A novel of great scope and depth. An insight into lives and minds, truths and reality.
“I am absolutely fucked,” Simon announced as he clambered into the car. “Didn’t get in til three – and I didn’t get a lot of sleep after that either!”
“Well if you must go gallivanting about,” John sermonised.
Simon did look more bedraggled than usual.
“Where’s my stuff?”
Danielle handed him the carrier bag and turned away to look out the window as he unbuttoned his shirt to start the process of transformation.
I recounted the story of Brian and the house suspended beyond belief while Simon completed his changing and Danielle gazed out of the window with a professional boredom. These were things to be endured. “It’s got used to being there.” I finished. “Can you believe that? The whole fucking house could have fallen down on us.”
Now as we prepare for war I wonder.
It is all divorced from me, divorced from reality. I live my little life here and Israel hammers the Palestinians using US dollars. The people live their grotty little lives in the dirt with the flies. It is all so far away. There are big bellies, floods and famine in Africa. There are a billion people in India and one and a third billion in China. The USA is the biggest squanderers of the earth’s resources and all wildlife is on the run. There’s not a lot that’s changed in the last fifty years.
Life goes by.
Bin Laden schemes with Muller Omar and the PLO. Israel schemes behind closed doors. The US plots. The US philosophy is simple – America first. They vie for economic advantage. They haggle for American interest. They control the world market. If they can get oil, coffee, bananas or any fucking thing cheap they will do it. If that means back-handers or propping up some complete bastard, or manipulating the politics behind the scenes, or blackmail – they are happy to do it. It doesn’t matter if paying a few cents less for coffee causes immense poverty and suffering for millions of people on the starvation line. It doesn’t matter if propping up a tin-pot emperor results in nations being ravaged. It doesn’t matter if wars are deliberately fermented between nations as long as the American interests are being looked after and Americans can maintain their standard of living. A few pennies here and a few pennies there; it all adds up. It all adds up to a corrupt unequal world of exploitation, war and misery. And the average American wonders why they are so hated.
That game is all about power and money. It is heartless, soulless and morally corrupt. The people that indulge in it are mindless, arrogant, bigoted, nationalistic evil fuckers. They are heartless. They are deliberately killing men, women and children without remorse. Deliberately.
Now Iraq is again the evil fucker that needs saving from itself.
Surely we could do better than this? Surely we can manage the world better than this. I am sick and embarrassed to be benefiting from it.
While there is injustice there is going to be war.
The hatred that fuels terrorism is based on injustice.
Surely it is about time we created some world-wide standards of human dignity; some world-wide justice.
There used to be a time when the British were the evil fuckers but now we compete with the Americans for a share of the cream. We protect our own and try to keep the rest of the world down. They should know their place.
There used to be a time when to be British meant something. We were sure our culture was the next best thing to chocolate fudge ice cream. It was quite apparent that British culture was superior. We were demonstrably superior. Our British phlegm and invention were manifest. We had the arrogance born of Eton and Rugby. We were a superior race. Our culture glowed.
In comparison to us there were a few other cultures that were inferior but none the less quite close. They were the major European cultures, organised on the same lines, working to the same ethics. The Germans, Spanish, Italians, French and Russians. They deserved some credit. Outside of that was a barbaric, primitive maelstrom of savages who required suppressing and exploiting.
To be British meant that you were civilised. You stood for God, country, justice and cultural superiority. To be from a different race was simply to be inferior. It was obvious. We had the technology. We ruled the planet. The Europeans carved it up between them. Life was straightforward. If you were English your life meant something. If you were not, on a sliding scale, it meant somewhere between little and fuck-all.
We had our derogatory names for them all – Spics, wops, niggers, wogs, chinks, frogs and krauts. Everyone had their place.
Now it is obviously not quite so clear. We have come to see that there is a lot of value in the ethics of other cultures. We have begun to recognise their achievements and value them. We have begun to question a lot of our own values, ‘achievements’ and ethics. Perhaps we are not quite so superior. Perhaps a lot of what we have got has come from the wisdom of other cultures. For fuck’s sake even our national religion is an Arab import. Our own home-grown religion has been denigrated and persecuted to extinction (not that I have a great deal of regard for most of the wicca).
We have begun to see people as people regardless of race, culture and religion. Perhaps we are finally becoming civilised. We have begun to value the differences and flavours of different cultures and value the perspectives they bring.
Fuck. Before the whole world becomes absorbed into an amorphous mass of concrete, glass and McDonald signs it must be possible to value diversity? Mustn’t it?
I was behind an American family in London recently and the father said: “I’m getting a little fed up with Burger King and McDonalds – shall we have a change and look out for a Wendy’s today.” Fuck. That’s in London.
What are we doing?
So anyway, back to the war in Iraq. We shall bomb the hell out of them. Bomb them back to the Stone Age. We will not solve the underlying problem but so fucking what? We will feel better seeing things blowing up. We will see bombs hitting buildings, tanks exploding, and missiles scudding by. We will see long distance shots of corpses. We will see maps of armies in retreat and regimes toppled. It will be a bit like a computer game and a bit like a soap opera.
You can be sure that we won’t hear the screams, smell the charred flesh, be covered in the vomit, wretch on the stink of decaying fly-blown corpses or have to explain to a young girl why it was necessary that she was raped with a bottle, or tell a young child why their daddy isn’t coming home.
But bomb the fuckers because they’ll sure as hell bomb you if they get half a chance.
They’re planning another September 11th. They hate us. They want to nuke the hell out of us because they despise our freedom.
That doesn’t quite add up.
They hate us because we exploit them and they have no work, no future. They see our affluence as a direct relationship to their poverty. They see us as arrogant, rich, uncaring evil fuckers. They hate us for doing this to them. They turn to fundamental religion in response to what we are doing. They no longer aspire to our values or the stanchions of our culture.
They live to die.
One of my sons has been a pallbearer. He helped carry the coffin of his friend Dave.
Dave and Bob were on the same nursing course. Dave had previously been in the army and had fought in the first glorious Gulf war where we really stuffed their arses and booted them out of Kuwait. There won’t be any repercussions from that now, will there?
Dave was out on routine patrol in the desert with a dozen of his unit. They suddenly found themselves surprised by a big force of Arab soldiers. They were quickly surrounded and captured. The soldiers were surly and booted them around, lined them up against a wall and threatened to shoot them. They shoot Dave’s friend in stomach and laughed as he writhed around on the ground screaming in agony. They taunted them. Come on help him. Anyone who moved would be shot. They kept them there for hours taunting them, listening to the screams of their friend, and screaming until his throat was raw, as the blood formed a pool. Then the screaming subsided to gurgling and after hours he died. They had stood watching and listening and every one of those minutes had dragged and wrenched at them. The taunting had seared into them. Every moment they expected to be shot. The laughing and grotesque disregard for another human being’s agony and death ate away like acid. They were consumed with terror, hatred, and self-preservation. They felt shame and impotence. This was not battle. This was not firing away at an enemy in a courageous fight or the glorious valour of war. This was callous cold-blooded murder.
The Arabs let them go. It turned out that they were Saudi’s. They were ostensibly on our side. I suppose you could say that Dave’s friend was killed by friendly fire.
Dave had been a proud, fit soldier. He was intelligent and strong. Sure of his courage, skills and companions. He was a sergeant. He commanded. He was a young healthy man.
He was a broken man at nineteen. He came home and received treatment and counselling. He had nightmares and flashbacks. He’d wake up in the night with the terror and impotence and relive it.
After a while he decided to go and train as a nurse and put something back in. He thought it might be cathartic. He thought it might put the demons to rest.
It seemed to work.
He got on with people. He threw himself into the course. He worked hard. He was friends with a lively bunch of student nurses and they all lived together in two houses.
Everyone thought that Dave was doing OK, he was getting over it. He would wake up in the night in cold sweats, screaming but he was coping with it. He was opening up to his friends and talking about it. They thought he was going through a process of coming to terms with his terrible experiences.
They went out and had an evening down the pub. It was a fun night. Dave was part of it all. Nobody noticed any problems. They downed a few jars, got some pizza and a video and went back to one of the houses. Part way through the video Dave got up and went into the kitchen. They assumed he’d gone to make a cup of coffee. After a while someone noticed he hadn’t come back.
“In the kitchen.”
“He’s been a while.”
They found Dave hanging on the peg on the kitchen door. He’d hung himself with his own belt.
They got him down and tried everything to revive him. They were nurses. They knew what to do. They couldn’t.
My oldest son was a pallbearer as a result of the last Iraq war.
I am sure that the world would be better off without the likes of evil fuckers like Osamer Bin Laden, Muller Omar, Sharon, Saddam Hussain and George ‘evil empire’ Bush. But we put them there. We give them the power. I am sure that the world would be better off without the superstition of Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and the rest. But we invented them. We tried to explain the universe by creating the supernatural. It felt so good and right to us.
Know a tree by its fruit.
There is some serious evil shit here.
What’s the point of getting rid of one lot and putting another lot in?
Let’s solve the basic problem.
Let’s agree the basic tenets of a new world: equal rights for all; equal value for all people; equality of opportunity. Address the injustices. Right the balance. Abolish the poor. Look after the planet. Value all the plants and creatures in the living wildernesses. Clean air, clean water, population control. No disease, no starvation. No exploitation. A fair price for all commodities. No tyrant bolstered up for political reasons. No proxy wars. No arrogance. No superiority. No famine. Value difference and diversity. Feed the world. It’s not twee. It’s not wimpy. It’s not fucking utopian. If only we weren’t so fucking greedy! It’s for fucking real. It’s attainable!! For FUCK’S SAKE!!!! IT’S ATTAINABLE!!! IT’S FUUUUCKKKING ATTAINABLE!!
FIGHT FOR IT WITH ALL YOUR MIGHT!!!!!
OK. I’ve got over that. I’ve got myself a glass of wine and I’m relaxing at my computer. You cannot take the establishment on. The world is run for the benefit of the rich and wealthy. They give us as little as they think they can buy us off with. As long as there isn’t any rioting they think they’ve got the balance right.
I was told that you cannot change the system.
I don’t believe that.
We can change the system.
Not by blowing up people, destroying buildings, planting bombs on aeroplanes. Not by hatred. Not by becoming evil. By voting in people who care, people with vision, a quieter more intelligent person; not the usual power-mad sociopaths and psychopaths. By making ourselves a little more aware of what is going down. By being more intelligent. By becoming civilised.
September 11th. It’s one terrible date among many. Every culture has its Bhopal, its Hiroshima, its Dresden; its Pol Pot, Stalin, and Hitler. No sane person can sanction a holocaust. Yet we see them time after time. One holocaust after another all over the world. Don’t we ever learn anything?
War isn’t distant, black and white, clear-cut. War is a terrible monster that consumes the humanity of everyone connected with it. It is primitive, racist and evil. We should do all in our power to prevent it.
How many screaming victims? Tortured innocents? Innocent by-standers? Impotent electorates? Arrogant patriots? Superior cultures? How many blind ears, deaf ears and blinkered minds? How many jingoistic slogans, rousing speeches and rabid bigots? How many countries? How many cultures? How many religions? How many attempts to become one world, one humanity? How many assassinations? Coups? Interferences? How many vested interests, self-aggrandisement’s, and manipulations? How many dictators and pocket-lining back turners? How much adrenalin fuelled fury?
How long do we have to wait to become fucking civilised?????
How many more pallbearers?