May 15th, 2005


Upon Waking

I awake to the sacking of Patriarch Irenaios. It creates some problems negotiating my way past the various hieromonks, archimandrites and presbyters to the coffee pot and stove. There's not much in the kitchen to offer: a mango, some fresh sardines, dark rye bread, some goats cheese. One of the priests has discovered a small jar of caviar I was saving for a special occasion and is spooning it onto fragments of matzo and passing them around on the plate marked "SABBATH". No one is touching the persimmons. It's only the radio. So it is. That same Sunday morning confusion that we have reverted to a Byzantine world order. Sadly no. The Hackney Gazette would suggest otherwise:

'WITCH' GIRL IN TORTURE ORDEAL. There's a lot of it about. Other recent reports intimate that hundreds of African children have vanished in London without trace over the last few years. Where though? Are we talking benefit fraud or something more sinister? I don't quite understand why this isn't the national headline. They're somewhere. There's some people in this country, and it may constitute a class, and it doesn't matter whether they vanish or not. Liberals and Nationalists alike do the maths. It's cheaper for all concerned. Welcome to England, now fuck off and no talking at the back.

Labour continues its shift towards the dark side. I'm not saying it will ever get there, but one concensus (or rather the voices that appear to form in one's head upon scanning news headlines, airwaves, bus queues) would seem to be these bastards have it coming to them. Who? I don't know really, but it's clear that people deserve punishment. Whereas once the argument would have been that these people are victims of a nebulous set of social forces (grainy footage of beardy social worker standing outside tower block. Enhance 34 to 36. Pull back. Stop. A dark figure is wrenching a bicycle from the fence. The social worker runs towards him "You little tike!"), it's time these people pulled their own socks up. Otherwise we'll remove our protection and let you fall into the clutches of the African ritual murderers. Upon Blackfriars, the way is crowded with hooded figures dangling from parapets. The ravens grow fat upon severed limbs.

Or rather, this week sees two particular developments against the scourge of modern Britain: the hooded youth who skulk upon corners along the Via Negativa. It's not a look I'm fond of, but I'm not supposed to be enamoured. It always makes me think of that nocturnal gang in The Omega Man and Charlton Heston trying to hold on to something of his vanished civilisation. A film that's possibly better in memory than actuality. So, the first of these developments is that baseball hats and hooded tops may no longer be worn in the Bluewater shopping complex and the move has been applauded by Blair and similar. After all, there's nothing a teenager responds better to than being told what not to do and nothing defeats a trend better than banning it. From a sartorial point of view, I can only hope that the mass adoption of sportswear will eventually push youth into retaliating with adventurous shape, form and colour. But a skunk-fuelled lifestyle doesn't really suit clothing that requires ironing. Sackcloth seems the only way forward. G-Unit should get on the case. Come back, Adam Ant, all is forgiven...

So much for Blairite blathering about social exclusion. Better still is the news this morning that the government is planning a "uniform for yobs". Haven't you just approved the capped-hoodie look as de rigueur? Whether we will see young people in Guantanamo orange replacing flower baskets remains to be seen.

I don't doubt that there is a problem, I'm just unconvinced that it's more of a problem than we've had before. I'm willing to admit that there's a dramatic rise in the availability and use of small arms. Just as I'll admit that reading the Hackney Express wouldn't encourage anyone to move to the area:

"Three members of a gang who brutally murdered a metal worker for accidentally splashing a car with paint were jailed for life on Monday. The trio, including a father and daughter, were in a five-strong gang who savagely attacked 43-year-old Ramazan Kocak with a knife, hammer and baseball bat. By the time the mob had ended their prolonged and savage assault outside the father-of-three's workshop near London Fields, he had a fractured skull and his intestines were hanging out..." (May 12, p. 7)

Dissing, however accidentally, a Citroen Picasso is a dangerous game in these woods. Maybe things are worse, I don't know. I do know I'm getting older and I'm wary of the effect that has on my judgement of these things. It does make the Caucasus look ever more promising as a possible retirement destination and with Dubya on the case, we can be certain that current problems will come to a swift and satisfactory solution. He didn't even hang around long enough in Georgia for a decent supra! I'd take that as a slight and I hope citizens maintain a certain suspicion of a man who's not willing to abandon travel plans in favour of a few days of extensive toasting, wine-drinking and eating.