Jose Antonio Vargas (2018) Dear America, Notes of an Undocumented Citizen.

I’m not American, nor undocumented. I’m not a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist. I’m a British citizen, born in Scotland who voted for independence in the recent referendum. I’d qualify for an Irish passport on my father’s side and probably my mother’s too. Neither of them was born in Ireland. A product of the great diaspora, when the population of Ireland halved from around 12 million citizens, and then almost halved again. President John F. Kennedy’s grandparents made it to the land of the free: America. He wrote a book about it, A Nation of Immigrants, which did not touch on the bootlegging, gunrunning and sharp business practices his father used to get rich. The moron’s moron, President Trump’s grandfather emigrated from Germany. His mother, I’m sad to admit, was born in the Scottish islands.  

 A generation ago, there was a mass shortage of housing in Britain (sound familiar?) private-let landlords had signs: No Blacks, No Irish, No Dogs. Scotland is a nation of dog lovers. And not many blacks lived here, and that’s not changed much. So it was a straightforward, No Irish, but that needed qualification. The Northern Irish Protestant varieties were warmly welcomed. It was the Catholic variety of Irish nationality that were called unpatriotic and a threat to the Protestant religion. Jose Antonio Vargas reiterates a maxim: We were over here because they were over there.

Terra nullius, Ireland was an empty land, apart from the indigenous tribes. Long periods of invasion across the Irish Sea, from Oliver Cromwell onwards, religious bigotry were combined with acts of genocide, the first country to feel the might of the British Empire before it had an Empire. The six counties of Brexit British Ireland are the last vestiges of colonialism in which Irish Catholics were moved from the land in much the same way they deposed American Indians and sent them to the unliveable rocky outlets. The grievances against King George III inherent in The American Declaration of Independence were much the same as those fighting for Irish independence. A country and its people should be able to define and defend its borders, but Irish insurrections were quickly put down, whereas in America, the common people won. Where people came from mattered less than the cause for which they were fighting. The Statue of Liberty enshrined this notion with the mantra: Give me your poor huddled masses. Varga notes the first documented case of a minor arriving unaccompanied was a little girl fleeing the famine, and arriving on Staten Island.

Vargas’s Dear America is a polemic written for the world’s migrant population.  He tells us the statistics, 258 million in 2018 and counting. He’s one of them. Which is another way of saying he’s one of us.

He tells us on the flyleaf how this came about.

‘My name is Jose Antonio Vargas. I was born in the Philippines. When I was twelve, my mother sent me to the United States to live with her parents. While applying for a driver’s permit, I found out my papers were fake. More than two decades I am still here illegally, with no clear path to American citizenship. To some people, I am the ‘most famous illegal’ in in America. In my mind, I am only one of an estimated 11 million human beings whose uncertain fate is under threat in a country I call my home.’ 

In Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 pilots in the 256th US Army Air Squadron, such as Captain John Yossarian fear their commanding officers are out to get them more than they fear the Germans they are ostensibly fighting. But he had to admit the devilish beauty of Catch-22. He’d be crazy to fly more bombing missions, but if you applied for an exemption not to fly that proved you weren’t crazy enough.   

Jose Antonio Vargas, aged 37, who has lived in America for 25 years as an undocumented immigrant falls into the category of those illegals that should be banished for at least three years if they’ve lived in the country without proper documentation for six months. If they’ve lived successfully in America longer than six months, for a year or more, the banishment lasts ten years. Vargas needs to return to the Philippines and apply for American citizenship in ten years, which will not be granted because he’s already being living here as an illegal, which is illegal. But he notes the American government still expects undocumented workers to pay federal taxes and there’s an official form ITIN which brings in billions of dollars every year. Ranging from $2.2 million in Montana to an estimated $3.1 billion in California.

Kurt Vonnegut, Wompters, Foma and Grandfalloons touches on this generalisation overstretch which applies to poor people in general and immigrants in particular. Rich men control the master narrative of The Little More Theory of Life:  

‘It goes against the American storytelling grain to have someone in a situation he can’t get out of, but I think this is very usual in life. And it strikes me as gruesome and comical that in our culture that we have an expectation that a man can always solve his problems. There is an implication that if you just have a little more energy, a little more fight, the problem can always be solved.’

Conservative Home Secretary, Priti Patel, whose parents Sushi and Anjana arrived from Uganda in the 1960s, admits that under the current system they wouldn’t be allowed into Britain, which is fair enough, but illegal immigrants shouldn’t be allowed into Britain because they haven’t went through the proper channels, but there is no other way of getting into Britain other than being, for example, a multimillionaire oligarch. The Windrush Scandal also showed the tip of the immigrant iceberg and what in America is called ‘expedited removal’. Deporting immigrants before they can come before a judge that will hear their case. Priti Patel’s attack on the judiciary has been well documented.

I was surprised that President Obama (‘Deporter in Chief’) outgunned Bush and all other American Presidents, or that Hilary Clinton—scion of children’s charities—didn’t include children of immigrants in her beneficence. She wanted to send them back so as not to create a legal precedent or, in other words, to create waves. This reminded me of the scandal sheets, both joking and serious, about Priti Patel’s apparent idea to employ wave machines to keep out immigrants like her parents. But they didn’t arrive in boats. They arrived by plane. Vargas notes that most illegal immigrants arrive in America the same way. Despite the hype and ‘build the wall’ right-wing propaganda, they continue to do so. And like him, they’re not Mexican, but Asian.  

To protect us from who? asks Vargas. He exposes the hypocrisy that the most rabid and right-wing Republican states rely more on immigrants to pick their crops and take care of their children and old folk and process their food than others that require more skilled workers. At the bottom of any food chain, real or metaphorical, the immigrant can be found—as we’ve also found with our NHS, with the alleged Boris’s Brexit bonus of £350 million a week going back to pay for services was just another piece of propaganda swallowed by the tabloids and sold for mass consumption.   

While at the top of the food chain, the winners, not surprisingly, are the already wealthy. The cost Vargas suggests is ‘astronomically absurd,’ and getting more so. He quotes from a 2014 article published in Politico (remember this is prior the moron’s moron, Trump)

‘the US government spends more money each year on border and immigration enforcement than the combined budget of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Secret Service and US Marshals…more than $100 billion since 9/11 going to private, for-profit companies.’

Dear America, I know you well, from films and televison. From Casey Jones to Champion the Wonder Horse. From Mork and Mindy to the Fonz, in Happy Days. From Shirley Temple to  Laura Ingalls to Farah Fawcett and Charlie’s Angels the only part of you that wasn’t white was the Wonder Horse. Dear America, you won World Wars. You were the richest nation on earth, but China has galloped alongside and is overtaking you. Your reaction to Make America Great Again is an old trick from the old country. Blame the other. Blame the immigrant. Blame the poor for being poor. Jose Antonio Vargas still lives in America. He didn’t keep his head down. He called you out and got away with it—for now.  

My Name is Why (2019) Lemn Sissay

Lemn Sissay writes his memoir from a position of power. On the back cover, he lists some of his awards: BAFTA nominated, honorary doctorates, an MBE for services to literature, Chancellor of the University of Manchester. The last line is the killer. ‘He is British and Ethiopian.’

In other words, he’s a black man. He was the illegitimate son of twenty-one-year-old Yemarshet Sissy, a student at a Baptist Bible College in England, and he was born in Wigan. He was taken into care when he was seven weeks old, and placed with foster parents, Mr and Mrs Greenwood. His mother had to return to Ethiopia to care for her dying father. Her attempts to contact Social Services and bring her son home were rebuffed.

Classified as one of ‘the shit countries’, by the moron’s moron and former US President Donald Trump The Conservative Government’s current attempts to redraft what it means to be a British citizen, a stepwise projection in creating a hostile environment, with, ironically, Asian heritage, Priti Patel as cheerleader, which resulted in the Windrush Scandal. In another, less successful life, Lemn Sissay would have deported to Ethiopia as an illegal immigrant. His mother, if she was still alive, would fifty-two years after his birth, finally have had her wish, her son being sent home to the Amhara people. Lemn in the Amharic dialect, the author tells the reader, means ‘Why?’

There’s lots of whys that need answered in this short book. A hero’s journey doesn’t usually begin when they are seven-months old. Mrs Greenwood sung to him, ‘you are my sunshine, my only sunshine’. And it was to this paradise he always wanted to return.  

The Greenwoods were childless and Baptist Christians. They were doing the right thing.  Lemn was given a new identity, Norman and he was their sunshine. But then they had three other children. Christopher born when Lemn was one-year old.  Lemn was no longer their sunshine, his radiance was short-lived.

Child cruelty, or abuse, takes many forms. January 1980. Lemn was around twelve-and-a-half, and his foster parents—the only patients he knew—contacted Wigan Social Services and demanded he be removed from their home. Their cruelties compounded by making Lemn say he didn’t love them, and he wanted to leave.  He’d entered the system.

 ‘At fourteen I tattooed the initials of what I thought was my name into my hand. The tattoo is still there but it wasn’t my name. It’s a reminder that I’ve been somewhere I should never have been. I was not who I thought I was.

The Authority knew it but I didn’t. The Authority had been writing reports about me from the day I was born. My first footsteps were followed by the click clack clack of a typewriter: ‘The boy is walking.’ My first words were recorded, click clack clack: ‘The boy has learned to talk.’ Fingers were poised above a typewriter waiting for whatever happened next: ‘The boy is adapting.’ ’

His memoir is leavened by extracts from Wigan Social Service Reports. Grim reading. But try living it. Woodfield Children’s Home. Gregory Avenue. And the daddy of them all, Wood End. Wood End was notorious among  those in the know, children in care. It was the end of the road, where the bad boys went. It was where Lemn was sent at fifteen when his placement at Gregory Avenue had broken down. Like others he’d committed no criminal offence to morally or legally justify his incarceration. A Dickensian prison run by sadists and child abusers. Many of the residents would graduate to the larger prison system and a life thwarted by drugs and drink.

Miracles do happen. Lemn Sissay escaped from a total institution and flourished. An exception to the rule does not create the rule. Local Authority Care in Crisis, now where have I read that before?

Why is Covid Killing People of Colour? Presented by David Harewood, Director Jason Bernard.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m000sv1d/why-is-covid-killing-people-of-colour

David Harewood an actor (whose work I’m unfamiliar with) recently presented a BBC 1 documentary about mental health. His story about being black and being sectioned when he was aged 23, Psychosis and Me, asked questions of society. He found black men like him were more likely to be seen as a threat and sectioned and given higher doses of anti-psychotic medication. Here he has a larger stage to show that Black Lives Matter, when, of course, for the Tory government and society at large they clearly don’t.  

Kenan Malik, for example, quotes from a paper recently published by the Policy Institute at King’s College, London, Unequal Britain, and public attitudes to inequality. In it they find around 13% stated ‘most black people don’t have the motivation or willpower to pull themselves up out of poverty.’ This fits in with a larger class narrative of other people, black people, being responsible for spikes in Covid-19. A failure of morality framed around individual shortcomings, which was favoured by nearly half of those in the study. A Victorian response to the feckless poor was a call for them to learn life-lessons from Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management in the twenty-first century. Of blaming the poor for being poor. Of blaming Covid victims of bringing it all on themselves.

The report suggests conclusion ‘there is no appetite for change’ is mirrored by an exchange between Harewood and black MP (her skin colour is important) Kemi Badenoch, the government’s minister for equalities. He wants to know why she has dismissed the idea racism might have played a role in putting black and minority ethnic communities at risk from Covid-19.

‘Come on David, you and I both know that things are getting better’, she said.

The Tory government response to reports of structural racism endemic to society is to wheel out MPs like Badenoch, and Priti Patel, or even the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak as exemplars of meritocracy. The no colour bar. The no class bar. That all we need to do as individuals is try harder and pull themselves up by their bootstraps. There’s no structural problems. No institutionalised racism.  Grenfell Tower, of course, stands as an indictment against such government propaganda that seeks to name and shame and neuter power, take it out of politics, and shut down debate about inequality and racism.  

Harewood visits Tamira, whose father was one of the first members of NHS staff to die from Covid-19. She tells us how not enough was done to protect him at work. He lacked protective equipment, but felt unable to complain. Senior-management posts are, of course, predominantly white for historical, racist reasons. And 95% of those medical doctors killed by the Covid-19 are not white.  Those facing the viral onslaught are people of colour.

Harewood’s experience as a young man is mirrored by researcher Dr Jenny Douglas investigating people of colours experience of the NHS during and after childbirth. Her research found black women are five times more likely to die during pregnancy and childbirth than their white cohort. Women she interviewed felt their concerns were not heard by health professionals. And black women were given less medication during childbirth on the assumption black women were somehow able to bare more pain than white women.

American professor Arline Geronimus suggests living with racism has a physiological impact on the body. Constant stress and the expectation that people of colour will be attacked verbally or physically produce cortisone which dampens the immune response. Black patients age faster and suffer from poor health much earlier – a process she calls ‘weathering‘.  Black patients’ chronological age does not match their physiological age. Their kidneys and hearts, for example, look as if they belong to a much older patient. And, of course, they die younger.

Harewood meets Andrew Grieve, an air quality expert from Kings College London, who states air pollution can harm every organ in your body, including the placenta. He shows a map of how this is related to income in London. The greater your exposure to air pollution the lower your income.

Rosamund Adoo-Kissi-Debrah, for example, lost her nine-year-old daughter Ella in 2013 to a fatal asthma attack. Ella’s most severe attacks coincided with local spikes in (mainly traffic) pollution. Simply, poor black people live beside busy roads. And in America hot spots which showed where temperatures were highest mapped out where black people lived. Places so hot it was difficult to get a breath.

 Rosamund Adoo-Kissi-Debrah campaigned to get air pollution listed as a cause of her daughter’s death. In a landmark ruling in December 2020, the coroner found in her favour, the first time ever that air quality has been acknowledged as a cause of death in the UK. Local authorities now have a duty of care to do something. But I wouldn’t hold my breath.

Dr Marina Soltan, a respiratory doctor, whose research shows that patients with chronic conditions such as hypertension or kidney disease are nearly twice as likely to die from Covid-19, and that many patients with these conditions come from deprived areas.

Dr Guddi Singh, a paediatric doctor and health expert, who reveals that what happened in Brent is mirrored across the country, where nearly 65 per cent of the local population are black, Asian or from other minority ethnic groups, but the borough had in March 2019 the highest Covid-19 mortality rate in the country. Harewood as a black man is nearly three times more likely to die from Covid-19 that those classified as white. Dr Singh explains that a significant risk factor is the job key workers do. They risk their lives, exposing themselves to the virus to keep the country running. People may clap them, but they’ll not promote them, or offer a pay rise.   

The documentary used empirical data to establish what we already know, IPPR and the Runnymede Trust recently estimated almost 60,000 more deaths involving coronavirus could have occurred in England and Wales if white people faced the same risk as black communities.

It found 35,000 more white people could have died if the risk was the same as for the south Asian population.

Investigating claims that there’s something lacking in people of colour that make them more susceptible than white cohorts to the Covid-19 virus. It’s not us, it’s them argument with racist undertones, that regularly crop up in relation to intelligence. The tendency of 70% of Afro-Americans, for example, to be Vitamin D deficient, which is mirrored in the United Kingdom.

This argument was countered in two ways. Going through the charade of Harewood being tested, which showed he was a bit Vitamin D deficient. And Harewood being told that levels of Covid in Africa tend to be less than in whiter Western nations.

Harewood had an obligation to speak out, and he did so, but given the tools to challenge a government minister’s waffling- quite simply- he folded. The working-class cringe is still alive and people of colour should wince when watching.  

Will you take the Covid-19 vaccine(s)?

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/dec/06/the-vaccine-miracle-how-scientists-waged-the-battle-against-covid-19

Around 20% of us are unlikely to take the Covid-19 vaccine (there are more than one type of vaccine, but it is highly unlikely you’ll get a choice—unless you’re rich—which propriety brand you will get inoculated with). These are a vocal minority, let’s call them I’d-rather- smear-my-face-with-shit group. Our French compatriots numbers are higher.

Around  15% are unsure.  We’ll wait and see group numbers could swell if there are reports of side-effects. Mavericks are sure to spring up such as Andrew Wakefield who claimed there was a link between the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine and childhood autism. He was struck off by the General Medical Council and his claims disproved, but he remains unrepentant.

My medical experience comes from playing the side of Dr Finlay’s head as an extra in Dr Finlay’s Casebook. So you could say, I’m a medical man, and I’d treat Wakefield’s claim with the contempt reserved for the moron, moron’s claim that injecting yourself with disinfectant was a cure for Covid-19.

But we all like the narrative of the underdog, the whistle-blower willing to take on the establishment and tell the truth. A.J. Cronin who wrote Dr Finlay, as a Scottish doctor, wrote what he knew. Dr Andrew Mason’s character, the narrator of The Citadel, for example, was portrayed as having working-class origins in the hungry nineteen-thirties. He is about to be struck off by the General Medical Council. But instead of apologising, he rises up and castigates them.

‘commercialism? the usual guinea-chasing treatments, the unnecessary operations, the crowds of worthless pseudo-scientific propriety preparations we use…The whole profession is far too intolerant and smug…For years we’ve been bleating about the sweated conditions under which our nurses work, the wretched pittances we pay them.

Louis Pasteur, the greatest figure of all scientific medicine, was not a doctor.  

The deferential era in which the characters Dr Andrew Mason, or Dr Findlay, or indeed the author A.J.Cronin steps forward, was one when if a medical doctor told his patient to smear his or her face with shit you’d be sure to make a good job of it has passed is also a myth. Our gods are just different gods. Who is yours?

Who can we trust, when ‘I’ the online warrior knows best? (ironic since I’m writing this online).

I’m no different. I’m not the exception to the rule. Keyboard warriors believe there’s a conspiracy to keep them quiet. Like Dr Andrew Mason they’ll have their day, and their say. They’re called trolls for a reason. They won’t be struck off. They won’t be silenced. They’re the rightist of the right.

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/jan/23/conspiracy-theories-internet-survivors-truth

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2020/nov/29/how-to-deal-with-a-conspiracy-theorist-5g-covid-plandemic-qanon

Carl Sagan’s invisible imaginary dragon is always a step too far. Fake authority is easily bought. George Clooney goes at it with brio as a tobacco lobbyist in Up in the Air/Thank You for Smoking.

‘You can’t prove anything/ You can prove everything, given enough data’. Thought provoking killer cliché.

In Martin Ford’s apocalyptic vision in The Rise of the Robot, Technology and the Threat of Mass Unemployment, what we’re left with is our planet (and the planets closest to earth) cannibalised as the cuckoo in our nest, the next generation of robots work to eliminate uncertainty.

We don’t know if the current Covid-19 vaccine will limit the spread of disease. What we have is best guess. Those inoculated with the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, according to studies have lower viral loads than those given a placebo. This suggests they are less likely to spread the Covid-19 virus.

We wear face masks not to protect ourselves, but others, getting inoculated helps to prevent the spread of disease. In the same way, I wouldn’t cross the road while holding a three-year-old girl’s hand (Tilly) while standing at the traffic lights until I hear the beeps, because it also sets her a good example. I might get hit by a truck but I’m doing what I’m supposed to do. I’m following a code that can protect both of us. That doesn’t mean I won’t also be looking right or left and stop listening for traffic.

Philip Knightley (1997) provides a case study of all the familiar ingredients of how pharmaceutical companies evade responsibility. The Thalidomide Scandal, Where We Went Wrong. Blaming the victims. Court injunctions slowing down disclosure, while accepting no responsibility and extraneous factors as causative.  Creating a Kafkaesque bureaucratic maze to rival that of Grenfell victims—before and after. Class played a large part. The richer and more vocal middle-class victims were more likely to obtain compensation. Negligence and ruthlessness of establishment forces to finalise a settlement. In many ways it mirrors the hostile environment our Home Office and Priti Patel helped create for immigrants seeking British citizenship.    

Politics is about power. It doesn’t surprise me that Boris Johnstone’s cronies are handed tens of millions of taxpayers money for providing (fill in your own example here, such as Personal Protective Equipment) while not giving any of us a real choice. Drug companies cash in on their monopolies to hike up prices. That doesn’t surprise me either. That doesn’t mean the product they’re selling doesn’t work. American steel monopolies created quality steel. The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is new technology. Cutting edge.

Robert A. Caro says in his introduction to Working: ‘Political power shapes all of our lives. It shapes your life in little ways you might not even think about.’

The I’d-rather-smear-my-face-with-shit group, don’t want you to think. Don’t want you to read. They have their own agenda and want simple answers to complex questions.  If an airplane made of millions of complex parts becomes grounded for mechanical reasons that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t fly. Our bodies are made of billions of cells.  Pharmaceutical companies and epidemiologists are the ground crew telling us they can fix it and it’s safe to fly. Sure we’ve had setbacks and crashes. But it’s not all about you, you, you, or I, I, I. We need to look at the larger community. What’s the point of clapping NHS workers while ignoring their advice? When you, your daughter or son gets sick and can’t breathe, don’t phone an ambulance. Tell them it’s just a giant hoax. The one and half million dead are faking it in the same ways six million Jews didn’t perish in death camps. The true figure is only known by us right-wingers. A vaccine is for losers. You know best. Hey, I’m going to fly.  I want to get as far away from those right-wing loonies as I can.

Yes, I’ll take the vaccine.

Small Axe: Mangrove, BBC 1, BBC iPlayer, written Alastair Siddons and Steve McQueen, directed by Steve McQueen.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/p08vy19b/small-axe-series-1-mangrove

In my day Steve McQueen was the go-to guy if you wanted ride a motorcycle over barbed wire to escape the Germans, or rescue screaming women and children from a building skyscraper. We’re still waiting for the enquiry into Grenfell Tower, but we all know the score. Nothing much will be done, while the issues of class and race hatred will be quietly shunted into a side-line of something been seen to be done offscreen.

The black Steve McQueen is the new king of cool. He can do pretty much anything, (apart from ride a motorbike over barbed wire) and won pretty much everything, including an Oscar for best film, 12 Years a Slave. He’s part of the establishment and being given an OBE.  He edited The Guardian’s The New Review to publicise his film anthology about historical injustices involving racial discrimination. BBC gave him a prime Sunday night slot for his drama.

Steve McQueen claims, ‘With Small Axe I want to reshape history’.

That sort of stuff doesn’t make me think of invading Poland, but of a joke in which Jesus answers a parable with a parable in which adulterous woman are going to be stoned.

‘If anyone is without sin, let them fling the first stone.’

And the Virgin Mary lobs a big rock.

Steve McQueen can’t walk on water.  In the first episode of his series, Mangrove, depicts a true story about what happened in Notting Hill in early 1970s. His aim is to get under your skin.

Mangrove is the name of a West Indian restaurant opened by Frank Chrislow (Shaun Parkes)  and closed, nine times in three weeks by the Metropolitan Police. Chrislow was following the dictates of the Enlightenment written in black and white in Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations which extolled the righteousness of free enterprise, free from political intervention, government interference or legal restraint, ‘ruled by divine law for the ultimate being of all’.

Enoch Powell’s River of Blood Speech 20th April 1968 in Birmingham. ‘If they’re black-send them back.’ Remember that? Pre-Brexit, the threat of the black invasion. They were over here threatening our British way of life. ‘No blacks, No Irish, No dogs.’ It’s just as well we’ve moved on since them and we have Priti Patel as Home Secretary enforcing a policy of deporting refugees, equally, regardless of skin colour. Anyone sleeping rough can be deported back to their country, even if they’ve not got a country. It’s just best guess.

A cameo in Mangrove shows how that works. The rookie cop at Notting Hill station is playing at cards. He picks out the Ace of Spades. The other cops josh him, ‘you know what that means?’

He’s told that he needs to nick the first black man he spots.

‘What if he hadn’t committed an offence?’ the rookie cop asks.

In case you don’t get the Ace of Spades reference, we see the cops chasing a black guy and arresting him.

Frank Crichlow has committed even more of an offence. He’s opened a restaurant that sells spicy food such as goat curry. Worse than that it’s full of British people of West Indian descent that play cards and listen to music. In cop parlance that’s dealing drugs and running a prostitution ring.

Fling into the toxic mix Altheia Jones-LeCointe  (Letitia Wright) mouthy student, and leader of the British version of the Black Panthers. Add in Darcus Howe (Malachi Kirby) whose study into black oppression suddenly includes his lover Barbara Beese (Rochenda Sandall) and their child threatened with being taken into care.

Show don’t tell is one of the rules of screenwriting (and writing in general). We can’t taste spicy food or curry, but we can listen to the music. We can see how the community lived. The before and the aftermath of police brutality and cover-ups.  The laws that are suddenly dragged out of retirement home for white people to confront a lippy West Indian community. New laws made on the spot for troublemakers.

We see the ‘riot’. We follow the arrests. There’s even time to nip off and get a screenshot of Chrichlow’s white girlfriend in the mirror telling him to come back to bed. That’s a double-dunt, in case you missed it, he’s not racist—they are. The establishment is.

Nine black men and women, including Chrichlow, are tried at the High Court, the Old Bailey. Incitement to riot and affray. They face serious prison time. Judge Edward Clarke (Alex Jennings) is described the Defence Advocate as your typical bully boy. In a different age he might well have become Prime Minister. Here he’s presiding over a case where no one will admit they’re guilty. Cops are always right, even when they’re wrong. And it’s not the Mangrove Nine who are on trial but the British establishment.

Viewers know how it ends, but we watch anyway as all wrongs are righted, or something like that. Rishi Sunak occupies 11 Downing Street, he’s looking to upgrade and evict the buffoon next door, all the better to deport even more refugees, wanting something for nothing. Even Steve McQueen OBE would find it difficult to write that script. It’s got to be Grenfell, that would be my cry. Grenfell puts these stories into the shade.