This has been an odd week really and one that at times I’ve struggled with. As I said last week i’m very much a creature of habit and I do like a routine as much as I like order and organisation,but over the last few weeks it feels like all the structure in my life has gone out of the window and been replaced by a blend of semi organised chaos along with a sense of making it up as I go along. Added to that, it appears that all of my get up and go has got up and buggered off and whilst I’ve had loads of luck this week all of it has been bad. Don’t get me wrong it’s not been all doom and gloom, there have been some bright spots; I laughed myself into a coma during Romania’s Eurovision performance last weekend where their performer delivered a routine that was more camp than Brighton’s maradi gras and at Finland’s song which sounded like the chorus consisted of the words “f**k you”, repeated over and over, before trying to win over male votes with the least convincing lesbian kiss in television history. Also last weekend, we took my sons and my daughter to the hop house in Tunbridge Wells which proved to be a surprising occasion for all the wrong reasons. Don’t get me wrong, it was nice to get us all together and around the dinner table but despite this place having once been my post work boozer of choice, it seems to become one of only three places I’ve ever been to that have made me feel middle class. The others being the supermarket Lidl and Newcastle. It seems that If you have a very whiny, snotty nosed child,the thing to do is to take it to the Hop house, order it some food it doesn’t like and then shout at it until it cries its eyes out before heading home with the huff. Or the wife as she’s also known.But on the whole, this week all the stars seem out of alignment. I’m looking forward to my upcoming trips to both Paris and download so much that I’m finding it hard to focus on day to day matters and I now have a sense of what it must feel like to be a kid a week or two before going to Disney land. The excitement is building so much that despite me being the king of last minute planning, I have already checked in online, booked the parking, printed off the boarding passes and confirmed the hotel bookings as well as organised meet up’s with other members of the global maiden family for a group photo overlooking Paris on the big day itself. All of this two weeks in advance, which as Cally will testify, is most definitely a first.
I always find though, that the world has a way of making me snap out of any rough patch by giving me a genuine reason to make my own problems seem immaterial in the grand scheme of things and one of these arrived on Wednesday afternoon this week when an off duty soldier was butchered in a part of the world that I know pretty well and only a few miles away from work. Now, in a world where some atrocity seems to occur almost every day either as a result of mother nature or some whack job, I find myself getting increasingly unmoved by the violence that I see. It seems that each day the news is jam-packed with child abductions, celebrity pedophiles, chemical warfare and natural disasters, and when the news isn’t on, there are adverts on asking for donations for everything from starving children to wonky donkeys, so it takes a lot to see something that cuts so deep that it brings a lump to the throat. Like many people,I watched just a few weeks ago when two deranged nutcases blew up children in Boston and I sat up late watching the rolling news reports at the astonishing footage whilst feeling a sense of upset that one human can do that to another. Then I watched the footage of the tornado in Oklahoma this week where dozens were killed and hundreds had their homes and lives literally ripped apart. But it seems that in the post 9/11 era a tragedy like these only keep the attention of the news cameras for about 48 hours before they move on to the next one and when that happens, I think we do too. Like my concentration issues of this week, I think the world can only now focus on one tragedy at a time and then like the cameras, we just emotionally move on.We live in a world of 24 news saturation and there’s only so many times in an hour we can watch the same, often grainy, amateur footage of a plane engines on fire or tornados moving in. During that time the world of social media tends to run parallel to the tv news, with tweets and status’s offering a combination of respect, best wishes and sickness. Nothing though appears to get the twitterverse or Facebook going as much as either a child abduction or a race hate crime especially one where the victim is white and the perpetrators are black or muslim so therefore this weeks murder registered a huge 10/10 on the twitbookometer. I have watched mesmerised as a great many people whom I respect and admire from celebrities to mates, have taken to social media to spout their opinions on this, which have left me a mix of angry and bemused. I took to Facebook myself in an attempt to suggest that we should try and stay calm and not get dragged into an almost xenophobic state, but many, in fact most of the people I respect the most have managed to stay quiet on the subject. I have deliberately kept own views off social media this week because it really isn’t the time to do it, but this is the right platform for my views as they can’t be squeezed into the 140 characters that twitter allows, so here we go.
Firstly take a close look at what happened on Wednesday. Two extremist individuals decided that they were the ones to avenge what they see as crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan committed by british and allied troops,by deliberately running over an off duty soldier, before dragging his body into the road and attempting to decapitate him and remove his internal organs by using a variety of weapons such as knives,meat cleavers and a machete. This happened at 2.30 in the afternoon, in a busy street in the south of our capital city. Near a primary school. This crime could have been committed at any time of the day or night but by doing it at this time of day they had guaranteed that lots of people would be around, lots of people would film it and lots of people would provide the oxygen of publicity that their cause was seeking. In the 20 minutes that it took for the police to amble along and shoot them, they managed to effectively conduct interviews with passers by explaining their actions were “regrettable” but “necessary” given what we are doing in other parts of the world. Within minutes, news agencies, news papers and amateur reporters on social media sites were all reporting it and then by 6pm it seems that the whole country was aware of it, so mission 1 accomplished. Mission 2 was to to avoid getting killed by the police once they had eventually arrived. By doing this they have guaranteed that there will be a trial in many months time, long after the worlds attention has moved on and forgotten about it, which will of course generate the publicity they so crave yet again. This will no doubt result in them being treated as heroes and indeed victims by those who share their agenda. Mission 3 was to stir up anti Muslim hatred amongst otherwise perfectly normal people which will be translated as this country being anti Islamist and in turn being used to further radicalise young and impressionable Muslims around the world.From this perspective mission 3 has definitely been accomplished as well. So without having to go to the time and trouble of planting a bomb and blowing themselves up in the process, these two people have done something that would until Wednesday have been considered unthinkable and too deplorable for words and managed to alert the whole world to their cause, knowing that as sure as night follows day we will fall for it, and we rather gullibly did. And then to make matters worse the English defence league turned up.
If you are in anyway unfamiliar with the EDL then allow me to explain. With virtually no exceptions this bunch of morons believe that the best way to represent England is to posses a skinhead haircut, believe that anyone who isn’t white should be deported or stabbed and have at least one tattoo of a bull dog. To give you an idea of how moronic them and their followers are, the French energy company EDF have had to tweet repeatedly that they are not a racist group of skin heads after receiving many tweets asking how they could get involved in their “operations” in south London. And as if things hadn’t become repulsive enough, the slimy, racist, fascist that is Nick Griffin, head of the British national party, turned up in Woolwich to look at the floral tributes being left on the gates of the Woolwich barracks where the soldier had been based,thus immediately giving credence to these EDL people who’s existence is utterly pointless even from an organ donation point of view. Hour after hour since Wednesday I have been getting status updates from people who at first were changing their profile pictures to the union flag, then to pictures of the poor dead soldier and then more recently to pictures of hate preachers superimposed against gun sights or with slogans such as “click like if you want him deported” and ” share if you want to bring back hanging”. I’ve written before in previous posts such as “oh for gods sake” and “keyboard warrior” about the kind of people who would put these things together in the first place and then about how it will simply continue the cycle of racial and religious hatred so I’ll not go on to do that again here. But I think this week we have as a nation let ourselves down a little bit.
I don’t think that hiding behind a flag or promoting it is particularly helpful or welcome in the aftermath of this tragedy. I doubt that this young mans wife’s, parents,brother or children will take any comfort from this xenophobic reaction from a great part of our populous as it probably matters not one bit which colour of skin his killers had, as all they want is is their husband, son, brother and father back. Lee Rigby represented our country in a manner befitting of a hero having had the guts to go and try to make the world a better place by trying to defeat the despots and dictators in some of the worlds most hellish places to live. No doubt that at times his life was in danger and no doubt he managed to control himself and not sink to the levels of the enemy or even lob a brick at the nearest mosque in anger. Drummer Rigby was indeed a hero and when he died he was wearing a help the heroes T-shirt, an organisation which has seen a massive increase in donations since this abhorrent act and here finally I suppose I get to my point. Forget flag waving, racial hatred and political point scoring, why not donate a fiver to help for heroes, place some flowers at the scene of his death and next week, after the cameras have moved on and are covering the next big story, rather than emotionally moving on with them, remember how much revulsion we have felt and use it as a force for good and not another endless round of flag waving bigotry.