Robert Pirsig (1974) Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.

zen.png

Robert Pirsig’s  Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance was the zeitgeist book of the seventies. Like Harry Potter but for adults it came with its own mythology. The reader can study pre-production notes between James Landis who commissioned the book for the publishers William Morrow and Robert (Bob) Pirsig. In a note by Bob Pirsig dated June 15, 1973, the author admits to anxiety and moots changing the title of the proposed book from  Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance to ‘The Bendable River’. Landis dissuades him. In earlier correspondence admits the book ‘is not a marketing man’s dream’.  Robert Pirsig’s book was rejected by 121 publishers and he didn’t write his novel but live it. It wasn’t considered ‘“commercial” in the way that term is understood by most people in publishing’, but prior to publication was judged a work on genius by among others book reviewers on the New York Times.  After publication Robert Redford bid for the rights to film the book, which was rejected. But what would a film of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance look like?

I can’t remember when I first read Pirsig’s book. I guess late teens, perhaps early twenties. I loved it. Pirsig’s IQ measured aged nine was 170, he was a child prodigy with, we later learn, ‘a near photographic memory’. I don’t know what the opposite of photographic memory is and if I did I’d probably forget it, but if anybody asked me what the book was about I’d say it was about this guy that takes his son Chris, who’s aged eleven, on a road trip across the backroads of America on his motorcycle and blabs to him, and the reader, for almost 400 pages and also tries to emotionally reconnect with his son and explain he’s not the man he was, which is quite difficult, because he’s  emotionally guarded and not in touch with his feelings.  Pirsig jokes that if he were writing a novel he’d have to give an extended backstory.

On a motorcycle, ‘You’re in the scene’.  There’s a comparison with cars and the way the world is experienced. ‘Through a car window…everything is just more TV. On a motorcycle you’re an active participant in life. In a car, a ‘passive observer’. This is a value judgement. In the theoretical, film of the book, a world-weary narrator played by someone like Harry Dean Stanton would explain how to fix a motorcycle isn’t just a question of mechanics, but a question of life and who you are and who you want to be at that moment and in the future. He’s nostalgic for a simpler life (that probably never existed) when ‘a sort of Chautauqua… a travelling tent show, moved across America, this America…giving popular talk shows to improve the mind.’ He compares this unfavourably with faster paced radio, movies and TV. This is another value judgement. And now the narrator tells the reader about his friends John and Sylvia.

Sylvia says of those in the cars, going the other way. ‘The first one looked so sad. And the next one looked exactly the same way, and the next one and the next, they were all the same way.’

In other words, there’s something about modern life that is alienating. She is in agreement with the narrator, but offers no solution. The narrator’s quest is to find out what it is and where it comes from and perhaps suggest a tentative solution to this ‘mass hypnosis’. It’s in the title of course. Zen.

But John and Sylvia differ from the narrator. They are romantics. John, for example, buys a BMW motorcycle and doesn’t want to know about mechanical problems. He just wants the bike to work and if it doesn’t work it has nothing to do with him. The narrator is more a classicist. His classical education allows him to suggest an extensive nomenclature of tolerances and intolerances of different parts. But he comes unstuck when an elderly welder fixes the bike guard in a manner closer to art for art’s sake than his understanding allowed for. Rationality is always bounded. In Phaderus’s face off with Chairman of the Committee of the University of Chicago he raises his hand to contradict the speaker and suggest the Socrates’ suggestions of duality between those riding the white horse of reason (classicists) and others the black horse of passion (romantics) was actually an analogy. In terms of drama, his photographic memory allows him to quote verbatim from the Chairman’s own writing, unseating him. Classicists had rather a romantic view of themselves as the bearers of light and truth. Evidence suggests it was based on common myth. Mass Aristotelian hypnosis which separates subject from object and bounded by rationality that is impermanent and not rational.

Quality is neither of the subject or the object, but  suggests no answer, but rather we ride both horses, simultaneously, as Pirsig did in his writing. ‘Aretê implies a respect for the wholeness or oneness of life, and a consequent dislike of specialisation. It implies contempt for efficiency, or rather a much higher idea of efficiency, an efficiency which exists not in one department of life but in life itself.’  Or as William McIlvanney’s great Glasgow detective Laidlaw said, ‘I don’t like questions. They invent the answers.’

koan

ˈkəʊɑːn,ˈkəʊan

noun

  1. a paradoxical anecdote or riddle without a solution, used in Zen Buddhism to demonstrate the inadequacy of logical reasoning and provoke enlightenment.

The narrator can figure out how to fix almost anything mechanical, but he can’t fix himself. He works endlessly trying to pin down the idea of Quality. But ‘The number of rational hypotheses that can explain any given phenomenon is infinite.’ Sleeping four hours. Sleeping two hours. The journey back to self begins with self. Thoreau’s maxim, ‘you never gain something, but lose something’.

‘I could not sleep and I could not stay awake,’ he recalls. ‘I just sat there cross-legged in the room for three days. All sorts of volitions started to go away. My wife started getting upset at me sitting there, got a little insulting. Pain disappeared, cigarettes burned down in my fingers …’

This is a different kind of hypnosis to the mass variety. This is Socrates listening to the voice of his demon. This is Jesus going into the desert for 40 days and 40 nights. This is the Mohammed listening to the voice of God in a cave. This is Buddha gaining enlightenment. Or this is madness. I’d go with the latter.

You cannot recant without believe. Phaedrus was institutionalized and his brain zapped by electro-shock therapy as his carers tried to press the default button and reset him on the straight and narrow path to normality. I guess the world has moved on and we no longer use electro-shock and call it therapy.

I guess if we were making a movie of the book the Hollywood-type denouement is a bit too tinsel, Phaderus is giving a different font, which stands out on the page, so that when the ancient Greek Sophist, and ghost, behind the glass door that stalks the narrator as his alter-ego speaks to Chris, it’s not Robert Pirsig, but the man he was, admitting, no he was not mad, bad or sad. Just your normal genius. Amen to that.

 

Advertisements

Celtic 0—0 Rosenberg

ajet.jpg

The Invincible Treble winning team of last year is no more. This was the first real test of the current Celtic team. A flat Celtic performance more akin to Ronnie’s reign. We no longer have Patrick Roberts, which is a great pity as he showed he can play centre-forward when Dembele and/or Griffiths are out as they were tonight. Rogic showed here he is no number 9. He was possibly Celtic’s worst player, but James Forest would give him a run for his money. Back to being the James Forest we know, but don’t want to know. Neither Forest not the substitute Johnny Hayes are a patch on Roberts. So Celtic are weaker and it’s that old cliché they could have played all night and not scored. Hayes came on for Nitcham after 70 minutes. The latter and the former are we’ll a wait-and-see player. I’d like to say Celtic had chances. I suppose Forest was closest to scoring and Rogic had a few efforts which were over the bar.

But the truth is seventy minutes gone and de Landner for Rosenberg missed an absolute sitter from the centre of the goal, eight yards out. Bedner also fluffed his lines minutes later and if he was any kind of centre-forward he too would have scored. Rosenberg also had the first credible scoring chance of the game.

Celtic poor all over the park. I thought it was quite a difficult draw getting Rosenberg. I hate all the talk about getting to the knock-out stages of the Champions League. It’s a kind of deceit. I’m just happy to get into the Champions League. We can score away from home and beat Rosenberg. But if Rosenberg had any quality finishers this tie would be done and Celtic would be out. Fifty-fifty now and this could go either way. Oh how the Rangers’ fans will gloat if we got out. C’mon the Celtic. But even if we do make it through to the next knock-out round this should knock on the head all that rubbish about being too strong for teams from so called weaker nations. Remember we’re Scottish and we’re guff. That’s a good starting point.

Accidental Anarchist: Life Without Government, BBC 4, BBC iPlayer, directed by John Archer and Clara Glynn.

carne ross.jpg

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b08z007p

This is the kind of programme I felt I should watch. For a start it’s got Anarchist in the title. I could mention Kropotkin, but I don’t know who he is, or Sid Vicious, Anarchy in the UK. For me it’s more an attitude. Life Without Government? Like Huxleys’s Utopia, I’m not sure it’s possible but Carne Ross seems to think it is. I hope he’s right.

What privileged position does Carne Ross come from that he gets his own documentary and an hour of our time to espouse his views and tell us what he thinks? Well, he’s an ex-diplomat. That should be impressive and for someone like me, working class and poor, you’d probably assume I don’t know, or meet, very many diplomats. But you’d be wrong. Old Lawrie who drinks in the same shithole as me, has a daughter who was a diplomat, and he’s been to Moscow, visiting her in the Foreign Office and some other places in China, but we’re not really interested in world peace because we’re watching Celtic and that’s all that matters. He loves Celtic and is always wants to ‘put one on him’ (punch him in the face). It’s his war cry when watching. His daughter is diplomatic when she hears him or comes to pick him up when he’s had one too many, but listen, who’s counting.

Carne Ross isn’t that kind of diplomat. You’ve just got to listen to his name. He’d fit in with the Brown and Blairs and ex-public school boys that do the right thing by serving their country, and even then he claimed he wanted to be –you’ve guessed it – not Prime Minister, like servant of the people David Cameron, nor Chancellor of the Exchequer, like that nice man George Osborne, but a diplomat.  He’s the kind of guy that stood behind Blair at the United Nations in New York ready to whisper in his ear and briefs him on the latest embryonic imbroglio in the Middle East.

What we need now is a Damascene conversion. You probably read in Acts about Saul’s conversion. He’s happily going along working day and night persecuting men and women that are Christian in a fashion similar to the way George Osborne persecuted poor people. A flash of light from heaven blinds Saul and allows him to see.

Carne from his apartment witnessed 9/11 and the planes crashing into the World Trade Center. He remembers the smoke and the ash lying on his window for months afterwards. These are novelistic details. He watched George W Bush ramp up the search for bad guys to blame so he and fellow Americans could play the good guys and take care of business. This led to wars in Afghanistan and the invasion of Iraq. He was friends with government scientist David Kelly, who in his role as weapons expert, said unequivocally there was no evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. In other words there was no reason for the invasion of Iraq. He had a front-row seat of the cover-up of ‘fake news’.

Pause there. Carne took a year’s sabbatical to think and read.  If you’re an ordinary Joe don’t try that at home. Don’t shout at your boss on the way out, I’m outta here, see you next year and I might come back as an anarchist you fuckwitt.

He didn’t know that at the time. He lucked into it in the same way that Saul/Paul bumped into Christians. It seemed obvious that those rich guys that were screwing the poor and were quite happy to invade other nations weren’t to be trusted.

Evidence that we can do things differently. Ho-hum. George Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia. Carne interview Catalans that were there and some that were not. They all agree that if Stalin hadn’t betrayed POUM (the Anarchist Movement and Hitler hadn’t been developing his new blitzkrieg tactics and if Mussolini hadn’t sent troops) then things could have turned out different. Even if not the roots of Anarchism remain in a collective that took back some unused land and used it to farm and build houses. Here we see them building their own houses. These are called outliers. Think of the images of deprivation George Osborne used to slaughter those on welfare. Outliers that smoked and drank and had eight children.

He sees Anarchist roots in the Kurdish-run region of Rojava, which helped defeat ISIS but is bordered by Turkey and Syria.

He sees it in the ‘Occupy Movement’.

I don’t. And I’m sure the Chechens also thought they would be able to get autonomy from Russia, only to be crushed. Let’s not mention China, the new number one superpower and hardly a case for free speech and anarchism. And let’s not forget George W Bush was so dim he had to wear socks labelled ‘left’ and ‘right’ but compared to the moron’s moron that is the current President, well, I’ll let you fill in your own analogy (if you need any help with what analogy means don’t ask Donald J Trump). And the hawks of yesteryear seem like Christian doves compared to this US cabal of warmongers. I’m not betting against a world war. North Korea, of course, is only too happy to show the world its weapons of mass destruction. And let’s not forget the moron’s moron and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change he did not sign. That means in the short term millions on the move. I see anarchy, but not the vision  Carne Ross has of it. More like the four-horsemen-of-the apocalypse anarchy so beloved by novelists and the bible.  I pray he’s right.

 

 

Addicted Parents: Last Chance to Keep My Children, BBC 2, 9pm, BBCiPlayer.

addicts.jpg

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episodes/b08ywk09?suggid=b08ywk09

I wouldn’t have watched a programme like this on Channel 4 or 5. I’m biased that way. Hate those that pedal welfare porn and mock sympathy with smattering of right-wing agenda. Trumpet at a them and us world and look at the money we’re wasting on scum. I’m not really sure this is much better. I know the script. Phoenix Futures Specialist Family Services in Sheffield offer addicts the last chance to keep their kids.

Drugs of choice: opiates, mainly heron and over-the-counter derivatives such as co-codamol. Amphetamines. Crack Cocaine. Alcohol. Cigarettes don’t count as an addiction.

Issues to be dealt with and confronted: physical and sexual abuse. That old favourite low self-esteem and low self-worth.

First up Tracey who has eight children, seven of whom have been taken into care. She provides the kind of parenting that politicians such as David Cameron and half man half slime George Osborne loved to put centre stage at Tory Party conference with the headline: Broken Britain. And she really is broken. She’s a mess. Her eight-year-old daughter acted as surrogate mother to the kids younger than her. That’s the real tragedy. She’s completed the first stage, been successfully weaned of co-codamol. It costs around £1000 a week, funding comes largely from local authorities, to keep her at Phoenix and her child out of care and progression to the next default stage of being put up for adoption. Three-quarters of those that attend Phoenix successfully complete the course and leave with their child or children.

Statistics like that always make me sigh. Of course taking addicts away from the environment in which they have ready access to drugs and into a leafy borough with a structured routine and…well, need I go on? If we are going to tell stories I prefer the one about rats weaned on cocaine took drugs obsessively, ignoring food placed in their cage, until  watered-down cocaine, killed them. Rats are social animals.  Placed in a different environment rats ignored the watered-down cocaine and drunk ordinary tap water and recovered. Those soldiers in Vietnam that came home no longer saw the need to get rat faced and take heroin. Most of them didn’t end up as popular myths or Tom Cruise. The best myth of all is it’s some kind of weakness, like a faulty ball-bearing, and they’re just happy to roll about in their own muck.

Another popular statistic those in the know have often quoted at me is a third of addicts remain addicts, a third float between addiction and non-addiction and a third make it to the promised land of sobriety and non-addiction. You know what I think of that? Go and waffle yourself.

So let’s put on our serious and concerned social worker faces and go down the bookies and put our cash on who will and who will not make it. After all this is entertainment. Tracey won’t make it. She’s had seven strikes and she’s out.

Sian, from London, two kids under two. Supportive family. She’s a maybe. Yeh, she’ll finish the Phoenix Course and she’s already detoxed and its blah, blah, blah. Let’s do what they did with 7-UP. Go back every seven years. I wouldn’t put money on her not relapsing.

Natalie and Natalie A. The first Natalie has two kids, one at fourteen, the other three. She seemed to do well. Made her way through the Phoenix programme. Good support from her parents. A good bet, until you hear her talking about going home to a small village. Ho-hum.

Natalie A is more straight forward. She relapsed while on the programme. Bought cocaine while out at the supermarket and tested positive. All residents are regularly tested. She was given another chance. She didn’t take it. But she was allowed to leave with her children. She was-temporarily- straight. Certainty to go back on drugs.

Five residents are filmed, can’t remember who the other one was. I’d guess three or four will relapse. We can’t save everybody, but we’ve got to act as if we can. It’s not just about the mothers. It’s about the kids. Between twenty-five to fifty percent of the prison population is made up of those that were in care. We really don’t care. Phoenix is a sticking plaster, but even that is better than nowt. As that old addict Whitney Houston used to warble. ‘Children are our future’. What we do with them now matters. I’ll watch the next episode with interest. Fingers crossed it’s a happy ending.  I don’t know the answer, but I do know that filming people changes their behaviour.  I’d be interested in what happens after.

I Know Who You Are, BBC 4, BBC iPlayer, written by Ivan Mercade and directed by Pau Frexias

 

I know who you are.jpg

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b08yrc78/i-know-who-you-are-series-1-episode-1

I must admit to overdosing on Cardinal recently and watching a whole series into the early hours. The premise of this Spanish drama is pretty simple but very complicated, because it involves memory and not remembering. Juan Elias Castro (Francis Garrido) may or may not have killed his niece, the beautiful Ana Saura (Susana Abaitua). Ana sent a phone message to her brother/mum/dad. You know the kind, plenty of screaming, car tyre and please, please help me and whimpering noise. The Saura family are powerless to do anything, but they demand justice and want Juan locked up immediately. The evidence is overwhelming, Juan’s car has been found, his niece’s blood in the backseat and he admits she was with him. The police are looking for a body. We’re up to day 2, no body as yet, and Juan still in the dock. But his wife, Alicia Castro (Blanca Portillo) is a high-flying judge with plenty of powerful connections in the judiciary and Juan is also a lawyer with his own firm, rich and powerful in his own right and he claims he had amnesia and can’t remember what happened. One of the few things he can remember, is he had an affair eight years previously with one of his law students, the gamine Eva Duran (Aida Folch) and even with memory loss she is pretty and pretty hard to forget. But there’s a bit of power play going on between the victim’s family and possible perpetrator. Alicia’s sister is married to  Ramon Saura (Nancho Novo) who is a professor at the university and he knows what his brother-in-law says doesn’t add up. And Eva Duran, who happens to be working as prosecutor, but she’s part of a low-grade firm that doesn’t get much prestigious work and this job could make or break their firm. That’s leverage and Ramon is using it to hire her indirectly by hiring her boss David Vila (Carles Francino) to work on the case and make sure Juan gets his just deserts, which doesn’t include to her chagrin Eva Duran, but every other striking looking female in sight, including the prosecutor, but hey, a bit of love lost and found does no harm for drama. David Vila is the brain-dead totty, which is the opposite, but the same as dizzy blonde.

Who are you? Interesting question. Umbero Eco tackles it in The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loma. It starts with Eliot’s The Cruellest Month and a polymath bookseller, very much like echoing the Eco, and narrator of the novel trying to piece together his life broken up into silos by a stroke. He pieces together his life by the books he read as a youngster and the girls he loved and the music he didn’t dance to. Memory is a trick.

Christina Ricci, who also happens to be very pretty turned up in some small English village onscreen last night too in a film called The Gathering. This was classified as a horror. I’ve been more scared by a golf trolley I’ve bumped into in the dark. But Cristina’s character is hit by a car and although the driver thinks she’s killed her,  the girl is fine and, of course, you never leave anything you hit lying on the road for foxes, so she takes Christina home to babysit and act as nanny to her two children. There a number of different kinds of memory and Christina probably wanted to forget the one where she has lived for 2000 years with the memory of gawping at the crucifixion of Christ and didn’t do anything, not even throw her five-foot, five stone body at the might of the Roman empire and cause them severe brain damage. The bastards that crucified Christ. So God decides to punish all the drive-by gawpers by making them live through all the low points in history. The Gathering is like the worst top ten hits played over and over in your ear. Not be missed. Worse even then, fill in your own memory here…

‘And what’s your name?’

‘Wait, it’s on the tip of my tongue.’

That’s how Eco’s book begins. Remembering is something we do. Reaching for something we’ve placed on a shelf. Sometimes it’s out of reach. There are different kinds of memory and if I’m repeating myself there’s a very good reason for that, which I can’t remember. Memory doesn’t work in conventional ways. Short-term or working memory is the one you use when you’re making coffee and tea and put coffee and tea into one cup and nothing in the other. Or one of my favourites putting the softner in the washing machine but putting it in your tea instead. That tea does taste funny. Dementia. That’s the worry. But you might disguise it by reaching for stuff from the top shelf. When I write about Clydebank in the early nineteen-seventies it is all top shelf stuff. Dinners were basic. Anything without a potato wasn’t dinner and everything else was foreign muck. But we’ve got time machines. They can’t take us back to the death of Christ, but you can see the Osmond brothers on Top of the Pops in blue spangly suits and a group called The Jackson Five in checked shirts and flares and big enough afros to disguise wee Michael’s disbelief that he’s black. That’s not really what interests me. Those pretty girls in shot, who dance on the sidelines as if they’re trying to put a bicycle in the centre, but grab its handlebars and wheel it left and then change their  mind and wheel it right. They’re doing their seventies thing.

The zeitgeist book of the seventies was, of course, Robert Pirsig’s Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance. A classic book not about bikes but about the narrator trying to discover who he is and what Quality means. It doesn’t help that the narrator’s brain has been zapped by a few thousand volts to cure him of his sickness of thinking too much. (Don’t plug in at home).    Quality does that to you. An ill-defined notion that is neither object nor subject, but is somehow out there, but in there too, kinda of like sex without the sex, or Pirsig’s analogy the Hindi notion of zero and nothing to do with sex. Phaderus the ancient Greek philosopher who stalks the narrator’s journey and might even by the narrator himself that claims the idea of zero was familiar to Hindi thought but not Roman or Greek. They stumbled along bumping into increasingly large numbers and so no need for zero tolerance, because they didn’t know what it was. I can’t imagine that, but I can imagine somebody handing my mum a bottle and saying you can’t fill this with tap water, because it’s not good for you, buy this stuff in a plastic bottle and it’s really good for you and costs only a few quid. An oxymoron.  She hadn’t heard of lol either. In the digital age 1 and 0 rock our worlds. Little rockslides of self falling away every day into the abyss and you know what I Know Who You Are. I’m glad at least one person does.

Aliens: The Big Think BBC 4 10pm and BBCiPlayer

aliens the big think.jpg

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b0788q6m/the-big-think-aliens

‘If ET is not out there, the earth is some sort of miracle.’ This isn’t a Uri Geller soundbite but a quote from  Senior Astronomer for the SETI Institute and former Director of Center for SETI Research, Seth Shostak. Here we have Professor Martin Rees, former astronomer royal, looking at the evidence for alien life on other planets, but we don’t mean primordial slime, we mean intelligent life, but not as we know it captain, startreking across the universe. The numbers don’t add up.  Two Billions of stars in the galaxy similar to our sun (the number keeps growing as our apparatus becomes more sophisticated) but some of them two or three billion years older than our sun, the Fermi paradox suggests the high probability of circling planets with intelligent life, but with little or no hard evidence of it yet. Perhaps not only in the wrong places, but in the wrong way. Poets and physicists help you to see things anew.

To think about aliens is to think about our place in the universe. The Big Bang or the Bounce. The Goldilock zone (fresh air theory).  From single cell organisms, phagocytes and primitive life on our planet. The past walks with us. Every organic creature in our planet is made out of stardust. Out of this structure intelligent life was formed. Stephen Hawkins aphorism, ‘I believe intelligent life is quite common in the universe. Less so on earth…’ holds true.

With the moron’s moron leader of the most powerful and technocratic nation on earth a case in point. Communication with aliens and morons is the key. Everything is very very in the moron’s world multiplied by good or bad.  The stupidest thing the moron’s moron did, or did not do, was sign the Paris accord on global warming which will trigger very, very, very bad things, with tens of millions dying. What this programme shows quite clearly is that burning fossil fuels is to live in the past. The future is green and harnessing the power of the stars. That’s what physicists are looking at, fluctuations in energy, which may or may not show that something, possibly robotic, possibly an advanced civilisation may have been doing that. Certainly Dr Ander Sandsberg was able to show that spikes in planet KIC 8462852  radiation couldn’t be accounted for. One hypothesis was something massive and non-cylindrical had passed in front of it. Aliens?

Intelligent life on our planet will be artificial intelligence with non-organic parts. That’s the same kind of mixing and matching as Fermi. But it’s happening now. Sometimes we don’t see what’s in front of our eyes. Any good alien knows that. But it’s the bad aliens we’ve got to worry about. The cuckoos breeding in our nest.  I’m more worried about slime Trump ending intelligent life on this planet, but I’ve never claimed to be intelligent. Is there intelligent life out there. Yes, I think there is. Vast distances between planets makes communication difficult. And technology tends to destroy its creator. The rise and fall of a planet technologically in a few thousand years is infinitesimally small in terms of the universe. Compare this with the growth of our planets technology which has given us the capability to look at other planets with any detail in the last 20 or 30 years. Not only is life on earth a miracle. Our technology is a minnow. If other technologies find us they will have the capacity to swallow us up. Stephen Hawkins used the analogy of white men meeting native American Indians or perhaps aboriginals. But that’s just a guess. Nobody knows. Not even Stephen Hawkins. No evidence means very very very small results have very very very big implications, like global warming.

 

 

The Betrayed Girls, BBC 1, 8.30 pm, BBC iPlayer directed by Henry Singer.

betrayed girls.jpg

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b08xdh9r/the-betrayed-girls

Ironically, the lead story BBC Ten O’Clock News which followed this programme was a report calling for the demolition of Haut de la Garenne home in Jersey. Children weren’t listened to. Children were abused. Seventy years of failure: The Jersey Way.

Can we demolish Greater Manchester Police? Maggie Oliver one of the few who can hold their head up catalogued their failings from the inside as a young office investigation these child abuse allegations and noted how often young girls she worked with had been let down by those supposed to protect them, by the police, by social services, by the community. We know all of this if we watched, as I did, the dramatization of their story, Three Girls, shown recently on BBC 1. But here it is Assistant Chief Inspector Steve Haywood speaking to the press after the successful prosecution of nine Asian men of Pakistani origin giving the usual reassurances to the public. The same Assistant Chief Inspector Steve Haywood that had discontinued the first investigation four years earlier. The same Assistant Chief Inspector Steve Haywood whose force conveniently lost a catalogue of evidence collated for them by one of their outstanding officers Maggie Oliver. She too was betrayed. This is an issue of class. White, working-class girls, trouble.

‘It’s no wonder they come to us,’ said ‘Daddy’ a nickname for one of those successfully prosecuted.

Although a convicted paedophile and rapist ‘Daddy’ does have a point.

Can we abolish the Rochdale Care System? This is shown graphically when the mother of one of the girls that is being raped and abused by men says something that is not politically correct. ‘What are you going to do about those Pakis abusing my daughters?’ she asks social workers and care workers involved with her children. She is removed from the meeting and not allowed to attend further meetings. We can’t have working-class mothers calling paedophile rapists Pakis.

The British National Front and English Defence League filled their boots with the images of Pakis raping young white girls as young as thirteen. We know this for sure because the father of Girl A speaks hear on camera and says they were the only ones that listened to what he had to say and believed him when he told them how his daughter was raped.

Thirty more prosecutions have been made since that case. That’s meant to reassure us. But if we listen to Sarah Rowbotham who made a spider-chart of all those mentioned by the girls in Rochdale and catalogued who they were and how they were connected and estimated such abuses had been going on for a minimal of ten years or more, if we listen to Nazar Afal, who, as public prosecutor estimated that 100 000 girls are abused every year, then 30 doesn’t seem that big a number. In fact your chance of getting prosecuted for raping young white girls works out at 0.0003. There’s more chance of getting hit by an asteroid. Perhaps one day we will have justice. The Betrayed Girls are still being betrayed. That shame is ours.