Assad and Cameron. Is it a double-headed coin?

September 19, 2013
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Assad and Cameron. Is it a double-headed coin?

It always amazes me that British people, despite all the evidence stacked against the tall tales of the political machine like volumes of books against a door, believe them and heave the door open to allow the machinery of the powerful to rush in and instal their little yellow god. But neither Assad nor Cameron will survive. And the reason for that is because their voices are not distinctive. Assad, rather stupidly, has not projected his voice onto the world stage. Cameron, rather unfortunately, has a nondescript voice that will be forgotten as soon as he is ousted.

During the third election of Margaret Thatcher I couldn’t find a single person who would admit to having voted for a Tory government. She would not have been elected for a second term if it hadn’t been for the Argentinians invading The Falkland Islands. Yet there she was, top of the greasy pole once more. A travesty of deceit held over the ordinary women and men of Britain. But her voice resonates in the heads of those who heard it.

Tony Blair was gifted the death of Diana, Princess of Wales. She died so that he could benefit. He always had a flair for opportunism and would have been a great Tory if, when he flipped his political coin, it had given him less manoeuvring to do. But he pulled it off and turned The Labour Party round by scrubbing its working-man’s face and snipping away its braces, by prostitution of Labour principles for a bucket of tar. New Labour had no principles by the time he left office…. ‘bert’ his speech was distinctive.

So now we have a New Labour Party seeking a new role that is kinder to ordinary folk so to grab the attention of ordinary voters and a Liberal Democrat Party that owes its brief fame to an unlikely deal propping up a Conservative Party that couldn’t win an election. A better deal would most certainly have been New Labour and Liberal Democrat but, unfortunately, Gordon Brown did not go a year earlier and at election time was being castrated by his own party.

The Liberal Democrats were formed when David Steel sold the ancient and noble Liberal Party in an effort to give himself a greater power base. An additional five percent of the vote would have made him on a par with the other two major parties, but on the way he lost the faith of solid Liberals and solid Labour/Democrats.

So now we are left with a Tory Party driven by wealth and greed with an occasional sop to the middle classes, and the rest of the political landscape, being a disparate array of rebels railing against the horrors being hurled at them.

Assad is a true blue Tory wielding his various weapons against his own disparate array of rebels. Of course, Cameron doesn’t have the permanence of tenure that Assad is fighting to keep, so the number of ‘his own people’ that he is killing is far less and far more subtly done. But he is acting for and on behalf of those who really don’t give a damn about ordinary human beings as long as it doesn’t impinge on their own lifestyle and their systems that keep them in their luxurious place.

The weapons and the severity of injury they cause are the real differences between Assad and Cameron. The injuries to ordinary Syrians are heavily physical. They are sustained and cruel and as a result over six million have become refugees and thousands have died.

The injuries to ordinary Britons are heavily financial. They are sustained and cruel and as a result thirty million have been moved to struggle against poverty, nearly half a million now seeking assistance from food banks, and hundreds have died. One third of all UK children now live in poverty and in some cities it is almost half the children.

The University of Bristol’s “Poverty and Social Exclusion” project published, earlier this year, ‘The Impoverishment of the UK’ report. Here are some of its findings:

Over 30 million people (almost half the population) are suffering some degree of financial insecurity;
Almost 18 million people cannot afford adequate housing conditions;
Roughly 14 million cannot afford one or more essential household goods;
Almost 12 million people are too poor to engage in common social activities considered necessary by the majority of the population;
About 5.5 million adults go without essential clothing;
Around 4 million children and adults are not properly fed by today’s standards;
Almost 4 million children go without at least two of the things they need;
Around 2.5 million children live in homes that are damp;
Around 1.5 million children live in households that cannot afford to heat their home.

Thank you Nick Clegg for ameliorating the public suffering with a few extra school meals. How long before you realise that you are a simple stooge?


Twin Shadows

September 11, 2013
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They took my good friends to a party
Friends that they never could know
Friends who had planned for a future
Friends who did not want to go

They took them to join with some others
Others who worked in the towers
Others who planned for a future
Fulfilled by the freedom that’s ours

The party was over so quickly
They came and they set it alight
With my friends who did not choose to be there
When they came to the end of their flight

The folks who had lives on each tower
Who felt they could not take the heat
Flew from the gate-crashers’ scene
And bottomed-out down on the street

They took my good friends to a party
They made sure my friends never left
Their families – the world – cannot fathom
The hatred that left them bereft

Helmeted braves with their hatchets
Could not get my friends to go home
And many souls stay there forever
At the place that is ground zero zone

Some blaspheming nearly-men did it
Exposing half-brothers to guilt
And calling all Bush-men to vengeance
More good and bad blood to be spilt

The only way forward for all of us
Is to care for the ones we neglect –
To give the world’s youth words of wisdom,
Truth, tempered with love and respect

Al Barz, 2004

WLF: Writers Leap Forward

September 7, 2013
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Worcester Literary Festival has hit a bump in the road.
They all rolled over and all except one fell out.
Shock! Horrors! …
No, wait… They all fell out and one rolled over…
No, one fell out and they all rolled over…

Hang on, let’s start over, and let’s do it calmly. Yes I know that we are poets and writers and not well know for calm, cold, unemotional, rational reactions to upheavals but I am going to set aside my own personal dismay and confusion and tell it sensibly.

Being a writer who desires to give my poetic word the kiss of life, raise it kicking and squirming from the page, and share its breath with a throng of adherents, I am always pleased to be invited to spoken word evenings. Parole Parlate has been one of those, in Worcester, that particularly caught me up a couple of years ago and the people were very warm and kind and embracing. The readings and performances I have witnessed there and in other venues in Worcestershire have been enthralling and delighting as much as any amateur or professional event anywhere.

However, being about an hour’s drive away I have only gradually come to know a select few of the wonderful, talented individuals that have driven the Worcestershire literary scene into the limelight for the past two or three years.

Yes, it was a surprise to learn, from Martin Driscoll, after the Mouth and Music event at The Boars Head in Kidderminster, that there had been a rising trend of disquiet among the WLF committee. It was much more of a shock to read this week, on Facebook, that the schism was complete.

I have since begun to understand some of the politics leading to that point and am not going to denigrate anyone in this brief comment. Having been a union representative twice in my life, I am acutely aware of the distress that internal politics causes and I want to say, to all
those intimately concerned with WLF, who were there on Thursday, these few words.

Firstly, it is not quite over. The loss of something fine leads to grief, anger, self-chastisement and recrimination. And there will be ripples yet to backwash. Try to decrease, but honestly, the intensity of reactions.

Secondly, George Orwell and Sir Winston Churchill both wanted their country to remain free and democratic but would never be able to coexist with each other’s politics in peacetime. In stepping forward, as I am absolutely certain will happen, keep in mind what happened between Napoleon and Snowball.

Thirdly, the Thursday event at the Old Rectifying House was very spiritually generous and encouraging. Please keep it going and build. As Ray Kinsella says in Field of Dreams
“If you build it, they will come.”

Finally, whatever writers’ groups there are throughout Worcestershire should be invited to a discussion, given the chance to add an event, be included in publicity.

Al Barz

PS I treasure the little association I have with creative people of Worcester. Invite me again.