I’m a fan of writer Jimmy McGovern’s work rooted in Merseyside and working-class life. His production company can pretty much sell what he produces to the BBC. His focus here is the murder of eighteen-year-old Anthony Walker. A black kid murdered by an ice-pick through his head in a Liverpool park, in an unprovoked racist attack in 30th July 2005. His two assailants received life sentences. The most convincing part of the drama is how this happened and the aftermath of the tragedy.
Toheeb Jimoh is given the role of Anthony in a sliding-doors moment of what would have happened had he lived in a life told backwards from his mid-twenties. The girl he would have married, Katherine, nee Dooley, Walker (Julia Brown), the children they would have had, the people he would have helped. Anthony wanted to be a civil-rights lawyer and work in America. It all comes dramatically true here, but in a less than convincing way. Too much sugar makes poor drama.
I’m a bit of telly snob. If it’s on BBC 4 and its got subtitles I’m usually watching it. Part of my hangover from bingeing on Wallander. The Last Wave is a French drama with subtitles, therefore it ticks one of the boxes. Unfortunately, there’s no introspective morbid detective with a booze problem and a non-existent home life, he’s trying to drown out. But hey, hang on a second. There’s a big cloud hanging over the seaside town of Brizan. None of the adults seem particularly happy and their kids are pretty fucked up. So it’s almost Nordic in its promise, but without the snow and ice and grumpy faces. The ever smiling mayor acts as concierge as she promotes the annual surf party headlined by local-bad-boy made good, Max Alcorta (Roberto Calvet) who is one of the top surfers in the world. He’s joined in the water by other locals. Mathieu Ketchak (Theo Christine) is the black guy whose white dad is a bit of a sleaze. He sets himself up as a self-help guru for people with cancer, which he’s also got. Lena Lebon (Marie Dompnier) is also in the breaking surf. She’s the mother of the girl Ketchak fancies and he fancies back, but it’s complicated. Ben Lebon (David Kammenos) is the geeky science teacher in the school, but his daughter, their daughter stays with him, rather than their mother, because she’s been suicidal and left them after the death of a child. It’s not been explained yet, what happened to the kid, but I’m sure we’ll get there. He watches on the beach as his wife enters the surf and you know they’re estranged, but still in love. Thomas Lewen (Gael Raes) is the speccy kid that kicks his heels and refuses to go into the water. Mummy is the town’s doctor and daddy is the town’s developer, trying to cash out in real estate and promote it as the new eco-friendly Biarritz. He has to drag his son into the water. He reassures him, it’ll be OK.
You know what Billy Connolly (the Big Yin) says about sharks, also the Big Yin. Stay out the fucking water. But just like any young virginal looking type with big tits can’t help drifting down to see if Dracula is indeed in the basement, this crowd surf out into the waves.
Where were you when the cloud rolled in? Anyway, to jump ahead a bit because I’m getting bored writing this. Max comes out of the water changed, as they all do. It takes a wee bit of time to find out what their new superpowers are. Max seems to be able to breathe underwater, which is useful trait for a surfer and for fish. The speccy kid no longer needs specs. His mum’s a doctor and she explains to her perplexed husband, that the colour of his eyes has also changed. Dads in my experience don’t notice things like that, but if you fluff a chance at schoolboy fitba they certainly don’t miss that one. Speccy kid now can see through things. Lena Lebon’s powers are more ambiguous. She gifts her ex-husband the horn and they seem set to give back together. The injuries to her wrists, slash wounds, disappeared after her return from the surf, but I’d guess her ongoing gift of the clould is love (generally and not the horn, specifically) or something similar. Ketchak’s powers is to heal. He’s starts with a pigeon and then heals his dad’s leg pain and then one of his patients. Sleazy dad is quick to claim the credit.
I claim credit for treating myself to the first two episodes and would have binge watched all six, but they’ve been rationed. Look forward to more.
Miriam Margolyes has done England, she’s done Trump’s United States and now she’s been sent on another two month road trip to see how Australia works (or doesn’t). Honeyed days indeed for an 82-year-old ‘fat, Jewish, lesbian’ (her words). Same old faces, popping up everywhere. I like the idea of Miriam Margolyes being unshakeable and having shock value, but this just seems like more jobs for the boys, although of course she’s not and it’s some time since she’s been a girl. The three-part series hangs on the idea that she has acquired Australian citizenship.
A line-up of citizens carefully chosen to offer some kind of insight meets Miriam, briefly. Have their say and she moves on to the next staging post.
In Bondi, Miriam meets Monika Tu. Monika Tu sells real-estate to the booming Chinese market. China today is set to overtake America as the richest and most dynamic nation on earth. China is now, where America was after the First World War. That means tens of millions of prosperous middle-class customers hoping to get on and, whisper it, perhaps, get out. Monika Tu is a millionaire; she sells them the gated communities and properties you’d expect the rich to live in. Does Miriam discover anything here? No.
Miriam heads west and meets a middle-aged woman living in a camper van. Here we’re juxtaposing the rich incomers with the poor, over-fifties women who make up the fastest growing group of homeless. But the lady Miriam meets loves her way of live. But it might have been more interesting if the producers had found the woman living in a car that was mentioned that perhaps doesn’t love her live so much. Does Miriam discover anything here? Yeh, she doesn’t want to live in home with a compost toilet and shower, which is a tap with a hose. Freedom without a mortgage has a cost and the grey ghosts are those without retirement money to put down roots. 155 000 and counting.
In some parts of Eastern Australia it hasn’t rained for three years. The worst drought since 1931, which lasted three years, like now—and counting. A hard land, made of swirling dust. In Trundle, businesses are closing. The farms surrounding it bear the weight of the drought. Four-generation farmers forced to shoot livestock because they can’t afford the feed. She asks Ron and Dolly’s eldest son, aged 9 and a bit, if he’s heard of global warming. He shakes his head, kinda has, but remains optimistic. That’s the saddest part, his optimism. It won’t get worse before it gets better, as it did in the thirties. It’ll just get worse and worse. Does Miriam discover anything here? No. Smoke and mirrors. Drive on. Get out, fast.
Miriam returns to Melbourne, where she has happy memories of having lived and loved. She meets Lidia Thorpe and her daugher, an indigenous activist (second of third-generation) that has been elected to Parliament. She tells Miriam, the Australian dream is based on genocide. True, but nobody really listens.
Miriam moves on to rural Victorian town of Nhill, whose major industry is based on slaughtering ducks (and chickens). Locals weren’t keen to work in the abattoir, so the owners imported immigrants that were happy to work for them. Miriam meets Tha-Blay Sher at his luxurious home, with his family and boss looking on as they share a meal that’s not duck stolen from the factory floor, but indigenous food of the Karen. Tha-Blay Sher is serving. They came to Australia from Burma and the refugee camps bordering Thailand. Miriam is told by Tha-Blay’s daughter, Tha-Blay is one of many Karen refugees who now work and live in Nhill after being stateless in their country of origin. Obviously, they are delighted to have Australian citizenship. Obviously, they are delighted not to be in a refugee camp. When they stop being so delighted, maybe we’ll learn something new.
In her last stop, Miriam goes into Vinnies department store, ostensibly, searching for a Pyrex dish, with a film crew following her. She accidentally, on purpose, bumps into Moj that works in the store. He explains as a kid he arrived in Australia in a boat and he couldn’t speak English, he was around fifteen, but didn’t know for sure, because he didn’t have a birth certificate. He’s been here ten years and he’s twenty-five; his mum and dad were killed in Afghanistan. He has no family. He may be deported. The Australian dream is only for some. Miriam wishes him well. I do too. Does it help? No. Miriam will plug on, regardless. The Australian Dream has a sell-by date and is only for some.
I wonder where the BBC mandarins will send her next? Mars isn’t very far. Maybe the earth will have cooled down by then.
I picked up this book and put it down a few times. I doubt if I’d have read it, but for one thing—it was Bob’s book. He carried it around like a lucky rabbit paw in his rucksack (not so lucky for the rabbit) Mostly in the first 150 pages of the book, around the middle of the book, Bob scribbled messages to himself in biro He underlined words like Urbie and wrote things like ‘Visible From Space So We r Told’. Adding a tick mark to quote from the narrator to Sparky, ‘Here, who you calling a cunting heretic?’ I don’t know if Bob finished the book. I guess I finished it for him.
Mad, Bad, or Sad? 1990, According to TheGuardian headline, Five ‘cold-hearted and evil’ teenagers, from Skelton in Leeds, tortured and killed Angela Pearce, aged 18, who suffered from schizophrenia. The three girls and two boys showed no remorse when they were led away from the dock. Bernard Hare, the middle-aged narrator, known as Chop in the book, and his adopted son given the name Urban Grimshaw, visit the shallow grave where Angela Pearce was buried and leave a memento, a gold locket, at the site. Recognition that could have been them that did the torturing. Them that was tortured.
Urban Grimshaw and the Shed Crew—his brother Frank, Skeeter, Sparky, Sam, Pinky, Theiving Little Simpkins, Trudy, Cara, Molly, and Pixie with the exception of the Tyson, the dog, who was sold by Greta his mum for a fix, where mad, bad and sad. As we all are. We’ve gone to the dogs is the message of the book. It’s almost 20 years since Angela Pearce’s murder and Chop gave himself grief. He saved himself and the adolescent boys and girls that looked up to him for some kind of parental guidance.
Hare/ Chop is initiated into the Shed Crew and becomes one of them. Their unofficial leader and guru. I wasn’t overly convinced by the screeching tyres and stolen cars and the way they’d outfoxed the police. I was convinced the girls were sexually abused by nonces and the boys were thugs that stole and did whatever they could to stay one-up and alive. Hare, for example, has the reader believe, a fifteen-year-old Sparky, who was ‘built like a brick shitehouse’ and sets up home with Natasha, a schoolgirl who needs a good shagging and is straight out of the pages of Trainspotting, somehow also reads the collected works of Shakespeare for fun. Quotes, verbatim, from The Merchant of Venice, ‘do I not bleed…’. That’s just clichéd shite with a coating of literary havering.
And I certainly wasn’t convinced that twelve-year-old Urban fell into a sewer, then into the canal and Chop dived into save him and Tyson bit him. They both survived. Covered in pish and shite they went to Urban mum’s house, because it was closer. Chop also knew not much would be said. He’d been shagging his mum, Greta. And had taken the boy out to help on a few of his jobs, delivering stuff. Man and van. Man, van and boy, made a more interesting story with a moral punch. Urban was street smart and he’d warned Chop, because he liked him to stay away from his mum, because she’d destroy him.
Here was have the shtick:
He was twelve going on thirty-seven. Oddly enough, I was thirty-seven going on twelve. Maybe that’s why we got on so well.
The road trip from Leeds to Aberdeen is believable, as is the glue, butane sniffing, boozing, drug taking, and even the code of conduct. The 101 houses that Greta inhabits. Her madhouse where her children and their pals go to take drugs. Chop goes too. But he also offers a safe house for the kids to decompress and teaches them to play chess and be still. To be children for a while.
Hare is making a call to arms. He’s saying this shouldn’t be happening. We all know that. Just think what low-life David Cameron was thinking when he made that speech at the Conservative Party Conference telling a wailing audience of yahoos that he had a list of families in London that were costing the country millions. His solution, their solution, of course, was to cut them off. Cuts, cuts and more cuts. To make the poor pay. Chop does that too. Goes on mad rants, usually about Thatcherism and the empty promises of consumerism. We’re kindred spirits. The world he wants is the world I want. For those not in the know, this is a book worth reading. For the rest of us, a reminder how far we’ve fallen. Allegedly, the sixth richest nation on earth and we can’t even feed our children. Fuck, right off. You should be fucked off too. It’s not a read it and weep book. It’s a read it and understand, but as I said, I’m not sure Bob did read it. He was fucked up in so many ways and so wanted to be normal. Viscerally, I’m sure he understood. That could have been him. That was him.
Gore Vidal is attributed with the quote, ‘Every time a friend succeeds, I die a little’. Graeme Armstrong is not a friend of mine. But the title of his book, The Young Team needs no detailed sociological explanation. I don’t need to go searching for definitions in The Urban Dictionary. I’m proud to be working class, less proud to have a chib mark on my face and knocked guys out and been a baw hair away from being killed. I know about drink and drugs. When I started writing short bits about people I knew that had died, the bodies started stacking up. Many of them were suicides. Armstrong is telling me nothing new. But he’s on my turf. When I try and get my manuscripts for novels published and get knocked back that’s a lot of work. And I need to rise again. Go again. He succeeds. And part of me is glad, but part of me isn’t, because publishing is a small world. When I think of it I think of it, think of them, I recall the D.H. Lawrence poem, The English Are So Nice.
Publishers are so nice
so awfully nice
they’re the nicest people in the world.
And what’s more they’re so very nice about being nice
about your being so nice as well!
If you’re not nice they soon make you feel it.
Publishers are middle-class. Armstrong and me are working class. His is a niche publication. He’s taking up my space, but it’s not his fault we live in a middle-class world. It’s not my fault. The exception to the rule is used to prove the rule. A bit like coloured cabinet ministers in Tory land. Look, we’re not racist, their leader can say. His success is my failure.
But Armstrong is braver than me. His first-person, personal account, is in Scottish dialect. That’s a killer. James Kelman gets away with it in books about working-class life such as Kieron Smith, boy—a coming of age novel that covers some of the same ground—because he won the Brooker Prize with How Late it was How Late. Armstrong’s two sponsors of the book, Kerry Hudson and Janice Galloway use dialect, but only in direct speech. Alan Bisset also wants to let his characters in Boyracers, speak like he speaks, with a Falkirk twang, but descriptions are in the Queen’s English. Carl MacDougall’s characters when they swear say ‘fuckin.’ No apostrophe. Bernard MacLaverty (an honorary Scot) characters say ‘fucken’ (or it might be the other way about – I can’t remember). William McIlvanney’s characters swear, but perhaps less than you’d think. Maggie O’Farrell’s characters don’t swear much, but then again, they tend to be more middle-class and go to university. Geniuses such as Lewis Grassic Gibbons (James Leslie Mitchell) create their own hybrid written-spoken language of North East dialect for a young Chris Guthrie in Sunset Song to tell her story. Language can be a bit of a fuck-up and the more extreme can sound like pastiche of proper Young Team patter.
The beginning of the book, when the narrator is thirteen or fourteen-years old sets the tone. The book follows him and his muckers progress for about eight years. The Young Team, the Airdrie team, are living the life. The book is set out like a report. Part 1, Crucible. I’m not sure I like that. Or think it’s necessary. Let’s just tell the fuckin story, like Bernard Hare does in, for example, Urban Grimshaw and the Shed Crew (but then again his chapters in his novel begin with crappy poetry). Here’s the beginning of the book. Judge for yerself.
Urban Legends 2004
The rain n wind ir fuckin howlin. We’ aw stood intae a wee corner oot the wet n away fae the eager eyes ae Strathclyde’s finest. At weekends our area is jumpin wae polis, aw lookin tae bust yi. They never wanted tae git their boots muddy, walkin doon the Mansion but, so yi wur usually safe here. There’s two community police that sometimes ventured doon n busted cunts rollin joints, the fat wan called Muldoon n the skinny wan we aw called the Roadrunner, cos he’s rapid. The elder wans had told us aboot the polis raidin it once before we knew of the place’s existence.
Writing the gallus is easy. Writing the vulnerable is what makes characters walk and talk and become human. Azzy might be a hard wee cunt, but he’s just a wee boy and as he grows up he discovers clan loyalty isn’t enough. It offers no way out and he has panic attacks and becomes depressed. He’s not the only causality. Every day is ground-hog day and it’s wearing on the body and mind. With no way out, some of the not-so-young team become smack addicts in their teens, some kill themselves, some are killed. There are statistics in the chapter headings. But Azzy carries on his battle and it becomes with himself.
Higher education is the escape route. Hmmm, I’m unconvinced. And for such a poverty-stricken area, The Young Team, wae Azzy it’s leader, seem to be smoking dope and drinking all the time. Aye, I get that. But where’s the cash coming from? That I don’t get. It’s never made clear, in the way the music the kids listen to is, the tracksuits and sannies they wear and the cars they drive when they become older are.
Aurally, aye, I say to the way it is written. But those that need to read a book like this would be put off by the language. The dialect makes reading hard work. The middle-classes are so nice. So very, very nice. They might be surprised by what Armstrong writes about. I’m not. I know the score. Azzy is not very nice, but his life is worth reading. Read on.
‘Witches Sail in Eggshells’ is a quote from Meg, a character in a story of the same name, but also a playful aside from Keiza, the bewitcher of the unnamed protagonist. It bookends a collection of seventeen short stories of around 150 pages. I think the first story in the collection, ‘Hagstone,’ is the best short-story in the collection, and the last, ‘Witches Sail in Eggshells’, next best—you may think differently. Short-stories bewitch in different ways.
The subject of both my favourite stories is witchcraft. ‘Witches Sail in Eggshells’ gives it a more side-long look. The protagonist works in a bar in Baggot Street, in which Meg, an older woman, is chef. When Keiza breezes in the narrator’s life changes. Love and lust at first sight.
There was a silver charm on the belt of her jeans; we’d barely even spoken, and already I was burning to look closer.
Keiza was the kind of girl ‘who’d batter your heart like a thrush like a snail on a stone’ and come back for more. Expect more.
Meg says nothing about the bruises on the young barmaid’s arm, the scratches.
When Keiza leaves her on a whim, Meg’s waiting, but it’s two years later. But Keiza kept a house key and turns up to whip up a storm while Meg whips up an omelette.
‘Christ she’s not still trying is she? she said, gesturing to Meg. ‘Give up girl, she’s just not into you.’
In comparison, Leda, the narrator in ‘Hagstone’ is an involuntary witch, or is she a witch, or is it just coincidence the way some things happen? That’s a theme in most of the stories in the collection. Always something else, someone else waiting.
Leda lifted the necklace from the mirror’s shoulder, letting the knotted strings tumble across the back of her hand.
A minor character on a boat explains that hagstones, ‘Are just stones with a hole. The sea digs it out. Or the river.’
Leda, a bored adolescent, on holiday starts collecting them and makes them into a necklace.
‘From the first day she wore the necklace, there was a shift. Tiny things: two slices of bread left of the loaf, just enough for her sandwiches, and the bus rounding the corner just as she reached the stop. The old guy in her preferred seat had to stand to stretch his back. A free period after break because Miss Vine had gone home with cramps.’
The new normal changes Leda’s world, but the reader is aware that there is always a price to pay and waits to find out what it is. She secretly likes Alice’s boyfriend, Robbie. He’s dumb and muscular, but with nice plump lips she’d like to kiss and tease. Robbie drifts away from Alice and suddenly he’d like that too. Spiked dreams and desires pick up casualties. Payment becomes due. What does Leda do?
There’s grit in the other stories, close, but I’m not sure they turn into story pearls. Taste and see.
It’s 1971, American troops are still fighting in Vietnam. Richard Nixon is President and is engaged in ongoing peace talks with his USSR counterpart, President Brezhnev. Phyllis Schlafly (Cate Blanchett) is scheduled to talk about the arm’s race, to give a women’s perspective on local television. She knows her stuff. She’s ran for Congress as a Republican candidate. The talk-show host is enamoured, not only is she knowledgeable, she’s beautiful. He wants her to go to Washington with him and talk to Senators, including Barry Goldwater. He’s a man who knows the money men, the men with power and hoping for a bit of hanky-panky. She smiles as she’s been told to do. She’s good at smiling. Good at most things. She’s a leader and follower.
Next up, we get Schlfly at home in Missouri. Her husband Fred Schlafly (John Slattery) is a successful businessman and her father to her six children. He indulges her political ambitions and her networking and her Rolodex and secretary and organising local mothers into a white, middle-class mother’s group against the Equal Rights Act, because it keeps her out of harm’s way. She indulges him. After her trip to Washington, where she’s the only woman in a roomful of Senators discussing the arm’s race and latest proposed legislation, which she’s read and is able to slap down a Senator like a school teacher quizzing an errant pupil that’s not done his homework. At home she’s too tired for sex, but he isn’t. It’s his choice and her obligation.
Perhaps I should use different similes. Metaphorical language tends to reinforce the idea of his-story being the dominant ideology. With first-wave feminists such as Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex, focussing on social context. Man, Woman, Other, with the distinction of being female and being constructed as a woman. Being gendered allows patriarchy to perpetuate the status-quo. St Thomas Aquinas’s idea of women being an ‘imperfect man’. In the tradition of women being nothing but an empty womb. Setting us up for the fight against abortion, which as we know from Roe vs Wade women won in the Supreme Court in the United States but has been rolled back again and again. With the poor, working class and black women overwhelmingly effected. It’s no great surprise that Schlafly received a standing ovation at the moron’s moron’s Presidential rally in 2016, when Trump was running for office. And the President of the dis-United States attended her funeral. As a rule of thumb, whatever Trump is for, I’m against. Betty Friedman (Tracy Ulman) and Bella Abzug (Margo Martindale) are having a conversation about who Phyllis Schlafly is, while Gloria Steinem (Rose Byrne) is foregrounded. It’s a conversation about nothing but everything. The reply sums her (and him) up. ‘She’s a right-wing, nut-job’.
Margaret Thatcher, the Iron Lady, was also a right-wing, nut job. She didn’t believe in sexual discrimination either. But, ironically, in early-seventies Britain, Prime Minister Edward Heath only kept Thatcher in Cabinet as Education Secretary because she was the token woman. In the same way, the viewer, from a different viewpoint, almost feels sorry for Phyllis Schlafly when she gets to attend a coveted meeting with Barry Goldwater and the other state senators in the Senate. The stenographer, a woman, naturally, is asked to leave because talks about nuclear missiles is too important an issue and she doesn’t have security clearance. But Phyllis Schlafly primed to speak and show her mettle is slapped down and asked to take notes and minutes. Women should know their place isn’t spoken, but shown. That’s great drama.
Carol Hanisch (1970) coined the term, ‘the personal is political’ and the second-wave feminist movement that is dramatized here ride on a righteous wave against ‘right-wing, nut-jobs,’ which crashed against Thatcher/Reagan. We lost the ideological war and live in the right-wing, nut-job world now of hatred and entrenched social divisions. I’ve only watched the first two episodes of nine. The second episode feature Gloria Epstein, she’s beautiful too, but perhaps I shouldn’t be saying that. Judging people by the bogus standards of the male gaze. Perhaps I’ll watch more episodes. I’m a prisoner of my birth and personality (personal–reality) aren’t we all? Aren’t we all?
Here we have Claud Cockburn’s maxim as a rule of thumb, ‘Never believe anything until it has been officially denied’.
Director David France’s documentary shows clearly that gay lives don’t matter in Chechnya, or in Russia, generally. Imagine George Michael had went missing at the height of his pomp and Margaret Thatcher (Section 28 legislation) came on the telly and told you, he wasn’t missing. And there was no such thing as gay people in Britain, and if there was ‘They are devils, subhuman.’ They should be taken to their families to be killed.
This is the rhetoric not of Thatcher, but of Ramzan Kadyrov, a Vladamir Putin appointed strongman, leader of the Chechnya Republic telling the public how it is in relation to Chechan’s George Michael and gay community. Imagine, instead of George Floyd being choked to death by policeman while other cops watched him die, you had police trophy footage of men and women beaten to death at the side of the road and raped to show they are dealing with the gay plague, the lesbian problem. Transsexual doesn’t register. Kadyrov labelled men that love men and women that love women, subhuman, not human and that’s the way they are treated, a problem that needs to be solved or eradicated.
Anna Politkovskya, Chechnya: A Dirty War 1999-2002 gives us context. Vladimir Putin’s ‘anti-terrorist campaign’ destroyed the Chechnya capital, Grozny in a way we’ve become familiar with television pictures and reports of the indiscriminate Russian bombing of Syria and Ukraine and the targeting of, for example, hospitals. Terrorists are those on the ground. Chechnyans were labelled by Putin a ‘nation of criminals’. In February 2001, Politkovskya was detained and threatened with rape by senior Russian officers when investigating a Russian torture centre. Perhaps she was naïve to think there was just one. Refugees talked of the indiscriminate murder of children, pregnant women, old men. Putin won the war in Chechnya as he’s winning the war in Syria and the Ukraine. Anna Politkovskya had made enemies in high places. On 7th October 2006 she was shot dead in the elevator of her apartment block in central Moscow. Three Chechens were arrested, but acquitted and re-arrested.
Truth does not need to be subversive, but it does need to be true. France shows how it works in Chechnya. After a police raid around 2017, a gay man’s phone was taken from him and examined. We usually use words like forensic her—forensically examined—for links to other crimes to do with drugs or other offences so the authorities can label them criminal. Terrorist is a popular word choice. What the officers found was gay messages and images. Gay men, or women, were taken to Argun Prison in Grozny and tortured, with many beaten to death, reminiscent of Lubyanka and Stalin’s reign of fear. Victims were forced to give names of other gay men or women that the police could roll up, torture and kill, to get other names. This reign of fear France labels a Gay Purge, which is denied by authorities in Grozny and Moscow, using the logic that such people don’t exist and even if they did, there’s no official notification of it or them. While at the same time, Ramzan Kadyrov promises to ‘cleanse the blood’ of Muslims and eliminate those people that don’t exist.
France’s film follows Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or Transsexual (LGBT) activists in Moscow, such as Olga Baravov, who have helped Chechnyan LGBT victims escape. We follow, for example, Akmad aged 30, (not his real name). Identities are protected by digital remastering because of a risk of reprisals at home in Chechnya. The rescue of ‘Anya’, aged 21, takes the viewer from Moscow to Grozny and had elements of a thriller. ‘Anya’s’ uncle told her he’d out her as a lesbian unless she slept with him and she had to be smuggled out. LGBT activists helped provide an underground ‘railway’ and safe houses. They try and relocate victims of torture and state violence. Asylum seekers of whatever sexuality are not popular (America, as you’d expect, is not on their list). Canada figures strongly. 151 victims processed by LGBT activists in Moscow, 44 men in women seeking asylum when filming took place.
‘Anya’ disappeared from her safe house. Olga Baranov and her child had herself to seek asylum in Canada after been outed by the Russian authorities. Moscow was not safe with its anti-gay rhetoric and threat of reprisals.
Maxim Lapunov, his real name, returned from asylum and challenged the authorities in Chechnya and accused them of state torture, placing a deposition in the Russian Municipal Courthouse. His digital mask protecting his identity was dissolved. The case was, of course, flung out. For Putin acolytes, gays don’t exist in Russia or Chechnya, and even if they did, they law does not exist to protect the likes of them. Lapunov claimed he’d take his case to the European Courts of Human Rights in Strasbourg. Watch this space, if he’s not disappeared or dies mysteriously, he might just do that, but I doubt it.
George Orwell recognised ‘to be corrupted by totalitarianism’— for example, the moron’s moron in the Whitehouse—you ‘do not have to live in a totalitarian country’, the un-United States of America. We’re all corrupted now. Putin the strong man goes from strength to strength. Ramzan Kadyrov does not have the final word. He does what he’s told. The gay purge hurts no one—that counts—and nobody is counting.
It could have been worse for Liverpool. Raheem Stirling instead of hitting the post against Chelsea could have scored and put Manchester City 2—1 ahead and they’d have probably won that game too. This game might have mattered. It could have been worse for Liverpool, substitute Mahrez goal after 94 minutes was chopped off. That would have made it 5—0 for City. The same score they lost at the Etihad the last time they were here.
I was thinking before the game Pep Gurudiolo’s and Manchester City’s worse decision in recent years was to buy John Stones and not Virgil van Dijk. City would have had the title this year with van Dijk in the team. But for such an emphatic win tonight, early on it was even. With both teams playing a high line, chances came and went.
Gabriel Jesus ‘goal’ was disallowed for a marginal offside. Mo Salah hit the post. Liverpool’s balls in behind the City defence was causing problem. Mane should have scored with a header. He should also have scored with a much easier chance in the second half. He’d a poor game, as did most of the Liverpool team. I’ll need to change that to all of the Liverpool team.
Sterling created Kevin de Bruyne’s first goal when the Manchester City forward was hauled down by Gomez. De Bruyne scored from the spot. Then Sterling scored the second goal by turning away from Gomez and hitting the ball through the Liverpool central defender’s legs. Nutmeg nightmare. The Scottish international Andy Robertson, and left-back, had a good claim to be the worst man on the park. He lost Foden for the third goal. And on this showing Robertson would have a hard time getting a game for Clyde, his former club. The best players on the park were wearing the City shirts.
Oxlade Chamberlain tried to stop Sterling adding to his tally and scored an own-goal. By that time, midway through the second half, the game was over.
Liverpool chances came mainly from Manchester City’s defenders and goalkeeper trying to play from the back. Manchester City’s chances came for de Bruyne, Sterling and Foden, who looks a real prospect.
In what could have been one of the biggest games of the season, but in reality a glorified friendly, Liverpool were the losers, but the winners. But I remember a time when the most important fixtures weren’t dictated by telly money. And would have been played on a fucking Thursday night. Crap game. Liverpool were terrible, but that doesn’t matter. City’s defence was terrible. They’re still in the European Cup. That does matter, but not to me. I’m focussing on the qualifiers for the Champion’s league. Celtic should go for De Bruyne and bring him home to Parkhead, where he’d be appreciated.