Driving Rio Grande

A lime green and yellow church sits by a sprinkle of houses, all pastel coloured and tinted with dust and sun. Silence of the dunes is broken, great stretches of pasture appear.

A true gaucho – hat, belt, knife in belt, even a checkered shirt – rides along, 4 dogs following in a straight line behind him. They are all different breeds. They follow in order of size.

 

A tartaruga crosses the rode to the other lake, her green storied shell glowing luminous in the bright sun.

 

A boy runs around his lawns, dodging ceramic swans, riding a stick and whipping his rope in a gallop,

A young girl walks out of a stone off-white house, with a yellow metallic roof. A large velvety white flower pats her in the face with a soft slump, bouncing back on its long neck to laugh with its siblings. The small blonde girl steps back, disappearing slightly into the doorway, before returning with a strong punch to the offending blossom. Flying back it dodges while another leaps forward. Batted back and forth the girl fought valiantly against this tamed untamed pot plant, before relenting and running back inside, as we move along our way.

 

We are driving on the 101 from Rio Grande; where our car was popped on a boat to be towed across to São José do Norte. The fields stretch and the houses are eaten by the landscape. We are now creeping along a spit of Rio Grande do Sul, between the sea and dunes on one side, and more dunes, and the massive Lagoa dos Patos, on the other. Horses pick gently, grazing, sharing vast expanse with lumbering, kind eyed vacas. Cowww and vaa-ca. Was it something about their soft noses and huge eyes that made both languages name them onomatopoeically? In Portuguese, onomatopoeia is onomatopéia. It’s a small world after all.

 

The sunset stains the clouds deep reds and mystic purples, while the horizon glows orange. The low lights reflect on flat mirror ponds, sunk into soil, tracing the vermillion and violet linings of clouds. Why do we wish for silver when gold shines so much brighter?

A large, soft, nose, covered in short, brown, hair, nudges through the water, sending the sketches shivering. Slick, its furred brown back rises out of the water, as the capybara wades through the marshland. After the first, whole clans appear, with small children following like baby bears with moomin shaped heads. While they walk slowly, and we crawl along so as not to miss them, the sun falls fast without our attention. The horizon shrunk to a line of embers, as we slipped into dusk.

 

After we passed the boarder last night, a run to Rio Grande, to sleep, we slowed to a crawl on the 471, between Levante and Santos. A long road of dunes, between Mangueira Lagoon and Lago Merin. On the other side of Mangueira Lagoon is the sea. One side the dunes are unspoilt, gleaming almost white in the sun, while the other has scrubs, and even pines, exploding out of the dune. We come so close to large wind farms that I finally see their size, really, they even have little doors. Under the stretched blue sky, the undulating dunes, inhabited by spiky and rounded plants, look like the surface of some other planet. Here the road is uninhabited for a fast-forward of half an hour, maybe 40km of country – my pokey English distances don’t fit with this terrain.

 

Bright light nut wood sticks up in straightened posture, the walls of a house, its window looking over grazing land for a distance I can’t guess. A ladder leans on the structures side. It will have a roof before it’s done, but for now I imagine sitting in there, looking up at the great blue sky.

 

A house alone. The larger the surrounding space, between the house and any other buildings, the smaller it looks; the stronger it looks. Standing in contrast to the vastness around it, the smaller, the brighter, the more unassuming the house the greater its’ implicit strength. As, after all, it is standing, strong, without need for allies, gates, roads or tenements as company. Houses standing strong hold human outposts in the expanse of Sertão space.

.

 

A country so beautiful to make hearts stop and blood spill, still so much space to be in, visibly. So much of it inhabited by cows, however, who knows how much is free in any sense – how much is as it once was? It’s unfair to ask this of Brazil over anywhere else – in the U.K we have converted a larger percentage of our country’s freeborn nature to pastures, towns, and the like. But Brazil holds more, more beauty, more diverse flora and fauna, more land left to take, or to protect; more people continuing ways of life only possible when so close to the land they live on. It is unfair to ask more of Brazil when so many of the countries asking have long ago destroyed most of their natural beauty, and killed almost all (or all) of their indigenous people (Hello, America), but it’s the cruelty always enacted on a beauty and mystery that rises above the rest – everyone wants to claim it, maybe to remove its habitants, to make it ‘usable’ by agricultural standards, maybe just to fence it off to keep it ‘safe’. Kátia Abreu, minister for agriculture calls indigenous people ‘lazy’, and tells the world that they have no right to their land. Because they don’t work it, don’t use it up and turn it into something other. It’s hard to watch the land with this in mind, and think of it disappearing, wiped over – as the mining sludge is still wiping away massive swaths of land in Mina Gerais, maybe the biggest environmental disaster in history.

That is happening countries, by European standards, away from Rio Grande Do Sul. Though there still lies in the land the beauty that people have killed for. We keep driving, what else can you do, everyone wants to see the land, there is nothing like it. I want to walk across each plain and mountain, jump in the sea, and the waves beat in my chest. But we are driving, and yes, that hypocracy is clear to me. Because everyone wants a part of Brazil; of Sao Paulo, of Rio, of the Amazon, of Pantanal, of Rio Grande do Sul, of Florianopolis, of Para, all should be named but there are really too many, and states are still not specific enough. Like too many who have come to see, since the dawn of ‘exploration’, I also want my piece of Brazil, and I don’t want anyone else to touch it…

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His Sanctity, Her Marriage

The wife looked over at her husband appreciatively, tinged slightly with disgust. They had known each other, in a way, long before their marriage. They revolved around the same circle. Everyone the wife knew revolved around this circle[1]. It was a small, but international and quickly revolving circle. She could feel at home and call up friends, if in the right season, in New York, Paris, Somerset, Val d’isere, many places aside from the Kensington house in which she was currently sitting. Though, for the most part, as she had been beginning to sense, the group was really rather small.

They’d ‘known’ each other since youth, but they had never found themselves alone together. Until a summer 3 years ago – they had been married for two – in Monaco. He had sparkled all night, making everyone laugh, looking impeccable. He always looked impeccable. Right now he looked artfully apathetic – this was his usual look – handsome, well structured cheekbones and seriously joking duck egg eyes. Sitting across the room from her, regarding his book with what looked like sly amusement. Tapered grey cord’s crossed one over the other; one fine dark leather Berluti boot hung supinely off an orange sock, in mid-air. Yes, he did dress well, and he had done then. Not that ‘then’ had been particularly long ago.

Everyone she knew loved him. Or said they did. She found it hard to tell, but everyone did seem to flock to him, and always appeared to be laughing around him. When he’d directed attention towards her, it was flattering, it made her feel like the centre of attention. She had two older sisters, and a younger brother, and had been at boarding school since 10. Always sensible, liked, but never loud or brash, she had never really been the center of attention.

Now he sat across the room. 10 years her senior. Smoking disspationately and turning the pages of a Churchill biography her father had brought him for Christmas. His eyes would occasionally lift from the page, as his fingers turned them slowly. Before they had married, the young wife would have looked away when she saw his eyes begin to rise from an activity, while she was watching him, for fear of him catching her glances. He hadn’t looked far enough up to meet her eyes yet. He would look at his cigarette – Malborough Blacks, from Israel – admire it, put it to his lips, and return his gaze to his book. He was very much like her father. (Her father very much approved of this.)

His lips were full, for a man, and for a smoker. They had been one of her initial attractions to him, along with his confidence. Now they unnerved her, in their fullness. They were too sensual. They pouted without effort. Not quite masculine. They lingered too long at the cigarettes base. As they sat, in their library on the 3rd floor of their Kensington town house (well, his parents), the blue grey smoke spread across the room. It followed the slice of light from the room’s one window[2], lingering near it, in a roundabout way. The young wife had been pretending to read, but she knew he wouldn’t catch her looking, and had given up this pretence half an hour ago. He hadn’t noticed.

Didn’t people say that one can sense if someone is staring at them? Her Daddy had told her once that, in the army, and covert ops and such, one was trained not to watch a stealth target during ones approach. It was believed, supersticiously, her Daddy had said, that the target may feel it. The army generally didn’t seem to be very susperticious in other ways, particularly the many officers she’d met who were friends with her father, so she had felt it must have some basis. Her experiments on her husband, on long week nights such as this when they found themselves only with each other’s company, showed contradictory results. If he could sense her, her didn’t care to ask the reason for her attention. He’s used to being stared at, maybe he’s immune. He breathed the smoke out laboriously slowly. Obscenely slowly. Fat, pink, lips relaxd into a loose ‘o’. Held that way for what must be minutes.

A couple of the wife’s friends had dated her husband in the past. Brief things, from school most of them. Her closer friends Matilda and Clarisse had dated him. All of them said he was ‘a perfect gentleman’ and ‘such a character’, but very little else.

The book she’d been pretending to read over the last few months is his. She’d found it in the library. It’s a collection of stories by Kate Chopin. The one she had almost finished[3] was called ‘At Fault’. It was bothering her. She knew he would have read it, but didn’t want to hear his interpretation, as she imagined that would either bother her or disturb her. There was this girl in the story, Fanny – ridiculous old fashioned name – who she despised. She was some old soak, a failed half character whose slatterny got under the young wifes skin in the most aggravating manner. Fanny also reminded the wife of her husband. He wasn’t much of a drinker, but she could hear Fanny suckling as she drank as she read in the same way she could feel a cold finger up her spine when she saw her husband suckling on his Malbouroughs.

She had come to an idea over this dragging afternoon. She wasn’t sure when it had formed as since it had started forming she had been trying to get her brain to ‘look the other way’, as it were. They were both traditional in their company, he had his boys, she had her girls[4]. Both of them had attended single sex schools, so this was natural and inevitable. They had separate worlds – kept within the small world of their group, but different nonetheless – and she used to like how such a suave man still had his boyish pursuits. It reminded her of her Daddy.

The wife watches her husbands lips caress the butt of his black again. Near the end, the smoke rises closer to his face. It spreads itself liberally across his passive visage. She recalls walking into her Daddy’s office, a kind of blurry half memory, she was, maybe, 8? He was getting up off of the floor, too far from his chair, and too awkward a position to be have been doing things other than kneeling. Daddy had been helping his friend Gideon adjust a new suit. Gideon didn’t look as flustered as Daddy. He only had to stand there while Daddy helped him. Upon seeing her, Daddy had snapped. She wasn’t even allowed in his office. The bit that had come back to her now, that was new, was that she had looked back. Gideon and Daddy had been lighting each others cigarettes.

Her husbands face looked licentiously passive. He dropped the butt into the ashtray without a look. She prayed he wouldn’t have another. She smoked socially, but it was entirely different. His smoking affectations annoyed her beyond belief. He seemed to love it, made it look exstatic. He got far more from smoking than he did from her. She felt herself blushing for him, all over. She wanted to punch the obscenity off his face. The young wife considered dropping her drink. Would he look?

The ‘o’, the long inhale, the tired exhale stretched like a sigh. Smoke all over him, clinging all over him. Disgusting. Salacious. Repugnant. Who is this man I live with? This wasn’t the first time she’d thought this. But Daddy loved him. Why?

‘I want a divorce’

It sounded like it hadn’t come from her body. It was her voice though, just thin and stretched.

He looked up. Incrementally he looked her up, and down, and she felt the rage rage rage fizzling in every pore. LOOK. She screamed inwardly. LOOK at your wife. It lasted minutes, the silence filled with internal screams. He took another drag. He walked over, and blew it in her face.

The young wife’s mouth fell into an ‘o’.

‘O.k darling, have it your way.’

He put his cigarette out in her drink.

‘I’m surprised that didn’t catch fire’

He walked to the door.

There he turned, and looked straight into her eyes. His eyes were beautiful, she involuntarily considered. Rage still tingled, now mixed with nerves.

‘Oh and darling? Clarisse and I have been fucking for a while now. I thought you should know’

The hard wood dense clunk of the door rang in her ears as she sat. He was not like Daddy then.

[1] except for that boy she’d met at the Barns Folk Festival when she was 20. He’d been a plumber. They’d seen each other a few times over a year. It fizzled out, though, as these things do.

[2] She hated this room.

[3] The only on she had read.

[4] As with her mothers, and grandmothers, friends, they would remain ‘girls’ until death when in one anothers company.

IT’S AN EMERGENCY! (So abandon your rights)

There’s a hole at the heart of government that is sucking in all who tread near it. Wigs, watches and dining club cards are swirling into the vortex at an alarming rate. The only thing that can block this hole, and help rescue the country from the EMERGENCY of this situation, is information. Your information, apparently. Such information is currently already accessable to government, through both pure and nefarious means, but that isn’t what the hole wants. We must sacrifice our information willingly, a bill must be created, so that all the things that are already happening can be validated. I mean, to prevent the EMERGENCY, of course.

Do you remember the Draft Communications Data Bill (nicknamed the Snoopers’ Charter) proposed by Theresa May a few years ago? The one that asked for Internet service providers (ISP’s) and mobile phone companies to maintain records (but not the content) of each user’s internet browsing activity, and store the records for 12 months? This information includes social media, email, voice calls, texts and internet gaming. It’s already the norm to store a large amount of excess information for longer than is necessary; Retention of email and telephone contact data for this time is already required. The Bill will allow for this data to be used in legal cases, and though the content isn’t allowed to be stored, this is already the case with many operating systems due to the algorithms they employ, and so content is still likely to be stored as a matter of course. Also, as Bradley Manning said recently, the data doesn’t lie, whereas content – peoples interactions – can lie. Your data alone can tell more about you than reading a couple of e-mails.

This initial bill was shut down in 2013, with Conservative and Lib Dem opposition, including Nick Clegg withdrawing his support in April 2013. As has been a reoccurring problem with our ever edging closer main party political spectrum, support for the bill has flipped sides. As befitting a man brought up around that boys boarding school language of jolly machivellian politics, Cameron expressed his desire to avoid a ‘party political ding dong’ over the bill. A Conservative win in the next election will lead to the success of the bill, while in the event of a Labour win, the bills initial champions, it may be thrown by the wayside to claw back some public opinion. It’s never been exactly popular, for some reason.

The coalition agreement in 2010 committed to ending the storing of email and Internet records “without good reason”. Now the ‘emergency’ aspect of this bill makes sense, as ‘good reason’ must be created somehow. Under the new bill, any organisation that interacts with users and produces or transmits electronic communications is compelled to collect and retain information about them. Already current data retention obligations require ISPs to retain data collected for business purposes for longer than is practical. If you’d like a small example of how closely we’re watched by sites we visit – and the control and awareness of the ISP over this – then on either Firefox or Chrome you can use ‘Collusion’, a plug in which shows sites transmitting and tracking your data in real time. Information is power, and capital.

The Liberal Democrats have previously asked for an independent review of the 2000 Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (Ripa), hoping that this will lead to less wantonly intrusive behaviour during surveillance by state agencies. This includes only allowing phone calls to be intercepted when a serious crime or terrorist act is suspected. It’s hard to legislate these fine lines however, particularly as now travelling to certain countries (Syria and Iraq pop to mind) makes you a terror suspect, as does being a family member of anyone associated with ‘terror’ of any kind.[1]

We’re all now aware that social media data on each individual is stored indefinitely by companies for market research purposes, with Facebook’s infamous hoarding of information standing out in particular. ISP’s like Virgin Media have also shown an ability and desire to control their users online activities, blocking certain sites. It’s too late in the process for there to really be any question over whether this information is kept or not. It already is being, and will continue to be. Hence Cameron and Clegg’s claim that this legislation will rather ‘preserve the status quo’ than enforcing further snooping. That does compel one to ask why is this ‘emergency legislation’ necessary at all, if it is simply to preserve powers which the government and corporations already have. What may be more desirous to obtain is the power to claim legality when this information is used. All major party’s have shown a desire for this bill, so it’s currently inevitable that exponentially more of our data will be stored as time passes. It’s no longer a question of personal ownership – it’s already assumed that our information is given away when we use particular connective devices like a phone or the internet – it’s more a question of who has the power to use it. Corporations or government – can we trust either with our private conversations, pictures, details, browsing history? Should any institution have access to that personal data, and the power that comes with it? I don’t believe they should, but even If you encrypt your data, set up an elaborate web of proxies and never Google anything, these measures will continue gather in momentum without a strong public backlash.

[1] Only certain groups of people are targeted though, otherwise the Mail would have been done for ‘incitement of racial hatred’ several times over.

Pope to World: The Systems Fucked

“Some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naive trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralised workings of the prevailing economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting.”

I’m not religious, and have always generally assumed Pope’s and the Catholic Church to thrive off the economic inequality that created the beauty of the Vatican, but Pope Francis spoke the words above. If the Occupy movement and famous people, like Russell Brand and Matt Damon, preaching change and revolution aren’t enough for you, now the most famous man on the planet is behind them (if only on an economic level). Famous people are perhaps not better placed to examine economic disparity, but they sure are better at telling people about it. Unfortunately, it can be vague and confusing, and could lead some people decided that abstaining from voting (and therefore becoming even more voiceless) is more effective than spoiling your ballad (which also happens to be a good days entertainment). So before we get all anarchist like our Pope provocateur, lets look at some facts.

Who Benefits?

With the recession and all that jazz, we’ve been told, not just by the tabloids but also by actual politicians like David Cameron, that it’s those pesky ‘shirkers’ living on the bottom line who are using all of this wonderful tax to sit on their arses smoking weed and playing video games. This is a helpful angle for the Conservatives (/Coalition apparently) government, as they can blame unemployment and ‘increased’ welfare spending on the Labour government that preceded them. The fact that Labour also tightened the reigns on disability and unemployment benefits by implementing the Employment and Support Allowance (stricter than the previous Incapacity Benefit, and based on the oft derided Work Capacity Assessment) is unlikely to prevent the righteous indignation being incited against them for enabling ‘shirkers’ once the propaganda train is in motion. It’s ideal for whichever party’s in power, as they can blame the opposing party, and it shifts attention from bigger holes in our economic bucket.

It transpires then that all three of the major parties have something to gain from appearing to minimize the numbers of people on benefits. It’s so nice for them to agree, what moral crusaders they must be!

They even amended the WCA in 2011 with the intention of finding 350,000 more people fit for work, and introduced the Welfare Reform Bill, which puts a one-year time limit on ESA for some claimants, a move intended to shift a further 300,000 off ESA. Straight into the arms of gainful employment, right?

Job vacancies in the first quarter of 2011 were below 500,000, while 2.5 million ‘able’ people were unemployed, so where the newly ‘fit’ will work now is questionable. Half of the previous claimants will skip straight over to Job Seekers Allowance – so they will still be claiming, but these benefits will be less and poorly suited to their needs. Those who fail to meet the new criteria for ESA will in many cases be subject to new reforms putting the onus on the disabled or unemployed, such as the bedroom tax. Many people with dialysis machines and other cumbersome medical equipment to store at home will not just have lost their benefits (and the switch over can leave someone with no benefits at all for up to 2 months), but will also be paying extra tax (something which takes surprisingly less time for the powers that be to put in place).

Now this is all necessary, right? We’re hemorrhaging money, and all the stern faced people in suits have assured us this is the answer. Well, this and cutting funding for the NHS and education, leading such institutions to outsource to less effective private companies (see Chartwell’s for an example, who often have difficultly paying living wage, tax and upholding moral working conditions).

Where else do you expect to get this money?

Trident?

According to the BASIC think tank, cancelling the program would save the budget over £83bn over the next 50 years, but Mutually Assured Destruction is the most logical ‘solution’ to not being bombed we’ve come up with so far, right?

Renewing Trident creates some problems regarding Britain’s obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament argues that if some states renew their arms it encourages proliferation elsewhere. But you don’t want us to be left out, do you? We could lose our independence!

Oh, but Trident doesn’t really operate independently… British Trident missiles are looked after at a port in Georgia, USA. The same USA who manufactures our warhead components, contributing to widespread belief that we are too technically dependent on the US to deploy Trident independently.

Oops. Maybe it was just the lucrative contracts being distributed that made it look so appealing?

Landlords?

An analysis of official statistics for Labour MP Karen Buck found that between 2011-12 and 2014-15 £35bn of housing benefit would be spent on private landlords. Landlords have been known to fill in housing benefits claims for their tenants, claiming their excess straight out of the benefits cache for housing they would have to rent cheaper on the open market. However, seeing as 2012 research showed a quarter of Tory MP’s, 12.5% of Labour, and 15% of Lib Dem MP’s were private landlords, and this doesn’t even begin to reveal the number who may have interests in the profit of private landlords, I guess this one’s impractical too.

 

We the people?

We may already be a little tight on this. I mean, we all want to pitch in and be part of the Big Society and all that, but we already seem to be paying a fair amount, aren’t we?
The consumer pays VAT on certain ‘luxury’ purchases. You know the ones, condoms, maternity pads, and tampons… heating, water, gas and electricity… insulation, solar panels and holiday caravans, to name a few. As these taxes are on our side, large companies who deal in many of these products do not have to worry. Maybe this is why our two highest grossing companies in the UK are invariably Shell and BP?

Businesses who deal with your money also don’t have to pay tax on transactions, and neither do businesses which persuade you to give them your money, such as online gambling sites, bingo etc.

So buying a military aircraft is not a luxury, but stemming the flow of blood from your vagina is, just to be clear.

Big Business?

We rank around 25th in the world, 6th in Europe, on the rate of Capital Gains Tax we charge corporations. This is exclusively for those that reside in the UK, unlike Phillip Green’s empire, or Lynton Crosby (Cameron’s election guru)’s firm Rutland, or most big UK businesses that can afford to hide their tax offshore. So, failing the closure of loopholes, which allow individuals and companies to avoid tax, we could adopt the Green Party’s policy to increase Capital Gains Tax by a negligible percentage (say to become 4th in Europe). Not enough to scare off corporations, a threat the government constantly wields, quaking in their boots, but just enough to increase the 7% of government revenue[1] (roughly £43bn[2]) that capital gains tax currently brings in, closer to the >£100bn revenue created by VAT, or the excess of £150bn[3] created by personal income tax (if you’re not rich enough to hide it offshore).

If we were to go a step further and put more restrictions in place to prevent tax haven loopholes, we could continue the welfare state at its previous efficiency without any punishment for those ‘shirkers’. Here is where Pope Francis’ grasp of the failure of trickle down economics clashes with our government’s ethos. The powers that be in the Coalition must constantly argue otherwise to protect low capital gains tax, free market…and their own interests.

There are countless more lucrative areas the government could find its subsidiaries other than those outlined above, and other than those currently in place. So why does the British government continue to hit ‘the excluded’ the hardest to protect the interests ‘those wielding economic power’.

It’s easier.

To focus on rearranging the welfare state works well politically, particularly for Conservatives; it’s the classic blame shifter.

It’s also preferable to the solutions outlined here, from an MP’s perspective, as restrictions on landlords, big business and tax are likely to hurt many MP’s pockets personally, and also could lead to being knocked off the guest list for a fair few cosy, beneficial, private dinners. Not useful if you’re hoping for an illustrious career of overpaid speeches in the footsteps of that paragon of virtue, Tony Blair, after your term in government.

Scrapping Trident is one of those reforms that you need balls of steel to try and push through, it would anger those invested, and the public, who assume to sometimes. This is due to the money which has already been poured in, and more would balk at the termination of that many lucrative military contracts. The Lib Dem’s want it ‘slimmed down’, but given the success of their campaign promises I wouldn’t invest too heavily in their claims.

The voices of the over 1.7 million households currently waiting for social housing are less likely to accost MP’s over reform bills in parliament, neither are those of the 40% who would have gone to university in 2010, but have now been priced out, according to OFFA’s latest annual report. The 9 in 10 disabled people currently cutting back on food and bills to pay bedroom tax (2013 study by Papworth Trust and backed by the National Housing Federation), or the single mums who can’t work or subsist on current allowances; they won’t be sat next to Members of the Free Enterprise Group of Conservative MP’s (who wish to cap benefits at £20, 000 a year) at a state dinner any time soon.

You know who might be though? Rupert Murdoch’s a good friend of David Cameron and Jeremy Hunt’s, among others, so the News International magnate (who loves a good ‘shirker’ story) could be. Other owners of big UK businesses, landlords, military officials, media moguls and MP’S are also more likely to be on the guest list than the average UK tax payer or benefits claimant. Their views could feasibly be compromised by their positions, power and pockets, yet their voices are more likely to be heard, and echoed through questionable press tactics.

This is why a Pope pointing out that it may be time we lose our ‘naive trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power’, is particularly poignant. For most people in England the trust left long ago, but through this worldwide growth of awareness of reasons behind disparities of wealth, maybe we can move towards a more fair system. It will take more than a Pope to effect a government set in its ways, so shit on your vote slip, hold a banner in a march, scream at anyone parroting ‘shirker’ paranoia, boycott immoral businesses, and feel free to tell any nearby Christians that this is specifically endorsed by their don. If you keep shouting loud enough, someone will listen.

[1] http://www.ifs.org.uk/budgets/gb2013/GB2013_Ch10.pdf

[2] http://www.nao.org.uk/highlights/whole-of-government-accounts/

[3] http://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2010/apr/25/tax-receipts-1963

Control.

“In Club, when flying with any truly ‘first rate’ airline, you are permitted a real glass. As in, a receptacle for your chosen beverage that is made out of the material that it is referred to by. “

“I suppose that this means you are deemed more ‘trustworthy’. The same reason a ‘great white male’ in a well turned out suit, with un-scuffed shoes, can use the bathroom in pretty much any establishment. I’ve tried this out myself. Firstly, he is unlikely to ask, if he is truly the confident character we all imagine ‘him’ to be. Secondly, he is ‘trusted’. He is, presumably, rich. So if he fucks anything up, he can probably pay. The establishment may even be aware, from experience, that this is not necessarily the case, and they will continue to use these characteristics as positive signs no matter how many times this hypothesis is proven wrong. “

“This is called ‘culture’, or perhaps ‘socialisation’. It’s almost too ubiquitous to need a name. But it still does, need a name, I mean. Few would call it straight out snobbery, as the counter boy or girl who is in charge of such assumptions is unlikely themselves to be landed gentry of any kind, are invariably quite young, and avoid the main trappings of snobbery through their own private status.

If a more craggled, less shevelled, person were to come and tentatively ask for the toilet… maybe in an accent, maybe with some visible piercings or tattoos, or maybe with messy hair, or incorrect footwear…you catch my drift.”

“I do not claim to be such a victim here, my friend, I merely state the facts.”

“So, they give you this glass glass. It only serves as a reminder that all those years got by in Economy – I was not born a rich man – that you were deemed somehow less ‘trustworthy’. This leaves a taste in the mouth. Have you ever eaten plane food on the ground? That taste; over salted and false. Don’t ask why I’ve tried this, but from your face I feel like you know what I’m talking about.”

“Well, anyway.”

“I was also given a metal set of cutlery. Now I am angry. Vexed. Pissed off. I thought plastic cutlery quite sensible when I first flew. No one can hurt someone with a fork that breaks on soup, and you never know, these days, just who could be flying with you. So I see these metal things, and glass. I am immediately nervous. Unlike those other fools, I know that violence and cruelty are not traits held only by the less economically savvy. I know that my company is no trustworthier than any other fuckers out there. Probably less. “

“I’m sure you’ve heard that these high up business and society men are more likely to have that ‘killer’ instinct. I hire people for that instinct. They know in their hearts that they are above petty laws; they know which they can afford to break and which they must stick to. These people scare me, I’ve watched them a long time.”

“I’m sure you now understand why I had to do what I ended up doing. Or at least what drove me to it?”

“You can see, can’t you, how ‘in the moment’ it was really the only way to warn anyone of the danger they were in, or could be in. Simultaneously, to warn those waiting to cause this danger that I knew. I wouldn’t glance over their Savile suit and rouged face and assume ‘trust’. I am on to them.”

….

….

“Well. That’s a bit of an over reaction, don’t you think? I was only showing what could happen. If I hadn’t stood up and presented my hypothesis through actions, setting an example as it were, well, the real thing may even have happened! What a different day that would be!”

(Transcript xx/xx/xx @ yy:yy. Room 351, Gatwick security.)

“That fucking guy in there.”

Shaking his head, the interrogating officer turned to the airhostess who had handed the passenger over.

“I know.”

“I have over 30 people in room 316. Been sitting there for hours, all held up due to names, passports, visas etc. Most of them will be a mistake on the system, no fault of their own, but they’re staying here longer than that attention-seeking fucker. Yet he thinks I want to hear his philosophy or something. It’s people like him that fill up all these other rooms.”

“I know.”