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Billy King


Nonviolence News


Billy King

Issue 116: February 2004

[Return to related issue of Nonviolent News.]

'Long time no see', as the defrocked bishop said to the friend he hadn't seen in years. Here I am again, Christmas with its feasting and washing up just a dim memory and a less dim impression on the waistline. The only resolution approaching a 'new year resolution' I make coming up to Christmas is to fully utilise time off normal schedules to catch up with other things….it didn't work this year either. Anyway, hopefully your batteries got recharged a bit, mine did, so for that I can be thankful.

But, it's that time of year, yes, our amazing, unparalleled, Adolf Awards, the ones you've all been waiting for. So, only here in Nun Vile End Noose, a quick blow on the drums, a tap on the trumpet, and da da da da - Ladies and unisex toilets, we present, proudly -

The Adolf Awards for 2004

Survivor of the Year; David Trimble. Yes, he has made it again, still there as leader of the Ulster Onionist party despite the Ulster electorate being DUPed into giving them second unionist slot. Having won it several years in a row (is that row (roe) or row (r-owwww?)) he gets to keep the (broken china) cup; alas, it may well be the last time he lifts this trophy........

Political Prevaricator and Untruth Teller of the Year; Bertie Ahern. No doubt about this one. He gets it on two counts. One is for proclaiming himself 'left of centre' when he presides over a populist but profoundly right-wing government so far as economics are concerned, and secondly for having stated that he and his government had been opposed to the war in Iraq. So that explains why he gave the USA the only assistance the latter wanted from Ireland, unrestricted use of Shannon airport?

Warmonger of the Year: The nominations are George W Bush and Tony Blair. Let's call it a sanctimonious tie (though Tony and George both go tie-less if they want to look informal); they both lied (as in telling untruths) repeatedly and went to war when there were still lots of options, and no weapons of mass destruction to be found. Fools rush in and they're certainly not angels. The USA and UK also get the associated Illegal Combatants of the Year Award.

Mourner of the Year: George W Bush. He is so keen (multilingual joke). He has attended zero funerals or memorials for soldiers killed in Iraq who were sent at his behest, and permitted zero coffins returning to be photographed. Meanwhile, he is so hard pressed for time that during 2003 he or Vice-President Dick Cheney only managed to attend a hundred fund-raising events. [And to think I thought I was 'Mourner of the year' for going up Slieve Donard on St Stephen's Day! - Ed]

Dinosaur Returns Award; Ian Paisley Senior. His bark and his bite may not quite be what they were, and the DUP may have won much more votes in the last Norn Iron elections because he was kept in the background, but the dinosaur is still alive, kicking, and casting his shadow yet. Remember, this is the guy who has been repeatedly written off (e.g. after the debacle of the loyalist strike of 1977 - and he had promised to quit politics if it failed!) but has hung in there, come hell and high water. Now that his party has arrived, so to speak, it will be interesting to see how things evolve -seeing he doesn't believe in Evolution, we'll have to see whether he actually believes in creation - though the latest DUP proposals reveal something suspiciously like original thinking.

The In Out Shake It All About Award; The DUP for managing to participate fully in the Stormont/Good Friday Agreement system while simultaneously attacking it and contributing to its downfall, and subsequently gaining votes to become the largest Norn Iron party. A major political achievement.

Human Rights Defender Award; Here he is agin, David Thimble, I mean Tremble, I mean Trimble, one of our very own Nobel Dynamite Peace Prize Winners, makes this award because of his amazing speech in January '04. At a meeting of the International Congress on Victims of Terrorism in Madrid he said; "One of the great curses of the world is the human rights industry. They justify terrorist acts and end up being complicit in the murder of innocent victims".

Enquiry Needing an Enquiry Award; There have been a lot of tribunals and enquiries on the go, particularly in the Republic, but the one that stands out in its unjustified whitewash (and anyone can read the evidence) is the report by Norn Iron's own (former Lord Chief Justice) Brian Hutton into the death of David Kelly in England, and the role of the Blair government and the BBC.

The Glass Crystal Fruitless Bowl for Extravagant Ideas That Will Never See the Light of Day; Bertie's Bowl.

The Opposites Attract (Hatred) Award plus The Community Relations Award; To the electorate of Norn Iron for making the DUP and Sinn Féin the two largest parties in the erstwhile Assembly. So when is the affair going to start????!!!!***

Paramilitary Grouping of the Year; 'C' Company, UDA, associated with Johnny Adair, whose stalwarts disbanded in Northern Ireland and emigrated to Britain in February '03. 'We will forsake the blue skies of freedom for ….well, another part of the UK…..'.

Paramilitary Grouping of the Year, Runner Up Award; The IRA, for its unwillingness or inability to disarm further, and prove it has disarmed, to help Norn Iron politics to be kick-started.

Paramilitary Supporters, Special Award; To those within the British & Northern Ireland state(s) who colluded with loyalist paramilitaries in dozens of murders during the Troubles (as the Stevens inquiry revealed).

Transport System of the Year; It has to be LUAS, the work for which has played fast and luas with Dubliners' ability to get about easily, but will be a small addition to Dublin's transport infrastructure when it starts to come 'on line' in the summer. Meanwhile each car in the Republic travels an average of 25,000 kms a year - far more than other European countries or even the USA.

Consumerist Nonsense Ad of the Year; There are thousands of possible nominations for this - you only have to look at the Saturday or Sunday papers. After a great deal of consideration (31.25 seconds), it is awarded to Seiko for their "It's not your car. It's not your friends. It's not your job. It's your watch that says most about who you are." (e.g. Irish Times 30/12/03) Oh, the horror of being horologically challenged, and to think we never knew, we'll have to watch out in future. There is so much rubbish advertising about that it passes us by but, like so much of its sort, it is really a bit sicko.

Incinerator of the Year; The proposed Indaver (should that be 'Cadaver'?) hazardous waste incinerator for Ringaskiddy in Cork Harbour (close to Spike Island, can anyone spike it?), granted planning permission by An Bord Pleanála despite 14 (excellent) recommended reasons for refusal from the senior planning inspector. Crazy or totally crazy? It is not just Cork people who are bound to be insinuators that something is gravely remiss with the decision on this incinerator.

Disability Access Award; Well, it has to be Ireland's own ("we're a European airline") Ryanair. Forced to make a settlement in Britain in favour a man with cerebral palsy who was charged £18 for use of a wheelchair, in a fit of pique Ryanair decided to add a 50p/70c surcharge to all fares when the Disability Rights Commission estimated the true cost at around 2p on every fare. Evidently Ryanair have never heard of either public relations or disability access. There is no truth that the 'Ryan' in 'Ryanair' is a corruption of the French 'rien' ('nothing') as in "We care rien".

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Xenos marks the spot and "I wish I was in …..[somewhere or other]"

Nice mistake I saw there recently of someone writing 'zenophobia' for 'xenophobia'. It's amazing all those people afraid of a brand of Buddhism. Actually 'xenophobia' comes from the Greek word 'xenos' meaning 'stranger'. With a racist attack or incident of some form reported a day in Northern Ireland in the recent past (which means there must be a lot more) and a young Chinese man killed in a racist attack in Dublin a few years ago, it looks like xenophobia is a national pastime. Isn't it amazing, for the first time in modern Ireland we have some parts of the world coming to us with their different cultures, ways of life, and language, so that we have an amazing opportunity to learn about other people - and what do we do? Assault them verbally or physically. They thought they were coming to a civilised country and we make them afraid. That is so sad. Of course there are good experiences too, and people who relate to anyone else as a human and not as a foreigner, but we are all tarnished by the actions of, regrettably, a lot more than a few.

The recent anti-racist demo in Belfast, following those brutal racist attacks, made me think again how lucky we are to live in a society which increasingly has different cultures represented. But even the idea of the Republic being monocultural (cf David Trimble's comments of a year or more ago) is a myth, and a relatively modern myth at that (and becoming increasingly more mythological). Ireland has had constant waves of immigrants, some coming peacefully, some coming and conquering, since prehistoric and mythological times but all adding their bit to the jig-saw that is Ireland today. All right, the Fee State from 1921 quickly adopted some of the persona of being a Catholic State for a Catholic People, though for various reasons didn't have the same forms of discrimination as those practised by the Northern State which to some extent tried to become a Protestant State for a Protestant People.

To take an example of our richness. If choosing names for a child in Ireland you have not only all the well known English and international options for boys and girls, you also have a beautiful selection of Irish names, some of which stretch back millennia and some not so far. We are richer for this choice. If we are exposed to more choice, we are richer again.

Having a CD at the moment with the song Carrickfergus on it made me think - what is its origin? So a Google later I came across which if you visit shows just the richness and complexities of culture. The song is macaronic. Does macaronic mean a) the adjective indicating something to do with macaroni? b) trying to get a deeper meaning from a McDonalds burger ad? or c) in more than one language? Somewhat prosaically, the answer is c) with my dictionary indicating a 'burlesque' in more than one language.

Anyway, my web search indicates that Carrickfergus, the song, may be a mixture of different songs in English and Irish, possibly from North and South (or more likely West), with its origins going back at least to early in the 19th century and probably much further back, but with Peter O'Toole and Brendan Behan playing a modern role in bringing the song to prominence. In short it is of complex and fascinating origin. Some of it is enigmatic but it is still a beautiful song. It is indubitably ours. Time and tide, many hands and voices, different cultures have added to and adapted that song. The moral is that cultures which become static and do not change are going to die. The future is a wonderful challenge, and if we rise to the challenge and not to the bait of the racists who would seek to exclude and put down then we can build a culture of which we are even more proud. And one which values everyone's presence and contribution.

All you need is Luv, love

'All you need is love' sang the Beatles a long, long time ago, aeons ago it seems now, and also with a great deal of naivety. But what kind of love, seeing it is one of the words most used and abused in the English language? This is not surprising, perhaps, as the following quotation shows it's a word sadly lacking in definition. On the way to my place of paid work I pass by a students' union where I can buy the Guardian newspaper for 20 pence, so this is often hard to resist; I came across the following in their 'Notes and Queries' column of 14th November 2002 - in this column readers ask quizzical questions which other readers answer, succinctly, humorously, or otherwise. In reply to the query "What is love?", Ray Billington from Springfield, Monmouthshire had this to say: "Confusion on this matter arises primarily because of the inadequacy of the English language. I love my children, my sexual partner, cricket, roast duckling, my friends, and, if I try, my enemies. The word in fact covers a range of meanings, which is Greek are expressed in four quite different words. Eros, from which is derived erotic; storge, meaning family affection (or not!); philia, meaning liking (as in philosopher, philanthropist); and - the word used in 1 Corinthians 13.4 - agape, or what Kant called goodwill: sympathy, empathy, non-exploitation of others. "Many kindly people think they're being wicked because they dislike some of their follows; but liking people relates to chemistry rather than disposition. One can have agape where there is no philia, which is why Paul called it the greatest. This dichotomy (or guadrotomy) explains why mother-in-law and son-in-law often don't get on: the storge of one conflicts with the eros of the other, so there's no philia: but agape can still keep the peace. The best thing to do with the word love is to expel it from the language, because without further explanation it is always ambiguous, as in 'Alcohol is my enemy, but I'm told to love my enemies. ' " So there you have it, amusingly and extremely succinctly. Might I also say that in this case in a competition between the classics (Greek) and English, its 40 - Love.

So there we go, or there I go. Enough is enough [too damn much - Ed], so until I see you again in a month's time, be good and if you can't be good be batter. [A reference to Pancake Tuesday coming up? - Ed] [And I was thinking that if you made a joke at the end it had better be good - Billy]

[Return to related issue of Nonviolent News.]

Who is Billy King?
A long, long time ago, in a more innocent age (just talking about myself you understand), there were magazines called 'Dawn' and 'Dawn Train' and I had a back page column in these. Now the Headitor has asked me to come out from under the carpet to write a Cyberspace Column 'something people won't be able to put down' (I hope you're not carrying your monitor around with you).

Watch this. Cast a cold eye on life, on death, horseman pass by (because there'll almost certainly be very little about horses even if someone with a similar name is found astride them on gable ends around certain parts of Norn Iron).

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