Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Referendum Poem

You cheered when you saw the news today,
so glad to have your country back at last.
You did it! But it won’t be you who’ll pay.

Two years, at least, before we break away:
by then your better days will be long past.
You cheered when you saw the news today

because, for you, so little seems at stake,
so why not nail your colours to the mast?
You did. But it will not be you who’ll pay:

your children and their children have to face
the consequences, while your cackling ghost
recalls the cheer with which it hailed the news that day,

Great Britain once more great again! Hooray!
Your children and their children didn’t laugh.
You did. But it will not be you who’ll pay:

the young will be hurt most, denied their say,
will live the longest with what you unleashed.
You cheered when you saw the news today:

we didn’t. We know far too well who’ll pay.

Monday, 27 June 2016

Inadequate Responses to the Crisis

Being a 38-year-old woman eating two bowls of cereal in a row while reading The AV Club

Making some weird porno-collage

Watching Guardians of the Galaxy for the nth time instead of an improving documentary

Getting high and showering

Watching a man come out of a newsagent with a shopfront displaying the Daily Mail logo, carrying a copy of the Sun, following him home and noting his address

Looking for alternate routes home in the place where you’ve lived for two years now in case you need to shake a tail or avoid being ambushed

Thinking about an old Warren Ellis webcomic for the first time in years

Rewatching Angels in America

Going out and getting in a fight

Listening to vaporwave and jerking off


Demanding a recount



Believing that anyone, anywhere, has any kind of plan

Another mass

Sunday, 26 June 2016

Pound Foolish

'All that stuff about the markets falling, that doesn't really mean anything, right? That's just businessman stuff. The important thing is we're free, right? Wheeeeeee!'

Okay, so I'm not an economics expert but here's the thing: the pound fallling is not just an academic, esoteric thing. It is going to have severe real world consequences and they will fuck you up.

The pound's value dropped relative to other currencies. This means those currencies are worth more than the pound. One consequence of this is that you will get fewer Euros to the pound if you travel abroad. But that's not all.

This link gives figures for how much Britain exports and imports. You'll notice we import more than we export: $663bn as opposed to $472bn (yes, it's measured in dollars, that's because the US is the hegemon now. Get used to that feeling of not mattering.).

Basically we import more than we export, and now that the value of the pound has dropped all the stuff we export will cost more. And what happens to the stuff you buy when the costs of importing go up? Prices go up. You will now have to pay more for goods you would once have been able to acquire cheaply. Living paycheck to paycheck? Having to stretch your money out more and more each month, somehow? Congratulations. That is going to get worse, not better, now.

The one advantage of the pound being cheap is we could export more stuff now because other nations will be able to acquire our goods more cheaply. But although we will be exporting more, people will be paying less for what we export , so it's uncertain if that will be enough to help us. Probably not.

It gets better. Companies have to make a profit, and keep costs down. And companies have shareholders who want to keep their share prices high. The share price of some companies dropped by 18% on Friday, which is huge. They're going to need to cut corners somewhere, and that will mean you either losing your job or being paid less to do it. Either way you will have even less money in your pocket, and it won't go as far as it used to because prices will go up.

I know that it can seem, especially since the 2008 crash, that the markets are an abstract thing, but they have consequences. And the consequence of Brexit is that a lot of us are going to deepen our acquaintance with hunger. However badly off you were on Thursday, you are a lot worse off now.

And that's what you voted for. Bregretting it yet?

Friday, 24 June 2016

Congratulations, Leave voter

Content note: the following contains a lot of ranting about the Euro Referendum result, which in itself might be triggering. It also contains a section where I write from the viewpoint of a geriatric Leave voter, which includes some of the racist terms they use, a pretty horrific description of a disaster in the Channel Tunnel and the phrase 'a horsecock class dildo covered in chili powder'. There's also an extended metaphor about Leave voters pissing in their kids' faces. 

Congratulations, Leave voter. You won. In the tightest referendum in British history, which divided the country and led to the murder of an MP, you managed to squeak out a victory in the same way I might squeak out a fart I wouldn’t want the Queen to hear. You must feel so very proud.

Will you still feel proud in a year’s time, I wonder? When the consequences of your decision take effect? Maybe. It’ll be nice, won’t it, to sit there and kid yourself that we’re a great nation again. That we still have an Empire a commonwealth Scotland Gibraltar and the fucking Falklands. It’s just a shame about the children.

Because what you did, Leave voter, was you directed a warm streak of piss right into the faces of your children. That’s kind of weird behaviour, shouldn’t you be on a register or something? Maybe you are. Maybe you ought to be locked up. Ironically if you were you couldn’t vote, because it was the EU which wanted prisoners to be given that right. What Euro madness! Treating prisoners fairly! What a nonsense! It’s only been called one of the best ways you can judge a civilisation, but that was by one of them, the brown ones, and what do they know, eh?

Did you enjoy it? When you directed that hot streak of piss right into the faces of your children, I mean. Did it make you feel good? Did you almost get a semi for a second? Did you remember what that was like? It must have been so good, the thought that this act, this glorious sacrilege, the coppery stream splashing all over their innocent eyes, might almost remind you what it was like to have an erection, what it was like to feel wet, and oh it was worth it, wasn’t it, it was so worth it to have it back for a moment, that feeling of standing firm and erect like Plucky Little Albion, eh, going it alone, though you’ve handed the country over to the exact people we were going it alone to fight now so you even devalued our participation in the Second World War well done you  but don’t think too hard about that or you’ll lose it, Britain standing erect, alone, PROUD, FIRM and you’re not going to lose it, no, look at their faces, look at it dripping off their chins dammit, BRITAIN! PROUD, ERECT! ALONE! But no, no no no, the semi’s fading already, even urinating on kids won’t bring it back, it’s crashing like the fucking stock market, it’s dwindling to nothing, and you’re forced to accept that your member is as useless as Britain was to the EU. Never glad confident morning glory again, alas. And now all you’re left with is a shrivelled dick in your fist and kids whose faces are covered in piss and suddenly it seems like soap’s a lot more dear. Maybe they should just swim in the river. Maybe they should let it dry.

Maybe the staff in the shitty care home where you’ll wind up will just let it dry too. It turns out that for all the lies about us putting £350million into the EU we actually used to get a lot more out, and without that funding, and having lost our Triple A credit rating the morning the world discovered we weren’t a functioning adult polity anymore, everything is a lot more expensive, and your kids have less money, and they looked at you funny and said ‘since 2016’ when they dropped you off at the home and they’ve never been back. You were abandoned like a dog. Alone.

It didn’t stop brown people coming either. All the nurses here are coloureds now. No Polacks anymore. And more Syrians than ever since France stopped policing our borders at Calais. The trains to the continent stopped a while ago, the tunnel’s too dangerous now. It made you sick when you watched it on the news, about the fireball. People burning. People melting. They kept saying and you shouted at the screen in the lounge shut the fuck up about it they’re not people, and the nurse from Bongo-Bongo Land or wherever it is looked daggers at you when you said it.

There’s a lot of bruising on your arms. The nurses are rough when they put in your cannula. When they grapple you out of bed and into the sit-down bath. You could complain, but who to? There wasn’t the money to keep the CQC going. Care Home inspections are carried out by private firms now and they must be a success because the figures for failed inspections have gone down so much. But the staff are still rough. They still manhandle you. They still leave you to sleep in your piss. They still talk in their funny languages and now you realise how wrong you were when you would hear them on the bus because hate translates. You don’t need a two-way dictionary to work out when someone’s bitching about you, if someone can’t stand you you’ll know from their tone, and you know the tone that they use when they talk about you. But in a way it’s what you wanted. On the bus, in the street, when they talked in their own language you were sure that they talked about you, and now they do. In the same way you always imagined. You got what you wanted! Go you!

                           *                              *                                *

All I have right now is this coffee and these pages and now that the fascists have won I don’t even know how long I’ll have those. A laptop is a luxury now, now that I might wind up having to write on toilet paper, now that I might have to figure out how to hide pencils inside me, now that the work of resistance begins.

Fuck you. Fuck you fuck you fuck you fuck you fuck you fuck you fuck you fuck you fuck you fuck you fuck you fuck you fuck you fuck you fuck you fuck you fuck you fuck you fuck you fuck you fuck you all, all of you who voted Leave, and fuck you especially in the North East, fuck you in Sunderland.

What you have done is put this country in a situation where we are going to be as fucked up as Germany was after the War without even having a war. We can’t invade anywhere now, we pissed our waning military strength up the wall invading Iraq for no fucking reason back in 2003. But that won’t matter because you may not have noticed we’re in a recession which we never left, and if you’re in a recession it’s not a great idea to knock out one of your key sources of funding. Europe is going to punish us now, you do understand that, right? Did you think it would all be okay? Did you think it would all be peaches and cream and gloriously curving bananas now we’re ‘free’ of the best thing that ever happened to this shitty country? Well I’m sorry to have to disabuse you of that notion but that is not how it’s going to go down. Europe wants to stay together, and they need to punish anyone else who wants to split. We are going to be made an example of, pour encourager les autres.

Do you genuinely think Plucky Little England can stand alone? Did you buy our national myth about how that won the Second World War? History lesson: the Allies won the Second World War because of US military might and the immense human sacrifice undertaken by the Soviet Union. Little England, however much pluck it might have, couldn’t have won that thing alone. If your fantasy was real then we’d all be speaking German by now.

I don’t know, maybe you like that idea.

Well, you’re going to learn what it means to stand alone now, especially as such a little country. You’re going to learn what it means to be fucked, and I don’t mean in a sensitive way. I mean no lube, no foreplay and a horsecock class dildo smothered in chili powder. What is about to happen will be brutal. America will not help you. Russia might, but Putin regards us only as a bauble. He won’t risk shit to save you.

France will stop guarding our borders for us. Immigrants flooding into the UK? You got your wish, that will happen. Scotland will go independent and the border between England and civilisation will be more fortified than it’s been since the Romans. A fortified border will also go up in Ireland. Europe will cut off every source of funding we receive. The Common Agricultural Policy will no longer help our farmers survive. Pretty, pastoral picturesque England will become instead an arid prairie of intensive, single crop or animal farms. Hog farms will be free to create giant cesspits which poison the air and cause birth defects in children. What glorious sovereignty!

Did you vote Leave in the North East? Congratulations, you fucked yourself. How much of the money that paid for our renaissance, for the Sage and the Baltic and all the lovely, nice-looking places that bring in the tourists, the National Glass Centre and the Winter Gardens, all that, how much do you think came from Westminster? You do realise the people who wanted Brexit are the same people who wrote papers arguing that Sunderland should be left to fucking wither? Again: hot stream of piss, your children’s faces. That’s what you did. Well done Sunderland. Well done, scum. I hope the chilli powder really gets into the fissures in your xenophobic ass. Fuck you.

Fuck you everyone who voted Leave, fuck you, fuck you this morning and every morning from now until the time this shitty country withers away to complete historical irrelevancy which, from the looks of it, will be next Tuesday lunchtime. Fuck your white faces, fuck your hateful little white children, fuck your white bread and your white food and your stupid mostly-white flag. Fuck your idea of what coffee is. Fuck your stupid fucking builders’ tea. Fuck your faces. Fuck your smug flapping mouths.

 And when, in twenty years’ time, England, defeated England, chastened England, penniless, pockmarked and camp-strewn England  begs for membership again, begs for readmittance on any terms, grovels to France and Germany and even the remaining Eastern European states which have become a paradise compared to our own, we will, in all probability, not be around to say we told you so because those defeated little Englanders will either have forced us to flee to an outpost of civilisation like Scotland or will simply have killed us off.

But if spirits exist then our spirits will see the final humiliation of England and derive joy from it. I hope that’s true, and I hope it’s what happens.

But we can’t kid ourselves anymore. Revolutionaries are dead men on leave. I would say dead people, of all genders. Because that’s what we are now. We are the dead.

And England is the enemy.

Fuck you Nigel Farage. Fuck you Boris Johnson. Fuck you Michael fucking Gove, Iain fucking Duncan fucking Smith, fuck everyone who voted leave. You’re my enemies now ‘til my body stops breathing.

I will see you fucking die. Whether from here or abroad or the fucking spirit world I will see you, and the pathetic dreams of your wizened little pseudo-nation die.

War it is. 

Friday, 17 June 2016

Yes It's Fucking Political: On the assassination of Jo Cox by the fascist Thomas Mair

They killed a woman yesterday. By ‘they’ I mean the forces that seem to have been in control of my country since long before the 2010 election. The forces that criticised Gordon Brown for his penmanship in writing letters to dead soldiers’ families but neglected to mention this was because he only has sight in one eye, and he would rather have written his own signature on the letters than get an underling to do it. Does anyone think Cameron really signs his own letters? Does Cameron even have a signature? It seems unlikely, signatures are personal, human things and it’s hard for him to hold the pen in his lizard fingers and keep up the pretense that he’s human. Regardless, no paper runs articles criticising Cameron’s penmanship, because the whole fuss about Brown’s handwriting was part of a deliberate, sustained campaign of undermining the man and his government on the part of the same papers that supported Cameron, in return for his collusion in their corruption.

The same papers that went big on Jeremy Clarkson, supporting him when he called Brown ‘a one-eyed Scottish idiot’. The same papers that crucified him for calling a bigot a bigot. The same papers that ran pictures of a Jew failing to eat a bacon sandwich for a laugh last year then accused Labour of being anti-semitic. It’s hard to write about. How to find the lyrics when it’s physically sickening just living here these days, when our MPs are blown away by constituents insisting that they shouldn’t vote remain?

When we look at our body politic this time, will we see the actual cancer? Or will we insist the racist posters and flotillas were just ‘banter’?

Fuck, I don’t know how to write about this. I’m numb. Tragedy after tragedy after tragedy. This murder coming so hot on the heels of Orlando, which came just as I was starting to decompress after my suicide attempt, which was a result of the PTSD I’ve had since last August and there are times when I feel that I just can’t cope. I used to think to myself that it isn’t that bad when people said things remind them of the 1930s, the rise of Hitler. Now I’m not so sure. MPs are being gunned down in the street by people shouting fascist slogans and when we point that out people accuse the witnesses of being ‘lying Muslims’, say it was a ‘false flag’ or accuse us of trying to ‘politicise’ a woman’s death. You cannot ‘politicise’ the murder of a left-wing MP by a fascist because such a murder is already political. It is a political murder. But it smarts to be accused of trying to do so by people who cheerfully politicised a disabled man’s penmanship.

This country is sick. It feels like there’s no hope for it. People – not all people, but enough people, predominantly in the South, the well-off counties – bought the lie that it was poor people and refugees who caused the crisis, rather than the banks the Tories wanted to protect, because it was a seductive lie: because it told them that if those people were punished they would get some money back. Their house prices would rise. They could buy things from Waitrose again (if they’d ever had to stop). All they had to do was vote for a party which would demonise the disabled, demonise Europe, demonise asylum-seekers, demonise the poor, and then use that demonization to push through legislation making them poorer, making it harder for them to live, making it harder for them to escape here after we bomb the shit out of their countries to try and stop a cancer we created by invading Iraq (it’s called blowback. Actual tacticians practically predicted that back in 2003, but they were ignored because the Bush boy wanted to win his daddy’s war).

People voted, twice, to take the basics away from the most vulnerable people in society because they were told those people didn’t deserve it, instead those good, striving middle class people deserved it, and the only way to get what they deserved was to punish the people who’d taken it, the disabled ones, the brown ones, the ones who weren’t queer in an acceptably heteronormative way and I AM SORRY BUT FUCK GODWIN’S LAW at this point. Godwin’s Law was funny back when everything seemed like a boozy lunch with the debating society but things have got out of hand now and this is literally the fucking Nazi script, attack the blacks, attack the crips, and blast the homos when they kiss, it’s this and if you’re so proud to call a spade a spade then call this what it is: it’s a de facto fascist state, where white men will gun women down because of racist hate and we blame it all on mental illness? Ignore the word of three named witnesses who heard the man shout ‘Britain First!’, or ‘Put Britain First!’ maybe, either way the sentiment’s the same. Britannia Nostra. But only nostra for a certain value of nostra, which is not us. We don’t belong here anymore. That’s how it feels.

I watched Patrick Keiller’s trilogy of Robinson films again recently. Our broadband was out for ten days so, unable to retreat into Netflix I went back to my DVDs. I’ve moved five times in the past couple of years, and my collection has been thinned down each time I’ve moved but the Robinson films have stayed. In the first one, Robinson and the unnamed narrator, voiced by Paul Schofield, witness the shock Tory victory in the 1992 General Election. Robinson delivers a damning moral verdict on the scene:

There were no mitigating circumstances; the press, the voting system, the impropriety of Tory party funding. None of these could explain away the fact that the middle class in England had continued to vote Conservative because in their miserable hearts they still believed it was in their interest to do so.

Their miserable hearts. The miserable hearts that hurr-hurred along to a chino-wearing boor mocking the Prime Minister’s disability, but call us callous when we point out how cynically the Randroid currently running the country used his own disabled son for photo opportunities to show how much he really cared, even as he butchered the NHS to sell to his mates, even as he made life in this country so intolerable for actual, living, less photogenic disabled people. The miserable hearts which think house prices matter more than bombed homes. The miserable hearts that lived through some of the best times Britain had, much of that courtesy of the more than generous subsidies we receive from the EU, but now want to leave that and pass on decades of suffering to their children and grandchildren because you hear too many funny languages these days and in some places you don’t see a white face (this is bollocks, by the way – I’ve lived in ‘no-white-face’ places, I’ve worked in them, and there always are white people around. I mean, I’m there for a start. What people saying this mean is that there are more black and brown faces around than they’re comfortable with. Or, to put it another way, they’re racist.)

A friend of mine just wrote this on her Facebook wall: ‘All empires rise and fall. Maybe it’s time we fell.’

I’ve been watching stuff with Gore Vidal in lately. Vidal was wrong on a few things, laughably wrong about trans experience in Myra Breckenridge and poisonously wrong about Roman Polanski and his victim, but he was right about the big thing, which was America’s transformation, in his lifetime, from a Republic to an Empire. He was a man who had to watch while the country he knew, or thought he knew, became something meaner and uglier. I can identify with that feeling a lot lately.

D’you remember 1997? D’you remember ‘Things Can Only Get Better’? We thought they would. We thought we were a better society, that we’d never go back to the bad old days of racism and homophobia, of queer and Paki-bashing, of black kids having to run from the National Front on the way back from school. It was our rock and roll utopia, the good guys had won and all that was left was to kick back, spend our increased pay packets on alcopops and listen to Britpop.

Maybe the fact that our utopia’s music and booze were so shitty should have been the first sign that things couldn’t last. But we didn’t pay attention. The banks failed, like Vince Cable said they would (and we can’t say that we weren’t given warning. I was reading books suggesting there would be a crash long before 2008. Do you know how long it takes a book to get published? People knew what was coming for a while, some of them.) And when they failed, instead of taking a long hard look at how we’d got here, at how busted our political system had become, the middle classes of England, in their miserable hearts, decided it was all the fault of queers and crips and black and brown people.

Little Britain. Little fucking Britain. I feel like that was the start of it: laugh at trans women, laugh at black women, laugh at poor women, laugh at mentally ill women – funny how often women were the butt of the joke on that show, isn’t it? Funny how the jokes aimed at male characters were less vicious, often funnier and better constructed (the Pirate Memory Game sketch, for example). Almost like when they were writing sketches about white men Walliams and Lucas were able to treat them as people. Vicky Pollard, the Kaiser fucking Chiefs singing about men in tracksuits attacking them because it’s all getting ‘lairy’ and predicting a riot. There have been riots alright.

Rhian E. Jones’ ‘Clampdown’ is a very good book to read on that topic, by the way. It really nails what was wrong with all that shit.

We’re a country that loves to look the other way. At Amritsar, at the Bengal Famine, at what we did in Ireland. At Section 28 and institutional racism. No-one wants to hear about Section 28 when they’re admiring Diana on their commemorative plates. No-one wants to talk about systemic racism when there’s a really funny Top Gear special on their television.

And people are trying to get us to look the other way at Jo Cox’s murder. Well, fuck that. Jo Cox was murdered by a fascist who read fascist publications and shouted the name of a fascist group after murdering her. Jo Cox supported the rights of asylum-seekers and the campaign to Remain. She was gunned down in cold blood because of her views. Because she believed that Britain could be a country that welcomed refugees instead of demonising them as migrants. She believed Britain could be a part of the world instead of withdrawing behind the net curtains of Brexit and tutting at continental goings-on. She believed, as she said in her maiden speech, that we have more in common than what divides us, and we should unite to make a better world instead of fighting over what’s left of the old one.

And she was murdered for it.

People are saying we shouldn’t politicise this. But when you murder someone for their political views, it is already political. You can’t hide that fact, you can’t obfuscate that fact, you can’t make it go away and you can’t look away from it, not if you want to be honest about what this country is.

Britain in 2016 is a country where people are shot and stabbed for holding and expressing progressive political views. For opposing racism and sectarianism. For believing we should help the wretched of the Earth instead of building walls against them.

And in their miserable hearts the middle classes of England, the Tory and UKIP voters, know that is what this country has become, and they know they are responsible, and because they don’t want to face that responsibility, because they don’t like to think they have something in common with a murderer, they tell us not to ‘politicise’ it.

They tell us all to do what we always do. To look away. To blame mental illness instead of the political sickness of fascism.


Monday, 13 June 2016

They will say...

Inspired by Owen Jones quite rightly walking out of this disgraceful attempt to appropriate the LGBTQ community's tragedy to further an Islamophobic agenda

They were just dancing. They were just kissing.
They will say that they were shot because they were dancing.
They will say that they were shot because they were kissing.
They will say that love is love is love
but we know that is not all.

They were shot because they were people like us, dancing.
They were shot because they were people like us, kissing.
They were shot because they were people like us, loving.
But they will not say that, because

they want us to have so little
they will lay claim to the enormities
committed against us,
and even as we suffer

they will colonise our pain.

Saturday, 11 June 2016

This Is Not a Strategy

I want you to know that this is not meant as a call-out. I do not think of you as a monster and me as your victim. I am not accusing you of triggering me, nor of intending to do so. In fact, I love and respect you very much, as a fellow artist, as a fellow activist, as the bravest, strongest woman that I know.

But all that being said: there is no easy way to put this except to say that I do not want to go out with you tonight, do not want to put myself in a position where I might be drunk, I might be high, my inhibitions might be lowered, and I might let you take me home.

And I do not want to put myself in that situation because I am afraid that you will rape me.

I know that you would not. I trust you as much as I trust anyone. But I do not trust anyone much. I do not trust myself enough: I do not trust that the liberty I feel when high will not be replaced with the regret I feel when sober. I do not trust myself enough to not say yes to things I know I should say no too. And I do not trust you.

Yes, I am paranoid. Yes, I have trust issues. Yes, I am infuriating to deal with. I know, I know, I know. I post selfies on my Facebook page daring you to look straight down my growing cleavage, but flinch when your hand brushes mine. I bask in the adulation of women who live miles away, and squirm when one woman, sat across from me, tells me she likes my skin. I allow strangers on hook-up sites to tell me that I have nice tits, but cover mine when I am around you.

I am not being a tease.

I am not suggesting you are the kind of person who would tell me I’m a tease. I know the voice that tells me that I am, which whispers  I know exactly what you’re doing, is not yours. But because I hear it, I have to refute it, have to tell you this is not a strategy, not in the way I fear you think. I am not feinting, hoping to make you attack. This is no sudden, strange surrender. I wish that it were. I wish that one day, one night, I could stop treating every interaction as a chess game, as a wrestling match, a duel. Or at least one where the stakes were not so high. To not always have to bob and weave as if my life were on the line. To yield. I want to do that: and if I were going to do it I can think of few women better than you to give in to. But I know that I will run, I know that I will try to fight you off and flee. This is my strategy: protection at all costs. This is my loss.

This is not you. This is on me.

And I am sorry.