April 30th, 2004


A Sad Train

Actor Christopher Eccleston, who has been chosen to play the new Doctor Who, has said he wants the Time Lord to show more "feelings and emotions". It says here. What else has the morning to offer...

A broken pair of specs. Fell asleep with them on the bed after the 63 bus marathon. Slightly bent hinge, the hinge that had already suffered one major bend already. Despite the price of the frames, the hinges are obviously made of the older sort of memory metal. The sort that remembers it has been bent before and therefore breaks the second time around. Hmmm, I reckon I should ring C&G before I get to work with the araldite. At the moment I am having to wear the blue tint aviator shades which is making me feel a bit Jarvis Cocker. In this jacket anyway.

Distressing dreams. There were three distinct stages. Or rather, I remember awaking thinking that there had been two and then I seem to have had the third after that point. Of course, I can't remember the first two particularly except they involved various shades of romantic disappointment. In the third, I seem to have taken up residence in NYC in some decaying building and there's an approaching army of panhandlers and crackheads shuffling towards us. I'm sure there are people in the world who have erotic dreams, maybe even uncomplicated ones. All I've ever really known are these unrequited dreams of people disappearing. There are promises and trysts and they are never fulfilled. A little Jarvis Cocker also.

These two incidents together, of the material and imaginary worlds, do little to shift the damp grey look of the day ahead.

Well, cheer yourself up with the news that certain elements of the US occupation force have been torturing Iraqi prisoners. I can't say I find this story that shocking really. This is what happens in war after all. It doesn't mean I tolerate it as such, but I do consider this to be one of those inevitable aspects of military conflict and one of the dangers of an occupation not under a UN (or more crucially a nationally diverse) command. I don't think that Americans generally have enough cross-cultural sensitivity, or is that sensibility? They've got a large freedom fry on their shoulder also. Distressing also is the revelation that private security contractors are involved (the two mentioned are Titan and CACI, they probably need to get some sort of statement up on their sites, but, hey, maybe a lot of Americans think these prisoners actually deserved it. Go Titans!). So that's bouncers with guns, I take it. This might be the military trying to shift the blame, but I don't think that the Geneva convention is that much more complicated than common sense. It says here that:

His lawyer, Gary Myers, told the Guardian that Sgt Frederick had not had the opportunity to read the Geneva Conventions before being put on guard duty, a task he was not trained to perform.

Ignoring the ambiguity (let's assume that Sgt Frederick didn't need training to read), that means that his lawyer is arguing that his ignorance of what was sanctioned and not under international law, not to mention the US military code, is a sufficient initial defence. He didn't know and this lacuna of knowledge and experience is the responsibility of his superior officers. Possibly, but it suggests that the moral centre of your average US soldier is empty. Or perhaps it's obvious to him that what he's doing isn't quite right, but he can't disobey the chain of command. Understandable. The vision I have here, and impressions are important about Iraq however much they might be incorrect, is of some dumbfucks who have lost the plot, but armies do need sociopaths as much as they need a number of clear-thinking tacticians. Don't they? Maybe if the Western hadn't fallen from favour, there might be a clearer directive in some people's heads. What would Jimmy Stewart do? Unfortunately it's more Black Hawk Down these days than Howard Hawks. J'accuse Bruce Willis... Dubya's phrase is moral courage. That's a fine and fancy saying and one I'd fully support in my own gloss, but how about showing the troops Broken Arrow instead of so much Bruckheimer? Except a bureaucratic mix up would mean that the Woo-Travolta-Slater one turned up in its place.

The thing is I really do want to love America but with every day it gets more like a tiresome drunken relation prone to molesting your other guests and arsing about with the finger food. I also get more like some Joyce Grenfell character. It will never do.

Anyway, I need to start work on the 63 report. I'll be back.