DAY 178: Confinement

July 31st, 2016 § 0 comments

I must (as I’ve confessed to the welcoming pages of Facebook) apologise to my faithful readership for an absence of, I think, over a month. My last post was just after the referendum, but before Brexit (will it ever happen?) and the general unravelling of British politics which followed. As one of my sister publications ,’Newsthump’ puts it:

Six months after the death of David Bowie, normal reality is collapsing at an ever-increasing rate.

Scientists have concluded that Bowie was in
David-Bowie-small some way integral to the function of what we call normality in ways which they have not yet properly begun to understand, but postulate a hitherto unknown particle called the ‘Bowon’ which helped the universe keep its shit together; and have linked a number of disturbing events like Leicester winning the League which pointed the way to the insane post-referendum week (David Cameron goes, Theresa May becomes PM, Boris Johnson becomes Foreign Secretary, right-wing labour unite round Angela Eagle who then disappears.. to this collapse of reality. Then there were the Nice killings and the Turkish putsch. I’ve given up trying to keep in touch.

It’s the more difficult as, confined to a small room (and a larger kitchen) asImaginaire

  Le Malade Imaginaire

I currently am, recovering from pneumonia – I didn’t tell you that – my only access to the news is through social media. (I can’t go out to buy newspapers which are in any case owned by venal lying press lords.) Social media is (are?) at least controlled by my so-called friends who agree with me, and so will select out the bits I agree with.

In any case, recovered from the pneumonia but beset by unnecessary bouts of pain in the knees etc, I stay in the aforesaid room, reading the odd book by Dante or Lila Abu-Lughod, watching Belgian cinema (Chantal Akerman and the Dardenne brothers) on my new laptop. (The old one died when I was in hospital, I expect it assumed I was checking out too.) For someone who’s been used to leaping into tubes and buses and dashing off to meetings at SOAS or


Trafalgar Square if not Calais or Nablus this is a disastrous change of rhythm, which I can only get used to by blackmailing my friends to come and chat; or hijacking my family to set up a WhatsApp group devoted to my care.

So what have you been doing, my faithful readers? Some (I know) have been trying unsuccessfully to visit Palestine – they were excluded (and interrogated, and locked up for the night) because they were Palestinian. Some are, even now, heading off to chiosGreek islands – which have stopped being a fun place for endless drunken sex parties and are now the scene of refugee rescue, sometimes with the help of UNHCR. Some have been flying kites withScreen Shot 2016-07-31 at 12.45.49 refugees at Calais, or going to the Calais Sessions on the Southbank.

I should like to be useful; I should like to learn Arabic. You can’t always get what you want.

This seems the moment to reprint W. E. Henley’s ‘In Hospital’ sequence – specifically, the last once, ‘Discharged’.

CARRY me out
Into the wind and the sunshine,
Into the beautiful world.

O, the wonder, the spell of the streets
The stature and strength of the horses
The rustle and echo of footfalls,
The flat roar and rattle of wheels!
A swift tram floats huge on us . . .
It’s a dream?
The smell of the mud in my nostrils
Blows brave — like a breath of the sea!

As of old,
Ambulant, undulant drapery,
Vaguely and strangely provocative,
Flutters and beckons. O, yonder —
Is it? — the gleam of a stocking!
Sudden, a spire

Wedged in the mist! O, the houses,
The long lines of lofty, grey houses,
Cross-hatched with shadow and light!
These are the streets….
Each is an avenue leading
Whither I will!

Free . . .!
Dizzy, hysterical, faint,
I sit, and the carriage rolls on with me
Into the wonderful world.


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