DAY261: New directions

November 21st, 2018 § 0 comments

Since yesterday I’ve been cheered by reading the UN special rapporteur David Alston’s damning recent Equality and Human Rights Commission report. ‘Is Britain Fairer?’ (See the Guardian, from whom as usual I stole or borrowed the information.) Take child poverty: the rate in the UK is 30% of children. But that number is 50% for black children and 60% for those of Pakistani and Bangladeshi origin. Ethnic minorities are more at risk of becoming homeless, with worse access to healthcare and higher rates of infant mortality. And yes, the EHRC report restates and adds to the UN’s 2014 findings: women are more likely to be in low-paid work, more likely to be child carers, more likely to be the child carer in a single-parent household, and thus more likely to be the child carer of a disabled child in a single-parent household. All this also puts them at higher risk of violence, with a more urgent need for legal aid that has been slashed, and a higher possibility of falling down the cracks of the immigration system.

Austerity creates not just poverty, but also what the EHRC calls a “two-speed” society, one where certain groups are trapped, excluded from prosperity. The result is an acceleration of disadvantage. Nearly 400,000 more children and 300,000 more pensioners are living in poverty compared with five years ago.

And the more excluded one becomes from society, the more likely one is to become isolated, which means childpovfewer advocates and weaker connections to those in power, who include those who report the news and lobby the government. It is easier for the media and politicians to deny the pain of those who are already invisible. Nowhere is this more clearly shown than in the length of time it took to draw public attention at last to the Windrush scandal, a human rights miscarriage of life-and-death proportions. This is the wreckage which the Tory government has caused in Britain; and which the prospect that no attempt to solve the insoluble Brexit conundrum – Northern Ireland border and all –  has any chance of succeeding. Of course, I may always be proved wrong as I so often am, but it’s nice to feel you”re on the winning side if only for a few hours. But then, I’ve been still more cheered by the news that the Brexit, game, if it ever happens, will be played for another two years.  At his rate I’m  very likely to be dead by that time.  So, I’ve happily set aside current affairs and  got absorbed in

caledonian-rd-and-barnsbury-overground-station-9abbb8d7a7854cfae0e0ba8c1364eb49 reading rather too much, and getting more than usually confused by, much stuff on fifth century Christianity (but you knew I was obsessed with that) and a new interest, literature on LGBT Palestinian grassroots activism which I think my readers will agree is much more absorbing than the intricacies of Tory infighting.  There are naturally several articles in Jadaliyya which draw a firm line, if one was needed, between pinkwashing and pinkwatching, a comradely dingdong which has taken up some space in my sister publication; and I’ve been helped in my understanding, naturally, by Holly Lewis’ ‘The Politics of Everybody’, with its scholarly discussions of what Marx, Engels, Kollontai et al thought – and Holly points out that they thought much more than you thought they thought – of  queer identities (inasmuch as they did). All this, as I say, is a welcome relief., after all this hanging about waiting for something, anything to happen on the Brexit front. You’ll naturally want to know about (or rather listen to) the Palestinian queer music – in particular ji2eto Ela Ahli (‘I came to my family’, from al-qaws) and I’ve  been trying to incorporate the works of this varied and exciting group of people; and somewhat frustrated by my limited ability to actually reproduce their music, in my own  clunky format. I just nonetheless refer you to their pages on “Ghanni A`an Taa`rif” or ‘singing sexuality’, in the hopes that you can find them.

 I was somewhat appalled to find (but there are always new discoveries to be made, after all) that my sister, after all this time, had been living a mere quarter of a mile from Brewery Road without knowing where it was. That road, where a crucial suicide took place in Samuel Beckett’s Murphy (the landlady having had to decide whether to run to the York Road or Caledonian Road police station to report it) is pretty much at the centre of my mental map of literary London; and I’ve had it on my mind, as an old  sweet song might keep Georgia, for over thirty years. But we all have our own obsessions, our tracks along which our minds are destined to run. And who knows what new maps will be drawn by London’s current arrivals? Hard at work they are, at the University of East London, drawing in their minds a new nightmarish country in which, no doubt, London meets Raqqa; and neglecting their more profitable studies on courses in non-abelian categories or antibiotic-resistant bacteria or gender-based violence. to sit and spin yarns for the benefit of idlers in cafes. But who am I to moralise? And where, after Brexit, will this country of the displaced Syrians and Afghans claim as its home?

 

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