Pestilence

We’ve just watched the Box Tree Moth Caterpillar ravage and lay waste to our prized box hedges nurtured over the past fifteen years.

I immediately thought of those whose whole livelihood and survival is dependent on their land and the crops it yields.

We’ve lost nothing but an ornamental shrubbery; others must look on as plagues of locusts and mice devour a harvest meant to last a year, or as rains fail and the scorching sun turns their tilth to dust.

Be grateful for opportunities many others can only dream of.

Talk Radio

Ah, talk-radio politics. In summary: “I demand the right to insult you and what you hold dear: that is freedom of speech. However, stop insulting me with your gestures and protests: these have gone on for long enough now. Stop it.”

Elegy

Revisiting an old manuscript, momentarily I dream of being a writer once more, his words in print. For a day or two, I imagine the draft to have potential, to be considered by an agent or publisher, if only I could just add the spit and polish it demands. Ah, but no, it returns a pipe dream. How could I compete with the brilliant authors whose works are celebrated far and wide? Cowed, I skulk away, back to the salaried role, a cog in the machine, bored and ignored.

Build back better

There is no “build back better”. The coffers are empty. Just more of the same. Another decade of austerity and cutbacks, public services disintegrating before our eyes. The cuts will be sold as a necessary evil, sold to us by billionaire newspaper editors. We will accept whatever we are told, until the next disaster turns into a catastrophe to be staved off with multibillion pound investments in newly created shell companies who will pretend to provide services no money could apparently afford. And once more the coffers will be empty. But we will not care, for men make suitable populist noises. “Build back better” will be the slogan fifty years from now, as men decide to recycle policies tried and tested for five hundred years. Brace yourself for a bumpy ride.

Summer flight

The swallows and swifts weave above us, chasing flies and potential mates. Every year they arrive like clockwork, riding the slipstream from north Africa to grace our skies with their delightful whistling songs. Only humans have made migration illegal, condemning undesirables to dank gaols, to be returned by force to barren lands of suffocating heat and scarcity. Modern man has forgotten his history, trekking once from the Indus plains and Caucus mountains into the fertile crescent and beyond. For millennia we were like the birds, free to roam. But modern man has restrained himself, limiting his potential. Modern man thinks nothing of the swallows and swifts that descend year after year without fail.

Devout nationalism

Stop being hoodwinked by the pieties of politicians. These righteous men are hyper-capitalists, preoccupied with mega projects and real estate deals, while the common man drowns in poverty. Yes, the airports, bridges and tunnels are truly impressive, and new motorways, ports and railways will certainly improve the wealth of the nation in the long term. But the quality of primary and secondary education is risible. Whither the educated generation that will take the nation to starry new heights? The people need more than mere platitudes. If only there was as much investment in education as there is in reinforced concrete and quarried stone. Families drowning in debt will eventually look past devout nationalism to ask: “Why is the system just not working for me?”

Exploiting labour

Expecting to rely on the international labour market cannot be the long-term solution to our health and care staffing crisis. That merely exacerbates the problem in the health and care health systems of countries we drain of qualified staff and talent, and no amount of foreign aid can make up for that.

The long-term solution must be structured investment in the sector, preferably starting two decades ago. Early careers advice in schools, identifying pathways for youngsters not sure what to do with their lives; an attractive salary, capable of keeping employees engaged; a reorientation of what society considers value in the twenty-first century.

I celebrate equality and diversity of opportunity. I wish our international carers, nurses, doctors and social workers all the best in their careers in the UK.

But policymakers must be mindful, as watch news reports of collapsing healthcare systems “over there”, struggling to cope with medical emergencies, that the decisions we make to poach professionals from elsewhere may be the direct or indirect cause of disaster.

Give Britain’s youth something better to aspire to than the cult of celebrity. If Britain’s got talent, let us see it.

Broken chains

Muslims that belittle the Quran are the perfect interlocutors for those that attack the Quran. If you make a body of narrations take precedence over your Holy Book, abrogating its verses, relating its corruption, alleging it deficient, it is no wonder that missionaries embrace you.

Do you not see that it is your dawah — your assertive scholarship — that is killing the message? You have preached before all the world that your rendition of faith is the most authentic, truer than all others, in which all people must believe absolutely or be damned. But your opponents have opened wide your books and pored over your texts, jumping on every contradiction and anomaly. Likewise, they listen intently to your celebrated scholars, combing through their unending output, seeking to pounce on every word that undermines you.

The missionaries do not see — nor do they care about — the persecuted sages you lambast as heretics and turncoats, for holding different opinions, born of their own engagement with ancient texts and the world around them. They only care about you and your rendition of faith, which they too present as the only authentic form of Muslim belief. You are perfect bedfellows. Your dawah is their vector of attack.

If only you had set out on the road of inward contemplation, before arrogating to yourself responsibility to preach before even learning to walk. If only you had contemplated on your own state, before busying yourself with the concerns of others. If only you had reflected on the verses of the Book you belittle.

Do you order righteousness of the people and forget yourselves while you recite the Scripture? Then will you not reason?

Quran 2:44

Hermes the delivery company

Dear Hermes UK,

You probably don’t know this, because everyone is posting their thoughts about your company on the wrong TrustPilot page, but your company is receiving battering reviews.

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Houses of Worship

According to legend, it was King David who chose Mount Moriah as the site for a future temple in ancient times. It was here that Abraham was supposed to have been to sacrifice his beloved son.

Continue reading “Houses of Worship”