Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Sun, sea and sounds....

I am clinging on with white knuckles in a desperate attempt to hold myself together before I escape on Thursday. I feel as if my body is in melt down, I am crumbling from the pressure and emotion of the last few months. There is something about knowing that you are about to break free, the adrenalin supply is cut and the exhaustion sets in. I am nearly there and I cannot wait.

I am going to clear my mind of lies and bombs, I am spending 2 weeks in my own personal cathedral. There are two constant deities which have seen me through the highs and lows of my life, on Thursday I am flying to the land where they come together. The Caribbean, a world of strumming islands where reggae music dances off the waves of the ocean. This age old cocktail is one which has comforted and inspired me throughout my many years, and I am hoping that this trip will not be an exception.

I spent idyllic times as a young child living in a hut blessed with a garden of white sand and turquoise ocean. The soundtrack of my life has been a pulsing spirit of reggae rhythms which were absorbed by my body and soul at a tender age. It has ingrained itself in my heart and mind and has never left me to this day.

My dad taught me to sail as soon as I could walk. As well as learning the ways of the wind and tides I have found my place within the mix of universal elements. There is no greater freedom than putting yourself at their mercy. I was captain of my own ship (which closely resembled a bathtub) from the tender age of 8. I knew independence and danger that others only discover when they learn to drive. I was never more at home than in my little tub heading out to sea, trying to scare myself by reaching the horizon.

I have never managed to achieve this, I have never felt fear of the sea. It is a living breathing element which is greater than the might of the human world. You cannot fight it, you have to learn to know and trust it, throw yourself at its mercy and steer your vessel along the course if it’s choosing. As soon as you resist this power you have lost. The ocean is your master and you must treat it with the respect it deserves. If ever your confidence grows disproportionately it will knock you down, set you in your place and teach you again to be humble to its force.

I am going to ride those waves, soak up that sun and move to those melodies late into the night………till then, stay warm!

Friday, April 07, 2006

Out of the loop

In our testimony at the London Assembly, I and many others, spoke of the hundreds of people who walked away from the tragedy on 7th July. We floated the notion that many were suffering alone without contact or support from the helping hand of the government.

Yesterday I met one such wanderer. Remarkably we were standing right next to each other on the day. We remembered the same things, the voices of comfort, the screams of hysteria, but we had absolutely no recollection of each other.

She had found out about Kings Cross United through a friend. Until last night she had been completely alone in her suffering. The relief on her face as we talked and recounted was palpable.

I am certain she is not alone. Hers must be a story of hundreds. If ever anyone comes forward and admits responsibility for the task of supporting these forgotten victims of our war on terror, they will have a lot to answer for. Until then we can only keep on helping each other.

The extent to which she had fallen out of the loop was extraordinary. She lives and works in London, it is an unforgivable failure in communication. She knew nothing of the 7th July Assistance Centre, was distraught at the realisation that she could have attended the remembrance ceremony at St Paul’s Cathedral in November last year. She had no idea about the systems of compensation, or that she was even eligible. She had heard a little about the London Assembly review into the 7th July but did not know that her testimony would have been welcomed. She had never heard about the forthcoming meeting with Tessa Jowell, and so the list goes on.

I am about to email her with all of these details.

Who is being paid to do this job of ‘victim support’? Certainly not me. It is a disgrace. Lessons must be learned and it must NEVER be allowed to happen again.

How many other lost souls are going it alone out there, long forgotten by the powers that be?

Crumbling rocks

An old colleague of mine once told me I had ‘the patience of an angel’. Without blowing my own halo I would tend to agree. The thing with us angels is that even we have a limit on how long we can fly through the landscape of life without falling from the sky. The pressure builds, the anger grows, and eventually it escapes in an almighty torrent, blowing the halo to smithereens as we spiral back down to earth.

This morning I have landed and the anger is seeping. I am opening the door and letting it go by writing it down rather than directing it at the object of my fury. He should be thankful.

If my rock had merely crumbled my wings would still be intact. The transformation has gone further than that, he has become a quagmire swallowing my self esteem, a leech bleeding me dry of my pride. It has to stop, I am worth more than this.

My life has been spared so that I can live; progress and develop. Each day is a gift, existence is a jewel to be treasured and nurtured. This cycle of self-destruction must be broken, the chains cast aside. There is no one who can save me from drowning in this marsh other than myself. I must pull myself out until I walk on firmer ground. Only then will I be able to find my wings and fly towards the glowing sun of my future.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Oh God not again......

A while ago I posted about the renewed hope that Damilola's killers had finally been found and were being brought to trial on new evidence.

Today it seems that either they haven't or a poor case has been put against them. Whatever the reason, the CPS have messed up again. It is unfathomable. My heart goes out to his parents and family.

An eye for an eye

The only man who is being tried for the 9/11 attacks on America is Zacarias Moussaoui. Yesterday he was found to be ‘eligible to face the death penalty'

Who will this help? What will it achieve? There is no victory in revenge. The fact that the USA, the self declared, champions of democracy, still stand by their right to take life never ceases to appall me. This archaic belief that the ‘good’ have the right to kill the’ bad’ is a poison which permeates American society. How can they teach their children that ‘just because Jack hit you doesn’t mean you can hit him back’, when the death penalty is based on this very train of thought?

It is stronger to ‘rise above it’, my parents always told me. This is a difficult lesson to live by and I am as guilty as the next of joining the lowest in the gutter at times. A society that justifies execution as a punishment for anything is not, in my mind, a civilized one. The moral high ground is a place within in world affairs which the US inhabits under false pretences. They do not practice what they preach. This is not only true in the case of the death penalty, it is the case with much of their foreign policy.

As long as they continue on this course of double standards and hypocrisy they will breed anger and hatred throughout the world.

Moussaoui’s execution will not bring back those lives lost on 9/11. It may temporarily feel to relatives as if ‘closure’ has been found, but the aching hole of loss will not be filled by avenging it with yet another death.

This is a man who was prepared to take his own life for the purpose of taking others with him. Death will not punish him, it will snuff out the light and another martyr will be born. More fuel to the fire, more energy to spiral of hatred and revenge.

If the jury choose to sentence him to life imprisonment over the death penalty a great moral victory will have been achieved. But not only is it America, it is Virginia, there is little hope of this glimmer of encouragement finding the light of day.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

I am weary and blue

The current state of the world is eating me up inside, my soul is weary, my mind is tired, maybe it's just because it's Sunday night, I hope so.

I have just watched Panorama, I feel empty inside. Our government is fighting against something of which it has no comprehension. The reports which were leaked to the Times and Observer today, from one angle, come as no surprise. We all know that the war in Iraq is fuelling Islamic insurgents. Our friend Mr.B Jnr (as opposed to his brother across the Atlantic Mr.B Snr) has become so swept away with the power that he has found at his fingertips, that he thinks he is able to hoodwink us. He isn’t.

From my cynical side I wonder, why the leaks? Is it that there is such overwhelming disillusionment within the security forces that they are turning against their master? Or has it been finely tuned as a drip feed of damning reports which the government can tackle one step at a time rather than fighting the force of the flood if the dam were to crumble in one almighty blast?

I am desperately trying to cling on to my naivety and holding on to the fact that, at least, the words are out. The ‘narrative’ will not be a whitewash, it will be damning, so this is good. But I am not convinced; I smell the stench of an agenda.

The coalition are fuelling the power of Al Qaeda. The holy Jihad is gaining momentum by the second. It is basic human nature at work. If the playground bully is ignored he becomes isolated and powerless. The more he is interacted with and attacked the stronger he becomes. You cannot fight a fight without an enemy, B’s Jnr and Snr are playing into their hands.

The Chinese, at least, admit that face saving is at the core of their culture. Us ‘big noses’ would do well to admit the same. We are still occupying Iraq purely for the purpose of saving the faces of the 2 ugly B’s. Well they don’t deserve to be saved. If they were altogether stronger men they would confront their mistakes and walk away towards a journey of endeavouring to understand what they currently do not know.

Innocent people are dying needlessly at the hands of naivety and power. Big is not better and white is not blacker. The power of the Islamic fundamentalists has been underestimated beyond belief. I have said this before, but I could have told them this would happen and I am no-one. How and why did we get here? Where will it lead and ultimately where will it end?

I am frightened and sickened. This world is not a place in which I am proud to live.

On a positive note, however, I have found a new crush! The amazing Michael Ware who was featured on Panorama tonight. Is he single?!

Saturday, April 01, 2006

What a lovely letter

Dear Holly

Forgive me for not writing to you immediately after our Committee hearing. I needed to take time out to mentally assimilate all that you told us, to re-run the hearing in my head and to assess the response of the media.

You and your fellow guests certainly made a massive impact. I do not believe that I have seen, read or heard such consistent reporting of an issue in all the years I have been involved in local government. Even the tabloids were totally responsible and really got your message accross.

I know from the phone calls that we have received that the 'powers that be' are being made to sit up and listen. They heard what you said, how it was reported and are clearly worried about what we shall put in our report. They will try to manipulate events so that when we report they can say 'We have taken this into account'. Whatever!

May I give you this assurance: the report will be written without fear or favour and we will tell the truth as we see it and as we have been advised and learnt. To do anything else would be a total betrayal of you all and that I will not do, under any circumstance.

Please accept my unbound appreciation to you and your 'fellows' for coming to the hearing and speaking out in public, telling us your story. I can empathise with you and the challenge it must have been jumping that hurdle. What a testament!

What really came across was that you are all ordinary people caught up in extra-ordinary events, your humanity and dignity shone through.

If there is ever anything I or any of us can do to help you, should you need it, you have only to ask. London and all vulnerable cities are truly in your debt.

My very best regards.

Richard Barnes AM
Chair of the 7 July Review Committee