Chasing the Moon, a film by Robert Stone. A Place Beyond the Sky (part 1 and 2)

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https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m0006vrs/chasing-the-moon-series-1-1-a-place-beyond-the-sky-part-one

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m0006vrv/chasing-the-moon-series-1-2-a-place-beyond-the-sky-part-two

This six part serial set at the height of the Cold War tells us everything we need to know about the relationship between politics and technology. United States triumphalism that they had won the war, although unofficial acknowledgement some fading nations and bankrupt colonial powers such as Britain might have helped, were undermined when the USSR launched Sputnik 1 on 4 October 1957.

‘Kaputnik’ was one American newspaper headline. By 12th April 1961 the USSR was a man and a dog ahead. I can’t remember the name of the dog, but Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin was a Soviet pilot, cosmonaut, and national hero. As well as being a test pilot he was small, which meant he could fit inside the capsule. He’d be on the front page of every newspaper in the world and he was discovered to be photogenic, which helped. What makes this documentary watchable is we also get the Soviet perspective. Sergei Khrushchev, whose father Nikita, led the Soviet Union during this era, gives us some insider information on what was the right stuff from over there.

Newly elected President John F Kennedy was looking for that big idea that would win the ongoing propaganda war against Communism, in general, and the USSR in particular and reasserts the dominance of Capitalism and its superior technology that had produced the atomic and hydrogen bombs. Lyndon B Johnstone then a senator had bemoaned the fact that the Soviet had taken four years to produce an atomic bomb of their own and a mere nine months to produce a hydrogen bomb. He made no mention of the helping hand of Soviet spies stealing their blueprints. Now with Sputniks in the skies, one commentator remembered drills and practicing hiding under school desks. Soviet satellite technology was aligned with the threat of nuclear capability to create a moral and existential panic.

Congress approved an initial budget of $1.7 billion, or $10 for every man, woman or child in America, on the understanding that the flag flying on the moon wouldn’t be the hammer and sickle but the stars and stripes.

NASA were reliant of an team of German scientist and former Nazis, led by Werner von Braun who developed the V1 rocket that bombed London. The Saturn rocket that successfully launched astronaut on 20th February 1962, a marine colonel named John Glenn and orbited the Earth was a bigger, souped-up version of the V1. Rocket flight hasn’t changed that much. Essentially it’s a pencil nib on top of a three or four storey casing of highly explosive fuel. The trick was to keep the astronaut, and later astronauts that went to the moon alive, and bring them back. Even with national prestige at stake, with budget overruns JFK was considering scaling back NASA’s budget and America’s ambition. He even proposed a joint mission to the moon with the USSR.

As we know this didn’t happen in his lifetime. And a new word entered our consciousness, software. Programmers such as Margaret Hamilton designed the on-board computer system that allowed the Neil Armstrong to utter those immortal words, ‘The Eagle had landed’. A computer system and memory so basic it wouldn’t power a modern calculator.

‘Whitey on the moon’ was Gil-Scott Heron’s take on it. Captain Edward J Dwight test pilot and a black kid didn’t make the grade. No accident. No malfunction. Not much has changed in fifty years.  The moron’s moron and friend of the KKK in the White House is keen on picking up Ronald Reagan’s hyperbole and aborted Star Wars programme. The military industrial complex that swallows sixty-percent of the US budget, but can’t find a nickel or cent for welfare, for the poor.  Different planet now, same rules apply.

 

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Pat Black (2019) The Family

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I read this book when it was first published. I’ve read some of Pat Black’s short stories. Some of them are outstanding. A novel is just a bigger story. It’s no great surprise that Black knows what he’s doing. The Family is an interesting title. A bit bland, unless you’re Charles Manson and his Family. And this is Charles Manson territory.  There are evil people out there and more worryingly within us. We’ve got to channel them.

Here’s a little message to the narrator, Rebecca (Becky) Morgan from the guy with size fourteen, padded, boots.

I killed your mother. I killed your father. I killed your sister. I killed your baby brother. And it was the best day of my life.

Becky Morgan is in a word, ballsy. She knows the killer is out there. And she follows cold cases of families that have disappeared and families that have been, ritualistically, slaughtered, like her family was in the South of France in the idyllic Grange aux la Croix valley. She was the only one of her family to escape, but she’s not undamaged. She also does some damage, beating men up that piss her off. It only becomes a problem when she reaches the bottom of the glass.

Morgan is a journalist. It’s one of those coveted jobs us non-writers imagine would be full of fun, like those journalists in The Washington Post, writing witty stories about the moron’s moron and harking back to days when there was a scandal about the then President –allegedly – having an affair with a woman called of all things, Jennifer Flowers. Making up puns about de-flowering, but, you get the drift and I’ve lost the plot.

Journalism here is like the White House with the KKK on speed-dial. Anybody that’s any good has already left. Morgan takes a sabbatical from journalism to hunt the serial killer that she knows is out there.  It’s the twentieth anniversary of her families slaughter and its pay-back time.

Becky sums it up in this way.

Asking me if I thought about revenge is a bit like asking Godzilla if he ever thinks about Tokyo.

If I was being political and, choosing sides, if there was anything worse than the moron’s moron, Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson and his kinship network then it is the bag carrier, Nigel Farage.  Here he pops up in Brussels as a loosely sketched bloke called Edwin Galbraith (no dark relation to the J K Galbraith, who penned the post-war settlement).

Brussels is his home and the source of his extremely comfortable lifestyle for a decade – a sublime irony.

When does a concentration of camps, such as Butlin’s (Skegness being my mate’s favourite) become tagged as concentration camps they can turn their backs on such as those of the far-right institutions of bonhomie in Brussels?  Becky goes undercover and offers her service to our Edwin. She’s young and pretty and has the right colour of skin. Least important of all she has public relations skills, so of course Galbraith wants her in, in the same way that Clinton wanted Flowers in.

Drat! Galbraith fingered her.

Her wires thrumming with adrenalin, Becky’s natural inclination was to bite back.

I’d suggest re-writing here.  Mixed metaphors make Galbraith a dull boy. If there was any justice in this world (or the next) he’d be murdered by a serial killer. But I’m not allowed to say that or call him a paedophile, or serial killer. He’s just a normal bloke. Very blockey.

Becky finds whatever way she turns her friends keep dying. Other folk might be a trifle paranoid about his development, but that’s part of her bloody past. She keeps ploughing forward through the bodies.

The serial killer shape shifts and seems to know all of her next moves. He’s one step ahead and one step behind her. No wonder she likes to drink. I like to drink too and I’ve not even got a stalker.

The denouement when it hits her, is a bit too reddy for me. Raw meet. Read on. This really is a page turner.

Tear along dotted line – the Celtic season starts here.

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Most Celtic supporters I’ve talked to would be happy with another domestic treble, perhaps with a European Cup thrown in for good measure. In Lennie we trust (well kinda).

Lennon got us over the line last year, winning the Scottish Cup  and the treble. There was a minimum and maximum as there is this year. I’d guess the minimum is a domestic double, Scottish League and one other trophy. In terms of Europe, qualification for the group stage of the Europa League.

The Europa League is a bit boring. We really want Champions League nights. Money and prestige are stitched together here. If Lenny gets Celtic through four qualifiers and into the Champions League group stages then he’s half way to being able to say job done. Then we can start kidding ourselves that other teams hate coming to Parkhead. The truth is the bigger teams love playing in a packed-out stadium where they always win. Yes, I do remember Tony Watt’s goal against Barcelona, loved every second of it, but freak results do happen. That’s why domestically Celtic are unlikely to win the treble again this year. They are the best team in Scotland, but an off day and we’re out of the cup.

Qualifying for Europe also means the squad is stretched and we’ve more games to play. After Rodger’s first season we began to regularly look vulnerable and drop points to teams like Kilmarnock and Hearts.

Strangely, despite Celtic’s treble-treble Rangers’ fans believe again. Their optimism is based on Celtic not spending and taking  two steps backwards in the last two seasons and Rangers finally going four or five games unbeaten. Rangers can win the league this year, but only if Celtic go into meltdown.

Celtic’s biggest buy of the season and long overdue is a centre-half in Christopher Julien. I’ve not seen him, but sometimes you just get that feeling…Kris Ayer will probably play alongside him in the centre of defence. Both are six-foot five, both are good with the ball at their feet. Both are called Chris. If they play to their potential Celtic will continue to monitor all players called Chris/Kris and try and integrate them into the Celtic family for Christmas.

I guess Jozo Simunovic will be the odd man out. He’d a great end of season, scoring that goal in the 67th minute and honouring Billy McNeil while wearing number 5. He looked like a half-decent defender at Parkhead, which must give Jack Hendry hope.

Lustig also had a fine end to the season and his Celtic career, but any winger with pace gave him a chasing, so it was thanks and no thanks. Anthony Ralston, for the moment, holds the jersey. Ironically, it was the young right back for Hearts in the last game of the season and in the Scottish Cup Final, a former Celtic graduate, who showed Ralston how it should be done.  I guess Celtic need to strengthen here. The Heart’s boy would be worth a punt, but we’ll go for the tried and tested, although I’m not sure who.

Arsenal and Napoli are interested in Kieran Tierney. He’s injured. He’s been injured quite a lot recently. The selling price is allegedly £25 million. I’d like to see Tierney stay. He’s a Celtic man and the best left back since Anton Rogan of Lisburn Distillery, but that might have been taking things a bit too far. Kieran Tierney is one of us, a fan, blessed with ability. Stay.

Johnny Hayes has been filling in at left back. I like Hayes, he’s street-smart, but never Celtic class (see Anton Rogan) and neither is he good enough to play as an out and out winger.

With Tierney out in the short, and perhaps longer term, Celtic have brought in a replacement. Under Rodgers it tended to be of the loan-deal variety. We paid more than £3 million for  Boli Bolingoli-Mbombo. He talks a good game. Telling us he has pace and…we’ll wait and see, but if Tierney stays, he’s our improved model of Emilio Izaguirre (good luck to the Honduran, but never a good idea to bring an old player back, hopefully the same thing doesn’t apply to an old manager).

In midfield we were always stacked with riches. Let’s start with the one that wants away. Olivier Ntcham had a few good games. He had a few bad games. You’ve got to laugh when he comes out with the excuse Scottish football is holding him back excuse. It never held back Henrik Larsson or  Harald Brattbakk or Virgil van Dijk. Two of these went on to lift the European Cup. Nitcham looks more of a Harald with every word that comes out of his mouth. He’s decided to go. Celtic want to sell. We’re waiting, but we’ll drop the price until someone takes him.

Ironically, I’m a big fan of Scottish, under-twenty-one international, Ewan Henderson who has fallen down the pecking order. Henderson, like his brother Liam, is Celtic class. I did predict years ago that Celtic would build their team around Liam. I’m not going to predict they’re going to build their team around Ewan (although I am tempted).

Remember Eboue Kouassi? He’s still there. He might do a Ryan Christie, you never know. Nah, he willnae. But wishful thinking is allowed.

Lewis Morgan is of that ilk. He went to Sunderland on loan and came back. We’ll probably send him out again somewhere. Special pre-seaon offer, three-for-one deal with Kouassi and Jack Henry.   Not bad players. Just not good enough for Celtic.

Scott Sinclair is on the final year of his contract. Anybody comes in, he can go. He’ll spend a lot of time on the bench if he doesn’t. He’ll be the type of player we bring on in the 85th minute hoping he can reproduce some of his penalty-box poacher- magic of his first two seasons.

Daniel Arzani lasted five minutes at Celtic, before getting injured. He’s got a chance, but only if young Karamoko Dembele  is thought too young for the first team.

Maryan Shved is a winger that excited Celtic fans, without playing a game for us. It was all highlights from abroad. Need to wait and see. Here’s hoping.

I’ve not mentioned James Forrest, the Celtic winger, who Lennon played through the middle in friendlies. Lennon brought Forrest into the team when he was here the last time. He used to talk him up and we’d be watching the same game and thinking…Whit? Lennon had a good season. Rodgers loved him. Lennon does too. He’ll play all the big games and most of the little ones. It’s going to be a big season for James Forrest.

Mikey Johnstone looks to be a Forrest stand in. Johnstone has plenty of trickery. He scores goals. He’s a Celt, here’s hoping he follows the Forrest pathway.

Scott Brown does what Scott Brown does. Lennon trusts him as did Rodgers before him. He’ll play the majority of our games.

Nobody played more games for club and country than Callum McGregor. If Forrest was Lennon’s love child, McGregor was Rodger’s. He played in almost every position for Rodgers apart from striker and goalie. I’m sure Rodgers would have handed him the gloves. There’s talk of a £20 million bid from the Leicester manager. That’s a wait and see.

Tom Rogic is another wait and see project. He didn’t look out of place when we played Manchester City in the Champions League under Rodgers. As good as anyone. But prone to injuries. Scores goals in big games, but in the Scottish Cup final (I can’t even remember if he played) and games against Rangers, in fact, most of last season, a wash out.  If clubs are offering £9 million or £10 million, I’d be very tempted to take it and bring back Paddy McCourt.

Ryan Christie wrote the script of the forgotten man biding his time. After losing out on John McGinn we were dreadful against a long-ball Hearts team at Tynecastle. Christie came on and scored and turned the game around. He was a goal-a-game man afterwards. Automatic first pick. His energy was of the Stuart Armstrong variety, but he had a better touch, better end product, a better player. But then that dreadful injury. He’s back but what Ryan Christie will emerge?

Luca Connell was coveted by other teams. Here’s hoping Lennie knew of him from his Bolton days. He’s young, which is always good. Is he ready for the first team?

Odsonne Edouard is our main striker. He missed a penalty in our last friendly in Switzerland against Gallen. Nobody cares about that, as long as he scores goals. He can be deceptively brilliant or just deceptive. He’s scored in big games, at crucial times in a match. He won us the league and Scottish Cup, but he doesn’t score enough. Maybe this season?

Leigh Griffiths is back. That’s fucking magic. Remember Griffiths once scored 40 plus goals in one season. He is a striker. No messing. There is a fair chance Lennon will play two strikers in games. Griffiths will get his chance. It’s really up to him. Here’s hoping.

I’d high hopes for the Ivorian international Vakoun Issouf Bayo. His strength is in the air. Lennon knows more than most, when pressed, as we were at Ibrox, a big target man gives you the route out of your half and adds goals. Recently, he’s been injured. That’s been a pattern. We don’t need any more projects. We don’t need another Kouassi. We need Bayo to force his way into the team in the same way Christie did, by scoring goals.

Are we stronger than last year? Yeh, we’ve been crying out for a decent centre-half for the last four years. One man doesn’t make a team, but it’s a start. We need a right-back, pronto. Perhaps Bayo won’t be good enough, then we need another striker. We might need a back-up centre-half for the back-up centre-half. If we sell Rogic or McGregor, we need another midfielder. The joker we have in the pack is Dembele. He looks a player. This might be his season. We’re in Sarajevo, let’s hope we can win and make the second leg a formality.

 

Alison (2017) directed by Uga Carlini

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=85&v=WIvFTrJGWCY

This drama-documentary has a fairy-story feel, a story of good triumphing over evil, of before and after the fall. Rape and murder are commonplace. Currently, only four-percent of reported rapes in the United Kingdom, for example, are successfully prosecuted.  When Alison Botha was abducted at knife-point in 1994, after dropping her friend off, near her home in South Africa, she hoped for the best. But she got the worst. There would be no escaping. Her would-be rapist picked up a friend. She looked in the mirror and into the back seat and into his eyes and all hope was gone. She recognised he was evil. The man sitting in the driving seat beside her seemed more affable. Later, he said he was possessed by the devil. They had already committed a number of rapes. Alison Botha was just another body. They took her to a nature reserve and took turns raping her. They’d already decided they didn’t want to leave any witnesses and they’d kill her. Tie up those loose ends.

Disembowelled, Alison couldn’t crawl. Somehow she had to stand up, despite her throat being cut from ear to ear and being stabbed more than thirty-six times. Nobody expected her to live. When she did make it out of the nature reserve and onto a main road, the first car passed, swerved round her bleeding body, and continued on. The next car stopped (the guy later went to university and trained to become a medical doctor). He held her hand and travelled in the ambulance with her. The ambulance crew didn’t seem to be in any particular hurry. They knew she’d be dead on arrival. She needed not just one surgeon, but two surgeons specialising in different fields. The surgeon that put her stomach back washed out the grit and glass in her intestines that she’d picked up as she crawled. It was a labour of love. Alison wouldn’t survive the surgery. They knew that.

Let’s jump forward. Her rapists were caught. She had to identify them. The police officer that took them to court told the viewers he didn’t put them in handcuffs. He wanted them to run so he could shoot them. They didn’t run. They did get convicted. The death penalty had been abolished. The judge sent them down for life, with a special note stating they should never be realised.

Nobody, of course, reads special notices. They are due for parole. They have girlfriends that visit. But this is not a story about them.

Alison Botha is a living miracle. Death visited her. She has wrestled with evil. Yet, neither of these factors defines her. Alison Botha offers a vision of radical hope for the future. Sometimes life is larger than life.

Doug Johnstone (2013) Gone Again.

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I recently read Doug Johnstone’s The Jump. I enjoyed it, so had a look at his back catalogue. In many ways we all write the same story again and again. I liked the Godfather of Scottish noir, William McIlvanney’s Laidlaw series, more for the characters and the Glasgow landscape than his ramshackle plots in which Laidlaw didn’t so much solve the case but tilt the world off its axis, which made him slightly less miserable. That’s Glesgca fer you.

Doug Johnstone does Edinburgh (I write about Clydebank).  Johnstone keeps things simple. Man, woman and child. One of them is in jeopardy.  Two word—explanatory—title, in The Jump it was the man and woman, because the child had already jumped. It was a tale of redemption set around the waters of the Firth of Forth and Queensferry Bridge.

Here we have Mark, who is married to Lauren and they have a son, Nathan. Mark works as a photographer, freelance, gig-economy (that’s the new 1 in 10 of use working in shitty jobs) and he’s trying to get the money shot, a picture of pilot whales, ‘spyhopping’ in the waters of the Firth. That’s a technical term which means poking their noses into other folk’s business. Mark’s on the shoreline of Portobello beach and he’s out of luck, he doesn’t get the shot he wants. When one pilot whale beaches, the others do too. It’s a kind of mass suicide and a suitable backdrop, or second string to the main narrative, which is Lauren has went missing.

Gone Again, implies, none too subtly, it’s happened before. When Lauren had Nathan she disappeared for about ten weeks. Postnatal depression was the diagnosis, but like those pilot whales in shallow water and beaching themselves, it was a way of hanging together some descriptions and some current idea about behaviour we don’t understand.

Lauren in the character in jeopardy here, but her disappearance destroys any semblance of normality. Johnstone is saying it could happen to us. Fling in the usual mix of gangsters, property rackets, incest and cops that are a bit stupid and last to know and you’re talking about one of my books, but since this is Edinburgh it’s Doug Johnstone’s turf. I’ll bow to him. Keep it simple and keep it moving.

You need to love your characters. That’s the real strength of Johnstone’s writing. These are people we know. Mark and Lauren and Nathan.  These are people like us. Read on.

Kerry Hudson (2019) Lowborn

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Perhaps we should start a  book review by stating the obvious about God, everything and nothing. Books are holy to me, a companion to reality as I experience it. Entertainment and ecstasy, from the Greek, meaning a going out of ourselves, while actually staying in with a good book as long as it’s not fake, middle-class wordplay, wankery. Kerry Hudson book is a good book. She is one of us, working class, but I don’t like the title, Lowborn.

‘They fuck you up, your mum and dad. They may not mean to, but they do. They fill you with the faults they had. And add some extra, just for you.’  Philip Larkin in This Be Verse, sums up the Kerry Hudson dilemma of not repeating maternal history. Some birds fling their chicks out of the nest, but only humans bring them back to fling them out again. I was lucky, working class, never really liked my Da. Ironically, now people say that’s exactly who I’m like. In later life, understanding yourself, teaches you to be kind to your former self and those that have gone before you.

This book has that. Like Kerry I recently found a tenner on the pavements. It’s been years since anything like that happened. I didn’t leave it on the pavement for someone more needy to find, as Kerry did. But in the same way I regularly loss money, ten or twenty quid out of my pockets and I hope somebody that really needs it, gets it. There is a deep irony that a working-class woman is a writer of fiction and non-fiction, because the status-quo is based on that lie, the exception to the rule, is the rule. Rich, white men in politics, publishing and the media can point to her and say, there she is, you lot just don’t work hard enough.

Kerry tackles that lie. She has a list of her own. Those in the shitest jobs always work hardest. I’ve found that too. Men don’t care what age you are. And drunk is never too drunk for sex. Raped, bullied, beaten. She’s lived life where those knocked down, often don’t get up.

And like Kerry, something else resonated, both intellectually and emotionally.   The Jeremy Kyle Show offended me at a deep level and I couldn’t stay in the same room in which it was on. Mary, my partner, used to laugh at me, say it was only a stupid show. For me it was emblematic of the propaganda war that us, poor people, lost. I’d read about one of the tick-box tests of whether the subject could consent to being on the show was dependent on what medication they were on. I wrote a couple of stories about it. They were meant to be funny stories offering some deep insight, but didn’t. In terms of doing unto others what you’d do to yourself, the Jeremy Kyle show, like all those shows with the tagline, before or after them ‘Benefits’ was deeply sacrilegious. It wasn’t just a case of those that lacked nothing baiting those that possessed nothing and expected nothing it was a destruction of a damaged person’s psyche. It led to suicide and poor Jeremy, whose accumulated millions, being binned. A Pyrrhic victory of sorts.

Kerry Hudson understands that innately. It was part of her. We can read about experience or we can experience experience. Hers was both, being also from an early age a voracious reader. Libraries were her church.  With that comes compassion for her childhood self and others like her. If we talk about spectrum, The Jeremy Kyle Show and his ilk (they’re searching for the next,  more sociably responsible, Jeremy Kyle, perhaps they’ll hire Prince Harry) are at opposite ends.

I wanted to try and  understand the motivations and hardships involved in such a complex situation [childhood poverty, being pushed from pillar to post, and taken into care].

But then there was that child. And I realised my childhood made itself known to me every single day. In the way I engaged with others, when I slept, when and what I ate. In the thought patterns seemingly designed to undermine me, to make me feel whoever I was interacting with, which made me beg in all sorts of ways for their approval. In the deep loneliness, the way I often said I was a ‘black hole for love’ no matter how much I had been and was loved in my adult life.

The Adverse Childhood Experiences questionnaire asks ten questions to measure childhood trauma and each affirmative answer gives you a point. Research has shown that individuals with an ACE score of 4 or higher is 260% more likely to have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease than somebody with a score of 0. 240% more likely to contract hepatitis, 460% more likely to experience depression and 1220% more likely to attempt suicide. I scored 8.

One of my favourite lines in the book comes early. She’s talking about her granny, who spent her whole life working in fish houses. I spent a few months working in Clipper Seafoods in Aberdeen, roundabout 1980, which has a chapter to itself. I know that boom town. Her granny worked filleting fish. My mum’s sister also worked filleting fish. It was one of those jobs that women could make a decent-enough-living because it paid piece-work. If you were quick with the knives, you made more than the run-of-the-mill.  Hudson’s granny was young and quick and pretty. But she wasn’t a soft touch. You need to be hard. That’s part of what this book is about. Hard on yourself, hard on others. Take nae shite. So when somebody called her granny a cunt, she held her knife to her throat.

‘I’m a good cunt, a clean cunt, and I care a cunt for no cunt, right cunt?’

Speak so I can see and all that jazz. The angel’s choir surrounding God couldn’t have put it better. Kerry Hudson was thirty-eight when she wrote this book. Newly married, she hoped to have a kid. I wish her well and all kinds of well. She’s one of us, speaking out of the wilderness where we’ve been cast down by the money men.  Lowborn? Not in my book.

 

The Unwanted: The Secret Windrush Files, BBC 2, BBC iPlayer, directed by Tim Kirby and David Ross.

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https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m00068sk/the-unwanted-the-secret-windrush-files

Historian David Olusoga investigates the story, behind the story, of the Windrush Scandal. He unearths government papers to show the duplicity and hypocrisy of the British Government in creating ‘a hostile environment’ for those considered undesirable because of skin colour.

Who can forget Oswald Mosley and the British Union of Fascists? Enoch Powell and his ‘river of blood’ speech? Powell had conveniently forgotten he’d been to Jamaica to recruit nurses for the overstretched NHS in the early 1950s. Or the Smethwick election of 1964, which the Conservative candidate won using the message, ‘If you want a nigger for a neighbour, vote Labour’?

A hostile environment wasn’t some ruse thought up by the then Home Secretary, Teresa May. It has a long lineage and includes both the creator of the NHS, Clem Atlee and Winston Churchill. The latter wanted to fight an election using the rubric of Smethwick and elected Prime Minister in early 1950s  worked to ensure public institutions like the Post Office didn’t employ non-nationals (i.e. ‘niggers’).

Ukip and Brexit are rooted in a picture of the British Empire in which everyone knew their place. And stayed where they were.  Empire Windrush, a decommissioned ship, taken from the German navy was returning to England from Kingston and didn’t want to return to London empty, so advertised for passengers. 350 Jamaican and British Commonwealth citizens paid their fare and arrived in Tilbury docks on the 22nd June 1948 to be met by the media. They thought they were coming home to a place where the streets were paved with gold. They didn’t know they weren’t wanted. If they’re black, send them back was unofficial policy.

The government favoured displaced European, such as former Waffen SS, and those that couldn’t speak English but where white, for absorption into the working population. Unofficial surveys, such as those taken in dole offices, a week after the Queen’s coronation in 1953, were snapshots that were meant to show that coloureds were sponging off the British state. Chief Constables in our major cities were asked to provide data showing the extent of the coloured problem and the relationship with criminal behaviour. Here we have the crude eugenics of the early twentieth-century resurfacing after Auschwitz and given a new emulsion coat of paint.

Ironically, the threat of no longer allowing those Jamaicans that held a British passport entry into Britain created a self-fulfilling prophecy. At the end of the 1950s immigration to Britain had slowed to around 15 000 to 20 000 a year. Let’s put that into context, official figures in post-war Britain claimed to need an extra two million additional workers. In 1960 and the threat of their British passports become invalid, around 500 000 people travelled to Britain from the Caribbean and Jamaica.

Many of those features in this programme were the children of those that had travelled in the first wave of immigrants to Britain from Jamaica. It was these people that had been reunited with their parents, went to school here and worked here for thirty, forty or fifty years that were caught in the ‘hostile environment’ which conflated two ideas in a toxic mix: austerity and immigration. A system that sought to blame the former on the latter. A propaganda war in which the poorest are always culpable. A Kafka like system of bureaucracy that sought to fulfil targets and treat people as things and not as individuals. None of those featured in the programme could provide the documentation that said, categorically, they were British Citizens. No government official appeared to explain how it all worked. After all, if it’s politically expedient and they were black, send them back.

Their stories of our shame feature here. Olusoga stands outside Lunar House a place where those deprived citizenship, no longer allowed to work, not allowed to access our NHS when ill, not allowed to claim government benefits. Incarcerated – indefinitely. Think about that for a minute. Lunar House with 500 000 on its closed books. Gulags of anxiety.

But there is another landmark that Olusoga should have visited. Grenfell Tower. The blackened remains in Kensington, one of the richest boroughs in London, tells us everything we need to know about the un-United Kingdom.