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Welcome to the world of the Vincent D'Onofrio obsessed - and a bit of real life thrown in.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Hot Stuff

"Val, stay down there, the place is full of firefighters."
"I knew I was hot, but I didn't think having sex in church would set it on fire!"
"I hate being carpeted. I should be the boss."
"Ohmigod. Did I say that out loud?"
"These shirt buttons are under a bit of strain - one popped off."
"I haven't had this much fun since that scene in Mystic Pizza."

"Does my belly look big in this?"
Yes, darling, and we want to slurp all over it.
"So these Vixens started on me, and I came FIVE times!"
"If I found out you were my son by my stepmother, I'd kill either you or myself, squirt."

Terrorism in London

In the summer of 1973 I was working in Oxford Street, London's main shopping street. At the same time, the IRA was having a terroist campaign against London, and Oxford Street was one of its main targets. We were in a high state of security. As we'd go to evacuate the store (at that time it was in the record books as the busiest store in the world) because of an abandoned suitcase, some idiot would invariably come along to rescue his property, as there was a security alert. Yes, sir, this IS the security alert. Every morning there were more damaged stores to walk past, with plucky signs in the boarded-up windows saying things like "It's a blasted nuisance, but we're still open".

So I was an "old pro" when the 2005 July 7th attacks happened.

I was working this time as a teacher at King's College Hospital School. It's in a part of London, south of the river, where there are not many tube stations. The attacks were north of the river. I heard the first news on my way in that morning, but the full story was not known for some time. We spent the morning glued to the TV in the schoolroom.

The bombed bus

One of the damaged trains

The hospital emptied Accident and Emergency in case it was needed for casualties, but it was not. The journey home that night was chaos, as all public transport had been suspended.

Exactly two weeks later, on July 21st, the failed attacks took place. No one was hurt, but this time the incidents were further south, and one of the few tube stations near the hospital was affected. Again, the hospital was put on standby, but this time the casualties were few and minor. Again, traffic was chaotic. The mother of one of my home-tutees was very worried about me.

On Friday 22nd I was supposed to be visiting a student close to Stockwell tube station, but the mother had caused so many problems that my bosses told me to go into the hospital school itself. It was there that again we watched the scene play itself out, when reports started to come in of a shooting of a suspected terrorist at Stockwell tube station - just around the corner from where I was supposed to be.

The people at the hospital school were lovely. There were two very middle class white women teachers, and a black woman teaching assistant, who could easily have been a teacher herself. She was sceptical from the start, and kept saying, "It could be any one of us." Of course, it would never have been one of us whities. But she had an instinct about the whole thing. Her fears were assuaged, though, when - as soon as the shooting was known about - it was announced that the man who had been shot was wearing a puffa jacket on a hot day, had run from police, vaulted over a turnstyle, and run down the escalator on to the train, where he had been shot.

It was the detail of the puffa jacket that convinced her. It was a lie. So was the running away, the vaulting - all of it was lies. The police were covering their arses from minute 1.

Please note the picture routinely used of the innocent victim, Jean Charles de Menezes. Look just a bit like a mug shot to you?

You have to wonder why the media never uses an ordinary picture like this.
The police assassinated this man because they couldn't managed to work their own systems properly. It really COULD have been any one of us.
Well, anyone non-white, youngish and male. Then. Now it could be - any of us!
As a matter of fact, in the late 1970s, it nearly was me when, after an anti-racist rally which turned into a bit of a running riot, I was standing next to some young black men at a bus stop. Suddenly I was aware that everyone else in the queue was cowering in a shop doorway, and some police horses were almost on top of me. I know what it is like to live in slow motion with feet made of concrete. I got to the doorway in the nick of time, and heard one of the policemen yell, "All right, where are the big boys who were swearing?"
They charged a bus queue because some teenagers swore. Massive retaliation or what?
The local police lie to avoid putting any effort into their policing. The judge on the trial where I was a juror saw it. If the police alienate middle aged, middle class white women, their natural constituency, what must it be like to be young, poor and black?

Friday, December 19, 2008

A few things on my mind

A lot goes through your mind as you struggle to sleep, like this cough has done to me.

Any of this sound familiar?

1. Going to sleep by the sound of a CD. Wake up after a couple of hours. But it's still playing, and it only lasts an hour. Check clock. It's only been 10 minutes.

2. You sleep fitfully, waking every 10 to 20 minutes. FInally, it's less than an hour till you have to get up. You fall into a deep sleep and the wake only when th alarm goes off.

3. You toss and turn, so hot that there are barely 2 square inches of duvet left dry. You turn the duvet round 90 degrees to find some more dry bits. You drop off to sleep. When you awake 5 minutes later, you appear to have soaked a further 4 feet of quilt. Don't even think about the pillow.

4. This is the doozy. You wake at 4.04am to the sound of an approaching - something. Is it a faltering plane? A VERY early train? Aha! It arrives almost overhead and declares itself to be a helicopter. It's a few hundred yards away (probably - difficult to tell in the dark) and very high up, so it looks like a giant star, except for the green and red flashing lights. Now you are awake, you decide to have a pee. When you come back, it will be gone. But it doesn't go for more than half an hour. By which time you are tired of trying to use it to mask your breathing on account of this is FAR more intrusive than creaky lungs.

Who'd be sick? Who'd live in London, where noise abatement prevents us being disturbed by night flights, but allows the police to terrorise us with this torture.

Still on the topic of our wonderful police, what a week they've had.

- Praised for successfully prosecuting teenage killer of a 10-year-old boy.
- Castigated for a former successful prosecution of a woman who was said to have slammed a baby's head into a banister rail. She has been released after a retrial.
- Castigated for focusing on one suspect, and trying to honey-trap him, keeping him on remand for 13 months, ruining his life, while the real murderer (of a young mother in a public place in front of her baby son) went on to kill another mother, and this time her child too. He'd been reported by various people since before the first murder, including by his mother, and failed to turn up for 2 DNA tests, but the police suspected nothing.

- Then, the Piece de Resistance. A coroner tells the inquest jury they cannot find "unlawful killing" against the police who shot dead Jean Charles de Menezes on a London Underground train. The jury did what they could. But no-one will pay.

So our wonderful police can kill with impunity, but cannot catch a killer even when someone points him out.

Can you imagine if they were all armed all the time?

Baby Steps

Today I managed to check my emails. All 10 million of them...

I'm running out of steam now. I need to cap On Fire to continue my stream of episodes. Instead, here's another church murder clip. About one-and-a-half seconds turned into quite a lots of stills which converted into a handy slideshow.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Not there yet

After two nights of almost no sleep, antibiotics from the doctor, hardly any cards written, I feel like Christmas just cannot be allowed to happen yet. I haven't switched on my computer since Saturday, and as I can't access my emails at school, I have no idea who's been writing to me.

I'm here today to join in Christmas Dinner with the kids, but I don't really feel up to it. As soon as I can find my co-tutor, I will take my leave - and leave you with a dose of Valentino, in case you need a tonic, too.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Nearly Back

I'm still in a state of lung-destroying coughing, but I'm at work (well, you have to, don't you) with no will to write next term's work, so I thought I'd post a few old Picasa collages.

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