lundi 23 mars 2009

W t f?

We've been at a loss for words the last week or so. The madness is so emmense and extreme, the bailouts, the clarity of the class nature of what's going on and the sense that at some point along the line, it could get horribly serious, instead of just serious like it is now, that we've felt numbed.

Our cleaner is feeling depressed; too, by the frantic rise in the stock market, and fears that this means a bottom is in (there's a pun there...somewhere) and with one bound capitalism will free itself. But it's all too late for that now. Evidence? The volumes of trade are miniscule, we are informed. Perhaps this means there's just one geezer in an office, pressing a button to keep the whole capitalist show on the road. Even if the road does pass into a fog pach and veers towards the cliffy abyss. But enough wretched analogies.

Another twitch of the zombie that is British politics....Jack Straw of all people is calling for a Bill of Rights in Britain to protect our sorry arses from...the Conservatives. Fill in your own ironic incredulousness and incredulous irony and try not to

lundi 16 mars 2009

The Poor List - A vague beginning.

Spring morning fresh as a rinsed eye. On the side of a bus shelter, the corner of a brightly coloured poster of some London landmarks and a smiling police beneath the words, ‘The innocent have nothing to fear’ flaps in a breeze. A man runs past down the road and through the crowd. Outraged people shout and move out of his way. He sidesteps and spins . Klaxons sound and further off tyres screech. A black Chrysler skids to a halt up by the curb twenty yards behind the fleeing man and three men in dark suits and coats jump out and sprint after him. The running man looks over his shoulder and glimpses his reflection in a shop front window. He runs into more people and stumbles frantically on. The man dodges between two parked delivery vans and darts into the road. A taxi screeches to a halt and nearly hits him, horn blaring. The limping man runs haphazardly down the road, dodges some more traffic and ends up back on the pavement on the same side of the road, still running.

In the road which runs parallel to the British Museum, two men stand outside a café smoking, their dark coat collars turned up against the fresh breeze. One touches the earphone in his right ear. They watch, motionless, as the man on the opposite side of the road careers into a wall of armed and uniformed men waiting besides a corner by a blue BMW van.

The officials surround the flailing figure who is now shouting hysterically. "In you get sunshine.", someone shouts to the struggling shape bundled into the back of the waiting van. A helicopter hovers overhead then tilts quickly away. The van speeds off and the event is swallowed up by the passing crowd.

A man, neither old nor young, is sat by himself at a table in the quarter full interior of the café. He is wearing a white, stained work shirt, worn grey jeans and a black jacket. There is a folded newspaper in front of him. He moves his foot in time to the music and his work boots squeak faintly on the waxed wooden floor. A cloud passes over the sun.

One after the other, the man and woman outside crush their cigarette butts. One holds the door open for the other and they go back inside. Noise of passing crowds, a siren and the throb of passing cars briefly fill the room. A slight draft sways some wooden wind chimes hanging over the café’s counter. The lone man at the table looks up. He notices the helicopter then goes back to examining the bright screen of his pda. He sighs then brushes a mosquito form his ear. A waitress passes his table and asks him about coffee. He looks up and nods.

The café's unintentional theme is faded luxury. The leather sofa seats are frayed and there are cuts here and there in their shiny black surfaces. There are bookshelves crammed with books and impressionist prints on the walls. The low slung varnished wood tables are worn smooth, and on them there are small vases of flowers. There are bronze fake looking sculptures on plastic plinths. One of the two smokers, now at a table over by the window, laughs loudly over the music.

The man in the white shirt takes a folded letter out of his pocket and squints at it. It is definitely addressed to him. He reads it again. The letter is short and has been written on heavy A4 embossed paper. He glances up. The flower’s white petals are caught in the sun. He folds the letter in half and slides it back into the envelope.

He looks down and notices a red ant crawl across the table towards the half-empty sugar cellar. He picks up his pda. A message from the bank, a cancellation and some publicity for a pub's closing down party.

He whispers to himself and tries his get his mail. The pda makes a tiny discordant noise. He curses quietly. The ant turns and retreats. It wanders into a slanting trapezoid of sun light on the table. Its body glints. The man crushes it with a damp trembling thumb and feels its body yield and stick. He rolls its remains between his fingers and it turns to dust. He wipes his hand on a serviette and notices the time on the faux antique clock over the counter.

He takes a sip of the luke warm, almost tasteless, coffee and stares at one of the sculptures. He frowns at his reflection in the bottom of his cup, then puts it down. He closes his eyes and the music’s uneven rhythm washes over him.

He does not notice the lull in the level of conversation for a moment or the faint chill that infiltrates as a small man sidles in through the door. Dressed in jeans, trainers and a jacket over a blue sports top zipped to the neck, he looks round, notices the person he is looking for and starts to walk over. McCabe turns his head. But he has already been seen.

He leans down smoothly grabs has bag and is soon moving quickly from the table away from the man. A cup rattles, falls and breaks on the floor. Some people look over. He makes a move towards the toilets but the path is blocked now by a large figure in a dark coat. She raises her head at McCabe and flexes her shoulders. McCabe turns and walks diagonally towards the door of the L-shaped café. Bumps into something and someone says something in protest. He walks over to the doorway, but, again, his path is blocked by the other operative who tilts his head and smiles. McCabe makes to rush past, but he stops and pushes him discreetly, but with force, back inside.

"Brendan McCabe.”, a voice says behind him. McCabe turns and faces a small smiling figure carrying a dark briefcase. “Sorry I'm late." He takes McCabe by the elbow and ushers him away from the exit.
“Hey. Get off what the fuck….?” But then is stopped. They speak in trained tone.
“This way here. There we go. Come on. S’right.” The less powerful operatives say soothingly.
As if in a dream, McCabe follows.
“I’ve heard so much about you Mr.McCabe.” And sitting down, “You seem a little rushed. Don’t tell me you were planning to leave so. So precipitously?” He places what he was carrying by the table. His voice is calm and corrugated, little more than a whisper. He takes a pda out of the pocket of his top, removes his jacket and, barely perceptibly, nods to one of his attendants. “Please, sir. Take a seat.”
“No way. Hey! Hello everyone.” McCabe says to indifference.

“Please Mister McCabe. Don’t make this any more difficult for yourself. We are here to help.”
The waiters and waitresses busied around the tables. The guards had gone back to their places. Nothing had happened. The man gestures again to the seat. McCabe’s body sags slightly and he sits down. The waitress arrives and sweeps up the porcelain fragments with a pan and brush, then mops up the spilt coffee with a cloth. The man glances at his silver pda and speaks quickly into its shining edge.

“No prob.” He says and puts the thing on the table between them where it slowly rotates and glints. Smiling, he sits back in the armchair. McCabe sighs.
"Well well. Mister McCabe. You look so much older than your e fit. You’re not an easy man to track down.”
"Who the fuck are you?” McCabe says.
"Five years with the Factory. Star operator. Computers. ” The man stretches his arms. “Destined for great things. Stellar ratings. Promise and potential. Then. Then leaves under. Under inauspicious circumstances. Disappears from the scene?" The man gestures at the waitress. “Ring any bells?”
“Nope. Can’t say it does. Now if you don’t mind…”
“You know us we know you. Don’t try to be clever, Mister McCabe. Please.”
”Fine. Look. I said what is this? Who the fuck are you?” McCabe says. The waitress drifts back over. She says something to them.
The man raises his eye brows in sleepy mock surprise. “All in good time. All in good time. Yes, everything’s fine. Though I think you know who we are. Or else why did you run? Four coffees. You couldn’t have expected to elude us for ever.”
McCabe leans forward in his seat. “No really. Is this some kind of wind up or something?”
The man smiles. His teeth, though nicoteened, stand out from his dark skin. “Don’t try to begin to. Insult us Mister McCabe, sir.” The man relaxes further into his chair
McCabe glances away and frowns then looks directly into the man’s narrow smooth face. “No. I don’t know who you are or what you’re talking about. Really. You got the wrong bloke. Sorry.”
“Am I going to have to. Refresh your famous photographic memory, Mister McCabe. Surely not?” He leans down and undoes his briefcase. It snaps open with a heavy click. He delves inside and from an almost full blue lateral file pulls out a thick grey folder.
McCabe blinks at the man in front of him. The man places the dossier on the table and extracts a pair of reading glasses from an inside pocket in his expensive looking top.
“That’s right, Mister McCabe.” He places his glasses round his small ears and pushes the middle of frame up the bridge of his nose . “Your past has caught up with you.”
“My past? Look, whoever you think you’ve cornered here, you’ve really got the wrong man.” The man sits up, and leafs through some of the documents. He glances at McCabe over the silver frames.
“You are Brendan McCabe, presently living 159 Altrad Towers, SE 16. Nice. You are currently working for an Acamedia outfit based in Islington. Born in Paris though a UK citizen, your mother is a top civil servant, your father, deceased five BT. One sister a doctor currently overseas, one brother high flying actuary for one of the country’s most prestigious insurance firms. I do not think I need to go on Mister McCabe.” The man takes his glasses off and wipes them with a yellow cloth.
McCabe considers what the man has said for a moment then says
“No. Sorry I’ve no still idea what you’re talking about.”
The man scratches the side of his nose, crosses his legs and brushes a mote or two of dust off his dark jeans. Placing his glasses back in their sheath he says, “Come on Mister McCabe, you know better than that.” He breathes out heavily. “It’s never over, even for a washed up honky like you.”
“Look. I’ll call the cops. I’ve got people who know me.” McCabe says.
“It’s a paradox isn’t it?” The man smiles. “Who do you call when it’s the police who are. Harassing you, shall we say?”
Their coffees arrive. “Shall I be mother-fucker?” the man asks picking up the small pot of milk. He grimaces and gestures to the waitress again.
“Steak and chips and whatever my friend here is wanting.”
“Sorry. No steak.” The waitress says.
“Then the chicken…Now Mister McCabe..”
He pours coffee, adds milk and sugar. He puts down the menu. "Are you enjoying the Gogol work ?” He sucks air in through a gap in his teeth and studies the leather bound carte du jour . "All that giving something back to society stuff?"
The waitress murmurs something into a tiny microphone on her uniform. McCabe gets up to leave. “Look. I really don’t have to listen to this. I’m afraid I’m going to have to curtail this little reunion, or whatever it’s meant to be.”
“No chicken. Sorry.”, the waitress says.
The man smiles sympathetically. “Mister McCabe. You really don’t give me much of a choice.” He looks with a slight frown at the waitress. “The sole then. I’m going to have to warn you. My people are.” He wipes the corner of his mouth with a serviette and gestures towards the two figures at the other table. “Robust in their methods, let us say.”
“Are you a debt collector or something?”
“Really Mister McCabe. He gestures to the burlier operative. A slight movement of index and second fingers. “I am serious. Things could get very ugly very quickly for you. No matter what your, reputation.”
“You can threaten all you like. What can you do here? Plain daylight, people, public place.”
“You’d be surprised Mister McCabe. We picked someone up just now right outside this very establishment. No one batted an eyelid. Didn’t even turn their heads. No one does. They didn’t see what was really happening perhaps. Or they misinterpret things. Or perhaps no one dares to interfere. It’s something I’ve noticed in the last ten years or so. So you can give it a go Mister McCabe, shout and scream perhaps. Jump about, cause a bit of a. A commotion. But frankly I don’t think it would get you very far. People would tend to take our side of the argument. Besides, it would only serve to make. To make my entourage that bit more upset and bilious. More likely to take out some of their vexations in a physical way. It has been known. Rib-cage, toes or, indeed, even faces.”
“The Factory must be going through some hard times if it’s having to employ the likes of you.”
“Everyone’s going through hard times Mister McCabe, or haven’t you been watching the news?”
“I try to avoid it. Comedy isn’t my thing.”
“No soul”, says the waitress.
“Mister McCabe. Don’t think there is anything idle about my threats. We know where you live. Then just the chips then.”
McCabe smiles. “So do I. OK. Hands up, it’s a fair cop. But, Mister Cloak or Misses Dagger or whoever you are you can tell the people back at the insect house . It’s finished. You. Your people know the deal. It’s all over.” McCabe starts to gather his things and get up
“Nothing is ever over with the Factory Mister McCabe. Put the knife down. My name’s Dermott, by the way. But you can call me Freddy. Sit down. Sit down now.”
“Sorry. We’re a bit short of things at the moment what with…”
“Then just get us anything you’ve got then ok? Can you do that?”
“I’m not interested in your names or anything else you people have got to say.” McCabe says. He looks over to the table by the window and falls back into his chair.
"Of course.” Dermott continues, "We like to make sure that our former employees are well looked after. One way or another.”
The waitress smiles and walks away. One of the two raises his head in their direction. The other looks over to McCabe's table and slowly rubs his hands together.
“I’m off your books. The slate’s clean. I owe you people nothing. I’ve got fucking rights you know?" The people sat at the table a few feet away turn their heads in their direction. Dermott smiles faintly and takes the drink he'd ordered from the waitress
“There’s no need to get. Melodramatic, Mister McCabe. Besides, technically speaking you are a subject of the crown and as such do not possess anything much more than the clothes you are wearing. The top and bottom of all this is nothing very much really. Miss Singer just wants a word. That is all.”
McCabe shakes his head then puts the knife down in front of him. “No way.”
Dermott leans forward and plucks a petal off one of the posies. “She tells me to inform you that she is pleased to see things going so well for you. Given the situation." He sips his coffee. "Isn't that a Cézanne there?" Dermott leans up in his chair to see the famed print. "So it is. The ‘Card players’. A copy, of course. He died of pneumonia you know. A very unpleasant end"
McCabe says, "Look, Mister Dermott? Much as I’d like chat I've got a bad tempered boss. Tell her to phone me."
Dermott rolls the white petal between finger and thumb and laughs. “Please. Call me Freddy. And we are playing by old school ways these days Mister McCabe.”
“I don’t really care what you’re playing.”
“OK. I'll get to the point." he says. He flicks something off his sleeve and reaches into his brief case once more and pulls out a red carton of cigarettes. He tosses them on to the table next to the paper. McCabe glances down.
Dermott looks at the picture of a diseased lung on the front for a moment and turns the pack over then smoothes his top. "Perk of the job."
McCabe picks the carton up and sighs. "I’m still owed.”
Dermott laughs. “If there’s going to be any payback. I fear it will be coming from you, Mister McCabe.”
Dermott shakes his head slightly and glances over the menu again. “Tellis got promoted you know, after you left. He asked me to send you his regards." Dermott picks up a knife in front of him.
"I really pleased for him. He deserves everything he gets."
"I don't believe you are being wholly. Sincere there, Mister McCabe." Dermott places a tiny torn square of paper on the blade of the knife. He smiles a trace of a smile.
"That's the way it is." There is a change in the music. Some blues under a crackle of scratched vinyl.
Dermott raises his eyebrows. "I wouldn't worry about your boss too much either." He says. He turns the knife over quickly and the piece of paper disappears. “Weren’t the twenty BT’s awful.”
McCabe looks up. "Why’s that. Have you extracted him as well?"
"Oh, word on the grapevine. I wouldn't take too much notice."
McCabe sighs. "The eighties you mean. The eighties. I can’t stand all the BT PT stuff Anyway, what’s this about my boss?"
"That things being what they are. Capital outflows, credit seizures bank runs and the like. Things get. Untidy" He twists the knife round again and, as if by magic the tiny white square appears again, as if there were two.
"It's just a job."
"Strictly speaking what you do, is just work, Mister McCabe. The people you left behind so. So heedlessly have got jobs. And the people I work with have got careers."
"So, what you've come hear to gloat on behalf of the firm have you?"
Dermott sighs then shakes his head. "Of course not. I'm sure what you do, Mister McCabe, has its merits in lots of ways."
“At least I’m out in the real world. Doing something”, he pauses, “ …meaningful. Not playing stupid games in an office somewhere.”
"At most. Mister McCabe.”
“I said “At most”. The most you can say of what you do is that it is, indeed, out in the world. But that, in itself…well.” He spreads his hands.
“I do hope you’re not going to trying to persuade me to do anything, because if you are you really aren’t doing a very good job, Mister Freddy.”
The waitress arrives and places some bowls of the food they had ordered on the table. Dermott smiles, apologizes and moves his pda. He rests the base of both hands on the table and raises his hands to McCabe for a second.
“Ok." Dermott says. "The Factory is under a bit of. Of pressure at the moment, as you can imagine. I admit it." He strokes his hands over his face. “Things. The situation and the way things are. . ." he trails off and looks at the painting again. "I’m sure it’s nothing the place can't handle, though. Why all this inconvenience?" "Yes, this time. . . " Dermott says and coughs. "Things have become difficult shall we say. Of late. You'd be surprised. The thing is, some old debts are going to have to be called in."
"Oh no no. Look at my face. I think you'll find it betrays the sentiment of someone who really couldn't give a jumping god's fuck."Dermott smiles. He watches McCabe put the cigarette packet back on the table. “Besides, you lot don't look like people who are having any difficulties Freddy. Let’s see here, the flash pda, the cigarettes and the car somewhere, I guess. What possible difficulties could someone like you with a career and all have exactly, Freddy?”“The difficulties are more. Existential. At the moment. I’m afraid to say. Tuck in here Mister McCabe. The Factory will pay.”"
McCabe looks at his watch. “I’m not hungry. Mister Dermott.”
“You can’t hide amongst the little people for ever you know.” Dermott touches the edge of a sugar cube onto the surface of his coffee. The dark liquid soaks into the white lump.
“Look, Mister Dermott, whoever you are, don’t pick on me. I’ve been out of the loop for a long time. Too much mileage. There must be hundreds of punters better suited than me.”
Dermott smiles. “At the moment central needs all the bodies it can get. Don’t flatter yourself Mister McCabe, you were a long way down the list.”
“I could agree and just…”, McCabe closes his eye and sighs.
Dermott plucks the last petal of the flower. “Time to go Mister McCabe. It’s a free world like they say, but you have no choice.” Outside, the wail of a siren starts up. There are groans from some of the clientele.
“Not again.”
A few seconds later, the music stops and the lights go out. The waitress arrives with more of their food and shrugs.
“We’ve a generator if you’ll wait?”" That won’t be necessary Miss. We’ll be on our way”
“You’ll still have to pay”
“Of course." He holds out his right hand and she scans the line below the knuckle of his thumb with the paycam.
“Have a day.” He says to her
“What?” she says back McCabe starts to gather his things, frowning at Dermott. People leave. A manager shouts for someone to go down to the basement. The paycam gives out a high pitched tone and whirrs out a white tongue of paper. “Come on Mister McCabe.” Dermott gets up, folds the receipt up and putting it into his pocket says, “Singer waits for no man.” Shouting now over the shriek of siren outside. “Especially one like you.”

dimanche 15 mars 2009

A good idea

Over at whatreallyhappened - this. Eccentric but these are eccentric times. Ot would be a start...
"I think the best action for the United States and the rest of the world would be a massive act of peaceful civil disobedience. Stop paying mortgages. Stop paying credit card bills and student loans. It's over. The money you spend now will be money that you wish you had saved (or converted into land, gold, or something of value) Stop paying taxes. And don't give back your keys. Take your homes back and stop funding the government. Take care of yourselves. Do what you have to do to survive because this is your right as a human being. You are not responsible for Wall Street. You are not responsible for any of this. It's collapsing. Don't let them control the outcome. Don't give away your power. Don't give away what few resources you have left to those who created this. The richest two percent of the world own more than fifty percent of its resources and influence and control most of the rest.
"Money is not a significant factor under slavery. Masters do not collect money from their slaves. Instead, they possess the output of their labor." - Ed Griffin"

samedi 14 mars 2009

The spectre speaks

"And how does the bourgeoisie get over these crises? On the one hand, by enforced destruction of a mass of productive forces; on the other, by the conquest of new markets, and by the more thorough exploitation of the old ones. That is to say, by paving the way for more extensive and more destructive crises, and by diminishing the means whereby crises are prevented."

vendredi 13 mars 2009

The Poor List - After, but unconnected to, O'Hara's first real gig

Kev's first gig.

The post leaned into the hill climbing the back of the terraced houses his mail-sack heavier than usual. The low sunlight made him squint. He frowned and tried to balance its weight round his torso.

The sound of feet crisp on the cindered path had caught her attention. He closed the green metal gate of the house next door and walked to the wall of 35 Ashgrove View. She stood and flexed her back. Far away across the grassy hills, motorway traffic hummed and fizzed.
- Ms. Melling? Something for you.’
The woman left her basket and walked down the paved path. A blackbird sang brightly in the distance.
- Can you sign here?’

He handed her a form, attached to a clip board, arrayed with barcode labels and other signatures. He passed her an A3 padded envelope heavy for its size. The official looking acronym made her stop. She signed and thanked him, their breath gathered faintly in front of them. The man smiled and nodded. She looked up from the lettering as he moved off.

- Will you be here tomorrow? She asked the receding figure. He looked over his hunched shoulders,
- We’ll keep you posted.
Somewhere, a car door slammed shut and an engine revved.
- Ha – We’ll keep you posted!
She watched over the wall, as the he trudged up the slope to the next house, then returned to gathering coal.

McCabe heard it first as an absence of something. Instead of the city’s subterranean throb there was a lightness where engine noise and traffic seethe should have been. They could hear the crackled voices on the radio. McCabe slowly moved his hand down towards the seatbelt mechanism by his haunch. Further along the street, they heard percussion and music and a repeated megaphoned noise that gathered into echoing phrases. Then actual voices, raw in the near suspended rain. They slowed behind some matt black Trooper, its rear window reflecting shifting sunlight into their faces. The seat belt came undone quietly.

- The fuck’s this? Tony says.

Up ahead some fluorescent and ligh-stripped jackets of herded police shine and glint.
They had driven and plunged through London’s steeped narrow streets towards the river passed Georgian fronts, shame shaded hotel back entrances and boarded up shops and bars, revved past most of the city’s landmarks and splashed throughthe too small streets. McCabe, half slumped between two Gov Agents, stares from the back seat through the rear passenger window as they slow down. The suspension of freedom happens in so many little ways.

He looks around, relaxes and picks at a morsel of dried cement off his jeans, coughs, grimaces, looks around some more and then lunges clumsily over the woman to try to get to the inside passenger door handle. With a swift trained action, though, the woman leans forward catching McCabe’s face with a heavy shoulder blow to the left side of his chin and before he even gets within arm’s reach of escape she punches McCabe squarely in his groin with a heavy hit. A police passes by on the back of a near cantering horse, hooves clatter with a hollow faraway noise.
“…some semblance of order into this stricken country…” The pain, though, is perceived by all the males present in some form or other. McCabe tries to say something. Lisa turns to him then to Dermott,
- Sorry about that. Some march or other? She says, with slight sigh, and scratches the slightly enflamed orbit of her nose stud. A helicopter clatters overhead and McCabe, still paralysed, watches a swing sway with a twisted shiver in a playground over the way. They pull up behind the Trooper. Boyd the Driver reaches over to the radio and a procession of static, voices and music pass by.
- I did warn you. Mister McCabe. Dermott says and, frowning, looks at his watch. We’re going to be late. There must be another way round Boydy?
- Might be. Sav a look on the satnav.
Whistling the chorus of an Irish polka, the driver reaches over to the device on the windscreen front and pushes buttons with his thick set fingers.
- Time for a pick me up. Everyone? Tony, the man on McCabe’s right, says.
He snaps open a seat compartment and extracts a small cloth bag. A flare amidst the march ahead of them shines incandescent green and smoke pours over the road.
- So Mister McCabe, Dermott says over his shoulder, How does it feel to be back on the team again?
The windscreen wipers whine a rubbery snigger. The man on McCabe’s right breathes in a line of the twinkling dust in one smooth rasp.
- Press ganged you mean? Painful. Actually.
Dermott assesses at the figure in the back seat for a moment and raises his eye brows slightly. He answers a call on his pda and in a space says,
- Look. Everyone has to, what? Do their bit in times like these though don’t you think, Lisa?
“…arrested in connection with the attacks…” a voice on the radio was saying. The engine gunned and a siren wailed from a side street behind them. Tony snorted in derision.
- Absolutely sir. Music Boydy. Music. The woman says.
McCabe sits up from his crouch and leans slowly back into his seat.
- Be careful. Says Dermott to them trying to catch their eye in the rear view mirror of the sun shield.
- Yes.
- He replies, with repressed anger, to whoever he is speaking to on the phone. The cars move forward and McCabe watches up at the glinting towers of glass and metal ten blocks away as they drift by.
- He’s no going to throw up is he Tony?
“…and inevitably our forces responded with redoubled efforts. Regrettably, this involved involuntary human terrain and resource depletion, but ultim…”
- Lisa. Get me the rozzer in charge of this carnival. These two’ll do here now, Dermott says uncupping his hand from his glowing pda.
- Right.
- Er, hold on.
Tony stretches himself and puts the little red bag in his pocket as Lisa presses a button on the car door. The window glides down and she shouts to a pair of police walking towards the demonstration. They stop and turn, looking annoyed. McCabe shouts for their help. Lisa reaches into her coat and takes out her ID. She holds up her cards to them.
- What’s the hold up here?
- A march, Madam. What seems to be the trouble? The bulky police asks, looming over the window. There is a bright yellow padded jacket over his uniform and a large number of suppression devices hanging from his belt and shoulder harness.
- How long is it going to take?
- Be about half an hour I should think.
Static alien voices crackle from their two radios
- But traffic can get through.
She turns to the struggling Tony and McCabe and whispers loudly.
- Nope.
The other officer approaches the car a quizzical look on his face.
- Look, we’re in a hurry here and we need to get across it?
- Afraid not madam. Regulations. You’ll have to go back the way you came. Is everything ok in here then?
- But this is a one way street.
- Indeed it is madam.
He frowns at the struggle going on in the back seat.
- So we can’t. And look…hold on. She speaks to the figure ahead of her one step removed from the scene,
- Sir, this copper reckons we’ll be here half an hour or so.
- Dermott stabs a button on his pda and opens his window and says, ‘Listen officer. I’m with Inland Security Division at the Home Office. Here’s my ID’. The square faced police scrutinises the small though surprisingly heavy document.
- The what? Inland Security…? Can’t say I’ve heard of it sir. Says KG 1654 and turns to his colleague. Have you?
- Inland Security Division?
The other officer stands up from checking the car’s front tyre, purses his lips and shakes his head.
- I don’t want. To pull rank, officer, but I could get you sacked, says Dermott.
- Right. And I could get transport down here and tow your car away for having what, three persons in the back?
- And kidnapping. Officer help I’m being retained here…against my will. Shouts McCabe.
- What’s that? KG says leaning in. He glances down at Lisa who stares back. Dermott is saying,
- He’s a suspect in an on-going operation officer. We’ve got to get him to HQ right away. Ring your chief if you don’t believe me.
The officer stands back up and waves to other police down the road. Struggling, McCabe says as best he can,
- That’s not true officer.
There is some more shouting.
- OK. OK. Calm down. Reg get hold of Dutton Street. See if this Inland bollocks actually exists. An’ hurry up.
He leans into the car window frame again.
- Now then sir. What’s all this commotion?
Then, everyone is talking over everyone else. McCabe is yelling that he is being taken, kidnapped and doesn’t know who these people are. Which isn’t exactly false. Insulator Tony is holding McCabe down by his arm and shouting at him whilst Dermott and Lisa, the latter between re-assaulting McCabe, convince the police officer that the person in the back is a dangerous suspect. The other police puts his radio back in his belt and says,
- Sir? Apparently this Internal Security Division is for real and they’re all accredited.
KG breathes in deep and sighs. He checks Dermott’s ID again and hands it him back.
- There you go.
Dermott looks up at the aged officer,
- Get me through this march officer. Where in a royal hurry here.
- Well, the officer sighs and combs his hand through his brushed back wood coloured rug, Terrible weather eh? The thing is it might be a bit tricky. Hold on.
He puts his hat back on and explains things rapidly into his phone to someone up ahead. A surge in the noise and chanting of the march drown out McCabe’s muffled pleas.
- You can get through up there on your right. Watch it though. The way things are…
Both police duck slightly as a mighty firework explodes up ahead somewhere.
- Thanks. You heard the man, Boydy. Let’s go.
The windows close. Boydy revs the engine and they accelerate into the road at an oblique angle. They force a gap in the parallel line of waiting traffic creating a loud and angry reaction then they hit the right hand kerb with a heavy thud. The security measures had seen to it that the last hundred yards of pavement before any march’s route are cleared of parked vehicles and so Boydy is able to speed the, now tilting car, along half the glistening pavement. Shop fronts and leaning pedestrians flash past. Boyd laughs,
- City Death Race three.
- Lamp post Boydy.
- … me out of this bloody mad house, McCabe shouts
Tony picks up his little bag from the floor.
- Now, where was I?
The muscles in Lisa’s jaw clench and turn rigid. Then as if unleashed,
If you don’t shut it, McDuff or whatever your fucking name is, I’m going to really own you. I mean really. Fucking. Own you. Do you know what that means?
- Sell me on e-bay? McCabe says and regrets it.
- It means I’ll punch you harder than that in your ugly pugly face and you’ll be waking up tomorrow fucking morning even uglier than you are now.
She takes the small mirror off Tony. They brake joltingly behind some ragged police line by the junction. McCabe rubs his thigh.
- Mister McCabe. Once again I can only say that you were well warned. Now if you utter one more word in front of his majesty’s finest up here about kidnapping, being detained or other such nonsense, I will authorise Lisa to turn distinctly Guantanamo. On your sorry arse. Crystal?
- Here. Lisa says to McCabe but he can only reply,
- Erh.

They brake behind the police lines and a constable moves towards them. She motions for the window and tells them to wait until the bulge in the march had passed. She shouts to a team of police to their right and waves the car on and the ISD vehicle edges forward into the path of the demonstration.

As the bounce continues

The Spring rebound in the stock markets looks likely to continue. For the rest of us, it's sacrifice and grin and bear it. Only if you decide to take it all so meekly and obey the snouts 'above' you. The people in Madagascar aren't taking it anymore, and have felt profoundly aggrieved for quite some time now. The reasons are complex, but ultimately unsurprising - poverty, repression and inequality. So far, so 'normal'. The government can repress a people for a long time before things really start to shift. That shift can take many different forms - in this island of the East coast of Africa, it's taken the form of an army rebellion. As one rebel soldier put it "We are with the people." Once an army defects to the other social power in a society the outcome is clear - either civil war or socialism.
These places are not far away lands about which we know nothing. A globalised world means the events in one country spread to others. In a lot of ways, the ruling class use countries like Madagascar, Estonia, Sudan as social laboratories - now their experiements threaten to mutate into full scale rebellion and even revolution.
One of the difficult things about living in an era of profound and rapid social change is that the individual pixel can't see the whole picture. Occassionally, though, as in this case, - one sees the cause, the effect and the potential of all the social turmoil, political activism and sheer determination of a repressed people.
"And smile."

Who is the enemy?

First, destroy all unions.

"The union sucks," Lyle Place interrupted. "They're fighting against us, not with us."

jeudi 12 mars 2009

Rich list Poor list

One is meant to react in Pavlovian cries of indignation about the super-rich and their oinkings as they slurp from their troughs in these economically challenged times. Poor souls. Many billionaires have lost ranking in the Rich List. Up on France 24, it is reported that these suits have lost half their wealth. Tough times - I must remember to write them a cheque to tide them over. But down at the other end, there's even stiffer competition for the coveted position of poorest in the world, with the poor list itself being extended by a million or so places due to all the new contenders. Results out (on the streets) soon.

mercredi 11 mars 2009

Union betrayal

Any lingering doubt that the unions are, at source, social police is dispelled upon reading their reaction to the 10% pay cut workers at Toyota are going to enjoy. They cravenly argue that at least the workers who make this sacrifice will still be in a job "when the upturn comes".
Wishful thinking on two counts at least. The upturn, seriously might never come. If 'never' means in ten years time. Which has been the Japanese experience. Secondly, the workers could all be fired anyway (like these poor bastards who gave up 20% of thir income and were sacked by their laughing bosses a month or so later) if, as seems increasingly likely, the recession transforms into a depression and there is no one to buy all those surplus cars the system keeps churning out.
And it is there where the crux of the matter is. It would be a mistake to support one side or the other here - the car worker or the car bosses. The question, instead, is does the world really need all those cars in the first place. There are jobs that need doing that aren't being done - resources could be allocated in far more efficent ways than producing the latest Lexus D series or whatever. But that would be to question the assumptions of the chaotic and wasteful system that we are forced to endure. As lefties, one must empathise with the workers at these plants, but in reality, there is far more important and useful work needed to be done than putting wheels on unneeded cars. Then again, it would have been better if they'd actually stood up to their greedy bosses and gone on strike instead of meekly accepting their pay cut.

vendredi 6 mars 2009


Mandleson cops for it. Just custard though. I'm surprised that the perputrator hasn't been arrested for terrorism. She remarked later, "The only thing green about Peter Mandelson is the slime coursing through his veins. That he is trying to make political capital out of climate change ... is an insult to my generation. He is unelected and only represents business interests."

There's no argument with that.
Goodish work.

jeudi 5 mars 2009

Socialism now

Even in these circumstances, one could remain a pro-capitalist. The banks will loan again after this, er, blip and everything will return to normal eventually. One can be a Keynes pseudo-leftist like the French PCF still whining for a wage increase. You could but you'd be a dreamer. Or one could follow the example of the workers in Dundee who have occupied their factory. Objectively, it is an infinitesimal action - a pixel on the huge plasma screen of flickering capitalist reality. But it is a good example. The response to this economic shambles must be something along these lines - some disobedience, some sabotage and disruption. The system must be kicked now it's on its way down.
The panic reveals the real role of all the political institutions we have been suffocated by for the last 30 years. It was never about 'soft landings' or 'efficiency' and all the other ideological smoke. It was extortion pure and simple. The system, and there is a system (some deny it eg.- The Daily Reckoning, a right wing economic website that to its credit saw all this coming but remains pro-cap nonetheless) has to be destroyed. Non violently if possible but destroyed nevertheless. To float like a spectator through this collapse and not advance our cause would be a crime.
As a start, suppoer these Dundee occupiers. And take that sneer off your face or dispel that indoctrinated fatalism. You can do something.

mercredi 4 mars 2009

Stock Market mood

Could Amanda the cleaner here at REL be the only person whose mood is inversely correlated to the stock market? She is upbeat and smiling when the indices are in the red, whistling and determindley happy when there is a plunge, but today she is terse and even sullen as Gordo and Superman himself talk up the prospects for the world economy and the FTSE and its chums are boosted three figures higher.

She'll be happy again by the end of the week, we strongly imagine.