Shinganga (Part 3)


Parts 1 and 2 are here and here, respectively.

Sunlight creeps over Alice’s face. A beam wends its way up her jawline, over her cheekbones. She lies on her back. Watches it.

The others in the room sleep. Still and silent. Content.

Alice lies still, unmoving, unwilling to wake them.

She stares into the sunlight and thinks of what has happened, what she has seen. Where they are, and where they are going.

The room is strewn with invitations and reminders. Genuine, handcrafted, authentic. They claim. Masks and shields and paintings, daubed onto woven leaves, hang from the wooden walls, nestle into the thatched straw ceiling. They surround the enormous bed, so large that four people are cosily sleeping side by side.

Alice stares up at the ceiling. Wonders. Feels the soft, thick blankets enrobing her. The fine cotton cradling her.

She raises her head and sees the thick luxuriousness of the rug at the foot of the bed. The door, seamless wooden planking against the wooden walls, discreetly leading to the en suite bathroom.

She turns and sees the glass extending along one wall, door and window in one.

The view is uninterrupted high bush, trees and shrubs rolling over foothills. Rich green carpeting the beginning of a mountain range. A lawn stretches out in front of the window, then the ground falls away from where the cabin is perched, toppling down into a valley before clambering back up the next ridge.

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In Defence of Globalisation

In Defence of Globalisation

If a week is a long time in politics, two weeks has to be an era. The seven stages of grief have been very publicly demonstrated for the twitching corpse of Britain’s EU membership, from denial (No! We can have another referendum!) through anger (All those geriatric bastards who voted Leave don’t deserve a vote, they’ll die soon!), bargaining (Scotland can stay in the EU, right? Please?), and finally, acceptance. Which I guess is Lexit, or left wing exit, a horrible moniker for an equally self-indulgent worldview.

In amongst all this, verdicts have been delivered on why the result came in the way it did. Demographic divides among voters have been identified, pitting the old against the young, the rich against the poor, North against South, metropolitan elites against ordinary rural working folk, contemptuous snobs against uneducated peasants, marmite lovers against marmite haters, or whatever else.

Some idiots (not naming names) have pointed the finger for these splits at globalisation, or at least the effects thereof. Britain has effectively voted for isolationism and retrenchment, for withdrawing from the global project in favour of a mythical island solitude where honest folk made ships and cars, beer was cheap, watery and terrible, food was tasteless and boiled, and everybody was white.

It’s not strictly speaking wrong to pin this yearning for things as they used to be on globalisation, in a very loose macro sense. Globalisation is such a wide and varied process of change that defining it is almost impossible. That said, some aspects of globalisation as “the closer integration of the countries and peoples of the world which has been brought about by the enormous reduction of costs of transportation and communication, and the breaking down of artificial barriers to the flows of goods, services, capital, knowledge and, to a lesser extent, people across borders” definitely had an impact on the Brexit vote.

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Is Tony Blair a War Criminal?

Is Tony Blair a War Criminal?

Words are important. Words are more than just a hammer to nail home a message. They have connotations, associations, subtleties. The importance of word choice is clear to anyone who’s ever read anything. Glittering and glistening might, on a very functional level, have the same meaning, but their usage and connotations differ dramatically.

That’s why messaging in media is incredibly important. It’s why if we’re constantly told migration is a problem, people think it’s a problem. It’s why David Cameron shouldn’t be surprised that his describing thousands of people fleeing conflict as a ‘swarm’ has inculcated a simmering resentment towards ‘others’ in British society, leading to the Pyrrhic triumph of populist lies.

With the Chilcot Inquiry set to release its report on Wednesday and taking what might be said to be a spiteful attitude to the myriad issues surrounding the Iraq War (You wanted a report? Well, have all the reports! Have two and a half million words worth of report! Have three times the length of the bible! Happy now, you demanding bastards?) one notable area it won’t report on is the legality of the war, or indeed on any potential criminal responsibility of the main players.

And the reason I bring this up in relation to words and their import is that the terms ‘Tony Blair’ and ‘war criminal’ have been bandied about in the same sentence many times by many people over the last decade, without people having a full justification for doing so or indeed understanding what either of those terms mean.

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