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Billy King


Nonviolence News


Billy King

Number 261: July 2018

[Return to related issue of Nonviolence News]

Billy King shares his monthly thoughts

Well, hasn’t that been amazing weather in late May and early and late June and into July, close to all time records in late June. Hot, dry, sunny, tropical Ireland. It’s like someone took our island and towed it somewhere into or around the Mediterranean. ‘Hibernia’ it ain’t. I commented in the spring how the daffodils and narcissi lasted for ages in the cold weather; well, the opposite seemed to happen with our large red poppies in the hot weather – a very quick bloom and all gone. Mind you, the petunias, sweet pea and courgettes have been loving it, but they have been watered – some farmers are having a tough time of it. We don’t control the weather, well, except insofar as humans have created global warming and that is more ‘out of control’ than ‘control’, and in these instances we have to take the rough with the smooth, sometimes simultaneously.

Just a short Colm this time, I think there are going to be enough (too many) words in this issue anyway...

Spare a thought for William Hay, ex-Speaker at Stormont and a stalwart of the DUP. He can’t get a British passport because he was born in that part of Ulster known as Donegal just after the southern (and western in the case of Donegal!) state left the British Commonwealth. He would have to go through a naturalisation process to get a British passport, which takes time and money (well over £1k) when it should be his right under the Good Friday Agreement.  

How ironic is it that a unionist of his stature is denied a British passport, a feature both of draconian and inflexible British immigration laws and the failure to apply the Good Friday Agreement with its promise of equality for all in the North. Of course the main trend currently is people within the jurisdiction of the UK who can get Irish passports ordering them to beat any possible Brexit repercussions. But Hay’s case is an interesting one of how equality should be for everyone.

Insert a battery
The RHI/Renewable Heating Incentive hearing in the North goes on. In case you have been visiting your cousin on Mars, that is the ‘cash for ash’ scheme costing hundreds of millions which Norn Iron introduced giving people more money the more they burnt of wood pellets, with the subsidy surpassing costs. It is not reflecting well on anyone, I think – the NI civil service which was not equipped or resourced to do what was needed in assessing or implementing any such scheme, politicians – including Arlene Foster who was the political boss - and advisers; people were nodding (sleeping) as they nodded things though. This is apart from deliberate leaking of information and stalling the curtailment of the scheme when a problem was realised with the result lots more jackpot winners made it in before the scheme was closed to new entrants.

In reading about it I came across a term that jarred with me – ‘growers’ for factory farm chicken producers, a lot of whom have been RHI customers, see ‘Growers’? You can grow vegetables. But factory farm chickens? And ‘farmers’ seems inadequate or inaccurate. I can think of some other terms for those involved in what I would consider a cruel and unethical business, but ‘growers’ would not be one of them. Maybe it’s a euphemism so the chickens concerned don’t become animals at all but are objects turned into a product - and that makes it all seem better than it is.

‘Mansplaining’ is usually defined along the lines of a man explaining something to a woman or women in a patronising and condescending way. An image on a hoarding at the University of Adelaide, Australia, was subsequently taken down (it wasn’t the university’s image) following a furore over it being an archetypal example. It shows a seated man, with hand expressions, explaining something to a small group of women who have a variety of facial expressions which could include bored, incredulous, impatient etc.

It would actually be a good example for a bubble competition. Yer man is saying “And that’s the way it is, girls....” while they are thinking “What am I doing here in this caricature of a stereotype?”, “Does yer Mammy know you’re out?”, “I knew this when I was 12”, and, “Did he say his name was Dick Head?”

Mind you, if you are a woman reading this then having a man, which I am, explain or talk about mansplaining to you is cobalty. That is, beyond irony (the periodic table number for iron is 59 and cobalt 60).

Raspberry pickings
The raspberries became ripe early this year with the hot weather. You might say that while raspberries are a very pleasant tasting fruit they don’t have too much to teach us. Wrong, in my case anyway. Our raspberries are in a ‘lazy’ (not lazy at all in truth but sensible because you don’t walk on it) bed just under a metre wide, not neat ‘in a row’. But it is easy to reach to the centre, it just requires careful moving of canes and the slender fruiting branches to do so.

It does take some time. However I found out years ago that if I approached raspberry picking in a frustrated and impatient manner then I simply became more impatient and frustrated. But if I relaxed and thought ‘take your time, other things can wait’ and did the job focusing mainly on the raspberries then I enjoyed the task and the meditative state it encouraged. I am not talking about weeks on end here but an hour or more. Concentrating on the job in hand, picking the sufficiently ripe ones, carefully searching for ones hidden down low or by branches which have swung this way or that, working one way down the row and then back the other way, it is actually quite satisfying. So here I am now writing about “What raspberries have taught me”. Isn’t life amazing. It beats blowing a raspberry, that’s for sure.
Ah, the summer holidays, the time when you think you will have a good break and also do lots of those things which have been hanging around on your to do list since for ever. Let’s see how it goes and whether I’ve any more luck this year. But “Everyone needs a break / climb a mountain / or jump in a lake” (quoting a different part than usual of Christy Moore’s ‘Lisdoonvarna’......). Anyway, summer will disappear soon enough so I wish you enjoyment whatever you get up to, keep the sun cream on if you need it, and I’ll see you again in September, Billy.

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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