Tag Archives: politics

The Tenth Prophecy

Have I any enemies?

Answer –

Where is the simpleton that would thus lose his time?

A few years ago I went to see Mama Mia with my enigmatic ex-boyfriend. Exactly 23 minutes into the film he leaned over and whispered to me….

“Babe – why are they singing?”

“Cos it’s a musical”

“Ah shit man”

Whether it was the fact that it took him 23 minutes to realise we were watching a musical or his sheer outrage when James Bond started to sing I don’t quite know, but at that moment his excellent cricketing skills and dazzling blue eyes seemed to fade away… and right then all I knew was that I hated him. However that was then, and this is now – and all feelings of hatred have since passed and I can simply reflect on our romantic monosyllabic-sweet-nothings (usually about the greatest ever batsmen) with warm fondness.

I write this on the eve of the 12th – tomorrow men in bowler hats and white gloves will march across the province in celebration of a battle fought in 1600andsomething when a Protestant King beat a Catholic King in battle… I’ve seen Sweet Home Alabama, I know that this is not unusual – there are many other places where grown men celebrate battles of ye olde-times. While some may choose to dress up as confederate soldiers and re-enact battles, others prefer a marching band and a shiny orange sash. And though I may mock, the past few days have seen much coverage on the topic of hatred in Northern Ireland.

I am particularly proud of my part-Irish heritage – over time mind-sets have altered and the persistent hatred that has plagued this small part of the world has finally begun to ease. Of course there are some who, largely out of sight, have views so deeply rooted you wonder if any amount of time will dilute them, but for the most part there is optimism about the future and the city I know is very different to the one I hear about in stories.

This morning on radio Ulster – a 55 year old woman (also called Kate) had phoned in to profess how much she detested Catholics, although she did say that she didn’t actually know any personally. When asked to explain why she hated them she had no explanation, just that it was her opinion. And though I thought she hadn’t much skill in debate, I did find myself feeling sorry for her; I pitied her for being ideologically left behind. The declaration prompted many other callers (some were Catholics: “Hi Kate, I’m a Catholic and I don’t hate you” and some were Protestants too, but none could budge Kate – not even the story of a catholic fireman who would put out fires in any house, regardless of religion) and for my part I couldn’t really understand either. To hate on the basis of race, religion or sexual orientation is something so completely irrational to me I find it almost impossible to comprehend.

The woman on the radio made me think of the musical-hating-ex-boyfriend, who famously once refused to take a photo of me and the Fame Academy choreographer on account of him being black. As a white Zimbabwean you could perhaps explain his racism – it was ingrained, but as a fellow human being I could find no excuse. Is the oracle right? Perhaps only simpletons have enemies, because surely those with an ounce of sense must see how futile hatred is.

They say that 1% of hate is love. I’d argue that hatred is less to do with disappointment or revenge or even love, but more associated with self-preservation and fear. The most racist white Zimbabweans were a minority who desperately clung to their positions of power, suspicious and afraid it would all come to an end. IronicallyI can’t help but feel that the narrow-mindedness of some facilitated their demise. Perhaps the same holds true for Northern Ireland; a fear of history repeating itself, a fear of what the ‘other’ side is capable of – essentially a fear of on-going change. And that I can understand. We live in such chaos that we so often cling to what we know when really letting go could be all we need to set us free from such detrimental feelings. The more I think and write about it the more I become convinced that the answer lies in thinking beyond yourself. If a change in perspective is what gives us wings then perhaps our focus should be more in achieving that, and less focused on what history has told us.

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p.s my ex-boyfriend wasn’t Desmond Tutu

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The Ninth Prophecy

Last week I realised I didn’t know what the Capital of Colombia was…but I did know that Reese Witherspoon has two pet Donkeys called Honky and Tonky. And that Hilary Duff’s husband is called Mike Comrie. I own Miley Cyrus’s autobiography. I ordered Horse Shampoo off amazon because that’s what Jennifer Aniston allegedly uses. Processing these truly disturbing facts about myself sent me into a whirling spiral of self loathing and despair – emotions I usually only experience after eating two cheese pastry twists in succession.

“If my fault is discovered, will it be pardoned?”

Answer –

They will forgive you, but you will soon begin again

With my grown-up political job starting soon I have become increasingly paranoid that I will be discovered for what I really am – something so shameful, so obscene… I have a borderline addiction to celebrity gossip and I live in fear that they will find out. When celebrity-gossip.net is your homepage you’re a loser, but it’s not the worst – not yet. In fact I only realised I had hit rock bottom a few weeks ago when someone in the restaurant was talking about Avril Lavigne, I interjected that my friend’s step-brother was going out with her. They all nodded in admiration ‘Oh Kate, you know so many famous people’, I smiled, because it was true. Or half-true. Or actually not true at all. What was true was that I had passed from the realms of loser to the land of delusion. For all the non-freaks out there – Avril Lavigne’s boyfriend is Brody Jenner; Brody Jenner is Kim Kardashian’s step-brother. In my paparazzi-addled brain I actually believed that Kim Kardashian was my friend. As I said, rock bottom.

This morning as I clicked through page after page of mindless poorly written blurbs (where words like ‘shutterbug’ and ‘fab bikini-figure’ feature heavily) I felt nauseated –  I found myself wondering how do you balance who you want to be and who you really are. I wanted to stop, but I couldn’t drag my eyes away from Ashley Tisdale’s (of High School Musical fame) birthday party and I found myself grappling with my different selves. The one I most want to be is a Rhodes Scholar; I want to win Nobel Peace prizes and listen to radio 4 willingly. The truth is in reality I’m like a reject-reality TV contestant – I read Heat magazine and listen to cool.fm – so far my less impressive self is winning.

And so something has to be done. In a months time I’ll be taking over a job from a legitimate Ronan-Farrow type who is not only incredibly politically savvy but horrendously likeable too, and I’ll be working for one of the most inspirational Politicians in our green and rainy land – if my lazy inner-self obsesses over celebrities, my ambitious and unsatisfied self wants to be better. So I’m giving up celebrity-gossip, I’m un-following all Victoria Secret models on twitter – I’m cleansing myself with Jim Naughtie and political philosophy. The Oracle is always right, so no doubt I’ll fall off the wagon soon – but for now my perusal of intelligence means I’ll learn something, I now know where Bogota is… and I know a little bit more about who I want to be, and who I don’t.

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The Seventh Prophecy

What is generally thought of my intelligence?

Answer: –

That you can make better use of it.

Ever since I returned to the grey-greenery of my teenage years I’ve been spending a lot of my time with my father, who deserves a brief introduction – he is a quite brilliant artist, semi-recluse and generator of many, many ideas – with a former nom de plum of Quaid-Bert, he now refers to himself as Hercule O’Hearlihy. Hercule’s current muse is Sofie Gråbøl (the Danish detective who wears the ugly jumpers). He sometimes writes letters to her inviting her to tea at the Baytree. One day we were walking by the sea when he said:

“Kate, do you want to see how Sofie Gråbøl walks?

“Ok”

 “Wait there and then follow me”

(Fifteen minutes passed of him demonstrating how Sofie walks and me trying to avoid eye-contact with passers-by…)

“Kate, do you want to see how the Chief Inspector walks?”

Once when I was a child, he formed such an irrational dislike for a man in our town that he constructed (in our garden) human size vultures pecking a model of this loathed-man to death. Awkward, especially when the neighbours sought an explanation. If he teaches me the importance of questioning and thinking beyond our social confines, Hercule also acts as a potential warning – I wonder how possible it is to straddle the spheres of convention and anarchy, and if this is possible, then how do you maintain that middle ground before you start making sculptures of large birds eating people you know. If it is a question of intelligence – and Hercule is incredibly intelligent – how do you best use it, push your thoughts to the edge without losing reason.

I realised that my own mind was teetering on the precipice of insanity when I caught myself watching the traffic warden. Whilst rinsing out the mop,  washing away the grime from the night before I let my thoughts wander, and as I looked out over the high street I found myself thinking about the traffic warden. It was at this moment that I realised how I often think about him. Often as in a lot, like a lot a lot. I even talk to customers about him. (Please note: This is not a tale of unrequited love, it is a tale of voyeuristic anthropology). The Traffic Warden is the most hated man in our town. He stalks the streets with an almost religious-mania, and unlike most residents, I know that he is only hated because he is truly excellent at his job. His complete lack of sympathy when confronted with panic-stricken drivers (who are literally crying over their tickets) only endears him further to me. He is ruthless. His face is part hidden, his warden hat angled – the mysterious lone ranger of the high street. His boat-like shoes pound the pavement relentlessly; he is always on the look-out for cars that have outstayed their allotted hour. He is a shiny red and black uniformed keeper of the law.

I told Hercule I had been watching him, mesmerised by his dedication, restless with my own conflicting ambitions. My greatest wish you see is to earn a living where I can be as focused as he; this realisation along with the oracles revelation proves that to discover my calling I must in fact make better use of my intelligence.

This thought was reinforced when I read about an exhibition at the Guardian Gallery, Kings Place, N1 called ‘Beneath the surface’ – which shows Steve Bloom’s photographs of South Africa in the mid 1970s (I think it’s on until the 28th of June). One of the photograph’s that was featured in last Sunday’s observer has haunted me this past week. Not so much because of the obvious social contrast but more because of the quiet defeatism seen in the man’s face, his expression broke my heart a little and it made me think of Zimbabwe – I thought of a documentary I saw several years ago when a man of a similar age was interviewed, sitting outside his home in the sun – he hadn’t eaten for three days. He had the same expression. I wrote I wanted to avoid being pushed beyond reason, but so much worse to be pushed to the extent where you lose all sense of hope. It made me think how self-indulgent I am with my thoughts. There are things in the world that we choose to ignore for our own sanity. Sometimes I angrily wonder how there be so many people living such brutally awful lives, yet we don’t talk about it. I know I’m just as guilty; all I talk about are job interviews and traffic wardens. Seeking world peace seems so naïve, but perhaps the only way to live in a better world is to do as much as you can with your own life – to be grateful for the opportunities that so many others are denied, showing that gratitude by making use of what comes your way – knowing this and living by this… well to me, that’s the best use of intelligence I can think of.

 http://www.lfph.org/diary/beneath-the-surface

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The First Prophecy

What will be the result of my enterprise?

Answer :

 “All your foresight will be of no avail”

It was quiet last night in the Restaurant, so I talked to Michal while I ate chilli prawn risotto (at this rate I will look like Shelob and never be able to run the marathon). He told me that fifteen years ago when he was starting out as a commis (not communist) chef in Warsaw, a group of forty people turned up and demanded the restaurant was emptied of its guests. The group, it turned out, where members of the Russian Mafia and their prostitute friends. Michal said they were all slightly nervous; they were told there would be consequences if the food wasn’t up to scratch – but in the end it didn’t really matter because Russian Mafia members only like to eat potatoes, albeit with caviar as a garnish. I asked him if he had been worried they would kill him, “No” and my question annoyed him – he wasn’t frightened, why would he be? If you are honest and passionate about what you do there will be no cause for complaint. I quite like the fable of the Russian Mafia – so long as you are honest and passionate no one should want to knee-cap you. Just know how to cook potatoes.

The revelation that agonising about the future is futile is hardly ground-breaking, nevertheless it’s still true and worth remembering. There was no need for Michal to fear being stabbed by some enraged Mafioso whose sautéed potatoes weren’t quite garlicky enough – he knew they would be perfect. And perhaps that’s my problem, I lack conviction. I attribute most of my flakey and unappealing characteristics to the fact that a large proportion of my life has been conducted in my head. The fact that I’ve done so many remarkable things in my fictional life means the real one is often left short. I have this constant fear that by persuing one interest I am closing the door to all the others.  This is something I will endeavour to rectify.  Losing the safety-net of education is a terrifying thing.

Worrying, as the Oracle so wisely states, is of no avail and so taking this on board I realise I am exempt from a day of internship applications (jobs are totally future-orientated); instead I will spend the day watching the Leveson enquiry and googling celebrity workouts.

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