I Assist the Soapbox to Leak Away

 Posted by at 10:39 pm  Hitting the Potholes, ON the STREET  Comments Off
Jul 182014
july pix 043

It is very hot on the pavements outside Parliament today, and getting hotter by the minute. I am with a crowd of Dignity in Dying folk, and wearing a “The more we diealog the more we live” T-shirt too. I am also holding a large plum coloured banner in my hand which is working quite well as a shade against the burning midday sun. The wording on the banner puts me on the side of The Bill (the Assisted Dying Bill).

Inside the House of Lords the peers are debating The Bill. One hundred and twenty eight peers have asked to speak, which is some kind of record . I am told this by a woman who has been in the public gallery listening to the debate since it began this morning, but has now come outside for some fresh air. She says that it is hard to hear what most of the peers are saying since they all tend to speak very quietly.

Because there are so many wishing to speak inside, each peer is only being allowed four minutes. This is democracy at work and what is more it all has to be over with and voted on by dinner time this evening, at which time there is a chance that The Bill will have been given its second reading. But it will still be a long way off from becoming law.

Inside earlier this morning the Archbishop of York used his allocated four minutes to put the official position of the Anglican church against The Bill. I wonder if he enjoyed doing that, or whether he would actually rather have showed solidarity with Archbishop Desmond Tutu and spoken for it. The moral compass is not easy. But then it shouldn’t it be.

Even though as Big Ben strikes noon everything is beginning to shimmer and my vision is beginning to bleach, I would still rather be outside on the pavement. Hot, but I don’t know what all the fuss is about really… except of course I do. I cast around looking for a soapbox to stand on, but there isn’t one so far as I can see. Lord Soper would not have missed an opportunity like this of course – indeed I expect he would have probably brought his own soapbox to stand on – and he would have known exactly what he wanted to say in his four minutes.

Whereas I…? Stepping up I say that we are all good enough experts when it comes to knowing the time when our life is over (in the last 6 months of a certain terminal illness and with appropriate safeguards as The Bill describes), and for a very small number this time of knowing is not the same time as our last biological breath.

“I want to die. Help me”, we say asking for compassion in extremis (‘You wouldn’t keep a dog alive’), and respect for individual autonomy (‘choice’ – subject only to the well known harm principle of not hurting others by our death).

Except the heat is getting to me and there isn’t a real soapbox for me to step up on, and I reflect it is probably better that way as I observe my viewpoint melting away in the midday sun.

The Snigger and Other Noises

 Posted by at 4:40 pm  Anti-Gravity Surgery  Comments Off
Aug 242013



Vagrants 1929 by August Sander 1876-1964


Raising a profile might mean making a noise; startling others with irrelevant and irreverent intrusions into the conversation. Show us your profile! Which face should I show? And which side of a face should I show? But of course it might turn out that my efforts to control what is actually seen by others is doomed from the start by chance sightings and naughty snappings.

The herd of Jersey cows move off. Those still lying, chewing the cud, enjoying a herdy sort of natter, laboriously push themselves up with seeming reluctance and follow the early movers. The wind, coming from the south or south-east, plays with the grass and cools the air. I sit cross-legged at the top of a field overlooking the valley and its river. Low tide. And I recollect my current task of clearing out the stuff – excess furniture, excess books, excess kitchen equipment – all stuff that was once part of a hopeful future and now lies damp and dusty. How tempting it is to think of the simplicity of the large open gob of a skip in which to pour it. That’s it, take it all way.

Where does the snigger come in? Am I drunk? In collusion with some anti-group? Are you serious? For a moment I am convinced of their seriousness and believe that, yes, they are truly committed . . . but then these are over privileged, over entitled white European males, borrowing a form of thinking, an ideology based on being in a defined group that has long been oppressed.

What do you mean, what are you trying to get at, are you feeling a bit lost? Losing your sense of power and entitlement? Surely not.

Here comes the snigger, even though I thought for a moment that I had it under control and no way was I going to snigger or chortle. What about a full laugh, a whole body laugh, shaking the system? Loosening the apparatus of suppression. We do know that life is a tragic comedy, a comic tragedy. We do know that many of those in positions of power would rather destroy the world than give up their entitlement. Do you know something, that begins to sound like an addiction.

So if it’s a choice between a snigger or suicide let’s choose the snigger.

The headline in the Guardian this morning: ‘Warning over data meltdown: Limits of human control exceeded – experts’.

And in London the Met have a team of ‘super recognisers’ who will be on the lookout for known troublemakers at the Notting Hill Carnival.

And as Bradley Manning has decided to live as a woman, the Guardian asks ‘What kind of treatment can Chelsea expect in prison?’ Actually that is just what I thought when I saw the news, that Bradley is now Chelsea, yesterday. As though he tried to enter the conversation and the slap down was so strong that on top of the challenges of his young life he fled straight out of the conversation.

As you said, we come back to the long conversation. To which in addition to actual words we shall have to include all sorts of odd sounds like, sniggering and snorting, sneering and even singing.