The Eleventh Hour: Invisible Borders and Moral Boundaries.

Hello again, it’s been quite some time since I wrote anything. At the moment, I’m still not feeling the need or the inclination to write like I did before the death of my brother Mick. However, after watching the news concerning refuges, I’m disgusted and ashamed of the UK government’s intention to turn the small boats back from mainland Europe, effectively leaving those poor people in no man’s land.

I wrote the following piece a few years ago for someone who paid me to write an article for them. I maintained intellectual rights, which is why I’m putting this out to press. It will do no good and will probably go unnoticed, but I’m going to publish it anyway.

“Hope and faith work hand in hand, however, while hope focuses on the future, faith focuses on the now”. David Odunaiya (2013)

What must be going through the minds of the thousands of refugees and immigrants that are currently fleeing war torn countries? These inspirational words arguably express the mindset of the majority of refugees and immigrants that are currently searching and fighting for a better life across the world. The crisis of choice, or more accurately the lack of choice they are facing is unfathomable to the common men and women who live in the free western world. In todays’ day and age there is a divide; People either live in relative safety or live in fear of their lives. The people of the western world take the privilege of safety and relative indulgence for granted, a fact that is depicted perfectly in Jean Raspails’ 1973 predictive and apocalyptic novel The Camp of The Saints. This essay is not intended to be a literary assessment of Raspails’ novel in relation to the current crisis, but is instead intended to be an assessment of how his novel illustrates how we, as a generic western people view the plight of the refugee/immigrant 42 years after he wrote his controversial but great and thought provoking novel.

Without doubt, the human race has and will always evolve through the gradual improvement in the conditions of society. Therefore, how can the people who live in war torn societies possibly improve the condition of their lives when the regimes they are forced to live under prevent them from doing so? The simple answer is they go in search of the safety and happiness they have the right to experience and participate in. The immigrants in The Camp of The Saints are in contrast portrayed as arriving in mainland Europe with the intention of invasion and eventually overpowering western civilisation and their way of life. The novel is essentially apocalyptic, depicting the mass immigration of thousands of people from the third world, which ultimately leads to the destruction of western civilisation, as people who have no desire to assimilate into western culture. This is the threat that resonates emphatically throughout the novel. This theme is arguably seen as a threat in the real world today regarding the refugee crisis, which is being covered by the media, particularly seen by the refusal of the Hungarian government in their refusal to allow refugees and immigrants to cross their borders. At last count there are estimated to be around 19 million worldwide refugee s and immigrants from war torn countries that include Syria, Honduras, Nigeria, Somalia, Afghanistan, Libya, Eritrea and Myanmar to name but a few. The majority of these refugees and immigrants, in their quest for freedom more often than not end up in camps that are overcrowded and unsafe. The crisis that effects the refugee and the countries that build these camps prevents integration and keep individuals and families in limbo for months, years and generations, no wonder they decide to march in their masses to find their promised land. Incredibly one in five Syrians have or are fleeing their country.

The boats that carry the refugees in the novel are replaced in real life by the human land train that is carrying them to the borders of European countries. In the novels first chapter the professor looks out to the horizon and observes ‘ the incredible fleet from the other side of the globe, the terrible stench of latrines heralded the fleets arrival, like thunder before a storm’.

This passage of thought by Jean Raspail, comparing the immigrants in the novel to the toilet of humanity is unfair and controversial, yet somehow disturbingly correspondent to how refugees and immigrants are viewed by many suspicious people who live in the western world. There is a deep rooted fear that the mass exodus and influx of refugees and immigrants will alter the demographics of Europe and adversely effect cultural identity, many people who live in the western world are afraid that the comforting familiarity and the sense of community in their villages, towns and cities will be lost forever. In an interview with Jean Raspail, conducted by Katherine and Gavin Betts, which was printed in the Social Contract Press, Raspail described the book as symbolic. Raspail explained his reasoning, saying ‘The third world invasion of the west is unavoidable. It is race that gives culture its mark in the beginning’. Certainly, the influx of refugees and immigrants has and is affecting European culture, however it is controversial to suggest it is an encroachment on Western society. Raspail went on to say ‘race isn’t really a question of colour, its a whole mental outlook, a state of mind’. In my opinion, cultural differences, if given the chance can merge naturally and actually compliment each other. Indeed, the route of the problem is probably the state of mind, meaning, how we see things effects how we react. European reaction to the current crisis has maybe some indium of logic behind it, but the actions are most certainly unwise and unhealthy for everyone as a whole.

Islam verses Europe also printed an interview from the French magazine Valures Actelles with Jean Raspail. When asked if he believed it was possible to assimilate foreign people into French culture he answered with a resounding no! Raspail said ‘the model of integration isn’t working. It will not change the progressive invasion of France and Europe by a numberless third world’. Furthermore, when asked how Europe could deal with these migrations he said ‘There are two solutions, We accommodate them and our culture will be erased, or we don’t accommodate them which means we stop giving a damn about these depraved human rights and take steps to distance ourselves to avoid the dissolution of our country into a metissage’. Jean Raspail’s opinion is arguably reflected in how some European countries are reacting to the needs of the refugees and immigrants. The information we receive via all forms of the media is largely understood and viewed in an emotional context thus influencing how we relate and react to other people. The great Oscar Wilde once said ‘an unbiased opinion is of no use to anybody’. Raspails’ opinion is most certainly not unbiased but his opinion is of little use to the current situation.We should, as part of the human race, have a biased opinion about the welfare and safety of refugees and immigrants. We should not think or make decisions like the politician, who seem to first and foremost act on cold, inhumane facts, figures and numbers. We have an obligation to concentrate on relationships and values, putting the safety of those in dire need first.

We live on a planet that is abundant with resources, man made and natural. The decision to limit and deny these abundant supplies limits the potential of every human being to thrive and grow together as one race. We all have differences, but it is discovering and embracing those differences that ultimately define who we are.

Jean Raspail, although a brilliant and talented writer, is obviously reluctant to embrace different cultures into a French society he is keen to keep uniquely French. Unfortunately, his patriotism is fiercely intense, moreover, some would say, radically opinionated to the point of racist.

We could and should flourish together by helping each other, not because it is seen as the right thing to do, but because it is what we want to do and what we should do. The current crisis will ultimately cause us to reflect on who we are as individuals and as a whole. It is such a pity that it takes inhuman suffering and a mass movement of biblical proportions from war torn countries to bring about our conscience and the opportunity to change.

However, it is encouraging to see that actions of brutality do not always instigate actions of retribution, which is evident by the fact that people would rather leave their homeland than retaliate with the same violence that has been inflicted upon them. This fact is evidential through the willingness to undertake arduous and dangerous crossings of the Mediterranean Sea. The basic human instinct is first and foremost about self preservation, yet this is a double edged sword for refugees and immigrants. All of humanity is by nature and definition, equal, this being the case, we all have the right to live a happy a fruitful life, especially a life not marred by gratuitous violence. When people are forced or find themselves living in a society rife with pain and suffering they have two options, fight back or flee in order to preserve life. This is all the refugees and the immigrants want, to preserve their life regardless of the fact that at times they sacrifice their dignity. By seeking asylum from other countries far away, they often find their dignity in tatters. What kind of society are we to deny them the right or the chance to regain at least some of their dignity by gifting them a safer environment in which to live their lives.

I make no apologies for this essay because I have spoken from the heart, but I believe the current situation can be resolved if we all remember we are all the same, we are all equal. I will end this essay with a slogan from The Camp of The Saints. Towards the end of chapter thirty-two, printed in bold type, are the words, “Workers, Soldiers, Ganges Refugees, United Against Oppression”. Even in this novel of apocalyptic messages, there is a ray of hope. As David Odunaiya said, “Hope focuses on the future”. Let us hope that the refugee and immigration crisis is resolved before the clock strikes 12, for the sake of us all.  

Is it a bird, is it a plane……. Nope!!

For the last couple of weeks my wife Angie, hasn’t been well. (She’s off work for the rest of the month… my poor ears!!) Seriously, I’ve been worried sick, but she’s ok-ish, slowly improving. Anyway, I’ve tried not to leave her alone for to long, which is proving difficult because I have to visit clients all over Derbyshire.

On this particular day, I had to shoot off to visit someone. Luckily, Angie’s friend came to see her at the exact same moment I was leaving the house. So I shot off like Lewis Hamilton but got stuck in traffic about 10 minutes into the journey. Then the traffic cleared and the road opened up. I put my foot down, eventually catching up with traffic that was sticking to the speed limit. There was 2 cars in front of me. The one leading our pack of 3 was a sporty thing with the soft top down. I couldn’t see the driver properly because of the car directly in front of me. All of a sudden the sporty one turned the speed on. Then, I vaguely saw something white in colour flying towards my windscreen. I slowed down and swerved a little to avoid it.

It flew past me so fast I couldn’t tell what it was. Was it a bird, a rabbit, a piece of white paper?! I looked in the rear view but couldn’t see any sign of it so I assumed it must have been a pigeon or a white bird. Then it dawned on me when the sporty one slowed down rapidly, indicated and stopped by the side of the road. As I drove past, I glanced and saw a bald headed man in the driving seat with a bright pink splodge on top of his head. I had just witnessed his wig or toupee taking flight!

I could see he was in the process of swearing and cursing himself for causing his hairpiece to leave it’s resting place without permission!

I chuckled to myself and wondered what the pink splodge was on top of his head. It amused me to think he had used denture gum to keep his wig in place. I rang Angie to tell her what I’d just witnessed to cheer her up. She was still laughing when I ended the call. The things you see!!!

A New Adventure

So, my daughter gets married next Saturday morning at 11am. 27th August 2022.

I’m not sure how I feel. I’m proud, sad, excited, anxious, happy, restless, tearful, nostalgic and I have an overwhelming sense of love and melancholy. It’s strange but comforting, if you know what I mean!!

The moment my daughter Becky was born, I felt protective and vulnerable because I had never experienced a love that was all consuming. Like a bolt of lightning, I loved in a way that I have never understood.

3 minutes after beck was born, I held her, lifted her up to my face and kissed her. I breathed her in, brushed my lips and nose over her delicate little face and cried. She responded by latching onto my nose with her mouth and suckled for all she was worth. I would have died for her at that moment. I would die for her now.

She’ll always be my little girl. I’m so happy for her 💓 💗

Rhodes Trip Part 2: A Nightmare unfolds.

Before I get into the nightmare scenario at the airport, I going to reel off the nicknames we all earnt and damn well deserved during the holiday. My name became ‘Satnav Not’, Angie became ‘Sandra the divorcee ‘, Stu became the ‘Wandering Cowboy’, Dave became the ‘Historical Jukebox ‘, Julie became the ‘Laughing Seal and Jackie became ‘Flirty Girty ‘. The reasons behind every nickname will make sense over the course of all 97 episodes.  (Only joking!) It will only be 95……

We unloaded Dave’s car and walked with our baggage to a bus stop to wait for the bus to take us to the airport entrance.  The bus was choka block with passengers so we had to stand in the Isles, which wasn’t great for Stu because of his walking difficulties. (I’m pretty sure Jackie farted because she miraculously created a little bit more room for herself: only joking Jackie!!) We arrived at the entrance and dragged our luggage after us. Before we went into the airport, cigarettes and ecigs were sucked on with great big salivating deep intakes of breath before we entered the lions den. The queue was big but unavoidable.  Luckily, a person who worked at the airport noticed Stu was struggling, so he was led to a seat, where he stayed until we had reached the check-in desk. Angie took charge and ‘Ordered’ everyone to have passports and Covid papers at the ready. I stood and gazed at her and imagined the words that were buzzing around in her Musslini like mind “Zer must be no delays”. (Just joking Angie!!) Anyway, we reached the check-in desk and went through the usual rigmarole, then it was time to weigh the luggage. “You’re overweight ” said the lady in charge. (I thought rude, but fair enough lol) Seriously, all the luggage was over the limit, but Angie disagreed, and produced the paperwork that indicated our luggage allowance.  The woman looked at it very briefly and stuck to her decision, we were overweight. I’m not sure what was going through the minds of the other 5, but I looked at the growing queue behind us and thought ‘Fuuuccckkk’! So, we were advised to stand to the side and take items from our cases and transfer them into our hand luggage. (Didn’t make any kind of sense to me because no matter what Bag our possessions were in, we would still be boarding the plane with the same weight) Anyway, we stood to the side and watched other people go through the check-in without a hitch. Luggage was opened, underwear and other items of clothes were swapped from one to the other. (Not sure what Jackie was carrying in her suitcase, but it was long and sausage shaped, hiding in a black carrier bag) Just joking Jackie!! Stu had been brought across to us and stood watching the Great clothing swap because he couldn’t bend down. Eventually, we finished and waited for the chance to jump in and get our cases re-weighed. We were still over the limit (I really wish I had been over the limit at that precise moment) but it cost us £60 rather than the extortionate amount the first person had quoted us. We paid and moved towards security/customs and then we walked through the duty free shops, looking longingly at the tempting bottles of alcohol.  It didn’t take us long to find a bar and sit down with a cold one, apart from Stu, who strangely, opted for water!! We found the smoking section and looked out onto the runway whilst we puffed away, relaxation overriding our stress levels.  Back at the table in the bar, we finished our first pint, then all meandered towards our boarding gate to sit, chatter like excited kids and wait. About 20 minutes before we were due to board, airport security came into view and ordered everyone to move in the direction she was pointing.  People moved blindly, most of whom, didn’t bother to ask why. Not Angie. Her breasts became bigger and angry, inflated with frustration, and she surprisingly asked in a very calm tone why we were being asked to move, adding our friend Stu was tired and couldn’t walk much further. The security lady said, “A suspicious package has been found, we’re evacuating everyone “. (Hello stress levels, welcomeback!!) We followed the herd of sheep, stopping briefly so Stu could rest. (Angie actually took charge of Stu’s health and went to commandeer a wheelchair. Not sure where she found the wheelchair but we passed a legless old lady trembling on the floor, blood poring from her nose) Joking Angie!! Eventually, we came to a halt because we couldn’t go any further and came to a large room packed to the rafters with a few hundred fellow suffering travellers. We found chairs to sit on and waited and waited and waited and…… A policeman came and stood by the entrance and he was instantly surrounded by inquisitive people, all asking the same bloody question.  After about 3 hours of sitting in what effectively became a sweatbox, the all clear was given and different departure gates began to blink on the screens overhead.

We sat down at the gates and waited again, eventually walking down onto the tarmac towards the big bird waiting to fly us to a little piece of paradise.

I’ve Got An Electric Toothbrush, Where Shall I Stick It? Rhodes Trip.

The sun, the sand and the beautiful historical island of Rhodes beckoned us, and we damn well followed the call like arsonists to a dry forest. The difference with this 2 week (3 years delayed holiday) was the usual 4 (Me, Angie, Stuey and Jackie) were joined by Dave and Julie (Angie’s Dad and mum) The island was not ready for us, this virgin Island was about to be butt fucked by 6 aging sex fiends (We wish!!) Actually, we are more like 5 retired vibrators with the batteries removed.

I can’t speak for everyone, but for me, the holiday vibe begins when the eyes open on the morning of the day of departure. The batteries are temporarily in the vibrator and you’re buzzing with excitement. That’s how it felt when I bounced out of bed. Bags had been packed the night before and taken downstairs. all that was needed was a coffee at the crack of dawn and then wait for Dave and Jue to arrive at our house. (Stu and Jackie were picked up by me an hour earlier and brought down to the house) Excited chitter chatter filled the air as we waited for Dave and Jue. A military precision plan had been formulated by Ang to put all 6 suitcases and 5 hand luggage into Dave’s car and for Stu and Jackie to travel to the airport with me and Angie. We paced the living room like rabid tigers waiting for Dave and Ju to arrive (Stu sat in the garden making clouds with his ecig, chilled to the max) They arrived and Ju came breezing in full of holiday beans. Dave remained outside smoking a cigarette. The first thing that Ju said to us was “I’ve got an electric toothbrush, where shall I stick it”!? A ripple of laughter escaped and she looked at me and said “Oh God, what have I just said”! Of course I remembered that unforgettable phrase, hence the title of this first installment.

So the scene was set, the bags were put into Dave’s car and for some inexplicable reason, I was given the role of leading our little convoy to the airport (Big, big, bigggggg mistake, because my inner satnav is, has been and always will be scrambled and nonsensical) Actually, we only live a 30 minute drive to the airport and I’ve driven there several times over the years, so I foolishly believed in myself. I did ask Angie to check what exit we needed on the M1, and then we set off. Now, Angie will not admit this, but she gave me the WRONG instruction because we flew by the junction we needed (I knew in my head we had driven past it but I simply followed Angie’s instruction) We found out that Dave and Julie also recognised I had driven past it but followed anyway, probably thinking I knew a quicker route. The second I drove past it, Angie informed me I had missed the slip road. My reply was to inform her that she had instructed me to get off at the next exit!! She denied it but I stuck to my guns. Anyway, we got off at the next exit with Dave behind us, probably thinking to himself, “What a twat!” Then somehow, as I carried on along the road, I looked in the rear view and I couldn’t see Dave (I missed the turning again!) Eventually I arrived at the entrance to the airport carparks but couldn’t see Dave. Presuming Dave had got there 3 hours before me lol, we followed the signs to our carpark and parked up. (Still no sign of Dave and Ju) Angie got out of the car and went to scan the huge carpark for her dad’s car, Eventually spotting them driving towards her. She waved at them and ushered them to where we had parked. Dave and Ju parked alongside us and got out, then told us they had driven into the wrong carpark, which cost them £5 to get back out of it for a grand total of 1 minute!!! So that was our journey to the airport, and just when I thought the stress had ended, I was wrong. It became much worse and funnier. More to follow.