Rejection by Richard Maidley).

Waste not, want not!