Saturday, 26 July 2008

A little bit of politics: walls

(originally posted on myspace here)


In a break from rapping at Bishop's tonight we got onto the subject of Lego.

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Peter reminded me that in the old days if you wanted to make a spaceship, it would normally involve inordinate amounts of trellis and possibly a tree. All of which has nothing to do with what follows, although maybe the image does, but probably not.

After an early night to bed I woke at five this morning. I filled a large cup with some water and ice, logged on to iplayer, and rustled up a documentary about the Nigerian schism in the Anglican Church. Bring that schism on, thick bigots, say I. It's the only thing that makes me wish I believed in God: I'd love to be an Archbishop. I'd bandy around words like "charity" and "evil" like it was my birthright. Surely that's the whole POINT of being a religious leader though. Don't pussyfoot around Leviticus, just say "Jesus had a much better idea: instead of looking to the Scriptures for our morality let's trust to our own informed and inherent empathy, not the most original of premises I know, but I AM AN ARCHBISHOP so I think that this was GOD'S idea, new idea, even though a lot of people had thought of it first, still we should clearly listen to THAT and not the old mad, survivalist, cutting-it-in-the-desert stuff, admittedly it doesn't seem THAT MUCH like a religion, but OUR churches are mainly lovely and old and yours, while admittedly incredibly popular, aren't - look, YOU ARE EVIL and you imprison homosexuals, albeit your services do look a lot more fun." But no, that apparently would be foolhardy and that's not how the Church works.

And it clearly didn't send me to sleep, although it was quite draining. So then I loaded up a whopping two-hour-plus slice of Boris Johnson taking questions from the London Assembly, which was every bit as enervating (a word that still stubbornly refuses to mean "elevating" crossed with "energizing"). Tossy guff about "Ken's pet projects urgh AH OOH newts (laughter) MUH that number by the pound sign is very big, I'm sure smaller numbers exist therefore that could be cheaper MUH UM New Routemaster ie not a Routemaster AH consultants, what do they do? MUH BUM knife crime" and then that silver gitfox from the BNP started getting excited about some definitely non-racial study he'd just commissioned as to what percentage of the - now, it was some section of the community, I can't for the life of me remember exactly which one he'd decided to single out for study, but there... no, it's gone - anyway the "something" community was affected by knife crime, at which point I shut up my laptop, popped on a fleece, and threw myself to the alsatians.

And then... and then... and then at Bishop's this evening I caught Barack Obama on Channel 4, quite shrewdly talking to the assembled Berlin throng as though he'd already been elected (a charade I'm sure the rest of the world will be quite happy to go along with even if it turns out he loses. I would.) The telly played the speech's book-ending soundbites, "The road is long", and the hokey moonshine of "I speak not as a candidate for President but as a citizen" and I was none too impressed but thought I'd look up the rest, tonight, just now. And good:


Dude, did he say "a world without nuclear weapons"?

Twice?

Of course, the last time I felt this good about a speech it was Tim Collins' address to his troops before the invasion of Iraq (as jotted down here by the lady standing behind Kenneth Branagh) so, you know, fuck it. And indeed, looking over this central third again, I can't really put my hand on my heart and swear that David Cameron could never have made this exact same speech albeit lying through his shiny head. So why post it?

Well, I think it's when he talks about walls. Living in London I've seen a number of barriers go up in the last five years, mainly black and yellow, sometimes orange and slotty, and sometimes tortured metaphorical barriers I try and cram into this sentence like the barriers to anyone under 21 buying alcohol in a shop. Every politician seems to think barriers are the answer. So, yes, it's nice to hear someone talk of walls coming down for a change. And that's the nub. It's not just that he talks like he's already been elected, it's that - although he does mention the war - he talks, uniquely, like a leader in a time of peace. And that he gets his countries and his history right. And that, although I don't know the size of his claque, there's 100 thousand Germans there waving Stars and Stripes, and someone in the audience is clearly ululating... "Hope" is such a potentially duff word. But no I think, here, he's nailed it. I just wish Hicks or Hunter were still around so I could check.

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