Tuesday, 28 July 2009
Definitely one to read. Recommend to anyone who wants or needs to know more about what refugees have been through before they arrive here - and what our authorities shamefully put them through to placate general ignorance and the press. Alem is taken and left by his father in London to escape persecution in Ethiopia and Eritrea for having parents on both sides of the divide. While his family story is ultimately desperately tragic, Alem shows real courage, and his friends at school in London, in his foster-family and the local community, stand up for him and his father as do many similar groups in this country when persecuted people are threatened with removal back to countries where their lives are in danger.
Zephaniah as ever tackles the subjects with realism - he dedicates this novel, aimed at the teen age range but there for all ages, to two boys he met, and he clearly has done his homework on this. The Refugee Council's work is also highlighted.
We don't have to give up - if we have any humanity, we should take note of these cases, and challenge the Home Office, the UK Borders Agency, and any such bodies as and when their policies and behaviour threaten and demean the well-being of the real-life equivalents of Alem and his father. Would you like to be beaten and escape with your life, only to be fingerprinted in a detention centre, would you want to queue with vouchers at a separate supermarket while locals with cash walk past you; to live in squalid housing where landlords only care about the money that comes through direct from authorities - and where you have no say because you fear the consquences if you do complain. Then your asylum application is turned down by a judge and system who seem to ignore at least half the evidence.
The tireless help of his foster family, the Fitzgeralds, the Refugee Council's Mariam and Sheila the social worker, the friends at Alem's school who organise the demonstration and petitions so impressively, show that there is hope.
Hope in life and in people - and the novel shows this, despite tragedy and offical coldness.
Published by Bloomsbury.
Romulus der Grosse by Swiss playwright Friedrich Duerrenmatt. Play about the final days of the Western Roman Empire, 476 AD.
Emperor Romulus - named after the Roman founder - tends his chickens while ignoring pleas by his wife and daughter, a fleeing Byzantine Emperor and an exhausted messenger to make a last stand against the invading Germanic tribes. Tables are turned when Romulus' family and guests are drowned en route to Sicily, and Germanic leader Odoaker turns out to sympathize with Romulus' dislike of empires, power and their oppression.
A sideways look at Empire: how much allusion there is to World Wars, Cold War times I'm not sure, but something is there. The Diogenes text was reworked by the author in 1980: a previous version goes back to 1957.
Smoothly, slickly written even: using the old Greek rules of drama (24 hours, one setting, and ...) this is an accomplished piece, without necessarily standing out as a masterpiece. Effectively challenges any heroic writings on Rome's glory: too much blood built this and any Empire.
Read the comments on http://www.amazon.de/Romulus-Grosse-ungeschichtliche-historische-Neufassung/dp/3257230427/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1248817792&sr=1-1 while they're there.
Then read the play.
Sunday, 12 July 2009
Tuesday, 7 July 2009
Left of the bus is the visitor centre, right off-picture St John's Church, actually more interesting than Chester Cathedral - and doesn't cost you to get in!! [No moneylenders/changers in the temple here]. Norman Arches, windows with key figures in Chester History, a reference to two possible Christian martyrs. Something coming up on the History Channel, the Vicar told us in person!
Stayed in a roomy, clean and decent hotel [Stafford] very near the Station, tasty egg on toast, handy for a trip to Port Sunlight on the Mersey link.
Very tasty food at the Old Coach House hotel/pub/restaurant near the town hall and bus station.
Camels, chimps, orang utans, tropical fish, Komodo Dragons, rhinos, elephants, penguins, people watching too... and another train trip, the mini-overhead rail round Chester Zoo. Bit pricey, but a great layout and intriguing to see the chimps and orang utans not being too distantly related ... and more intelligent behaviour than you'll see in the average city on a Saturday night down the pubs ...