Tag Archives: terrorism

Happy horrific

Welcome to the end of London.

Everyone knows what’s been going on. Knife attacks, vans mowing into pedestrians, panic and fire. There’s terror and there’s terrorism, there’s anger and there’s fear. Right now there’s police tape all over the Seven Sisters Road and a tower block filled with charred corpses gravely peering over Ladbroke Grove.

And now even the weather’s getting in on the act, the fireball searing every inch of exposed flesh and making every commute an exercise in keeping murder at bay. In June. All in all, this city’s done.

Yeah, right.

Continue reading Happy horrific

Cavalcade of trite

When I die – which, given the state of my stress levels, may be sooner than you think – if anyone describes me in terms of my family relationships (“daughter, niece, girlfriend, wife”), or my job, or some banal string of characteristics that people think sound nice, I will be furious. I won’t of course, I’ll be dead and completely oblivious to everything, but I want you to know that you’ll have started the process of whitewashing my memory.

Let me tell a story about my uncle’s funeral – wait, I’m going somewhere with this. Dead at 65 from lymphoma, the eulogy given by the random minister assigned by the crematorium was a travesty. Nothing about his hopes, dreams, loves, hates; anything that made him who he was. His only natural child died young and that didn’t get a mention, but there was time to list every single fucking street he’d ever lived in. This isn’t the minister’s fault, he could only work with what was given to him by the family. And afterwards people were speaking to each other in hushed tones about what a lovely service it had been. Except it was a terrible service, with barely any indication of who the human being in the box had been.

And so: Paris. There’s a Twitter account, @ParisVictims, tweeting short bits of information about the people who died on 13 November. I’m struggling to find anything on there that’s not bland or platitudinous. “Friend, brother, son” reads one. “Daughter, sister” reads another. Well, yes. We all tend to be at least one of these things. One man is described as “efficient”. Shit the bed. This guy has died, horribly. Is this the best that can be said about him? What about his desires, his achievements, his plans for the future? If you want to show the world what has been cruelly cut down, please try and do the dead the honour of representing them properly.

This is largely the fault of social media, where being first is considered better than being thorough. @ParisVictims is the Twitter version of a Mashable project which is clearly scouring news sources and people’s social media accounts to gather tiny snippets of information to share with the world. But, to me, this isn’t respect. It’s rubbernecking. After 9/11, the New York Times went out and did a proper obituary for everyone who died. It took a while, but you get a real sense of who they were as people.

Are we happy with this cavalcade of trite? I think we must be. Because ‘we’ tweet and Facebook ‘RIP’ as a reflex when someone dies, even though RIP belongs to a time when we all believed in an afterlife, a hell and a resurrection. It’s now such a reflex that it’s meaningless, just a way of showing to the world that you care. Even if you don’t.

Appearance is all; you can get torn to shreds for not wearing a poppy, even if you think it’s appalling that a charity has to exist at all to take care of those who the government has sent off to die and be injured; even if you’d happily pay more taxes to replace the Royal British Legion with proper, state-funded care; even if you went on that Stop the War march before Iraq that changed absolutely nothing and you feel sick at the thought of the carnage that happened ‘in your name’. Wear the poppy, change your Facebook profile to a Tricolor; otherwise how will people know you care? Other than, maybe, a genuine, thoughtful statement?

Or even better, say nothing at all instead of something shallow and stupid.

Shot, beheaded or barbecued

I have to admit I don’t generally keep up with the news. It’s not that it’s too depressing – the truth is, I’m too depressing, and the news just can’t keep up with me. It just constantly reminds me how much better everyone else in the world’s life is.

Unless, that is, you’re unlucky enough to be getting shot, beheaded or barbecued by ISIS. This is a terrorist outfit that simply must win PR firm of the year, or it’s all a big fix, since it’s got every media outlet in the west doing its recruiting for it. There now surely can’t be a single person in the west that isn’t aware that despite sounding like a trustworthy car hire firm, these are the last people whose car you want to get into.

What I have understood about ISIS is that they want to establish a caliphate, or Islamic state, where their particular version of what God, who may or may not be Santa Claus, may or may not have said to someone 1,500 years ago, will reign supreme. The obvious first step to achieving this goal is to wipe out the group of people whose beliefs most closely align to theirs, but who differ on certain technicalities, such as whether to throw overarm or underarm when stoning people to death. After that, they can take on the really big job, which is killing everybody else in the world. Okay, sounds perfectly reasonable – where do I get my membership card?

Politicians are desperately try to stem the evil tide. I heard David Cameron on TV calling it a ‘death cult’. Sorry, Dave – a ‘cult’ is a phenomenon or movement with strictly minority appeal – like the Conservative Party for example. Current estimates have ISIS membership at around 200,000 (though not all of them filled in their census forms on time), while the Conservative Party is reckoned to have around 150,000 members these days. That means that significantly more people would rather die in the desert than join the Conservative Party. What an endorsement. Has anyone seen George Osborne lately?

Well, who can blame them really? It is, of course, all about a search for meaning. And the meaning is: killing people is really fun. Nobody who’s played Call of Duty would argue with that assessment. Who wouldn’t want to have a go on an M79 rocket launcher, when the alternative is standing in a queue in the Jobcentre Plus with your P45 job launcher, to be asked by an even bigger failure than you exactly how many call centre positions you’ve applied for this week?

Well, I’m just keeping my head down, on, together, whatever – I’m basically staying as far away from those mad bastards as possible, and if I have to claim asylum in China eventually to escape the screaming hordes of global retribution, then so be it. Anything is better than Tory Britain.