Monday, 30 November 2015

New Alice manuscript: Glory Party full of Heeby-Jeebies?

Levering up the floorboards in Lewis Carroll's room has produced yet more pages from the previously unknown Alice book

Alice found herself at a party.
She noticed that the Blue Queen was there, so was the Gibblet, and the Borogove. And a host of others.
A large creature came up to her, mumbling in Latin:
'Ego Loris sum,' he said nodding and trying ineffectually to brush the hair out of his eyes.
'What does that mean?' said Alice.
'It means, "I am Loris,"' he said proudly as if that proved something in itself.
'What's going on?' Alice asked.
'This, my girl, this,' barked Loris in a way that suggested that hearing his own voice gave him immense pleasure, 'is the Glory Party. Dulce et decorum est, pro patria mori. And don't you forget it, my girl.'
The moment Loris said this there was a ripple of applause round the whole party. 
Alice heard people saying, 'Immense', 'huge', 'marvellous', 'extraordinary', 'genius', 'what a leader' and so on.
Another man came over to her.
'I am Several Chaps,' he said.
'Oh you look like just one,' Alice said.
'I am more than I look,' he said.
'Actually you're less than you look,' said the Blue King and Alice watched while Several Chaps was taken out and put in the bin.

Alice heard someone say:

Bye-bye grant shapps
You were Several Chaps.
But it came at price:
none of them was nice.

Mysteriouser and mysteriouser, thought Alice. 

A group in the party were huddled round a magic lantern show laughing and slapping their sides.
'Look at this. The Neighbour Party next door are full of Splits.'
Alice looked. 
It was  indeed.
'They don't know what to do,' the group laughed.
'Now come along, 'said the Blue King, 'we've got a war to fight.'

It all went quiet.

'What's the matter?' said the Blue King, 'don't tell me that our Glory Party is full of Heeby-jeebies? If it is, I'm going to have to get the Neighbour Party to come and help.'

'Ah hah hah hah,' said all the people in the party, 'the Neighbour Party is full of Splits.'

The Chorus of scribes were there and when they heard about the Neighbour Party's Splits they started writing that down over and over and over again.

'Aren't you interested in the Heeby-jeebies?' Alice asked. 'The Blue King can't go to war if the Glory Party are full of Heeby-jeebies.'

But the Chorus of scribes went on writing, the Neighbour Party is full of Splits. The Neighbour Party is full of Splits. The Neighbour Party is full of Splits....over and over and over again...

Alice walked on. 

Sunday, 29 November 2015

A reminder from Wilfred Owen about the politics of war


If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie; Dulce et Decorum est
Pro patria mori.

[The Latin phrase was used at times of war in the 19th and early 20th centuries. It means roughly "It is sweet and glorious to die for one's country."]

Letter to my MP urging her to vote against bombing Syria

I'm one of your constituents and Labour-voting supporters. I am writing to you to urge you to vote against bombing Syria.
My reasons are as follows.
1. Any bombing will kill civilians. Apart from the human tragedy this involves it will also act as a recruiting sergeant for ISL.
2. It is comparatively easy for ISL to hide from aerial bombing, regroup and pose as great resistance fighters to the colonial, imperial and/or corrupt West.
3. There is no proper co-ordinated thought-through strategy of facing the threat that ISL poses. Bombing will make matters worse. There are hardly any examples of aerial bombing being successful - London Blitz, Dresden and Vietnam spring to mind as spectacularly unsuccessful ones.
4. There are alternatives: e.g. putting pressure on the Saudis to prevent them from supporting surrogates and allies of ISL, putting pressure on Turkey to stop buying the oil and to stop bombing the Kurds, helping to create a regional conference(s) in order to discuss peaceful solutions.
5. There is a real danger that escalating the conflicts through bombing will bring on the danger of world war. We should be making it a priority to de-escalate.
6. It's a good time to question why the UK is involved at this kind of level in foreign conflicts. Is there any cogent, rational explanation as to why the UK is involved in the Middle East acting as policeman, assailant and judge while, on occasions posing as mediator and arbitrator. It seems to be either a hangover from colonial times and/or part of the UK tail being wagged by the US dog. I would suggest that every time the UK is called upon to support the US or another country's foreign adventures, the Conservatives are able to present themselves as the real true 'defenders' of the UK. The exception is of course Iraq which very few now would take exception to calling a blunder, a tragedy and one of the reasons why we now face armed Islamism in many parts of the world. If for no other reason, opposing the bombing of Syria is one way we can put some distance between social democratic politics and the bombing of the Middle East.

Bye bye Grant Shapps

Bye bye Grant Shapps, 
you were several chaps. 
But it came at a price: 
none of them was nice.

Friday, 27 November 2015

When they do war, they forget how to count

When they do war
They forget how to count

They forget how to count
And that's how they do it.

They come
They kill

They kill
They go

They give us
No numbers
No names
They disappear them
They vanish them
It's how they do it.

They come
They kill

They kill
They go

Names are deleted
Numbers are un-counted
bodies are un-included
Faces are un-remembered
That's how they do it.

They come in
They flush out

They mop up
They take out

No numbers
No names

No names
No numbers

And it's worth it,
they say.
It's worth it.
Believe us, it's worth it
believe us.
Oh yes it IS worth it
if you forget how to count.
It IS worth it
if you forget the numbers.
It IS worth it
if you forget the names.
It IS worth it
if you forget the faces.
That's how they do it.

we're counting.
Watch us:
we're counting.
we're counting.

-we count.

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Poem: Mother

I am listening to my mother

I am listening to my mother
she's knitting
knitting needles clicking

I am listening to my mother
she's sewing
sewing machine humming

I am listening to my mother
she's typing
typewriter clacking

I am listening to my mother
in my head

More pages from unpublished parts of Alice in Wonderland

Another sheaf of notes has been found under the floorboards of Lewis Carroll's room in Oxford.

Alice heard some singing and chanting. She turned to the Blue Queen and said that she wanted to find out more about it.
'Excellent,' said the Gibblet, 'excellent'.
The Blue Queen took Alice to a darkened room and showed her some magic lantern slides. Alice looked at them with amazement. She saw people standing with their eyes shut, she saw people kneeling. Sometimes it was just men, sometimes it was men and women together.
'That's very interesting,' said Alice.,' and are there people who don't do any of this sort of thing?'

The Blue Queen and the Gibblet went very quiet.

'Are there?' said Alice.

'Children like you,' said the Blue Queen, 'need to prepare for life. That's why we showed you lantern slides of different kinds of people.'
'Yes, I know,' said Alice, 'but are there even more different kinds of people who don't do any of this sort of thing? If I knew about them, wouldn't that help me prepare for life too?'
'Don't answer her,' screamed the Gibblet, 'she doesn't need to know. I'm not even sure it is knowledge, anyway.'

The Gibblet opened a huge book called 'The Big Book of Knowledge'.
'No, it's not in here,' he said exultantly, and closed the book very quickly. 'If it's not in the 'Big Book of Knowledge', it's not knowledge,' he added.
'Who wrote this 'Big Book of Knowledge'? asked Alice.
'The Borogove,' said the Blue Queen, her voice trembling with emotion. She shut her eyes.
'The Borogove, the Borogove,' sang the Gibblet in a high pitched lyrical voice as he kneeled down on the floor.
'Have you got the Borogove on one of these lantern slides?' asked Alice.
'One day...' said the Blue Queen in a mysterious way.

Alice walked on.