DAY 176: Sick

June 30th, 2016 § 0 comments

After all that…

First, I have undoubtedly picked up some unidentified retrovirus,Screen shot 2016-06-30 at 19.14.51 which has led to my feeling completely atrocious in the last few days (cough, cold, you name it…). I can’t tell tou how terrible this feeling is, and how much it dwarfs all your petty concerns about Europe, football, football in Europe, etc. I overcame my natural urge to carry on as normal, being urged by many of my friends and family to take my battered body to the A and E – since the GPs clearly weren’t interested in it, or rather suggested that I come back in a fortnight when my symptoms might have matured. I must tell you, supposing you to be interested – but why should you be ? that the depth of my misery or malaise, is worse than anything I might have wished on the leaders of the Tory Party, the Labour Party, or any faction currently contending for their leadership.

This I did. I have good news for you; if you’re 77 years old and in a dodgy condition, a visit to A and E is much quicker than it used to be. I’m not saying that it’s quick but you do keep getting wheeled around from one focus of medical attention to another, which passes the time; and you’re subjected to tests (I counted four bloodtests) and generally given the feeling that someone is interested, and some results still register somewhere. There was it’s true, a shortage of  questions on the lines of ‘how do you feel’? (like death) as compared with ‘how is your breathing?’ (fairly regular); and the outcome was, as so often with medical examinations, a bit limited. I did have a chest infection (not a surprise) which could be treated – hopefully – by antibiotics. amoxicAmoxicillin

Also, a cold, which was a virus and couldn’t be treated by anything except going to bed and being miserable.

The balance-sheet of my hospital visit, then, doesn’t get me where I wanted; not only in terms of achieving rude good health, but even in terms of settling my accounts with the minions of the NHS. I end up feeling sad, sorry, sick, and surrounded by lunatics who wish to destroy a) the Labour Party, b) the Tory Party (not that I care) c) the NHS d) what’s left of our civil liberties. I might as well have succumbed to a retrovirus. I’m still trying as are all my friends, to make some sense out of this ridiculous post-Brexit chaos. Some of my friends, those who wish me well, are trying to visit me and bring me some comfort.

Bur in this holy month of Ramadan, what the hell am I doing still being focussed on my own griefs and miseries, rather than finding others more miserable and  giving the little personal zakat I have – which at the moment  isn’t much – to them?

Even so, we have to admit that a high quality of political argument  has been generate by all this debate. Did you know about the mechanism for triggering Article 50? How much there is in the universe that’s still to learn! David Cameron, of course, has quit without invoking British Prime Minister Gordon Brown (2ndGordon Brown signs the Treaty of Lisbon, which of course includes article 50.

Article 50; and now Boris Johnson, a frontrunner for Cameron’s job, has said he would not evoke Article 50 “in haste.” Pro-Brexit campaigner Justice Secretary Michael Gove also said prior to the referendum that Britain wouldn’t want to invoke Article 50 for at least two years, because they would need to see what sort of deal was on the cards before entering official talks.

However, the EU is singing a different tune, urging Britain to act on the public’s decision quickly. You and I probably want to know how easy it is to invoke article 50; I see it as something you can do on the back of an envelope. If, on the other hand, it requires the unanimous consent of all the EU nations, forget it. I expect that may be the case.

Meanwhile, stuff is going on in Calais, of a less rarefied kind; with some unpleasant implications; and it belongs to a different level of reality reports the always watchful Chiara Lauvergnac; as usual taking the time to think about what’s happened, its background, and its implications::

Note on recent attacks of volunteers by migrants in the ‘jungle’

Two attacks of people sleeping alone in vans, one the other night, In both cases, the vans were broken in at night time, and the volunteers threatened with a knife by groups of men who stole everything, their money, their phone and everything valuable. Do NOT sleep in or near the jungle alone, or if you do park well in sight and near your friends who can help you if anything happens!
Clare Mosely, head of Care4Calais, was attacked yesterday by an Afghan who shouted that they do not want the English in the jungle. She was worried about the security of all her volunteers. I am very sorry this is happening and I maintain that people could not survive here without the help from the English and international volunteers .
Random attacks by crazy people are quite common, what is worrying is when the communities don’t stop them as the only effective protection we have in the jungle is from the migrant communities. My pulse is that the English volunteers are utterly unpopular at the moment with the Afghan community, as they are perceived to be helping only the Africans and neglecting the Afghans, at least this is what every Afghan says. They are also saying they do not need any help, they need freedom and human rights. It is very important to be perceived to be fair, which may involve spending more time talking to people of all communities rather than having English people talking to other English people, as is their national habit, and then going to the jungle believing that they know what they are doing, while the refugees are neglected, except as recipients of humanitarian aid. It is quite possibly the criticism I hear more often from the people who live in the jungle: that all these visitors hardly talk or spend any time with them – ‘Are they here for us, or for what?’ they bitterly complain. Of course, there are exceptions, and some volunteers are very popular and well liked but many volunteers only go there to work and rush out the camp when they have finished or talk to very few refugees they are friends with, which again is perceived as unfair and creating privileges. Relying on the so-called community leaders is not that useful because they are very nice guys but they do not really represent anybody, as there are not assemblies or any process that would delegate them to lead or represent others, and most people in the camp do not even know that there are community leaders.
The overcrowding after the destruction of the Southside is severe, The sense of rage and frustration is great since people are banging against the wall, every day and every night they go to try and they come back, police are beating them up with truncheons and spraying gas in their faces, including women and children, they threw hundreds of gas grenades in the camp: Monday the 20th there were two big traffic jams and it was a massacre, with dozens of people injured by gas grenades and rubber bullets fired directly at them and also in the camp, and at volunteers who went near the motorway to try help – one volunteer was hit on the shoulder and two were arrested; Saturday the last, in the evening, there were lots of people running from the jungle to the motorway, without much reason as there were hardly any vehicles: the police started throwing grenades and the camp became so full of CS gas I had to leave the North side and go near the motorway entrance, as the wind was blowing northwards and all the Northside was full of gas, past the Ashram kitchen. People are kind of trapped in that fucking place that is not even a jungle, jungles are really autonomous spaces in places chosen and squatted by the people, not chosen by the government and pitched against fences that stretch for miles; it is not even a ghetto, ghettos are images imagesin the city, it is worst, it is like an half-finished concentration camp and living conditions are appalling despite so much good effort from volunteers. I often feel like crying for hours on end, for the anger and frustration and the sense of being trapped, imagine how they must feel that unlike me they have nowhere to go to if they want to leave the jungle. It is a known fact that frustration generates aggressivity, and tensions are running high at the moment, lots of small fights yesterday. Most people are good but there is too much pressure.
Women and especially young women working or visiting the camp have a specific problem as they are submerged by requests for special favors by random men, who then do not understand why the girls run from them, they are sincerely persuaded they are God’s gift but there is one man every two meters asking for something. I have been working in the Calais jungles since Sept 2009, and to be honest I never had so many problems with sexism, it has gone a bit crazy. Usually, I just tell them to fuck off, in not so many terms. Then maybe not everybody has the confidence, or they have been told they have to smile and be nice all the time. But you have to be very firm, even without using bad language. Beware of sexual attacks as they are very Screen shot 2016-06-30 at 22.35.42common especially at night. But it is not all about sex, most men had to leave their families behind and have ‘no mother, no sister’. To be honest, I would not like to be in that jungle for 5 minutes, it is only that there are so many people trapped there including so many women and children. And so many people I like and I am friends with. I always knew this was going to happen, since the people were forced to move in that wilderness, I never knew there would be so many people trapped there and subjected to so much violence by police. Then, of course, most time people make an effort to make themselves happy and laugh and joke and are really funny and drink tea with their friends and talk and eat fabulous food at home or in the various restaurants. But they are not really happy, they miss their families and children and they are worried about them surviving in war zones and in danger and/ or starving and they cannot help them until they go to England, or somewhere they can work. Least the ones who no longer have a family because their families have been killed. I really cannot comprehend their endurance, some people have been wandering in Europe for years without finding a place they can make a life, I just admire their courage and fortitude, hope they can blossom into full rebellion against the establishment and the injustice.

In some sense, I have a belief that it’s not  so much the macro-structures of the EU such as Article 50, as the facts on the ground, the policing, the daily suffering of the people of the camps, which describe ‘Europe’ as we currently live it. In which case, God help us!

Here, by Got Guanxi, is ‘Ten tears’:


And here’s the evocative ‘Lights On



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