Friday 23 February 2024

Out of service


There have been a lot of deaths in my circle of friends over the last couple of years. It is not to do with growing old either, as almost all of them have been people much younger than me.

Every few years I go through my phone numbers and delete the ones ascribed to people now dead. I usually haven't the heart to do it for a few years so there are still a few on my phone which will not be answered ever again. Sometimes I have called them and found that the numbers are never given to anyone else to use - at least not in the same arrangements. There must be an almost infinite number of combinations on six figures. There is scope for a good ghost story there.

My brother died about ten years ago but I did not have to delete his number because we had lost contact with each other. That was my decision. When he was alive and still out of contact, I was working in Buckingham on the old Chantry. One evening I tried to call up a friend in a town about 100 miles away.

I dialled the wrong number - just one digit different to the right one - and someone answered. The voice was familiar and the man sounded surprised at being called at all. It was my brother.

He had just moved to the area, his phone had just been installed that very day and he had not given the number to anyone. Nobody believes me when I tell them this story and I understand why they don't, but things like this confirm all sorts of irrational beliefs which I have held since childhood, when nobody believed me anyway.

Shortly after both my parents died - they died one year apart - I was at my workshop using a noisy air-hammer, when I became aware of a couple of people at the open doorway. I looked up to see my parents standing there, just smiling benignly at me.

I turned the hammer off and removed my mask and ear-defenders. We did not say anything and I don't remember smiling back at them. I just looked at them in silence until they gave a little wave and walked away. I knew there was no point in going after them, so I sat and thought for a while then got on with my work.

That night I called their number which was still on my phone, but an out of service tone was all I heard.

Wednesday 14 February 2024

Watch Aljazeera reportage if you can stand it

If you want to know what is really going on in Gaza now, look at the online news reporting of Aljazeera  - the most respected of all the news networks during Saddam Hussein's attack on Kuwait all those years ago.

Netanyahu has promised safe passage to everyone leaving one of the last surviving hospitals in Rafah, but IDF snipers are shooting people through the windows already, so it does not look good. There is nowhere left for them to go in any case.

We really need to stop selling arms to Israel until they behave themselves, but we will probably carry on as normal. We are facilitating genocide and I am ashamed.

Idiot Labour candidates are spouting anti-Semitic rubbish and destroying their own party's chances in the forthcoming elections here, and it gets messier and messier every day.

Saturday 10 February 2024

Is it too late?

Earlier this week I heard a recording of a telephone call made by a child from a car in Palestine. Her parents and siblings had been fleeing to what they hoped would be a safer place when they turned a bend in the road to be confronted by an Israeli tank.

The tank opened fire on them and the child somehow survived to make the phone call and beg for help. They sent an ambulance and when it arrived her phone went dead. Yesterday they arrived at the scene and found that the girl had been shot and the ambulance had been destroyed. Everyone - including the ambulance crew - had been killed.

Netanyahu has announced that he is sending ground troops into a small town which is holding thousands of refugees living under tarpaulins, with the intention of killing a Hamas battalion. The desperate refugees have virtually no food or water and disease is spreading rapidly. 

28,000 civilians have now been killed and Netanyahu refuses to listen to any suggestions regarding an even temporary cease fire. Hamas will not cease fire unless the IDF vacate Gaza.

There is only one thing which can be done to stop further genocide now, and that is to deny Israel further armaments unless they stop breaking the international rules of warfare. If Israel is worried that Hamas will use a ceasefire to regroup, then they will have to deal with the situation another way. Netanyahu has left no other options and seems not to care about the fate of the hostages, let alone any other innocent people. 70% of Gaza has now been totally destroyed.

Both sides have been de-humanised.

Tuesday 6 February 2024

White lias


There are little bits of 17th century Bath tucked away amongst the 18th. Some hide in plain view, others hide around the corner. The people who live in this bit are friends of mine.