Friday, 26 August 2011

Different tales of insanity and inhumanity

Two really tragic stories in the press this week, among all the others. Notwithstanding earthquakes, Gadaffi's porn, Syrian murders and now a hurricane edging its way along the East Coast of America, I ask: is someone trying to tell you something? The stories that grabbed my attention were set far apart but so alike. In China an old woman is searching for a carer for her son. She's in her 70s and he in his 40s and he's been tethered to a wall, naked since he was 17. He suffers from a severe mental illness. In Austria, that country, the beacon of light where they elected Herr Hitler and celebrated the Anschluss, an octogenarian has been accused of imprisoning, raping and keeping as slaves his two 'mentally ill' daughters.

We here in the UK tend to believe that social services 'care' for our unfortunate. There are 'slips' but, still, there is usually something available, if you are able to take advantage of it. Consider China, where there is such a total contrast between those who have been able to take advantage of the huge new wealth and priviledge and those who remain on the outskirts in their almost feudal way of life. Austria, we are led to believe, should be among the most 'modern' of our democracies but how many times have we been privy to an insidiously depraved mixture of insanity and evil from that country?

I remember the heartbreaking photographs of children and teenagers also tethered to their cots and beds in mental asylums in Romania. Even though these children are desperate for homes, the Romanian authorites have forbidden their adoption outside of the country and there they remain in their most unwarrented and unwanted circumstances. Is there much difference between them and the young man in China or the women in Austria? When will the world spend less on conflict and more on humanity?

Monday, 22 August 2011

Good old Sky's Alex. A real journo for the 21st century

When I was a kid and even later and we had wars and journalists went out to cover them, they looked the part. There they stood, usually at the side of a beaten-up old jeep, generally in the desert sand, microphone in hand, explaining to us mere mortals what had been happening in their parallel universe. We could almost smell the shrapnel and the cordite. We experienced the sand in our eyes; the glare from the sun glinting off the camera into the shiny sunglasses worn by our romantic reporter. Nowadays we viewers tend to see our TV journos in the front of SUVs or Range Rovers, together with the rebels of whatever confrontation they are covering. You see, there's no impartiality any more.

There's no greater demonstration of this than the BBC's man-in-Tripoli, our Rupert of the double-barrelled nomenclature. There he was last night and this morning and basically throughout the rest of the day, in the back of the jeep, with the 'rebels,' on his way into Tripoli along the seafront, exclaiming just 'how peaceful it was,' until the cars in the front of the convoy were 'attacked!.' Well, jolly dee. Isn't that what happens in a war. He was so upset, he was, in his flak jacket and helmet and various bits and pieces strewn across his brave chest. 'Run, run!' he screamed, or was it turn, turn!' Or even, sod-this-for-a-laugh, let's get out of here... In any event we viewers were privy to his fear. We almost saw his legs turn to jelly as the sound of gunfire came close and his jeep jumped around like a jelly bean on acid. Off they turned, either into or out of the sunshine. You couldn't tell. Pity, really, because I was just getting a good look at downtown Tripoli and, apart from the gaggle of 'rebels', it looked quite nice, all considering.

So that then brings us on to Sky's very brave and all-purpose Alex Crawford. She's been there forever. She must speak Arabic fluently by now. Off topic though is how well all those guys she's been interviewing speak English. Amazing how many we've educated here in the UK. Or could it be that the really, really nasty dictator that they're just about to heave-ho, managed to have a good English language school there? Anyway. Alex. Gosh. There she was this afternoon. She was interviewing a doctor in the 'only hospital left standing.' She'd taken off her helmet. Poor thing. Did you see her hair? I hope that Sky send in a hairdresser to her. Looks like she hadn't washed it in weeks. And her face! She had panda eyes! And her skin! All sunburnt she was. But that's the price of being in the front of the action. Not leading from behind like the BBC. I think she was jolly good. In spite of her flak jacket and her silly helmet and the bits and pieces strewn around her jacket and hanging out of her pockets. She looked like a real war journalist. Hemingway would be proud.

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Intentional hubris - is it August 1914?

Don't politicians have any morality any more? Or is that an oxymoron? Presumably one loses any pretence of morality once one has decided to be a politician. How can you explain that David Cameron is now going on his fifth holiday of the year? Everyone deserves a holiday, says he. Or that Obama and his wife take two private jets up to Martha's Vineyard. Let them eat cake, indeed. This is while in both countries the economy has tanked and the stock exchange is crashing. And Sally Bercow, wife of the Speaker to the House. She's now on Big Brother. I mean, what's this about? Has she no shame? Obviously not.

Then we can go further along the line of hubris and hypocrisy. The erstwhile Egyptian government has recalled its Ambassador to Israel because some Egyptian soldiers have been killed in the latest terrorist attacks along the borders of Egypt and Israel. That they were killed, inter alia, by the very terrorists that Israel is fighting against is irrelevant. It's the fact that Israel was involved. Oh, and by the way, Assad Bashar's government in Syria are routing out and killing Palestinians from the refugee camps that they have been deliberately kept in over the years. Fine to use these same 'Palestinians' as pawns against Israel but also fine to murder them when the Syrian government sees fit. Let's add to the pot the Turks who are now carrying out hundreds of sorties against Kurds. How many killed? Who knows. The BBC doesn't think it worthwhile mentioning.

Nice to know that while the world implodes around them that our 'leaders' are on their hols. Eating ice cream and bashing around in the surf. God forbid that they should actually work in order to deserve their salaries. We're informed that they don't really have holidays; they take their work with them. Oh, yeah. And now we see the 'end game' in Libya, except of course that no one actually knows what the end game is. Who knows who the 'rebels' are. Presumably that's why no one is going to say 'boo' to Bashar. Whoever comes next could, in fact, be even worse. And the Arab League, that bastion of humanity, human rights and transparency, is lambasting Israel because, having been attacked continually over the last four days and losing many innocents, has the temerity to protect her citizens. Who says the world hasn't gone mad.

Friday, 19 August 2011

Riots, Arson and Looting in the 'holy' month of Ramadan

I heard say that August is the 'new' November. Something that I could quite happily (well, not so happily) have believed yesterday. The streets were awash with rain. Cars careering along at 60mph, totally drenching passers-by. What's happened to humanity? Doesn't anyone have respect or even empathy for anyone else? I guess that in the light of what happened to England last week, then the answer has to be a resounding 'No?' Five people were killed in rioting and where arson was seen to be a party to 'demonstrating.' I wonder whether the arsonists will be meted out sentences that merit. I remember that once arson was deemed even more heinous than murder. Just think who could have been in those buildings set alight, or the animals. There could have been a multitude of deaths.

People used to be locked away for life for arson. Will that happen here? Or will the limp-wristed liberal do-gooders who are now hysterical at the sentences that the looters and instigators are being dealt have their way and implore the judiciary that it's just not fair that these poor, misunderstood 'youth' are being locked away in some kind of 'knee jerk' reaction. Isn't it simply because of the effete judiciary handing out sentences that have not fitted the crimes over the last number of years that this has been allowed to happen?

How has it been that someone who commits murder only gets four years? Why can someone be jailed for not paying their tv license? What's the point of ASBO's? I read that one of the looters is a woman who has 67 previous convictions! Wow. She's a professional. She has a career. I suppose that Dickens would have made her into a Fagin. No doubt she has a really good heart and cares for her cats and dogs and wouldn't hurt a fly. I'm going off on a tangent here...

So it's rainy, autumnul August again and there are riots. It's Ramadan and there has been a complete upsurge in the most hideous attacks on innocents - from Israel to Afghanistan, Syria, Egypt, Somalia and Iraq. Eight Israelis killed yesterday and today a synagogue attacked in Ashdod. Yet another day for the Religion of Peace. Another 'holy' month. I guess it's just semantics, really. What's holy for some, certainly doesn't mean holy for others.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Sobriety ten months on?

Ok. So much happens. You start. You stop. You wonder whether anyone is interested. You post on Twitter. What's that all about? Then someone says, 'why don't you continue? You had followers.' My answer is that who cared? Maybe people do. I'd like to hear about that. Maybe the numbers will increase again. God knows there's enough to write about. Where to start?

Well, I guess I'd better get up to date about 'Zach.' He was, after all, the purpose of this blog. To continue where I'd left off in the book. Keep those of you interested enough privy to those throes of madness or, even, sanity. So I will.

Last year we had a blip. This time of year. Maybe it was the subliminal fear of winter approaching. Those short bleak days and long black nights. The cold. The grey skies. The impoverished sun. A five day section in the local medical facility, then out again with little help, comme toujours. Back onto the smack and then the realisation at the end of November that he couldn't do it again. Couldn't live in London with proximity to the dreaded addictive curse. Made the decision that the only way to stop it was to put it as far away as possible and enter a kind of rehab facility. One where it's warm and sunny and there's no heroin on the street corner. Additionally, a place where he wasn't being mugged every day because that was what was happening here...

Ten months down the line. Health. Self respect and a belief that there are better things to look forward to. When I hear the phone, I still worry. When I speak to him, I'm still aware of the change of tone or a leaning towards pressurised speech. He looks so much better. Gone the skeletal frame. Gone the sweaty face, the deadened eyes. It's only ten months. Once an addict, always searching, thinking about the addictive choice. Strength of mind and character has to be so potent. Hard but so rewarding.

To be continued...