DAY 112: Porridge

December 11th, 2014 § 0 comments


Wading into ‘Porridge-gate’, (This surely deserves a picture of porridge, wading,

Lemno-SIXWading through a ‘porridge’ of silt in the Highlands

and gates), the storm raised by Baroness Jenkin’s claim that the poor wouldn’t need to use food banks if they knew how to cook cheap, nourishing porridge: Two observations are in order.

1. The recent slump in the oat harvest has led to a rise in the price of porridge. Hence, not only is Jenkin’s claim misleading, but one may suspect a conflict of interest if – as seems likely – she has been trading in oat futures and stands to make a profit by her advice;

2. The normal vernacular meaning of ‘porridge’, i.e. a period of incarceration, suggests that the Baroness’s subtext is that the poor would be better off if they were locked up, and fed at the taxpayer’s expense. Which some of us suspected all along. If they’d only stick to raie au beurre noir or saltimbocca (OK, they’d need to steal the skate, escalopes, prosciutto, etc.) they would be better nourished and not need food banks. And they’d be jailed for theft, which brings us neatly back to porridge.

[Added in proof: A friend reminds me that when Jessica Mitford and Esmond Romilly were on the run, hoping to join the International Brigade and camping near the Spanish border, it turned out that all the cookery she had learned at her posh school was how to separate eggs. This would of course help the poor with their budgets no end, as they could whip up quantities of nutritious mayonnaise and meringues.]

Obituaries (cont.)

From Mazin Qumsiyeh, on Ziyad Abu Ein:

I was scheduled to meet with PA Minister Ziyad Abu Ein a few days later but he was pg-27-palestine-2-reuterskilled yesterday by the Israeli colonization forces while he and
over 100 Palestinians were trying to plant trees on private Palestinian
land threatened by illegal Jewish colonies. One of his subordinates,
another decent man who also belongs to Fatah told me I should meet with him
because he is “different from other Palestinian Authority men”. He
explained that Abu Ein is one of actions not speeches. My sister remembers
him as a friend of her husband Hazem who was also a member of Fatah
revolutionary council. I am ashamed to say that while I agreed to the
meeting, privately I remained skeptical. Now that meeting will not happen
unless it is in the afterlife. My Fatah friend and my sister were proven
right about the decency of the man and Minister Ziyad joins tens of
thousands who lost their lives while ACTING in the resistance to the
colonial settler state of Israel. Others sitting comfortably in fancy PA
offices will claim he is “the comrade” and will make speeches. I am certain
Mr. Abu Ein would not want that, he would want to be honored by actions not

One can only hope that this tragic loss will not go in vain, that it would
help awaken the decent people within Fatah so that they now remove the main
block to our liberation: the Oslo accords and the security coordination
that springs from it. My late friend Edward Said labeled these agreements
as “the second Nakba”.  If change does not happen then the words of
“leadership” that does not participate in demonstrations will remain as
hollow as their words after the massacres in Gaza or after the
assassination of Yasser Arafat. I have a dream that Mr. Mahmoud Abbas will
wake up one morning and gather 500 of his staff and assistants (easy to do)
and go to remove the illegal apartheid wall between Bethlehem and
Jerusalem. I am sure he will be joined by thousands (me included) and that
Israeli occupation forces will not be able to stop us.

It is not true to say that the PA is under different constraints or that
they know things we don’t (including potential retaliation by the
US/Israel). There must be freedom to discuss and reshape our future by
ourselves without the attempts to silence the truth. At an environmental
education conference, only one speaker tried to explain (correctly) that
the Oslo accords gave a Palestinian cover to the Israeli theft of our
natural resources like water and for the Israeli freedom to “develop” area
C including industrial polluting settlements etc. This speaker was attacked
mercilessly by some PA figures and by many subsequent speaker who had to
distance themselves from him to carry favor with the PA. Privately though,
many PA figures (including loyal Fatah members) are disturbed by the
direction we are traveling. One even told me privately at the same meeting
that we do not want to become known as the Vichy government of Palestine.
Some of those are clearly speaking out in private to Mr. Abbas because he
occasionally complains of dissension within Fatah. There is clearly a
struggle within the PA and we hope that the murder of minister Ziyad Abu
Ein will be the straw that breaks the camel’s back, that it will tip things
towards those decent Fatah people who realize that salaries and cars are
not a substitute for a free Palestine (let alone for a conscience). That
way the blood of martyrs like Abu Ein will not go in vain. After all,
freedom is not freely given and there must be sacrifices.

And for the rest of us mere mortals and not in any official positions: we
must guard ourselves not to fall into the traps of enabling corruption or
enabling lies to persist or (God forbid) following the subservient
opportunists. The road we choose is important. Here are relevant quotes I

“Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their
minds cannot change anything.” – George Bernard Shaw

“The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their
neutrality in times of moral crisis.” Dante

“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one
persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress
depends on the unreasonable man.” George Bernard Shaw

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can
change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”Margaret Mead

“Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I
can hear her breathing.” Arundhati Roy
With or without new “nation-state” law, Israel is a settler-colonial
apartheid state
……We call on people of conscience worldwide to intensify BDS campaigns
to isolate Israel’s regime of settler colonialism and apartheid in the
academic, cultural, economic and military fields, in order to bring about
Israel’s full compliance with its obligations under international law. This
must include pressuring companies to end complicit business activity and
institutions to divest. Pressure must also be increased on governments to
finally adopt effective measures, starting with a comprehensive military
embargo, as well as the suspension of free-trade and cooperation agreements
with Israel….

And yes, come visit us in Palestine

Mazin Qumsiyeh

At the movies

Those of us who feel that the element of length (or longueur,as it’s technically called) is an essential part of a film’s attraction will welcome the news that Marcel Ophuls (Le Chagrin et la Pitié, 251 min.) chagpitis to team up with Eyal Sivan (Route 181, 272 min.) for a film on Palestine. There are various records to beat in the length department, not least Sátántangó, already mentioned in these pages, and Warhol’s 1963 blockbuster Sleep (John Giorno sleeps for five hours and 20 minutes). I quote from the pre-publicity:

‘Now, at 87, [Ophuls] has turned to the Internet to seek support for a new film he began shooting last summer about another difficult subject: the continuing Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories.

To complete the film, which he is directing with the Israeli filmmaker Eyal Sivan, Mr. Ophuls has appealed for 50,00 euros (about $62,000) on the French crowdfunding site KissKissBankBank and released a 12-minute trailer of the work in progress.’ How do you get onto nadj_paris_fe_te_de_la_zique_07-1417096326

Nadj, project financed by KissKissBankBank

KissKissBankBank? It sounds more fun than a food bank; but then a food bank would never finance a film about the Occupation, any more than Barclays would. (Indeed, they, I mean Barclays, invest in the bombing of Gaza via Elbit Systems, which surely KissKissBankBank wouldn’t do…)

Magna Carta (cont.)

I didn’t realize, when I referred to this piece of legislation in my piece on Proportionality, which I expect you’ve read (footnote 22), that it’s still current and played an important part in that key case Hamdi v. Rumsfeld:  ’Whether insisting on the careful scrutiny of emergency claims or on a vigorous reading of §4001(a), we are heirs to a tradition given voice 800 years ago by Magna Carta, which, on the barons’ insistence, confined executive power by “the law of the land.”‘ (III D). This puts Rumsfeld in the dock together with King John where he probably belongs. Go back and read §4001(a) vigorously. No doubt the issue will take even more prominence with the recent revelations about CIA ‘enhanced interrogation’ (King John would have used nothing worse than rack and thumbscrews).

Poetry Corner

I seem to have entered a Scottish vein recently, but on a theme of porridge it was surely hard to avoid it. Here, by W. N. Herbert, is:

‘Auld claes and parritch…’
Captain of oats, braw brose, fine gruel,
you are thi Scotsman’s constant fuel
fae New Year’s Dey till end o Yule
(we don’t do Simmer):
oan ilka morn ye bring renewal,
thi stomach’s zimmer.Ye greet us lyk a fu-fissed mune
and guarantee tae fill wir spune
wi fushion – see, ye’re cratert roond
wi seas o bubbles –
tranquillity is aa yir tune,
and ease fae troubles.Grey revolutionary fur guts,
jump-starter fur thi slo-mo slutz
that sends us loupin fae wir cots
intae wir sarks
(a dram in you gets slob and klutz
back tae thir wark).When snaa faas owre thi Border’s pale
and Southron bairns can plunk aff skail
then even English journos hail
wir Northern mannah –
are sudden experts oan oatmeal
tapped wi a sultana.Ye’re like a clood-occludit sun
that casts grey licht oan ivrywun;
thi siller ash on grieshoch; grun
ablow thi slush
that derns oat-germs that sune will wun
thru Winter’s crush.

Tho Doctir Johnson caaed ye food
fur foals – mair fulmar him – ye’ve plooed
thru Scotia’s lard-imprisoned bluid
and freed oor veins:
dae mealie puddins dae us good?
Great Oat, explain!

Hoo dae we luve ye? Some wi cream,
wi hinny, spice or jeely reamed,
while Calvin’s crew hae sauty dreams
o fare of auld,
powred in a draaer fur bothy teams
tae slice oot cauld.

‘Auld claes an parritch’ gaes thi creh
wance we hae drunk thi Daft Deys dreh
and neath a sober, saft grey skeh
we view thi year –
we’re nae whit bettir, but we’ll treh
wi sic guid gear!

The stab at English journos is particularly apt..
Remember AMM, revolutionary improvisational group of the 60s? I was thrilled, on a recent trip to Dalston’s iconic Vortex club, to find their drummer Eddie Prévost was still wielding his sticks with as much panache as ever. Here you can catch up with him and John Tilbury at the Venezuelan Embassy last year.

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