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By Jason Michael
IT WAS ONE OF THE WORST DAYS OF MY LIFE. I know for a fact it was the worst day in at least two people’s lives. In the early hours of the morning the phone rang. On the other end of the phone my friend was speaking to me in a stranger’s voice. Her husband was beside himself with shock and grief, and she was calmly explaining to me what had happened. I say ‘calmly,’ but this wasn’t calm. It was emotionless, a sort of thousand-yard stare of a voice, producing something that sounded for all the world like the person I knew while she was somewhere else. This voice was absent, it was hollow, and this voice woke me up. Their beautiful baby daughter had died in her sleep.
An hour later I was standing by this little angel’s cot, receiving her into my arms from her mother. I spoke to her gently. I spoke to her as though she was alive. I reminded her of what I first said to her, that she was so lucky she didn’t inherit her daddy’s looks. Now there was a calm, an awful island of peace in a world suddenly torn away and turned upside down, a moment of quiet and familiar normality before the painful journey to the grave began and before the years and years of agony and unsatisfiable longing started to work itself out in these two people’s lives. For the first time, not the last, I listened to a mother crying like a wounded animal. The darkest despair surrounded the room we were in. Soon we would open the door and let it in – but not yet.
Later that day, in a world entirely of my own, I took the tram into the city to meet a friend all three of us shared in common. It would be the first chance I had all day to sit down for a coffee and take a break from what was going on – if that doesn’t sound too insensitive. All I could concentrate on was not bursting into tears when I saw him, my friend. Funny the things that preoccupy us at such times. Hoping I wouldn’t cry, praying to God he wouldn’t give me a hug, I sat on the tram as the world went about its business. By the doors there was a bit of a commotion which didn’t register with me until a man started shouting. His sudden raised voice brought me back to reality with a jolt.
He was maybe in his 60s, drunk, and cradling a tin of what looked like cheap cider. Seated next to the doors were two Roma women trying desperately to pretend what was happening to them wasn’t happening to them. This man had taken exception to them, exception to them being on the same tram, exception to them being in his country, exception even, I’m sure, to their existence. By this point he was just letting it all out; all the failure and frustration of his own life, all the boiling rage he felt at his own inadequacies, and all the hate – all the stinking hate he could muster. The other passengers were looking away, he was only a drunk. Getting involved would only make it worse.
No, I thought, I’m not taking this. Shamefully, as I have come to think of it, my chief annoyance wasn’t his treatment of these two women, it was at him imposing his pathetic and noisy shit on me – on a day like this, didn’t he know other people have their own stuff to be dealing with? In a fit of rage, I stormed over to him, towered over him, and blasted a torrent of rage right back in his face. When the doors opened at the next stop, I manhandled him and introduced him to the platform outside. Pointing in his face, I roared that if he tried to get back on I would … you get the picture. It was the rudeness, a term – rude – that was defined for me in that moment as inflicting on others your petty, ignorant, and self-obsessed nonsense; something we encounter every day.
Make yourself comfortable, there are a few things I have to get off my chest.
Watching far-right louts kicking off on the streets of London on Saturday reminded me of that obnoxious drunk on the tram. Racism is wrong all the time and everywhere it crops up, but we are in the middle of a global pandemic and coming out of a lockdown that is unprecedented in its scale and in its impact on our lives. Many of us have felt the emotional wobble, we’ve felt the fear, we’ve been anxious. Two of my neighbours have signed themselves into mental healthcare facilities on account of the isolation and the worry, the suicide rate is rising, domestic violence reports are soaring. In the past three months I have been to more funerals than I have been to in the past decade. I saw more people die in April than I have in my whole time in parish ministry. We may not fully realise it yet, but this is a monumental personal and national trauma waiting to make itself felt. And after all this, we have this monstrous legion of ne’er-do-wells stomping through the heart of London reminding the world of what a drunken arsehole of a nation England is.
Neo-Nazi demonstrations in London are not the work of 'a few bad apples,' this is the product of a broken and deepl… twitter.com/i/web/status/1…—
Jason Michael (@Jeggit) June 13, 2020
Don’t even think of asking for an apology for that comment. There’s worse to come, and I stand by every word. These bigoted, undereducated bampots – blisters on the backside of the universe, that they are – are not the real problem here. They lack the intelligence to be the real problem. Their ugly little display is nothing but the latest symptom of England’s sickness, a sickness that has intoxicated its people with myths of imperial greatness and fables of their national and racial superiority. This filth has come from the top, not the bottom of English society. It has come from the cesspool of a public school system soaked in the blood and viscera of the victims of its psychopathic history, from a royal establishment that saw a white saviour in Herr Hitler, and from a political system that has since its inception served as the vanguard of the wealthy and powerful.
People took to the streets to speak out and speak up for people of colour, people the conservative British establishment can’t even bring itself to recognise as human beings, and this provoked a disgusting response from those in Britain who presume to call themselves its leaders; Boris – fucking – Johnson and his shower of gammon-headed, double chinned Tory pals. One of them even tried to explain that slavery was somehow acceptable in the past because it was the past. To a man and a woman, they ran and hid as people threw themselves from the highest windows of Grenfell Tower – a symbol, if ever there was one, of the evil that infests England – the decrepit and nasty drunkard of Europe.
England and its bloated synonym Britain are by-words for every conceivable species of vice and corruption the world over. From the soft nationalism of the pitiful furore of an American woman making a cup of ‘British tea’ to the hard symbolism of its emblems and flags, the world has England’s number. It robbed and starved and raped the tea from India, Sri Lanka, and anywhere else it could, and there’s a few damn good reasons people from Ireland to Burma know its flag as ‘the butcher’s apron.’ National pride? Britain has nothing to take pride in, and it’s only the English who appear to have a problem understanding this. The world is laughing at them.
Responding to Black Lives Matter protesters who pulled down a statue of a slave trader – a slave trader for fuck’s sake, the Prime Minister used the term ‘thuggery,’ a term that has been used to describe and dehumanise young black men in the United States; exposing them to the violence of the police officers of a racist state and the reason these protests are taking place in the first place. But we don’t expect any better from Johnson, do we? – the man who thought it just swell to recite the putrid racism of Kipling in a Myanmar temple and denigrate British Muslim women. No one expects anything any better from these people, and that is exactly why these morons are rampaging through London – because he’s giving them precisely what they want.
Smart people listen to protest. They learn from it. So, kudos to those English councils and London boroughs that have done the right thing. Well done Liverpool for formally apologising for the money you made from the transatlantic slave trade, and thank you to Ken Livingston for doing the same when you were Mayor of London. History is long and it will remember those who did the right thing. Their names will be recorded forever in the Book of Life and their trees will flourish on the avenues of the righteous. But, while the world watches on, the guardians of the English state continue to disgrace their nation. Rather than confront, as the wise do, the sins of their fathers – and there are many, they play idiotic and infantile games of whataboutery; what about the ‘statue of Karl Marx?,’ what about that old ‘racist king,’ Robert the Bruce, up in Scotland?
Why blame Karl Marx for Black Lives Matter? What is that all about? Is everyone who asks difficult questions of the British state a Stalinist? No, their outriders on social media call him an anti-Semite, the greatest Jewish political thinker of the modern age they call a Jew-hater. But then, antisemitism is used and weaponised by these dolts so often they actually think it means anti-Conservative. They have made the label of antisemitism the new antisemitism, and they’ve achieved this while reaching whole new depths in their Islamophobic rhetoric and behaviour. Who are these people, and how exactly did they survive to adulthood? Surely to God, the red man was too much of an obstruction to them and their race to make money. It must have been inconvenient advice, just like the advice not to let Cheltenham go ahead, not to send sick people to care homes, not to lift the lockdown – stupidly and wilfully ignored advice that has claimed the lives of 70 thousand people. How are these dunderheids still alive?
Wake the fuck up, Britain. We who are fortunate enough not to be trapped in your backward little has-been state don’t respect you. We have been perhaps a little bemused and amused by your quixotic bullshit over the years. We have always known you as the slumbering wife beater; good for a laugh in the pub, with your open shirt and your yellow teeth, but we’ve always known what you really are – an arsehole no one wants to be around. You and your ‘family of nations.’ Is it any wonder Scotland, Wales, and the north of Ireland are right now calling the helpline and looking for refuge in the shelter of freedom? England, you are that pathetic old man on the tram rudely embarrassing yourself in front of all your neighbours. But we have other, more important shit to be dealing with right now – and trust me, anything is more important than you. You’re not funny. You reek of piss, and we are sick to our back teeth listening to your incoherent rubbish. We are sick to the stomach taking your abuse. Get off the tram, get out of Europe and don’t come back. Fester until the end of time in your own irrelevance. So long, farewell. Auf Wiedersehen, adieu.
Righ-twing protesters clash with police in London